Archive for the ‘Babylon 5 Season 2’ Category

Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2259)   Leave a comment

points-of-departure-01

Above:  Captain John Sheridan

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Points of Departure:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/babylon-5-points-of-departure-1994/

Revelations:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/babylon-5-revelations-1994/

The Geometry of Shadows:

Skipped

A Distant Star:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/babylon-5-a-distant-star-1994/

The Long Dark:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/babylon-5-the-long-dark-1994/

Spider in the Web:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/babylon-5-a-spider-in-the-web-1994/

Soul Mates:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/babylon-5-soul-mates-1994/

A Race Through Dark Places:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/babylon-5-a-race-through-dark-places-1995/

The Coming of Shadows:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/babylon-5-the-coming-of-shadows-1995/

GROPOS:

Skipped

All Alone in the Night:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/babylon-5-all-alone-in-the-night-1995/

Acts of Sacrifice:

Skipped

Hunter, Prey:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/babylon-5-hunter-prey-1995/

There All the Honor Lies:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/babylon-5-there-all-the-honor-lies-1995/

And Now for a Word:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/babylon-5-and-now-for-a-word-1995/

In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/babylon-5-in-the-shadow-of-zhadum-1995/

Knives:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/babylon-5-knives-1995/

Confessions and Lamentations:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/babylon-5-confessions-and-lamentations-1995/

Divided Loyalties:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/babylon-5-divided-loyalties-1995/

The Long, Twilight Struggle:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/babylon-5-the-long-twilight-struggle-1995/

Comes the Inquisitor:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/babylon-5-comes-the-inquisitor-1995/

The Fall of Night:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/babylon-5-the-fall-of-night-1995/

Overview:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/babylon-5-seasons-1-and-2/

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Posted August 22, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2

Tagged with

Babylon 5–Seasons 1 and 2   2 comments

Earth Alliance Space Station Babylon 5, In Orbit of Epsilon 3

THE STORY SO FAR

I have written summaries and reviews for most episodes of the first two seasons of Babylon 5.  Now I pause and summarize the story so far in broad strokes.

First, an episode guide, with reviewed episodes in italics:

PILOT MOVIE (1993; SET IN 2257)

  1. The Gathering–I have referred to this in posts for at least two episodes.

SEASON ONE:  SIGNS AND PORTENTS (1994; SET IN 2258)

  1. Midnight on the Firing Line
  2. Soul Hunter
  3. Born to the Purple
  4. Infection
  5. The Parliament of Dreams
  6. Mind War
  7. The War Prayer
  8. And the Sky Full of Stars
  9. Deathwalker
  10. Believers
  11. Survivors
  12. By Any Means Necessary
  13. Signs and Portents
  14. TKO
  15. Grail
  16. Eyes
  17. Legacies
  18. A Voice in the Wilderness, Part I
  19. A Voice in the Wilderness, Part II
  20. Babylon Squared
  21. The Quality of Mercy
  22. Chrysalis

SEASON TWO:  THE COMING OF SHADOWS (1994-1995; SET IN 2259)

  1. Points of Departure
  2. Revelations
  3. The Geometry of Shadows
  4. A Distant Star
  5. The Long Dark
  6. A Spider in the Web
  7. Soul Mates
  8. A Race Through Dark Places
  9. The Coming of Shadows
  10. GROPOS
  11. All Alone in the Night
  12. Acts of Sacrifice
  13. Hunter, Prey
  14. There All the Honor Lies
  15. And Now For a Word
  16. In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum
  17. Knives
  18. Confessions and Lamentations
  19. Divided Loyalties
  20. The Long, Twilight Struggle
  21. Comes the Inquisitor
  22. The Fall of Night

The official purpose of Babylon 5 is to create an environment where members of different space-faring species can work out their differences, arrive at understandings, and prevent needless wars.  Success in this mission depends on the willingness of parties to work toward that goal, so the station fails in its stated purpose.  Yet Babylon 5 becomes a base of operations for the forces of light in an unavoidable struggle, one outside forces impose upon them.

The first commander of Babylon 5 is Jeffrey Sinclair (played by Michael O’Hare).  The Minbari know more about his destiny than he does, but even they have partial knowledge.  At the end of the first season the Earth Alliance President Luis Santiago dies in an assassination (officially an accident), and the new Earth President, William Morgan Clark, Santiago’s Vice President, appoints a new commanding officer for Babylon 5.  Captain John Sheridan seems on paper to be a jarhead, but he is actually a secret dissident and an eventual war leader in the rebellion against Clark.  This rebellion occurs in Seasons Three and Four.

Sinclair becomes the Earth Ambassador to Minbar in Season Two.  He is far more than that, however; he doubles as Ranger One (or “the One”), leader of the Anla-shok, a millennium-old force dedicated to fighting the forces of darkness.

