The Alien Graph

The Alien Graph

Behold! After a few days of contemplating what I said in the Ancient Aliens post – you know, about how alien’s technology and moral capacity are often interrelated in sci-fi – I realized I needed to put it into graphic form. And as I said in that post, if we are to consider technological advancement as one axis and level of benevolence as another, then the outcome would look something like this:

click to enlarge

The design is based on the Zombie graph that’s been floating around the internet for some time. There, the designer placed different Zombie movies based on two criteria: intelligence and speed. In much the same way, I’ve designed a graph for aliens that is based on two similar criteria: technological advancement and level of friendliness.

I selected aliens that I thought best represented the range of development and behavior in the sci-fi genre. I also included as many franchises as I could think of, just off the top of my head. I certainly wasn’t scientific about it, just relative and to the best of my abilities. And when I was done, I noticed an interesting pattern…

Hostile/Advanced Aliens Rule!:
For example, notice how the vast majority of races from your well-known franchises (Star Trek, B5, Stargate, Star Craft, AvP, Halo, etc) fall into the upper left quadrant. This is the area where malevolence and technological sophistication combine in varying degrees. By contrast, the second largest concentration of races occurs in the advanced/benevolent quadrant, again to varying degrees. Almost no races fall into the nascent (i.e. primitive) quadrants, be they hostile or gentle.

On the one hand, the Xenomorph from Alien and the Arachnids from Starship Troopers both fell into the technologically backward category (technically), and were both classified as malevolent because of their innate hostility to foreign organisms. The Na’vi, from Avatar, were the only alien race that fit the bill for technologically nascent and benevolent. I’m sure there are plenty of examples that could stack this analysis in a different way, but like I said, this was off the top of my head.

The Zerg, I have to admit, were a bit of a conundrum for me. While they are technically a race that does not employ technology per se, they are highly advanced in terms of their biological evolution, to the point where they rely on specialized creatures in the same way that humans rely on machinery. But then again, that’s all for the sake of ensuring that the different factions in the video game are evenly matched. It’s not meant to be a realistic assessment. Much the same is true of the Xenomorphs. While they do not employ tools, fly around in spaceships, or use guns, they are nevertheless an extremely evolved organism that is capable of besting humanity in any contest.

And just to be clear, the middle point of the graph (0,0, where the axes meet) is where humanity stands now in terms of moral behavior and technological development. Sure, some say we’d fall into the evil quadrant, but I tend to believe that humanity is morally ambiguous, neither too good or too evil. Where aliens fall into the spectrum in most sci-fi franchises is meant to reflect this. Much the same is true of technological prowess, where aliens are classified as “advanced” or “primitive” solely in comparison to ourselves.

This all might sound anthropocentric, but that’s the point, isn’t it? These are stories written by human beings for other human beings. All the references, symbols and measuring sticks come from inside us. So in the end, aliens themselves, as represented in our best science fiction, also come from inside ourselves. Their values, their tools, and even their appearances are all constructs of what is familiar and accessible to us. In short, they are merely tools with which we measure ourselves, both morally and technically.

Conclusions:
Well, right off the cuff I’d say the reason we prefer our aliens hostile and advanced is because it makes them seem more threatening and scary that way. Clearly, this makes for a more interesting story. While an alien race that is kind, innocent and backwards can make for an effective tale about the evils of colonialism and imperialism and how one can easily find themselves on the side of evil, these seem to be fewer and farther between. I’d say this is most likely because moral allegories are less intriguing than action dramas. Or maybe just prefer to think of ourselves as the good guys. Let someone else serve as the allegory for evil, selfish and runaway imperialistic behavior!

In addition, there’s the very real possibility that humanity will be making contact with an intelligent life form at some point in the future. And when we do, it’s likely to be the most awe-inspiring and frightening of experiences. When it comes to the unknown, ignorance begets fear and we prefer to err on the side of caution. So it would make sense that whenever we think of aliens, even if its just for the sake of fiction, we would naturally prefer to think of them as both learned and potentially hostile. If indeed aliens serve as a sort of projection for humanity’s own thoughts on itself, than pitching them as potentially hostile beings with advanced technology represents our own fear of the unknown.

In any case, if there is life out there, all these questions will be resolved in the distant future. Hell, maybe even the near-future. If some theorists are to be believed, aliens have already made contact with us and might even be walking among us right now. Granted, most of these people are hanging around the 7/11 with tin foil hats on, but they can’t all be crazy, right?

Of Galactic Empires

Galaxy1Hello again, fellow sci-fi fans! Today, I thought I’d write about something conceptual, something that is intrinsic to so much science fiction and keeps popping up in various forms. It’s something that has appeared in countless serials, novels, tv shows, movies, and RPG’s. I am referring, of course, to the concept of the Galactic Empire, a science fiction trope that has seen many incarnations, but revolves around a singular theme of a political entity that spans the known universe.

Whether it’s a loose federation of humans and aliens spanning many different star systems, or a despotism made up of millions of worlds, all populated by human beings, or something somewhere in the middle, this trope has proven to be one of the most enduring ideas of classic science fiction.

But where exactly did this idea come from? Who was the first to come up with a futuristic, galaxy-spanning polity where millions of star systems and quadrillions of sentient beings all found themselves living underneath one roof?

Asimov’s Foundation Series:

An artists rendering of Trantor

Isaac Asimov is arguably the first science fiction author to use the concept of a galaxy-spanning empire in his literature. Known simply as the Galactic Empire, this organization was the centerpiece of his Foundation series. As fans of the books know, the entire series was built around the idea of the imminent collapse of said empire and how a small band of scientists (led by Hari Seldon) were dedicated to ensuring that the collective knowledge of the universe would be preserved in its absence. The books were based heavily on Gibbon’s History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a compendium which explored the various reasons for the collapse of Rome and the resulting Dark Ages.

The universe of the Galactic Empire centered on a planet named Trantor. Based on his descriptions, the planet was covered by a massive urban landscape, every habitable area having been built over in order to accommodate the planet’s huge population. In addition to being the capitol of the Empire, it was also its administrative head, cultural hub, and economic epicenter. Much like Rome of antiquity, it depended heavily on the surrounding territories for food and raw materials in order to sustain itself, and was terribly hit when the Empire began to decline.

However, beyond some passing descriptions of its size, centrality and the problems facing its encapsulated population, not much is said about Trantor or many other worlds of the Galactic Empire. In fact, not much is said about the Empire itself, other than the fact that it has endured for millennia and is on the verge of collapsing. Mainly, the focus in Asimov’s Foundation is on the events that precipitated its fall and the work of the Foundation once that was complete; how they went about the process of restoring civilization in the absence of a central authority. However, the subsequent Foundation novels, which included some prequels, helped to flesh out the Empire further, providing details on member worlds and the events which preceded the development of Hari Seldon’s “psychohistory”.

Frank Herbert’s Dune:

Arrakis (aka. Dune), the main setting of the story

One of the greatest examples of a galactic empire in my opinion. In the first installment of the Dune series, we are made immediately aware that humanity now inhabits the entire galaxy and are ruled from a world called Kaitan by a sovereign known as the Padishah Emperor. However, it is also made clear that while the emperor is the supreme leader, power is shared in a quasi-feudal arrangement between the noble houses (the Landstraad), a corporate entity that controls all economic affairs (CHOAM), and the various guilds (of which the Spacing Guild is arguably the most powerful). In this universe, much attention is given to the breakdown of power, the history of how it came to be, and the various member worlds and houses.

For starters, there is House Corrino, the ruling dynasty of the empire that is centered on Kaitan. Their house once ruled from a planet known as Selusa Secundus, but which has since been reduced to ashes from a nuclear attack and now serves as the emperor’s prison planet (where his elite armies are trained). More important, and central to the story, is House Atreides, the family which rules from an ocean planet named Caladan, but come to inherit the desert planet Arrakis (aka. Dune). Passing attention is also given to Geidi Prime, the industrial world run by House Harkonnen, the nominal villains of the story.

Dune_MapBut by far, the most detailed and developed descriptions are that of the planet Arrakis, where most of the story takes place. Throughout the first novel, the planet’s ecology, native species, and inhabitants (the Fremen) are richly detailed. Given that it is the only world where the spice (an awareness drug the entire universe depends on) is mined, the world is understandably the focal point of the Dune universe. Clearly analogous to oil, the spice is a metaphor for human dependence on a single resource, and the consequences thereof. By taking control of the planet at story’s end and threatening to destroy the spice, Paul Atreides effectively becomes the universe’s new ruler. For as the sayings go: “He who controls the spice, controls the universe”, and “He who can destroy a thing controls that thing.”

Frank Herbert cited a number of influences for his galactic empire. Like Asimov, he relied a great deal on history, particularly that of the Middle East, the Crusades, and a number of feudal societies. At the same time, Herbert became fascinated with ecology, a result of his living in Florence, Oregon where the US Department of Agriculture was using poverty grasses to stabilize the expanding Oregon dunes. The article which he wrote about them, entitled “They Stopped the Moving Sands”  was never completed and only appeared decades later in The Road to Dune. Nevertheless, it was from this combination of real history and ecology, how the living environment affects its inhabitants and shapes history, that the universe of Dune emerged.

Star Wars:

Coruscant, capitol of the Old Republic and Empire

Perhaps the best known example of a galactic empire, which in turn emerged from what Lucas called the Old Republic. When asked about his inspirations, George Lucas claimed that he wanted to create an empire that was as aesthetically and thematically similar to Nazi Germany as possible. This is made abundantly clear when one looks into the back story of how the Empire emerged, how its malevolent dictator (Palpatine, a Sith Lord) rose to power and began launching campaigns to eliminate anyone who stood in his way. In addition, the use of Storm Troopers, the uniforms of the imperial officers, and the appearance of Darth Vader also add visual representation to this.

However, a great deal of antiquity works its way into the Star Wars universe as well. Much like Herbert and Asimov, there is a parallel between the past and the future. The incorporation of royalty, swordfights between Bushido-like warriors, gun-toting smugglers, cantinas, dangerous towns in the middle of the desert, and all the allusions to the “Republic” and “Galactic Senate”, fair and noble institutions which ruled the galaxy before the dark times – all of these are themes taken from ancient Greece, Rome, feudal Japan, medieval Europe, and the Wild West.

Urban sprawl on Coruscant
Urban sprawl on Coruscant

In any case, at the center of Lucas’ galactic empire lies Coruscant, a planet that was clearly inspired by Trantor. Whereas in the original series, the planet was not shown or even mentioned, it receives a great deal of attention in the Star Wars novelizations, comics, and prequel movies. Much like Trantor, it is a planet that is completely dominated by urban sprawl, literally every corner of it is covered by massive sky-scrapers and multi-leveled buildings.

According to the Star Wars Wiki (Wookiepedia), roughly a trillion humans and aliens live on its surface, which is another detail that is noteworthy about Lucas’ universe. Unlike Foundation or Dune, in Star Wars, the galactic empire includes countless sentient races, though humans do appear to be the dominant species. This racial aspect is something else that is akin to World War II and Nazi Germany.

Whereas the Rebellion is made up of humans and aliens who are struggling for freedom and tolerance, the Empire is composed entirely of humans who believe in their own racial superiority. However, in a tribute to Lucas’ more creative days, not much is said about this divide, the audience is instead left to infer it from the outward appearances and behavior of the characters on screen. However, the idea receives much development in the novelizations, particularly Timothy Zhan’s Thrawn Trilogy.

Star Trek:

Star Fleet Command, in orbit above Earth

Yet another take on the concept of a galactic polity: Gene Roddenberry’s United Federation of Planets. Much like the Empire of Lucas’ own universe, the Federation is made up of hundreds of member worlds and any number of races. But unlike its peers in the Foundation, Dune or Star Wars universes, the Federation only encompasses a small portion of the galaxy – between ten and fifteen percent, depending on where you look in the storyline.

Beyond their range of influence lie several competing or cooperative empires – the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardasians, the Dominion, and the Borg. Each of these empires represent a threat to the Federation at one time or another in the story, largely because their ideologies are in direct conflict with the Federations policy of peace, multiculturalism and understanding.

This may sound a tad tongue-in-cheek, but it is the main vehicle for the story. In Star Trek, like many other sci-fi franchises, Gene Roddenberry uses alien races as mirrors for the human condition. Whereas in his vision of the future humanity has evolved to overcome the scourges of war, poverty, disease, intolerance and oppression, other races are either less advanced or openly embrace these things.

Negh'varThe Klingons, for example, were the enemies of the Federation because of their commitment to warrior politics. The Romulans are locked  in an ongoing cold war with them because of their belief in their own racial superiority. The Dominion seeks dominance over all “solid” life forms because, as shape shifters, they fear being controlled themselves. And the Borg are an extremely advanced cybernetic race that seeks to “perfect” organic life by merging it – by force, if necessary – with the synthetic. The metaphors are so thick, you could cut them with a knife!

Yes, subtlety was never Roddenberry’s greatest attribute, but the franchise was an open and inclusive one, borrowing freely from other franchises and sci-fi concepts, and incorporating a great deal of fan writing into the actual show itself. And whereas other franchises had firm back-stories and ongoing plots, Star Trek has always been an evolving, ad hoc thing by comparison.

Roddenberry and the producers and writers that took over after his death never did seem to plan that far ahead, and the back story was never hammered out with that much precision. This has allowed for a degree of flexibility, but also comes with the painstaking task of explaining how and why humanity became a utopian society in the first place. But for the most part, the franchise leaves that one vague, arguing that space travel, technology and contact with other sentient races allowed for all of this to happen over time.

Babylon 5:b5-eps3One of my favorite franchises of all time! And possibly one of the most detailed examples of a galactic empire, due largely to the fact that it took shape in the course of the show, instead of just being there in the background from the beginning. Here too, we see a trade off between other franchises, the most similar being Star Trek. In this universe, there is no single galactic empire, but rather a series races that exist is a web of alliances, rivalries and a loose framework of relations.

But as time goes on, many of them come together to form an alliance that is reminiscent of the Federation, though arguably more detailed and pluralistic in its composition. When the show opens, we see that humanity is merely one of many races in the cosmic arena, most of whom are more advanced and older than we are.

The Earth Alliance, as its called, controls only a few colonies, but commands a fair degree of influence thanks to the construction of an important space station in neutral territory. This station (namesake of the show) is known as Babylon 5, aptly named because it is a place of trade, commerce, and the intermixing of peoples and cultures. And much like its namesake, it can be a dangerous and chaotic place, but is nevertheless the focal point of the known universe.

B5_destroyerAccording to the back story, which is explored in depth in the prequel movie “In the Beginning”, the station began as a way of preventing wars based on cultural misunderstandings. Such a war took place between the human race and the Mimbari, a race that is central to the story, ten years prior to the show. After four abortive attempts, the station finally went online and was given the designation of five because it was the fifth incarnation of the project.

Once completed, all major races in the area sent representatives there in order to make sure their interests and concerns were being represented. Chief amongst them was Earth, the Mimbari, the Narns, the Centauri and the Vorlons, who together made up the stations executive council. Beyond them was the “League of Non-Aligned Worlds”, a group made up of fifteen sentient races who were all smaller powers, but together exercise a fair degree of influence over policy.

The Centauri, who were based on the late-period Roman Empire, are a declining power, the once proud rulers of most of the quadrant who have since regressed and are looking to reverse their fortunes. The Narns are their chief rival, a younger race that was previously occupied and brutalized by the Centauri, but who have emerged to become one of the most powerful forces in the quadrant.

B5_season2Based heavily on various revisionists powers of history, they are essentially a race that is familiar with suffering and freely conquers and subjugates others now to ensure that such a thing never happens to them again. The Mimbari, an older and somewhat reclusive race, is nominally committed to peace. But as the war demonstrated, they can easily become a force to be reckoned with given the right provocation. And then there are the Vorlons, a very old and very reclusive race that no one seems to know anything about, but who nevertheless are always there in the background, just watching and waiting…

As the show progresses, we come to see that B5 will actually serve a purpose that is far greater than anyone could have foreseen. It seems that an ancient race, known only as the Shadows, are returning to the known universe. Before they can to invade, however, they must recruit from the younger races and encourage them to make war on their rivals and neighbors. This will sow the seeds of chaos and ensure that their eventual advance will be met with less resistance.

The Vorlons and the Mimbari ambassadors (Kosh and Delenn) are aware of this threat, since their people have faced it before, and begin recruiting the station’s two human commanders (Jeffrey Sinclair and John Sheridan) to help. This proves difficult, as the Shadows appear to have contacts on Earth as well and are backing the power play of Vice President Clarke, an ambitious man who wants to be a dictator. They are also ensuring that the Centauri and Narn go to war with each other as a way of keeping all the other member races preoccupied.

B5_shadow_warHowever, using the station as a rallying point, Sheridan, Sinclair, Delenn and Kosh eventually manage to organize the younger races into a cohesive fighting force to turn back the Shadows. Things become more complicated when they realize that the Vorlons are also the enemy, being involved in a power struggle with the Shadows that goes back eons. However, with the help of other First Ones (very old races) and a commitment to stand on their own, they manage to force both sides to leave the known universe.

In the wake of the war, a new spirit of cooperation and cohesion is formed amongst the younger races, which eventually gives rise to the Interstellar Alliance. This organization is essentially an expanded version of the League, but where members are fully aligned economically and politically and committed to defending each other. This comes in handy when the allies of the Shadows, younger races who are armed with all their old mentors’ gear, come out of hiding and begin to make trouble!

Naturally, the full story is much more complex and I’m not doing it justice, but this is the bare bones of it. Relying on historic examples and countless classic science fiction themes, J. Michael Straczynski establishes a detailed universe where multiple races and political entities eventually come together to form a government that rules the known universe and stands the test of time.

Battletech:

mechwarrior_1Here we have a franchise that had multiple inspirations, according to the creators. The focal point of the franchise is on massive war machines, known as battlemechs, which were apparently inspired by Macross and other anime. However, the creators also came to incorporate a back story that was very European in its outlook, which revolved around the concept of an ongoing war between feudal states.

One could make the case that the Shogunate period of Japan, a time of ongoing civil war, was also a source of inspiration for this story. However, upon familiarizing myself with the background of the series, I couldn’t help but feel that the whole thing had a predominantly Russian feel to it. In addition to the heroic characters being named Alexandr and Nicholas Kerensky, something about the constant feudal warfare and the morally ambiguous nature of humanity in the story seemed analogous to much of Russia’s troubled history.

