Worlds of Babylon 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 2258, Catherine Sakai did a fly-by of the planet to search for trace elements. During her mission, a massive ship appeared off her bow and her ship was disabled. When she was rescued at the behest of Ambassor G’Kar, he told her simply “There are things in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. They are vast, timeless. And if they are aware of us at all, it is as little more than ants…and we have as much chance of communicating with them as an ant has with us. We know. We’ve tried. And we’ve learned we can either stay out from underfoot, or be stepped on.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sci-Fi Drugs

The other night, I had one of those moments. It was a moment where I found myself thinking about a cool concept and realized that it would make a damn fine post. It’s also one that interests me quite a bit and has even influenced my own writing. So as quickly as I could, I hopped on my laptop (even though it was 2am) and began making a list of all the sci-fi drugs I knew!

To me, the reasons for including drugs as part of a sci-fi franchise are obvious. For one, drugs and drug cultures are very much a part of our society, so it’s only natural that a sci-fi author should have something to say about it. As Gibson said, all sci-fi is really about the time in which it is written, ergo fictionalized drugs in future settings are really a reflection on the attitudes of today.

On the other hand, creating fictitious drugs and inventing subcultures that use them are a good way to give a story some realistic background. Wherever and whenever a story takes place, you have to assume that they will have narcotic substances there, and what form they take and how they go about dealing with them tells you much about that culture.

Either way, it’s a subject that has fascinated me for quite some time. So here are some highlights from the wold of sci-fi drugs!

Can-D:
Here we have a designer drug that was created by none other than sci-fi great Philip K. Dick. As fans may know, this guy was somewhat of an expert on drugs, having taken part in the Californian drug counter-culture during the 60s and 70s. As a result, he had a lot to say about drug use, their impact, and drug policy.

In this particular case, the drug comes to us from the story of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Taking place in the 21st century, where global warming has sent millions of people off Earth to the hostile environments of the Solar System, people have turned to a combination of the drug Can-D and what are known as “layouts.”

Layouts are physical props intended to simulate a sort of alternate reality where life is easier than either the grim existence of the off-world colonies or life on Earth. By taking the drug in conjunction with the layouts, people are able to experience a sort of shared hallucinogenic state. This in turn has given rise to pseudo-religious cults that have grown up around the use of layouts and the drug, consisting of people who dream of better worlds than the one they are forced to endure.

Dancer:
To complete the semi-dystopian setting of his Bridge Trilogy, Gibson was sure to add a designer drug that was all the rage amongst Californians in the near future. The drug was named Dancer, a powerful and addictive hallucinogen that apparently came in the form of a red dust. People would take it orally, rub it on their gums, smoke it or snort it.

In short, Dancer was like a red cocaine, except that it caused hallucinations rather than manic behavior. People who consumed it would typically become euphoric and mellow, causing them to get all rhythmic and break into dance (hence the name). However, it was was also known to make people violent from time to time, which made it more akin to the the effects of PCP.

Inspired by California’s drug culture and the emergence of designer drugs in the early 90s, Dancer was clearly meant to serve as an allegory for multiple drugs, or as a prediction of what the next big craze could be.

Dust:
Fans of Babylon 5 ought to remember this one. Basically, the drug was a hot item on the black market because it had the ability to give users temporary telepathic powers. It was violently addictive, and known for giving a very powerful and unique high. However, in the course of trying to stop the Dust trade to B5, Psi Cop Bester acknowledged that the drug was originally created by the Psi Corps as a way of creating telepaths.

When they realized it didn’t work, the drug was abandoned, but made its way to the black market because of its obvious appeal. As a longtime fan of B5, I can honestly say it was elements like this that made me like the show. Not only was the concept and the name cool, the fact that it began as a government-sanctioned drug was also believable and clearly inspired by the history of many real-world drugs.

