The Babylon project was our last, best hope for peace. It failed. In the year of the Shadow War, it became something greater: our last, best hope for victory.
The year is 2260. The place: Babylon 5.
The Babylon Diaries: Season 3 – Introduction
Oh, screw it.
It is February 15, 2009, forty-eight hours after finishing Season 2 of Babylon 5: The Coming of Shadows. I have two midterms to get ready for, four classes worth of homework, a day job, a night job, and a rent bill that isn’t quite paid yet, BUT ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT IS BABYLON 5!
So, against, my better judgment, I am forging ahead into Season 3, Point of No Return. When we last left the crew of everyone’s last best hope for peace, war had arrived and it came with crazy-looking hair. Covertly aided by Shadow forces, the Centauri Republic has decimated the Narn homeworld, reclaiming it as part of their own empire. The Earth Alliance has signed a nonaggression pact, surrendering in all but name, and the nonaligned worlds have come under the Centauri crosshairs one by one.
Aboard Babylon 5, however, a small group of men and women have come together to form an “army of light” that will resist the coming evil and try to claim victory from a vast darkness. The Shadow’s existence was revealed by Warren Keffer’s gun camera footage found floating in hyperspace, which means they are on their way. Soon. Human and Minbari, aided by the ancient and mysterious Vorlon, begin to brace themselves for the onslaught…
[EDIT: Special Thanks to Sitting Duck, who produced a plethora of Groovy Quotes for this article after I fell down on the job! — Al]
Dramatis Personae in 2260
Captain Sheridan is a decorated veteran of the Earth/Minbari War and was assigned to take over Babylon 5 following the removal of Commander Sinclair. With the Centauri/Shadow threat growing stronger by the day, he and some Minbari forces have now formed an “army of light” to combat them. His discomfort with the decisions of EarthGov came to a head in December 2259 when he destroyed a Centauri warship while defending a damaged Narn cruiser. This led to a Centauri assassination attempt Sheridan only survived with the intervention of Ambassador Kosh.
Ivanova is the tough-as-nails XO of Babylon 5. Last year, she was promoted from Lieutenant Commander and took on more diplomatic duties around the station. She also revealed herself as a latent telepath attempting to stay off of PsiCorp’s radar.
Garibaldi is head of security on Babylon 5. After being shot by one of his own men in 2258, Garibaldi spent the next year recuperating and reorganizing his police force. He carried a torch for former ship psychic and unknowing PsiCorp sleeper agent Talia Winters until her reactivation last year.
Rounding out the command crew, Dr. Franklin is Babylon 5’s head of medicine. His obsessive nature often leaves him working long hours at a manic pace, but he has a softer, more contemplative side that he expresses in his Foundationist religion. He formerly headed up an “underground railroad” for unregistered psychics on the run from the government.
Zack Allen rose to security’s second-in-command last season after Garibaldi recovered from his attack. Midway through 2259, he accepted membership into the Night Watch, a position he is increasingly uncomfortable with as their grip on Babylon 5 strengthens.
Marcus is a Ranger, assigned to Babylon 5 by Ambassador Sinclair to assist with operations against the Shadow. He was trained in multiple forms of combat on Minbar and persistently flirts with Commander Ivanova (with varying degrees of success).
Along with her assistant Lennier (Bill Mumy), Delenn is the Minbari government’s representative aboard Babylon 5. In late 2258, she underwent a transformation and emerged the following year as half-human and half-Minbari, causing stress for both races but confirming her importance in things to come. She shares a special relationship with Ambassador Kosh and has a budding romantic relationship with Captain Sheridan.
Londo is the Centauri government representative aboard Babylon 5 and is responsible for his government’s alliance with the Shadow. This has brought his House much honor within the Centauri Empire but he finds himself increasingly uncomfortable with the war of aggression his people are pursuing. Londo is assisted by his reluctant attaché, Vir Cotto (Stephen Furst).
Citizen G’Kar was B5’s ambassador for the Narn people until they were subjugated by the Centauri following a short, brutal war in 2259. He was stripped of his position but still holds considerable influence amongst the Narn aboard the station. He is actively involved with the Narn resistance.
Kosh represents the cryptic Vorlon. Last year, we learned that they are the last of the ancient races that drove back the Shadow threat many thousands of years ago. Since then, his people have guided the evolution and development of the other races in the galaxy in preparation the inevitable rematch. Although usually shrouded in an Encounter Suit, Kosh recently revealed his true nature in order to save Captain Sheridan from a Centauri assassin. Outside their suits, Vorlon are “beings of light” and appear as angels or mythic figures to any who look upon them. Interestingly, Londo claims that when Kosh left his suit, he saw nothing.
