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!

Of Galactic Empires

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

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

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

Asimov’s Foundation Series:

An artists rendering of Trantor

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

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

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

Frank Herbert’s Dune:

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars:

Coruscant, capitol of the Old Republic and Empire

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

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

Urban sprawl on Coruscant
Urban sprawl on Coruscant

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

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

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

Star Trek:

Star Fleet Command, in orbit above Earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battletech:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B5, Best Episodes. Final Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Londo: Where he goes, I go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ivanova: Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future…and it changed us. It taught us that we have to create the future, or others would do it for us. It showed us that we have to care for one another, because if we don’t, who will? And that true strength sometimes comes from the most…unlikely places. Mostly though, I think it gave us hope—that there can always be new beginnings…even for people like us. As for Delenn, every morning for as long as she lived, Delenn got up before dawn and watched the sun come up.

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

B5, Season 4 Best Episodes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheridan mobilizes the fleet and they make for Coriana 6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Babylon 5, the Dénouement

Babylon 5, the Dénouement

In the last season, Sheridan was believed to have perished at Z’Hadum, Garibaldi had disappeared as well, and the war has reached a state of intermission. A sad ending, and one which was sure to keep the audience in anticipation for the next season. And like season three, season four was chock full of revelations, action, and big climaxes! In a way, it was the natural topper to this series, to be followed by the relatively tame and epilogue-like season five.

Season Four:

The season opens with Ivanova once again in charge of operations around B5. This time, however, she is heart broken and distraught over the loss of Sheridan, as is Delenn. In time, they try to go to Z’Hadum to find him, but are forced to flee when the Shadows detect them and nearly take over their minds. In any case, they get no word from the surface and assume the worst. However, it appears that John is alive, and wandering aimlessly in a cave until he is found by an alien named Lorien. In time, Lorien reveals to him that he is indeed dead, that he is stuck in time because Lorien grabbed him shortly before he fell to his death. He says he can save John, but only if he finds something worth living for (as opposed to not dying). He finds it in Delenn.

In terms of the war, Sheridan’s kamiza routine with his White Star and the nukes has forced the Shadows to change strategies. Feeling vulnerable, they have decided to move much of their fleet away from Z’Hadum and place them amongst worlds that owe allegiance to them. The Alliance meanwhile is falling apart, member worlds choosing to pull their forces back to protect their own worlds and take advantage of the lull. Delenn insists that they must stay together, but they are unreceptive. She meanwhile confronts the new Vorlon ambassador and demands to know what they are prepared to do. Said ambassador, who is much darker and curt than Kosh, says they intend to do nothing and that their plans have changed.

Meanwhile, G’Kar begins searching for Garibaldi, a search which takes him far from B5 and exposes him to danger. The Centauri are searching for him, given the fact that he is the last remaining member of the Kah’Ri. He is eventually captured, and brought before the Emperor as a gift. This coincides with Londo’s return to Centauri Prime on the Emperor’s request. It seems the puppet Cartagia, now that Refa is dead, has made his own agreement with Morden and given the Shadows the island of Seleni to put their ships on.

Morden reveals himself, scarred from Sheridan’s attack but still alive, and tells him the Cartagia is killing off anyone who resists his will. Londo is fearful because having the Shadows on their planet might mean the Vorlons will attack them there, but Cartagia is unconcerned. He seems to think that the sacrifice of his world is a small price to pay for imminent godhood, which he believes the Shadows are able to confer on him. Londo quickly realizes that Cartagia is mad, and that he must do something to stop the destruction of his homeworld.

Delenn begins to organize an assault on Z’Hadum involving the Rangers and the White Star fleet, hoping it will rally the League and other member races. However, the League quickly move to denounce her and propose that they try to find an accommodation with the Shadows. They claim that there is no hope for victory anymore, that no one comes back from Z’Hadum alive. Just then, Sheridan walks in with Lorien at his side. They say they thought he was dead. He replies, “I was. I’m better now.” He demands that they stay together, that the Shadows can be beaten, and that he is proof. His words ignite the crowd and the alliance is reformed! Everyone appears elated, except for Lennier…

Sheridan then explains to them what the war is really all about. Lorien, who we learn is THE First One, the last surviving member of the first sentient race to ever live, who were naturally immortal, has filled him in on all the remaining details. It seems that the Shadows were right about one thing: at one time, the Vorlons and Shadows were both shepherds to the younger races. However, for millennia they have been struggling because they believe their way is the right way. And the reason the Vorlons no longer care about the alliance and were unconcerned with ascertaining Sheridan’s whereabouts is because they are now moving on every world where the Shadows have bases.