Neuroin:
Inspired by Philip K Dick’s short story, Minority Report was a quasi-dystopian future where the use of precognitives promised to eliminate all violent crime from society. But of course, there’s a dark side to all this, and it just happens to be linked to the underworld drug known as Neuroin, a powerful and addictive psychoactive substance.

Though it is never explained in any real detail, the name suggests that it is of the opiate family and possibly combined with a neural stimulant. In addition to being the drug of choice of the protagonist, it is also the very thing that created the precognitives in the first place. All three psychics were once children who suffered brain damage in utero as a result of their mothers’ neuroin use. Though damaged neurologically, a side effect was the development of precognitive powers, which the state began to use in order to engineer the process known as “PreCrime.”

Based on the film adaptation, the principal means of taking neuroin appears to be through a specialized inhaler. This would allude to the fact that neuroin was taken in vaporized form. In the end, this drug served as both a commentary on the dangers of escapism as well as a plot device. While neuroin was the reason for the precognitives existence, it was also how the main character chose to numb himself over the loss of his son.

Nuke:
The designer drug from Robocop 2, and one man’s attempt at achieving his dream of becoming a Jesus-like figure! Designed by Cain, Nuke was an extremely pleasurable and addictive substance that began making the rounds in Old Detroit by the second movie. Coupled with a Police strike and financial ruin, Nuke seemed to be the thing that would finally break Detroit and allow the greedy bastards at OCP to finally take over.

There are several kinds of Nuke, but by far the most popular variety comes in the form of the red sludge. This is known as Red Ramrod, and was followed shortly thereafter by White Noise, Blue Velvet, and Black Thunder. The color scheme alluded to Cain’s “patriotic” sentiments, as he was known to say that his drug was making “Made in America” mean something again.

Nuke comes only in liquid form and is taken by means of small needles that inject the drug directly into the bloodstream. Because of its highly pleasurable nature and chemical properties, only a few doses are needed before a person becomes hooked and will experience intense withdrawal if they don’t get a regular dose. A commentary on the emergence of designer drugs, it was also served as a means for making some tough observations on drug use and its effect on society.

Snow Crash:
This drug is, admittedly a little off the beaten path. Featured in the Neal Stephenson novel of the same name, Snow Crash was essentially an allegory for a system crash, but in neurological form. Taking the form of both an inhalant and a digital virus, the “drug” had the effect of rendering users docile, passive and babbling an idioglossia similar to speaking in tongues.

But of course, there was more to it than all that. Basically, Snow Crash was designed by an information tycoon named L. Bob Rife who wanted control over people’s minds and daily habits. Using a Sumerian tablet, he basically encoded the ancient “Enki virus” – a virus that altered humanity’s neurology and spawned modern languages. So really, he was looking to reverse the Babel myth, making humanity neurologically simpler and thus programmable.

In addition to being a commentary on the drug culture, Snow Crash was also an observation about the proliferation of computer viruses in the early 90s and an allegory on the similarities between ancient myth and modern technology. It was also pretty cool and weird!

Soma:
When it comes to designer drugs, Soma pretty much takes the cake. Derived from Aldous Huxley’s classic tale of dystopia and social engineering, Brave New World, Soma was the kind of drug that came with the label “good for what ails ya” and meant it literally. Designed to cure any and all emotional problems, the pill was mass produced and a key feature of the World State’s apparatus of social control.

Use of Soma is prescribed at a very young age to citizens of the World State, as soon as children are old enough to begin sleep conditioning. Slogans such as “a gram is better than a damn” are programmed into their minds so that they respond to emotional stress by simply popping a pill. This is often referred to as “taking a vacation”.

To illustrate the effects of the drug, Huxley relied on his own experience using mescalin and other drugs. Apparently, subjects using Soma would enter a dream-like state where everything became pleasant and agreeable, all their worries and unpleasant emotions melting away. This dream-like state could be discerned by observing a person’s eyes, which would become noticeably glazed.