To break it down succinctly, the story takes place in the 31st century, a time marked by incessant warfare between different clans and worlds, all of which are populated by humans.Terra (as Earth is now called) was once the center of a grand empire known as the Star League. After centuries of conflict, in what is known as the “Succession Wars”, Earth and many its immediate neighbors were rendered damaged or completely uninhabitable.

inner_sphere_wars_battletech_01As a result, the focal point of the universe resides within the Inner Sphere, a region that is 500 light years away from Earth and dominated by five Great Houses. The leader of each house claims to be the rightful successor of the Star League, and hence the houses are all known as the Successor States. Outside the Inner Sphere lies the Periphery, a large ring of independent star systems that predate the League and the Successor States, but are inferior to them in terms of technology. Though nominally independent, none of these regions have the ability to stand against the houses of the Inner Sphere, and thus avoid conflict with them whenever possible.

A key feature of the Battletech universe is the absence of sentient species outside of the human race. This serves to make the ongoing warfare more realistic, as well as establishing how the current state of war is a direct extension of earlier rivalries (some dating all the way back to the 20th century). Another interesting feature about this franchise is the fact that humanity has not evolved very far beyond its current state, in spite of the lengthy passage of time.

Again, the constant state of warfare has much to do with this, which has had a slowing and even reversing effect on the technological development of many worlds. In short, the franchise is gritty, realistic, and has a pretty dim view of humanity. In addition, there is a palatable sense that humanity’s best years are behind it, and that barring the appearance of some external threat, humanity will war itself into extinction.

Key Features:
A couple of things stand out about each of these examples of a galactic empire. And for anyone interesting in creating their own, they are considerations which have to be taken into account. All of the previous creators, from Isaac Asimov to Weisman and Babcock, either took a singular approach on these issues, or adopted a combined one. Here they are, as I see them:

Humans and Aliens: This is arguably the most important consideration when developing a sci-fi franchise, especially one where a galactic empire is concerned. The creator must decide, is this going to be a universe where humans and aliens coexist with one another, or is it going to be strictly human? Both options open up a range of possibilities; for example, are humans and aliens living together in harmony in this story, is one subjugated to another, or something else entirely? What’s more, what role will the aliens play? Are they to be the benign, enlightened aliens who teach us “flawed humans” how to be better, or will we be the the species that’s got things figured out and they be allegorical representations of our past, flawed selves? Inevitably, aliens serve as a sort of mirror for the human condition or as examples of past human societies, in any story. There’s simply no way around it, not if we want them to be familiar and relateable.

Utopian/Dystopian: Another very important decision to make when creating a universe is the hue its going to have. In short, is it going to be a bright place or a dark place? Would humanity advance as a result of technology and space exploration, or regress because improved weapons and tools merely meant we could do more harm? Both visions serve their purpose, the one eliciting hope for the future and offering potential solutions to contemporary problems, the other making the point that the human condition is permanent and certain behaviors will never be overcome. However, in my opinion, the most respectable approach is to take the middle road on this. Sci-fi franchises, like those of Straczynski and Alastair Reynolds (creator of the Revelation Space universe) did their best to present humanity as being morally ambiguous. We were neither perfect nor unsalvageable. We simply did our best and tried to make a difference, but would always have our share of flaws.

Space Travel: Almost all galactic empires are agreed on this one front. When it comes to creating a extra-solar empire, one that encompasses hundreds or even thousands of star systems, one needs to be able to travel faster than the speed of light. It might mean contravening the laws of physics (causing Einstein to roll over in his grave!) but you can’t really do it otherwise. Whether it’s by the Alcubierre drive, hyperspace, warp, jump gates, or folding space, all of the aforementioned franchises incorporated some kind of FTL. Without it, humanity would require thousands or even millions of years in order to expand to encompass the known universe, at which point, we’d probably have evolved to the point where we were no longer even human! In addition, the problems of subjective time and perspective would wreak havoc with story lines, continuity, and the like. Better and easier to just say “Here (zoom!) Now there!”

Technology: Following on the heels of FTL is the issue of how technology in general is treated within the universe in question. Will it be the source of man’s betterment and salvation, of their downfall, or something in between? Star Trek is a perfect example of the former approach, set in a future where all hunger, disease, poverty and inequality have been eliminated through the application of technology. Despite the obvious utopianism of this view, the franchise really isn’t that far off if you think about it. If we did have matter replicators, machines that could manufacture food, materials and consumer goods out of simple trace elements, then money, precious metals and other artificial means of measuring wealth would become obsolete. In addition, there’d be no more food shortages or distribution problems to speak of, not as long as everyone had access to this technology. And if fusion power and warp technology were available, then energy would be cheap and abundant and commerce would be rapid and efficient.

However, Roddenberry would often show the downside of this equation by portraying societies in which technology had been allowed to run amok. A good example is an episode in Star Trek TNG where the Enterprise comes upon a planet that is run by an advanced machine named Custodian. The people of the planet have grown entirely dependent on the machine and have long since forgotten how to run and maintain. As a result, they have become sterile due to radiation poisoning and are slowly dying off. Another perfect example is the Borg, a race of cybernetic beings that are constantly expanding and assimilating anything in their path. In terms of aesthetics, they are dark, ugly and sterile, traveling around in ships that look like giant cubes that were slapped together out of toxin-spewing industrial junk. Is there a more perfect metaphor for the seemingly unstoppable march of technological progress, in all its darker aspects?

Asimov’s Foundation series also had a pretty benign view of technology. In his universe, the people of Terminus and other Foundation worlds distinguished themselves from their neighbors through their possession of superior technology and even used it to their advantage wherever possible. In the first novel, for instance, the Foundation’s scientists began to travel to neighboring worlds, places that had the use of nuclear power and began teaching them how to rebuild it. Over time, they became a sort of priestly caste who commanded reverential respect from the locals thanks to all the improvements their inventions brought to their daily lives. When in the first book a warlord from the neighboring planet of Anacreon tries to conquer them, they then respond by cutting off all power to the planet and their forces, and use their status as religious leaders to foment rebellion against him.

However, other franchises have a different take on technology and where it will take us. For example, Battletech tends to look at technology in a darker perspective. In this future, the focus of technological development is overwhelmingly on battlemechs and weapons of war. In addition, the ongoing war in the series has had a negative effect on the development of other forms of technology, particularly the kinds that are beneficial to society as a whole. In short, technology has not corrected for mankind’s flaws because it has failed to remove the greatest cause of war and suffering – i.e. ambition!

Frank Herbert, on the other hand, took what could be construed as a mixed view. Whereas in his universe, instantaneous space travel is possible, energy shields, laser guns and nuclear power are all in existence, the overall effect on humanity has not been progressive. In the first Dune novel, we learn that humanity fought a holy war against thinking machines and automation over ten thousands years prior to the main story (the Butlerian Jihad). The target of the jihad was apparently a machine mentality as much as the machines themselves, and the result was a sort of compact whereby future generations promised never to develop a machine that could take the place of a human being. That, in addition to the invention of energy shields, led to the development of a feudal society where nobles and merchant princes were once again responsible for controlling planetary resources, and where armies went to war using swords and daggers in addition to lasers, slug throwers and missiles.

In subsequent novels, this was developed even further to present a sort of twofold perspective on technology. On the one hand, it is shown as being potentially harmful, where a machine mentality and a society built on unrestricted production of material goods can lead to social chaos and anarchy. Not necessarily because it can be harmful in and of itself, but because it can lead to a situation where humans feel so alienated from themselves and each other that they are willing to regress to something simpler and less free. On the other hand, advanced technology is also shown to have a potentially retrogressive effect as well, forcing people to look backwards for solutions instead of forwards. One can see genuine parallels with history, like how industrial civilization, in spite of all its benefits, led to the rise of fascism and communism because of its atomizing and alienating effects on society. Or how the Japanese of the post-Shogunate period deliberately regressed by destroying their stores of muskets and cannons because they feared that the “coward weapons” were detrimental to the Bushido.

Personally, I thought Herbert’s perspective on things was by far the most brilliant and speculative, packed full of social commentary and irony. It was therefore a source of great disappointment that his successors (Brian Herbert and KJA) chose to present things in a far more myopic light. In the prequels to Dune, particularly the Legends of Dune series, the jihad is shown to be a struggle between advanced machines that have enslaved the human race and the few free human worlds that are locked in a life and death struggle to defeat them. However, in twist that is more contradiction than irony, they find the solution to their problem by using nukes to level every machine planet. The fact that the “free worlds” relied on slave labor to compensate for the loss of automation was somewhat interesting, but would have been far more effective if the enemy machines were not portrayed as purely evil and the protagonists as selfless heroes.

Final Thoughts:
The concept of a galactic empire is something that has a long history and many, many incarnations. But as always, the purpose of it seems to be to expand the focus of the commentary so that as many possible aspects of the human condition can be explored. By placing human beings on hundreds or thousands of planets, authors generally seek to show how different places can give rise to different cultures. This is as true of different parts on the globe as it is for different planets in the universe. In addition, the incorporation of aliens also gives us a chance to explore some of the deeper sociological questions, things that arise out of how we interact with different cultures around the world today. For in the end, all science fiction is really about history and the period in which it is conceived, regardless of it being set in the future. Like all other genres, the real aim is to serve as a vehicle for speculation and investigation, answering questions about who we are and what makes us us.

Whew! I think I got a little tongue and cheek there myself! In any case, I enjoy delving into this conceptual stuff, so I think I’m going to do it more often here. Next time, something a bit lighter and more specific. I was thinking about something along the lines of PLANETKILLERS! Stay tuned!

B5, Season 4 Best Episodes

1. The Hour of the Wolf:
A week has passed since Sheridan presumably died at Z’ha’dum. Ivanova is now in command of the station, and both her and Delenn are grieving. G’Kar meanwhile is focusing his inquiries on finding Garibaldi, who he feels has been forgotten in the midst of things. Holding the Alliance together is proving difficult, and Delenn receives no help from the new Vorlon ambassador. He simply tells her that their plans have changed, and that they will do nothing to hold the alliance together or investigate the death of Sheridan.

Delenn, Ivanova and Lyta take a White Star and fly to Z’ha’dum hoping to find some trace of Sheridan. However, they receive no signal from the surface and are forced to leave when the Shadows begin invading their minds. Meanwhile, Londo ventures to Centauri Prime and discovers that the new Emperor, Cartagia, is a madman and has made a deal with the Shadows. In exchange for an island to base their ships, he expects certain “favors”, namely that they will make him a god. In his mind, the destruction of his world seems a small price to pay. Londo is shocked and appalled, but is told to keep quiet, since anyone who speaks out against the new emperor has a way of disappearing…

Finally, we see Sheridan, who appears to have survived and is holed up in a cave somewhere on the planet. A strange alien named Lorien comes to him and asks to join him.

Significance:
Picking up where the season finale left off, we learn that Sheridan appears to have survived, in some form, on Z’ha’dum. We also learn that he is not alone. And with the damage caused to their homeworld by Sheridan, the Shadows have begun moving their fleet away from Z’ha’dum, using their allies’ worlds and colonies as bases for their ships. Ivanova, Delenn and Lyta try to determine if Sheridan is really dead. Ever since Sheridan’s demise at Z’ha’dum, it seems the alliance is determined to fall apart. The Vorlons no longer seem to care about him or what becomes of the alliance. Like the Shadows, their plans seem to have changed…

Londo returns home to Centauri Prime to take up his role as advisor to the royal court, and finds that the Shadows have struck a deal with the new Emperor. He is clearly insane since he believes the Shadows to be gods, and that they will confer godhood on him in exchange for his help. He also doesn’t seem to care that many of his people will die because of it and has anyone who speaks out against him killed. Londo begins to conspire with Vir to remove him.

Memorable Lines:
Morden:
Based on our warm relations of the past, my associates asked for you as our liaison to the royal court.
Londo:
I don’t care. I won’t do it!
Morden:
Of course you will, Mollari. Because you’re drawn to power. Because you’re my friend. Because you’re afraid of what someone else might do in your place.

Delenn: He’s bled for you, worked for you – for me, for everyone here. If you turn away from him now, if you abandon him to die on Z’ha’dum, I will have no more respect left for you. Do you understand?
Vorlon: Respect… is irrelevant.

G’Kar: (looking at a picture of Daffy Duck) I was studying this image. Is it one of his household gods?
Zack
: That’s Daf—Yeah, well, in a way I suppose it is. It’s sort of the Egyptian god of frustration.
G’Kar
: Most appropriate!

Ivanova: Have you ever heard of the hour of the wolf? My father told me about it. It’s the time between three and four in the morning. You can’t sleep, and all you can see is the troubles and the problems and the ways that your life should’ve gone but didn’t. All you can hear is the sound of your own heart. I’ve been living in the hour of the wolf for seven days, Lyta. Seven days. The wolf and I are now on a first-name basis.

Ivanova: Lennier, get us the hell out of here!
Lennier: Initiating “getting the hell out of here” maneuver.

Vir: Does anyone else know?
Londo: Vir… when you are mad you say these things the same way that you and I talk about the weather! Of course the others know, but they are afraid to move against him. Whoever does so will almost certainly be killed.
Vir: That would be a drawback.
Londo: These creatures must be driven away before it’s too late. We must stop Cartagia, no matter the cost.
Vir: “The cost?” That would be the dying thing, right?

2. Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi:
The alliance has broken apart as each member race has decided to return home and bolster their defenses. After seeing a recording of Sheridan talking about his love for her and the dark times they are facing, she is inspired. Calling on the Rangers, she decides that they will mount an attack on Z’ha’dum using the White Star fleet, a move which she hopes will rally the other races and get them back on an offensive footing.

G’Kar leaves B5 in order to pursue his search for Garibaldi. Marcus accompanies him, but the two are unable to prevent Centauri agents from closing in on them and taking G’Kar. He is brought to the Centauri royal court and presented to Londo as a gift. However, Londo decides to make a deal with G’Kar. In exchange for his help in bringing down Cartagia, he agrees to free Narn forever.

Sheridan continues to speak with Lorien, and learns that he is in fact dead and caught in time. Lorien appears to be a First One himself, and used his abilities to pull Sheridan out of time before the moment of his death. He will restore Sheridan’s life, but only if he can find something “worth living for”. Sheridan finds it in Delenn and is brought back to life.

Significance:
Sheridan learns that Lorien is “the” First One, an alien who has been alive for billions of years and knows all about the Shadows, the Vorlons and their ongoing war. Apparently, Z’ha’dum is significant to the Shadows because it has served as his home for eons, and Kosh knew he would be there, hence why he told Sheridan to jump. Apparenlty, Lorien is capable of restoring life, and will do so for Sheridan, but only if he can find something worth living for and not simply reasons not to die. The restoration of his life means Sheridan has a limited time to live, and his love for Delenn is what saves him. Both of these will prove very significant in the coming seasons and the series’ conclusion. He also learns for the first time that Kosh is inside him, hence why he has been hearing Kosh’s voice and experiencing visions of him since he died.

The alliance is beginning to fall apart as member races decide to pull their forces back and trust in the fiction that the Shadows can be appeased or avoided from here on out. Delenn plans to mount an attack on Z’ha’dum in order to rally them, a move which will be condemned by them later on. We also get our glimpse of Garibaldi since he disappeared, and its apparent that he is being held captive and psychologically tortured. G’Kar sets out to find him, is captured, and is thus in the perfect place to strike a deal with Mollari for the liberation of his home world. This is the second time the two have worked together for mutual gain, and it will go a long way towards establishing their relationship, which will in turn lead to the creation of the Interstellar Alliance and the liberation of Earth.

Memorable Lines:
Lorien: It’s easy to find something worth dying for. Do you have anything worth living for?

Lorien: Words have meaning. And Names have power. The universe began with a word, you know. But which came first? The word or the thought behind the word?

Cartagia: And you… have you anything to say?
G’Kar: Do you, by any chance, happen to know where Mr. Garibaldi might be?
Cartagia: …Who?

Voice: What happened after you left Babylon 5?
Garibaldi: I told you I don’t remember!
Voice: What happened after…
Michael Garibaldi: I said I don’t remember!
Voice: What happened?
Garibaldi: (rips up chair, starts smashing the lights) I don’t – remember – ANYTHING!

G’Kar: You didn’t ask the price for my cooperation.
Londo: You’re not exactly in a position to bargain, G’Kar.
G’Kar: Neither are you. You want my help for the sake of your people. I will give it, for the sake of my own. If I remove the monster from your throne, you will remove the monster from my world. Leave Narn… set my world free. Promise me this, and I will do as you ask.
Londo: You have my word.

Sheridan: There’s a war on out there! If we don’t do something, billions of poeple will die. Now DOn’t you care about that.
Lorien:
Yes, of course I care. It’s a terrible thing when your children fight. I warned the others but they did not listen. They never listen.
Sheridan:
You’re… children?
Lorien:
Metaphorically speaking. Those who came after me. Children, younger siblings.
Sheridan:
How… long have you been here?
Lorien: A long time… so long. I was old when the molecules of your world joined and called themselves land and sea and fish… and man.
Sheridan: You’re one of the First Ones.
Lorien: No, not one of the First Ones. I AM the First One.

Lorien: Did you know you have a Vorlon inside you? Part of one anyway.
Sheridan:
Kosh!
Lorien:
Is that it’s name? I think I met it, long ago… They can break off pieces of their consciousness and put it into other organisms. It allows them to travel hidden through the galaxy, using others as their eyes and ears. Kosh is in you…

Sheridan: What if I fall. How will I know if you’ll catch me?
Lorien: I caught you before.
Sheridan: What if I die?
Lorien: I cannot create life but I can breathe on the remaining embers. It may not work.
Sheridan: But I can hope.
Lorien: Hope is all we have.
Lorien: Do you have anything worth living for?
Delenn: Sleep now. I will watch and catch you if you should fall.
Sheridan: Delenn!

3. The Summoning:
Garibaldi suddenly and mysteriously appears aboard a smuggler’s ship not far from B5. After shooting the ship down, a squadron of Starfuries, led by Zack, retrieve his life pod and bring him back to the station. When he wakes up, he claims he remembers nothing, but flashes in his mind seem to indicate that he was being interrogated and tortured psychologically. The ease which he appeared leaves Zack wondering if something is amiss, but for all intents and purposes, Garibaldi appears to be okay.

Ivanova and Marcus take out a White Star to begin looking for First Ones again in the hopes of getting more support for their upcoming attack on Z’ha’dum. While on patrol, they discover a “pocket” of hyperspace where a massive Vorlon fleet is stationed and waiting to mount an attack. On Centauri Prime, Cartagia’s torture of G’Kar continues, and he is planning on killing him unless he gets what he wants (which is for G’Kar to scream in pain). Londo urges G’Kar to give him what he wants. Facing death during a rather brutal session of torture, G’Kar finally concedes and screams aloud.

