Archive for the ‘Babylon 5 Season 3’ Category

Babylon 5–Ship of Tears (1996)   1 comment

The New ISN, or the FOX News Channel on Speed


If you thought that Babylon 5 had become dark, wait…it isn’t pitch black yet.  Yet, the show improves as it darkens.  Much of the best science fiction borrows from ancient and modern history then projects it into the future.  In Star Wars, for example, the transformation of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire has parallels to ancient Rome.  And the Clark Administration in Babylon 5 echoes Stalinism, Nazism, McCarthyism, and George Orwell’s 1984.  Series creator J. Michael Straczynski has said so in public, on the Internet, and in DVD commentary tracks.

A few episodes ago, in Severed Dreams, President Clark’s forces had stormed the broadcast headquarters of the Interstellar News Network (ISN), which was broadcasting accurate information inconvenient to Clark, who had just declared martial law and dissolved the Senate.  As Ship of Tears opens, ISN resumes broadcasting–as a cheerful propaganda tool under Clark’s control.  ISN now reflects Clark’s priorities–agreeing with him at all times, promoting xenophobia, and condemning all dissent–while ignoring inconvenient facts.  Damn objective reality, just read the script from the Ministry of Truth, which Clark’s administration created.   Yes, that is another homage to 1984.

Delenn Tells G’Kar the Difficult Truth

G’Kar finally gains admission to the Conspiracy of Light.  First, however, Delenn tells him the hard truth tearfully.  She and others knew of the return of the Shadows long before they admitted it publicly, but remained silent.  They felt the need to avoid tipping off the Shadows and their allies prematurely, before the Conspiracy of Light was ready to fight back effectively.  This delay cost the Narns dearly.  G’Kar, now on the road to Enlightenment, understands–now.  Once he would have committed violence after learning such information, but that was then.

Alfred Bester is Back

Alfred Bester, an evil Psi-Cop, is back.  He has become concerned about how the Shadows have infiltrated his beloved Psi Corps.  Bester has information that Shadow vessels are transporting “weapons systems” through hyperspace, and he needs Sheridan to intercept them.  Bester’s information is correct, and the “weapons systems” are rogue telepaths with cranial implants.  The Shadows were planning to use these telepaths as CPUs for their ships.

Carolyn, Alfred Bester’s Lover

Among these telepaths is Carolyn, Alfred Bester’s lover.  Marriage within the Psi Corps is based on genetic compatibility, not love.  So Bester is trapped in a loveless marriage.  But he loves Carolyn, a rogue telepath.  As it turns out, blood, not ice water, runs through Bester’s veins and arteries.  Carolyn and her fellow unfortunate telepaths have implants which human technology cannot bypass or remove and which compels them to become one with machines.

Simply put, these Shadows are soulless bastards.

Ship of Tears reveals the Achilles Heel of the seemingly invincible Shadow vessels:  Telepaths can jam them.  Bester’s presence on the White Star creates a situation which hints at this fact.  And Security Chief Michael Garibaldi discovers confirmation in the ancient Narn text, the Book of G’Quan.  Our heroes have another weapon now.

Hint:  Remember these rogue telepaths.  They play a crucial part in the story arc of Babylon 5.

This episode reveals a fun fact:  To thump a Narn sacred text is to demonstrate disrespect for that text.  Living as a self-identified heretic in the Southern U.S. Bible Belt, I enjoy that detail greatly.

Thanks for reading!

O, and watch the episodes, of course.



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

Posted July 28, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

Babylon 5–Ceremonies of Light and Dark (1996)   2 comments

The Reborn


Babylon 5 broke away from the Earth Alliance in the previous episode.  The Earth government, now a dictatorship, is not taking this development blithely.  There are still plain clothes Night Watch personnel on board the space station, and they have their orders.

Minbari ships are guarding Babylon 5.  Fleet Captain Lenann comes aboard the station to take a tour of the place he helped save.  Night Watch personnel abduct Lenann and Ambassador Delenn.

Below:  Lenann and Delenn in Captivity

Captain Sheridan and Security Chief Garibaldi begin their search for the captive Minbari, in order to save their lives.  They succeed, of course, but not without Sheridan realizing how emotionally attached he has become to Delenn.

