Garibaldi and Ivanova in Babylon 5 "Born to the Purple"

Babylon 5 Rewatch: “Born to the Purple”

“Born to the Purple”
Written by Larry DiTillio
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
Season 1, Episode 3
Production episode 104
Original air date: February 9, 1994

It was the dawn of the third age… Sinclair and G’Kar finally find Mollari in a strip club. He is supposed to be engaged in negotiating the Euphrates Treaty with G’Kar. However, the pair of them do join Mollari at his table for a drink and to watch the dancers. This lasts until G’Kar’s new aide, Ko D’ath, shows up. She does not approve of the establishment, and G’Kar reluctantly shows her to her quarters, thus denying himself the ability to ogle dancers. Mollari, meanwhile, is focusing most of his ogling on one Centauri dancer in particular.

That same dancer, Adira, is waiting for him in his bed when he goes back to his quarters. How she was able to break into his quarters is left as an exercise for the viewer, though Mollari certainly doesn’t give much of a shit…

The next morning, negotiations on the Euphrates Treaty are supposed to start. Sinclair is there. Vir is there. Winters is there, hired to keep the negotiators honest with her telepathy. G’Kar and Ko D’ath are there. Of Mollari, there is no sign. Vir contacts him for the eighty-fourth time (roughly), and Mollari finally answers, reluctantly leaving Adira in his bed.

Mollari shows up at the negotiations late, but quite happy. Meanwhile, Adira is contacted by her owner, Trakis. Turns out she’s his slave, and he sent her to play Mata Hari with Mollari to get his Purple Files. Those are the files containing the dirt that Mollari and his family have on other Centauri aristocrats. It’s how wealthy Centauri stay in power: blackmail. If Trakis gets his hands on Mollari’s Purple files, it’ll give him massive influence over Centauri politics.

Garibaldi has found an unauthorized use of Gold Channel. It’s a secure communications channel, one that’s far more reliable than the standard commercial ones, but it’s also only available with Sinclair’s permission, and indeed only even known to a select few on the station—the command staff and the ambassadors. He reports it to Ivanova who says she’ll look into it when she has time, and orders him to continue monitoring it.

Garibaldi and Ivanova in Babylon 5 "Born to the Purple"

Mollari brings Adira flowers he had specially grown for her, and also gives her a piece of jewelry that has been in his family for generations. Adira doesn’t wish to accept so lavish a gift, but Mollari insists. He further surprises her by declaring that he’s made reservations at Fresh Air, the fanciest restaurant on the station. While appearances are very important to Centauri, especially ones of Mollari’s station, he also doesn’t care about appearances when it comes to her.

Later, we see Mollari and Adira having dinner and making smoochy-faces at each other. Sinclair has also taken Winters to dinner at Fresh Air as a thank-you for the work she’s done in the Euphrates negotiations, as both the anger from the Narn at Mollari’s tardiness and the erotic thoughts that Mollari kept having during the negotiations wore her out something fierce…

Garibaldi detects another unauthorized use of Gold Channel, but his attempt to trace it is stopped by an invasive program. The best he can see is that it went to the Russian Consortium on Earth. He reports this to Ivanova, who thinks it might all just be a figment of Garibaldi’s imagination since there’s no record of it that she can find or that he can show her—maybe it’s gremlins!

Adira slips Mollari a mickey in his drink and he falls unconscious. She then uses a mind-probe to get his password and then she downloads the Purple files. (He should’ve had a two-factor authentication set up, obviously…) She then flees his quarters, leaving the brooch behind. At her quarters, Trakis contacts her, but she doesn’t want to meet in her quarters, lest Mollari come looking for her. They meet in the Zocalo, instead. But once there, Adira flees, Trakis giving chase.

Mollari wakes up with a headache and without Adira. Leaving Vir in charge of the negotiations, Mollari goes in search of Adira. G’Kar is sufficiently livid at this insult that he leaves Ko D’ath in charge of the Narn side of the negotiations and storms out in a huff.

Trakis and Mollari both go to Adira’s quarters to find it empty. Trakis tells Mollari that Adira’s his slave, but that she’s secretly a Narn agent sent to steal his Purple files. Trakis says his concern is that, as her owner, he’s liable if she’s arrested for espionage. He and Mollari go their separate ways, but not before Trakis puts a bug on Mollari’s shoulder.

Mollari and Trakis in Babylon 5 "Born to the Purple"

Mollari confirms the copying of the Purple files. He then continues his search for Adira, but is interrupted by Sinclair, who wants to know what’s going on. Mollari begs Sinclair for help, which the commander gives on the proviso that Mollari agree to Earth’s compromise on the Euphrates Treaty. They go back to the club where Adira dances, but undercover, posing as employees of another establishment that wants to hire some of the dancers. They learn that Adira was recently in Brown Sector.

Trakis hears that and sends two thugs provided by N’Grath to delay the pair. However, before they can finish off Sinclair and Mollari, Trakis alerts them that he’s found Adira, so all is well. The two thugs bugger off.

Sinclair approaches G’Kar, saying he can give him the opportunity to purchase Mollari’s Purple files. They set up a meeting with Trakis that also includes Winters. Winters is unwilling to probe Trakis directly, as that would violate Psi Corps regulations, but she engages in some verbal trickery instead: when the meeting with G’Kar commences, and Trakis objects to her presence, she says that she can only sense surface thoughts, and it’ll be fine as long as he doesn’t think of anything specific, like where Adira’s being hidden.

