BPP Novel 2: Accusations

The second novel we read in the “set” of stand-alone novels is Accusations, written by Lois Tilton. This is her only B5 novel. Accusations was 278 pages and published by Dell in April 1995. Like Voices, this story occurs in 2258, during Season 2 of the original B5 series, and is also not officially considered canon.

There were some interesting similarities and differences between this novel and the previous one. While the story here is different and occurs primarily on B5, once again we see the themes of false accusations made to cover up some other issue, the accused being guilty until proven innocent, government corruption at high levels, corporate corruption, and tensions between Earth and Mars.

In Accusations, Commander Ivanova’s old flight instructor, J.D. Ortega, sends her an urgent and very short message from Mars letting her know he’s on his way to B5 and asking for a face-to-face meeting. Susan is intrigued and arrives at the meeting location, only to discover Ortega’s murdered body. As would be expected, she reports it to Mr. Garibaldi. They quickly learn that Ortega is (surprisingly) a wanted terrorist from Mars, setting the stage for the rest of the novel. Susan can’t reconcile what she knows of her old instructor with this fresh allegation. B5 is told an officer from Earth (Commander Wallace), will arrive shortly due to high-level interest in Mr. Ortega related to his supposed terrorist activities.

Meanwhile, raider attacks on commercial shipping remain problematic, and have come to a point where it seems as if the raiders know when and where freighters will be, and when they’re just far enough from protection to be most vulnerable. Susan begins looking for, and starts to identify, commonalities between the attacks: shipments originating from Mars, and apparently always carrying strategic metals. She suspects these attacks and seizures of cargos have a criminal aspect tied back to Earth and Mars.

When Wallace and team arrive, not only do they seize the entire murder investigation (something normally left to B5 security), but they present credentials from the Joint Chiefs that lock Mr. Garibaldi out of his own security system and all evidence tied to the case. Related, although Ortega’s contact with Ivanova has only been seasonal (characterized as exchanging Christmas cards over the years), Wallace accuses her of the murder and ties her to Ortega’s alleged terrorist activities as an accomplice. Wallace has Susan received of her position as XO.

Sheridan smells a rat but goes along with things, since technically everything appears to be proper. While only Wallace and his team keep the details of the investigation away from B5 leadership, Sheridan creatively uses Susan’s enthusiasm and analytical skills to take command of a Star Furry wing and begin to meet freighters at the locations she’s determined they’re most vulnerable. She and her wingmen end up in multiple confrontations with raiders, and capture one for questioning. She quickly confirms the raiders are in fact given specific shipments and locations to attack in order to take the cargo—the strategic medal called Morbidium, used for military weapons. She also learns Ortega was aware of this and had evidence there was an insurance scam (or worse) going on, facilitated by senior members of Earth Gov and the shipping companies.

As the story wraps up, we learn that the metal wasn’t just Morbidium, but ingots of a new medal called “Super Morbidium” which could be used for the secret development of new weapons that could essentially cut through all known metals. While this advance in technology would be truly beneficial to Earth in light of the recently ended Earth-Minbari war, and useful to prepare for what we know to be the upcoming Shadow War, it was being handled in a way to allow select government and corporate officials to profit. Worse yet, this profit was coming at the expense of lives. Ortega and Ivanova were simply the most recent two being set up to pay the price for knowing too much—with Orgega murdered to ensure he didn’t talk, and Ivanova silenced with the risk of even worse consequences for having connected the dots between the loss of select cargos and her old instructor Ortega. Even so, our heroes do what they do best, and maneuver the situation to ensure Wallace is exposed for what he’s doing. Ortega’s honor is restored posthumously, Ivanova’s honor is restored and she resumes her duties as XO.

We all enjoyed the “feel” of the story, and agreed the characters were written in a manner that they were consistent with the characters from the show. As we observed, we could “hear” their voices as we read the novel. The only real exception was Sheridan, whom we all agreed was written okay, but somehow just a little “off”. We also noted that there was one awkward moment with Susan that seemed out of character, involving a red dress. (If you read the novel, you’ll see what we’re talking about.) The only big beef we had with the author was her apparent lack of research into and understanding of military rank and authority. Even so, overall we liked the novel.

At the end we cover our favorite plot points and quotes. When you listen, we’d love to know if any of our favorites matched yours. We’d also love to hear your overall thoughts about the novel, so be sure to let us know on social media or by email.

Overall, your hosts rated Accusations with a 3.5, a 2.5 and a 4.0 (out of 5 booms), for an overall Boom Scale rating of 3.33.

Next, we’re on to the novel Blood Oath, the second of two novels by John Vornholt. Read up and join us for the conversation!

