Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 4: "Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?"

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Episode Information

Title: "Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: Kevin Dobson
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: November 29, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


G'Kar goes looking for Garibaldi and gets captured by the Centauri; Sheridan comes to grips with the reality of his situation.

This episode has a number of plot threads that are intermeshed, but that I will address individually. The most significant plot in this episode is G'Kar's quest to find Garibaldi (which he began in the previous episode "The Hour of the Wolf"). He has following information about the discovery and salvage of Garibaldi's Starfury to a ramshackle outpost. He is in the middle of pressing an unsavory character for information when Marcus pops up to help him out in the resulting bar fight.

Marcus has come to help G'Kar, which he appreciates, but G'Kar feels that he must pursue his quest alone. After Marcus finishes squeezing the key information out of G'Kar's contact, G'Kar makes Marcus return to B5 to follow up some of the information. G'Kar sends Marcus away just a bit too soon, as someone on the outpost identified him, and Centauri military capture him.

G'Kar is taken to Centauri Prime, where Emperor Cartagia awakens Londo in the middle of the night to present G'Kar to him as a gift. Londo is horrified that G'Kar has fallen into Cartagia's insane crutches, but he quickly realizes that G'Kar might be the key to his plan to assassinate Cartagia.

Londo visits G'Kar in his cell and makes a dramatic show of describing all the ways G'Kar will be tortured before he is finally killed. Londo clearly had this whole conversation planned out before he even entered the cell - this is a personality trait often attributed to Garibaldi (such as in season 2 in "Comes the Inquisitor"), but we have seen that Londo is very good at it as well, such as his planning and manipulation of Refa at the end of season 3 in "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place. Then Londo gives G'Kar a bit of hope: if G'Kar will help Londo in his plan to kill Cartagia, Londo will free G'Kar.

G'Kar realizes that now is his chance to save his people: in return for his cooperation, he demands that Londo agree to free Narn when the plan is successful. G'Kar's sense of revelation and imminent salvation is underlined by how the light highlights him when Londo opens the cell door to leave.

It's some nice irony that Londo and G'Kar, two mortal enemies (literally, from what we have seen of Londo's death in season 3 in "War Without End, Part 2") are now working together to save their own peoples. However, there is still a lot of hard work ahead - G'Kar may not ultimately be killed by Cartagia, but Londo made no bones about the fact that G'Kar is going to be tortured extensively. How much can G'Kar bear?

I enjoyed watching Londo get better and better at handling the insane Cartagia, deflecting his anger by connecting to Cartagia's own aspirations and affectations. It's not clear how Londo is going to use G'Kar in his plan, but presumably we will find out more in time. One last comment on this plot: aren't prison cells ever bugged on TV shows? Presumably Londo knows that they are not, but I have to wonder why not.

Speaking of Garibaldi, whose plight launched G'Kar's quest, we get a scene of him in a cramped, dark cell, being questioned repeatedly about what he remembers after his disappearance in his Starfury. He becomes enraged and claims he doesn't remember anything, and he must be gassed into submission. We know that Garibaldi was snatched by a Shadow ship - how did he end up in the hands of what appear to be normal humans? The only Shadow-human connection we really know about is through the Psi Corps, which is not a hopeful thought. It's also strange that the Shadows apparently just dumped his Starfury somewhere it could be found - unless that was a mistake by the humans now controlling Garibaldi.

In the second plot, we follow Sheridan in his exploration of his situation on Z'ha'dum. He has been wandering around the area around his campsite with the strange alien Lorien following him. Sheridan tries to question Lorien, but doesn't get much useful information. However, we and Sheridan both get flashes of a large energy being holding Sheridan in "tentacles", which is presumably Lorien's true form.

Eventually Lorien reveals that he is the very first First One, older than any of the Vorlons or Shadows. The Shadows chose Z'ha'dum as their homeworld in an attempt to honor Lorien, but Lorien's attitude is one of parents fed up with his children's squabbling.

Lorien pushes Sheridan to think more about his situation: what does Sheridan last remember? How could he be here if he had jumped into that pit on Z'ha'dum? When Lorien reveals that Sheridan has been with him for some 10 days but Sheridan still isn't hungry, Sheridan has to admit that something weird is going on.

Lorien claims that Sheridan is stuck in between life and death. He pushes Sheridan to release himself to death, saying that he may be able to revive him - otherwise he'll be stuck in between forever. Sheridan resists, but by the end of the episode, he finally lets go, focusing on memories of Delenn as something to live for.

Sheridan's situation is very strange and has a strong sense of unreality. Although Lorien's conversation is in simple terms, we know that there's a lot of meaning hiding behind his words. I have wondered about the purpose behind having Sheridan go through this "in between" business with Lorien, and I've realized that there are several purposes. First, the writer needs a plausible way for Sheridan to have survived the events at the end of last season in "Z'ha'dum", and that way must not seem like some kind of cop-out. Second, Sheridan has met Lorien, who will prove to be a worthy ally. Also, Sheridan's time in "limbo" with Lorien has raised the suspense back on the station regarding whether or not Sheridan is alive and what the Shadows will do next.

Why does Lorien help Sheridan at all? We have to assume that since Lorien is the first First One that he's capable of finding out a lot more about Sheridan and the current situation in the galaxy than might be obvious. Does Lorien find Sheridan personally special and worthy of life and completing his goal? Does he find the current war between the Vorlons and the Shadows too extreme? Or some of both?

In the next plot, Delenn finally comes to terms with her past actions and what she must do in the future. Franklin comes to check on Delenn, since she hasn't eaten since Sheridan when to Z'ha'dum, but cannot convince her to stop her fast. Delenn pours on him a monologue of guilt for failing to trust Sheridan and putting him on the path to Z'ha'dum. I've always loved her description of what Sheridan did, which is something like, "once he knew the truth, he did not choose his actions - his actions chose him". She's finally realizing the price she has to pay personally for her past choices, especially choosing to withhold information from Sheridan.

Later in the episode, Franklin is going through Sheridan's effects and calls Delenn to Sheridan's quarter to see a section of Sheridan's personal log. Sheridan had just admitted to himself that he's in love with Delenn, and describes it as jumping off a cliff with the hope of being able to fly. (The parallel with Sheridan actually jumping off a cliff on Z'ha'dum is clever, especially since Sheridan ostensibly recorded this sentiment before he went to Z'ha'dum.) Delenn is touched at his message, and the sentiment Sheridan expressed gives her a new sense of purpose.

Delenn summons the local Rangers for an announcement: in seven days, they, and any members of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds that wish to join them, will attack Z'ha'dum. She declares that the Shadows will attack them and renew the war anyway, so they will show the other worlds what actions must be taken, even if they all die. She repeats Sheridan's homily, giving them the chance to fly. They are waiting seven days so that any ships that wish to join them will have time.

Delenn is the leader of the Rangers, so none of them even think to second-guess her decision, even though they will almost certainly all die without broad-based support from the other worlds. Will she be able to use her charisma, will, and wonderful speaking manner to bring in more support? Is she really just looking for a good way to die, since she believes Sheridan is already dead?

This episode had a lot of good moments in it, but it was primarily setup for succeeding episodes: setup for Sheridan's return, setup for Delenn's attack on Z'ha'dum, setup for Londo's plot against Cartagia, setup for G'Kar to finally free his people. For that reason, it really wans't very fulfilling.

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