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.
The episode opens on Mars, where we find Captain Lochley and Gideon together in advance of a conference convened to discuss the Drakh plague. Gideon is there since he’s the captain of the Excalibur; Lochley has been called away from Babylon 5 to head up the event security. She confidently declares the event “perfectly safe.” — Oh boy! Early in the episode we also see several tips of the hat to Ray Bradbury, starting with a visible street sign for Bradbury Street.
Lochley and Gideon seem slightly flirtatious, Max and our old friend Trace seem to be squabbling over a chance to gain Dureena’s affection, and Dr. Chambers isn’t immune to what may be advances from others either. It’s not clear why everyone seems so interested in the affection of others, but outside of the seriousness of the conference, things are somewhat lighthearted…until violence strikes. A brutally murdered victim seems to have something to do with a shady Foundationst priest named Dr. Lebecque and a sketchy religious order called Sacred Omega. The decision is made to transport the body to Excalibur to attempt to reduce visibility and gossip about what could be perceived as a threat to the conference. As with having Lochley head the security effort, the reasoning for moving the autopsy off-world seems a bit weak, but it’s used to set up time to hear about Trace’s past. He was going to be a priest at one point and has a connection with Lebceque. As for Lebecque, he seems unstable as he’s hearing and responding to a voice in his head that seems to be encouraging him to consider the Drakh plague a result of the will of God, driving him to consider ending the anti-plague event by killing everyone present, preventing them from thwarting God’s will. He’s listening.
There’s more social interaction between Lochley and Gideon, and what appears to be a romantic interest forming. In a comical moment, Gideon divulges to Lochley that his hero is John Sheridan; Lochley divulges to him that she used to be married to Sheridan. (Awkward!) Trace and Max are still squabbling over Dureena (she’s not interested), Trace has had too much to drink and isn’t holding up well, and eventually stumbles outside.
Based on the prompting of the voice, Lebecque has a bomb rigged and ready to detonate to kill all those who can contribute to curing the plague who are in attendance, and as things come to a head, Trace’s prior knowledge of Lebecque from his days entering the priesthood pay dividends. They run a pretty cheesy but successful bluff to convince Lebecque to back off his plan, everyone is saved, and we learn the voice in his head is Joan of Arc. The episode ends with Lochley inviting Gideon to swing by Babylon 5 if he’s ever in the area, and as the credits roll we hear…dogs and cats?
In the end, this was a fairly obscure episode, in that the title refers to a play written by T.S. Eliot. A line from that play is also quoted toward the end of the episode. At least one of your hosts couldn’t cleanly connect the episode to the point of the play (the temptation and death of Archbishop Becket of Canterbury, in 1170). We tried to piece the connections between the episode and the play together, but probably not with much success. Overall, it wasn’t very clear what the episode added, but it definitely provided a little humor and some additional character development for several of our main characters. It definitely established the beginning of what could be an interesting personal relationship between Lochley and Gideon.
Once again the crew is taken off the path to find a cure for the Drakh plague. The Excalibur is sent to Theta 49 where there is concern a small group of colonists might be contaminated with the plague. Gideon receive orders to find the colonists and bring them back to Earth—an unusual request. If they’re actually contaminated, it would be relatively simple to quarantine this secluded planet.
As Excalibur arrives, we get a glimpse of one of the colonists interacting with a representative of what appears to be an indigenous population. This elder tells the colonist that he should take his people away so that his own people can live, suggesting the local population already knows the colonists are infected.
After a quick dowsing in a protective mist to protect them from the virus, members of the crew go to the surface to make contact with the colonists. They’re informed that the colonists left Earth before the Drakh plague was dispensed, but the settlers agree to be tested for confirmation.
As the drama unfolds, we learn there are dissenting views among the colonists, with Mr. Black offering to his people they might want to go back. We also hear the dissenting view that going back might mean they’d be locked up again after the discovery of “who and what we are.” We don’t yet know what this means, but it gives us a little more insight into why the Excalibur is ordered to bring them back.
