After going over B5’s five seasons, the best lines from the series, and just about everything in between, I found myself thinking about what the best episodes in the series were. To be fair, there were quite a few, and I couldn’t possibly fit them all into a single posting. So I figure I’ll list my favorite episodes season for season, over the next few days, breaking of course to respect the holidays! No work on Christmas!
So enjoy the following personal selections of the best episodes of B5, at least the ones I thought were the best. And Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to all! Enjoy the time off, see the family, get some good swag! And if there’s time, try to get out and enjoy the weather! It doesn’t snow much here, but I plan to get to some slopes soon and take in as much as I can.
And so it begins… Here are the best episodes, at least in my humble opinion, from the first season of Babylon 5:
A mysterious alien craft drifts to B5, its lone crewman brought to medbay. When Delenn sees him, she panics and tries to kill him. Apparently, the alien is a Soul Hunter, a race of people who believe the soul dies with the body. They are thusly dedicated to preserving the soul of the individual by artificial means. In the course of the episode, it is revealed that this particular hunter was there when Dukhat died, and missed his opportunity to harvest his soul. Now he is driven, to the point of killing people, so that he won’t miss another. The Soul Hunter tries to kill Delenn and capture her soul, and Sinclair risks his life to save hers. Another Soul Hunter comes to the station to claim the first hunters soul, and reflects with Sinclair on how it is their lot to be feared.
In the course of harvesting Delenn’s soul, the Soul Hunter sees into her mind and learns what she and the Grey Council intend for Sinclair. When he and Sinclair get into a fight, he reveals it to him by saying: “She is Satai! They are using you! They’re USING YOU!” Sinclair learns that Satai refers to a member of the Grey Council, that Delenn is one such person. He is further intrigued when a semi-conscious Delenn looks up at him and says “I knew you would come. We were right about you…”
Franklin: It’s all so brief, isn’t it? Typical human lifespan is almost a hundred years, but it’s barely a second compared to what’s out there. It wouldn’t be so bad if life didn’t take so long to figure out. Seems you just start to get it right and then…it’s over.
Ivanova: Doesn’t matter. If we lived 200 years we’d still be human, we’d still make the same mistakes.
Franklin: You’re a pessimist.
Ivanova: I’m Russian, doctor. We understand these things.
The Parliament of Dreams:
It is a week of religious and cultural festivals on the station, each member race holding a ceremony that celebrates the dominant faith on their world. For the Centauri, this involves a lavish ceremony that commemorates the war between the Centauri and the Xon, two sentient races that once inhabited their homeworld. For the Centauri, it involves prayers and a rebirth ceremony. G’Kar’s own involvement is tempered however by news from home from an old rival that he is dying, and that he has paid an assassin to kill G’Kar as well. Meanwhile, Sinclair meets his old girlfriend, Catherine, and they rekindle their old romance.
This episode introduces a number of important characters and plot elements that will come up again later. For one, the Mimbari rebirth ceremony will figure prominently in season three when B5 breaks away from Earth. Lennier and Na’Toth, the aides to Delenn and G’Kar, are also introduced for the first time.
Without a doubt, Londo stole the show this time around. The best lines are almost totally his. However, G’Kar got some good ones in as well.
Narn Courier: Are you Ambassador G’Kar?
G’Kar: This is Ambassador G’Kar’s quarters. This is Ambassador G’Kar’s table! This is Ambassador G’Kar’s dinner! Which part of this progression escapes you?!
Londo: Do you know what the last Xon said just before he died? [clutches chest] AAAAGGGHHHH!
G’Kar: The Earthers have a phrase: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. I believe they stole it from us.
Londo: (to Delenn) Have I ever told you that you are very cute for a Minbari? (to Garibaldi) Oh! And you are cute, too, in an annoying sort of way. Everybody’s cute. Everybody’s cute! Even me. But in purple, I’m stunning! (Passes out.)
Vir Cotto: Ah! He has become one with his inner self!
Garibaldi: He’s passed out.
Vir: That too.
An old flame of Talia Winters, Jason Ironheart, arrives on the station. It seems that after some rather interesting experiments, he has changed drastically, his psionic powers having been greatly enhanced. The Psi Corps are naturally after him, and a confrontation ensues on the station during which time Ironheart undergoes a transformation and becomes a being of pure energy. At the same time, Sinclair’s girlfried Sakai undertakes a mission to Sigma 957 for Interplanetary Expeditions to investigate mysterious sightings. After ignoring G’Kars warnings that the planet is not safe, she has a near-brush with death when a massive First Ones ship appears. She is narrowly rescued by forces dispatched by G’Kar, and is given some cryptic words by him as to what she encountered upon her return.