Delenn is told that the League worlds are preparing to publicly oppose her decision to attack Z’ha’dum. She comes to the meeting and tries to argue reason, but is censored by the League members. They claim that Sheridan is dead, that no one survives Z’ha’dum, and are shocked to see Sheridan enter. He and Lorien arrived shortly before the meeting began, taking Lorien’s ship back from Z’ha’dum. Shocked and inspired by his sudden appearance, Sheridan is able to rouse the League members to recommit to their alliance.

Afterward, he convenes his senior officers and tells them what the Shadows and Lorien told him. In short, the Vorlons and the Shadows have been waging a limited war for millennia, competing to see who’s way is right. Ivanova and Marcus arrive shortly after to tell them of the fleet they sighting in hyperspace. Shortly after spotting it, the fleet destroyed an entire planet just to get one Shadow base. The war has now escalated, with both sides targeting any place the other has influence.

Significance:
Garibaldi returns to B5 and doesn’t remember his capture or his torture, though it becomes clear he’s changed somehow. Sheridan returns to Babylon 5 and convinces the alliance to hold together. In addiution, he tells them the truth about the war, how the Vorlons and Shadows have been fighting each other for influence for millenia and how he plans to end it. The Vorlons begin attacking entire worlds where the Shadows have influence, hoping to end their control over other races once and for all.

Memorable Lines:
Vir: Londo? Remember what I said before about “there must be another way”? I was wrong. Kill him!

Vorlon: (torturing Lyta) Would you know my thoughts… WOULD YOU?!

G’Kar: We do not oblige conquers. If I give him what he wants… if I beg for mercy, cry out, I would no longer be a Narn.
Londo: And if you’re dead, are you still a Narn then? No, you will food for Cartagia’s pets, and you’re people are still prisoners! They too are no longer Narns, only slaves. And then dead slaves! Is that what you want, G’Kar?

Marcus: I suppose so. Ah… I want this thing to go right. I want it to be special.
Ivanova: Oh. A romantic! I don’t think I’ve felt that way since the first time!
Marcus: That’s what I’m talking about.
Ivanova: You mean you don’t… you haven’t…?
Marcus: Yes.
Ivanova: You’re a…?
Marcus: Exactly.
Ivanova: With anyone?
Marcus: Never met the right person before.
Ivanova: Wow. I thought the First Ones were rare!

Delenn: You are acting out of fear!
Hayek Ambassador: And you’re acting out of grief and loss! If Sheridan has died then why not the rest of us? Sheridan died trying to attack Z’ha’dum. No one who goes there comes back alive!
(Sheridan walks in)
Drazi Ambassador: Captain! We’re sorry… we thought you were dead!
Sheridan: I was. I’m better now.

Sheridan: The ambassador is correct. I’ve went to Z’ha’dum.I’ve seen the face of the enemy. They’re not gods, and they’re not indestructible. I fought them and I’ve killed many of them! And I’ve survived… There is a way out of this, a way to stop this insanity once and for all. Delenn’s fleet is a start. Now we have to build on it. Together, we will form the largest fleet in history. Not just for a batlle, but to change the shape of the galaxy. Not just for ourselves, but for our children… and our children’s children. You tell you’re governments that the only man to survive Z’ha’dum sends this message: we can end this, not just for now, not just for the next thousands years, but forever! I stand before you as living proof that it can be done! We can fight and we can win, but only if we do it together! Can I count on you? Can I COUNT ON YOU? WILL YOU STAND TOGETHER?!

Delenn: I thought I’d never see you again.
Sheridan: I’ll never leave you, Delenn. Not if the whole universe stood between us.

4. Falling Towards Apotheosis:
Garibaldi begins to show signs of odd behavior, which includes paranoia and a general distrust of Sheridan and Lorien. Sheridan begins to put a plan in motion to mount an attack on both sides, but first, they need to remove the Vorlon ambassador. This involves Lyta telling him that a human is carrying Kosh, something she knows he will not tolerate. While following her, he is caught in a trap and his encounter suit is destroyed.

However, they are unable to stop the alien itself, which is a specter of pure energy, but Kosh soon emerges from Sheridan and the two Vorlons kill each other. Lorien restores Sheridan again, but tells Delenn shorlty thereafter that his ability to restore life is limited. Sheridan will die in twenty years. Delenn is understandably upset, but Sheridan assures her its enough time. He proposes in the hopes of making the most of the time they have left.

On Centauri Prime, Londo begins to put his own plan into motion. He proposes to Cartagia that they travel to Narn to publicly try and execute G’Kar, but his real purpose is to lure him away from the royal court where he will be vulnerable. Before they leave, Cartagia orders his guards to pluck out one G’Kars eyes to punish his defiance.

Significance:
The Shadows begin striking back at world’s where the Vorlons have influence, and both side’s planet killers are introduced. Both sides will be employing planet killers during the final battle of the war and this will intrinsic to how it unfolds.  The Vorlon on board the station is destroyed, thanks to Kosh who finally reveals himself. Sheridan once again restored by Lorien and tells Delenn that he only has twenty years to live and proposes to her.

Londo learns that Cartagia plans to let Centauri Prime be destroyed, as the price for his ascendancy to godhood. He also learns that a Vorlon fleet is heading for Centauri Prime, thus hastening his plans to kill him. He convinces Cartagia to travel to Narn to execute G’Kar there publicly, a move which will make him vulnerable and their plans to oust that much easier. G’Kar’s eyes is plucked out, fulfilling the vision Londo has of a one-eyed G’Kar killing him in the future.

Memorable Lines:
Lorien: You heard?
Sheridan: I heard.
Lorien: They need to believe.
Sheridan: Not in me.
Lorien: You can’t save them all.
Sheridan: I can try.
Lorien: You’ll fail.
Sheridan: We’ll see.

Cartagia: You and I, Mollari… we will turn Centauri Prime into an inauguration pyre to commemorate my ascension into godhood. The fire of our world will light my way… If I become a god, how will our world survive without me? I cannot just abandon it, that would be cruel, and anyone who followed me would obviously be inferior. Best to put them out of their misery. I will take it all with me in spirit. Don’t send the ships! Let it burn, Mollari… let it all end in fire!

Garibaldi: That is a hell of a lot of ships.
Ivanova: And more on the way. The captain wants the biggest fleet in history if we’re gonna end this war. The way things are shaping up out there it looks like he just might get it.
Garibaldi: And then what?
Ivanova: And then what what?
Garibaldi: Well if we lose, there is no “then what”, and if we win, what next? We’re still renegades. I don’t think there’s anybody left on this side of the galactic core we haven’t already honked off. We can’t go home. Sometimes I don’t know which scares me more, winning or losing.
Ivanova: God, I thought I was depressing.

Sheridan: It’s an Earth custom. See, you give someone you love an engagement ring as kind of down payment for another ring. The kind you exchange when you get married. I don’t know when we will be able to get around to that part of it. We may not survive the next two weeks, but I wanted you to have this and to know that whatever time I have left, I want to spend it with you.

Lorien: I cannot create life. Only the universe can do that. I can only extend, enhance. There is no magic, nothing spiritual about it. Only the application of energies, healing and rebuilding cells… I did the best I could. I gave him back a portion of his life but… only a portion.
Delenn: How long?
Lorien: In human terms, barring injury and illness, perhaps twenty years. But no more than that… And then, one day, he will simply… stop.

5. The Long Night:
The Shadows begin retaliating against the Vorlons, using their own planet-killers shrouds to destroy any planet where the Vorlons have influence. Sheridan and his staff pour over the two sides strategy and wonder why neither side is attacking the other’s home planet. Instead, they seem to focusing on attacking each others’ allies. They receive word where the next battle will take place, a planet named Coriana 6 with six billion inhabitants.

Sheridan arranges a plan with the alliance war council. They will mass their fleet at Coriana 6 to stop the Vorlon advance, and plans to arrange for the Shadows to be there as well. After dancing around each other since the war began, he hopes to force a confrontation that will force out the truth. He arranges for a copy of their plans to protect Coriana 6 to fall into Shadow hands, and asks Ivanova to resume looking for First Ones so they will have added support when the time comes.

Londo puts his conspiracy in motion. He arranges for G’Kar to break free of his bonds during his trial, and asks that he create a diversion long enough for Vir and Londo to kill him with a poison needle. Everything appears to be working, until Londo learns that Cartagia had G’Kar’s bonds replaced. G’Kar breaks them anyway and causes pandemonium, and in the confusion, Londo is set to kill him. However, Vir is forced to do it when Cartagia begins assaulting Londo.

Vir is traumatized by the act, but is soothed when Londo tells him he’s a good man who did what was needed. Londo fulfills his promise to G’Kar and convinces his people to leave the planet and never come back. The Narns begin to celebrate, and even ask G’Kar to become their new leader. He refuses, claiming he doesn’t want to be a dictator, and plans to return to B5.

Sheridan mobilizes the fleet and they make for Coriana 6.

Significance:
Sheridan and the alliance prepare for their counter-attack, which is to take place where the Vorlons will strike next – Coriana 6. He arranges for the Shadows to be there as well so that they can force a general engagement, a move which he hopes will expose the truth and convince both sides that their charade is over. On Narn, Cartagia is assassinated by Londo and Vir and the two hurry back to Centauri Prime to remove all traces of Shadow influence before the Vorlons can attack. Since G’Kar did his part, Londo delivers on his promise to liberate Narn. Londo and G’Kar’s role in saving their two planets will lead to both of them becoming heroes amongst their people. Londo will become Emperor (as he foresaw) and G’Kar will become a religious icon. Given the outcome of this, neither of them will be too happy about it!

Memorable Lines:
Londo: Great Maker! Your eye! Cartagia?
G’Kar: My eye offended him. Doesn’t matter. I can see things now that were invisible to me before. An empty eye sees through to an empty heart.

Ivanova: It’s like two giants fighting in a sandbox. They don’t even care who’s getting stepped on anymore.

Garibaldi: It’s all hit and run stuff. They come in with just firepower to protect their planet killers and then blow everything to hell and jump out again… Meanwhile, they’re using these attacks to keep the other side off balance, soften em up. What I don’t understand is, why don’t they just attack each others homeworld?

Garibaldi: (referring to a Shadow planet-killer) Anyone want to tell me how the hell we’re supposed to stop that?

Vir: Don’t you understand? I’ve never done anything like this before! I close my eyes and I always see his face! …Don’t you know that all I ever wanted was a good job. Small title, nothing fancy. A wife I could love… maybe even one that could love someone like me. I never wanted to be here! I never wanted to know the things that I know or to do… to do the things that I’ve done.

Londo: I remember when you first arrived on Babylon 5. You were so… full of life, innocent. I was not kind to you. I treated you poorly. I think that I did that because I was envious of you. Envious that you had come so far and were still… innocent, in your way… I cannot tell you that your pain will ever go away. I cannot tell you that you will ever forget his face. I can only tell you that it was necessary. You may have helped to save our people. You did a hard thing, but you still have your heart, and your heart is a good one… And for that, I find that I still envy you.

Sheridan: Now they’ve been dancing around each other ever since this turned into a shooting war. Taking out support systems, colonies, destroying supply lines… They’ve been avoiding direct confrontation and I think I know why.
Delenn: We are going to force the issue by making sure the Shadows are there when the Vorlons come out.
Sheridan: If they want Armageddon, then by God, let’s give it to them!

Sheridan: When I took command of Babylon 5 I found a note on my desk. Someone had left it there for me. It was a poem by Tennyson. I still remember the last part of it: “Though we are not now of that strength, Which in old days moved earth and heaven, That which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, But strong in will, To strive, to seek, To find and not to yield.”

6. Into the Fire:
Ivanova succeeds in finding the last of the First Ones, and with Lorien’s help, convinces them to go to Coriana 6 to fight alongside them. Meanwhile, Sheridan and the fleet are mounting attacks on Vorlon facilities so they can slow their advance long enough to get their forces into position. Once they’ve destroyed a listening post, he joins up with the fleet and they proceed to the Coriana system. Once they are all in position, they set up their tactical nukes as mines, and wait…

Back on Centauri Prime, Londo is busy trying to remove all traces of Shadow influence. In the course of things, he is told by one of the Ministers that while investigating Adira’ death, he learned the truth about who killed her. In order to protect their alliance, Cartagia ordered the Minister to stay quiet about it. Now that Cartagia is dead, he tells him that Morden was responsible. Londo is outraged and meets with Morden shortly thereafter. He tells him to remove his ships. Morden refuses, forcing Londo to blow up the island. He then sentences Morden to die, but not before Morden warns him that even if the Shadows, they have allies who will punish him for what he’s done.

At Coriana, the Vorlon and Shadow fleets arrive simultaneously and begin attacking each other. Initially, they ignore Sheridan’s fleet, but that changes when Sheridan begins setting off the nukes. Ivanova shows up in time to join the fight, and all hell breaks loose as a three-way battle ensues! Sheridan issues several pleas to the Vorlons to leave the planet alone, but to no avail. The Vorlon planet killer gets in range, and Sheridan is forced to call in the First Ones. They arrive and destroy it, which prompts the Vorlons to call in all their reinforcements.

Londo tells Vir he has sent the Vorlons word that he’s removed all traces of Shadow influence and expects they will turn back. However, Vir tells him that he, one of the Shadow’s chief agents, is still there, just as the Vorlon fleet appears in orbit. Londo orders Vir to kill him, but he is saved when the Vorlon fleet gets the order to redeploy to Coriana 6. They are saved!

After they learn that the Vorlons are getting reinforcements, Lyta is taken over by the Vorlons and puts Sheridan into a psychic trance where he will be able to talk directly to them. She puts Delenn in a similar one with the Shadows, and both are forced to listen as they make their cases again. They are told that they must choose sides, but reply that they won’t be pawns in it anymore and have decided to make their own way. The Shadows and Vorlons both claim that they will continue to fight and die because there is no other way. They then realize that Lorien has been listening in on their conversation and has been letting the the rest of the fleet do the same.

Realizing that their agenda has been revealed, the Shadows pull their planet killing shroud over the fleet and threaten to destroy Delenn and Sheridan’s ship. However, other ships begin moving in and shielding it from incoming missiles. They tell them its over, and Lorien tells them its time to leave and let the younger races find their own way. He agrees to come with them though so they will not be alone. Both sides leave, as does Lorien, and the fleet returns to B5.

Delenn and Sheridan celebrate together and reflect on how the universe now feel different that the First Ones have gone forever. Sheridan says that it feels like some of the magic is gone, but Delenn replies that now they “make their own magic”.

Significance:
The battle at Coriana 6 is won, thanks to the alliance making a stand against both the Vorlons and the Shadows. Both decide to leave the galaxy, thus ending the time of the First Ones and beginning the Third Age, where the younger races will begin to forge their own destinies. This victory is the first step towards the creation of the Interstellar Alliance, something that Delenn told Sheridan (when he visited the future) would last a thousand years but come at a terrible price. Londo learns the truth about Adira’s death and executes Morden to save Centauri Prime. Like G’Kar, he returns to B5 to reprise his role as representative of his race.

Memorable Lines:
Lyta Alexander: I’ve heard that some of the Vorlons would be within striking distance of Centauri Prime about the same time we reach Coriana 6. So… why are we here instead of there?
Marcus Cole: 6 billion lives on Coriana. 3 billion lives on Centauri Prime. We have enough ships to make a stand at one of them, so which do you choose? It’s numbers – cold, unsympathetic numbers. Let’s just hope we pulled enough of the Vorlons away to give the Centauri a chance, or if they’ve gotten rid of any Shadow influences by now. Otherwise, I wouldn’t give you 2 cents for their chances.

Lorien: I am the last, and…I was the first.
Ivanova: I have to admit, I’m a little bit skeptical about that.
Lorien: Skepticism is the language of the mind. What does your heart tell you?
Ivanova: My heart and I don’t speak anymore.
Lorien: So I’ve noticed.

Lorien: We lived too long… seen too much. To live on as we have is to leave behind joy, and love, and companionship, because we know it to be transitory, of the moment. We know it will turn to ash. Only those whose lives are brief can imagine that love…is eternal. You should embrace that remarkable illusion. It may be the greatest gift your race has ever received.

Sheridan: Morning gentlemen, this is your wake up call.
Lyta: Captain?
Sheridan: Hmmm?
Lyta: They’re pissed.

Londo: I will have to have that painted over, I suppose.
Morden: You’re insane!
Londo: On any other day, Mr. Morden, you would be wrong. today? Today is a very different day! One last time, remove your ships!
Morden: No. You don’t frighten us Mollari. If you go up against our ships, you’ll lose!
Londo: Yes, you’re ships are very impressive in the air, or in space. But at this moment, they are on the ground.
Morden: Alright… they’re on the ground. But they can sense an approaching ship miles away. So what are you going to do, Mollari? Blow up the island?
Londo: Actually… now that you mention it (holds up a detonator)

Morden: You just made a mistake, Londo! Even if my associates lose this war, they have allies! They’ll make sure Centauri Prime pays the price for what you’ve done today!
Londo: What I have done? Oh, Mr. Morden… I haven’t even started with you yet!

Marcus: Did we just win?
Ivanova: Don’t jinx it.

Sheridan: It’s a new age, Delenn. A third age.
Delenn: Why third?
Sheridan: Well, we began in chaos, too primitive to make our own decisions. Then we were manipulated by forces from outside that thought they knew what was best for us. And now, – Now we’re finally standing on our own.

Delenn: Strange. The galaxy seems somehow smaller now that the First Ones are gone forever.
Sheridan: Feels like the magic’s gone.
Delenn: No. Not gone. Now we make our own magic. Now we create our own legends. Now we build the future. Now we stop…
Sheridan: Being afraid… of Shadows.

7. Epiphanies:
The war is over and all over B5, people are celebrating. However, back at Earth, Clark has decided to mount a new campaign against B5. Having lost his support with the Shadows, he’s now determined to bring Sheridan down in the hopes it will break the back of the resistance. Having been apprised of his plans, Bester travels to B5 to warn the captain. Phase one of the program involves propaganda, whereas phase two will involve a planned attack on a nearby station and making it look like B5 was responsible. In exchange, Bester wants to travel to Z’ha’dum to find something that will help them cure the telepaths the Shadows took from the Psi Corps, including the woman he loves.

Ivanova and a wing of B5’s Starfuries travel to the nearby station and take out the Psi Corps fighter wing that is attempting the attack. While in transit, Bester tells Lyta that he knows the Vorlons changed her and tries to convince her to come home. Sheridan and the others arrive at Z’ha’dum to see if being evacuated, and then watch it explode. Afterward, Sheridan confronts Lyta and tells her he knows she was responsible for setting off the destruction sequence, which she does not deny

Garibaldi resigns his commission and becomes a freelance investigator. G’Kar is examined by Franklin and offered a prosthetic eye.

