Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 5: "Day of the Dead"

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Episode Information

Title: "Day of the Dead"
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Director: Doug Lefler
Rating (out of 4 stars): **
Reviewed on: August 5, 2010

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


The Brakiri celebrate the Day of the Dead, and others on the station inadvertently also participate.

At the beginning of the episode, the famous comedy team Rebo and Zooty arrive on the station. Sheridan conducts a public ceremony to welcome them to the station, remarking that after all they've been through, they deserve some fun. I like that the adoration of Rebo and Zooty is not universal: Lochley doesn't get them at all, and Londo is indifferent. I have to admit that I find their humor (at least as shown) to be a little too staged and obvious, but I appreciate their role as kind of a futuristic Laurel and Hardy.

Lochley gets herself out of the Rebo and Zooty event by meeting with the Brakiri ambassador. The ambassador wants to buy a piece of the station for a day, so that the Brakiri on the station can properly celebrate the Day of the Dead on the Brakiri "homeworld". G'Kar barges into the meeting to warn Lochley not to agree, but Lochley does anyway. G'Kar decides to sleep on the bridge instead of in his quarters in Brakiri territory.

Lennier is visiting the station and stops by to see Delenn. He ostensibly came to experience the Day of the Dead (since Brakir is too far away), but we know he came to see Delenn. He can hardly stand to speak about Sheridan.

The Brakiri carefully mark off the part of the station that they have bought, and it seems that other Brakiri are stationed around to explain to people living inside that area what's going on. We learn that the Day of the Dead is an occasion that only happens about every 200 years on Brakir, and during that time, people that have died may return to visit for a day (or a night, rather, since Brakiri are nocturnal).

Sheridan and Delenn host Rebo and Zooty in their quarters for dinner. The Day of the Dead begins, and the Brakiri part of the station seems to be walled off somehow from the rest of the station. The station's sensors claim that the section has disappeared. Corwin contacts Sheridan about the problem, since he can't contact Lochley (whose quarters are in the Brakiri section). Sheridan discovers the "wall" around the section, and then contacts the Brakiri homeworld about the issue.

Meanwhile, the people in the Brakiri section are experiencing the Day of the Dead. For Londo, his lover Adira returns - she was murdered by Morden in season 3 in "Interludes and Examinations". Londo is ecstatic and is so delighted to tell her that he killed her murderer and he's going to be emperor, that he can hardly get the words out. Then he poignantly adds that he'd give all of it up to have her back. They spend the rest of the time in bed.

Lennier is visited by Morden. Lennier is upset that he made the effort to experience the Day of the Dead, only to be visited by such a reprehensible person. He tries to leave the Brakiri area, but cannot. He and Morden spend most of their time not speaking to each other. When Morden does speak, he tells Lennier that Delenn will never love him, and that he will betray the Rangers. Lennier flatly denies the latter as impossible.

Lochley's dead friend Zoe returns. Lochley's reaction when Zoe arrives is heart-wrenching, because it's so dramatic. Lochley had been trying to figure out why she couldn't communicate with the rest of the station, but she forgets about that completely with Zoe's arrival.

As they talk, we learn a lot more about Lochley's apparently colorful past. She and Zoe ran away from home (as teenagers or young adults, I suspect) and got involved in drugs. They apparently lived in a horrible apartment and never had enough money for food. Zoe died of a drug overdose, which scared Lochley into calling her Marine father. She got cleaned up and enlisted in Earth Force.

We can see that Zoe's death had a profound effect on her emotionally. She's always wondered if Zoe took the overdose on purpose. Initially Zoe claims she doesn't remember (and who knows how this returning-from-the-dead thing works, anyway?). This claim is somewhat belied by the desperate way in which Zoe asks Lochley to remember all the "fun" that they had; Lochley can't really remember the fun in being hungry and dirty all the time. By the end of the night, Zoe admits that she did kill herself on purpose, because she just couldn't go on living.

