As I said last time, Season two ended with the defeat of the Narns and the coming of the Shadows. It also ended with the Babylon project being declared a failure. But as Susan Ivanova put it so eloquently at the very end of the season finale, “The Babylon project was our last, best hope for peace. It failed. But in the year of the Shadow War, it became something greater. Our last best hope… for victory.” This forecast B5’s true purpose, the one no one really suspected. I guess sometimes peace is overrated, or as Ivanova put it, “sometimes peace is just another word for surrender.”
Yeah, season one ended with “Nothing’s the same anymore,” but henceforth, every season would end with a speech, and a kickass one at that!
Season three opens with some interesting revelations. An Earth intelligence operative shows up trying to collect info on the mystery ship (the Shadow vessel Zack Allen encountered). After getting only tidbits from everyone, except G’Kar who tells him what he’s seen, the agent goes away with virtually nothing. Delenn professes ignorance, but tells Sheridan that this is what a Shadow vessel looks like, that this is “the face of their enemy”. Upon returning home, we learn that Morden is working with Earth Alliance people, including the president’s office and the Psi Corps.
They are pleased that no one seems to know anything about the Shadows yet, and that the Narns have been neutralized in part because of what G’Kar had learned about them. We also see that Clark’s people are keen on using the feeling of a “threat to planetary security” that news of this ship has stirred up to speed up their own plans. In essence, we learn that the Shadows were not just behind the Narn-Centauri War, but the assassination of President Clark as well and the Psi Corps plans for world domination.
At the same time, we get to meet Marcus for the first time, a Ranger who is seeking the help of B5 to evacuate a training post on the border of Centauri space. It seems that the Shadows have become aware of it and are moving in. In order to save them, Sheridan is take to a prototype ship, the White Star, a joint Mimbari-Vorlon creation. Faster and more powerful than anything they’ve ever made, ships of its kind are planned to be the workhorse of the coming war. Sheridan and crew arrive at the planet to find a Shadow vessel closing in, and narrowly manage to destroy it by outsmarting it.
Londo also decides to terminate his relationship with Morden, fearing how powerful his “associates” are and suspecting that they might turn on them eventually. However, Morden establishes closer ties with Refa, keeping his position with the Centauri royal court open so that they might continue their wars. Eventually, Londo administers one part of a two part poison to Refa and tells him to end his relationship with Morden and pull their forces back from all their skirmishes to bolster their defenses. Refa agrees, but now sees Londo as an enemy. Lyta also returns to B5, now as the permanent attache to Kosh. As usual, she seems to be in possession of several secrets, but will not reveal them… yet.
Similarly, G’Kar has begun a resistance against the Centauri occupation and is running weapons and supplies to his people back home. However, when attempting to procure Dust (a drug that temporarily gives the user telepathic abilities), G’Kar experiences something that changes him. While “high”, he breaks into Londo’s quarters, assaults Londo, and begins invading his mind. He learns that Londo was responsible for enlisting the help of the Shadows, and while probing deeper, he experiences a revelation. G’Quon appears to him and tells him that his people are dying because of their obsession with the destruction of the Centauri. He must find a better way to help his people. G’Kar awakes and cries, and we see that Kosh was watching him and was the one who sent him the vision. Eerie…
G’Kar is placed in custody, but is pleased for the opportunity to have some time alone and reflect on everything he sees. He begins writing down everything that’s happened to him: the war, the mistakes, and his revelation. He decides that the coming darkness, and how he must pledge his and his people’s help to stop it. When he gets out, he pledges the help of all the Narns aboard the station, and asks that he allowed into Sheridan’s alliance. Sheridan tells Delenn, and they realize it will be hard. They are happy for the help, but it will mean telling G’Kar that they knew he was right about the Shadows, but chose to stand by and let his world be overrun in order to keep their own plans hidden.
In between this all, the station personnel are made aware that things are changing back home. The Ministry of Peace, a strange organization committed to keep an eye on “public morale” has been creating and is enlisting the help of B5’s security. Their purpose appears to be none other than detecting and persecuting people who’s loyalty might be questionable, and Sheridan even receives a political officer for a time. However, she is pulled back home when a startling revelation is made!