Significance:
Garibaldi’s surprise retirement comes after he gets a strange transmission from an unknown source. This, plus the flashbacks he keeps having, is another indication that someone is pulling his strings. In time, his career as a freelancer and growing opposition to Sheridan and his policies will bring him into the service of Bill Edgars, an industrialist who has his own plans to bring Clark down and who wants to stop Sheridan from doing it his way.

Memorable Lines:
Sheridan:
Captain’s personal log: the Shadow War is over. We won. But I can’t stop thinking about what it cost us and how much work is still ahead of us. Then again, maybe the doc’s right. Embrace the moment. In the end, it’s all we have. Trouble will come, in it’s own time, it always does. But that’s tomorrow. Give me today and I will be happy.

G’Kar: I have seen what power does, and I have seen what power costs. The one is never equal to the other.

Londo: Tired? No, don’t be absurd. Why, the Emperor himself said I would only be allowed to leave over his dead body. I thought, “Well, how strange. Mr. Allan said I would only be allowed back onto Babylon 5 over his dead body.” With my busy schedule I’m afraid I can only accommodate so many requests. I’m sorry, Mr. Allan, but I’m afraid you’ll simply have to wait your turn!
Zack
: The only reason that guy is still alive is that half the time I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. The other half, I wish I didn’t.

Bester: Ms. Alexander has no business being here. She’s a blip! By all rights, I should arrest her and take her back with me.
Sheridan
: Oh, you could do that. And I could nail your head to the table, set fire to it, and feed your charred remains to the Pak’ma’ra. But…it’s an imperfect world, and we never get exactly what we want. So get used to it!

Bester: Whatever’s happened to you, you have a moral obligation to share it with the Corps, Lyta. The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father.
Lyta
: In that case, Mr. Bester…I’m an orphan.

Bester: (referring to Z’ha’dum) Is that it? It looks like hell
Sheridan: That’s about right.

Sheridan: I was just thinking about those ships we saw leaving Z’Ha’Dum. Delenn called them the allies of the Shadows, dark servants. We don’t know what they took when they left, where they’re going or what they plan to do… I just wish I knew where they were going.

8. Lines of Communication:
Clark’s campaign against B5 continues and Sheridan decides to counter by creating the “Voice of the Resistance”, a broadcast dedicated to bringing people the truth about Clark’s regime and the war against him. Sheridan sends Marcus and Franklin on to Mars to coordinate plans with the resistance there. They have learned that the Shadows are involved when they pull one of their monitoring devices off a member of the resistance.

Delenn goes off to investigate attacks on shipping lines and discovers that it is being perpetrated by the Drahk, one of the Shadows allies. One of her caste has tried to arrange an alliance with them due to growing tensions between the warrior and religious castes back at home. Delenn and her escort of White Stars engage the Drakh ships and destroy them, and she realizes she must return home to deal with the situation.

Significance:
The “Voice of the Resistance” is the first step towards the liberation of Earth for Sheridan and his alliance. As is the discovery of the Drakh, who’s attacks on shipping lines will force Sheridan to use the White Star fleet to patrol the other races borders. In exchange for this aid, Sheridan is able to gain their cooperation when the time comes to launch his campaign to overthrow Clark. The discovery of the Drakh is also the first time that the fabled “allies of the shadows” are seen since the destruction of Z’ha’dum. Now that they know who and where Delenn and the others are, they will surely be looking for a chance to strike back at them.

Memorable Lines:
Sheridan:
You have a face people trust.
Ivanova: I’d rather have a face people fear.
Sheridan: That too!

Sheridan: Why not come up with a way to turn the war room into- I don’t know, – The Voice of the Resistance! Susan, during World War II, the French Resistance used to go on the air for one hour a night, always from a different location, broadcasting the *real* news about the war. Providing intelligence for the resistance fighters, encouraging Germans to defect. Well, why can’t we do the same thing here?
Ivanova: Why do I get the ugly suspicion that you’re volunteering me for this job?
Sheridan: I accept your offer!

Marcus
: Touch passion when it comes your way, Stephen. It’s rare enough as it is. Don’t walk away when it calls you by name.

Franklin: Look, I was just helping her out of a difficult situation, that’s all…
Marcus Cole: Fifty credits says that’s not all she wants you to help her out of.

Delenn: Before the war, Dukhat wanted to know more about your people, so I began studying your history. I came to the conclusion that of all the races we had encountered, humans were the most dangerous. Because humans form communities. And from that diversity comes a strength that no single race can withstand. That is your strength. And it is that which makes you dangerous.

Sheridan: I’m tired, Delenn. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve been carrying this station on my back and crawling through broken glass for three years.

9. Rumours, Bargains and Lies:
Due to the increase in raids perpetrated by raiders and Drakh, Sheridan decides to use the White Star fleet to patrol League worlds. However, knowing it will be difficult to convince them to accept this, he decides to trick them into thinking there is an impending threat and that he’s withholding information from them. In the end, they demand that he put his ship’s in their borders, give him full authority to run them and will assist in larger operations with their own fleet.

Civil war breaks out on Mimbar. Delenn meets with Neroon to discuss an alliance so that they can end it before it destroys their society. He agrees, and an attempt to kill everyone on board their ship is narrowly averted by Lennier. Neroon leaves the ship and appears to be betraying them, reporting back to his leader that their plans for war should proceed and that religious caste will easily be beaten.

Significance:
Sheridan’s decision to use the White Star fleet to partol the borders of the League worlds will be of great importance in getting the League to sign on to his campaign to liberate Earth. It also provides a blueprint for the Alliance which will be formed shortly thereafter. The way he goes about tricking them into allowing this is also one of the funniest things in the show’s history! This episodes definitely has some of the best lines of the series, most of which belong to Londo.

Delenn’s decision to unite with Neroon to end the civil war on Mimbari will also have long-term consequences. Although it appears that he is betraying her, their overall plan is to trick the leader of the warrior caste in demonstrated he doesn’t have the integrity to lead their people. This allows Delenn to reform the Grey Council later on, but this time stack it with members of the Worker Caste so that religion and warrior codes won’t be determining policy anymore.

Memorable Lines:
Sheridan: I can’t confirm that.
Drazi Ambassador
: But you’re not denying it either.
Sheridan
: But not denying it doesn’t make it true any more than not confirming it makes it false. – Are you with me so far?
Drazi Ambassador
: I’m not sure.
Sheridan
: Ambassador, there are so many things in the universe that are and so many things that aren’t. If I were to take the time to deny all the things that aren’t, we’d be here for centuries, wouldn’t we?

Londo: Well, Captain, you will forgive me if I appear a bit slow. I have studied your race quite a bit and there are still several aspects of your psychology I don’t understand. A place called Winchester Mansion with stairs that don’t go anywhere… something called Country and Western… and the less said about the comedy team of Reebo and Zooty the better. However –
Sheridan: You don’t like Reebo and Zooty? They’re hysterical!
Londo: Are they? I’m sorry, I apparently mistook you for a human with some taste and sensibility. After that last broadcast, everywhere I went on the station, someone was going “Zooty? Zoot zoot!” at me!
Sheridan: That was a great routine!
Londo: I didn’t get it!
Sheridan: Not my problem!
Londo: My point, if you will allow me to make it, is that there is much about the human mind that I don’t understand. So perhaps you will explain to me how allowing your ships to patrol the border of Centauri space will inspire the rest of the League to do the same if I can’t even tell them that we are doing it!
Sheridan: Londo… trust me. (turns to leave) Zooty! Zoot zoot!

Londo: I told you, I have no idea what you are talking about!
Drazi: These White Star ships were seen on your borders, Ambassador! Our pilots –
Londo: You’re pilots – you’re pilots should have their eyes examined. I don’t know how they see out of them anyway. Tiny, beady, squinty little things aren’t they? …No the maker has not been kind to you. Must be terrible trying to fly at night without running into entire planets!
Drazi: Are you saying the Centauri do not know what ships are patrolling their borders?
Londo: Of course WE know! The Maker has given us great, big yes and great big scanners and great big… Well that is no concern of yours. Look, isn’t there someone else you can harass? My life is already so full of joy as it is!

Ivanova: First, one brief announcement. I just wanted to mention for those who have asked that… absolutely nothing whatsoever happened today in sector eighty-three by nine by twelve. I repeat, nothing happened… please remain calm.

10. No Surrender, No Retreat:
After a brutal attack on civilians, Sheridan decides to finally mount a military campaign to liberate Earth. Their first target is Proxima III, a border colony that has been resisting the institution of martial law for some time. After securing the cooperation of the League, Sheridan dispatches the White Star fleet to the planet and begins taking on the Earth Alliance destroyers stationed there. After a pitch battle, he is able to convince some of the Captains to join him in his campaign while placing the other’s under arrest.

Back on B5, Londo approaches G’Kar and suggests a joint declaration on behalf of their two worlds. Much like how they were the first to support Sheridan’s decision to use the White Star fleet to patrol their borders, Londo suggest that they declare their open support for Sheridan and his efforts in the hopes that the rest of the League will follow. G’Kar initially refuses, but decides to take Londo up on his offer.

Significance:
Sheridan’s campaign to liberate Earth begins and he immediately has defectors who choose to join him in bringing down Clark. In time, this will lead to Garibaldi’s betrayal of him, his realization of what Bester did to him, intervention by the League, and Sheridan’s ultimate rescue and successful liberation of Earth. In addition, this epsiode gets top marks for intensity and kick-ass action!

Memorable Lines:
Sheridan:
Captain’s personal log. Septeber 2, 2261. Enough is enough.

Vir: I don’t always like the way Londo does things, and…well, me and most civilized worlds, but…you know, sometimes he’s right. So I force myself to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Sheridan: Sorry to call you together at this early hour, but we don’t have a lot of time. – Commander.
Ivanova: For the last month or so ships from Babylon 5 have been patrolling the borders of your governments. Since we’ve been protecting you from Raiders and border skirmishes the number of incidences has decreased by 70 percent. May we assume that you are all happy with this arrangement?
Sheridan: Good, because now there’s a price tag…

G’Kar: During their war with the Minbari, I supervised arms sales to Earth. They promised to held us when we needed them. But where was Earth when our borders were being attacked? Where was Earth when the Shadows were rampaging across our territories? They did nothing! We owe them nothing in return.

Corwin: So from now on, I guess the operational phrase is “trust no one”.
Ivanova:
No. Trust Ivanova. Trust yourself. Anyone else? Shoot ’em.

Sheridan: The hostiles might be splitting up so they can be with both groups, to keep them in line.
Cole
: Unless they’re all hostile, and some are just more hostile than others.
Sheridan
: Thank you for the ray of sunshine, Marcus. Next time I feel the need to be depressed, I’ll remember to give you a call.

11. Face of the Enemy:
Sheridan’s campaign continues. The fighting is growing more desperate the closer they are getting to Earth. After a tense battle, he has a reunion with his old ship, the Agamemnon, who’s Captain and crew have decided to join them. On Mars, Lyta and Franklin meet with the resistance again and present them with some strange cargo: a shipment of Psi Corps telepaths that they took from the Shadows. They learn that the resistance is hostile to telepaths because Clark’s forces are using them to conduct interrogations.

Meanwhile, Garibaldi is told by Edgars that if he wants to know everything about his plans, he must turn Sheridan in. He contacts Sheridan and tells him they have his father and lures him into a trap. Tranquilizing him, he is taken by Earth agents into custody. Ivanova takes command of the fleet and decides to press on. Garibaldi returns to Edgar’s compound and learns the truth. Edgar’s has developed a plague that effects only telepaths, as well as the cure. The point of the disease is to control telepaths, which are the key to Clark’s power and the real threat.

Once he’s heard everything, Garibaldi sets off a trace device and meets with Bester. Clearly, he’s under telepathic control, and shares the details of Edgar’s plans. In exchange, Bester tells Garibaldi exactly what happened to him after the Shadows took him. Apparently, he was in the custody of the Psi Corps where they conditioned him to make him more paranoid so he would turn on Sheridan. As a bonus, he also enlisted with Edgars and uncovered another Shadow plot, aside from Clark’s bid for power, to keep human telepaths under control. He leaves Garibaldi alive who, now free of his influence, realizes what he has done.

Significance:
Sheridan is captured by officers loyal to Clark and Garibaldi learns the truth about his capture. Hints are also given as to what the Telepath War will be about, which takes place later in the franchise’s storyline. We also see just how deep the Shadows agenda went with Earth, how in addition to using Clark to sow the seeds of chaos, they were also hoping to neutralize the Psi Corps which they knew to be a threat to them.

Memorable Lines:
Ivanova:
Commander’s personal log. The war to liberate Earth and her colonies continues. We have more Earth ships on our side than ever before but the battles are becoming more desperate the closer we get to home.

Edgars: The truth will be revealed in a couple of days. How many people can say that?
Garibaldi
: I don’t know. But I think the last guy got thirty pieces of silver for the same job.

Edgars: If information is power, then telepaths are the greatest threat to freedom we’ve ever seen. We have to deal with that, or face the very real possibility of our own extinction… This vial does contain a cure Mr. Garibaldi. It took my people three years to develop it. Almost as long as it took us to develop the virus itself…

Wade: It’s the tyranny of evolution. Sooner or later, you have a species that will have a genetic or technological advantage and that species will always conquer a species without that advantage. Carthage, the triumph of the Homo sapiens over the Neanderthal showed us that. Now what do we have? We have Homo superior versus Homo sapiens. On a level playing field, Homo superior wins every time.
Garibaldi:
Unless we cheat.

Ivanova: What’s going on? You all look like a Pak’ma’ra just ate your cat.

Bester: I knew there were forced out there with plans for my telepaths but this… I had no idea. The sheer scope of it… This virus that kills only telepaths, I bet good money its Shadow technology. They probably got it to him through third parties, helped his people work out the details. We both know that telepaths were a threat to the Shadows, one they wouldn’t mind eliminating. It’s ingenious really… they played Clark’s bid for power on one side, and Edgar’s fear of telepaths on the other. Leaving us in the middle… controlled… or dead.

12. Between the Darkness and the Light:
Sheridan is still being tortured in an Earth facility. After setting out to find them, Garibaldi is captured by the Mars resistance. Thanks to Lyta’s telepathic abilities, he is able to convince them that Bester was using him. He, Lyta and Franklin then set off to rescue Sheridan. Given that ISN and Clark’s government are hailing him as a hero, Garibaldi is able to learn where Sheridan is being held and are able to pull him out of the prison facility. Shaken and weakened, he is nevertheless alive and able to resume command. At the same time, Delenn discovers that the League has come together to support Sheridan. Building on Londo and G’Kar’s declaration, they have decided to offer military aid to his fleet.

Ivanova presses on towards Earth at the head of the fleet. She learns from one of the defecting officers that an elite destroyer group is waiting for them just outside of Mars. Taking the White Star fleet ahead, they encounter a fleet of hybrid destroyers that have been merged with Shadow technology. After a difficult fight, they destroy the group, but Ivanova is severely injured after their ship collides with a piece of debris. Sheridan is brought back to the fleet just in time to see her before they send her back to B5 for emergency treatment. Sheridan takes command of the Agamemnon to lead the final push to Earth.

Significance:
The results of Earth Force’s own use of Shadow technology is finally revealed. The battle scene which takes place here is one of the coolest of the season, perhaps the show! Though she is victorious in breaking their counter-attack, Ivanova is seriously injured and is expected to die. And now that Sheridan has been rescued and is back in command of the fleet, it seems that nothing can stop them from liberating Earth.

Memorable Lines:
Lyta
: Michael, if I do a deep scan, it could damage you.
Garibaldi
: And if you don’t, they’re gonna kill me. Now, a headache I can get over. I’m not sure I’m gonna get over being dead anytime soon.

Franklin: Michael are you alright?
Garibaldi:
I just realized, I need a whole lot more fiber in my diet.

Garibaldi: (checking canteen) Okay, who gulped? Somebody gulped. We have got a long way to go. We’re supposed to sip, not gulp.
Franklin
: I didn’t gulp.
Lyta
: I sipped.
Garibaldi
: (to Lyta) You I believe.
Franklin
: What? Why do you believe her and not me?
Garibaldi
: Because when you lie, it’s all over your face. She’s a better liar than you are.
Lyta
: Thank you. Wait a minute! What do you mean I’m a good liar?

Ivanova: Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova, Commander. Daughter of Andre and Sophie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart! I am death incarnate, and the last living thing that you will ever see. God sent me.

13. Endgame:
Sheridan and the fleet head for Earth. In their way is the largest massing of Earth destroyers since the Battle of the Line, under the command of Sheridan’s old colleague, General Robert Lefcourt. In order to bypass them, Sheridan’s plan involving the telepaths is put underway. After taking over a series of bases on the surface, the altered telepaths are shipped to the destroyers. Once they awaken, they begin to merge with the destroyer’s machinery which disables most of them. The White Star fleet then jumps in to disable those ships that are still functional.

Sheridan and the fleet move on to Earth. After announcing their intent, Clark sets Earth’s defense satellites to obliterate the surface and commits suicide. Members of the Earth Senate take over his office and send word to Sheridan. His fleet begin taking down the satellites, but it looks like the Agamemnon will have to sacrifice itself to destroy the last of them. However, Lefcourt’s ship jumps in in time to destroy it and saves Sheridan’s life. With the war now over, Sheridan goes to Earth to await judgement for his actions.

Significance:
After much build-up, the telepaths that Sheridan and his people intercepted and have been studying are finally used to help end the civil war. Realizing he’s going to lose, Clark commits suicide and shows just how insane he is when he tries to initiate a “scorched earth” policy, using Earth’s own defensive satellites. Sheridan’s victory over Clark’s forces signals the end of the campaign to liberate Earth and the beginning of Earth’s entry into the Interstellar Alliance. Also, Marcus learns about the technology that can save Ivanova and sacrifices his own life to save her. This will in turn convince Ivanova to leave B5.

Memorable Lines:
Marcus:
She would want to be here for the battle, conscious or otherwise.
Delenn:
I know. But we must do what’s best for her.
Marcus:
She’s dying. What is there to do?
Delenn:
Make her comfortable in her last hours. We cannot do that here. On Babylon 5, they will see to all her needs – as long as she has them.

Marcus: Look, Sheridan practically came back from the dead! We’ve all been through six kinds of hell in the last few years. Don’t tell me there’s nothing we can do!

Lefcourt: Sheridan was one of my students back at the academy. I taught him everything he knows. I know how he thinks, I know how he fights, and to tell you the truth, I’ve always admired him. And now I’m going to have to kill him, and his ship, and everyone around him. It’s a terrible day, Charlie. I wish I’d never lived to see it.