The Executive Officer is Susan Ivanova (played by Claudia Christian), a pessimistic Russian with a deep antipathy toward telepaths and their organization, Psi Corps.  Ivanova’s mother was a telepath who refused to leave her family and join the Corps, but opted instead to take powerful drugs which suppressed telepathic abilities.  The drugs were so devastating that she committed suicide.  Ivanova blames Psi Corps for her mother’s suicide.  Yet there is more.  Susan Ivanova is a latent telepath, and she does not want to have make the same choice her mother did.

Psi Corps is an evil organization.  It has its origin in fear toward the telepath minority.  The initial purpose in creating Psi Corps was to establish rules for telepaths and to assure the “mundane” majority that they had nothing to fear.  Over time, however, the Psi Corps has developed a superiority complex and great power as a behind-the-scenes power in the Earth government.  The Corps has even conspired to assassinate a president (Santiago) not to their liking and installed one (Clark) to their liking.

And the Psi Corps has unknowing spies in many places.  They have a top-secret program to program a person with an artificial personality which serves the Corps.  The fake personality exists in the shadow of the natural personality until someone sends the password, at which point the natural personality ceases to exist and the programmed personality takes over.  Telepath Talia Winters carried one of these personalities.

Two alien races, the Narn and the Centauri, despise each other.  The Centauri had occupied and ravaged the Narn homeworld for a century before the Narn resistance liberated the planet.  So the Narns delight in any opportunity to irritate and accuse the Centauri Republic, a declining power obsessed with the good old days.  The Shadows, who created much chaos in the galaxy a millennium ago until the Minbari and the Vorlons defeated them, have reawakened and begun to use the Centauri Republic and other governments as pawns in their ultra-Social Darwinian game.  With Shadow assistance the Centauri have conquered the Narns again and moved against other species.

Back on Earth, President Clark has begun, step by step, to transform a constitutional republic into a dictatorship, using planetary security as an excuse.  By the end of Season Two, one year into his administration, dissent is illegal.

So, there we stand as I prepare to begin writing about Season Three, entitled Point of No Return.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 14, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted July 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 1, Babylon 5 Season 2

Babylon 5–The Fall of Night (1995)   1 comment

Night Has Fallen.  Darkness Has Come. The Unfortunate Owner of This Shop Stated the Truth:  That President Clark Had His Predecessor, President Santiago, Assassinated.

(THIRTY-THIRD IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

World War II analogies abound in this, the second season finale, a devastating episode.  Captain Sheridan breaks with his government in the middle of the third season.  The Fall of Night explains many of the reasons he does so.

The episode begins during a time of Centauri territorial expansion via invasion of their neighbors.  This a crucial piece of information.

Mr. Lantz

It is the end of 2259.  Frederick Lantz, Director of the Ministry of Peace, arrives on Babylon 5.  Mr. Lantz is a deluded idealist.  A grandfather, he wants only to create a new, better, peaceful world for his grandchildren.  He even speaks of “peace in our time,” a quote from British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.  The price Lantz is willing to accept to accomplish the goal of peace is morally unacceptable.  He does not recognize this, however.  His organization, the Ministry of Peace, crushes dissent and criminalizes differences of opinion, and he has no qualms with any of this.  Mr. Lantz is, however, the perfect choice for a front man for such a nefarious organization as the Ministry of Peace.  If you were seeking someone to represent that group, would you not want Mr. Lantz for the job?

Mr. Welles

Accompanying Mr. Lantz is his Co-Director (and head of the Night Watch), Mr. Welles.  Welles is a manipulative S.O.B., to be blunt.  He encourages Commander Ivanova to betray her loyalties and work with the Night Watch, in exchange for which her military career will advance more rapidly.  Ivanova turns him down, of course.  And Welles pressures Babylon 5 members of the Night Watch to turn in anyone who voices “seditious” statements (often accurate ones), such as the truth that President Clark had his predecessor, President Santiago, assassinated.   Welles is a mean and smooth piece of work.

Night Watch, by the way, has characteristics of the SS and the Hitler Youth.

Meanwhile, a Narn heavy cruiser arrives at Babylon 5.  Captain Sheridan, operating within Earth Force regulations, grants the ship and its crew sanctuary and provides technical support (to repair the vessel).  Word of this reaches Mr. Lantz, who is incensed.  He announces that the Earth government is concluding a non-aggression pact with the Centauri Republic.  (Does this sound familiar?  Check the history books regarding Europe in August 1939.)

Shortly thereafter a Centauri warship arrives at Babylon 5.  Captain Sheridan deploys a squadron of Starfury fighters to surround the Narn vessel and escort it safely into hyperspace.  Sheridan warns the Centauri not to fire, or else he will use deadly force.  The Centauri captain fires on the station, the squadron, and the Narn vessel anyway.

