Archive for the ‘Babylon 5 Season 4’ Category

The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 18: The Stepford Cheerleaders (2001)   2 comments

Above:  ROBOT CHEERLEADER TERRORIZES!

All images in this post are screen captures.

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The Stepford Cheerleaders

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired February 22, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-104

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Main Guest Cast

Christopher Glenn as Sperry

Nicholas Gomez as Lyle

Bryan Greenberg as Damon Furberg

David Purdham as Lionel Carson

Alicia Leigh Willis as Alexis Carson

Kathy Wagner as Jennifer

Behind the Camera

Writer = Henry A. Myers

Director = Perry Lang

Consulting Producer = Naren Shankar

Above: Too Old to Pass for Teenagers

Brief Summary

Something is odd at Robertstowne High School, Robertstowne, New York.  Recently, someone has bent parking meters, ripped off locker doors, and torn a metal bleacher in two.  Last week, in August 2000, someone also beat up a drunken, randy quarterback (Lyle) who was assaulting a cheerleader (Jennifer) and hung him by his shirt from the top of a football goal post.

Donald Stern sends Tucker Burns, Wes Freewald, and Grace Hall undercover as high school students for a few days.  Tucker is concerned that they are too old to pass for adolescents.  Grace, however, cites the example of the high school students in Beverly Hills 90210.  How old were they?  The publisher has two theories of the cause of the recent, unusual events in Robertstowne.  The culprit may be either a mutant swamp monster from New Jersey or an extraterrestrial acting out adolescent aggression.  The culprit, Stern insists, cannot be a pixie, for pixies have not been in the United States since 1982.

The undercover reporters split up and pursue leads.  Tucker makes contact with Damon Furberg, the editor of the campus newspaper.  Damon cares nothing about journalistic integrity; he wants to get the story, win awards, and get ahead.  Tucker offers Damon a joint credit on a story in the World Chronicle.  The high school newspaper editor agrees.  Wes Freewald meets a bullied geek, Sperry, and follows a chemistry teacher, Lionel Carson.  Grace Hall meets the injured Kyle, cheerleader Jennifer (who takes the same hormone supplement Mark McGuire did) and her best friend, head cheerleader Alexis Carson.

Something is suspicious about Mr. Carson; acid does not burn his hand.  He has a bionic limb.  He has had that limb for a year and a half, since an automotive accident.

Grace tries out for the cheerleader squad, but Alexis declares her moves too “Paula Abdul.”  The current moves are “Britney Spears.”  However, Grace does notice that Jennifer exhibits physical weakness.

One night, after Damon and Tucker break into an office and read personnel records pertaining to Lionel Carson, someone attacks Damon’s vehicle, rips the roof open, and attacks him.  The next day, Wes discovers evidence that the attacker had a prosthetic arm.  Our heroes immediately suspect Lionel Carson, formerly the Head Designer for Experimental Bionics at Dynomec.  They read that he resigned after his wife died of cancer.

Wes, Tucker, and Grace drive to the Carson residence.  They peak through a window and observe Lionel Carson remove one of his daughter’s artificial arms, to repair a damaged hand.  He also tells her she should control her temper and stop attacking people.  Alexis attacked Kyle and Damon.  Damon is still unconscious in the hospital.  Alexis lost both her arms in the automotive accident a year and a half prior; Lionel fitted her with artificial limbs.  Now she feels like a freak.  She would feel less like a freak if someone else (other than her father) were like her.  Wes’s cellular phone gives our heroes’ location away.  They escape, with some difficulty; Alexis briefly prevents Wes’s car from leaving by holding the front bumper.

Jennifer, the only other person who understands Alexis, wants to become a cyborg.  Jennifer despises her weak body.  That night, our heroes return to the Carson residence.  In the laboratory in the basement, Mr. Carson is preparing to transform Jennifer into a cyborg.  Alexis lifts Wes and Tucker with one arm each.  She finally releases them before they choke.  Then Alexis attacks Grace.  Lionel prevents Alexis from harming anyone else by using a remote device to disable her bionic arms.  Jennifer does not become a cyborg.

A few days later, Tucker mails the newest issue of the World Chronicle to Damon Furberg, wearing a neck brace.  Damon sees the joint byline.  Lyle, reading the story in another copy, turns to Lionel Carson and makes a request.  Lyle’s injury sidelined his plans for a football scholarship.  Would Mr. Carson give him two bionic arms?

Above:  Lyle, Hanging from the Goal Post

Character Beats

Tucker Burns was the editor of his high school newspaper.

Wes Freewald was overweight in high school.

Grace Hall was a cheerleader in high school ten years prior, before her first alien abduction.

Above:  Lionel and Alicia Carson

Great Lines

Wes Freewald, on Damon Furberg’s vehicle:  “Man!  It looks like the canned ham minus the ham.”

Tucker Burns:  “Great!  We have a six million dollar science teacher here.”