Resistance member: You can’t form a jump point inside the atmosphere, not this close! They’ll plow right into the ground, they’ll tear this whole place apart!
Garibaldi: Well you can if you got location information accurate to a few feet. And I just made sure they got it.
Franklin:
Well, I assume that you wokred out that whole longitude, latitude thing. I – I know you get confused sometimes.
Garibaldi: You’re right – your right, I keep mixing them up. I got it right! Well… I think I got it right. Okay, which goes vertically, longitude or latitude? 

Lefcourt: Engineering. This is General Lefcourt. In case you hadn’t noticed, the enemy just pulled our shorts over our head and tied them in a knot. You will get this ship under control ASAP or I will come down there and skin the hide off every last one of you!

Sheridan: This is Captain John Sheridan. We are here on the authority of a multi-planetary force, that can no longer stand by and watch one of their greatest allies falling into darkness and despair. We are here on behalf of the thousands of civilians murdered under orders from the current administration, who have no one else to speak for them, and on behalf of the EarthForce units that have joined us to oppose the tyranny that has darkened Earth, ever since President Santiago was assassinated three years ago. We are here to place President Clark under arrest, to disband Nightwatch, and return our government to the hands of her people. We know that many in the government have wanted to act, but have been intimidated by threats of retaliation against your families, your friends. You are not alone anymore. We call upon you to rise up and do what’s right! We have drawn their forces away from Earth and disabled them. The time to act is now! This is not the voice of treason. These are your sons, your daughters, whose loyalties have never wavered, whose beliefs in this alliance has [sic] forced us to take extraordinary means! For justice, for peace, for the future…we have come home!

Lefcourt: Sorry for the delay, Captain. But we had some trouble on Mars. You might’ve heard something about it.
Sheridan:
Well, my apologies, General. We were only doing our jobs.
Lefcourt:
Though you’ll have to stand before a Board of Inquiry on this one Sheridan… still… Welcome home John… Welcome.

Marcus: (as he’s giving his life energy to Ivanova) I love you.

14. The Deconstruction of Falling Stars:
Sheridan and Delenn return to B5 to get married and begin working on the Interstellar Alliance. After the ceremonies take place, Sheridan wonders aloud if they will be remembered for what they’ve started. The episode then jumps ahead to show historical records of how he, Delenn and the ISA are remembered, 100 years, 500 years, 1000 years, and 1 million years into the future. Through this, we are given glimpses of events that are still to come, such as the Telepath War, the Second Earth Alliance Civil War, the Great Burn, the rebuilding that takes place under the watchful eye of the Rangers, and when humanity leaves Earth to settle in another corner of the Galaxy.

Ultimately, the recordings are part of a grand archive humanity is creating to honor Sheridan, Delenn, and the people who made B5’s mission a reality. The being responsible for compiling them turns out to be a human who is very much like a Vorlon now, a being of energy who lives inside an encounter suit, who then leaves Earth in a Ranger ship shortly before the Sun goes supernova. We then Shierdan and Delenn lying in bed, Sheridan saying that future generations probably won’t remember them, but Delenn assuring him that they did what they did because it was right and that history will take care of it itself.

The season ends with the words: DEDICATED TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO PREDICTED THAT THE BABYLON PROJECT WOULD FAIL IN ITS MISSION. FAITH MANAGES.

Significance:
This show was apparently intended as a potential series ender, should season five never make it to production. By giving us glimpses of the future, it established some key elements in the deep storyline and wrapped up everything from the previous seasons. Delenn and Sheridan get married, some more wars transpire, the Alliance endures until another civil war devastates Earth, humanity rebuilds and eventually visits the Vorlon homeworld (as Lyta told them they would), and in one way or another, it is all because of B5, Delenn, Sheridan, and all the others who played a role in wining the Shadow War and creating the ISA. I can honestly say the episode was one of the more sentimental of the series, and in many ways was a better ending than the actual final episode, though I’m glad they did get to make the final season!

Memorable Lines:
Londo
: So Doctor…who died?
Franklin
: What are you talking about?
Londo
: Among my people this is how we celebrate state funerals. Our marriage ceremonies are solemn, sober. Moments of reflection…also regret, disagreement, argument and mutual recrimination. Once you know it can’t get any worse you can sit back and enjoy the marriage. But to start with something like this? No, it is a very bad sign for the future.
Londo
: Perhaps it is something I said?
G’Kar
: Perhaps it is everything you say.

Garibaldi: The funny thing about being a holographic record is is that you don’t really exist except in patterns of light, shadow, information. And I happen to have a knack for breaking system codes. So while you were downloading the new world order into me, I was watching the system work. I know where it comes in, and I know where it comes out. And I just sent out our entire conversation. Broadcast the whole damn thing. So… as of right now, the enemy knows what you have in mind, Danny. Now from your recrods they’re actually a lot more humanitarian than you are so they’ll probably just target your military bases and research facilities. Hell, their missiles are probably halfway here by now.
Daniel:
You’re lying!
Garibaldi: 
(alarm goes off) Holograms don’t lie, Danny boy.
Daniel: Computer, end simulation… END SIMULATION!
Garibaldi: Whoops, guess the system is busy!  This little lab of yours, this isn’t by any chance located on a military base is it?
Daniel:
NO! (runs out)
Garibaldi:
(looks at the others) Rest easy, friends. Rest easy.

Brother Alwyn: We will rebuild the Earth, though it take us another two thousand years. But this time, we will build it better… Alwyn, Anla-shok, Earth Sector, end report. We live for the one, we die for the one.

Exeter: This is how the world ends, swallowed in fire, but not in darkness. You will live on. The voice of all our ancestors, the voice of our fathers and our mothers to the last generation. We created the world we think you would’ve wished for us. And now we leave the cradle for the last time.

Sheridan: …and I was wondering if they will remember us in hundred years from now or a thousand. And I figure probably not.
Delenn
: But it does not matter. We did what we did because it was right and not to be remembered. And history will attend to itself. It always does.

B5, Season 3 Best Episodes

Season Three was named “Point of No Return” for good reason. It was the season where everything hit the fan and there was no going back.  The Shadow War began, B5 broke away from the Earth Alliance, the temporal plot and purpose of the Great Machine was fulfilled, and Sheridan finally went to Z’ha’dum. So of course, there were plenty of big, great and significant episodes. Here are the one’s I liked best and why.

1. Matter of Honor:
A representative from Earth Force Special Intelligence (David Endawi) comes to B5 to investigate the matter of the Shadow vessel. After talking with all the ambassadors, he learns a few disturbing facts. G’Kar relates what he has learned from the book of G’Quan and his own investigations out on the rim. Londo relates a nightmare he has where he can see countless Shadow vessels passing overhead while he is standing on Centauri Prime. And Delenn claims she knows nothing about it. Naturally, she is lying…

Londo meets with Morden and tells him he wants to end their relationship. Morden reluctantly agrees, but first, they must divvy up the assets. He agrees to let the Centauri hold a quarter of the Galaxy, in return, they will get the rest and the two sides will go their separate ways. As an addendum, he asks that Londo let them take one world in between, a world which he has already asked Lord Refa to blockade for them. Londo is startled to know that Morden is in contact with someone else in the royal court.

At about the same time, another visitor comes to B5, a Ranger named Marcus Cole. After escaping from a world on the border of Centauri space, he comes to B5 to ask for their help in liberating the colony. For years, the Rangers have been using it as a training base and now it seems that the Centauri are moving in and blockading it. Sheridan is shown the White Star, a prototype Mimbari-Vorlon creation that will be the mainstay of the alliance in the coming war. They fly to the planet, just as a Shadow vessel appears and engages them. They narrowly defeat it by luring it into a jump gate and opening a seperate jump point inside it, which creates a massive explosion that kills the pursuing ship.

Endawi returns home and tells Earth Force Intelligence that he was unable to learn anything of value. We then see the head of Intelligence meeting with Morden and a representative of the Psi Corps. Morden is pleased that nothing was turned up, but is told by the Psi Corps representative that fears of nebulous alien threat that this sighting has caused could prove useful to their agenda…

Significance:
This episode introduces Marcus Cole and the Rangers, who’s existence has been mentioned before but will now be of extreme importance. Started by Sinclair on Mimbar and made up of largely human volunteers, these are to be the foot soldiers in the coming Shadow War. The White Star, which is also introduced in this episode, is to be the mainstay of their fleet.

After growing uneasy about his alliance with Morden and his “associates”, Londo has finally broken it off, only to learn that Lord Refa is attempting to forge one of his own. In time, this will pit Londo and Refa against each other, and give Londo a chance to redeem his mistakes. Finally, we learn that Morden and the Shadows have made friends back at Earth, and may have had a hand in assassinating Santiago and installing Clark. Already we have learned that the point of their alliances is to sow chaos and discord before they attack. Clearly, backing Clark’s conspiracy is part of that plan.

Memorable Lines:
Sheridan: You’ve been back and forth to your homeworld so many times since you got here, how do I know you’re the same Vorlon? Inside that Encounter Suit you could be anyone.
Kosh: I have always been here.
Sheridan: Oh yeah? You said that about me too.
Kosh: Yes.
Sheridan: I really hate it when you do that.
Kosh: Good.

Londo: My people have a manifest destiny. They can achieve it just as well without the help of your associates, perhaps better.
Morden: So we’re no longer necessary?
Londo: That’s right.
Morden: And now that we’ve done everything you’ve asked, you’d like us to just.. disappear.
Londo: I do believe you have got it surrounded, Mr. Morden!
Morden: Aren’t you being premature? After all, you’re people are moving on several other worlds. You might still need us.
Londo: No, I don’t think so. We have danced our last little dance Mr. Morden. Now it is time for you… to go away.

Sheridan: (looking at the footage of a Shadow vessel) A few months ago, you told me about an ancient race, the Shadows. This is one of theirs, isn’t it?
Delenn: These ships, once they target you they never stop, never slow down, never give up until they’ve destroyed you… and nearly invincible.
Sheridan: I don’t believe that. Every ship has a weakness.
Delenn: Believe what you will, til experience changes your mind. Take a good look, John, and remember it well. That is the face of our enemy.

Garibaldi: I’m not authorized for that kind of information.
Endawi: But… you’re the head of Security.
Garibaldi: And what kind of head of Security would I be if I let people like me know things that I’m not supposed to know? I mean, I know what I know because I have to know it, and if I don’t have to know it, I don’t tell me, and I don’t let anyone else tell me, either. Now look, we’ve tried most of the other ambassadors. Why don’t you speak to G’Kar? Maybe he knows something about this ship.
Endawi: Under the terms of our recent treaty, I am not authorized to have any official conversation with the Narn without Centauri approval.
Garibaldi: So you’ll ask unofficially. And I can give you reasonable assurances that the head of Security will not report you for doing so.
Endawi: Because you won’t tell yourself about it.
Garibaldi: I try never to get involved in my own life. Too much trouble.

Delenn: We must find help. We cannot hope to destroy a ship like that alone.
Sheridan: With all due respect, Ambassador, I’ve heard that before.

Ivanova: Captain, the day something happens around here and I don’t know about it, worry
Sheridan: Tell me, Commander…have you ever wondered what would happen if you opened a jump point while inside a jump gate?
Ivanova: No! And neither should you! EarthForce experimented with the idea during the Minbari War. They called it the Bonehead Maneuver. (to Lennier) No offense.
Lennier: None taken.

Morden: Your government can dismiss this as an isolated incident.
Psi Cop: I don’t know. There’s something about this idea of a threat to planetary security I find very appealing. As long as we keep the real truth to ourselves, there’s no reason we can’t use this situation to speed up the program here at home.

2. Voices of Authority:
B5 is assigned a political officer from the Ministry of Peace, a woman named Musante who’s purpose is to expand the power of the Nightwatch. In addition to following Sheridan around (and trying to seduce him), she openly tells Zack and the other members of Nightwatch that their mandate has expanded to stamp out all indications of treason and ideological impurity. Sheridan has to stay on his toes in order to keep the “conspiracy of light” a secret in her presence.

Otherwise occupied with her, he sends Ivanova to meet with Draal on Epsilon 3 so they can begin using the Great Machine to locate the First Ones. She finds the home of The Walkers, the ancient race that’s been spotted around Sigma 957, but also alerts the Shadows to her presence. She narrowly escapes before they are able to take her over. Then, she is given a vision of Earth Force One as it exploded, and sees a private communique between Morden and Clark where they discuss Santiago’s assassination. After months of quietly waiting, they have the proof they need to expose him!

Ivanova and Marcus travel to Sigma 957 and meet with a Walker ship. After some deliberation, Ivanova is able to get them to agree to join their war effort against the Shadows. When they return, the information she uncovered with Draal’s help has been released, Mustante is recalled to Earth so that MiniPax can investigate the allegations and “punish” whoever’s responsible.

Significance:
This episode picks up where season two left off where Draal tells Sheridan that he wants to join their alliance and will place the Great Machine at their disposal. In using it, Ivanova is able to find one of the elusive First Ones, first shown in season one, and uncover evidence of the conspiracy back home. In so doing, she also demonstrated that she has latent telepathic abilities, for as Draal says, no ordinary human could do what she did. Marcus and Ivanova also secure the cooperation of The Walkers, and learn that they are not on good terms with the Vorlons.

This episode also establishes that the Ministry of Peace, after slowly expanding its mandate on B5, is now mounting an all out offensive against dissenters and those who oppose Clark’s government. Now that evidence has been released that implicates them in Santiago’s death, things are likely to escalate.

Memorable Lines:
Draal: Good afternoon, everyone! Captain, Delenn tells me that you’re going to try contacting the First Ones. It is a magnificent idea—a daring and splendid idea! In doing so, you will see things no human has ever seen before! It will be…fun! Assuming you’re not vaporized, dissected, or otherwise killed in an assortment of supremely horrible and painful ways! Exciting, isn’t it?

Draal: I asked for Captain Sheridan!
Ivanova: Um… He’s busy.
Draal: I don’t like surprises!
Ivanova: Really? Love ’em, myself. To me, everything’s a surprise! You’re a surprise. This place is a surprise. You see this? [She holds up a finger.] Paper cut. Hurts like hell! Anybody else would be upset, but to me, it’s just one more wonderful surprise! I mean, I even surprise myself sometimes! So I guess there’s nothing wrong with me surprising you. Right?
Draal: (laughs) I like you! You’re trouble!
Ivanova: Well, thank you! That’s the nicest thing anybody’s said about me in days!

Sheridan: And, uh when exactly did all this happen?
Musante: When we rewrote the dictionary.

Ivanova: Good luck, Captain. I think you’re about to go where…everyone has gone before

Marcus: I think you just hit a nerve. The Vorlons must owe them money or something.
Ivanova: At least it tells us that they understand our language. They’re just not willing to speakto us in it.
Marcus: Who knew they were French? Sorry.

Walkers: ZOG!
Ivanova: “Zog”? What do you mean, zog? Zog what? Zog yes, zog no?
Marcus: It’s leaving. My guess is “zog” means “no”.
Ivanova: Like hell. I am not letting them leave here without saying yes.
Marcus: Really? And how do you propose stopping them? Perhaps a big red and white sign with the word “stop” on it? I’ll put a bucket on my head and pretend to be the ancient Vorlon god Boogee.
Ivanova: That’s it!
Marcus: Fine. I’ll get a bucket.

3. Messages from Earth:
Marcus escorts a former member of IPX, a woman named Dr. Mary Kirkish, to meet with the command staff of B5. She has some terrible news for them: it seems that Earth has known about the Shadows for quite some time, and has even been experimenting on their ships. The last time was on Mars after they uncovered one that was buried there, which  witnessed personally. Now they are planning on doing it again, this time on Ganymede with another buried ship. This time, they plan to merge a human pilot with it and control it. Garibaldi claims he surveyed the site years back and found a Psi Corps badge that was left there. Sheridan agrees to take the White Star and head to Ganymede to destroy it.

In his absence, the Nightwatch grows wary of his whereabouts. They have been ordered by their new head to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.Meanwhile, Garibaldi visits G’Kar in his cell, where he’s serving his sentence for assaulting Londo, and finds he’s writing a book about his experiences. On their way to Earth, Delenn and Sheridan spend an evening together and share precious memories. When they arrive at Earth, they find that the Shadow vessel has already been activated and begins destroying the facility.

Unable to match the vessels firepower, they manage to destroy it by luring it into Jupiter’s atmosphere then pulling a hasty escape maneuver. The Shadow vessel is unable to follow them out and is crushed by Jupiter’s intense gravity well. However, before they can exit the atmosphere, Sheridan’s old ship, the Agamemnon, shows up and attempts to board them. Sheridan and crew manage to narrowly escape by opening a jump point in the upper atmosphere, which ignites the hydrogen and covers their escape. Back at home, ISN says that Earth gov claims the facility was attacked by an unknown ship and uses this as a pretext to declare martial law.

Significance:
The link between the Psi Corps and the Shadows is revealed, as are Earth’s experiments with Shadow technology. The Nightwatch, having grown suspicious of Sheridan’s activities, are now planning to move on him. G’Kar’s book, which he has begun writing in this episode, will prove of great significance in later episodes. Clark’s government, which has been planning on using the “alien threat” to justify its repression, has decided to use Sheridan’s intervention as a pretext to declare martial law. Delenn and Sheridan’s relationship is also developing and becoming romantic.

Memorable Lines:
Garibaldi: But where in my contract does it say that I have to eat the same food for breakfast every day for three years?
Sheridan: Paragraph 47, Subsection 19, Clause 9A. You can find it in the index under S.U.A.E.I.
Garibaldi: S.U.A.E.I.?
Sheridan/Ivanova: Shut Up And Eat It.

Marcus Cole: And they have much to be concerned about. There’s always the threat of an attack by, say, a giant space dragon – the kind that eats the sun every 30 days? It’s a nuisance, but what can you expect from reptiles? Did I mention that my nose is on fire, and that I have 15 wild badgers living in my trousers?… I’m sorry. Would you prefer ferrets?

Sheridan: Full power! Give me everything you’ve got!
Lennier: If I were holding anything back, I would tell you.

4. Point of No Return:
The declaration of martial law has caused a great stir aboard B5. At home, Clark has apparently dissolved the Senate and ordered that all commanders who do not comply with the order are to be arrested. Sheridan contacts General Hague, but is told by one of his officers that he has gone to ground and that the Army is attacking the Senate building. Londo recieves a guest aboard the station, lady Lady Morella, a psychic who was also the wife of the late Emperor Turhan. He has asked her to visit so that she might give him a vision, in the hopes that he can avert the future he has foreseen for himself. Naturally, the declaration of martial law is a major inconvenience!