In addition, though the state freely distributed the drug and there were no shortages, Soma was still designed to be non-addictive and with no harmful side effects. This, added to its effectiveness, made it the ultimate designer drug and a very effective means of social control. A commentary on the pharmaceutical industry of his day and on the drug culture of the 1920s and 30s, Soma remains the most popular example of a fictional sci-fi drug!

Spice:
Then again, the spice melange is pretty damn popular too. However, as the only drug on this list that is not designed or synthesized, and is by definition an “awareness narcotic,” Spice is really in a category of its own. Taken from the Dune series, Spice was the most precious resource in the universe in more ways than one.

For starters, Spice could only be found on one planet, the desert world known as Arrakis. Mining Spice was also a highly hazardous duty, due to the inhospitable climate of Arrakis and the presence of Sandworms. And given its many benefits, which included prolonged life and expanded awareness, it’s little wonder why it was so damned expensive!

A clear allegory for oil, all life and commerce in the Imperium of Dune revolved around Spice in one way or another. The Guild Navigators used it to achieve their limited prescience and guide ships through foldspace. The Bene Gesserit used it to enhance their mental and physical acuity and make contact with their “Other Memory”. And every house used it to improve their health and longevity. In short, without Spice, all trade and commerce in the universe would end and countless people would die.

And of course, there never would have been a Paul Mua’dib or a Leto II, and humanity would have died as a result! That’s quite a drug them people got there!

Substance D:
Once again, we have a fictitious drug that comes to us straight from the mind of Philip K Dick. Featured in his 1977 book A Scanner Darkly about the drug subculture of California, Substance D was a powerful psychoactive drug that also went by the name “Slow Death.” The name proved apt, as the drug was not only violently addictive, but resulted in brain damage due to overuse.

According to the story, Substance-D was synthesized from the fictitious blue flower Mors ontologica, which is Latin for “death of being”. In the course of the story, the protagonist – an undercover narcotics agent – becomes addicted to the drug, suffers brain damage and is sent to one of the new recovery centers (“New Path”) to get clean.

In time, he is given the task of working on one of their many farms and learns that these places serve as grow ops for the flower. Hence, we see that “New Path” is the source of Substance-D, and is therefore benefiting from both the drug and the harmful effect it has on society. A commentary on strong-arm governments and the pharmaceutical industry perhaps?

Final Thoughts:
When it comes to fictionalized narcotics, a few basic features become evident. For one, fictional drugs can take one of two forms, being either of the organic or synthetic (i.e. designer) variety. Second, their use as part of a story’s background is meant to call attention to our current drug wars, warts and all. But above all, they seem to serve as a form of social commentary by pointing to the ongoing nature of temptation, escapism and repression. On the one hand, human beings will always be looking for escapes and ways to ease the burden of existence. On the other, we are always likely to feel the need to control the flow of narcotic substances and legislate what people can and can’t put in their bodies.

Finally, I found that just about all the authors here were taking a descriptive, rather than prescriptive, approach. Essentially, they were content to sit back and make observations on the whole issue of drug use and moral legislation, rather than making pronouncements. This would seem the preferable option considering that you can’t really offer a clear resolution without sounding either enabling or preachy. Some say that drug use destroys society, other say that people have the right to put whatever they want in their bodes. And then there are those who say that human weakness is a constant, and that criminalizing such a thing turns a flaw into a war. Complicated!

On a brighter note, all this talk puts me in mind of my own fictional creations. Years back, when I was coming up with the concept for my Legacies story, I spent a fair bit of time pondering what kind of drugs people would be using in the relatively distant future. I think I might just dedicate a page or a post to just that topic. In truth, I’d like to know what people think about my inventions. Look for it, it shall be coming soon!