In the last season, Draal invited Sheridan to the surface of Omicron 7 to tell him that he wanted to help their alliance and that the great machine was at his disposal. Now, he invites Sheridan to use the machine to help him find some of the remaining First Ones so that they might ask for their help as well. However, Sheridan is being watched by the political officer and sends Ivanova. In the course of finding some leads, she also is detected by the Shadows and is forced to flee. However, right before she disconnects from the machine, she sees something else. Earth Force One, right before it blew up, and a transmission where Clark is clearly speaking to Morden and openly talking about the assassination. They record this and send it home. The finally have the proof they’ve been looking for!
Then, Garibaldi gets a visitor, a woman who was working for Interplanetary Expeditions (IPX) who he knows from way back when. Turns out she’s discovered that the Earth government has found Shadow vessels buried on Mars and Ganymede. Years back, she witnessed them trying to revive the one on Mars, unsuccessfully. However, they are going to try again with this new one. Sheridan prepares the White Star and heads for Ganymede. Once again, they get into a fight with a Shadow vessel and are forced to outsmart it. They do this by luring it deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere and then flying out with all haste. The Shadow vessel, however, gets pulled in by the terrible gravitational forces and is destroyed. Sheridan and crew narrowly escape as the Agamemnon, Sheridan’s old ship, detects the disturbance and tries to capture them.
Between this latest incident and the revelations against him, Clark declares martial law, citing treason and a threat to planetary security as his reasons. General Hague tells Sheridan they are rallying their forces for a counter-strike, but things move too quickly. Clark’s people begin arresting anyone who appears to be resisting and even begins ordering the bombing of colonies that aren’t complying with the order. Sheridan and his staff decide to declare their secession, making B5 an independent port. But in order to do this, they have to get rid of the Night’s Watch, which has effectively take over their security forces.
They do this by leading them into a trap and then sealing them in the cargo bay. G’Kar then arrives with his Narns, who have taken over security, and the Night Watch are all disarmed and relieved. However, this move now means Clark will send the fleet to take over and institute martial law on the station. Sheridan and his crew are now forced to decide between laying down or fighting; they chose to fight! As the fleet nears, Hague’s co-conspirators in the fleet show up and declare that they will stand with B5. Hague himself is dead, but between their two ships and B5’s defenses, they have enough to make a stand. A big firefight ensues!
Delenn, meanwhile, attempts to get help from her government. She knows how important B5 is to the coming war effort, but her government does not want to listen. After undergoing her transformation, she was disavowed by the Grey Council and replaced by Neroon, a hard-core member of the warrior caste. The warriors now have control over the Council, are not convinced the Shadows are coming, and are not willing to commit forces to B5’s defense. Delenn responds by urging the Religious Caste and the Worker Caste to break the Council and join her. This effectively ends the Mimbari government, but it gets her the help she needs.
In the midst of the firefight between Earth forces and B5, when it seems all hope is lost, Delenn and several Mimbari cruisers show up. Delenn tells them “Only one man has survived battle with ou r forces. He is behind me, you are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else!” Naturally, they listen! B5 is safe, for now, and now an independent station. Sheridan is applauded when he steps into the public market, and all of Night Watch’s posters torn down! Yaaaaaay!
In time, another interesting visitor comes calling yet again. It’s Bester (played by Walter Koenig, aka. Chekov), the psi cop who always seems to show up wherever and whenever there’s trouble. The last two times, it had to do with the “underground railroad” and the Dust smuggling operation, this time it has to do with the Shadows. He claims that he knows they’ve infiltrated the Psi Corps, and that they are the ones pulling the strings back home. In exchange for their help, Bester promises to help them out. Turns out, he knows of a shipment that is heading for Shadow territory containing “weapons”, but when they board the ship, they find telepaths who have some kind of implants in their heads.
In short, they learn that telapaths ARE the key component to a Shadow vessel. The implants they carry allow them to interface with a Shadow vessel, keep them under the Shadow’s control, and make them very dangerous! Bester also learns that a woman he loves in amongst the people in the shipment. In addition to everything else, he asks that Sheridan and his people help her as best they can. Franklin begins studying the implants, but as yet, can find no way to remove them without killing the subject.
