"The Path of Sorrows" Review
First Published: 07/01/99
Who cares if Crusade doesn't have enough action for TNT? With very little action, "The Path of Sorrows" is the best episode yet. In this story we see deep into the hearts of Gideon, Matheson, and Galen.
The Excalibur discovers a strange alien who elicits feelings of sorrow from those who confront it. The first to approach the alien is Gideon. Gideon's sorrow is survivor's guilt. We already learned in "War Zone" that Gideon almost died in space nine years ago. Now we learn that he was the only survivor of the crew of the Cerberus. In his pleas for help while adrift in space, he seems more concerned with being able to speak for the lost crew than he does for his own life. Ironically, he is denied that opportunity, and this colors his actions for years to come. We also see Gideon's acquisition of the mysterious Apocalypse Box. This scene seems out of place here unless we assume that the box has subsequently caused him sorrow.
Next up is Lt. Matheson, whose flashback reveals his role in the conflict between the Psi Corps and the rogue telepath resistance. While not entirely clear, it seems that this "civil war" takes place shortly before the war between the telepaths and the normals. This segment asks more questions than it answers, but shows us that Matheson carries a heavy burden.
Finally comes Galen, who has always seemed so cool and in control up to now but is totally unprepared for what the alien reveals to him. While Gideon and Matheson came away from their encounters with healing and forgiveness, Galen will not accept the healing because it destroys his worldview. Galen uses his atheism as a defense against the injustices of the universe. He has always denied the view of his lost love who believed in a higher power, because that would imply an intelligence behind the injustice. Believing his love still lives on in a better place would also require him to believe that she was maliciously taken from him.
This episode gives another chance for the underused Daniel Dae Kim to play a major part as Lt. Matheson, which he does quite well. It is also good to see Galen cut down to size. The first three episodes build him up as an enigmatic and slightly arrogant superman who can solve everyone's problems and parlay his flaws into strengths. But in "The Path of Sorrows", we see a tear in his facade that clouds his judgement and makes him a much more interesting character.
Crusade has finally hit its stride with "The Path of Sorrows". While this may be the episode TNT dislikes the most due to the lack of action, it is sure to be a favorite among Babylon 5 fans. The character backgrounds, secrets, and mysteries are no less than we've come to expect from J. Michael Straczynski.