Meanwhile, Dureena finds another camp—not Earthlings—and quickly discovers she’s found a surviving remnant of her own people, previously unknown to be on Theta 49. Quickly we learn that the colonists are infected even though there’s confirmation they did leave Earth before the release of the Drakh virus. With a new problem to be solved, Dr. Chambers suits up and goes in to examine the waste disposal system for clues about how the colonists ended up infected. Gideon uses special access to gain information and learns that the colonists have cybernetic enhancements courtesy of an activity called the Bioweapons Division. This makes them dangerous, especially since they’re living weapons. This further complicates the plot in that it seems Earth’s military leadership would be happy they’ve isolated themselves. The mystery is solved when Dr. Chambers discovers that the solders were deliberately infected through their food. If this were ever discovered and made public, it would be a significant blemish on Earth’s military leadership.
Armed with this information, Gideon comes up with a plan and stages the destruction of the colonists (BOOM!) to provide cover for them to remain outside of Earth’s control. We also learn that the survivors from Dureena’s world are also infected. Unfortunately the virus works much more quickly on them than on a human. Dureena pleads to leave them alone. In the end, Gideon reports back to Earth that the planet will be quarantined to protect the previously unknown indigenous population, allowing the now “dead” Earth colonists to live out the remainder of their lives in peace as well. After all, Gideon’s public orders were to prevent the spread of the virus.
A quick note about the B-Story here. Our friend Max from IPX has been under some pressure to report back what the Excalibur has been finding. We’ve watched him fail at this so far, but now he has the chance to give them something interesting about Theta 49. He queues up a report divulging the info he has on the planet, including about the people there, and in a moment of strength of conscience, he deletes it rather than sending it, protecting Dureena’s people and the colonists. Are we seeing some depth developing in Max’s character?
In this episode, your hosts agree this felt like the usual B5 episode we’ve come to love. We also find the crew of the Excalibur on what appears to be a legitimate mission focused on finding a cure for the Drakh plague: a relatively unknown world that also happens to be a place of healing.
Upon arrival, the team finds a strange alien apparently entombed in a vessel, that has the ability to grant forgiveness and therefore a release from the emotional burden carried by others. We then see this creature begin to heal members of the crew by interacting with them one at a time. First Captain Gideon wrestles with the loss of his entire ship and crew when he was a new officer. He survived because he was outside the ship when it was lost and was picked up by a Technomage ship—Galen’s ship. Here we also get the backstory of when Galen and Gideon first met. We see some subsequent trauma (and drama), but ultimately the issue Gideon needs to be forgiven for comes to the surface—at a minimum he seems to be suffering from survivor’s guilt. Through the mental link he has with the creature, he is told he’s forgiven.
Next, Matheson has his encounter with the creature. In his past, and during the rise of the Resistance in the Babylon 5 series, he was a young Psi Corps employee (but not a Psi Cop) and the custodian for a Psi Corps prisoner being held for interrogation. The prisoner (a leader in the Resistance) convinces him that she’s being held unjustly, and that once the Psi Corps gets what they want from her, she’ll be killed. The Resistance was gaining traction and the Corps was desperate to find a way to curtail their progress. In the end, he helps the prisoner and we learn Matheson was a wild card in the Resistance’s ultimate ability to beat the Psi Corps. We also learn she’s carrying a beacon, allowing the Resistance to successfully find and attack the Psi Corps base. Matheson had never told anyone about this betrayal; the mysterious creature frees him and tells him he’s forgiven.
Galen is next to face the creature. Galen’s pain was a bit different. The love of his life is wounded and ultimately dies, leaving Galen alone. As she departs, she tells him that the universe has a purpose and that one day he will need to learn to forgive God for his decisions. She also promises him that if there is a way after she’s gone, she’ll call to Galen, say his name and send him a message. Rather than embracing the encouragement of his dying friend, the loss drove Galen to a deep anger toward God and a denial that there is any real, meaningful purpose in the universe. Unlike with Gideon and Matheson, Gideon isn’t in need of forgiveness; he needs to forgive.