Grace Hall:  “It’s always been my experience that the deepest, darkest secrets come packaged like Mayberry.”

Headline:  “SNIPER HIRED TO THWART CRAZED POST OFFICE TERRORISTS.”

Above:  Wes, Tucker, and Damon’s Damaged Vehicle

In-Universe

Tucker Burns and Wes Freewald are roommates at 7657 Main Street, New York, New York.  (In real life, this is commercial property.)

Donald Stern and Vera are hilarious on the telephone as they pretend to be Tucker’s parents.

The registration of Damon Furberg’s vehicle expires in May 2001.

Above:  Jennifer

Comments

The Stepford Cheerleaders is the fifth episode produced and the eighteenth one broadcast.  The temporal setting is late August-early September 2000.  I recommend watching The Stepford Cheerleaders immediately after Baby Got Back, for reasons of internal chronology.  Baby Got Back is the third episode produced and the fourth one broadcast.

In I See Dead Fat People (the fourth episode produced and the fifteenth episode aired), Tucker learned that Wes Freewald had been an overweight teenager.  The temporal setting for I See Dead Fat People is July 2001, however.  Now the internal chronology does not work on this point.

For more commentary on screwy internal chronology and production order versus broadcast order or episodes, see Hot from the Oven.

Watching guest actors who were 23 or 24 years old at the time of episode filming play high school students is not a new experience.

At the time of filming, Chad Willett was 29, Reno Wilson was 32, and Rena Sofer was 33 years old.

David Purdham played the noble and patriotic Captain James at the tail end of the fourth season of Babylon 5.  Captain James was captain of the E.A.S. Agamemnon, succeeding John Sheridan in that post.  Captain James and the crew signed on with Sheridan’s rebellion against the evil Earth Alliance President William Morgan Clark, who had his predecessor assassinated then transformed the Earth Alliance from a republic into a xenophobic, totalitarian state modeled on 1984.  After President Clark committed suicide rather than accept arrest and trial, James helped Sheridan save the Eastern Seaboard of North America from destruction by the planetary defense system, which Clark had turned against the Earth.

The Stepford Cheerleaders is odd to watch in broadcast order.  It feels like an early episode because it is one.  The balance of the serious and the whimsical holds up well, though.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 7, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2263 and Later)   Leave a comment

sleeping-in-light-08

Above:  The Destruction of Babylon 5

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River of Souls:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/babylon-5-the-river-of-souls-1998/

The Legend of the Rangers:  To Live and Die in Starlight:

Skipped

A Call to Arms:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/babylon-5-a-call-to-arms-1999/

Crusade:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/babylon-5-crusade-1999/

The Lost Tales:  Voices in the Dark:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/babylon-5-the-lost-tales-voices-in-the-dark-2007/

In the Beginning:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/babylon-5-in-the-beginning-1998/

War Without End, Parts I and II:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/babylon-5-war-without-end-parts-i-and-ii-1996/

Sleeping in Light:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/babylon-5-sleeping-in-light-1998/

The Deconstruction of Falling Stars:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/babylon-5-the-deconstruction-of-falling-stars-1997/

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Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2261)   Leave a comment

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Above:  A Scene from the Battle of Coriana VI, the Final Battle of the Shadow War

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The Hour of the Wolf:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/babylon-5-the-end-of-the-shadow-war/

Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/babylon-5-the-end-of-the-shadow-war/

The Summoning:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/babylon-5-the-end-of-the-shadow-war/

Falling Toward Apotheosis:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/babylon-5-the-end-of-the-shadow-war/

The Long Night:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/babylon-5-the-end-of-the-shadow-war/

Into the Fire:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/babylon-5-the-end-of-the-shadow-war/

Epiphanies:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/babylon-5-epiphanies-1997/

The Illusion of Truth:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/babylon-5-the-illusion-of-truth-1997/

Thirdspace:

Skipped

Atonement:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/babylon-5-atonement-1997/

Racing Mars:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/babylon-5-racing-mars-1997/

Lines of Communication:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/babylon-5-lines-of-communication-1997/

Conflicts of Interest:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/babylon-5-conflicts-of-interest-1997/

Rumors, Bargains and Lies:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/babylon-5-rumors-bargains-and-lies-1997/

Moments of Transition:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/babylon-5-moments-of-transition-1997/

No Surrender, No Retreat:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/babylon-5-no-surrender-no-retreat-1997/

The Exercise of Vital Powers:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/babylon-5-the-exercise-of-vital-powers-1997/

The Face of the Enemy:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/babylon-5-the-face-of-the-enemy-1997/

Intersections in Real Time:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/babylon-5-intersections-in-real-time-1997/

Between the Darkness and the Light:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/babylon-5-between-the-darkness-and-the-light-1997/

Endgame:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/babylon-5-endgame-1997/

Rising Star:

https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/babylon-5-rising-star-1997/

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Posted August 22, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Movies, Babylon 5 Season 4

Tagged with

Babylon 5–The Deconstruction of Falling Stars (1997)   2 comments

A Computer Interface from the Year 1,002,262

(SIXTY-SEVENTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, the first episode filmed after TNT picked up Babylon 5 for its fifth and final season, is the last episode of the fourth season.  The present day in this unusual installment is 1,002,262, immediately before an unnamed and hostile force makes our Sun go nova, destroying the Earth.  The last person to leave the planet is a Ranger of the Interstellar Alliance.  He is reviewing historical records for transmittal to New Earth.

