B5, Best Episodes. Final Season

Woo! Finally, I get to the last installment of B5’s best episodes. After eleven posts, I think I’ve finally done this show justice. I tell ya, I didn’t think it was possible to overdose on your favorite show, but just to be safe, I’ll be taking a break from it for the next little while. But first, I have one final season to talk about. The fifth and final season of Babylon 5, where the show reached its grand epilogue and established plot threads that would be picked up in subsequent TV movies and the series Crusade. Granted it didn’t pan out, but what can you do?

Anyway, here are the best episodes, as selected by yours truly…

1. A View from the Gallery:
The entire episode takes place from the point of view of two maintenance workers aboard B5, Mack and . A crisis takes place involving a marauding species named the  who are moving through the sector and attacking everything that moves. As Captain and crew deal with the crisis, Mack and  run about, putting out fires and dealing with the aftermath. In the course of things, they come across Lockley, Sheridan, Delenn, G’Kar, Londo, and just about everybody else and get to play the flies on the wall.

Significance:
This episode was both creative and a big change of pace for the show. Ordinarily, we see things from the perspective of the main characters, the central figures who make the big decisions. This time around, its like watching Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, where the secondary characters who do their thing while the main ones carry on with the plot. And while it really didn’t advance the overall plot of the show, it was a fun watch, with lots of action and good dialogue!

Memorable Lines:
Mack: (sees Mack cross himself) When did you get religious?
Bo:
I’m not, just respect, that’s all. Every time we get a red star born out there, somebody’s life ends.

Bo: Sure looks pretty (referring to a White Star)
Mack:
You think?
Bo:
Hell yeah, what do you think?
Mack:
Me? I always thought they looked like plucked chickens. Hey, it’s not my fault they were designed that way.

Byron:(looking at helmet) A fellow of infinite jest, I knew him Horatio.
Mack: It’s Mack, actually.

Byron: At the moment of death there is a passing of energy, an explosion of consciousness. It permeates everything in close proximity… your clothes, jewelry… anything. We can still feel him – what he was, what he did, his hopes, and fears, and expectations. It’s still there for a minutes, then it will disappear… joining him in silence.

Londo: What, are you afraid I won’t come back G’Kar?
G’Kar:
No, afraid you will.
Mack:
(to bo) So… how long you figure they been married?

Mack: Hey, did you see that smile? I mean it was like the sun coming out from behind a cloud.
Bo: I did indeed. Suddenly, I think I understand Sheridan a lot better.
Mack: How do you mean?
Bo: Well, dead or alive, I’d climb my way out of hell and through ten miles of solid rock to see that smile again.

Mack: Bo?
Bo
: Yeah?
Mack
: She remembered my name.
Bo
: Our names.
Mack
: I think I’m in love.
Bo
: She’s married.
Mack
: Eh. We can work something out.

2. In the Kingdom of the Blind:
Londo returns to Centauri Prime and finds that something is amiss. On the one hand, warship production is up, and any and all matters pertaining to military planning are being reclassified so that only the Regent has access to it. In addition, Londo meets with an old friend who tells him that the Regent himself is acting very strangely. After being some hints that he is being controlled by a Keeper, his friend turns up dead shortly thereafter. His death is made to look like a suicide, but Londo doesn’t buy it. Upon further investigation, Londo finds that there is a plot to murder him. The attempt fails however when an unidentified alien intervenes and kills the would-be assassin. Finally, he meets with the Regent who tells him in no uncertain terms that there is an alien influence at work, and that soon enough, he will meet with “them”. In the end, Londo decides to leave, and wonder what the whole deal with their military vessels could be about. The episode ends with a Centauri warship destroying an Brakiri merchant ship.

Back on B5, Byron and the colony of free telepaths aboard the station learn from Lyta that the Vorlons had a hand in engineering them. This news serves to infuriate them seeing as how telepaths had always been told they were special and responsible for their own gifts. Byron decides to blackmail the Alliance council into granting them extradition to a new homeworld since the Alliance is responsible for cleaning up the mess from the Shadow War. This move causes tensions to escalate between the telepaths and the Alliance and violence begins to break out.

Significance:
This episode picks up where things left off in season four, where it was made clear that the Drakh were heading to Centauri Prime to wreak their revenge on the Centauri for betraying them. That revenge appears to involve controlling the Regent and preparing the planet for war against the other Alliance members. The colony of free telepaths and Byron’s own history with the Psi Corps was established in previous episodes. For some time, Sheridan and Captain Lockley have been protecting them from the Psi Cops. However, now that they are blackmailing the council, that protection has now evaporated and its only a matter of time before the Psi Cops close in on them.