Other Persons of Interest
Sinclair is the former commander of Babylon 5 who was removed after the events of 2258 and reassigned as the first human ambassador to Minbar. There he prepares for the coming war by building Minbar’s Rangers into a covert army and information network. It has been revealed that, at some point in the future, he will be known as “The One.”
Morden is an agent of the Shadow and was the one who forged the Shadow/Centauri alliance with Londo last season. Five years ago, he was on the same science vessel as Sheridan’s wife and should have been killed with the rest of its crew on Za’ha’dum, the Shadow homeworld. How he survived is unknown.
Lyta was the original PsiCorp liaison to Babylon 5 but was forced to leave following the events of The Gathering. She returned briefly last year and exposed Talia Winters as a PsiCorp sleeper agent. Now she is back again as an assistant to Ambassador Kosh.
Bester is a PsiCop and reoccurring thorn in the side of the Babylon 5 crew. He believes deeply in the Corp and always has a hidden agenda.
Episode 301: Matters of Honor
A good reintroduction episode. An earth official is making the rounds on Babylon 5 with the video of the Shadow vessel shot by Warren Keffer last season, and Sheridan does his best to feign ignorance. A Ranger also shows up on a dying ship to beg Sheridan’s help in protecting a Ranger training colony.
It was nice to have a high intensity sort of episode to start the season. I liked getting a larger idea of the influence wielded by the Shadow armies, and the tying in of the PsiCorp—I wonder how much they really know about who they’re dealing with. Sheridan’s new ship, the White Star, is pretty spiffy and he looks good at the helm.
We get new opening credits again, too, which are a lot better than last year’s. I notice that Warren Keffer is gone (on a count of death) and Talia is gone (on a count of evil). Na’Toth is also missing; maybe she’s out of the show now that G’Kar is not an ambassador? I like that security guy Zack Allen is now a main cast member. I’m lukewarm about the new ranger, Marcus Cole. Nothing against his performance or anything, I just wonder, between Keffer last season and him now, if they were just searching for a young, dashing hero to put on lunchboxes.
Sheridan: You know, I’m getting a little tired of these unannounced visits by VIPs who will not tell us why they’re coming or what they’re going to do when they get here.
Ivanova: Leave it to you to try and take all the fun out of life. I mean, come on, where’s your sense of mystery, of adventure?
Sheridan: Are you trying to cheer me up?
Ivanova: No sir, wouldn’t dream of it.
Sheridan: Good. I hate being cheered up. It’s depressing.
Ivanova: Well in that case, we’re all gonna die horrible, painful, lingering deaths.
Sheridan: [sarcastic] Thank you. I feel so much better now.
Episode 302: Convictions
The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight visits Babylon 5, leaving Lennier hospitalized and, hilariously, Londo and G’Kar stuck in an elevator together. It’s been so long since the two of them got to interact without all that dramatic tension heaped on their shoulders that I almost forgot how outstanding they are. It also appears that the station has become a religious mecca following Kosh’s little stunt last season, sending a flood of pilgrims and holy men onto the station. Garibaldi and Sheridan get some great hero moments playing ‘negotiator’ with the bomber and there’s even a bit of sweetness as Londo waits and watches in sickbay after Lennier saves his life. This is a pretty self-contained episode overall, but really tremendous stuff nonetheless. Also, for you Mortal Kombat fans, check out Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Shang Tsung) as a security guy!
Londo: I hate my life.
G’Kar: So do I.
Londo: Shut up.
Episode 303: A Day in the Strife
This is one of those episodes where the main plot really seems secondary to all the little stories that are being advanced on the sidelines. Babylon 5 encounters an unknown probe that promises advanced technology and medicine if they can answer its questions, but massive, explosioney death if they can’t. Elsewhere on board, Londo is finding Vir’s conscience too much to bear and sends him away as envoy to Minbar and G’Kar’s Centauri-appointed replacement shows up and delivers an ultimatum to the Narns onboard.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see two plotlines pop up that I never expected. First, the Narn that Captain Sheridan saved in All Alone in the Night makes a return to the station as a bodyguard to the new Narn ambassador. As much as I disliked that episode, they score big points here for continuity. Second, Garibaldi confronts Dr. Franklin about his abuse of stims. It’s a little After School Specialish, but it’s pretty cool that they mention it. I had noticed last season that the Doctor had been reaching for those little vials more and more, but never thought enough about it to write it down. I guess that’s what I get for underestimating this show.