RECORD I:  January 2, 2262

This segment comes from an ISN talking heads broadcast about the new Interstellar Alliance.  The host is a calm, thinking man, but not all of the talking heads are the same way.  The Senator and the journalist want to give Sheridan’s new Alliance a chance to work, but Henry Ellis (the balding guy on the right), a former speech writer for the recently deceased and disgraced President Clark, is angry and frustrated.  The Interstellar Alliance is doomed to fail, he claims.

I assume that J. Michael Straczyinski (JMS for short) has seen too much of alleged U.S. news networks, based on this segment.

RECORD II:  2362

The Interstellar Alliance, despite the gloomy prediction of Henry Ellis, is a century old.  Three scholars–a historian, a political scientist, and a psychologist–discuss the Alliance during a stellarcast to universities and colleges.  They reach the consensus that Sheridan and Delenn were not as great as many people claim–despite the long peace the Alliance has created and maintained.  A person cannot change history or affect much change, for that work falls to forces of history.  Blah.  Blah. Blah. Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  (Is my sarcasm showing?  I have been in rooms in which I have listened to similar discussions about other topics.  They are all…horse hockey.)

A rather elderly Delenn, whom the panelists thought dead for many years, enters the room, accompanied by aides.  She shames the academics with a simple assertion:  John Sheridan was a good and decent man.  When one scholar says, “Of course, you would say that,” Delenn stares him down silently.  The scholars, Delenn states, know nothing and want to know nothing.  All that matters is that John Sheridan was a good and decent man.

RECORD III:  2762

Earth is again in a state of civil war.  One side, whose emblem resembles the SS logo, is making falsified “historical” videos to portray the founders of the Interstellar Alliance in a negative light, with the goal of influencing public opinion.  Daniel, an agent of this faction, states that Earth needs to leave the Interstellar Alliance because Earth needs “room to expand.”  (This sounds very much like “breathing room,” does it not?)  Daniel uses technology to conjure holographic sets and representations of Sheridan, Delenn, Franklin, and Garibaldi doing things they never did.  Yet Holographic Garibaldi tricks Daniel into revealing invasion plans before transmitting them to the other side in the civil war.  Then the nuclear missile hits.

This segment requires a high degree of incredulity, but it is just entertainment.  C’est la vie.

RECORD IV:  3262

It has been 500 years since the Great Burn and 1000 years since the founding of the Interstellar Alliance.  Earth is rebuilding very slowly with the subtle and disguised aid of the Rangers, including in the form of Brother Alwyn, head of a Roman Catholic monastery.  The Rangers are reintroducing technology to Earth over time, and Earth has a long way to go, having yet to regain any flight technology.

Our heroes have passed into myth, becoming “the Blessed Sheridan,” for example, and being portrayed in illuminated manuscripts:

Lorien:

A Ranger:

Brother Michael, a young monk experiencing a crisis of faith, seeks spiritual help from Brother Alwyn.  How can we know that the Rangers exist, and are helping us rebuild and recover?  Did the Blessed Sheridan really live?  Alwyn says that Michael must have faith.  The Rangers are probably here, just in disguise.  (And Alwyn knows for sure.)

This segment contains some excellent advice for any time.  Faith and reason, Alwyn says, are like a pair of shoes; one can travel farther in both shoes than in just one of them.

This segment is an homage to a classic science fiction novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.  Miller’s novel tells of how Roman Catholic monks in the futuristic former U.S. Southwest preserve knowledge during the centuries following a devastating global nuclear war.  Fortunately, the book and its follow-up, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, are in print.

1,002,262

It is the last day on Planet Earth.  A Ranger finishes reviewing the historical records for transmittal to New Earth, actually the old Vorlon homeworld.  His soliloquy for Earth and the previous generations:

This is how the world ends, swallowed in fire, but not in darkness. You will live on, the voice of all our ancestors, the voice of our fathers and our mothers to the last generation. We created the world we think you would have wished for us, and now we leave the cradle for the last time.

Then the Ranger becomes non-corporeal, a being of pure energy which enters a somewhat familiar-looking encounter suit:

Humans have become as the Vorlons.

The Ranger’s vessel departs the solar system as the Sun goes nova.  Emblazed on the side of the ship is a familiar logo, that of the Rangers.  The Interstellar Alliance has endured for a million years.