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, Best Episodes, Season Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B5 Best Episodes

B5 Best Episodes

After going over B5’s five seasons, the best lines from the series, and just about everything in between, I found myself thinking about what the best episodes in the series were. To be fair, there were quite a few, and I couldn’t possibly fit them all into a single posting. So I figure I’ll list my favorite episodes season for season, over the next few days, breaking of course to respect the holidays! No work on Christmas!

So enjoy the following personal selections of the best episodes of B5, at least the ones I thought were the best. And Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to all! Enjoy the time off, see the family, get some good swag! And if there’s time, try to get out and enjoy the weather! It doesn’t snow much here, but I plan to get to some slopes soon and take in as much as I can.

And so it begins… Here are the best episodes, at least in my humble opinion, from the first season of Babylon 5:

Soul Hunter:
A mysterious alien craft drifts to B5, its lone crewman brought to medbay. When Delenn sees him, she panics and tries to kill him. Apparently, the alien is a Soul Hunter, a race of people who believe the soul dies with the body. They are thusly dedicated to preserving the soul of the individual by artificial means. In the course of the episode, it is revealed that this particular hunter was there when Dukhat died, and missed his opportunity to harvest his soul. Now he is driven, to the point of killing people, so that he won’t miss another. The Soul Hunter tries to kill Delenn and capture her soul, and Sinclair risks his life to save hers. Another Soul Hunter comes to the station to claim the first hunters soul, and reflects with Sinclair on how it is their lot to be feared.

Significance:

In the course of harvesting Delenn’s soul, the Soul Hunter sees into her mind and learns what she and the Grey Council intend for Sinclair. When he and Sinclair get into a fight, he reveals it to him by saying: “She is Satai! They are using you! They’re USING YOU!” Sinclair learns that Satai refers to a member of the Grey Council, that Delenn is one such person. He is further intrigued when a semi-conscious Delenn looks up at him and says “I knew you would come. We were right about you…”

Memorable Quotes:
Franklin: It’s all so brief, isn’t it? Typical human lifespan is almost a hundred years, but it’s barely a second compared to what’s out there. It wouldn’t be so bad if life didn’t take so long to figure out. Seems you just start to get it right and then…it’s over.
Ivanova: Doesn’t matter. If we lived 200 years we’d still be human, we’d still make the same mistakes.
Franklin: You’re a pessimist.
Ivanova: I’m Russian, doctor. We understand these things.

The Parliament of Dreams:
It is a week of religious and cultural festivals on the station, each member race holding a ceremony that celebrates the dominant faith on their world. For the Centauri, this involves a lavish ceremony that commemorates the war between the Centauri and the Xon, two sentient races that once inhabited their homeworld. For the Centauri, it involves prayers and a rebirth ceremony. G’Kar’s own involvement is tempered however by news from home from an old rival that he is dying, and that he has paid an assassin to kill G’Kar as well. Meanwhile, Sinclair meets his old girlfriend, Catherine, and they rekindle their old romance.

Significance:
This episode introduces a number of important characters and plot elements that will come up again later. For one, the Mimbari rebirth ceremony will figure prominently in season three when B5 breaks away from Earth. Lennier and Na’Toth, the aides to Delenn and G’Kar, are also introduced for the first time.

Memorable Quotes:
Without a doubt, Londo stole the show this time around. The best lines are almost totally his. However, G’Kar got some good ones in as well.

Narn Courier: Are you Ambassador G’Kar?
G’Kar: This is Ambassador G’Kar’s quarters. This is Ambassador G’Kar’s table! This is Ambassador G’Kar’s dinner! Which part of this progression escapes you?!

Londo: Do you know what the last Xon said just before he died? [clutches chest] AAAAGGGHHHH!

G’Kar: The Earthers have a phrase: Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. I believe they stole it from us.

Londo: (to Delenn) Have I ever told you that you are very cute for a Minbari? (to Garibaldi) Oh! And you are cute, too, in an annoying sort of way. Everybody’s cute. Everybody’s cute! Even me. But in purple, I’m stunning! (Passes out.)
Vir Cotto: Ah! He has become one with his inner self!
Garibaldi: He’s passed out.
Vir: That too.

