Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 4: "Conflicts of Interest"

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Episode Information

Title: "Conflicts of Interest"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: David Eagle
Rating (out of 4 stars): ** 1/2
Reviewed on: January 13, 2010

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Garibaldi is hired for a job that requires protecting his former lover.

Garibaldi's new friend, Wade (from "Racing Mars"), hires Garibaldi for a job: getting someone onto B5 illegally and protecting them while they do business. Garibaldi is miffed at Zack (on Sheridan's orders) confiscating his ID card, link, and PPG gun, so he's up for eluding his former security team.

When the ship arrives, Garibaldi sneaks himself and Wade past security, where they meet their contact: Lise Hampton Edgars. Lise was Garibaldi's lover on Mars; as far as we know, Garibaldi hasn't spoken to her since season one in "A Voice in the Wilderness, Part 2". Garibaldi and Lise are both very surprised, but Garibaldi successfully spirits them away to guest quarters.

With Wade conveniently absent, Garibaldi finds out what Lise has been up to. At the time of "A Voice in the Wilderness, Part 2", Lise was married and expecting a child. After that, she discovered her husband was having an affair, but in the divorce, he managed to get custody of their daughter. She ended up meeting William Edgars - a multibillionaire and head of Edgars Industries on Mars - and marrying him. Garibaldi is upset that she never contact him in all this, but she only has a weak excuse.

Wade arrives, and they go to meet another contact in Downbelow. This person gives Lise a transparent cube with something small embedded inside. In some extremely obvious exposition, we learn that the cube contains a possible cure to a hypothetical disease that could be dangerous for telepaths. Edgars is working for a cure for humanitarian purposes, but there are many people that would have no problem with a disease that hurts only telepaths, so they have to be very careful to keep the research secure.

Garibaldi notices some bad guys looking them over, and gets them out of the area amidst a firefight. Zack has discovered and canceled Garibaldi's alternate identicard, so he has to improvise their escape: they get into the ventilation shafts. Garibaldi sends Lise and Wade ahead and stays to cover their escape, but when the bad guys just stick their heads in to look and then leave, he realizes they are telepaths. They pulled from Garibaldi's mind the location of Lise and Wade.

Garibaldi manages to rescue them just in time, then he uses the telepaths' abilities against them, by getting Lise to think urgently about an incorrect destination. In fact, since he knows the telepaths are heading to Docking Bay 3, he contacts security to send them there and pick up the telepaths. He can't resist being there himself for the take-down, so he sends Lise and Wade off on their shuttle, and heads to Docking Bay 3 himself. When captured, the telepaths kill themselves. This leads to some angry questions from Sheridan about the situation, but Sheridan doesn't have any firm evidence that Garibaldi did something wrong, so nothing comes of it.

Later, William Edgars contacts Garibaldi, letting him know that Lise arrived back on Mars safely. Edgars must really have connections, because we know travel between B5 and Mars is neither quick nor easy these days. Oddly, Edgars doesn't show himself in the message. Edgars offers to hire Garibaldi on a more permanent basis, although it would mean that he would have to go to Mars eventually. Garibaldi agrees.

A secondary plot in the episode involves Sheridan's attempt to stop the Drakh (and possibly other) attacks on the Non-Aligned Worlds. He proposes to Londo and G'Kar that the Rangers and the White Star fleet be used to protect borders and stop the attack. The Rangers would not favor any side, but simply protect civilians. He put the idea in front of Londo and G'Kar first, reasoning that if two large powers agreed to the idea, then the smaller worlds would find it more palatable. Londo is concerned that Sheridan may be trying to build an empire, and the situation remains unresolved.

One interesting point in this plot, is that the Centauri are familiar with the Drakh, from ancient stories. Londo reacted to the news about them with decided disgust. Does that mean the Drakh also remember the Centauri? This may be additional evidence that the Shadow allies that put the Keeper on the Regent in "Epiphanies" are also Drakh.

Also in the episode, Ivanova gets the idea (from Franklin) of asking Draal on Epsilon 3 to power the broadcasts of the Voice of the Resistance so that they will be able to get to Earth. In an entirely throw away, but humorous, scene, she runs into Zathras on the planet. Not Zathras that went back in time with Sinclair last season in "War Without End, Part 2", but one of this brothers, who looks identical and is also called Zathras (with a different, but undetectable, inflection). There are 10 brothers, which just thrills Ivanova. In the end, Draal apparently agrees, as Ivanova makes her first broadcast.

This episode did a lot to move along the situation with Garibaldi. We've seen him floating around the station, hiring out his services, but despite his declarations, it never really seemed like a long-term situation. Now he's getting into himself into something that could be huge - Edgars is involved in something to do with telepaths. Assuming that Garibaldi was in fact "programmed" by Bester (or other telepaths, as I speculated in "Epiphanies"), it may have been the goal of the programming for Garibaldi to find out what's up with Edgars' research. We'll have to see.

A disease that only affects telepaths is pretty specific, which makes it suspicious in this series. I wonder if it was some kind of defense developed by the Shadows in case their more mundane control of Earthgov and Psi Corps faltered for some reason? Also, I have to wonder why Edgars would bother trying to fight the disease, because given the relatively few telepaths, it wouldn't make money. Perhaps it really is for humanitarian reasons, but no issue connected to telepaths ever seems to be what it appears.

I personally found the interaction between Garibaldi and Lise to be a mixed bag. I think part of this is because we've never gotten a good idea of why Garibaldi fell in love with Lise. When we saw Garibaldi's flash back in time in season one in "Babylon Squared", Lise was berating him for leaving Mars and her. Later that season in "A Voice in the Wilderness, Part 2", she broke Garibaldi's heart by telling him she was married to another man. I have a hard time making myself care about the relationship, although it would be nice to see Garibaldi have a little happiness. Since he deleted Lise's message, I guess he's decided that he's over her.

Wade, and by extension Edgars, is playing a pretty deep game. I don't buy for a second the idea that Wade and/or Edgars didn't know about the past relationship between Garibaldi and Lise. I think Garibaldi's handling of the situation was an additional test, which he seems to have passed.

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