Memorable Lines:
Minister Vatelli: (referring to G’Kar) And I see you brought your own entertainment with you! An excellent idea… and quite brave of you to let him so close without keeping him in chains. Perhaps we should change that. Just a few chains to make the others more comfortable before we put him in a cell.
Londo: He is my bodyguard.
Vatelli: Well it’s good to know that his excellencies sense of humor is intact after such a  long voyage.

Regent:You do understand, Jano, that if it were my decision, that I would never let anyone harm you, I would never let anyone hurt you.  If it were my decision… But it’s not my decision, you see (Jano is killed by the Drakh). Not my decision at all!

G’Kar: Tell me, Minister. If i were to strike you, which would you be angry at? The hand that struck you, or the heart that commanded it?… The hand has no choice but to do as it is told. It is the heart that carries the burden. And that heart is dead in both of us, Minister. It died with Cartagia, and it died in me soon after. Besides, everyone knows that the true source of pain is neither the hand nor the heart… it is the mouth. Is it not, Minister?

Garibaldi: Never, ever, ever trust a telepath. I swear to you, I’m gonna have that tattooed inside my eyelids.

Sheridan: But they did it in the wrong way, the inconvenient way.
Delenn: I seem to recall the Earth president saying the same thing to you, after your civil war (leaves).
Sheridan: I hate that she has a memory, don’t you?
Garibaldi: Damned inconvenient!

3. Pheonix Rising:
Bester and the Psi Cops arrive on the station to deal with the colony of rogue telepaths. After a tense standoff where people are killed and Garibaldi and the medlab are taken hostage, Byron kills himself in order to end the crisis. Heartbroken, but vigilant, Lyta takes his place as their leader and pledges to continue the fight he started. “Remember Byron” becomes their motto. While he’s on board, Garibaldi also takes the opportunity to corner Bester and threaten him. He tells him to confess everything he did to him, or he’ll shoot him with his PPG. Bester, refuses, but when Garibaldi tries to kill him, he finds that he can’t pull the trigger. Bester then reveals that he put a neural block on him to ensure that he would never be able to harm him. Between that and the hostage crisis, Garibaldi feels completely helpless and starts drinking again.

Significance:
With Byron dead, Lyta begins to plot the destruction of the Psi Corps, which will lead to the Telepath War that was hinted at in Season 4’s final episode. Garibaldi’s own role in this is assured thanks to Bester, who’s level 12 neural block can only be removed by a telepath of equal or stronger power. When he naturally turns to Lyta for help, she forces him to use his skills and resources to amass money for her cause, and two become unwitting partners.

Memorable Lines:
Bester: Every race to develop telepaths has had to find some way to control them, through laws, religion, drugs, or extermination. We may not be pretty, but we’re a hell of a lot better than the alternatives.

Sheridan: There’s only thing more dangers than Mr. Garibaldi when he’s loud. It’s when he’s dead silent.

Bester: Let me ask you something, Mr. Garibaldi. Purely philosophical question. On a scale of one to ten… how stupid do you think I am, anyway? Do you really think I’d let you run around, knowing what you know, and leave you free to kill me?
Garibaldi: What have you done to me?
Bester: I’ve hit you with an Asimov.

4. Darkness Ascending:
Lise surprises Garibaldi with a visit to B5. She finds that he is drinking and asks him to stop, which he agrees to. However, he finds he cannot maintain that pledge and secretly gets drunk during her time aboard. Meanwhile, Lennier and the Rangers are busy trying to determine who is responsible for the attacks on Alliance shipping. After traces some communications through hyperspace, he witnesses an attack by several Centauri warships on a convoy. He records the whole thing and hands it over to Sheridan, who tells Garibaldi about it since he’s head of Covert Intelligence. Garibaldi asks Lise to leave the station, saying that “barring an act of God”, they will going to war with the Centauri.

Significance:
After much investigation and hints being laid that the Centauri are responsible for the attacks, the Alliance now has the proof it needs. This will serve to isolate the Centauri, trigger a war between them and the Alliance, and thus make them helpless and dependent on the Drakh, which has been their plan all along. Garibaldi’s drinking is also getting out of control and threatening his work and his marriage, which will have consequences as the Alliance finds itself in the midst of a crisis.

Memorable Lines:
Sheridan: Damn it Delenn, I have been working up a good mad all day and I am not about to let you undercut it by agreeing with me.