The Centauri Vessel Damages Babylon 5.

Sheridan’s forces return fire while the squadron escorts the Narn ship to safety.  In hyperspace, Lt. Keffer, who saw a Shadow vessel in A Distant Star, sees another one.  He pursues it until it destroys his fighter, but not before Keffer ejects a buoy with footage of the Shadow vessel.

The Narn Ship is Safe Now.

But it is too late for the Centauri vessel.

The Centauri Warship Explodes.

The Centauri government is angry, of course.  The diplomatic way out of this delicate situation is for Captain Sheridan to apologize to the Centauri for his actions.  This is an order, not an option.

The undeserved apology is set to occur in the Babylon 5 garden, in the center of the rotating space station.  Sheridan, in full-dress uniform, is going to the garden via the elevated train at the the core of the station when he sees a bomb a Centauri left for him.  Sheridan orders the computer to open the doors, and he leaps from the train just in time.  The empty train explodes, but the captain is falling toward toward the “ground” at a deadly rate of speed.

Ambassador Kosh Saves Captain Sheridan’s Life

Kosh, the Vorlon Ambassador, leaves his encounter suit and saves Sheridan’s life.  The ambassador’s true appearance remains unclear even at this point, for everyone sees something different.  The Minbari see a Minbari god, the Drazi see a Drazi deity, et cetera.  Londo Mollari, the Centauri Ambassador, sees nothing.

What Sheridan Sees When He Looks at Kosh

Kosh places himself at great risk to save Sheridan.  The Vorlons keep themselves hidden away in encounter suits because nobody yet everybody would recognize them without these suits.  And the Shadows are watching.  They might take Kosh’s revelation of himself as a sign to go on the warpath more aggressively and more quickly.  Yet the risk is worthwhile, for Sheridan is that important.

The Fall of Night ends with Night Watch arresting a man who has spoken out against President Clark and closing his business.  (See the first image in this post.)  The Centauri Republic continues its wars of expansion–to create a “buffer zone,” they claim.  (Can you say breathing room?)  Captain Sheridan has come to look upon his Earth Force uniform with disgust.  Commander Ivanova lights her menorah.  And ISN television broadcasts Lt. Keffer’s footage of the Shadow vessel, claiming that nobody in the Earth government knows what the ship is.

Darkness has fallen.  Yet light shines in the darkness.  Sometimes, as Ivanova says at the conclusion of the episode, peace is just another word for surrender.  Babylon 5 was supposed to be the last, best chance for peace.  It failed.  Now it is the last, best chance for victory.

Commander Ivanova Lighting Her Menorah:  Light in the Darkness

Season Three is next.  Stay tuned and keep reading!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 14, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted July 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2

Babylon 5–Comes the Inquisitor (1995)   1 comment

Above:  Sebastian Interrogating Delenn

(THIRTY-SECOND IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

I wrote in the previous post that Babylon 5 darkens in tone the closer the second season finale approaches.  The next episode is that season finale, and Comes the Inquisitor is quite dark–and crackling good.

Ambassador Kosh, of the Vorlons, wants to be sure that Delenn is the correct individual to lead the fight against the Shadows.  She must be the right person at the right place at the right time, or else disaster might result.  So Kosh sends for an inquisitor, who turns out to be a menacing Englishman the Vorlons abducted from London on November 11, 1888.  He calls himself “Sebastian.”

Wayne Alexander, a talented character actor, does a wonderful job of portraying Sebastian, a man who is willing to kill and who has a huge chip in his shoulder.  Why, he wonders, does Delenn presume to believe that she has a mission to fulfill?  Does she think that she on a mission from God?  Is she–or anyone else–really that important?  How far is Delenn willing to go to fulfill her destiny?  Which sacrifices will she make?

ASIDE:  Words do not do justice to the performances of Wayne Alexander, Bruce Boxleitner, or Mira Furlan (Sebastian, Sheridan, and Delenn, respectively).  One must see them to appreciate them fully.

When Lennier informs Sheridan that Sebastian might kill Delenn, Sheridan interrupts the interrogation.  So Sebastian begins to interrogate Sheridan.  At this point Delenn reveals that she is willing to die for Sheridan.  She has passed the test.  There is no greater love, Sebastian says, quoting the Bible, than to lay down one’s life for one’s brother–to die for one person, perhaps in shame.  Sheridan and Delenn are the right people in the right place at the right time.

Shortly before Sebastian leaves Babylon 5 Captain John Sheridan completes some research and discovers the inquisitor’s true identity.  Sebastian was a man who looked around late Victorian London and saw immorality and decadence.  He believed that he had a mission from God to act against it.  But he did not have a mission from God, and he did act properly.  The Vorlons showed him the error of his ways and have forced him to do penance for nearly 400 years.  Now Sebastian just wants to die.

