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Babylon 5 Re-watch and analysis with character scores

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  • Trollheart

    Ivanova’s faith is shown when she is the only one to say a prayer for the dead guy from Downbelow; she bows her head and looks respectful as the coffin is ejected into space, and it’s only her semi-reverential demeanour that guilts Franklin into putting down his work and joining her. Finally, we can say that faith of another kind is shown here too, as Delenn, rescued by Sinclair, tells the commander that her - their - faith in him was justified. What this means we will not learn till later, but it’s clear that a new bond has developed between the two, and that they will henceforth be more friends than just colleagues. The Minbari, we learn some considerable time later, have a phrase: “Faith manages.” At times, over the next few seasons, that will be hard to believe.


    It’s easy to imagine going mad, stuck in a huge metal cylinder spinning endlessly through the eternal black night of space, and certainly there is such a thing as going space crazy. But the insanity shown here is not as a result of someone who can no longer take life on the station, or in space; it is the slow fracturing of a mind that comes with the realisation of failure. The Soul Hunter believes his thwarted attempt to save the soul of Dukat has led him into other mistakes, other losses, and his mission is suffering. To his mind, the only way to redress this is to find a soul as pure and important as that of the Minbari war leader, and when he spins out of control towards Babylon 5, he is unaware that, for him, the answer to his problems resides there. When he sees Delenn and recognises her, he knows why he has come here. His mind, straining at the edges of sanity, concocts the plan to take her soul, and tells him that if he does this, all will be well.

    On another, slightly related note, Franklin has a warning for the commander afterwards. Though Sinclair will not tell him what he saw in the room (if he believes himself that he saw anything) the doctor does advise him to say nothing to anyone. “That kind of talk,” he warns, “can get you sent on a very long vacation!”


    The Soul Hunter is certainly obsessed. Obsessed with atoning for what he sees as his failure, obsessed with saving souls to the point that he no longer sticks to the rules, has decided to transgress the tenets of his order so as to bring about the resolution he requires. Obsession isn’t always fuelled by insanity, but when it is it can be difficult to break out of. Ahab with Moby Dick, and reflecting this, Khan with Kirk. Hitler (and others) with power and hatred, even on a more spiritual and gentle level, Ghandi with his country’s freedom. Bobby Sands with justice for his people, or Peter Sutcliffe’s determination to “clean up Yorkshire” by killing prostitutes, just as his earlier namesake from the nineteenth century did. It is, as Chicago once wrote, a hard habit to break.

    It quite often leads to disaster, either for the one obsessed or those he is focused on. In this case it almost does for Delenn, but in the end it is the Soul Hunter’s obsession that leads to his own end, and as a by-product of that, the release/jailbreak of his collection of souls. Obsession will be another key theme in Babylon 5, and will take many forms, from the desire to see justice done to perhaps the destruction of all life.

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  • Trollheart


    Sinclair: “I’m going to try to link up with that ship. If I can’t make it you’ll have to blow that ship before it hits.”
    Ivanova: “Why not destroy it now?”
    Sinclair: “First contact protocol, lieutenant commander: only when conditions present a clear and present danger. If this is new technology, a new race, I want that ship intact.”
    Ivanova: “This is not a clear and present danger? I must read the rule book again!”

    Delenn: “You have to kill it, commander! Put it back into its ship, shoot it into space, fire it into the sun, but you have to kill it! Quickly!”
    Sinclair: “You’re not making any sense! Why? Why should we kill it?”
    Delenn: “You don’t know? You don’t know what that thing is? It is Shak’toth, Commander! It is a soul hunter. Get it off this station, Commander, now! Before it is too late! Before someone dies!”

    Soul Hunter: “Can you feel it?”
    Franklin: “Feel what?”
    Soul Hunter: "Low, quick, muffled, terrified. It comes. It comes. It comes. Quick flash. The deep blue of pain. Dull, muffled, slower now. Over your shoulder it comes. The transition. A shadow. The long exhalation of the spirit. Can you see it, healer? Can you see it? Gone.”