Londo: You’d think they don’t trust us.
Vir: I don’t think anyone trusts anyone right now, Londo.
Londo: (laughs) You say that like its a bad thing. No one really trusts anyone, Vir. It’s the natural order of things. But up until now, its never interfered with business.

Londo: Gambling no longer has any appeal for me. When every day is a risk, cards and dice are not quite as interesting as they used to be.

Garibaldi: All I know is I am tired of being controlled. Controlled by others, by fear, by my past, by what everybody else expects of me, and its enough! Now this… this is my own private little act of rebellion, yeah. I may not be able to control what other people to do to me but I can at least be in control of what I do to myself.
Lise: So you don’t mind going off the road as long as you’re behind the wheel when it happens, is that it?

Lyta: As I recall, you made me a proposition. If I gave you access to my DNA to help your people develop telepaths, you would see to it that I was… oh, how did you put it? Um, that I would be compensated quite handsomely.
G’Kar: It was either to be a cloning of your genetic material or a… a direct mating. Pity, we never did find out what your pleasure threshold is.

Lyta: Oh, and you mentioned wondering what my pleasure threshold was. I just recently found out… I don’t have one. Have a very, very nice day G’Kar.

Garibaldi: Barring an act of God — and since I don’t believe in God, that kind of narrows the odds a bit — by this time tomorrow, we’re gonna be at war with the Centauri.

5. And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder:
The Alliance holds an emergency council whereby they declare that the Centauri are responsible for the attacks on their shipping. Forced to answer to these allegations, Londo denounces the proof and issues a declaration on behalf of his world. They will not recognize the embargo that is now being placed on them and will challenge it with military force, if necessary. War seems inevitable now, and all sides dig in and prepare for the worst. Sheridan tells Garibaldi to position the White Star fleet to respond and intervene in any conflicts between the Centauri and any of the member worlds.

Zack discovers Garibaldi is drinking and tries to help, but to no avail. Sympathizing and knowing that Garibaldi looked out for him in the past, he agrees not to report him. However, this leads Garibaldi to get drunk and fall asleep at the wheel when the Rangers detect a Centauri fleet challenging the blockade into Drazi space, and a firefight ensues. With the Drazi now demanding blood, Sheridan has no choice but to declare war on the Centauri.

On Centauri Prime, the declaration of war is announced to Londo and the Minister of War tells him that G’Kar, his bodyguard, must be locked away for security reasons. Londo refuses and says that where G’kar goes, he goes, which only manages to get them both locked up! Alone together in a cell, Londo broods that things are spiralling out of control and worries how it will all end.

Significance:
After much build-up, the war between the Alliance and the Centauri is finally happening, as the Drakh had hoped. Outnumbered and outgunned, they are sure to be defeated, which will lead to the devastation of their planet – which was previewed in season three when Sheridan became “unstuck in time”. We also get further indications of Garibaldi’s alcoholism and how it is effecting his job. This, in turn, will lead to his dismissal down the road and Lise’s insistence that he go with her back to Mars where he will begin helping her run Edgar Industries, and massing funds for Lyta’s coming war with the Psi Corps.

Memorable Lines:
Centauri Minister
: Is that why you brought it (G’Kar) along?
Londo
: No, he is still here as my bodyguard, that’s all. Where I go, he goes.
Centauri Minister
: My condolences.
G’Kar
: Thank you. It’s a burden, but I’ve come to accept it.

Centauri Minister: I’m sure you would like to freshen up. Both of you.
G’Kar
: It’s a natural musk. I rather enjoy it.

Londo: Careful minister, we don’t want my companion to get the wrong idea. We don’t normally treat our guests so badly.
G’Kar
: Yes you do.
Londo
: Shut up.

Londo: Where he goes, I go.

Londo: (to G’Kar) Don’t worry. Even one as arrogant as this would not take it upon himself to imprison his own prime minister.
(next scene, Londo and G’Kar are in a prison cell)
Londo
: Shut up.
G’Kar
: I didn’t say anything.

Delenn: We are all born as molecules in the hearts of a billion stars. Molecules that do not understand politics or policies or differences. Over a billion years, we foolish molecules forget who we are and where we came from. In desperate acts of ego, we give ourselves names, fight over lines on maps, and pretend that our light is better than everyone else’s.

6. Movements of Fire and Shadow:
The war between the Alliance and the Centauri is raging, with both sides taking heavy losses. However, according to Vir, the bodies of the Centauri crews that are shot down in Drazi space are not being returned to them. He meets with Franklin and Lyta and asks them if they will investigate for him. Lyta agrees, but only if Vir is willing to pay a substantial sum. They travel to the Drazi homeworld where they find that the ships in question had no crews, but were instead being piloted by Shadow remote devices, which the Drazi were keeping a secret so they could study them. When Sheridan hears of this, he realizes that the Centauri have been set up and tries to fly to the Centauri homeworld to warn them before its too late.