Sebastian addresses Captain Sheridan as he leaves the space station:

Good luck to you in your holy cause, Captain Sheridan. May your choices have better results than mine. Remembered not as a messenger, remembered not as a reformer, not as a prophet, not as a hero… not even as Sebastian. Remembered only… as Jack.

Above:  Jack the Ripper in Late 2259

So, Sheridan and Delenn are preparing to fight the Shadows, and they have the blessing of the Vorlons and Jack the Ripper.  (I would not covet the endorsement of the latter, but he is the Vorlons’ tool.)

Above:  Garibaldi and G’Kar

Matters are looking up for G’Kar, too.  His homeworld fell in the previous episode (bad news), and he is incapable of forgiving the Centauri yet (understandable), but he is arranging for the purchase and transportation of weapons for the resistance.  Security Chief Michael Garibaldi convinces G’Kar to stop transporting them via Babylon 5 (for the sake of station security and for political reasons) yet provides a superior, alternative route away from the space station.  This is good news.  And the Rangers prove they can carry messages between the Narn homeworld and Narns living on Babylon 5, thus improving G’Kar’s status with the station Narns.  This is more good news.

There is hope…after all.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 13, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted July 13, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2

Babylon 5–The Long, Twilight Struggle (1995)   1 comment

Above:  Londo Mollari Watches the Orbital Bombardment of the Narn Homeworld

(THIRTY-FIRST IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

The Long, Twilight Struggle is a very dark episode with hopeful elements.  Matters will deteriorate, but, if the forces of good persevere, good will triumph.

So let us begin with the bad news.

For the year previous to this episode forces (including Lord Refa and Ambassador Londo Mollari) within the Centauri Republic have been allied with the evil Shadows, who have awakened after a millennium of sleep.  The Shadows have found in the Centauri Republic a useful pawn:  a fading power living on past glories and seeking a revival of national glory.  The Shadows will give this to the Centauri, but only for a fleeting moment and steep price.

The Centauri seek national glory through military conquest.  One of their targets is the Narn Regime.  Early in the 22nd Century C.E. (Earth calendar) the Centauri captured the Narn homeworld, then a verdant, lush planet.  After a century of Centauri rule, however, the Narn planet was a barren wasteland.  The Centauri occupation of Narn ended about a century after it began.  This episode, set about 58 years after that Narn liberation, tells of the second Centauri conquest of Narn, at the end of a 6-months-long war the Centauri provoked.

The Shadows destroy most of the Narn batlle fleet for the Centauri, who proceed to the Narn homeworld and bombard it from orbit for days.  The Centauri destroy the Narns’ infrastructure and force the Narn government to surrender unconditionally.  Then the Centauri impose draconian terms, including concentration camps, slavery, war crimes trials for members of the Narn ruling body, the Kha’Ri.  The verdicts are “guilty,” of course.

Above:  Ambassador G’Kar of the Narn

The final act of the Narn government before surrendering is to order G’Kar, Ambassador to Babylon 5 and a member of the Kha’Ri, to ask Captain Sheridan for sanctuary.  G’Kar is a passionate, proud, and dignified individual, so pleading for sanctuary is humiliating, but he does it.  And Captain Sheridan, our hero, grants G’Kar sanctuary.

Ambassador Mollari returns to Babylon 5 after witnessing the bombardment of the Narn homeworld and addresses the Babylon 5 Advisory Council.  He announces the surrender of the Narn government and the terms the Centauri Republic has imposed.  Among them is turning G’Kar over to the Centauri government.  Sheridan refuses, saying that he has granted G’Kar sanctuary and the neither he (Sheridan) nor the Earth government are bound by the Centauri terms.

Londo Mollari is not satisfied with this, but can do nothing about it.  Yet he can (and does) insist that G’Kar is no longer a Narn representative or a member of the Babylon 5 Advisory Council.  Londo forces G’Kar’s removal from the Council and the council chamber.  Before G’Kar leaves, however, he delivers a moving speech:

No dictator… no invader… can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand. The Centauri learned this lesson once. We will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years, we will be free.

I do not know how anyone can watch that scene and not find G’Kar’s words powerful.

Now for the good news.  (It is welcome after all that.)

Draal, the Minbari citizen who assumed custodianship of the great machine deep inside Epsilon 3, the planet very near Babylon 5, invites Ambassador Delenn and Captain Sheridan.  He tells them that a “long, twilight struggle” is about to ensue, but that he is their ally in fighting and winning it.  The valiant heroes aboard Babylon 5 are not alone.

After the Narn surrender, Delenn introduces Captain Sheridan to a group of Rangers, members of the Anla-shok.  Security Chief Garibaldi has been cooperating with them for a few months, and Delenn has commanded the Rangers in the vicinity of Babylon 5.  She transfers equal authority to Captain Sheridan.