You can find us at http://www.BabylonProjectPodcast.wordpress.com, on Facebook at The Babylon Project Podcast or on iTunes.  You can email us at TheBabylonProjectPodcast@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Just remember… When there’s no boom today, there’s boom tomorrow.  There’s always boom tomorrow!

BPP Novel 1: Voices by John Vornholt

bpp-book1 copy

As we dive into the first of the novels associated with the Babylon 5 universe, we read and discussed Voices. Written by John Vornholt (his first of two B5 novels), published by Dell in 1995, this story takes place sometime between the Season 2 episodes “Points of Departure” (Episode 1) and “A Race Through Dark Places” (Episode 8). This is the first of nine “stand-alone” novels, in addition to three trilogies we will read and review.

Since we’re turning the page and moving to written works rather than audio-visual, we opened the show with a quick discussion and agreement on the relevance we’d give to novels that are either considered canon or not. We agreed that while it’s interesting to note which are considered canon, our approach is driven primarily by whether or not we enjoy each novel. As we move through these books, you’ll see that it won’t matter much. For those who want to know: we noted that while JMS had a hand in all the novels, several are accepted as canon, while others aren’t. The only two from the stand-alone books accepted as canon are #7 and #9. If you stick with us though, the issue won’t be a distraction.

With Captain Sheridan recently assuming command of Babylon 5, the Psi Corps runs into issues trying to hold a convention on Mars due to terrorist bombings and threats. The fall-back plan is to ask Babylon 5 to host the event, on neutral turf, and arguably in an environment more easily secured from threats. Reluctantly, Captain Sheridan agrees, the event is scheduled, and as everyone gathers, a bomb goes off, killing a number of the attendees and almost killing Mr. Bester. The resident station telepath, Talia Winters, appears to be at fault, and flees to protect herself from what we can only hope is a frame job. In addition to being accused of the bombing, she’s now a fugitive telepath: a charge alone that breaks Psi Corps rules and presumes her guilty. While on the run, events unfold on both sides as Psi Corps (Bester) attempts to capture and kill her; and Mr. Garibaldi, working with the aid of folks on Earth and Mars to bring Talia secretly under their protection while they build the case to prove her innocence.

In the end, we learn she is innocent. We also see Bester and the Corps realize this is the case, but are too proud to admit they were wrong in declaring her responsible for the bombing. Things resolve well in the end, but not without an appropriate amount of suspense and drama.

We discussed a number of themes present in the novel, many of which span the original television show, including: terrorism; politics and the influence of corporate (specifically a commercial telepath company called “The Mix”) attempts to control politics; being a fugitive / running from the law; telepaths in general; and the emerging role and power of Psi Corps, and even a little bit of the tensions between Earth and Mars.</p>

Overall, your hosts rated Voices with a 1.25, a 3 and a 3.5 (out of 5), for an overall Boom Scale rating of 2.6.

Next, we’re on to the novel Accusations, by Lois Tilton. Read up and join us for the conversation!

You can find us at http://www.BabylonProjectPodcast.wordpress.com, on Facebook at The Babylon Project Podcast or on iTunes.  You can email us at TheBabylonProjectPodcast@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Just remember… When there’s no boom today, there’s boom tomorrow.&nbsp; There’s always boom tomorrow!

BPP – The Lost Tales

lost-tales

NOTE: For this special 2-hour episode of the Babylon Project Podcast, we have a brand new intro using narration from the past 6 years of podcasts. It gives us chills so we hope you enjoy it and the rest of our discussion! Also, from now on we will be switching to the first Monday of every month for the next podcast releases as we go through each and every one of the Babylon 5 novels. 

Remember we mentioned Call to Arms was our fifth and final movie review? Well, we added The Lost Tales into the mix. So welcome to our sixth and final review of the Babylon 5 movies! Keep in mind, it’s technically not a movie. Instead it’s a collection of two stories JMS intended for the B5 series, and a part of an anthology series. The rest were never produced. Consider them bonus, mini-episodes. This set went straight to DVD on July 31, 2007. The first DVD released should have contained three episodes, however, that plan was reduced to two that we have today, titled “Voices in the Dark: Over Here”; and “Voices in the Dark: Over There”.

An additional note about both tales: given the events we see unfold, it appears the Drakh plague that was released on Earth has been defeated. There’s no mention of it in either story, and it doesn’t seem to be a concern.

Tale 1: “Voices in the Dark: Over Here”.

The best part of this tale may vary well have been the introductory monolog from G’Kar. It warmed our hearts to hear his voice again. The tale features Colonel Elizabeth Lochley, still in command of B5. She’s been promoted to colonel at this point and is now called by her rank, rather than “Captain” as an identifier of her position. Still being Lochley though, there’s no doubt she’s in charge. As the story begins, a member of the B5 crew (Simon Burke) is suddenly and apparently possessed. He’s restrained and confined, and Lochley has called in a priest from Earth (Father Cassidy) to evaluate the situation and conduct an exorcism if necessary.