    Soul Hunter: “Minbari. Pale, bloodless. Look in their eyes and see nothing but mirrors. Infinities of reflection. Will not let us help them. No.”

    Franklin: “This is nonsense. Patent superstition. Can’t be done. With the right technology maybe you could copy a personality matrix and produce a clone of someone’s mind, but the idea of taking someone’s soul…”

    Ivanova: “From the stars we came, and to the stars we return, now and till the end of time. We therefore commit his body to the deep.”

    Franklin: “It’s all so brief, isn’t it? The typical human lifespan is almost a hundred years, yet it’s barely a second compared to what’s out there. It wouldn't’ be so bad if life didn’t take so long to figure out. Seems you’re just starting to get it right and then it’s over.”
    Ivanova: “Wouldn’t matter. We could live two hundred years and we’d still be human. We’d still make the same mistakes.”
    Franklin: “You’re a pessimist.”
    Ivanova: “I’m Russian, Doctor. We understand these things.”

    Sinclair: “Two Soul Hunters? Did someone book a convention without telling me?”

    Delenn: “Let me go!”
    Soul Hunter: “Ssh! Do not discomfort your soul!”

    Soul Hunter (to Delenn): “You would do such a thing? Incredible!”

    Soul Hunter (to Sinclair): “Why do you fight for her? Don’t you understand? She is satai! She is satai! I’ve seen her soul. They’re using you!”

    Delenn (to Sinclair): “I knew you would come. We were right about you.”

    Important plot arc points

    This episode does not have too many, but there are a few that will link into the main arc.

    Satai Delenn:

    Arc Level: Green

    Sinclair hears the Soul Hunter call Delenn this, and wonders what it means. He asks the computer to look it up and finds it to be an honorific used in the Minbari tongue which refers to a member of the Grey Council, the ruling body of their people. He is surprised, as Delenn has never mentioned, nor made any allusions towards being a member of the Grey Council. As far as he knows, she is simply a government functionary, an ambassador assigned to Babylon 5. Could she have a dark secret?

    Also, linked to this:

    "They are using you!"

    Arc Level: Red

    The Soul Hunter tells Sinclair this, and asks why he is fighting for the ambassador? How can he know such a thing, and if by "they" he means the Minbari, what are they allegedly using him for? And why? To what end?

    "We were right":

    Arc Level: Red

    When Sinclair rescues her at the last moment, Delenn breathes "I knew you would come. We were right about you." Sinclair wonders what she meant, but this will all be tied in to the revelation as to what happened at the Battle of the Line, and why the Minbari surrendered on the eve of their victory.

    Themes breakdown


    Let’s just lump these two together. Until Deep Space 9 came along - and let’s be honest, it seems likely the idea was stolen from, or at the very least, influenced heavily by Babylon 5 - no series of this nature had really explored religion, or faith, in any meaningful way. God was often mentioned, but you can really put that down to the overly Christian and certainly mostly Catholic nature of America, where pretty much all these shows were made. You’ll notice in the likes of Blake’s Seven, Doctor Who, even Red Dwarf, any British sci fi show, little if any mention is made of God at all. You have of course the likes of H.G. Wells, attributing the defeat of the Martians to the far-sightedness of God in The War of the Worlds, but again, that’s a novel of its time, and such blind obeisance to God would be expected. But as the decades unfolded and one century gave way to another, and another, God goes from being a sort of unseen special guest star in these shows to become not even a bit player in most of them.

    So it’s interesting that Babylon 5 tackled this issue head-on. And it does. To be completely fair to its rival show, Deep Space 9 does, I think, a better job in this area, with the conflict between the Bajoran Prophets/Worm Hole Aliens causing Ben Sisko many headaches and making him do the famous terpischore on the head of a sharp object, but Babylon 5 did not, to its credit (or that of its creator) concentrate on one religion. Every race had their own belief, from the Narn to the Minbari, the Centauri to the Drazi, and each was well researched and fleshed out. The idea was definitely front and centre that our God was and is not the only one, or could not be; later in season two there’s even a shocking… but no. No spoilers ahead of time. Let’s just say that even the existence of our God is not allowed to be taken for granted.

