Archive for August 2010

Babylon 5–A View From the Gallery (1998)   2 comments

Mack and Bo Ponder Lunch


A View from the Gallery is unique among Babylon 5 episodes in that it approaches a story from the perspective of two roving station maintenance workers.  Mack and Bo are floaters, maintenance workers who to wherever they are needed.  Thus we, the viewers, through Mack and Bo, interact with major characters (such as Sheridan, Delenn, Franklin, and Lochley), pass by other major characters (such as G’Kar and Londo Mollari), and witness a battle on Babylon 5 and outside the station.  The actors who portray Mack and Bo bring their proletariat characters to live.  And we, the viewers, realize that the station could not function without Mack, Bo, and their fellow maintenance workers.

Captain Lochley, Up Early in the Morning

Captain Lochley gets up very early in the morning because raiders have destroyed a probe in hyperspace.  She knows that an attack on the station is near, and White Star ships are just leaving the Enphili homeworld, where they have been since the previous episode.

A brief summary of the events follows:

  1. The raiders attack in two waves.
  2. The White Star ships return in two waves, mostly in the second.
  3. President Sheridan orders Mack and Bo and escort Delenn to a lifepod shortly before the second wave of the battle.  Yet Delenn dissuades them, and, besides, the cavalry rides in at the end.

Along the way, we learn that Stephen Franklin became a doctor because a Dilgar physician saved his father’s life during the Dilgar War, before the Earth-Minbari War.  The Dilgar doctor’s men killed him as a traitor.  Yet, to Dr. Franklin, all life is sacred.

An alien invader on Babylon 5

Although the aliens board the station, we never see them without their helmets.  Dr. Franklin is prepared to extend health care to them, but he is left at the end of the episode working in a make-shift morgue:

Everything safe again, with debris from the battle left to clean up, Sheridan and Delenn pass Mack and Bo in a corridor.  Delenn greets them by name, and our humble heroes are surprised that someone so prominent remembers their names:

A View from the Gallery is the fourth episode of the fifth (last) season.  Babylon 5 aired in syndication during its first four seasons and on TNT for the fifth season.  At the time this was a good way to introduce new viewers to major characters and to explain the universe of Babylon 5 through two maintenance men.  But for us who know the major characters already the episode adds great depth.



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

Posted August 27, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 5

Babylon 5–The Paragon of Animals (1998)   2 comments

The Damaged White Star 90 Emerges from the Jump Gate at Babylon 5


Principles are important, yet inconvenient at times.  This is a central theme of The Paragon of Animals, a pivotal episode which sets up part of the fifth season story arc.

President Sheridan is trying to persuade the ambassadors from member worlds of the Interstellar Alliance to agree to a statement of principles.  Most ambassadors do not recognize the importance of such a document, and the Drazi Ambassador is especially vigorous in his opposition.

Some Enphili

About this time, on the edge of Drazi space, raiders besiege the Enphili on their natural resources-rich homeworld.  A Ranger arrives to hear what the Enphili have to say, which is that they seek the protection of the Interstellar Alliance.  For a decade the raiders have attached their world.  The Enphili need help desperately.

Shortly thereafter, White Star 90, damaged heavily, arrives at Babylon 5.  The dying Ranger lapses into a coma, but telepath Lyta Alexander communicates with him.  She sees what he saw, and witnesses him pass over into his afterlife.  It takes much out of her, for telepaths believe that being in the mind of a person when he or she dies puts one at risk of losing part of one’s own essence.

The Ranger, On His Way to His Afterlife

Michael Garibaldi comes to speak to Lyta.  He has attempted unsuccessfully to persuade Byron to permit some of the members of the telepath colony to work with Interstellar Alliance covert intelligence.  Byron, thinking himself and other telepaths superior to “mundanes,” and being tired of working for them, refuses Garibaldi’s request.

Byron Refusing Garibaldi’s Request

So Garibaldi asks Lyta to intercede.  She agrees, and Byron consents–because it matters to her.  He sends two telepaths to work with Interstellar Alliance covert intelligence.

Sheridan, informed of the plight of the Enphili, consults with his advisory council and decides to send all the White Star ships to the Enphili homeworld.  He informs the Drazi Ambassador of the plan to send White Star ships because of the proximity of the Enphili homeworld to Drazi space.  Shortly thereafter, the silent Drazi Ambassador walks past Byron, who sends the following message to Sheridan via Lyta Alexander:  The Drazi are cooperating with the raiders victimizing the Enphili.  Sheridan, armed with this knowledge, changes his plans.  He abandons the plan for a White Star fleet rendezvous with Drazi military forces, and sends the White Stars on alone, so they will secure the Enphili homeworld first.