There are some pretty creepy scenes, but nothing truly scary. The drama builds as Burke’s possessor (a demon identifying itself as Asmodeus) is tag-teamed by Father Cassidy and Lochley, and we hear the demon explain he was cast out into space and left for others to find one day. God’s plan in this was to remind mankind that if the devil exists, then He does too. Now that he’s served his purpose, the insists Father Cassidy cast him out of Burke to remain bound in space. The arguments Asmodeus presents are weak though, and in a eureka moment, Lochley figures out that this demon was trapped on Earth with the others God had cast down during the Fall, possessed Burke while he was on leave back on Earth, then returned with him to B5 to escape. This constitutes what Lochley describes as an “ecclesiastical jailbreak”. Father Cassidy will exercise this demon from Burke, but not on B5. Instead, he’ll return with Burke to Earth and cast Asmodeus out there, to ensure he remains trapped where God put him. There were plenty of plot holes, but remember, this was an episode that was never fully fleshed out.

The tale wraps up with a beautiful closing monolog. None of us were really able to figure out what we were supposed to have taken from this tale, in the context of the greater B5 and Crusade series, but this might explain why it is one of the lost tales.

Tale 2: “Voices in the Dark: Over There”.

This tale really felt like a B5 episode and in terms of story, was easily a part of the broader storyline. Occurring on the tenth anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance, we join President Sheridan as he heads to B5 for the ceremony. Traveling with a reporter he doesn’t particularly like, he endures an interview—one of several that have annoyed him. Used as the way to set the stage for what’s going on though, we learn that Emperor Mollari will not be attending, however, the third in line for the throne (Prince Regent Dius Vintari) will attend on his behalf. In a sad moment of recounting, Sheridan explains to the reporter that Londo is in a bit of a dark place, and doesn’t laugh much any longer. Fans will remember why: he sits alone as the Emperor, under the sad control of a Keeper. She also asks about G’Kar, who we learn continues his adventures beyond the Rim, along with Dr. Franklin. The interview abruptly ends when the alert goes out letting everyone know they were about to jump into Quantum Space—a new form of travel that works differently and much faster than traveling through Hyperspace. It’s fast, and can be very disorienting to the mind and body. In a comical moment, the reporter gets nervous, the ship enters Quantum Space with the reporter in distress, and as the scene fades we hear Sheridan ask the reporter, “was that a new dress”? Apparently it didn’t go well for her.

Sheridan is visited by Galen the Technomage, and sees a “dream” of the destruction of New York City (and Earth) thirty years in the future. Galen tells him this event is the result of the Centauri (specifically Vintari, once he takes the throne as Emperor) attacking Earth—the home of the one people who have ever been able to stop the Centauri Republic. Galen tells Sheridan that on this trip to B5, the way to prevent this future catastrophe is to kill Prince Vintari. It’s suggested that this is really the only way, creating a real moral dilemma for Sheridan as he considers the need to kill a boy in an “unfortunate accident” order to save Earth. As Galen says to him, “The fate of billions of lives is in your hands.”

Sheridan ponders this, just as Lochley had to ponder the presence and destructiveness of the demon in Tale 1, and in his own eureka moment, realizes there are other options. When we meet Vintari, we see he’s a very young man. He’s also very wary of the intentions of others around him, particularly due to others who are in line for the throne behind him who would love to see him die, improving their potential opportunity to gain the throne. As a result he lives a very sequestered and guarded life. Upon arrival at B5, the time comes to kill Vintari, as they each pilot a Star Fury between Sheridan’s ship and B5. Sheridan chooses not to kill him. After they land on B5, Sheridan instead invites Prince Vintari to return with him to Minbar after the ceremony. Vintar will live in safety, and can essentially be a big brother for John and Delenn’s son David. Sheridan can also serve as a father figure to Vintari. (We learned earlier in the episode his father had been killed.)

Your hosts speculated that if Sheridan had chosen to go through with the attempt to kill Vintari as Galen recommended, it might have failed and become the event that created his hatred of Earth (replacing an understandable suspicion of Earth) and resulted in the subsequent attack after he takes the throne. As we would hope, Sheridan took the moral high ground, saved Vintari and set him on a path to change his future—and the future of Earth. Maybe it was actually a test of sorts, and Sheridan was able to ensure the young Prince didn’t become the monster Galen saw.

There were at least two very deliberate connections between these tales:

Dius is an old Greek word meaning “divine”. In this tale, and as Emperor, he is a “divine” and will wield the power to destroy planets. The positive and loving intervention by Sheridan to welcome him into his home to live with his family will apparently eliminate the future Galen revealed that included the destruction of Earth. This plays agains the unwelcome possession of Burke in Tale 1, where Asmodeus has to be restrained, cast out, and rebound on Earth.