But most importantly of all, they learn from all this that a telepaths is capable of stopping a Shadow vessel by blocking the telepath that controls it. It is little wonder then why the Shadows are using the Psi Corps and wiped out the Narn’s own telepath’s the last time they were on the move. They good guys have a weapon! However, this realization comes just before they learn that the Shadows are now moving openly, attacking worlds all over known space. Having sown the seeds of chaos, they’ve decided to come out of hiding and begin mounting their invasion. Things very quickly become crazy!
Sheridan tries to mobilize the member races of Babylon 5, but no one who hasn’t been attacked wants to act. Most of the races have been fighting each other, don’t trust each other, or are too afraid to get involved. Sheridan is told that if he can show that he has can match the Shadows firepower, they might be willing to join. He asks Kosh for help, since the Vorlons are almost as old as the Shadows and haven’t done anything in response yet. However, Kosh does not seem to want to get involved. He says that it is not his peoples time, and that Sheridan must do this without their help for now. Sheridan is incensed, and demands that Kosh and his people put their money where their mouths are. He can’t understand why Kosh would bring him into this alliance and then leave him to flail helplessly.
Kosh eventually agrees, but tells him he will not be there for him when Sheridan goes to Z’Hadum. Sheridan seems to think this is some kind of punishment; Kosh tells him he doesn’t understand, but soon will. After ordering his people to attack the Shadows, a battle which goes their way and inspires the younger races to join Sheridan’s alliance, Kosh is confronted by Morden and killed by his Shadow escort. Sheridan sees this in a nightmare, where he is being spoken to by the image of his father who tells him not to regret anything, and that he’s sorry he didn’t get involved sooner, but was afraid to because he knew of the consequences. Sheridan awakes and realizes Kosh is dead, and what he meant. He has his alliance, but has lost a friend…
Getting back to Morden, he initially came aboard the station to confront Londo. He told Londo that if his people did not cooperate with their plans, they might turn their eyes to Centauri Prime. Londo ignores the threat and tells him there’s nothing he can do to him “that hasn’t already been done”. However, Morden finds his achilles heel and poisons Londo’s mistress (Lady Adira from the first season), who was on her way to B5 to see him. Londo immediately suspects Refa’s hand in this, seeing as how he poisoned Refa. Sad and indifferent, Londo reenlists Morden’s help and asks for his help in getting revenge. In turn, he will help Morden and his associates any way he can.
The season begins to wrap up with some curious reappearances. On the surface of Omicron 7, Draal begins to use the great machine to open a time-space rift in the neighboring sector. This coincides with Sinclair’s arrival on the station, having been summoned by a mysterious letter sent from the past. Seems he and Delenn have both recieved these letters, both of which were written over nine-hundred years ago, the Mimbari’s greatest prophet. Naturally, they are surprised, and meet up on B5 with Sheridan to discuss what’s going on. It’s at this point that Delenn begins to tell Sheridan more about the last Shadow War, and how it was won.
To break it down, a thousand years ago, the Shadows invaded, as they are doing again. The Mimbari, Vorlons and other member races were preparing for big offensive that they hoped would break their advance. However, these plans were delayed when the statio which was the rallying point for the offensive was attacked and destroyed. All seemed lost, until a new station appeared, with a prophet named Valen aboard it. He was the one who delivered this station, led the Mimbari to victory, and created their Grey Council. He was also the one who told them what the future held, that another Shadow War was coming, and the Mimbari would need to come together with another race to fight it (aka. the humans).
Delenn shows them a recording of all this, and Sheridan is shocked! The mysterious station, as it turns out, was Babylon 4! In essence, the station that disappeared without a trace years back, and which appeared briefly in season one, was being taken back in time to serve in the last Shadow War! What’s more, they see from the recording that shorty before it was taken back in time, the Shadow’s showed up and tried to destroy it, having realized its importance. But before they could, another ship showed up out of nowhere and saved it. That ship – drumroll! – was the White Star! Naturally, Sheridan is mind-blown, as is Sinclair. Basically, they now understand that history as they know it has been subject to a temporal paradox, and they have a direct hand in it.
