Archive for the ‘Babylon 5 Season 4’ Category

Babylon 5–No Surrender, No Retreat (1997)   2 comments

The Distinctive Paint Job on the White Star 2, Captain Sheridan’s Flagship

(SIXTIETH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

This is one of my favorite episodes of a great season of a wonderful series.  So I pay No Surrender, No Retreat a high compliment when I speak of it in such glowing terms.  It contains intense personal drama, pathos, a space battle, all of which are convincing.  George Lucas said once that a special effect without a story is a boring thing, and this episode has story in abundance.

September 2, 2261.

The preparations are final.  Captain Sheridan tells summoned alien ambassadors that their treaties with Earth are null and void in exchange for continued White Star fleet protection.   They need to provide one warship to protect Babylon 5. Other than that, they need to stay of his way as he confronts President Clark.

Ambassador Londo Mollari of the Centauri Republic

The up-and-down relationship between G’Kar and Londo Mollari is instrumental to the series.  No Surrender, No Retreat finds this relationship at a low point.  Their two governments were at war until recently, and the Centauri just ended a brutal occupation of Narn.  G’Kar is nursing some deeply felt anger about all this.  And Londo, who is partially responsible for these matters, is trying to make better decisions.  Among these is a Narn-Centauri statement supporting Sheridan’s war against President Clark’s administration.  The symbolism of such a statement might convince other governments to support Sheridan, too, Londo reasons.  G’Kar agrees, eventually, but to sign on another page.

G’Kar becomes forgiving over time, but forgiveness can be difficult to muster, as many people know.

Captain Hall of the E.A.S. Heracles, Beseiging Proxima III

Of the six Omega Class warships at Proxima III, only two–the Heracles and the Pollux–have fired on civilians.  Captain Hall of the Heracles is in charge of the mission.  And Captain MacDougan of the Vesta is an old mentor to Captain Sheridan, having been one of his instructors in ethics at Earth Force Academy.  MacDougan opposes President Clark, but has decided until now that the role of the military is NOT to make policy.

Ships from the White Star fleet attack those Earth Alliance destroyers who fire on them and not those who withdraw from battle.  After the Heracles suffers damage, Captain Hall orders the Vesta, under MacDougan’s command, to open fire.  MacDougan disobeys the order, for he has decided that President Clark’s orders at Proxima III are illegal.

Below:  A White Star Fires on the Heracles

Captain MacDougan Disobeying an Illegal Order

The only hostile Earth Alliance ship left is the Pollux, which does serious damage to a White Star.  Out of control, that White Star collides with the Pollux, destroying both ships.

Below:  A White Star About to Collide with the E.A.S. Pollux

Back on the Heracles, Commander Levitt, the Executive Officer relieves Captain Hall of command and orders him confined to his quarters.  Hall has refused to surrender, and Sheridan’s policy is to destroy ships that will not defect or surrender.

Sheridan and the Earth Alliance Captains

An hour after the liberation of Proxima III, Sheridan speaks with the commanding officers of the four remaining destroyers aboard the White Star 2.  He tells them that the  military oath is to the Earth Alliance constitution, not to President Clark, and that officers swear to defend Earth from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Clark, Sheridan says, has become that enemy.  He points to the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Peace, Night Watch, and orders to fire on civilians as proof of this assertion.  The captains, he says, have two choices–to join his cause or to go home.

One vessel withdraws from the war, one stays at Proxima III to defend it from Clark’s forces, and two go with Sheridan toward Earth.  The Vesta, under the command of Sheridan’s old friend and mentor, Captain MacDougan, is among those going to Earth with the rebellion.

Back on Babylon 5, Ivanova announces the Narn-Centauri joint statement and liberation of Proxima III.  She encourages all Earth Force personnel who oppose President Clark to make their stand for Earth now.  At that time, Michael Garibaldi leaves Babylon 5 for Mars (and subsequent employment with William Edgars), intending never to return to the station.

No Surrender, No Retreat is episode #15 of 22 in the fourth season.  Know then, O reader, that season four enters its final act with this episode.

And if you have begun to question Captain Sheridan’s ethics, just wait.  More evidence for your case will arrive in subsequent episodes.  Then again, maybe Sheridan has no other realistic choices.  Life is not simple, and neither is Babylon 5.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 8, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 8, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Moments of Transition (1997)   2 comments

Delenn Institutes the New Grey Council

(FIFTY-NINTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

This is how the Minbari Civil War ends:

The Starfire Wheel

Before Valen came, a thousand years ago, warring Minbari castes settled disputes in the Starfire Wheel, which can be deadly.  But, with the Warrior Caste having abandoned the wisdom of Valen, Delenn says, the Warrior Caste should be consistent and accept the Starfire Wheel, too.  Delenn risks her life in the Starfire Wheel and challenges Shakiri, head of the Warrior Caste, to join her in it.  She is willing to die for her caste; is he willing die for his?  He is not, and so Neroon, of the Warrior Caste, enters the Starfire Wheel, pushes Delenn out of it, announces that he is Religious Caste in his heart, and dies.  The head of the Warrior Caste is discredited, and Delenn forms a new Grey Council.  The old Grey Council had equal representation among the three castes–Worker, Religious, and Warrior.  The new Grey Council gives the Worker Caste a plurality.  Now the Religious and Warrior Castes will serve the workers.  But Delenn is not a part of the Council; she has other work to do.

