Worlds of Babylon 5

B5_shadowsThis would be the fourth installment of my “Worlds Of” series, this time in honor of my favorite sci-fi show of all time. Like the show itself, the worlds that were featured here were richly detailed, multi-layered, and part of an intricate and cohesive universe. Though the show only lasted five seasons and the spin-off attempts failed, J.M. Straczynski was able to give most of the locales for his story a fair amount of treatment.

Centauri Prime:
CentauriPrime01The homeworld of the Centauri race and the seat of power for Republic. In ancient times, it was home to both the Centauri and the Xon, two sentient species that battled for thousands of years for control of the planet. Eventually, the Centauri exterminated the Xon, a victory which is celebrated annually with lavish feasts and celebrations. From these humble yet violent origins, the Centauri emerged to become the dominant power in the quadrant, conquering many races at their zenith, including the Narns.

Many locations of interest are to be found on Centauri Prime. These include the Royal Palace, home of the Royal Court and Centaurem, the Senate Building, the Great Temple, and the Imperial capitol. In the buildup to the Narn-Centauri war, the Royal Palace became the scene of intrigue as forces loyal to the puppet-Emperor Cartagia and Lord Refa began assassinating those who got in their way.

After the war was over, things once again became interesting as the mad Emperor made an Alliance with the Shadows and gave them the island of Cellini, hoping they would pay him back by making him a god. This alliance put the planet in danger, as the Vorlons had begun destroying any and all planets that were being used by the Shadows. In the end, Londo was forced to destroy Celini with tactical nukes to eliminate the Shadow vessels and prevent the Vorlons from destroying the planet.

Almost immediately after the war was over, the Drakh infiltrated Centauri Prime and began using it as their base of operations. After implicating the Centauri in a series of attacks on Alliance shipping, war was declared against the Republic. This war ended with the surrender of Centauri Prime after Narn and Drazi forces slipped into the system and began bombarding the surface with impunity. According to expanded sources, the planet would also be devastated when the Drakh were discovered and detonated a fusion bomb in the capitol to cover their escape.

Earth:
B5_EarthThe homeworld of the human race and administrative center of the Earth Alliance. By 2258-62, when the show takes place, a number of changes have happened to the place we call home. For starters, the capitol of the EA is established in Geneva, the headquarters of which is known as Earthdome. It is from here that the President exercises authority over Earth and all the Earth Alliance’s colonies.

Every nation on the planet has joined as an administrative “consortium”, contributing members and money to the upkeep of government. Earth is also home to the Psi Corps, the institution that monitors and trains telepaths for the Earth Alliance. This place is also the home of the Psi Cops, the authorities who track down and arrest “rogue telepaths” – those who choose not to register or take suppressants.

Just prior to the Shadow War, President Clarke declared martial law, effectively ending democratic government on Earth. The colonies thenceforth were administered by armed force, and Clarke himself forged an Alliance between his office, the Shadows, and the Psi Corps. For years, he ruled with impunity, until a coalition led by Sheridan and the White Star fleet arrived at Earth in 2262. Rather than face overthrow, Clarke shot himself and programmed the planetary defensive network to obliterate the surface. The satellites were narrowly stopped by Sheridan’s fleet, thus saving Earth from being turned into “scorched Earth”.

During the Drakh War, Earth became exposed to a deadly plague. This bio-weapon was of Shadow design and introduced into the atmosphere by Drakh ships after they failed to destroy Earth with a Shadow planet-killer. After five years under quarantine, the Interstellar Alliance ship Excalibur discovered a cure and introduced it to Earth. The planet was saved! However, hints given at the end of season 5 indicate that 500 years after the formation of the Alliance, Earth was devastated in a terrible civil war, returning its inhabitants to a primitive level of development.

One million years after the formation of the Alliance, Earth was abandoned by the decedents of the human race, who had evolved to the point of transcendence. After downloading all historical records, the last of the human race left the system for the last time. The sun went supernova shortly thereafter, destroying everything in the system.

Epsilon 3:
b5-eps3The third planet of the Epsilon Indi system and the world that Babylon 5 sits in orbit of. Coincidentally, it is also home of the Great Machine, a subterranean alien artifact of immense power. Not much is known about the species that built it, as the last known inhabitants, outside of the current custodians, died out as a result of a religious schism or fled into deep space.

Thereafter, the Machine was maintained by Varus, one of the last of their species, with the help of ten assistants named Zathras. As he neared the end of his life, the machine began to break down, causing the planet to become geologically unstable. This in turn alerted some of the surviving Epsilonians who were looking for the planet in hyperspace. When they emerged, a confrontation ensued between the aliens, B5, an Earth Alliance cruiser.

This was resolved when Draal, a Minbari member of the religious caste, assumed control of the machine and used its defenses to destroy the invaders. He warned that anyone else attempting to possess the planet’s secrets would meet with the same fate, but later pledged his allegiance and the resources of the planet to Sheridan and Delenn’s alliance. This went beyond mere weapons, as the Great Machine was also capable of seeing through time and space, which was intrinsic in both finding other First Ones and uncovering proof of Clark’s conspiracy.

Aside from the Great Machine, Epsilon 3 also boasted an extensive underground city filled with many technical wonders. According to Commander Sinclair, these included computers the size of buildings and components that were miles in length. In season four, when B5 needed components to boost the signal of their “Voice of the Resistance” transmissions, they found what they needed on the planet below.

Narn:
Narnhomeworld01According to Narn sources, Narn was once a fertile planet with lush rainforests and vast oceans. This changed when the Centauri arrived and occupied the planet for over 50 years. During this time, the planet was strip mined, ruthlessly exploited, and reduced to the status of a slave colony. Much damage was also done during the Narn war of resistance, as Centauri forces bombarded the surface from the orbit.

After the Narn’s proved victorious, efforts to restore the natural greenery were mounted. However, these apparently took a back seat to the need to equip the Narn regime’s military forces, a policy which demanded that this trend of exploitation continue. As a result, the planet’s climate remains,in the words of Londo: “dry, red, depressing.”

The bombardment of the Narn homeworld during the Narn-Centauri in season two didn’t help matters much either. After many hours of being pulverized from orbit with asteroids, most major cities were devastated, electricity and power grids were knocked out, and virtually all infrastructure was reduced to rubble. This also had the effect of kicking up massive amounts of dust into the atmosphere which caused terrible storms and made the climate colder and more harsh.

With the liberation of the Narn towards the end of the Shadow War, efforts to rebuild the planet once again began in earnest. This time, with the Interstellar Alliance and G’Kar’s influence as their guide, the Kah-Ri ensured that the needs of its citizens were their top priority. Thenceforth, attempts to rehabilitate the climate and rebuild infrastructure were placed ahead of revenge and military spending.

Minbar:
44053-babylon_5_movie_news_2_superThe homeworld of the Minbari Federation and their seat of government. As one of the older races in the quadrant, Minbar boasts some of the oldest cities, temples and buildings in the known universe. Most of these are built from indigenous crystal, contributing to the natural beauty of the surface. Colder than Earth’s climate and with stronger than normal gravity, the Minbari are a hearty race known for their strength and endurance.

It is here that the ancient capitol of the Minbari Federation is located. The towering triple-spired government palace is here, even though the Grey Council conducted its affairs from space. The Anla’Shock Temple of Temple of Varenni  are also to found in the capitol, the former being used by the Rangers and the latter being an ancient site where the castes would come together to select leaders during the time before Valen.

Another city of importance is Tuzanor, the home of Valen, the Anla’Shok training grounds where the Rangers receive their basic training, and home to the Interstellar Alliance once Delenn and Sheridan relocated it to Minbar. Just outside the city is the historic Mount H’Leya, where Valen, accompanied by a pair of Vorlons, delivered his holy “Times to come” speech during the first Shadow War.

During 2261, shortly after the Shadow War, Minbar became embroiled in a brief civil war between the Religious and Warrior Castes. This was due to deep-seated divisions which had been exacerbated by the Earth-Minbar War and the destruction of the Grey Council. It ended when Delenn invited Shakiri to the Temple of Varenni, where they would both enter into the Wheel of Fire to demonstrate their willingness to sacrifice themselves. Shakiri withdrew, but Delenn did not, prompting Neroon to save her and sacrifice himself on behalf of her. Thereafter, Delenn indicated that the Grey Council would be dominated by the Worker Caste to prevent such wars from happening again.

Sigma 957:
Sigma957planetThe ancient homeworld of the Walkers, one of the First Ones who had left the galaxy after the First Shadow War. The name itself was given to them by the Narns, who’s regime was the closest government to border their world. Apparently, they named them as such because they considered the inhabitants to be giants, so great and powerful that it was best to keep out from underfoot!

In 2258, Catherine Sakai did a fly-by of the planet to search for trace elements. During her mission, a massive ship appeared off her bow and her ship was disabled. When she was rescued at the behest of Ambassor G’Kar, he told her simply “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.”

In season 3, during a visit to Epsilon 3 to see Draal, Ivanova was able to see this world and feel the “footprints” of the Walkers with the help of the Great Machine. This was the first indication that their alliance had as to the whereabouts of other First Ones. Shortly thereafter, Ivanova and Marcus traveled there aboard a White Star to make contact with the Walkers. After a strained conversation, Ivanova was able to secure their agreement to join their alliance.

Vorlon Homeworld:
vorlon02Much like the Vorlon race itself, their homeworld is steeped in mystery. Throughout the B5 series, mentions are made of the planet the Vorlons call home, but no details are ever given beyond the limited testimony of Lyta Alexander. As the only human to witness the inner workings of the Vorlon culture, she found herself in a unique position, acting as a sort of bridge and ambassador. However, other than her, no one has ever seen their world and those who have tried have either been destroyed or disappeared without a trace.

As for Lyta Alexander, her voyage to the Vorlon homeworld took place shortly after she made contact with the mind of Ambassador Kosh and broke from the Psi Corps. After weeks of waiting on the edge of Vorlon space, she was eventually admitted after sending out a telepathic signal. When asked what it was like, she said simply “you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

However, some tidbits were given by Lyta as time went on. For one, it is revealed that the Vorlons possessed artifacts of immense power, which humanity and the younger races would only ever be entitled to once a million years had past. This was revealed after the Vorlons had left known space, but had thought to leave their automated border defenses in place and active. In addition, it was also here that Lyta witnessed the Vorlons extensive efforts to modify humans and other sentient’s to produce telepaths. This consisted of large facilities where hundreds of thousands of beings were kept in suspension tanks and either enhanced or modified to exhibit telepathic abilities in the first place.

Zhabar:
Zhabar01The homeworld and seat of power for the Drazi freehold, this planet was first shown in season five of B5 and played a rather important role in the plot. Noted for its hot, arid climate, the Drazi homeworld is also notorious for its crowded cities, narrow streets and small buildings with large vistas.

Much of this information comes from Garibaldi, who traveled here in 2262 on behalf of Alliance Covert Intelligence. According to Garibaldi’s contact on Zhabar, the curious architecture and city planning are throwbacks to earlier eras where the Drazi designed their cities to be impassable to siege engines. In addition, the small roomed architecture also harkens back to previous ages, when the Drazi lived predominantly outside.

After the Shadow War, this world became the focal point of much attention as Centauri agents infiltrated in order to kill Garibaldi’s contact. Though they failed to kill Garibaldi, his contact, and the Drakh-Centauri connection, remained a secret for some time. However, during a subsequent trip by Lyta and Dr. Franklin (at the behest of the Vir Cotto), they discovered that the Drazi were storing captured Shadow devices here. These devices were taken from destroyed Centauri vessels, and the Drazi were apparently hoping to keep them for themselves.

Z’ha’dum:
zhadumMuch like the planet the Vorlons call home, the Shadow’s homeworld is also steeped in mystery. However, several people have walked in its surface or witnessed if from orbit and lived to tell the tale. For instance, the elusive man named Mr. Morden, who came to Z’ha’dum as part of the Icarus crew, enlisted with the Shadows and then became their chief representative to the younger races.

The second person to witness the planet was G’Kar, who travelled to the rim at the end of season 1 to investigate the destruction of the Narn outpost in Quadrant 37. He described the place as a dark world, “where nothing has walked for a thousand years”. His description proved quite apt, as the Shadows and their allies all lived underground in order to hide their presence.

The third and final visit came from John Sheridan, who had been forewarned by Kosh that if he went to Z’ha’dum, he would die. He was right, after a fashion. During his visit to their craggy world, he received a tour of their underground facilities and even a bird’s eye view of the capitol. Right before he blew it all away with two massive thermonuclear bombs and fell to his supposed death. But because he was saved by Lorien, the First One who lived within the planet for eons, his life was restored. As such, he was the only one to visit Z’ha’dum, outside of their willing servants, and live.

Speaking of Lorien, it is noteworthy to mention that for millions of years, Z’ha’dum was the place he called home. During his time with Sheridan, he explained that it was for this reason that the Shadows kept coming back there, out of respect for a First One that was even older than them. This would seem to indicate that Z’ha’dum was not in fact the Shadows homeworld, but merely a world they used as a base of operations whenever they returned to this part of the galaxy. But given their incredible age, this should not come as a surprise. Whether it was the Vorlons, the Shadows or any other First Ones, their true point of origin has probably been lost with time and forgotten by even them.

Cool Ships (volume V)

Back again! More ships, more designs, more franchises too. Like I said last time, there’s just no limit when you get right down to it. And in the course of doing my homework on cool sci-fi concepts, I’ve found that there are hundreds of franchises out there that I’ve never even heard of before. Of those I have heard of, I always seem to miss a few obvious candidates. That’s the beauty of ongoing segments though. Here are the latest, with some suggestions thrown in too 😉

Colonial Raptor:
Another late entry from the Battlestar Galactica universe, the updated version. Designed for reconnaissance, transport, atmospheric and space flight, and capable of making short range FTL jumps, the Raptor is the workhorse of the Colonial fleet and one of its most versatile vessels. Ordinarily, the Raptor is operated by a crew of two, one pilot and one Electronic Countermeasures Officer. Given it’s size and shape, it cannot launch from a launch tube and must take off and land from a Battlestar’s forward launch bay.

Having served with the Colonial fleet for over 40 years, making its debut in the first Cylon War, the versatility and reliability of this craft have prevented it from being phased out by newer generations of Colonial ships. During the second Cylon War, Raptors were used regularly in order to dust off survivors from Caprica and other colonies. Relying on a fly-by-wire system, rather than the new defense network systems, it also proved invulnerable to the virus the Cylon’s used to cripple the fleet.

Cygnus:
Now here’s one that people probably won’t remember. In fact, I didn’t recall it either until I did some reading and realized I had seen the movie which featured it – The Black Hole – as a child and quite enjoyed it. Though a little Buck Rogers-y by modern standards, the concept and the movie and this ship still stand the test of time.

Released in 1979 by Walt Disney Pictures, The Black Hole was one of many movies that sought to take advantage of the sci-fi craze that Star Wars had unleashed. The plot centers on a derelict ship, known as the Cygnus, which is run by an android crew and a brilliant (albeit mad) scientist named Doctor Hans Reinhardt.

In addition to looking pretty cool, with its glowing transparent sections and old-school design, the Cygnus is apparently able to withstand the gravitational pull of black hole due to its ability to generate its own gravity well. In addition, its commander, Dr. Reinhardt, theorized that he would be able to fly it through a black hole and see once and for all what lay on the other side… It didn’t take, but still a cool idea!

Guild Heighliner:

Artist’s concept for a Guild Heighliner

Here’s one I couldn’t believe I had forgotten. In fact, I will accept any and all chastisements for my failure to include Dune craft in this series thus far. This can include physical beatings, just stay away from the nads… not quite done with those yet!

Anyhoo, when it comes to Dune ships, the Heighliner definitely takes the cake! Massive as all hell, this ship was the backbone of all commerce, diplomacy, travel and tourism in the Dune universe. Like all shipping, it was the exclusive property of the Spacing Guild and subject to their many controls, laws and whims.

Boasting Holtzman engines – a FTL drive system that was capable of “folding space” – the ship still required the services of a Guild Navigator. This person, a semi-prescient mutant due to years of living in a spice tank, would see a path through time and space and thus navigate the ship safely to its destination.

According to the original Dune, a single Heighliner was capable of lifting an entire planet’s worth of personnel, goods and supplies from one point in space to the next. As Duke Leto tells Paul in Part I of the story: “A Heighliner is truly big. Its hold will tuck all our frigates and transports into a little corner — we’ll be just a small part of the ship’s manifest.” Later in that same installment, House Harkonnen used a single Heighliner in order to lift an entire army to Arrakis for a surprise assault on the Atreides, and the cost was nothing short of punitive!

Given that the Heighliners are the sole means of commerce in a Empire as massive as that of the Dune universe, its little wonder why Heighliners are so freakishly big. Chartering one aint cheap, and if you do stowe aboard, you are expected to mind your business and wait until you arrive at your destination. Due to their high level of secrecy and sensitivity, no one is even allowed to venture beyond their own boarding craft when on a Heighlinger, and virtually no one outside of the Guild has ever seen a Guild navigator. Considered to be neutral territory by Imperial law, any and all acts of violence aboard Guild Heighliners carry stiff penalties.

Gunstar:
Ah, another childhood classic! Taken from the film The Last Starfighter, the Gunstar was the first line of defense of the Star League against the evil Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada. Sounds pretty cheesy, huh? Well, it was the eighties! And this was yet another Disney franchise that seemed to be riding in the Star Wars wake. Still, this movie was one the first to make extensive use of CGI (Tron being the only other) and had a none-too-bad storyline too boot!

Boasting multiple guns, missiles and a “Death Blossom” trick that is nothing short of devastating, the gun star is a rather unique and innovative design. Apparently, it was meant to be a class of ship that would never go out of style, merging functionality with lethality and being able to take on any class of enemy ship.

Every Gunstar is a two seater, with the starfighter (gunner) in front, and the navigator in the rear. While the navigator flies the ship, the gunner directs fire from a swivel chair, which gives them control over the ships moveable weapons batteries. Although it has no shielding to speak of, the hull is protected by armor plating which can withstand multiple direct hits. When cornered, it is also capable of unleashing the “Death Blossom” where it will begin to rotate at a furious speed and unleash gun and missile fire in all directions. This however, is considered a weapon of last resort, since it will drain the ship’s power supply completely.

Heart of Gold:
Now here’s an interesting, and highly improbably, entry! Coming to us straight out of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, the SS Heart of Gold is rather unique in that it merged scientific theory with Douglas Adam’s notoriously quirky sense of humor.

Being a prototype vessel, it was the first ship ever in the universe to boast the “Infinite Probability Drive”. This drive system is essentially a Faster-Than-Light engine which is actually based in quantum theory. Essentially, the theory states that a subatomic particle is most likely to be in a particular place at a particular time, but that there is also a small probability of it being found very far from its point of origin. Thus, a body could travel from place to place without passing through the intervening space as long as it had sufficient control of probability.

Pretty cool huh? In the original radio series, the shape of the vessel was not specified. In the novelization of the series, it was described as a “sleek white running shoe”. For the sake of the movie, artists went with a tea-cup design, and added some brake lights for good measure. Originally built as part of a secret government project on the planet of Damogran, the ship was stolen by President Zaphod Beeblebrox during its launching ceremony and became the means through which the main characters began exploring the universe.

Minbari Cruiser:
Back once more to the B5 universe for another fine example of kick-ass shippery! Known officially as the Sharlin-class Warcruiser, this Minbari vessel is the mainstay of the Minbari fleet in the original series. Big, bold, stealthy, and packing a sh*tload of firepower, this vessel is veritable nightmare for all but the most powerful of races. Even Shadow vessels mind their business when some of these are in the field.

Making its appearance in season one of the show (episode 17: “Legacies”) and went on to become a regular feature. When Sheridan assumed command of the station in season two, the renegade cruiser Trigati was destroyed in the course of a standoff. After B5 broke away from Earth in season 3, a force of Sharlin cruisers arrived just in time to prevent the station from being captured by forces loyal to Clarke. Many went on to serve alongside Sherian and Delenn in the Shadow War and even went on to help liberate Earth from Clarke’s forces.

According to Delenn, Minbari ships do not rely on conventional engines like other ships. Instead, a system of gravitational and electromagnetic fields for propulsion, which have the added benefit of supplying artificial gravity. This frees up their ships from the needs of rotating sections and makes for a more effective combat platform. Sharlin cruisers also boast a significant amount of weaponry, which consists mainly of heavy beam cannons, but also includes missile launchers, neutron guns, and electro-pulse cannons.

During the Earth-Mimbari War, Earth Forces were completely outmatched by this class of Cruiser. In addition to being highly resistant to Earth force weapons, the Sharlin cruiser also boasted a stealth field which prevented Earth ships from being able to lock onto it. In the course of the war, only one human Captain ever survived combat with one, Captain John Sheridan. Relying on a phony distress signal and several well placed tactical nukes, Sheridan was able to lure the Black Star, the Minbari flagship, into a trap and destroy it. Though the Minbari considered it a cheap victory, Sheridan’s fame and renown quickly spread throughout the fleet.

During the battle of Sector 83, the Sharlin-class Cruiser proved an effective weapon against the Shadows. Although somewhat slow and providing a large target for Shadows, their powerful beam weapons were capable of destroying a Shadow ship unassisted. When protected by smaller, faster craft like the White Star, it proves to be a very effective combat platform.

Nebula-B Escort Frigate:
More Star Wars! God, I think I’m OD’ing on this franchise. But the sign says “Cool Ships” and this one is no exception. Known as the Nebula-class frigate, this ship is probably best remembered as the “Medical Frigate” which appeared in Empire and Jedi. 

Measuring some 300 meters long and designed to defend Imperial convoys from Rebel attacks, this ship was more famously used by the Rebellion as a hospital ship. During heavy fighting, Nebula-B’s would be on hand to pick up pilots that had ejected and provide them with life-saving assistance, ensuring that Rebel pilots could live to fight another day.

The most famous appearance of a Medical Frigate was during the Battle of Endor, when several medical frigates were on hand to service Rebel pilots who had been shot down by superior Imperial forces. It was also on board the Medical Frigate Redemption that Luke Skywalker received his prosthetic hand after losing it in a lightsaber duel to Vader.

In addition to providing escort and as a hospital ship, the Nebula-B was proved useful as a deep space scout and reconnaissance ship, due to its sophisticated sensors. During raiding missions or less intense combat operations, many also served as command ships given their speed and defensive capabilities. One weakness of the Nebula-B however was its thin fusilage. Though this made the ship an inexpensive vessel by most standards, it also made it a poor choice for heavy combat. Hence why it was relegated to support, scouting and medical roles.

The Nostromo:
You know, I really thought I covered this one already. I already mentioned how the Alliance Cruisers from Firefly appeared to be inspired by this baby. And it just makes sense that if you’re going to cover ships from the sequel, (the USS Sulaco and the Cheyenne Dropship) that you cover the original first. But alas, the Nostromo was somehow passed over by me, another act of wanton insensitivity! Beating shall continue until my attitude improves!

Okay, now that we got my punishment out of the way, allow me to pay this ship it’s due homage. The main set for the movie Alien, the USCSS Nostromo was a deep space commercial vessel which belonged to the Weyland-Yutani corp (much like everything else in this universe!).

Overall, the Nostromo was a curious design which made perfect sense from a space-faring point of view. Doing away with such things as streamlining and aerodynamic sleekness, the ship was well suited to deep-space travel and hailing. In addition, it was also taller than it was long, another common aspect to spaceships which are confined to the whole sea ship/airplane paradigm.

It’s massive refinery, which it towed behind, would process its manifest of mined ore while it made its way back to Earth from wherever it had been deployed. Thus, in addition to providing transport and amenities for a crew of miners and spacers, it was also a mobile refining platform that could deliver processed materials to factories rather than just unrefined ore.

While on return from the distant planet of Thedus, the Nostromo was rerouted to LV-426 where it picked up the alien organism known as a xenomorph. After all but one of the crew were killed the by creature, Ellen Ripley, the ship’s Warrant Officer, set the ship’s to self-destruct and escaped aboard the ship’s life craft with the crew cat, Jones. According to Weyland-Yutani execs, who were some pissed when she returned without her ship, the destruction of this vessel cost them 24 million in adjusted dollars. Damn penny-pinchers!

The Sathanas:
What do you call the most fearsome, intimidating and powerful ship in the universe, without being too obvious, that is? The Sathanas, that’s what! Being the Latin name for Satan, this title is very apt when applied to a massive juggernaut built by a race known as the the Shivans (i.e. Shiva, Hindu god of destruction).

This last entry, much like The Colossus and Deimos from my last list, comes to us from the game Freespace 2. Making its appearance midway through the game, this terrifying vessel was the most powerful space-faring ship ever encountered by the human race or its allies.

Boasting four massive beam cannons which are situated at the end of its claw like appendages, this ship best exemplifies the offensive fighting spirit. Jumping into a field of battle, it is capable of dealing devastating blows on a target head on, keeping its flanks and rear hidden from the enemy.

Above all, it is clear that the Shivan built the Sathanas to act as a terror weapon in addition to a capital ship. One look at its design confirms this, given its clawing appendages and thorny skin. Defeating this ship outright is quite difficult given its reinforced plating and terrible array of weapons. Disabling this ship, through EMP missiles and guns, is not much easier given the incredibly density of its hull and many redundant systems. In the end, the only way to beat it seems to be for lighter craft to take out its “claws” while heavier vessels strike at it from a distance. However, this still proves to be a suicidal mission given the Sathanas’ many missile and defensive batteries.