While on her way to Mimbar to discuss a new joint Earth-Mimbari warship program, Delenn’s White Star is attacked by several Centauri vessels and disabled. She and Lennier are the only ones left alive on board and begin to drift. At the same time, the Narn and Drazi agree to a joint mission to attack the Centauri homeworld. This mission is in defiance of Sheridan and the Alliance Council, but after a Centauri remote ship tries to destroy the B5 jump gate, they come to the conclusion that Sheridan doesn’t have the stomach for a real war. They amass a fleet and fly to Centauri, just as Londo escapes from his cell and finds the Regent waiting in his quarters. He tells Londo that his time is almost up, but before he dies, he had only final duty: to shut down the planetary defense network in preparation for the coming attack. Londo runs and tries to stop it, but is helpless to do anything in time. The Narn-Drazi fleet begins bombarding the surface with impunity.

Significance:
The Drakh’s involvement in the war, as well as their use of captured Shadow technology, is revealed. The devastation of Centauri Prime, previewed in season three, now takes place. This will end the war, embitter the Centauri, and make them useful pawns to the Drakh, who need them isolated and angry so that they will allow them to operate from their homeworld. The Regent is also near death, which means Londo will become their puppet soon, something else that was previewed in season three. Sheridan also speaks with Delenn in this episode about creating a new class of warship – a White Star Destroyer. These ships will prove important in the coming Drakh War and are a focal point in the tv movie A Call to Arms and the series Crusade.

Memorable Lines:
Sheridan:
The White Stars are authorized to open fire on any Centauri warship engaged in combat with Alliance vessels. Any hope  of neutrality Babylon 5 had up until now… just went up in smoke!

Vir: As you know, our ships have been in combat with… well, just about everyone really. Our biggest losses have been in Drazi space. They are really good fighters! Not terrific conversationalists and there table manners could make you go blind in one eye but… really tough behind the weapons consoles.

Mollari
: No. I said where you go, I go. It’s become a matter of principle.
G’Kar
: You picked a terrible moment in your social evolution to develop principles. Perhaps you can start with something simpler. The moral equivalent of the opposable thumb, for instance.

G’Kar: I woke up when I thought I heard the expected angry mob coming to storm the palace on your behalf. But it was just you. Did you know that you snore?
Londo: I have to get out of here!
G’Kar: Yes, that’s what I’ve been saying for some time now.
Londo:
No, I have to get out now. I have this feeling… Something is terribly wrong…
G’Kar: You’re at war with everyone in the known universe. Perhaps its that.

Londo: Thank you! Who knew they could make such a stench! Great Maker, I don’t even want to think about it! I couldn’t stay in there a moment longer! And the smell was not the worst of it. It was the burning in my eyes! I think my buttons are melting!

Franklin: He said the room service is good and the food is cheap and… the staff is friendly.
Lyta: Meaning the food stinks, the rooms are small, and the staff will knife you in the back when you’re not looking.
Franklin: Exactly!

7. The Fall of Centauri Prime:
In the midst of the bombardment, Londo finally meets with the Regent and the Drakh leader. They tell him everything – about the destruction of Z’ha’dum, their search for a new homeworld, and their plans to use Centauri Prime as their new base. Londo is made to comply when they tell him that they have placed fusion bombs in the planet’s crust, and will detonate them if he doesn’t become their new puppet. Given the bombardment, they figure no one will notice a few extra craters. He agrees, Londo takes on the Keeper, and becomes Emperor after the Regent dies.

Meanwhile, Delenn’s vessel is found in hyperspace by a Centauri vessel under Drakh command. They are about to attack, but Londo convinces them not to. Thinking they are about to die, Lennier confesses his love, but she pretends not to have heard when the Centauri ship begins towing them to safety. Sheridan lands on Centauri Prime and meets with Londo. He turns over Delenn and Lennier to him, safe and sound. When Sheridan tells him about what he has learned about the Shadow devices, Londo lies and says that the Regent bought them on the black market. He rejects Sheridan’s offer for a rapprochement and is told that Centauri Prime must pay reparations as the instigator of the war. Londo denounces this publicly, but is forced to comply. He says goodbye to them and G’Kar, whom he does not expect to see again until he will die.

Significance:
The war ends and Londo has become emperor, as he has long foreseen. The Drakh are now free to pursue their plans for revenge against the Alliance, and Sheridan and Delenn in particular. While examining one of the Shadow devices, Sheridan, Franklin, and Lyta reflect on how the universe is now full of abandoned technology that is extremely powerful and dangerous, should it fall into the wrong hands. They draw a comparison to Earth after the fall of the Soviet Union, when people feared that Russian nukes might hit the open market. Lyta also reveals that they will one day be admitted to the Vorlon homeworld, which is currently impossible given all the automated defenses that shoot anything down. Though she’s not sure how she knows, she claims it will be one million years before humanity has proven itself ready.

Memorable Lines:
Regent:
They said, ‘the Shadows were our masters. We served them, believed in them, loved them. Then they went away, and left us behind, to escape on our won. But without our masters, who are we? In the end, what are we but –
Drakh:
A shadow of a shadow… an echo of what was?

Drakh: You are now what we need you to be. A beaten, resentful people who will have to rebuild. Who will have to rely on our good graces. Who can be used and guided as we wish to guide you. Perfect ground for us to do our work… quietly… quietly.
Londo: No I will not allow it!
Regent: Yes, you will, as I did. You see, Londo, they learn quickly. They learned from the Shadows and they learned… from you. They’ve planted fusion bombs throughout Centauri Prime. Unless they get what they want, millions of our people will die and the blame with go to the Alliance. In all this bombing, who will notice a few more craters?

Mollari: Isn’t it strange, G’Kar? When we first met I had no power and all the choices I could ever want. And now I have all the power I could ever want and no choices at all. No choice at all.
G’Kar
: Mollari. Understand that I can never forgive your people for what they did to my world. My people can never forgive your people. But I can forgive you.

Lennier: Delenn?
Delenn: Yes?
Lennier: I love you.
Delenn: I know.

Franklin: You ever been out ot the San Diego ruins? Well, I have. The thermonuclear device used by the terrorist to blow up San Diego could be traced right back to the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late 20th century. When they fell, all their weapons ended up in the hands of smaller governments that didn’t understand them, sure as hell couldn’t build them, but were eminently willing to use them. The great thing about war is that it advances technology. Bad thing about war is that most of those technologies are destructive. And once the war is over,t hose weapons are still around.
Lyta: Weapons like us.
Franklin: Yes, weapons like telepaths, and that thing there, and anything else that might have gotten out. Now we know that the Shadows had hundreds of allies working for them and we know that omst of them or all them got out before Z’ha’dum exploded. Now who knows what they took with them, and how much of it is in the hands of people who don’t understand it, couldn’t build it, but are willing to use it?
Sheridan:
The giants have left the playground, but they left their guns behind.

Lyta: The Vorlon homeworld is off limits until we’re ready, until we’ve earned the right to go there… a million years from now. Don’t ask, I don’t know where that came from anymore than you do. I just… know it.

8. Sleeping in Light:
This episode takes place twenty years after Lorien restored Sheridan, when he said Sheridan’s life would finally run out. Realizing his time is coming to an end, Sheridan invites all his old friends to Mimbar for a final dinner with him and Delenn. This includes Garibaldi, Franklin, Ivanova, and Vir. While together, they talk of old times and toast their friends who didn’t live to be with them – Londo, G’Kar, Lennier and Marcus. Sheridan then passes control of the Rangers to Ivanova and says his final goodbye’s to Delenn. He then sets off for B5 to say his goodbye’s there, where he meets Zack who is still working there. Zack tells him that the station is set to be decommissioned, much like Sheridan, it has reached the end of its life, and is about to be scrapped with minimal fanfare.

Sheridan then flies to Coriana 6, the site of their major battle against the Shadows and the Vorlons, and waits to die. Before he does, Lorien appears to him and tells him that they haven’t forgotten him, and that he will pass into the great beyond with them. Sheridan is both intrigued and saddened, since it means he will see what lies beyond, but that he will also never be able to come back. He then disappears in a huge ball of light, saying “the sun’s coming up”. We then are given a final montage, showing how everyone is carrying on with their lives and B5 being demolished. Ivanova gives the closing speech, reflecting on everything B5 taught them, and how Delenn spent the rest of her days watching the sun rise every morning in honor of Sheridan.

