Ancient Aliens (Updated)

And I’m back with another conceptual post, hard at work exploring the ideas that run deep in the grand genre that is sci-fi. And this is one that I find particularly cool, mainly because it’s just so freaking existential! I mean what is there that can possibly throw a wrench into our collective anthropomorphism more than knowing that there is sentient life out there that significantly predates our own, especially if we were to find out that they had something to do with our own evolution…?

In some ways, this is a shout out to the “ancient astronauts” theory, which speculates that extra-terrestrials came to Earth long ago and left some evidence of their visit behind. This can be limited to something as basic as a structure or a relic, or can run as deep as having influenced human cultures, religions and technological development. Regardless of whether or not this theory is to be taken literally, it is well represented in the sci-fi community. Here are some examples that I have assembled:

2001: A Space Odyssey:
A classic example of an ancient species, ancient astronauts, and one of my personal favorites! Originally conceived in the form of a screenplay by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick, the concept of the TMA-1 monolith aliens was a central plot element to one of the most groundbreaking science fiction movies of all time. However, owing to Kubrick’s esoteric style, not much was ever made clear about the species that built the monoliths. Luckily, Clarke went on to develop the idea at length in his novelization of the movie and its many sequels.

According to the novel, and ongoing interviews with Kudrick, the beings that built the monoliths were known as the Firstborn – an extremely ancient race that achieved sentience millions of years ago and were exploring the galaxy long before humanity even existed. The monoliths were their means of traveling from star to star, which they did in order to seek out life and help it along. In the course of their travels, they came upon Earth four million years ago and discovered Simians that were on the verge of starvation. By teaching them to expand their diet through hunting and some basic tricks to cultivate their manual dexterity, they ensured not only the survival of higher order primates, but the eventual emergence of humans as a species.

The story of 2001 thus takes place in the near-future (from when it was originally written) where humanity has developed into a star-faring race and colonized the Moon. Not far from this colony, a monolith is discovered buried under millions of years of moon dust. After examining it, to no avail, they discover that it has sent a signal out to Jupiter. The ship Discovery is then dispatched to investigate, where it finds an even larger monolith in orbit around Europa. The mission ends quite mysteriously as David Bowman, the last surviving member of the crew, flies closer to it in a small pod and disappears. Adding to the mystery were his last words: “My God, it’s full of stars!”

In subsequent books, the mystery of Bowman’s disappearance and the nature of the monoliths is made clear. Essentially, the monoliths are alien machines that contain their consciousness, and some are gateways which allow for FTL space travel. Bowman, when he came into contact with the one around Europa, was transformed or downloaded (depending on how you look at it) and became one with the monolith. The reason they are hanging out around Europa is because they are currently working to transform Jupiter into its own star so that life may blossom on Europa (which scientists speculate is already teaming with life underneath its icey shell).

Cool idea! But you see, there’s a snag… Apparently, the First Ones have also been known to weed wherever they’ve sown. What would happen if they came to the conclusion that humanity was too aggressive for its own good, the result of them teaching us how to harness an appetite for killing other animals and members of our own species? This is the premise that is explored in the finale 3001: Final Odyssey, and which was left on a cliffhanger note. Unfortunately, Clarke died in 2008, leaving fan fiction authors to speculate on how this would all play out…

Alien vs. Predator:
Note: this is not a reference to the terrible movie or its even more terrible sequel! No, in this case, I am referring to the wider franchise, as exemplified by its many video games, comics, novelizations, and even the independent (non-crossover) movies. In these cases, we get a glimpse of two races that predate humanity by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. Their outward characteristics alone make them cool, and they are both pretty badass in their own special ways. But what is especially cool about them is the fact that very little known about them, other than the fact that they are very, very dangerous!

“I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality”. That is how the Alien, or Xenomorph in AVP terminology, was described in the very first movie. Their origin is unknown, as is the timeline of their existence and the circumstances of their evolution. However, one thing is clear: on this last note, it must have been something pretty harsh! I mean really, how difficult must life have been on their homeworld for something like the xenomorph to have emerged. They proliferate at an alarming rate, require living being to gestate, and are designed purely for the hunt!

Overall, their race is divided into two symbiotic and interrelated species. First, there are the “Facehuggers”, the spidery creatures that attach themselves to living creatures and implant them with embryos. This in turn gives rise to the “Chestbusters”, the warrior aliens that seek out, kill and capture creatures for the Facehuggers to use. At the top of the pyramid is the Queen, a Chestbuster who has evolved to become the egg-layer who gives birth to more Facehuggers. An interesting chicken and the egg type arrangement, and something which only adds to their mystery!

The Predators, on the other hand, are relatively straightforward. At their core of their society lies a warrior ethic, where each and every male member of their species is trained to be a hunter. In time, hunters accumulates honor and seniority within their culture by attaining as many kills and trophies (i.e. skulls) as possible, preferably from different species. In fact, it is rumored that a single scene from Predator 2, in which an Alien skull appeared in a hunter’s trophy case was the basis for the whole AVP crossover.