Below:  Neroon Dying in the Starfire Wheel

Above:  Lyta Alexander and Alfred Bester

The date is August 3, 2261.

Lyta Alexander is having a difficult time.  The Vorlons are no longer around to protect her from the Psi Corps.  Furthermore, many clients, concerned about liability, refuse to work with her anymore until she rejoins the Corps.  William Edgars tells Mr. Garibaldi to stop hiring Lyta, for Edgars distrusts telepaths.  Furthermore, Zack Allan asks her to move to smaller quarters, because of her inability to pay for the ones she inhabits.  And Alfred Bester is back on the station to make Lyta on offer:  She will give the Psi Corps custody of her body after her death if she dies of natural causes, she will wear the Psi Corps logo again, and he will remove her name from the rogue telepaths list.  Lyta will be able to work again.  Lyta is experiencing much stress, and more is to come.

Lyta as She Begins to Wear the Psi Corps Logo Again

The character of Lyta Alexander is quite interesting.  I am, of course, familiar with the beginning, middle, and end of her character development in the series.  Without giving away too much, I can say that pressures continue to build and that she winds up in a dark, yet understandable (given the circumstances) place.  How much can one person take before snapping?

The Righteous Indignation of Commander Susan Ivanova

In the final minutes of the episode Commander Ivanova storms into Captain Sheridan’s quarters.  She is livid and distraught, saying, “The bastards!”  It is a justifiable curse.  For some time President Clark’s forces have beseiged the rebellious colony at Proxima III.  Colonists have become desperate and short on vital supplies, such as food.  Ivanova has just received footage of an Earth Force destroyer firing on an unarmed transport convoy carrying 10,000 wounded civilians fleeing Proxima III.  She will air the footage on Voice of the Resistance once she is calm enough to do so.

Sheridan tells Ivanova that he will prepare immediately to fight the Earth government and to depose President Clark.  He continues:

Any crew that executes an order like that is guilty of war crimes, and they deserve whatever they get….Anybody who wants to defect and join us, fine. If they get in our way, we will knock them down. If they kill one of our ships, we’ll kill three of theirs. And we keep going. We never slow down, and we won’t stop… We’re going after the colonies, then Mars… and then Earth. And God help anybody who gets in our way.

He means it.

If you thought the season was good so far, buckle your seat belt and hang on for the ride.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 8, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 8, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Rumors, Bargains and Lies (1997)   1 comment

Captain Sheridan, Ecstatic Over Having Found a Way to Bring the Other Species Together to Pursue Their Common Best Interests

(FIFTY-EIGHTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

There is an old question:  Why do we make self-destructive, seemingly self-serving decisions rather than band together with others with whom we have common best interests?  I suppose the most succinct answer is that we are frequently idiotic.  In Rumors, Bargains and Lies, Captain Sheridan wrestles with this conundrum and how to manipulate individuals into doing what is best for themselves.  And he succeeds.

Various alien species with representatives on Babylon 5 refuse to permit the White Star fleet to patrol their borders.  They prefer to fight their own battles, guard their own sovereignty, and distrust outsiders.  So Sheridan’s challenge is to persuade them to demand a White Star fleet presence, so that a divide-and-conquer presence by forces of darkness will be more difficult.

Sheridan decides to use the aliens’ paranoia to his benefit.  The Centauri Republic permits White Star ships to patrol their borders.  Sheridan asks Ambassador Londo Mollari to deny these ships’ presence when asked about the matter.  (This is one of the titular lies.)  Londo agrees, and questioning aliens begun to spread rumors among themselves.  These rumors travel faster when Sheridan sends a White Star ship to a non-eventful region of space and orders it to fire at a few really big rocks.  Paranoid aliens suspect invisible forces Sheridan’s forces can detect.  Dr. Franklin asks alien representatives for blood donations–just in case of an attack–and they become more concerned.  And, on the Voice of Resistance, Ivanova announces that nothing happened in the Sector 83 x 9 x 12, where the White Star vessel was shooting at rocks.

Paranoid Aliens Wondering Why a White Star Fired on Asteroids

The aliens summon Sheridan and demand White Star patrols on their borders.  He agrees solemnly in their presence.  Privately, however, he is very happy.