    Here though we see faith of a different kind, of two different kinds in fact, two opposing beliefs. The Soul Hunters believe that the soul dies when the body does, unless it is saved by them. If it is, then they can (they believe) speak to the soul and learn much from them. For the Soul Hunters, preserving the soul in their collection provides the soul with its own afterlife. Minbari, on the other hand, believe that when a person dies their soul goes into a kind of great ether, which then sends the soul back into the main consciousness of all Minbari, a kind of, I don’t know, equivalent maybe of reincarnation, or the scattering of ashes, but the ashes fall on the living and enter them? At any rate, they believe that any soul lost - any soul prevented from re-entering the Minbari, which only Soul Hunters have the power to do - diminishes their people. They also probably think that capture by the Soul Hunters is a living hell for the souls, and are not prepared to allow this.

    That’s why they prevented the soul of their greatest war leader, Dukat, from being taken when the Soul Hunters came for him. His must have been a very important soul, because the Soul Hunters say they only come for the very best, and the Minbari, according to the loopy Soul Hunter, “made a wall of bodies” to stop them taking Dukat’s soul. We can take this to mean they fought, and died, to prevent the thieving of the soul of their leader, gave their lives to ensure his soul would be reabsorbed back into their people, and all he was, all his knowledge and wisdom and prowess, would become part of them.

    In ways, they sound almost like a kind of spiritual version of the Borg, don’t they: adding the best of the souls of their people to their own lives and thriving on that. With major differences of course, the main one being that it’s not the souls of others they crave, but those of their own people, and they believe this is a natural process; they do not force or guide it, compel a soul to return. They have no power to do so, and had they, it’s likely they would not exercise it, as the Minbari seem to treasure life above all things. They just expect this to happen, and this belief will in fact have an earth-shattering consequence for some of the characters down the line.

    But Soul Hunters, even if they’re seen as thieves and robbers by other races (they, unlike the Minbari, do not harvest only Minbari souls, but any they believe worthy of their attention) still have their own code. They do not kill. They wait, they watch, they observe, and when the moment calls to them, they come. This one, though, has disgraced his order by deciding to do away with all that tedious waiting and just go right in for, literally, the kill. He is not prepared to be patient: he wants Delenn’s soul now! He has a personal redemption in mind: he holds himself responsible for losing Dukat’s soul, and the failure has affected his mind. He now believes if he can substitute it for one of the Grey Council, why, that’s almost as good, and he will be made whole.

    Sinclair has his faith challenged. We’re not told necessarily what if any religion the commander is, though he does mention God during the series, so we can imagine he is at least some sort of Christian. But what he sees when the Soul Hunter is trying to take Delenn’s soul, when the collection of souls rise against the Soul Hunter, challenges any faith he might have, and makes him question what is real. Franklin, the eternal sceptic, does not believe a word of it, and is quite dismissive of the Soul Hunter’s claims, calling such a feat impossible. Interestingly, he does not say that he does not believe a soul exists, just that it would be, in his belief, impossible to capture one.

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  • Trollheart

    Title:Soul Hunter”
    Season: 1
    Main Character(s): Delenn, Sinclair, Ivanova, Franklin
    Supporting Characters: Garibaldi
    Premise: A wounded alien is brought to Babylon 5, but Delenn screams that it is a soul hunter and must be removed from the station as they are all in great danger.

    Themes: Religion/faith, insanity, obsession


    Babylon 5

    Delenn’s quarters
    Alien Sector
    Commander’s quarters



    Space battles/encounters: 2 (there are no battles, but I count both times the Soul Hunter ships arrive, However I’m merging the commander’s attempt to tow the first Soul Hunter ship back to the station with its original appearance, as they sort of happen at the same time)

    Writer(s): JMS

    Character Scores:

    Sinclair 120
    Ivanova 10
    Garibaldi 10
    Franklin 15
    G’Kar 0
    Londo 0
    Kosh 0
    Delenn 50
    Vir 0
    Talia 0

    Things to watch: First hint of the connection between Delenn and Sinclair; first appearance of Doctor Franklin (with the episode consequently centred principally around Medbay); first glimpses of the spiritual nature of the Minbari; first mention of their great war leader, Dukat. First hints that Delenn may be more than just an ambassador.

