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Another non-arc story that doesn't quite fulfill its promises – and it's a pity because the possibilities were there.

Aldous Gajic, the last member of an order dedicated to the finding of the Sacred Graal, comes to the station to gather information: Delenn and Lennier receive him with full honors and a great deal of respect, because nothing is more sacred to a Minbari than a spiritual quest, while Sinclair and Garibaldi are a great deal less enthusiastic, considering the man an eccentric, to say the least.

Aldous takes the lurker Jinxo under his protection: the man is convinced that he must remain on the station to avoid the fate reserved to the four previous installations. He was a construction worker on all of them, but each time he took a leave something terrible happened, so he's determined to stay, even though he's now out of work and heavily indebted to a criminal.

This man, Deuce, rules his small underworld through fear and the use of a Nakaleen, an alien creature that feeds on mental energy leaving its victims catatonic, and is hidden inside a fake Vorlon encounter suit.

Aldous becomes involved on behalf of Jinxo and in the process loses his life, leaving the legacy of his quest to Jinxo who finally starts a new life away from the station and his fears.

The episode is not exactly memorable, despite the outstanding performance from David Warner as Aldous: the actor confers an incredible dignity to his character, and his interactions with the fearful Jinxo are a joy to witness, yet the feeling that something vital is lacking is too strong to be ignored. Not because of the actor, but because of the story.

Again, as was the case for TKO, more relevant information is left in the background in favor of the weaker A-track: we are given just a few glimpses, but they are not enough to balance the rest.

For example, Garibaldi's attitude toward the underworld in Down Below: he asks Sinclair's permission to take drastic action that will once and for all clean the place up, but Sinclair refuses on the ground that most of the population on the station's lower levels is made of desperate people who came to B5 with the hope of a better future, only to find themselves destitute and with no means to return home.   We get the impression that this is a long-standing argument between the two men, with Garibaldi on one side, trying to act on the basis of his training and inclination, and Sinclair on the other, with his greater understanding and deeper compassion.   It's also an interesting look on the parallel society that somehow manages to thrive at the fringes of the world of rules, regulations and legality.

We also get another peek at Minbari culture: as Delenn and Lennier explain to Aldous, their society revolves around two castes, Warrior and Religious – although we will later learn the existence of a Worker caste as well – that seem to be at odds with each other.  When Aldous asks Delenn if they ever agree on something, she appears quite troubled and replies that it did happen once, and that it bred something terrible.  It takes no further knowledge of the story to understand she's referring to the Earth/Minbari war, but the implication of Delenn's words will be made completely clear only with the events of the movie "In the Beginning".  The rest... is a huge spoiler.

An intriguing moment happens as Delenn and Sinclair are discussing Aldous and his quest: the Ambassador implies that she sees the Commander as another True Seeker, albeit one that has still to recognize his goal.  With the hindsight I now possess, there is a momentous significance in her words.

My biggest complaint with this episode comes from the way Londo is portrayed: the way he is used as comic relief here seems to ignore how he's already quite changed from day one.  Much as Londo can be viewed as a fun and fun-loving character, he is also a man possessed of a basic dignity that comes both from his role and from his inner drive.  Yet in this episode we see him fearfully cowering in his quarters because of the Nakaleen threat.  To me that is not Londo, but his sad caricature.

At least, the episode ends with one of Ivanova's trademark sentences:

No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow. What? Look, somebody's got to have some damn perspective around here. Boom, sooner or later. BOOM!

Not much, but it's enough....

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-02 08:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] diarmi.livejournal.com
I have to say that I'm more on the Sinclair's type of reaction to Aldous - it kind of feels absurd to me, though it's in a way funny, how Delenn makes the big deal of Very Important Guest arriving and she drags the whole welcoming comitte and everyone apart from Minbari are quite confused :)

But I like the scene in Londo's quaters when Vir was trying so hard to helpful and gladly proceeded with research to Londo's disdain :)


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