[A special “Thank you,” to listener Big Brother (@back2babylon5 on Twitter) for letting me know the link wasn’t in the post. We should be fixed now.]
“Be somewhere else.”
Probably one of the strongest lines in science fiction television. Raw power and an absolute willingness to use it. We’ve seen some of the flirty or feminine Delenn lately, so we might have forgotten she was a member of the Grey Council – and the chosen of Dukat – for a reason.
But that’s just one of many “wham” points for this episode. All the tension we’ve been seeing build with the Earth Alliance explodes today. Clark forces the hand of Sheridan with a result I don’t think he expects. Hard decisions are made, but are they really that hard when you don’t have anything else to lose?
The moralities of command. Free press. Just war. The price of even a just war. All this and more are the focus of this episode of Babylon 5. Raul, Jim, and JP have a fascinating and extended conversation about this and more on this fan favorite episode that also won the 1997 Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
President Clark is a creep. No doubt about it. We see it in a couple ways in this episode. First we have his nameless representative from Nightwatch nudging into station security and putting pressure on Zack. Bet that armband is beginning to feel a lot tighter and noose-like. Then we have him – and Psi Corp, apparently – trying to put the double cross on the Shadows. One wonders how much of that is evil and how much is just plain stupidity. (Hint: we actually find out somewhat at the end of season 4, so stay tuned.)
It turns out that this isn’t the first time that the Shadows have been involved in Earth. With a Shadow vessel found earlier on Mars and now on Ganymede, it seems it’s up to Sheridan to save Earth from itself. Do you think anyone is going to notice he’s gone? Do you think anyone is going to be able to add 2+2 and get 4?
This episode starts of a mini-trilogy in the midst of the season that creates a major shift in the direction of the show. Join Jim and Raul as we discuss these and many other questions on this next exciting episode of the Babylon Project Podcast.
JMS describes this episode as a day where everything that can go wrong does go wrong. That’s a pretty good description. Vir’s having a bad day; Londo gets him a promotion. G’Kar isn’t doing much better; his replacement has arrived. And Sheridan? His day is so bad dealing with the guilds that the station getting blown up seems to be an option for improvement. Delenn seems to be the only one where things are going good. She’s getting a new ambassador to Minbar from the Centauri. Yep, that actually is a good thing. At least for her.
I know what those days are like. Bet you do, too.
This episode is also Straczynski’s tribute to Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker series. Great classic SciFi I’d encourage everyone to read. At least give the original set of short stories a try.
This is one of the very few episodes that does not actually advance the main arc this year. That is, there is little to do at all with the Shadow War. That said, we do see a peek inside several of the characters; especially Sheridan, Londo, and G’kar.
Sheridan might be command rank, but he’s not above rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty. His “I’ll fix it myself” attitude can almost be messianic at times. Hmmm… Foreshadowing? In the case of Londo and G’kar, it’s more of a looking back rather than a looking ahead. Both characters are about to undergo some big changes and having them trapped together gives us a very clear picture of where they are now and where they were in the past. This is especially true with G’kar.
And? And, we get some Narn singing. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Jim threatened Raul with great bodily harm if he tried to turn it into a sing-along.
This is it. This is the episode you’ve been waiting for. Prepare to have a lot of questions answered. Or not. We get a big reveal for which we have waited since The Gathering. Or not. We get a great hour-plus of Babylon 5 discussion. Or not. Ok, we certainly do get that whenever you put Jim and Raul on the same podcast.
So you really don’t want to miss it.
Join us as we discuss the incredible season two finale; something Raul calls one of the best season finales in television. Players’ hands are revealed. Things planted in season one germinate. We also see just how well B5 can take care of itself since Gen. Franklin’s “upgrades.” (Think that might play a role in the future?)
For the penultimate show of the season, this is not what you would expect. Needless to say, that makes it perfect. This is one of the creepier shows in the series. It is also, as Jim points out, one of the most cost effective sets in the series.
Past meets present meets future in the pause and introspection that occurs just before all hell breaks loose in the finale. We also see some seeds of doubt planted regarding the Vorlons. Perhaps they are not quite as noble as Delenn seems to consider them? Time will tell.
Londo finally figures it out. His “associates” are far too dangerous to be around. Unfortunately he has figured it out far too late. The Narn-Centauri War reaches its final stage with some of the most poignant boom of the series. One scene in particular is just an incredible example of film-making. Yet, in spite of his repugnance of it, when the final time comes, Londo seems to embrace his fate and the evil associated with it.
As Londo grows away from the light, we begin to see the steps of G’Kar growing into the light. True, they are first steps, but we see the pettiness beginning to be stripped.
As dark as the episode is, we do have some lighter moments. One favorite character is back and we hear another mentioned. If you think this might be a clue; yes, it is.
For any other series this would be an amazing season finale. Guess what? There are still two more episodes to go and the just keep getting better.
Dinner and a movie with a Minbari? Well, not quite. Meditation in lumberjack mode? That’s a bit closer. As with most things Minbari social customs, a simple dinner date is, well… not quite simple. Just ask Lennier.
This episode starts a bit light, but it doesn’t last long. It seems that one of the key races we’ve had since the beginning is about to go away. This is a episode that takes a hard look at faith vs. blind faith. Naturally we will get a bit philosophic at times. Of course that isn’t unusual for Jim and Raul.
The real part of this story, though, is the development of the relationship between John and Delenn. That takes this from what would be a largely stand-alone episode and turns it into one that is important for the big story.
This isn’t a Gremlins podcast, but it should have been. We were plagued with recording issues, but wow! Troy is damn good. I’ve said for years, a good editor is worth his weight in gold and this episode is proof.
But about Babylon 5… That this episode includes the name Zha’ Ha’ Dum, you might expect this to be a major arc episode. You would be right. This was the second episode that was up for the Hugo.
In this episode we get an idea of just how far Sheridan is willing to go to achieve an objective. Morden is not only back, but he’s apprehended and John isn’t going to let him go without some real answers. Finally, after a season-and-a-half, we finally get the background we have been after. And while we don’t see what is inside the encounter suit, we do learn what the Vorlons are.
One of the most priceless Vir moments also occurs in this episode. Will we get a payoff for the effort? We’ll just have to wait and see. A big part of Franklin’s story is set up, as well, though it will take until late season 3 to climax. We also get our first introduction to the Nightwatch. Hmm… wonder where that is going to go?
In this episode we learn that not everyone at ISN is like our beloved Jane (aka, Maggie Eagan). The bias of the press is a bit subtle here, but there are still some fair elements. We’re not sure if the problem is Babylon 5 itself or just the extraterrestrial races. One certainly gets the impression that there is something going on between ISN and President Clark. We’ll find out a lot more about that in Season 3, however.
Keep this episode in mind when you watch Severed Dreams in Season 3 and Illusions of Truth in Season 4.