Babylon 5

Series Rewatch – Babylon 5: Eyes – Who Watches the Watchers

Written by J. Michael Straczynski and Larry DiTillio
Directed by Jim Johnston

This episode focuses on building the characters and relationships and introduced series viewers to the concept that there’s a lot more going on at Babylon 5 than what appears on the surface. In particular, Commander Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) and Lt. Commander Ivanova (Claudia Christian) seem to be the target of some unknown forces at work.

Eyes opens with the Minbari attache Lennier (Bill Mumy) visiting Security Chief Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle), who has a “vintage” motorcycle in his quarters that he is rebuilding. Lennier offers to help and Garibaldi accepts.

Commander Sinclair briefs Garibaldi and Ivanova about new concerns from Earth about the Free Mars movement. Two men arrive from EarthForce Internal Affairs to investigate the staff of Babylon 5. They are there to investigate whether or not there are problems with questionable loyalties among the crew. Part of the investigation includes a scan by Psi Corps, which Ivanova refuses to go along with. Commander Sinclair doesn’t want to, either. He promises Ivanova neither of them will.

Colonel Ari Ben Zayn (Gregory Martin) begins to throw his authority around. He’s accompanied by Harriman Gray (Jeffrey Combs) of Psi Corps. The problem is that Zayn has a chip on his shoulder in regard to Commander Sinclair. He believes that he was unfairly passed over for Command of Babylon 5 in favor of Sinclair and wants to find out why. Mr. Gray finds himself caught in the crossfire. He has a job to do, but he also recognizes that Zayn is crossing a line.

Mr. Gray also seems to be very interested in Ivanova and wants her to like him. He doesn’t understand her resentment of him and why she keeps him at arm’s length. There is some great acting by Claudia Christian when Mr. Gray is trying to plead his case to Ivanova. I could see the tension in her eyes as she’s letting him drone on about how much it means to him to be a part of Psi Corps. She conveys the fact that she’s barely reigning in her temper without saying a word and the audience waits for her to erupt. There’s no physical altercation, but she manages to let him know full well she’s not about to give him an inch.

Jeffrey Combs is here before he takes on his recurring role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He’s a good actor and gets to be indicative of someone who was an outsider until he found Psi Corps. This blinds him to why others don’t like the Corps, particularly when it comes to Ivanova. Of course, it doesn’t help that there’s a secret she’s not telling anyone. Viewers learn that Ivanova’s mother was psychic but refused to join the Corps, so they forced her to be medicated. Mr. Gray appears in her dream much the same way he appears on the Station, and brings out the fears inside her. It’s all a brilliant sequence to introduce this facet of Ivanova’s character as well as the concept of Psi Corps being a ghost-like agency with all too much power, although here Zayn seems to be using it for his own agenda and Mr. Gray seems reluctant to follow along.

This episode is also setting up a lot with Commander Sinclair and how he came to be in command of the Station. He’s ruffled a few feathers with how he’s handled things this past season, such as the dock workers’ strike, and it’s coming home to roost. EarthForce is nervous with the Free Mars movement becoming stronger, and they are worried about a potential problem with Babylon 5. Of course, knowing the future now, we know they had a right to be, but it’s done under a different Commander, and due to their own actions rather than an outside force.

There’s satisfaction how the episode works without space battles or a lot of action. We get to see just how strong Sinclair and Ivanova are and what makes them good leaders as well as a burgeoning friendship between Lennier and Garibaldi. It might not be one of the first episodes I think of when the series comes to mind, but it’s still very good.

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