Link to: Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5 | Crusade Season 1 | Official Guide to Babylon 5 CD | The Column

The Paragon of Animals [Season 5]

I'd agree with Andy Smithy [from another review] that the Enphili's make-up isn't very good, it's verging on the Star Trek 'let's ridge their noses and pretend they're Bajoran' boundaries, but B5 has had budget cuts, and not all the aliens can look as good as the Narns.

I didn't feel Lyta acted very well in this episode. Maybe it's just the parts she gets, where she is told to do this, told to do that, but nowadays she always looks so emotionless and withdrawn. Perhaps her acting is so good that it just looks like it's bad. Who knows? It's all a matter of opinion.

Robin Atkin Downes, however, acted excellently. This guy is dangerous - he thinks telepaths are above humans, that's why humans suppress them. Not a particularly popular idea. Byron has very strongly held beliefs, and it doesn't look like he'll be pushed around. It's a good trait of his, but he seems to be incapable of diplomacy; Sheridan has just allowed him to stay on Babylon 5 on behalf of the Alliance and now you'd think he'd like to return the favour, and do something for the Alliance himself. No. He doesn't seem to know who his friends are. Surely he'd want to support the very home he was living in? He's getting too big for his boots.

The Drazi incident. Thinking about this, if Sheridan hadn't allowed the telepaths on board Babylon 5, he wouldn't have known about the ambush and the entire White Star fleet would have been utterly destroyed. Perhaps it wasn't a good decision to allow the telepaths on B5 looking in hindsight from Deconstruction, but if he hadn't, then the Alliance would have no fleet and would certainly be in a far worse situation than had it let the telepaths on board.

So, in the scheme of things, it was lucky that Sheridan made the wrong decision.

Watching The Paragon of Animals, I was wondering exactly how the, frankly pitiful, Drazi fleet we see in the Shadow Wars could possibly stand up to the combined might of the most powerful starships in the known galaxy. Looking back through some archives of JMS' posts, he explained that the Drazi could have easily wiped out the White Stars if they had attacked them without warning and when the White Stars were completely unprepared. There's no defence against betrayal.

Sheridan made a good decision in letting the Drazi ambassador warn the fleet of the White Star ambush. Sure, it would have looked amazing for the White Stars to let rip and massacre the Drazi coming out of hyperspace; it might have looked good for the Alliance to crush a wrong-doer, but Sheridan had already shown that he ruled the Alliance with an iron fist and would tolerate no nonsense. As Londo (or someone else) said earlier on, you can't afford to be nice to everyone at the start. Sheridan however shows that he indeed knows the concept of mercy. A pathological power hungry tyrant? (Deconstruction) I think not.

The unique camera work at the start of the episode was an excellent way of showing the chaos of the Alliance meeting, and the one and only JMS talent shone through with the incredibly funny scene afterwards.

Londo: We've signed the Declaration of Principles, why can't you!

G'Kar: And if the Centauri can sign it, anyone can!

Londo: That's right - Wait a minute!

No Captain Lochley this episode. Babylon 5 doesn't seem to be about Babylon 5 anymore, it's more about the Interstellar Alliance. Mind you, Red Dwarf was still called Red Dwarf even though they were on Starbug for the last few series. There's no harm in diverging from the usual centre stage for a while - it makes for a good difference and the only people who will notice or even complain are B5 junkies like me.

The Paragon of Animals could have been a top quality B5 episode had Lyta's scenes been a lyta more rehearsed. It's terrible, I know, but I had to get a pun in somewhere, continuing the fine tradition of sci-fi reviews (cw Jim Wright's Delta Blues)

Arc Rating: 6

Episode Rating: 8.5