Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Classics: B5 4:18 - Intersections in Real Time

Overall: 8.0

I know this sounds a bit twisted to say, but: needs more torture.

Plot Synopsis:

The Lurker's Guide has a summary here.

The Skinny:

Okay -- I realize that Babylon 5 is supposed to be vaguely family-friendly, but I still find the Interrogator's methods here somewhat -- disappointing. Where are the thumb screws? The nipple-twisters? The jumper cables attached to sensitive body parts? Why isn't Sheridan being waterboarded? Or forced to face his greatest fear? Personally, I just don't think that sleep deprivation, tainted food, and a few heated philosophical discussions on the meaning of truth are really going to utterly break anyone. No wonder Sheridan was able to hold out!

That aside, this episode just barely makes it into the B range on the strength of JMS's intentions. Tame though the torture is, the aim of the Interrogator is precisely right. All totalitarian systems - no matter their underlying ideology - demand that you accept the State's truth instead of God's truth. And in order to pave the way for said new "truth", a totalitarian must first question the idea that truth is absolute. Two plus two equals five because we say it does; it's morning because we say it is.

Moreover, JMS accurately captures that one skill that all servants of the Father of Lies possess: the ability to take the facts and warp them into lies. The Interrogator correctly points out, for example, that Sheridan's view of the Minbari has changed and uses that to argue for the mutability of all truth. But, of course, this is a self-serving distortion. Sheridan's views of the Minbari have changed because the Minbari themselves have changed, not because he has accepted some new idea of who should be considered an ally.

And by the way, the fact that the truth-twisters in this piece are Clark's minions stands as an implicit argument that truth is objective and transcendent -- and that's a nice conservative message.

Writing: 7.0

The truth-warping is decent, but overall? This script lacks a sense of genuine peril.

Acting: 8.0

I don't see any feature-worthy performances here, but Boxleitner and Bruce Gray both manage to hold my attention.

Message: 9.0

There is such a thing as a truth that exists above and beyond the dictates of the State.


SHERIDAN: You know, it's funny, I was thinking about what you said -- that the preeminent truth of our age is that you cannot fight the system. But if, as you say, the truth is fluid - that the truth is subjective - then maybe you can fight the system. As long as just one person refuses to be broken -- refuses to bow down.
INTERROGATOR: But can you win?
SHERIDAN: Every time I say 'no.'

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