Babylon 5: Grey 17 is Missing
January 12, 2019 8:01 AM - Season 3, Episode 19 - Subscribe

We return to Spoopy Sector for Spoopy Times. Ivanova and Zach Allen seek rogue telepaths for hire. Delenn is to become Ranger One, but someone wants to prevent it... "I'm in awe, Lennier. The way you can take a simple proposition and turn it inside out so that it says what you want it to say rather than what it actually says. Does this come naturally or did you attend some sort of…martial arts class for the philosophically inclined?"

-Garibaldi pulls out his old, slug-shooting gun from his family. This will absolutely not become important this episode. Nosirree.
-A maintenance man goes missing in Grey Sector. The cold open shows him being dragged down. A staff member says they checked "all 29 Grey levels"; Garibaldi corrects her with "30", like all other sectors. She says she thinks the final grey level was never finished because of the rush to get B5 up and running (after Bs 1-4 all exploded, or vanished, during construction).
-Garibaldi is suspicious and counts the levels: 29. He then counts the time gap between the lift exiting one level and entering a new level, and he finds a 'gap' between 16 and 17. He manually opens the door to the missing level.... and gets immediately shot, with a tranq dart, by a spoopy doll.
-Turns out Grey 17 is run by a recycling cult who believe that they need to attain perfect knowledge of the universe (from which all life is 'recycled') so they can sacrifice themselves to the pet zarg they have.
-Garibaldi overpowers the cult leader, Jeremiah, and finds the exit, guarded by the afortmentioned zarg. He uses the bullets from his antique weapon and a heated pipe to shoot the beast. He finds Sheridan, who is pissed that he was missing during a possible assassination attempt on Delenn (see below), and he explains his day... which sounds truly insane.
-Delenn is set to become Ranger One, head of the rangers, after Sinclair went to the past and became Valen. She initially refuses, but is convinced to take the job after realizing the Rangers need a figurehead as much as they need a leader.
-...but Neroon, the Bill Hader looking mofo main Warrior Caste antagonist who replaced Delenn on Grey Council, objects. The Rangers are a military unit; they should be controlled by the Warrior caste. They banter back and forth about what is proper in a post-Grey Council society, and Neroon brings up the possibility that delenn is setting herself up as dictator. He wants her to cede the Rangers; she refuses; he threatens to stop her "by any means necessary." He then vanishes as Lennier, all-seeing spy, approaches. Delenn swears Lennier to not tell Sheridan.
-Lennier grows increasingly uneasy as the preparations for the ceremony continue. He eventually tells Marcus, because Marcus is outside the B5 chain of command, and he can't tell anyone in the chain of command as it is equivalent to breaking the promise. Marcus promises to delay Neroon from interrupting the ceremony on B5. Lennier cautions him that Neroon is an expert in killing humans.
-Marcus finds Neroon and challenges him to a duel to the death. The one rule is that one a Minbari begins a duel to the death, he cannot withdraw; he tries to convince Marcus to withdraw. He does not, as he lives and dies for The One.
-Neroon arrives at the ceremony, and drops his bloodied staff, saying there is now blood between Warrior and Religious castes. He leaves. Delenn becomes Ranger One.
-Lennier finds a near-death Marcus and rushes him to medbay. Neroon visits Marcus, and says he considers Marcus the victor of the duel, as a human acting more Minbari than he, a Minbari, killed his beliefs. Marcus awakens and asks that next him he needs to learn a lesson, to try to not make it so painful. They laugh as Delenn and Lennier are surprised.
-Meanwhile, Ivanova and Zach Allen aren't having luck finding rogue telepaths to hire to fight the Shadows. Those they do find tend to quit when they discover their mission. Sheridan points out Franklin had an underground railroad for telepaths; Ivanova seeks him out on his walkabout, where is undergoing bad stim withdrawal. He gives her his list, but under the promise that no B5 staff will bother him until his walkabout ends.
posted by flibbertigibbet (5 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I so strongly associate this episode with Garibaldi's bizarre little adventure that I forget other stuff happens in it.
posted by nubs at 3:14 PM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's a pity as the B plot is actually pretty cool and I love the ending with Neroon laughing like a loon at Marcus' comment :).

It's also the episode that JMS said this about "I think it's about 3/4ths of a good episode. Where it falls down, for me, is the Zarg...I just have this constant desire to
go to everyone's house and personally apologize...." :)
posted by invisible_al at 6:45 AM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the Neroon stuff is pretty good and actually somewhat important. The Zarg is bad. The steam gun is worse.
posted by nubs at 7:21 AM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

OK, I watched this, as I have watched every episode in this rewatch. And I have to say I'm kind of glad I did.

As everyone else has said, the actual Grey 17 plot falls leadenly flat. A lottttt of screen time devoted to Garibaldi in an elevator, and a lot of Jeremiah about whom nobody cares, saying things Delenn said better.

But I'm always here for Neroon. So many of the Minbari we've met have been tranquil and enlightened-- Mayan, Draal-- so it's always refreshing to see a Minbari who's just an asshole. So far the Centauri still have the best worldbuilding of the show's various non-human cultures, but Neroon as representative of the Warrior caste gives us another essential piece of the Minbari world.

And it's good to see Marcus doing something other than being flippant in a way that doesn't quite hit. Yes, I know, his humour is meant to be a way of avoiding coping with past traumas, but something about it is overly heavy-handed: writing or acting or both. It's good to see him taking something seriously, and getting into a fight where he doesn't come out on top.

Ivanova and Franklin's stim-withdrawal scene is also great.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:13 PM on April 29, 2021

waaaaaay late to a party that everyone else already left, went home, lived lives and moved away, but... I'm finally watching B5 on friends' recommendations and this rewatch thread has been awesome. And maybe some future MeFite archaeologist and sci-fi fan will stumble over this, so...

Why is this the episode that finally gets me to comment? Because no one else mentioned the resemblance to the Star Trek episode where Kirk fights the Gorn! I mean, Garibaldi improvises a weapon by loading makeshift ammo into a tube-thing to fire it at a big rubbery-looking lizard-man... c'mon, people! The only thing he didn't do was make the gunpowder himself...
posted by martin q blank at 1:09 PM on January 17, 2023 [1 favorite]

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