The Drazi Ambassador

Sheridan convenes the ambassadors for a late-night meeting.  He tells them that the White Star fleet encircles the Enphili homeworld.  Sheridan confronts the panicked Drazi Ambassador, whom he forces to admit the truth.  Then Sheridan permits the Drazi Ambassador to call his government and call off the Drazi attack fleet, which is en route to the Enphili homeworld and the White Star fleet.

Then the ambassadors sign the declaration of principles, which G’Kar has drafted.  The declaration begins:

The Universe speaks in many languages but only one voice. It is the language of the heart, the language of the soul. It is the voice of our ancestors speaking through us. And the voice of our inheritors waiting to be born,  No matter the cost, we agree to recognize this singular truth and this singular rule…We are one.

Lyta has saved many lives today, and President Sheridan has thanked her.  Yet Lyta wants to hear more of what Byron has to say.

Roll to end credits.

As the season progresses look for Lyta to become attached to the rogue telepaths in the colony on Babylon 5.  She has been through a great deal and many individuals have used her for various purposes.  Lyta is a prime candidate for radicalization.



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

Posted August 27, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 5

Babylon 5–The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari (1998)   2 comments

Londo Mollari with a Bottle of Bravari


All the major characters of Babylon 5 are quite interesting, but perhaps the most intriguing is Londo Mollari, of the Centauri Republic.  He is always a patriot.  He begins as a buffoon, transforms into an agent of oppression, then demonstrates honor and principle by saving his homeworld from the Shadows and liberating the Narns, in whose oppression and enslavement he was complicit.  As the fourth season ends and the fifth season begins, Mollari seems to have turned over a new leaf.  But has he done enough?  No.

Londo, with Vir nearby, complains to Security Chief Zack Allan about the three days he must wait to begin consuming his shipment of bravari, a very expensive Centauri alcohol, which, Londo says, will spoil in a hot room.  Allan quotes back health regulations.  As Vir attempts to persuade Allan to relent, Londo steals a swig of bravari before collapsing.

The bravari was purely incidental, for Londo had a heart attack–in his left heart, a tangle of millions of blood vessels, to be exact.  He has been under too much stress, drinking too much, and eating bad foods to excess.  But, as Ron Popeil says, there is more.  The deeper problem is Londo’s conscience, which he has ignored too often.  Centauri folklore speaks of circumstances in which a soul renounces its unworthy host, killing it or trying to do so.  This, the episode implies, is what happens.

Londo Speaking to His Conscience, in the Form of G’Kar, in His Dream Vision

In order to survive, Londo must face his greatest fear–his conscience–which takes the forms of Delenn, Sheridan, Vir, and G’Kar.  Londo has been a witness to genocide and torture, and he has said nothing.  Neither has he apologized.  If he is to survive, he must make peace with his conscience.  This Londo does, and he survives.  Tearfully he tells G’Kar (the real one), “I’m sorry!”  G’Kar, affected deeply, leaves the medical bay.

Londo has strapped himself to the wheel of fire, and an apology is insufficient to remove him from it, however.  Much worse is to come.

We see a conversation between Londo and dream-Sheridan during Londo’s dream vision.  Dream-Sheridan changes outfits several times.  First he wears an Earth Force uniform, then the uniform minus the jacket, followed by the black-and-gray uniform from the third and fourth seasons, then the uniform of Ranger One (He becomes Ranger One in 2279.), and finally the white robe of a Minbari acolyte before dissolving into light.  (Sheridan is assumed bodily in the series finale.)  The foreshadowing is very nice.


Lennier, Delenn’s diplomatic aide who loves her secretly, feels unwanted and no longer needed.  So he makes plans to leave the station and join the Rangers.  Lennier claims that he is following the calling of his heart, but is he really running away from Delenn and Sheridan?

Delenn Getting Emotional While Seeing Lennier Off

Sheridan thinks that Lennier is running away.  (I agree with Sheridan.)  Delenn is unsure, but is philosophical; Lennier will learn what he needs to learn.  This is a major turn in Lennier’s character arc.  He appears infrequently during the fifth and final season, and his character becomes more complex.

Both Londo and Lennier make bad decisions and suffer the consequences.  That is a hint.



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

Posted August 19, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 5

Babylon 5–No Compromises (1998)   2 comments

Title Card for the Fifth Season of Babylon 5


Each season of Babylon 5 covers a different calendar year and carries a collective title.  Consider the following:

Season 1 (1994), set in 2258:  Signs and Portents

Season 2 (1994-1995), set in 2259:  The Coming of Shadows

Season 3 (1995-1996), set in 2260:  Point of No Return

Season 4 (1996-1997), set in 2261:  No Surrender, No Retreat

Season 5 (1998), set in 2262:  The Wheel of Fire

Within each season is an episode with the same title as that season.