This part of the episode is quite enjoyable and frequently humorous.  Happy-go-lucky Sheridan will be absent for a while, however, for the Captain’s story line is about to take a serious and very dark path.  Post-Z’ha’dum Sheridan is about to show his true stripes.  If you want to know what I mean, read subsequent posts.

Now for the serious part of the episode.

Delenn (of the Religious Caste) and Neroon (of the Warrior Caste)

Delenn meets Neroon, a prominent member of the Warrior Caste, aboard a Minbari heavy cruiser.  Each of them has a retinue of loyal caste members, Delenn’s most loyal ally being Lennier.  Neroon distrusts Delenn, but Delenn is willing to treat Neroon as if he has honor and a degree of trustworthiness.

Leaders of the Religious Caste Confront Lennier

Most of the leaders of the Religious Caste fear that Delenn will surrender to the Warrior Caste in the Minbari Civil War.  So they devise a plan to release a lethal gas on the heavy cruiser.  The ship will become a tomb lost in hyperspace, and the struggle between the castes will continue.  Lennier learns of this plot and foils it, placing himself at great risk.  He does recover from limited exposure to the gas, but not before Neroon leaves the heavy cruiser in a shuttle craft.  Neroon sends a message:  The Religious Caste is divided.  Victory for the Warrior Caste is at hand.

Roll to end credits.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 8, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 8, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Conflicts of Interest (1997)   2 comments

Lise Hampton-Edgars

(FIFTY-SEVENTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

Outside forces are manipulating Michael Garibaldi, unbeknownst to himself and his former friends.  Yet Mr. Garibaldi is not bad.

Mr. Wade, Garibaldi’s Contact

Mr. Wade observes Garibaldi reunite a father and a daughter.  Then Wade watches as Security Chief Zack Allan confiscates Garibaldi’s identicard, communication, link, and sidearm.  Garibaldi objects only to surrendering the sidearm, and resents this perceived slight greatly.  Then Wade approaches Garibaldi with an offer.  His employer is sending someone to Babylon 5 to meet with a contact.  Can Garibaldi guarantee this emissary’s safety while getting around station security?  Garibaldi agrees.

Michael Garibaldi

The emissary is none other than Lise, Garibaldi’s former lover, whom he left to come to Babylon 5.  Lise is now married to William Edgars, head of Edgars Industries, part of the Earth Alliance military-industrial complex.  And Wade works for Edgars.

Garibaldi does as Wade asks, and keeps Lise safe.  Along the way, a few people die, a fact that does not impress Security Chief Zack Allan or Captain John Sheridan.  But William Edgars is impressed.  So Edgars calls Garibaldi and asks him to work for him directly.  Garibaldi agrees.

Do you have a sinking feeling about this?  You should.

Commander Ivanova and Zathras, one of the Brothers of Zathras

The other story in Conflicts of Interest concerns getting the Voice of the Resistance up and running.

Dr. Stephen Franklin, returned recently from Mars, visits Commander Ivanova in the former War Room.  Ivanova is unsure about where to find a sufficient power source for the broadcasts.  Franklin suggests Epsilon 3, the planet beneath them.  Immediately Ivanova sets out for Epsilon 3, where she meets another Zathras.  There are now nine of them, although there used to be ten.  The difference in the name for each is in the pronunciation, not the spelling.  Zathras II, after explaining all this, helps Ivanova find a power source.

The First Broadcast of the Voice of the Resistance

The episode ends with the beginning of the first broadcast of the Voice of the Resistance:

This is Commander Susan Ivanova of Babylon 5, and this is the first official broadcast of the new Voice of the Resistance. We’re sending this signal out to every ship that wants to hear the truth, to our fallen comrades and freedom fighters on Mars and Proxima III, and to Earth, which, despite what you may have heard, is still our home, and still the one dream that we’re as loyal to now as we ever have been. Over the last three years, ever since President Clark took over, after arranging the assassination of President Santiago, you have been hearing nothing but misinformation, propaganda, and outright lies. Now, we’re going to tell you the truth. And we’re going to keep telling it until they shut us down, or until President Clark steps down and returns Earth to the hands of its people. You can kill us. You can bomb our colonies, destroy our ships, murder innocent civilians. But you cannot kill the truth. And the truth is back in business.

Yes, it is, and the struggle continues.

And President Clark’s arsenal includes more weapons than cheerful, Barbie-like progandists at the new ISN.  Take that as a hint.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 8, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 8, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Lines of Communication (1997)   4 comments

Commander Ivanova Listening to Captain Sheridan’s Sales Pitch for the Voice of the Resistance

(FIFTY-SIXTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

Babylon 5 is a series in part about decisions and their consequences.  Captain Sheridan is about to have to make some extremely difficult, even dangerous decisions.  Delenn face the negative consequences of a previous and necessary decision.

And we learn that Commander Ivanova does not think of herself as “chopped phlarn.”