In addition, there are also some clear and apparent rules to the hunt. First, each hunter is drawn to arenas of conflict. In the first movie, one chooses a hunt in Central America where a guerrilla war is taking place. In the sequel, one travels to LA during the height of the drug wars. In both cases, the get a sense of their terrain, taking out the easy prey first, and gradually working their way up to the top carnivore. At first, they rely on their advanced weaponry and stealth. But when at last they face off with the strongest prey, they fight them in the open in hand to hand combat.

God knows how long they’ve been doing this. But given their obvious level of technology, its clear they are not exactly recent additions to space race!

The “Ancient Humanoids”:
Now this was one I didn’t much like, but it’s an example of the concept of ancient astronauts nonetheless. And it comes to us courtesy of Star Trek: TNG. from an episode named “The Chase” (episode 146). In it, Picard’s old friend and mentor turns up dead in the course of an expedition which he claims could be the most profound discovery of their time.

After retracing his footsteps, Picard and the Enterprise are joined by three other search parties – one Klingon, one Romulan and one Cardassian – in orbit around a dead planet. When they reach the surface, they find that all the clues lead to a recording left behind by an ancient species. In the recording, the humanoid alien tells them all that they are the progenitors of every sentient race in the quadrant, that their DNA was planted on countless worlds. This is apparently why so many species are humanoid, and means that humanity shares ancestry with all these would-be enemies.

Heartwarming, and kind of cool if it weren’t such a convenient explanation as to why all aliens in the Star Trek franchise are humanoid. This is something that’s always annoyed me about the franchise. It’s not enough that all the aliens speak English and look like people, minus the occasional molded plastic on their faces. But to make matters worse, they always got to make a point of drawing attention to their humanoid forms. So when it came right down to it, this episode felt more like a contrived explanation than a homage. Personally, I would have thought that limited budgets would be the reason, but what do I know? I’m no xenobiologist!

The First Ones:
Another favorite which comes to us courtesy of the Babylon 5 universe. According to the expanded storyline, the First Ones were the first beings to achieve sentience in the Milky Way Galaxy. By the time of the show, most of them had left our corner of the universe in order to explore other galaxies and what lies between them. Only two remains behind, ostensibly to act as shepherds to the younger races. They were known as the Vorlons and the Shadows. However, in time, the two races turned on each other because of their diametrically opposed ideologies.

The Vorlons believed that development and progress came from order. In the course of their long history, they travelled to many worlds inhabited by sentient races and began tampering with their evolution. In each case, they presented themselves as angels, thus ensuring that sentient beings would see them as creatures of light and truth. In addition, they fostered the development of telepaths for use in the coming wars against the Shadows, whom they knew to vulnerable to psionics.

To illustrate this, the Vorlons are often presented as being aloof and rather stodgy figures. In fact, Lyta Alexander, one of the show’s secondary characters, commented that despite their power, the Vorlons are a highly sensitive people who do not react well to change! In the course of the show, they were initially hesitant to commit their forces to fighting the Shadows, they were extremely irked when Kosh (their ambassador to B5) was killed, and when Sheridan went – and presumably died  – at Z’ha’dum, they began destroying entire worlds in the hopes of erasing every trace of the Shadow’s influence.

In addition, their esoteric, mysterious nature was summed up with one question that they would ask anyone who was privileged enough to speak to them: “Who are you?” If ever you found yourself being asked that, odds were you were meant for some higher purpose, one which the Vorlons had a hand in arranging!

The Shadows, by comparison, were much more enabling and  intriguing, even if they were a little… oh, I don’t know, shit-your-pants scary!  In the course of their history, they too traveled to many worlds as ambassadors, encouraging different people and races to embrace their ambitious, darker side and go to war with each other. Whereas the Vorlons asked “Who are you?”, the Shadows big question was “What do you want?” Again, if you found yourself being asked this question, it meant that you were on their radar and they had big plans for you. The proper response to this would be feelings of flattery followed by abject terror.

In any case, whereas the Vorlons believed in order and stability, the Shadows believed that evolution came only through conflict and disorder. This, they reasoned, is what lead to the development of stronger, more advanced races. As Morden, their own representative to B5 said, humanity would never have come so far so fast were they not constantly “at each others’ throats”. Sure, some races had to be sacrificed along the way to make this philosophy work, but that was all for the greater good. In the end, what came out of it was a series of species that were stronger and better than they were before.

