Tuesday, October 30, 2012

B5: A Spider in the Web

Hello! Welcome back to the Babylon 5 rewatch! Thank you so much for stopping by. Today we'll be looking at the sixth episode of season two, "A Spider in the Web."

Spoiler ahead!!

Let Me Sum Up

An old friend of Talia's, Taro Isogi, arrives on Babylon 5 to negotiate on behalf of his company, FutureCorp, with Amanda Carter of the Mars Colony Business Affairs Committee. Taro, with the support of FutureCorp, has a plan that will help Mars attain self-sufficiency in the very near future. This will, in turn, allow the planet to achieve peaceful independence from Earth at long last. Taro has asked Talia to sit in on the negotiations in her capacity as a telepath.

The negotiations are making quite a few people unhappy, however. A senator from Earth contacts Sheridan and asks him to keep an eye on things, even though he really has no jurisdiction over them, because Earth's government is worried that Taro is trying to finance or encourage another rebellion on Mars. In addition, a shadowy figure based in the remains of a destroyed future San Diego has taken her own steps to interrupt the negotiations, sneaking one of her people aboard the station.

The first round of negotiations seem to go fairly well. Talia and Taro leave together, intending to grab dinner and catch up on old times. They are accosted in the corridor, and their attacker says "Free Mars" before killing Taro with some kind of electric shock discharged from his bare hands. Talia tries to scan him but she only gets a few jumbled images before he flees the scene.

The attacker reports back to San Diego and it is revealed that he is not entirely human. The hand he used to kill Taro is cybernetic. His superiors, upon learning that Talia witnessed the murder, order him to find her and kill her as well.

That will prove difficult, however, as Sheridan orders protective custody for Talia until the murderer is found. She tells him about what the killer said, and they are all confused by it. Free Mars is a terrorist organization who wants to liberate the colony but has no qualms about using violence to do so. Talia reveals what she knows of Taro's plan and points out that he was trying to help Mars gain freedom. It makes no sense to try to stop him.

The killer attacks Talia again, but again she scans him and it stops him short. She manages to grab some of his hair for DNA analysis. While Garibaldi is running it, she tells Sheridan about the extended vision she saw in her scan. It seemed to her like the killer was remembering his own death. Garibaldi reports that the DNA matches that of Abel Horn, a known member of Free Mars. Talia identifies him from his picture, but the man's file indicates that he died in a space battle years ago.

Horn freaks out after his failed attempt on Talia's life and shows up at Carter's quarters. She recognizes him and we learn that she was once a part of Free Mars and she and Horn were close. She asks him about Taro's death, but he denies any involvement in it, swearing he came to the station to see her. He explains away his supposed death by saying an old friend of hers found him in the wreckage of his ship and saved him, and that he has been hiding out ever since. He tells her he desperately needs to speak to Talia and Carter, against her better judgement, agrees to ask the telepath to meet with her.

Talia's revelations remind Sheridan of an old Earth project he read about once. Project Lazarus experimented with hard wiring people's brains with computer technology. He explains to Garibaldi that the people in charge of the project found they had better results when using subjects who were near death or in a coma. Once the tech was installed in their brains, a telepath would mess with their minds to focus on the moment of their death (or whatever put them in the condition to be ripe for the project). That would allow whoever was in control of the tech to take over the body and use it for their own purposes. The project was scrapped, of course, at least officially. But from Talia's description  Sheridan is wondering if maybe it didn't continue after all.

Talia goes to Carter's quarters only to find Horn there instead. Horn demands that Talia explain what he is. He wants her to scan him and tell him why he keeps seeing what seems to be his death. Talia does a deep scan and sees that someone put him back together. In the memory she also sees a Psi Cop saying that Horn is "ours now."

Sheridan looks up some data on Project Lazarus and finds that the tech involved emits a specific kind of radiation. He does a scan of the station and finds that radiation in Carter's quarters. He alerts Garibaldi, immediately, remembering that Talia had requested a security escort to meet with Carter. Garibaldi and his people stayed outside, so they don't know that Horn is in there until Sheridan tells them. They bust in and Horn takes Talia hostage. Sheridan arrives and manages to talk him into letting Talia go. They try to get him to turn himself in, but he picks up a gun and forces Sheridan to shoot him. Then the body begins to emit a power surge. Everyone skedaddles and Horn explodes, leaving no trace of evidence of Project Lazarus.