Garibaldi, who was also rescued shortly beforehand, is also concerned. He doesn’t trust Lorien, and seems very cynical and discontent about… everything. His second, Zack Allen, is also concerned, as it seems like Garibaldi’s rescue felt staged. However, all that takes a back seat to getting the war back on track. Now that the Vorlons are devestating any planet where the Shadows have influence, using massive Planet-Killer ships, the Shadows are doing the same in return, using a type of cloud-like device that sterilizes a planet’s surface. “Giants in a playground,” says Ivanova, describing their situation. While they battle it out, countless others are stepped in between.

But before the alliance can counter-attack, they must first remove the new Vorlon from B5. This takes the form of luring him into a trap. Lyta first reveals to him that a part of Kosh survived in Sheridan, when taking him to see him, they attack and destroy his encounter suit. However, no one is able to hurt the Vorlon himself (they are beings of pure energy). However, Kosh soon reveals himself and leaves Sheridan to fight, and the two are destroyed together. Sheridan is left virtually dead in the process, but Lorien touches him and is able to rekindle his life. Afterward, he explains to Delenn that he did not so much save Sheridan’s life as prolongue it. He has 20 years to live now, tops. Delenn is upset, but Sheridan tells her he will still have a good haul and asks her to marry him. She accepts!

At last, the allliance hatches their battle plan. While Ivanova is off recruiting as many First Ones as she can, Sheridan and the others learn that the Vorlons next targets are Coriana 6 and Centauri Prime. They have enough ships for one stand, so they choose Coriana since it has over 6 billion people living on it. They decide they will fight the Vorlons there, but that they will also lure the Shadows there by letting them know they are preparing an offensive from this system. With the two sides together, they will attack both and force a confrontation with the Alliance. Rather than planning on victory, Sheridan is hoping this confrontation will act as a crucible.

Londo is warned though, and begins conspiring with Vir to kill Cartagia. However, he cannot trust anyone else in the palace, and is forced to enlist the help of G’Kar. In exchange for his help killing Cartagia, he agrees to free Narn once and for all. On the Narn homeworld, during G’Kar’s show trial, he escapes and creates confusion while Vir and Londo kill Cartagia with a poison needle. Londo then returns to Centauri Prime, having been appointed the new Prime Minister, and begins removing all Shadow influence. He also learns from the head of security that Morden killed Lady Aadira, and that Cartagia asked that it be kept a secret. Londo is outraged, and it makes what he’s about to do easier.

He summons Morden before him, orders him to remove his ships, but Morden refuses. Londo is therefore forced to detonate several nukes on the island, taking out all the ships, and orders Morden taken away. Morden angrily proclaims that Londo and his people will pay! Ultimately, Morden is executed and his head is put on a pike. Knowing that Vir once jokingly said he like to see that happen, he shows it to Vir as a gift. Londo now believes they are safe since he’s rid their world of all Shadow influence, but Vir tells him there’s one that remains: Londo himself! This coincides with the appearance of a Vorlon planet-killer in orbit. Londo orders Vir to kill him post-haste to save their world, but strangely, the ships suddenly depart. It seems like they have been called in elsewhere, which brings me back to the alliance’s battle plan…

Back at Coriana 6, the Vorlons and Shadows arrive and begin fighting each other, both sides having brought their own planet-killer devices. Sheridan detonates several nukes to get their attention, and the alliance forces begin battling both of them. Things appear to be going smoothly, until the Vorlon planet-killer gets in range of the planet. They call in the First Ones, who then blow it up. Everything reaches a lull, during which time the Vorlons take over Sheridan and Delenn, so that they might have a private conversation. However, Lorien embraces both of them and lets everyone in the fleet listen in.

