Hello my lovelies! Welcome to another installment of the Babylon 5 rewatch! Today I'll be watching the fourteenth episode of the first season, "TKO." Are you ready to set forth on a spoilerific journey with me? Well then, let's go!
Let Me Sum Up
An old friend of Garibaldi's, Walker Smith, has come to Babylon 5. He runs into Garibaldi in the Zocalo and they agree to catch up over dinner. Arriving on the same flight is a rabbi, who it turns out is actually Ivanova's rabbi and an old family friend. He has come to pass on something her father left for her when he died.
Smith reveals to Garibaldi that he was pushed out of his boxing career when he refused to accept a temporary retirement to give another, heavily sponsored, boxer a shot at the title. The sponsor framed him to fail a drug test so he would be publicly destroyed and forced out of the game. It's been two years since he's been able to get a legitimate match. So he has come to the station to make history. He wants to be the first human to fight in the Mutai, a very brutal alien fighting competition. Garibaldi disapproves. Strongly. Smith won't be deterred, he thinks doing well in the Mutai will give him a shot back in human competitions.
Ivanova's rabbi goes to Sinclair to confide that he is worried about her. Sinclair is surprised to learn of the death of Ivanova's father, as she hasn't told him, preferring to keep such personal matters private. The rabbi then says that Ivanova has not yet sat shiva and asks if the Commander would be willing to give her a few days leave. Sinclair hurriedly assures the rabbi that she can take as much time as she needs. The rabbi tells Ivanova this over dinner that evening and she is very upset, pointing out that her father always tried to control her life and she doesn't need anyone else to fill his place now that he's gone. She storms out and the rabbi realizes he has misstepped badly.
Garibaldi takes Smith to the Mutari to find the Muta-Do and sign up to fight the Mutai. He is told that the Mutai is not for humans and that he should leave. He starts to get angry, dismissing the alien who tells him this, only to learn the man is the Muta-Do. The Muta-Do knocks him down and tells him again that the Mutai is not for him and he should go back to Earth. Another alien in the room watches this encounter closely. Later, he approaches Smith and tells him there is a way for him to fight in the Mutai if he is still interested, but it must be done with respect and care.
Smith gets tickets to the next Mutai fight and drags Garibaldi along. After the champion is declared, the Muta-Do asks if anyone will challenge him, and Smith steps forward. Apparently once the champion has accepted, no one can call off the fight, regardless of their feelings about the opponent's right to participate in the Mutai. The champion does accept. Garibaldi is extremely annoyed and worried for his friend. His worries only increase when a pack of aliens confront Smith saying that even if he has exploited a loophole, he does not belong in this fight. They accuse him and all Earthers of trying to steal and ruin and corrupt their ways and they promise him they will not allow him to ruin this thing.
Rabbi Yossel brings Ivanova's legacy to her. She apologizes for her behavior at dinner and he apologizes in return, acknowledging he handled things badly. The legacy turns out to be a family heirloom and Ivanova is excited to receive it. The rabbi says he is leaving the next day unless she has changed her mind about sitting shiva. She says no, and feels like she owes him an explanation. She tells him that while she was more or less okay with her father's lack of showing affection as a child, after her mother had to begin undergoing treatment from Psi Corps and could no longer show love, Ivanova felt abandoned by her father. When she left to join Earthforce, against his wishes, he acted like she was the one who was abandoning him. She says she could not forgive him for that, even now. Yossel sadly accepts this, understanding that without forgiveness she cannot mourn. Though he fears without the mourning she will always bear the pain.
Ivanova goes to see Yossel off the station and as he is leaving she thinks back on her father's dying words. She remembers his acknowledgement that he should have been able to give her love as well as respect, as well as his apology and request for forgiveness. In that moment she decides to grant it and calls for Yossel. He returns to her side, and she asks if he will sit shiva with her after all. He agrees happily. She sits shiva and shares memories of her father and kind of cleanses herself of the bad, taking the good into her. She gets a bit of a breakdown out of the way and is finally able to begin moving on past all of the years of hurt.
Despite being woefully under trained for the Mutari style of fighting, Smith manages to hold his own against the champion. The Drazi who made threats earlier does try to intervene and take Smith out mid-fight, but Caliban sees this and Garibaldi is able to stop him. The fight ends in a draw and Smith shows due respect to the Muta-Do and the champion, earning the respect of the champion and audience as well. Smith seems to have gained a bit of respect for the Mutari traditions and the Mutari seem to have gained a bit of respect for humans as well. The Muta-Do declares that humans will henceforth be welcomed in the Mutai.
All in all things end on a rather positive note. I know, it was a surprise to me, too.
Heh. White Star Liner. I bet they have so much fun coming up with these ship names.
Garibaldi sees someone up to no good, they must be stopped!
Oh wow, is this an old friend of Garibaldi's who is actually happy to see him? That's new. So, a boxer. Garibaldi would be friends with a boxer.
Was that a Total Recall reference?
Oh, it has been a while if Smith doesn't know that Garibaldi is (mostly) sober now.