This philosophy eventually led them into conflict with the Vorlons as well as several other First Ones. Many younger races found themselves taking sides as well or just getting caught in the middle. In fact, wars between the two sides became a recurring thing, happening every few thousand years. In the last, which took place 10,000 years before the main story, the Shadows were defeated by the last great alliance between the First Ones, most of whom then chose to leave the galaxy. Then, just 1000 years before the events in the show take place, the Shadows were once again defeated by the Vorlons and an alliance of younger races and forced out of the galaxy entirely. However, as the show opens, we quickly learn that the Shadows are once again returning to their old stomping grounds, and the first spot on the tour is a planet known as Z’ha’dum.

This world is doubly significant because it is this planet where another First One – THE first one in fact – is thought to reside. His name is Lorien, and he is the last of his kind and the sole First One outside of the Vorlons and Shadows that is left in galaxy. All of the others have long since abandoned it, leaving the Shadows and Vorlons to their war and all the other races that have chosen to enlist in it. In the end, however, Sheridan, Delenn and the younger races form their own alliance which they use to draw a line against both races. With the help of those First Ones that they are able to reach and enlist the help of, they are successful. After a brief but decisive fight, both races agree to leave the galaxy with Lorien, never to return. In the last episode, when Sheridan is on the verge of death , he is found by Lorien who takes him to the great beyond where the other First Ones now reside.

Like I said, its a personal favorite, mainly because I felt it was so richly detailed and in-depth.

The Forerunners:
Now here is an interesting take on the whole ancient astronauts concept. Whereas in most versions of this idea, aliens make contact with a younger race and influence them for their own purposes, in the Halo universe, things happen in a sort of reverse order. It is established as part of the game’s back story that eons after they died out, the Covenant races came upon the remains of an ancient race which are referred to as the Forerunners. After learning how to reverse-engineer their technology, the Covernant began to merge it with their own and was able to jump thousands of years ahead as a result.

At the same time, they began to develop a religion and even a theocracy based on the Forerunners and what they believed their most important relics to be. These would be the Halo devices, for which the game takes its name. Believing that the Halos were the gateway to the afterlife, or the source of deliverance, the Convenant became obsessed with finding a working Halo and activating it. All of their mythology for the past few thousands years was based on this, and they pursued it with absolute single-mindedness.

So in this way, the Forerunners had a profound impact on the development and beliefs of the Covenant, but not intentionally. Rather than coming to the Convenant while it was still in its infancy and manipulating them for their own purposes, the Covenant instead found them, but only after they were long dead. In addition, they were influenced by their own assumptions about the Forerunners, and not anything they chose to tell them. And in the end, this influence had a near disastrous effect, given that the Halo devices were weapons of mass-MASS destruction and not holy relics. By attempting to activate them, the Covenant very nearly brought about their own extinction, and that of every other sentient race in the quadrant. One would think there was a message in all this about the dangers of blind faith and the dangers of deification or something!

The Goa’uld:
Here is a perfect example of the ancient astronauts theory, so bang on that you’d think it was tailor made to fit the premise! In the Stargate universe, which has expanded considerably over the years, an advanced extra-terrestrial species known as the Goa’uld came to Earth during the neolithic period and had a vast influence on our history. In the original movie, this involved a single alien who took on human form and appointed himself God Emperor over his human subjects. This, in turn, gave rise to the Egyptian civilization, with the alien-god Ra at its apex.

In addition to creating ancient Egypt though, Ra was also revealed to have taken human beings through the Stargate, an means of near-instantaneous interstellar transportation, and established similar civilizations on distant planets. On each of these, the Egyptian motifs of pyramids and the cult of Ra persisted, in some cases for thousands of years. Meanwhile, back at Earth, a revolt unseated Ra and he fled into the cosmos, to be found thousands of years later when humans accessed the Star Gate on Earth.

In the expanded universe, we learn that the Goa’uld were merely one of many races that visited Earth and appeared as gods to humanity because of their advanced technology. But whereas most had benign intentions,  the Goa’uld were concerned solely with establishing slave colonies on many worlds throughout the universe. In addition, their interference extended to other less advanced races as well. As a result, humanity is now faced with the task of preparing to face this and other threats, all of which involve highly advanced races that have visited Earth at one time or another and could very well be hostile.

Although it was not too good a movie (in my opinion), the concept is still a very fertile one! It’s little wonder then why it was made into a series, one which has done quite well for itself. Aliens came before, they may come again… Can we stop them this time. Who knows? Spooky stuff!

The Orions:
In the video game series Master of Orion, there is yet another take on the concepts of ancients aliens. In this turn-based strategy game, players select from different alien races that inhabit the galaxy and begin the process of colonization and expansion. In time, the concept of the Orions comes up. It seems that each race, though they are different and possess varying special abilities, have their own legends about this particular race.

