Babylon 5–The Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark (2007)   1 comment

A Valen-Class Vessel in Quantum Space

(NINETIETH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

The brief history of Babylon 5 is as follows:

  1. The Gathering (1993)–the pilot movie
  2. Babylon 5–Seasons 1-4 (1994-1997)–syndicated
  3. In the Beginning (1998)–prequel movie (and the subject of the next post in this series
  4. Babylon 5–Season 5 (1998)–on Turner Network Television (TNT)
  5. Thirdspace (1998)–TNT movie
  6. The River of Souls (1998)–TNT movie
  7. A Call to Arms (1999)–TNT movie
  8. Crusade (1999)–Series on TNT
  9. The Legend of the Rangers:  To Live and Die in Starlight (2002)–Sci-Fi Channel movie
  10. The Lost Tales:  Voices in the Dark (2007)

Voices in Dark was supposed to be the first of a series of direct-to-DVD releases called Babylon 5–The Lost Tales.  It was the only release, and this fact is unfortunate.  Voices in the Dark is not without flaws, but it is vastly superior to much of what people commit to DVDs.

The special effects attract much criticism.  Indeed, they are less than impressive in places, for the green screen is obvious when actors are not on sets.  Consider the image below:

On the other hand, computer-generated special effects have improved since 1999.  The space station has never looked better:

Warner Brothers provided an inadequate budget for special effects, so let us not be too harsh toward J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) for the green screen problems.  Blame the suits.

Besides, the two connected stories are the real reasons to watch this DVD production.  These tales (Over Here and Over There) are set in 2271, on the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Interstellar Alliance.  I have learned from Voices in the Dark and A Call to Arms (not to mention Sleeping in Light) that Interstellar Alliance anniversaries divisible by five are not quiet times.  I wonder what hell broke loose or threatened to do so on the fifteenth anniversary.  Now there is an untold story.

Father Cassidy

Anyhow, literal Hell does break loose on Babylon 5 in the first half, Over There.  The B5 programs have never shied away from religion, and Over There is overtly religious.  JMS, raised Roman Catholic, has been an Atheist (albeit not a militant one) for some time, and he, the author of Voices in the Dark, is comfortable with addressing religious topics.   Post-apocalyptic religion is integral to another JMS series, Jeremiah, which aired on Showtime from 2002 to 2004, for example.   In this case, the topic du film is demonic possession.

Colonel Elizabeth Lochley

Elizabeth Lochley is still in command of Babylon 5; she is entering her tenth year in that position.  She thinks of the space station as her home now.  And she has received a promotion; Lochley has progressed from captain to colonel.  Her home is not quiet, though.

Simon Burke

Simon Burke is a station maintenance worker who has just returned from a visit to his family on Earth.  (The Drakh plague has been over for a few years, thanks to the efforts of the gallant crew of the Excalibur.)  Simon is not himself, however.  He hears another voice inside his head, and the cause of that voice takes him over.  Security personnel detain Simon, and the vicinity of his cell is considerably colder than any other place in the area.

Lochley sends for a Roman Catholic priest, and Father Cassidy arrives.  She explains the situation to Cassidy, who asks her about her spiritual state.  Lochley admits that she attends services from time to time, but that she feels guilty because of her spotty attendance.  Cassidy concludes non-judgmentally that she is like many people.  Lochley is still religious, though, and laments the fact that religious practice among humans is in decline.  Cassidy is not worried, however, for, as he says, the Church still has  few tricks up its sleeve.

Lochley and Cassidy visit Simon Burke’s cell, where the demon inside Simon speaks to Cassidy.  The demon says that God has salted the heavens with demons as part of a plan to draw people toward religious practice.  The demon asks to be exorcised on Babylon 5.  Yet Lochley is skeptical of the demon’s claim, and she investigates until she finds the log of the captain of the transport ship that carried Simon back from Earth.  The captain noticed cold spots and other demonic manifestations.  Lochley realizes that the demon possessed Simon on Earth, and that this constituted a jailbreak; God had cast the demons from the heavens to Earth, to remain for the remainder of the life of the planet.  The exorcism will occur on Earth.

Father Cassidy will return to Earth, too, and brief the Pope, whom he has wanted to meet for some time.  Pope Bernadette II (in office during the Babylon 5 and Crusade series) is apparently dead, and her successor is male, for Cassidy refers to the “Holy Father.”  Before he departs, the priest tells Lochley that she should pursue Holy Orders if she changes careers.  “Do you think I’m religious enough?” the Colonel asks.  “You’ll do!” Cassidy replies enthusiastically.