Ivanova is reading Harlan Ellison. That is awesome. Okay, old family friend there to talk about her dead father. Less awesome. Oh wow, talk about the silent disappointment. Passive-aggressive rabbi is passive-aggressive (yet very nice about it).
Oh lordy, rabbi, no! Why are you sharing all of Ivanova's private business with the Commander? That's not cool. I get that you're worried, but, dude. That's not cool. Especially for someone as private as Ivanova. She's a stubborn and driven woman. If she hasn't made time to sit shiva on her own, she probably had a reason for it. Yeesh.
"It's Treel. It's a sort of fish. The Centauri raise them." (Ivanova)
"Treel? It's kosher?" (Rabbi)
"That I can't say." (Ivanova)
"I don't recall Treel being mentioned in the Torah, so..." (Rabbi)
"How are things at home?" (Ivanova)
"They change. They stay the same. Russia is Russia." (Rabbi)
Okay, at least the rabbi realizes that she is refusing to sit shiva, not that she really hasn't been able to make time. Oh, wow. Crying Ivanova. Damn. Sigh. I know you meant well, sir, but if you know her at all you should have known that was going to blow up in your face.
Sigh. Yeah, let me sign up for your super special fight by being overly arrogant and dismissive. That always works. Heh heh, Garibaldi knew that was the Muta-Do.
Why do they keep calling them snakeheads? I see no snakes or snake-like heads. No scales. It is confusing to me. Also, it keeps making me think of Stargate's Goa'uld, who really did have snakes in their heads. Yes, I know this came first. But that's where my mind goes.
Oh dear. Now Sinclair has taken up the rabbi's cause. Granted, he knows Ivanova pretty well, and he would be worried, rightly so, that she doesn't appear to be mourning her father. Though, she is very right in telling him it is her right to be emotional or not. It's an interesting line to toe, trying to be supportive and respect your friend's wishes and personal space while still making sure they are taking emotional care of themselves.
Hmm. Smith, what are you up to?
Okay, I guess I can see a little bit of the serpentine in their faces. But still. Snakehead seems extreme. The Drazi seem much more snake-like than the Mutari.
Smith really doesn't seem like he's down with exploring alien cultures and experiencing new things. Shoehorning your way into an alien tradition doesn't seem to be the route to go if you're so stubbornly stuck in human ways, seems to me.
Also, for the record: This extreme fighting doesn't look all that extreme. Am I just the jaded product of a violence-saturated culture?
Oh Garibaldi. Why that shirt? I mean, the colors are better than your last attempt at casual wear, but the pattern...sigh. I think so far this season Garibaldi wins for "Biggest Fashion Victim."
Lot of meddling going on in this episode, it seems.
Ooh, a legacy! I want a legacy!
Ah, the root of Ivanova's daddy issues. It gives us some very interesting insight into her character, and as to why she is so closed off, even with her friends. Of course, with everyone bringing up the issue she's been avoiding thinking about, it's a good bet she's going to have to start thinking about it.
Also, wow. Talk about the soulful eyes there. The camera man better be careful, he could drown getting that close-up.
"Nice punch." (Garibaldi)
"Glass jaw, but he kicks like a mule." (Smith)
"What is a mule?" (Caliban)
"You're training one." (Garibaldi)
Yeah, I am with Garibaldi on this one. Still trying to figure out Caliban's angle. It does seem like Smith has gotten the attention he wanted already. If he manages to survive the fight he probably stands a good chance at a comeback career.
I like that Sinclair is familiar with shiva traditions. Also, it's nice to get to see him be GoodGuy!Sinclair in this episode. I am sure he is enjoying the break as well. Speaking of nice breaks, it is wonderful to get to see Ivanova so wholly off-duty. She is getting rounded out nicely in this episode.
Hmm, that Drazi from earlier is there. I bet he's up to no good. Is that the guy Gyor beat at the last match? Because, yeah, nursing a grudge is a good way to do something stupid.
I am having a hard time with Smith's level of cockiness in trying to bull his way into the Mutai. It is a completely different discipline from boxing, and he is really not prepared for making the transition.
Oh, see, now you've just hit him enough to make him mad.
Bad Drazi, bad! Okay, way to go, Garibaldi!
Oh, and here come all of Ivanova's feels. Which is what happens when you bottle them up. Oh, I want to give her hugs.
Fight's still going. Whee. Man, I think those neon ring "ropes" would distract the heck out of me. Hmm. Well, I guess a draw is better than Mr. Arrogant coming in and just winning hands down. Can we learn to be respectful of a well-matched opponent? That would be nice. Is that where this is going? Huh. It looks like it is.
Oh, Ivanova. A joke about his girlfriend? Awesome.
Well, I'll be damned. A lesson of mutual respect. Smith learned something and the Mutari decided to be a bit more accepting of humans. Wow. Maybe that was Caliban's angle?
I...was this a happy episode? I mean, comparatively speaking, obviously, what with the angst and mourning and crying and whatnot. But, no, seriously, it ended on a good note. On a plausible good note, even. I am impressed. And remembering why I love this show so much. Damn.
Well, I guess that with that, I'll leave you. We've managed to wrap up another week of the rewatch. Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope to see you again on Monday with the next episode, "Grail."