Monday, October 29, 2012

B5 Rewatch: The Long Dark

Hello! Welcome to another installment of the Babylon 5 rewatch! Just a reminder that tomorrow's post will be the last one until December, as I will be busy trying to write a novel in November.

If you're ready to proceed, then please, join me for a spoiler-filled discussion of the second season's fifth episode, "The Long Dark."

Let Me Sum Up

Ivanova alerts Sheridan to a signal from an incoming vessel. The ship is coming from deep space rather than a jump gate. She also tells him that its signal is coming in a frequency that she's never seen before, though it doesn't seem exactly alien. They get a message from the ship and it identifies itself as the Copernicus. It says it comes in peace.

The ship turns out to be a deep space exploration vehicle built by humans over a hundred years ago, just before they encountered the Centauri and got jump gate technology. The ship was manned by two people who were cryogenically frozen while the ship automatically flew through space, broadcasting a the message that Ivanova picked up. The ship was programmed to revive its crew once a return signal was picked up.

A scan of the ship shows up a life sign, so Sheridan has it brought aboard. He and a team go to the ship and find that one of the crew members died while in stasis, but the other is still alive. She is rushed to Medlab and  Franklin revives her. Her name is Mariah Cirrus and the other crew member was her husband Will. It is quite a shock to her learning that not only is it over a hundred years in the future, but her husband did not survive the voyage.

A human veteran, Amis, with severe PTSD living in Down Below seems to be set off by the arrival of the Copernicus. He runs around the station screaming about the coming darkness and the end of days. Eventually Garibaldi and a Security team subdue him and Garibaldi, recognizing the symptoms of PTSD, lets the man sleep him off. He seems lucid enough when he wakes so Garibaldi lets him go. The man shrugs off the suggestion of seeking a counselor. The man seeks out the old ship, seeming drawn to it, but he scampers off when someone sees him looking at it.

Franklin also discovers that Will was murdered. Somehow, while he was in stasis, all of his internal organs were removed from his body. He rules out Mariah as a suspect though, because the logs show she never left stasis during the voyage. Sheridan isn't so sure about this, pointing out that logs can be altered. He at least wants to speak to her once Franklin thinks she's up for it.

Franklin, rather taken with her, shows her around the station and catches her up on the highlights of humanity's history since she went to sleep. After a strange encounter with G'Kar, Mariah passes out and Franklin notices that she seems to be having some kind of nightmare while she is out. After she wakes he tells her the truth about her husband's death. She worries that he thinks she might have killed him but he says no. Though he thinks maybe her dreams are may be able to tell them something about who actually did.

There is a murder on the station and the victim turns out to have died the same way that Mariah's husband did. The station is up in arms, with the Council of Non-Aligned Worlds demanding Mariah be sent off the station immediately. One of the councilors says that clearly she brought something evil from the past with her. He suggests it is a soldier of Darkness, a minion of that ancient enemy (the Shadows again!) who is once more stirring and calling forth its followers.

Garibaldi finds Amis starting to slip again and sits him down to ask what exactly he is freaking out about. It turns out that when he was a soldier, he and a team were sent to set up a listening station in some ruins on a moon. The squad was attacked by some kind of alien and Amis was the only survivor. Some research into the Copernicus' flight plan shows that it flew right past that moon on its journey. It is very likely one of the aliens (or even the same one) hitched a ride and killed Will.

Garibaldi asks Amis how he managed to survive the attack and he says he didn't. The alien kept him alive, snacking on him, causing him to waste away until a rescue team arrived. He says that the alien still has a part of him in it, and claims he can feel it. That's how he knew it was on board the station. Garibaldi asks if he thinks he can actually find it, and Amis says he thinks so.

Unfortunately, Amis runs off after the alien without Garibaldi, thinking he wants to settle his score with it on his own. Sheridan thinks that since they know the thing is going to attack again, they shouldn't tempt fate by going after it. Garibaldi doesn't agree, however, and asks Mariah if she can help him find Amis. She agrees, and Franklin will only let her go if he does too. The three of them manage to find the alien and call it in. Sheridan and Ivanova bring reinforcements and they manage to kill it and save Amis.

Franklin thinks that, with the alien dead, Amis should make a full recovery. He asks Mariah what she plans to do next, offering to help her out if she wants to stay on the station. She declines, saying that she needs to grieve for her husband first and then catch up on everything she missed while she was in space. But if Franklin is still up for giving it a shot when she's done that, she might be back.

Ivanova finally finishes going over all of the Copoernicus' logs and she finds something interesting. She tells Sheridan that the logs show a loss of oxygen when the ship passed by the moon where Amis' squad was slaughtered. That seems to confirm that the alien did come aboard at that time. More than that, though, she found that it altered the ship's course when it boarded. It didn't realize that the ship was programmed to respond to any signals it came across, otherwise it would have gone right past Babylon 5 without them being any the wiser. Sheridan asks where it was headed and she tells him for the Rim, to Za'ha'dum. They discuss G'Kar's predictions that a great enemy is massing its forces from that location and it sounds like they are beginning to believe him.


Cool ship name alert: Copernicus! Apparently, they come in peace. Through the walls?

Ozones? Is that a slang name for something or actual ozone, I wonder? Okay, seriously, what is up with this guy?

On Earth as it is in space, huh? I wonder if the Lord's Prayer actually was officially changed in the wake of space travel or if that was just supposed to be seen as more crazy ramblings.

