Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 5: "No Compromises"

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Episode Information

Title: "No Compromises"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: Janet Greek
Rating (out of 4 stars): ** 1/2
Reviewed on: April 27, 2010

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Sheridan assumes the office of President of the Interstellar Alliance, and telepaths foil an assassination attempt on him.

The station is bustling with activity with the initiation of the new Alliance, Sheridan's installation as President, and the arrival of the new commanding officer of B5, Captain Elizabeth Lochley. The headquarters of the Alliance is on B5 only temporarily, until permanent headquarters can be built on Minbar.

Sheridan and Delenn are settling into married life, staying in each other's quarters on alternate nights, and running into each other's idiosyncracies (such as Sheridan washing his socks by hand), which is a nice touch.

Sheridan and Lochley meet formally, but it's clear that on Sheridan's end, at least, that they know each other already. Sheridan states that Lochley is in charge of station operations, but Sheridan will keep authority over political issues. Lochley asks the audience's question: why was she chosen to command B5? Sheridan says he picked her specifically because she's good at resolving problems without resorting to force, but also is strong enough to not back down to him.

Someone has sent a corpse to B5: a Ranger. Franklin confirms the Ranger was killed elsewhere and then transported to B5 and left adrift in space outside. Clearly someone has plans for B5 or perhaps Sheridan's inauguration. Garibaldi is back on the station, and he's going nuts in his paranoia at protecting Sheridan at the inauguration ceremony, bugging Zack and the security personnel to no end. We see that Garibaldi might not be overreacting too much as someone covertly kills the Gaim ambassador and secretes himself in the ambassadors full-body environmental suit. Sometime later, Sheridan receives an audio death threat in his quarters.

Lochley is having lunch when the telepath Byron stops by to talk to her, after pulling some telepathic tricks to get her attention. He asks that she meet with him and "his people" in Brown section later.

Intrigued, Lochley does so, but with security to first ensure that Byron and "his people" are not armed; so assured, she orders security to leave. Byron explains that he and the others are rogue telepaths. They are gathering on B5, and they request permission to form a colony on the station. Their ultimate goal is to find a planet that they can colonize. Byron goes all out in trying to work Lochley's sympathies, introducing her to a young telepath named Simon, who refuses to speak because of some past trauma. Lochley makes no promises except to think about it.

Sheridan, Lochley, Delenn, Franklin, Zack, and Garibaldi have what may be their first meeting together with Lochley. Everyone is trying to convince Sheridan to postpone the inauguration ceremony because of the threat to his life. Zack and Garibaldi are trying to figure out who sent the threat, but aren't having much luck so far. Sheridan refuses to cave in to the threat, saying that he can't hide. Lochley steps up and agrees with Sheridan, much to his satisfaction and the others' dismay. So: the inauguration goes ahead as planned.

Garibaldi is furious with Lochley for what he considers her disregard for Sheridan's safety and chases her down to have the first of what will be many shouting arguments. Garibaldi says they have to protect Sheridan from himself, but Lochley shuts him down, saying that he's now a civilian with no authority, so he shouldn't have even been in the meeting. The two of them don't get along, and it's going to cause problems. Later, when Garibaldi asks which side Lochley was on in Sheridan's campaign against Earth, she coyly responds "the side of Earth", which only inflames Garibaldi's paranoia more.

Meanwhile, Simon has been sneaking through the ventilation ducts and happens upon the assassin in the Gaim's quarters. He is so startled when he reads the assassin's intentions, that he makes a noise. The assassin shoots into the duct, wounding Simon, and then fleeing. The inauguration ceremony is about to start, and so now we have a rather obvious race going on: will the assassin get to Sheridan before Simon gets help? In addition, Garibaldi is still tracking down the death threat and finally deduces who sent it.

At the inauguration, the various political representatives have arrived and the ceremony has started. Simon staggers in and collapses, but manages to telepathically broadcast to everyone that the assassin is hiding in the Gaim's suit. The assassin shoots, misses, and runs. Security takes off after him. Sheridan insists on going ahead with the ceremony.