One of the aspects of the game is to find the Orions homeworld, a place full of secret and advanced technology, but which is defended by a powerful robotic starship known as the Guardian. Whoever is able to destroy this ship and land on the planet is the most likely to win the game. This is advisable, seeing as the how the purpose of the whole game is to become the undisputed master of the galaxy – the Master of Orion, as it were 😉

The Xel’naga:
Another example of this concept which comes to us from the gaming world. of which fans of Starcraft will no doubt be instantly familiar with! Translated literally as “Wanders from Afar”, the Xel’naga were apparently a race from a distant galaxy that was concerned with creating the perfect life form. In the course of their lifetime, they apparent “seeded and cultivated thousands of various species” (from the SC game handbook). This included the Protoss and Zerg, two of the major players in the game, and figures pretty prominently in the game’s backstory.

In the case of the Protoss, the Xel’naga thought that they had found beings that possessed “purity of form” and began manipulating them. However, when they revealed themselves to the Protoss, the latter turned on them and they fled. They discovered the Zerg shortly thereafter, a species which they believed possessed “purity of essence”. They began by enhancing them from the small, parasitic larvae that they were, but found that they were too primitive. They therefore developed the Overmind as well to give them purpose and direction, but this only made matters worse. In time, the Zerg found the Xel’naga, who had chosen to remain hidden this time, and consumed them.

In the course of the game, Xel’naga ruins make only one appearance, in the form of an ancient temple which possesses the ability to sterilize the planet of all other species. However, other ruins are apparently featured in one of the game’s novelizations. Otherwise their is no mention of them, their existence merely constituting part of the story’s deep background.

Final Thoughts:
After looking through these and other examples of ancient astronauts, a few things began to stand out. Like I said before, sooner or later aliens serve an anthropological purpose in science fiction. Or to put it another way, they will always play the role of mirror and meter stick. On the one hand, they are the means by which we project aspects of ourselves onto others so we can study them better. On the other, they are means by which we measure our own flaws and development.

But above all, aliens tend to fall into any one of four categories based on where they fit into the moral and technological spectrum. This spectrum, which I made up myself (!), breaks down as follows:

  1. Benevolent/Malevolent: How aliens behave in our favorite franchises and what purpose they serve often has much to do with their basic motivation. In short, are they kind of benevolent, enlightened overseers as envisioned by Arthur C. Clarke in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Childhood’s End, or are they hostile, conquering species as envisioned in War of the Worlds and Invasion of the Body Snatchers? In either case, the alien serve a basic purpose: as a commentary on humanity. Their murderous ways are our murderous ways, their benevolent, technical perfection what we aspire to be. As Nixon is said to have muttered to JFK’s painting: “Men look at you, they see what they want to be. Men look at me, they see what they are.”
  2. Advanced/Nascent: Another important aspect to the aliens in question is their level of technical development. And, interestingly enough, this can have much to do with their moral character. Oftentimes, the aliens in a franchise are both advanced and malevolent, blowing up the White House Independence Day-style or trying to make us one with the Borg! Other times, they are advanced and enlightened, technology and evolution having erased whatever primitive impulses they might have had, but which humanity still possesses. And in other cases still, their are aliens who are less advanced than humanity and are either ethically challenged because they are behind the times, or noble and “untainted” because they haven’t been perverted by civilization’s greed and avarice. It’s a toss up, really, where the benefits and downfalls of technological progress are seen as having an influence on moral and social development.

Again, these are all mere projections, designed to focus attention on moral and ethical dilemmas that arise out of our collective history. Still, it is fun to take these various examples from popular culture and see where they line up on the moral/technological graph. That way we can see where different franchise place their aliens in terms of the overall spectrum.  And like I said at the beginning, its a cool concept. I mean seriously, wouldn’t it be cool if it were actually true? No one can prove aliens didn’t visit Earth thousands or even millions of years ago and mess with our evolution, right? Yeah, it’s not exactly a sound basis for a scientific theory, but a very fertile source for science fiction!

Of Galactic Empires

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

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

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

Asimov’s Foundation Series:

An artists rendering of Trantor

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

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

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

Frank Herbert’s Dune:

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars:

Coruscant, capitol of the Old Republic and Empire

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

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

Urban sprawl on Coruscant
Urban sprawl on Coruscant

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

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

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

Star Trek:

Star Fleet Command, in orbit above Earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battletech:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B5, Season 4 Best Episodes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheridan mobilizes the fleet and they make for Coriana 6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B5, Season 3 Best Episodes (cont’d)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part II:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Babylon 5, Best Episodes Season Two (cont’d)

Back to B5 season two! Arguably the best season of the show, and for obvious reasons. The action was pretty damn awesome, in part because the CGI had improved noticeably since the first season. In addition, the storyline was intense and layered, with the many plot threads that they had taken their time to set up in season one now coming together and unfolding rather nicely!

