A large part of my adult, career-related life has been lived by Susan Ivanova’s examples and wisdom.
Oh man. MAN. Man. Lemme tell you about Susan Ivanova.
Susan Ivanova, second in command of Babylon 5, has been through a lot of shit. First, off, Babylon 5 is a deliberate melting pot of a place where. after a really bad war, different species can come to seek peace. Earthgov is skeptical about it. The other species governments are skeptical about it. As a result, the station often stands between the universe and very bad shit going down.
Commander Ivanova is in charge of operations. All the day to day stuff. She handles it pretty well.
She is not here to put up with anyone’s shit. Not even if you’re from Earth.
She’s second in command of a station with captains that are perpetually putting themselves and the station through a lot of political… well, ugly politics. She’s often the one left behind, having to tell folks the Captain is not available and she’s in charge. Honestly, for having to be the grownup among so many damned children, she’s very well liked.
She’s not all business, though, she’s a great friend as well as commander, with a lovely, dry, gallows sense of humor. I’m not sure there’s a person on the station who doesn’t have a private joke or at least a friendly word with her (provided they’re not fucking up her schedule).
Her family is Russian and Jewish, and it actually comes up from time to time. She occasionally sends a shout out to god (she’s not practicing, iirc, but she still identifies as Jewish and keeps a few traditions), She commentates often on her Russian heritage.
Susan Ivanova: I know, I know. It’s a Russian thing. When we’re about to do something stupid, we like to catalog the full extent of our stupidity for future reference.
She meets up with family and friends from her past and doesn’t shy away from them:
Lt. Cmdr. Susan Ivanova: So how are things back home?
Rabbi Koslov: They change, they stay the same. Russia is Russia. Your father used to say: “If regret could be harvested, Russia would be the world’s fruit basket.”
She had a rough time growing up - her mother was a telepath, and in this universe if you’re telepathic and human you have two options: join a quasi-militaristic organization called the PsiCorps that will immediately take you from your family and control your whole life (they even have a saying: the Corps is Mother. The Corps is Father. It’s as chilling as you think,); option two is to take some drugs that suppress your abilities. Ivanova’s mother chose the second option, and after a long, ugly period suffering under the effects of the drug, she took her own life.
You can imagine Susan is not thrilled with anyone associated with the Psicorps. But when a Psicorps telepath named Talia Winters comes on board, some interesting things happen.
But then, eventually, Susan doesn’t mind her so much.
Talia reaches out, and turns up at Susan’s quarters late one night.
They actually become real friends.
And then, when Talia is gone she confesses:
Susan also later falls in love with a man named Marcus Cole, which means for my money she’s the first bisexual lady in space that I ever saw on TV. Possibly ever.
For all that though, for her friendships and lovely jokes and cuddly-as-a-cactus-flower appeal, they never ever forget how good she is at her job. She is shatteringly competent.
The whole crew is in on the airlocking thing, really. They support her airlocking habits. It’s lovely of them to do.
Commander Susan Ivanova, bisexual Russian Jewish space princess of my heart. Forever. Watch this show.
Always share St. Ivanova.
YEESSSS. Babylon 5 fandom, we yet live!!
And did we mention the part where she coopted part of the hydroponics bays so that she could grow coffee to prevent her from committing homicide?
Susan Ivanova is my queen. Also my rebbe.
(I refuse to call her St Ivanova because what part of “Jewish” are we forgetting, thanks for the erasure).
#another on the endless list of shows I want to get around to watching
YES. Yes, you do. It has its problems, it’s the first show to do all its SFX by computer (Amigas with Video Toaster cards) and sometimes it looks it, and it starts slow but god damn once it gets going it is fucking amazing and awesome.
Also, Ivonava and Talia’s relationship is canon and confirmed and intent, and the only reason it stopped when it did is because Talia’s actress wanted to leave the show to do other things nobody cares about.