RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Survivors” (Season 1, Episode 11)

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My one word review? Maudlin. My longer review? Read on:

PLAY BY PLAY

President Santiago (Re-elected in “Midnight on the Firing Line”) is en rout to B5 aboard “Earth Force 1.” (Oooh! Nice!) Meanwhile, there’s an explosion in the Cobra Bays (From whence the fighters are launched). The Presidential Security Team that arrived on the station about the same time investigates and finds evidence of sabotage. Further investigation implicates Garibaldi. Garibaldi runs to try and clear his name, and eventually he does. The president arrives at the station without incident.

MEANWHILE, there’s no subplot whatsoever. Yeah, that’s right kids: as anemic as the A story is, that’s all we have to sit and stare at.

The End

OBSERVATIONS

There’s not really a lot here to even talk about. Garibaldi is an alcoholic, though he’s been on the wagon for some time. Interestingly, this is foreshadowed in The Gathering in a scene where Garibaldi is in the Casino with a drink in front of him, and he’s just staring at it as if trying to decide what to do. He was apparently already an alcoholic when he worked security on the ice mines of Europa back in 2241. He got into trouble with the local mob, but rather than kill him they went after his best friend, Frank Kemmer. Garibaldi became a raging alcoholic at that point, and was “Blackballed throughout the solar system.” He eventually lost his jobs on Orion IV and Mars for alcoholism, and as they said in “Midnight on the Firing Line,” he’d been fired from his five previous jobs and B5 is his last chance to make good. He’s been precariously on the wagon for a couple years, and he’s back on it again now, but his addiction *will* come back, and people will die because of it.

In the kind of coincidence that could only happen in cheesy SF, Frank Kemmer’s daughter is in charge of presidential security, and she’s got an axe to grind with him. The scene where Garibaldi is laying drunk on the floor and she comes in and says “Drunk again, Uncle Mike?” and he sees her as a little girl is *particularly* cloying.

Babylon 5 isn’t some jerkwater gas station in the middle of nowhere, it’s a highly prestigious and high profile assignment at *THE* major port of call in the space lanes. So why is a broken-down five-time loser like Garibaldi in charge of security? Yeah, yeah, I know: Sinclair insisted. So why is a broken-down loser like Sinclair in charge of the station? We’ll find out in twelve more weeks.

Given all the stuff that happened to Franklin last week, he seems fine here, you know? A little too fine.

It’s unclear if the terrorist attack here is to kill the president or just cripple B5, since the bombs seem set to go off during the honor guard, before he comes aboard. That might just be bad planning on the part of the terrorists, I guess. The initial bombing was accidental, set off by the construction equipment in the Cobra Bays. Homeguard was behind the whole thing, because of their opposition to Santiago’s “New immigration and trade policies.”

While on the lam, Garibaldi goes to some people for help: Londo takes pity on him and slides him some cash, G’kar offers to hire him as a traitor to serve his people; Na’Grath just throws him out. Garibaldi seems a bit intimidated when he gets close to Na’Grath. Did he not know what he looked like? How?

By the way, Na’Grath (Who is not the guy who sang “I just wanna’ fly”) uses a translator: that glowing thing on his chest.

Garibaldi pops out of the methane breather sector into the ‘normal’ section using an access hatch, which lets a lot of fog through. Uhm…that’s methane, right? Isn’t he dumping a whole lot of poison gas into the oxygen section? Shouldn’t that set off an alarm or something? It’s a major health hazard! Shouldn’t everyone be able to smell it? When the security team shoots at him, shouldn’t it ignite the methane?

Lou Welch returns here: this is the first time we’ve seen him since “The Gathering.” The French Chick also has a couple lines.

“Heavy Cutters” used by the construction teams on B5 use “Antiprotons,” evidently they use some kind of mater/antimater reaction to cut metal?

Using Jerry Doyle’s age as a base, Garibaldi must have been about 21 on Europa. That seems about right. Major Kemmer, however, seems way too young for her job. Kinda’ brutal, too.

Ivonova’s badass line of the week: Smiling while she says “You are going to resist, I hope?”

The Vree, who sent flying saucers to attack the station in “Deathwalker” are known for their repulsive eating habits. Even the Narn are put off.

Fugitives are referred to as “Blips” in this episode.

Major Kemmer’s “Command Center” is a redress of Sinclair’s office.

“Breathers” and “Oxypills” allow people to sober up very quickly.

“Zeta Squadron,” the stations fourth, arrives in this episode. It was supposed to arrive two years previously, but was postponed for budget cuts. Budgetary problems will play a major role in the next episode.

Holographic video games show up in this ep, in the casino. Holograms will return on such infrequent instances as the writers remember they exist.

Mark Scott Zicree wrote this episode. Based on a quick look at his credits, it would appear he was a friend of Straczynski’s, as they worked on a few of the same previous episodes.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

It’s hard to imagine *anyone* liking this episode, but I think our people will like it less than most simply for the implication that assassination is the kind of thing we do, and that we’re motivated by racism (Or in this case, speciesism)

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