Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 3: "Interludes and Examinations"

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Episode Information

Title: "Interludes and Examinations"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: Jesus Trevino
Rating (out of 4 stars): ****
Reviewed on: October 1, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Sheridan gets a victory for the forces of Light, but at a steep cost, while Londo falls back into the Shadows' influence.

There are three major plots in the episode, but they don't affect each other much, so I'm going to discuss them sequentially. As we learned at the end of the previous episode ("Ship of Tears"), which happened 10 days ago in series time, the Shadows had begun attack worlds openly. So far these worlds are mostly minor worlds and Non-Aligned Worlds members. However, despite Sheridan's efforts, he can't get any of them to work together to try to defend each other - they are all worried about being able to defend themselves, or trying to avoid notice. They don't believe Sheridan has any power to back up his requests for alliances.

Sheridan pours out his frustrations to Delenn, who is a good sounding board for him. He says that if they can win one victory over the Shadows, he's sure that the other races will band together with them (Sheridan). So Delenn says he should give them a victory... how? "I'm sure you'll think of something." Delenn has had a talent of throwing out ideas that Sheridan then alters into something usable (such as how to escape from the Agamemnon while in Jupiter's atmosphere in "Messages from Earth"), but this is pretty vague even for her. Nonetheless, it inspires Sheridan to think of Kosh, who hasn't been around much lately.

Sheridan asks Kosh to ask the Vorlons to take out the Shadows in one engagement in order to provide encouragement for the younger races. Kosh refuses, saying they are not prepared. Sheridan snaps. He berates Kosh for manipulating humans into believing the Vorlons are holy (thus the angel appearance we saw at the end of season two in "The Fall of Night"), for manipulating Sheridan himself into a leader of the war against the Shadows, and for not helping out in that very same war. As Sheridan points out, if the Vorlons don't do something now, Sheridan's dead no matter what the outcome: if the Shadows win, he's dead, and if the Earth Alliance catches him, he's dead. He's got nothing to lose.

Kosh doesn't take well to Sheridan's outrage and begins throwing Sheridan around, either with telekinetic powers or some kind of technology (possibly similar to what we saw from the technomages in season two in "The Geometry of Shadows"). Sheridan just eggs him on, asking if he's had enough death yet. Kosh relents and agrees to Sheridan's demand of a victory. However, he warns Sheridan that the price is that he (Kosh) will not be there when Sheridan goes to Z'ha'dum. Sheridan said that he knows Kosh told him he'll die if he goes to Z'ha'dum. Kosh says, "Yes, now." Sheridan foolishly interprets this as Kosh being petty and refusing to help at this future date, but Kosh just says he doesn't understand.

Another Shadow attack begins soon, and Delenn and Sheridan gather many of the representatives from the Non-Aligned Worlds into the new war room. Sure enough, they receive news that a Vorlon fleet has arrived; in a fierce fight, the Vorlons destroy the Shadow ships. The alien representatives are ecstatic, and Sheridan soon receives news that they have all joined his proposed alliance.

In short order, we learn the price of Kosh's help. Morden has been notified of the Vorlon attack, and he and his Shadow associates pay Kosh a visit. They kill Kosh in his quarters, leaving nothing but a wrecked encounter suit behind. While Kosh is fighting to defend himself, he appears in a dream in Sheridan's sleep. He apologizes for being rough with Sheridan, saying that Sheridan was right, and that he (Kosh) was afraid of the consequences of agreeing. Sheridan wakes up out of the dream, but it's too late.

At the Vorlons' request, all of Kosh's remaining items are placed into his ship, which then flies itself into the star near them. No one is going to tell that Kosh was killed, and the Vorlons are sending a replacement - inside an encounter suit, who will know it's not really Kosh? Sheridan realizes his silly assumption that Kosh would refuse to help him on Z'ha'dum out of spite - Kosh knew the Shadows would assassinate him.

This plot in the episode is exciting, and has a lot of long-term effects. Yes, the other worlds have joined the alliance of Light. However, one of their pillars, Kosh, is dead. Will the replacement have the original Kosh's zeal for the fight? The same almost fatherly attitude toward Sheridan and Delenn? Will the Vorlons be willing to take the same kind of risk again?