Ultimately, taking down this ship in the game is much like the real-life campaign to sink the Bismark. This dreadnought, which was the pride and joy of the German navy in WWII, also boasted massive weapons, a heavily armored hull and superior systems. In the end, the Royal Navy brought it down through a combination of luck, persistence, and careful engagements, taking their time to disable it and then closing in to pound it relentlessly! Hmmm. I guess good history makes for good gaming 🙂

Final Thoughts:/strong>
The suggestion box, as always, is still open. Thanks to Goran Zidar for suggesting the Gunstar, I knew I’d have to include it sooner or later and I’m glad someone asked. Anything else? I got another installment on the way, and probably a few more after that. No? Sigh, alright, bring on the beatings! No nads!

Cool Ships (volume IV)

Back with a fourth installment. As usual, I am indebted to people for making suggestions and offering critiques. Funny thing, these lists seem to be getting longer and more diverse the longer this series goes. But I guess that tells you something about the world of sci-fi. No shortage of material, and kind of like fossil hunting in that the deeper you dig, the more fascinating things get.

Ancients City Ship:
You know the old saying “you can never go home”? Well in this case, the Ancients seemed to think that the best away around that was to take it with you. This one goes out to Nicola Higgins. Thanks for the suggestion, you Stargate fangirl!

Known as a City Ship, this piece of Ancients technology is in centerpiece of the spinoff series Stargate: Atlantis. A self-contained city that is capable of traveling through space, and comes equipped with a hyper drive, this vessel was designed to transplanting colonies of Ancients on distant worlds throughout the Galaxy. It also heavily armed and shielded, making it a veritable mobile fortress.

Beginning several million years ago, the Ancients began what was known as the “Great Migration”, where they left Earth for the Pegasus Galaxy and other destinations in deep space. One such ship which took part in the migration was the Atlantis, which departed from Antarctica and landed on the world known as Lantea, where it was again discovered by humans in the course of the show.

Measuring roughly the same size as Manhattan island, an average city ship comes equipped with extensive living quarters and amenities that make it suitable for large-scale population for extended periods of time. Though capable of space flight and space combat, it’s environment of choice is terrestrial, preferably on water.

Colonial Viper:
This one kind of seems overdue. But I felt the need to push this one back so I could cover the bigger ships from the Battlestar Galactica franchise first. With them done, I can now pay tribute the fighter-craft of choice for the Twelve Colonies, the Viper! Taken from the original series, the Mark II was your basic space superiority fighter, fast, maneuverable, and boasting two laser guns for defense.

In the updated series, the Mark II was considered a relic from the Human-Cylon War, its systems outdated and its controls antiquated (the laser guns were also replaced by two ballistic weapons and a compliment of missiles). However, it was these very antiquated features that would prove to be the saving grace of the Mark II when the Cylons attacked the Colonies at the beginning of the new series.

The updated Mark VII Viper was the pinnacle of Colonial technology at the time. Boasting updating targeting, controls, all of which were networked with the fleet’s central computer system, the Mark VII was far more sophisticated than its predecessor in every measurable way. However, being a networked fighter made it vulnerable when the Cylons unleashed their crippling virus on the Colonies defense mainframe. Several models remained in operation though, thanks in large part to the Pegasus surviving the initial Cylon assault. Once the two fleets combined their resources, the Colonial fleet had several Mark VII’s at their disposal and even began manufacturing new ones to replace their losses.

The Colossus:
Now here’s a franchise I haven’t covered yet! Fans of Freespace and FS II know that when it comes to cool ships, there was no shortage to come out of this video game series. Classically inspired, well-designed and just plain awesome to behold, the Colossus is definitely top of that list. Big, bad, and boasting enough firepower to take down an enemy armada, the Colossus was appropriately named!

Designed by the Terran-Vasudan Alliance in the wake of the Great War, the Colossus was a prototype super-destroyer that was designed to confront all future incursions by a hostile race. Foremost amongst these was the threat of the Shivans, the species that appeared in the first game, destroyed the Vasudan homeworld and nearly destroyed Earth as well.

Measuring 6 km in length, bristling with weapons and boasting a crew of over 30,000, the Colossus took over 20 years to complete and involved dozens of contractors from both races. In terms of defense, it has over 80 weapon turrets, consisting of cannons, missile launchers, and multiple heavy beam emitters. It also houses 60 fighter and bomber wings and requires a crew of over 30,000. In short, the Colossus wields more firepower and fighter wings than an entire Terran or Vasudan armada.

Deimos-class Corvette:
You know the old saying, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog”? That’s what comes to mind whenever I see small ships that are solidly built and pack a wicked punch. As you might have guessed, that precisely what the GTCv Deimos-class vessel is all about! Also taken from the Freespace universe, this corvette was designed for fighter support and attack purposes, providing some added firepower and punch to light assaults and defensive screens.

As the newest addition to the Terran fleet in FS II, these corvettes were designed to replace the aging Fenris and Leviathan-class cruisers from the Great War. In addition to their small profiles and heavy firepower, their hulls are strengthened with collapsed-core molybdenum sheathing for better protection against beam fire and their Vasudan-designed reactor core provides more energy per ton than any other allied ship class.

In a way, these ships remind me of the USS Defiant. Much like that little ass-kickers from the DS9 universe, she packs a lot of power and toughness into a small frame, proving that you don’t have to be big to bring a big ass-whooping! As you might be able to tell, this is a bit of a vicarious experience for me 😉 Being only 5’8”, I too had to be known for scrappiness whenever height and reach failed me in a sparring match!

Drakh Raider:
Once more onto B5 friends. God, I worry people are going to get so sick of this universe given all the attention I devote to it. But as long as it keeps providing ’em, I’ll feel obliged to honor ’em! This time, it’s the Drakh Raider which I’ve chosen to represent. Small, sleek, fast and powerful, these ships were the first line of assault and defense for the Drakh fleet, providing attack screens and defensive escort to their larger destroyers and carriers.

As Londo remarked in the course of the show, “They’re a legend. The kind you would use to frighten small children at night... They were ruthless, savage, but extremely bright. A very bad combination.” And these ships certainly embodied that. Making their first appearance in the third season (“Lines of Communication”) when it became revealed that the Drakh were manipulating the Mimbari into a civil war, and later in the Call to Arms TV movie when the Drakh began assaulting Earth.

Being quite small and based around a central beam weapon, these ships were either unmanned or had a very small crew. They were also quite effective, as two were able to destroy a White Star during their initial encounter with Delenn and the Alliance fleet. However, being small and light, they were also relatively easy for more sophisticated ships of the Alliance to shoot down, and even a small fleet of them could not stand up to larger vessels like the Excalibur. Still, these puppies could wreak havoc against shipping and military vessels that belonged to the younger races. Once they began conducting raids on League Worlds, all parties were forced to turn to Sheridan and the White Star fleet for help.

Romulan Warbird:
Also known as the D’deridex-class, the Warbird class was one of the largest and most powerful ships in the Romulan Star Empire’s armada and served as the backbone of the Romulan fleet during the latter half of the 24th century. In addition to its impressive array of disruptors and photon torpedo banks, the Warbird also has a cloaking device, the result of military exchanges between the Klingon and Romulan Empires.

After their debut in the first season of TNG (“The Neutral Zone”), the Warbird went on to appear in several engagements with Star Fleet (most notably the Enterprise) and the Dominion. In the spinoff series of D29, they would figure prominently in the Dominion War. Initially, this consisted of providing defense against Jem’Hadar incursions, but eventually went on to take part in most major offensives. These included the battles of Chin’toka and the final assault on Cardassia Prime.

Measuring twice as long as a Galaxy-class starship (such as the Enterprise D) the Warbird is powered by a forced quantum singularity and boasts the latest in Romulan technology. This makes it not only one of the most advanced ships in the Romulan fleet, but the Alpha Quadrant itself!

Rama:
Once again, I find myself looking back and wondering how the hell I forgot this one. You can’t call yourself an Arthur C. Clarke fan and a sci-fi geek without knowing about Rama. Lucky for me, ongoing segments give us chances to correct for our mistakes, which I am doing now.

Taken from Clarke’s famous novel Rendezvous with Rama, this namesake was what can be termed a “generational ship”, meaning a spaceship where successive generations of people are expected to be born and die before it finally reaches its destination. In the course of the story, this massive ship was detected on its way towards Earth. Once scientists and astronomers learned that it was not an asteroid or some other natural phenomena, they became mighty interested mighty fast!

Basically a large cylinder in space, the ship measured 50 km in length, 16 km wide, and rotated in order to provide gravity equal to 0.25 g’s (or a quarter of what we’re used to here on Earth). After boarding it, astronauts from Earth noticed an interior layout that resembled cities, rivers and other common geographical features, but being based on technology and chemical compositions which they could not recognize. The horizontal sections of the ship also housed windows which appeared to be letting in outside light, which in turn was having a thawing effect on the landscape since it was frozen from being in deep space for so long.

In addition, they discovered that their was no crew to speak of, nor any cryogenic tanks that held them in stasis. Evenutally, it was determined that these chemical rivers contained the trace chemicals needed to “manufacture Ramans”, and that as it neared a star, it would take the energy and heat necessary to perform these and other life-restoring functions. In the end, Rama was just passing through, a grave disappointment for Earth people… until they realized that more were on the way!

Pretty damn cool huh? This concept of a cylindrical hull with a self-contained city went on to inspire countless franchises and writers, not the least of which was J.M. Straczynski who modeled the interior of Babylon 5 based on Clarke’s descriptions. Generational ships also appear in many science fiction franchises, not the least of which are Alastair Reynold’s Revelation Space series and Joss Whedon’s Firefly.

USS Saratoga:
Space Above and Beyond is back for another installment, this time with the main ship of the fleet! Designated as a SCVN (Space Carrier Vehicle Nuclear) the USS Saratoga is the futuristic equivalent of a modern-day aircraft carrier and was home to the 58th Squadron (“The Wild Cards”) for the entire series.

In the course of the show, the Saratoga served on the front lines for the entire Chig War. This included the defense of Earth in the pilot episode, the offensive at Ixiom and Deimos, and in Operation Roundhammer – the assault on the Chig homeworld – at the end of the series. For the duration of its service, the Saratoga was commanded by Commodore Glen Ross, a no-bullshit naval officer who enjoyed playing guitar, cared deeply for his people, and was known for his catch-phrase “take that bird out of my sky!”

In addition to its compliment of fighters, the Saratoga boasted some pretty heavy armaments, including laser pulse cannons, phalanx missile launchers, and anti-ship torpedos. The vessel was also powered by a helium 3 fusion engine, measured 525.6 m in length and was capable of FTL travel thanks to a wormhole-generating engine technology.

Tigers Claw:
Yet another franchise I have neglected to include so far, but which deserving since cool ships was kind of their thing… Here we have the TCS Tiger’s Claw, the carrier and command vessel from the video game series Wing Commander. In the first installment in the series, the Tiger’s Claw was as the focal point of the story, a Bengal-class carrier that was deployed to the Vega Sector to fight in ongoing conflict known as the Terran-Kilrathi war.

In the course of its deployment in the Vega Sector, the Tiger’s Claw participated in many successful campaigns. These included the destruction of the Kilrathi base of operations for the entire sector in the campaign known as Custer’s Carnival, and the destruction of the KIS Sivar in what was known as the Goddard Campaign.

Unfortunately, after proving victorious in Vega, the ship was transferred to the Enigma Sector where it was destroyed during an assault on the Kilrathi starbase K’tithrak Mang. Using stealth fighters, the Kilrathi managed to ambush and then obliterate the carrier using torpedoes. These events took place between the first and second installment in the series and formed the basis of the latter’s backstory. Save for the main character of the story – Col. Christopher Blair (aka. you) – all hands aboard her were killed, including her air group commander, General Halcyon.

In addition to its vast compliment of 104 fighters, the Tiger’s Claw also possesses 8 heavy laser turrets, 20 defensive batteries, and powerful shields. Measuring 700 meters in length and weighing over 80,000 tons, her crew numbers in the thousands. Although slow and lumbering compared to smaller craft, she is still capable of a high maximum velocity (468,000 km/hour) and can make FTL jumps.

Voth City Ship:
Here’s another example of something the Star Trek franchise did really right! Appearing in the third season of Star Trek: Voyager (episode 64: “Distant Origin”), the Voth City Ship was something that was both intriguing and heavily-inspired. Based on the concept of a self-contained city in space, she was the command and administrative center of the entire Voth race and home to its ruling matriarch.

As the episode which featured her progressed, we learn that a group of alien scientists have discovered Voyager and have become convinced that she holds the key to proving their “Distant Origins” theory. When they meet these creatures, they learn that their kind evolved from dinosaurs on Earth to become a race of talking, bipedal humanoids who developed an entire civilization before they were forced to flee. After millennia of wandering, they landed in the Gamma Quadrant where they have since become the dominant power.

Unfortunately for said scientists, and the crew of Voyager, the Voth leaders are not too crazy about this idea. In addition to contradicting their beliefs that they emerged in the Gamma Quadrant (known as “Doctrine”) they are insulted to think they are related to mammals, creatures they consider inferior. Once they make contact, they are able to capture Voyager and neutralize her defenses quite easily, beaming the entire ship into one of their massive internal bays and knocking out all of their equipment using a dampening field.