Mind War
An old flame of Talia Winters, Jason Ironheart, arrives on the station. It seems that after some rather interesting experiments, he has changed drastically, his psionic powers having been greatly enhanced. The Psi Corps are naturally after him, and a confrontation ensues on the station during which time Ironheart undergoes a transformation and becomes a being of pure energy. At the same time, Sinclair’s girlfried Sakai undertakes a mission to Sigma 957 for Interplanetary Expeditions to investigate mysterious sightings. After ignoring G’Kars warnings that the planet is not safe, she has a near-brush with death when a massive First Ones ship appears. She is narrowly rescued by forces dispatched by G’Kar, and is given some cryptic words by him as to what she encountered upon her return.

Significance:
This episode introduces a good deal about the Psi Corps and its hidden agenda. We also learn for the first time that there are beings in the B5 universe that are billions of years old and are still out there. The First Ones play a major role in later episodes when the Shadow War begins, particularly the ones from Sigma 957.

Memorable Quotes:
G’Kar: Let me pass on to you the one thing I’ve learned about this place. No one here is exactly what he appears.

Talia: Do you know what it’s like when telepaths make love, Commander? You drop every defense, and it’s all mirrors: reflecting each other’s feelings deeper and deeper… until, somewhere along the line, your souls mix. And it’s a feeling so profound it makes you hurt. It’s the only moment in a telepath’s life when you no longer hear the voices.

G’Kar: (referring to an ant on a flower) I have just picked it up on the tip of my glove. If I put it down again and it asks another ant, “What was that?” …how would it explain? There are things in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. They are vast, timeless. And if they are aware of us at all, it is as little more than ants…and we have as much chance of communicating with them as an ant has with us. We know. We’ve tried. And we’ve learned we can either stay out from underfoot, or be stepped on.

And the Sky Full of Stars:
Two mysterious agents come to Babylon 5, named only “Knight One” and “Knight Two”, who are seeking Jeffrey Sinclair. After capturing him, they place him into a state of deep hypnosis and begin questioning him about the Battle of the Line and the missing 24 hours in his head. The battle is described as a massacre, how the entire force defending Earth was being decimated, but how in the midst of it all, the Mimbari surrendered for reasons unknown. The “Knights” suspect that it had something to do with Sinclair and how he was brought aboard a Mimbari cruiser since it coincided with the Mimbari’s declaration of surrender.

After being heavily dosed with drugs and asked what happened, Sinclair begins to remember what happened. He recalls how he was brought aboard the Mimbari Cruiser after being shot down, how they examined him with a mysterious device that glowed in his presence, and that he saw Delenn there. Garibaldi attempts a rescue, but Sinclair manages to escape on his own and wanders the station in a semi-conscious state. After nearly killing several personnel, who he sees as Mimbari, Delenn confronts him and convinces him to put his gun down. Sinclair wakes up in medlab sometime later, healthy and restored, and tells Delenn he remembers nothing (which is a lie). He decides to redouble his efforts to find out what really happened when he was aboard the Mimbari cruiser, and Delenn is given orders to kill him if he does remember something.

Significance:
This episode is the first time that Sinclair begins to truly realize what happened to him at the Line. It is clear that from this point onward, Sinclair will risk everything to discover the truth, and that Delenn will be forced to either kill him or reveal everything. It is also shown that there is a secret conspiracy on Earth to eliminate all alien influence that goes beyond the Home Guard, who were revealed in a previous episode.

Memorable Quotes:
Sinclair: Everyone lies, Michael. The innocent lie because they don’t want to be blamed for something they didn’t do, and the guilty lie because they don’t have any other choice.