Take that, Henry Ellis!  Take that, scholars from 2362!  Take that, neo-fascists from 2762!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 16, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 16, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Rising Star (1997)   2 comments

David Sheridan Meets Delenn, His New Daughter-in-Law

(SIXTY-SIXTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

The civil war is over.  Now what?  This is what:  major political and personal changes.  Follow with me.

President Clark’s Covered Corpse, Left in Place for Investigators

1.  President Clark is dead and very unpopular.

2.  Captain Sheridan has surrendered himself to Earth Force.

3.  Captain Sheridan is very popular after leading the charge to destroy the defense system, which Clark had turned toward Earth.

4.  There is a new President of the Earth Alliance.  Clark had no Vice President.  Yet the Earth Alliance Constitution permits the Senate to elect a new President to fill the vacancy.  Meet the new boss, Susanna Luchenko, from the Russian Consortium:

5.  President Luchenko encourages people to avoid vigilante justice, and to permit courts to determine who terrorized and oppressed others willingly and who cooperated out of fear and threats of retaliation.

6.  Marcus Cole is dead, having given his life to renew that of Commander Susan Ivanova.  She is distraught and filled with guilt over having known that Marcus loved her yet having not requited that love:

7.  Ivanova leaves Babylon 5 at the end of the episode to command a new, top-of-the-line Warlock-Class destroyer on a one-year shakedown cruise.  (Actually, actress Claudia Christian left the series.  She has one version of reasons for this, and series creator J. Michael Straczynski has another understanding of events.  We might never know the objective truth about what happened.)

8.  The Centauri Regent is ill.  Ambassador Londo Mollari will be the next Emperor, and he dreads the promotion.  He should.

9. Psi-Cop Alfred Bester wants to know if his lover, Carolyn, was one of the telepaths Sheridan sacrificed to disable Earth Alliance destroyers at Mars.  She was not, for Sheridan knows what it is like to love a woman, lose her, find her again, and lose her again.  He does not wish that for another man, even Bester.

10.  Michael Garibaldi discovers that Martian criminals are holding Lise Edgars-Hampton for ransom.  He rescues her, with the assistance of Rangers.

11.  President Luchenko meets with Captain Sheridan.  She admits that he did the right thing, and that, by breaking away from Earth, he was in able to oppose Clark more effectively than any well-watched person back home.  But he did commit mutiny at best and treason at worst by taking up arms against his own government.  Sheridan did the right thing in an inconvenient way, and Luchenko wants him gone.  She offers Sheridan and all who served under him a full pardon if he agrees to resign from Earth Force at a televised news conference–OR ELSE.  Sheridan agrees to resign.

12.  Sheridan resigns from Earth Force after President Luchenko praises him in public.

13.  At the same news conference there is a startling announcement:  The member planets of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds have voted to dissolve that organization and create the Interstellar Alliance, which promotes mutual understanding and cooperation through commerce and mutual respect.  The Rangers are the independent intelligence and military force of the new Alliance.  Ambassador Delenn invites Earth to join the Interstellar Alliance.

14.  Captain John Sheridan (Earth Force, retired) is the first President of the Interstellar Alliance, which he and Delenn will lead from Babylon 5 until the completion of permanent headquarters on Minbar.

15.  Earth joins the Interstellar Alliance.  It receives improved technology for creating artificial gravity on spaceships as the first benefit.  And Mars receives its independence, at long last.

16.  Sheridan and Delenn marry.

That is the summary of events.  Now for the subjective content.

I like this episode.  It demonstrates that one person or a few people can change the world(s).  This attitude resides at the core of the Babylon 5 series.   The world will change; that is unavoidable.  The important questions are:  (1) Who is changing the world? and (2) Are these positive changes?  Our heroes in Babylon 5 change worlds for the better, as the next episode, The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, makes clear.

Historical Note:  This was nearly the penultimate episode of Babylon 5.  Series creator and scribe J. Michael Straczynski (JMS for short) had to wrap up the major story lines sooner than he had planned originally because his distributor, the Primetime Entertainment Network (PTEN) was about to cease to exist.  So he made some cuts in the fourth season, moved the beginning of the fifth season into the end of Season Four, and filmed the series finale, Sleeping in Light, which is set two decades after the events of this episode.  Then Turner Network Television (TNT) picked up the series for the fifth season.  So JMS put Sleeping in Light on hold for a year and wrote a new fourth season finale, which is a series of short stories.  That episode will be the topic of my next post in this series.

Stay tuned and keep reading!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 16, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 16, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Endgame (1997)   2 comments

Captain John Sheridan:  “We are here to place President Clark under arrest, to disband Night Watch, and return our government to the hands of her people.”

(SIXTY-FIFTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

Babylon 5 has been building to this point since Chrysalis, the first season finale, in which Vice President William Morgan Clark assassinated President Luis Santiago, with help, of course.  President Clark has turned Earth into an inward-looking dictatorship.  That ends with this climactic episode, a thrill ride and emotional roller coaster.

