Animated Series Episode 21 Review - "Babel"

The last couple of weeks have weighed heavy on Green Lantern fans given some of the news we've been dealt as well as the wonderfully tragic and powerfully dramatic episodes of Green Lantern: The Animated Series, "Loss" and "Cold Fury".  Needless to say we all could have used a light hearted diversion from all the gloom and doom and the ever omniscient producers of the show come through as they always do to deliver "Babel", a fun romp in the Green Lantern universe that serves as a bit of a cosmic sorbet, cleansing the palette before we jump headlong into the conclusion of the Anti-Monitor story arc and, sadly, the series.

Written by Charlotte Fullerton (the widow of Dwayne McDuffie) and Kevin Rubio, "Babel" picks up after the conclusion of "Cold Fury" when the Aya-Monitor tells the crew of the Interceptor to talk to the hand, sending them headlong into space without the means to pilot the ship.  When the crew finds the ship pulled into the gravity well of an alien planet they discover themselves without any power left in their rings to fly, protect themselves and unable to understand each other without the aid of the translator functions of their power rings.

Razer tries to power up the failing Interceptor
Stuck on a planet without an oxygen enriched atmosphere, Hal, Kilowog and Razer set across the surface of the planet to bide their time while their power batteries recharge.  The three find themselves unwanted in the nearby domed city and after a number of run-ins with the locals they manage to survive the experience and by the end of the episode return to the Interceptor and depart.

While not much happens in this episode to advance the overall story, "Babel" is perhaps a filler episode, but one which is needed to break up the heavy tone the series has had recently.  While the geek in me wants to believe that the episode title is a nod to the translating nature of the Babel fish of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the reality is more likely linked to the literal translation of the word babel and how it relates to the confusion between the three characters once their ability to understand each other comes into play.  Either way, the aptly title episode is a treat from start to finish.

Shades of "Return of the Jedi", not that that's a bad thing!

It could be argued that given the nature of what's just transpired it would seem uncharacteristic for the crew to be so happy go lucky, but if you just surrender to the notion that all three of them are trying to make the best of their situation and deal with the pressure with a little bit of humor it goes a long way to put that out of your mind and just enjoy the show.  Between the humorous military cadences of Hal and Kilowog, Razer pulling an arsenal of hidden weapons out of his pocket to barter for a lift and Razer acting as the unlikely translator while Hal and Kilowog trade barbs "Babel" never ceases to entertain.  Razer's reaction when Kilowog tosses him the head of a Manhunter makes me laugh every time I watch it!  And when it's time for a little action director Sam Liu pulls off a Rancor pit inspired fight sequence which gets the heart pumping.

What's really refreshing is how the creators embraced the notion that while the ringbearers are dependent on their power rings for so much, what really matters in the strength of character each had to be selected in the first place.  They also didn't hide from the fact that not every planet has a breathable atmosphere and that not everyone in the universe knows English.  In fact, for this episode Rubio created languages for Kilowog and Razer, translating their English lines to the newly created alien tongues.  According to producer Jim Krieg, both he and Giancarlo Volpe wanted to use the language barrier as a gag earlier on, but Bruce Timm suggested it be used as a main point for a story rather than a secondary bit.

Click on the image to see some of the original lines of dialogue before Kevin Rubio translated them.

Kevin Michael Richardson and Jason Spisak do a superb job of making sure the audience understands the tone of what Kilowog and Razer are saying without ever understanding the words so that we aren't as lost as Hal is.  Josh Keaton's rousing speech during the climax of "Babel" might have been lost on the crew, but it reminded me of why Hal has always been my hero.

Giancarlo Volpe tweeted that this episode was inspired by "The Hangover" and even though "Babel" is certainly not the adult fare of that film it manages to provide twenty or so minutes of humor and fun.  Sometimes it's important to be reminded of the simple joy of being entertained and "Babel" does that in fine fashion.  Four out of five lanterns.

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About Myron Rumsey

Life long Green Lantern fan and co-host of the Podcast of Oa.  I'm a Barbecue snob and aficionado of blues music.  Hal Jordan is my co-pilot!


  1. The title, "Babel," is based off the biblical story of "The Tower of Babel." In this story, God makes every person working on the tower, which was meant to reach the heavens, speak a different language, rendering them unable to complete the tower. A similar title was used in JLA: Babel when Ra's Al Ghul turns all language in the universe indecipherable to each individual. The more you know!

  2. Accurate... couldn't have stated it better myself. It was refreshing because life happens, things go on and it's not all dark without some light.

    It was well done by everyone...! I love Razer's sharp tongue and witty comments, looks and his character in general. The comics missed bigtime in not creating him as an addition. I too can't stop chuckling when thinking about the hand gesture...and it was Razer without a word. :)

  3. I agree. Beautiful. Had so much fun and laughter this time round; needed this light relief. Love the episode, loved Razer even more (there is that sexiness in the way he spoke his own language) but absolutely adored Hal and Kilowog - those two are just amazing together. It is also a bit disconcerting as you say that after the pain of having one's heart ripped apart in the last episode, here we are, with our heroes, especially Razer, not thinking about Aya. That was left more to Hal to think about "rescuing" her. But all in all, hearing Kilowog recite the oath in his own native language and Razer's "sense of humour" which does not surface often has been such a treat. Razer must be a ninja having such an arsenal of weapons; definitely never barter with Kilowog and Hal continuing to talk as though he's understood was incredibly entertaining. The alien saying in tears: "what have you done to mother," was epic for me. There is only 3 more episodes left of this most enchanted series and I for one would miss it terribly. It would be lovely to see Razer written into the comic books if only to keep his character alive - he has been truly amazing from beginning to end, except in the last episode where it was painful seeing him reject Aya but I for one would never stop being a huge fan of him.

  4. Does anyone know of where you can watch GL:TAS online? and for free preferably.

  5. Matthew it several times a day. Spread the word. Wish some other network would buy the series. Can't believe CN thinks Regular Show and Adventure Time's worth airtime? What crap. GLTAS is awesome!