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The Rules of the Game
Maintained by David Boyd
Last Update on July 29 '99
Title: The Rules of the Game
Episode Order Number: 107
Production Number: 112
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski    Director: Jesus Trevino
First US Air Date: Wednesday 21st July 1999
Episode Message Board: Talk about the Episode here
Contents: [Plot] - [Regular Cast] - [Guest Stars] - [Review]
Plot:

    Expecting it to be a short, easy trip, the Excalibur visits Babylon 5 in order to secure access to Lorka 7, but the Lorkans are dead set against it. Meanwhile Max Eilerson finds himself dealing with a dangerous situation he would have preferred to avoid.

Regular Cast: Gary Cole, Tracy Scoggins, Daniel Dae Kim, David Allen Brooks, Marjean Holden
Guest Stars: Jamie Rose, Joel Swetow, Tim Choate, Sal Landi, Timothy Landfield
Review:

By Lars Joreteg

Review: Crusade episode 7 - "The Rules of the Game"

"The word is 'prodigy' - seven letters, three syllables - I could see why it might give you problems" - Max Eilerson

"The Rules of the game" is an episode with many flaws, but still manages to entertain thanks to Max and some great character interaction.

The Excalibur pays a visit to Babylon 5 in an attempt to negotiate landing rights on Lorka 7, an alien world where the original population all died out thousands of years ago. It is hoped that their disappearance may be linked to the Drakh plague, and thus may provide valuable information about it. But the current inhabitants of Lorka 7 prove to difficult to deal with. Max also has some personal business to attend to on Babylon 5...

The main plot of "The Rules of the Game", dealing with the Lorkans, is rather poor. To start with, centering a whole episode on just negotiations about landing rights is not very compelling in itself. After hearing so much about Lorka 7, I would have liked to see some of it too. In addition, a big "no-no" of drama is committed - the antagonist (enemy) is made incompetent. Now that's a sure way of killing dramatic tension, for me at least. Throughout the entire down-below chase, I didn't even believe for a second that Gideon or Lochley could get hurt. The Lorkans also manage to come across as vary annoying, mostly due to their strange speech pattern. Why couldn't the Lorkans have been fascinating and cunning instead of annoying and incompetent? Oh well, at least the rest of the episode is good stuff. I enjoyed the Lochley/Gideon scenes much more than in "Ruling from the Tomb", their scenes here were written better, and the characters really seemed at ease with each other. I didn't like the "shower" scene though - some things are better left to the imagination... The "silhouette" shot was just silly. The ship docking metaphor was amusing, though. :-) Finally, the Max subplot was well done, with an interesting solution.

Captain Gideon (Gary Cole) is a bit uneven in this episode. The Lochley interaction is great, but the negotiation scenes seem awkward. But I'll blame that more on the writing than Cole's acting.

But Tracy Scoggins (as Captain Lochley) gives on of her best performances out of her Babylon 5 and Crusade episodes here, in my opinion. She comes across as very natural and charming.

The real winner of this episode (if there is such a thing), is Max Eilerson (David Allen Brooks), however. He is very fascinating, growing more complex in every episode, and still my favorite character. :-)

Dr. Chambers (Marjean Holden) is the only other regular character in this episode, she is less than stellar, but probably mostly due to her having very little to do. Hopefully we'll see more of her character doing important things in the future.

The guest stars were of varying quality, from adequate (the thug and Max's ex-wife) to annoying (the Lorkans). By the way, one of the Lorkans was played by Tim Choate, who guest-starred as "Zathras" in a few Babylon 5 episodes.

The technical aspects of this episode weren't too impressive, but it was nice in a nostalgic sense to visit Babylon 5 again, the place still looks the same. The music was also pretty decent. There were some technical errors in the effects, however, as the Excalibur was scaled WAY too small next to Babylon 5. Not a major thing, I suppose, but it is annoying to see such a simple thing messed up. (If anyone from Babylonian Productions is reading this, I am offering my services as a visual effects continuity consultant) :-)

Overall this episode is lacking quite a bit, but it is saved from the depths of mediocrity by many nice character moments and a good B-plot. Hopefully it is uphill from here.

Rating: 7/10

- Lars Joreteg (lars.joreteg@usa.net)

 
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