During his conversations with the Vorlons, Sheridan demands to know why they haven’t struck at the Shadows directly if they intend to “eliminate the darkness”. He tells them that he knows this is about influence, that its not for the benefit of the younger races at all, and that they are refusing to take sides anymore. Delenn’s conversation is similar, the Shadows try to appeal to her by saying her race will come out this conflict stronger, but Delenn refuses. She too says that they will reject both sides and not fight their wars anymore, but is told that they will fight and die for them because there is no other way.

The conversation ends when both Vorlons and Shadows realize that the rest of the fleet is listening in, that they know the truth. The Shadows pull their planet-killing shroud over the alliance fleet and threaten to kill Sheridan and Delenn. However, when they begin firing on them, other ships move in to protect them. It is thus clear that the Shadows and Vorlons have lost all influence, and Lorien tells them its time to let go. Like the other First Ones, they should leave the galaxy to the younger races, like his people did with the Vorlons and Shadows, and head out into the wider universe. They agree, happy that Lorien will be coming with them and they will not be alone.

The war is over! However, some accounts still need to be settled. Namely, Sheridan and his people still have Clark and his government to deal with. And now that he no longer has his Shadow friends to protect him, Clark is thinking the same thing. He sees B5 as a liability and begins running a propaganda campaign to make Sheridan appear like an alien collaborator who’s working against Earth. Sheridan responds by creating the “Voice of the Resistance”, using their wartime network to broadcast the truth about Clark’s regime and his activities.

Bester also returns, bearing information on Clark’s plans. In return, he asks that they go to Z’Hadum to see if they can find any leftover technology that might help them cure the telepaths they rescued. Mainly, he’s interested in helping the woman he loves, and in a private conversation with her body, he reveals that he has one final “ace up his sleeve” for Sheridan. When they arrive at Z’Hadum, they see a fleet of ships evacuating, and the planet blows up. Afterward, Sheridan confronts Lyta, since he suspects that it was her that sent the telepathic signal that detonated it. She tacitly admits to this, partly because she wanted to hurt Bester for all he’s done, and to make sure the Shadow technology never fell into anyone’s hands.

Around this time, Delenn is forced to return home. It seems that since she broke the Grey Council, unrest has been settling in between the religious and warrior castes, and even a civil war rappears to be looming. She learns of this when a new race, the Draak (who they learn were the Shadows allies) show up and try to take some worlds on the border of Mimbari space. After blowing their cover and defeating their attack force, Delenn realizes she must return home to take stock of the situation. As the one who broke the Grey Council, she feels responsible for the ensuing chaos.

To do this, she enlists the help of an unlikely ally: Neroon, the hard-core warrior who replaced her on the Council. He is initially reluctant, but in time she convinces him of her sincerity, and agrees to her plan. After war breaks out, Delenn announces that the religious caste will surrender and she will meet with the leader of the warriors – a man named Shakiri. They meet in the ancient temple that predated the Grey Council, where leadership were selected by “trial by fire”. This involved the leader of a respective caste entering the wheel of fire, where they would be consumed. Whoever was willing to die would have their caste become the new leaders. Since Shakirir has rejected the ways of Valen, they must embrace this tradition, or lose face…

Shakiri agrees, but is ultimately unwilling to die and flees the fire. He is therefore revealed to be unworthy, but contrary to what she and Neroon had originally planned, Delenn stays behind. He jumps in to save her, himself dying in the process, but not before he makes a heartfelt plea.  He claims that though he was born a warrior, the true calling of his heart is religious, and that their people listen to Delenn. She then goes about reforging the Grey Council, only this time, instead of their being three representatives from each caste, the bulk of representatives will be from the Worker caste. This way, the people will decide policy, not prophecies or ideologies.

After an atrocity where fleeing civilians are fired upon by Earth ships takes place, Sheridan decides its time for more direct action. Using the White Star fleet, B5 begins an offensive against the Earth Alliance, attacking Proxima, Mars, and then Earth. Meanwhile, Garibaldi, who resigned his post and became an independent investigator decides to turn on Sheridan. For some time, its been apparent that he’s changed since his capture and that something happened to him while he was away. In his new job, he enlists with William Edgars, a major industrialist who owns half of Mars and happens to be married to Garibaldi’s ex. When he returns to Mars, he learns Edgars and his people have their own plans for overthrowing Clark, but it goes farther than just removing the man.

