SJ Review #103

Episode: 103 - Born to the Purple
Director: Bruce Seth Green
Writer: Lawrence G. DiTillio
Cast: Fabiana Udenio (Adira Tyree)
Clive Revill (Trakis)
Mary Woronov (Ko'Dath)
Robert Phalen (Andrei Ivanov)

Londo's future is thrown into doubt when somebody accesses his 'purple' files. Meanwhile, Garibaldi tries to track down some illegal usage of the Gold Channel...

This episode has one major problem - its immaturity. Everything comes across as being far too amateurish; particuarly the writing, which is fairly awful. This could be because it was the first script to be written by someone other than Straczynski - after all, the characters have hardly been delved into very deeply only a few episodes into the series. DiTillio simply does not seem to have grasped what it is that makes a B5 episode different from run-of-the-mill science fiction series episode.

This is most apparent in the new character Ko'Dath, G'Kar's new aide. Woronov does an adequate job, but she looks very uncomfortable in the make-up; what really grates is the way she is made out to be some savage reptilian warrior-woman, which does not fit in with what we have seen of the Narn so far (and especially what we expect of a *diplomatic* aide). Her first scene, in the bar, highlights DiTillio's failure to acknowledge the adult audience of B5 - a diplomatic aide acting in such a way would cause a scandal, yet the fight scene is used merely as comic relief.

The bad writing raises its ugly head later in the episode, when Trakis gives Adira a 'mind probe' - a contraption (never seen again in the series, thankfully) that is a blatant plot device. Surely DiTillio could have devised a more plausable method of drawing the information out of Londo? Quite, quite unforgiveable.

For the first time in the series, the special effects disappoint. The Fresh Air restaurant is very badly montaged with the core model, and the whole shot looks incorrectly lit, which is a pity, as it is a scene that works well.

"Born to the Purple" does have some redeeming features, though. Udenio is perfectly cast as Adira; although she is not a wonderful actress, she fits into the part absolutely perfectly and makes it believable almost without even having to do anything. Revill is also good as Trakis, creating a suitable air of mystery as to his motives.

The secondary plotline, involving abuse of the Gold Channel and Ivanova's father, is the best part of the episode (and serves to emphasise how poor the other part is). The conversation between Ivanova and her father is very touching, and the cuts are well chosen, showing Garibaldi, Ivanova and Ivanov's faces at precisely the right moments. Unfortunately, Franke's music is a little intrusive here - he hasn't quite mastered the superb subtlety and originality that he achieves towards the end of the season and, particularly, the series.

Rating: 5.5/10 - A mildly entertaining episode, which fails due to its assumption that B5 is a kids-only show and a rather lacklustre plot. Something of a 'so what?' episode.

Best Quote:
Sinclair- I'm going to find Londo and bring him here.
Talia-    What if he refuses?
Sinclair- Then I hurt him.

Points For Discussion:
o Why was Trakis waging his little war with the Centauri?
o How come the gangster didn't recognise Sinclair, who is the Commander of the station?
o What happens to Trakis?
o What happens to Adira for the next two years?

Future Arc:
o Adira Tyree is introduced. She is to have a surprisingly large impact on events a few years down the line...
o Centauri families collect scandal which could bring down the entire Centauri government.
o G'Kar's first aide arrives.

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Simon Jones, reviewer.

1998 Simon Jones.