Gathering a crew together, which includes Zathros (who appeared in the first season aboard B4) they take all the kit they need to pull of this temporal job and fly into the big time-space anomaly opened by Draal. This takes them back, they encounter the Shadow attack party, take it out, and land aboard the station to begin preparing to take it back in time. However, in the fight, Sheridan’s time-space device (which they all wear to keep them rooted in their own time) is damaged, and he becomes “unstuck in time”, as Zathros puts it. The rest carry on without him, since time is of the essence.
While they prepare the station, Sheridan gets a glimpse of the future. He is in the Centauri palace, Londo is emperor, and he is being sentenced to death. He quickly learns that it is seventeen years since he first came to Babylon 5, that they won the war, but that Centauri Prime was devastated in the process. Delenn is there too, tells him that their son is safe, and that everything they’ve done came with a terrible price. Londo releases them soon after, and shows them that he is being manipulated by a Shadow implant, but that he’s managed to knock it out by getting plastered drunk. He sends them on their way, ask G’Kar to come in, and asks him to kill him. However, the implant wakens as G’Kar puts his hands around Londo’s throat, he begins to fight back, and they end up killing each other. Vir then enters, and picks up the Emperor’s sigil. Thus we see the prophecy Londo and Vir were given coming true, how they would both be Emperor someday, but only after the other one died.
Before Sheridan becomes unstuck again, which returns him to B4 in time for Zathros to give him his time-space device now that its fixed. But before he does, Delenn tells him “do not go to Z’Hadum”. Now back, he realizes that they are reliving what Sinclair and Garibaldi witnessed a few years back. Zathros has been captured, and is being questioned by B4’s personnel and Sinclair (circa. three years ago). In keeping with what happened, the station is abandoned, Sheridan and crew finish rigging it, and prepare to leave themselves. Zathros also reveals to them that Sinclair, Sheridan and Delenn are all “The One”, explaining the statement he made to Sinclair years back. In keeping with the Mimbari tradition of all things in three, Sinclair is the one who was, Delenn is the one that is, and Sheridan is the one that will be.
However, the current Sinclair also tells them that someone must stay behind to guide it into the past. They don’t want him to do this, but oblige him when he tells him that HE sent the letters form the past, that it is his destiny to go back. They leave him with Zathros, narrowly making it away before the station is pulled back in time and the time-space rift closes. The crew then realize another startling truth, putting it all together. As Delenn explains to them, if the Mimbari had received the station with a human on board, they would not have accepted it. Marcus then realizes what was meant when Valen was described as “a Mimbari not borne of Mimbari”. Aboard the station, we see Sinclair using the same chrysalis that Delenn used to become half-human, and himself becomes half-Mimbari. We then see him in the distant past, meeting with the Mimbari and declaring that HE is Valen!
Whoa… Now we understand why Sinclair was thought to have Valen’s “soul” and why they believed humans carried other Mimbari souls. Turns out, the device he gave the Grey Council was tuned to sense his DNA, and the Mimbari and humanity have been connected ever since. So really, the bit about souls being shared was true, after a fashion. We also learn that Delenn’s transformation was seen as necessary in order to return the favor, combining her physiology with humanity’s in return for Sinclair taking on Mimbari form.
With the past fulfilled, they get to work ensuring the future. It begins with Delenn showing Sheridan to the White Star fleet, a force of over a thousand ships that are based on the original White Star which are now at their disposal! She tells him that at last, they have a “fighting chance”, and the two come together and kiss. The budding romance between them is now in full blossom!
Then, back on B5, they prepare their new alliance to fight the Shadows. It takes time coming up with a plan, since the Shadow’s attacks seems totally random. However, they soon realize that their goal is to create chaos and panic by striking as many systems as possible along the rim, thus driving as many refugees as possible into one sector in the interior where they will then attack to obliterate them all. Sheridan rallies their forces to meet at this sector, and a major battle ensues. The alliance forces suffer serious losses, but the Shadows are beaten and forced to withdraw for the first time ever.
With this victory, however, comes worry… Now that the Shadows know they are onto them and are able to stand up to them, how long before they come knocking on B5’s door?
