Babylon 5: S05E05: Learning Curve
This was a pretty good episode, the storyline was a lot tighter and although it suffered yet again from the introduction of another poor character, on the whole, sci fi SadGeezers should enjoy this one.
On Minbar, We see Master Turval (Religious Caste) and his class of Ranger recruits. He is instructing them on how to reach their ‘inner voice’ through meditation. He is interrupted by a jovial Duran (Warrior Caste) who tells Turval that Delenn is keen to see how the training of new recruits is progressing and that they are to meet with her on Babylon 5. Turval instructs two (slightly unruly) recruits to join them.
On Babylon 5, Delenn greets the new recruits as they arrive. Meanwhile, Zack meets with Garibaldi and later, Captain Lockley in the Zoccalo. Garibaldi and Lockley start off quite amiably but the tension between them soon starts to sprout. Whenever they meet there is always an atmosphere that you can cut. Personally I believe that this tension is sexual (I know, you guys are all thinking ‘you would’, but seriously, I reckon all they really want to do is rip each other’s clothes off).
Zack soon gets caught in the firing line. Garibaldi starts by chiding Lockley about her close ties with the administration. He goes straight for the throat and confronts her about which side she was on during the war. Lockley admits that she was on the opposite side. She rather eloquently points out that she does not think it her place to tear up the constitution that she swore an oath to protect… Garibaldi’s face is a picture… Lockley points out that she only understands three words, ‘Duty, Loyalty, Honour’ and that if she did it Garibaldi’s way one of those would have to go and that the other two would become meaningless. She leaves to applause from other breakfasting members of the canteen.
Later she meets Sheridan in a lift. He asks her, ‘How’s it going?’ She reports an open and frank discussion with Garibaldi. Sheridan tries to explain that Garibaldi is a good man and Lockley actually agrees with him adding, ‘I never thought I’d meet a second man as stubborn, strong willed and as annoying as I am’. A second man huh? and what happened to the first, was it an affair, a husband and does this mean that she is inadvertently confirming some feelings towards Garibaldi in comparing him to such a partner?
Zack is called to examine the scene of a murder. The victim was killed by Trace, a newly arrived gangster. Trace watches Zack, he notices the expert way in which Zack determines how where and why the man was killed. Later, Trace determines that Zack should be killed because he is too perceptive. one of his subordinates points out that killing the chief of security could be injurous to ones health but Trace disagrees.
Turval and Durhan report the training of new Ranger recruits and explain that some eg. the Pak’ma’ra (beings with what look like two large phallic symbols hanging from their nose) are difficult siting that they are greedy, stupid and lazy. Delenn ventures that the Pak’ma’ra could be trained as couriers because they are shunned everywhere for precisely the same reasons given by Durhan and Turval. The two agree and later, Turval commiserates with Delenn over the death of Marcus and mentions that Lennier pushing himself too hard in training.
Garibaldi discusses intelligence gathering with the two teeps recruited from Brown Sector. Later he asks Zack to pull Captain Lockleys file. Zack is called away by a message that a woman knows who is behind the killing, and Garibaldi considers the possibility of pulling the file from Zacks console (wadda naughty boy).
The two Minbari Ranger recruits walk around in the Downbellow section. They are a little nervous; they pass the thug Trace as he gives a woman a ticket to Earth. Zack was tricked by the woman so that he would be exactly where Trace could kill him. The woman finds out that Trace wants to kill Zack and strongly objects. Tannier, one of the Ranger recruits, hears her scream and goes to her aid leaving his companion, who doesn’t want to get involved, behind. He manages to save the woman but is severely injured by Traces men.
We then see Zack clearing a section of Downbellow. This is the result of a discussion between Captain Lockley, who believes that Delenn and the Rangers are taking the problem of Trace into their own hands (vigilantism) and Delenn who believes that the Rangers should be seen to be able to fight on all terms even fighting terror with terror. In the end, Delenn pulls rank; she also informs Lockley that President Sheridan is supportive. Lockley looks puzzled saying, ‘That’s not like him’. Delenn is surprised by this reaction. How should Lockley know how her husband would react.
When Trace finds that Downbellow is cleared of all security personnel, he feels victorious. When the lights suddenly go out, Traces men are picked off one by one by the Rangers. Realising what is happening; he makes a run for it. He finally ends up in the middle of a circle of Rangers and is forced to confront standing, but clearly injured Tannier. He shows his true colours (brown) by cowardly refusing to fight Tannier.
Trace attempts to fight Tannier with a Minbari pike. He is clearly outclassed and when he puts down the pike Tannier defeats him with his bare hands. Turval and Durhan instruct the Rangers surrounding the unconscious Trace. Tennier is asked if he still fears Trace. He replies that he is not and that he feels sorry for his defeated opponent. There endeth the lesson and as the Rangers disperse, Zack is allowed to take away the body of Trace.
Later, as Turval and Durhan say goodbye to Delenn, they exchange pleasantries before Delenn mentions to Durhan that she suspects that his gave personal instruction to Tannier in the use of the fighting pike, against normal training procedure and protocol. Durhan does not admit this but smiles to indicate that she is correct.
As they part company, Garibaldi and Zack are watching on a TV monitor. He comments that the Minbari are incapable of walking away from a fight. After a brief discussion, Garibaldi asks Zack for Captain Lockleys File. Zack says no and leaves. Garibaldi simply can’t resist, and looks at the file.
Delenn and Sheridan are talking in their quarters when Delenn asks her husband what the significance of the ‘that’s not like him’ comment made by Lockley earlier. Sheridan explains and later while they were in bed, Delenn points out that he should have told her before. Sheridan looks a little shifty and Delenn turn her back on him. It’s clear that there would be no kissing and caressing that night! At this point we are ALL wondering what was going on! Then, would you believe it, the episode ended ??!!!
This was a little more like the Babylon 5 we have all come to know and love. The characters are still a little weak. Trace, for instance had the right accent but was not very convincing as a thug and the Ranger ‘Mora’Dum’ (Application of Terror) wasn’t very terrifying. Naaa, I think that this season is still trying to warm up.
I’d rate that a relatively decent 29,839 out of 10 – What did you think?
The “Learning Curve” episode review is © 1999 – 2019 Tony Fawl
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