Signs and Portents
Raider activity is increasing in the sector, and Sinclair and his forces are on the watchout for their ringleader. Meanwhile, some new visitors come to Babylon 5. The first is a Centauri Lord named Kiro and his mother – Lady Ladira, a Centauri prophetess – who sees the station’s destruction in a vision. His is apparently on B5 to delivering The Eye, a royal Centauri artifact, to Londo, who is then to return it to the royal court on Centauri Prime. In the midst of this, he admits to Londo that he longs for the old days when their people were still the dominant power in the region. Londo shares the same feelings, but feels helpless to do anything about it.

At the same time, a stranger named Mr. Morden comes to the station and is meeting with every ambassador and asking them one simple question “What do you want?” Delenn dismisses him without explanation after seeing a dark shadow cast over him, G’Kar tells him he wants revenge on the Centauri, and Londo says he wants a return to the old days when his people controlled the stars. Only Londo’s answer appears to satisfy him and he prepares to leave, but not before a Raider party mounts an attack on the station. Kiro is kidnapped, the Raiders are dispatched, and Morden is confronted by Kosh and told to leave. Aboard the Raider ship, it is revealed that Kiro hired the Raiders to steal the Eye and stage his kidnapping so he would have the Eye for himself. They are about to betray him when a Shadow vessel appears and blows the ship up.

Back at the station, the Eye is returned to Londo and his reputation saved. He is overjoyed and told by Morden they will come to find him again soon. Meanwhile, Ladira, who predicted her son would be killed by “shadows” shows Sinclair her vision of the station’s destruction. She leaves, and things carry on.

Significance:

This episode introduces Morden and gives viewers their girst glimpse of the Shadows. We also get the first hints that the Shadows will be helping Londo and his feeding his ambitions for power. In exchange for what, we don’t know, but it seems clear that the Shadows intentions are not benign.

Memorable Quotes:
Lord Kiro: She’s been wrong before. On my first birthday, she said that someday I would be killed by… shadows.

Morden: What do you want?
Londo: To be left alone!
Morden: Is that it? Is that really all, Ambassador?
Londo: All right. Fine! You really want to know what I want? You really want to know the truth? I want my people to reclaim their rightful place in the galaxy. I want to see the Centauri stretch forth their hand again, and command the stars! I-I want a rebirth of glory, a renaissance of power. I want to stop running through my life like a man late for an appointment, afraid to– to look back, or to look forward. I want us to be what we used to BE! I want… I want it all back, the way that it was! Does that answer your question?
Morden: Yes. Yes, it does.

A Voice in the Wilderness (Parts I and II)

Draal, an old mentor of Delenn’s, arrives on the station to see her. Her confides in her that the Grey Council is not what it used to be, and that the Council seems uninterested in the suffering or concerns of others. Meanwhile, a riot on Mars puts everyone on the station on high alert, especially Sinclair and Garibaldi who have strong ties there. Garibaldi enlists the help of Talia Winters in order to get a signal to Mars so he can speak to his ex-wife who was wounded in the riots. She is remarried, and Garibaldi is heart-broken to learn this.

But the big news comes from the planet them, Epsilon III. Draal, Londo, Delenn, and Sinclair are all contacted by a vision of a strange alien who appears before them and warns them of impending destruction. After a few attempts to land on the planet, Sinclair, Londo, Draal and Delenn find that only they are able to approach the planet safely. When they arrive, they find a subterranean facility filled with super-advanced machinery. At the core of it is the alien they saw in their visions, and he appears to be dying. After bringing him back to medlab, he further warns them of their destruction.

At the same time, an Earth Alliance Cruiser shows up with orders to assume control of the surface. Sinclair refuses to give it, and says that control over the sector belongs to B5’s commander (aka. him!). Another ship arrives shortly thereafter, one that appears to be run by members of the same species as the alien that was running the great machine. He tells Sinclair that these people are a faction that split from their world a long time ago and are very dangerous. B5 and a Earth Force Cruiser are told to stand aside by the hostile aliens so that they may land and assume control over the planet, but Sinclair and the ship’s Captain decide to fight it out.