Prior to this abduction Delenn had been planning a Minbari rebirth ceremony.  Each guest needs to give up something valuable and admit a secret, so that he or she can progress less burdened into the future.   Londo Mollari sees no point in the ceremony.  G’Kar is too busy.  Marcus Cole clings to his guilt related to the death of his brother and his grief over having lost everything to the Shadows.  Lennier fulfills his part of the ceremony by telling Marcus that he loves Delenn with a love he knows will always be unrequited.

Londo and Refa

In a separate story thread, Ambassador Londo Mollari continues to try to back away from the Shadows.  He tells former ally Lord Refa that the Centauri Republic is fighting wars on too many fronts–12, to be exact–simultaneously.  To fight a war on two fronts is foolish, but 12 fronts?  Out of patriotism, Londo tries to get his nation out of this trouble.  He introduces half a two-part poison into Lord Refa’s system and tells Refa to stop dealing with Mr. Morden and to advise Emperor Cartagia to end the needless wars–OR ELSE.

In a humorous story thread, Security Chief Garibaldi reboots the station’s computer, only to discover the grumpy AI, Sparky.  The scene in which Garibaldi, fed up, shoots out a speaker to quiet Sparky is quite satisfying.

Lennier with Delenn after Her Rescue

Sheridan, Ivanova, Franklin, and Garibaldi bring the rebirth ceremony to the recuperating Delenn.  Each surrenders his or her Earth Force duty uniform.  Sheridan reveals that he was willing to kill the Night Watch gunman to save Delenn’s life.  Garibaldi is afraid to let go, Franklin has a problem (an addiction), and Ivanova thinks that she loved Talia Winters.  Delenn left a gift for each of the four:  they have new uniforms, as shown at the top of this post.

Now, with our intrepid heroes separated from Earth Force, they are free to fight the Shadows and the Clark Administration (in that order) without anyone looking over their shoulders.

When I teach World History II I begin with the Bubonic Plague.  My reason is simple:  The modern world exists in the shadow of the Renaissance, or Rebirth, which followed the Bubonic Plague.  Resurrection, I tell my students, entails returning in an altered form.  Yet the resurrected one is not entirely new; much of the former self remains.   Our reborn heroes in Babylon 5 carry much–good and bad–into their reborn forms.  Don’t we all?

Stay tuned and keep reading!



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

Posted July 28, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

Babylon 5–Severed Dreams (1996)   1 comment

Part of the Aftermath of the Battle of Babylon 5


Severed Dreams is a powerful and moving episode about the high cost freedom carries sometimes.  It is also the episode for which Babylon 5 won its second Hugo Award.  The title goes back to the first season opening titles narration:  “Babylon 5 was a dream given form.”  The original purpose of Babylon 5 was to create and maintain peace in the wake of the Earth-Minbari War of 2245-2248, which almost resulted in the destruction of Earth and the near extinction of the human race.  Yet, as Commander Ivanova’s voiceover in the second season finale, The Fall of Night, and the third season opening credits narration indicate, Babylon 5 failed to become the last, best chance for peace.  Now it has become something greater–our last, best chance for victory.

Major Ryan Ponders the Costs of War Aboard the E.A.S. Alexander

It is five days after the previous episode.  The E.A.S. Alexander is fighting the E.A.S. Clarkstown, which is loyal to President Clark.  The Clarkstown‘s attack has just killed General Hague, so Major Ryan is now in command on the Alexander.  Ryan gives the order to destroy the Clarkstown.  Then, speaking to his Executive Officer, Ryan says that he knew the captain of the Clarkstown–that he had a wife, young children, and an Abyssynian cat named Max.  In this war, Ryan says, “we know everyone we kill.”  Ryan then gives the command to head to Babylon 5, for repairs.

The Final Broadcast of ISN Before the Military Shuts It Down

Reaction to the declaration of martial law has been mixed during the five days since President Clark declared it.  Many people support it, for it restores order and reduces crime rates to almost zero.  Many others, however, have chosen to resist.  The colony on Proxima III has seceded from the Earth Alliance over martial law.  And the governor of the Mars colony has refused to institute martial law, so Clark has ordered the bombing of civilian targets on Mars.  Furthermore, just as the Interstellar News Network (ISN) reports all this, military forces loyal to Clark cease the channel’s transmissions.

Be afraid.   Be very afraid.

