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[personal profile] metaphasia
I was recently rewatching some episodes of Babylon 5, and I want to talk about my favorite character from the show. I think that Babylon 5 is one of the most powerful and important sF series ever made, because it focused not on crazy technology, but on the people (although that's a post for another time). The most interesting character on the show, for me, is Lyta Alexander.
In many ways, Lyta and Sheridan are the same. They are both the "chosen ones", picked by the Vorlons for the war, they even recieve similar character beats at certain points in the story. However, while Sheridan wages a war against destiny and fate, for freedom from the First Ones, Lyta's struggle is with a greater foe: the narrative.
Everyone in the series wants to use Lyta. It starts with the Psi Corps, who use Lyta as they do all telepaths, but also everyone else tries to use her as well. G'kar tries to use her as a brood mare for giving the Narns telepaths. the Vorlons use her as a weapon in their war against the Shadows, Sheridan and the Alliance use her, Bester uses her when he makes a deal with her to give her a more normal life in exchange for control over her and once she dies. Even Byron, the man she falls in love with, uses her; when they make love for the first time, in her most unguarded moment, he sees the secrets that she has been keeping, her most private moments, and uses them as a war cry to rally the other telepaths. This theme is so prevalent that Lyta even calls people out on it, telling Zach in the episode Epiphanies that people only show up at her door when they want something from her.
However, despite their similar beginnings, Lyta and Sheridan are treated differently by the narraative. Even when they take similar actions, Sheridan is regarded as a hero by the story, but Lyta is seen as a villain. Later in the episode Epiphanies, Lyta destroys Z'ha'dum, and Sheridan confronts her about it. He tells her that even though he agrees with the decision, if she ever makes such a call on her own without his approval, he'll throw her out, back to the Psi Corps. This exchange always struck me as extremely hypocritical, considering that Sheridan is the king of unilateral action, with the way that he tells the Vorlons and the Shadows and all the other first ones to get the hell out of his galaxy.
Whereas Sheridan is rewarded for his decisions, Lyta is punished by the narrative for making similar calls. And the narrative strikes the most fatal blow that it can to her. By the end of the series, Lyta is forced to join G'kar on his trip, since no one wants to have her around. In the finale, at Sheridan's last supper, she is not present, or even remembered by anyone as they toast those not present. Word of god states that she died in a terrorist attack on the Psi Corps headquarters after the series. The narrative gives her an ignoble death, off screen, her name not remembered by others.
But the reason that Lyta is my favorite character is that she never gives up. She continually makes her own way, and fights back against everyone whenever she can. In my eyes, she is the main character of the series, not Sheridan or Sinclair or Delenn. The theme of Babylon 5 has always been to never surrender, to never give up, not to yield, and Lyta's story I think is the best example of that theme on the show. She is ground down into the mud time and again by the series, but she refuses to quit and keeps moving forward.
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