Zocalo: Spoiler-Free Discussion of “The Face of the Enemy”

Garibaldi has been very upset with Sheridan this season. But did you expect him to help turn Sheridan over to the enemy?

We’ve had Garibaldi shift gears pretty abruptly this season. Did you expect to find out that Bester was behind it all?

This is the place to talk about how we got here.

4 thoughts on “Zocalo: Spoiler-Free Discussion of “The Face of the Enemy””

  1. I think The Face of the Enemy is probably my favorite S4 episode.

    One thing about Bester and Edgars being, in a sense, the “bad guy” is that it’s part what makes this so noir. Garibaldi is very much the noir hero who inhabits a world in which there are no good guys and there’s no possibility of honor on the global level, so that his heroism lies in how he manages to navigate it with his honor intact on the personal level – especially in his relationship with Lise.

    Then JMS interfaces that with “normal” Babylon 5 (space opera), in whose terms Garibaldi is the opposite of honorable – he’s Judas. In the noir world, there are no admirable leaders like Sheridan, so Garibaldi’s betrayal is an act that’s excluded from the outset. But in the space opera world, in which heroes are heroes…

    I think that the device of having Bester rewrite his mind serves to allow Garibaldi back into the circle of heroes. (I’m afraid I remain unconvinced by our hosts’ admirable and strenuous attempts to argue that JMS is critiquing Sheridan’s messianism, and think it can only hold if you assume that any messianism is suspicious by definition and no story can ever present it as justified. I think Sheridan is a messianic figure who actually is the Messiah.)

    But I think it’s also the case that it’s the device that allows Garibaldi to move between genres.

    1. “Only a true messiah denies his divinity!”

      I think the messiah discussion works here, partly because the definition of what it is that makes someone a great hero. An mean different things to different people. It’s just as much about perception of a person as it is their actual actions.

  2. The Face Of the Enemy has always been one of my fav B5 Episodes… full stop. The two “big” moments in it, always grab me by my guts the same way as “big events” like the political shock at the end of season1, the bombing of Narn in s2, seceding from Earth in s3 etc etc. But in a way I found TFOTE even “bigger”, because it was all close and personal, underhanded betrayals and manipulation. And then the way Mike Vejar directs these moments elevates them to the max.

    Being a big fan of ‘the grunge’ music growing up (and given I was only 19yo when this ep came out, this was in the midst of this growing up), I was blown away that B5 would use such contemporary music. Combined with the music video like art style, it just nailed it for me – and finishing it on Garibaldi’s pensive face looking on has never failed to send chills.

    Pretty much the same chills that Bester’s explanation to Garibaldi on the tube. The amount of acting Jerry Doyle was able to do in that scene with just his eyes – amazing.

    I still love this episode so much after so long. Perfect score 5/7!

    (I think I’ve said this before, but I never cared one bit about who directed episodes before listening to this podcast. And sure it enough, Mike Vejar does almost all of my favourites. I’ve really enjoyed this side of the discussion – thanks!)

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