As the episode wraps up, a message arrives for Galen. This is particularly interesting since no one other than the crew of Excalibur knows Galen is onboard the ship. The computer says it didn’t come from any specific location: just “out there.” The message was simple. It contained his name and the word LOVE. Galen denies this is possible as we’re reminded of the words Isabelle spoke to him, “If there is a purpose, if there is a design, if there is a way after I’m gone, I will call to you and say your name, and send you a message. And you will know I was right.”
The planet provided healing, but not the kind Earth needs to cure the plague. Even so, Gideon and Matheson received the healing they needed. Sadly, it remains to be seen if Galen will ever be healed.
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Just remember… No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow!
Welcome back! We’re three episodes into Crusade and as you’ll hear, still reminding each other that this is a new show, with new characters who need to develop—meaning the actors and writers haven’t quite found the familiarity with the characters just yet, but that’s to be expected. This episode is one of only a few written by someone other than JMS.
Things kick off quickly, and a little ominously, with a Psi Corps ship approaching the Excalibur. We’re introduced to Mr. Jones, a Psi Cop of sorts, who is there to perform a scan and review of the First Officer, Mr. Matheson. We learn that the Senate has abolished Psi Corps (at least as we knew it, even though Jones’ ship is prominently marked with the Psi Corps logo and he wears a Psi Corps pin) but has apparently retained a form of the organization akin to an Internal Affairs activity, that ensures telepaths who now live among the Normals aren’t abusing their abilities. That said, through the episode we watch unethical behavior from Mr. Jones that rivals any of the abuses of power we saw in Babylon 5.
This takes place while the Excalibur is under way to a mysterious location within Hyperspace—a little known and understood place called The Well of Forever. Galen talks Captain Gideon into tying his ship and the Excalibur’s navigation systems together to find and reach the Well by suggesting there might be something there that could help contribute to the cure of the plague on Earth. What that might be is a mystery, as are most things that Galen appears to know. With Gideon convinced, the ships are connected and the search begins.
Jones conducts his scan of Matheson in a less than professional way, while mentioning Matheson is a sort of folk hero, who therefore requires additional oversight. Jones almost sounds jealous, but may also be using this as an excuse to look for something valuable that has nothing to do with his official duties. When the scan is complete, Matheson complains to Jones that he violated the rules and obtained “operational information”. Jones simply dismisses this, using his authority to threaten Matheson to be quiet.
Excalibur reaches the expected location of the Well only to find it’s not there. The agreement was that if the Well wasn’t there, Excalibur would immediately return to normal space. When Gideon tells Galen they’re turning around only to learn Galen has hijacked the Excalibur’s navigation system so that he could continue the search without interference from the crew. This was a significant betrayal of trust and Gideon tells him it’s mutiny. Galen doesn’t appear to care. They find the Well of Forever shortly after this exchange, but the damage is done to the relationship. We learn the Well is a sort of burial ground and Gideon’s motive for seeing it out at any expense was a promise he made to a loved one to carry her remains there for burial. They learn that the structure of the Well contains significant and rare elements, and a solid core of Quantium 40—the stuff Jump Gates are made of and rely on, but nothing that appears to be of any value in terms of helping to cure the plague. This adds to Gideon’s frustration as he realizes Galen knew this and the suggestion there might be something that could help save Earth was also a lie. Galen lied to get the Captain to agree to make the voyage, already knowing that once that happened, he’d hijack the ship. Now that the mission is complete, Galen returns control of the Excalibur to Gideon and they safely depart.
During these events, Matheson told Gideon that during his scan, Jones took operational data—something he wasn’t authorized to do, nor did he have an official need for. Gideon, with the help of Dureena, puts a plan in place to confront Mr. Jones. As things wind down, that confrontation occurs in a manner that causes Mr. Jones to admit he was scanning people without authority. Gideon then holds this over his head to ensure no bad report will go out about Matheson, nor will operational data about the ship’s mission (specifically about the Well of Forever) will be released.