This episode introduces a good deal about the Psi Corps and its hidden agenda. We also learn for the first time that there are beings in the B5 universe that are billions of years old and are still out there. The First Ones play a major role in later episodes when the Shadow War begins, particularly the ones from Sigma 957.
G’Kar: Let me pass on to you the one thing I’ve learned about this place. No one here is exactly what he appears.
Talia: Do you know what it’s like when telepaths make love, Commander? You drop every defense, and it’s all mirrors: reflecting each other’s feelings deeper and deeper… until, somewhere along the line, your souls mix. And it’s a feeling so profound it makes you hurt. It’s the only moment in a telepath’s life when you no longer hear the voices.
G’Kar: (referring to an ant on a flower) I have just picked it up on the tip of my glove. If I put it down again and it asks another ant, “What was that?” …how would it explain? There are things in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. They are vast, timeless. And if they are aware of us at all, it is as little more than ants…and we have as much chance of communicating with them as an ant has with us. We know. We’ve tried. And we’ve learned we can either stay out from underfoot, or be stepped on.
And the Sky Full of Stars:
Two mysterious agents come to Babylon 5, named only “Knight One” and “Knight Two”, who are seeking Jeffrey Sinclair. After capturing him, they place him into a state of deep hypnosis and begin questioning him about the Battle of the Line and the missing 24 hours in his head. The battle is described as a massacre, how the entire force defending Earth was being decimated, but how in the midst of it all, the Mimbari surrendered for reasons unknown. The “Knights” suspect that it had something to do with Sinclair and how he was brought aboard a Mimbari cruiser since it coincided with the Mimbari’s declaration of surrender.
After being heavily dosed with drugs and asked what happened, Sinclair begins to remember what happened. He recalls how he was brought aboard the Mimbari Cruiser after being shot down, how they examined him with a mysterious device that glowed in his presence, and that he saw Delenn there. Garibaldi attempts a rescue, but Sinclair manages to escape on his own and wanders the station in a semi-conscious state. After nearly killing several personnel, who he sees as Mimbari, Delenn confronts him and convinces him to put his gun down. Sinclair wakes up in medlab sometime later, healthy and restored, and tells Delenn he remembers nothing (which is a lie). He decides to redouble his efforts to find out what really happened when he was aboard the Mimbari cruiser, and Delenn is given orders to kill him if he does remember something.
This episode is the first time that Sinclair begins to truly realize what happened to him at the Line. It is clear that from this point onward, Sinclair will risk everything to discover the truth, and that Delenn will be forced to either kill him or reveal everything. It is also shown that there is a secret conspiracy on Earth to eliminate all alien influence that goes beyond the Home Guard, who were revealed in a previous episode.
Sinclair: Everyone lies, Michael. The innocent lie because they don’t want to be blamed for something they didn’t do, and the guilty lie because they don’t have any other choice.
Signs and Portents
Raider activity is increasing in the sector, and Sinclair and his forces are on the watchout for their ringleader. Meanwhile, some new visitors come to Babylon 5. The first is a Centauri Lord named Kiro and his mother – Lady Ladira, a Centauri prophetess – who sees the station’s destruction in a vision. His is apparently on B5 to delivering The Eye, a royal Centauri artifact, to Londo, who is then to return it to the royal court on Centauri Prime. In the midst of this, he admits to Londo that he longs for the old days when their people were still the dominant power in the region. Londo shares the same feelings, but feels helpless to do anything about it.
At the same time, a stranger named Mr. Morden comes to the station and is meeting with every ambassador and asking them one simple question “What do you want?” Delenn dismisses him without explanation after seeing a dark shadow cast over him, G’Kar tells him he wants revenge on the Centauri, and Londo says he wants a return to the old days when his people controlled the stars. Only Londo’s answer appears to satisfy him and he prepares to leave, but not before a Raider party mounts an attack on the station. Kiro is kidnapped, the Raiders are dispatched, and Morden is confronted by Kosh and told to leave. Aboard the Raider ship, it is revealed that Kiro hired the Raiders to steal the Eye and stage his kidnapping so he would have the Eye for himself. They are about to betray him when a Shadow vessel appears and blows the ship up.
Back at the station, the Eye is returned to Londo and his reputation saved. He is overjoyed and told by Morden they will come to find him again soon. Meanwhile, Ladira, who predicted her son would be killed by “shadows” shows Sinclair her vision of the station’s destruction. She leaves, and things carry on.
This episode introduces Morden and gives viewers their girst glimpse of the Shadows. We also get the first hints that the Shadows will be helping Londo and his feeding his ambitions for power. In exchange for what, we don’t know, but it seems clear that the Shadows intentions are not benign.
Lord Kiro: She’s been wrong before. On my first birthday, she said that someday I would be killed by… shadows.
Morden: What do you want?