Captain Sheridan, Major Ryan, and Captain Hiroshi

Not only does the Alexander, under Major Ryan’s command, arrive at Babylon 5.  So does the Churchill, under the command of Captain Sandra Hiroshi.  President Clark knows where the ships are, and the destroyers Agrippa and Roanoke are en route to seize control of Babylon 5 and place all rebellious officers under arrest.  It is time to fight.

Delenn Confronts the Grey Council

The Shadows have been encouraging minor powers to fight each other.  This is what the Shadows do:  they sow chaos.  Minor powers think that they are invincible with the backing of the Shadows, but that they cannot win if the Shadows back other minor powers.  So they fight each other, and many sentients die needlessly.  The Grey Council, the Minbari ruling body, has heard of this and stated that this does not concern them.  So Delenn, once a member of the Grey Council, confronts them and dissolves that body, taking with her those who will resist the forces of darkness.

David Sheridan, John Sheridan’s Father

Before John Sheridan does what he must do, he calls his father, David.  David Sheridan says that he knows John will do the right thing, which is not to start a fight but to finish it.  This might be the last conversation they have in a while, but John needs to make some difficult decisions, so David lets his son make them and follow up on them.  “I will talk to you when I talk to you,” David Sheridan says.

Then John Sheridan makes a public declaration:  Babylon 5 is seceding from the Earth Alliance.

The Agrippa and the Roanoke arrive and begin their assault on Babylon 5, the Alexander, and the Churchill.  Forces loyal to President Clark enter the station via a breaching pod, so human and Narn security personnel fight Earth Force soldiers on the lower decks, too.   Babylon 5 and the Alexander survive the first assault, but the Churchill does not:

Captain Hiroshi’s last act is to ram the Churchill into the Agrippa, destroying both vessels.  And the Roanoke explodes under the barrage from the Alexander and Babylon 5.

Then Clark’s second armada arrives.  Babylon 5 and the Alexander are in no condition to fight back.  All seems lost until three Minbari vessels and the White Star, under Delenn’s command, arrive.

In a thrilling moment for a Babylon 5 fan, for the following exchange occurs:

Delenn:  This is Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari. Babylon 5 is under our protection. Withdraw or be destroyed!

Earth Force Captain:  Negative! We have authority here. Do not force us to engage your ship.

Delenn:  Why not? Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari Fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else!

The Earth Force vessels leave.

It is helpful to be on Delenn’s good side.

Back on Babylon 5, station personnel take prisoners, prepare to deport the Night Watch personnel who are not incognito, and gather the wounded and the killed.  Major Ryan and Captain Sheridan augment their diminished supply of Starfury fighters and pilots with survivors from the Churchill, and Sheridan vows not to wear his Earth Force duty uniform for a while.

Civilians and station personnel give Sheridan, Garibaldi, Ivanova, and Delenn a standing ovation.  Yet on the wall behind our heroes is a poster:  TRAITORS CAN’T HIDE.

The struggle has just begun.  Evil can still win if Good is not very careful.  And greater sacrifices will be necessary for Good to win.



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

Posted July 25, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

Babylon 5–Point of No Return (1996)   1 comment

A Message from General Hague, Relayed Second-Hand: “Everything’s gone to hell, John. You’re on your own.”


The overall title of the third season is also the title of this episode.  Point of No Return indicates the point at which our heroes must do what was previously unthinkable.  There is no turning back.  Sometimes the correct choice is the most difficult one.

The episode begins with Captain John Sheridan and Commander Susan Ivanova communicating with one of their allies in Earth Force.  They learn that President William Morgan Clark, who has just declared martial law, has also dissolved the Earth Senate and sent the Elite Guard to open fire on the Senate chamber.  General William Hague, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is on the run.  He has sent a final message to Captain Sheridan:  “Everything’s gone to hell, John. You’re on your own.”

The Earth Alliance is now in a state of civil war.

Vir Cotto, Lady Morella, and Londo Mollari

This comes at an inconvenient time for Londo Mollari, Ambassador from the Centauri Republic.  He has called in many favors to secure a visit from Lady Morella, third wife of the late Emperor Turhan.  Londo has provided an official reason for the request, but his actual desire is that Lady Morella, a seer, will tell him that his dreams about his future will not come true.  The Centauri place great stock in dreams and visions, and Lady Morella has a reputation as one who has dreams and visions, and who tells the truth.