The two tales are deliberately linked when Sheridan is talking to Lochley while en route to B5. After Sheridan asks her how she’s doing, she comments that “until today, [she] didn’t know it [B5] was on the crossroads between Heaven and Hell.” She was clearly referring to the issue with Burke’s possession.

While all the TV and movie content is now behind us, please stay tuned as we begin to review many of the novels written in the B5 universe—some considered canon, and some that aren’t. Read along with us, but even if you don’t, please tune in and her our discussion of each of these books. They definitely continue and fill out the story we all know and love!

Overall Program Timeline

At the beginning of our podcast covering The Lost Tales, we provided a timeline summary of all the video content we’ve covered on the podcast:

2245-2248 – In the Beginning (Movie)
2257 – Babylon 5: Signs and Portends (TV, Season 1)
2258 – Babylon 5: The Coming of Shadows (TV, Season 2)
2259 – Babylon 5: Point of No Return (TV, Season 3)
2260 – Babylon 5: No Surrender, No Retreat (TV, Season 4)
2261 – Babylon 5: Wheel of Fire (TV, Season 5)
2261 – Thirdspace (Movie, occurs within the B5 series timeline)
2263 – River of Souls (Movie)
2265 – Legend of the Rangers (Movie)
2266 – A Call to Arms (Movie)
2267 – Crusade (TV)
2271 – Lost Tales (Movie, contains two mini episodes)
2278 – In the Beginning (Movie) *

* The movie “In the Beginning” also contained future scenes in the year 2278. For this reason it essentially began and ended the entire set of programming. Babylon 5: a place of beginnings and endings!

You can find us at http://www.BabylonProjectPodcast.wordpress.com, on Facebook at The Babylon Project Podcast or on iTunes.  You can email us at TheBabylonProjectPodcast@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Just remember… No boom today.  Boom tomorrow.  There’s always a boom tomorrow!

BPP Crusade 113 – Each Night I Dream of Home

We’ve reached the end of Crusade. When we began the series, we felt even though this was JMS and a deliberate follow-up to Babylon 5, the writing seemed off and the characters seemed awkward.  For our friends who listened along, we all learned (or were reminded) that what JMS wrote was not presented by TNT in the order he originally intended.

This episode kicks off with the Gideon and crew waiting at a rendezvous point for a mysterious meeting with an unknown person. When a Warlock class destroyer appears, they quickly learn the meeting is with Senator Jacob Redway (and apparently his personal assistant, named David)—one of very few Senators who was away from Earth when the Drakh virus was unleashed. The crew is given a set of orders from the Joint Chiefs and sworn to secrecy as they embark on a secret mission to Earth. Why recall the only research vessel that’s deliberately staffed with people free of the plague and searching for a cure? 

Almost as soon as they’re underway, Excalibur picks up a distress signal. Redway “orders” them not to stop, Gideon sternly but respectfully tells him he’s not in his chain of command, and they divert to assist. They quickly learn the distress beacon originates from a Star Fury piloted by Captain Lochley! Gideon explains to Redway he’ll obey the orders and not stop but he won’t ever dismiss a distress signal. The solution: slow down and catch the Star Fury, then continue to toward Earth. Lochley explains she was jumped by raiders and learns they can’t just take her back to B5 because of the mission they’re on.  Remember the Senator’s assistant? We see him make a discrete (and unauthorized) call to Earth to his fiancé, and tells her he’s coming home to marry her. She doesn’t know why, other than although he’s free of the virus, he’ll accept exposure and a possible death sentence to spend the rest of her life with her.

The Excalibur arrives at Earth and prepares to receive a shuttle from the surface. Gideon questions this, given that any ship attempting to leave Earth will be destroyed. Nonetheless, the shuttle pushes out of the atmosphere and just before it’s destroyed, jettisons a single life pod. It is brought onboard, quarantined, and an old friend emerges: Dr. Stephen Franklin! We’re reminded he leads Earths planetary effort to find a cure. We get the rest of the story about David—he’s a volunteer to be exposed and Dr. Franklin is going to track the virus through his body in real time. That info might give them some very key data critical to the development of a vaccine.

The Drakh intercepted David’s call and now the Excalibur’s mission to Earth is compromised. An element of the Drakh fleet is on the move to eliminate this potential lead toward the cure.

David’s infected and the virus is tracked, but then things begin to go wrong. There are several failures, buttons don’t work, the Drakh ships arrive and attack (BOOM!), David is knocked unconscious, the containment system appears to be at risk of malfunctioning, and before anything can happen, an automatic sterilization protocol is activated and we’re minutes away from the incineration of David. Dr. Franklin ends up quickly using a manual procedure to pull David into another containment room, saving the day, and the hope this might lead to a vaccine. As the battle continues, Gideon creatively decides if he rushes the Drakh mother ship, it will force them to jump, allowing Excalibur to follow and destroy them. The plan works, and the enemy ships are destroyed in Hyperspace. (More BOOM!)

