SJ Review #508

Episode: 5/08 - The Day of the Dead
Director: Doug Lefler
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Guests: Ed Wasser (Morden)
Marie Marshall (Dodger)
Fabiana Udenio (Adira Tyree)
Bridget Flanery (Zoe)
Penn & Teller (Rebo & Zooty)
Jonathan Chapman (Brakiri Ambassador)
Joshua Cox (Lt. Corwin)
Ismael Kanater (Brakiri Salesman)

Synopsis:
The comedians Rebo & Zooty arrive on Babylon 5, whilst the Brakiri temporarily buy a section of the station to use in their festival, the Day of the Dead...

Review:
This marks the first episode to be written by someone other than J. Michael Straczynski since season two's "Knives" (by Lawrence DiTillio); Neil Gaiman is the writer here, and a very good job he does too.

This episode was remarkable in its tendency to grab hold of a brief piece of plot from may episodes back (seasons, even) and develop it further. We had the Brakiri's beliefs surrounding comets, the arrival of Rebo & Zooty and, of course, the various 'dead' people that suddenly started wandering the station. Thankfully, Gaiman treated all of these aspects of the series' history with respect, in the process making each one far more interesting than they ever were - seeing Adira and Dodger again was a treat.

It was also interesting, following on from the Hyach incident in "The Secrets of the Soul", to see another alien race in closer detail than usual. The Brakiri turned out to be a rather interesting race, helped by some good, solid performances from Chapman and Kanater. With these ill-defined races, the actors are effectively portraying our image of the entire race, so they have to be good.

There were other coups in the casting department. Casting Penn & Teller as Rebo & Zooty was inspired; whether they were actually funny or not is very debatable and depends entirely upon your own sense of humour - this is somewhat irrelevant, however, as the duo fit the role perfectly. Penn was particularly convincing. A sensible precaution was including Lochley's disdain at their routines, which avoided the "everybody finds them funny" syndrome which afflicts fictional comics so often.

The other actors aquitted themselves admirably. The actors all performed very well - Jerry Doyle in particular (nothing new there, then...) - and the guests were also good. Ed Wasser, as Morden, was perfect (as always). Marie Marshall, as Dodger, delivered perhaps the best performance of the episode; her character and interaction with Garibaldi has always been interesting to watch, and her death was a great pity - it was good to see her again. The same goes for Fabiana Udenio, who has always fit the part of Adira perfectly, desite a lack of characterisation on the part of the writers. Bridget Flanery held up well against the other guests, considering her character had no history whatsoever. The scenes between Zoe and Lochley were very moving for the most part (although Scoggins' initial shock at Zoe's appearance wasn't particularly convincing).

Whilst using certain other dead characters may have been more powerful and more important arc-wise, the lack of big names (other than Morden) did not hinder the episode at all. Indeed, the low-key approach helped things along, giving the episode an unusually thoughtful air. We do not see solely character-driven episodes very often in B5, and it made for a refreshing change from the norm.

There were, however, some flaws. Delenn's laughter at Zooty's Minbari joke was over-emphasised and somewhat embarassing to watch - at first it was fine, but it dragged on too long; hysterical laughter very rarely appears to be realistic on screen unless it is done naturally. Similarly, G'Kar showed some rather idiotic behaviour, warning the Captain against the festival without telling her his fears - this did not ring true. It was also strange that Lochley was unaware of who Kosh was - surely she'd have read about the first Vorlon ambassdor to the station (she made a point of reading all the reports in "No Compromises"...)?

A golden opportunity was missed by not showing Londo's reaction at Adira's disappearance; we saw the reactions of the other characters that had been visited, but not his - surely this is a major oversight? Given Peter Jurasik's immense acting talent, this could have provided a very moving scene. The next we see of him, he is his usual jovial self; one would have thought he would have been somewhat more upset at losing Adira again.

These flaws were all minor, however. They did not detract from what is otherwise a very entertaining and moving episode.

Rating: 7.5/10 - A very entertaining episode that holds your interest. A few too many minor problems to get an '8', though.

Best Quote:
LONDO- Now anyone can be Emperor. I can be Emperor, Vir can be Emperor...Vir can be Emperor - a small Earth cat can be Emperor!

Points For Discussion:
o Will Lennier betray the Rangers?
o Will Lennier die soon?
o Was Morden telling the truth?
o Why did Morden not know that Sheridan was alive?
o What was Zoe's relationship with Lochley?
o What had Lochley's father done that was so bad?
o What exactly happened during the Day of the Dead?
o What did Kosh's message mean?

Epilogue:
Please comment on this review - discuss it! The whole point of this review is to generate some meaty discussion. Of course, those of you who know the answers to the Points For Discussion - don't spoil us!

BE AS CONTROVERSIAL AS YOU LIKE!!!

Simon Jones,
alt.babylon5.uk reviewer.


1998 Simon Jones.