I have always envied fans of Star Trek. There’s something pure about loving a show that’s already finished, and exists untouched and in the past. They don’t have to deal with new installments coming out from different directors, with different visions, and different world views, each serving as a new battleground for the fans to duke it out.
Incidentally, they also don’t have to find out that the writers of the show are leaving for greener pastures, and will be rushing the last few seasons of the show, giving a modest effort at tying off all loose ends and pushing the story to an end as soon as possible.
Star Trek fans get to have their story, told at its own leisurely pace, insulated away from the noise of modern internet culture.
So I was excited when I found Babylon 5, the entire series, on HBO Max. It seemed like a new frontier to explore – a story that I could bite into without feeling like I had to catch up to the existing ocean of Star Trek fans. Youtube insisted that the show was fantastic, so I gave the first episode a gander. Instantly, I was hooked.
Armed with my friend’s password and a lazy Sunday afternoon, I dove right in.
The world of Babylon 5 feels long established, lived in, but still welcoming to the fresh spectator. There were previous space stations before the titular fifth one, previous tragedies that fertilize the traumatic pasts of our characters, and previous wars which have forged the strong personalities of the show. All of these details were begging to be uncovered through passionate dialog and poorly aged CGI fight scenes. In short, it had all the things I love in any sci fi or fantasy show.
So you can imagine my utter disappointment when the main protagonist of the story, Jeffrey Sinclair, was nowhere to be found in Season 2 Episode 1. Oddly enough, the episode spent a great deal of time focusing on some new face, John Sheridan. What was at first a lingering suspicion grew with every passing minute of the episode, until I reached the final act and just had to pause it to google: “babylon 5 captain change”, and my worst fear was confirmed.
Due to health complications, the lead actor Michael O’Hare had to leave production. In response to this, the show creator wrote out his character, rather than keeping the character and replacing the actor. To me, this felt like the greatest of creative betrayals.
- So now the rough-around-the-edges Chief of Security, Michael Garibaldi, who was angled as Sinclair’s confidant and best friend, is going to become some other character’s best friend?
- And the enigmatic Delenn, who was slated to be Sinclair’s long term love interest and has ostensibly already become his fiancee, is going to romance up some other bloke?
Arya Stark shanking the Night King was enough expectation subversion for me.
Sure, there’s something to be said about how the show is more than just the protagonist. Maybe if I watched the first season again with a greater focus on the world and the other characters, I could muster up some interest in seeing the continuation of the world. But the whiplash in narrative was too bitter to swallow.
So, just like that, I dropped the show from my rotation.