With the immediate crisis resolved, David and Dr. Franklin are successfully returned to Earth, and Excalibur can take Captain Lochley home to Babylon 5. Doctors Franklin and Chambers confer over a video phone to compare notes about what they learned from David’s infection (shows real promise!). Back at B5, as Lochley prepares to disembark, she and Gideon exchange some flirtatious pleasantries. She tells Gideon he should stop by the next time the Excalibur is in the neighborhood. As Excalibur pulls away, Matheson points out the smile on Gideon’s face…he know’s what going on between the two. Gideon denies it’s a smile and claims “it’s gas.” Riiiiight. As the episode closes, Gideon suggests they should come back sometime soon to give the crew some crew rest on Babylon 5. *wink*

That wraps up Crusade, but not the podcast. Stay with us as we watch the final movie in the series, Lost Tales. Then, our plan is to continue with the Babylon 5 novels.

You can find us at http://www.BabylonProjectPodcast.wordpress.com, on Facebook at The Babylon Project Podcast or on iTunes.  You can email us at TheBabylonProjectPodcast@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Just remember… No boom today.  Boom tomorrow.  There’s always a boom tomorrow!

 

BPP Crusade 112 – Visitors from Down The Street

This was a playful Crusade-based version of the popular show X-Files. A little campy (on purpose), it was a fun episode to watch, even though it wasn’t totally a filler or throw-away episode. There was perhaps, at least one very traditional use of the Sci Fi genre to make a strong social statement.

The episode opens up with the crew noticing something smells, but can’t figure out what it is or where it’s coming from. With that stage set, their attention turns quickly to a distress signal and a small, very classic contact with aliens, saucer-shaped life pod. Once recovered, two aliens emerge…wearing suits, and speaking with British accents. One is clearly a male, and the other a female. His name is Durkani (a play on David Dukovney’s last name) and hers is Lyssa. We quickly see that these two are homages or parodies of Agents Mulder and Scully. He believes and she doubts. They attempt to take a hostage with intent to return to their planet with proof that we (their aliens, and the truth) are in fact out there. Their plan fails and they find themselves in the brig. Questioning, and the storyline unfolds from there.

Durkani and Lyssa’s story is that we (Earthlings) have been visiting their planet for centuries, quietly conspiring with their government to pacify the people. When things go wrong, when “necessary” budget cuts are made, when anything that could cause the government to be perceived as wrong, or if anything happens to make them unpopular, the blame is placed on the government’s need to protect the people from the powerful and negative influence of the Visitors. It sounds far-fetched and Gideon isn’t really buying it. There’s no record of Earth ever having contact with this race. In a quick couple of flashback scenes, supplementing Durkani’s story, clearly establishing them as Mulder and Scully, and in the second flashback, we’re also introduced to a mysterious man who appears to be their opponent in the search for the truth. Who could he be? The set up suggests he’s a tip of the hat to the mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man or Cancer Man from the X-Files. Durkani even shows proof of prior contact, to include contentious and secret photos of things from Earth like blimps, a golf club, a photo of Mount Rushmore, and on their own planet, a humorous version of a crop circle in the shape of the American Flag.

Durkani’s amazing claims are further reinforced when a government official named Kendarr, also from this planet, approaches the Excalibur and is allowed to board. He’s the same fellow we saw earlier in the second flashback—his identity as the Cigarette Smoking Man is confirmed. He claims he is a law enforcement official there to take custody of Durkani and Lyssa, return them to the planet, and execute them for stealing a space ship with the ability to travel beyond their solar system. We’re treated to a brief and interesting discussion between Gideon and Kendarr about capital crimes. The story moves on quickly, leaving us to ponder the magnitude of that problem on our own, with Kendarr providing some additional information, leading the viewer to think the intended capital sentence isn’t really about the theft of a ship as much as it is about leaking the proof of their contact with an alien race. Kendarr is well-informed, explains his government has been aware of several other races for centuries (a confirmation of Durkani’s story), and is even conversant about hyperspace and Jump Gate technology. His government took power by blaming the outsiders for their problems, then pacified the people by tightly controlling this narrative, and excusing anything they did by claiming they’re doing so to protect the population from the evil aliens. They also reinforced the pacification by providing the people “addictive” things like pizza and ice cream to keep them content. He’s actually aware Earthlings aren’t the evil monsters they’ve been set us up to be, making this “first contact” a problem. The proof Durkani and Lyssa could bring back would quite possibly ruin the power the government currently holds. In explaining himself as a government official, Kendarr even nonchalantly makes the statement that the truth has never been in anyone’s best interest. Yikes! This is perhaps the larger and frankly very sinister message we’re left to ponder from this otherwise light-hearted episode. Oh, and Kendarr is distracted by…a smell?