That, of course, makes him think of it, and he runs off—right into Mollari’s fist. Mollari then kicks him in the ribs for good measure and takes his files back. He thanks G’Kar for helping him restore his honor, which annoys the hell out of G’Kar.

Garibaldi is able to trace the next unauthorized use of Gold Channel with an invasive program of his own, and he discovers that it’s Ivanova using it to communicate with her father, who is dying. He later tells Ivanova that he traced the transmission and yeah, it was a gremlin, and he won’t have to worry about it anymore, cough cough, ahem ahem. He also offers to buy Ivanova a drink.

Mollari sees Adira off. Trakis has granted her freedom as part of a plea deal, and Mollari gives her the brooch back, urging her to wear it as a free woman. She promises to return to him some day.

Nothing’s the same anymore. Sinclair poses as a sleazy dude quite well, having studied Garibaldi’s rather extensive files on the various lowlifes in downbelow. He also uses both Mollari and G’Kar to get Earth’s agenda on the Euphrates Treaty some traction (though given how things end up with G’Kar, it’s unlikely that G’Kar continued to agree to those concessions…).

Sinclair in Babylon 5 "Born to the Purple"

Ivanova is God. We learn a great deal about the first officer in this episode. Ivanova’s relationship with her father has never been all that great, and got worse after her mother died. In addition, her brother died in the Earth-Minbari War. But her father is now dying, and they’re able to reconcile during Ivanova’s illicit Gold Channel conversations with him.

The household god of frustration. Garibaldi is able to penetrate Ivanova’s illicit use of the Gold Channel, because he’s just that awesome. But once he finds out why she’s doing it, he lets her off the hook. Because he’s just that awesome.

In the glorious days of the Centauri Republic… One of the sources of Mollari’s power—indeed, the source of most Centauri aristocrats’ power—is their dirt on other folks. So losing his Purple files would be very bad, both for him and the Republic.

Though it take a thousand years, we will be free. G’Kar finds his new aide annoying, since she takes him away from ogling pretty women, and he views giving her the reins in negotiating an insult to the Centauri.

The Corps is mother, the Corps is father. Winters is not willing to break Psi Corps regulations, but she is, apparently, willing to bend them a little. She gets Trakis to think about where Adira is hiding using the old pink-elephant trick.

No sex, please, we’re EarthForce. Adria’s seduction of Mollari works like a charm, but she also returns the feelings, which makes it hard for her to betray him—though not impossible…

G'Kar and Ko D’ath in Babylon 5 "Born to the Purple"

Welcome aboard. Mary Woronov makes her one and only appearance as Ko D’ath, for which she is uncredited. Fabiana Udenio plays Adira, while the great Clive Revill plays Trakis, Jimm Gianni plays Ock, and Robert Phalen plays Ivanova’s dying Dad. Phalen will return in “TKO” later this season, while Udenio will be back in season five’s “Day of the Dead.”

Trivial matters. Mary Woronov was intended to be a series regular in the role of G’Kar’s aide. However, she could not handle the prosthetic makeup (and refused to wear the red contact lenses) and so did not remain in the role. Caitlin Brown, who will finally make her first appearance as G’Kar’s aide Na’Toth two episodes hence in “Parliament of Dreams,” has been in the opening credits all along, including this episode. (As has Bill Mumy, who will also finally debut in “Parliament…”)

While Udenio does not appear again until season five, the character is mentioned, and also seen in flashback in “Interludes and Examinations,” in which the character is killed.

This is the first appearance of the Fresh Air restaurant, which will continue to be used as the fancy-shmancy restaurant of choice for folks on B5.

The working title of this episode was “Amaranth.”

The echoes of all of our conversations.

“Don’t give away the homeworld.”

—Mollari’s instructions to Vir when putting his aide in charge of negotiations, and also G’Kar’s instructions to Ko D’ath when he does likewise.

Mollari and Adira in Babylon 5 "Born to the Purple"

The name of the place is Babylon 5. “What do you want, you moon-faced assassin of joy?” As is often the case with stories involving the Centauri and/or Narn ambassadors, the A-story in this episode is elevated entirely by the performances, not just of Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas, but also of Fabiana Udenio, whose radiance and reluctance are both played quite well.

Which is good, because, man, this story has whiskers on it. The old man seduced by the pretty young sex worker with the heart of gold, and they fall for each other, and she still betrays him because she has to, but she doesn’t want to, and it all comes out okay in the end, and ugh!

But this one mostly works because Jurasik and Udenio make it work. So does Clive Revill, who has made a career out of playing snotty bad guys (he was the original person playing Emperor Palpatine in The Empire Strikes Back) and is snotty as all get-out here.

The B-plot is of more interest, mostly because it provides useful exposition on Ivanova and also illuminates character, both Ivanova’s and Garibaldi’s. It’s also a big honkin’ cliché, but, again, the performances elevate it, especially the pained stoicism of Claudia Christian. Her dismissal of Garibaldi’s concerns plays up as her usual I’m-too-busy-to-deal-with-your-bullshit attitude, and it modulates effectively into sad resignation, with pain eking out through the cracks when she’s talking to her father.

G’Kar is still being played annoyingly like a doofy villain, and his interactions with Ko D’ath are just painful, the straitlaced aide cramping the boss’s style. Not that Mollari’s interactions with Vir are much better. Although the “moon-faced assassin of joy” comment was magnificent, the portrayal of Vir as a dork playing videogames while waiting for Mollari to show up is also cringe-inducing.

Next week: “Infection.” icon-paragraph-end

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top