Babylon 5–Signs and Portents (1994)   1 comment

Above:  The Shadows Have Returned


Central to the Babylon 5 series is the Shadow War.  This episode, the thirteenth aired and first to advance the story arc in a major way, begins the build up to that epic conflict.

Signs and Portents opens with humor.  Lt. Commander Susan Ivanova, not a morning person, wakes up at 4:30 A.M. and insults her cheerful computer alarm clock, telling it to “store it and shove it.”  The computer alarm clock does not comprehend this command.  Slightly later, when Ivanova walks into the Command and Control Room, she encounters Commander Sinclair, who wishes her a good morning.  Recognizing that Ivanova is dragging, Sinclair asks if she is having difficulty sleeping.  The Lt. Commander informs her superior that sleeping is not the problem; waking up is.  She has always had difficulty waking up when it is dark outside.  Sinclair reminds Ivanova that it is always dark in outer space.  Ivanova responds, “I know.”

Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari greets his guests, Lord Kiro (a dishonest political official) and his aunt, Lady Ladira.  Londo and Kiro are vexed about the declining fortunes of the Centauri Republic.  It was once a major power with hundreds of colony worlds, but has lost almost all of them.  (Think of the British Empire in outer space.)  Recently Londo has procured a long-lost artifact, the Eye, once property of the first Centauri emperor.  The Eye’s value is purely political; it grants its holder prominence.  Londo has it, and, as the story reveals, Kiro wants it.

Below:  Lord Kiro Holding the Eye as Londo Mollari Looks On

Meanwhile, another important person has arrived at the station.  Mr. Morden (played creepily with a smirk by Ed Wasser) is a well-coiffed, smooth-talking man who works for the Shadows, a sinister species.  He visits ambassadors on Babylon 5, asking them one question:  “What do you want?”  When Mr. Morden asks this question, know that the fulfillment of one’s wishes carries a high price for one in time.

Below:  Mr. Morden (Ed Wasser)

Mr. Morden, a recurring character in the series, begins with Narn Ambassasor G’Kar, who wants revenge for the ecological devastation the Centauri committed on the Narn homeworld.  Beyond that, he does not know what he wants.  Next Mr. Morden visits Delenn, the Minbari ambassador.  Recognizing Mr. Morden’s employers, she commands him to leave her quarters.  Then Mr. Morden speaks to Londo Mollari, who says that he wants the restoration of Centauri glory.  “I want it all back!” Londo says.  Mr. Morden has found his pawn.

Below:  Vorlon Ambassador Ambassador Kosh in His Encounter Suit

One of the great mysteries during the first two seasons of Babylon 5 is the true appearance of the Vorlons, a secretive and ancient race which observes the younger races, such as the Narns, Centauri, and Humans.  Nobody may visit the Vorlon homeworld, and Vorlons travel in encounter suits.  Kosh is the only ambassador Mr. Morden does not ask what he wants.  In fact, Morden (and his Shadow bosses) confront Kosh, to commands them to leave.  The Shadows and Vorlons are ancient foes.

Raiders, who are space pirates, abduct Lord Kiro and take the Eye.  This is all a ruse, however, for Kiro and the raiders are partners in crime–until the Raiders betray Kiro aboard their ship.  Then we, the viewers, see the following vessel for the first time:

It is a Shadow ship, and it destroys the Raider vessel effortlessly.  Ships like this one reappear frequently later in the series.

Later Mr. Morden returns the Eye to Londo and states that there is no charge for this service; they (the Shadows) will find him later.  This is like asking Don Corleone for a favor; he charges nothing, but will ask for a favor down the road.  Be wary of Don Corleone or of the Shadows when they do you a favor.

Below:  The Possible Future Destruction of Babylon 5

Lady Ladira, Lord Kiro’s aunt, is a seer and prophetess.  She foresees the destruction of Babylon 5.  Ladira shares this vision with Commander Sinclair, who asks if this is a fixed future.  She replies that the future is not fixed, and that people create the future with their words, deeds, and thoughts.  This is one of the major themes of the series:  The future will be what we make it.  Change is not an option; it will occur.  But who is making the changes?  In brief, one person can change the course of history for good or for ill.  This understanding appeals to my Great Men and Women approach to history.

Below: Babylon 5 Intact

Signs and Portents advances the story arc further.  Commander Sinclair asks Chief of Security Michael Garibaldi to investigate why the Minbari are so interested in him (Sinclair), and to do this discretely.  Garibaldi discovers that Sinclair was the only candidate to command Babylon 5 the Minbari found acceptable.  So the conspiracy thickens.



All images are property of Warner Brothers, and I do not profit from said images.

Posted June 27, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 1

One response to “Babylon 5–Signs and Portents (1994)

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pingback: Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2258) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: