"The Rules of the Game" is something almost every Spin-Off has: the big crossover episode with the parent show. Gideon travels to Babylon 5 to get Captain Elizabeth Lochley's help talking the Lorkans into letting him investigate Lorka VII, formerly inhabited by an extinct Precursor race, for the cure to the Drakh plague. Unfortunately the Holier Than Thou Lorkans aren't thrilled with the idea and reject it. Gideon isn't inclined to take "no" for an answer and stays on-station hoping to talk them around, but in the meantime he asks Lochley out to dinner.
Meanwhile in the B-plot, Eilerson runs into his ex-wife Cynthia, who owes a hundred grand to some local mobsters. Eilerson tells her he'll pay them the principal, 50,000 credits, but not the vig. Cynthia isn't happy; neither is Broth Meuller, her Loan Shark.
The next morning Gideon and Lochley meet with the Lorkans again, who stonewall them again, claiming that to allow offworlders onto Lorka VII would expose the citizenry to corrupting influences. After they leave, the Lorkan ambassador and his aide worry that Gideon might travel to their world even without getting permission, and decide to kill Lochley and Gideon just to be safe.
Mueller takes Cynthia's cat hostage in retaliation for Eilerson's interference, which pisses off Eilerson because it was his cat before the divorce. He storms out and calls the ship to have Dr. Chambers sit in with Cynthia while he settles matters.
Gideon decides to spend more of his off-duty time with Lochley and bets her that if she were to go out and wander the station out of uniform nobody would recognize her. Heading into Downbelow, she arrows to a Drazi food vendor, who promptly gives her "the usual, and nice to see you, Captain Lochley". Their date is then rudely interrupted by the Lorkans, but the two seasoned Earthforce officers quickly turn the tables and overpower them.
Eilerson cold-cocks Mueller and uses a piece of Imported Alien Phlebotinum he found on one of his expeditions to threaten Mueller into staying away from him and Cynthia. Oh, and he wants the cat back, too, with a bath.
Still hopped-up on adrenaline from the murder attempt, Gideon and Lochley head back to her quarters to change out of their soiled clothes and end up in the shower together. The next morning they agree that given their situation a conventional relationship is going to be basically impossible but there's no harm in seeing each other when they can. Meanwhile the Lorkans reveal that their ambassador had been illegally selling artifacts from Lorka VII on the side and the assassination attempt was an attempted cover-up. They agree to allow Gideon to visit their world... as an example to the citizenry of how unholy offworlders are.
ContinuityLike most of Crusade, "The Rules of the Game" was aired Out of Order. Various revised episode lists place it as being meant to be either the eleventh or thirteenth of the completed episodes. Given its location in the Gideon/Lochley Romance Arc it logically takes place after "Ruling from the Tomb" (aired as episode 6) and "Each Night I Dream of Home" (aired as episode 13).
Tropes in this episode include:
- Advanced Ancient Acropolis: Babylon 5 in general is littered with the ruins of civilizations that died out centuries ago (the Shadow-Vorlon War was a major cause, though some races ascended or wiped themselves out). The Lorkans are sitting on one set, while Eilerson got the Imported Alien Phlebotinum to defeat Mueller from another.
- Assassin Outclassin': In hindsight, a couple of untrained civilians trying to kill not one, but two battle-seasoned Earthforce officers wasn't the brightest idea ever.
- Crossover: With movie-era Babylon 5.
- Continuity Nod: The fact that Captain Lochley was briefly married to John Sheridan, now a war hero and President of the Interstellar Alliance, is brought up when Gideon makes an offhand remark that Sheridan probably "puts his pants on one leg at a time" like the rest of us.Lochley: Mmm. And backwards in the dark sometimes. (Gideon double takes)
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The haughty, egotistical Eilerson is frequently the Butt-Monkey of the show's gags, but he gets his moment to be a badass in this episode.
- Fantastic Racism/Holier Than Thou: The Lorkans consider themselves the Most Holy's chosen people and all others to be corrupting influences.
- Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: One way to look at the sex scene between Lochley and Gideon. They're clearly still pretty rattled from getting shot at by the people they were trying to negotiate with for most of the episode.
- Hand Blast: The Lorkans attack Lochley and Gideon with a weapon consisting of a crystal that shoots lightning bolts, worn on the palm of the hand.
- Loan Shark: Broth Meuller's the bog-standard underworld guy who loans money at high interest rates and then demands payment or else.
- Required Remark Of Respect: The Lorkans make a gesture across their chests every time their deity the Most Holy is mentioned.
- Shower of Love: Gideon and Lochley have sex in her shower after the Lorkans try to kill them. Gideon is very pleased to be able to take a shower with actual water (one of the perks of serving on Babylon 5 compared to a starship).
- Taking You with Me: Invoked. Eilerson uses an alien choke-collar once used to restrain criminals to ensure that if Mueller either comes anywhere near him or Cynthia, or has them killed, he dies, too.