Babylon 5: Moments of Transition
July 7, 2019 6:28 PM - Season 4, Episode 14 - Subscribe

The Minbari Civil War ends. Garibaldi and Edgars continue their relationship. Lyta makes a painful decision. "Well, there is just no delicate way to say this. [a pause] I want your body."

-Garibaldi keeps getting packages from Edgars to smuggle through B5. He's uncomfortable; Edgars in insistent but avoiding the question about meeting face-to-face.
-Zack Allen has caught onto the fact that Garibaldi is up to no good, but since it's Garibaldi, he can never catch him. (Helped by Bester, below, coming on-station as a time as inconvenient for Zack as it was wondrous for Garibaldi.)
-Meanwhile, Lyta Alexander is broke as a joke -- her income from the Vorlons is gone since, y'know, the entire race is gone. As a rogue telepath, she can't be hired as a commercial telepath. She's about to be moved to a smaller cabin because she can't afford the rent, and is damn near getting kicked off-station or to Downbelow.
-Meanwhile, Bester arrives on station and is his normal snarky self. For once, his visit has nothing to do with B5 command staff. ...He says.
-He approaches Lyta: she can be a 'deep cover' PsiCorps agent. No gloves, no restrictions -- but she'd be able to take commercial work again. The cost? Her body, upon her death (see pullquote). Why? She has Vorlon modifications in which Bester is VERY interested. He lets her mull her options over...
-Zack makes Lyta an offer -- do an unauthorized scan of Garibaldi! She finds it morally unacceptable and declines, but realizes this is the only kind of work a blacklisted telepath can get... she asks Garibaldi to hire her, since he's pretty black-market himself and his work would be palatable (general security/watchfulness scans to prevent someone from getting the drop on them), but Bester intervenes and even illicitly scans Garibaldi. This causes a scene, and after a chase between Garibaldi (chaser) and Bester (chasee), Zack Allen is caught staring at a smug Bester. Garibaldi hires Lyta...
-...but immediately needs to fire her because Edgars strongly disapproves of any telepaths working for him. Which is weird, isn't he trying to cure the telepaths?
-A desperate Lyta agrees to sign her body to Psi Corps. She is an orphan no more.
-Sheridan worries about Delenn because no real info is leaving Minbar.
-The Warrior Caste blather on about "decision action" after Neroon's double-cross etc. etc. They imply they are not above mass murder -- cities can be rebuilt and the dead will be reincarnated.
-Delenn gets Lennier to deliver a message: the Religious Caste will surrender at a time and place of the Warrior Caste's choosing.
-They choose the Temple of Varenni, a pre-Valen religious site that is symbolic for their post-Valennic order and because it's easy to broadcast from there. They plan to secretly kill Delenn after the surrender, to prevent her leading an uprising.
-Delenn hands Lennier instructions in case she doesn't survive, and declares the surrender. But: this is just a military surrender. The laws of Valen are broken, so they will resolve it as they did before Valen: by stepping into the Starfire Wheel, a pillar of energy (...light). The idea: it's basically a game of chicken with 'instant incineration' as the risk. The beam gets stronger and stronger, until it will instantly dissolve anyone standing inside of it; the person with weaker convictions will flee first, leaving one person the survivor.
-Delenn steps into the beam and calls Shakiri, the Warrior Caste leader to whom Neroon has been reporting all episode, to come into the beam. He refuses and flees. This was the plan -- to break the Warrior Caste's bullish leadership so that peace could be forged...
-...but Delenn is not leaving the pillar, which was decidedly NOT the plan. She is dying for her convictions and falls to near unconsciousness when Neroon steps into the beam and hands her to Lennier. He calls out his conviction -- that his heart belongs to the Religious Caste and that all Minbari should heed Delenn. Neroon, the Minbari Bill Hader, dies in the pillar of energy.
-A still-wounded Delenn calls a Grey Council meeting, broadcast to all Minbari, on the Valen'Tha. She has reformed the Grey Council, with a twist: it is now 5 Workers, 2 Warriors, and 2 Religious, instead of 3-3-3. Why? The Workers were caught in the middle and should be given power to do what they do best: build. Religious and Warrior Castes can advise. She leaves a seat vacant in memory of Neroon and left for 'the one who is to come', and leaves, asking the new Council to judge 'wisely and well'.
-Bester notes everything is going great: not only is the work with Garibaldi going well (he's distancing himself from everyone), he also got Lyta back in the Corps as a two-for-one deal! Well, this is news to us...
-...speaking of news to us, a furious Ivanova comes to Sheridan with footage of Clarke's forces destroying a civilian convoy of refugees, seemingly for funsies. Sheridan pledges open warfare on Clarke and to bring the battle to Earth.
posted by flibbertigibbet (2 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Events + hosting guests have again hit my schedule. Next week!
posted by flibbertigibbet at 5:54 PM on July 28, 2019

It's been so long since I last saw this episode that I forgot Neroon dies. I remembered Delenn standing in the beam of light, but not how she got out. What a fucking *epic* death for a character who started out as a fairly minor antagonist.

It seems to me now that Neroon is to Delenn as Lord Refa is to Londo: a figure from the ambassador's home world who applies pressure and pushes them to actions that drive the plot and reveal their character. But Refa starts out as an ally and becomes an antagonist, while Neroon starts out as an antagonist and becomes an ally. Refa's moral journey is downwards, Neroon's is upwards. And both die extremely memorable deaths.

I understand why people skip "Grey 17 Is Missing," but in retrospect that episode is the fulcrum on which Neroon's character changes. He starts off with the goal of putting the Warrior caste (and himself) in charge of the Rangers; fights Marcus in a duel where the rules are specifically "to the death"; wins the duel-- but then sees that Marcus is about to die willingly for Delenn, and *chooses* to spare him and acknowledge Delenn as Entil'zha. It absolutely mirrors the Minbari decision to surrender at the battle of the Line, when victory was in their hands: in both cases it was a realisation of the nature of the enemy, and the nature of the victory they were about to win.

So: Mercy there, and Self-sacrifice here. Two major character tests often seen on B5 are "What do you do when your enemy is at your mercy?" and "Are you willing to die to save other lives?" Neroon passes both. RIP, and fucking awesome work by John Vickery.
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:16 PM on May 14, 2021

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