Also, I should mentioned that Franklin begins struggling with an addiction to stims (stimulants) and quits his job when it becomes clear he is an addict and has problems. After going on walkabout for a while, he is knifed in the stomach and experiences a revelation of his own. His problem, it turns out, is that he keeps running from his problems. His “other self” then tells him to get off his bleeding ass, get back to his job and his friends, and fight for what matters! He does, and barely makes it to help before passing out from blood loss. After a few days recouping, he wakes up and sees Garibaldi and Sheridan, and tells them he’s happy to be back and alive and will do it all better from now on. Coincidentally, he’s back just in time to help as casualties come pouring in from the battle…
As it turns out, they do, but as not as anyone would have suspected. In the middle of the night, Sheridan and Delenn are greeted by a visitor. Anna Sheridan, John’s wife, shows up! She’s alive, it seems, has been living on Z’Hadum for years, and wants John to come with her. The invite is peaceful, she says. The Shadows simply want a chance to tell John their side of the story. He has Franklin examine her to determine she’s real, which she apparently is, and confronts Delenn. Basically, he feels like he was lied to, seeing as how Delenn assured him she was dead, but apparently knew that there was a slight chance she might have been alive. He decides to accept the invite, and leaves with Anna aboard the White Star. However, he is also made aware before he leaves that Anna bears the same marks as those telepaths they captured, the ones who had the implants placed in their heads. He also has a vision where Kosh reminds him that if goes, he will die…
When he arrives, John is met by Morden and a man named Justin, a human who appears to be the Shadows main human laison. Here, Sheridan learns the truth, the whole truth. As it turns out, the Vorlons have been keeping some things from John, Delenn and everyone else. Long ago, they say, the Vorlons and Shadows were allies, ambassadors to the younger races who worked together to shepherd them. However, ideological differences soon led to a split. The Vorlons believed that order and stability were the keys to growth, the Shadows that evolution came through chaos. In time, they began to fight each other, and enlisted the help of other races to fight. They want John’s help because apparently, those that survive the wars are rebuilt, bigger and stronger. Humanity has been selected as one such race, the Shadows having seen great potential in them.
At the same time, Shadow ships appear around the station, waiting and preparing for an attack. It seems that if John says no, they will destroy the place. In addition, Delenn gets a message from John in which he explains his true reasons for going. He tells her of what he saw of the future when they were going aboard Babylon 4, how she told him not to go to Z’Hadum and how they’d won, but Centauri Prime was destroyed. He says that he believed that he suspected he might have listened to her, hence why the Centauri were destroyed, and that he could still prevent that future by going. And of course, that they have all learned that they are mere players in this prophecy, and they must do what’s they are required to, even though he knows its a trap.
*Personally, I would have thought a better explanation would be that by telling him NOT to go, he knew that he must have. Since time is circular in this series and all things in the past and future are connected, he would therefore reason that he had to go because it had already been foretold.
But I digress… back on Z’Hadum, Sheridan reveals that he knows what they did to his wife, that they must have put her in one of the Shadow ships and that she was changed. The woman they sent to convince him is no longer his wife, and he imagines they will do the same thing to him if he doesn’t cooperate. Realizing he won’t cooperate, a Shadow walks in and Sheridan begins shooting his way out. Cornered on the edge of a balcony which overlooks a massive underground city, Sheridan orders the White Star to crash into the city and detonate its cargo. Turns out, he also smuggles some nukes aboard, knowing he might need them. Before it crashes, Sheridan hears Kosh’s voice telling him to jump into a massive chasm below. He does, the nukes go off, the city and Anna Sheridan (what’s left of her) are destroyed, and the Shadow vessels withdraw from the station.
Everyone on board quickly realizes that something terrible must have happened, as the Shadows would not have left unless they thought the station were no longer a threat. But that couldn’t be unless… Oh dear! Delenn, Ivanova, and pretty much everyone else is heartbroken, and to make matters worse, Garibaldi’s fighter is also reported missing. Seems the Shadows picked him up before they left, but as far as anyone can tell, he simply disappeared…
The season ends with G’Kar narrating a part from the Book of G’Quan in which the author speaks of tragedy, revelation and transitions, and how all new ages are borne of pain. Heavy stuff… and a very poignant note to end a season on!