A tussle ensues, prisoners run, and the source of the smell is discovered: a leaky sewage pipe. In the end, everyone is detained, and ultimately the visitors to the Excalibur are returned to their planet. As they depart, Kendarr’s final words are enhanced by—a cigarette. Yes indeed, he was the Cigarette Smoking Man! But our crew isn’t done just yet. In this slightly off-kilter world, Gideon decides he can’t leave things as they are. In a violation of the rules, he drops a number of probes on the planet, with information confirming who the Earthlings actually are, and that they’re not the evil Visitors the government had told the people they were.

Was it a filler episode? Seems so, overall. Was it fun? Absolutely. But it also had a few significant messages for us along the way. If the series had continued past the first 13 episodes, it would have been interesting to see if the heavier issues would have come back again as a part of the main storyline.

You can find us at http://www.BabylonProjectPodcast.wordpress.com, on Facebook at The Babylon Project Podcast or on iTunes.  You can email us at TheBabylonProjectPodcast@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Just remember… No boom today.  Boom tomorrow.  There’s always a boom tomorrow!

BPP Crusade 111 – The Needs of Earth

This would have been the third episode to air if JMS had his way., but we’re seeing it as the eleventh episode. Once again, we talk about things seem disconnected here (such as the relationship between Max and Dureena) based on “earlier” episodes, – but they really aren’t. One thing all three of us intend to do at some point is go back and rewatch the series in the order originally intended.

Consistent with Babylon 5, this story deals with a fairly common theme involving the use of moral authority, stated in this case by Captain Gideon as the friction between what is right (legal) and what is moral. As we’re “early” in the Crusade storyline, we see a Ranger come to Gideon and present him with a possible lead toward a cure. An individual from a planet called Praxis 9 has copied thousands of years of his (somewhat closed, or relatively unknown) culture’s information, apparently everything that’s important, and has fled in order to sell it to the right buyer for the right price. The fugitive was subsequently captured and his people have sent a ship to recover him. The Excalibur is closer, and if the determination is made that there might be scientific/medical value useful for curing the virus on Earth, the Excalibur could attempt to get there before the Praxis vessel, directly interfering with another race by taking custody of the fugitive then hopefully convincing him to release the information to Earth. The Ranger points out to Gideon that Praxis 9 is technically outside the jurisdiction of the Alliance, so in addition to violating the Alliance directive not to interfere with other races, risk exists in that if the mission is discovered and is attributable to an Alliance ship, the Alliance will disavow any knowledge. This would leave the crew of Excalibur at the mercy of the legal system of the Moradi race. Gideon has to make a decision whether or not he and the crew should do something illegal for the greater good (or needs of) Earth. He decides to accept the risk and the mission is on. To limit risk, Gideon and Dureena are the designated crew to contact and extract the fugitive (named Natchok Var).

The Moradi are understandably protective of the details of their culture, and Praxis 9 has a very hostile atmosphere, resulting in their cities being under several domes. We learn that Dureena has been here before, and she uses her past experience to open an exterior door to enter the dome where Natchok Var is held. As we’re introduced to the city, it appears to be a city-sized version of “Down Below” on B5, but with additional unsavory businesses, including an active slave market. It’s at this point we start to get an indication of Dureena’s past, as she shows a moment of hesitation when seeing the slave market. It’s easy to conclude she was once held as a slave here.

After a few distractions created to give the opportunity to grab Natchok Var, he’s quickly liberated and the team heads back to Excalibur…but not before the Moradi arrive. During the confrontation/exchange, the Moradi state they want to end the situation peacefully, and the time taken to work out the deal, two important things happen. First, we learn that Natchok Var’s actual intent is to preserve cultural information that his government is destroying in the name of removing things that aren’t “beneficial to the state”. (We referred to this as an example of “cancel culture”.) He tells the crew he’s willing to give the information away to the right people—it wasn’t stolen to sell. Second, he is moved by hearing Mozart, decides the crew of Excalibur are the right people, and gives them the data crystals to copy. In return he’ll give himself up, allowing the situation to end peacefully, and ensuring the data will survive. There’s a smaller moral issue that plays out during this as well, in that Gideon and crew wrestle with the concern that turning Natchok Var over to his government could result in an unfair trial or even his death. In the end, it’s his decision though and they see him depart. Their greatest fears are realized when they witness the Moradi warship destroy Natchok Var’s shuttle once it’s clear of Excalibur. Perhaps this encourages them though that gaining a copy of the information on the data crystals made Natchok Var’s sacrifice worthwhile.

