Episode 134 – In the Kingdom of the Blind [Sort Of]

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Sorry, but our recording for episode 5×09 – “In the Kingdom of the Blind” was unusable. I recorded a little something in its place.

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2 Responses to “Episode 134 – In the Kingdom of the Blind [Sort Of]”

  1. Voord 99 Says:

    [Spoilers for A Tragedy of Telepaths]

    Now *here’s* an episode with that last-season feeling. Of the two plots, one is devoted to bringing back a beloved character from early in the show. And the other is about advancing the telepaths’ story towards its conclusion. Both plots, in other words, are about tying up loose ends.

    It’s a bit of a problem, it must be said, that there are problems with both. It’s good to see Na’Toth again, but we don’t actually really see Na’Toth again – this isn’t the same sardonic and forceful personality that we knew in Season One.

    There’s nothing unbelievable about this. Na’Toth’s sufferings are clearly meant to have broken her. This is a good deal more believable than the way in which Sheridan bounces back unchanged from his trauma in Season Four without any more effect on him than if he had been given a parking ticket. It is, however, a definite problem that two male characters, Sheridan and G’Kar, are portrayed as heroic figures who triumph over the experience of imprisonment and torture, while the woman becomes a broken and passive victim to be rescued by two men.

    But that’s basically what this story does. Back when Na’Toth was introduced, she was the single member of the trio of her, Vir, and Lennier with the most obvious potential. Here she’s reduced to a McGuffin for Londo and G’Kar’s story. I haven’t rewatched the episode in a while, but my memory is that she hardly speaks. I would defy anyone who hadn’t watched early B5 to watch this and understand why Na’Toth’s return might matter to anyone.

    There are obvious reasons. In Season Five, Na’Toth is at best a character who used to be sort of important, and there is no point in developing her further. Plus, presumably the same problems with the make-up still existed, so it was probably necessary to minimize her screen time. But still, the result is that the episode ends up in a very unfortunate place. This damages a plot that, judged solely as a story about Londo and G’Kar’s relationship, is good stuff that does an important job of illuminating how their unlikely friendship can work despite the obvious pressures on it.

    As for the telepaths’ plot, the main problem (for me) is that this is one episode too many. The previous episode gives the impression that the thing is heading for a conclusion – this drags it out for another episode of ongoing crisis. I suspect that JMS was going for “ramping up the tension,” but he ended up with “unnecessarily slow,” at least for me.

  2. Voord 99 Says:

    [Spoilers for Phoenix Rising]

    OK – so I think that the Byron arc becomes a lot more palatable if you view Byron as a creepy cult leader who’s not anything like as intelligent as he thinks he is.

    The story then becomes, whether or not JMS intended it, one of how a positive development – in this case the resistance to Psi Corps – can emerge out of problematic beginnings, and how someone who’s clearly going to become a heroized legend might actually have been a disturbed and dangerous personality. It is worth noting that in a ’90s context, the end of Byron and his followers was an obvious reference to David Koresh and his.

    One reason why I like this is because it can be read – whether or not JMS was aware of this – as an apology for and counterpoint to the hero-worship of Sheridan, especially in The Deconstruction of Falling Stars. (Yes, I think Byron is another distorted mirror of Sheridan, in this case Sheridan in his more messianic mode.)

    That’s not to say that the Byron arc one of the best parts of Babylon 5. Not only does it drag on too long, it manages not to do everything it should within that time. One particular gap is characterization of the members of the cult who aren’t Byron. This works well enough for a while, because it adds to the creepiness – the telepaths come across as people who’ve submerged their identity into the group. But once dissent and opposition to Byron develops, it falls more than a little flat because we have no idea who the leaders of dissent are.

    And tonally, I think one of the problems is nebulous, but real: it’s just not all that enjoyable to watch, is it?

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