The arrival of President Santiago on Babylon 5 coincides with a terroristic alert. The involved parties, to distract the attention from themselves, concoct some evidence that points to security Chief Garibaldi. He will have to face both false accusations and some old demons.
If, on one side, there are some elements of predictability in this story, on the other it offers a good opportunity to examine Garibaldi in greater depth, and to focus on his relationship with Commander Sinclair.
Up to now we have been peripherally aware that Garibaldi is an ex-alcoholic, that this has played an unfortunate role in his career and that Babylon 5 represents his last chance to do something with his life. What we learn now is that several years before he was falsely accused of a friend's death because of negligence, which brought on another of his close encounters with the bottle and now comes back to haunt him: Major Lianna Kemmer, head of presidential security, is the daughter of that man, and – as Sinclair so clearly reminds her – she's now out for blood.
Accused of being a saboteur threatening the security of the Earth Alliance president, Garibaldi takes flight through the station and, finding himself lost and alone, falls back into the alcohol trap. This is one of the details that don't quite resound with me – not because of the drinking problem, but because the scene in which Garibaldi relapses into his habit is played too swiftly, almost as a knee-jerk reaction. Just a few days ago I was reading a commentary by one of B5's writers, Laurence di Tillio, where he said that he would have liked a subtler reaction: according to him Garibaldi should have started slow and fallen progressively into the drunken stupor that leads to his capture.
Reading those words I realized what felt wrong with the scene: there was no hesitation, no qualms. Hardly the reaction you would expect from someone who has been sober for such a long time.
An interesting aspect of his personality comes from a realization: until now Garibaldi has come across like the proverbial dog that, given one bone, proceeds to gnaw it until he reaches the marrow. He never gives up when following a trail, he never lets himself be stopped by setbacks – look at what happened with the unauthorized transmissions that Ivanova made with Earth! Yet here, when his reputation and his life are at stake, he gives up almost without trying. As if he didn't consider himself worth of the effort.
On hindsight, this offers some evidence for future developments.
On the other hand, there is the determination from Garibaldi's friends to do anything in their power to help him clear himself. Sinclair defies Earth authority and tries to slow down the inquiry to gain his friend more time, and even straight-laced Ivanova resorts to some creative interference to obstruct Kemmer's investigation.
These represent the highlights in a not-so-strong episode, although much remains to be said for the small seeds sown here, like the disagreements provoked by president Santiago's policy of openness toward alien governments, the existence of dangerous factions trying to undermine Earth politics, and the tendency of those factions to resort to extreme violence to reach their goals.
These small seeds will see their fruition in the season's last episode....