In addition to all this impressive technology, the Voth also appeared to possess cloaking technology, trans-warp capability, and no doubt had some serious mother-loving weapons technology. It was a major blessing that Janeway and her crew didn’t press matters too hard and try to get into a firefight with these aliens, otherwise we would have seen some serious fireworks.

Final Thoughts:
Woo! Okay, that one was pretty good. And some rather new and unique examples made it in this time. Thanks for the suggestions people and my endless thanks as always to the good folks who maintain the Wiki’s and other source info sights for these franchises. Without you, I’d be very limited and would have quite doing these long ago! Also, I seem to have focused on city and generation ships a lot in this posting, which got me thinking…

It was the physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson who claimed that the pinnacle of technology would be the ability to build a “Dyson’s Sphere”. That is, a sphere so large that it could encompass an entire star system, or at least the star and its primary planets. After all, the amount of materials and engineering capabilities required to build such a thing are just staggering and clearly beyond the means of anything we now know. Now that all may be true, but might I suggest that a more realistic and attainable measure of technological prowess would be the ability to create self-contained environments where several successive generations of humans and animals could survive for long periods of time?

Think about it. A species that can do this would be capable of leaving whatever world they call home behind and transplanting themselves in a distant star system or galaxy, meaning that their fortunes would never be tied to one rock in one star system. Even if our survival didn’t depend on it – which it might given the state of the planet! – it would still be a rather elegant way of planting the seed of humanity elsewhere in the galaxy. Instead of sending people out land on a planet and then do all the hard work of terraforming and building infrastructure, you just send the ship, and people can grow outwards in their own time without having to worry about hostile environments or organisms.

Pretty anthropocentric, I know. And yes, colonization is chock full of potential for evil, especially where indigenous life is concerned. Still, it’s a cool concept and it got me thinking, which is partly why I like to do these things. An excuse for research and to expand my mind!

Until next time, keep those idears coming!

More Cool Ships

And I’m back with more examples, in part because people had some suggestions but also because I found the last list lacking. I mean, you can’t suggest a concept as big and as awesome as cool science fiction ships and only provide a handful of examples. It’s just not decent! So here’s installment number two in the series, cool ships from various sci-fi franchises and what made them so. Keep in mind that suggestions are always welcome. I’m thinking a third and even fourth list might be necessary 🙂

Alliance Cruiser:
alliance_2Back to the universe of Firefly for another installment! This time around, it’s the Alliance Cruiser that I’ve chosen to talk about. In short, I think the design of this particular ship is quite inspiring. Unlike your average cruisers from other franchises, this ship is not based on the usual seafaring or aerodynamic-ship paradigm. It’s long axis is vertical rather than horizontal, making it a platform instead of a cutter.

In addition to making a lot more sense from a physics standpoint, this design offers many advantages in terms of navigation and defense. Unlike longitudinal designs which are forced to turn around on their long axis, this ship can simply fire thrust from any of its four sides to change course and direction. It’s tall appendages also make it easier for sensors or long-range telescopes to spot things out in space, no blindsides from which to approach on.

Basically, ships like these remind us that spaceships operate in vacuum and are therefore subject to a vastly different set of physical requirements. Since they do not operate in atmospheres, they don’t need to be aerodynamic or sleek like planes. And since they don’t cut across water, they don’t need to have sculpted hulls or prows to part the waves. So why then do a whole slew of spaceships look like aeroplanes or boats?

Simple, it’s a paradigm thing. When we hear ship, we automatically think of airships and seaships since that’s our frame of reference, and our artistic sensibilities naturally follow. But spaceships are a whole ‘nuther ballgame, requiring the ability to withstand inertial pressures instead of drag. So while sleek and streamlined models are cool to look at, they aren’t really the best spaceship design from a technical standpoint.

And in a lot of ways, the Alliance cruiser reminds me of another classic design, that of the Nostromo. Much like the mining vessel from the original Alien movie, it is vertical in design, boasting towers instead of horizontal compartments. It’s size and towering appearance also make it intimidating to behold, illustrating the power and imposing nature of the Alliance itself. Those who crew it tend to be pretty imposing as well, always boarding you and asking question!

Borg Cube:
https://i2.wp.com/img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20060721051747/startrek/images/7/76/Borg_cube.jpgHere we have the capital ship of the Borg, the frightening cyborg race from the Star Trek: TNG series that assimilates or crushes everything in its path. Introduced in the second season of the show (episode 42: “Q Who”), this fearsome foe went on to become a recurring element of the show and was even central to the plot of the spinoff Voyager and the movie First Contact. Much like their raison-d’etre, their ships reflected a sort of cold technological rationalism, like something out of a cyberpunk fans wet dream!

The design of the basic cube, which was later supplemented by spheres and upgraded cube designs, is clearly based on a pythagoran aesthetic: nothing frilly, sleek, aerodynamic or even remotely artistic about it. They are simple, utilitarian, and equilateral, a testament to the precise and unsentimental mindset of those who designed it. It’s basic profile also came in handy when taking on multiple enemy ships. By having six sides, each with the same surface area, weapons and tractor beam mounts, the cube had a 360 degree sphere of defense, making it damn near impregnable.

On every occasion when one of these cubes showed up, bad things were known to happen! In their first encounter with one, the Enterprise barely got out in one piece. In the second, 39 ships were destroyed before the Enterprise and her crew were able to trick one into going into sleep mode, which it then responded to by blowing itself up! In the third encounter, which took place in First Contact, several more federation ships were destroyed before Captain Picard was able to use his inside knowledge of the Borg to help the fleet destroy another ship. In all subsequent encounters, future technologies, viruses, trickery, or a combination thereof were needed to overcome the Borg’s technology and singular mindset.

Chig Cruiser:
chigMuch like Firefly, this example comes to us from a franchise which was cancelled by the executives over at Fox after its first season. Yes, Space Above and Beyond was yet another sci-fi series which had a lot of promise, but got axed when the execs concluded it wasn’t doing well enough for their liking. What the hell goes on over at Fox anyway?! Does every new show get this kind of treatment, or do Rupert Murdoch’s minions think sci-fi is just inherently liberal?

In any case, the Chig Cruiser was much like the concept for the Chigs themselves. Cool, original, and quite alien in appearance! Basically, the vessels shape can be described as two right triangles attached end to end with the tips removed. The command center appeared to be located in the middle, along with much of its weapons and observation deck. The outer hulls also appear to have been constructed out of the triangular-shaped panels of some alien metal that gave of a peculiar sheen when seen from the right angle.

Like everything else in the series, the concept never really had time to be fully developed. Which is really too bad. Their fighters, encounter suits, and capital ships were all cool to look at, and some explanations as to their utility and even artistic inspirations would have been nice. But what can do? Fox is run by idiots! Rest in peace Space Above and Beyond! You died too young!

Earth Alliance Destroyer:
Thanks to Goran Zidar for suggesting I include this one! And please know that you are alone in thinking that it is cool to behold, Mr. Z 😉 Coming to you from the Babylon 5 universe, source of so many cool ships (see below), the concept for the Earth Alliance Destroyer was nothing short of pragmatic genius. Given that the show boasted dozens of alien races, J.M. Straczynski and his design teams had to come up with countless design concepts that would reflect the multicultural and multiracial tone of the show.

In the case of humanity, Straczynski and his people concluded that the spaceships should look boxy, utilitarian, and should reflect the fact that Earth was one of the less advanced races in the story. As a result, the Earth Alliance Destroyer was built around the concept of a compartmentalized hull with its engines at the rear, a central rotating section (to provide artificial gravity), and a forward section where the bridge, carrier deck and command center would be located. And, as you can plainly see, the end result was quite cool!

While not the most advanced ship in the Galaxy, the Omega-class destroyer was certainly realistic, aesthetically pleasing, and could also holds its own in most firefight situations. And unlike their organic, alien counterparts, these ships were also a lot cooler to watch in battle. Instead of “dying” or breaking apart, they would catch fire and throw off flaming debris, not to mention life pods and floating bodies. Yes, since ships didn’t have energy shields or a lot in the way of armor in the B5 universe, firefights tended to get real serious, real fast! Like I said… realistic!

The Daedalus:
daedalusNext up, and taken from the Stargate universe, is the battlecruiser Daedalus. After appearing in the spinoff show Stargate: Atlantis, this class of vessel (codenamed 304) became the basis for an entire fleet of vessels who’s purpose was to defend Earth from an alien invasion. Based on various alien technologies that were taken from the Goa’uld and Asgard, the Daedalus was the first Earth Battlecruiser and FTL ship ever constructed.

Based on the design of a modern aircraft carrier, the Daedalus bridge and command center were located along the top of the hull at the rear while the forward section contained the ships compliment of fighters and takeoff and landing bays. The ship also contained a hyperdrive which was powered by a Zero Point Module (an alien power source), giving it FTL capabilities.

In terms of armaments and advanced technology, the ship boasted beaming units, shields, multiple rail gun and missile systems, and a compliment of nuclear warheads. Designed to stand up to a potential Gua’old or Or’i invasion, the Daedalus and her kind were built to combine the best that Earth and her alien allies could offer. Yes, if the war came to Earth, we would be ready!

The Executor:
Hello terror! Next up, we have the gargantuan and terrifying Imperial command ship known as The Executor. Who among us can forget that introductory scene in The Empire Strikes Back when a whole fleet of massive Star Destroyers were assembling, only to be suddenly overshadowed by the even larger Executor? Cut to the bridge where we see the terrifying Vader looking out over the fleet, and you begin to see just how big and powerful the empire truly is! Yes, those visuals really gave a sense of size and scale to the bad guys and let us know just how much they meant business!

Commissioned roughly one year after the Battle of Yavin, where the first Death Star was destroyed, the Executor was intended to be a terror weapon, replacing the Death Star as the symbol of Imperial might and badassery! Measuring 19 kilometers in length and bristling with turbolasers, ion guns, multiple tractor beams projectors and a complement of fourteen TIE fighter/bomber squadrons, the Executor was every spacers worst nightmare! No ship in the Alliance was capable of standing toe to toe with it, making a strategic withdrawal an inevitability once it showed up in a theater of battle.

However, during the Battle of Endor, the Alliance was able to destroy it through a combination of strategy and dumb luck. After several Rebel fighters took out the Executor’s shield generators, a single fighter who lost control of his ship crashed directly into the bridge. The Executor then lost control of its helm and was pulled in by the second Death Star’s gravitational field, destroying the ship and causing extensive damage to the Death Star’s outer hull. An ironic death for such a big ship, but at least she went down in a blaze! A big, embarrassing, expensive blaze! I don’t envy the bastards who had to pay the premiums on that one!

Home One:
HomeOneAnother vessel that comes to us from the Star Wars universe, Home One was the mobile headquarters of the Rebel Fleet and the biggest Mon Calamari cruiser in existence. As Admiral Ackbar’s command vessel in the original trilogy, it distinguished itself during the Battle of Endor, during which the Executor and the second Death Star were destroyed.

Like most Mon Calamari cruisers, Home One was cylindrical in design and originally served as a star-liner that got modified for combat. This consisted of equipping it with fighter bays, multiple shield emitters, a reinforced hull, and many turbolaser mounts. It’s revolutionary targeting and computer system also gave it a decided advantage in a firefight with Imperial vessels, which boasted heavier armaments, but lacked the ability to coordinate and amass their firepower as effectively.

The largest bay on Home One was on the starboard side where larger vessels would dock. However, a total of twenty hangers were placed throughout the hull, giving it the ability to carry multiple squadrons of X-wings, A-wings, B-wings and Y-wings. It also boasted a crew of over 5000 personnel and could carry 1,200 troops and 20,000 metric tons of cargo. While most of its systems – especially targeting and navigation – were designed for Mon Calamari use, the ship was crewed by a variety of races, reflecting the multiracial nature of the Alliance.

Lexx:
lexxThough not the prettiest ship in the Galaxy, the Lexx certainly deserves a spot on the Cool Ship list. Much like the show that featured it, it was weird, conceptually skewed,  but still damn original! A planet-destroying bioship by design, the Lexx was clearly inspired by the concept of a giant, wingless dragonfly and was created out of resynthesized proteins that were obtained from confiscated organs. Hmmm, gross!

Originally intended for use by His Divine Shadow, the evil ruler of the Divine Order, the Lexx was essentially a terror weapon that would be capable of destroying whole planets. However, the ship was commandeered in the first episode by the show’s crew – consisting of anti-hero Stanley Tweedle, the sex slave Zev Bellringer, and the Kai, an undead assassin, and the bodiless AI 790 – and became the means through which they traveled the universe looking for a new home.

This journey would take them over 6000 years, since the Lexx does not have FTL capabilities, and the crew would go into cryostasis for much of the voyage. Being sentient as well as organic, the ship was required to feed from time to time in order to maintain the life force which powered it. This could involve landing on a planet and eating organic matter directly, but more often than not, required that it blow up an entire planet and eat the resulting debris afterwards.