Having broken the Captain’s trust, Galen is going to depart the ship and suggests to Gideon he won’t return unless welcomed. Gideon reminds him of his betrayal and that while he kept his honorable promise to his dead friend to get her to the Well of Forever, he acted without honor to do so. Galen seemed to think the ends justify the means; Gideon didn’t agree—nor did your hosts. We’re left wondering if Galen will ever be able to restore the trust others had placed in him.
Things kick off with a large, orange blob threatening some Earth Force folks and they’re calling for help. We quickly learn they’re crew from the Medusa, detailed to guard a planet-based mine on Regula 4. Meanwhile, the Excalibur is tasked to assist with the problem. Turns out the society there has rejected most forms of modern technology and they have… a dragon problem.
While is is the second episode broadcast, JMS intended for this to be episode 6, so if you feel like you might have missed some of the development of the crew’s storyline, you know why.
Why is this mine so important? And is there really a dragon? Turns out an old friend of Galen’s is also on the planet – a fellow technomage, Alwyn, who is doing his best to temper the frustration and anger of the villagers with the desire for the Earth Force folks to stop mining and leave. With a sense of desperation lurking among the Earth Force members, conflict seems inevitable. When additional Earth Force troops arrive, they’re taken hostage, reinforcing the perspectives of leadership on Medusa.
Alwyn pushes for the release of the hostages, and in an almost predictable turn of events, a young girl in the village falls ill, due to dust from the mine, bolstering the attitudes of the villagers about the need to rid themselves of the mine and Earth Force troops. The threat to her health is confirmed by Dr. Chambers onboard Excalibur, and we also learn that this same problem will eventually threaten the entire population. Tensions are definitely high. When Alwyn warns the villagers that holding hostages will only work against them, they won’t relent. He tells them they’ve forced him to take care of the problem his way, and they’ll have to live with the consequences. Without telling them what he’s doing, he goes to the mind and appears to be using his powers to directly threaten the Medusa. Medusa orders Excalibur to fire on him, which they do, destroying the mine and apparently killing Alwyn. BOOM! While the mine is now gone, they must now live without their wise advisor.
Calmer heads prevail and the villagers agree to help Earth Force find a better location to mine for the mineral that might save Earth, and won’t threaten the health of the people on Regula 4. Then, as the episode ends, we discover that Alwyn may not be as dead as he appeared…
Here we go! Having finished the original series and the movies, we’ve made our way to the spin-off series “Crusade”. For the fans of the B5 time line, the events in this series take place in 2267, just five years after the original series ended, and a year after the events in the movie “A Call to Arms”. This episode originally aired on June 9, 1999, and was the first of only 13 episodes that made their way to television. There were apparently a full 22 episodes planned, but the series was canceled early. It appears there was some intent for another five-year story, similar to Babylon 5, but after seeing this episode, it was the opinion of your hosts that it may have been more wishful thinking than a well-planned and five year arc. We also agreed that while this is clearly a follow-on series in the B5 universe and timeline, it’s definitely not Babylon 5. (Not a criticism; just an observation.) As a result, this episode felt much more like the first episode of a new series than perhaps it could have as a deliberate follow-on to the original storyline.
The show opens with a nice and concise recap of the events that brought us to the start of this series. Earth is quarantined after being contaminated by the Drakh virus we saw released at the end of A Call to Arms, and humanity as we know it has an estimated five years or so to find a cure, or die. With loose plans afoot to start the search for a cure, Captain Gideon, with his ship and crew have been ordered back to Earth. As the show begins, we see his crew attempting to mutiny (BOOM!) to prevent going back, apparently considering in a panic that the only reason they’re returning is to go back to the surface and be exposed.