Ultimately, Draal decides to merge with the machine and destroys the alien vessel. He then warns all parties aboard the station that the great machine will remain a secret until the time is right, and no one will be allowed access.

Significance:
This episode introduces the great machine on Omicron 7 and previews the important role it will play in the coming seasons. We also get to see Lise Hampton, Garibaldi’s ex-wife, who will play a significant role in later episodes. The Mars revolution is also shown to be well underway, which will figure prominently when Clark takes control of Earth and Sheridan and his forces fight to overthrow him. Finally, we are told that Londo, Draal, Delenn and Sinclair all share a common characteristic: the capacity for self-sacrifice, thus previewing what will come of them as the show goes on.

Memorable Quotes:
Londo: The next day, I woke up, I saw her in the light of day, sleeping against my arm, and I decided I would rather chew off my arm than wake her up.
Garibaldi: Aw, that’s sweet.
Londo: No, no! She had a voice that could curdle fresh milk.

Ivanova: Worst case of testosterone poisoning I’ve ever seen!

Londo: Here, 6000 years of recorded history, a history that includes remarkable composers, astonishing symphonies, but what is the one song that half of them sing to their children generation after generation? (Sings the hokey-pokey) It doesn’t mean anything. I have been studying it for seven days, I had the computer analyse it. I swear to you it does not mean a thing!

Draal: I am sending this message to all free parties involved in the struggle for control of this planet. It belongs to none of you. It belongs only to itself and to the future… If enlightened self-interest should prove insufficient for the cause, understand this! The defensive systems on this world are now fully operational. Do not attempt to come here again. Any approach will be met with resistance, any ship attempting to land will be destroyed. When the time is right we will be here, waiting for you, but not until then. Goodbye…

Babylon Squared:
The episode opens with Sinclair ordering their Starfury squadrons to investigate a neighboring sector after they detect some unusual tachyon readings coming from the area. Further investigation reveals that a station has appeared in the area, the elusive Babylon 4 which disappeared years ago without a trace! Sinclair and Garibaldi mount a rescue mission to evacuate all the personnel.

Meanwhile, Delenn returns to Mimbar to speak to the Grey Council. Apparently, she has been selected to be the next leader after Dukhat, but indicates that she cannot take up the role because her mission to B5 takes precedence, mainly because of the prophecy that involves her and the station. By the end, she is given the Council’s leave to return to B5 and resume her mission, and also is entrusted with a device known as a “Triluminary”.

After landing on the station, Garibaldi and Sinclair meet the commander who tells them that the station is “unstuck in time”. One minute, it was about to go online in the past, the next, it found itself several years in the future. While on board, Sinclair begins having visions, apparently from the future when B5 is attacked and destroyed. They also find a strange alien on board named Zathras who explains to them that the station is needed for a war in another time. He also reacts strangely when he sees Sinclair, who he temporarily mistakes for “The One”.

Eventually, the station becomes unstuck again and everyone is forced to evacuate. Zathras asks to be left behind because he belongs there, and tells Sinclair he must go because he “has a destiny”. Zathras awakens in some distant time and sees “The One” standing above him, but when they remove their helmet, it is revealed to be Sinclair, but much older.

Significance:
This episode explains the mystery of Babylon 4 for the first time, how it disappeared without a trace just after completion, and how a war in some other time was involved. Sinclair’s involvement is also established, as it is an older version of himself that is “The One”. On top of that, we are given some subtle hints that B5 will be attacked in the not-too-distant future, adding to Lady Ladira said about B5’s destruction. The Triluminary, which will make an appearance in the final episode of the season, is also shown. Finally, Zathras is introduced, as is the temporal plot that involves him and will be completed in season three.

Memorable Quotes:
Zathras: Zathras not of this time. You take, Zathras die. You leave, Zathras die. Either way, it is bad for Zathras.

