15 May 2012

B5 Review: Midnight on the Firing Line & Soul Hunter

Babylon 5's first season set in 2258, titled 'Signs and Portents' begins.

Midnight on the Firing Line
Londo lashes out at G'Kar
It's a year after the events of The Gathering and out on the fringe of Centauri space an agricultural outpost, Ragesh III comes under attack and all contact is lost.

Meanwhile, on Babylon 5 we meet new first officer Lieutenant Commander Susan Ivanova, the new resident telepath Talia Winters and Londo's assistant, Vir.

This first episode of the series has a lot going on and the two storylines outside of Babylon 5 involving Ragesh III and the Raiders (space pirates) eventually join up. In the mean time we get an idea of a part of the political landscape, the hatred between the Narn and Centauri, an election brewing on Earth and the image Sinclair and Babylon 5 must maintain for those back home. Ivanova comes across as a harsh and blunt person, particularly towards Talia but we soon find out why and we get to see Garibaldi's second favourite thing in the universe.

Important events are setup from the beginning where we get to hear Kosh speaking from behind a screen before quickly transferring to his encounter suit when Sinclair's not looking, President Luis Santiago wins in the polls and has no chin, while his Vice President  has several (according to Ivanova) and of course we learn of Londo's dream that in 20 years he and G'Kar will be strangling each other.

On Australian broadcast, this episode was not played first, Soul Hunter had that honour and from what I read from online sources, this episode was saved until after the season finale, Chrysalis. Why they did this I have no idea...

Overall Rating: 7/10
Soul Hunter
Delenn speaks with the Soul Hunter A rogue Soul Hunter comes to the station. Usually their race preserves the artists, the great minds and special people who are about to die, but this one has 'failed' so often that he now kills to ensure he is there to save their souls.

Sinclair gets to play hero again in this episode, after sussing out the Raiders in the previous episode, this time he gets to take a Starfury out to stop a broken ship from crashing into the station. 

In the meantime we meet the station's new chief medical officer, Dr Stephen Franklin. This time though we get an explanation for the change in staff as Dr Kyle will work with the President on Earth (Lt. Commander Takashima's transfer is never explained). Franklin gets to work on this new alien who is drawn to death. We get to meet N'Grath, a 6ft Praying Mantis type of alien and Sinclair saves the day (again) when Delenn goes missing.

I forgot about the importance of this episode. I knew it had ties with the later movie 'River of Souls' that focusses on the Soul Hunter race, but there are a lot more clues being leaked about Ambassador Delenn's true identity and something there's something about Sinclair when the Soul Hunter informs him 'they're using you', causing Sinclair to do some digging of his own. Who is Delenn really? Who is Satai Delenn and what is the Grey Council? 

Soul Hunter provides a decent character building episode while exploring a bit of the new unknown in the Babylon 5 universe. The DVD transfer suffers a bit with a few scenes looking very below quality and it brings with it a sad realisation that we may never see Babylon 5 in 1080 high-definition goodness due to the lack of quality left in the tapes (what's left of them).  

Overall Rating: 6/10 

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