Talia explains what Horn wanted with her and tells them some of what she saw, though she does omit the part about the Psi Cop. Garibaldi wants to know what Horn was doing with Carter and Carter admits she was once part of Free Mars, but left when they got violent. She has been trying to find a peaceful way to gain independence for the colony ever since. She says once its gets out that she used to be Free Mars though, her career is finished. Sheridan says that's only if it gets out. He is willing to keep a lid on what happened if Carter is willing to work with FutureCorp to try to bring Taro's plan to fruition. Carter agrees.

Later, Sheridan and Garibaldi review the incident, trying to make sense of it. Sheridan thinks that whoever was behind it wanted to sabotage Taro, blame Free Mars, and likely discredit Carter all in one blow. Garibaldi says it's a good thing that Sheridan knew about Project Lazarus though, and then asks how that came to be. Sheridan admits that he kind of has a thing about collecting secrets, ferreting out rumors about conspiracies, that kind of thing. Garibaldi asks if he has any idea who might be behind this incident. Sheridan says that he managed to find out about a cabal buried deep within Earth's government called Bureau 13 that he thinks could be the culprit. He only half-believed in them, but if they are real, it means dire things for all of humanity's efforts and allies in the galaxy.

Back in San Diego, someone reports in from the station to the shadowy figure that was giving Horn his orders. Their conversation seems to confirm Sheridan's suspicions about Bureau 13. It also reveals that the group has a presence on Babylon 5 and that Talia is still in danger based on what she knows. The camera pulls back and the shadowy figure is revealed to be the Psi Cop that Talia saw in Horn's memories.

Back on the station, Talia does a little research of her own, going through the records of known Psi Cops. She finds the person from Horn's memory, only to see that the official record declares that woman to be dead.


Huh. It has to be a challenge keeping track of the needs and specifications of all of the different alien races on the station, doesn't it?

Oh hey look, it's Talia. Been a while since we've seen her it feels like.

You know, have they actually said anything about how things played out on Mars after the events of last season's finale? I don't know that they did. Perhaps we shall find out here.

The San Diego wastelands? Ouch.

Well, something hinky is about to go down on the station. I suspect this cannot be a good thing. Classified cargo, huh? How does that even fly? Oh, and it's got a person inside. Lovely.

Oh. My. God. That is Mama Bluth!!! I will be unable to take this character seriously ever.

So. Mars rebelled but it sounds like Earth put it down, but the situation is still delicate.

Ouch. Senator Mama Bluth will have none of your moral fiber, Sheridan.

Ah. So self-sufficiency is the big obstacle to independence for Mars. Makes sense. What does this corporation get out of helping Mars become independent, I wonder?

That face. Ivanova would rather be recognized for things other than her seating arrangements, I suspect.

So, Sheridan made first contact with these Tikar, and now he wants them to have a presence on the station. It has got to be an amazing thing to meet an alien race for the first time (especially when they are not trying to kill you).

Wait, why is this guy saying "Free Mars" before attacking the guy that wants to help them do that? Way to go with the mind blast, Talia! Oh, but damn, her friend Taro is dead. That sucks.

So Free Mars is a rebel movement. Which still makes no sense.

Oh Garibaldi. It's really never gonna happen. I applaud your persistence, but sometimes you need to just let it go. I think she likes him, she just has no romantic interest in him whatsoever. I don't know if it's blatantly obvious or just that I know how things play out on that front.

"My pop always said that laughter is better than pills for what ails you." (Garibaldi)
"He was right." (Talia)

Uh oh. Whoever is behind this has hacked the station's computers. That's not good. Also, looks like this guy isn't actually human. ...and now he's targeting Talia. Not good.

Look at Ivanova's concern for Talia. *snort* An interesting person indeed.

Is Sheridan gonna get read in on the potential Psi Corps conspiracy? Probably he needs to know about it. I like that he is so level-headed about telepaths in general. Gifted and cursed. Yup, that sounds about right, actually.

"I trust in individuals, not organizations." (Sheridan)

Let's ask the Mars representative about Free Mars' involvements in Taro's death. It sounds like someone is trying to pin his death on the Mars radicals in the hopes of permanently damaging any chance of independence.