In the latter case, this consisted of emitting massive amounts of ionized energy from its “eyes” which was then channeled into the “mouth”. This energy was then fired outward in a planar wave which would intercept and obliterate any planet in its path. The Lexx would then take in the giant rocks and debris from the explosion and feed off of all the organic matter they carried. If not permitted to feed regularly, the Lexx could apparently become quite cranky and agitated, which would prove to be hell for whoever had to interact with it!

Narn Cruiser:
narn02As promised, another cool ship from the B5 universe. And as I said earlier, when it came to producing concepts for alien ships, J.M. Straczynski really had an eye for aesthetics, art, and functionality. Whereas Earth vessels tended to be compartmentalized and practical in nature, other alien races tended to be a bit more flamboyant, a reflection of their particular cultures and levels of technology.

When it came to the Narns, an aggressive but artistic race, their ship designs exemplified this dual nature. Originally a pastoral and peaceful people, the Narns had been brutalized by generations of occupation at the hands of the Centauri and had become quite warlike as a result. Their heavy cruisers, the mainstay of their fleet, were thus powerful and fierce looking, but still managed to achieve an aesthetic quality which brought beauty into the mix.

Boasting two massive beam cannons, several pulse guns and a compliment of space mines, the Narn Heavy Cruiser could take on just about any ship in the Galaxy. Though most were destroyed in the Great War against the Centauri, the ship proved to be effective in numerous engagements, not the least of which were against the Shadows themselves. For example, at the battle of Ragesh 3, two Narn Cruisers combined their beam cannons to seriously damage a Shadow vessel. During the battle in Sector 83, when Sheridan and the White Star Fleet engaged a fleet of Shadows vessels, the Cruiser G’tok managed to assist a pair of White Stars in destroying two Shadow vessels. Quite the accomplishment for this class of vessel!

After the Great War, the Narn regime began rebuilding its fleet, and the Narn Cruiser remained the mainstay of their forces. Several were used during the Alliance war with the Centauri and participated in the assault on Centauri Prime, where its massive compliment of weapons proved quite devastating against the planet’s surface!

Prometheus-Class Assault Vessel:
PrometheusYou know, I’ve never been that big a fan of the Star Trek franchise. But even I have to admit, when these guys do something right, they really do it right! And this ship, the Prometheus Assault Vessel, would be one such example. Much like the USS Defiant from my previous list, this ship demonstrated that when required, Star Fleet could produce ships that really excelled at kicking ass and taking names!

A revolutionary prototype, the Prometheus-Class vessel appeared in a single episode of Voyager where it was being stolen by a bunch of Romulan agents. However, thanks to the combined efforts of the ship’s own holographic surgeon and Voyager’s similarly holographic doctor, the ship was saved and even managed to turn the tables on its Romulan adversaries.

Incorporating advanced phasers, quantum torpedoes, ablative armor and regenerative shields, the biggest surprise the Prometheus had was its multi-vector assault capability. This involved the separation of the ship into multiple modules, much like the USS Enterprise-D would do with its saucer and engine sections. However, in the Prometheus’ case, this resulted in the creation of three semi-independent sections which were capable of unleashing a single, coordinated attack against multiple opponents.

After it was done dispatching all its enemies, it would then come back together, perform repairs as needed, and move on to the next target. And since the ship was programmed with extensive routines, a very small crew was capable of operating it and really only had to speak the requisite commands to get it to kill, kill, kill! Not a bad ship to have in your arsenal!

Shadow Attack Ship:
shadow06“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.” These were the words Lt. Warren Keffer used to describe a Shadow vessel, right before he died chasing one down. An apt description for a ship that was clearly designed to inspire terror in its enemies, and a reflection of the race that built it.

As my final installment, taken again from the B5 universe, I’ve decided to include the Shadow Attack Ship, which is perhaps the most original and artistic spaceship I have ever seen. Granted, it had some stiff competition given the franchise it is coming from, but in terms of its design, performance, and sheer alien appearance, I can’t think of anything that can top it.

Given the fact that Straczynski and crew were working with the concept of organic technology, the ship was clearly meant to look like a living creature. Apparently, they settled on the combination of an arachnid and a giant octopus for the design, which combined with its jet-black sheen, made it both terrifying to behold and aesthetically awesome! And since every Shadow vessel is a living thing, they required sentient beings to merge with them in order to become active. When inactive, they would lie dormant and could remain operable for thousands of years.

More often than not, the Shadows preferred to use telepaths as drivers since only a telepath was capable of jamming the ship’s central operating system (i.e. a person’s mind). When damaged, the ships would emit a high-pitched screeching noise and often required another ship to merge with them and carry them to safety where they could. Of course, the screech couldn’t be heard through space. As Keffer noted, the sounds it made seemed to take place in the observers mind – aka. it was being telepathically conveyed. Hence, in addition to scaring the shit out of their opponents with their appearance and awesome firepower, these ships also had a calculated psychological edge in battle!

Not that they needed it though. In addition to their speed and firepower, the ship’s organic hulls were also incredibly tough, capable of absorbing tremendous amounts of energy before dying. As Sheridan and his people learned, pulse cannons were virtually useless against the Shadow’s skin, and beam weapons were only capable of killing them when focused on its central region for extended periods of time. On multiple occasions, Sheridan and the Alliance forces were only able to destroy one of these vessels by relying on telepaths to jam them while multiple ships combined their firepower to finish them off.

For the Shadows, the weapon of choice seemed to be the beam cannon that was located in the ship’s “mouth”. This focused, pink-purple beam was capable of slicing through the most hardened of structures and ships, and could reduce an entire colony to rubble in the space of a few seconds. However, the standard Shadow vessels also contained a type of space mine that was capable of c0llapsing hyperspace jump nodes and also carried a compliment of Shadow fighters which they kept embedded in their skin. These appeared to be independent in nature seeing as how they were too small for a person to fit in, and served as a mere screen for the larger vessels to make their attack.

In short, a Shadow vessel was the sort of thing you didn’t stick around to fight unless you had plenty of ships watching your back. Fast, furious, and shit-your-pants scary to look at, if you managed to kill one, you counted yourself amongst the few, the proud, the luckiest sons of bitches in the universe!

Okay, thanks for sticking around for the second installment! I think I have one more in me, but I’ll wait a few days before posting that. In the meantime, be sure to check out this cool chart. It provided me with a couple of ideas during the course of my research:
The ultimate starship size comparison chart

Cool Ships!

God, what an obvious extension of the whole conceptual sci-fi thing, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner! After all, what is a sci-fi franchise without some cool spacefaring vessels? Sometimes, these come in the form of exploratory ships that chart the unknown regions of the galaxy. Sometimes they are battleships which kick ass and don’t do much else. And sometimes they are generational ships, spending decades, centuries or even millennia cruising through space, ferrying people to new star systems and new galaxies.

But whatever their purpose, futuristic vessels are a constant source of enjoyment and interest. A lot of imagination and creativity goes into creating them, and what comes out is often a testament to the allure of speculative sci-fi. Anyway, today I thought I’d explore some choice examples of sci-fi ships and what makes them so cool. Here goes…

Defiant:
Making its debut in Star Trek: DS9, the Defiant became the workhorse of the station and the first line of defense against it’s enemies. Originally designed for combat with the Borg, the Defiant was a prototype for an entire generation of warship. Smaller than most starships, but also faster and boasting very powerful weaponry, the Defiant quickly gained a reputation for being the most dangerous vessel in the quadrant!

Yep, when this ship made its debut, I started watching the show. Every episode that featured space battles with the Defiant were worth watching, in my estimation. Blasting those rapid-fire cannons, firing those quantum torpedoes, blowing up anyone stupid enough to cross it; the Defiant did it all!

It’s prototype version even boasted a cloaking device, something the Federation borrowed from the Romulans so they could slit into Dominion territory once they found out about them. In time, the Defiant was lost, but more of its kind appeared to take up its role. The Valiant, the Sao Paolo, and a host of others were pressed into service as the series went on and the Dominion War became the focal point of the show. Much like their predecessor, these new Defiant-class ships kicked plenty of asses and never went down without a fight. A big, brutal, hard-slogging fight!

Galactica:
This ship is the namesake of the original movie and series and got a makeover for the re-imagining which was released back in 2005. And though her appearance has changed somewhat since the 1970’s when the original movie came out, the Galactica’s role and importance has remained the same. The last surviving Battlestar of the Twelve Colonies, she is the sole protector of the human fleet as it flees the Cylon onslaught and makes its way to an elusive world called Earth… and salvation!

One thing that did change between the old and new series was the sophistication of the design. Whereas in the 1970’s version, the Galactica was a state of the art, modern warship with laser cannons and a full crew, the newer version was an older, outdated vessel with projectile cannons and flak guns that had been retired from active service. As the series opens, we see that the Galactica was being converted into a museum ship that was meant to commemorate the last war against the Cylons which had ended over twenty years ago. It’s crew was skeletal and its senior officers were also due for retirement.

However, all of that changed when the Cylons launched their surprise attack on the Colonies. Being an obsolete vessel which used outdated computers and had no wireless networks, the Galactica was the only ship that wasn’t crippled by the virus the Cylon’s used to disable the Colonial fleet. After hastily equipping themselves with ammunition and some equally outdated Vipers from their showroom, the Galactica was forced into service. But by this time, the war was effectively over, and the Captain and crew dedicated themselves to a new mission: to find the only other human colony in existence (Earth) and begin repopulating their species.

Despite her age, the Galactica could still surprise her enemies when she needed to. Unlike her more modern companions, including the Pegasus which she met in season two, she had a habit of getting out of some rather tight spots. You could say that in the new series, this ship was a metaphor for humanity; aging and endangered, but a survivor nonetheless!

Millennium Falcon:
Here she is, the centerpiece of this list! For what ship is more cool than the Millennium Falcon? I mean really! Sure, she’s not the biggest or the most heavily armed ship on this list, but she is the fastest, nimblest, and she’s definitely got the most character. In some ways, she was almost part of the cast of the original Star Wars series, and I’m sure everyone felt bad for her when she got scuffed up during that last battle in Return of the Jedi ;).

Officially, the Falcon is a modified Corellian transport. Corellia, the planet Han calls home, is renowned for producing good ships in addition to good spacers. They’re fast, sleek, and infinitely modifiable. It’s little wonder then why they are a favorite amongst smugglers. And Corellian spacers especially are known for being very monogamous and loyal when it comes to their ship selection.

Prior to joining the Rebellion, the Falcon was primarily used to smuggle spice from Kessel to other regions of the Galaxy, usually at the behest of Jabba the Hutt. In spite of its speed, the Falcon would occasionally get boarded by Imperial patrols. When this happened, Han and Chewi relied on a secret compartment to stash their goods. However, on one of his final runs, Han was boarded by an Imperial patrol and was forced to ditch his manifest.

Shortly thereafter, Han and Chewi joined the Rebellion and the role of the Falcon changed considerably. Now, it was involved in attack missions, the most notable of which were the assaults on the first and second Death Star. At other times, it continued to do what it did best – fly fast and elude Imperial ships!

Nostalgia for Infinity:
Here we have an interesting ship, which comes to us from the mind of Alastair Reynolds and the Revelation Space universe. Known as a “Lighthugger”, this class of vessel was one which could travel close to the speed of light thanks to its massive “Conjoiner Drives”. These engines, which were attached to the outsides of the ships, relied on a controlled singularity to generate the necessary inertia to push the ship as close to light speed as was physically possible for a vessel of its size.

The crews of these ships were known as “Ultranauts”, or Ultras for short. Typically, these were the kinds of cybernetically enhanced human beings who were capable of interfacing with the ship’s advanced machinery, prolonged space travel and withstanding the inertial stresses caused by near-light speed travel.

In the case of the Nostalgia, the ship was commanded by a Triumvir, three Captains who took turns commanding the ship while it was in deep space and the others were in reefersleep (i.e. cryogenic suspension). This included Ilia Volyova, Sajaki and Hegazi, three Ultras who had taken over after the Captain and ship had succumbed to what was known as the “Melding Plague”. This virus is a key element to the story of RS, being alien in origin and which infects and perverts nanotechnological matter.

In the course of running their various missions to and from the many worlds of the RS universe, the crew came into possession of a series of “Cache Weapons”, missiles and gun platforms which were apparently of Conjoiner design, and were officially known as Hell-class weapons.  As the series progressed, both the Nostalgia, its crew, and these weapons played an increasingly important role in defending the human race from the alien threat of the “Inhibitors” (see Planet Killers, The Inhibitors, for more detail).

Red Dwarf:
The eponymous spaceship from the BBC series, the Red Dwarf – otherwise known as the “giant red trashcan” – was a huge mining vessel measuring 10 km in length, 6.5 km in height, and 5 km in width. Built for mining and owned by the Jupiter Mining Corporation, the ship is immense, largely self-sufficient, and run by an AI named Holly. And for some reason, it has an asteroid embedded in its hull (this is never explained).

In the beginning of the series, a radiation leak killed the entire crew, except for the protagonist Dave Lister, a technician who was apparently in suspended animation at the time. In order to ensure his survival, Lister is kept in suspension by Holly until all the background radiation dissipates, a process which takes over three million years. As a result, Lister wakes up to find that he’s the last living human in existence. His only companions are the hologram of his former bunk-mate Rimmer, and a humanoid feline named Cat who evolved from Lister’s cat (Frankenstein) over three million years that he was asleep.

Over the course of the show, the crew encounters new planets, species and time distortions aboard the Red Dwarf, all the while trying to make their back to Earth. The largely self-sufficient ship takes care of their every need, though it has begun to run out of certain supplies after three million years (including Shake n Vac and all but one After Eight mint!).

Serenity:
I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about Firefly as of late, but the list says cool ships so I don’t see how the Serenity can possibly be left off this list! As the centerpiece of the single-season series and the movie, the ship has a long story and a lot of character, much like her crew! Originally designed as a class of cargo freighter, the Firefly is apparently an older model of ship that is no longer in use with the Alliance but remains popular out on the rim.

All references to it in the early episodes indicate that the series is essentially obsolete, but due to their ruggedness, shelf-life and the presence of secret compartments, they remain a popular item amongst smugglers. Hmmm, echoes of the Millennium Falcon there. Nevertheless, as the series progresses, this reputation is illustrated in how Mal and the crew are able to stow illegal goods and how Kaylee is able to keep the ship running under tight conditions with all kinds of improvised repairs. And despite the fact that it is no longer being constructed, most of its parts are still available and easily attainable on the open and black market.

Much like all ships in the Firefly/Serenity universe, the Firefly is apparently a sub-light vessel, incapable of traveling faster than the speed of light. Though unarmed, it is fast and maneuverable in both space and planetary atmospheres. This is made possible by the addition of two external multi-directional thrusters which allow for takeoff, landing, and the occasional crazy Ivan (which the crew pulled in the pilot episode). It also boasts two shuttle pods, which can be used as escape vessels or as secondary transports. Inara, the Companion crewwoman, uses one such pod as her quarters and transport for personal away missions.

The ship also has its own medbay and crew quarters, which is another feature that makes it popular amongst spacers. In fact, the availability of a private room was intrinsic in Mal’s offer to “recruit” Jayne Cobb from another gang, which was illustrated in a flashback sequence during the episode “Out of Gas”. There was even room enough to accommodate River and Simon and Book, which would indicate that the ship contains eight bunks in total. A communal dining area and food processors also see to their needs while not sleeping, gun-slinging, or generally doing something illegal!

USS Sulaco:
After barely surviving her first encounter with the xenomorph in Alien, Ellen Ripley and a crew of Colonial Marines returned to LV-426 in Aliens to settle the score! The ship that brought them there was none other than the USS Sulaco – a big, bad, military vessel boasting big-ass guns and enough Marine firepower to level an entire colony. Much like the Nostromo, the Sulaco is a reference to the work of Joseph Conrad, writer of Heart of Darkness (significant? Oh, I think so!).

Apparently, the Sulaco is a Conestoga-class warship designed for ferrying Marines to and from conflict areas in the future. While it was only carrying one platoon of Marines and two dropships in the second movie, this class of ship is capable of carrying 20,000 tons of cargo, eight UD4L Cheyenne-class dropships and a crew of 90 personnel (according to other franchise reference material). Hmm, too bad they didn’t pack the Sulaco to capacity, otherwise Ripley would have never had to take matters into her own hands to kill the Queen Alien!

Much like everything else in the Alien franchise, the Sulaco and all other Conestoga-class vessels are built by the Weyland-Yutani corporation, military division. Clearly, their purpose is to enforce the law, hunt down (and capture) xenomorphs, and maintain the peace aboard its many, many colonies. All part of their commitment to “Building Better Worlds” I guess 😉

White Star:
My personal favorite of this list, the coolest and most badass ship to come from the Babylon 5 universe! Fast, small, and boasting incredible firepower, the White Star was the workhorse of the Shadow War, Sheridan’s campaign to liberate Earth, and the early military campaigns of the Interstellar Alliance. In a lot of ways, it is much like the Defiant from the DS9 universe… I do believe they stole the idea from Straczynski!

As a collaboration between the Mimbari and the Vorlons, the White Star ships were partially based on organic technology. This meant that the ship was essentially alive and could heal itself when damaged. In addition, its organic armor was capable of deflecting energy, giving it a sort of shielding which could protect it from anything other than a physical impact.

The ship’s main weapons consisted of pulse cannons and a single beam cannon mounted in the nose. This gave it the ability to pepper targets with rapid fire shots while conducting high-speed maneuvers, and slicing them with focused bursts while on an attack vector.  All of this came in handy when dealing with Shadow vessels, which are notoriously hard to kill! It also proved useful when up against larger, heavier ships like Earth Force cruisers, Drakh vessels, and anything else the known universe could throw at them.

From the initial prototype, the Mimbari would go on to construct thousands of White Star-class vessels which were crewed by the Rangers and members of the Religious Caste. After the formation of the Alliance, Sheridan proposed the creation of a heavier version which culminated in the design of two White Star Destroyers, the Victory and Excalibur. This latter ship was the centerpiece of the spinoff series, Crusade.

Final Thoughts:
Well, that was fun! No final thoughts today, as I really have none to offer. I just really like cool ships! And much like most toys for grown ups, they are made cool by the fact that they are used for some fun purposes – like smuggling, fighting or exploration – and generally boast one or more of the following factors: speed, firepower, special abilities, visual appeal, and maybe some secret compartments. Any or all of these will do, thank you very much. Until next time!

B5, Season 3 Best Episodes (cont’d)

Season three was loaded with significant episodes, many of which were clustered towards the end of the season. My second installment is therefore dedicated to the final six episodes of season three. Together, they developed or wrapped up some pretty big plot threads from this and other seasons and included (but were not limited to) the temporal plot involving B4 and the Great Machine, the prophecies of Valen, the Shadow War, Londo’s rivalry with Refa, what happened to Sheridan’s wife, and his fabled trip to Z’ha’dum.

7. War Without End (Parts I and II):
The episode opens on Mimbar, where Sinclair, now head of the Rangers, receives a letter from the past. It is addressed to him specifically, and was penned by Valen some 900 years ago! He immediately leaves for B5, where Delenn has received a similar letter. This coincides with strange behavior coming from Epsilon 3, where the Great Machine has become active and has begun opening a temporal disturbance in a nearby sector. When she begins examining the disturbance, Ivanova sees a transmission from the future, where B5 is being destroyed and she is calling for help.

Sheridan meets with Delenn and Sinclair. She shows him footage from the last Shadow War. Apparently, at that time the Mimbari and First Ones were preparing for an assault on the Shadows when the station that served as their rallying point was destroyed. All seemed lost, until a new station appeared out of nowhere and was offered to them by Valen himself. Sheridan sees the footage of it and is shocked. It was Babylon 4! Sinclair is similarly shocked, having been aboard the station years back when he was commander of B5 and it first appeared in their sector of space. He had been told then by Zathras that it was being taken to serve in a war, but did not imagine it was being taken into the past.

They also see that the Shadows tried to destroy it shortly after it was completed, but a ship arrived to protect it. That ship was none other than the White Star. Sheridan now understands what they must do: the Great Machine has opened a time portal so they can travel into the past, save B4, and then bring it into the past so it will help the Mimbari and First Ones win the last Shadow War. They set out, Delenn, Sheridan, Sinclair, Ivanova, Marcus and Zathras to the portal and enter it. Zathras equips them with devices that are meant to keep them “stuck in time” (i.e. immune to the effects of time travel).

On the other side, they dispatch the Shadow vessels which are attacking and board the station. However, Sheridan’s temporal device is damaged and he becomes “unstuck in time”. While the others prepare B4, Sheridan gets a glimpse of the future. He is on Centauri Prime, which has been devastated in the war, and where Londo is preparing to execute him and Delenn. However, Londo frees him at the last minute, showing him that he’s been the victim of a Shadow device that controls him, and then asks a one-eyed G’Kar to kill him. However, the device awakens and Londo and G’Kar end up strangling each other. Vir enters shortly thereafter and dons the Emperor’s necklace. He is now Emperor, all of which was foretold.

Sheridan becomes unstuck again, but not before Delenn implores him not to go to Z’ha’dum. He travels back into the past, where he sees Sinclair from years before, and Zathras gives him his time device. He then jumps back to the present and begins working with the others again to prep the station for travel. They carefully avoid running into Sinclair and Garibaldi from the past, retrieve Zathras, and prepare to leave. Sinclair volunteers to stay behind and guide the station back, but Marcus knows he’s not planning on coming back. Sinclair reveals that it has been his destiny to do this, and once they leave him and the station jumps, Delenn explains…

She recounts how beginning a thousand years ago, Mimbari souls began to be born in human bodies, how Valen prophesied that their two races were bound, and how if the station had arrived in the past with a human on board, the Mimbari never would have accepted it. Marcus puts it all together, quoting the ancient saying of how Valen was “a Mimbari not born of Mimbari.” We then cut to B4 where SInclair uses the same Chrysalis Delenn did to undergo a transformation that will make him half-Mimbari, half-human. He then turns up in the distant past and offers the station to the Mimbari, identifying himself as Valen.

Significance:
This episode not only capped off the whole mystery of what happened to B4 and the whole temporal plot thing, it also explained, quite mind-blowingly, why the Mimbari and humans were connected, what happened at the Battle of the Line, and the whole mystique and prophecy that surrounded Sinclair and the Shadow War. In short, Sinclair was destined to take B4 back in time, ensure that the younger races and First Ones won the last Shadow War, so that this time around, they would have a fighting chance.

We also see why he was thought to have a Mimbari soul when he was captured by the Mimbari. The device that the Mimbari used to examine him, a relic given to them by Valen, was a device tuned to his DNA. Hence why it glowed in his presence, it was identifying it’s owner! Delenn’s transformation, which she did at the end of season one, was sort of a karmic pay-back then. She became half-human/half-Mimbari in order to complete the exchance of DNA/souls that was begun in the distant past by Sinclair. With the prophecy and temporal plot now complete, their alliance is now set to fight and win THIS Shadow War.

Memorable Lines:
Part I:
Marcus: Captain, if I were you, I’d quit while I was ahead. Back on Minbar, there was a saying among the other Rangers: “The only way to get a straight answer out of Ranger One was to look at every reply in a mirror while hanging upside down from the ceiling.”
Sheridan: Did it work?
Marcus: Oddly enough, yes. Or after a while you passed out and had a vision. Either way, the result was pretty much the same.

Sinclair: I’ve come along way to be here for this. I’d hate to just turn around and go back again. besides, I think we’d work well together. Like Butch and Sundance, Lewis and Clarke, Lucy and Ethel.
Sheridan:… Well, when I joined Earth Force, the sign said “greatest adventure of all”. If they only knew! Okay, let’s do it. (to Sinclair) Lucy and Ethel?

Sinclair: Zathras, this is very important. When you meet me again, it will be me, but it won’t be me now. So you’re not to say anything to me that might change the past. Do you understand?
Zathras: Zathras understand. No. Zathras not understand. But Zathras do! Zathras good at doings, not understandings. Zathras honored to meet you… for many reasons. Zathras also honored to meet you (to Sheridan) for other reasons.
Sheridan: Such as?
Zathras: Oh no. Draal give Zathras list of things not to say. This was one. No, not good. Not supposed to mention one, or “The One”. Oh! Uh… you never heard that.
Sheridan: What else is on this list of things you’re not supposed to mention?
Zathras: Zathras… does not remember. But if Zathras remember later, Zathras tells you.

Sinclair: I need Lennier to stay on the ship. Can you get the equipment up here by yourself?
Zathras: Yes, yes! Zathras is used to being beast of burden to other people’s needs. Very sad life! Probably have very sad death, but at least there is symmetry!

Sheridan: Londo? What am I doing here?
Londo: Welcome back from the abyss, Sheridan. You’re timing, as always, is quite exceptional… just in time to die!

Sinclair: All my life, I’ve had doubts about who I am, where I belonged. Now, I’m like the arrow that springs from the bow. No hesitation, no doubts. The path is clear.

Londo: What am I doing is something someone should have done a long time ago. Putting you out of my misery! A fitting punishment for your crimes.
Sheridan: What crimes? I –
Londo: The crime of neglect! The crime of convenience! During your little war you drove away the Shadows, oh yes! But you didn’t think to clean up your mess. If a few of their minions, their dark servants, came to Centauri Prime… well, where is the harm in that, yes? Hmm? You want to see the harm? Do you?! (shows him to the window. Centauri Prime has been devastated) There is the legacy of your war!

Sinclair:
ready?
Delenn: Why do your people always ask if someone is ready right before you are going to do something massively unwise?
Sinclair: Tradition!

Part II:

Sheridan: But this couldn’t happen, not in this amount of time! What year is this?
Londo: This is the last year, and the last day, and the last hour, of your life! Seventeen years since you began your great crusade, seventeen – (coughs) I am tired. Take him back to his cell. Sheridan… make your peace with whatever gods you worship. You will be meet next time I send for you. I cannot recall my world from what it has become, but I can thank you properly for your role in it.