Once Garibaldi earns Edgars’ trust, Edgars tells him that Clark’s real power comes from the Psi Corps, and that they are the power behind the throne. His industries have created a virus that kills telepaths, but also have created a cure. This way, they can control them and keep them from taking over. However, Sheridan’s offensive is an impediment to this plan, so Garibaldi is forced to betray him, luring him into a trap where Earth agents are able to grab him. Afterward, once Garibaldi knows everything, he meets up with Bester, who is apparently the one that’s been pulling his strings. While in a hypnotic state, he divulges everything about Edgar’s plans and Bester concludes that this is a remnant of the Shadow’s plan: that the virus is their technology, and that alongside supporting Clark’s bid for power, they put this plan into work – leaving his people either “controlled… or dead”.

Psi Cops show up immediately thereafter to kill Edgars, his people, and take the virus and the cure. Bester than frees Garibaldi of his grip, and Garibaldi is horrified to see what he’s done. He immediately seeks out the Mars resistance, finding Franklin, Lyta and Marcus there too since they’ve been laising with them. He tells them everything, Lyta probes him and sees he’s telling the truth, and they set out to rescue Sheridan. They find him drugged but alive inside a detainment center where he was being tortured and subjected to mind warfare.

At the same time, Delenn finds out that news of Sheridan’s capture brought the League worlds together, and that they have openly declared their support for Sheridan and his efforts. The wartime alliance is now a full-time thing, known as the Insterstellar Alliance. Ships from every member world are sent into the fray to offer support, but the front line fighting will be left to Sheridan and the Earth forces to ensure that everyone knows this is their effort, not outside interference.

And now that he is free, Sheridan returns and takes command of the fleet so they can mount their final assault. The Earth fleet is marshalling at Mars for a final fight, but rather than attack them directly, Sheridan’s forces and the Mars resistance manage to smuggle the altered telepaths (the ones they captured from the Shadows) aboard the Alliance ship’s where they began merging with the machinery. The ships are therefore disabled and the alliance fleet is able to surpass them and head for Earth.

Unfortunately, he gets back just in time to find Ivanova on her death bed. On their way to Mars, they came up against Clark’s best forces, a fleet of Earth Destroyers that had been merged with Shadow vessels. They won the battle, but in the process, Ivanova was critically injured and narrowly saved by Marcus. However, after being rushed back to B5 for treatment, Marcus finds out about an alien device Franklin inherited that can transfer life force. He gives his life to save hers, and tells her he loves her just before she comes out of her coma and he dies.

However, Clark has reprogrammed the defensive grid to enact “Scorched Earth” – aka. to level the planet’s surface. He’s gone mad it seems, and then takes his own life to avoid capture. However, his own people break into his office, tell Sheridan of the plan, and Sheridan’s forces manage to knock out the defense grid before it can fire. Sheridan then goes to Earth to offer himself up for judgment, and they decide to relieve him of his position as Captain, but thank him for saving them as well. Which is fine, since he’s got a new job – as first president of the new Interstellar Alliance! Earth is offered membership, but only if it allows its colonies independence.

In the season finale, Sheridan returns to B5 for his inauguration. However, we quickly see that the episode is a retrospective being told from one million years in the future. The main theme of the episode opens when Sheridan wonders aloud whether or not he and Delenn will be remembered, and he concludes “probably not.” Delenn tells him not to worry though, that they’ve created what they did because it was right and that history will tend to itself.

These words are therefore meant to be ironic since we can clearly see how their influence and their actions echoed throughout the ages, all the way to the distant future where humanity has evolved to the point of being like the Vorlons and are leaving the Solar System for the last time. The season then ends with the words: DEDICATED TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO PREDICTED THE BABYLON PROJECT WOULD FAIL IN ITS MISSION. FAITH MANAGES.

From what I understand, this episode was meant to be the series finale. One friend tells me this was because Straczynski had no intention of making a fifth season, but others tell me it was because the show was originally intended for five seasons but it was unclear whether or not the network would spring for a fifth. Either way, B5 would have one last season before wrapping up for all time. And as I said before, it was full of epilogues, some rather sad…