Tuesday, December 11, 2012

B5 Rewatch: GROPOS

Hello! Welcome back to my Bablyon 5 rewatch! Today we'll be looking at the tenth episode of season two, "GROPOS."

Spoilers everywhere!

Let Me Sum Up

Six Earthforce ships arrive in the dead of the night, led by a General Richard Franklin, Doctor Franklin's father, of all people. He tells Sheridan that he and his men will be on the station for several days and he needs immediate lodging for them, all twenty-five thousand of them, but he refuses to go into more details about his mission until the morning.

Ivanova mostly manages to get General Franklin's people seen to by the briefing. The general informs them that he has been sent to render decisive aid to the planet of Akdor, in the Sh'lassen sector. Apparently it is in the middle of a bloody civil war. Sheridan is baffled by this, since the presence from Akdor on the station had already asked for aid and he was told by Earth to turn them down. General Franklin tells him that until Earth announces what it's about, the fact that they are going to render aid to Akdor is top secret. The plan is to strike at the enemy's stronghold with overwhelming force and end the civil war in one move. Sheridan is dubious about the success of this mission, being familiar with the target in question. General Franklin dismisses his concerns.

Earthforce wants to use Babylon 5 as a staging area for the strike, since it is the closest Earth station to the jump gate that accesses Sh'lassen territory. In addition, General Franklin has brought a new state-of-the line weapons grid to install on the station. Sheridan does not like this idea at all, seeing as how the purpose of the station is peace between the races. But General Franklin says Earth believes it is necessary, given the Narn-Centauri war and the mission he is about to undertake. The installation of the weapons is to remain classified, with no one outside of Sheridan, Ivanova, and Garibaldi knowing about it.

Once he's briefed the command staff and seen that arrangements are underway to settle in his people, General Franklin goes to visit his son. They start out with a nice conversation but it quickly turns bitter. We learn that their relationship is a contentious one because the General is so good at being a soldier and Stephen just wants to save lives. Even alien lives, though his father would rather he be stationed somewhere that he could care for just humans. After their argument, Franklin vents to Ivanova, who understands his feelings quite well. Remembering her experience with her own father, she urges Franklin to speak to his father about how he feels, before he runs out of chances. Franklin deduces from this that his father's mission is not the milk run to Io that he and everyone else has been told it is.

The general's men get to work installing the defense grid on the station and he goes over his plan of attack with Sheridan, hoping to get some advice on how to best complete his mission. Sheridan levels with him that he doesn't see any way to do it without heavy casualties and if it was him he'd call the whole thing off. General Franklin wearily says it's not an option. If they can keep the Sh'lassen in power, they can probably establish an outpost on Ardok, which puts them in a good position to keep an eye on the Narn-Centauri conflict. Earth knows that eventually they are going to have to choose sides and they want to make sure they choose the winning side.

While preparations are made, the "ground pounders" have more or less the run of the station. They are hardly on their best behavior and Garibaldi has his hands full keeping them in line. One marine especially, Kleist, seems determined to be trouble. He threatens Delenn and would likely have assaulted her if not for the intervention of another marine, Dodger.

After a few false starts, Franklin and his father manage to actually sit down and talk and more or less work out their differences.

Eventually, General Franklin and his people move out. Earth announces its intentions to aid Ardok, and ISN is live on the scene to broadcast updates of the strike. The crew of the station watches eagerly for news. The strike proves to be successful, though as Sheridan predicted, there are heavy losses. While General Franklin does survive, we learn that many of the marines the crew had gotten to know during their stay did not. The episode closes with the crew reflecting on the cost of the victory.


Ivanova, you seem entirely too content. Something is definitely about to happen to ruffle your calm.

Ah, yes. There it is.

"There's always something." (Ivanova)

Franklin, huh?

Twenty-five thousand people? At a moment's notice? You have got to be kidding me. Heh. Apparently Sheridan feels the same. That's nuts. And then, "I'll brief you in the morning." Dude. That's not cool.

Franklin, your dad has some issues man. And a riding crop. What? That is a very strange choice in props. I don't care that it's supposed to be iconic of a taskmaster or whatever, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in the context of this show.

Ergh. It's messing with their docking schedule? I swear Earthforce is doing this on purpose.They do NOT want the station to become self-sufficient. At. All.

Oh lordy. Stealth "assistance." That always ends well. Plans to end wars in "one swift move" never end well either. Earth Central is trying to run some sort of PR op, it looks like.

