Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Classics: B5 4:21 - Rising Star

Overall: 6.0

This episode is important because it officially concludes the Civil War arc, but it's still not very good.

Plot Synopsis:

The Lurker's Guide has a summary here.

The Skinny:

Okay -- I must admit that when it comes to this episode, fandom has totally ruined me. All I can think about is this story, which is totally how that last scene between Londo and G'Kar ended. Come on, you know it's true. You don't even need a pair of slash goggles to see it given Londo's earlier teasing remark in re: G'Kar's supposed sexual ineptitude.

But anyway, back to my serious review. First of all, while SABR Matt and I roll our eyes at Ivanova's "I should have boffed him just once," I have to give Claudia Christian a lot of credit here. Performance-wise, her scene with Rick Biggs is very well done. And actually, except for that last little bit, the writing's pretty good too. Poor Ivanova really has had terrible luck when it comes to her romantic relationships.

But what about the discussions in re: Sheridan? Personally, I think JMS fails to establish the legitimacy of the other side of this conflict. Yes -- during the communications blackout, I can see how some Earthforce officers might've come to the conclusion that Sheridan was attempting a military coup. But after? For heaven's sake! By now, everyone should know about Clark's gulag -- and, oh by the way, his intention to bomb Earth in the event of Sheridan's victory. I don't understand why anyone at this point would oppose what Sheridan did.

What JMS needed - but neglected - to do was set up a viable alternative. The interim president states that many officials on Earth were aware that Clark was spinning out of control, and she suggests that people like her were trying to find some quieter way to stop Clark in his tracks. But do we see any evidence of this? Did JMS spend any time fleshing out the more covert attempts to oppose Clark's fascist regime? No. And that's probably the Civil War arc's biggest flaw: JMS didn't really show us enough of Sheridan's honorable opponents.

Oh, and a final note: Is it just me, or does Delenn's invitation to Earth to join the Interstellar Alliance feel a bit threatening? "We will leave the choice entirely up to you." (Huge military force flies overhead and rattles all the windows.) "It's totally your decision." Seriously -- after the Rangers' display of clearly military might, who's going to be dumb enough to say no? The Interstellar Alliance: a United Nations analog with actual teeth.

Writing: 5.0

As I note in the discussion above, Sheridan's detractors mainly look petty and stupid, and that really hurts the overall story.

Acting: 8.0

Claudia Christian's scene in the Med Lab is excellent, and so is Sheridan's major speech -- but those moments are canceled out somewhat by some unimpressive guest performances.

Message: 5.0

If you're going to argue that there are two sides to every civil war, you should at least put in the effort to demonstrate that both sides actually have legitimate concerns.

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