General Robert Lefcourt, Earth Force

President Clark has stationed a large fleet of destroyers at Mars.  Captain Sheridan knows that he needs to disable these vessels before heading to Earth for the final showdown, for he does not want Clark-loyal forces attacking him from the front and the rear.  Commanding the Earth Force fleet at Mars is General Robert Lefcourt, an old-style soldier.  Lefcourt trained Sheridan and still admires the rebel leader, and even regrets having to kill Sheridan.  Yet Lefcourt is willing to do this job because he believes that a soldier’s job is obey orders handed down through the chain of command, not to affect political change.

Sheridan disables most Earth Force vessels at Mars with telepaths he rescued from the Shadows in Ship of Tears, during the previous season.  This is why Sheridan wanted some telepaths mobile:  so they will awaken when Lyta Alexander triggers them and bond with any machine nearby, thereby disabling a warship.  When a Clark-loyal vessel is not disabled, White Star ships target engines and weapons only, as the image below depicts:

Meanwhile, Marcus Cole, the Ranger who has a platonic love for Commander Susan Ivanova cuts through a series of evasive answers and encrypted computer files to discover that there is a way to save her life on Babylon 5.  It is the alien execution/healing device from The Quality of Mercy (first season).  The machine can prove deadly to the person donating life energy if he or she loses consciousness while the machine is attached and functioning.  But Marcus does not care.  So he takes the White Star he commands back to Babylon 5 while the rest of the fleet proceeds to Earth.

Marcus Cole, Headed Back to Babylon 5

Early Morning (Earth Standard Time), November 2, 2061: Captain Sheridan’s fleet of renegade Earth Force vessels arrives in Earth orbit.  He commands from his old ship, the E.A.S. Agamemnon.  The verbatim text of Sheridan’s speech broadcast to Earth follows:

This is Captain John Sheridan.  We are here on the authority of a multiplanetary force that can no longer stand by and watch one of their greatest allies falling into darkness and despair.  We are here on behalf of the thousands of civilians murdered under orders from the current administration who have no one else to speak for them, and on behalf of the Earth Force unites that have joined us to oppose the tyranny that has darkened Earth ever since President Santiago was assassinated three years ago.  We are here to place President Clark under arrest, to disband Night Watch, and return our government to the hands of her people.

We know that many in the government have wanted to act, but have been intimidated by threats of retaliation against your families, your friends.  You are not alone anymore.  We call upon you to rise up and do what is right.  We have drawn their forces away from Earth and disabled them.  The time to act is now.  This is not the voice of treason.  These are your sons, your daughters, whose loyalties have never wavered, whose beliefs in this alliance have forced us to take extraordinary means.  For justice, for peace, for the future, we have come home.

(It sounds even more impressive when actor Bruce Boxleitner utters the words and the music swells.)

President William Morgan Clark in His Office

In his office, President William Morgan Clark listens to the audio of Sheridan’s speech.  Clark activates the planetary defense system and targets the fleet.  Sheridan summons the alien ships, for the planetary defense system is firing missiles at the forces of liberation:

Meanwhile, a senator, surrounded by Earth Force Marines, marches toward the presidential office, the doors of which Clark has obstructed.  Clark has written “THE ASCENSION OF THE ORDINARY MAN’ repeatedly on office stationery and circled letters spelling “SCORCHED EARTH.”  In other words, if he cannot have what he wants, more innocent people will die.

Then the President turns the planetary defense system on Earth.  Next he commits suicide as the Marines force open the doors to his office.  The senator, realizing the meaning of what Clark has done in his final official act, contacts Captain Sheridan and asks for help.

SCORCHED EARTH

The fleet destroys all the defense platforms except one, and that one is about to fire on the eastern seaboard of North America.  The Agamemnon, which has taken heavy damage, is the closest vessel to that platform.  But its forward guns are inoperative, so the ship will have to ram the defense platform.  Sheridan, on board the Agamemnon, gives the order and braces for death:

Fortunately, the E.A.S. Apollo, which a telepath had disabled at Mars, has restored its systems. General Lefcourt, in command, arrives in the nick of time.  He has been monitoring the situation at Earth.  Lefcourt tells Sheridan to “hang onto his hat” and destroys the final, lethal defense platform.  The Agamemnon is close to the platform, yet survives with all hands:

General Lefcourt welcomes Captain Sheridan home.  The general is still a by-the-books guy; Sheridan will have to stand before a board of inquiry.  Nevertheless, welcome home.

ISN, Back to Its Old Self

Jane, the ISN anchor broadcasting over a year ago when Clark’s elite forces stormed the network headquarters, is out of prison and back on the air.  Tearfully she announces the reasons for her absence, mentions in general terms what she and other journalists have endured, and announces what Captain Sheridan has done.

