SJ Review #403
Eisode: 403 - The Summoning
Director: John McPherson
Guests: Wortham Krimmer (Cartagia)
Wayne Alexander (Lorien)
Zack rescues Garibaldi and Lorien helps Sheridan back to the station, whilst Ivanova and Marcus discover a massive Vorlon fleet in hyperspace. As Delenn and the others attempt to coordinate the attack on Z'Ha'Dum, news comes in that the Vorlons have begun attacking the Shadows with a new super weapon...
As with the previous two season four episodes, 'The Summoning' continues to dive into the main plot-arcs, without pausing for breath. The usual side stories that filled up the previous three seasons seem to have more-or-less disappeared. Just three episodes into the season this appears to be a good thing, as it makes the show all the more intense, but the lack of relaxing non-arc episodes could become tiresome further into the season.
The fourth season so far has proven to be very different to any of the previous seasons, in many aspects. The acting is generally a lot better, as is the direction. Whilst 'The Summoning' lacked innovative scenes such as the Garibaldi-in-Prison scene from 'Whatever Happened To Mr Garibaldi', the direction was still good, keeping the pace up all the way through the episode.
The other noticeable difference between this season and the previous three is the standard of the special effects. Many feared that the effects would be inferior this season, due to Foundation Imaging (the company that created the effects for the first three seasons plus the pilot) opting to leave the show. If anything, the effects have got better. They are now more dynamic and fit into the live action a lot better now. The virtual sets are also a lot more realistic now.
This episode had more than enough to please the regular B5 viewer - it answered some questions whilst at the same time throwing some more mystery at us.
However, the episode did have its flaws. Lorien and Sheridan's return was completely unexplained, and none of the other characters seemed particularly interested in how they managed it. Similarly, nobody seemed to concerned about finding out what happened to Mr. Garibaldi. Whilst on the subject of Sheridan's return, his speech to the aliens gathered in the Zocalo teetered precariously on the fine line between being an impressive speech and an irritating piece of dialogue that made you cringe. The speech unfortunately reminded me of Bill Pullman's speech in Independence Day, which was awful.
Overall, the quality of the first three season four episodes has been way above anything in the previous three seasons. This series has progressed from being a mildly interesting Star Trek clone to a fully-fledged piece of mature drama in its own right.
The question is, can JMS keep up the pace?