And of course, there were numerous plot threads to get into! There was the conspiracy taking place back at Earth, Delenn’s controversial transformation and its role in an ancient prophecy, the Shadows being on the move, the ongoing feud between the Narns and Centauri, the Psi Corps and its dark agenda, and the strange and sudden disappearance of Sinclair. And there was a bunch of other stuff that happened too; some of it funny, some of it interesting, but just about all of it entertaining…

7. Hunter, Prey:
The episode opens with a Sheridan and Ivanova checking out Kosh’s ship in Bay 13. Even after years of contact, they still know virtually nothing about of the Vorlons. Sheridan resolves to learn more and confronts him concerning the dream he had aboard the Streib vessel. Kosh says that he touched Sheridan’s mind because “he sought understanding” and Sheridan’s thoughts were like “a song”. Only once before has he experienced this, though he does not say with whom…

Around the same time, the station is put on Ultraviolet alert by orders of Earth Force Intelligence because a fugitive is believed to be aboard the station. The fugitive in question is former president’s Santiago’s doctor, a man named Everett Jacobs, and an old friend of Franklins. They are told that Jacobs is in possession of stolen information, but Sheridan soon hears from one of Hague’s people. She tells him that Jacobs has proof that Clark’s story about his illness is a lie, proof that would go a long way to proving that Clark had a hand in his assassination. Sheridan vows to find Jacobs and get the information to her so she can get it back home.

In the course of the investigation, Sheridan is summoned by Kosh and jumps at the chance to meet with him. Sheridan asks Kosh why he will not reveal himself, to which Kosh replies that people are not ready to see him. When Kosh tells him he wants to learn about Sheridan, he mistakes this for an exchange of information, and Kosh tells him to leave. Frustrated, Sheridan asks Kosh what we wants, which earns him a sharp reaction. Finally, Kosh tells him that when Sheridan is ready, he will teach him “to fight legends”.

Meanwhile, Garibaldi and Franklin begin secretly looking for Jacobs while regular security are commandeered to assist the Earth Force Intelligence operatives who are there to coordinate the search. After saving him from some thugs who are trying to ransom him, they stow him away on Kosh’s ship to conceal him. They are able to do this, they learn, because Kosh’s ship is itself a life form. Ergo, the vessel is able trick all scanners into detecting only one life force – the ship itself – regardless of who is aboard.

Significance:
In the course of this episode, we learn more about conspiracy back at Earth and see Sheridan and his people take their first steps in helping to expose and unseat the perpetrators. We also get to learn a bit about the Vorlons, like how their ships are based on organic technology. The mystery surrounding his encounter suit and why he can’t reveal himself also deepens… And finally, Kosh begins the long process of mentoring Sheridan to fight the Shadows.

Memorable Lines:
Franklin: I think we lost interest in the future when all the things we were told were coming finally got here… wasn’t what we thought it was going to be. It’s like when you keep bugging your folks for that one special toy for Christmas and when you finally get it, its just not as great as the vids made it look. Just doesn’t run right. You’re so disappointed, you shove it in the closet, you never take it out again.
Garibaldi: Maybe somebody should’ve labelled the future “some assembly required”.

Sheridan: Are we just toys to you? Huh? What do you want?
Kosh: Never ask that question!
Sheridan: At least I got a response out of you. So what’ll it be, Ambassador?
Kosh: I will teach you.
Sheridan: About yourself?
Kosh: About you. Until you are ready.
Sheridan: For what?
Kosh: To fight legends.

8. In the Shadow of Z’Hadum:
This is perhaps my favorite episode of season two. It begins with a conversation between Morden and Vir, who is forced to stand in since Londo is away. After some unpleasantries, Vir lets Morden know exactly what he thinks of him and the “favors” he and his associates are providing to the Republic. Meanwhile, the war continues to flood the station with refugees and Franklin and his staff are struggling to keep up. However, Franklin is determined to ensure that he is on hand to make sure everyone gets the care they need and dies with dignity under his watch.

But things really come together when Sheridan is looking through some old records about his wife’s last mission. Apparently, she was on a survey mission with IPX, on a ship called the Icarus that was heading to some world on the border of known space to look into the ruins of a lost civilization. When Garibaldi sees Morden’s picture amongst the crew manifest, he tells Sheridan that he knows the man’s face and that he is on the station. Sheridan immediately has Morden brought in for questioning. Morden insists that he doesn’t remember anything about what happened, but Sheridan in unconvinced. He decides to hold Morden illegally, a move which prompts Garibaldi to resign in protest.

Finally, Delenn and Kosh confront Sheridan and tell him Morden must go. It is here that they explain to him about the Shadows, the First Ones, and the coming war for the first time. Kosh also gives him some images from the Icarus mission to Z’ha’dum, showing him how their landing on the planet awoke the Shadows prematurely. John eventually decides to let Morden go, but tells Kosh that in exchange, he’s to teach him how to fight them since he plans to go there one day. Kosh tells him that if he goes to Z’ha’dum, he will die, but Sheridan is determined to go down fighting.