And Lochley rushes off to keep an appointment–to contact President Sheridan, en route to Babylon 5 for the tenth anniversary ceremony.  (We see that call from Sheridan’s end of the conversation in Over There.)

President John Sheridan

President John Sheridan is traveling to Babylon 5 through Quantum Space (which is twice as fast as traveling through hyperspace).  Before he arrives at the space station, however, he is scheduled to rendezvous with a Centauri vessel and pick up Prince Dius Vintari, son of the late Emperor Cartagia and third in line to the throne.

President Sheridan and Prince Dius Vintari

Cartagia made many enemies, whom Vintari has inherited.   The prince has grown up in a dog-eat-dog environment, and he has revenge on his mind.  He can do nothing about his circumstances now, but plans a “reckoning” when he ascends to the throne, after both Emperor Mollari II (in office) and (Vir) Cotto (in line after Mollari) die.  Vintari has not known affection, just manipulation and distrust.

President Sheridan and Galen

Galen makes contact with Sheridan several times, beginning the day before the rendezvous with the Centauri vessel.  Galen tells Sheridan that Vintari will become Emperor in 20 years (2291), and will seek to restore Centauri glory.  As part of this effort, Emperor Vintari will send his forces to attack Earth in 2301 (30 years).  To make this point, Galen shows Sheridan the attack’s effect on the City of New York.  (I wonder how Galen knows all this.)

New York City Before Its Destruction in 2301

Galen tells Sheridan that there is a way to prevent this devastation.  It is all very simple; kill Vintari.  Who will miss him enough to protest the prince’s death?  Sheridan is reluctant to do this.

It seems that Vintari is fascinated with Starfury fighter crafts, and that, as part of the tenth anniversary events, Sheridan will travel from his Valen-Class ship via Starfury, not a shuttle craft.  Sheridan asks if Vintari would like to fly a Starfury, too.  The President knows that Galen has arranged for the weapons systems on his Starfury to “malfunction” and target Vintari’s ship.  Sheridan ponders doing nothing, thereby allowing the prince to die.  But the President turns off his Starfury’s weapons in time.  With Delenn’s approval, Sheridan asks Vintari to come to live in his household on Minbar, where the prince can experience kindness.

Vintari has had some dreams recently.  In them, he is flying a Starfury, and “something wonderful happens.”  The prince has told Sheridan this.  Sheridan recounts this when an angered Galen confronts him.  Did Galen send this dream to Vintari?  “I get around,” the techno-mage admits.  It seems that Galen has been manipulating Sheridan and Vintari, and is really not disappointed in the President’s decision.  Sheridan tells Galen that he will try to dissuade Vintari from vengeful ways, but has not ruled out killing him, if that is required to save Earth.

So Vintari goes to live on Minbar for a while.  Do Sheridan and Delenn succeed in changing him?  I do not know; that is an untold tale.

I notice something about the characters in Over There.  Vintari, the villain, is somewhat sympathetic, or at least understandable.  Sheridan, our main hero, is willing to commit murder.  And how heroic is Galen, really?  The characters exist in shades of gray.  This is consistent with other characters in the Babylon 5 universe, too.

Voices in the Dark is the last of the filmed Babylon 5 productions, although some previously filmed episodes and a TNT movie (In the Beginning) contain scenes set after this chronologically.  My journey through this universe is nearing its end, with two more summary-review posts left.  This has been a spectacular walk through these works of JMS, and I regret that I am nearly out of this material.  I plan to take a break from regular B5 viewing for a while after post #92, but to return after I have permitted enough fallow time.  My interests come in seasons, and constant saturation in any project holds no appeal for me.

My plans through the first half of 2011 include the following:

  1. adding more Epiphany season blogs (according to a Canadian Anglican lectionary) at the ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS blog;
  2. adding new February-August saints to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days at SUNDRY THOUGHTS;
  3. augmenting the GATHERED PRAYERS blog;
  4. creating a LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS blog based partially on pre-existing material from SUNDRY THOUGHTS but with a number of devotions written expressly for that blog and never present at SUNDRY THOUGHTS;
  5. creating an ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS blog, built partially from pre-existing posts from SUNDRY THOUGHTS yet consisting mainly of posts written for that blog and never present at SUNDRY THOUGHTS;
  6. and writing new reviews at SUNDRY THOUGHTS.  There are many possible titles left to cover.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 18, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

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Posted October 18, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5-Crusade, Crusade

One response to “Babylon 5–The Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark (2007)

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

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