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Appearances and other Deceits
Maintained by David Boyd
Last Update on August 03 '99
Title: Appearances and other Deceits
Episode Order Number: 108
Production Number: 113
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski    Director: Stephen Furst
First US Air Date: Wednesday 28st July 1999
Episode Message Board: Talk about the Episode here
Contents: [Plot] - [Regular Cast] - [Guest Stars] - [Review]
Plot:

    The discovery of an alien mystery ship by the Excalibur prompts an immediate exploration. They find a single crew member (barely) alive and bring him aboard - unaware that he conceals a dangerous secret.

    Also two propaganda experts come onboard the Excalibur to redesign the ship to try and make it have more "power, dignity and presence" for the people back on Earth.

Regular Cast: Gary Cole, Daniel Dae Kim, David Allen Brooks, Marjean Holden
Guest Stars: John Vickery, Wayne Wilderson, Luanne Ponce
Review:

By Lars Joreteg

Review: Crusade episode 8 - "Appearances and Other Deceits"

"Damn, Eilerson was right about all this - I hate it when he is right, he'll be insufferable for days!" - Gideon

A plot where aliens are trying to take over the crew can hardly be considered novel in a science-fiction setting. But while that particular concept may be common, in "Appearances and Other Deceits" it is executed very well, resulting in an immensely enjoyable episode.

While two Earth Alliance political representatives, intent on improving the "image" of the mission visit the Excalibur, the crew find a huge alien ship drifting in space. Only one survivor is found, but what happened to the rest of the crew?

I approached this episode with some trepidation, since the preview made me fear the worst - a Star Trek rip-off. But as the episode moved along, it started veering off from what I expected, and it ended in a satisfying and surprising way for me. And unlike the last Crusade episode ("The Rules of the Game"), these aliens provided a credible threat, thus heightening the tension. Just as "The Long Road" can be seen as an homage to classic Star Trek episodes, in a way "Appearances and Other Deceits" is an homage to a typical Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. But both these episodes provide new twists to old ideas, making what could have been very cliched story something fresh. The main difference here is Gideon, someone who has no qualms about wiping out someone who is threatening his crew. And this time the aliens are the ones who want to negotiate, but they make the fatal mistake in underestimating the Excalibur crew. In addition, the final words of the aliens give some chilling information, making us wonder what could have been. I also liked the condolence letters scene; it's nice to see the "redshirts" get some recognition sometimes. The B-plot of this episode is about the visiting political representatives, who have orders to make the mission seem more heroic and inspirational to the people back home. This is done through new uniforms, which provides some amusing situations. And regarding the new uniforms, the sure look like bellhops :-), but I'll get used to them.

Gary Cole (as Captain Gideon) gives a very strong performance in this episode, clearly one of his best so far. Gideon has complete dedication to his crew, and it is made abundantly clear here.

Lt. Matheson (Daniel Dae Kim) is finally given more screen time, he has hardly been seen since "Path of Sorrows". But he is solid as always, a good authoritative presence.

Max Eilerson (David Allen Brooks) once again proves to be a wonderful presence, a character that grows more three-dimensional and likeable with every episode. This is probably his best episode yet.

Dr. Chambers (Marjean Holden) is also getting some long overdue screen time, giving her best performance so far. The character feels quite a bit wooden, though, and her dialogue is heavy at times. Is it a fault of the writing? Probably - the actress isn't given much to work with. I'm sure this character will improve with time, though. But I did like they way she chewed out the med.-tech. :-)

The standout guest star in this episode is John Vickery, who in an excellent performance reprises his short role on Babylon 5 as Mr. Welles, a nightwatch representative. (from "Fall of Night", the season 2 finale) In addition, the actor has also had another recurring role on Babylon 5, as Neroon of the Minbari Warrior Caste.

Another guest star is Wayne Wilderson, as the very effeminate designer travelling with Mr. Welles. He provides much of the comedy in this episode, but unfortunately he goes a little bit over the top here and there, but he is still amusing. Luanne Ponce also guest stars as a med.-tech, she is adequate enough.

The production values of this episode were very good, and it was nice to see some more of the Excalibur. The effects were quite good too, the alien ship was well done and exotic. Evan Chen's music is very good in this episode too, providing good suspense throughout the episode but especially in the scenes inside the alien ship. Once again Evan Chen shows off his varying styles of music very nicely. Stephen Furst (who played the character Vir throughout Babylon 5) also directed this episode, and he did a great job. He gives us very interesting views, and I especially liked once scene on the bridge where the camera rotates 360 degrees around Gideon and Mr. Welles. Very cool stuff, in my opinion.

Overall this is my favorite episode so far, what could have been very cliched turned out to be fresh, while also providing excellent character development.

Rating: 9/10

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

 
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