"The Paragon of Animals" on Babylon 5
by Michelle Erica Green

Let's Pontificate

Dramatically, I thought this was a terrific episode. Good balance of local personality conflict and galactic politics, not too much domination by any one character, and lots of humor. Some of the dialogue was dreadful, and the pontificating got to be a little much - it was a bad idea to have G'Kar's (Straczynski's) words being intoned as if they were the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America in an episode where a character was going to recite Shakespeare. I guess one might say that it was as good as Deep Space Nine's been this season and better than Voyager's ever been, but not as good as a great X Files.

Sheridan was right: Delenn should have let G'Kar read the entire Declaration of Principles (I keep wanting to say Articles of Confederation) instead of him, because I had trouble taking it as seriously as I should have after Boxleitner's Clintonesque opening. In general, this was a strong episode for the President, particularly the scene where he quarreled with Garibaldi over the use of telepaths. He gave in without seeming to have weakened, and his concern at the end of the episode was very effective. Once again, I thought Delenn kept way too quiet when policy decisions were being made; she was strong confronting the Drazi in front of the entire Council, but I wish she'd give more input as an ambassador into Sheridan's decisionmaking processes.

This was particularly disturbing because Lyta, too, was quite passive. Byron was right that she lets the "normals" take advantage of her, but he wasn't any improvement...and he's pompous, obnoxious, and scary to boot. Garibaldi at least is honest with her: "I promise never to ask for anything again...until the next time!" It's much too easy to dislike telepaths who are convinced of their superiority, refuse to work for the protection of the people who took them in, and won't even consider defining their community outside of their own isolated group. Lyta has been pushed around for too long, and I want her to resist that, but not in the name of bonding with people like Byron. Besides, I'd rather have heard Marcus do Hamlet. If Lyta falls in love with Byron, I'll hurl.

I haven't watched the series all along, so I don't know the entire history of the Drazi, but this new development seemed to make a lot of sense. If they're pulling stunts like this one, they probably have some friends in high places - though the ambassador's utter panic at having been found out by the Council seemed to indicate that he valued the alliance, or else that he believed the Drazi fleet would be decimated. A most effective way of getting everyone to sign the Declaration of Principles, and the conclusion, with G'Kar insisting that they had to be revised, was perfect. Don't they always?

Babylon 5 Reviews
Get Critical