The forces of light have their work cut out for them, but at least they have a possibility of winning.  Victory will require great sacrifice from many, but it is possible.

After The Long, Twilight Struggle there are just two episodes remaining in the second season.  Without giving away too much now I say this:  The series grows darker with the end of the second season, as if it were not dark enough already.  Season Three is darker still, and the beginning of Season Four is pitch black in tone.  Yet the good guys win at the end of the fourth season.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is not an oncoming train.

Stay tuned and keep reading!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 13, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted July 13, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2

Babylon 5–Divided Loyalties (1995)   2 comments

Above:  Commander Susan Ivanova and Telepath Talia Winters, Friends At Last

(THIRTIETH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

In 1993 the Babylon 5 pilot movie, The Gathering, aired.  The plot was simple:  The space station Babylon 5 opens in early 2257.  The commanding officer is Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (played by Michael O’Hare), and his executive officer is Lt. Commander Laurel Takashima (played by Tamlyn Tomita).  The Centauri, Minbari, and Narn ambassadors have arrived, so the last major ambassador to arrive is Kosh, from the Vorlons.  A rogue Minbari uses technology to look like Commander Sinclair while attempting assassinate Kosh.  By the end of the movie Sinclair exposes the plot and clears his name.

Above:  Lyta Alexander in 2259

Telepath Lyta Alexander plays a crucial part in The Gathering, for she accuses Sinclair of trying to assassinate Kosh after scanning the Vorlon Ambassador.  Two years later, in 2259, she returns to Babylon 5 with ominous news:  Someone aboard the station is traitor.  This person is not aware that he or she is a traitor, for he or she is an unconscious pawn in a Psi Corps program.  The evil telepaths at the Psi Corps implant an individual with an artificial personality which serves their interests.  At some later point, when a telepath sends the password, the artificial personality destroys the natural one.  So, who can one trust if anyone might carry an Psi Corps-implanted personality?

Lyta, a dissident from Psi Corps, arrives on Babylon 5 to warn the command staff that someone among them carries one of these artificial personalities.  Who is the unconscious traitor?  She is:

Above:  Talia Winters Immediately After Lyta Alexander Exposes Her as the Traitor

Goodbye, sweet Talia, who just became a good friend of Susan Ivanova, who distrusts telepaths and hates the Psi Corps.  Farewell, nice Talia, who assisted in sheltering telepaths who do not want to join or remain in Psi Corps.  Evil Talia has taken her place.

Evil Talia knows many of the secrets of the command staff’s activities against the Clark Administration and the Psi Corps.  But it could have been worse, for Sheridan and Garibaldi were preparing to invite Talia to join their cell group.

Above:  Lt. Commander Laurel Takashima in 2257

Series creator J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) had a plan for Lt. Commander Laurel Takashima, from The Gathering.  In the pilot movie he laid the foundations for her character to carry the Psi Corps-implanted personality.  Indeed, certain scenes in The Gathering imply that Takashima was complicit (consciously or otherwise) in the plot to assassinate Kosh and frame Sinclair.  Yet actress Tamlyn Tomita chose not to return to the role when Babylon 5 became a series, so Claudia Christian’s Susan Ivanova became Executive Officer.  And JMS transferred the sleeper personality to Talia Winters.  The crucial plot points survived casting issues.

I watched Divided Loyalties again today.  The most chilling scene came at the end, when Commander Ivanova spoke with the new Talia Winters personality.  Ivanova had found and lost a friend–and she had few friends.  It was sad.

There is another important revelation in this episode.  Susan Ivanova is a latent telepath, albeit not a powerful one.  She knows that this is enough, however, to end her military career and force her into Psi Corps.  So that is her deepest, darkest secret.  In All Alone in the Night Captain Sheridan had a Vorlon-induced vision.  In it, Ivanova asked, “Do you know who I am?”  This new piece of information about Ivanova explains that part of the vision.

Just one more thing, as Lt. Colombo said often.  Lyta Alexander departs the station at the end of the episode and tries again to enter Vorlon space.  Look for her to return to Babylon 5 early in the third season and become a pivotal character in the series.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 13, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted July 13, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2

Babylon 5–Confessions and Lamentations (1995)   1 comment

Above:  Captain John Sheridan Comforting Ambassador Delenn

(TWENTY-NINTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

Confessions and Lamentations is a moving episode about death, disease, pride, stigma, and compassion.  I recommend it highly.

Two stories intertwine.  The first concerns the developing relationship between Captain Sheridan and Ambassador Delenn.  The Minbari Ambassador invites Sheridan over to her quarters for a ritual meal.  This turns out to be an awkward event, for Captain Sheridan falls asleep.  He claims to have been meditating, but snoring is not a sound associated with meditation.  The events of the episode drive the two closer than before, resulting in them being on a first-name basis when the end credits roll.

Below:  Ambassador Delenn

The Markab race is dying of a disease which carries great stigma.  The plague, which is 100% contagious and terminal, carries cultural connotations of immorality.  Many Markabs consider the disease divine punishment for unspeakable sin.  The stigma is so powerful that many Markabs prefer not to address the matter seriously, for fear of offending sensibilities.  The righteous, many Markabs believe, cannot catch the disease.

Below:  Dr. Stephen Franklin Discusses the Plague with Markab Doctor Lazarenn

Yet the disease has nothing to do with righteousness or sin, and no amount of holiness can keep one alive and healthy in the face of the plague.  So the “righteous” Markabs who flee from planet to planet to space station spread the plague and doom the Markab species.  The only sin involved is pride–pride in one’s own righteousness, perceived or otherwise.

Above:  Ambassador Delenn Comforts a Markab Child

The Markabs aboard Babylon 5 decide to quarantine themselves as a show righteousness (and to avoid beatings by hostile aliens).  This action has the unintended consequence of hastening the death of those in self-imposed quarantine, however.  As the Markabs aboard the space station die Ambassador Delenn and her aide, Lennier, go among them to provide comfort for the suffering.  These two Minbari understand the virtue of compassion.

By the time Dr. Stephen Franklin develops a medical treatment to prevent the spread of the plague the Markabs aboard Babylon 5, the Markab homeworld, and Markab colonies are dead.  Captain Sheridan comforts the traumatized Delenn, who, for the first time, calls him “John” while crying on his shoulder.

Confessions and Lamentations contains references to the Bubonic Plague, especially the 14th-Century outbreak called the Black Death.   The more recent disease Dr. Franklin mentions is AIDS, which has a definite stigma.  In the case of AIDS the stigma is focused generally on homosexuality, although many, if not most, transmission is heterosexual in nature.  But stigma is irrational, is it not?

If you want a good cry, this is the episode for you.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 13, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted July 13, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2

Babylon 5–Knives (1995)   2 comments

Above:  Urza Jaddo

(TWENTY-EIGHTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

The character of Londo Mollari began as a buffoon and a representative of a decadent, declining power (the Centauri Republic) focused on its past glory days and nursing resentment over its current status as a second-rate nation.  With this episode the comic relief aspect of Londo’s character goes into retirement and the dark side takes over.

Londo receives a visitor, his longtime friend, Urza Jaddo.  Urza has come seeking help, for the Centauri government is about to declare him a traitor.  He is not actually a traitor, but he is a dissident.  Urza knows, for example, that the war against the Narn Regime is one of aggression, not defense, and he says so openly.  Urza seeks Londo’s assistance is halting this declaration of treason, which will lead to shame for his family in the honor-bound Centauri society.  Londo tries to help but is actually no help, for his ally, Lord Refa, is the mastermind behind the effort to declare Urza a traitor.

Urza, who knows that his fate is sealed, seeks to protect his family.  So he challenges Londo to a duel (with swords) to the death.  The victor in this contest must take the family members of the vanquished into his extended family.  So Urza, by dying at Londo’s hands, saves his family.

Below:  Urza Dying in Londo’s Arms

Babylon 5 is a series about choices and their consequences.  Londo Mollari always has choices, but rarely does he recognize this fact.  So, out of blindness, resentment, and patriotism, he makes terrible choices which ricochet on himself and the Centauri Republic.  At the end of Knives Londo believes that he has no choice but to follow the dark path to its end.  He does take that path to its end–and his.  But I get ahead of myself.

Above:  Captain Sheridan Finds a Dead Markab in Grey 10

The other story in Knives is that of Captain Sheridan and his bizarre visions.  Security Chief Michael Garibaldi tells Sheridan about reports of odd events in the section of the station called Grey 10.  People report seeing and hearing strange things and the scanners are seeming to malfunction.  So Sheridan investigates.  He finds a dead Markab who is actually host to an alien lifeform, which transfers to Sheridan.  Now the Captain sees and hears things nobody else does.  This continues until Sheridan understands that the alien is attempting to communicate with him.  The alien wants to go home.

So Sheridan flies a Starfury fighter craft to Sector 14, where the Babylon 4 space station disappeared a few years ago.  The alien leaves Captain Sheridan and goes home through this portal in time and space:

Babylon 4 and Sector 14 come back into the story thread in the next season.  So stay tuned and keep reading.

By far the more interesting story in Knives is that of Londo Mollari, who proves by his life that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  The tragedy of his character is that he has a conscience and tries to do the right thing by his nation, but that he gets almost every detail horribly wrong.  And there is hell to pay in this life.  None of this was predestined; Londo creates this reality with his choices.  It is too late to turn back by the time he realizes how wrong he has been.  Londo Mollari could have been a good man or even a great one, but he becomes an agent of destruction for himself and others.  And he does this while, in his words, seeking only to serve.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 13, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted July 13, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2

Babylon 5–In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum (1995)   1 comment

Look into Captain John Sheridan’s eyes.  He is making a momentous decision and beginning to realize the scope of sacrifices he might have to make for the common good.

(TWENTY-SEVENTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

When Captain John Sheridan arrived on Babylon 5 at the beginning of the second season he seemed merely like a happy-go-lucky jarhead.  He was far more, of course, as subsequent episodes demonstrated.  And Sheridan’s opportunities for joy decreased exponentially over time.  In this crucial episode, In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum, Sheridan’s character deepens greatly and becomes even more serious.

Mr. Morden, the smirking human agent of the Shadows, is aboard Babylon 5 to speak with Ambassador Londo Mollari.  Londo is away, so Vir, the diplomatic aide, talks to Morden.  Vir detests Morden and the Shadows, and makes no secret of this fact.  So, when Morden asks the ominous question, “What do you want?” Vir states that he wants to live long enough see Morden dead and his head on a pike.  This, Vir says, will serve as a reminder that some favors come with too high a price.

Pay attention to those comments from Vir.  They come true.  Stay tuned.

During that conversation Morden asks Vir how the Centauri’s war against the Narns is going.  This is small talk, of course, for Morden knows quite well how the Centauri war effort is doing.  But, just in case you, O reader, wonder, the above image says it all.  The Centauri are slaughtering the Narns.

Meanwhile, Pierce Maccabee arrives on Babylon 5 as part of a recruitment drive.  Back home on Earth, the Clark Administration has established the Ministry of Peace, Minipax for short.  (Yes, this label comes straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.)  Maccabee is an emissary of the Ministry of Peace trying to convince security personnel to join Night Watch, part of that organization.  We cannot be at peace with others until we are at peace with ourselves, Maccabee says.  And we cannot be at peace with ourselves when we tolerate people with bad attitudes who work against peace, he continues.  Therefore, Maccabee concludes, people need to report “harmful” ideas, comments, and misinformation to the Ministry of Peace.  O, and by the way, anyone who joins Night Watch wears a armband and receives a salary bonus.

Yes, Maccabee is advocating for domestic spying.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  The insidious nature of Night Watch becomes more apparent in the last episode of the second season.  Stay tuned.

AN ASIDE:  Series creator J. Michael Straczynski conceived of the series in the late 1980s and got it on air in the 1990s.  He drew on history–in this case, from the Third Reich–think of Night Watch as similar to the Hitler Youth.  But, as I reflect on history since September 11, 2001, I realize that bipartisan pressures to support domestic spying in the United States have increased.  It makes me nervous.  So I cannot watch this episode without thinking about the National Security Agency or a proposed plan from George W. Bush’s first term to institute a hotline where people could report “suspicious” activity.  I note also that President Obama has not ended domestic surveillance of citizens, a fact which disappoints me.  Alas, I do not live in an ideal world.

Now, back to the show.

And, by the way, I think that the character’s last name, Maccabee, is meant to be ironic.  As a student of the Bible, I have read closely all four books of the Maccabees.  (Only 1, 2, and 4 Maccabees mention any Maccabees, I know.  But I did not name the third book 3 Maccabees.)  The Hasmonean brothers were warlike, not pacific, characters.

The main story thread in this episode concerns what happens after Security Chief Michael Garibaldi finds Captain John Sheridan unpacking the possessions of his wife, Anna Sheridan.  Anna was on board the science ship Icarus, which exploded a few years ago.  Garibaldi reviews the crew roster of the Icarus and finds Mr. Morden’s image.  Morden is not dead, Garibaldi says; Morden is on the station now.

Captain Sheridan orders Mr. Morden detained then interrogates him.  Why isn’t Morden dead?  If he survived, have any other members of the Icarus crew?  Is Anna Sheridan alive?  Morden ducks, evades, and lies while Sheridan detains the legally dead man (who therefore has no rights, Sheridan reasons), upsetting his fellow command officers.  Sheridan, they say, has gone too far.  They stand on principle, refuse to cooperate, and state that to use the letter of the law to circumvent the spirit of the law is wrong.

Sheridan continues to go too far.  He arranges for telepath Talia Winters to walk past Morden, escorted by security guards, in a corridor.  This is what she–and only she–sees:

Mr. Morden is not alone.  He is in the company of Shadows.

Minbari Ambassador Delenn comes to Captain Sheridan.  She tells him that he must release Mr. Morden immediately, or else the station and everyone on board is in great danger.  She tells him to come with her, for “The greatest nightmare of our time is waiting for you.”