[Vir is now the Centauri ambassador on Minbar]
Londo: You have been promoted. You will earn more money, receive more attention, women may even come to find you attractive. In time.
[On the bridge]
Corwin: Captain, I’ve got the Transport Pilots Association on the link again. They want to know when you’re going to meet with them again to finish the discussion about weapons. They’ve called five times in the last hour.
Sheridan: How long before that probe detonates?
Ivanova: Six hours.
Sheridan: Tell them we’ll reconvene in seven hours. If that thing blows, at least it’ll save me from one more annoying conversation.
Ivanova: Always finding the good in every situation, eh Captain?
Sheridan: Absolutely. If I didn’t, I might end up like you.
Episode 304: Passing Through Gethsemane
A decentish episode about the monks who arrived on Babylon 5 two episodes ago and the future’s alternative to the death penalty: death of personality, in which the criminal’s mind is erased and restructured to make him a productive member of society. I think they mentioned it back in Season One, but it gets a much more thorough look here. The plot concerns one of the Order, Brother Edward, who begins to hear voices in the hallways and see threats written in blood on his bedroom walls. Also of note is the return of telepath Lyta Alexander, who has been to Vorlon space (and lived to tell about it) and is acting as the personal assistant to Ambassador Kosh.
The plot twist isn’t exactly a shocker for anyone who has been paying attention, but this was a good, solid, largely self-contained story. Brad Dourif (Wormtongue from The Lord of the Rings) does a bang up job as the kind-hearted but fraying-at-the-edges Brother Edward, and Lyta certainly has more personality than Talia ever did, so I’m glad to see her come back aboard so soon. I’ve also noticed Garibaldi changed his hair. It’s just a small change, but I don’t like it. It looks greasy.
Nightmares. Hmph! The way my life has been going lately, who’d notice? – Londo Mollari
Episode 305: Voices of Authority
Ah, crap. Not the episode, that was great. But I think Ivanova and Marcus Cole had a ‘meet-cute’ onboard The White Star. Now maybe this is just my giant crush on Ivanova talking, but I think I’ve decided that I really dislike Marcus. He’s always got the right answer and a snappy comeback. Sure, he’s only been around five episodes, but his first impression with me is not an endearing one.
Anyway, this episode was a lot of fun. The Babylon 5 war council—Sheridan, Ivanova, Garibaldi, Franklin, Marcus, Delenn, and Lennier—decides to contact one of the Ancient Ones, who fought the Shadow millennia ago, with help from Draal (down on the planet taking care of the big machine). Also newly arrived is a liaison from the Ministry of Peace, Julie Musante. She is cold and beautiful and scary as hell in an uber-PC mid-nineties sort of way. With Sheridan sidetracked by Julie’s inquiries and personal advances (‘Must be colder in here than I thought!’), Ivanova is in charge of all the important stuff. She and Marcus track down the Ancient Ones (who remind me of the big honking space giants from Season 1—I’ll have to rewatch that episode) and uncover proof of President Clark’s complicity of Santiago’s assassination. Meanwhile, all these secret meetings are not going unnoticed, as both Zack Allen and G’Kar begin to wonder about our command crew’s repeated, mysterious absences. Good stuff.
We’re just one big, happy planet. – Julie Musante
Good afternoon everyone. Captain, Delenn tells me you’re going to try contacting the First Ones. It is a magnificent idea, a daring and splendid idea. In doing so, you will see things no human has ever seen before. It will be fun. Assuming you’re not vaporized, dissected, or otherwise killed in an assortment of supremely horrible and painful ways. Exciting, isn’t it? – Draal
Episode 306: Dust to Dust
This was an episode that felt like it could have gone very, very wrong and didn’t. Bester returns to Babylon 5 and is coerced into taking psychic-dampening drugs by the crew while he searches for distributors of Dust, a drug that awakens latent mind-reading abilities. The team of Bester and Garibaldi are fun and funny while managing to avoid becoming Oscar and Felix. Similarly, G’Kar’s Dust-addled rampage could have looked silly but instead is given a considerable air of menace and functions nicely to move the plot along. And Vir is back! I’m glad to see he’s not gone entirely; Stephen Furst is way too much fun to lose.