Things quiet down and Gideon meets with his leadership to receive his new assignment: he will become the captain of the Excalibur, now designated as a research and exploration vessel, with the mission to find a cure. He is given a new crew, chosen for him, but quickly establishes that he won’t take the mission without his First Officer from his old ship, and also the addition of Dureena the thief. The new cast/crew is established.
Elsewhere, we see an Earth Force destroyer chasing down a Drakh vessel they believe was one of the ships that attacked Earth and released the virus. Following some more BOOM, the Drakh ship ends up crashing on Ceti 4. Ensuring the word gets back through a jerry-rigged beacon, we see handsome, daring men in flight jackets, with chiseled jaws and voices that at times sound almost like they’re from a movie from the 1940s or 50s rather than a TV show made in the 1990s and set in the 2200s. (A bit much? Maybe.) We also hear about the continuing tensions created by the power of giant companies vs. governments, and specifically IPX (from our previous reviews). The Excalibur still needs to complete testing / trials but now, due to the urgency of finding the cure, we see the ship and crew being tugged from mission to mission. We also see the return of Galen (the Technomage). While you can make the connections yourself to the ultimate mission of the ship, initially it seems we keep seeing Excalibur taking care of business that isn’t quite a direct line toward solving the problem. It wasn’t clear to us if this was a rapid attempt to create a sense of urgency, a way to quickly introduce us to the new crew as they work through a series of issues, or just a choppy start to the new storyline. In the end, we all agreed that as with any new series, we should give it several episodes to find its groove.
Excalibur races to Ceti 4, and we also see that the Drakh have help on the way too. The result is we get some more BOOM, perhaps as a reason to show there the Excalibur either had a few weapons we didn’t get to see before, or possibly some quick upgrades that were made to its secondary guns. The main gun (which we see fired) still drains the ship of power though, resulting in a minute of vulnerability as the necessary power levels are restored.
As the episode ends, Galen is waiting for Captain Gideon, and Gideon asks him for help. We also hear some familiar questions from Galen, and Captain Gideon’s answers:
What do you want? To find a cure for the Drakh plague.
Where are you going? Anywhere I have to.
Who do you serve, and who do you trust? I don’t know.
Welcome to our fifth and final review of the Babylon 5 movies. A Call to Arms originally aired on TNT on January 3rd, 1999. The movie depicts events that happened one year before the spin-off series “Crusade”, and one year after the events in the movie “Legend of the Rangers”.
After the last movie we reviewed, this one was refreshing and felt like it comfortably belonged with the series. As the movie opens we see Delenn is the Vice President, and we learn Sheridan has been keeping below the radar. We quickly see why: he’s been involved in the creation of a new hybrid Minbari-Human-Vorlon technology destroyer class of ship. There are two prototypes complete (Excalibur and Victory) and the time has come for Sheridan to see the fruit of the work. He boards the Excalibur and we’re introduced to Mr. Drake, the lead engineer, who will guide Sheridan’s orientation.
Things get tense right away when it becomes clear to Sheridan and Garibaldi that the demonstration flight will be the first time the ship has operated out of dock—there was never a shakedown cruise to confirm engines and systems work as designed. With the likelihood that something will go wrong, Mike is mad, and Mr. Drake gets a little more time to ensure the ship is ready to sail. While all this is going on, Sheridan receives a message from Delenn, takes it in a private room, and we get our first indication something is amiss. The message wasn’t from Delenn at all. Instead, it was a jumbled series of images, and Sheridan ends up zoned out for a half hour, only interrupted when Mike comes in to check on him. Thinking he had just stepped into the room, he’s surprised to hear Mike tell him he had been there for 30 minutes, but explains away the lapse in memory by saying something was simply wrong with the message. Later, he’s visited by Galen in a dream and shown a vision of a place called Daltron 7.
