Why is it that Science Fiction on film always seems to take us, at least for a moment, to the seedier sides of life? Star Wars had its Cantina, Blade runner had the strip show, and one could argue even Star Trek (TNG) had the Ten Forward (never mind the Kirk years).
And so this third episode begins with dancers and scantily (for prime time) clad females in a bar. I’ve said before that most of the first season is setup, and this episode is unexceptionally so. The episode itself isn’t particularly telling or even compelling – even most fans of the show won’t recall it at first blush. Yet the events of this episode will come back into play in later story arcs, making it significant if only by virtue of having been. Let’s see if we can’t speed through it though, eh?
Cue Londo watching the exotic dancers, avoiding work. And what has his eye? A Centauri dancer we’ll get to know a lot better in this episode, Adira. But first, Sinclair and G’kar arrive, trying to get Londo to talk about a treaty for the Euphrates sector. For a moment, G’kar and Londo agree on their appreciation of females, which is suprising sexist and yet, hey, they agreed on something! There’s hope for the universe yet. And look, there’s G’kar’s new attache, Ko Da’ath, an icy, unhappy Narn if ever there was one. But having to track your boss down at the “dance” bar would do that to you too.
We follow Londo back to his quarters, where, as you probably could have guessed, we find Adira in bed and waiting for him. La la la!
(Since we’re keeping track, Sinclair is still doing the voiceover at this point in the season.)
Our B plot for this episode is all about a mysterious transmission. Not from an alien artifact deep in space, but a Gold channel communication that shouldn’t be there. Gold channel, we learn, is reserved for priority communications back to Earth, but this one isn’t on the records and it annoys Garibaldi.
Londo, like any teenager in love – or aging Centauri ambassador – is neglecting his duties, missing meetings, including the talks about the Euphrates sector. Vir isn’t too well focussed either, but that’s because he’s busy playing something that looks a lot like a Gameboy Advanced. But Centauri. Given the current state of handheld gaming devices, I thought this lack of imagination was a bit disappointing. Like the screens, which at this point are all obviously tubes set in the wall, it’s indicative of a lack of imagining how we might improve. I imagine budget constraints didn’t help, though – this was after all the 1990’s, and science fiction on television wasn’t exactly a well funded or liked venture.
Talia Winters is part of the mission, reminding us that in this future telepaths are a vital functionary in making sure business, both economic and political, is carried out with full disclosure. Of course, the emotions in the room are too much for empath (wait, I thought she was a telepath?) to handle right now, so she steps out and Sinclair follows. Which is where we learn why this meeting is so important to the commander – its the first real opportunity to legitimize the Babylon station and its mission. Wait, what?!? This is the fifth station we’ve built and we’re not even sure they are worth it?
Londo, of course, rather than attending the meeting, is busy with his “friend” in bed. He laments that he’s just a washed up old republican, and she saccharinely tells him she loves him for who he is. Yes, this scene is really that classically sappy. Vir interrupts the little tryst, letting Londo deliver a classic line:
What do you want, you moon-faced assassin of joy?
Stephen Furst as Vir Cotto in Babylon 5 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Love that line! Vir lures Londo away, and we shift back to our B plot. Garibaldi is explaining the transmissions to Ivanova, who is bored and convinced the Garibaldi is imagining everything. Like many of our B plots, these scenes are quick – a few lines of dialog, and then we go back to our lovely Centauri Adira as she goes back to her own quarters where she is met by Trakis – her master.
Yep, it’s all a con orchestrated by Trakis to get Londo’s secret purple files, files that will reveal the dirty secrets of the great Houses of the Republic. Dissatisfied with her progress with Londo, Takis orders Adira to use – the mind probe!
Londo returns to her quarters after the meeting with star laces (prop flowers that glow) – and a gift, a brooch once owned by the matriarch of his family. It’s a lovely family heirloom and you know that he isn’t just giving it to her because he likes to give away trinkets. He tells her to dress, because they are going out to dinner, but she’s reluctant. Going out means being seen in public – together. The scandal! Londo retorts with a heartwarming speech that makes her cry, and even makes this viewer a little misty eyed, all the more so because he seems so sincere and we know she’s only waiting around to betray him (and it’s probably no spoiler, we expect the heart of gold scenario).
In the B plot, Garibaldi is reading a newspaper when – alas! – another gold channel is opened. Wait – a newspaper? Not a flat screen, or digital display, but a real, made of tree paper newspaper? This is the kind of unimaginative anachronism I was referring to before. It just strikes me as uninspired. Anyway, Garibaldi fails to track down who’s sending the signal because they use countermeasures to hide their trail.