Morella is no fool.  She opposes the policies of the current Centauri regime, but her status shields her from retribution.  And she sees through Londo’s false, official reason for the visit to the station:  to see how the new Earth-Centauri alliance benefits the Centauri.  Morella witnesses the rioting aboard Babylon 5 in the wake of martial law and the outbreak of civil war instead.  Before she leaves, she warns Londo that he has three more chances to get off the destructive path he is on, and says that both Vir and Londo will become Emperor–one of them after the other has died.  All of this happens as the series unfolds.

Zack Allen and His Night Watch Superior

General Smits, who sympathizes with Captain Sheridan, calls to give Sheridan his orders from Earthgov.  Speaking very carefully, Smits relays the new orders:  that only Night Watch personnel will constitute the security forces aboard Babylon 5, per the order of the Political Office and the Ministry of Peace.  Sheridan, Smits says, needs to respect and obey the chain of command, and to look upon this new situation as an opportunity, not a burden.

Did you understand the nuances in the general’s message?

Security Chief Michael Garibaldi Confronts Night Watch

Chief Garibaldi gets into Night Watch’s collective face before they relieve him of duty, placing his second in command, Zack Allen, in command of security.  Yet Zack is not as committed to Night Watch as some personnel think he is.  And this is a good thing.

G’Kar and Ta’Lon

G’Kar, sprung from the clink, returns to his quarters to find Ta’Lon standing guard.  Ta’Lon has been loyal to the former ambassador, awaiting his return.  G’Kar, impressed, explains his new thinking to Ta’Lon.  The Narns must be willing to die for each other and for goodness.  They must give up their desire for revenge against the Centauri.  The Narns must be willing to die in large numbers for the sake of righteousness.  Only then will they save themselves.  And the first opportunity to demonstrate this new imperative has arrived.

Sheridan finally understands that General Smits said in coded, nuanced language.  The order for Night Watch came through civilian channels, not the military chain of command.  So the order is illegal.  Sheridan convinces Zack Allen to tell his Night Watch superior a partial lie:  Narns will replace Night Watch security personnel.  A ship carrying Narns is scheduled to dock soon.  Most Night Watch personnel gather to intercept the ship, which does not arrive because there is no such vessel.  Most Night Watch personnel are now trapped in Docking Bay 9, and Sheridan controls their way out.  Zack, no longer Night Watch, has joined the side of the Light.  The trapped Night Watch personnel leave Docking Bay 9, surrender their weapons and combadges, and enter house arrest.  Then G’Kar’s Narns (who have been on station all along) become security guards.

Captain Sheridan and Commander Ivanova Ponder the Future

Later Captain Sheridan and Commander Ivanova discuss new developments.  Earth Force ships loyal to President Clark have shot down some of the destroyers loyal to General Hague, a fugitive.  Both Sheridan and Ivanova know that Clark’s forces will come for them next.  “I never thought it would end like this,” Ivanova says.  “Me either,” Sheridan answers.

This fast-paced episode brings our heroes to the edge of a momentous decision President Clark has forced upon them.  Is it the proper role of the military to decide or to execute policy in all cases?  When is it appropriate to disobey orders?  When is it appropriate to rebel?  And is this treason or loyalty?

This series, already wonderful, is getting much better at this point.



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

Posted July 25, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

Babylon 5–Messages from Earth (1996)   1 comment

A Shadow Vessel “Awakens” and Fires on a Base at Ganymede


The third season began with the Earth government (Earthgov for short) claiming that it knew nothing about Shadow vessels.  As you, O observant reader, might have figured out by now, Earthgov lied.  This episode proves that point further.

But let us begin with G’Kar.

G’Kar, formerly the Narn ambassador, is putting his incarceration to good use.  He is reflecting on his vision from Dust to Dust and writing.  He seems to be the happiest prisoner in the cellblock, although some passersby who hear his singing think the guards are torturing him.  This writing will lead to the Book of G’Kar, a major plot point in the series.  Another crucial plot point is that Security Chief Michael Garibaldi has been reading the Book of G’Quan at G’Kar’s request.  Without divulging too much prematurely, I say the following:  Narn spiritual texts can offer much practical good for Narns and non-Narns alike.

Now, back to our main story.

Dr. Mary Kirkish

Dr. Mary Kirkish has arrived on Babylon 5.  She is on the run from those who are trying to kill her.  A few years ago, while on Mars, the archaeologist for Interplanetary Expeditions, a corporation with ties to the military, observed the excavation of a Shadow vessel and the subsequent arrival of a second Shadow vessel to escort the first one away from Mars.  She knows that there is a recently uncovered Shadow vessel on Ganymede, and Earthgov wants to keep this one.

