I finished another rewatch of Babylon 5 this morning. Well the series, I’ve still got Crusade and the films to rewatch, but I’m saving that for a little later today. When my eyes have stopped the steady torrent of tears that always occurs after watching the last two episodes. This show, this wonderful show that doesn’t have the same hype around it as any incarnation of Star Trek, or the longevity of the Stargate Franchise (in that SG had 10 seasons and 2 movies for SG1, 5 seasons of SGA and 2 of SGU), has always had an impact on me. And until this year I’d forgotten just how much of one it is.
Star Trek DS9 may have gave us a ‘lesbian’ kiss before most shows dared (I could talk about how much I love Jadzia Dax and Terry Farrell forever, but that’s another post for another time). But Babylon 5 gave us a tender, matter of fact love between two women without frills or pomp and splendour. To me, there is still no greater sign of a love between two women than the way Talia looks at Susan in Susan’s quarters. The pure love in those eyes is magical. And I saw it for the first time when I was just beginning to come into my own sexuality. In a way these two women paved the way for a lot of soul searching and the beginnings of my understanding of self.
Sheridan and Delenn showed us what true and lasting love looks like. I never once doubted they were meant to be together, never once questioned the love that lay in either of their hearts or eyes. The tender, sweet, and passionate love between them is a reminder when things get tough that love is still possible. And nothing will ever stop me sobbing when John Sheridan leaves the message for his child for their 21st birthday. The love when he talks of Delenn is so beautiful and apparent.
The series finale brings together so many (although not all) of the characters we grew to love over the 5 year run of the show. Ivanova and her fighting spirit and struggles to let her emotions flow. Garibaldi, a flawed and decent man who struggled with his own demons for far too long but has come out the other side. Vir, oh I love that man. The bumbling fool who wasn’t so bumbling or foolish after all. Delenn, wise and beautiful, a compassionate but fiery woman who you just want to sit with for a few hours and listen to her talk. Steven whose heart is bigger and stronger than he’s given credit for. Zak Allan, a man whose conversation with Garibaldi in an earlier episode about addiction now brings so many more connotations with it that will instantly make me sob and grieve for the actor who played him with such talent.
Noticeably absent are our darling Londo Mollari, G’Kar, Marcus, Lyta Alexander, Talia Winters and Lenier. Londo is absent through death, G’Kar presumably too, their constant banter and love-hate relationship often provided the comic relief but also the most intensely poignant moments in the series. Marcus, who gave his life so Ivanova might live. I have to admit it took me a begrudgingly long time to accept that Ivanova may have loved him. I’ll always place her with Talia in my heart. Lyta, presumably on the telepath homeworld, the woman I grew to love and admire, with her red hair and equally fiery temper. Lyta who struggled, just as Talia did with the Psi Corps and her membership in it. Talia, beautifully sweet and wonderful Talia whose self assurance may have been seen as arrogance by some but stole my heart, along with Ivanova. I still wonder if Bester was really trying to get a rise out of our beloved crew or if she really did meet a sticky end. Lenier, sweet, humble Lenier whose unrequited love ultimately did leave him to betray the Rangers.
Babylon 5 held up the mirror, just as other shows have done. It gave social commentary through beautiful, complex and intricate storylines. There’s no doubt in my mind that had I been in that Universe I would have been on the side of Babylon 5 during the wars, and would have volunteered for the Rangers if I could have. The message of hope in Babylon 5 doesn’t come from an idealistic portrayal of the future, but from the flawed characters who strive to make the universe a better place. Who overcome immensely human struggles and push forward. Babylon 5 taught me that overcoming the odds is possible even when it feels like it’s not, whilst Stargate SG-1 taught me other things that I still hold immensely dear. Both shows taught me about the value and importance of chosen family.
This year, I’ve fallen back into the tumultuous universe of Babylon 5. Once again at a time I’ve needed it, but this time for very different reasons. I’m not sure how, but the world seems to know when is the right time for certain things to happen and allowing those hints and pushes to lead you where they’re trying can be an amazing ride. There are moments that have happened since I followed those hints and pushes that are so immensely intense and some that will remain silently private, but the overwhelming sense that this was the right time to come back to a show that 21 years ago gave me the start to questioning myself at a time when I needed to start doing so again, that is something that I carry with me in my heart.
Babylon 5 isn’t hope for a world that is free from war, famine, poverty, but is hope for a world, indeed a universe, where even those that are sworn enemies can pull together to create something better for future generations. It’s one of the reasons I wake each morning and wonder if the boom for the day will come from outside of my control or within it. If I am the one to create the boom, will it be a good one? It should be, I want it to be, and if I don’t succeed at that, I go to bed hoping that the one I create tomorrow will be better.
Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future…and it changed us. It taught us that we have to create the future, or others would do it for us. It showed us that we have to care for one another, because if we don’t, who will? And that true strength sometimes comes from the most…unlikely places. Mostly though, I think it gave us hope—that there can always be new beginnings…even for people like us.
Susan Ivanova, Sleeping in Light