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.
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!
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: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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…