What was remarkable in the end, after Dr. Chambers did an initial review of the data, she realized there was “nothing scientifically useful” on the crystals. Instead the data all captured the Moradi arts. Your hosts agreed that this is a tragic view of the value of the arts expressed through the fictional Moradi government, and seen at times through our own (real world) human history, where the arts have been downplayed and even destroyed in various places and at various times.

Finally, the episode ends with what still would have been significant, initial character development for Dureena. In an exchange between her and Gideon, we learn that Dureena wasn’t just held as a slave on Praxis 9. Tragically, her own family sold her into slavery to pay off debts. Wow!

You can find us at http://www.BabylonProjectPodcast.wordpress.com, on Facebook at The Babylon Project Podcast or on iTunes.  You can email us at TheBabylonProjectPodcast@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Just remember… No boom today.  Boom tomorrow.  There’s always a boom tomorrow!

BPP Crusade 110 – The Memory of War

As mentioned previously, the previous episode was intended to be the premiere for the series, and this episode was intended to air third. 

This episode kicks off with Jane (our favorite actress Maggie Egan!) talking about how the Rangers are scouting for leads on potential cures, with the military research vessel Excalibur following up on specific leads. This explains why in earlier episodes (as aired) it seemed the Excalibur was sort of wondering around, almost purposelessly or without any real focus or urgency. Here, the Excalibur arrives at a planet, sends probes into the atmosphere, and begins plans to send crew members to the surface. However, Galen appears and warns them not to go: those who go will die. As this storyline unfolds, we learn that many have gone to this planet before, including Technomages, and all have died.  In a tender moment, Galen explains he’s being as pushy as he is because he views Gideon and the crew of Excalibur as his family.

Warnings considered, Gideon and crew head to the surface, risking death for information that might prove useful toward finding a cure for the Drakh virus on Earth. As camp is set up, we’re shown a sort of graffiti on some walls, and Dureena immediately does what she does: explore and seek information that wouldn’t be easily obtained by others. She finds an interesting data crystal and brings it back to the others, and shortly thereafter, an IPX employee working for Max dies. Someone or something has slashed her throat. Then several others die.

Max takes the data crystal and begins working to decipher what’s on it, and translates the written planetary language. We learn the graffiti means “behold and die”. Galen links himself to some of the remaining probes dropped by Excalibur and also makes an important discovery: there is an artificial virus at work. On that virus: a symbol, sigil, a signature of sorts, that Galen immediately recognizes and causes him to become furious. The virus was created using Technomage technology, and becomes active at night, reprogramming itself to adjust to the beings infected, causing them to kill themselves. With only a few hours left before dark, he grabs a very cool tool of his trade, a unique staff, and heads below the surface to find what drives the virus.

Back on the Excalibur, the team returned with samples (actually “buckets” of the nano virus, and Doc Chambers found a way to incorporate it into a compound that could be used as a temporary vaccine. A promising discovery! Excalibur is ready to depart, but Gideon is told there’s one shuttle remaining away, but imminently returning to return to the ship. With all shuttles previously accounted for, he questions why one left and went back to the surface. That’s when Dureena walks back in and we see why she made the quick trip back to the planet. Remember, she’s a thief, and has even been called a “tunnel rat”. Well, our favorite tunnel rat found her way back down to the control chamber Galen had destroyed, recovered his staff, and brought it back to him.

The show ends with Gideon consulting the Apocalypse Box again. In a troubling moment, we see the box caution him, “Do not trust.” When asked, the Box elaborates: Galen…

You can find us at http://www.BabylonProjectPodcast.wordpress.com, on Facebook at The Babylon Project Podcast or on iTunes.  You can email us at TheBabylonProjectPodcast@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Just remember… No boom today.  Boom tomorrow.  There’s always a boom tomorrow!

BPP Crusade 109 – Racing The Night

racing-the-nightWe liked this episode for a number of reasons. Understanding that JMS originally intended this episode to be the premiere helped. With that in mind, it becomes clear why we’re seeing an assortment of character introductions that don’t seem to belong in the nine episode (as aired). It also explains why Max seems to be back to his fully-abrasive personality after we’ve seen several episodes he may have a heart and a moral compass that isn’t fully driven by corporate profit and politics as a company man.

The Excalibur’s crew is on a planet seeking the cure to the plague on Earth, Max is making a number of discoveries, but with little medical advancement, and Dr. Chambers has discovered there are at least 30 kinds of DNA present.

Galen is missing (for the moment), with his absence attributed to being a Technomage, and Dureena is climbing through tunnels where she discovers what appears to be a giant machine. She’s called back to the surface without the immediate chance to tell the others what she’s looking at. Time passes, and it eventually surfaces that the people of the planet are cryogenically dormant—sleeping—with a single being awake and taking care of the machine. The storyline takes a sinister turn when the caretaker tells Gideon and crew why the population is asleep: they were also infected with the plague that now haunts the Earth. They had been trying for four years to lure others to the planet, then experimenting on them even to the point of death, in hopes that they’d find a cure. The episode places ethics of science and experimentation in front of us to ponder: is it okay to kill some in order to save many more?

