Monday, September 10, 2012

B5 Rewatch: Signs and Portents

Well, good morning folks. Thanks for stopping by the Babylon 5 rewatch! Today's episode is the thirteenth of season one, "Signs and Portents." Given that this is also the name of the season itself (each season of this series has a subtitle referencing its overarching story), I suspect this is going to be an important one.

Let's jump in, then, shall we? Spoilers ahead, as usual!

Let Me Sum Up

C and C receives a distress call from a fighter pilot that has come into contact with a group of Raiders. Before they can even begin to send assistance, the fighter is shot down, while the pilot is still on the comm with them. This leads Sinclair, Ivanova, and Garibaldi to implement new strategies not only to protect people traveling to and from the station, but also to try to track down and stop the Raiders. It seems they are somehow managing to escape much more quickly from attack sites than currently known jump gates should allow for. It definitely warrants further investigation.

Sinclair also pulls Garibaldi aside and confides in him that he has been starting to piece together what happened to him during the Battle of the Line, when he was captured by the Minbari Grey Council. He needs to figure out exactly what he went through and why, so he is asking Garibaldi to (unofficially) help him with gathering information so he can reach some sort of understanding about what actually happened.

A man arrives on the station and the security guard remarks that his identification has not been updated in quite some time. The man replies that he has been out of touch for a while, doing some exploration out on the rim of the galaxy. The guard asks if he found anything interesting out there and the man cryptically answers yes before leaving.

Londo, meanwhile, has paid a finder to track down an ancient Centauri artifact that is very valuable to his people. A symbol of Centauri nobility, once property of their very first emperor, it has been missing for over a century. Until now, as the finder has located it and brought it to Londo on the station. The mystery man, Morden, watches from afar and seems very interested in this transaction.

Morden goes to visit G'Kar in his quarters and asks him a simple question, "What do you want?" G'Kar is taken aback, wanting clarification, but Morden insists the question stands. G'Kar gives him a flippant answer and Morden turns to leave, then G'Kar calls him back and says he wants to see the Centauri people completely destroyed for what they have done to his own people. Morden smiles and leaves, G'Kar dismissing the man's question as nonsense once he is gone.

Another Centauri Noble, Lord Kiro, arrives with his Aunt, Lady Ladira, to retrieve the artifact Londo has had recovered. Ladira is a seer and prophetess and upon arriving at the station she has a vision of its destruction, claiming it will fall in fire, death, and pain.

Morden then goes to Delenn to ask her the same question. Before she can answer, she becomes unnerved and feels a symbol begin to appear on her forehead--a silver triangle. She turns to Morden and sees him as a shadow. She orders him to leave and after he is gone she says, clearly disturbed, "They're here."

A cargo ship headed for the station detects Raiders and calls for help. Ivanova and Delta wing are on standby waiting for just such an event and they quickly deploy to render assistance. When they arrive, Ivanova orders two fighters to stay back by the gate in case the Raiders double back, hoping to learn the secret of how they are able to ambush ships and disappear so quickly.

Londo prepares to deliver the artifact to Kiro for transportation to the Centauri homeworld when Morden approaches to ask him the same question he asked G'Kar and Delenn. Londo is irritated but Morden manages to goad him into answering that he would like to see his people restored to their former glory, taking their place once more as a power in the galaxy. He wants them to be what they used to be, he wants things the way that they were. Londo storms off and Morden seems very satisfied with the answer.

It is quickly revealed that the attack on the cargo ship was actually a diversion to empty out the station's Cobra bays so that certain parties could steal the artifact from Londo and Kiro and get off the station with it before another wing of fighters could be deployed to give chase. Thankfully, Sinclair has been focusing on the Raiders enough of late to realize that this latest attack really doesn't fit the pattern and is, in fact, a trap. He calls Ivanova back from pursuit of the Raiders and goes to warn Londo about the danger. Of course, Londo is already being held hostage by the thief, along with Kiro and Ladira.

The thief grabs Kiro and Sinclair steps aside, letting him get to the ship. He assures Londo that things are under control. With the advance warning, they already have another flight prepared to launch and they can block the thief from dialing the jump gate to escape. They will be able to retake the stolen Centauri ship and recover Kiro without too much fuss.