Number One, Leader of the Mars Resistance

Ranger Marcus Cole and Dr. Stephen Franklin are on Mars, on a mission from Captain Sheridan.  An ambassador of a sort from Babylon 5, Dr. Franklin assures the Mars rebels of Captain Sheridan’s support for planetary independence from Earth.  And Franklin backs up Number One’s policy against free-lancing acts of violence; she is in charge of the resistance movement.

The scene in which Number One castigates a member of her group for bombing the Red Planet Hotel  demonstrates how forceful a personality she is.  I would not want to cross her.  Number One is definitely female, as Dr. Franklin discovers.  The major hint of this for viewers is an unseen, overheard, “O, Stephen!” just before the end credits roll.

ISN’s Continuing Coverage of “Minbari War Syndrome”

Captain Sheridan has been staying up late, watching too much ISN propaganda and becoming irritated.  He claims to be gathering intelligence.  Sheridan has an idea early one morning, at an ungodly hour, and, in his enthusiasm, rousts Commander Ivanova out of her bed.

Ivanova, standing in her robe, in her quarters, says that neither has no interest in Sheridan and he none in her, but the least he could do is compliment her on her outfit.  She is not “chopped phlarn.”  On cue, Sheridan says, “Nice outfit, Ivanova.”  Ivanova, unhappy to be out of bed so early, expels Sheridan from her quarters so she can change into uniform.

In the vacant War Room, Sheridan proposes the Voice of the Resistance, an accurate broadcast of Earth Civil War news, to be broadcast from the War Room.  Ivanova has face people trust, Sheridan says.  He convinces her, but she still wants to go to bed.

Delenn, Realizing that She Has Been Away from Home Too Long

Delenn dissolved the Grey Council during the previous season of Babylon 5.  Prophecy of Valen (actually the written memories of Jeffrey David Sinclair) had foretold this.  In the absence of the Grey Council to balance the three castes–Worker, Warrior, and Religious–the Warrior Caste has begun a Minbari civil war, expelling members of other castes from cities and forcing sometimes deadly migrations.  Some members of the Religious Caste, in their desperation and ignorance, have turned for help to a mysterious race, the Drakh, who just lost their own world.  That world was Z’ha’dum, and the Drakh worked for the Shadows.

Delenn and her forces destroy the Drakh ships:

Then Delenn returns briefly to Babylon 5.  She tells Sheridan that she needs to go home and tend to crucial business there.  Delenn says also that she knows that Sheridan has denied since he returned from Z’ha’dum:  that he is a different, darker, more dangerous man.  Sheridan needs to be more dangerous now and in the immediate future, and he will not feel comfortable being dangerous in her presence.  So she will depart tomorrow.

Indeed, Sheridan will win the Earth Civil War, but not without being dangerous–and he will have no other choice.  But, as Sheridan says at the end of the season, he uses people only when he has to do so.  Captain Sheridan is a hero, not a saint.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 8, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 8, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–Racing Mars (1997)   2 comments

Number One, the Leader of the Mars Resistance

(FIFTY-FIFTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

The struggle between the forces of light and the soldiers of darkness continues in Racing Mars.  And sometimes placing a person inside one category can be difficult.  Life is like that.

Commander Ivanova “Enlisting” the Aid of Some Shady Characters

President Clark’s embargo of Babylon 5 is taking its toll on the station.  Captain Sheridan recognizes the necessity of seeking certain items on the black market.  Ivanova, being resourceful, assumes responsibility for this effort and convenes a meeting of shady characters, such as smugglers, drug dealers, and arms merchants.  She makes them an offer they cannot refuse:  Work with Babylon 5, bringing in necessary supplies and benefiting from the technical support B5 can offer, or run the risk of certain “accidents.”  Ivanova is quite persuasive.

Dr. Franklin, Tired of Marcus After Two Weeks

The ebuliant Marcus Cole has gotten on Dr. Franklin’s last nerve after two weeks of travel to Mars.  Fortunately, they have arrived at their destination and met their contact, who calls himself Captain Jack.

Below:  Captain Jack

Captain Jack hands Marcus and Dr. Franklin their stolen fake IDs, the only ones the Resistance could find.  Marcus finds the fact the stolen fake IDs identify them as newlyweds hilarious; Dr. Franklin is not so amused.  Marcus is annoyed, however, to learn that the Earth’s control of access to news means that members of the Mars Resistance have only a vague awareness of the Shadow War.  He is a war hero, and almost nobody knows about it.

Captain Jack has a secret, which he tries to divulge subtly.  Someone planted a Keeper on him some time ago.  The Keeper controls him, that is, until Marcus shoots the Keeper off Jack’s shoulder.  Jack runs off and commits suicide, for he knows that the Keeper will grow back within a few hours.  And Dr. Franklin knows that a legacy of the Shadows persists on Mars.

