Babylon 5–Atonement (1997)   3 comments

Commander Susan Ivanova after a Drazi religious party:  “Don’t-even-ask.”


For four seasons (1994-1997) Babylon 5 aired on the weblet Primetime Entertainment Network (PTEN), until owner Warner Brothers closed PTEN.  Series creator J. Michael Straczynski received word late in the fourth season to wrap up his story lines, for PTEN was about to end, and the fifth (and final) season was unlikely.  So, if the middle and latter parts of season four seem rushed and packed, they are.

Atonement, the 9th of 22 episodes, returns the stories to Minbari society and politics, which are crucial to the story arc, especially as the pace of the season continues, relentlessly.  And the episode reveals a crucial element of Delenn’s past.

There are some B-stories in the episode:

  1. Zach Allan, now Security Chief, receives a uniform in the same style as the other members of the command staff.  He is concerned about former Chief Michael Garibaldi, and wonders why Garibaldi walked away from the job.
  2. Dr. Stephen Franklin fits G’Kar with a removable prosthetic eye.
  3. Commander Susan Ivanova attends a Drazi religious party, and stumbles out of it covered in sparkly stuff, her hair tussled, and using a cane.  One wonders what happened there.
  4. Captain Sheridan sends Ranger Marcus Cole and Dr. Stephen Franklin to Mars, to make contact with the resistance movement there.  Marcus and Dr. Franklin take a slow ship to the red planet, and Marcus drives his traveling companion crazy by singing “I am the very model of a modern major general,” among other things.

Now, for the main point:  Delenn and Sheridan are in love, engaged to marry.  This is a scandal to xenophobes and species purists among both of their species.  The propagandists at the relaunched ISN portray this relationship as evidence of a pernicious alien plot to undermine Earth from within.  And the purity of bloodlines is a treasured idea among many Minbari, too.

Can you say racism?  I knew you could.

A Younger Delenn, Temple Acolyte, with Her Mentor, Dukhat

When Delenn was younger, she was an acolyte.  Her mentor was Dukhat, the Minbari leader.  He encouraged her to trust in her own judgment, and not to assume that others know better because they are more prominent in society.  After some time, Dukhat elevated Delenn to the Grey Council.  Immediately after she joined that august body, the Earth ship Prometheus attached the Minbari cruiser carrying the Grey Council, killing Dukhat.  It was an unfortunate cultural misunderstanding, and Delenn, in her rage, gave the order which started the Earth-Minbari War (2245-2248), which nearly wiped out the Human race and almost led to the destruction of Earth.

Below:  Delenn, Cradling the Head of the Dying Dukhat

Callenn, the leader of Delenn’s clan, forces her to undergo the “dreaming” process, a technologically-facilitated process of remembering.  He demands to know Delenn’s reason(s) for seeking to marry Sheridan, and love is apparently insufficient justification.  During the dreaming Delenn relives the events described above, plus this:  Dukhat told her that he chose her because she is descended from Valen.  Valen, of course, was originally a Human, Jeffrey David Sinclair.  So Delenn was never fully Minbari, even before her transformation at the end of the first season of the series.

Above:  Callenn, Who Knew the Truth All Along

None of the news about the presence of Human DNA in the Minbari gene pool for a thousand years is unknown to Callenn, who finds it almost unspeakable nonetheless.  He admits reluctantly that the number of Minbari with Human DNA “cannot be counted.”  Callenn does not block the Delenn-Sheridan marriage on grounds of genetic purity, since there is none.  So he proposes a cover story:  According to Minbari tradition, a victorious side in war gave a female in marriage to a male of the vanquished side.  So Delenn’s clan can portray her upcoming marriage in that light.

The shocking truth of Minbari genetics will remain a secret.

Prejudice survives into the 23rd Century.

But, on the positive side, Lennier, Delenn’s aide, remains loyal to her, even after he learns her great secret, which is that she is responsible for the deaths of ten of thousands in the Earth-Minbari War.  We all have secrets; how we face up to them (if we do) matters.

Here ends the lesson.



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

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

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 )

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: