3 | Season
4 | Season
5 | Crusade
Guide to Babylon 5 CD
Learning Curve [Season 5]
This wasn't, on the whole, a particularly great episode. When I read 'A trainee Ranger confronts a powerful criminal on Babylon 5' in the Radio Times, I thought this would turn out to be a pretty decent episode with perhaps a few good arc elements thrown in.
It wasn't. Not that I'm saying it was a terrible episode, I just felt it wasn't anything special. The Ranger scene on Minbar at the beginning was pretty funny, and with the criminal with the strange accent, the episode had the potential to be pretty good. From then on, the episode just lost focus. The Ranger at the start from the warrior caste seemed to move to the background of the story and simply disappeared entirely after the Ranger who was injured went off on his terror jaunt.
The whole concept of the 'terror' was simply ludicrous. That Delenn was willing to turn Babylon 5 into a training exercise for this Ranger was out of character, and it seemed as if JMS was overcompensating for the Sheridan-accessory Delenn whom we've seen for the last few episodes. The same with Garibaldi - I refuse to accept the man has no tact at all. He must have some, at least?
The criminal was sadly the typical stereotype of all space-criminals in the universe, and the fight scene was extremely cheesy. It's as if the Rangers knew who would win, in which case there wasn't much point fighting in the first place. Making jokes and idly commenting on such subjects as how he holds the pike is definitely off-putting, as is insulting the opponent. They should have at least kept quiet.
Oh, and by the way, if you hadn't noticed it, Sheridan turned out to have had a relationship with Lochley before. Now this was strange. They don't seem at all like they'd fit together, and I would have thought Sheridan would have known it wasn't a good idea to appoint someone he was attached to, to command Babylon 5. Garibaldi will probably go completely mental now (yet again), but I've got this feeling Delenn, in all her mercy, will forgive Sheridan (muffled sound of reviewer spitting on the floor in disgust).
Frankly, so far, season 5 hasn't been very successful. All the episodes seem to be unconnected and lacking in arc. None of them have been up to the heights of the good episodes of Season 3 or 4, and I'm getting worried. I know JMS has said that season 5 will be like season 1, that is, when the equivalent of Signs and Portents appears, we'll all say 'Ah, so that was what that strange thing in episode X was all about.' But, the thing is, I haven't seen any Morden-type thing or person, I haven't seen any strange goings on, and I haven't actually seen much at all so far in season 5. Nothing bad is happening, the Narns and Centauri are happy, the Alliance is sailing nicely along.
The telepaths will serve as a distraction soon, but I know that arc will be concluded soon, since the episode A Tragedy of Telepaths isn't far off. There isn't any substance to this season. Knowing JMS, he'll probably pull it off and have me in shame of my remarks now. Babylon 5 is a story, and stories don't reveal all the characters or all the situations in the first few chapters. But this story isn't going anywhere, and I don't like to be kept in the dark, even if it is all revealed near the end of season 5.
To all intents and purposes, unless our friend the Pak'ma'ra turns up again, this episode will be relegated to the status of having a few remarks made about it's events in the next episode and people wondering what happened in this Learning Curve in B5 trivia quizzes in the future.
As a standalone episode, it wasn't bad. However, I don't expect standalone episodes in B5, unless they're extremely well written. Which this wasn't.