Season 5 tells the story of the difficult first year of the Interstellar Alliance, as well as the continuing fallout from the Shadow War and the Earth Civil War.  Here the reference to the Greek mythical wheel of fire, or a series of negative consequences flowing from one decision, comes into play.  Newly-minted President John Sheridan has to deal with his own wheel of fire, but the most torturous experience is that of Londo Mollari.  This concept of the wheel of fire befits Babylon 5 well, for this is a series about actions and their consequences–frequently unpleasant ones, regardless of why one chose that action.

Now let us proceed to episode itself.

Captain Elizabeth Lochley, the New Commanding Officer of Babylon 5

John Sheridan, the former commanding officer of Babylon 5, is the new President of the Interstellar Alliance, with temporary headquarters at Babylon 5.  His second-in-command, Susan Ivanova, has left the station to command a new destroyer on its shakedown cruise.  Captain Elizabeth Lochley of Earth Force arrives to fill the vacuum.  Sheridan has selected her for the job, and he knows her, based on his comment, “It is good to see you again.”

Sheridan’s immediate concern is getting himself inaugurated.  At Sheridan’s request, G’Kar drafts the oath of office and begins work on the declaration of principles.  Our hero has much cause for concern, for someone is sending him death threats.

Major Clemens

As we learn during the episode, the would-be assassin is Major Clemens, a skilled infiltrator and a wanted war criminal.  Clemens, who had,  tortured many people at President Clark’s behest on the Beta IX colony, blames Sheridan for ruining his life.  He kills a Ranger at the beginning of the episode and deposits the corpse near the station –to send a message, he says.  Then Clemens steals a Starfury fighter craft and confronts Sheridan during an attempt at the inauguration ceremony:

Fortunately, Michael Garibaldi flies another Starfury fighter craft, which he uses to haul the Clemens-occupied craft away, so that Sheridan-loyal pilots can destroy the Starfury with Clemens inside it.


Captain Lochley has to deal with this situation and more.  She has to handle renegade telepaths, too.  Byron and his band of escaped telepaths seek to establish a colony on Babylon 5, still not a formal part of the Earth Alliance.  So, they hope, they will be free from Psi Corps interference.   The telepaths are nonviolent and willing to earn their keep, Byron insists.  Among Byron’s followers is Simon, a young man:

Simon chooses not to speak because of a trauma he has not explained fully to anyone.  He is, anyhow, quite sweet, for he sends telepathic flowers to anyone he likes.  He sends telepathic flowers to Captain Lochley.  Simon gives his life saving that of Captain Sheridan, a fact which influences Sheridan’s decision to permit the telepaths to form a colony on the station, overriding Captain Lochley’s denial of that request.

I wish to avoid giving away too much too soon, so I choose my words carefully:  LOCHLEY WAS CORRECT.  I have almost completed watching the fifth season episodes again, and I am deep enough into the season to carry a fresh memory of the unintended negative consequences which flow from Sheridan’s kindhearted and understandable decision.

Captain Lochley is a no-nonsense person with whom Garibaldi clashes immediately.  She wonders why he won’t wear a uniform, and he wants to know which side she was on during the civil war.  All she says is that she was on the side of Earth; who wasn’t?  Nevertheless, Sheridan trusts Lochley, and that fact speaks volumes.

Dramatic structure has five stages:  exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.  Babylon 5 manifests all these stages; the fifth season is the denouement.  Some viewers have criticized the final season, especially in the context of the rather intense fourth season.  Yet series creator J. Michael Straczynski had to transfer the planned beginning of the fifth season into the end of the fourth season because of the near certainty that there would be no fifth season.  So, yes, the fifth season gets off to a slow start and is quieter that the third and fourth seasons, but it contains fine drama.  It is well worth watching, except for the Day of the Dead episode.



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

Posted August 17, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 5

Babylon 5–The Deconstruction of Falling Stars (1997)   3 comments

A Computer Interface from the Year 1,002,262


The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, the first episode filmed after TNT picked up Babylon 5 for its fifth and final season, is the last episode of the fourth season.  The present day in this unusual installment is 1,002,262, immediately before an unnamed and hostile force makes our Sun go nova, destroying the Earth.  The last person to leave the planet is a Ranger of the Interstellar Alliance.  He is reviewing historical records for transmittal to New Earth.

RECORD I:  January 2, 2262

This segment comes from an ISN talking heads broadcast about the new Interstellar Alliance.  The host is a calm, thinking man, but not all of the talking heads are the same way.  The Senator and the journalist want to give Sheridan’s new Alliance a chance to work, but Henry Ellis (the balding guy on the right), a former speech writer for the recently deceased and disgraced President Clark, is angry and frustrated.  The Interstellar Alliance is doomed to fail, he claims.

