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