I do wonder what's going on with this guy though, because he's talking about the "darkness" that usually means people are referring to the Shadows.

A missionary license, huh?

So, the ship is over a hundred years old. A deep exploration vessel of a design predating jump gates. With something alive inside? Hmm. Is it just me or does letting that on board without a TON of precautions seem like a Bad Idea?

Huh. So, cryogenics in the museum? Indicating that such technology is now rather outdated and no longer pursued. But clearly it was put into practical use at one point. Interesting.

Random small detail: Cardiac stimulator rather than a defibrillator. I like that the writers gave some thought to how that tech might advance in the wake of alien contact.

Ivanova, why are you investigating the derelict ship on your own? I consider this Ill-Advised.

"Well I've found that life is, in general, much easier if I forget most of the things that happen to me." (Amis)
"Well you were about to accuse the Centauri Ambassador of being in league with the devil. Which might not be far from the truth." (Garibaldi)

I love that even though Garibaldi and Londo are buds, Garibaldi totally acknowledges that the guy is a sneak.

I also like that Garibaldi identified this guy as a veteran with PTSD (because he recognizes some of himself in the guy's actions) and handles him with a little extra respect.

Is that the wife from In the Heat of the Night? Yup. Huh. The things that stick with you from shows you watch when you're a kid, eh?

So, the other guy on the ship was murdered while he was cryogenically frozen. That sucks. Missing his organs? Oh god. That's just freaky.

Oh lord, Franklin's got a crush on her, doesn't he? Dude. You have some issues with professionalism.

Hey, you've been in stasis for over a century. Oh, and your husband's dead. Someone stole all his organs while he was sleeping. Yeesh.

Hmm. Looks like Garibaldi's buddy is up to something. Whatcha doing at the old ship there, guy?

Ooh! Quick history lesson, yay! Background exposition!

"And we still haven't outgrown violence?" (Mariah)
"No. It's gonna take a lot more than a hundred years to evolve a better human." (Franklin)

"The future isn't what it used to be." (G'Kar)

Dude, G'Kar, what kind of whammy did you put on that girl?

Oh. My. God. Franklin, you took her to your place? Seriously? You just told her that her husband was murdered, do not kiss her!! Well. At least the man has SOME restraint.

Dang. I really am not having happy feels for Franklin on this go around, am I?

Heh. The Drazi's dinner is trying to make a run for it. That's disturbing.

Oh, Garibaldi's buddy is back, and he's worked up again. I am glad that Garibaldi isn't just dismissing him out of hand.

Someone died on the station, the same way Mariah's husband did? That doesn't bode well. Huh. Amis was on a moon that Mariah's ship passed in its journey?

Garibaldi thinks Mariah might be an impostor. Thank you Sheridan for seeing that Franklin is so not impartial on this.

Getting a little defensive there, aren't we Franklin? Especially considering how close to the mark Garibaldi actually got.

"For what it's worth, I hope you're right. But if you're not, be careful." (Garibaldi)

A soldier of Darkness, huh? Unsurprisingly, Londo is dismissive and G'Kar is interested. Ooh, background mythology, yay!

"Evil sometimes wears a pleasant face." (Council Member)

Dude. Way to smackdown Sheridan. Why couldn't you have laid some of that down on Londo, huh?

Aw, Garibaldi's having bad dreams too. Poor guy.

Giving Amis the chance to prove himself. Nice. Oh, he thinks it is after him because he was the only one from his squad who survived on that moon. But Garibaldi knows what's up. Good man.

Oh, it needs to have, what, a host to snack on until it runs into people it can eat? That's so beyond creepy. Mariah's husband was wasted away already, so clearly the alien was snacking on him. The real question is, was it still in Will when it got to the station, or had it moved on to Mariah by then?

See, now the question here is this: Is Mariah just really bad at dealing with grief/really interested in Franklin, or is she an evil alien impostor trying to take him unawares?

By the by, where is her guard that is supposed to be a) not Franklin, and b) supposed to be on her 24/7?

Hmm, does seem the alien had moved on to Mariah. has it left her completely?

Uh, oh, Amis!

Sheridan, I am not sure not looking for the alien is the best option. But hey, you're the guy in charge.

Garibaldi doesn't agree either, does he? Oh dear. Just him, Mariah and Franklin? That's not much of a fight party.

"You got a plan?" (Ivanova)
"Let's try not to get killed." (Sheridan)
"Brilliant." (Ivanova)

Is it just me or is this a really random episode?

Oh hey, we found Amis! The alien appears to be some sort of, what, energy being? I guess setting off an EMP on a space station would be a bad idea, huh? So Sheridan just wants to hit it with as much firepower at once as he can? I guess that's a sound strategy. Seems to work, at least.

Good on you, Mariah. Tell him no. Heal yourself and go see what there is to see before you jump into bed with the first guy you meet. I approve.

Huh. So. The alien changed the ship's course, huh? Heading for the Rim, huh? To Za'ha'dum. Sheridan, are you starting to believe? Good good. Plot advanced! Episode's purpose achieved!

Oh, what's G'Kar doing? Studying up on the Shadows? Probably a good idea.


Well, that's it from me. You're now free to go back to your regularly-scheduled Monday. I hope to see you back here tomorrow for the next episode, "A Spider in the Web."

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