Babylon 5

Series Rewatch – Babylon 5: Grail – No Boom Today

Written by J. Michael Straczynski and Christy Marx
Directed by Richard Compton

The recently deceased David Warner guest stars here in a role that could have been a joke. J. Michael Straczynski, though, has a way of looking for deeper meaning in people and events that we see at first glance. Here he does a great job with not only the characters but also giving more background into how the Babylon 5 Space Station came to be.

The episode opens with the Minbari Ambassador, Delenn (portrayed by Mira Furlan), chiding Commander Sinclair (portrayed by Michael O’Hare) for not being correctly dressed to greet an incoming passenger from Earth who she has great reverence for. Sinclair and Garibaldi (portrayed by Jerry Doyle) don’t seem to know who it is but defer to her judgment. The dignitary is Aldous Gajic (portrayed by David Warner). He is on a quest for the Holy Grail, also known as The Cup of the Goddess, or the Sacred Vessel of Regeneration. Garibaldi can barely contain his amusement. The Minbari see seekers as holy people.

Meanwhile, in Down Below, a hood, Deuce (portrayed by William Sanderson), seems to be using the Vorlon Ambassador Kosh as his enforcement. His current target is a man known as “Jinxo” (portrayed by Tom Booker). Jinxo’s background is that he was a worker on each of the Babylon Stations as they were being built. Every time he left the station, they were either destroyed or disappeared. He makes the mistake of trying to steal credits from Aldous and is caught by Mr. Garibaldi. Aldous drops the charges to have Jinxo released to his custody.

Dr. Franklin (Richard Biggs) comes up with a theory of how the only witness against Deuce was brain-wiped. There is a creature known as a Na’ka’leen Feeder which comes from Centauri space. Commander Sinclair questions the Centauri Ambassador, Londo (portrayed by Peter Jurasik), who fills him in on how a whole colony was wiped out by them and that area of space is now quarantined. When Sinclair indicates one might be on board the Station, Londo locks himself in his quarters.

Aldous tells Jinxo, a.k.a. Thomas, that he is a good man. The fact that he is still here on Babylon 5 when his life is in danger proves that. Aldous defends him when Deuce’s enforcers come for him. Jinxo doesn’t believe him initially but takes his words to heart. When Aldous brings him to meet Ambassador Kosh, Jinxo runs away, saying he “saw him eat her mind.” Aldous tries to get Jinxo to go to Commander Sinclair, but he is too frightened. The two men are then attacked.

There’s a deep message here. Commander Sinclair and Mr. Garibaldi see Aldous Gajic as some kind of kook and are ready to dismiss him. However, Delenn and Lennier (portrayed by Bill Mumy) see him as something quite different. They have great reverence for those who spend their lives seeking to better society with no grand expectations for themselves. Even if what they seek isn’t real, the fact that they have devoted their lives to this makes them holy. In that sense, the unselfish acts we all do are holy acts. For someone who was and still is an atheist, J. Michael Straczynski shows a remarkable understanding of true faith and goodness that is usually claimed under the guise of religion. We don’t see that much anymore, especially inside of organized religion.

By the end of the episode, both Commander Sinclair and Mr. Garibaldi have changed their opinions of Aldous and treat him with great reverence as he departs the Station.

The episode is not entirely heavy and deep. There is a funny sequence at the beginning where a man is in court looking for damages from an alien who once kidnapped his great-grandfather and held him for experiments a la “Alien Abduction.” There is also a scene with Ivanova (portrayed by Claudia Christian) that is one of the favorite scenes of series fans (see YouTube clip above). Londo and Vir (portrayed by Stephen Furst) also provide some comic relief with how frightened they are of the Na’ka’leen Feeder, although it would appear they have good reason to be.

This is a solid episode that contains good development of not just several characters, but the Babylon 5 universe as well. I always enjoy watching it and it’s definitely an episode that has stayed with me through the years. Some credit must go to David Warner, who portrays Aldous Gajic very seriously. He’s always been a great science-fiction actor and I’d put this appearance against any of his Star Trek roles as one of his best. Where other guest stars this season have been wooden or overacted, Warner is the consummate professional and gives viewers a wonderful character that will, unfortunately, never be seen again.

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