Do I even want to know what a slaver's glove is? I'm gonna say no.

"Captain. I'd sure like to know where you're going with this." (Garibaldi)
"Someplace very dark. I hope to God I'm wrong." (Sheridan)

I'm glad that Sheridan is not ignoring the very real possibility that Earth's government is involved in this plot. Especially in the wake of Senator Mama Bluth being so interested in stopping the negotiations.

Ooh, Talia, what did you do to the assassin? Hmm. Reliving his death over and over again. Reinforcing my not human hypothesis. Or at least not entirely human. Talia got hair? Good job! Now they can identify this guy. Abel Horn. Well, he was Free Mars at some point.

"Very special friends," Sheridan? What exactly does that mean?

Of course, he's dead. Died just like Talia saw. Definitely something hinky going on.

What's this now? Was Carter part of Free Mars? Yes. Yes she was.

Okay. This guy has some serious issues. Did this Singer guy actually save him, or just make some sort of Frankenstein's monster that looks like him?

Aw, tea with Garibaldi. I would have tea with Garibaldi. Tea is his third favorite thing in the universe, huh?

"Tell them to go away. Tell them ALL to go away." (Ivanova)

Frustrated Ivanova is frustrated. Oh, everyone wants to leave the station and they won't leave her alone. Poor Ivanova.

Bonding time for Talia and Garibaldi! They really would be good friends, I think, if he would stop trying to pursue her romantically.

Does Sheridan have an idea? Project Lazarus, huh? Hard wiring a person's brain with computer technology, making them focus on their death so that the computer can control the body. Wow. That sounds horrid. Also exactly like what is up with Horn.

Cyber zombies, Garibaldi? Babylon 5, ladies and gentlemen. Years ahead of its time!

Carter, you really should call Security and report Horn's presence. It's the only way to keep any chance of meeting your goals for Mars. Oh no, don't lure Talia in. Bad Carter! Bad! Gee, and Horn is gonna short circuit now that she's done that, awesome.

Zack Allan! Yay! I was wondering when he shows up. Hello Kenickie! Seriously, that's why this Warren guy is confusing me so much. I remember him not at all and I thought that Zack showed up sometime this season anyway. Sorry, I digress.

Well, at least Talia isn't going to meet with Carter alone.

Did...did Garibaldi just call himself "the wizard?" Apparently he has some mad hacking skills. Or...not. Ha. Okay, that was a funny bit.

Man, I don't remember how this turns out but I do hope in the long run they can convince FutureCorp to go along with Taro's plan. It sounds like it's in everyone's best interests as far as Mars is concerned.

Well. It seems like Horn doesn't actually want to kill Talia (despite his orders), but I'm not sure she can really help him figure out what he is. Or can she? That's an interesting, Psi Corps condemning, memory. "Ours now." That's just creepy.

Well, at least Security is literally right outside the door when they find Horn. Talia, can you mind whammy him again? Or we can let Sheridan talk him down.


Well, okay, I can see how he'd be pissed at Earthers. I really can. But still. Mars will never be free unless they kill everyone from Earth? I don't think you understand how colonies work, Horn.

Psi Corps was smart enough to program in a self-destruct button, it seems. What is Talia going to do about what she saw, though? Because she sure did see that Psi Cop.

Leave it to Garibaldi to focus on the fact that Carter knew Horn.

Sheridan, I love you! Yay for trying to help Mars achieve peaceful independence! Talia approves too.

Moment of truth, Talia. Sigh. Why lie, why? Ivanova called it on her being loyal to Psi Corps. Too damn bad.

Sheridan collects secrets. That's a little bit disturbing in the commander of a station like Babylon 5. But convenient when there is clearly a conspiracy afoot.

So. Bureau 13. New antagonist!! Ooh, Sheridan has a bone now, and he's not going to let it go. Awesome.

The Psi Cop Talia saw in Horn's vision is behind Bureau 13! And Talia looked her up despite lying to Sheridan! And the woman is listed as dead!

There are hijinks afoot, my friends. Hijinks, I say.


Okay then. Well, that wraps up today. The rewatch will be going on hiatus for the month of November, but I hope to see you back here on Monday December 3 when we will be looking at the next episode, "Soul Mates."

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