ISN has been running a critical interview Michael Garibaldi gave to “journalist” Dan Randall in The Illusion of Truth.  Captain Sheridan has been watching this coverage and becoming increasingly annoyed with his former security chief.  So Sheridan confronts Garibaldi, who refuses to back down.  Watching all this are some men (who will become pivotal to the story arc) who convince Garibaldi to betray Sheridan to them–for Sheridan’s own good, they say.

Roll to end credits.

One line of dialogue from Mr. Garibaldi reveals a change in Roman Catholic policy toward the ordained ministry by 2261.  Garibaldi uses the pronoun “her” in reference to the Pope.  One episode of Crusade, the short-lived spin-off of Babylon 5, establishes that Bernadette II is the Pope in 2267.  So there is good news in Racing Mars.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 5, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

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

Babylon 5–Atonement (1997)   2 comments

Commander Susan Ivanova after a Drazi religious party:  “Don’t-even-ask.”

(FIFTY-FOURTH IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

For four seasons (1994-1997) Babylon 5 aired on the weblet Primetime Entertainment Network (PTEN), until owner Warner Brothers closed PTEN.  Series creator J. Michael Straczynski received word late in the fourth season to wrap up his story lines, for PTEN was about to end, and the fifth (and final) season was unlikely.  So, if the middle and latter parts of season four seem rushed and packed, they are.

Atonement, the 9th of 22 episodes, returns the stories to Minbari society and politics, which are crucial to the story arc, especially as the pace of the season continues, relentlessly.  And the episode reveals a crucial element of Delenn’s past.

There are some B-stories in the episode:

  1. Zach Allan, now Security Chief, receives a uniform in the same style as the other members of the command staff.  He is concerned about former Chief Michael Garibaldi, and wonders why Garibaldi walked away from the job.
  2. Dr. Stephen Franklin fits G’Kar with a removable prosthetic eye.
  3. Commander Susan Ivanova attends a Drazi religious party, and stumbles out of it covered in sparkly stuff, her hair tussled, and using a cane.  One wonders what happened there.
  4. Captain Sheridan sends Ranger Marcus Cole and Dr. Stephen Franklin to Mars, to make contact with the resistance movement there.  Marcus and Dr. Franklin take a slow ship to the red planet, and Marcus drives his traveling companion crazy by singing “I am the very model of a modern major general,” among other things.

Now, for the main point:  Delenn and Sheridan are in love, engaged to marry.  This is a scandal to xenophobes and species purists among both of their species.  The propagandists at the relaunched ISN portray this relationship as evidence of a pernicious alien plot to undermine Earth from within.  And the purity of bloodlines is a treasured idea among many Minbari, too.

Can you say racism?  I knew you could.

A Younger Delenn, Temple Acolyte, with Her Mentor, Dukhat

When Delenn was younger, she was an acolyte.  Her mentor was Dukhat, the Minbari leader.  He encouraged her to trust in her own judgment, and not to assume that others know better because they are more prominent in society.  After some time, Dukhat elevated Delenn to the Grey Council.  Immediately after she joined that august body, the Earth ship Prometheus attached the Minbari cruiser carrying the Grey Council, killing Dukhat.  It was an unfortunate cultural misunderstanding, and Delenn, in her rage, gave the order which started the Earth-Minbari War (2245-2248), which nearly wiped out the Human race and almost led to the destruction of Earth.

Below:  Delenn, Cradling the Head of the Dying Dukhat

Callenn, the leader of Delenn’s clan, forces her to undergo the “dreaming” process, a technologically-facilitated process of remembering.  He demands to know Delenn’s reason(s) for seeking to marry Sheridan, and love is apparently insufficient justification.  During the dreaming Delenn relives the events described above, plus this:  Dukhat told her that he chose her because she is descended from Valen.  Valen, of course, was originally a Human, Jeffrey David Sinclair.  So Delenn was never fully Minbari, even before her transformation at the end of the first season of the series.

Above:  Callenn, Who Knew the Truth All Along

None of the news about the presence of Human DNA in the Minbari gene pool for a thousand years is unknown to Callenn, who finds it almost unspeakable nonetheless.  He admits reluctantly that the number of Minbari with Human DNA “cannot be counted.”  Callenn does not block the Delenn-Sheridan marriage on grounds of genetic purity, since there is none.  So he proposes a cover story:  According to Minbari tradition, a victorious side in war gave a female in marriage to a male of the vanquished side.  So Delenn’s clan can portray her upcoming marriage in that light.

The shocking truth of Minbari genetics will remain a secret.

Prejudice survives into the 23rd Century.

But, on the positive side, Lennier, Delenn’s aide, remains loyal to her, even after he learns her great secret, which is that she is responsible for the deaths of ten of thousands in the Earth-Minbari War.  We all have secrets; how we face up to them (if we do) matters.