Marcus Cole and Susan Ivanova

Back on Babylon 5, to which Dr. Franklin is speeding on a White Star, Marcus Cole is using the alien device to transfer his life energy to the dying Susan Ivanova.  His last words before losing consciousness are “I love you.”

He will die quite soon.  But there is no greater love than to give one’s life for another.

The Earth Civil War has ended.  Its fallout occupies much of the remainder of the series, however.  Remember that this is Babylon 5, a series about actions and their consequences.  The Shadow War ended early in this (the fourth) season, and its aftermath plays out for the remainder of the series’ run.

Stay tuned and keep reading!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 16, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 16, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Between the Darkness and the Light (1997)   2 comments

John Sheridan Returns to Delenn

(SIXTY-FOURTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

The Earth Civil War is nearing its end, but President Clark still has a few tricks up his sleeve.  Defeating him and terminating his tyranny will prove difficult and the price will be high.  Between the Darkness and the Light illustrates the cost some people must pay for that high goal to become reality.

Michael Garibaldi Attempting to Convince the Mars Resistance of His Innocence

Captain Sheridan is still in custody on Mars as the episode opens.  Michael Garibaldi contacts the Mars Resistance, which distrusts him and considers him a traitor.  Fortunately, Lyta Alexander is on hand to scan Garibaldi and confirm his story of how Alfred Bester programmed him to turn against Sheridan.  Once more on the good side of the Resistance, Garibaldi works with Lyta, Dr. Franklin, and Number One to liberate Captain Sheridan.  Garibaldi is in a good position to do this, given that ISN has announced that he betrayed Sheridan.

Lyta Alexander, Michael Garibaldi, and Dr. Stephen Franklin Liberating Captain Sheridan

Our heroes free the drugged-up Captain Sheridan.  Garibaldi pretends to be a Clark partisan, which is how he gets to Sheridan.  When Garibaldi cites the ISN broadcasts as evidence that he is on Clark’s side, one reactionary jarhead replies, “I don’t watch TV.  It is a cultural wasteland filled with inappropriate metaphors and an unrealistic portrayal of life created by the liberal media elite.”  (How reactionary does one have to be to consider the Clark-controlled ISN, a mere propaganda mouth piece, liberal?)

Back on the space station, the League of Non-Aligned Worlds has voted to support Captain Sheridan and Delenn.  It has done this in such a way as to avoid any appearance that Delenn has had anything to do with the vote.  (She, in fact, has had nothing to do with the vote.)  The reason for special care to present the proper appearance is the Sheridan-Delenn relationship; the League’s action must look like what it is:  an attempt to help the Humans help themselves.

Sheridan and Delenn are not alone.

The Earth Force Advanced Task Force, Which Features Shadow Technology

Some of those who join the anti-President Clark forces are double agents, so Clark knows Commander Ivanova’s plans.  Clark has a surprise waiting for them at the next scheduled sector of space.  There is a task force of advanced destroyers.  The commanders are loyal to Clark, and this is supposed to be an ambush.  But Commander Ivanova learns of this and decides to take the White Star fleet to intercept these vessels.  The fleet must not lose its Earth component, she concludes, with a keen eye toward public relations.  The campaign to depose President Clark must not appear to be mostly or purely alien.  If it does, appearances will play into Clark’s hands.

The White Star fleet arrives at the designated sector of space and finds hybrid vessels with Shadow technology incorporated into the hull design.   (Yes, the legacy of the Shadows persists.)  Ivanova goes ballistic, refusing to surrender when Captain Jake Thompson, the commanding officer of the advanced task force, orders her to lay down arms.

Commander Ivanova:  “God sent me.”

Ivanova’s reply, which actress Claudia Christian delivered while chewing the scenery, is unambiguous:

Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova. Commander. Daughter of Andre and Sophie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart. I am death incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me.

A word to the wise:  NEVER mess with Commander Ivanova.  The advanced destroyer group does not survive, and, unfortunately, Ivanova comes through the battle injured serverely:

Yet she cleared Captain Sheridan’s path to Mars, the last stop before Earth.  Ivanova, with only a few days left to live, asks Sheridan, who has just returned to the fleet, to command the last battles from his old command, the Agamemnon.

Captain Sheridan, Commanding the Fleet from the Agamemnon:  On to Mars

The next episode, Endgame, features the final battle of the Earth Civil War.  Stay tuned and keep reading!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Intersections in Real Time (1997)   1 comment

This is what ISN calls humane treatment.

(SIXTY-THIRD IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

At the end of the second season the Vorlons sent an inquisitor, actually Jack the Ripper, to determine if Sheridan and Delenn were the proper leaders of the coming war against the Shadows and other forces of darkness.  Among the questions the inquisitor posed was whether Sheridan was willing to die alone for the cause.  In this episode, a one-set piece with just a few cast members, Sheridan faces that possibility.

