Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 5: "In the Kingdom of the Blind"

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Episode Information

Title: "In the Kingdom of the Blind"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: David Eagle
Rating (out of 4 stars): ** 1/2
Reviewed on: August 16, 2010

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Byron presents the Alliance council with an ultimatum demanding a homeworld for telepaths. Londo visits Centauri Prime and has some disturbing encounters.

The events in this episode follow immediately upon the end of "Secrets of the Soul", as Byron recounts the facts to the other telepaths: the Vorlons genetically manipulated humans and other races in order to create telepaths to fight the Shadows. (This puts "Day of the Dead" in a bit of limbo, but somehow that seems fitting.) Byron unequivocally feels that because of this violation of their "destiny" (to be "normals"), the Alliance must grant them their own homeworld. He doesn't believe of violence, so he sends his telepaths out to follow the various ambassadors in order to telepathically read their secrets.

Thus armed with information, Byron tricks Garibaldi into letting him speak before Sheridan, Delenn, and the Alliance council. He presents his ultimatum: if the Alliance does not grant the telepaths a homeworld, he will reveal their secrets. Unsurprisingly, the ambassadors are furious and panicked. Sheridan is livid, saying that while Byron may have some legitimate points, he's handling the situation all wrong; Delenn points out that the new Earthgov president complained about Sheridan in the same way.

Byron returns to the telepaths' quarters only to find disagreement with his plan. Byron plans for the telepaths to stay secluded and quiet so that the others don't consider them a threat; he realizes that if the telepaths don't do anything wrong, then station security will have to protect them if anyone else comes against them. Unfortunately, not all of the other telepaths understand this subtlety, and have left to collect supplies and weapons. Lyta, Byron, and the other telepaths can sense when one of their supply-gatherers is attacked by Drazi. Despite Byron's prohibition on violence, some of the other telepaths rush to beat off the Drazi.

At another, later meeting, Byron says that now the plan is for them to barricade themselves into their quarters against the security forces that will be coming to get them. He wants them to peacefully resist, even to a hunger strike if necessary. Some of the others feel that they must go on the attack against any security. Byron is furious but defeated at their insistence on using violence, and tells them to leave. Perhaps a quarter of the telepaths leave before Byron walls them in.

At the end of the episode, Zack makes a demand for surrender to the telepaths. Of course, they have no intention of doing so, but Byron figures security will break in pretty shortly. He makes Lyta promise to leave him at some point in the future, when he thinks the time is right.

This plot in this episode is extremely frustrating. First, Byron, Sheridan, and Delenn all realize that Byron has a legitimate demand on behalf of the telepaths. And frankly, it seems like a small enough request, from all the many minor worlds that seem to be around in Alliance society. It's frustrating that Sheridan just seems intent on shutting Byron down.

Which brings me to the next frustrating point. Byron gets so convinced that the Alliance will not listen to any reason that he doesn't present the evidence of the Vorlon genetic manipulation and his request and allow the Alliance to have a chance for reason to win. Instead, he immediately jumps to threatening the Alliance. This is what Sheridan was talking about when he said Byron was doing this the wrong way - by presenting the Alliance with an ultimatum, Byron has set the telepaths up to lose. After all, the Alliance can't negotiate with someone threatening them in that way, or else others could do the same thing. It's frustrating that Byron has not thought this through, apparently, and thinks that his ultimatum will be successful. I guess he doesn't know Sheridan's history vis a vis negotiating with terrorists (such as "No Compromises", season 3 in "Ceremonies of Light and Dark", and season 3 in "Convictions".

Finally, I was frustrated by Byron's behavior in confronting the potentially violent telepaths. He's worked so hard to convince them all to be nonviolent, but in the end, I feel like he just gave up. Yes, it must be frustrating for him to feel like they haven't learned anything, but when the stakes are so high, he can't just tell them to leave if they want. He should have made one of his impassioned speeches; I'll bet he would've gotten some of them to stay. Instead, he almost kicks them out.