Of course, just as it looks like they'll do just that, a jump point forms and a large Raider ship, a command ship, appears. Fighters break off to attack the station and Alpha wing engages. But Sinclair had an ace up his sleeve and while Garibaldi gets the attacking Raiders into position, Ivanova returns with Delta wing to box in the Raiders and shut them down. The command ship does manage to get away, but they now know of its existence. Also, without any fighter ships, it is just a big target, and it will take them time to rebuild their forces.

It does turn out that the thief, who was a Raider, managed to get away with Kiro and the artifact, however. We learn that Kiro actually hired the Raiders to help him steal the artifact and take over the Centauri. The Raiders don't think they are powerful enough to do that second bit, though, so they double-cross Kiro, planning to take the artifact for themselves. If they ransom it back to the Centauri, they can make enough money to buy another command ship (or more) and replenish their fighters. They plan to ransom Kiro back as well, and to keep blackmailing him on top of that in order to stay quiet about his own involvement in their scheme. Before they can make good on that, however, a mysterious ship (similar to the one Sinclair's girlfriend Catherine encountered several episodes ago) arrives and destroys the Raider ship. The Shadows we have been hearing about have finally struck.

Londo believes that with the loss of the artifact his own career is over. He fears that this failure is too big for his government to ignore and expects to be replaced as ambassador very shortly. Morden comes to visit him, however, and presents him with the eye, then disappears before Londo can thank him or get an explanation.

Garibaldi follows up with Sinclair on the personal investigation he asked him to undergo. Garibaldi reveals that some digging turned up information that Sinclair had never been the first choice to run the station. Sinclair is unsurprised, saying he had always suspected as much. Garibaldi tells him that he was actually pretty far down the list. In fact, a whole line of prestigious people were rejected, one by one, until Sinclair's name was put up for the job. Sinclair asks who was rejecting the names and Garibaldi tells him it was the Minbari government. They were the first race to sign on to the project and did so on the condition they could have approval of the person chosen to run the station. And they wanted Sinclair in charge.

Sinclair goes to bid Lady Ladira a farewell and she tells him that her vision of the station's destruction still remains. She shows it to him and he asks her if it is a definite future or only a possible one. She replies that the future is always changing, so it is only possible. She hopes he will be able to find a way to avoid it.


You know, as much as I joke about the stock footage (although I guess that is mostly in my head--be thankful you are spared this), most of it really is pretty nifty.

Hahahaha, oh my goodness, the computers on this station are the SO the precursor to SIRI, aren't they?

Poor Ivanova, I feel you, I really really do. It is so very much harder to get up when it's dark. Although at four-thirty? Yeah, that makes it even worse.

The Raiders are getting to be a much bigger problem, aren't they? Hmm, have they found a secret jump gate? I do like that Team Sinclair wants to be proactive and try to find a way to use the situation to their advantage to track down the Raiders so they can have a chance at stopping them.

Ooh, Sinclair is opening up to Garibaldi about his capture by the Minbari! I like that he is trying to find out what actually happened instead of just freaking out and confronting Delenn about it.

Hmm. Londo has managed to track down and recover a very important Centauri artifact, cool. Why do I suspect that he isn't going to just give it to a museum? Also, new cryptic guy from just from the Rim sure does seem interested.

Oh my gosh, this poor guy stuck in between Londo and G'Kar! I would not trade places with him for anything! Dude, I would be diving in that elevator and jamming on the close button too. I love that the relationship and rivalry between Londo and G'Kar so much. Especially since, while it is completely justified, the writers manage to make their arguments so entertaining and amusing without pushing them over into being caricatures. If that makes sense. They provide this (very necessary to the show) sense of levity but it is done in a way that doesn't degrade the conflict between the two. I really like that.

Okay, mystery man has a name: Morden. I knew he was important.

Can someone please show me a flow chart of the Narn government? They keep mentioning these numbered Circles, and I think I grasp how they are organized, but I'd like some confirmation.

Oh, G'Kar doesn't have feels about the Centauri at all, huh? Oh, yeah, I know who Morden is now. Yeah, definitely important. Also, yeah. Just. Well, we'll see more on that later down the road.