Captain Sheridan knows that he cannot permit President Clark to keep a Shadow vessel.  For the first time he must oppose his own government directly.  So he arranges for a cover story as he travels to the White Star, which he takes to Ganymede.

He is too late, though.  An unfortunate human enters the Shadow vessel and joins with it.  (Shadow vessels use living creatures as CPUs.)  The joining did not go well, however, so the ship is insane and out of control.  It fires on the Ganymede base and pursues the White Star.  Sheridan takes the White Star into Jupiter, knowing that the Shadow vessel will follow him.  The White Star survives, although the Shadow vessel does not.  Then the Agamemnon, Sheridan’s former command, fires on the White Star.   Sheridan refuses to fire on his old ship, and devises a way for the White Star to escape to safety.

Doesn’t the Night Watch Leader Aboard Babylon 5 Look Like an Aryan?

Back in the late second season, Zack Allen, the second-highest ranking person in the security division, joined Night Watch for the extra money in his paycheck.  During subsequent episodes he became increasingly uneasy about Night Watch as it began to crack down on dissidents.  He wasn’t reporting enough suspicious behavior, people said.

At the end of Messages from Earth the Babylon 5 head of Night Watch informs Zack that Captain Sheridan has been off the station for a few days.  This is suspicious, is it not?  Where will Zack’s loyalties reside in the end?

The episode ends with President Clark blaming the destruction of the Ganymede base on aliens and declaring martial law on Earth, citing threats to planetary security.  This is a good time to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin:  A person who trades his or her liberty for security is doomed to lose both.

How will our intrepid heroes deal with martial law?  What will Night Watch personnel aboard Babylon 5 do next?  Now that Night Watch has Captain Sheridan in its sights, what will happen to him?  And what are the highest loyalties one should honor?

Stay tuned and keep reading.



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

Posted July 25, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

Babylon 5–Dust to Dust (1996)   1 comment

Freedom of Speech?  What Freedom of Speech?


I have watched all episodes of Babylon 5 more that once.  Part of the beauty of the series is that later episodes pay off hints planted in earlier ones.  And actions have consequences for characters.  Our heroes must decide how to act in response to the deeds of others, and our heroes’ decisions shape their destinies and the fate of others–and of Earth.  Our heroes must lay aside what they want in order to focus on what they must do for the common good.  The price will be high, but the cost of not taking these steps will be too high.

Are you depressed yet?

Let us proceed.

Dust to Dust begins with an argument between a shop keeper and a member of Night Watch.  The security guard, a member of Night Watch, charges the shop keeper with sedition for posting signs calling President Clark an assassin and advocating Clark’s indictment.  Captain Sheridan reprimands the Night Watch guard and stands up for the shop keeper’s fight to express his opinions.

Captain Sheridan Confronts Psi-Cop Alfred Bester

Night Watch is not the only example of Earthgov skulduggery in this episode. Alfred Bester, the evil Psi-Cop, is back aboard Babylon 5 to help rid the station of Dust, a powerful drug which gives non-telepaths telepathic abilities.  Often the result of a Dust overdose is a telepathic assault on an innocent victim.  There are many such victims on Babylon 5.   Sheridan and his command officers block any potential telepathic scan by Bester with Minbari telepaths until the Psi-Cop takes drugs to suppress his telepathic abilities.  They they cooperate with Bester to solve the Dust problem aboard the space station.  Yet Bester did not tell them everything:  The Psi Corps developed Dust years ago.

Meanwhile, G’Kar, once the Narn ambassador, takes too much Dust and assaults Centauri ambassador Londo Mollari.  G’Kar learns that Londo received the assignment to Babylon 5 only after all other candidates had turned down the job as unimportant, and that Londo had been instrumental in the war which ended with the Centauri Republic’s subjugation of the Narns.  Then Kosh, the Vorlon ambassador, grants G’Kar a vision.  Kosh appears as G’Lan, a Narn higher being.  G’Kar learns that the Narns must fight to save one another, and that he has an opportunity to become something greater than what he is.   The noble Narn begins to sob.

