Babylon 5

Series Rewatch: Babylon 5 – By Any Means Necessary – Never Hand Someone a Gun Unless You’re Sure Where They’re Going to Point It

Written by J. Michael Straczynski and Kathryn M. Drennan
Directed by Jim Johnston

As pretty much a stand-alone episode, By Any Means Necessary contains a lot of character development while giving viewers a good story at the same time. It builds on the rivalry between Ambassadors Mollari and G’Kar (Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas) quite well, even when it seems what they are arguing about is trivial. Commander Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) also gets to show off his mettle as he unconventionally solves a problem that threatened to become violent.

An accident in one of the Cargo Bays destroys a Narn Transport. Security Chief Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) finds out that defective microchips were responsible. The Narn are demanding accountability. The dock workers are upset that one of their men was killed in the incident and they are working much harder than they should be. They stage an illegal strike. Commander Sinclair tries to get more money from the Senate, especially considering that he’s learned the contractor who installed microchips used cheap parts and they all have to be replaced. The Senate turns him down, but sends their “top labor negotiator.”

The Narn Ambassador, G’Kar, is awaiting the arrival of a special item that is to be used in one of their ceremonies during the Holy Days of G’Quan. Unfortunately, it was in the transport that was destroyed. The only other one available belongs to Centauri Ambassador Molalri. At first, Mollari agrees to sell it for an exorbitant price but then declines out of revenge for what happened in the Colony on Ragesh.

Orin Zento (John Snyder) arrives on the station but makes no headway with the striking workers. The leader of the workers, Neeoma Connally (Katy Boyer) is a formidable negotiator herself and tries to keep the workers’ anger from turning violent. They have been overworked and underpaid for a long time and losing one of their own in an accident was the final straw.

This is a good episode that handles some of the minutiae on Babylon 5 quite well. We know there are a lot of different people and cultures on this station in outer space; how are they resupplied? By Any Means Necessary shows the work that goes into maintaining the station and the pressure the workers are under. It’s not just the money, but it’s also a matter of safety. Both Garibaldi and Commander Sinclair sympathize with the workers, but at the same time have to keep Babylon 5 functioning and there’s no way to do that with the workers staging an illegal strike. Commander Sinclair also faces pressure from the Earth Government that the actions of the dock workers on Babylon 5 sets a bad precedent for other workers across the galaxy.

The guest stars here aren’t the greatest actors. They actually seem pretty wooden, although I think Katy Boyer does a better job than John Snyder. She shows more passion, but a lot of that is just yelling at the top of her lungs. John Snyder’s “negotiation” seems more like posturing for the workers.

The rivalry between Londo and G’Kar is one of the hallmarks of the series and it’s really highlighted here. Londo taunts G’Kar for much of the episode, but can’t handle it when the tables are turned on him. It’s a bit of comic relief during the more serious storyline, but it’s building towards something more down the line. These actors are terrific and build on the relationship between them.

Remastered, the effects really are greatly improved. I remember my old DVDs everything looking blurry and the CGI looking particularly cartoonish. The details in the remastering are terrific, right down to being able to see Michael O’Hare’s 5 o’clock shadow when he’s meant to look worn down by all of the responsibilities of the station. The effects are still obviously CGI but they look much better and are not completely like a cartoon amidst the live-action.

If Micahel O’Hare had continued in the role as Commander of the station, this would have shown how he managed to get the people who worked on the station to follow him down the line. It still shows that the Station is a different world from Earth and has to be run in a different manner. This goes beyond just the United Nations in outer space and is an actual society all its own.

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