Significance:
This episode is of huge significance to B5’s plot development. After a season and half of building up and hinting at various things: like who and what the Shadows are, the First Ones, what Morden is about, and what happened to Sheridan’s wife, we finally get to see how all these things are interconnected and intrinsic to the ongoing plot. It also becomes clear that B5, originally intended as a neutral site, will be a staging ground in the coming war.

Sheridan’s decision to keep their secret and let Morden go also makes him a co-conspirator, which makes two plots he’s now involved in! Also, Franklin’s workaholic tendencies are previewed for the first time. In time, his overburdening work schedule will cause him to turn to stims, which will lead to more problems and his decision to quit and go on walkabout.

Memorable Quotes:
Morden: What do you want?
Vir: I’d like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up at your lifeless eyes and wave like this (waves). Can you and your associates arrange this for me, Mr. Morden?

Franklin: And then, just at the last, it’s as if they look past you at something else, and the look on their face, it’s like nothing you can describe. And then, just as they look past you—the moment that they look past you—you can’t help but meet their gaze and just for an instant, you see God reflected in their eyes. [pauses] I’ve seen a lot of reflected gods today, Susan. And I’m wondering how we can keep believing in them, when they’ve stopped believing in us.

Delenn: Once you know his secret, once you know what we have known for the last three years, you will never sleep well again. Come Captain… the greatest nightmare of our time is waiting for you.

Delenn: There are being in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. Once, long ago, they walked amongst the stars like giants. Vast and timeless. They taught the younger races, explored beyond the rim, created great empires. But to all things, there is an end. Slowly, over a million years, the First Ones went away. Some passed beyond the stars, never to return. Some simply disappeared.

Delenn: Not all of the First Ones have gone away. A few stayed behind, hidden or asleep, waiting for the day when they may be needed… when the Shadows come again.
Sheridan: Shadows?
Delenn: We have no other name for them. The Shadows were old when even the ancients were young.

Delenn: That is why Kosh cannot leave his encounter suit. He would be recognized.
Sheridan: Recognized? By whom?
Kosh: Everyone.

Sheridan: You ever studied ancient history? 20th century, World War II?… The Germans had a secret code they used for all their important messages. It was called “Enigma”. What they didn’t know was that the British had cracked the code. One day, Churchill’s people intercepted a message authorizing the bombing of a city named Coventry. Now, if they evacuated Coventry, the Germans would know their code had been broken, and switch to another system. If that happened, it could cost the Allies the entire war. If they didn’t evacuate the city, hundreds of innocent men, women, and children would die.
Zack: So, what happened?
Sheridan: They kept the secret. There was no evacuation. And on November 14, 1940, Coventry was destroyed. The dead were… piled up like cordwood. I’ve seen newsreels of Churchill visiting the ruins a few days later. And you can just see it in his eyes, the knowledge of what he’d done. Dark, haunted. All these years I’ve never been able to get that image out of my head.
Zack: Well, I’m glad it’s a decision I don’t have to make. I don’t think I could live with myself. How many lives is a secret worth?

Sheridan: You’ve been trying to help me so we can understand each other. That’s not what I want anymore. I want you to teach me how to fight them, how to beat them. Because sooner or later, I’m going to Z’ha’dum. I’m going to stop them.
Kosh: If you go to Z’ha’dum, you will die.
Sheridan: Then I die. But I will not go down easily, and I will not go down alone. You will teach me?
Kosh: Yes…

9. The Long Twilight Struggle:
After many months of fighting, the Great War appears to be coming to a close. G’Kar is met by his uncle, a senior commander in the Narn fleet, who tells him that they must attempt one last, desperate gamble to prolong the war. Meanwhile, Londo is visited by Refa, who tells him that they intercepted a communication that divulges the Narn’s latest war plan. Apparently, they are going to attempt an assault on the Centauri’s supply base at Gorash 7, which if successful, will stall the Centauri advance.

Rather than defend it, Refa has another plan: he asks Londo to arrange for his “associates” to defend it, while the bulk of their fleet attacks the Narn homeworld with Mass Drivers, an illegal weapon that will level the surface. Londo is frightened and reluctant. He no longer trusts Morden’s “associates” given their obvious power, and is morally opposed to such a brutal attack. However, Refa insists that this will save Centauri lives, shave months off the war, and that there is no time to debate. Londo concedes.

G’Kar is meanwhile warned about the possibility of an attack from Franklin who received some interesting news from the latest batch of Narn refugees. During the Earth-Mimbari War, the Mimbari surpassed Mars in order to assault Earth, and now he suspects the Centauri of the same. However, G’Kar’s uncle is unreceptive and presses forward with his plan. He and the remainder of the Narn fleet arrive at Gorash 7 and are intercepted by the Shadows. The Narn fleet is destroyed, and the Centauri simultaneously attack the Narn homeworld and devestate it.

