Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Classics: B5 3:13 - A Late Delivery from Avalon

Overall: 7.7

This episode has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but I enjoyed it.

Plot Synopsis:

The Lurker's Guide has a recap here.

The Skinny:

As I've established in previous reviews, JMS is curiously obsessed with Christian scripture. He is drawn to the Passion narrative like a moth to a flame -- and most of the time, when he decides to quote the Bible, he doesn't even bother to hide it. This episode reveals, however, that JMS' subconscious love affair with Christianity extends beyond the Bible to embrace Christendom itself. After all, this is the second time he's openly played with Arthurian legend, that great cultural product of medieval Britain and France. JMS finds Jesus infinitely fascinating (apparently), but he is also inexorably attracted to old-fashioned Christian chivalry.

This episode pre-dates Early Edition's Bat Masterson by about a year, but its plot is very similar: a traumatized individual retreats into a comforting fantasy the appeals to his desire to be a hero and must struggle to find his way back to sanity. JMS's version of this story does not work quite as well, though, and I think that failure can be attributed to two things: 1) JMS's penchant for obvious, florid prose; 2) the fact that Dr. Franklin is an arrogant jerk who thinks he can cure David/Arthur despite his evident lack of psychological training. On the plus side, Dr. Franklin does not succeed in snapping David/Arthur out of his delusion, but still -- Gary and Dr. Feinstein are far more likable.

Which is not to say that there aren't parts of this episode that do work. I especially love G'Kar's interaction with David/Arthur. The excitement with which he greets the opportunity to beat up some "unambiguous" bad guys ("And they made a very satisfying thump as they hit the floor") is intensely adorable. And G'Kar's getting piss drunk after the aforementioned "satisfying" fight and passing out? Hilarious.

Bottom line? There's nothing in this episode that gets me super-excited, but it does have real entertainment value -- especially if, like me, you love G'Kar.

Writing: 7.0

'Tis a perfectly pleasant script, but, alas, JMS over-explains his symbolism. Message to JMS: Let us figure out the parallels for ourselves!

Acting: 8.0

Michael York is very good, but no true stand-outs can be found among the regular cast.

Message: 8.0

In the end, though, you gotta love how perfectly this episode fits into the medieval tone of the series in general. It's too bad JMS's political opinions haven't yet caught up to his imagination.

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