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A grave accident, causing the death of a dock worker, reveals the grueling conditions in which some essential personnel work, and the sub-standard materials employed in the construction of the station.  Roused by this incident, the dockworkers threaten to go on strike, even though this might create a worse problem for them.

Not a stellar episode, granted, but one that reveals what for me is a fundamental detail: this is not Star Trek's Federation, not the best of possible worlds where everything works perfectly and everyone is honest, nice and good.  This is not utopia, this is reality. And though it might be less palatable than the alternative, the ring of truth makes it more real, one of the reasons I appreciate this show so much.

Sinclair's mediation abilities are put to a severe test as he tries to reconcile the dockworkers requests with Earth's orders and the government's attitude of ignoring a problem in the false hope that it will go away by itself. On this respect, my only contention with the episode comes from the Earth representative, Orin Zento, who is the proverbial two-dimensional bad guy, armed with contempt, sneers and threats.

This aside, I find that Sinclair's solution of using the system's loopholes to solve the problem is nothing short of brilliant – even though it might expose him to further attacks from a not-too-sympathetic hierarchy.   Yet I like this detail as well, because – as it happens in reality – the "heroes" might win a battle, but this doesn't mean they can happily ride into the sunset with no cares in the world.

The "B" thread of this episode also represents a diplomatic riddle, and like the dockworkers' situation is solved through creative thinking. The need for G'Kar to secure a peculiar Narn plant for a religious ceremony reveals his role as spiritual leader for his people, another facet added to this complex and wonderful character.

It also establishes and escalates the rivalry with Londo and the latter's desire to pay the Narn back for what happened on Ragesh 3 ("Midnight on the Firing Line").  It's interesting to note that despite his anger, G'Kar is ready to do anything that will help him fulfill his role, even bend to the Centauri's petty requests: spirituality is not just a word for G'Kar, but something that deeply permeates his being. Again, it's a small seed that will flourish in the future with fascinating results.

The scene where G'Kar thanks Sinclair and admits his surprise at the Human's grasp of spirituality is a very important one: until now the Narn and the Commander have often locked horns, so to speak, but in this moment G'Kar seems to become aware that the Human is... not exactly what he appears, to use his own words, and this generates a new level of respect, symbolized by the peculiar Narn gesture (both fists against the chest) that signifies tribute to an equal.  A beautiful moment, indeed.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-30 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] diarmi.livejournal.com
I kind of like this one. I mean - I remember how surprised I was watching it for the first time, being used to (as you said with Star Trek) things "just working", places being magically clean, machines repaired. I wouldn't watch the whole season of "people behind the curtain" but I like how B5 reminds us from time to time about reality of being forced to work with bureaucracy, lack of funds, people who needs to be paid etc...
And for the fun we have as always delightful another round of Londo and G'Kar games... :)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-30 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nymeria-55.livejournal.com
You're right: a whole season of "the guys who make this work" would not be interesting, but these flashes remind us that this is a place that needs thousands of people to run it, not just the guys in uniform in C&C :-)

As for Londo and G'Kar's games, I NEVER grow tired of them!

Thanks for stopping by!


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