I had long forgotten how good Babylon 5 was. Until a few days ago, when I stumbled upon it once again. The many storylines that stretch through all five seasons were simply ingenious. The philosophical lessons in each episode interweaved with an interesting plots filled with Psi-Ops, different alien races, conspiracies, android thought recording devices and random wanderers. The influence to almost all sci-fi shows and movies (including but not limited to Star Trek and its offshoots, Stargate and its offshoots, V, Battlestar Galactica, not to forget Star Wreck). An incredibly rich source of inspiration.
One of the topics in Season 1 is love and its usefulness. There is a race in whose culture it is common to have arranged marriages based on the status and wealth of the partner. The marriages are arranged by the parents of both parties. So, in short, they, as a culture, value social and economic status of superior importance than love. However they do have a couple of runaways who flee their home world for the purpose of avoiding their arranged marriages and instead be with their loved one. How they know for certain that they have found their true love, is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they’re like penguins. Anyways they get caught but are set free in the end because of the race’s ambassador’s father’s words to his son (the ambassador). The ambassador, as a kid, had found his father at the end of his days, sitting alone in the dark, crying. When asked why, he replied “My shoes are too tight, but it does not matter. Because I have forgotten how to dance.”. Only when influenced by his assistant, the ambassador realizes what his father had meant. After all, he himself was currently married to three wealthy women he feared more than hell, a fairly good reason to do nearly anything to remain posted in a space station lightyears away from all of them. Since he had suppressed his love for his whole life, he had lost the ability altogether. A sad fate by human standards.
But what intrigues me is the assumption of the ability to love of all species, human and alien. Why would everyone be able to love and why would they hold it significant? The only logical explanation would be Darwin’s theories. Finding a suitable mate would require some kind of feelings or emotions in the case of an organic being. One does not simply read the gene sequence of the members of one’s own species in order to find the perfect biological match to create the ultimate descendants. But with the technology that allows hyperspace jumps and large wars between galaxies, the secret of a biological code, no matter in which form it manifests itself, should have been long unlocked. This would mean perfected partner-searching no matter what emotions or personal bonds exist. So from the evolutionary standpoint, love would have lost its importance. Then why? Why would love remain so important to all civilized species, what purpose does it serve? Sure, one could say it is because of love’s strength. After all, it have significant influence to human behavior, why should it not have the same influence to everyone else? That would beg the question why should all civilized races be human-like. It appears extremely impractical. Then again, what is love?
Perhaps it is made so that the aliens would appear more humane, hence easier to relate to. A simple way to captivate fans. No, not the kind Zach Braff screws and gets blown by.
“To understand the words, you should listen to the music, instead of the song.”