"The Rules of the Game" Review
First Published: 07/22/99
"The Rules of the Game" is simply a lot of fun. Once again, the differences between Crusade and Babylon 5 are made clear, with Crusade taking a lighter approach to the material.
The Excalibur comes to Babylon 5 to negotiate access to Lorca 7. However, the Brakiri, who represent Lorca 7 to the ISA, say that the Lorcans want no outside visitors, and the Brakiri refuse to compromise on that point. The Lorcans have uncharacteristically sent representatives to Babylon 5, but they also refuse to let the Excalibur visit their homeworld because outsiders would taint their moral purity.
On Babylon 5, Sheridan would have sent the White Star fleet on a secret mission to "encourage" cooperation, or called in an old debt from the Brakiri. But this is not how Crusade pursues this story. After handling the negotiations in a very non-Sheridan manner, Gideon takes off with Lochley to explore Downbelow. TNT finally gets its action when the Lorcans attack the captains while they are isolated from their support crews.
Meanwhile, Max Eilerson meets up with his ex-wife, Cynthia, who is being pursued by a ruthless lone shark. Max pays her debt minus the interest and calls the matter closed. The loan shark doesn't agree to these terms and orders his thugs back home to kidnap Cynthia's cat. Eilerson's solution is both intelligent and brutal... just what we've come to expect from Max.
On Babylon 5, the viewers were teased for nearly two seasons by the growing relationship between Sheridan and Delenn. On Crusade, Gideon and Lochley hit the shower after only two episodes. Their quirky relationship has developed well in only two episodes. It's full of humor that relieves the tension of Gideon's awesome responsibility.
There is plenty of other humor in this episode too. The revelation that Cynthia's cat is named Mr. Kitty had this reviewer in stitches. This is tempered, however, by the dedication in the closing credits to the real Mr. Kitty, who died in May.
Dr. Chambers is featured again in this episode, and even gets to deck the loan shark!
This review doesn't touch on the resolution of the Lorcan situation, or the specific fate of the loan shark. They are almost inconsequential compared to the amusing ride that "The Rules of the Game" provides.
For those wondering about the fate of Crusade, the actors' contracts have expired, and the show hasn't been picked up yet. That doesn't mean it won't be picked up. Writing to the Sci-Fi Channel may still help, and steady or improving ratings will help. However, the prospect of renegotiating contracts is a daunting one. With quality episodes like "The Rules of the Game", it's a shame that we may see only thirteen episodes of Crusade.