When Excalibur tries to depart, the ship is grabbed by a tractor beam and starts being pulled to the surface. In order to escape, Gideon rotates the front of the ship toward the surface where the beam originates, and fires the main gun. The tractor beam fails and the ship recovers control in time to prevent its destruction in the planet’s atmosphere.

As the ship and crew depart, Galen asks Gideon how he picked this particular planet to search. Gideon’s response: “I have my sources.” As the show ends, we’re shown his source…a mysterious, glowing box that we already know is the Apocalypse Box, previously won in a game of cards. We’re left wondering what this box really is, how it works, and why Captain Gideon trusts it.

You can find us at http://www.BabylonProjectPodcast.wordpress.com, on Facebook at The Babylon Project Podcast or on iTunes.  You can email us at TheBabylonProjectPodcast@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Just remember… No boom today.  Boom tomorrow.  There’s always a boom tomorrow!

BPP Crusade 108 – Appearances and Other Deceits

appearancesThe last episode of the series filmed finds its way at this point in the season, with a B plot of the crew being fitted with “new” uniforms, which were actually the “old” uniforms to match the first episodes filmed. Your hosts talk about “what’s old is new again” as well as as follow the main storyline which has our crew discovering a ghost ship adrift. Bringing a survivor onto the ship, a medical technician touches the patient who dies after “infecting” her with something he was carrying.

Max works on deciphering symbols assumed to be the written language of the race onboard the ghost ship. When he he realizes what he might be looking at, infected crew members nearby hear him and they’re not happy with his discovery.  Max tells Gideon an alien presence gained access to the other ship and the alien crew vented their atmosphere trying to kill the invasive species. However they moved into a single host  to survive. Now they are infecting Gideon’s crew one by one.

In an interesting turn of events, the hostile alien presence again attempts to consolidate into a single host thanks to a plan by the crew, and during the moments of desperation, it comes across an unconscious human crew member who is also in a space suit. It quickly removes his glove, touches him, and transfers into his unconscious body.  Now trapped, internally it tries to tell Gideon it knows what he is looking for (the cure) but is unable to speak.

Our crew starts to get back to normal life—but with the addition of new uniforms, courtesy of the flamboyant designer.

You can find us at http://www.BabylonProjectPodcast.wordpress.com, on Facebook at The Babylon Project Podcast or on iTunes.  You can email us at TheBabylonProjectPodcast@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Just remember… No boom today.  Boom tomorrow.  There’s always a boom tomorrow!

BPP Crusade 107 – The Rules of the Game

107-rules-of-the-game

The Excalibur is on a voyage that has a deliberate connection to finding a cure for the plague and our crew finds themselves on Babylon 5 to work gaining access to a planet called Lorka 7. Max quickly runs into someone he probably didn’t want to see: his ex-wife. Gideon quickly finds himself arguing with the Brakiri for access to a planet they are the guardians for.  The reason given why he can’t the visit the planet: rules regarding a religious order and the risk of their purity being compromised by corrupt visitors. Even so, we learn that it’s okay for the Lorkans to be on Babylon 5 because they’re “incorruptible.”

Max’s ex-wife (Cynthia) asks him to bail her out of an outrageous debt she got herself into. Max decides to help her out and pays off the original loan amount, calling the interest on the loan “extortion”, apparently feeling his ex should get an exception to the terms of the loan. Mueller turns his attention to Max, kidnapping his cat Mr. Kitty.

The Lorkan plan to kill Gideon (and apparently also Lochley since she’s with him on a sort of date) also fails. Max ends up confronting Mueller and puts an explosive collar on him: one that will explode if he gets too close to Max or his ex. Max tells Mueller he’ll return the cat, bathed.

As the show wraps up, the Lorkans reveal that our two corrupt emissaries were actually running some sort of criminal scheme on Lorka 7, and feared that a visit from Gideon and crew would have revealed it. Now caught, the planetary leadership allows them to visit, knowing they’re “corrupt” but acknowledging that purity without temptation is meaningless. The visit will allow both sides to gain something valuable. As things wrap up, Max and his ex part in peace, and his cat is returned safely.

Kind of a wild and frivolous episode. It had it’s odd issues, but overall it was kind of fun.

You can find us at http://www.BabylonProjectPodcast.wordpress.com, on Facebook at The Babylon Project Podcast or on iTunes.  You can email us at TheBabylonProjectPodcast@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Just remember… No boom today.  Boom tomorrow.  There’s always a boom tomorrow!