Bester begins to mention that Talia was dissected when she went back to the PsiCorp? Ick.
[Garabaldi and Bester are interrogating a gangster]
Bester: [casually] He’s lying.
Ashi: You stay out of my head. Now, I got rights.
Bester: I’m sorry. Did I say something? That happens sometimes. When I feel strong emotion from two feet in front of me, it just jumps out of my mouth before I can stop it. Lies are particularly bad that way. Oh, please strike that from the record, Mr. Garabaldi. As he says, officially, he has rights. Unofficially, he’s lying. Try not to think about your complicity in this any further, Ashi. Your thoughts are leaking all over the place.
[Londo has just finished reading Vir’s report on the Minbari homeworld]
Londo: I have seen political naivete this complete once before, in a speech before the Centaurum by Lord Jarno. When he was finished, we recommended that he be sterilized in the best interests of evolution. And then we remembered that he was married to Lady Ahnu. So really, there was no need.
Vir: Londo, the Minbari are very lovely people, interested in culture and art and–
Londo: Decadent and soft. Probably out to impose their views on everyone else.
Vir: But their cities are thousands of years old.
Londo: The lack of new construction is the surest sign of a faltering economy. This could make them very aggressive.
Vir: They are deeply spiritual people.
Londo: Yes, that you can leave in. It always scares people.
Vir: Londo, are you deliberately trying to drive me insane?
Londo: The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant.
Episode 307: Exogenesis
What a fantastic surprise Exogenesis turned out to be. The mind-controlling parasite plot is so hackneyed and the plot so depressingly Trek-ish that I spent the first thirty minutes with a puss on my face until the final act came along and absolutely knocked me out. It’s Marcus-heavy, which I wasn’t thrilled with (and—sigh—yes, they’re going ahead with the Marcus/Ivanova thing), but beyond that, this is easily one of my favorites of the season so far.
Garabaldi: [with disinterest] Until somebody does something out of line, it’s not my business. Now if your friends are acting a little weird, maybe they need to talk to a doctor. But it’s not my jurisdiction.
Marcus: Can I quote you?
Garabaldi: Yeah, sure, whatever.
[cut to Medlab]
Franklin: So Mr. Garabaldi suggested that you come see me?
Marcus: Yes, he was quite firm about it.
Episode 308: Messages from Earth
Ooh, space battles! This was another great episode, both plot-wise and acting-wise. Earth Alliance forces have located a dormant Shadow vessel and are attempting to awaken it and harness its power, forcing Sheridan to take the still-hidden White Star and put a stop to it.
There’s a lot to love here, but I wanted to pick out two things in particular that really made an impact on me. First is the story that Dr. Kirkish tells about seeing a Shadow vessel many years ago. The flashback could have been a very effects-driven setpiece and still been perfectly serviceable for the story, but the tenor of the scene rests instead on a few well-placed sound effects and the power of the actress’s voice. I don’t know who plays her, but it’s an intense and layered performance that really draws you in.
The second bit that I wanted to mention was the reaction to Sheridan’s decision to take the White Star himself. It’s a choice that really shocks and worries the crew and creates an almost tangible fear about the mission. As an audience member, I never thought for a second that this might be Bruce Boxleitner’s last episode or anything, but the rest of the cast really does a tremendous job selling the immensity of Sheridan’s decision and what the potential ramifications could be.
There are lots of other little things I could go on about, like Earth declaring martial law and G’Kar doing his Malcolm X thing while in lockup, but I think I’d rather watch the next episode instead.
[G’Kar is in jail]
Garabaldi: Thought I’d stop in and see how you’re doing.
G’Kar: Fine, fine. Two weeks down, six to go before I’ve repaid my debt to society for attacking Mollari. I’ve taken the opportunity provided by my incarceration to meditate, to think. Sometimes I even sing.
Garabaldi: I know. We got a petition.
G’Kar: For or against?
Garabaldi: Based on the sound, they think we’re torturing you in here.
Episode 309: Point of No Return
The hits just keep on coming, huh? Using the events of Messages from Earth as a springboard, Earth Alliance has dissolved the Senate, declared martial law, and sent B5’s Earth contacts running for cover. New orders are issued from the Political office that hand over Babylon 5 security exclusively to members of the Nightwatch, sending Garibaldi in a rage and Zack into a crisis of conscience. Meanwhile, G’Kar is released from prison and Londo entertains the deceased Centauri emperor’s prophetess wife, in the hopes she can tell him more about his destiny.