G’Kar Sobbing after His Assault on Londo Mollari

G’Kar goes to the Babylon 5 brig for a term, but his transformation into a great soul has begun.  The road is a long one, ending late in the fifth season (The Fall of Centauri Prime) with a tear-jerking statement to Londo Mollari:  “Understand that I can never forgive your people for what you did to my world. My people can never forgive your people. But I can forgive you.”  The journey to that point is a great one.

My next summary/review will cover a pivotal episode, Messages from Earth.  It is time to turn up the temperature higher and to force our heroes into increasingly difficult situations.  But heroism flows from difficulty, not ease.



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

Posted July 24, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

Babylon 5–Voices of Authority (1996)   1 comment

The Smoking Gun:  A Recording of Then-Vice President William Morgan Clark Plotting the Assassination of President Luis Santiago in 2258


Captain John Sheridan leads an armada to Earth late in 2261 (the fourth season of Babylon 5) to, among other things, restore constitutional rule, disband the Night Watch and the Ministry of Peace, and to place President Clark under arrest.  This episode, from early in the third season, helps explain why such drastic measures prove necessary.

Julie Musante, the Political Officer for Babylon 5

J. Michael Straczynski (JMS), the creator of the series and author of all its third season episodes, distrusts both McCarthyism and Soviet-style totalitarianism.  He makes no secret of these facts or of his intentions in drawing parallels from those -isms to the William Morgan Clark Administration (2259-2261) on Earth.  In Voices of Authority Julie Musante, the newly-appointed Political Officer from the Ministry of Peace, arrives on Babylon 5.  The Earth government has begun to label all dissent “treason,” and to move against “traitors.”  Purges–yes, Musante uses that word–will occur during the next few months.  And “loyal” elements of the government are allowed to use relaxed standards of evidence to investigate “treason” and to consider one’s past associations–no matter how far past they are.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Musante is not beyond attempting to use her feminine wiles to her advantage, for she attempts to seduce Captain Sheridan.  She fails, a fact which testifies to Sheridan’s virtues.)  This situation does, however, set up the situation for Commander Ivanova to make a Star Trek joke:  Captain Sheridan is about to go where every man has gone before.

Straczynski borrows prolifically from George Orwell’s 1984 in reference to the Clark Administration.  The Ministry of Peace, or Minipax for short, is such an homage.  We viewers learn from this episode that the Clark Administration has redefined social problems away.  Earthgov has promised anyone who wants one a job, so unemployment is no longer a problem; those without jobs must not want to work.  Prejudice is gone, too, as is poverty.  These problems continue to exist, of course, but unofficially.  And Ms. Musante agrees with the Clark Administration’s policies.

Draal and Commander Ivanova Deep Inside Epsilon 3

Captain Sheridan cannot visit the great machine of Epsilon 3 because of Julie Musante’s presence, so he sends Commander Susan Ivanova in his stead.  Draal, the Minbari guardian of the great machine at the heart of the planet beneath Babylon 5, has invited Sheridan to visit the planet for help in locating remaining First Ones to call upon for the upcoming war against the Shadows and their allies.  Ivanova uses the great machine to find some leads.  An added bonus is a recording of then-Vice President William Morgan Clark (in 2258) telling someone off camera about how much he wants President Luis Santiago dead.  The voice of Mr. Morden, “associate” of the Shadows, tells Clark that Santiago will die soon.

Sheridan arranges for distribution of this recording by the end of the episode, and the ensuing uproar on Earth leads to Musante’s recall to the home planet–to help deal with the changed political situation there.

Meanwhile, G’Kar knows vaguely about the Conspiracy of Light against the Shadows, and wants in on it.  Delenn is reluctant to admit the former Narn ambassador to the Conspiracy during this episode.  She has her reasons.  Stay tuned and keep reading.

The White Star and a Vessel from one of the First One Species

Commander Ivanova takes the White Star to Sigma 957, the world Catherine Sakai visited in the first season episode Mind War, in search of First Ones.  Ivanova makes contact, coaxing them into cooperation by using their antipathy against the Vorlons.  If it works, it works.

There is hope.  But matters will deteriorate before they improve.

The series Babylon 5 is heating up, so to speak.  I invite you, O reader, to hang on for the ride–and to watch the episodes, of course.  They are available on discs and online.



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

Posted July 24, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

Babylon 5–Passing Through Gethsemane (1995)   5 comments

Brother Edward


Among the character pieces early in the third season my favorite is Passing Through Gethsemane, the sad tale of Brother Edward.