Londo: To be left alone!
Morden: Is that it? Is that really all, Ambassador?
Londo: All right. Fine! You really want to know what I want? You really want to know the truth? I want my people to reclaim their rightful place in the galaxy. I want to see the Centauri stretch forth their hand again, and command the stars! I-I want a rebirth of glory, a renaissance of power. I want to stop running through my life like a man late for an appointment, afraid to– to look back, or to look forward. I want us to be what we used to BE! I want… I want it all back, the way that it was! Does that answer your question?
Morden: Yes. Yes, it does.
A Voice in the Wilderness (Parts I and II)
Draal, an old mentor of Delenn’s, arrives on the station to see her. Her confides in her that the Grey Council is not what it used to be, and that the Council seems uninterested in the suffering or concerns of others. Meanwhile, a riot on Mars puts everyone on the station on high alert, especially Sinclair and Garibaldi who have strong ties there. Garibaldi enlists the help of Talia Winters in order to get a signal to Mars so he can speak to his ex-wife who was wounded in the riots. She is remarried, and Garibaldi is heart-broken to learn this.
But the big news comes from the planet them, Epsilon III. Draal, Londo, Delenn, and Sinclair are all contacted by a vision of a strange alien who appears before them and warns them of impending destruction. After a few attempts to land on the planet, Sinclair, Londo, Draal and Delenn find that only they are able to approach the planet safely. When they arrive, they find a subterranean facility filled with super-advanced machinery. At the core of it is the alien they saw in their visions, and he appears to be dying. After bringing him back to medlab, he further warns them of their destruction.
At the same time, an Earth Alliance Cruiser shows up with orders to assume control of the surface. Sinclair refuses to give it, and says that control over the sector belongs to B5’s commander (aka. him!). Another ship arrives shortly thereafter, one that appears to be run by members of the same species as the alien that was running the great machine. He tells Sinclair that these people are a faction that split from their world a long time ago and are very dangerous. B5 and a Earth Force Cruiser are told to stand aside by the hostile aliens so that they may land and assume control over the planet, but Sinclair and the ship’s Captain decide to fight it out.
Ultimately, Draal decides to merge with the machine and destroys the alien vessel. He then warns all parties aboard the station that the great machine will remain a secret until the time is right, and no one will be allowed access.
This episode introduces the great machine on Omicron 7 and previews the important role it will play in the coming seasons. We also get to see Lise Hampton, Garibaldi’s ex-wife, who will play a significant role in later episodes. The Mars revolution is also shown to be well underway, which will figure prominently when Clark takes control of Earth and Sheridan and his forces fight to overthrow him. Finally, we are told that Londo, Draal, Delenn and Sinclair all share a common characteristic: the capacity for self-sacrifice, thus previewing what will come of them as the show goes on.
Londo: The next day, I woke up, I saw her in the light of day, sleeping against my arm, and I decided I would rather chew off my arm than wake her up.
Garibaldi: Aw, that’s sweet.
Londo: No, no! She had a voice that could curdle fresh milk.
Ivanova: Worst case of testosterone poisoning I’ve ever seen!
Londo: Here, 6000 years of recorded history, a history that includes remarkable composers, astonishing symphonies, but what is the one song that half of them sing to their children generation after generation? (Sings the hokey-pokey) It doesn’t mean anything. I have been studying it for seven days, I had the computer analyse it. I swear to you it does not mean a thing!
Draal: I am sending this message to all free parties involved in the struggle for control of this planet. It belongs to none of you. It belongs only to itself and to the future… If enlightened self-interest should prove insufficient for the cause, understand this! The defensive systems on this world are now fully operational. Do not attempt to come here again. Any approach will be met with resistance, any ship attempting to land will be destroyed. When the time is right we will be here, waiting for you, but not until then. Goodbye…
The episode opens with Sinclair ordering their Starfury squadrons to investigate a neighboring sector after they detect some unusual tachyon readings coming from the area. Further investigation reveals that a station has appeared in the area, the elusive Babylon 4 which disappeared years ago without a trace! Sinclair and Garibaldi mount a rescue mission to evacuate all the personnel.
Meanwhile, Delenn returns to Mimbar to speak to the Grey Council. Apparently, she has been selected to be the next leader after Dukhat, but indicates that she cannot take up the role because her mission to B5 takes precedence, mainly because of the prophecy that involves her and the station. By the end, she is given the Council’s leave to return to B5 and resume her mission, and also is entrusted with a device known as a “Triluminary”.
After landing on the station, Garibaldi and Sinclair meet the commander who tells them that the station is “unstuck in time”. One minute, it was about to go online in the past, the next, it found itself several years in the future. While on board, Sinclair begins having visions, apparently from the future when B5 is attacked and destroyed. They also find a strange alien on board named Zathras who explains to them that the station is needed for a war in another time. He also reacts strangely when he sees Sinclair, who he temporarily mistakes for “The One”.