Zathras: Great war. Terrible war. Much killings. Everyone fighting. A great darkness. It is the end of everything. Zathras warn, but no, no one listen to poor Zathras, no. Great war. But, great hope of peace. Need place. Place to gather, to fight to organise…to help save galaxy on the side of light. So they tell me. Must have. Or it is the end of all. The One leads us. The One tells us to go, we go. We live for The One. We would die for The One. We pull this place through time to save us all.

Sinclair: Fasten, then zip. You?
Garibaldi: Fasten zip. (Sinclair chuckles.)
Sinclair: How much longer?
Garibaldi: One hour, fifty seven minutes. (pause) Want to talk socks?

Chrysalis:
A border dispute between the Narn and Centauri over quadrant 37 and Sinclair and the station are brought in to mediate. Morden, the mysterious character from “Signs and Portents” returns and offers Londo his help. Shortly thereafter, Shadow vessels appear in Quadrant 37 and completely destroy the Narn forces, station and colony. When G’Kar learns of the attack, he becomes afraid, as he knows that none of the known races could have done it, which can only mean someone else is out there… Londo is also afraid given the sheer destruction that this little “favor” resulted in, but Morden tells him not to worry. The Narns are his enemy, and his “associates” stand with him.

Sinclair proposes marriage to Sakai, she says yes, and Garibaldi is asked to be best man. Meanwhile, an investigation into the death of a lurker reveals that there is a conspiracy aboard B5. When he investigates further, Garibaldi discovers that there is a plot to assassinate the president, and some of its agents are on board the station. When he finds the culprits, his second shoots him in the back. While in medlab, he warns Sinclair that the president is about to die. Sure enough, he’s right! At the transfer point on Io, the president’s ship, Earth Force One, blows up, apparently due to a reactor malfunction. Strangely, the VP was not on board at the time, apparently due to an illness, and takes the office of president.

Finally, Delenn begins to undergo a transformation using the Triluminary. Before she does, she meets with Kosh. He reveals himself to her, after which, she is sure of what she must do. She learns shortly before this that Sinclair has learned about what happened to him at the Line and agrees to tell him the truth. However, with everything else that is going on, he is unable to make their meeting and arrives to find her in a cocoon in her quarters. He laments all the changes and upheavals to Sakai, saying “Nothing’s the same anymore.” The season ends on this uncertain note…

Significance:
Delenn’s Chrysalis, which is apparently part of a larger prophecy begins here. The Shadows are also revealed again, and their attack on the Narns makes G’Kar highly suspicious. He becomes aware of the fact that there is a dark and powerful force out there somewhere. The president is assassinated and the conspiracy back at Earth is revealed to be larger and more powerful than anyone suspected. Clark assumes the presidency, and will later be revealed to be behind the conspiracy that is taking over Earth.

Memorable Quotes:
Londo: But this — this, this, this is like being nibbled to death by… what are those Earth creatures called? Feathers, long bill, webbed feet… go ‘quack’…
Vir: Cats.
Londo: Cats. I’m being nibbled to death by cats.

G’Kar: It wasn’t the Humans. The Centauri don’t have the will. The Vorlons don’t care. The Minbari wouldn’t do it. The other races aren’t powerful enough for a strike like this… There’s someone else out there Na’Toth.

Morden: (talking to two Shadows) Yes. I think he’s ready… Perfect for our needs… No. No. He suspects nothing. When the time is right, Ambassador Mollari will do exactly as we wish. Destiny is on our side.

Kosh: And so it begins.

Sinclair: Nothing’s the same anymore.

And so ends season one! Everything that is of significance in the series has been established, previewed, or hinted at. All that remains now if for all these developments to be taken up a notch before they get fulfilled or explained in seasons three and four. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays folks, see you after the break!

Babylon 5, Farewell…

Babylon 5, Farewell…

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

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

Babylon 5 Season Five:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

So long B5, you will be remembered…

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…