Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 1: "Eyes"

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Episode Information

Title: "Eyes"
Writer: Larry DiTillio
Director: Jim Johnston
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: March 1, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


An internal investigation is conducted into Sinclair's command decisions.

Two Earth Force internal affairs agents arrive on the station: Colonel Ari Ben Zayn and telepath Harriman Gray. At first, they pose as representatives of a company looking for a defense contract, and they go around the station asking questions about Sinclair and his actions during recent crises. Garibaldi notices them and at Sinclair's instructions goes to question them - at which point they reveal their true identities.

Ben Zayn has been authorized by the Joint Chiefs to conduct the investigation, and he immediately demands access to files on all command staff and events that have occurred under Sinclair's command. He also commandeers Garibaldi to assist him. He threatens to have Gray scan all of the command staff. Ivanova is both livid and scared stiff at the prospect and refuses to go along.

Sinclair seems to think that the investigation will go nowhere, since all his decisions have been approved by his superiors. Garibaldi isn't so sure, smelling a witch hunt; he begins searching for any dirt on Ben Zayn. Sinclair closely examines the new regulations regarding telepathic scans during investigations.

Gray is an unusual telepath in that he doesn't seem to go blindly along with his orders; he doesn't think that Ben Zayn is necessarily doing the right thing. He repeatedly tries to ingratiate himself to Ivanova, but each time he manages to say just the wrong thing to make her explode. However, Gray's lack of devotion to Ben Zayn is noted not only by Ivanova but also by Sinclair.

Ivanova has a nightmare concerning her mother (see "Midnight on the Firing Line") and panics, causing her to offer her resignation to Sinclair in order to avoid being scanned. Sinclair refuses it, since he's found a legal way to avoid the scans.

When Sinclair arrives for his "interview" with Ben Zayn and Harriman, he points out that telepathic scans can only be used when a specific charge has been leveled against a command officer; since no charge has been brought, scans cannot be performed. Ben Zayn reluctantly admits this is the case, and Gray is dismissed. Ben Zayn orders Garibaldi to stay as a witness.

The interview proceeds for quite some time (mostly off-screen) as Ben Zayn interrogates Sinclair about all his major command decisions (those featured in episodes). Ivanova calls Sinclair about a problem. When Ben Zayn tells her to deal with it herself, Sinclair has had enough. He refuses to continue to cooperate with the investigation when Ben Zayn is interfering with station operations. Ben Zayn formally charges Sinclair with incompetence, and assumes command of the station. He orders Sinclair confined to quarters while he consolidates his command.

Ben Zayn announces his command to the bridge crew, along with his intention to conduct telepathic scans on the command staff. Ivanova confides to Garibaldi that she will refuse to cooperate, even if it means she is dishonorably discharged. Garibaldi convinces her that they'll work something out, and she goes to the casino to wait for him while he looks up some information. A drunkard in the casino makes a pass at her, and she starts a bar fight, taking on all comers, until Garibaldi returns to calm her down. Meanwhile, Sinclair contacts his commanding officer and is told he's being hung out to dry.

Sinclair returns to the investigation room early in order to reveal to Gray some of the information Garibaldi uncovered: Ben Zayn is good friends with the Psi Cop Bester (from "Mind War"), who has a grudge about Sinclair. Sinclair suggests that Gray is "watching" the wrong people.

Ben Zayn, Garibaldi, and Ivanova arrive. Before Ben Zayn can get into his rhythm, Sinclair takes control of the conversation, accusing Ben Zayn of having a personal interest in the investigation, since Ben Zayn was passed over for command of B5. With a little more baiting, Ben Zayn explodes that he deserved the command, and now finally he's got it. We can tell that Gray is reading Ben Zayn's thoughts - heck, we know that telepaths have a hard time not reading the thoughts accompanying strong emotions, so Sinclair has given Gray a good excuse to "listen in".

Gray confirms Sinclair's claims, saying he can feel Ben Zayn's hate. Ben Zayn pounds Gray to the floor and pulls a gun on the others. Before they can figure out how to take Ben Zayn down, Gray recovers enough to send the feeling of pain in Ben Zayn's mind. Sinclair uses his distraction to knock Ben Zayn out cold.

Some time later, Sinclair and Ivanova discuss the results of the investigation: Gray's testimony will show Ben Zayn's ill intent, and a psychological examination will show his mental instability. Sinclair realizes, however, that Bester is still out to get him.

A very small subplot throughout the episode was about Lennier helping Garibaldi put together an "antique" 1992 motorcycle. Lennier is too successful - he finishes the project. Garibaldi takes him on a ride through the station.

This episode was good because it demonstrated that decisions made in the B5 universe have consequences. Sinclair has made decisions that we, the viewers, generally either felt to be correct or could understand; however those decisions were not always politically expedient or sanctioned ahead of time by his superiors. The Senator in "By Any Means Necessary" warned Sinclair that he had made enemies - presumably Sinclair's actions in that episode were the metaphorical straw that broke the camel's back and enabled Sinclair's enemies to get the internal investigation going.

It was also good to see that some of Sinclair's enemies that we know personally, such as Bester, were involved in this plot against him. This gives substance to the B5 universe because important characters that we meet in an episode don't just vanish once the episode is over.

Sinclair has dodged a bullet this time, but surely Ben Zayn wasn't his only enemy - Ben Zayn was a convenient mouthpiece and tool for his enemies. What will they try next? Clearly Sinclair cannot count on the support of his superiors.

Even though Ivanova was not the target of Ben Zayn's investigation, the possibility of her being scanned telepathically was enough to send her into a panic. She considers a scan enough of an offense to be worth destroying her career. Exactly why is she so opposed to a scan? She presents her reasons first as being a violation and insult of her privacy and honor, then as a potential besmirching of her memories of her mother. I'm just not sure either or both of these reasons are enough to justify her terror. There's more to this issue for her, but we won't find out about it until near the end of the second season; Ivanova taking her mother's place in her nightmare was a hint about this.

In incidental conversation, Garibaldi paints a pretty bad picture of the situation in Earth Alliance: the government falling apart, PsiCorps' influence growing, anti-alien groups proliferating, the president's policies being attacked on all sides, Earth colonies demanding independence. This seems like a pretty sudden escalation in the deterioration of Earth society compared to other things we've heard recently. I suppose even with ISN, news doesn't always travel well to the station. Why is everything falling apart?

The subplot involving Garibaldi's motorcycle was a little too obviously a lighter counterpoint to the main plot. Lennier's single-minded approach to the repairs was amusing, as was his interest in Earth history. Poor Garibaldi had obviously never thought about what he'd do with the motorcycle once he finished it - who would have a motorcycle on a space station? This plot did lead to one of the funnier episode endings, with Sinclair shaking his head as Garibaldi and Lennier zip by.

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