I assume that J. Michael Straczyinski (JMS for short) has seen too much of alleged U.S. news networks, based on this segment.

RECORD II:  2362

The Interstellar Alliance, despite the gloomy prediction of Henry Ellis, is a century old.  Three scholars–a historian, a political scientist, and a psychologist–discuss the Alliance during a stellarcast to universities and colleges.  They reach the consensus that Sheridan and Delenn were not as great as many people claim–despite the long peace the Alliance has created and maintained.  A person cannot change history or affect much change, for that work falls to forces of history.  Blah.  Blah. Blah. Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  (Is my sarcasm showing?  I have been in rooms in which I have listened to similar discussions about other topics.  They are all…horse hockey.)

A rather elderly Delenn, whom the panelists thought dead for many years, enters the room, accompanied by aides.  She shames the academics with a simple assertion:  John Sheridan was a good and decent man.  When one scholar says, “Of course, you would say that,” Delenn stares him down silently.  The scholars, Delenn states, know nothing and want to know nothing.  All that matters is that John Sheridan was a good and decent man.


Earth is again in a state of civil war.  One side, whose emblem resembles the SS logo, is making falsified “historical” videos to portray the founders of the Interstellar Alliance in a negative light, with the goal of influencing public opinion.  Daniel, an agent of this faction, states that Earth needs to leave the Interstellar Alliance because Earth needs “room to expand.”  (This sounds very much like “breathing room,” does it not?)  Daniel uses technology to conjure holographic sets and representations of Sheridan, Delenn, Franklin, and Garibaldi doing things they never did.  Yet Holographic Garibaldi tricks Daniel into revealing invasion plans before transmitting them to the other side in the civil war.  Then the nuclear missile hits.

This segment requires a high degree of incredulity, but it is just entertainment.  C’est la vie.

RECORD IV:  3262

It has been 500 years since the Great Burn and 1000 years since the founding of the Interstellar Alliance.  Earth is rebuilding very slowly with the subtle and disguised aid of the Rangers, including in the form of Brother Alwyn, head of a Roman Catholic monastery.  The Rangers are reintroducing technology to Earth over time, and Earth has a long way to go, having yet to regain any flight technology.

Our heroes have passed into myth, becoming “the Blessed Sheridan,” for example, and being portrayed in illuminated manuscripts:


A Ranger:

Brother Michael, a young monk experiencing a crisis of faith, seeks spiritual help from Brother Alwyn.  How can we know that the Rangers exist, and are helping us rebuild and recover?  Did the Blessed Sheridan really live?  Alwyn says that Michael must have faith.  The Rangers are probably here, just in disguise.  (And Alwyn knows for sure.)

This segment contains some excellent advice for any time.  Faith and reason, Alwyn says, are like a pair of shoes; one can travel farther in both shoes than in just one of them.

This segment is an homage to a classic science fiction novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.  Miller’s novel tells of how Roman Catholic monks in the futuristic former U.S. Southwest preserve knowledge during the centuries following a devastating global nuclear war.  Fortunately, the book and its follow-up, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, are in print.


It is the last day on Planet Earth.  A Ranger finishes reviewing the historical records for transmittal to New Earth, actually the old Vorlon homeworld.  His soliloquy for Earth and the previous generations:

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 have wished for us, and now we leave the cradle for the last time.

Then the Ranger becomes non-corporeal, a being of pure energy which enters a somewhat familiar-looking encounter suit:

Humans have become as the Vorlons.

The Ranger’s vessel departs the solar system as the Sun goes nova.  Emblazed on the side of the ship is a familiar logo, that of the Rangers.  The Interstellar Alliance has endured for a million years.

Take that, Henry Ellis!  Take that, scholars from 2362!  Take that, neo-fascists from 2762!



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

Posted August 16, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Rising Star (1997)   2 comments

David Sheridan Meets Delenn, His New Daughter-in-Law


The civil war is over.  Now what?  This is what:  major political and personal changes.  Follow with me.

President Clark’s Covered Corpse, Left in Place for Investigators

1.  President Clark is dead and very unpopular.

2.  Captain Sheridan has surrendered himself to Earth Force.

3.  Captain Sheridan is very popular after leading the charge to destroy the defense system, which Clark had turned toward Earth.

4.  There is a new President of the Earth Alliance.  Clark had no Vice President.  Yet the Earth Alliance Constitution permits the Senate to elect a new President to fill the vacancy.  Meet the new boss, Susanna Luchenko, from the Russian Consortium:

5.  President Luchenko encourages people to avoid vigilante justice, and to permit courts to determine who terrorized and oppressed others willingly and who cooperated out of fear and threats of retaliation.

