Babylon 5

Series Rewatch – Babylon 5: Soul Mates – Marriage Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Written by J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David, and Larry DiTillio
Directed by John C. Flinn III

The fact that these three episodes in a row feature the character of commercial telepath Talia Winters in very strong stories really makes me wonder why Andrea Thompson left the role. At the time, it was said that she didn’t feel she was getting enough to do. Yet, in an ensemble cast, we have three episodes where she was prominently featured and much of the alien races were ignored. Fortunately, in Soul Mates, we also do get some terrific moments with Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik).

The episode opens featuring Londo’s assistant, Vir (Stephen Furst), waiting at the docking bay to escort Londo’s three wives to him. Mr. Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) happens upon him as Timov (portrayed by Jane Carr), the first of his wives, disembarks. She demands that Vir brings her to Londo. After Vir departs, Security Chief Garibaldi witnesses a human with apparent psychic abilities push his way through customs. Talia arrives for a meeting with Commander Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) and hears them discussing this man, Matt Stoner (Keith Szarabajka). She tells them she was married to him.

Later, Talia tells Sheridan about how she was matched with Stoner by Psi Corps in the hopes of producing a child with very high telepathic abilities. However, things didn’t work out. Talia later meets with Stoner and learns how he managed to get out of Psi Corps, although his explanation doesn’t go along with how he was first seen on the station. After being rather rude to Mr. Garibaldi, she comes back to apologize and states she will probably be leaving Babylon 5 with Stoner.

Meanwhile, Londo meets with two of his three wives and states he was given a gift by the Centauri Emperor for all he’s done. Londo wants a divorce from two out of the three wives. Two of them will lose access to his money and their title. Timov and Daggair (Lois Nettleton) bicker in front of him, and Londo quite enjoys it. Finally, Mariel (Blair Valk) arrives. She appears to be the youngest of Londo’s wives. Each of the wives has a unique personality. Timov appears to be the most authentic, but it might be her undoing.

At a party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his ascension, Londo is presented with a gift of a Centauri artifact from his wives. As he’s examining it, it shoots toxic darts at him. Londo is brought to Medlab where Dr. Franklin (Richard Biggs) isn’t sure how to help him, but laments that they don’t have the ability to synthesize enough blood for a transfusion.

G’Kar: I warn you, Mariel,do not be overconfident. If I were married to Londo Mollari I’d be concerned.
Mariel: G’Kar, if you were married to Londo Mollari, we’d all be concerned.

The artifact was brought to the station by Matt Stoner. Garibaldi holds him for questioning, but he denies knowledge that the artifact was potentially dangerous. Timov visits Medbay and tells Dr. Franklin she has the same blood type. She agrees to a transfusion but swears Dr. Franklin to secrecy.

Londo Mollari: Nightmares all of them, and Timov the worst of the lot.
Dr. Stephen Franklin: Ambassador Mollari do you mind if I make one personal observation.
Londo Mollari: No, not at all.
Dr. Stephen Franklin: Stick it.
Londo Mollari: How odd, and I didn’t even know *we* were married.

Eventually, Mr. Garibaldi figures out that Stoner actually is still working with Psi Corps in an unofficial capacity, and, along with Talia and Sheridan, confronts him. It ends with Talia rejecting Stoner and all he allegedly has to offer.

This episode offers quite a bit of levity. Besides the bickering between Londo and his wives, I always remembered the humor with Delenn (Mire Furlan) asking for Commander Ivanova’s (Claudia Christian) help with her hair. Susan arrives at Delenn’s quarters to find her struggling with this aspect of her newfound humanity.

Delenn: Commander. I want you to understand that I acquired human characteristics in order to bring your people and mine closer together. To symbolize our mutuality. It is supposed to be a dignified, inspiring transition for both humans and Minbari, so will you please explain to me why this, this… this
Cmdr. Susan Ivanova: Uhh… hair
Delenn: Refuses to cooperate!

The two bond over this as Ivanova teaches her about taking care of her very human hair. But there’s also a lot of fun in the process, especially when Lennier (Bill Mumy) enters as they are treating the hair and have it in rollers. There is also a good moment between Sheridan and G’Kar (Andreas Katsulas) where G’Kar recounts Commander Sinclair’s sudden departure as to why the station’s residents don’t have confidence that Sheridan will last as Commander.

There’s not much here that adds to the overall story arc, but more of what I thought writer J. Michael Straczynski was intending to do with Talia is set up here. In a discussion with Stoner, she does an about-face from her previous devotion to Psi Corps. It would seem that some of her experiences with Jason Ironheart and the telepaths in A Race Through Dark Places have had more of an effect on her than it first appeared. The question begs if Stoner was there to recruit Talia to what he was doing or if Psi Corps was testing her. Watching this and knowing what happens in the future, I’d say he was there to check that her programming at the hands of Psi Corps was still in place, but that wasn’t the original story, merely Straczynski’s “trap door” in case one of the actors bolted. It’s a shame that Andrea Thompson did, or that Patricia Tallmann wasn’t the resident telepath all the way through so this story could play out as he intended it to. There also seems to be a relationship developing between Mr. Garibaldi and Talia, and I’m not sure if that ever would have been anything other than one-sided, but we’ll never find out.

The actor portraying Stoner, Keith Szarabajka, isn’t a good actor; or at least here he isn’t. He comes off as trying to be smooth and smarmy, but his nonchalance seems overdone and forced. I don’t know whether to blame him or the director, but the rest of the performances in this episode are good, so I’d say it was his take on the character that just didn’t work for me.

Timov: The secret of our marriage’s success Londo, is our lack of communication. You have jeopardized that success and I would know why.

Londo is a bit of a tragic figure throughout the overall story arc. Here, we see him dragged down by the necessities of his position. He’s acquired three wives, all distinctly different, but also who seem to serve a purpose. Daggair seems to be the most politically savvy, while Mariel is full of passion. However, both of them are duplicitous and suck up to him as they vie for the “honor” of remaining his wife. It is Timov who stays her authentic self throughout. Somehow, Londo discerns this, even without knowing that she donated blood to save his life. Unfortunately, we don’t see her again, which is a shame. This is one character that got dropped that I would have liked to have seen more of.

This is a fun episode that stayed with me, at least Londo and Delenn’s story did. When I started watching it, I didn’t remember Talia’s story here until I was a few minutes in. It’s a lot of fun to laugh with them at the situation both of them find themselves in. There’s really no special effects to speak of or battles, but the screens shown on the Station are much clearer than they used to be since it was digitally remastered. It makes it a lot easier to watch. I really regret that we don’t get to see the commercial telepath’s story play out as Straczynski first intended, but he does a decent job pivoting the story when he had to.

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