Babylon 5–Ship of Tears (1996)   1 comment

The New ISN, or the FOX News Channel on Speed


If you thought that Babylon 5 had become dark, wait…it isn’t pitch black yet.  Yet, the show improves as it darkens.  Much of the best science fiction borrows from ancient and modern history then projects it into the future.  In Star Wars, for example, the transformation of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire has parallels to ancient Rome.  And the Clark Administration in Babylon 5 echoes Stalinism, Nazism, McCarthyism, and George Orwell’s 1984.  Series creator J. Michael Straczynski has said so in public, on the Internet, and in DVD commentary tracks.

A few episodes ago, in Severed Dreams, President Clark’s forces had stormed the broadcast headquarters of the Interstellar News Network (ISN), which was broadcasting accurate information inconvenient to Clark, who had just declared martial law and dissolved the Senate.  As Ship of Tears opens, ISN resumes broadcasting–as a cheerful propaganda tool under Clark’s control.  ISN now reflects Clark’s priorities–agreeing with him at all times, promoting xenophobia, and condemning all dissent–while ignoring inconvenient facts.  Damn objective reality, just read the script from the Ministry of Truth, which Clark’s administration created.   Yes, that is another homage to 1984.

Delenn Tells G’Kar the Difficult Truth

G’Kar finally gains admission to the Conspiracy of Light.  First, however, Delenn tells him the hard truth tearfully.  She and others knew of the return of the Shadows long before they admitted it publicly, but remained silent.  They felt the need to avoid tipping off the Shadows and their allies prematurely, before the Conspiracy of Light was ready to fight back effectively.  This delay cost the Narns dearly.  G’Kar, now on the road to Enlightenment, understands–now.  Once he would have committed violence after learning such information, but that was then.

Alfred Bester is Back

Alfred Bester, an evil Psi-Cop, is back.  He has become concerned about how the Shadows have infiltrated his beloved Psi Corps.  Bester has information that Shadow vessels are transporting “weapons systems” through hyperspace, and he needs Sheridan to intercept them.  Bester’s information is correct, and the “weapons systems” are rogue telepaths with cranial implants.  The Shadows were planning to use these telepaths as CPUs for their ships.

Carolyn, Alfred Bester’s Lover

Among these telepaths is Carolyn, Alfred Bester’s lover.  Marriage within the Psi Corps is based on genetic compatibility, not love.  So Bester is trapped in a loveless marriage.  But he loves Carolyn, a rogue telepath.  As it turns out, blood, not ice water, runs through Bester’s veins and arteries.  Carolyn and her fellow unfortunate telepaths have implants which human technology cannot bypass or remove and which compels them to become one with machines.

Simply put, these Shadows are soulless bastards.

Ship of Tears reveals the Achilles Heel of the seemingly invincible Shadow vessels:  Telepaths can jam them.  Bester’s presence on the White Star creates a situation which hints at this fact.  And Security Chief Michael Garibaldi discovers confirmation in the ancient Narn text, the Book of G’Quan.  Our heroes have another weapon now.

Hint:  Remember these rogue telepaths.  They play a crucial part in the story arc of Babylon 5.

This episode reveals a fun fact:  To thump a Narn sacred text is to demonstrate disrespect for that text.  Living as a self-identified heretic in the Southern U.S. Bible Belt, I enjoy that detail greatly.

Thanks for reading!

O, and watch the episodes, of course.



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

Posted July 28, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

One response to “Babylon 5–Ship of Tears (1996)

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  1. Pingback: Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2260) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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