Significance:
This tearful farewell to the show was actually filmed at the end of season four, along with the Deconstruction of Falling Stars. At that time, JMA was not sure if season five would be a go and planned to use either this episode or Deconstruction as the finale. In the end, season five got the green light and he was able to use both. In addition to wrapping up the show, this episode provided some strong hints as to the outcome of all the plot threads that were lain down in season five that we wouldn’t get to see. These included the Telepath War, the Drakh War, Londo’s and G’Kars death, and Lennier’s death. In short, we get to see that though there were some bumps after season five, everything turned out okay. The Alliance held together, the known universe experienced peace after the Shadow War, and Sheridan died when Lorien had predicted. We also got to see how Lorien and Sheridan’s old friends amongst the First Ones hadn’t forgotten him and came back to carry him away with them. All of this was the perfect cap to the show, giving us a sort of epilogue/eulogy for the main characters as well as B5, the centerpiece of the show, itself.

Memorable Lines:
Vir
: One time, we were walking through the Alien sector, and we heard this beautiful singing coming from the Pak’Ma’Ra’s quarters.
Sheridan
: They sing?
Franklin
: There’s nothing in the literature about that.
Vir
: Apparently they only ever do it once a year, during their religious period. And we were listening to this singing and I saw a tear run down Londo’s face, and I said, “We should go, this is upsetting you.” But he said no, and we stayed. After the singing was over he turned to me and said, “There are 49 Gods in our Pantheon, Vir. To tell you the truth I’ve never really believed in any of them. But if just one of them exists…then God sings with that voice.”

Sheridan: A toast. To…absent friends. In memory still bright.
Garibaldi
: G’Kar.
Vir
: Londo.
Delenn
: Lennier.
Franklin
: Mar–
Ivanova
: Marcus.

Sheridan: Zack. Ha ha! What the hell are you doing here? I thought you went back to Earth.
Allan
: Yeah, I did. Got bored. Re-upped about six months ago. I figured I’d be here ’til they turn the lights out.

Sheridan: There’s still so much I don’t understand.
Lorien:
As it should be.
Sheridan:
Can I ever come back?
Lorien:
No. This journey has ended. Another begins. Time to rest now.
Sheridan
: Well…look at that…the sun’s coming up…

Ivanova: 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 would 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. As for Delenn, every morning for as long as she lived, Delenn got up before dawn and watched the sun come up.

Woo! All done! Babylon 5 everybody! May it endure, and someday come back and garner a whole new generation of fans. A guy can dream…

Babylon 5, Farewell…

Babylon 5, Farewell…

We come at last to the final season, the fifth and final year in Babylon 5’s planned lifespan. According to legend, Straczynski had been told repeatedly that he was crazy to think that he could ever pre-plan a series like this, that actors quit, budgets got slashed, and time slots got changed around. And that certainly happened in the course of the show, a couple of times. However, somehow he made it work, though apparently he had to take on a huge burden as a result.

And even after making a season four finale, season five eventually got the go ahead and was made in full. It was a season of epilogues, goodbyes and even a few more threads, previewing events which were portended to take place later in the show’s projected plot. Even with its tight five season storyline, there were still a lot of things that had been previewed for the future, and some explanations needed to be made.

Babylon 5 Season Five:

The last season ended with Earth being liberated, Sheridan being elevated to the status of President of the new Interstellar Alliance, Sheridan and Delenn being married, and Ivanova being saved by Marcus. As the new season opens, Sheridan assumes his presidency, Ivanova leaves the station, and a new captain assumes the role as commander of B5. In an interesting twist, it turns out to be Sheridan’s ex.

Another early development is the establishment of a colony of telepaths aboard the station. There presence becomes an immediate source of trouble, as the psi cops want to bring them in, and Lyta becomes very drawn to them and their leader. Essentially, they are looking to establish a colony for free telepaths, but in time, they learn the truth of their existence from Lyta. In the course of having sex, Lyta’s mind opens and the leader of the telepaths, Byron, comes to learn that the Vorlons were responsible for creating the majority of known telepaths.

When he learns this, he and the others are incensed. All their lives, they’ve operated under the assumption that their gifts were a matter of personal responsibility. Now they see that they were made, and hence were never given a choice as to what they are. They then demand that Sheridan and the Alliance provide them with a home, or else they will begin revealing every member races secrets, which they gathered from having followed the diplomats around for days.

Soon, everything hits the fan, the psi cops and Bester come for them, and Byron sacrifices himself to end the conflict. The telepaths are taken away, but Lyta vows that she will protect them and make sure that Byron is avenged. She begins running stockpiling weapons in preparation for an eventual war with the telepaths, and is soon arrested for her trouble. A showdown with her takes place on the Zocallo, which would have been messy had Sheridan not been there. As the only other person who’s been touched by the Vorlons, he alone is able to withstand her psychic influence.

