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This post contains spoilers for all of Babylon 5
As Susan Ivanova reflected in Sleeping in Light:
Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future, and it changed us. It taught us that we have to create the future, or others will do it for us. It showed us that we have to care for one another, because if we don't, who will? And that true strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely places. Mostly though, I think it gave us hope that there can always be new beginnings, even for people like us.
Against all odds, the story of Michael Garibaldi is one of hope and the possibility of happy endings. Although he may be most easily recognized for his role as Chief of Security, his friendship with Jeffrey Sinclair, or his great sense of humor (fasten-zip, peekaboo, etc), in fact his biggest lesson is to never give up trying for a better tomorrow. As we celebrate Babylon 5's 30th anniversary, let's explore what makes Mr. Garibaldi such a compelling character.
In Season 1, as he shockingly uncovers a plot in progress to assassinate the president of the Earth Alliance, he finds himself betrayed by his second-in-command and shot in the back. This betrayal of trust hurts Garibaldi above and beyond the physical impact of his injuries (which are very severe). Not only could he have possibly stopped President Santiago's assassination had he not been betrayed, but the situation made him question his position as Chief of Security on Babylon 5, though he does eventually return to the job. This lays the foundation for trust and betrayal as themes throughout the next several years of his life.
The value Garibaldi places on the relationships he forms with his team is no better showcased than in Point of No Return when President Clark declares martial law and Nightwatch takes over Security on the station. First, he feels personally betrayed by Zack Allan, who Michael had given a second chance when no one else would. Moreover, he walked around to each person in the room, as they all towed the Nightwatch line, and reminded each of them of what he had done for them and for each other and how that must have meant something. Sadly, almost none of them stuck by him and he found himself relieved of duty until Zack later came to his senses and G'Kar provided a group of Narn security forces to go up against Nightwatch. Once again, he put trust in those around him and found himself betrayed.
Not only did he endure physical risks, but Garibaldi also was the victim of a subtle but elaborate mental reprogramming by Alfred Bester in order to expose a plot against telepaths. Not only did this result in him walking away from his job and all his friends, but he was even forced to trick John Sheridan into coming to rescue his father so he could personally deliver him into the hands of President Clark's forces. Having seen time and again how important loyalty and trust are to Michael, consider how this betrayal he committed must have hurt him. Shortly thereafter, Bester releases him from this mental prison, but in some ways it is too late.
The only silver lining to this series of events is it brought him back together with Lise Hampton, his ex, and he professes his love for her (even though she's married to his new boss).
Garibaldi returns to Babylon 5 and takes the position as head of Covert Intelligence for the new Interstellar Alliance. However, this fresh start doesn't last for long. Michael later learns that Bester left some programming behind, preventing him from attempting to harm Bester. This inability to stop the man who caused him to betray everyone he cared about drives him over the edge, and he begins to drink again. This ultimately leads to losing his position and leaves his life in shambles, but he agrees to go back with Lise to Mars and try to get better.
The Happy Ending
Despite Garibaldi's many obstacles and grim outlook, he ultimately gets a happy ending. He helps Lise to kick out the bad actors in Edgars Industries, she helps him get sober, and they get married and have a beautiful daughter. Moreover, Lyta eventually helps him remove the mental blocks preventing him from going after Bester. He finally corners him but rather than stoop to Bester's level and kill him, he turns him in to the authorities. Despite his betrayal, he still remains close with Sheridan and attends his farewell party before he goes beyond the rim. A man who had so much stacked against him ends up happy, wealthy (in all senses of the word), and fulfilled.