It's unlikely that the rest of the people on the station, possibly even Sheridan, Zack, and the command staff, will recognize the difference between the telepaths that have stayed holed up and peaceful versus the ones out wreaking havoc on the station. All of the telepaths are going to suffer for this. Byron knows that it's only a matter of time before they are all hunted down, and clearly he's not expecting a good end.

In the second plot of the episode, Londo returns to Centauri Prime with G'Kar as his bodyguard. The Centauri are appalled at G'Kar's presence, which seems to amuse Londo, and definitely amuses G'Kar.

Londo quickly finds out that odd things have been happening at the royal court. The Regent is ill supposedly, and only few aides have seen him in the past few months. However, there are reports that he sometimes wanders the palace, either talking to himself or raving drunkenly. Londo's good friend, Lord Jano, reports that formerly public knowledge, such as fleet status and food production, have now been classified.

After visiting Londo, Lord Jano finds the Regent waiting in his quarters. The Regent lives up to his description as a madman, uttering one of my favorite lines: "Once, I might have thought 'pastels', but we're way beyond pastels now." (Something like that!) The Regent speaks as if others are making the decisions, instead of him, the most powerful Centauri in the empire. At the end of the Regent's visit, Jano is killed and left hanging from his ceiling, where he is later found. Londo is convinced Jano would never commit suicide, so he knows someone murdered him.

Londo has been put off when he asked to see the Regent, but finally he receives an invitation late at night. Assassins begin to stalk him and G'Kar, but they prove to be a diversion simply to separate him from G'Kar. A door closes, leaving Londo alone. His political enemy, Lord Vole, cackles about finally having the chance to kill Londo and throws a dagger at him. The dagger stops in mid-air and reverses course, stabbing Vole. An alien in the shadows nods at Londo, and disappears. Londo and G'Kar retreat to Londo's quarters.

The next day, the Regent beckons Londo into a private meeting - the Regent is quite drunk. Again, he talks as though others are pulling the strings in the royal court, and that these beings saved Londo from assassination. He tells Londo that "they" like Londo and think he's a lot like them. Then the Regent mournfully consoles Londo about becoming emperor soon - apparently not something to be looking forward to!

The Regent's last words are to warn Londo to stop asking about the newly-classified information - he'll understand it all soon enough. He shoos Londo away. Once Londo leaves, the same alien that saved Londo enters and apparently punishes the Regent for something in the conversation.

Londo tells G'Kar that they must leave Centauri Prime as soon as possible. A subsequent shot from space shows that Centauri ships are responsible for the random attacks on Alliance ships.

This plot is also a bit frustrating in that it's mostly build-up for later in the season, but at least it's intriguing build-up. We've known since way back in season 4 in "Epiphanies" that the Regent had a Keeper on him; we can see now that it's not letting him be in control any more than it let Captain Jack in season 4 in "Racing Mars". So clearly the Keeper and its controllers (the Drakh?) are the ones making the decision, such as classifying information and sending their ships out on attack. But why would the beings controlling the Regent want to attack other worlds? We don't know - yet.

We have more information about what's going on with the Regent than Londo does, so we can only encourage Londo to follow the Regent's advice to live it up now, before he becomes emperor. Presumably the Drakh plan to keep Londo under control, too - why would they give up control with the death of the Regent? This fits in with the Keeper that we saw on Londo's neck when he was emperor in Sheridan's jump into the future in season 3 in "War Without End, Part 2". There's another nice detail: in the future scene, Londo is pointedly quite drunk, in order to be able to control himself, which is a technique that the Regent seems to have discovered. G'Kar was still with Londo in the future - still trying to protect him?

A last point on this plot: why did the Drakh kill Lord Jano? I realize he was digging into the newly-classified topics, but he had already found out they were classified and conveyed that information to others. How could he threaten them further? In addition, since he was a good friend of Londo's, the Drakh risk angering Londo. I guess they don't really care, because they plan to control Londo by other means than just convincing him to cooperate.

Overall, this episode was a mixed bag because of the frustrations I had with it. The telepath plot was more annoying than intriguing, while Londo's plot was the reverse.

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