Babylon 5: Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?
February 24, 2019 12:29 PM - Season 4, Episode 2 - Subscribe

G'Kar focuses on Unresolved Mystery #2: where is Garibaldi? Delenn wallows in grief. The time between the ticking of the clock is explored. "It's easy to find something worth dying for. Do you have anything worth living for?"

-Franklin records a morose log entry. Lennier comes in, saying he is breaking a confidence, and tells him something is wrong. Delenn has been fasting; fine for a Minbari, but she's half-human now and it is taking a toll on her health. She says that she was afraid Anna Sheridan was alive and that Sheridan going to Z'ha'dum was ultimately her fault. She apologizes to Franklin, but says she will continue fasting.
-Ivanova, sorting through Sheridan's effects, finds a data crystal about his love for Delenn and recent eventso n Earth. Delenn sees this and stops her fast, and calls the entire White Star fleet to B5 to stage for an attack on Z'ha'dum. She gives the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, which is in disarray, and ultimatum: join or not, they're leaving in a week to attack the Shadow homeworld.
-G'Kar leaves B5 to investigate Garibaldi's whereabouts, despite knowing that this is very dangerous as the Centauri still want him dead -- and unlike last time ("And the Rock cried out..."), Londo is not protecting him. On some unknown planet, he tries to get information from a salvage parts dealer about where the piece of the Starfury he's selling came from; he fails, starts a bar fight, and Marcus Cole appears to help him escape. After they leave, the bar owner contacts a Centauri and effectively sells info about G'Kar to them.
-Say what? Turns out Marcus was also looking for Garibaldi, and was following G'Kar to help him. Marcus gets the info from the salvager, and G'kar, grateful, tells him to go back to B5--this is G'kar mission and Marcus is needed back at the main base of the resistance. Almost immediately after Cole leaves, G'kar is captured by the Emperor and presented to Londo, stunned speechless, as a "gift." G'Kar, when asked by Cartagia if he wants to say anything, simply asks after Garibaldi.
-Londo visits G'Kar in his cell later. The Emperor will cruelly kill G'Kar; G'Kar asks if that is what Londo wants. No, Londo wouldn't wish that on G'Kar, not even when he was angriest at G'Kar. He proposes an alliance: G'Kar can help him remove Carthagia from the throne.
Londo: You are in no position to bargain.
G'Kar: Neither are you. You want my help…for the sake of your people. I will give it... for the sake of my own. If I remove the monster from your throne, you will remove the monster... from my world. Leave Narn! Set my world free! Promise me this, and I will do as you ask.
Londo: You have my word.
-Garibaldi is in a windowless, small room. He is repeatedly asked what he remembers after leaving B5; he keeps on saying nothing. He eventually freaks out and starts smashing things, only to be knocked out by sleeping gas... and then a Psi Corps officer comes in to check on him.
-In the tunnels of Z'ha'dum, Sheridan dreams of being wrapped in light. When he awakens, the strange tall alien (Lorien) in in front of him, and informs him that he is dead. Sheridan refuses to believe it; he remembers the fall, but not hitting the ground. Lorien says that there are three options: he has hit the bottom and died; he is still falling; or he is caught between moments, like a second hand moving but not quite at the next second. Sheridan demands to know who the alien is, and Sheridan is thrust back into light.
-Sheridan keeps on trying to escape, and failing. He asks Lorien for his help; Lorien replies that Sheridan must accept the reality of his situation first. Sheridan says he needs to return to the war before thousands lose their lives for no reason; doesn't Lorien care? Well, he doesn't like to see his children fight. Sheridan asks Lorien if he is one of the First Ones; Lorien gently corrects him that he is The First One.
-Lorien has been stuck here waiting for someone to talk to for eternities. The Shadows keep on coming back to Z'ha'dum as a show of respect for daddy Lorien, but they have lost understanding.
-Lorien reveals that Sheridan has a fragment of Kosh1 inside of him -- and the Vorlons often travel inside other beings, for convenience. It was this fragment that told him to jump. Both this fragment, and Sheridan himself, are running from death. Lorien cannot create live, but he can "breathe on its embers" in Sheridan's soul -- if Sheridan can find something to live for, not just not die for. And he can: Delenn.
posted by flibbertigibbet (7 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if it's possible to convey just how brave an episode like this was at the time. I don't think there's a single story beat in this episode that doesn't depend on the audience following the accumulating story - one goes back an episode, one goes back across the season break, and the G'Kar/Londo stuff goes back years! The whole exercise was an enormous leap of faith and the fact that it worked **at all** is a total miracle.

I know this show gets a lot of credit for experimenting with such big structures but from 2019 it's really hard to see how nuts this was. DVRs and eventually Netflix made this kind of structure much, much less risky. The only way we kept up with this during the original airing was to watch it live, sometimes backed up by a friend with a VHS recorder. I can't remember if I was checking out the site in real time, though I think I was eventually clued in to

This is all true of a lot of the show starting at least with the third season... but there's something about the way this particular episode just confidently assumes you're on board that's really breathtaking when I think about TV back then.
posted by range at 7:51 PM on February 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

Yeah, a chunk of S3 and most of S4 are where B5 is just amazing - multiple balls in the air, plot threads that have taken years to build paying off, and some big emotional moments. But you have to have put in the time with the show to get here and so many people I knew couldn't make it through some of the tougher bits of S1 and S2.

When these episodes were airing, I was living in a small town and no longer had access to the channel that was broadcasting the show; every couple of weeks I would go back to my parents house, and very carefully program a VCR to record it, and take the tape with 2-3 episodes on it to my home, to be enjoyed repeatedly. I lived in fear of a power outage or something else disrupting the taping. The ultimate payoff to that was that I had a tape with some critical episodes on it that someone else had missed, and I drove an hour to their place to share the tape for a bottle of wine.

Andreas Katsulas and Peter Jurasik just wring everything they can out of their moments.
posted by nubs at 10:42 AM on February 25, 2019 [8 favorites]

The only way we kept up with this during the original airing was to watch it live, sometimes backed up by a friend with a VHS recorder.

The cross-season gap was mitigated somewhat by Warner's (maddening) insistence on holding back the last several episodes of a season, so they were effectively aired as part of the next season. They did this for seasons 3 and 4 at least, and probably 5.

But of course the episodes aired normally in the UK, so there was a several-month gap where UK fans knew things US fans didn't. Fans trading bootleg tapes was fairly common.
posted by neckro23 at 1:48 PM on February 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I remember on one of my rewatches (in the streaming era) realizing that I don't have a clear memory of where the season boundaries actually are, probably because of those scheduling shenanigans.

Anyway: I really like this episode, largely on the basis of the G'kar/Londo arc shifting into such high gear. I have to admit, several rewatches later, that this is the start of a Garibaldi arc that to this day I find kind of baffling. I think as some point the first watch/rewatch tags got dropped from these threads so I won't mention the future but I have to wonder what happened there as the pieces never seem to fit together for me.
posted by range at 4:33 PM on February 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

range, I think the pieces become pretty clear in future episodes, but feel free to memail me if you want my thoughts.
posted by nubs at 5:53 PM on February 25, 2019

Yeah, to be honest, I hate the upcoming Garibaldi arc and I hate Lorien's upcoming arc (necessity is the mother of invention, etc., I get it; doesn't make me like it).
posted by flibbertigibbet at 6:16 PM on February 25, 2019

I love the 90 degree turn in how the war is preceived that Lorien represents but I was an am underwhelmed with how he makes it possible.
posted by phearlez at 12:04 PM on March 4, 2019

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