Shortly thereafter, Hague’s ship gets into a firefight with ships loyal to Clark and narrowly escapes. Sheridan is forced to issue the declaration of martial law and a riot ensues. He is told by Franklin to hang on, that things will get better, but Clark’s loyalists begin bombing Mars and Proxima shortly thereafter. G’Kar is released from prison early due to a shortage of staff, and he tells Garibaldi he might be in a position to help him and the command staff. Nightwatch is ordered to take over security and Garibaldi openly declares his resistance to it. Sheridan contacts General Smits to get advice on how to deal with the situation, and Smits tells him in a covert and roundabout way how to beat it.

Shortly thereafter, Zacks helps them by telling the Nightwatch that Sheridan is conspiring against them and lures them into an airlock where they are sealed in. Sheridan tells them their orders are not legal and places them under arrest. They are shipped out shortly thereafter and replaced by Narns loyal to G’Kar. They have managed to avert this crisis and buy some time, but also know that very soon, Clark’s forces will be coming for them.

Significance:
Sheridan and his staff have taken a stand against Clark and the Nightwatch, which at this point puts them directly in the path of fire. They know now that they might openly rebel if their “conspiracy of light” against the Shadows is to survive. Londo is told definitively that he will be Emperor someday, which he fears because he’s foreseen how it will lead to his death.  He is also told that he has one final chance to break from the path that he is on, and gives several clues as to what will be coming in later episodes. “The eye that does not see” is G’Kar, who he is told he must not kill. “The one that is already dead” is Sheridan, whom he must save along with Delen. And how he must “surrender to (his) greatest fear” alludes to letting G’Kar kill him, as he has foreseen numerous times and allow Vir to take his place.

Memorable Lines:
Vir: I thought the purpose of filing these reports was to provide accurate intelligence!
Londo: Vir, intelligence has nothing to do with politics!

General Smits: Captain. I’m sure you’ve been following the news.
Sheridan: Yes, sir. If I may ask, what’s your opinion?
General Smits: My opinion has nothing to do with this, Captain, and neither does yours! Our job is to follow orders from the Commander in Chief and respect the chain of command! If you have different opinions, I suggest you file them in a deep dark place where nobody’ll ever find them! Am I clear?

G’Kar: You must understand, Ta’Lon. I have had a revelation!
Ta’Lon: What kind of revelation?
G’Kar: A most profound and substantial one, Ta’Lon. The kind of revelation that transforms your mind, your soul, your heart—even your flesh—so that you are a new creature, reborn in the instant of understanding
Ta’Lon: That was a stirring reply, Citizen G’Kar. Unfortunately, while all answers are replies, not all replies are answers. You did not answer the question that I asked. What do you understand now that you did not understand before?

Sheridan:If I were you, I wouldn’t use my weapons on the airlocks. They’re a solid beryllium alloy. The ricochet is a killer.

Morella: You have a chance few others will ever have, Mollari. You still have three opportunities to avoid the fire that waits for you at the end of your journey. You have already wasted two others. You must save the eye that does not see. You must not kill the one who is already dead. And at the last, you must surrender yourself to your greatest fear, knowing that it will destroy you. Now if you have failed all the others, that is your final chance for redemption.
Londo: I…don’t understand!
Morella: The future reveals itself only reluctantly, Ambassador. Take the sign for what it is. Look for it when it appears!
Londo: I will. Thank you!
Morella: One more thing. You will be Emperor. That part of your destiny cannot be avoided.
Londo: I see.
Morella: (to Vir) You will also be Emperor.
(Vir laughs)
Morella: Why are you laughing?
Vir: I… I thought you were joking!
Morella: We do not joke in the face of prophecy, Vir.
Londo: Lady Morella, please! We cannot both be Emperor!
Morella: Correct. One of you will become Emperor after the other is dead. That is all we see and all we wish to see.

5. Severed Dreams:
Hague’s ship, the Alexander, makes to B5 after escaping from Earth and fighting against many of its own fleet. Major Ryan is in charge ever since Hague died in their last firefight. Sheridan orders that communications be cut off so no one will learn that they are harboring rebels, and Ryan tells Sheridan that Clark has begun bombing Mars after it declared its opposition to martial law. Another ship arrives soon after, the Churchill under Captain Hiroshi, that is also on the run. Together, they decide to make a stand against Clark and his forces once they arrive. Sheridan declares to the station that B5 is breaking away from the Earth Alliance and will not submit to President Clark’s forces.

A Ranger comes to the station to see Delenn. After being wounded, he is recovering in medbay and tells her that many other League worlds have begun fighting amongst themselves at the behest of the Shadows, and that the Grey Council intends to do nothing about it. Incensed, Delenn travels to Mimbar to confront the Council, and despite their attempts to block her, is able to come before them. She breaks the Council, as was foretold by one of Valen’s prophecies, and ask the Religious and Worker Castes to join her. They agree and mobilize to follow her.

Back at the station, Clark’s forces arrive and demand Sheridan’s surrender. He refuses, and the firefight begins. B5 and the Alexander are damaged, Hiroshi scuttles her own ship and rams one of the enemy’s Destroyers, and raiding party is beaten by Garibaldi’s security forces and G’Kars Narns. They believe they’ve won by a razor’s edge, only to be confronted by another force of Earth ships. All seems lost, but Delenn and several Mimbari warships jump in and she tells the Earth ships to back off. They do, and Sheridan and his staff are hailed by the station’s people as heroes. The episode ends with a close-up of a Nightwatch wall poster that has been ripped in half.

Significance:
In addition to containing one of the best battle scenes of the series, this episode was pivotal in terms of the overall plot. Sheridan and B5 have officially broken away from Earth and now are free to pursue their war against the Shadows freely. Their conspiracy of light has finally come full circle and become a full-fledged war effort. Delenn has broken the Grey Council in order to mobilize what Mimbari she can to join the war effort and cut out the obstructive Warrior Caste who never believed in the prophecy of the coming Shadows. This is beneficial in the short run, but will have consequences down the road.

Memorable Lines:
Acolyte: I told you, Delenn, they will not speak to you.
Delenn: Then they will listen to me! I served the Council for sixteen cycles. I was the chosen of Dukhat to replace him! I held him when he died! His blood is on my hands, his spirit in my eyes, his word on my lips! You will step aside in his name and mine, or–in Valen’s name—I will tear this ship apart with my bare hands until I find them! Move aside!

Delenn: Three years. For three years, I warned you this day was coming. But you would not listen. “Pride,” you said! “Presumption!” And now the Shadows are on the move. The Centauri and the younger worlds are at war, the Narns have fallen… even the humans are fighting one another. The pride was yours! The presumption was yours! For a thousand years, we have been awaiting the fulfillment of prophecy. And when it finally happens, you scorn it – you reject it – because you no longer believe it yourselves!… “The problems of others are not our concern.” I do not blame you for standing silent in your shame. You, who knew what was coming, but refused to take up the burden of this war! If the Warrior Caste will not fight, then the rest of us will! If the Council has lost its way, if it will not lead… if we have abandoned our covenant with Valen… (Grabs the leader’s staff and breaks it) Then the Council should be broken… as was prophesied! We must stand with the others – now, before it’s too late!

David Sheridan: Son… I follow the news. Well, I did until ISN went black! I see what’s going on. Your mother doesn’t like to think about it. You know how she is. John, I can’t imagine the kind of decisions that are going through your mind right now. I’m sure they’re not easy. The important ones never are. But when push comes to shove, you’ve always done the right thing. What was the first lesson I ever taught you?
John Sheridan: Never start a fight, but always finish it.

Sheridan: May I have your attention, please? In the last few hours, we have learned that warships are coming this way from Earth, their orders are to seize command of Babylon 5 by force. As commanding officer and military governor of Babylon 5, I cannot allow this to happen. President Clark has violated the Earth Alliance Constitution by dissolving the Senate, declaring martial law, and personally ordering the bombing of civilian targets on the Mars colony. He is personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people. Following these attacks Orion 7 and Proxima 3 have broken away from the Earth Alliance, and declared independence. Babylon 5 now joins with them. As of this moment, Babylon 5 is seceding from the Earth Alliance. We will remain an independent state until President Clark is removed from office. At the end of this current crisis, anyone who wishes to leave for Earth is free to do so. Meanwhile, for your own safety, I urge everyone to stay in their quarters until this is over. That is all.

Delenn: This is Ambassador Delenn of the Mimbari. Babylon 5 is under our protection. Withdraw… or be destroyed!
Captain Drake: Negative. We have authority here. Do not force us to engage your ship.
Delenn: Why not? Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Mimbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, BE SOMEWHERE ELSE!

6. Interludes and Examinations:
The Shadows have begun openly attacking known space, beginning with the Brakiri. Sheridan tries to mobilize help, but find no other races are willing to get involved. He is told that if he can demonstrate that he has equal power, they will consider joining, otherwise they will keep their heads down and hope the Shadows will pass them over. He meets with Delenn to share his misgivings, and says that if he could give the other races a victory, they might join. She tells him that is what he will need to do, and he will find a way. He reflects that she is beginning to sound like Kosh, and that’s when it hits him!

Londo is expecting Lady Adira, the woman he loves to arrive on the station soon. However, Morden shows up beforehand and confronts him about his intervention in his relationship with Lord Refa. He tells Londo that his race must continue making war on its neighbors. He accuses Morden’s associates of using his people as a distraction so they might carry out their own agenda unnoticed. Morden threatens him, but Londo refuses to back down, telling him there’s nothing he can do to him “that hasn’t already been done.” Rather than kill him, Morden poisons Adira, knowing that Londo will think Refa was responsible. Intent on revenge, he decides to work with Morden again in exchange for his help.

Meanwhile, Franklin’s problems with stims are reaching a tipping point and beginning to effect his work. Garibaldi confronts him about it but is told to mind his own business. He then goes around him to his second and asks for access to Franklin’s medical records to prove he’s addicted. He is about to access the records but then stops, and sees Franklin watching him. He is asked why he didn’t go through with it, and tells Franklin that it doesn’t seem worth it if he can’t convince him as a friend. Franklin tells him he already checked, and that his tests prove he’s addicted. He resigns his post immediately and begins going on walkabout to deal with his issues.

Meanwhile, Sheridan asks Kosh for help but is rebuffed. Kosh tells him its not time for his people to get involved. Desperate and out of patience, Sheridan berates him for the way his race has been on the sidelines and how he’s been manipulating them. Kosh becomes angry and attacks Sheridan using a strange energy wave, but Sheridan refuses to back off. He says he will comply, but that he will not be there when Sheridan goes to Z’ha’dum. Vorlon ships attack and destroy the Shadows, a move which rallies the younger races, but Morden and some of his “associates” come to Kosh’s quarters and kill him. Too late, Sheridan understands what Kosh meant. His ship, with his remains, flies into the sun to die.

Significance:
In this episode, the Shadow war finally begins. After having insurmountable difficulties getting the other races to work together, Sheridan is able to establish a fragile alliance by getting the Vorlons to intervene. Kosh is killed in retaliation, but before he dies, he reaches out to Sheridan in a dream again and tells him he’s sorry he waited so long to get involved. A part of his consciousness breaks off and attaches itself to Sheridan, which will prove significant in later episodes. After waiting for years to see her again, Londo loses Adira and turns to Morden for help. His revenge will lead him into cooperation with G’Kar, who will in turn assist him in saving his world from the Shadows.

Memorable Lines:
Sheridan: Will you (get involved)?
Gaim Ambassador: No… We are not attacked yet… may not be attacked. If we join Brakiri, we are noticed. We invite attack.
Sheridan: They are going to come for you, sooner or later.
Ambassador: You do not know that. What do they do not see, they may not attack. The enemy is powerful. Show us you have equal power, and we will consider. If not, then we will stay quiet. Do you have equal power?

Morden: I thought we had a deal… we carved up the galaxy you and I.
Londo: Yes, we did. And what you do in your half is your business. And what I do in mine is mine.
Morden: We need your government to continue its campaign.
Londo: Yes? And why is that, hmm? I don’t think you have any interest in restoring the glory of the Centauri Republic. No, I think you are using us as… shall we say, agents as chaos? Convenient distraction, making it easier for your associates to do whatever they wish to do, yes?
Morden: My associates need a voice and an ear in the Centauri royal court. If you violate the terms of our agreement, my associates may turn their eye towards your homeworld.
Londo: Then we will pluck it out.
Morden: If you put yourself between us and our objectives, you may come to regret it.
Londo: There is nothing you can do to me, Mr. Morden, that hasn’t already been done… Good day.
Morden: (to Shadow) No… we need him alive for now. There are other ways.

Sheridan: The only way we’re going to survive this war is to organize the League, the Narns and as many other races as possible into a cohesive, offensive force… It’s never been done before, and I can see why. I mean, it’s like stacking marbles in a corner. They are hip deep in their own agendas and their own rivalries. I mean, half of them won’t even talk to the other half! But what’s worse…
Delenn: What?
I feel like I’m lying to them. You’ve seen the reports from the front lines. Yes, I have ideas, some possibilities. But at this moment, the stone cold fact is that none of us can stand up to those ships! If we could just score one victory against the Shadows, it’d be enough to make some of the others come around.
Delenn: Then perhaps we should give them a victory.
Sheridan: Oh, just like that?
Delenn: Just like that.
Sheridan: And how do you suggest we do that?
Delenn: I’m sure you’ll think of something.
Sheridan: Everyday, people around here start talking more and more like Kosh…

Morden: Anything I can do to help?
Vir: Um… Short of dying? No, can’t think of a thing.

Sheridan: For three years now you’ve been pulling everyone’s strings, getting us to do all the work, and you haven’t done a damn thing but stand there and look cryptic! Well, it’s about time you start pulling your own weight around here. […] I hear you’ve got a saying: “Understanding is a three-edged sword”? Well, we’ve got a saying, too: “Put your money where your mouth is”!
Kosh: Impudent.
Sheridan: Yeah? Well, maybe that’s the only way to get through to you. You said you wanted to teach me to fight legends. Well, you’re a legend too, and I am not going away until you agree!
Kosh: Incorrect. Leave. Now.
Sheridan: No.
Kosh: Disobedient!
Sheridan: Up yours! (Kosh hits him with some kind of energy) So, the real Kosh shows his colors at last, huh? You angry now? Angry enough to kill me? Because that’s the only way I’m leaving. Unless your people get off their encounter-suited butts and do something, I’ve got nothing to lose! God, my own government wants to kill me, and if we lose this war, I’m just as dead! Our only chance is to get the other races on board for this fight and right now you’re the key to doing that.
Kosh: It is not yet time.
Sheridan: And who decides that time? You? You put me in this position. You asked me to fight this damn war! Well, it’s about time you let me fight it my way! How many people have already died fighting this war of yours, huh? How many more will die before you come down off that mountain and get involved? Ships, colonies, whole worlds are being destroyed out there, and you do nothing! How many more? How many more, Kosh? How many more dead before you’re satisfied? Huh?
Kosh: I will do as you ask. But there is a price to pay. I will not be there to help you when you go to Z’ha’dum.
Sheridan: All right. If that’s the trade-off. If you want to withhold your help when the time comes, that’s fine. I’ll go it alone.
Kosh: You do not understand. But you will.

Babylon 5, Best Episodes Season Two (cont’d)

Back to B5 season two! Arguably the best season of the show, and for obvious reasons. The action was pretty damn awesome, in part because the CGI had improved noticeably since the first season. In addition, the storyline was intense and layered, with the many plot threads that they had taken their time to set up in season one now coming together and unfolding rather nicely!

And of course, there were numerous plot threads to get into! There was the conspiracy taking place back at Earth, Delenn’s controversial transformation and its role in an ancient prophecy, the Shadows being on the move, the ongoing feud between the Narns and Centauri, the Psi Corps and its dark agenda, and the strange and sudden disappearance of Sinclair. And there was a bunch of other stuff that happened too; some of it funny, some of it interesting, but just about all of it entertaining…

7. Hunter, Prey:
The episode opens with a Sheridan and Ivanova checking out Kosh’s ship in Bay 13. Even after years of contact, they still know virtually nothing about of the Vorlons. Sheridan resolves to learn more and confronts him concerning the dream he had aboard the Streib vessel. Kosh says that he touched Sheridan’s mind because “he sought understanding” and Sheridan’s thoughts were like “a song”. Only once before has he experienced this, though he does not say with whom…

Around the same time, the station is put on Ultraviolet alert by orders of Earth Force Intelligence because a fugitive is believed to be aboard the station. The fugitive in question is former president’s Santiago’s doctor, a man named Everett Jacobs, and an old friend of Franklins. They are told that Jacobs is in possession of stolen information, but Sheridan soon hears from one of Hague’s people. She tells him that Jacobs has proof that Clark’s story about his illness is a lie, proof that would go a long way to proving that Clark had a hand in his assassination. Sheridan vows to find Jacobs and get the information to her so she can get it back home.

In the course of the investigation, Sheridan is summoned by Kosh and jumps at the chance to meet with him. Sheridan asks Kosh why he will not reveal himself, to which Kosh replies that people are not ready to see him. When Kosh tells him he wants to learn about Sheridan, he mistakes this for an exchange of information, and Kosh tells him to leave. Frustrated, Sheridan asks Kosh what we wants, which earns him a sharp reaction. Finally, Kosh tells him that when Sheridan is ready, he will teach him “to fight legends”.

Meanwhile, Garibaldi and Franklin begin secretly looking for Jacobs while regular security are commandeered to assist the Earth Force Intelligence operatives who are there to coordinate the search. After saving him from some thugs who are trying to ransom him, they stow him away on Kosh’s ship to conceal him. They are able to do this, they learn, because Kosh’s ship is itself a life form. Ergo, the vessel is able trick all scanners into detecting only one life force – the ship itself – regardless of who is aboard.

Significance:
In the course of this episode, we learn more about conspiracy back at Earth and see Sheridan and his people take their first steps in helping to expose and unseat the perpetrators. We also get to learn a bit about the Vorlons, like how their ships are based on organic technology. The mystery surrounding his encounter suit and why he can’t reveal himself also deepens… And finally, Kosh begins the long process of mentoring Sheridan to fight the Shadows.

Memorable Lines:
Franklin: I think we lost interest in the future when all the things we were told were coming finally got here… wasn’t what we thought it was going to be. It’s like when you keep bugging your folks for that one special toy for Christmas and when you finally get it, its just not as great as the vids made it look. Just doesn’t run right. You’re so disappointed, you shove it in the closet, you never take it out again.
Garibaldi: Maybe somebody should’ve labelled the future “some assembly required”.

Sheridan: Are we just toys to you? Huh? What do you want?
Kosh: Never ask that question!
Sheridan: At least I got a response out of you. So what’ll it be, Ambassador?
Kosh: I will teach you.
Sheridan: About yourself?
Kosh: About you. Until you are ready.
Sheridan: For what?
Kosh: To fight legends.

