Babylon 5–No Surrender, No Retreat (1997)   2 comments

The Distinctive Paint Job on the White Star 2, Captain Sheridan’s Flagship


This is one of my favorite episodes of a great season of a wonderful series.  So I pay No Surrender, No Retreat a high compliment when I speak of it in such glowing terms.  It contains intense personal drama, pathos, a space battle, all of which are convincing.  George Lucas said once that a special effect without a story is a boring thing, and this episode has story in abundance.

September 2, 2261.

The preparations are final.  Captain Sheridan tells summoned alien ambassadors that their treaties with Earth are null and void in exchange for continued White Star fleet protection.   They need to provide one warship to protect Babylon 5. Other than that, they need to stay of his way as he confronts President Clark.

Ambassador Londo Mollari of the Centauri Republic

The up-and-down relationship between G’Kar and Londo Mollari is instrumental to the series.  No Surrender, No Retreat finds this relationship at a low point.  Their two governments were at war until recently, and the Centauri just ended a brutal occupation of Narn.  G’Kar is nursing some deeply felt anger about all this.  And Londo, who is partially responsible for these matters, is trying to make better decisions.  Among these is a Narn-Centauri statement supporting Sheridan’s war against President Clark’s administration.  The symbolism of such a statement might convince other governments to support Sheridan, too, Londo reasons.  G’Kar agrees, eventually, but to sign on another page.

G’Kar becomes forgiving over time, but forgiveness can be difficult to muster, as many people know.

Captain Hall of the E.A.S. Heracles, Beseiging Proxima III

Of the six Omega Class warships at Proxima III, only two–the Heracles and the Pollux–have fired on civilians.  Captain Hall of the Heracles is in charge of the mission.  And Captain MacDougan of the Vesta is an old mentor to Captain Sheridan, having been one of his instructors in ethics at Earth Force Academy.  MacDougan opposes President Clark, but has decided until now that the role of the military is NOT to make policy.

Ships from the White Star fleet attack those Earth Alliance destroyers who fire on them and not those who withdraw from battle.  After the Heracles suffers damage, Captain Hall orders the Vesta, under MacDougan’s command, to open fire.  MacDougan disobeys the order, for he has decided that President Clark’s orders at Proxima III are illegal.

Below:  A White Star Fires on the Heracles

Captain MacDougan Disobeying an Illegal Order

The only hostile Earth Alliance ship left is the Pollux, which does serious damage to a White Star.  Out of control, that White Star collides with the Pollux, destroying both ships.

Below:  A White Star About to Collide with the E.A.S. Pollux

Back on the Heracles, Commander Levitt, the Executive Officer relieves Captain Hall of command and orders him confined to his quarters.  Hall has refused to surrender, and Sheridan’s policy is to destroy ships that will not defect or surrender.

Sheridan and the Earth Alliance Captains

An hour after the liberation of Proxima III, Sheridan speaks with the commanding officers of the four remaining destroyers aboard the White Star 2.  He tells them that the  military oath is to the Earth Alliance constitution, not to President Clark, and that officers swear to defend Earth from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Clark, Sheridan says, has become that enemy.  He points to the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Peace, Night Watch, and orders to fire on civilians as proof of this assertion.  The captains, he says, have two choices–to join his cause or to go home.

One vessel withdraws from the war, one stays at Proxima III to defend it from Clark’s forces, and two go with Sheridan toward Earth.  The Vesta, under the command of Sheridan’s old friend and mentor, Captain MacDougan, is among those going to Earth with the rebellion.

Back on Babylon 5, Ivanova announces the Narn-Centauri joint statement and liberation of Proxima III.  She encourages all Earth Force personnel who oppose President Clark to make their stand for Earth now.  At that time, Michael Garibaldi leaves Babylon 5 for Mars (and subsequent employment with William Edgars), intending never to return to the station.

No Surrender, No Retreat is episode #15 of 22 in the fourth season.  Know then, O reader, that season four enters its final act with this episode.

And if you have begun to question Captain Sheridan’s ethics, just wait.  More evidence for your case will arrive in subsequent episodes.  Then again, maybe Sheridan has no other realistic choices.  Life is not simple, and neither is Babylon 5.



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

Posted August 8, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

2 responses to “Babylon 5–No Surrender, No Retreat (1997)

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  1. Pingback: Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2261) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  2. Pingback: B5 Rewatch: 4×15 "No Surrender, No Retreat" - ***Dave Does the Blog | ***Dave Does the Blog

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