On B5, a dangerous (and very interesting) woman called Dureena arrives, with an apparent fascination with knives that surfaces when Security checks her. She clears Security and asks a simple and odd question: Where do the lost people go? The answer: Down Below. She’s on her way and in short order we discover she’s a member of the Thieve’s Guild, and meets with the local group on B5. Later, she’s also visited in a dream and told to “choose her target wisely.”
The demonstration of the new ship goes as well as can be expected, but with two disturbing events occurring: Sheridan is visited again by Galen, told about the Techno-mages, and warned of a coming attack on Earth by a race called the Drakh (a subservient ally of the Shadows); and when the Excalibur’s main guns are fired, it drains the entire ship’s systems resulting in a total loss of power and rendering the ship vulnerable for at least 60 seconds. Regarding the Drakh, it seems they’re planning to take the Shadow’s place, and take revenge on the Earth for its role in the demise of their former Shadow masters. Sheridan has also been sketching the busts of three unknown people, and has Mike looking into the mysterious Daltron 7. In short order Sheridan meets Dureena when he passes by B5 to explain the emerging threat to Earth to Captain Lockley, and realizes she’s one of the people she’s had visions of and sketched a picture of. Her connection? She’s one of the few (if not the only) surviving members of her race after the Shadows destroyed her planet in the Shadow War. She joins Sheridan. An Earth Alliance ship also arrives and is commanded by Captain Anderson, the second person Sheridan had sketched a picture of. He’s also been having visions similar to Sheridan’s, he’s convinced him to come along, and the two of them concoct a plan to use both prototype destroyers to attempt to save the Earth. They slip away from B5 unnoticed. They’ll visit Daltron 7, and then find a way to confront the Drahk to prevent them from using a planet killer on Earth like the one used on Dureena’s home world. They slip away from B5 unnoticed, and in some cleverly orchestrated moves, steal the Excalibur and Victory, and our three heroes (Sheridan, Sherman and Dureena) head toward Daltron 7 before Mike (now chasing them) catches up.
Arriving at Daltron 7, they find the planet destroyed, and a dead Drazi with an important recording. The Drazi is the third person Sheridan had sketched out. They take the recording and go, and almost immediately end up confronted by Drahk fighters, who don’t appear to recognize the ships and therefore don’t just attack right away. As they negotiate with Dureena, she attempts to bluff. It was good, but the Drahk don’t believe her. It appears they’ve been tipped off by someone! A big black hole (a null field) appears in space and the Drahk run in. Sheridan decides to fire into the hole and pursue. When he emerges on the other side he discovers an incredibly large fleet ready to go on the offensive, with a planet killer weapon prepared for Earth. He hastily withdraws, calls to fill Lockley in on the threat, and makes an appeal to her to contact Earth and plead the case to have the fleet position itself around the planet to fight. Meanwhile, Mike arrives at the secret base where Excalibur and Victory were, learns that the ships are gone and with some hesitation, brings Mr. Drake along as his pursuit continues. Shortly after this, he discovers the leak—none other than Mr. Drake—who has traded away humanity for what he believes is a better and safer deal with the Drahk.
Given the size and lethality of the attacking fleet, Excalibur and Victory arrive at Earth pleased to see the message got through and the fleet was in position. Shortly after, the attack begins. Given the size of the attacking force, along with the fight happening so close to Earth, Captain Anderson has a plan that just might work: the Earth fleet with punch a hole for Victory and Excalibur, who can then use their more powerful weapons to destroy the planet killer. He hole is made, but somehow when Excalibur fires, it misses the actual ship carrying the planet killer. With no time left, Victory rams the control center of the attacking force, destroying the weapon.
Just when it appears all is well, however, the Drahk begin doing something else, effectively spraying the surface of the Earth with…something. As the movie begins to close, we learn that it’s a biogenetic plague, engineered by the Shadows, but not optimized for use on humans. The result, humanity has five years to attempt to find a cure, or perish. The movie ends with the decision to use Excalibur as a search and research ship, and humanity begins a crusade to find the cure, setting the stage for the follow-on series “Crusade”.