8. In the Shadow of Z’Hadum:
This is perhaps my favorite episode of season two. It begins with a conversation between Morden and Vir, who is forced to stand in since Londo is away. After some unpleasantries, Vir lets Morden know exactly what he thinks of him and the “favors” he and his associates are providing to the Republic. Meanwhile, the war continues to flood the station with refugees and Franklin and his staff are struggling to keep up. However, Franklin is determined to ensure that he is on hand to make sure everyone gets the care they need and dies with dignity under his watch.

But things really come together when Sheridan is looking through some old records about his wife’s last mission. Apparently, she was on a survey mission with IPX, on a ship called the Icarus that was heading to some world on the border of known space to look into the ruins of a lost civilization. When Garibaldi sees Morden’s picture amongst the crew manifest, he tells Sheridan that he knows the man’s face and that he is on the station. Sheridan immediately has Morden brought in for questioning. Morden insists that he doesn’t remember anything about what happened, but Sheridan in unconvinced. He decides to hold Morden illegally, a move which prompts Garibaldi to resign in protest.

Finally, Delenn and Kosh confront Sheridan and tell him Morden must go. It is here that they explain to him about the Shadows, the First Ones, and the coming war for the first time. Kosh also gives him some images from the Icarus mission to Z’ha’dum, showing him how their landing on the planet awoke the Shadows prematurely. John eventually decides to let Morden go, but tells Kosh that in exchange, he’s to teach him how to fight them since he plans to go there one day. Kosh tells him that if he goes to Z’ha’dum, he will die, but Sheridan is determined to go down fighting.

Significance:
This episode is of huge significance to B5’s plot development. After a season and half of building up and hinting at various things: like who and what the Shadows are, the First Ones, what Morden is about, and what happened to Sheridan’s wife, we finally get to see how all these things are interconnected and intrinsic to the ongoing plot. It also becomes clear that B5, originally intended as a neutral site, will be a staging ground in the coming war.

Sheridan’s decision to keep their secret and let Morden go also makes him a co-conspirator, which makes two plots he’s now involved in! Also, Franklin’s workaholic tendencies are previewed for the first time. In time, his overburdening work schedule will cause him to turn to stims, which will lead to more problems and his decision to quit and go on walkabout.

Memorable Quotes:
Morden: What do you want?
Vir: I’d like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up at your lifeless eyes and wave like this (waves). Can you and your associates arrange this for me, Mr. Morden?

Franklin: And then, just at the last, it’s as if they look past you at something else, and the look on their face, it’s like nothing you can describe. And then, just as they look past you—the moment that they look past you—you can’t help but meet their gaze and just for an instant, you see God reflected in their eyes. [pauses] I’ve seen a lot of reflected gods today, Susan. And I’m wondering how we can keep believing in them, when they’ve stopped believing in us.

Delenn: Once you know his secret, once you know what we have known for the last three years, you will never sleep well again. Come Captain… the greatest nightmare of our time is waiting for you.

Delenn: There are being in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. Once, long ago, they walked amongst the stars like giants. Vast and timeless. They taught the younger races, explored beyond the rim, created great empires. But to all things, there is an end. Slowly, over a million years, the First Ones went away. Some passed beyond the stars, never to return. Some simply disappeared.

Delenn: Not all of the First Ones have gone away. A few stayed behind, hidden or asleep, waiting for the day when they may be needed… when the Shadows come again.
Sheridan: Shadows?
Delenn: We have no other name for them. The Shadows were old when even the ancients were young.

Delenn: That is why Kosh cannot leave his encounter suit. He would be recognized.
Sheridan: Recognized? By whom?
Kosh: Everyone.

Sheridan: You ever studied ancient history? 20th century, World War II?… The Germans had a secret code they used for all their important messages. It was called “Enigma”. What they didn’t know was that the British had cracked the code. One day, Churchill’s people intercepted a message authorizing the bombing of a city named Coventry. Now, if they evacuated Coventry, the Germans would know their code had been broken, and switch to another system. If that happened, it could cost the Allies the entire war. If they didn’t evacuate the city, hundreds of innocent men, women, and children would die.
Zack: So, what happened?
Sheridan: They kept the secret. There was no evacuation. And on November 14, 1940, Coventry was destroyed. The dead were… piled up like cordwood. I’ve seen newsreels of Churchill visiting the ruins a few days later. And you can just see it in his eyes, the knowledge of what he’d done. Dark, haunted. All these years I’ve never been able to get that image out of my head.
Zack: Well, I’m glad it’s a decision I don’t have to make. I don’t think I could live with myself. How many lives is a secret worth?

Sheridan: You’ve been trying to help me so we can understand each other. That’s not what I want anymore. I want you to teach me how to fight them, how to beat them. Because sooner or later, I’m going to Z’ha’dum. I’m going to stop them.
Kosh: If you go to Z’ha’dum, you will die.
Sheridan: Then I die. But I will not go down easily, and I will not go down alone. You will teach me?
Kosh: Yes…

9. The Long Twilight Struggle:
After many months of fighting, the Great War appears to be coming to a close. G’Kar is met by his uncle, a senior commander in the Narn fleet, who tells him that they must attempt one last, desperate gamble to prolong the war. Meanwhile, Londo is visited by Refa, who tells him that they intercepted a communication that divulges the Narn’s latest war plan. Apparently, they are going to attempt an assault on the Centauri’s supply base at Gorash 7, which if successful, will stall the Centauri advance.

Rather than defend it, Refa has another plan: he asks Londo to arrange for his “associates” to defend it, while the bulk of their fleet attacks the Narn homeworld with Mass Drivers, an illegal weapon that will level the surface. Londo is frightened and reluctant. He no longer trusts Morden’s “associates” given their obvious power, and is morally opposed to such a brutal attack. However, Refa insists that this will save Centauri lives, shave months off the war, and that there is no time to debate. Londo concedes.

G’Kar is meanwhile warned about the possibility of an attack from Franklin who received some interesting news from the latest batch of Narn refugees. During the Earth-Mimbari War, the Mimbari surpassed Mars in order to assault Earth, and now he suspects the Centauri of the same. However, G’Kar’s uncle is unreceptive and presses forward with his plan. He and the remainder of the Narn fleet arrive at Gorash 7 and are intercepted by the Shadows. The Narn fleet is destroyed, and the Centauri simultaneously attack the Narn homeworld and devestate it.

Faced with annihilation, the Narn government surrenders and tells G’Kar to ask for asylum. Londo issues the Centauri’s punitive peace terms which include mass executions, the destruction of the Kha-Ri, and the creation of a puppet Narn government. Sheridan and the Council are powerless to do anything about it, but grant G’Kar asylum, which ensures he will remain alive and free. G’Kar issues a heartfelt declaration that the Centauri will fail, for there is no greater power than “the need for freedom.”

In the midst of all this, Draal invites Sheridan and Delenn to the surface and tells them that the Great Machine is now at their disposal for the upcoming Shadow War. Admist everything else, this is the first bit of good news Sheridan has received in awhile and he’s happy to get it! After retiring to his quarters, a forlorn Londo is disturbed to hear that his people are now moving on several other worlds adjacent to Narn territory, something he was hoping would not happen.

Significance:
A number of important things happen in this episode, which wrap up some earlier plot threads and establish some new ones. The war between the Narn and the Centauri ends, which Londo is happy for, but is disturbed to find out that it has spurned them on to even greater ambitions of conquest. G’Kar is now a refugee on board the station, and his status as the last free member of the Kha-Ri will prove very important in the episodes and seasons to come. The end of the Narn-Centauri war is also a great victory for the Shadows since it means that they have successfully created a chaotic situation which will help disguise their advance.

Draal’s decision to come out of isolation and join in Sheridan and Delenn’s alliance is also of great importance. As season three approaches, the Great Machine will play a crucial role in helping them to locate the First Ones, uncover evidence that helps prove Clark’s guilt in assassinating President Santiago, and fulfilling an ancient prophecy…

Memorable Quotes:
Londo: Refa, any force attempting to invade Narn will up to its neck in blood! It’s own!
Lord Refa: We have no intention of invading Narn. Flattening it, yes, but invading it? We will be using mass drivers. By the time we are done, their cities will be in ruins, we can move in at our leisure.
Londo: Mass drivers? They have been outlawed by every civilized planet!
Refa: These are uncivilized times.
Londo: We have treaties!
Refa: Ink on a page!

Londo: Listen to me, Refa. My allies have begun to worry me. Report I have recieved… their sheer strength!

Draal: Since taking up residence in the heart of this machine, I have explored its secrets, learned, and discovered that I can look into distant worlds, see and hear things you cannot begin to imagine! Along the way, I’ve learned some things about you, Captain! The loss of your wife—I know Delenn has told you about the coming darkness. And lately I’ve learned about your role in, shall we say, a “conspiracy of light” aimed at your own government?
Sheridan: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Draal: Yes, you do! Please, Captain, don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. They would have to dig down three miles into the surface of this planet to learn what I know, and no one who tried would survive the attempt! And now I have seen enough! I said a year ago that this place was to be left alone until the time was right. That time has arrived. Now that I know the full capabilities of this place, I am prepared to place them at your disposal!
Sheridan: Are you proposing an alliance?
Draal: One of the first! There will be more to come. This has been a hard and trying year for you, Captain Sheridan. It might be helpful for you to know that you are not alone, and that in the long, twilight struggle which lies ahead of us, there is the possibility of hope.

G’Kar: No dictator, no invader can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand. The Centauri learned this lesson once. We will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years, we will be free.

10. The Fall of Night:
The episode opens with Sheridan running B5’s fighter squadron through drills designed to familiarize them with fighting Centauri ships. Afterward, he receives word from the Drazi and pak’ma’ra ambassadors who tell him the Centauri have expanded their war by attacking their territories. Sheridan confronts Londo, but is told in rather threatening terms to mind his own business. At the same time, a Narn cruiser that survived the war shows up at the station and asks for sanctuary while they make repairs. Since B5 is neutral territory, Sheridan agrees to give them protection until they can get up and running again.

G’Kar is pleased to hear of this, and even more pleased to learn that a representative from The Ministry of Peace named Frederick Lantz has come to the station to evaluate the Centauri. It seems that Earth is finally prepared to take sides in the conflict. He is accompanied by Mr. Welles, another MiniPax representative, who is there to coordinate the Night Watch. Having joined them, Zack sits in on the meeting and begin to see that their true purpose is to detect disloyalty. Welles similarly meets with Ivanova and offers her the chance to inform on her fellow officers, which she roundly refuses.

In the meantime, Lt. Keffer, a pilot from Zeta squad, confronts a pilot from another squadron about something he saw in hyperspace. Apparently, the man claimed to see something that looked like a “cross between a spider and your worst nightmare”. Interestingly enough, Keffer knows exactly what he’s talking about. Months back, he saw something similar and has become obsessed with finding it since it killed one of his squadmates. After convincing the other pilot that he saw it too, he is given all the sensor data he will need to track it.

In time, Lantz reveals that his true purpose is to sign a non-aggression pact with the Centauri. In short, Earth is turning its back on their ongoing aggression. When one of the Night Watch tells them that Sheridan is harboring a Narn cruiser, Lantz is incensed and informs Londo. A Centauri warship arrives shortly thereafter and demands Sheridan turn the ship and crew over. Sheridan refuses and orders Zeta squadron to escort the ship to the jump point. The Centauri ships opens fire and a firefight ensues. B5 takes some damage, but manages to destroy the Centauri vessel.

While escorting the Narn cruiser through hyperspace, Keffer detects the signature the other pilot told him to look for. He breaks off to investigate, comes face to face with a Shadow vessel, and is killed. But before it could shoot him down, he manages to make a recording of it and ejects the data into a beacon pod. Back at the station, Sheridan is ordered to issue an apology for the incident with the Centauri vessel. Hoping to salvage the peace treaty, and given the fact that it was their ship that fired first, the Centauri accept.

However, on his way to the gardens to deliver it, a Centauri agent places a bomb inside the transport car and Sheridan is forced to jump out. Delenn and B5’s entire diplomatic corps see him falling from below, and Delenn asks Kosh to help. For the first time since his arrival, Kosh leaves his encounter suit and reveals himself so that he may fly to Sheridan’s rescue. Everyone sees him as an angel, one particular to their species’ culture – except Londo who says he saw nothing.

The episode ends with Ivanova narrating. With the peace treaty signed, the Centauri predictably expand their war to include several more members of the League. The footage from Keffer’s gun camera is picked up and begins to cause a stir back at Earth.

Significance:
Season Two ends with a number of threads being wrapped up and some important questions being answered. For starters, it is clear that Londo suspects that Morden and his “associates” cannot be trusted and things are spiraling out of control. However, he seems powerless to do anything about it since Refa and his allies back home are intent on continued expansion. This plays to the Shadows agenda quite well, since chaos amidst the younger races will serve as a welcome distraction from their activities.

Also, what Delenn meant when she said Kosh “would be recognized if he left his suit” is also made clear. Apparently, the Vorlons have traveled to many worlds in their time to tutor the younger races. Wherever they went, they took on the guise of angels in order to be received with open arms.

Finally, for the first time since their arrival, the universe is made aware of the existence of the Shadows. This will be of great significance in season three, when the Shadows finally attack. It is also clear at this point that Earth is degenerating into a dictatorship thanks to Clark, the Ministry of Peace and the Nightwatch. From here on in, people like Zack will have to decide which side they’re on.

However, season Two’s biggest significance though is the fact that B5’s mission, which was one of peace, has now failed. However, in the coming war, it will prove to be of far greater importance – as the rallying point for all the younger races to come together and form an alliance against the Shadows.

Memorable Quotes:
Lennier: Sometimes I get so close, and yet it seems I’m shut out of the important things.
Vir: It’s a useless feeling! The ambassador is definitely going through some changes. He even looks different!
Lennier: Indeed! And now with the military starting to stampede over everyone and everything…
Vir: People coming and going and secret meetings!
Lennier: You never know what it’s all about. Until later, when it’s too late.
Vir: And they never listen to us.
Vir/Lennier: Makes me nervous!
Vir: Same time tomorrow?
Lennier: Sure.

Lt. Keffer: It was jet black. A shade of black so deep your eye just kinda slides off it. And it shimmered when you looked at it. A spider big as death and twice as ugly. And when it flies past, it’s like you hear a scream in your mind.

Frederick Lantze: I’m here to sign a non-aggression treaty with the Centauri. Before I leave here, there will be an Earth-Centauri alliance that will guarantee peace for Earth. We will, at last, know peace in our time.

John Sheridan: I suppose this… apology is already written?
Mr. Welles: No need. You can phrase the apology any way you see fit. As with everything else, it’s the thought that counts.

Sheridan: I apologize. I’m… sorry. I’m sorry we had to defend ourselves against an unwarranted attack. I’m sorry that your crew was stupid enough to fire on a station filled with a quarter million civilians, including your own people. And I’m sorry I waited as long as I did before I blew them all straight to hell! As with everything else, it’s the thought that counts.

Ivanova: It was the end of the Earth year 2259, and the war was upon us. As anticipated, a few days after the Earth-Centauri treaty was announced, the Centauri widened their war to include many of the Non-Aligned Worlds. And there was another war brewing closer to home. A personal one whose cost would be higher than any of us could imagine. We came to this place because Babylon 5 was our last, best hope for peace. By the end of 2259, we knew that it had failed. But in so doing, it became something greater. As the war expanded, it became our last, best hope for victory. Because sometimes peace is another word for surrender…and because secrets have a way of getting out.

B5, Best Episodes, Season Two

Back with more best episodes! Season one had some big hits, but I honestly think season two was the best in terms of overall poignancy, mystery and sheer entertainment value. Here are some selections of what I really liked from this one!

1. Points of Departure:
In the season two opener, we catch up with Ivanova who is now running the station in Sinclair’s absence. Things are kind of going to hell around the station, a situation made worse when they hear that a rogue Mimbari Cruiser is in the sector. We then meet up with John Sheridan, the Captain of the Earth Destroyer Agamemnon and the man slated to replace Sinclair. He is told to report to B5, where his first duty will be to deal with this situation.

The crew of the Mimbari vessel, the Trigati, are apparently warrior caste members who rejected the Grey Council’s decision to surrender and end the war. After years of drifting around the stars, they are intent on engaging the Earth Forces and die in combat, a move which they hope will trigger a new war and give them the honorable death they seek. However, Sheridan realizes their intent and does not open fire on them.

Instead, he puts out a call to another Mimbari cruiser that has been waiting in hyperspace who quickly arrive and destroy the Trigati. The situation is resolved, but Sheridan is warned that his name will live on in infamy. Already, Sheridan is unpopular with the Mimbari given the fact that he destroyed the Black Star during the war, the Mimbari flagship, by luring it into a trap.

In the course of this, Lennier explains a few things to Sheridan and Ivanova. Specifically, he tells them exactly why the Mimbari surrendered at the Battle of the Line, how it was discovered that Sinclair had a Mimbari soul, as well as many humans besides. Sinclair’s importance to the Mimbari is now made clear, as is the reason for why their surrender was not accepted by all sides.

Significance:
In addition to introducing Sheridan, this episode was also important because it revealed for the first time exactly why the Mimbari surrendered and why Sinclair was so important to them. In essence, the Line showed them that their two races are intertwined and that they would have to come together to face the coming darkness. It also established Sheridan’s dubious reputation amongst the Mimbari, which will come up later.

Memorable Quotes:
Delenn: They fight bravely. They cannot harm our ships, but they continue to try…
Hedronn: Whether they fight or not, they know they will die anyway. So really, is this bravely or simple desperation?
Delenn: Perhaps they are the same thing.

Delenn: We should bring one of them aboard for questioning. If our next step is the final assault on their world, we must know their defenses.
Hedronn: Very well, Delenn. But choose… we are fast running out of candidates.
Delenn: (sees Sinclair’s ship) That one!

Lennier: It is our belief that every generation of Mimbari is reborn in each following generation. Remove those souls, and the whole suffers. We are… diminished. In the last two thousand years, there have been fewer Mimbari born into each generation. And those that are born… do not seem equal to those who came before. It is almost as if our greater souls have been disappearing. At the Battle of the Line, we discovered where our souls were going. They were going to you… Mimbari souls are being reborn, in part or in full, in human bodies.

Lennier: (talking to Delenn in the chrysalis) I told them Delenn, as I was ordered. I only wish I could have told them the rest. About the great enemy that is returning, and the prophecy that the two sides of our spirit must unite against the darkness or be destroyed. They say it will take both of our races to stop the darkness. I’m told that the Earthers will discover all this soon enough on their own. I hope they are right, because if we are wrong, no one will survive our mistake. Goodnight, Delenn.