Delenn and Kosh tell Sheridan about the Shadows, an ancient race the Minbari and the Vorlons defeated in a war a thousand years ago.  The Shadows have returned, and the forces of light are not yet ready to fight them.  If the Shadows learn that too many races are aware of their return now, they will strike now, and will win.  But if the forces of light can prevent the Shadows from knowing that they know what they know, there will be time to gather the forces necessary to defeat the Shadows again.

Delenn and Kosh tell Captain Sheridan that Anna and the other crew members of the Icarus traveled to Z’ha’dum, where, by accident, they awakened Shadows.  Those who agreed to cooperate with the Shadows lived; those who refused died.  Sheridan, Delenn says, must lay aside his vendetta and his grief, release Morden, and join the fight against the Shadows.

Sheridan relents, and apologizes to his fellow command officers.  Shortly thereafter he visits Ambassador Kosh.  Sheridan asks Kosh to teach him how to fight the Shadows, for he (Sheridan) will go to Z’ha’dum one day.  Then Kosh warns Sheridan, “If you go to Z’ha’dum, you will die.”  Sheridan answers, “Then I die.  But I will not go down easily, and I will not go down alone.  Will you teach me.”  The Vorlon ambassador replies, “Yes.”

This comes true, also.  Stay tuned.

I divulge just one more hint:  Delenn and Kosh were not forthcoming about Anna Sheridan’s fate.  Stay tuned for that, too.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 13, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted July 13, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2

Babylon 5–And Now For a Word (1995)   1 comment

The Title Card for the September 16, 2259, Episode of 36 Hours

(TWENTY-SIXTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

And Now for a Word is the only episode of its type in Babylon 5.  This episode is in the style of a news program from the ISN Network on September 16, 2259.  Soap Opera star Kim Zimmer guest stars as journalist/inquisitor Cynthia Torqueman, who voices overt biases, behaves insensitively, and gets in the way aboard the space station, even asking command officers questions as they deal with a crisis in the Command and Control room.

Above:  Cynthia Torqueman

The Babylon 5 space station, we learn, is increasingly unpopular back on Earth.  Many citizens of Earth wonder why humans should become involved with the internal affairs of other species.  And the space station is so expensive to maintain.  In interviews station personnel support the station, as one would expect.  And some Senators grant grudging support, citing the strategic reasons, namely the importance of the planet below Babylon 5.

Above:  A Centauri Warship Emerges from the Jump Gate Near Babylon 5

And Now For a Word returns to the story arc and continues the new Centauri-Narn war.  ISN’s cameras record Narn and Centauri warships firing on each other, ships exploding near Babylon 5, and the Narn and Centauri ambassadors making their statements in public and in private.

At the end of the news program Torqueman (whose name is intentionally close to Torquemada) asks various individuals if Babylon 5 is a worthy endeavor.  Delenn, the Minbari ambassador, provides the best answer:

Of course it is. For the simple reason that no one else will ever build a place like this. Humans share one unique quality: they build communities. If the Narns or the Centauri or any other race built a station like this, it would be used only by their own people. But everywhere humans go, they create communities out of diverse, and sometimes hostile, populations. It is a great gift and a terrible responsibility–one that cannot be abandoned.

In the late 1990s I worked at a television station (which has ceased to exist in its original form) in Baxley, Georgia, U.S.A.  For much of that time I worked the 11:00 P.M.-7:00 A.M. shift.  During the dead of night I liked to surf the satellites.  There was no policy against this, so long as I did my job.  And I always did my job.  During my satellite surfing I found CBC Newsworld, the news channel of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.  I noticed that CBC Newsworld was superior to any U.S. news channel.  Our 24-hour news channels cover less of the world and repeat more stories than CBC Newsworld.  Also, the Canadian channel is more even-handed than CNN, MSNBC, or FOX News Channel.  Come to think of it, saying that CBC Newsworld is more even-handed than CNN, MSNBC, or FOX News Channel is like saying that a calm person is less excited than a hysterical one.

I chase this tangent to make one point:  The 36 Hours program in this episode is in the style of a U.S. news channel, and is thus uncomfortably familiar in tone.

Above:  The Happy Ending of the Psi-Corps Advertisement

Also interesting from And Now For a Word are the commercials from the 23rd Century.  The creepiest of these is the advertisement for the Psi-Corps, in which a friendly Psi Cop helps a picked-on telepathic boy find his niche.  In reality, Commander Susan Ivanova has the Psi-Corps pegged:  It has “all the moral fiber of Jack the Ripper.”

The Psi-Corps was complicit in the assassination of President Luis Santiago on January 1, 2259.  The Psi-Corps is the power behind the scenes of the new William Morgan Clark administration.  The dominant attitude within the Psi-Corps is contempt toward most people, “mundanes,” who lack telepathic abilities.  The Psi-Corps leans toward fascism.  It is a scary organization with very good advertising.

And it recurs throughout the Babylon 5 series.  Stay tuned.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 13, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted July 13, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2