Hmm. Centauri prophetess? It's, um, it's not good when a seer gets that kind of look on her face. Oh good, prophesy of fire and doom! Well, it does give the episode's title some relevance, eh? Aw, this show was so cheery up until now.

Hey, those guys don't have crazy hair. Is it a hierarchy thing? Dude. I would never want to advance to prominence in that culture.

Oh, oh. You're gonna be killed by shadows? You are so screwed dude. Yeah, scoff all you want, you have no idea.

Oh, what's this with the symbol on Delenn's head? Oh, is it a spidey sense? Look, Morden's gone all shadowy. That's not telling. She's kicking Morden out. That's definitely smart. Though, is it because she sensed his nefarious purposes or...well...something's going on. Hmm, I am guessing that symbol has something to do with the Grey Council.

Oh lord. This Kiro guy is unhappy to just be a wealthy noble. He wants power, he wants to stop the world from changing. That's never going to be a winning battle, dude. I like that Londo is kind of noncommittal about wanting to keep to the old ways.

Oh, wait, he wants everything back the way it was. Guess he's not so ambivalent about change after all, huh?

Oh, hey, remember when this episode was about the Raiders? Oh, is Ivanova actually going to get to do something about them? Go Delta wing, go! Um...okay. What was that about? So, the Raider attack is a trap?

Hmm. Morden hiding from Kosh. Interesting.

"Yes, yes. Look, what do you want?" (Londo)
"That's what I was going to ask you. What do you want?" (Morden)
"You are a lunatic. Go away. Pester someone else." (Londo)

Oh, good for you Sinclair, being suspicious about this attack. Hopefully that will serve you well.

Hmm, so, the trap was for Londo's artifact, which leads me to believe that Morden is involved. Thankfully Sinclair is a smart cookie and figured out something was up.

Wait wait wait. He gets his brains splattered across the docking bay? Really? We've already seen that his gun is, in fact, an energy weapon of some sort, not a projectile weapon. In fact, I don't know that we've seen any projectile weapons thus far on the show. actual splattering of brains. How is that expression still in the lingo? How hard would it have been to come up with a threat appropriate to the actual weapon in use. Writer fail, guys. Just. Ugh. Sorry, sorry, that just pulled me right out of things.

Oh, Sinclair, that smile. Dude, you only think you're getting away with it.

Yup, Garibaldi ready and jump gate shut down. Of course, Ladira says the shadows are coming. That can't be good. Oh, Sinclair, you're getting too smug, stop!

Oh, so big ships can jump without a gate? And the Raiders have a big battle cruiser type ship. Explains a lot.

Can Morden sense Kosh? That's interesting.

Oh, I see where the smug was coming from. Hello, Ivanova.

Hmm. Kosh's suit was damaged. Presumably in his encounter with Morden.

Oh Kiro. You sad power-hungry idiot. You really thought the Raiders wouldn't betray you? Oh, and they're going to blackmail you on top of it all. Of course. Oh, wait, no. Won't get the chance. Hey, remember how you didn't believe Ladira about being killed by Shadows? Yeah, that was dumb.

"A gift. From friends you don't know you have." (Morden)

Okay, Londo, this right here, this whole encounter? That should be a huge red flag. You just accidentally sold your soul. Oops.

So. The Minbari wanted Sinclair to run the station. That deepens the mystery.

Oh, the station is still doomed? Damn. That's cool that Ladira can share her visions. It gives them a little bit more weight, I bet.

"Is it a vision of what will be or what might be?" (Sinclair)
"The future is always changing. We create the future with our words, our deeds, and with our beliefs." (Ladira)

Sinclair has had a hell of a couple of days, huh? There is so much going on in this episode. As I said at the start, it's an important one. The Raiders are kind of knocked out of contention, but with Morden and these Shadows, we get a new and rather ominous foe to focus on. One that's been hinted at thus far, but that hasn't really been shown too much. We also see that at the very least Kosh and Delenn have some familiarity with this foe as well, which suggests that they are not new, only mostly unknown. Then there is the doom foretold for the station, and Sinclair's discovery that the Minbari for some reason wrangled him into his current position without his knowledge.

It's going to be fun watching to find out how all of this ties together, eh?


That's it for today. I hope to see you back here on Wednesday for the next episode, "TKO."

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