Now that the movies are complete, Raul, Jim and JP will finish out the television-based Babylon 5 story by watching and reviewing the one-season series “Crusade”. Please stay with us as we work our way through this final bit of television content!
This is our fourth movie review of five for your hosts. “Legend of the Rangers: To Live and Die in Starlight” takes place in 2265, between the end of Season 5 (2263) and A Call to Arms (2266). It originally aired on January 19th, 2002 on the Sci Fi Channel. Written by JMS, it was intended to be a pilot for a new series, although it did not go to series due to low ratings.
The consensus from your hosts going in was this may be the least favorite of the movies we’ve looked at. As we’ve seen with other movies in the set, the volume of content in the movie probably warranted an episode-length effort, but it was drawn out to fill the time required of a feature-length film. There was so much promise for some incredible Ranger-focused story, providing real depth to a very interesting character set in the B5 universe. We were a little disappointed. The movie opens with some boom, and with a new ship, a new threat, and a mystery that the Interstellar Alliance has discovered: or perhaps awakened.
The storyline for the movie begins when we see a Ranger (David Martel), who chooses to withdraw and survive a lost battle to fight again another day, being reprimanded and punished for staying alive. At this time in the history of the Rangers, with the Shadow War behind them and so far from a credible interstellar threat, there is emphasis on the Ranger’s motto—an oath—that obligates them to “live for the one, and die for the one.” G’Kar, still a delegate for his world, is present on Minbar and takes the opportunity to add his thoughts (wisdom) to the debate about the Ranger’s fate, resulting in some softer options for how to punish Martel for surviving.
We learn the new ship we saw is called the Valen: a first-of-a-kind cruiser class Ranger vessel, with capabilities different from the White Stars. Another ship is also brought into the story: an old Ranger attack ship called the “Liandra”, supposedly haunted by its former crew who died onboard. As a result of the discussions about Martel’s future, he is detailed to command the old and under-maintained Liandra, along with a small, rag-tag crew. The little bit of background we get about this diverse crew could have been (should have been?) a much more significant and interesting part of the story, but this is one of the places movie fell short. The Liandra and Valen launch on mission to take an Alliance delegation to a secret conference on Beta Durani 7.
They arrive to discover the colony destroyed, and they’re attacked by three vessels sent from a previously unknown entity called The Hand. Both ships end up disabled, the dignitaries are moved to the Liandra (living for the one), and in a heroic effort the Valen is destroyed when it rams one of the threat ships (dying for the one) to allow the survival of the dignitaries.
The last half of the movie revolves around learning more about The Hand, and how to deal with the threat. The Hand appears to be another old race (never mentioned in the original series or other movies) who have arrived from another space (but not Thirdspace)—a place of apparent total darkness. We also learn there’s a traitor onboard the Liandra and among the Alliance ambassadorial delegation, further frustrating the effort to defeat the threat.
When it’s all said and done, The Hand is defeated through a plan involving a minefield, selectively shooting mines, the use of grenades, and a race back to the nearest Jump Gate. When the battle is over, our heroes have destroyed The Hand’s capital ship with 50 grenades, making this whole part of the storyline almost comical. The known universe is saved, and as things begin to wrap up back on Minbar, the Council seems apologetic for its earlier philosophical stubbornness, closing the loop on what may be a more balanced approach to the motto: to live for the one and die for the one; and attempting to make it clear why the movie’s subtitle was “To Live and Die in Starlight”.
Was it hideous? No. Was it good? Not really. There was a lot of promise with what the story was built around, but if the movie was intended to sell someone on the production of a new series, it miserably failed. Frankly, it was surprising to us that it was written by JMS, and left us with the impression the movie may have actually convinced producers that he wasn’t really serious about this concept as a new series.
Please join us next time as we review the final movie of the set: A Call to Arms.