Sinclair and Talia go out to dinner, at what we know now is the finest restaurant in Babylon 5 (but they’re just friends, really), and indeed spy Londo and Adira.
Garibaldi steals some time at Ivanova’s station (AGAIN?), and her system concurs that there were no countermeasures detected. See? Garibaldi is just imaging it all. It seems like a strange thing to imagine, but here we are.
Adira and Londo are getting personal, which means its time for her to slip him a roofie, mindprobe him, and steal the files. Because that’s what all good girls do. She kisses him goodbye, leaving the brooch for him (and verifying she has a heart of gold and wasn’t just out to get him).
Londo is woken up by a door chime, Vir there to wake him. He starts to get ready, his head throbbing, when he notices the brooch and looks sadly at it.
Adira has the data crystal full of Centauri secrets, staring at it, contemplating. She afrees to meet Trakis on the zocalo with the files, and we all feel a little more dissapointed in her.
Londo, of course, is upset, and sends Vir to the meeting he’s supposed to be attending, conferring on him full ambassadorial powers – “Just don’t give away the home world.” At the zocalo, Adira sees Drakis and runs, but as a result Trakis and Londo come face to face. Trakis lures Londo away, telling him half truths, but the most painful thing he says is all true – that Adira is a slave. With Londo’s back turned, he slips a bug on Londo (which, of course, looks like a real bug before it disappears).
Vir arrives at the meeting about the Euphrates sector, glowing that he is there with power. G’kar is understandably angry and leaves Ko Da’th to represent the Narn, and you guessed it, “Just don’t give away the homeworld.” Nobody trusts their adjuncts, do they?
After confirming that Adira stole the files from him, he heads out, presumably to try and find Adira again. When he runs into Sinclair, he asks for help, explaining what’s happened. Sinclair agrees to help, but only if Londo will go to the talks. They head to the bar where Adira was a dancer, bamboozling their way into to talking to the other girls, looking for information on where they might find Adira.
Trakis, meanwhile, knowing the game is afoot, hires some thugs to delay Londo and Sinclair. Interesting side note, the alien he goes through for this transaction is the same giant praying mantis we saw the Soul Hunter talk to when he was looking for information.
Londo and Sinclair are ambushed and chased, shot at by the thugs out to stop them. Personally, if I was the head of the station, I might have used this opportunity to pull out some station security cards and get some protective cover fire, since we know weapons are illegal on the station. Its not like this is a hunting accident, after all. But then, we wouldn’t be able to overhear that Trakis has Adira, which is of course what comes next.
Garibaldi, who isn’t helping at all, obviously has an idea about his rogue transmissions. He locates Ivanova via computer, then loads his ice breaker program, tracking down the transmission. Garibaldi taps into the transmissions and finds himself watching Ivanova talk to her father, who has just come out of his coma. He could stop here, but instead watches as Ivanova and her dad have a heart to heart, her father giving a goodbye speech from his deathbed, complete with final breath. Garibaldi watches the whole thing, but won’t ever be able to admit it.
Sinclair and Londo approach Talia for help. She can’t violate her oaths and snoop in the minds of others, but there are ways around that. Talia goes with G’kar when he meets with Trakis, who of course wants to sell the Narns the dirty secrets of the Centauri Houses. Talia makes some leading comments, causing Trakis to think about Adira and where she was being kept. What’s not immediately clear to me is whether G’kar knew what was going on or not. His reaction suggests not, but you never know. Londo thanks G’kar for saving his career, and the honor of the Centauri Republic, phrases that make the Narn disgusted.
For the sake of closure, Garibaldi confronts Ivanova, admitting that he tracked his gremlin down. Looks like there was no stray communication, just a computer error. There’s a moment here between Garibaldi and Ivanova, a moment where there are words unspoken. Look, its a bonding moment here!
And now for more closure, we return to Adira and Londo. She, of course, never wanted to hurt him, and Londo knows that. He gives her her contract, cancelled – she’s a free woman now. He asks her to stay, but we already know that’s not how these stories play out, and she declines. He gives her the brooch again, to take with her, and those of us with our own second sight know that we’ll see her again, if briefly.
All in all, the episode wasn’t worth the delay in getting this post up. We have a lot of tried and true unrequited love scenes, but more importantly we had a few things laid out that will be more important in the coming seasons. Thanks for joining me in this delayed rewatch, see you next time!