[Episode Written By: Peter David] (7/19/99)
Dr. Chambers and Gideon journey to Mars to participate
in a conference on the plague. There they meet Captain Lockley who
has been assigned to help organize the conference...sparks fly between
the two captains in more ways than one.
Maybe I should start marking episodes as GALEN and non-GALEN (as well as ARC and NON-ARC). This is the second episode without Galen and it is a painful stretch. The absence leaves the cast with a huge hole. This cast is by in large too human. In a galaxy full of races there should be more characters on board from the various races. The Minbari played a large part in the creation of the Excalibur and they are nowhere to be found.
There are severe inconsistencies present throughout this series thus far in reference to command structure. The EA, the alliance, President Sheriden, and the crew of the Excalibur seem to be blended together instead of maintaining their seperate command structure. Its very difficult to justify. Who exactly is in charge here?
At this point I must say something...nothing I have seen from the first six episodes justifies any network's renewal of the series. I can only hope the next half dozen were better done. This series is a jumble right now and shows no signs of coming out of it. If I was an exec looking at these first six I would be very worried. Thus I can understand TNT's early decision to pull the plug, although I don't agree with the way they did it.
I am shocked to see the difference in quality between JMS written episodes and those written by others. There is no comparison. Are these new writers even trying. I'm not going to throw insults here, but this stuff just isn't good. It is filled with clichés and scenes that we have seen over and over again in sci-fi. All of this has been done, better I might add.
MUSIC: (1.5 STARS)
In Chen's defense there was nothing really to do in this episode. There was very little action and virtual no good dialogue to highlight. Also, anything's better than the last episode. However, I can't understand why Chen wouldn't take the opportunity in the dance scene to make something spectacular. The last time I checked this episode was filmed in the future not the past. Would you dance to that? Would anyone?
ACTING / CHARACTERS: (1 STARS)
Haven't we had enough of Lockley's complaining already. On B5 this kind of attitude seemed justified, but here it just seems like she's being a jerk. Her lines were just plain rude. If I was Scoggins I would have thrown this script in the face of the writers and refused to do it. It makes her look real bad. The love connection between Gideon and Lockley seems to be forced. They are NOT similar people as Gideon states. If Lockley was brought into this season just as a love interest to up the ratings, its a silly thing to do. This series is not supposed to be grounded. They are supposed to be on the move, going into space. There is no time for this kind of thing.
There was a hint of romantic tension between Max and Dureena, although we can't be sure at this point if this was just thrown in for comic relief. His "flotation devices" line was interesting.
PLOT: (1 STARS)
The idea was solid: a plague conference. Sounds good to me. So why was the conference itself ignored. Only the events around the conference were covered. Here was a key chance to give details about the plague...technical stuff. It was a chance to raise the stakes. And at minimum it was a chance to interact with the alien races at the conference. None of this was done. It turned into a religious episode that made no sense. There were three main threads in this episode (the religious voices, Lockley and Gideon's romance, and Max and Dureena's bar scenes); none of them related to each other or fit into each other at the end. This was very poor writing, thrown together to make an episode.
Dr. Chambers chance to shine in this episode (her character has struggled to establish itself thus far) was ruined by her much too short and pointless speech. She should have been a star her, not a bit player. She looks on screen like a young, inexperienced doctor instead of an expert as the writers claim she is.
I won't even get into the voices theme. If you're going to use this plot device fine, but you've got to establish it better and use more back story.
CGI: (1.5 STARS)
Some of the views of Mars were cool, but most of it was stock footage or derived from stock footage. Clearly a money saving thing. But there wasn't much CGI here to begin with so couldn't they have done some new, unique things with Mars? The shuttle scene at the start of this episode looked like it was shot in a Minivan.