This is the third movie of the Babylon 5 movies (not including The Gathering) and originally aired on November 8, 1998 on TNT. It takes place in the year 2263 between the 5th season of the series and the start of the spin-off series “Crusade”. If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, you probably recognize the title of this episode from Hamlet. Overall, an okay movie, but like many of the others it seems to be an idea that would fuel seasonal episode, stretched out to fill the length of a feature movie.
The movie kicks off with an awkward Indiana Jones type of character (Dr. Bryson), who is nowhere near as cool or polished as Indy. He’s looking for something specific, with a clear indication that something bad is going to happen. We quickly learn this reckless archeologist is after an object called a soul orb. With his prize in hand, it appears to communicate with him, but we don’t know if he understands or perhaps he’s deluded. With protective systems functioning, he has to flee to protect himself and the orb he’s stolen.
Meanwhile, there’s a quiet moment on Babylon 5: or is there? We catch a glimpse of a vendor running a holographic brothel and quickly conclude that the relative calm may become a storm. This is more assured when Michael Garibaldi shows up on the station to deal with a business matter related to something Edgars had begun: a project called Life Eternal that Dr. Bryson belongs to, and the orb he’s stolen has some relationship to this business—now Michael’s business. Michael wants preliminary data on what’s been discovered, while Dr. Bryson continues his deeper analysis. The attempts at deeper analysis follow in some fairly clumsy scenes where the good doctor seems to know all he needs to do is apply high voltage to the orb to discover more and communicate with it.
Picking up the brothel storyline again (making it predictably clear this storyline will intertwine with the orb storyline), there’s some sort of problem with the brothel resulting in Zack being turned loose on the problem, and making an internal business problem a larger one. Seems this business isn’t operating legally. If it is, then it’s just barely legal. In light of the attention this illicit business is receiving, the vendor’s lawyer shows up and begins trying to make trouble for the station.
Then a Soul Hunter arrives, looking for something stolen by Dr. Bryson—the orb. It appears this orb contains souls under the protective custody of the Soul Hunters and Bryson is putting them at risk. Shortly thereafter, we learn that a planet’s worth of souls are contained in the orb. Dr. Bryson is making the argument that they are being held prisoner while the Soul Hunter argues they are being “preserved and continued” rather than allowing them to simply pass from existence. Regardless, the souls are angry. With a Soul Hunter onboard the station attempting to return them to bondage, and no apparent way to elude the Soul Hunter, the angry souls convince Dr. Bryson to destroy the station. In their words, “better to destroy the station and embrace the darkness than to go back with them.”
With some souls having escaped the orb, they begin to wreak havoc in a variety of ways, to include occupying characters in the holo brothel. In an effort to intervene, the brothel is destroyed, Lochley is hurt and in a coma, and is pulled into the orb where she learns the truth about the imprisonment of these souls. The orb is in fact an unintentional prison for a billion souls who were captured by the Soul Hunters through a horrible misunderstanding. Thinking these people were dying and going extinct, they were captured and entombed right at the moment of apparent death. Sadly, they were actually freeing themselves from the constraints of their bodies and evolving beyond the physical (like the Vorlons), but instead ended up captive within the orb. Many had gone mad over time, and all now want to exact revenge or die, or both. Lochley comes out of the coma and informs the crew, and the Soul Hunter, of what she’s learned just as a fleet of Soul Hunters arrive to back up their agent. In great sorrow, the Soul Hunter already onboard the station is convinced of the error and takes the side of the B5 crew and the souls in the orb, now working to correct the thinking of the arriving fleet, and to free the souls.
The story begins to wrap up as Dr. Bryson continues to try and destroy the station by detonating the station’s reactor. Captain Lochley and the Soul Hunter attempt to save the station and free the souls. They find Dr. Bryson with the orb at the reactor, and in an act of sacrifice, the Soul Hunter forfeits his own life to prevent the destruction of the station, saving the orb and the life of Dr. Bryson.
The movie ends on a lighter note when Captain Lochley explains the finer points of why the loss of the holo brothel doesn’t come with a burden of guilt for the station or Lochley.