Ivanova: You said move, how’d you know they were coming?
Marcus: Didn’t. But right now would be the worst time to be discovered, so it was logical it would happen now. Like I said, I don’t believe in luck. (Accidentally opens the panel they’ve been looking for) On the other hand…

Delenn: The war is never completely won. There are always new battles to be fought against the darkness. Only the names change. But we… we achieved everything we set out to achieve. We created something that will endure for a thousand years. But the price, John… the terrible, terrible price! I didn’t think I’d see you before the end…

Londo: We all have our keepers, you see? I gave a very good performance… yes. It was satisfied. Doesn’t care why I do what I do, as long as I do it… as long as you are dead. (shows the Shadow implant) It cannot hold its liquor, you see? I have learned that if I drink enough, I can put it to sleep for just a few minutes. A few minutes where… I am myself again. But the few minutes are growing shorter and shorter. So… we do not have much time. My life is almost over. My world, all I hope for, gone. You two are my last chance… for this place, for my people, for my own redemption… In exchange for your lives, all I ask is that you and your allies help to free my people. I can do nothing more for them. Go now, quickly. You do not have much time…

Sheridan: I’m being pulled back!
Delenn: Then take these words back with you to the past. Treasure the moments you have, savor them for as long as you can, for they will never come back again. John, listen to me. Do not go to Z’ha’dum, do you understand? Do not go to Z’ha’dum!

Ivanova: We’re running out of time.
Zathras: Cannot run out of time. There is infinite time. You are finite, Zathras is finite. This is wrong tool. No, not good. Never use this.

Marcus: You always said half a truth was worse than a life. You’ve kept us going so fast we haven’t had time to think. This system isn’t fully automatic is it? Someone has to ride this thing into the distant past, and it’s a one way ticket. Whoever goes isn’t coming back…
Sheridan: Is this true? (Sinclair nods)
Marcus: Fine, I’ll take her out.
Sinclair: Marcus, I’ll take it back because I’ve always taken it, and I always will. It’s already happened.
Ivanova: You don’t know that!
Sinclair: Yes I do. You asked what brought me here. Before I left Mimbar, I was given a letter from nine hundred years ago. (gives Sheridan the letter)
Sheridan: Who’s handwriting is this?
Sinclair: Mine. I wrote this from the past. From nine hundred years ago, it’s as simple as that… My whole life has been leading to this.

Zathras: All Mimbari belief is around three… All is three! As you are three… as you are One. As you are The One. You are The One who was. You are The One who is. And you are The One who will be. You are the beginning of the story, and the middle of the story, and the end of the story, that creates the next great story! In your hearts, you know what Zathras says is true. Go now! Zathras’ place is with the One who was. We have… a destiny!

Delenn: That door is closed forever, but it is not the only one. Lennier told you that a thousand years ago, Mimbari and human souls began to merge. Mimbari souls were being born in human bodes. Something happened that opened that door between us. My change was in part to even the scales and restore balance between our races using the device my people discovered a thousand years ago. You see… if my people had found Babylon 4 with a human aboard, they would have never accepted it.
Marcus: Dear God! A Mimbari not born of Mimbari!

Sinclair/Valen: I welcome you and present this place to you as a gift. I am called Valen, and we have much work ahead of us…

8. Walkabout:
Doctor Franklin continues his walkabout, and explains how he’s “looking for his other half” which he lost awhile back. A replacement Vorlon arrives on the station, identifying himself as Kosh (“we are all Kosh,” he explains). He is incensed over Kosh’s death and blamed Lyta, and demands to know if any part of him survived. She hears Kosh’s voice when talking to Sheridan and believes that he might be carrying a part of him after all.

G’Kar gets a visit from the Captain of the G’Tok, the Narn warship that Sheridan gave sanctuary to in season two’s Fall of Night. He tells G’Kar that several Narn ships survived the war due to the Centauri’s haste to get to their homeworld. They are marshalling now and waiting for an opportunity to strike back. G’Kar tells them they need to focus on keeping the station safe for the time being, and that B5 is of great significance.

Sheridan and his war council plan to field-test telepaths against a Shadow vessel, which they learned in a previous episode are vulnerable to telepathic jamming.The G’Tok is initially planned to provide escort, but G’Kar is told by its Captain that they must preserve their ships until the time comes to liberate the Narn homeworld. He agrees, but is confronted by Garibaldi who reminds him that the entire point of their alliance is that they are supposed to be looking out for each other, not themselves.

Sheridan takes Lyta and a White Star and heads into a zone of engagement where they come face to face with a ship. Lyta is initially overwhelmed, but when Sheridan touches her, she gets a vision of how Kosh died. Enraged, she managed to jam the Shadow vessel and they destroy it. However, they are forced to drain their jump engines to get enough power to kill it with their guns. More ships arrive, and Lyta is too drained to fight them. Things look dire, but G’Kar arrives with the G’Tok and several other League ships and force the Shadows to run. For the first time ever, the Shadows have been forced to retreat!

They return to the station victorious, and Lyta confides in the new Kosh that “someone” might have a piece of Kosh in them. The Vorlon is understandably intrigued…

Significance:
Sheridan and his alliance see for the first time that Shadow vessels can be beaten using telepaths. This will prove of great value to them in the coming war. This episode is also the first time that we see that a part of Kosh is living inside Sheridan, which may very well save his life when the time comes. The reintroduction of the G’Tok and the revelation that Narn ships survived the war will also prove important to the fledgling alliance, as is G’Kar decision to commit them to the Shadow War rather than focusing on striking back against the Centauri. It also introduces the new Vorlon, who we are shown is not at all like the original Kosh. In addition to his appearance, his demeanor seems much harsher and more strict, traits which will become clear as time goes on.

Memorable Lines:
Londo: A Narn heavy cruiser? This is intolerable! By treaty, all Narn warships are to be turned over to Centauri forces!
Garibaldi: Yeah, well we didn’t sign that treaty. You got a problem, call Earth. If they didn’t forced us to break away, we wouldn’t need a mutual protection agreement. That means we take every ship we can get!
Londo: And what guarantee will you give me that the cruiser will not open fire on a Centauri vessel as it approaches Babylon 5, hmm?
Garibaldi: It’s the same guarantee I gave when I promised that none of the other Narns would break into your quarters in the middle of the night, and slit your throat.
Londo: Mr. Garibaldi, you have never given me that promise.
Garibaldi: You’re right… sleep tight!

Na’Kal: Breen! You’ve managed to import breen from Homeworld! How?
G’Kar: It, uh…isn’t actually breen.
Na’Kal: But… the smell, the taste—!
G’Kar: It’s an Earth food. They are called Swedish meatballs. It’s a strange thing, but every sentient race has its own version of these Swedish meatballs! I suspect it’s one of those great universal mysteries which will either never be explained, or which would drive you mad if you ever learned the truth.

Sheridan: Uh, before you go. Your government neglected to tell me your name. How should I refer to you when we’re alone?
Vorlon: Kosh.
Sheridan: Ah, yes, I understand that’s how we’re to refer to you publicly but… privately?
Vorlon: Kosh.
Ivanova: Ambassador Kosh is dead.
Vorlon: We are all Kosh.
Sheridan: He’s a Vorlon alright.
Ivanova: Yep!

Garibaldi: What the hell are you doing?
Franklin: Well, it’s a long story.
Garibaldi: Why is everything’s around here a long story? Why isn’t anything ever a short story, a paragraph? Look, just give me the short version, okay?
Franklin: Alright… Walkabout.
Garibaldi: That’s it?
Franklin: Well it’s either that or the long version so you take your pick.

Garibaldi: Stephen… you don’t really believe there are two of you, do you?
Franklin: No, it’s a metaphor! All right, there isn’t literally another me walking around the station. But the principle is real! I realized I didn’t have any idea who I was when I wasn’t being a doctor, and I think I was using the stims to avoid facing that. Now I gotta fix it.
Garibaldi: How?
Franklin: By going walkabout. You just leave everything, and you start walking. I mean, the Foundation adopted the idea from the Aborigines back on Earth. The theory is, if you’re separated from yourself, you start walking and you keep walking until you meet yourself. Then you sit down, and you have a long talk. Talk about everything that you’ve learned, everything that you’ve felt, and you talk until you’ve run out of words. Now, that’s vital, because the real important things can’t be said. And then, if you’re lucky, you look up, and there’s just you. Then you can go home.
Garibaldi: You know how crazy this sounds? You’re a doctor… a scientist?
Franklin: And?
Garibaldi: And what?
Franklin: Exactly!

Sheridan: As you know, Mr. Garibaldi recently uncovered information which seems to indicate the Shadows have a weakness. Now there ships are based on organic technology that may be vulnerable to telepathic interference. In theory, a telepath might be able to jam their central operating system leaving them vulnerable to attack.
G’Kar: I noticed a number of conditional phrases in that. “Seems to indicate a weakness”, “maybe”, “in theory”…

9. And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place:
Lord Refa and a high-ranking minister of the Centauri royal court arrive on the station with the intention of ending the rivalry between him and Londo. However, it quickly becomes clear that they both intend to dispose of the other. Londo tells Vir of his plan, to lure G’Kar to a trap on the Narn homeworld by getting Vir to tell him that his former aide – N’Toth – is being held there. He will then capture him and present him to the Emperor as a gift, and thus win favor over Refa. Vir doesn’t want to but is forced when Londo threatens his family. Vir complies and delivers the message to G’Kar.

Vir is kidnapped and telepathically scanned, and Refa plans to intercept G’Kar for himself. G’Kar appears to take the bait and travels to Narn where he sees the devastation from the war. When Refa’s forces arrive to kidnap him, he is shocked to see that G’Kar and Refa are actually working together. G’Kar activates a hologram recording where Londo tells him everything. It turns out the plan he told Vir was a ruse to lure Refa to Narn where G’Kar’s Narns would then kill him in revenge for all he did to them. Londo in turn gets his revenge against Refa for his suspected role in poisoning Adira. Before they beat him to death, G’Kar puts a data crystal on Refa’s person that implicates him in helping the Narn resistance, as a way of “playing both sides” so that he could maneuver his way to the throne.

Sheridan is going over the Shadow’s war plan, hoping to divine their strategy. The attacks seem random, but their tactics in the field appear very logical. It doesn’t make sense, until Sheridan looks at the overall pattern and sees that their true aim is to drive refugees to one sector of space, where they can then attack and eliminate them all. They now know where the Shadows will attack next, and plan to make a stand there.

B5 gets a new flock of visitors, a group of religious leaders who are personal friends and colleagues to Brother Theo, the Catholic monk who came aboard the station awhile back. They begin holding services to counter all the fear and uncertainty that has been pervasive since Clark took over back home. After days of being stuck reviewing the Shadow’s battle plans, Delenn drags Sheridan to a service, thinking it will do him some good. They take part in a rousing version of “And the rock cried out, no hiding place” as Refa is beaten to a bloody pulp by G’Kar’s Narns!

Significance:
Sheridan is able to crack the Shadow’s strategy, thus putting him and their alliance in the perfect position to mount a counter-attack. We know then that a major battle is about to take place, and soon! Londo finally rids himself of Refa, and does so by cooperating with G’Kar. G’Kar, in turn, gets his first glimpse of the Narn homeworld after its devastation in the war. He will return later, and his many actions will lead him to be viewed as a religious icon by his people.

Memorable Lines:
Reverend William Dexter: Are you starting in already, Theo? I tell you, in fifty years of living and forty years of serving the Lord, I have never met a sorrier soul than Brother Theo here!
Susan Ivanova: Well, I wouldn’t say…
Brother Theo: Thank you! But I’d prefer to leave judgments as to the state of my soul to someone better qualified, and perhaps a bit less loud!
Rev. Dexter: But it says in the Bible to make a joyful noise unto the Lord!
Brother Theo: [grinning] I’ve heard you sing, Will. And take my word for it, that is not what the Good Lord had in mind when He said, “a joyful noise”!

Delenn: Ivanova sent me to find you. She said you haven’t been sleeping, you have hardly been eating; she said that you have been, in her words, “carrying on cranky.” I looked up the word “cranky.” It said “grouchy.” I looked up “grouchy,” it said “crotchety.” No wonder you have such an eccentric culture: none of your words have their own meaning! You have to look up one word to understand another. It never ends.
Sheridan: [not paying attention] Something here doesn’t make sense.
Delenn: That is what I thought when I came across “crotchety.” This cannot be a real word, I said.
Sheridan: The Shadows keep attacking random targets! Very illogical! On the other hand, once engaged, their tactics are very successful! Very logical! It’s–it’s a contradiction!
Delenn: Unless the random attacks are logical in some way we haven’t yet determined.
Sheridan: Exactly.
Delenn: So you have been sitting here trying to think illogically about logical possibilities, or logically about illogical possibilities.
Sheridan: Hm? Yes, yes.
Delenn: Well, no wonder you are cranky! [he looks at her in confusion, oblivious to everything she’s just said] Grouchy? Never mind. Your face just broke the language barrier.

