Off to Europe!

remembrance_day___poppy_day_by_daliscarHey all! Sad to say, I will be away for the next two weeks as the wife and I, and my mother and father, tour the battlefields of Normandy and Flanders. This trip has been a long time in coming, and is a pretty big deal for obvious reasons. Not only is it an opportunity to see some major historic sites – ones which I have been hoping to see for some time – we are also getting the chance to do this tour during the Centenary of World War I.

As my father informed us after returning from doing the battlefields tour back in 2009, commemorating the Great War and World War II is a pretty big deal for the people who live in Northern France and Belgium. Here, the people live with the reminders of these terrible wars every single day, with farmers and villagers finding pieces of shrapnel, bullets, and even unexploded munitions on a regular basis. And in some areas, the evidence of the trenches is still visible, even where they haven’t been preserved.

The sites we will be visiting include Ypres, Beaumont-Hamel, Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, Bayeux, Juno Beach, Caen, Omaha Beach, Chartres, and of course, Paris – which we will be flying in and out of. I will be back on the 25th of April, no doubt with plenty of stories and pictures! Take care, and never forget the sacrifice made by so many for so many more!

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://i1.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

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!