Here ends the lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 5, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

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

Babylon 5–The Illusion of Truth (1997)   1 comment

The Interstellar News Network (ISN), under the control of President William Morgan Clark, seems to have taken the FOX News Channel as one of its models:  flashy graphics combined with faux journalism and reactionary politics.

(FIFTY-THIRD IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

Propaganda is part of President Clark’s post-Shadow War campaign against Captain Sheridan and our heroes on Babylon 5.  Such “journalism” features prominently in The Illusion of Truth, and it looks both old and contemporary.

ISN “journalist” Dan Randall arrives on Babylon 5, promising to prepare a truthful broadcast.  Sheridan, being no fool, knows he probably will not get that, but he has a plan to make the creation of propaganda more difficult.  He will hide nothing while speaking honestly and in simple and short declarative sentences.  He states his reasons for seceding from the Earth Alliance and says that he loves Delenn, when asked.  And Lennier, Delenn’s aide, takes Randall on a tour of the station.

Yet the big lie lives on.

Dan Randall, On the Air

The broadcast is pure Clark propaganda, complete with future analogies to McCarthyism:  Senate hearings of alien government infiltration of the entertainment industry, people naming names and giving “voluntary” confessions under duress, et cetera.  And the coverage of the rebellion on Mars uses the term “New Red Menace.”  The names of the alleged Human agents of alien governments attempting to subvert Earth sovereignty sound much like those of people blacklisted during the McCarthy era in the United States, and the similarity is intentional.

President Clark is portraying himself as the champion of Earth sovereignty while trampling on the civil liberties of dissidents.  As the late, great Samuel Johnson remarked, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Dan Randall’s report uses carefully edited and out-of-context footage, combined with unapologetic xenophobia, to portray Babylon 5 as a place where the evil aliens are in charge and oppress Humans, where Sheridan is a pawn and a victim of “Minbari War Syndrome,” or identifying too much with aliens and siding against one’s own Human race.  And Randall states that aliens are transforming Humans into hybrids, Dr. Moreau-style, as part of a plan to conquer the Human race.  It is pure drivel, of course.

Below:  The Harvard University-based Xenopsychologist who explains Minbari War Syndrome

At this point in the Babylon 5 story arc President Clark is laying the groundwork for “liberating” B5.  He has many willing accomplices, who lie through their smiling teeth and sincere looks.

The stakes are rising for our heroes, not that the stakes were ever low.

Conflict is an essential element of good drama.  If everybody gets along famously and pleasantly, there is no drama.  Babylon 5 has drama to spare, and that fact helps explain why the series is so exceptional.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 4, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

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

Babylon 5–Epiphanies (1997)   2 comments

One of the few jokes from Epiphanies:  Three “Kings”

(FIFTY-SECOND IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

The Shadow War is over.  The good guys have won.  So our heroes can relax, correct?  No!  And, by the way, the consequences of the Shadow War begin to unfold immediately, in this episode.

(Minister) Virini, the Newly-Appointed Regent of the Centauri Republic

Prime Minister Londo Mollari departs Centauri Prime and returns to Babylon 5.  Londo is not the most popular person in the Centauri government after the assassination of Emperor Cartagia and the Centauri withdrawal from Narn.  Before he leaves, however, Londo informs Minister Virini, with whom he has had dealings over the years, that the powers that be have made Virini the new Regent, until the appointment of a new emperor.  Virini’s presentation of himself is not serious, although there is certainly a serious Centauri beneath the surface.  Yet, if I were a Centauri, I would probably not find Regent Virini reassuring.

G’Kar is back on Babylon 5, about to be fitted with a prosthetic eye to replace the one Cartagia’s guards gouged out.  G’Kar had turned down power immediately after the announcement of the restoration of Narn independence.  He had also denounced the plans of some to seek revenge on the Centauri.  Do not think, however, that G’Kar is in forgiveness mode yet; for him, Londo has ceased to exist.  G’Kar’s spiritual jouney is far from over.

The programming of Michael Garibaldi continues to the point that he resigns as Chief of Security.  Thus he isolates himself further from his friends and becomes more vulnerable to insidious outside influences.

Earth Alliance President William Morgan Clark, who ascended to his office with Shadows help via the assassination of his predecessor, Luis Santiago, on January 1, 2259, is concerned.  The Shadows are gone, thanks in large part to Captain John Sheridan.  Clark knows that Sheridan will come after him next.  So Clark sets in motion an elaborate plan to shut down Babylon 5.

One element of this plan is the economic isolation of Babylon 5 from Earth.  The military aspect of this effort is placing fighters strategically so they can intercept vessels headed for B5.

Alfred Bester, a Psi-Cop and recurring antagonist, plays his part in this anti-Babylon 5 effort.  He sends Black Omega, a squadron of Psi Corps fighter pilots, to fight a regular Earth Force contingent assigned to intercept vessels headed for B5.  Then he goes to Babylon 5 and informs the command crew of Black Omega’s mission (but his role in it) exchange for a trip to Z’ha’dum, to obtain technology to remove the implants from the rogue telepaths B5 ships intercepted during the previous year, in Ship of Tears.  Among these unfortunate telepaths is Bester’s lover, and he is at more loyal to her as he is to the Psi Corps.