At the same time, Garibaldi confronts Bester. Once aboard the station, he corners him in his quarters and demands that he confess everything he did to Garibaldi at gunpoint. However, Bester refuses, and when Garibaldi tries to make good on his threat, he can’t pull the trigger. Seems Bester had placed an “Azimov” in his head, preventing Garibaldi from harming him or allowing harm to come to him. Feeling completely helpless, Garibaldi begins drinking again. It’s not long before it interferes with his job, and his wife, Lyse, shows up just in time to ask him to come back to Mars with him.

However, Garibaldi comes up with another plan. He meets Lyta and asks for her help. She agrees, but tells him that in exchange for his help running money and guns to her planned resistance, she will remove the block and let him get even. He agrees, and returns with Lyse to Mars to run Edgar industries (which she inherited since Edgar’s murder), promising to see Lyta again in two years, at which time, everything will be set. The “telepath war” which was hinted at in season four, is thus on its way…

Meanwhile, something is rotten on Centauri Prime. After an assassination attempt on Londo, G’Kar agrees to become his body guard and travels to Centauri Prime. The regent is apparently under the influence of something dark, and preparations are being made for war. Londo narrowly escapes a second attempt, and it seems that whoever is controlling the regent was responsible, and hopes to work with him soon… he returns to B5 with a very bad feeling. And we are made aware that Centauri ships are being used to prey on shipping…

The attacks intensify, and member worlds of the Alliance begin to accuse each other. However, an investigation reveals that Centauri agents are involved, and soon Lennier, now a member of the Rangers, witnesses an attack take place. Centauri Prime is kicked out of the Alliance and put under embargo, a full-scale firefight erupts when they challenge the blockage, and war is declared! Londo returns home, again with G’Kar, to see what is going on. After several weeks of fighting, some frightening facts become clear.

For starters, the Centauri ships that are performing the attacks are using Shadow technology to control them. This is a clear indication that the Drakh, one of the Shadows old friends have infiltrated Centauri Prime, as Morden threatened, and are using the regent to create chaos. This becomes clear to Londo as Alliance forces arrange for an unsanctioned assault on Centauri Prime, and the regent himself performs one last duty… shutting down the planet’s defensive grid. The assault begins, with a combined Narn-Drazi force devestating the Centauri capitol.

The regent and his Drakh masters reveal themselves, and tell Londo that it is his turn to wear the Shadow device that control a person’s actions, otherwise they will blow up the planet. Londo agrees, the regent dies, he assumes the role of emperor (which was also foretold and which he feared for some time), and Centauri Prime surrenders. Now that he’s their unwilling servant, he lies to Sheridan and tells him the Shadow technology was bought on the black market, not acquired from the Drakh. He also declares that Centauri Prime will be an isolationist power and have nothing more to do with the Alliance.

From all this, we are given a detailed preview of what was hinted at in earlier seasons. For one, we now see how Londo became Emperor, how this would lead to his death at the hands of G’Kar years later, how his world would be devastated, and how he would capture Delenn and Sheridan – ostensibly so he could punish them for happened to his world, but would then release them. And as hinted at, we also see how it would be the Drakh who were responsible for Centauri Prime’s devastation, a final legacy of the Shadow War.

Oh, and a couple other side stories take place in the midst of all this. One involves Lennier, who was told by a vision he had of Morden that he would commit an act of betrayal. And he does! During an accident in which Sheridan is sealed in a room with a poisonous gas leak, Lennier is about to help him, but then chooses to leave him there instead. He has second thoughts and returns, only to find that Sheridan freed himself. Shamed by his betrayal, he flees, leaving Delenn only with a message saying how sorry he is.

The other side story involves G’Kar. For some time, he has been garnering popularity among his people since he was the leader of the resistance and the one who liberated their world. Upon returning to B5 from Centauri Prime, he finds that the book he’s been writing since his revelation has been making the rounds. In fact, its even been published and has outsold the book of G’Quon (which is like outselling the Bible!) Despite his resistance, the problem only gets worse, and when a spurned acolyte tries to kill him, he decides its time to leave. Having learned much from his years on the station among other races, he decides he will set out to explore the known universe. He also decides to take Lyta with him, hoping he can help her overcome her pain and hatred as he did his.

Sheridan also discovers that Delenn is pregnant after she collapses and is examined by Franklin. This too matches up with what Sheridan foresaw in the future, that they would have a boy named David. Delenn’s pregnancy begins to take a toll on her health, since her physiology is part-human, part-Mimbari. However, she and Sheridan are committed to making sure she and the baby survive. They also announce that they will be moving the HQ of the Alliance to Mimbar for the next few years, hence they too are leaving B5. A big send-off is held, and Zack Allen remarks how its sad to see everyone go, but that he’ll probably still be there until they “shut the lights off”.