The First Interrogator at Work

Earth Force’s interrogation techniques are not pretty.  They involve pain devices, food poisoning, drugging (to distort the victim’s sense of reality), subtle questioning, and in-your-face demands.  In the case of Captain Sheridan, the main goal is to break him psychologically so that he will lie, recant his civil war, state that he has been under alien influence, and become a loyal supporter of President Clark.  If he refuses to cooperate, he will die and Earth Force will fabricate a video of him recanting.

The interrogator knows that this torture produces lies, and this does not disturb him.  He serves the Clark Administration, and this is his job, which he does without any qualms.

A Nearly-Broken Drazi

Our hero summons the inner strength to resist all attempts to break him, though. And Sheridan encourages a nearly-broken Drazi, who has begun to confess falsely to conspiring with Sheridan, Ivanova, and an Earth Senator (whose only “crime” is annoying President Clark) to resist.  Yet the Drazi succumbs to the insidious pressures, and becomes a party to Sheridan’s further interrogation.

The Second Interrogator

The first interrogator does not break Sheridan, so a second man takes his place and begins questioning anew.

Here, according to the original plan, the fourth season would have ended.  Yet the Primetime Entertainment Network (PTEN), which aired Babylon 5, was nearing the end of its life, so series creator J. Michael Straczynski (JMS for short) had to conclude his story lines and film the series finale. At the last minute, however, Turner Network Television (TNT) picked up the series for the fifth and final season.

JMS has a background in theater, and Intersections in Real Time reflects this fact strongly.  There is one set, which is frequently dark, and the furniture is minimal.  The action is all in the dialogue, eyes, and body language.  The result is a disturbing and well-acted episode.

I conclude by quoting lyrics by Doris Plenn, circa 1950, during the second Red Scare, known otherwise as McCarthyism.  This is appropriate because of the echoes of McCarthyism in this episode:

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing.

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them go winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–The Face of the Enemy (1997)   1 comment

Commander Ivanova Giving the Order to Shoot Michael Garibaldi on Sight if He Boards Babylon 5

(SIXTY-SECOND IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

A cliche says that it is darkest before the dawn.  Babylon 5 is getting very dark.  The series is best when dark, so it is spectacular toward of the fourth season, where The Face of the Enemy falls.

It is late 2261, and Captain Sheridan’s forces are headed for Earth, ultimately.  Think of the Allied strategy in the Pacific Theater of World War II:  beginning at the periphery of the Japanese Empire and moving toward the home islands.  That is what Sheridan and his forces are doing in relation to Earth.

Earth Alliance ships fight more fiercely as Sheridan and his forces approach Earth.  President Clark has told his captains that surrendering to Sheridan or attempting to join forces with him is futile, for Sheridan has the crews killed and the Earth ships crewed with Minbari.  Many captains believe this lie, a fact which explains their fierce fighting, sometimes to the death.  Fortunately, Captain MacDougan of the Vesta (from No Surrender, No Retreat) is present and able to make the lie obvious.

Captain Sheridan, Beardless

There is more good news.  The Agamemnon, Sheridan’s former command, arrives.  The ship’s commanding officer, Captain James, wants to join the fight, as does the rest of the crew.

On Mars:  Number One and Dr. Stephen Franklin

Dr. Stephen Franklin and telepath Lyta Alexander arrive on Mars, with 30 Shadow technology-implanted telepaths as their cargo.  Number One, the head of the Mars Resistance, is quite angry.  Resisting President Clark is perilous, and that task just became more dangerous and difficult.  And having to find a safe place to store the telepaths has come as a surprise.  Number One’s anger is not entirely unjustified.

Michael Garibaldi, Pondering His Proverbial Thirty Pieces of Silver

Michael Garibaldi has done what he told William Edgars he would do.  Earth Force has David Sheridan, Captain John Sheridan’s father, in custody.  Furthermore, Garibaldi has sent a message to Captain Sheridan, who has met him in a Mars bar, where Garibaldi has drugged him and where plain-clothes Earth Force personnel have jumped and beaten Sheridan.  The Clark-controlled ISN hails this as a great victory for Earth, spewing the lie happily that Earth Force is treating Sheridan well and that he, now free of alien influence, has recanted his actions against President Clark and Earth.  In reality, Earth government guards have been beating Sheridan, who was never under negative alien influence and who has not recanted anything.

Now William Edgars and Wade, his trusted aide, reveal everything to Garibaldi, who has a trouble conscience, despite outside conditioning.  Edgars Industries has developed a virus which affects only telepaths, and plans to release the virus in the short term.  Not coincidentally, Edgars Industries has also developed the antidote.  So William Edgars will be able to control the telepaths.

Garibaldi begins to shut down and removes an artificial molar with a transmitter inside.  He goes to a transport tube car, where Psi-Cop Alfred Bester joins him.  Bester reveals the whole story:  He has programmed and used Garibaldi to uncover the Edgars Industries plot against the telepaths.  And Bester has turned Garibaldi against his former friends and colleagues, to the point that Garibaldi has betrayed Captain Sheridan.  Bester leaves the transport tube car, and Garibaldi, horrified, remembers everything.  He is himself again.