The framing story is the return of Lyta Alexander, who left the station and headed for Vorlon space after Divided Loyalties, late in the second season, in which she exposed Talia Winters as the host for the Psi Corps-implanted spy personality.  Lyta, no longer part of Psi Corps, is working for the Vorlons, who have modified her, and for whom she conducts missions and errants, carrying Ambassador Kosh within herself.

Brother Edward is a gentle man, a model of charity and goodwill in deeds small, medium, and large.  He lives on board Babylon 5 as part of the community of Trappist monks which arrived two episodes ago.  He engages in his community’s work, which is to seek the other names and faces of God from members of alien species.

In one scene he interviews Minbari Ambassador Delenn and her aide, Lennier.  The Minbari diplomats explain their culture’s spirituality and the character Valen, a Minbari not born of Minbari–the founder of the Minbari nation as it exists.  (Pay attention:  Valen is pivital in the series.) Then Delenn asks Brother Edward to explain his faith, specifically the hook, if you will, on which it hangs.  It is this:  Jesus did not have to remain in the Garden of Gethsemane, but he chose to be there when the guards came for him.  Edward does not know if he would have had the courage to remain in the garden.

Edward has a secret of which he is unaware.  In 2260 there is no more capital punishment.  The worst criminals, such as serial killers, face the penalty called death of personality, in which the authorities mindwipe the convicted criminal and implant a new personality determined to serve society.  Until 2251 the person now known as Brother Edward was Charles Dexter, the Black Rose Killer.  Some relatives of Dexter’s victims have hired a Centauri telepath to undo the mindwipe partially, prompting Edward to have troubling flashbacks he does not understand at first.

Brother Theo, head of the Trappist community on board Babylon 5, counsels Edward to leave everything in God’s hands.  But the guilt-ridden Brother Edward takes matters into his own hands and searches computer records until he finds a news report with the image of Charles Dexter:

The angry relatives of the murder victims catch up with Brother Edward and leave him for dead.  The man pictured below leads them and does what he considers necessary and proper to exact revenge:

With Lyta’s help the station security forces locate Brother Edward yet find him close to death.  Brother Theo administers the last rites and the guards arrest Edward’s murderer.

Last Rites for Brother Edward

A few days later, Brother Theo introduces the newest member of the Trappist order to Captain Sheridan.  Brother Malcolm has wanted to serve others as long as he can remember.  Does his face look familiar?

Brother Malcolm (Left) and Brother Theo (Right)

Forgiveness, Captain Sheridan tells Theo, is a hard thing.  Nothing is more difficult, Theo agrees.  This, I think, is true.  And the episode has haunted me since I saw it in first run syndication, late in 1995, when I was a student at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, U.S.A.  Now I encourage you, O reader, to watch it, become haunted by it, and share it with others.



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

Posted July 19, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

Babylon 5–A Day in the Strife (1995)   1 comment

The Alien Probe Approaches Babylon 5


A Day in the Strife is a wonderful character piece framed by the presence of a potentially menacing alien probe outside the station.  The probe, from an unidentified species, requests detailed answers to advanced scientific questions–or else it will destroy the station.  Captain Sheridan calls the bluff, and the probe self-destructs, leaving the station intact.

Now, for the good parts.

The third season arc for Dr. Stephen Franklin is drug addiction.  Dr. Franklin is a perfectionist who works long shifts and gets too little rest.  He maintains his attentiveness from time to time (more often as the season progresses) with “stims,” or stimulants, which, in excess, are addictive.  Security Chief Michael Garibaldi, a recovering alcoholic, recognizes what is happening with Dr. Franklin, his friend, and tries help him.  This story arc demonstrates the fact that the major characters in Babylon 5 are flawed, frequently deeply so.

Na’Far, with Ta’Lon Standing Behind Him

After Captain Sheridan finishes a difficult meeting with the transport pilots, he receives a visitor from Narn, which the Centauri Republic conquered late in the second season.  The Centauri, who have destroyed the Narns’ infrastructure and enslaved the Narns on their homeworld and colony worlds, have appointed a new leader for the Narn community aboard Babylon 5.  Na’Far, that would-be leader, is a collaborator who tries to do the best (as he understands it) to save Narn lives.  Yet he is just a pawn of the Centauri.  And he is unpopular with many Narns (for obvious reasons), some of whom try to kill him.  So Na’Far has a bodyguard, Ta’Lon, the Narn from All Alone in the Night, late in the second season.