Lyta Alexander, a rogue telepath who worked for the Vorlons before they left the galaxy, carries Vorlon programming and enhanced telepathic abilities.  She is now more powerful than Bester, and she delights in demonstrating this to him, as the picture below proves:

Bester does not get his wish:  Lyta uses her Vorlon-enhanced abilities to trigger the self-destruct machinery on Z’ha’dum.  The White Star ship arrives just in time to see the planet explode as unidentified vessels evacuate it and jump away into hyperspace.

Below:  Sheridan and Bester View an Image of Z’ha’dum

Sheridan confronts Lyta back on Babylon 5.  He tells her that she should not do anything else like that again–OR ELSE.

Lyta Alexander has been through a great deal.  Ulkesh, the last Vorlon Ambassador to Babylon 5, had forced Lyta to rid herself of all her furniture except her bed.  Now that the Vorlons are gone, Lyta is buying new furniture and wondering why nobody stops by to say hello.  The answer is plain:  people are afraid of her, and the Vorlons are unpopular immediately after the Shadow War.  Fortunately for Lyta, Zack Allan, the new Security Chief, is sympathetic to her.  So he buys a pizza for them to share and offers to help her redecorate her quarters.

Below:  Zack and Lyta

Those ships evacuating Z’ha’dum headed toward Z’ha’dum go to Centauri Prime.  Late one night Regent Virini awakens from what he says is just a nightmare.  But it is not a nightmare:

It is a Keeper, such as the one Emperor Londo Mollari carries in the 2278 sequences from War Without End, Parts I and II.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 3, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 3, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

Babylon 5–The End of the Shadow War   1 comment

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

(FIFTY-FIRST IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)

The opening titles sequence for Babylon 5 changed each year.  The fourth season montage featured a series of voices speaking in paradoxes Charles Dickens might have appreciated:

Lennier:  It was the year of fire,

Zach Allan:  the year of destruction,

G’Kar:  the year we took back what was ours.

Lyta Alexander:  It was the year of rebirth,

Vir Cotto:  the year of great sadness,

Delenn:  and a year of joy.

Londo Mollari:  It was a new age.

Dr. Stephen Franklin:  It was the end of history.

Susan Ivanova:  It was the year everything changed.

Michael Garibaldi:  The year is 2261;

John Sheridan:  the place, Babylon 5.

The first six episodes of the season reflect all of these elements.  Together these initial episodes conclude the Shadow War and function as a unit.  So I write about them in one post.

The episodes are, in order:

  1. The Hour of the Wolf (1996)
  2. Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi? (1996)
  3. The Summoning (1996)
  4. Falling Toward Apotheosis (1996)
  5. The Long Night (1997)
  6. Into the Fire (1997)

First, the story summary:

2261 dawns with Captain John Sheridan dead on Z’ha’dum, stuck between moments in time (between tick and tock) with a mysterious and ancient alien, Lorien:

This is Lorien’s humanoid appearance, but his true form is this:

Lorien, so far as he knows, is the oldest living being in the universe.  The First One, he has accumulated great wisdom.  Sheridan, Lorien says, needs to embrace life, not flee death.  Does Sheridan have anything worth living for, Lorien wonders.  Sheridan answers with one word:  “Delenn!”

Emperor Cartagia (pictured above) summons Londo Mollari back to Centauri Prime.  Cartagia had come to the throne as a puppet, but has become a tyrant–and an unstable one.  The Emperor speaks to his “Shadow Cabinet,” which consists of the severed heads of those who have dared to oppose him.  The Emperor gives over part of Centauri Prime to the Shadows as a base in exchange for elevation to godhood.  The Emperor complains blithely that since the torturers have organized, they are called “pain technicians.”  The Emperor has no conscience and does not care about his people.

The name “Cartagia” is meant to remind the viewers of “Caligula.”

G’Kar has left Babylon 5 to search for the missing Michael Garibaldi, his first non-Narn friend.  For his troubles, the Centauri capture G’Kar and take him to the royal court, where Cartagia begins to mock and torture the ever-dignified G’Kar.

Londo makes a deal with G’Kar:  Londo will free Narn from Centauri control in exchange for G’Kar’s assistance in removing Cartagia from the throne.  And time is of the essence, for the Vorlons are destroying planets with Shadow bases.  So Londo plots to assassinate Emperor Cartagia for the sake of Centauri Prime, and he enlists his aid, Vir Cotto, in the conspiracy.

Meanwhile, Babylon 5 personnel track down Michael Garibaldi’s location.  They fire on the ship and take Garibaldi home.  Yet they do not know that the Psi Corps is involved in a plot to program Garibaldi to serve their interests.  Garibaldi, back on Babylon 5, is crankier and more suspicious than usual; he is not himself.