Garibaldi learns that the assassin is running, and knows he can pilot Starfuries, so he tracks the assassin to a Starfury, and each of them launch. The assassin pulls up to the window outside the chamber where the inauguration is happening, with the intention of shooting, although he lets everyone else leave. Garibaldi brings up his own Starfury behind and grapples on to the assassin's knocking the assassin's shot off-target. B5's defense grid takes out the assassin's Starfury. G'Kar had been working on Sheridan's oath of office all episode, but now he's tired of the hysterics and administers the short version.

After things have calmed down, Sheridan meets with Byron. Lochley had denied Byron's request, but Sheridan has decided that a telepath colony is a political issue and overrules her and grants permission for the colony. Sheridan had justified it to Franklin earlier as a hope to get some telepaths on their side for the upcoming telepath war.

This episode is pretty much by-the-numbers and predictable. In some places, the plot felt a bit contrived. I, like Sheridan, was a bit frustrated by the smothering concern the other characters had for his safety. After all, he's the same person he was just weeks ago, and he's essentially in the same position - coordinating the cooperation between all the different races. But now he's got an official title and position and somehow that changes things. I can understand it intellectually, but it's frustrating.

The new character of Captain Lochley is a mixed bag for me. I do appreciate that she's loud and forthright - it's obvious why Sheridan thinks she'll stand up to him when he needs it. We're not clear now about her past with Sheridan, which is a mystery we'll figure out gradually throughout the season. One thing that isn't a mystery: when she refuses to directly answer which side she was on in the campaign against Earth, you know she was on the "wrong" side. Of course, if you weren't a henchmen of Clark or the Shadows or Psi Corps, it's hard to say that there was really a wrong side - a very valid issue that needs to be addressed. There are going to be a lot of hard feelings between the sides that aren't going to go away immediately.

I'm not sure I quite understand the immediate and dramatic friction between Lochley and Garibaldi. Yes, Garibaldi is a bit of a wildcard right now, but it's got to be clear that Sheridan trusts him without reservation. Which makes me wonder: how much do Lochley and other people that weren't on B5 know about what happened on B5 with the Shadow war and the fight to take back Earth? You'd think that if Lochley had the full story behind what's gone on between Sheridan and Garibaldi, she'd be more understanding of it. And if Lochley doesn't have the full story, certainly other people don't, either. This seems kind of weird to me - wouldn't people want to know this stuff and so there would be news about it? On a smaller scale, wouldn't Sheridan want to brief Lochley about things? Seems like it would help her in better understanding how to run the station.

It's nice to see Franklin and Garibaldi back in their "real" roles, even if Garibaldi's security role isn't official. Garibaldi is a bit overzealous, but given what has happened to him and the guilt he must feel for betraying Sheridan, I can't blame him. It's a nice twist at the end of the episode when Garibaldi reveals to Lochley that Sheridan has made him the head of Alliance covert intelligence - so he'll have to work with Lochley on a daily basis.

The assassination plot overall felt cliched. It's reasonable that someone with the means to do so would want to kill Sheridan. The setup, with the dead body and the trite recorded message, was just too forced. We don't know the assassin or the group he came from, really, so he was just brought in to the show to be killed. The scene with him planning to shoot the Starfury through the window was completely over-the-top.

The telepath plot was better, just because it's obviously going to progress throughout the season. However, Simon revealing the assassin was too obvious - at least Simon got to live when the episode was over. Sheridan allowing the telepaths on the station may be what leads into some of the deaths and problems that the commentators referred to in 100 years in last season's episode "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars": what's going to go wrong? I still shake my head that Sheridan is just now trying to do something about the telepath war that he sees coming, since he's been ignoring Lyta for ages. Byron and the other telepaths should be grateful to Sheridan, but I think Byron realizes (even without telepathy) that Sheridan probably has some ulterior motives. Now that there are rogue telepaths on the station, surely the Psi Corps won't just stand by and let them gather?

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