Babylon 5 Season 1 Episode 2: The Soul Hunter

This is the first “real” episode of Babylon 5 the series and it is one of the most underwhelming episodes of TV I’ve ever seen. It’s boring, slow, and nonsensical. And, while it deals with Minbari mythology (kind of?) it really does nothing to advance the overall narrative of the series or explore who the Minbari are. Which is a shame as this is the perfect time to start exploring this world. But, no. The lion’s share of this episode is taken up by the titular Soul Hunter (played by William Morgan Sheppard here doing ALL THE ACTING IN THE WORLD) MONOLOGUING ALL THE WORDS!!! and Delenn alternately looking worried and/or moaning inconsolably while being tired to a piece of grating material. Ironic that this is all grating material (get it?)

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What. Is. With. The. Design. Aesthetic. In. The. Future?!?! Why does everything look a a balloon/fuse/headlight bulb? I guess I am just too used to the general sleekness of Star Trek ’cause these just look cumbersome

We also meet our new swagtastic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Franklin (Richard Biggs) who already is leaps and bounds ahead of anyone on this show in terms of fashion. That coat/scarf combo is amazing in both looks and totally uselessness on a space station.

Screenshot (50)Last time I mentioned I thought there would be a fat Garibaldi story coming. Now I think we’re just being set up for him being useless as here Delenn steals his weapon with almost no effort on her part. Also in the background, the purple/O2 masks are back with us.

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Oh Michael O’Hare.

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The Soul Hunter’s whole deal is that they can sense on on coming death for the purpose of collecting the soul for archiving (and we later see, being extremely creepy with). This “death sense” is shown to us via watching this interminable 3-card monty game in which the conman is killed. This scene, the chase, the guy’s death and the Soul Hunter’s watered-down Vincent Price monologue lasts for at least 7 minutes. It’s exhausting.

All the while he’s just standing there. Like this. For the whole time. In that makeup. With…what the hell is his forehead? Is it supposed to look like that? I need an adult!

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Meanwhile the entire command staff is modeling the 3 possible ways to relax in the new uniforms.

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Farscape this is not.

This cracked me up. We start with Sinclair and Ivannova talking to Soul Hunter #2 on the requisite 13″ CRT monitor. Then, on the reverse, we see that while they’re taking to him, he’s on another bigger screen (15″ maybe) over their shoulders. There is no reason for this design, it’s wholly nonsensical and it makes me think that he’s looking at Sinclair’s ear during this whole exchange.

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Our baddie is eventually dispatched by his own machine that he was using to eat Delenn’s soul. While she needed to be exsanguinated and prepared over a few hours, this guy gets hit and just stands there for a full minute while getting killed. I assure you he easily could have stepped an inch to either side and left but he I guess chooses to just take it. Which begs the question: How does this process work?

No matter, Delenn is safe, the Soul Hunter is gone and the souls he acquired over the years can be released by Delenn in a sequence that I had to GIF becasue it looked fully insane.

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Questions

Besides what the fuck was Mira Furlan directed to do in the above?

Let’s talk comm links. I think this is the first time they’ve shown B5‘s personal comm system and it is actually stupid. It’s a giant speaker that is stuck in some manner to the back of the hand. Besides the fact that this is a really weird idea, like it’s clear you wanted to do a comm watch but thought the idea wasn’t future-y enough, your comm system can be negated by all sorts of things. Like the gloves worn in the flight suits you need to wear. And it’s cumbersome in that is seriously limits the range of motion (think hand-to-hand combat) of that hand. It’s also unsanitary unless you’re issued a new one daily.

Tropes

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We’ve already seen some O2 masks, purple lighting, and 13″ CRT monitors. So here’s 1 more purple and mask combo for the road. Richard Biggs is clearly thinking “what have I signed up for?”

God this episode was boring. I think they were trying to go for moody, mysterious, and atmospheric. But it came off as plodding, overwrought, and silly. These alien mythology stories are really hard to do under the best of circumstances but to hook it on the mythology of a species the audience doesn’t know yet makes for a shaky foundation.

Next time: The series 3rd episode dances towards either self-parody or retroactive justification with “Born to the Purple”

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