For an episode I absolutely loved, I don’t think I have a whole lot to say about this one. I liked Londo and Vir’s scene after Lady Morella’s vision, and I laughed out loud at the beat of her in the elevator next to a Narn security guard. The story does a good job balancing the anxiety with optimism here, but the fact that the next episode is titled ‘Severed Dreams’ isn’t filling me with hope…
Vir: I thought the purpose of filing these reports was to provide accurate intelligence!
Londo: Vir, intelligence has nothing to do with politics.
Episode 310: Severed Dreams
Slow Clap Alert—but a well-deserved one. Babylon 5 finally takes a public stand and declares itself an independent state, Delenn kicks the Minbari in the nuts for remaining neutral, and Earth Alliance comes knocking at the jumpgate looking to borrow a cup of giant space battles.
It seems redundant at this point to mention that everybody does a good job here, but I can’t help being continually impressed at the level of quality from all quarters. Of particular note is the music, which has always been excellent, but felt particularly powerful here. Really wonderful stuff.
Never start a fight, but always finish it. – Captain John Sheridan
Delenn: This is Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari. Babylon 5 is under our protection. Withdraw or be destroyed.
Drake: Negative. We have authority here. Do not force us to engage your ship.
Delenn: Why not? Only one human captain ever has survived battle with a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else.
Episode 311: Ceremonies of Light and Dark
Boring and predictable. Well, mostly. Covert elements of the Nightwatch kidnap Delenn as she tries to unite the ship in a ‘rebirth’ ceremony and they demand that the Minbari warships leave the station so the Earth Alliance can reclaim it. I liked the barroom chat between Marcus and Lennier, but beyond that I’m pretty disappointed. Garibaldi arguing with the snarky computer was horribly unfunny and the command crew’s new uniforms (which I assume to be the point of the episode) make them look like S.S. officers. Also: Ivanova loved Talia? I knew they became friends, but was there some subtext that I failed to pick up on?
[Marcus has just finished clobbering the clientele of a Downbelow bar]
Lennier: I see they trained you well back home.
Marcus: Yeah. Well, they said I was carrying around a lot of repressed anger.
Marcus: I’m not repressed anymore.
Episode 312: Sic Transit Vir
Okay, I’m going to get pretentious for a second, so just try and bear with me. Japanese poetry has something called “pillow words.” A pillow word, in and of itself, means nothing. It is a pause, an indication that the reader should stop a moment, take a breath, and consider what they have just read before continuing on. A variation of this exists in Japanese cinema as well, something Roger Ebert termed a “pillow shot.” Like pillow words, pillow shots involve the director cutting away during the action to something unrelated (a house, a rock, a tea kettle) so the audience can reflect on what’s happened so far and prepare for whatever may happen next. After a moment, he cuts back into the scene and it resumes from where it left off.
So what the hell am I talking about? Sic Transit Vir is a break from all the heavy lifting that the crew of Babylon 5 has been doing lately and lets them lounge for a bit. A pillow episode. Sheridan and Delenn go on a date, Ivanova shows up to work naked, and Londo swordfights with the insects invading his kitchen.
Mostly, though, this is the Vir Cotto show. Vir has returned to Babylon 5 to discover that his family has arranged a marriage for him and he has four days to get to know his fiancée, Lyndisty, before the ceremony. Stephen Furst has always been unfairly underrated, so seeing him take center stage is awesome and he carries the episode quite well. The actress playing his wife is a little less successful and is, unfortunately, the reason that I couldn’t give the episode an ‘A.’ I really enjoyed her for most of the story, but her rapturous childhood memory of slaughtering Narns was just too over the top and it spoils an important scene.
Then again, the whole episode is silly enough that I can’t be too hard on her. How seriously can you take a story with a Centauri named Abrahamo Lincolni? A fun, funny, relaxing episode (which probably means all hell is going to break loose in three, two, one…)
This is the first episode which Garibaldi doesn not appear.
I do not like insects. I do not like little brown things with eight legs. I do not like anything with eight legs. Well, except for the Vinzini, but only because they are terrible at cards. Something to do with compound eyes, I think. – Londo Mollari
Episode 313: A Late Delivery from Avalon
Okay, never mind. I guess they’re just doing more filler.