Rev. Dexter: Every day, here and at home, we are warned about the enemy. But who is the enemy? Is it the alien? Well, we are all alien to one another. Is it the one who believes differently than we do? No, oh no, my friends. The enemy is fear. The enemy is ignorance. The enemy is the one who tells you that you must hate that which is different. Because, in the end, that hate will turn on you. And that same hate will destroy you.

10. Shadow Dancing:
Having discovered where the Shadows will attack next, Sheridan and Delenn begin rallying the League worlds to send as many ships as they can to Sector 83 to participate in a counter-attack. They are reluctant, since it will mean lessening their defenses around their own worlds; but in time, they agree to send what they can. Ivanova and Marcus are sent ahead to scout out the area, and while they are gone, Marcus begins to show clear signs that he loves her.

A Shadow scout ship arrives shortly thereafter and spots them. They engage it an are damaged, but manage to keep it from sending a distress signal. The main fleet jumps in as schedules, and Sheridan commits his forces. The fight is difficult, but once again, the Shadows are stopped and forced to retreat. Though their losses are roughly 2 to 1, this is the first time a full-scale attack has been beaten back, and they know the Shadows will not be too happy about it.

Speaking back in Sheridan’s office, he, Ivanova and Delenn begin to understand what the dream Sheridan experienced when he was aboard the Strieb ship means. In essence, he learns that he saw of several things to come, like Ivanova being a latent telepath, that they would be working with Bester, and lastly, that his “equal but opposite” would be looking for him. This last bit he doesn’t understand, but he knows that the Shadows are likely to try and hit B5 next. So far, they’ve left it alone for various reasons, but now that they’ve hurt them, it’s only a matter of time before they come knocking…

Franklin is still on walkabout, and gets stabbed when he tries to intervene in an assault. While bleeding out on the floor, he finds his “other self” that tells him his problem is that he keeps running away from his problems. After realizing he wants his old life back, his other self tells him to get up and fight for it. He narrowly makes it back to the station’s main area where people find him and take him to medlab. He wakes up and talks to Garibaldi, telling him he found what he needed, which was a “short, sharp kick to the head.” He is there when the wounded begin to arrive and takes over medlab, telling Sheridan he wants to come back.

Having been beaten, the Shadows send a ship to B5 with a single passenger. They board the station, pass through security and head for John’s quarters without incident. Back in his quarters, Delenn and Sheridan spend the night together. She watches him sleep, which is apparently a Mimbari custom, and leaves the bedroom just in time to see Anna Sheridan – John’s wife, who he they all thought was dead – as she walks in the door.

Significance:
The alliance has come together for the first time to repulse the Shadows, which is a major victory for them. However, they know that this has made them vulnerable aboard B5, since the Shadows know that it has become a rallying point for the younger races. Their reaction, apparently, was to send in Anna Sheridan, who was long thought to have perished at Z’ha’dum. Instead, it seems that she is alive and working with them, much like Morden.

In addition, we get to see what Sheridan’s dream aboard the Strieb ship really meant. The “man in between”, his “equal but opposite” (i.e. his wife) who has been looking for him, has apparently found him! Also, the scene where Anna Sheridan walks in and Delenn drops a snow globe onto the floor was foreshadowed in War Without End. After experiencing it, Delenn says she just felt like someone “walked over her grave”. She now understands what it meant.

Memorable Lines:
Delenn: We have before us an opportunity to strike at our mutual enemy, the Shadows. If our information is correct, this could be the biggest engagement of the war to date. We do not know how many of their ships will be there, so our only chance is to have as many as possible on our side. We need all of you to cooperate.
Drazi Ambassador: If you wish cooperation, why don’t you tell us what the mission is?
Lennier: If we discuss this openly, there is every chance the enemy will learn of our plans. You must trust us.
Brakiri Ambassador: How can we trust you if you will not trust us?
Delenn: Because so far, we have kept every promise we have made. We told you that telepaths could slow the advance of the Shadows. We supplied you with telepaths if you did not have your own. We have saved the lives of many of your people. If we have not earned your trust by now, then please go. Nothing more will be required of you…

Susan Ivanova: That’s a lot of ships.
Marcus Cole: That’s a bloody awful lot of ships.
Ivanova: Jump engines back on line yet?
Marcus: No. If I signal the fleet, this lot might pick it up. If they do and we can’t get away…
Ivanova: Well…who wants to live forever?
Marcus: I do, actually! But what the hell…

Ivanova: Captain… you okay?
Sheridan: I’m not sure… Ever since Kosh died, I’ve been remembering a dream. Last year, when I was hurt, he got inside my head. He spoke to me, sent me this images. One of them was you saying “do you know who I am?” A week later, you tell me you’re a latent telepath, said sometimes you don’t know who you are… At one point, I was wearing the uniform of a Psi Cop.
Ivanova: Well, we’re working with Bester now and that was unexpected… so that tracks. Anything else?
Sheridan: He sent me the image of Garibaldi saying (“the man in between in searching for you”)
Ivanova: “The man in between”… he might have meant Sinclair.
Sheridan: Maybe, but I don’t think so. Somehow it doesn’t feel right. The last thing was you dressed all in black, as if for a funeral… you said (“you are the hand”)
Ivanova: “You are the hand”? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why would I say anything as dopey sounding as that?
Sheridan: I don’t know, but if Kosh sent it, it must have meant something.
Delenn: Odd that he would use that image though…
Sheridan: Why?
Delenn: Well, you have two hands do, you not? Each equal and opposite?
Ivanova: So you’re saying that the man in between is your equal and opposite?
Sheridan: (remembers seeing an image of himself in the dream) Maybe.
Ivanova: Well, if that’s what it is then the man in between knows who you are and now that we’ve kicked him hard and where it hurts…
Sheridan: Assuming it means anything. Signs, portents, dreams… next thing we’ll be reading tea leaves and chicken entrails. All we do know is that we are vulnerable now… We should expect something to be coming our way sooner or later. The way our luck works, probably be sooner!

Franklin: I can’t go back, but I can appreciate what I have right now, and I can define myself by what I am, instead of what I’m not.
Sheridan: And what are you?
Franklin: Alive. Everything else is negotiable.

Anna Sheridan: Hello. You must be Delenn. I’m Anna Sheridan. John’s wife.

11. Z’ha’dum:
Sheridan’s wife, Anna, has come to the station to meet with him. She explains that her ship which was working for IPX had been sent to Z’ha’dum to investigate the remains of a lost civilization. She confirms what the knew about a Shadow vessel being discovered on Mars, which once activated, flew off to the rim of known space. However, IPX had placed a probe aboard and learned the signal stopped there. Though the mission was deemed one of exploration, their real purpose was to track the ship back to its base.

When they got there, they found the Shadows (though that name is apparently a misnomer) and began to learn from them. After an accident, the crew became stranded and remained behind of their own accord to keep learning. She tells Sheridan that they have so much to offer the human race, if they would just be welcomed. All they want if for Sheridan to come to Z’ha’dum to hear their side of the story…

At about the same time, G’Kar shows Ivanova a series of tactical nukes that they have obtained from the Gaim. They plan to use these in their next encounter with the Shadows, using them to mine an area and then detonating them when they approach. The fact that they are difficult to detect is one of their advantages.

Naturally, Sheridan is both confused and enraged by all that is happening. He tells Delenn that he was only able to begin rebuilding a life with her because she and Kosh gave him every reason to believe that Anna was dead. Delenn confesses that there was always some chance she’d be alive, that she’s choose to serve rather than die, but she held it back for fear John would run off to try and save her. Meanwhile, Franklin puts Anna through a battery of tests to confirm that she is truly Sheridan’s wife and not a clone or duplicate of some kind.

Though all the tests prove that she is indeed Sheridan’s wife, Franklin finds one anomaly with her. Months back, when they retrieved a shipment of telepaths bound for Z’ha’dum, they noticed that they all carried implants in their brains and corresponding devices on the outside of their heads. Marks on the back of Anna’s head are consistent with these. John agrees to go with Anna to Z’ha’dum and sees an image of Kosh before he leaves, repeating his warning that if Sheridan goes there, he will die.

Vir finds Londo drinking on the Zocola. He says he’s recieved some “bad news” from back home, that he is to be the Emperor’s adviser for maters of planetary security. He suspects this promotion is just so they can keep an eye on him. They are interrupted by a “friend” of Morden’s who tells Londo that he must leave the station… immediately. Delenn meanwhile finds a time-delayed recording left by Sheridan explaining to her that he’s going to Z’ha’dum even though he knows its a trap. His reasons have more to do with what he saw of the future when they on B4 than anything else. He saw that they had won, that the price had been immense, and that Delenn told him not to go to Z’ha’dum. He thinks perhaps the devastation he saw was the result of him not going. He believes he can accomplish something by going, and that he must put that above his own desires.

When Anna and Sheridan arrive at Z’ha’dum, they are met by Morden and a new man who says his name is Justin. He tells Sheridan that a million years back, the First Ones walked amongst the galaxy. In time, most went away or died out, but two stayed behind as shepherds to the younger races. One are the Shadows, the other the Vorlons. Initially, they worked together, but at a certain point, they’re differences in ideology led them into conflict. The Vorlons believe that development comes through order, whereas the Shadows believe in promoting through chaos. This is why they periodically return to the known universe and promote conflict. Those that are weaker are destroyed, but those that survive are made stronger. Sheridan is told that humanity has been selected as one such race because the Shadows “see potential” in them.

The only obstacle to their plans right now is Sheridan’s alliance. Sheridan asks why they simply haven’t killed him then, to which they reply that if they did, he’d be martyred and someone would replace him. Instead, they want him to join their side, since he can’t hope to keep the younger races together anyhow. Sheridan interrupts them to reveal that he knows what they’ve done to his wife, how they altered her by putting a Shadow implant in her mind and effectively killed the woman he knew. Realizing the jig is up and that he won’t cooperate, they threaten him and a Shadow enters to take him away. Sheridan retrieves his hidden PPG and begins shooting his way out.

Back at B5, Shadow vessels surround the station and threaten to destroy it. They begin deploying fighters and Ivanova inquires as to the status of their nukes. G’Kar reports that two are missing. Sheridan is then cornered on a balcony overlookign Z’ha’dum after escaping from Justin and Morden. Anna confronts him and tells him there’s no escape and that though she is not his wife, she can still make him happy. Sheridan decides to program the White Star to crash into the city and detonate its payload. Before it crashes through the city’s dome, he hears Kosh’s voice telling him to jump into the chasm below. He does, the nukes go off, and the Shadows leave B5.

Everyone suspects they have left because they don’t think B5 is a threat anymore, which can only Sheridan has died. In addition, they notice that one of their Star Furies, which was being piloted by Garibaldi, did not return. Delenn and Ivanova are devastated, and the season ends with G’Kar narrating a section from the book of G’Quan that talks about suffering, transition and change.

Significance:
In this season finale, Sheridan finally fulfills his promise and goes to Z’ha’dum to confront the Shadows. As Kosh predicted, he apparently dies there as well. However, he also learns a great deal from the encounter, things the Vorlons have been holding back. Up until now, he and the others have been under the impression that Vorlons and other First Ones have always stood against the Shadows. Now we come to understand that they used to be allies who followed rules of engagement, but who have since become enemies competing over who’s influence is dominant. The entire nature of the war will change because of this.

With the introduction of the tactical nukes, we also get to see what their plan is for the next big battle, which will take place during the next season. Sheridan’s use of them on Z’ha’dum will also alter the Shadows own tactics, forcing them to move much of their forces off the planet. It will also change the Vorlons tactics too. All of this will be of extreme importance as the war continues in season four…

Memorable Lines:
Delenn: Humans have a phrase: “What is past, is prologue.” Minbari also have a phrase: “What is past, is also sometimes the future.”

Ivanova: So the next time we find out where the Shadows plan to strike, we can mine the area. And as soon as they come out of hyperspace—
G’Kar: Then, as you so concisely say, “Boom!”

Sheridan: So… why not just kill me?
Justin: Doesn’t work, somebody’d just come around and replace you. That’s always been the trouble with creating martyrs. We brought you here, hoping you would understand us… work with us, not against us. You’re important. You’re what they call a nexus. You turn one way, and the whole world has a tendency to turn the same way. Let go of those other races. You can’t hold them together.

Justin: Work with us or…
Sheridan: Or you’ll do to me what you did to Anna! …Oh the memories are there, the voice is there, the DNA is there. But the personality… I look in her eyes and the woman I love, the woman I married… She would never go along with this!

G’Kar: It was the end of the Earth year 2260, and the war had paused, suddenly and unexpectedly. All around us, it was as if the universe were holding its breath… waiting. All of life can be broken down into moments of transition, or moments…of revelation. This had the feeling of both… G’Quan wrote, “There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope. The death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender.” The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future, or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born…in pain.

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!

Babylon 5, Farewell…

Babylon 5, Farewell…

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

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

Babylon 5 Season Five:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

So long B5, you will be remembered…