Babylon 5–Darkness Ascending (1998)   1 comment

The Smoking Gun:  Centauri Vessels Attack an Unarmed Convoy


For those who found the first half of the fifth season slow, the payoff comes in the second half.  And the payoff is quite rewarding–and sobering.  War descends upon the Interstellar Alliance in this excellent episode, which is replete with emotional moments.  There the Babylon 5 series finds its greatest strength.  As George Lucas has said, a special effect without a story is boring.  And the best stories involve emotions.

A minor yet pivotal element in this episode concern Lyta Alexander’s attempts to secure funding for her effort to aide rogue telepaths.  She negotiates with a representative from a large corporation (depicted above) yet fails, for his employer hires only telepaths registered with Psi Corps.  Anything else would be too risky, according to the corporate insurance policy.  So Lyta cashes in a five-year-old offer from Ambassador G’Kar, who, in The Gathering, the 1993 pilot movie, offered money in exchange for telepath DNA. The Narns have lacked telepaths for a thousand years, and their government seeks to remedy this situation.

Aside:  It pays to listen carefully to dialogue in Babylon 5, for one never knows on the first viewing when the script writers will pay off a plot thread. The serialized nature of the series contributes to much of its greatness.

A Scene from Michael Garibaldi’s Nightmare

As the episode opens, Michael Garibaldi has a nightmare.  The station is wrecked, many people are dead, and others are dying.  He sees himself.  Garibaldi tells himself, “We did this all by ourselves.”

Garibaldi wakes up to see Lise Hampton-Edgars, his on-and-off girlfriend, enter his quarters.  Over half a year ago, he had left Mars for Babylon 5, saying that he would be right back.  So she is back, to find him.

Later, Lise discovers alcohol in Garibaldi’s quarters.  She confronts him, and he tells her that he has it under control.  To demonstrate this, Garibaldi pours alcohol down the kitchen sink.

Garibaldi take Lise out to a nice restaurant.  There he maintains his ruse of having drinking under control.  He does sneak out (giving an excuse) so he can pour some alcohol into allegedly bad coffee.

Garibaldi’s drinking will have devastating effects on others in the short term; stay tuned and keep reading.

Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari and his aide, Vir Cotto, discover that their daily schedule is open.  Other governments have canceled their meetings.  They suspect Centauri involvement in the attacks on shipping convoys, and the Centauri diplomats have become quite unpopular.

Londo suspects something, too, but he does not look upon it too closely.  Actually, reality is worse than most people suspect.   How is that for a depressing thought?

Delenn communicates with Lennier.  She is unaware that Sheridan happens to walk by during this conversation.  This is how he learns of the Ranger trainee’s secret mission.

Meanwhile, on the Maria, Captain Montoya speaks to Lennier.  The Ranger trainee explains his interpretation of intercepted Centauri transmissions, which translate as, “Do not respond.”  Lennier explains that these must be transmissions from ships to a base, the location of which is a military secret.

Montoya agrees with Lennier’s thinking.  The captain cannot pursue the possibility, however, because he receives an order from President Sheridan for the Maria to return to Babylon 5.  Montoya follows orders, and Lennier takes a fighter craft out without authorization.

Montoya informs Sheridan and Delenn, who have avoided an argument over her deception.  (It is difficult to have an argument about how inappropriate it was to keep the mission secret from Sheridan if Delenn agrees with him.)  Lennier is in great danger of his air supply running out, so Sheridan and Delenn are concerned for his safety.

Lennier’s gambit pays off.  He attaches his fighter craft to the hull of a Centauri warship that passes by.  Lennier taps into the larger vessel’s air supply, thereby surviving.  And he witnesses and records a Centauri attack on an unarmed convoy.  After the attack, Lennier detaches his small fighter craft from the Centauri ship and hides among the debris until the Centauri ships leave the area.  Then Lennier sends a distress signal and prays for all who have just died.

The Maria rescues Lennier and returns him to Babylon 5.  Sheridan and Delenn thank him for the good work yet regret what they must do next.  They must call a council meeting and share the evidence Lennier has collected.  This will almost certainly mean war, for the Centauri government will deny involvement in these attacks.  Delenn, stricken with grief, embraces Londo, who is just walking by.  She has never done that before, and she will never have another chance to do so again quite soon.

Aware of the threat if immediate war, Garibaldi tells Lise to take the next transport back to Mars.

Events are about to take a devastating turn.

People make mistakes, which have consequences.  Sheridan, until recently, has been a professional soldier.  A new politician, he underestimates the determination of traditional foes of the Centauri to take revenge on them.  Out of principle and naivete, Sheridan has promised to support whatever action (short of bombing civilian targets) the victims of the attacks choose to take when the identity of the assailant is confirmed.  This was a grave error, one which carries terrible consequences.  In a previous episode, Captain Lochley quoted the cliche that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  Sheridan asked, “Why does it have to run through this office?”  I imagine that many real politicians have asked themselves the same question.



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

Posted September 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 5

One response to “Babylon 5–Darkness Ascending (1998)

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  1. Pingback: Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2262) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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