It’s really, really good filler, though. In the midst of everything going on, who shows up on Babylon 5 but King Arthur himself! No, really. But he can’t really be Arthur, can he? And if he’s not, where does one find chain mail in the 23rd century?
As disappointed as I was when it became clear that Avalon was not going to be one of the movers and shakers of the season, the whole thing—like Sic Transit Vir–is just too funny to stay mad at. It’s unfortunately got lots of Marcus and Dr. Franklin, but both of them are really pretty good here, especially playing off of Michael York (Basil Exposition!), the slightly confused but heroically intentioned King of the Britons (King of the who?). And I don’t think I’ve seen anything funnier this season than Arthur and Sir G’Kar fighting off looters in Downbelow. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, “wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?” So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe. – Marcus Cole
[stealing an impounded package]
Guard: I don’t know if we should be doing this.
Garabaldi: It’s my stuff. Don’t worry, I’ll leave the money behind for what it should’ve cost. What are you so nervous about? We went up against the entire Earth Alliance and two carrier groups.
Guard: Yeah, but this is the post office. This could get us in real trouble.
Episode 314: Ship of Tears
Well, we’re still not quite at the hell I anticipated, but Ship of Tears creates some interesting wrinkles in our story nonetheless.
Bester is back and he forges an uneasy alliance with the B5 crew to stop a Shadow transport full of “weapons components” that turn out to be not quite what they seem. I don’t think I have a ton to say about this episode, really. I liked getting a more human look at the normally subhuman Bester and I continue to be impressed by the scriptwriters ability to bring back little bits of minutia (in this case, the lack of Narn telepaths) and give them unexpected significance. Well done on all fronts. Hats off.
[Ivanova arrives to meet Bester]
Bester: I was expecting the captain.
Ivanova: He sent me.
Bester: Did he? He has a better sense of humor than I thought. Please sit.
Ivanova: I’d rather stand.
Bester: I suspect you’d rather walk out that door and wall me up inside. Do a little recreation of “The Cask of Amontillado.”
[the fighter escort of the convoy has just been eliminated]
Sheridan: Where’s the transport?
Ivanova: Moving to escape.
Sheridan: Can we intercept?
Lennier: The White Star is powered by a magnetic and gravitational system like all Minbari cruisers. You can use a magnetic discharge to capture the escaping–
Sheridan: A simple yes or no would’ve sufficed, Mr. Lennier.
Episode 315: Interludes and Examinations
Swing and a miss. Foul tip. Offsides. Feel free to plug in your own sports term here as I was not feeling this episode at all. Rather than a single major thread, Interludes has a whole lot going on at once: Morden schemes his way back onboard the station, Londo prepares for the return of Adira the dancer (from way back in Episode 103—Born to the Purple), Dr. Franklin is collapsing under his workload, and Sheridan is struggling to knit together an alliance with races that are barely on speaking terms.
It’s a lot to juggle and all of it winds up suffering. The good stuff is great—particularly the confrontation in the hallway and Sheridan’s dream of his father—but they can’t save the episode from buckling under its own weight. The death of Kosh left me disinterested and, though I was impressed with the maturity used in resolving the ‘stims’ plotline, the departure of Franklin was kinda meaningless. More disappointingly, I felt cheated by Londo and Morden. Londo tells off Morden but then immediately rushes back to him when his girl winds up dead? Unless Londo is playing him, I don’t buy it. He’s too savvy not to connect the dots. Oh, and, for the record, I’m still not digging the new uniforms. I want a mulligan!
Morden: Hello, Vir.
Vir: I’m sorry. I can’t talk, I have things to do.
Morden: Well, apparently so. Anything I can do to help?
Vir: Short of dying? No, can’t think of a thing.
Episode 316: War Without End, Part One
This is a bit more like it. War Without End brings us back to the mysterious, disappearing Babylon 4, which is a plot thread I’ve enjoyed from the very start. It also unites Captain Sheridan with Commander Sinclair—which is awesome—and puts them on a mission to head back in time and make sure that the past and the future turn out the way they’re supposed to.
Everyone here is really great but, in particular, I loved the video of Ivanova’s desperate distress call and the return of Zathras, who apparently didn’t go crazy, he was just always like that. I feel like I’m having a hard time commenting on this episode since it doesn’t have a proper ending, but color me intrigued. Onto Part Two!
Are you saying we stole Babylon 4? – Marcus Cole
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: Yes, Zathras understands. … No, Zathras not understand, but Zathras do. Zathras good at doings, not understandings.