6.  Marcus Cole is dead, having given his life to renew that of Commander Susan Ivanova.  She is distraught and filled with guilt over having known that Marcus loved her yet having not requited that love:

7.  Ivanova leaves Babylon 5 at the end of the episode to command a new, top-of-the-line Warlock-Class destroyer on a one-year shakedown cruise.  (Actually, actress Claudia Christian left the series.  She has one version of reasons for this, and series creator J. Michael Straczynski has another understanding of events.  We might never know the objective truth about what happened.)

8.  The Centauri Regent is ill.  Ambassador Londo Mollari will be the next Emperor, and he dreads the promotion.  He should.

9. Psi-Cop Alfred Bester wants to know if his lover, Carolyn, was one of the telepaths Sheridan sacrificed to disable Earth Alliance destroyers at Mars.  She was not, for Sheridan knows what it is like to love a woman, lose her, find her again, and lose her again.  He does not wish that for another man, even Bester.

10.  Michael Garibaldi discovers that Martian criminals are holding Lise Edgars-Hampton for ransom.  He rescues her, with the assistance of Rangers.

11.  President Luchenko meets with Captain Sheridan.  She admits that he did the right thing, and that, by breaking away from Earth, he was in able to oppose Clark more effectively than any well-watched person back home.  But he did commit mutiny at best and treason at worst by taking up arms against his own government.  Sheridan did the right thing in an inconvenient way, and Luchenko wants him gone.  She offers Sheridan and all who served under him a full pardon if he agrees to resign from Earth Force at a televised news conference–OR ELSE.  Sheridan agrees to resign.

12.  Sheridan resigns from Earth Force after President Luchenko praises him in public.

13.  At the same news conference there is a startling announcement:  The member planets of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds have voted to dissolve that organization and create the Interstellar Alliance, which promotes mutual understanding and cooperation through commerce and mutual respect.  The Rangers are the independent intelligence and military force of the new Alliance.  Ambassador Delenn invites Earth to join the Interstellar Alliance.

14.  Captain John Sheridan (Earth Force, retired) is the first President of the Interstellar Alliance, which he and Delenn will lead from Babylon 5 until the completion of permanent headquarters on Minbar.

15.  Earth joins the Interstellar Alliance.  It receives improved technology for creating artificial gravity on spaceships as the first benefit.  And Mars receives its independence, at long last.

16.  Sheridan and Delenn marry.

That is the summary of events.  Now for the subjective content.

I like this episode.  It demonstrates that one person or a few people can change the world(s).  This attitude resides at the core of the Babylon 5 series.   The world will change; that is unavoidable.  The important questions are:  (1) Who is changing the world? and (2) Are these positive changes?  Our heroes in Babylon 5 change worlds for the better, as the next episode, The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, makes clear.

Historical Note:  This was nearly the penultimate episode of Babylon 5.  Series creator and scribe J. Michael Straczynski (JMS for short) had to wrap up the major story lines sooner than he had planned originally because his distributor, the Primetime Entertainment Network (PTEN) was about to cease to exist.  So he made some cuts in the fourth season, moved the beginning of the fifth season into the end of Season Four, and filmed the series finale, Sleeping in Light, which is set two decades after the events of this episode.  Then Turner Network Television (TNT) picked up the series for the fifth season.  So JMS put Sleeping in Light on hold for a year and wrote a new fourth season finale, which is a series of short stories.  That episode will be the topic of my next post in this series.

Stay tuned and keep reading!



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

Posted August 16, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Endgame (1997)   2 comments

Captain John Sheridan:  “We are here to place President Clark under arrest, to disband Night Watch, and return our government to the hands of her people.”


Babylon 5 has been building to this point since Chrysalis, the first season finale, in which Vice President William Morgan Clark assassinated President Luis Santiago, with help, of course.  President Clark has turned Earth into an inward-looking dictatorship.  That ends with this climactic episode, a thrill ride and emotional roller coaster.

General Robert Lefcourt, Earth Force

President Clark has stationed a large fleet of destroyers at Mars.  Captain Sheridan knows that he needs to disable these vessels before heading to Earth for the final showdown, for he does not want Clark-loyal forces attacking him from the front and the rear.  Commanding the Earth Force fleet at Mars is General Robert Lefcourt, an old-style soldier.  Lefcourt trained Sheridan and still admires the rebel leader, and even regrets having to kill Sheridan.  Yet Lefcourt is willing to do this job because he believes that a soldier’s job is obey orders handed down through the chain of command, not to affect political change.

Sheridan disables most Earth Force vessels at Mars with telepaths he rescued from the Shadows in Ship of Tears, during the previous season.  This is why Sheridan wanted some telepaths mobile:  so they will awaken when Lyta Alexander triggers them and bond with any machine nearby, thereby disabling a warship.  When a Clark-loyal vessel is not disabled, White Star ships target engines and weapons only, as the image below depicts:

Meanwhile, Marcus Cole, the Ranger who has a platonic love for Commander Susan Ivanova cuts through a series of evasive answers and encrypted computer files to discover that there is a way to save her life on Babylon 5.  It is the alien execution/healing device from The Quality of Mercy (first season).  The machine can prove deadly to the person donating life energy if he or she loses consciousness while the machine is attached and functioning.  But Marcus does not care.  So he takes the White Star he commands back to Babylon 5 while the rest of the fleet proceeds to Earth.

Marcus Cole, Headed Back to Babylon 5

Early Morning (Earth Standard Time), November 2, 2061: Captain Sheridan’s fleet of renegade Earth Force vessels arrives in Earth orbit.  He commands from his old ship, the E.A.S. Agamemnon.  The verbatim text of Sheridan’s speech broadcast to Earth follows:

This is Captain John Sheridan.  We are here on the authority of a multiplanetary 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 Earth Force unites 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 Night Watch, 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 is 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 have forced us to take extraordinary means.  For justice, for peace, for the future, we have come home.

(It sounds even more impressive when actor Bruce Boxleitner utters the words and the music swells.)

President William Morgan Clark in His Office

In his office, President William Morgan Clark listens to the audio of Sheridan’s speech.  Clark activates the planetary defense system and targets the fleet.  Sheridan summons the alien ships, for the planetary defense system is firing missiles at the forces of liberation:

Meanwhile, a senator, surrounded by Earth Force Marines, marches toward the presidential office, the doors of which Clark has obstructed.  Clark has written “THE ASCENSION OF THE ORDINARY MAN’ repeatedly on office stationery and circled letters spelling “SCORCHED EARTH.”  In other words, if he cannot have what he wants, more innocent people will die.

Then the President turns the planetary defense system on Earth.  Next he commits suicide as the Marines force open the doors to his office.  The senator, realizing the meaning of what Clark has done in his final official act, contacts Captain Sheridan and asks for help.


The fleet destroys all the defense platforms except one, and that one is about to fire on the eastern seaboard of North America.  The Agamemnon, which has taken heavy damage, is the closest vessel to that platform.  But its forward guns are inoperative, so the ship will have to ram the defense platform.  Sheridan, on board the Agamemnon, gives the order and braces for death:

Fortunately, the E.A.S. Apollo, which a telepath had disabled at Mars, has restored its systems. General Lefcourt, in command, arrives in the nick of time.  He has been monitoring the situation at Earth.  Lefcourt tells Sheridan to “hang onto his hat” and destroys the final, lethal defense platform.  The Agamemnon is close to the platform, yet survives with all hands:

General Lefcourt welcomes Captain Sheridan home.  The general is still a by-the-books guy; Sheridan will have to stand before a board of inquiry.  Nevertheless, welcome home.

ISN, Back to Its Old Self

Jane, the ISN anchor broadcasting over a year ago when Clark’s elite forces stormed the network headquarters, is out of prison and back on the air.  Tearfully she announces the reasons for her absence, mentions in general terms what she and other journalists have endured, and announces what Captain Sheridan has done.

Marcus Cole and Susan Ivanova

Back on Babylon 5, to which Dr. Franklin is speeding on a White Star, Marcus Cole is using the alien device to transfer his life energy to the dying Susan Ivanova.  His last words before losing consciousness are “I love you.”

He will die quite soon.  But there is no greater love than to give one’s life for another.

The Earth Civil War has ended.  Its fallout occupies much of the remainder of the series, however.  Remember that this is Babylon 5, a series about actions and their consequences.  The Shadow War ended early in this (the fourth) season, and its aftermath plays out for the remainder of the series’ run.

Stay tuned and keep reading!



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

Posted August 16, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Between the Darkness and the Light (1997)   2 comments

John Sheridan Returns to Delenn


The Earth Civil War is nearing its end, but President Clark still has a few tricks up his sleeve.  Defeating him and terminating his tyranny will prove difficult and the price will be high.  Between the Darkness and the Light illustrates the cost some people must pay for that high goal to become reality.