In the midst of their conversations, Lochley again tries to get communications restored. She reaches Garibaldi, whose quarters are also in Brakiri territory, and gets him to rig a relay through Stellarcom. She reaches Sheridan, and they agree that from what they can tell - and the Brakiri government says - things will go back to normal when the Day of the Dead is over.

Garibaldi is visited by Dodger, the female Marine killed in season 2 in "GROPOS". Dodger is still hot for Garibaldi, but they just can't get their timing right, because now Garibaldi is mentally committed to a relationship with Lise. They spend the night talking, except for the time Garibaldi spends hooking up the communications for Lochley.

In the morning, when the Day of the Dead is over and things go back to normal, Sheridan is miffed that the whole incident occurred at all and gives Lochley a bit of a dressing-down for it. We can see that despite the descriptions of Lochley and others, he's not taking the whole returning-from-the-dead thing seriously - until Lochley tells him she has a message from Kosh via Zoe. We can see his whole attitude change in an instant. The message? "When the long night comes, return to the end of the beginning." And now Sheridan has his own personal reaction that he doesn't care to share.

At the end of the episode, Rebo and Zooty leave amidst as much fanfare as when they arrived, and G'Kar regrets not experiencing the Day of the Dead for himself.

This episode is interesting for its implied premise: if you could bring one person back from the dead for a night, who would it be? Of course, the characters in the episode didn't get to choose, but clearly everyone who knew what the Day of the Dead was about would have been hoping for someone specific. It would be a chance to experience a lost love one more time, or to set the record straight in some injustice. It's a fascinating idea.

The characters reactions to their "returnees" are also interesting. Londo barely questions Adira's appearance before he takes advantage of it. He doesn't really care if it's truly her (or a copy or hallucination of some kind) - he just wants to experience being with her again for as long as possible. Somewhat surprisingly, Lochley has almost the same reaction, talking with Zoe for quite awhile before questioning where she came from or what's going on. Lennier had the best idea of what to expect, so he's only upset about who his returnee was. Typically, Garibaldi has the best reaction - pulling a gun from under his pillow and then questioning Dodger pretty extensively before calming down.

Unfortunately, I can't help but see this episode as a lot of missed chances. Why did the writer choose these returnees? In the case of Lochley, we do get a lot of history on her via Zoe's return, so I'm satisfied with that. But the missed opportunities with Londo, Lennier, and Garibaldi!

Who would I have picked to return? For Londo, probably Morden. Wouldn't it have been great to see Londo try to tear Morden to pieces literally? After all, he only had Morden beheaded for his crimes against the Centauri race - he didn't know yet that Morden also killed Adira. Assuming that a dead Morden couldn't be killed again, then we would have had some great confrontation between Londo and Morden over their whole twisted history in the previous seasons of the series. Think of how the path of the entire series would have been different if Londo and Morden's relationship had been different. Instead, Adira returns from the dead - fun for Londo, but pretty much a wash for the viewer.

For Lennier, I definitely would have chosen Marcus. Can you imagine the angsting over lost loves between the two of them? Marcus was the first one to know about Lennier's love for Delenn, too. Plus, they could have communed about the Rangers - I think Marcus would have been amused by Lennier joining because of his death. Instead, Morden returning to Lennier seems pretty much nonsensical. I know the returnees can't be "chosen", but what's the point of the writer introducing the idea if not to give some interesting interactions? All we get from Morden is the "prophecy" that Lennier will betray the Rangers. That's hard to believe, but then again it was hard to believe he'd ever leave Delenn.

Garibaldi is the hardest character to pick for, because most of the people close to him haven't died - Ivanova, Bester, and Sinclair, for example, have just moved on. Although I suppose Sinclair would be dead by now, but there's no real friction or regrets between the two of them. William Edgars might have been interesting - Garibaldi could tell him just how much everything he planned went wrong. At any rate, the idea behind this episode was fascinating (if you suspend your disbelief about how the dead could return), but I feel like it didn't live up to its potential.

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