Episode 317: War Without End, Part Two
Oh, that’s just cool. This episode was satisfying on every level and nothing works out like you expect. We get an extended peek into the (apparently unchangeable) future with the death of Emperor Londo at the hands of one-eyed G’Kar…except it’s not what you think. We see the long-awaited destiny of Jeffery Sinclair…except it’s definitely not what you think. And we get a lot more of Zathras…except he’s a whole lot more than he seems.
I admit that I’m not sure I grasped every bit of who’s stabilizer is attached to who and who’s in the blue suit when, but I loved looking into the messed up future and the Babylon 5 version of the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. I think I need to watch Babylon Squared again.
I Zathras. Zathras got here by being Zathras. Zathras wants nothing, so Zathras gets nothing. That is life. — Zathras
[Zathras has rigged up a space suit with a time stabilizer to get Sheridan back]
Marcus: He’s quite mad, you know. He actually thinks that Sheridan is gonna materialize in there.
Ivanova: Marcus, we’re stealing a station to fight in a war that was over a thousand years ago. We’re all mad.
Episode 318: Walkabout
Yet another one-shot romance for Doctor Steve. It seems that, in an effort to be a more interesting character, Doctor Franklin is now on a ‘walkabout’ around the ship. In his travels, he meets Kailyn, a nightclub singer who thinks she can see people’s souls in a whiskey glass. In other words, it’s kinda stupid.
On a more interesting front, we meet the new, purple, spiky Vorlon ambassador (also conveniently named Kosh), and Sheridan takes Lyta Alexander on the White Star to hunt down Shadow vessels and test out their theory about psychic energy. There’s a neat space battle with a triumphant charge at the end—it really saves the episode from being a complete disaster. It’s almost enough to bump the episode up to a B. Almost.
The Narn like Swedish meatballs?
[Londo is upset that a Narn cruiser has become part of the defense of Babylon 5]
Londo: And what guarantees will you give me that the cruiser will not open fire on a Centauri vessel as it approaches Babylon 5?
Garabaldi: It’s the same guarantee I gave when I said that none of the other Narns would break into your quarters in the middle of the night and slit your throat.
Londo: Mr. Garabaldi, you have never given me that promise.
Garabaldi: You’re right. Sleep tight.
[G’Kar is having dinner with the captain of the Narn cruiser]
Na’Kal: Breen. [tastes it] You’ve managed to import breen from Homeworld. How?
G’Kar: It isn’t actually breen.
Na’Kal: 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.
[meeting the new Vorlon ambassador]
Sheridan: Before you go, your government neglected to tell me your name. How should I refer to you when we’re alone?
Sheridan: Yes, I understand that’s how we’re to refer to you publicly, but privately?
Ivanova: Ambassador Kosh is dead.
Ulkesh: We are all Kosh.
Episode 319: Grey 17 is Missing
I’ve always liked the idea that B5 is a ship so large it has places that are unpoliced and areas that people no longer inhabit, and I think that’s why I liked this episode. The title refers to Garibaldi’s discovery of an entire floor in Grey Sector that has been cut off from the rest of the station and forgotten about, except for the weird religious cult that has formed around Jeremiah, played by the excellent Robert Englund. Plotwise, it’s not a standout (and the Creature of the Week bad guy is lame) but I can appreciate the less serious tone and the opportunity to let Jerry Doyle flex his comedy muscles a bit.
The other end of the episode—I hesitate to call it the B-story—is about Delenn taking up Sinclair’s position as Ranger One and moving the Ranger’s base of operations off of Minbar and onto Bab5. It was interesting to see the aftereffects of Delenn’s dissolution of the Grey Council and I liked the ultimate resolution between Marcus and the Minbari warrior. In the end, Grey 17 is kinda weightless, but definitely gets points for effort.
Garabaldi: So, what is this weird report in Grey Sector?
Allan: I don’t know what to make of this one. They had some dead power relays in there last night, and they sent Maintenance down to check it out.
Garabaldi: Did they fix it?
Garabaldi: You’re right, that is unusual.
Episode 320: And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place
A good, solid episode disposing of Lord Refa and cementing Londo’s place in the upper echelons of Centauri society. I was happy to see the reference to Na’Toth (G’Kar’s old attaché, who has been MIA for about a season and a half now) and I found the growing rift between Londo and Vir Cotto especially interesting, since we now know that Vir will one day succeed Londo as Centauri Emperor.
