Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 3: "Grey 17 Is Missing"

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Episode Information

Title: "Grey 17 Is Missing"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: John Flin III
Rating (out of 4 stars): * 1/2
Reviewed on: October 18, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Garibaldi gets trapped in a "missing" level of the station. Delenn becomes head of the Rangers.

This episode has two plots, and fortunately they are not connected, so I can describe them separately. The second plot starts out with Delenn and Lennier taking care of Sinclair's remaining effects on Minbar. Sinclair's second-in-command (who we met briefly in "War Without End, Part 1") says that a new leader for the Rangers must be chosen. Delenn suggests him, but he demurs and pushes for Delenn to take the role. Back on the station, Sheridan enthusiastically agrees.

Delenn is somewhat reluctant, but agrees. Neroon has come to the station and accuses Delenn of taking over the Rangers in order to gain more power, and in fact suggests that she broke the Grey Council (in "Severed Dreams") as part of a power move. When Delenn denies that she is motivated by power, Neroon suggests that she allow a member of the Warrior Caste, such as himself, to lead the Rangers. Of course, Delenn doesn't trust the Warrior Caster any farther than she can throw Neroon, so she refuses. Neroon promises dire retribution if she doesn't reconsider, and then disappears.

When Delenn recounts the conversation to Lennier, Lennier quickly realizes that Neroon will kill Delenn if necessary in order to prevent her from becoming leader of the Rangers. Delenn doesn't believe Neroon would go so far, and she refuses to stop the investiture ceremony or to allow addition precautions to be taken. She makes Lennier promise not to tell Sheridan about Neroon's possible threats.

This promise doesn't keep Lennier from telling Marcus about Neroon. Marcus agrees to do whatever is necessary to delay Neroon until the ceremony is complete. Unfortunately for Marcus, this involves confronting Neroon in Downbelow and challenging him to a fight to the death. Marcus has been well trained, but both he and Neroon know who the ultimate victor will be. They fight with Minbari fighting pikes until Neroon has beaten Marcus to within an inch of his life. Neroon could kill Marcus, but he is impressed with Marcus' devotion to both the Rangers and Delenn herself.

The ceremony making Delenn the head of the Rangers is shown intermittently with Marcus and Neroon's fight, and so we only see some of the symbolic gestures and don't hear the full ceremony. This is probably a good choice, since while Minbari ceremonies are full of ritual and meaning, they can be pretty boring. Neroon arrives dramatically at the end of the ceremony, tossing down his pike with Marcus' blood on it, declaring that he doesn't think human Rangers would fight with such devotion for him. He acknowledges Delenn as Entil'zha, the head of the Rangers.

Later, Neroon visits Marcus in MedLab. While Marcus is unconscious, he remarks on the realization he had during their fight: Marcus was fighting and willing to die for Delenn, a Minbari, while Neroon was doing his best to kill Marcus so that he could go kill Delenn, one of his own kind. He says that their fight to the death was to the "death" of Neroon in a figurative sense. Marcus wakes up and asks Neroon to find his next revelation in a more comfortable manner. (Unfortunately for Neroon, as we will see next season, he doesn't manage to do that.)

Delenn's ascension to leader of the Rangers is no great surprise, since she has been in an authority position among the Rangers, the war against the Shadows, and within the Religious Caste for some time. Furthermore, we know that she is a pivotal figure in the present, since Zathras called her "the One who is" in "War Without End, Part 2". The more interesting implications of this plot have to do with Neroon and Minbari politics.

We know that Neroon is an important figure in the Warrior Caste, perhaps a rising star, since he was chosen to replace Delenn on the Grey Council "All Alone in the Night". From that episode, we also know that Neroon is not particularly religious and may resent the Religious Caste's influence in the governance of the Minbari, since he was in disbelief about the reason why the Minbari warriors were ordered to surrender at the end of the Earth-Minbari war. He had previously interacted with Delenn as a subordinate, in season one's "Legacies", where Delenn claimed the rights of the Religious Caste over those of the Warrior Caste in regards to the disposition of Branmer's body. He's not necessarily inclined to see Delenn as acting from belief instead of a desire for power.

The events of this episode show that he is beginning to change his mind about what he thinks Delenn's motivations are. Delenn doesn't seem inclined to trust Neroon with anything, but if she can take advantage of his changing attitude, she might be able to swing some of the Warrior Caste to help her. Right now, as far as we know, only the Religious Caste are fighting the Shadows.

The break-up of the Grey Council and subsequent split between the castes has really worked to the Shadows' advantage, since the Minbari have not thrown the full weight of their efforts into the war. We don't have any evidence, but one must wonder if the Shadows somehow had a hand in sowing dissension among the Minbari. Certainly we know that the Warrior Caste has been associating with some unsavory characters, such as Deathwalker (in season one's "Deathwalker"). Could a Shadow agent somewhere be encouraging the paranoia the Warrior Caste has been displaying?

On another aspect of this plot, we had seen in "War Without End, Part 1" and "War Without End, Part 2" just how devoted Marcus was to Sinclair as leader of the Rangers. He seems to have transferred that devotion completely to Delenn. We didn't know that Neroon was actually going to use more than "harsh language" (as Lennier said) against Delenn, yet Marcus was ready to die to prevent it. Of course, Marcus also has a bit of a death wish, as Delenn noted in "Ceremonies of Light and Dark", since he has survived while no one else he cares about has.

Lennier also showed his devotion to Delenn, neatly circumventing her orders. When will Delenn and/or Sheridan learn that they can't keep their friends from trying to keep them out of trouble? I wonder if Sheridan will ever find out that Delenn knew Neroon was out to get her and didn't tell him.

The first plot of this episode involves Garibaldi investigating the mystery of a maintenance worker who disappeared, and the "missing" level of Grey sector. He gets trapped on the "missing" level, Grey 17, along with some weirdos and an alien monster called a zarg. Using some ridiculous MacGyver moves, he manages to kill the zarg and escape.

This plot was very nearly a complete waste of time. First, we learn very little about Garibaldi, except to confirm that he's got a wicked temper. Second, there are lots of plot holes. How did all the weirdos get into the missing level? How did the zarg get there? Why hadn't the zarg eaten them all? If the zarg was subsisting on stealing away other people, why hadn't all these missing people come to anyone's attention before? Why did the weirdos have a tranquilizer gun ready to shoot any newcomers? The weirdos stole Garibaldi's link when he was unconscious - when he took Jeremiah hostage, why didn't he just demand its return and call for help? How did this level go missing in the first place?

A few high points from this plot. I enjoyed seeing the camaraderie between Garibaldi and Zack back - it's good that their friendship wasn't permanently damaged by the mistrust caused by Nightwatch. I appreciated Garibaldi's simple yet effective method to determine that the lift was in fact going by the "missing" level.

Well, that's about it for the high points. This plot was awful, awful, awful. Besides all the loopholes, the effects on the zarg were terrible. This plot had no point to it, either, which was especially frustrating when the episodes lately have been so important either in terms of the overall plot of the series or for character development. I rated this episode mostly as an average of this plot (0 stars) and the Delenn plot.

There are some nice details in the episode. Sheridan is actively recruiting telepaths to fight the Shadows, but there aren't a lot of volunteers. We learn a little about Delenn's family: her father died 10 years ago, and her mother is a member of the Sisters of Valeria, some kind of reclusive order, so Delenn has only seen her mother twice. Should she and Sheridan marry, she might enjoy being part of a family.

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