Sheridan: (delivering his “good luck speech” to an empty C&C) It was an early Earth president, Abraham Lincoln, who best described our situation. “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. We cannot escape history. We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial though which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the last generation. We shall nobly save or meanly lose our last, best hope of Earth.” (checks the clock) Five minutes to spare.

2. Revelations:
After taking the helm at B5, Sheridan finds himself thrown into the thick of things. In addition to Delenn being in a chrysalis and Garibaldi still in a coma, there is the added mystery of G’Kars absence. We catch up to him on the rim of known space, where he is fleeing from attacking ships and barely makes it away. When he returns to the station, he has dark news. Convinced that the attack on the Narn base in Quadrant 37 was perpetrated by an ancient race, he believes that this same race is the one written about in a Narn religious text from a thousand years ago.

Meanwhile, Londo meets with Morden again and asks him about continuing their working relationship. Morden is willing, and tells Londo that all he need do is select a target if he wants help from his “associates”. All he asks in return is any info Londo may learn concerning the outer rim. When G’Kar comes to the Council and tells them of what he found, and how he’s asked his world to send a ship to investigate, Londo quickly relays the info to Morden, who seems concerned. The Narn ship is destroyed by a Shadow vessel as it enters the system before it is able to begin surveying. The investigation is dropped and G’Kar is left thinking he’s too late.

Garibaldi wakes from his coma after Doctor Franklin uses the alien healing machine he came into possession with in season one. Delenn wakes from her time in the cocoon and reveals herself to the Council, now half-human and half-Mimbari. Sheridan looks at her and is immediately enamored. And after getting a visit from his sister, Sheridan learns more about the circumstances of his wife death and is able to let go of the guilt he’s been harboring. She died on a survey mission in deep space with IPX, and up until now, Sheridan blamed himself, thinking he sent her away because he cancelled a rendezvous. Having learned that she was intended on going anyway, he feels much better.

Significance:
This episode introduces Z’Hadum for the first time, the fabled homeworld of the Shadows. Given that G’Kar has failed to reveal them, they are now free to roam the universe and institute their agenda. In addition, the relationship between them and Londo and the Centauri, which will be intrinsic to their plans, is shown to be proceeding apace. Delenn’s transformation, which apparently has much to do with an ancient prophecy and the reason for why the Mimbari surrendered during the war, has also taken place. This episode is also the first time that Sheridan’s ex-wife is mentioned, and the circumstances of her death will prove to have much to do with the Shadows and the darkness that G’Kar says is coming…

Memorable Quotes:
Londo: There, you see! One deserts his post without any explanation, the other one picks the most breathtakingly inconvenient moment possible to explore new career options, like becoming a butterfly!

Londo: But what happens if I ask for another of these… little demonstrations?
Morden: Then we’ll provide it. Simply choose your target, a colony, an outpost…
Londo: (laughs) Why don’t you eliminate the entire Narn homeworld while you’re at it?
Morden: One thing at a time, Ambassador. One thing at a time.

G’Kar: Weep for the future, Na’Toth. Weep for us all.
N’Toth: Are you alright?
G’Kar: I have looked into the darkness, Na’Toth. You cannot do that and ever be quite the same again.

G’Kar: When you told me about the destruction of our base in quadrant thirty-seven, I knew that only a major power could attempt an assault of that magnitude, but none of the governments here could have done it, which left only one of two possibilities: A new race… or an old race… A VERY old race… G’Quan spoke of a great war long ago against an enemy so terrible it nearly overwhelmed the stars themselves. G’Quan said that before that enemy was thrown down, it dwelled in a system at the edge of known space. I searched for days, going from one system to another. Then, on dark, deserted worlds where there should be no life, where no living thing has walked in over a thousands years, something is moving, gathering its forces, quietly, quietly, hoping to go unnoticed. We must warn the others Na’Toth. After a thousand years the darkness has come again.

G’Kar: I have convinced (my government) to send a ship to the heart of the enemy’s old domain, located at the rim of known space. A dark and terrible place known as Z’ha’dum. It has been dead for a thousand years. No one goes there, no one!
Sheridan: And if someone IS living there?
G’Kar: Than all our races stand on the edge of extinction.

G’Kar: But that couldn’t happen unless they knew the ship was coming and were waiting for it. But no one knew except… (looks at Londo).
Sheridan: What are you implying, Ambassador?
G’Kar: Nothing… I am too late. Everything is too late.

3. The Geometry of Shadows:
Ambassador Londo gets a visit from Lord Refa, a member of the Centauri royal court. Impressed with his handling of the Quadrant 37 border dispute, he indicates to Londo that there are plenty of people back home who are not happy with the path their Empire is on and would like to see that change. Londo agrees to join them, seeing an opportunity for personal advancement and a chance to restore his people to glory.

Ivanova is promoted to Commander, a rank which comes with additional responsibilties, the first of which is to resolve a dispute between two factions of Drazi. Apparently, the two sides are divided based on the color of their sashes; one side is green, the other purple. Ivanova learns that this is a leadership struggle that their race goes through periodically, the people divided into two camps who must then fight it out until one side wins and assumes leadership until the next struggle. After much negotiating, cajoling and a broken leg, Ivanova ends the conflict by accidentally becoming green leader and ordering them all to dye their sashes purple.

Meanwhile, the station is visited by a group of Techno Mages, people who use technology to simulate magic, who are on their way to the rim. Their leader, a man named Elric, tells him that a great darkness is coming, and that they are passing into the outer rim so that they might be able to preserve the knowledge and secrets that they are in possession of until it passes. Sheridan is intrigued by them, being a fan of mystery and magic.

So is Londo, who is determined to get an endorsement from them which he feels will help him extend his influence back home. However, his efforts are rebuffed when it becomes clear he is only interested in advancing his reputation, and the Mages place a “curse” on him, which amounts to a virus that begins playing havoc with his personal files and credit lines. Eventually, the Mage takes the curse off, but also leaves Londo with a vision of things to come. Apparently, Londo will do great and terrible things, and billions of people will suffer as a result…

Significance:
This episode introduces the conspiracy between Londo and Refa, and is the first time Londo is given a real glimpse of where the path he’s on will take him. Already he has had a vision that he will become Emperor one day, and die with G’Kar’s hands wrapped around his throat. Now, he is made to understand that his relationship with Morden and Refa will have terrible consequences. Sheridan and the others are also given further warnings of the war that is to come, which is described as a “terrible darkness”, similar to what G’Kar described.

Memorable Quotes:
Londo: What you are asking could be considered treason.
Lord Refa: Or the first step in restoring our people to their rightful place in the galaxy. Depending on who writes the history books. I think it will be us.

Elric: You don’t frighten easily.
Vir: I work for Ambassador Mollari. After a while, nothing bothers you.

Ivanova: You’re saying just because I’m holding this right now, I’m Green leader? But I’m human!
Drazi: Rules of combat older than contact with other races. Did not mention aliens. Rules change caught up in committee. Not come through yet.

Elric: As I look at you, Ambassador Mollari, I see a great hand reaching out of the stars. The hand is your hand. And I hear sounds–the sounds of billions of people calling your name.
Londo: My followers?
Elric: Your victims.

4. Soul Mates:
Londo recieves some rather good news from home. In honor of his recent service to the Centauri Republic, the Emperor has decided to grant him a wish in honor of the 30th anniversary of his ascension. And Londo, having endured three arranged marriages to women he can’t stand, can think of only one thing he would want: a divorce! However, he must choose one wife to remain by his side for the sake of appearances and matters of state. After inviting his three wives, Timov, Daggair and Mariel to the station and giving them the news, he begins the selection process. In the end, he decides to stick with Timov, the one who seems to hate him the most. Apparently, her honesty is what sets her apart, and that’s something he feels he can count on.

At the same time, Talia Winters get a visit from an old flame, a telepath named Matt Stoner. Ostensibly, he is aboard the station to sell some wares, but in reality, he’s come to take Winters away. Seems the Psi Corps has been experimenting on him as well, with the consequence that he has become an empath who can override other people’s wills. Winters is tempted to leave just so she can get away from the Corps, but refuses him. Thanks to Garibaldi’s untrusting nature, he is narrowly able to prevent him from using his powers to take her from the station by force.

Significance:
This episode further showed viewers how deep the Psi Corps agenda goes and how much Talia wants to leave it. It also gives us a glimpse of Garibaldi and Talia’s budding relationship, which has progressed from outright hostility on her part thanks to Garibaldi obvious concern and dedication to her. Other than that, this episode really wasn’t significant. It was just damn funny!

Memorable Quotes:
Timov: The secret of our marriage’s success, Londo, is our lack of communication. You have jeopardized that success and I would know why!
Londo: Very well, I wanted to save the surprise, but clearly you have forgotten that tomorrow is the thirtieth anniversary of my ascension day. The emperor has not forgotten. I personally received a congratulatory note from the royal court. My star is rising, in case you were unaware… Now the emperor is a busy man, no time to shop, unlike my wives! Always finding ways to run up my credit accounts! In any event, he wished to give me a gift in honor of my service to our people and the gift he gave me was any one wish within his power to give.
Daggair: And was what was your wish, my sweet?
Londo: A DIVORCE! An easement from the arranged marriages to my three wives! However, the emperor requested that I keep one of you to be my side for future state affairs, so… by tomorrow, I will choose one of you to remain by my side. The other two… will be gone! Gone! …A small repayment for the many years of joy you have given me!

Franklin: Are you okay? Londo, do you know where you are?
Londo: Either in Medlab, or in Hell. Either way, the decor needs work.
Daggair: Oh, Doctor Franklin! Thank you for saving our husband! You’ve done the Centauri a great service!
Mariel: I agree. It’s so good to see you with us again, Londo!
Londo: Well, that settles it, Doctor! I am in hell!

G’Kar: I warn you, Mariel, do not be overconfident. If I were married to Londo Mollari I’d be concerned.
Mariel: G’kar, if you were married to Londo Mollari, we’d all be concerned.

Delenn: Taking on human characteristics has been something of an education for both of us!
Ivanova: Well, if you have any other problems, any other questions at all, just ask!
Delenn: Well…now that you mention it…do you have any idea why I suddenly started getting these… odd cramps?

5. The Coming of Shadows:
Despite health problems, the Centauri Emperor has decided to travel to B5 to deliver a message. G’Kar is outraged at Sheridan is allowing this given his family’s history of outrages towards the Narn, and decides he is going to make an assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Londo and Refa hope to confront him publicly about his role in their Empire’s decline. However, both sides are unaware of what his true purpose is, which is to deliver an apology to the Narn regime for his family and his race’s crimes against them. At the end of his life, he finally wants to do something he knows to be right, rather than be swayed by duty or obligation.

Ultimately, all their plans are frustrated when the Emperor suffers a heart attack on his way to make his grand announcement. Franklin is left to tend to the Emperor, and is told to deliver a message to G’Kar. When Franklin tells G’Kar, he is buffaloed and immediately seeks out Londo. He buys Londo a drink and toasts the Emperor’s health, thinking that a new era of understanding is ahead of them. However, these sentiments prove to be too late in coming…

Faced with an imminent power struggle back home, Refa tells Londo that they must do something that will dwarf the opposition so they can put their own successor on the throne. Londo remembers what Morden told him, that he need only pick a target. He decides to let Morden’s “associates” attack another Narn outpost, and then orders their own ships to move in. When the Narns arrive and find their outpost destroyed and Centauri ships around, they immediately assume it was they who attacked it, and fighting ensues. Back on Centauri Prime, Refa’s agents also kill the Emperor’s Prime Minister, and their own successor, Cartagia, is positioned to take the throne.

Meeting with the Emperor on his deathbed, Londo is given a message. He tells everyone that the Emperor’s last words were in support of their war, but privately he tells Refa that the Emperor told him they are both damned. Refa is unconcerned, but Londo seems shaken by his words. When G’Kar receives word of the attack, he goes ballistic! However, Sheridan is able to stop him by telling him that he must choose between doing what’s right for his people and personal revenge. After calming down, G’Kar comes to a Council session and issues a declaration on behalf of his people: they are now at war with the Centauri! In order to avoid any pesky “investigations” into how the Centauri managed to destroy the outpost so rapidly – a move which clearly reveal that they had help – Londo agrees to release all the surviving colonists from the area as a gesture of “goodwill”.

Significance:
The Great War, the focal point of season two, opens in this episode. After much plotting by Londo and Refa, the Centauri Republic is now effectively under the control of the revisionists, people who want to see the Empire restored to its former glory and are willing to see a great many people die in order to make it happen. Whatever hopes there were for a reconciliation between the two sides is now thwarted. The war is also bad news for B5, since it is the first outbreak of war since the Earth-Mimbari war and the very thing the station was created to prevent. In addition, the outbreak of war means that the Shadows are clearly on the move and working their influence effectively.

Memorable Quotes:
Sheridan: If you love, love without reservation. If you fight, fight without fear.
Emperor Turhan: No regrets then?
Sheridan: A few. But just a few. You?
Turhan: Oh, enough to fill a lifetime. So much has been lost, so much forgotten. So much pain, so much blood. And for what? I wonder…The past tempts us, the present confuses us, and the future frightens us. And our lives slip away, moment by moment, lost in that vast terrible in-between. But there is still time to seize that one last, fragile moment. To choose something better, to make a difference, as you say. And I intend to do just that.

Turhan: How will this end?
Kosh: In fire.

Londo: He said, ‘Continue. Take my people back…to the stars.
Refa: Mollari. What did he say, really?
Londo: He said .. that we are both damned.
Refa: Well. It’s a small enough price to pay for immortality.

6. All Alone in the Night:
The Captain is captured by a marauding alien vessel while investigating a disturbance in a nearby sector. They are known as the Streib (apparently in honor of author/abductee Whitley Strieber), a race of hostile aliens that are known for to periodically adbuct members of different species in order to evaluate them. While aboard, Sheridan is examined, tortured, and forced to fight other captured crew members, all of whom have devices on their heads that seem to be controlling them. The first is a Drazi that he manages to kill, while the second is a Narn that he is able to wound and disarm. After removing the device on his head, he and the Narn captive begin to plot their escape.

Back on Mimbar, Delenn has been once again summoned before the Grey Council, this time to answer for her decision to undergo her transformation. Apparently, the Council feels that she is no longer Mimbari, and hence is to be removed as a Satai and replaced. When she sees her replacement is Neroon, a member of the warrior caste, she is dismayed since it means that the warriors will now have more power than the other castes. However, her protests are ignored and she is told to go back to B5 where she will remain as an ambassador and nothing else.

Meanwhile, Sheridan’d old ship, The Agamemnon has come to B5. Aboard is General Hague, the Chairman of the EarthForce Joint Chiefs of Staff and an old friend of Captain Sheridan who has come to meet with him. When word of his capture reaches the station, Hague and Invanova decide to mount a rescue operation with the help of Delenn, who knows where the Streib homeworld is located.

Also, while on board the ship, Sheridan has a strange dream. In it, he sees Garibaldi and Ivanova who give him cryptic messages, like “you are the hand” and “the man in between is looking for you”. He then sees Kosh and asks him why he too there, to which Kosh says “We were never away. For the first time, your mind is quiet enough to hear me.”
When Sheridan asks what he is doing there, Kosh replies simply “you have always been here”.

Finally, the Agamemnon catches up with them just outside the Streib homeworld. When they are told to stand down and release their captives, the ship spaces them all instead and Ivanova orders their destruction. However, they soon detect a life pod which made it off, with Sheridan and the Narn inside. In the course of the confusion, they managed to make it on board and escape.

Back on the station, Sheridan is confronted by Kosh once he has recovered who once again tells him, “you have always been here.” Sheridan then meets with General Hague who gives him the message he came to share. Hague tells him that there is a conspiracy back home involving Clark, the Night Watch and the Psi Corps. They assassinated Santiago, he says, but he needs help and time to expose it. Sheridan agrees to help, and decides to bring his senior officers into it at last. They agree, and together begin discussing how they plan to someday liberate Earth.

Significance:
This episode was important for a number of reasons. For starters, the subplot about the conspiracy back at Earth is revealed in full. Already it has been hinted at that Clark was behind Santiago’s murder and that the Psi Corps is up to something; now we see that is is true. Sheridan and the other main characters also decide to enlist, effectively making them co-conspirators in the plot to liberate Earth. We are also given numerous hints of what’s to come, “signs and portents” if you will, of whats to come in season three and Sheridan’s importance in it all. It is also the first time that Kosh reaches out and touches Sheridan’s mind, something which will prove of increasing significance as the Shadow War approaches and Kosh is killed.

Memorable Quotes:
Sheridan: Why are you here?
Kosh: We were never away. For the first time, your mind is quiet enough to hear me.
Sheridan: Why am I here?
Kosh: You have always been here.

Delenn: The warrior caste cannot be allowed to set policy!
Neroon: Have you done any better? When I was inducted into this circle, I was finally told the reason we surrendered. I didn’t know whether to laugh or weep! If we were told the truth then we never would have surrendered!

Neroon: I understand that before is a creature I do not recognize. One foot in two worlds. You are an affront to the purity of our race. And you’re belief that you are satisfying prophecy is presumption of the highest order! And yet… it is true that you are the perfect laison between us and the Earthers. You have no home with either of us. So please, act out your fantasy, return to Babylon 5… and stay there!

Sheridan: First obligation of a prisoner is to escape… right? RIGHT? Listen, before… why did you ask me to kill you?
Narn: There is no escape. Better to die… to die…

Sheridan: Ever since the death of president Santiago, something unpleasant’s been going on back home. You know it, and I know it. We’ve stood by too long. That’s going to change. Quietly, discreetly, an inch at a time and for now, strictly within the rules, but we have to do something, or risk losing everything we hold dear. Now, we’ll get some help from inside Earth Dome, but the bottom line, if anything goes wrong, we’re on our own. Anybody wants to leave now before you hear anything you’ll have to report, do so.

And as this is going long, I will have to divide it up and continue later. Like I said, this season was arguably the best and it seems I wasn’t lying! Doing justice to all its best episodes is sure to take some serious page time!

B5 Best Episodes

B5 Best Episodes

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:

Soul Hunter:
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.

Significance:

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…”

Memorable Quotes:
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.

Significance:
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.

Memorable Quotes:
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.

Mind War
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.

Significance:
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.

Memorable Quotes:
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.

Significance:
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.

Memorable Quotes:
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.

Significance:

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.

Memorable Quotes:
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.

Significance:
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.

Memorable Quotes:
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…

Babylon Squared:
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.

Significance:
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.

Memorable Quotes:
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?

Chrysalis:
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…

Significance:
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.

Memorable Quotes:
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’…
Vir: Cats.
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!