Not that this helps Mr. Garibaldi.  Aboard the White Star 2, Commander Ivanova gives the order to shoot Garibaldi if he returns the space station.  And the happy progandists at ISN praise Garibaldi for turning Sheridan over to Earth Force.

Agents from the Psi Corps kill William Edgars and wound his aide, Wade, mortally.  These agents also ransack the Edgars residence and confiscate the anti-telepath virus and its antidote.  ISN and the Clark Administration blame the Mars Resistance for this.  And Lise Hampton-Edgars, Garibaldi’s former girlfriend, is missing.

This looks bad for heroes.  Yet the fleet’s progress toward Earth continues unabated.  The war goes on.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–The Exercise of Vital Powers (1997)   2 comments

William Edgars, CEO of Edgars Industries

(SIXTY-FIRST IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

Ancient Greek definition of happiness:  “The exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope.”–attributed to Aristotle

The countdown to the end of the fourth season continues with this well-acted, well-scripted episode.  Much of the credit for this goes to the screenwriter, series creator J. Michael Straczynski (JMS for short).  Good actors and a bad script = a wasted audio-visual experience.  Can anyone say Star Trek V:  The Final Frontier?  It is also true, however, that the combination of a good script and bad actors is unfortunate.  Fortunately, Efram Zimbalist, Jr., replete with gravitas, plays the chief antagonist very well in this episode and the next one.  So we have the wonderful combination of good actor and script.

Captain Sheridan’s Growing Fleet Heads Toward Earth, One Step at a Time

Captain Sheridan is making his way toward Earth, one step at a time.  Along the way, Earth Alliance ships defect to his side as he liberates Earth colonies.  And Sheridan keeps calling Dr. Stephen Franklin and asking him about the telepaths they rescued from the Shadows during the previous year (in Ship of Tears).  B5‘s resident telepath, Lyta Alexander, manages to connect with one telepath and to control him, which is more than anyone else has accomplished.

The unfortunate telepaths in question have Shadow implants nobody has been able to remove.  These telepaths were destined to become CPUs for Shadow vessels during the Shadow War.  The war is over and the Shadows have left the galaxy, but their legacy continues.  And Captain Sheridan has an idea–albeit one he finds morally questionable yet perhaps the only choice–about how to use some of these telepaths in the Earth Civil War.  The idea rattles Dr. Franklin, who admits reluctantly that there is no other choice.  He and Lyta prepare to travel to Mars, with Shadow technology-implanted telepaths as cargo.

Captain Sheridan is not the only one using telepaths.  William Edgars, head of Edgars Industries, the fourth-largest corporation in the Earth Alliance, has his own uses for telepaths–although his plans involve lesions.  Edgars is using telepaths as guinea pigs for a drug.  Edgars is about to order the euthanasia of this telepath.

Finally, Michael Garibaldi arrives on Mars and meets his new employer, William Edgars.  The industrialist admits casually that the megacorporations (such as his) are the real powers in the Earth Alliance.  They permitted President Clark to declare martial law, and now they fear the Psi Corps, which Clark might unleash if Captain Sheridan’s war continues.  The Psi Corps, Edgars says, is a threat to the freedom of non-telepaths.  Furthermore, according to Edgars, the megacorporations need to be free to deal with Clark and the Psi Corps the way they see fit–and Captain Sheridan is complicating their plans.  So someone–say Michael Garibaldi–needs to betray Sheridan to President Clark’s forces, so that Clark will have a false sense of security, and the megacorporations will be able to do what they think proper.

(All this sounds rather cynical to me.)

Garibaldi agrees, saying that the way to get to Captain Sheridan is through his father, who has been on the lam for a while.  David Sheridan takes a rare heart drug, so tracing that drug is a certain way to find the senior Sheridan.  And Garibaldi will betray Captain Sheridan personally.  Then Edgars will tell Garibaldi everything about the plans of Edgars Industries for the telepaths.

There is no other way, Michael Garibaldi tells himself.

William Edgars Reading the Bible

Babylon 5 portrays many sides of religion over its five seasons.  (I confine my remarks to treatment of Christianity in this paragraph.)  In the previous season we met Brother Theo and his fellow Roman Catholic monks, who engage in peaceful interfaith dialogue and calm the station population as much as possible during wartime.  Then, in And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place, we met the Reverend Will Dexter, an African-American Baptist minister who preached love, compassion, and understanding, especially of “the enemy.”  All these read their Bibles.

William Edgars reads his Bible, too.    Yet he does not take away from it the same lessons as do Brother Theo and the Reverend Will Dexter.  Where is the love?  Where are the Beatitudes?

Here ends the lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 14, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4