Thursday, November 29, 2007

Babylon 5 Review: "Born to the Purple"

Some episodes are dull, others make no sense, but "Born to the Purple" is one of that rare breed that is both dull and non-sensical. Not only that, but I have no clue why it exists, unless they wanted to firmly establish Londo's emotional longings - I'm assuming this is part of why he sympathized with the lovers in "The War Prayer." In addition, the characters again weren't written that well. Did Londo and G'Kar start getting along when I wasn't watching? Did the writers have any clue what they were doing at this point?

The plot concerns a female slave named Adira who had seduced him so as to steal his "Purple Files" for her owner. Whether advanced races would have slavery is an old argument I won't go into, except to note that the concept carries a lot of different practical meanings in different societies. For almost 300 years, Egypt was ruled by military slaves. However, for the rest of the series, despite a good bit of Centauri politics, we never hear of these files again, and all Adira does is die, which any number of other characters could do just as easily to achieve the same effect.

Adira's departure is unconvincing. She says that the wounds are still too fresh, but what is she talking about? Londo is obviously over it, and he's the one who would have more to get over. If there were some deal where she hated realizing that she would betray a loved one, it should have been brought out explicitly. This story, however, didn't have the imagination for even that common a theme. That's not the only plot hole. Why did Talia have to ask Sinclair if Londo was telling the truth about a woman's life? I'd imagine it qualified as both an intense emotion and a surface thought at that point.

The B-plot concerning the death of Ivanova's father was good, but too small to really affect the overall quality of the episode. It did establish just how isolated she is from others, something what would be the character's main personal weakness throughout the series. Get this, though: After years of being a fan, I only just realized that she has only one "n" in her surname.

Is Vir a complete idiot? What's with playing the games before critical negotiations? That was a bit overboard even for him, and made him look like a lazy teenager more than any sort of professional. The idea that Londo had some sort of power also contradicts what eventually develops, as it was pretty firmly established later that both he and Vir were shunted off the Babylon 5 because their houses saw them as embarrassments.

Anyway, I'm giving this a 3/10, and not planning to watch it again anytime soon.

UPDATE: Oh, one more thing. This is twice in the first three episodes that Londo "Poison was always the weapon of choice in the old republic" Mollari has used frontal violence. They pretty clearly made a chance in the whole manner and bearing of the character, probably in tandem with Peter Jurasik's bombastic delivery and Hungarian accent which came to be his trademark.



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