[Episode Written By: JMS] (7/22/99)
The Excalibur visits Babylon-5 and Lockley in
an effort to gain access (diplomatically) to a world in Bakiri space.
Max helps his wife settle a debt and saves his cat in the process.
Gideon and Lockley make their fling official and save a little water in
Ok science fiction writers, get your notepad out, because this season of Crusade is a workshop on how to write well and more importantly how not to write. If anyone doubted that JMS is a master at what he does, watch all of his episodes thus far back to back and then watch those from the hired guns. There is no comparison. JMS proves once again here that you do not need an ARC episode to make a good episode. I am proud, as a writer myself, to say that I am paying attention. Thanks for the free education by the way. The best way to learn how to write is to study the writing of the best. JMS quotes from Plato...I quote from JMS and Douglas Adams.
You can just tell by the feeling of this episode that JMS was happy as hell to get back to Babylon-5. Must have felt like a home coming from a psychological viewpoint. Unfortunately, you'll notice that we only get to see so much of the station. They kept the action in easily creatable areas, such as the Zocalo and Down Below. This was done because a lot of the B5 sets have sadly gone to meet the great maker. I would have loved to look at the bridge again (sniff), but still it was nice to be back. Too bad Vir or Zack couldn't have been incorporated into this episode though...if even for a cameo.
BTW, Mr. Kitty rules. Unfortunately he has died, but maybe there
is a kitten somewhere that we can give Max (see questions
below). That would be a excellent cast addition.
MUSIC: (2 STARS)
An overall solid job. Chen did a good job of staying out of the way and not drowning out the good dialogue with distraction.
ACTING / CHARACTERS: (4 STARS)
In the absence of Galen it is obvious that all of the best lines are being reserved for Max. He shines in this episode, ala Londo Molari. I truly do not know what Max is going to do next and that is just as is should be. His motivations are seemingly on a day to day basis which means he can be your friend or your enemy...applause. Max's comparison of B5 to poison ivy was priceless. Maybe his character is based on some of the television execs JMS has dealt with...will have to ask him soon.
All of the supporting one-episode characters had a field day. Great acting all the way around. Bit players, review Diane's scene when she tells Cynthia about the missing cat. Now there's a good job with a small scene. She made the whole cat thing credible. Think about it...that was pretty difficult to do seeing it could have been comical instead of dramatic. Wonder how many takes that took?
Lockley's attitude did a 180 from the last episode. She's suddenly very soft and approachable, which is how she should be. The plot in Ruling was not a good showcase for her. This was. The shower scene with Gideon could have been stupid, but the way in which it was done was comical and fun. They worked well together.
Unfortunately Scoggins still has a huge problem when she pauses in speech. She's fine if her part of the conversation is in one chunk, but if she paused her facial expressions reset to stiffly and it looks very unnatural. But in her defense, Claudia (Ivanova) used to do this too from time to time.
The only complaint I have here is that Chambers once again seems to be continually out of place. Her character is in flux and we need to get her established and polished. Apparently she can kick some butt if she needs to...interesting.
PLOT: (3 STARS)
Solid. We see the cast interacting with the other alien races, and this type of thing is what should have been done in Ruling. The situation with Max's ex is not complex but it was well executed, which shows you don't need an original concept if the story is told correctly. No one knows how to turn a line like JMS. He is the master of conversation, which is a big money saver in a sci-fi series. If you can write dialogue you can give the FX guys a day off now and then.
Mr. Kitty was a priceless addition. Here's Max, a hard guy who is potential dangerous and he has a cat named Mr. Kitty. I tell you, that is good writing. Did you expect that? Did anyone? No...that's why its good. Sure its a crappy name but that's the point.
CGI: (2.5 STARS)
Seeing B5 and the Excalibur side by side puts things in prospective. Hot-damn, its been a while since we've seen a fury and I missed them. The shots of a few of them flying past made my mouth water. We need a fire fight badly. Not much to see in this episode but what I saw I liked.