Babylon 5–A Call to Arms (1999)   1 comment

President Sheridan, Back in the Saddle


A Call to Arms is the darkest in tone of all the Babylon 5 movies.  And, if it is not the best of them, it is the second best.  The stakes are high, for they are nothing less than the fate of all life on Earth.

It is November 2266, in the days approaching the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Interstellar Alliance.  Despite the Alliance’s difficult first year, Sheridan has succeeded in establishing peace among the member governments.  He has moved past his rookie mistakes and grown into his office, but his days of adventure are not over.  Also, the Telepath War is a recent memory, with a memorial to those who died in that conflict planned for the near future.  Psi-Corps is no more, and Lyta Alexander and Lennier are both dead.  Much has changed since Sheridan and Delenn relocated Interstellar Alliance headquarters to Minbar, but one legacy of the Shadow War is about to endanger Earth.

As the late Gilda Radner said in character, “It’s always something.”

Sheridan and Garibaldi Discuss the New Victory Class Vessels

Sheridan and Garibaldi rendezvous in outer space.  This is a top-secret operation, for they are meeting to discuss the new Victory Class vessels, of which few people know anything.  The Victory Class is the product of reverse engineering Minbari and Vorlon technology; these ships are advanced and untested.

Galen, in Shadows

Sheridan and Garibaldi think that nobody can follow them, but they do not know that Galen, a techno-mage is observing them from afar.  Techno-mages, who use technology to simulate magic, appeared first in the second season (set in 2258), when they were traveling to parts of space unknown in advance of what turned out to be the Shadow War.  They are still hiding out in 2266, and Galen considers this a mistake.  The other techno-mages call him to account for making contact with the outside.


Yet Galen persists.  Through technology he warns Sheridan about an impending threat.  The first such contact occurs as Sheridan and Garibaldi inspect the two Victory class prototypes, the Excalibur and the Victory.  Mr. Drake, who is in charge of overseeing the final stages of construction and testing, is a perfectionist who takes his job very slowly.  Yet Garibaldi, to whom Drake answers, forces him to speed up the process.  The ships must be ready soon.

The Victory Class design includes a really big and powerful gun, but with a caveat:  it uses so much power that the ship is essentially a sitting duck for one minute after firing it.

Dureena Nafeel

Galen continues to contact Sheridan, as well as to warn others.  Among these is Dureena Nafeel, who is, to the best of her knowledge, the last of her species.  The Shadows destroyed her homeworld, Zander Prime, during the final days of the Shadow War.  She has had a hard life, and is a spitfire.  Dureena is also a member of the Thieving Guild, and she makes contact with the local on Babylon 5 after arriving at the station.

First, however, she must check in with Security Chief Zack Allan, who tells her to surrender all weapons.  She has many weapons, hence Zack’s facial expression.

Captain Leonard Anderson of the E.A.S. Charon

Galen has also made contact with Earth Force captain Leonard Anderson, who goes AWOL to travel to Babylon 5, to rendezvous with Dureena and Sheridan.  Galen has shown each of these three individuals the faces of the others, as well as that of a Drazi.

Both Garibaldi and Lochley think that Sheridan might not be firing on all thrusters, but the coincidences confirm everything he has said.  These three people who have never met each other recognize each other, and they know many of the same facts, courtesy of Galen.  The name Daltron VII comes up; Galen said that Earth might suffer the same fate as Daltron VII.

Anderson is a heroic figure.  He did not go AWOL lightly.  He is married with a young daughter, whom he has promised to protect from monsters.  The monsters are quite real, and they have something to do with Daltron VII.  And he regrets not having sided with Sheridan during the Earth Civil War; this is his chance to do the right thing.  Sheridan and Delenn depart Babylon 5 on board the Charon, whose crew staffs the Victory and the Excalibur.  (If you are the President of the Interstellar Alliance, is it stealing if you take ships you technically own?)  Sheridan commands the Excalibur, and Anderson is in charge on the Victory.

The Excalibur and the Victory arrive at Daltron VII, now a dead world.  It has only been a dead world for a week, though.  And Shadow technology caused this.  The Shadows left the galaxy six years ago, so another species has their technology.

Meanwhile, Garibaldi (in the company of Drake) pursues Sheridan to Daltron VII on a White Star.

A Drakh (yes, those aliens who took over Centauri Prime) fleet approaches the Victory and the Excalibur at Daltron VII.  The Drakh ships receive a transmission then attack the two ships.  Our heroes defeat the Drakh fleet yet detect a death cloud, at the heart of which is the last Shadow planet killer; it is headed for Earth.  Sheridan, Anderson, and their crews enter hyperspace and head for Earth.  There is no time to lose.

Sheridan notifies Delenn, who is summoning Alliance ships as quickly as possible, but they will probably not arrive in time.  Then he calls Lochley at Babylon 5.   She is skeptical, but he asks her to trust him to notify the Earth Alliance government of the impending threat.  Sheridan is not popular on Earth, and the administration is more likely to listen to Captain Lochley.  She agrees, and acts accordingly.

Garibaldi discovers the source of the transmission to the Drakh ships; it was Drake, aboard the White Star.  Garibaldi can be very persuasive when angry.

The death cloud reaches Earth, but so do the Excalibur and the Victory.  And the administration has sent forces, too.  The defenders of Earth destroy the planet killer at the heart of the death cloud, but Captain Anderson and the crew of the Victory give their lives in the process.  Anderson died keeping his promise to his daughter; he fought the monsters.

In a final act of spite, the Drakh forces seed Earth’s atmosphere with a plague, which is technological, not biological.  Earth is now under quarantine.

The Excalibur Outside Babylon 5

Sheridan briefs Lochley and Garibaldi on Babylon 5.  The plague will kill all life on Earth in five years unless someone can find a cure.  This cure will probably come from outer space, since the plague did.  The Rangers will aid in the quest for the cure, and the Excalibur will be the main vessel whose crew is assigned to lead the mission.  Failure is not an option.

A Call to Arms sets the stage for the short-lived follow-up series, Crusade, set mainly aboard the Excalibur.  Suspense is not an issue, for we know from Sleeping in Light that Earth is plague-free in 2281, fifteen years later.  But the important part is the journey, not the destination. J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) writes television programming about people within plots, not mainly about plots with people in them.

So it is that my next post in this series will be an overview of the Crusade series.



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

Posted October 15, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Movies, Crusade

One response to “Babylon 5–A Call to Arms (1999)

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  1. Pingback: Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2263 and Later) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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