Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 1: "Survivors"

Warning: all of my reviews contain spoilers.

If you have any comments on this review, please email me at the address at the bottom.

Episode Information

Title: "Survivors"
Writer: Mark Scott Zicree
Director: Jim Johnston
Rating (out of 4 stars): **
Reviewed on: February 15, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Garibaldi is accused of sabotaging the station prior to the President's arrival.

At the beginning of the episode, we learn that the President of the Earth Alliance will be visiting the station in a few days, so the staff is in preparations to receive him. He will be presenting a new fighter wing to the station. Suddenly, there is an explosion in one of the docking bays.

Only one worker in the bay survives the explosion, and he is in critical condition; Franklin works frantically to keep him alive. Initially, Garibaldi cannot determine whether the explosion was some kind of accident on the part of the overworked technicians, or sabotage.

The head of the President's advance security team, Lianna Kemmer, arrives on the station with her staff. Garibaldi was friends with her father and knew her when she was a child. However, her greeting of Garibaldi is less than cordial, and she's determined to get to the bottom of the explosion in the docking bay in case someone is trying to kill the President. Garibaldi uncharacteristically surrenders the investigation to Kemmer and stalks off.

Sinclair chases Garibaldi down and demands to know what happened between him and Kemmer. Garibaldi says that he met Frank Kemmer and his family while posted on Europa. The security and command staff on Europa was either on the take or completely apathetic, so Garibaldi felt like any of his honest security efforts were futile. Frank Kemmer was a shuttle pilot, and Garibaldi became friends with him and his family, which helped him keep his sanity. However, Garibaldi's enemies sabotaged a landing pad, killing Frank. Lianna was crushed. Garibaldi was blamed, but the entire situation was covered up, and he was blackballed for future assignments. He ended up going on an alcoholic binge that went on for sometime.

Franklin urgently calls them to medlab - Kemmer has taken over the explosion survivor and is using drugs to wake him up and question him. Franklin had said earlier that to do so would kill him. The survivor wakes up only briefly and it's pretty obvious that he's not thinking clearly, but before he dies, he tells Kemmer that Garibaldi planted the bomb. Franklin and Sinclair are outraged at Kemmer's disregard for the man's life, but Kemmer brushes it off since he was probably going to die anyway.

Kemmer seems to accept the dying man's declaration, but Garibaldi thinks it's crap, since he busted the man for minor crimes previously. Kemmer calls on her authority as head of presidential security to order Sinclair to suspend Garibaldi until her team has finished their investigation. Garibaldi has to relinquish his link, security clearance, and gun.

Garibaldi is furious, but he thinks that Kemmer is out to get him because of her father's death. When he gets her alone, he tries to tell her that he would have saved her father if he could, but Kemmer refuses to listen. Meanwhile, Kemmer's second, Cutter, has searched Garibaldi's quarters and found plans of the docking bay and lots of Centauri money. Garibaldi points out that it would be stupid of him to leave that stuff in his own quarters, but Kemmer orders him to be arrested. Garibaldi quickly escapes.

Kemmer orders a station-wide alert put out on Garibaldi, but Sinclair angrily cancels it. Kemmer and Sinclair argue over whose authority is supreme, with Sinclair accusing Kemmer of having a grudge against Garibaldi. For the moment Sinclair comes out on top. However, Kemmer intends to contact her headquarters and have it made clear that she is in charge. Ivanova orders maintenance on the communications systems in order to delay Kemmer.

Garibaldi visits Londo in the casino; Londo tells him he had nothing to do with framing him. He suggests a scenario involving the Narns, and he loans Garibaldi some money for necessary expenses. Garibaldi visits G'Kar, but G'Kar denies the frame-job. However, he offers to transport Garibaldi to Narn space, where Garibaldi can be of service to the Narns. Garibaldi turns him down.

Garibaldi tries contacting the criminal underground on the station for information, but no one will help him because of his former position. He gets set upon by three thugs out for revenge; although he does a good job holding his own, he would have been beaten to a pulp if Sinclair didn't show up. Sinclair has been trying to find Garibaldi before Kemmer does. However, Garibaldi slips away.

Garibaldi visits a seedy pub, where he finally gives into the despair of the situation and begins drinking. After he is thoroughly drunk, he stumbles out of the pub and right into Kemmer and her guards. She takes him to an interrogation room while Cutter makes a check of the docking bays where the new fighters will be.

Garibaldi apologizes again for what happened to Kemmer's father, but she just sees how when things got bad he got drunk, like he always did. One of Garibaldi's aides in security arrives, having finished a search Sinclair ordered him to do: he searched the dead bomb survivor's quarters and found a detonator and Homeguard propaganda. Garibaldi says they had been watching the man for Homeguard connections, but never got anything solid. He speculates that the man planted the bomb, but wasn't expecting some specific equipment to be used in the bay, which set off the bomb early. The Homeguard is not pleased with the President, apparently, because he likes Babylon 5 and is proposing new alien trade and immigration polices that they oppose.

After a bit of discussion, Garibaldi realizes that Cutter could have planted the "evidence" in his quarters and set him up. He convinces Kemmer to check the fighter bays herself, once Cutter is done. She agrees and takes Garibaldi with her at gunpoint. Cutter realizes that something is up and knocks out Kemmer immediately with a shockstick. Garibaldi begins wrestling with him as the countdown to launch the fighters (and the bombs) commences. Garibaldi manages to use Cutter's link to call Ivanova on the bridge and abort the launch.

Sometime later, Garibaldi is being treated in medlab - all charges against him have been dropped. Cutter is in custody, and Kemmer is fine. Cutter had planted bombs on all of the fighter bay doors, which might have destroyed a significant fraction of the station if they had gone off. Garibaldi is happy the plan was stopped. but despondent at his drop back into alcoholism. Sinclair tells him he'll get over it.

The President makes his address, calling for more cooperation with alien governments. Kemmer heads off to prepare the President's next stop. She and Garibaldi part on better terms.

I have to admit that I've never cared much for this episode. I think most of it has to do with the fact that I don't like how Lianna Kemmer is portrayed. I find the actress' performance to be rather wooden, and she and Garibaldi have absolutely no chemistry. We know she has had a horrible tragedy in the past, but she comes across as so cold-hearted that I really don't feel bad for her at all.

I also do not think the consequences to Garibaldi in this episode were very realistic. Yes, he was eventually found to be innocent of the original sabotage. That doesn't absolve him for refusing to be taken into custody and evading arrest. And what did he accomplish while he was on the run - absolutely nothing! It was Sinclair's hunch to search the bomb victim's quarters that turned up the evidence to make Kemmer realize Garibaldi might not be the saboteur. If Garibaldi had gone into custody while claiming to be innocent, Sinclair and Ivanova would have still been out to prove his innocence, and they wouldn't have had to worry about his safety at the same time. At the very least, Garibaldi should have gotten a reprimand.

In addition, I don't enjoy watching Garibaldi hitting the bottle again. I realize that this is quite realistic - it's very difficult for an alcoholic to resist the temptation - but it doesn't mean I want to watch it. I don't know how realistic it is for him to get back on the wagon after he gives in to the bottle in this episode.

The lengths to which the Homeguard is willing to go to get their message across is impressive: perhaps the bombs would not have directly killed the President, but with the extensive damage that would have been done to the station, his death would have been a distinct possibility. The influence of the Homeguard is extensive - Cutter was a high-ranking person in the President's own security staff. How far does their influence go? One might think about who would benefit most if the President were assassinated: the Vice President. So far in the series we haven't heard much about the Vice President, but he will become key later on. The Homeguard isn't going to give up such a good plan as assassinating the President just because it didn't work once.

On a different topic, I wonder how Sinclair managed to get Garibaldi assigned as his head of security, given that Garibaldi had such a bad record and been blackballed? Perhaps whoever approved Garibaldi's appointment was hoping that Sinclair and/or B5 would fail and saw Garibaldi as helping that.

Garibaldi's encounters with Londo and G'Kar were interesting, but ultimately filler and red herrings. It was really reaching for Garibaldi to think that G'Kar would be concerned with getting rid of a relatively small player like him, even with their past bad blood.

Return to my Babylon 5 reviews page.