We have to assume that the Shadows assassinated Kosh because he broke some unwritten agreement: Kosh could be on the station and organize resistance only if the Vorlons did not take an active role. How that fits in with the Shadows actively acting on the station and attacking other worlds, I'm not sure, but apparently it was so.

The second plot in the episode begins with Londo receive news that his lover Adira (from season one's "Born to the Purple") is coming back to him. He is ecstatic, and has Vir prepare an elaborate suite for her. While he is waiting, Morden tracks down Londo and accuses him of breaking their agreement splitting up the galaxy in "Matters of Honor" - apparently the Centauri have been too lax in conquering their half of the galaxy. Londo basically tells Morden to get lost, which Morden doesn't take well. With a little oily charm, Morden finds out about Adira's impending arrival, which we know doesn't bode well.

Adira's ship arrives, and we get the first bad vibes along with Londo when she doesn't disembark. She was found dead in her cabin upon arrival. Londo is devastated, but immediately suspects Refa of poisoning her in retribution for Londo's poisoning of Refa in "Ceremonies of Light and Dark"; the autopsy confirms his suspicion. Londo calls in Morden, saying he wants to renew his friendship with Morden's associates, so that he can get revenge for Adira's death. I wanted to wring Morden's neck when he so smugly said that he was only there to serve Londo, when we know full well that Morden killed Adira.

This results of this plot in the episode should also have huge ramifications down the road. Londo was trying hard to right the wrongs that he had done, distancing himself from the Shadows, and using all his skills to do the same for the Centauri Republic. He was obviously having some effect, since Morden and the Shadows were annoyed with him. Now Londo has plunged himself right back into the darkness and evil. He acted in this episode purely on the impulses of grief and revenge - could he change his mind before it's too late? I think that he'll find escaping the Shadows' clutches a second time much more difficult than the first.

Londo's fall in this episode is doubly painful for us. First, we see Londo ecstatic about Adira's return, and his character is a joy to watch when he's so happy. So we empathize with Londo's personal pain. But we also know that Londo is being duped by Morden and that Adira's death was a ploy on Morden's part to bring Londo back into his sphere of influence. Londo is bent on revenge, but he's going to be taking that revenge on the wrong people.

The third plot in the episode involves Franklin's stim use finally catching up with him. We see him and Dr. Hobbs dealing with a crisis in MedLab, when Garibaldi brings in an injured security guy. A thousand things are happening at the same time, and Franklin nearly cracks under the pressure in full view of Hobbs and Garibaldi. Later Garibaldi tries to ask him if he's having problem with stims still, but Franklin explodes at him.

Garibaldi next goes to Dr. Hobbs, asking for access to Franklin's required blood tests, in order to find out if Franklin is addicted before he has to report anything officially. Hobbs is torn, but refuses to help against the regs. Garibaldi can hack into the computer system to see the tests, but stops at the last minute; Franklin happens to see this. Franklin says that he knew Garibaldi was after the tests, so he looked at them himself - and couldn't believe what he saw. He didn't think he had a problem, but the tests don't lie. Garibaldi asks him what he's going to do, but he doesn't know.

Later on the episode, after Kosh's death, Franklin has come to a decision. He calls Sheridan to MedLab and tells him he has become obsessed with his job, and started using too many stims so that he could do more and more. He has to stop before someone gets hurt, so he's resigning. Sheridan is stunned, and between that and Franklin's rushed monologue, he really can't get a word in. They shake hands, and Franklin heads off for who knows where.

We have seen Franklin's stim problem building up now for a couple seasons, so it's good to finally see it come to a head. On a personal scale, we have no idea what Franklin is going to do to set himself right. Will he stay on the station? We know that his family is full of high-achievers (such as in season two's "Gropos"), so he must be horribly disappointed with himself, which may be a bigger problem than his physical addiction. In terms of the bigger picture, Sheridan has now lost a key player in his alliance of Light, someone who brought a different moral point of view and different skills to their effort. What will they do?

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