They are met on Mimbar by Londo, who professes his friendship, despite the circumstances of their last meeting. However, it quickly become clear he’s on an errand from the Drakh, delivering a similar device to the one that is controlling him that is meant for their son when he comes of age. After making the delivery, Londo asks them “what now”, to which they reply “now we await the passage of years… we are very patient.” The last hint of whats to come is given!

The final episode takes place roughly twenty years later when Sheridan is about to die. In keeping with Lorien’s prediction that he could only prolong his life by twenty years, Sheridan’s health begins to fail and they arrange a farewell party for him. He says goodbye to Vir, Ivanova, Garibaldi, Franklin and Delenn, and they toast those who couldn’t be amongst them – Londo, G’Kar, Lennier and Marcus. After all this, he has a tearful goodbye with Delenn and flies off to say goodbye to B5. He sees Zack there, who tells him the station is about to be decommissioned. Sheridan then flies off to Coriana 6, the site of their major battle with the Shadows, where he encounters Lorien.

Lorien tells him that he’s not so much dying as taking the next step, that he and the others have not forgot about him and are taking him beyond the rim to where they are now living. Sheridan laments that he can’t ever come back, but is ready. He dies in a blinding flash of light, remarking “the sun’s coming up”. Ivanova then gives the final narration, saying how the Babylon project taught them all how to stand together and look out for each other, calling to mind what was said in the season four finale. The station is then given a big send off and demolished, and the show ends with it being said that Delenn spent every morning thenceforth watching the sun rise and remembering Sheridan.

A poignant and fitting ending! In many ways, season five was an epilogue season, not as exciting or consequential as the previous four. However, I was glad they made it in the end. One finale episode was just not enough of a send-off for this show. What’s more, there were still a lot of plot elements and threads that needed to be expanded on.

Conclusion:

In the spirit of epilogues, let me say some final words about Babylon 5 and what made it such a good show and franchise. Well, to break it down, there was its epic feel, its solid writing, its great and memorable characters, and its tight narrative feel. Unlike many other franchises that start with a sort of open, shoestring plot, B5 was plotted out well in advance, everything that happened in it was part of a single, unfolding story. That meant it didn’t have any of the usual contrivances, plot holes, or third act revelations that other shows are famous for (Star Trek is a perfect example!)

What’s more, the episodes didn’t end with everything going back to a state of balance, with everyone happy. If anything, they ended with a sense of “what’s next?” In every episode they were either in the midst of a conflict or worrying about the next one. That’s where the realism was truly felt. Even in season five, when all things are wrapping up, there was a strong sense of the problems that were to come. Though we got a preview of how things ended happily for the most part, we knew that there would be plenty of speed bumps along the way.

These two elements, a tight plot and realistic tone, are two lessons that have remained with me years later. Whenever I write, I find myself trying to follow Straczynski’s example, both in terms of how he constructing a storyline as well as the tone he struck. In short, when I’m working on a story, I try to write out the plot well in advance so that there’s plenty of hints of what’s to come and as few inconsistencies and plot holes later on. But whereas I am an acolyte, Straczynski was the man who really wrote the book on this for sci-fi serials. I know nothing comparable to his work except for maybe the re-envisioning of Battlestar Galactica… something for another review!

The same is true when it comes to characters, those that are best are the ones who are flawed and complex, ones that have backgrounds and back stories rather than being one-dimensional in nature. And the acting, for the most part, was classical… Shakespearean even. My favorite characters have to be G’Kar and Londo, played by Andreas Katsulas (RIP) and Peter Jurasik. Not only are they great actors, they had some of the best lines between them, especially when paired together in a scene. Jerry Doyle was also great as Michael Garibaldi; in addition to some great lines, he was probably the most realistic character, combining a workaholic’s personality with genuine vulnerability, all the while punctuated by a very irreverent sense of humor!

That, and the fact that the show was really fun to watch! Even now, years later, the CGI and sets are still impressive, which is surprising considering its limited budget. Given all that, its really too bad that the franchise didn’t pan out in terms of spin offs. Crusade and the tv movie Legends of the Rangers were both commercial flops, and weren’t too well received critically either. But that tends to happen with cult hits, they don’t have the deep pockets and mass market appeal of major franchises. On the other hand, the other B5 movies (River of Souls, A Call to Arms, Thirdspace) were well-received, for the most part anyway. I strongly recommend that fans and prospective fans check them out, in addition the full five seasons!

So long B5, you will be remembered…