G’Kar (Right) Confronts Na’Far (Left)

Na’Far asks G’Kar to stop resistance activities, blaming the former ambassador for causing the deaths of many Narns.  G’Kar is prepared to sacrifice himself for the greater good until the Narns aboard Babylon 5 pledge their allegiance to G’Kar and reject Na’Far, who has no choice but to go home.  Yet Ta’Lon stays behind and follows G’Kar.  Ta’Lon states the reality eloquently:  He carries his sword in his hands.  G’Kar carries his sword in his heart.  So G’Kar has the upper hand.

In another plot thread, Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari arranges for his aide, Vir Cotto, to become the Ambassador to Minbar–a promotion.  This is good for Vir, but Londo has another motivation, as well.  Vir is the conscience Londo ignores more often than not–and Londo is preparing to enter very dark territory.  He does not want Vir around.  But Vir will be back, and his character will deepen and become more serious and capable.  So stay tuned and keep reading!

The main series arc heats up beginning in the eighth episode of the third season.  This excellent episode serves to develop characters ahead of the mid-season pivot.  Subsequent episodes develop the seeds A Day in the Strife sows.



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

Posted July 19, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

Babylon 5–Convictions (1995)   2 comments

Robert Carlson, Bomber


There is a bomber aboard Babylon 5.  What is his agenda?  Robert Carlson is merely mad at life and the universe.  So he thinks that it is time for others to suffer.  It is that simple.  Captain Sheridan and the intrepid security forces prevent Carlson from blowing up the station before taking him into custody.

That story frames the essence of this episode, which is characters.  So it is there that I spend most of my time for the next few minutes.

The one humorous scene comes at the beginning of the episode.  Two Drazi missionaries arrive on board to share blessings, for they have heard that a Drazi higher being has visited Babylon 5.  (This was really just Kosh, the Vorlon Ambassador, leaving his encounter suit to rescue Captain Sheridan in The Fall of Night, but that was not how the Drazi understood that event.) Apparently the Drazi share blessings by poking people (such as security guards) and items (such as plants).

Other religious people arrive, too.  Brother Theo (who doubles as a priest) and his community of Trappist monks come to live on Babylon 5.  The Trappists assume that God would have revealed God’s self to aliens, too, and they want to learn other names and faces of God from aliens who are willing to speak with them.  The rest of the time they will earn their keep.

Fortunately for our heroes, the monks are quite observant and patient.  They identify Robert Carlson, the bomber, from much security camera footage.

Lennier, Ambassador Delenn’s aide, believes that all life is sacred.  So he risks his life to save that of Ambassador Londo Mollari from the effects of a bomb blast.  Londo, who is sinking into darkness, is still somewhat sympathetic some of the time.  He visits the comatose Lennier and speaks to him.  Ambassador Mollari tells the following joke, which says much about the Centauri Republic:

How many Centauri does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Only one.  But in the grand old days of the Republic, hundreds of servants would change thousands of light bulbs at our slightest whim!

Another bomb blast traps Londo Mollari and G’Kar together in a turbo lift.  These individuals hate each other.  Earlier in the episode each had blamed the other’s race for the bombings aboard Babylon 5.  G’Kar, in his passive aggression, is content to watch Londo die.  He reminds the Centauri Ambassador of one the terms of the Centauri-imposed settlement upon the Narns:  When any Narn kills one Centauri, 500 Narns, including the attacker’s family members, will die.

So, as rescue workers attempt find a way to remove G’Kar and Londo from the turbolift, the two exchange curses and insults.

Londo:  Bastard!

G’Kar:  Monster!

Londo:  Fanatic!

G’Kar:  Murderer!

Londo:  You are insane!

G’Kar:  That’s why we’ll win.

Londo:  Go be the ambassador to Babylon 5, they said.  It will be an easy position.  I hate my life.

G’Kar:  So do I.

Londo:  Shut up!

Roll to end credits.

I ponder this episode in its full context, namely the final status of the G’Kar-Londo relationship, which ends with them dying about the same time, with their hands around each other’s throats.  Yet I tell you, O reader, that this is not what it might seem to be.  For more details, you will have to wait–and the wait will be worth it.  For now, however, it is sufficed to say that they are not on speaking terms.

And I love watching the actors who play them chew the scenery.



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

Posted July 19, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3