Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 3: "Sic Transit Vir"

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Episode Information

Title: "Sic Transit Vir"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: Jesus Trevino
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: September 10, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Vir finds out a marriage has been arranged for him.

On Centauri Prime, the Prime Minister tells Vir that his reports on Minbar are excellent and to keep up the good work. Vir is heading back to Babylon 5 (and then back to Minbar), but stops by his quarters first, which is filled with Narns.

On B5, Londo gets a surprise guest: Vir's new wife, Lyndisty. The marriage was arranged by their families, and Vir isn't even aware of it. Lyndisty is lovely, and Londo very much approves of the arrangement. He surprises Vir with his new wife when Vir returns.

Vir is very uncertain about the idea of an arranged marriage, since he had planned to marry for love. Lyndisty is incredibly charming, and promises Vir that she will make him love her. She seems to have no problem with the idea of an arranged marriage and appears to be prepared to devote herself to Vir. In subsequent private encounters with him, she seems to be making her case very well.

Zack discovers that Vir has been falsifying papers for Narns using his authority on Minbar (to make up a Centauri called "Abrahamel Lincolni"), and passes the discovery on to Ivanova. When Ivanova questions him about it, he says that he is moving Narns from the extremely poor conditions on the Narn homeworld to the Centauri homeworld. Even though they will be forced to work on Centauri Prime, the conditions there are so much better that the Narns are asking to go.

Sheridan has made dinner for Delenn, taking advantage of the break the station has gotten in their many crises. However, they don't have much time to enjoy themselves, because Vir and Lyndisty are attacked by a Narn one floor away. Vir tries to protect Lyndisty, but he's pretty helpless himself. Sheridan hears the security call about the incident and rushes in to stop the Narn. Security arrives, but the Narn refuses to surrender and is shot dead.

The Narn had shouted "shankar", which is a blood oath, so Ivanova calls in Vir again to ask about it. (We first heard the Narn term for blood oath in season one in "Deathwalker".)Vir has no idea why a Narn would have a blood oath against him, and Ivanova warns him that the Narn's brother is also on the station. Vir takes the opportunity to ask Ivanova, as a woman, what women want during sex. Ivanova is stunned, and tries to give him some general advice, for which Vir is incredibly grateful.

A short time later, Ivanova's investigation into the Narn attacker leads to a horrible discovery that she calls Sheridan to Londo's quarters to discuss. The 2000 or so Narns that Vir supposedly arranged to send to Centauri Prime are all dead. Londo is impressed and pleased at Vir's initiative. However, Vir reveals that the Narns aren't really dead - he faked their deaths so they wouldn't be found and had them secretly sent to other worlds so they would be safe. He said that he had the chance with his position on Minbar to do good, so he took it. Sheridan and Ivanova had been outraged at the deaths, but now they realize Vir was doing good. Londo has the opposite change of heart, and is furious at Vir abusing his position to save Narns.

In the meantime, we see the brother of the Narn attacker following Lyndisty. But then Lyndisty finds Vir sitting sadly in the garden and insists he come back to her quarters for a surprise: the unconscious and bound Narn brother. She was trained in personal defense on Centauri Prime, so she captured him and saved him for Vir to kill.

To Vir's horror, Lyndisty shows a completely different side as she talks about traveling with her father to Narn to watch as he directed the "culling" of the Narn villages. Her description of burning Narn villages is "flowers" and her face takes on such a transfixed expression when she describes them. She has completely bought the Centauri propaganda that Narns are an inferior species and that they just cause trouble. She insists that Vir kill the Narn, saying that she's killed hundreds herself.

We don't know what happens with the Narn, but it seems safe to say that Vir didn't kill him. The next thing we jump to is Londo berating Vir: Vir's job on Minbar is terminated, Londo has used his contacts to erase the records of Vir's misdeeds, and Londo will keep Vir on B5 for further "training". Lyndisty is being sent back to Centauri Prime, and their arranged marriage is in jeopardy because of Vir's actions. Vir visits Lyndisty for a farewell, saying that some of her ideas need rehabilitation, which she says other say about Vir. She promises to wait for Vir, despite his protests.

This episode is an interesting mix of humor and serious issues, and the details of the episode are excellent. The first part of the episode, with Vir's marriage being revealed and Vir's reaction to it, are quite funny. Throughout the episode, Vir's expressions and mannerisms really add a lot to the events: everything Vir thinks is on his face almost immediately. We laugh at his first kiss - hands fluttering - and then at his description of Centauri sex when talking to Ivanova.

Other nice details in the episode: the quick pan over the mess in Sheridan's kitchen tells us much better than his words about how much of a cook he's not; Delenn artfully redirecting Sheridan's attention so she can season the flarn enough to manage to eat it; Sheridan and Delenn never quite managing to get that first kiss. (Whenever someone is interrupted by a video message like in that scene, it reminds me of the scene in the movie Spaceballs where President Scroob insists that no one call him there and that it's "an unlisted [video] wall".)

Lyndisty is a fascinating character. Her dialog is wonderful, with the way that she can make the most insignificant statement into something flowery and almost poetic. I think it might be hard to get her to stop talking! Her instant devotion and admiration of Vir make us want to like her right away. When we learn about her ideas about Narns, it's horrifying. Listening to her use her flowery language to describe massacres and racism is just disturbing. I think she really believes what she's saying completely - her brainwashing has been utterly successful.

Poor Vir is stuck in an awful position in regards to his actions in helping Narns escape. He feels that he did the right thing, and Sheridan and Ivanova agree, as would most viewers, I would think. After all, what he did was similar to the celebrated actions of many people that worked against the Nazis, for example, in World War II to help Jews survive. However, Vir's views on this issue are completely opposite from those of Londo and seemingly most other Centauri. We learned in "Point of No Return" that Vir was eventually going to be emperor - at that point, will he still have the same moral views that he does now? If so, his reign could mark a dramatic shift in Centauri politics.

Ivanova also gets some good exposure in this episode - pun intended. She's made uncomfortable in many ways in the episode, from bad dreams to getting asked for alien sex advice to uncovering Vir's actions. Although a lot of it is good for laughs, it's frustrating for her. At least by the end of the episode she gets to continue the work the Vir had to stop, sneaking Narns out of Centauri control.

A last comment: I loved Londo's campaign against the bugs in his quarters. His reaction of throwing the whole fly swatter and then any other objects at hand at the bug reminds me of my own panicked reaction to spiders. I certainly don't think him using his sword (given to him last season in "Knives", I think) on the bugs is overkill.

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