Though the ‘Godfather’ montage at the end was a little contrived and didn’t quite work, I also liked the return of Brother Theo’s monks and the addition of the other Earth religious sects to the mix. It’s nice to see new humans; I kinda miss all the machinations of EarthGov. Also: after all her pacifist-ish talk this episode, Sheridan and Delenn decide to make out amidst a fleet of warships? I’m not calling anyone a hypocrite or anything, but jeez.
Sheridan: …It makes sense. It’s what I’d do.
Sheridan: You know, if I were the bad guys. If I were them. The only way we’re going to beat them is to think like them.
Delenn: [horrified] Think like them?
Delenn: No! You will come with me.
Sheridan: No, no, wait! We just figured this out!
Delenn: Reverend Dexter says you need some time away from [the War Room]. Right now, I agree.
Sheridan: Delenn, the battles, the war, they need me here. I mean, today the Shadows, tomorrow the galaxy.
Delenn: Yes, John. Of course, John. Whatever you say, John.
Episode 321: Shadow Dancing
Ah, this episode made me happy. We get a giant space battle between the Babylon 5 forces and the Shadow, we get Doctor Franklin finding himself and learning that he’s kind of an ass, and we get—dun Dun DUN—the arrival of Anna Sheridan, our beloved Captain’s long-dead wife. I really, really liked this and I’m jazzed that—for the first time in the series—I’m going into a season finale with my head buzzing! Woop woop!
[the Shadows have popped out of hyperspace en masse]
Ivanova: That’s a lot of ships.
Marcus: That’s a bloody awful lot of ships.
Ivanova: Jump engines back online 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?
Episode 322: Za’ha’dum
I constantly feel like I’m running out of words to describe these episodes. So many of them, especially in this season, have been so good that I’ve almost been edging around hyperbole just to express myself adequately. That said, Za’ha’dum is undoubtedly the best episode of B5 that I’ve seen so far. The best constructed, best acted, best executed. Best in every way I can think of.
The return of Anna Sheridan has thrown Captain John’s life into tumult, particularly since she’s coming as an emissary of the Shadow (“such a dramatic name!”). Her proposition: The crew of Babylon 5 has been misled. Come to Za’ha’dum, the Shadow homeworld, and hear our side of the story.
Bruce Boxleitner and Mira Furlan are simply awesome here, acting the hell out of the chaos Anna has brought upon B5. The plot is a brilliant mystery, dropping hints and clues for the watchful viewer and building to a climax that’s both shocking and tremendously satisfying. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.
Sheridan: Who are you?
Justin: Now, that’s not really important.
Sheridan: Who are you?
Justin: Who decides that the work day is from nine to five instead of eleven to four? Who decides that the hemlines will be below the knee this year and short again the next year? Who draws up the borders, controls the currency, handles all of the decisions that happen transparently around us?
Sheridan: I don’t know.
Justin: I’m with them. Same group, different department. Think of me as a sort of middleman. And the name is Justin.
Final Thoughts on Babylon 5: Season 3
So, if you hadn’t noticed, I liked this season. Of course, I’ve liked all the seasons thus far, so I’m sure it comes as no surprise. When I think about it though, I find that I’ve liked each season of Babylon 5 for a different reason.
Season One felt like kind of an investigation. I knew of Babylon 5, but almost nothing about it. That, compounded by the fact that I missed the pilot movie prior to starting the series, meant that every episode was a discovery. I got to figure out who everybody was, what kind of relationships they had to one another, and keep my eyes open for hints of the Big Things I had been told were on the way. It was all kind of nebulous but easy to fall in love with.
Season Two was mostly spent in re-evaluation. The replacement of Michael O’Hare with Bruce Boxleitner as our leading man took me a long time to get used to, not really winning me over until In the Shadow of Za’ha’dum, sixteen episodes in. Luckily, the Nightwatch and Narn-Centauri war were there to tide me over. It sounds a little ridiculous now, but there was a period of time when I wondered if I was ever going to be able to accept Sheridan as a leading man.
Season Three was the first time I’ve really felt like I could just sit back and enjoy the show. The cast remained more or less intact, the major plotlines had already been established, and the effects budget appears to have gotten a significant upgrade. In Season Three, it felt like the majority of episodes were finally springing from the characters rather than as a reaction to the Threat of the Week. I’m in a pretty happy place with Babylon 5 right now; I hope that Season Four will keep the heat on.