Faced with annihilation, the Narn government surrenders and tells G’Kar to ask for asylum. Londo issues the Centauri’s punitive peace terms which include mass executions, the destruction of the Kha-Ri, and the creation of a puppet Narn government. Sheridan and the Council are powerless to do anything about it, but grant G’Kar asylum, which ensures he will remain alive and free. G’Kar issues a heartfelt declaration that the Centauri will fail, for there is no greater power than “the need for freedom.”

In the midst of all this, Draal invites Sheridan and Delenn to the surface and tells them that the Great Machine is now at their disposal for the upcoming Shadow War. Admist everything else, this is the first bit of good news Sheridan has received in awhile and he’s happy to get it! After retiring to his quarters, a forlorn Londo is disturbed to hear that his people are now moving on several other worlds adjacent to Narn territory, something he was hoping would not happen.

Significance:
A number of important things happen in this episode, which wrap up some earlier plot threads and establish some new ones. The war between the Narn and the Centauri ends, which Londo is happy for, but is disturbed to find out that it has spurned them on to even greater ambitions of conquest. G’Kar is now a refugee on board the station, and his status as the last free member of the Kha-Ri will prove very important in the episodes and seasons to come. The end of the Narn-Centauri war is also a great victory for the Shadows since it means that they have successfully created a chaotic situation which will help disguise their advance.

Draal’s decision to come out of isolation and join in Sheridan and Delenn’s alliance is also of great importance. As season three approaches, the Great Machine will play a crucial role in helping them to locate the First Ones, uncover evidence that helps prove Clark’s guilt in assassinating President Santiago, and fulfilling an ancient prophecy…

Memorable Quotes:
Londo: Refa, any force attempting to invade Narn will up to its neck in blood! It’s own!
Lord Refa: We have no intention of invading Narn. Flattening it, yes, but invading it? We will be using mass drivers. By the time we are done, their cities will be in ruins, we can move in at our leisure.
Londo: Mass drivers? They have been outlawed by every civilized planet!
Refa: These are uncivilized times.
Londo: We have treaties!
Refa: Ink on a page!

Londo: Listen to me, Refa. My allies have begun to worry me. Report I have recieved… their sheer strength!

Draal: Since taking up residence in the heart of this machine, I have explored its secrets, learned, and discovered that I can look into distant worlds, see and hear things you cannot begin to imagine! Along the way, I’ve learned some things about you, Captain! The loss of your wife—I know Delenn has told you about the coming darkness. And lately I’ve learned about your role in, shall we say, a “conspiracy of light” aimed at your own government?
Sheridan: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Draal: Yes, you do! Please, Captain, don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. They would have to dig down three miles into the surface of this planet to learn what I know, and no one who tried would survive the attempt! And now I have seen enough! I said a year ago that this place was to be left alone until the time was right. That time has arrived. Now that I know the full capabilities of this place, I am prepared to place them at your disposal!
Sheridan: Are you proposing an alliance?
Draal: One of the first! There will be more to come. This has been a hard and trying year for you, Captain Sheridan. It might be helpful for you to know that you are not alone, and that in the long, twilight struggle which lies ahead of us, there is the possibility of hope.

G’Kar: No dictator, no invader can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand. The Centauri learned this lesson once. We will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years, we will be free.

10. The Fall of Night:
The episode opens with Sheridan running B5’s fighter squadron through drills designed to familiarize them with fighting Centauri ships. Afterward, he receives word from the Drazi and pak’ma’ra ambassadors who tell him the Centauri have expanded their war by attacking their territories. Sheridan confronts Londo, but is told in rather threatening terms to mind his own business. At the same time, a Narn cruiser that survived the war shows up at the station and asks for sanctuary while they make repairs. Since B5 is neutral territory, Sheridan agrees to give them protection until they can get up and running again.

G’Kar is pleased to hear of this, and even more pleased to learn that a representative from The Ministry of Peace named Frederick Lantz has come to the station to evaluate the Centauri. It seems that Earth is finally prepared to take sides in the conflict. He is accompanied by Mr. Welles, another MiniPax representative, who is there to coordinate the Night Watch. Having joined them, Zack sits in on the meeting and begin to see that their true purpose is to detect disloyalty. Welles similarly meets with Ivanova and offers her the chance to inform on her fellow officers, which she roundly refuses.

In the meantime, Lt. Keffer, a pilot from Zeta squad, confronts a pilot from another squadron about something he saw in hyperspace. Apparently, the man claimed to see something that looked like a “cross between a spider and your worst nightmare”. Interestingly enough, Keffer knows exactly what he’s talking about. Months back, he saw something similar and has become obsessed with finding it since it killed one of his squadmates. After convincing the other pilot that he saw it too, he is given all the sensor data he will need to track it.

