SJ Review #404
Episode: 404 - Falling Toward
Director: David J. Eagle
Guests: Wortham Krimmer (Cartagia)
Wayne Alexander (Lorien)
Ed Wasser (Morden)
Sheridan decides to take the offensive with the Vorlons, who are continuing their interstellar destruction. Meanwhile, Londo attempts to save his homeworld from the insane Emperor Cartagia and Delenn discovers the price Sheridan paid at Z'ha'dum.
This episode benefits greatly from repeated-watching. Without understanding the plot entirely, the events in 'Falling Towards Apotheosis' can seem disjointed, ludicrous and decidedly unlike B5.
Things start out fine, with excellent performances from Jerry Doyle (Garibaldi) and Wortham Krimmer (Cartagia). Indeed, Krimmer is proving to be arguably the best guest actor B5 has ever had; this is perhaps due to the fact that he is always in the best scenes - basically, the Londo-G'Kar-Cartagia scenes. Having three such powerful actors in the same scene produces some wonderful drama.
Other plus points for this episode are the special effects, which are stunning in places. The Vorlon fleet looks more and more incredible upon every viewing! Unfortunately, the producers seem to be reusing old effects sequences far too much. In 'The Summoning' the rescue convoy commanded by Zack was a shot first seen in 'Babylon Squared' and the shot of the transport entering the docking bay in this episode has been seen at least once before.
Continuing the positive trend were the scenes between Sheridan and Delenn. Whilst not to everybody's tastes, they were undoubtedly well acted.
Also excellent was Christopher Franke's music, which has improved no end since the first season. The continuous piece during the Vorlon fight was suitably nightmarish and conjured up just the right atmosphere.
As usual, however, the episode had major flaws. Most obvious is the rushing along of the arc. Whilst this was unavoidable, due to Warner Bros' uncertainty as to a 5th season, it does mean that characters' attitudes are changing far too quickly - most notably Lyta Alexander's. She has gone from being a devoted, loyal Vorlon servant to a conspirator against them, in just a couple of episodes.
Whilst it is very exciting having all this arc-material, I can't help feeling that we'd have appreciated it much more if it could have progressed at its own pace.
Season 4 has so far demonstrated a far more dynamic form of directing than previous seasons. We had the Prison Cell scene in 'Whatever Happened To Mr. Garibaldi', with its non-linear editing; and, in this episode, we have the attack on Kosh2, which was handled expertly. The perspective change effect used on Kosh2 as he realised he had been tricked was well-placed, and the rest of the action scene was extremely exciting.
However, as I mentioned above, the scene could far too easily have appeared to be too far-fetched. Previously in B5, all the far-fetched ideas have been portayed very well and semi-realistically. Jason Ironheart's evolution ('Mind War'), the Soul Hunter's technology ('Soul Hunter'), jumpgates - they have all been portrayed convincingly. Kosh2's death was perhaps a little too over-the-top for some people, and reduced the realism of B5, which has always been one of its most powerful features.
Other than these points, another good episode. Unfortunately it was a bit a of a rushed mess, albeit a damn exciting mess.