Eventually, the station becomes unstuck again and everyone is forced to evacuate. Zathras asks to be left behind because he belongs there, and tells Sinclair he must go because he “has a destiny”. Zathras awakens in some distant time and sees “The One” standing above him, but when they remove their helmet, it is revealed to be Sinclair, but much older.
This episode explains the mystery of Babylon 4 for the first time, how it disappeared without a trace just after completion, and how a war in some other time was involved. Sinclair’s involvement is also established, as it is an older version of himself that is “The One”. On top of that, we are given some subtle hints that B5 will be attacked in the not-too-distant future, adding to Lady Ladira said about B5’s destruction. The Triluminary, which will make an appearance in the final episode of the season, is also shown. Finally, Zathras is introduced, as is the temporal plot that involves him and will be completed in season three.
Zathras: Zathras not of this time. You take, Zathras die. You leave, Zathras die. Either way, it is bad for Zathras.
Zathras: Great war. Terrible war. Much killings. Everyone fighting. A great darkness. It is the end of everything. Zathras warn, but no, no one listen to poor Zathras, no. Great war. But, great hope of peace. Need place. Place to gather, to fight to organise…to help save galaxy on the side of light. So they tell me. Must have. Or it is the end of all. The One leads us. The One tells us to go, we go. We live for The One. We would die for The One. We pull this place through time to save us all.
Sinclair: Fasten, then zip. You?
Garibaldi: Fasten zip. (Sinclair chuckles.)
Sinclair: How much longer?
Garibaldi: One hour, fifty seven minutes. (pause) Want to talk socks?
A border dispute between the Narn and Centauri over quadrant 37 and Sinclair and the station are brought in to mediate. Morden, the mysterious character from “Signs and Portents” returns and offers Londo his help. Shortly thereafter, Shadow vessels appear in Quadrant 37 and completely destroy the Narn forces, station and colony. When G’Kar learns of the attack, he becomes afraid, as he knows that none of the known races could have done it, which can only mean someone else is out there… Londo is also afraid given the sheer destruction that this little “favor” resulted in, but Morden tells him not to worry. The Narns are his enemy, and his “associates” stand with him.
Sinclair proposes marriage to Sakai, she says yes, and Garibaldi is asked to be best man. Meanwhile, an investigation into the death of a lurker reveals that there is a conspiracy aboard B5. When he investigates further, Garibaldi discovers that there is a plot to assassinate the president, and some of its agents are on board the station. When he finds the culprits, his second shoots him in the back. While in medlab, he warns Sinclair that the president is about to die. Sure enough, he’s right! At the transfer point on Io, the president’s ship, Earth Force One, blows up, apparently due to a reactor malfunction. Strangely, the VP was not on board at the time, apparently due to an illness, and takes the office of president.
Finally, Delenn begins to undergo a transformation using the Triluminary. Before she does, she meets with Kosh. He reveals himself to her, after which, she is sure of what she must do. She learns shortly before this that Sinclair has learned about what happened to him at the Line and agrees to tell him the truth. However, with everything else that is going on, he is unable to make their meeting and arrives to find her in a cocoon in her quarters. He laments all the changes and upheavals to Sakai, saying “Nothing’s the same anymore.” The season ends on this uncertain note…
Delenn’s Chrysalis, which is apparently part of a larger prophecy begins here. The Shadows are also revealed again, and their attack on the Narns makes G’Kar highly suspicious. He becomes aware of the fact that there is a dark and powerful force out there somewhere. The president is assassinated and the conspiracy back at Earth is revealed to be larger and more powerful than anyone suspected. Clark assumes the presidency, and will later be revealed to be behind the conspiracy that is taking over Earth.
Londo: But this — this, this, this is like being nibbled to death by… what are those Earth creatures called? Feathers, long bill, webbed feet… go ‘quack’…
Londo: Cats. I’m being nibbled to death by cats.
G’Kar: It wasn’t the Humans. The Centauri don’t have the will. The Vorlons don’t care. The Minbari wouldn’t do it. The other races aren’t powerful enough for a strike like this… There’s someone else out there Na’Toth.
Morden: (talking to two Shadows) Yes. I think he’s ready… Perfect for our needs… No. No. He suspects nothing. When the time is right, Ambassador Mollari will do exactly as we wish. Destiny is on our side.
Kosh: And so it begins.
Sinclair: Nothing’s the same anymore.
And so ends season one! Everything that is of significance in the series has been established, previewed, or hinted at. All that remains now if for all these developments to be taken up a notch before they get fulfilled or explained in seasons three and four. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays folks, see you after the break!