In time, Lantz reveals that his true purpose is to sign a non-aggression pact with the Centauri. In short, Earth is turning its back on their ongoing aggression. When one of the Night Watch tells them that Sheridan is harboring a Narn cruiser, Lantz is incensed and informs Londo. A Centauri warship arrives shortly thereafter and demands Sheridan turn the ship and crew over. Sheridan refuses and orders Zeta squadron to escort the ship to the jump point. The Centauri ships opens fire and a firefight ensues. B5 takes some damage, but manages to destroy the Centauri vessel.

While escorting the Narn cruiser through hyperspace, Keffer detects the signature the other pilot told him to look for. He breaks off to investigate, comes face to face with a Shadow vessel, and is killed. But before it could shoot him down, he manages to make a recording of it and ejects the data into a beacon pod. Back at the station, Sheridan is ordered to issue an apology for the incident with the Centauri vessel. Hoping to salvage the peace treaty, and given the fact that it was their ship that fired first, the Centauri accept.

However, on his way to the gardens to deliver it, a Centauri agent places a bomb inside the transport car and Sheridan is forced to jump out. Delenn and B5’s entire diplomatic corps see him falling from below, and Delenn asks Kosh to help. For the first time since his arrival, Kosh leaves his encounter suit and reveals himself so that he may fly to Sheridan’s rescue. Everyone sees him as an angel, one particular to their species’ culture – except Londo who says he saw nothing.

The episode ends with Ivanova narrating. With the peace treaty signed, the Centauri predictably expand their war to include several more members of the League. The footage from Keffer’s gun camera is picked up and begins to cause a stir back at Earth.

Significance:
Season Two ends with a number of threads being wrapped up and some important questions being answered. For starters, it is clear that Londo suspects that Morden and his “associates” cannot be trusted and things are spiraling out of control. However, he seems powerless to do anything about it since Refa and his allies back home are intent on continued expansion. This plays to the Shadows agenda quite well, since chaos amidst the younger races will serve as a welcome distraction from their activities.

Also, what Delenn meant when she said Kosh “would be recognized if he left his suit” is also made clear. Apparently, the Vorlons have traveled to many worlds in their time to tutor the younger races. Wherever they went, they took on the guise of angels in order to be received with open arms.

Finally, for the first time since their arrival, the universe is made aware of the existence of the Shadows. This will be of great significance in season three, when the Shadows finally attack. It is also clear at this point that Earth is degenerating into a dictatorship thanks to Clark, the Ministry of Peace and the Nightwatch. From here on in, people like Zack will have to decide which side they’re on.

However, season Two’s biggest significance though is the fact that B5’s mission, which was one of peace, has now failed. However, in the coming war, it will prove to be of far greater importance – as the rallying point for all the younger races to come together and form an alliance against the Shadows.

Memorable Quotes:
Lennier: Sometimes I get so close, and yet it seems I’m shut out of the important things.
Vir: It’s a useless feeling! The ambassador is definitely going through some changes. He even looks different!
Lennier: Indeed! And now with the military starting to stampede over everyone and everything…
Vir: People coming and going and secret meetings!
Lennier: You never know what it’s all about. Until later, when it’s too late.
Vir: And they never listen to us.
Vir/Lennier: Makes me nervous!
Vir: Same time tomorrow?
Lennier: Sure.

Lt. Keffer: It was jet black. A shade of black so deep your eye just kinda slides off it. And it shimmered when you looked at it. A spider big as death and twice as ugly. And when it flies past, it’s like you hear a scream in your mind.

Frederick Lantze: I’m here to sign a non-aggression treaty with the Centauri. Before I leave here, there will be an Earth-Centauri alliance that will guarantee peace for Earth. We will, at last, know peace in our time.

John Sheridan: I suppose this… apology is already written?
Mr. Welles: No need. You can phrase the apology any way you see fit. As with everything else, it’s the thought that counts.

Sheridan: I apologize. I’m… sorry. I’m sorry we had to defend ourselves against an unwarranted attack. I’m sorry that your crew was stupid enough to fire on a station filled with a quarter million civilians, including your own people. And I’m sorry I waited as long as I did before I blew them all straight to hell! As with everything else, it’s the thought that counts.

Ivanova: It was the end of the Earth year 2259, and the war was upon us. As anticipated, a few days after the Earth-Centauri treaty was announced, the Centauri widened their war to include many of the Non-Aligned Worlds. And there was another war brewing closer to home. A personal one whose cost would be higher than any of us could imagine. We came to this place because Babylon 5 was our last, best hope for peace. By the end of 2259, we knew that it had failed. But in so doing, it became something greater. As the war expanded, it became our last, best hope for victory. Because sometimes peace is another word for surrender…and because secrets have a way of getting out.

B5, Best Episodes, Season Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Babylon 5, Farewell…

Babylon 5, Farewell…

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

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

Babylon 5 Season Five:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

So long B5, you will be remembered…