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Phoenix Rising [Season 5]

Phoenix Rising was truly one of Babylon 5's best episodes. The only problem with this episode is that I feel the whole telepath arc was a little rushed, something I'll explain later.

The episode begins the with ubiquitous Black Omega transport docking with Babylon 5, and Bester doing the poorly disguised 'Previously on Babylon 5' introduction. The real action starts later when we discover that the rogue telepaths are busy making trouble of themselves.

Perhaps if we were told earlier in the arc that Byron was previously a Psi Cop, then our entire attitude to him would have changed. After all, now we see him in a different light to that of the usual wet peaceloving guy. Maybe if he cut his hair a little shorter he wouldn't be so insufferable, from what we saw of him in his Starfury, which was frankly cool.

Now, Garibaldi will be one mad person. This neural block of his is particularly nasty, but it only seems to apply to him in circumstances directly harming Bester. I'd guess that Garibaldi could probably put a bomb in Bester's room and blow him up, since it isn't direct, or at least get someone else to do it. Even if he can't do that, we've already seen that Garibaldi's extensive network on Earth has, presumably in conjunction with telepaths, blown up the Psi Corps headquarters. Now that Garibaldi wields the considerable power of Edgars Industries, who incidentally made the telepath-crippling virus, if I were Bester, I'd be scared.

Bester, however, isn't a man who will admit defeat, since he rarely if ever experiences it. We can tell a lot from the look on his face when he stomped out of Sheridan's office after being told he was no longer involved. He doesn't have any qualms about killing mundanes. This entire line of thought was brought about by the fact that telepaths believe they are superior. His seemingly flippant remark to Lochley's

Sheridan: And if Garibaldi gets killed?

Bester: <shrugs shoulders> Then Zack gets his room.

Bester doesn't care about mundanes, even when he's talking to Sheridan he's still complacent, happily telling him that telepaths were on one side, normals on the other. Maybe, in the end, Bester's façade slipped and he really didn't understand why Byron went against him. For all his talk of mundanes, Byron still hated killing them. Bester didn't care, and that's what was different between them.

It's almost the same as what Edgars thought in Season 4, 'The Exercise of Vital Powers.' He treated telepaths like animals, ordered them to be 'put down.' The situation of Babylon 5 is the fault of individuals on both sides, normal and telepath.

There's been some talk, from people on the net and Robin Atkin Downes himself of Byron coming back. Now, Byron appears to have died. However, Mr. Downes stated that bodies weren't found, and that his singing may have been a cover to stop Bester realising what he was really doing: creating an illusion of an explosion. Of course, the explosion wasn't an illusion, the corridor did actually explode. So what Byron may have done was quickly run around the corner, then projected an image of himself singing, seemingly engulfed by the explosion. Who knows, Lyta may have aided him herself. Think of it this way:

Byron has always asked Lyta to leave when he told her to. He did not make any mention of dying. OK, maybe he was just trying not to be morbid, but anyway. If Byron intended to quickly slip away, it makes sense that Lyta wants to stay with him, to run away with him. Their words could be taken in an entirely different context. Their parting is no less real - they will probably never see each other again. So Lyta, super-telepath that she is, could have implanted an illusion of Byron staying there while she was walking away from him.

All this is simply conjecture. What I believe JMS has done here is leave an opening for the return of Byron. We don't know what has happened here, and JMS probably doesn't either, but he's been very crafty in this episode, giving himself a way out. No doubt Robin Atkin Downes is hoping this is true too.

Arc: 10

The end of the telepath arc, and the foreshadowing of the telepath war. If you want to know what happened to the telepaths, this is the episode to watch.

Episode: 9.5

Not perfect, but almost there. Byron comes out in a different light, Walter Koenig blesses us with his wonderful acting and the episode is so well crafted that it almost seemed like it was far longer than just 40 minutes. I'll probably have to update my top 5 episodes of Babylon 5 for this one.