Michael Garibaldi Attempting to Convince the Mars Resistance of His Innocence

Captain Sheridan is still in custody on Mars as the episode opens.  Michael Garibaldi contacts the Mars Resistance, which distrusts him and considers him a traitor.  Fortunately, Lyta Alexander is on hand to scan Garibaldi and confirm his story of how Alfred Bester programmed him to turn against Sheridan.  Once more on the good side of the Resistance, Garibaldi works with Lyta, Dr. Franklin, and Number One to liberate Captain Sheridan.  Garibaldi is in a good position to do this, given that ISN has announced that he betrayed Sheridan.

Lyta Alexander, Michael Garibaldi, and Dr. Stephen Franklin Liberating Captain Sheridan

Our heroes free the drugged-up Captain Sheridan.  Garibaldi pretends to be a Clark partisan, which is how he gets to Sheridan.  When Garibaldi cites the ISN broadcasts as evidence that he is on Clark’s side, one reactionary jarhead replies, “I don’t watch TV.  It is a cultural wasteland filled with inappropriate metaphors and an unrealistic portrayal of life created by the liberal media elite.”  (How reactionary does one have to be to consider the Clark-controlled ISN, a mere propaganda mouth piece, liberal?)

Back on the space station, the League of Non-Aligned Worlds has voted to support Captain Sheridan and Delenn.  It has done this in such a way as to avoid any appearance that Delenn has had anything to do with the vote.  (She, in fact, has had nothing to do with the vote.)  The reason for special care to present the proper appearance is the Sheridan-Delenn relationship; the League’s action must look like what it is:  an attempt to help the Humans help themselves.

Sheridan and Delenn are not alone.

The Earth Force Advanced Task Force, Which Features Shadow Technology

Some of those who join the anti-President Clark forces are double agents, so Clark knows Commander Ivanova’s plans.  Clark has a surprise waiting for them at the next scheduled sector of space.  There is a task force of advanced destroyers.  The commanders are loyal to Clark, and this is supposed to be an ambush.  But Commander Ivanova learns of this and decides to take the White Star fleet to intercept these vessels.  The fleet must not lose its Earth component, she concludes, with a keen eye toward public relations.  The campaign to depose President Clark must not appear to be mostly or purely alien.  If it does, appearances will play into Clark’s hands.

The White Star fleet arrives at the designated sector of space and finds hybrid vessels with Shadow technology incorporated into the hull design.   (Yes, the legacy of the Shadows persists.)  Ivanova goes ballistic, refusing to surrender when Captain Jake Thompson, the commanding officer of the advanced task force, orders her to lay down arms.

Commander Ivanova:  “God sent me.”

Ivanova’s reply, which actress Claudia Christian delivered while chewing the scenery, is unambiguous:

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 are ever going to see. God sent me.

A word to the wise:  NEVER mess with Commander Ivanova.  The advanced destroyer group does not survive, and, unfortunately, Ivanova comes through the battle injured serverely:

Yet she cleared Captain Sheridan’s path to Mars, the last stop before Earth.  Ivanova, with only a few days left to live, asks Sheridan, who has just returned to the fleet, to command the last battles from his old command, the Agamemnon.

Captain Sheridan, Commanding the Fleet from the Agamemnon:  On to Mars

The next episode, Endgame, features the final battle of the Earth Civil War.  Stay tuned and keep reading!



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

Posted August 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Intersections in Real Time (1997)   2 comments

This is what ISN calls humane treatment.


At the end of the second season the Vorlons sent an inquisitor, actually Jack the Ripper, to determine if Sheridan and Delenn were the proper leaders of the coming war against the Shadows and other forces of darkness.  Among the questions the inquisitor posed was whether Sheridan was willing to die alone for the cause.  In this episode, a one-set piece with just a few cast members, Sheridan faces that possibility.

The First Interrogator at Work

Earth Force’s interrogation techniques are not pretty.  They involve pain devices, food poisoning, drugging (to distort the victim’s sense of reality), subtle questioning, and in-your-face demands.  In the case of Captain Sheridan, the main goal is to break him psychologically so that he will lie, recant his civil war, state that he has been under alien influence, and become a loyal supporter of President Clark.  If he refuses to cooperate, he will die and Earth Force will fabricate a video of him recanting.

The interrogator knows that this torture produces lies, and this does not disturb him.  He serves the Clark Administration, and this is his job, which he does without any qualms.

A Nearly-Broken Drazi

Our hero summons the inner strength to resist all attempts to break him, though. And Sheridan encourages a nearly-broken Drazi, who has begun to confess falsely to conspiring with Sheridan, Ivanova, and an Earth Senator (whose only “crime” is annoying President Clark) to resist.  Yet the Drazi succumbs to the insidious pressures, and becomes a party to Sheridan’s further interrogation.

The Second Interrogator

The first interrogator does not break Sheridan, so a second man takes his place and begins questioning anew.