Weapons for the station? Great, the Narn-Centauri war has set Earth on edge. Now they're trying to make sure no one comes after them. By acting like big badasses. Sigh. Sheridan is not happy about having weapons on his neutral territory peace station. I wouldn't be either.

Hello Warren. Haven't seen you in a while, most random of people to be in the opening credits ever. Looks like Ivanova had to stick some of Franklin's soldiers in with station personnel. Fun.

Franklin father-son bonding time! Which quickly turns passive-aggressive. Who's surprised? Me? No, not me. Aw, Franklin is worried about his dad being in the field still. Ouch. There's the bone of contention. Papa Franklin is very humanist, while Stephen is fascinated by aliens. Also, there's the age-old conflict of a doctor's purpose versus a soldier's.

That is super sweet. Ivanova and Franklin are gonna have drinks to bond over their daddy issues. We begin to see why Franklin joined Earthforce in the first place. I've always kind of wondered about that, given how he feels about taking life. Uh oh. Ivanova may have tipped her hand about General Franklin's true mission.

Dude. Asshat soldiers, you are on duty. Act respectful! Geez. I would expect General Franklin to have briefed his people on the proper rules of conduct in a civilian installment before letting them loose. Sigh. Good thing Delenn can keep her head at least.

Heh. Looks like Private Durman, Dodger, has the hots for Garibaldi. Or at least his butt.

Good. General Franklin is taking strategy advice from Sheridan for his mission. Of course, he won't take the best advice Sheridan can give him, which is that this is a suicide mission.

"There's only one truth about war. People die." (Sheridan)

Papa Franklin is randomly proud of and disappointed in Stephen. He seems to still need to accept that his son is not him and doesn't see the galaxy the same way that he does.

Erg. I have a bad feeling about the dancer missing from the Dark Star. I would be making sure to follow up on that. With so many extra people on board, and tension so high...especially with that Kleist dude serving as a demonstration that enough of Earthforce views aliens so negatively. Just. Man. I hope I'm worrying for nothing. Welch, don't just laugh that off, okay? Be better than that, please.

Why, hello Dodger. You sure did find Garibaldi quickly again.

"So, uh, what would you like to see first?" (Garibaldi)
"A good restaurant." (Dodger)
"Okay." (Garibaldi)
"Then your quarters." (Dodger)

Well then.

Garibaldi. Stop talking. Dodger really doesn't want your back story. Ouch. Yeah. So. No one's happy with how that ended up.

So that's what GROPO means. It's slang for ground pounders, which is apparently futuristic slang for marines? Or is that actually a thing? It's not one I've heard before.

Dude, General. He's a grown man and you're in HIS quarters. You're just gonna come in and order him around? For real? Well, hopefully they can hash this out. It means actually listening to each other though. We'll see how that goes. I think Stephen is maybe one of those apples that didn't fall too far from the tree in that respect. Aw, they're gonna hug it out!

Does this mean Papa Franklin is doomed?

Well, at least Warren is getting along with his temporary roommates. Aw, he's gonna give the rookie reassurance. This episode is just lousy with touching moments, huh? Why do I suspect a lot of people are about to start dying?

Garibaldi really is a romantic, isn't he? I guess he's meant to be the heartthrob of this show, although he really doesn't appeal to me at all. Maybe because I found this show too long after the nineties and I can't get past the fashion? Well, here he goes trying to make things right with Dodger.

This Kleist guy is just a loose cannon. Yeesh. "Battle call?" Is that like, supposed to be the equivalent of someone on the playground yelling "Fight!" or something? Aw, Warren bonded with his buddies. AND Dodger and Garibaldi are on good terms. I guess Kleist is good for something.

Here we go.

Operation Sudden Death? Really?

I'm impressed. They took over the fortress and General Franklin survived. Of course, there were other people we started to care about during the episode. I'm guessing Dodger and Warren's roommates didn't make it? Sigh. Nope. Looks like Kleist fell as well.

Damn. This is a random episode. It's not bad, but it doesn't feel like it really fits. I am trying to figure out its actual purpose in the overall scheme of the season and series. We do get a little bit of back story on Franklin. We also find out Earth's reaction to and intentions regarding the conflict between the Narn and Centauri. We also get a reminder of what kind of hell war is, and that humanity is dancing on the edge of one again. But mostly this one seems to be a stand alone.

It does establish that Babylon 5 is now an armed station, and that no one knows that but the command staff and the top tier of Earth's government. That's likely to come into play down the line.


That's it for today, folks! Thanks for stopping by! I hope to see you here again on Monday when we'll check out the next episode, "All Alone In the Night."

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