And just like that - bang - Babylon 5 is firing on all cylinders! After a mediocre start and two significant fumbles, suddenly we get a strong sense of what the show wants to be and what it’s capable of.
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Babylon 5 is hosting a religious festival where all of the various species living on the station conduct demonstrations of the ceremonies and beliefs of their homeworld’s dominant faith. Sinclair can’t really figure what to showcase as earth’s dominant religion given that there are so many of them. Londo demonstrates a huge Romanesque epicurean feast “Which can last up to a week, eating, purging, eating, purging…” Delenn demonstrates a Minbari “Rebirth” Festival recounting how Valen first formed the Grey Council, and it doubles as a marriage ceremony. Curiously, G’kar doesn’t showcase anything, though he is distracted with other pressing matters. Ultimately Sinclair realizes that the dominant religion of earth is the multiplicity of religion itself, not just one. By way of a ’ceremony,’ he simply forms a VERY long line of people with differing faiths - Atheist, Roman Catholic, Zen Buddhist, Muslim, Orthodox Jewish, the Sioux faith, Greek Orthodox, The Ibo religion, the Upik Eskimo religion, Hindu, Taoist, Aboriginal, Shinto, and so on - and introduces each of them in turn to the alien ambassadors. It’s a touching scene.
Meanwhile, the commander’s old on again/off again girlfriend - Catherine Sakai - comes to the station, and they end up on again. This is a cycle they’ve been through for a bout a decade. They decide to give it another shot and see if they can make it work this time.
Meanwhile, Lannier is introduced: He’s Ambassador Delenn’s new attaché. He’s young, and he’s a novice straight out of temple. He’s very formal, and won’t look Delenn in the eye. “I can’t have an assistant who will not look up,” she says, “You will be forever bumping in to things.” She commands him to behave normally around him, and not to call her by her Grey Council title. He doesn’t get it, but “Understanding is not required. Obedience is.”
Meanwhile, one of G’kar’s old political rivals has hired an assassin to kill him. G’kar is increasingly paranoid - and funny - since he knows the killer must be someone close to him physically. This is made worth when Na’Toth - his new attaché - is introduced after someone shoved his old one (Ko’Doth from “Born to the Purple”) out an airlock. He doesn’t trust her, and goes as far as to hire one of the Morg aliens from NaGrath as a bodyguard, but that guy doesn’t even survive one scene. G’kar fails utterly to solve the mystery on his own, and is captured by the assassin, who begins to torture him using an electric dog collar. Na’Toth introduces himself as the killer’s backup - which is probably supposed to be believable to us, since we really don’t know who she is at this point, but it doesn’t really work - but he doesn’t believe it. She kicks the crap out of G’kar by way of proof, but he still doesn’t believe it. She did, however, kick the dog collar of G’kar in the process, which freed him. He savagely beats the assassin - G’kar is a gorilla! He can puck a full-grown man (Well, Narn) up over his head with both arms and hurl him at a wall! - and then drugs him. He keeps the guy drugged until the assassination deadline is passed, and makes a substantial deposit into would-be killer’s bank account, thus making it look like the assassin took a bribe. This means the other assassins from the guild will hunt him down and kill him. He flees the station, and probably won’t survive. It’s funny! No, really! This whole plot is pretty darn funny.
Man, they really are laying on the major characters with a trowel, aren’t they? We got three new ones introduced in this episode: Catherine, Na’Toth, and Lannier. That brings our total cast up to TWELVE major characters (Though Kosh and Catherine are basically recurring, they’re very prominent recurring characters). Quite the ensemble, when compared to other genre shows of the period.
This episode makes a very good use of the location and the premise of the show, and it does a good job making the station feel like a *place,* with a lot of hustle and bustle, and a lot of different things going on all at once all over