Here, according to the original plan, the fourth season would have ended.  Yet the Primetime Entertainment Network (PTEN), which aired Babylon 5, was nearing the end of its life, so series creator J. Michael Straczynski (JMS for short) had to conclude his story lines and film the series finale. At the last minute, however, Turner Network Television (TNT) picked up the series for the fifth and final season.

JMS has a background in theater, and Intersections in Real Time reflects this fact strongly.  There is one set, which is frequently dark, and the furniture is minimal.  The action is all in the dialogue, eyes, and body language.  The result is a disturbing and well-acted episode.

I conclude by quoting lyrics by Doris Plenn, circa 1950, during the second Red Scare, known otherwise as McCarthyism.  This is appropriate because of the echoes of McCarthyism in this episode:

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing.

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them go winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?



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

Posted August 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–The Face of the Enemy (1997)   1 comment

Commander Ivanova Giving the Order to Shoot Michael Garibaldi on Sight if He Boards Babylon 5


A cliche says that it is darkest before the dawn.  Babylon 5 is getting very dark.  The series is best when dark, so it is spectacular toward of the fourth season, where The Face of the Enemy falls.

It is late 2261, and Captain Sheridan’s forces are headed for Earth, ultimately.  Think of the Allied strategy in the Pacific Theater of World War II:  beginning at the periphery of the Japanese Empire and moving toward the home islands.  That is what Sheridan and his forces are doing in relation to Earth.

Earth Alliance ships fight more fiercely as Sheridan and his forces approach Earth.  President Clark has told his captains that surrendering to Sheridan or attempting to join forces with him is futile, for Sheridan has the crews killed and the Earth ships crewed with Minbari.  Many captains believe this lie, a fact which explains their fierce fighting, sometimes to the death.  Fortunately, Captain MacDougan of the Vesta (from No Surrender, No Retreat) is present and able to make the lie obvious.

Captain Sheridan, Beardless

There is more good news.  The Agamemnon, Sheridan’s former command, arrives.  The ship’s commanding officer, Captain James, wants to join the fight, as does the rest of the crew.

On Mars:  Number One and Dr. Stephen Franklin

Dr. Stephen Franklin and telepath Lyta Alexander arrive on Mars, with 30 Shadow technology-implanted telepaths as their cargo.  Number One, the head of the Mars Resistance, is quite angry.  Resisting President Clark is perilous, and that task just became more dangerous and difficult.  And having to find a safe place to store the telepaths has come as a surprise.  Number One’s anger is not entirely unjustified.

Michael Garibaldi, Pondering His Proverbial Thirty Pieces of Silver

Michael Garibaldi has done what he told William Edgars he would do.  Earth Force has David Sheridan, Captain John Sheridan’s father, in custody.  Furthermore, Garibaldi has sent a message to Captain Sheridan, who has met him in a Mars bar, where Garibaldi has drugged him and where plain-clothes Earth Force personnel have jumped and beaten Sheridan.  The Clark-controlled ISN hails this as a great victory for Earth, spewing the lie happily that Earth Force is treating Sheridan well and that he, now free of alien influence, has recanted his actions against President Clark and Earth.  In reality, Earth government guards have been beating Sheridan, who was never under negative alien influence and who has not recanted anything.

Now William Edgars and Wade, his trusted aide, reveal everything to Garibaldi, who has a trouble conscience, despite outside conditioning.  Edgars Industries has developed a virus which affects only telepaths, and plans to release the virus in the short term.  Not coincidentally, Edgars Industries has also developed the antidote.  So William Edgars will be able to control the telepaths.

Garibaldi begins to shut down and removes an artificial molar with a transmitter inside.  He goes to a transport tube car, where Psi-Cop Alfred Bester joins him.  Bester reveals the whole story:  He has programmed and used Garibaldi to uncover the Edgars Industries plot against the telepaths.  And Bester has turned Garibaldi against his former friends and colleagues, to the point that Garibaldi has betrayed Captain Sheridan.  Bester leaves the transport tube car, and Garibaldi, horrified, remembers everything.  He is himself again.

Not that this helps Mr. Garibaldi.  Aboard the White Star 2, Commander Ivanova gives the order to shoot Garibaldi if he returns the space station.  And the happy progandists at ISN praise Garibaldi for turning Sheridan over to Earth Force.

Agents from the Psi Corps kill William Edgars and wound his aide, Wade, mortally.  These agents also ransack the Edgars residence and confiscate the anti-telepath virus and its antidote.  ISN and the Clark Administration blame the Mars Resistance for this.  And Lise Hampton-Edgars, Garibaldi’s former girlfriend, is missing.

This looks bad for heroes.  Yet the fleet’s progress toward Earth continues unabated.  The war goes on.



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

Posted August 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4