Last Friday, we finished the first season of Babylon 5. While I said I wasn’t going to do Ohiesque episode-by-episode reactions, I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts on the full season experience:
- The attention to detail is utterly amazing. Once you start getting sucked into the universe, you start to notice all these little touches. Background shots of newspaper headlines, bits of dialogue that seems innocuous in its original context that comes to be important several episodes later.
- While I admit that I was very down on Sinclair in the beginning, by the end of the season he’d really grown on me.
- So far, my favourite characters are, in no particular order, Ivanova, Garibaldi, and Londo. This is interesting, because as near as I can tel, these are the three characters who are most obviously broken.
- Susan is utterly delightful. She has just the sort of acerbic wit and weary, i-don’t-have-time-for-this attitude that just makes fall a little bit in love with her every time she does something. (That she’s incredibly easy on the eyes does nothing to hinder this, really). We were terribly amused to find two of her signature lines (which everyone’s heard, even if they haven’t watched the show) came in first season. I admit, I found her following to the “No boom today.” line almost funnier than the line itself: “What?! Look, somebody’s got to have some damn perspective around here. Boom. Sooner or later … boom!” She seems to like saying “boom.”
- Garibaldi very much seems like the guy who has been through the grinder and come out the other side. He has a wonderfully direct manner that suits his job well, but it’s very clear to see that he’s haunted by his past. I do find it interesting that, for all that he is in uniform, he’s never addressed by rank. He is always “Mister Garibaldi” to everyone. Is he actually still considered a part of the EarthForce military structure, or does his post as Security Chief exist outside of that?
- Londo is an interesting dichotomy, a comic tragic figure. He’s first shown to us as a bit of a buffoon, but as we get to know him, it becomes clear that what he really is is a used-up old man, whose career is waning as swiftly as his people’s importance. Even before he starts to get involved with dark forces he doesn’t quite comprehend, he surprises you sometimes by dropping his jovial facade and giving you a glimpse at the beaten down spirit underneath. “My shoes are too tight,” he says, “but it doesn’t matter, for I have forgotten how to dance.” I’m sure this will play into his decisions with regards to what Mr. Morden is offering.
- Morden is a fascinating character too, for all that we’ve seen him so far. What’s interesting to him is that he’s obviously a bad guy and not to be trusted. And yet, there’s really nothing about him that’s objectionable. He’s well dressed, pleasant, genial, gregarious, polite and respectful to everyone he speaks to. He’s always friendly, and he smiles. And yet, you can’t help think “I should not trust this man.” kitanzi commented that he reminded her of a used car salesman.
- One of the interesting parts about coming into the series as late as we have is that we know some of what’s in store. Not really specifics, but enough of the overall plot arc has seeped into fannish popular culture that it would be hard to miss. This puts us in the fascinating position of recognizing something is important without really knowing why. “That’s a piece of the puzzle,” I commented at one point. “I don’t know where it fits. But I know it’s a puzzle piece.” I’m looking forward to watching the various pieces drop in.
- The Lurkers Guide is a fabulous resource, if only for JMS’s commentary for each episode. After watching the season, I went back and read through the commentary there, since it was purposefully structured NOT to spoil you on stuff later on, I figured it was safe. I don’t think there’s ever been a project which had so much personal feedback from the creator the fan base as it was happening It kinda makes me sad now that I missed out on it when it was happening.
In the end, I’m sure you’re all wondering “So….what’d you think? Are you hooked yet?” And the answer is….oh yes, we’re in deep. While I know that my friend would have happily loaned me the subsequent seasons, getting up with her to collect them would have taken…..days. Hours, at least. So I went out on Saturday and bought Season 2. I had to visit five stores to find it. But, in for a penny, in for a pound, as they say. (Actually, at current exchange rates, its more like “In for a penny, in for 32 pounds”, but still well worth it.)
We’ve started Season 2 already, and I’ll report back when we finish it!