This plot thread runs throughout the fourth season, so stay tuned and keep reading.

Captain Sheridan returns to Babylon 5, accompanied by Lorien.  Various alien governments, which had cooperated with Sheridan and Delenn prior to the events of Z’ha’dum, have reverted to short-sighted self-interest.  Sheridan’s return interrupts a rally to convince sentients of various species that the war was over the time to make peace with the Shadows had arrived.  No one has returned from Z’ha’dum, a Drazi says.  Then Sheridan steps on the platform.  The Drazi states, “Sorry, Captain, I thought you were dead.”  Sheridan replies, “I was, but I am feeling much better now.”

That is a wonderful line.

Then Sheridan rouses the crowd to join his cause to end the Shadow menace once and for all time.

The Vorlons have begun to attack locations of Shadow bases without regard for the innocents who cannot get out of their way.  Sheridan knows that he cannot plan and execute the Shadow War with Ulkesh, the disdainful and rude Vorlon Ambassador, aboard Babylon 5.  So he creates a successful plan to “take out the Vorlon,” whose true form is this:

Ulkesh, angered, attacks Sheridan, and a piece of Kosh emerges from Sheridan to fight Ulkesh.  The two Vorlons escape Babylon 5 and enter outer space.  Lorien replenishes Sheridan’s life force, which is almost depleted.  Sheridan will live for another 20 years at most, and will just “stop” one day.  Our brave captain wants to spend those years with Delenn, to whom he gives an engagement ring:

Londo flatters Emperor Cartagia in order to convince him to travel to Narn and to hold G’Kar’s public show trial there.  On Narn Cartagia will be vulnerable, Londo reasons in private.  G’Kar breaks his chains at the show trial and, in the confusion, Cartagia flees the scene and Vir Cotto injects him with a quick and lethal poison.

Vir knows that he has done what was necessary, but his conscience still troubles him.  All Vir ever wanted was a good job and a minor title.  He is a good, moral man who has had to make disturbing moral compromises.  His character retains it basic goodness, but the moral compromises continue to come.

Londo becomes the new Prime Minister.  His first actions are to order the Centauri withdraw from Narn and to blow up the Centauri island serving as the Shadow base on his homeworld.  These are Londo’s finest and most heroic moments, but they will have consequences for himself and Centauri Prime, as the soon to be dead Mr. Morden prophesies.  Do you remember the burning Centauri Prime of 2278 in War Without End?  That was part of the price Centauri Prime paid for Londo’s deeds in 2261.

Before Londo has Mr. Morden executed, he learns that Morden, not Lord Refa, was to blame for the poisoning and death of Lady Adira.  Londo collapses emotionally at this news.  It is a brilliant acting job by actor Peter Jurasik.

Speaking of sacrifices and difficult choices…

Captain Sheridan lures the Shadows into the presence of the Vorlons and his multi-species fleet at Coriana VI, the site of a Shadow base the Vorlons are about to attack and destroy, the only way he knows:  the sacrifice of the crew of a White Star ship commanded by Captain Ericcson, pictured above.  Sheridan wants certain information to fall into the hands of the Shadows, but not too easily.  The sacrifice of one ship’s crew saves the lives of billions others.  Both Sheridan and Ericcson know the costs, and both do their duty.

The Shadow War ends at Coriana VI when the younger races, led by Sheridan and Delenn, refuse to choose between Vorlon order and Shadow chaos.  Lorien convinces the Vorlons, Shadows, and other remaining First Ones to leave the galaxy and to travel “beyond the rim.”  So a new age of history begins.

The best storytelling has strong characters and an excellent plot.  The real difference between one genre and another is frequently “furniture,” as one literary critic has stated the case.  The same plot can underlie a Western,  a science fiction tale, a work of fantasy, or a straight-forward drama set in the present day.  Much bad science fiction ruins the reputation of well-crafted science fiction, making many non-science fiction fans reluctant to read and watch meaningful books, movies, and series.

The characters and plots of Babylon 5 deal with such timeless issues as power, war, peace, assassinations, coups, loyalty, honor, hubris, religion, faith, and facing the consequences of one’s actions.  Major characters are complex and flawed, just like real people.  The series holds up very well, and is therefore worth repeated viewing and pondering.

I am impressed with all the acting in these six episodes.  I am especially enamored of the acting skills of Andreas Katsulas (G’Kar) and Peter Jurasik (Londo Mollari), whose characters run the emotional gamut.  Sometimes I like merely to watch them act.

Next:  The Clark Administration is still in power on Earth.  The loss of his Shadow allies makes President Clark nervous, and he is still a dangerous man.  The Earth Civil War is about to become more interesting.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2010 COMMON ERA

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

Posted August 2, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4