    Interesting factoid: First episode not to feature in any way either G’Kar or Londo.

    Arc Points: 7

    Episode score: 320

    Rating: 8/10

    Rating breakdown: It’s kind of the plot within the plot that gets this episode such a high rating, and though it doesn’t seem much, this is the first real step along the major story arc, and will lead to huge developments. It also introduces, for the first time, the very important subject of religion into this series, and - ground-breakingly at the time - not human religion but that of an alien species. As well as this, it plants seeds of doubt in the viewer’s mind as to Delenn’s real purpose on the station, and whether she is playing a longer game, might even be an enemy in disguise.

    A shuttle brings the new chief medical officer to Babylon 5. Doctor Stephen Franklin mentions to Sinclair that he “ran into” his predecessor, Dr. Kyle, whom we saw in the pilot (there was no doctor in the previous episode, but I suppose given that there were no fatalities or injuries on the station that’s okay; wonder what would have happened had Londo, if not killed then at least wounded G’Kar?) and alludes to the previous CMO working with the president. This is said to be due to the influx of aliens coming to Earth, itself a theme that will echo through the first four seasons. We’ll later find out that his reassignment has everything to do with the fact that he is the only human (other than Lyta, whom nobody knows about and who has gone rogue anyway) who has seen inside a Vorlon’s encounter suit.

    As he welcomes Franklin to the station, Sinclair gets a call to tell him a ship is coming through the jumpgate. It appears to be out of control and on a collision course with Babylon 5. Sinclair goes out in one of the ship’s Starfury fighters to grapple the ship and tow it to the station. The pilot, found to be unconscious, is taken to Medlab, and Delenn, meeting Sinclair on the way, offers her help in possibly identifying the alien. But when she sees what it is she growls “Shak’toth!” and grabs his PPG (his gun), intending to fire on it. He wrestles it away from her, and asks her what the hell is she doing? She explains the alien is what is known as a soul hunter, and where they go, people die. She has had experience of this race, bitter experience.

    She tells him soul hunters are drawn to death, and they have the power to steal a person’s soul, which they collect. They don’t take every soul, only the very best, the ones they are interested in. The Soul Hunter regains consciousness, and reacts angrily to the accusation of his being a thief. He says his people preserve the souls, care for them, talk to them. He fumes about the loss of Dukat, the great Minbari war leader whom his people would not allow the Soul Hunters to take; everything, he says, died with him. The Minbari made a wall of bodies to protect him. Franklin, displaying his scepticism and contempt for such an idea, says the idea of a soul is nonsense. Sinclair tells the Soul Hunter he must leave the station as soon as he is well enough to travel; he’s just causing too much unrest among the aliens, many of whom have left in a hurry as the news about his presence got around.

    An interesting point here. Down in the rats’ maze known as Downbelow, where the thieves and the scammers and the poorest on the station, those who have not the funds to make the trip back home live and work, a hustler is killed. He gets a burial in space. Given that this is, essentially, a military station, it’s curious that not only a civilian but someone who most people would regard as scum and not worth the effort is allowed the full funeral resources of the station to commit their body to the deep vastness of space. Franklin mentions nobody back home could pay for the body to be shipped back, so they bury him in space, but it must cost and even if it doesn’t, they have to assign a shuttle to go out and eject the coffin into space. You have to wonder if they do this for every loser who dies in Downbelow, but it is a nice touch, showing that even the meanest tramp on Babylon 5 at least gets a decent burial.

    It’s also telling that as the “funeral service” (basically it’s just a shuttle dumping a coffin into space; let’s not get too fancy here) gets underway Franklin is busily typing on his pad, and looking down, basically ignoring what’s happening. It’s only when Ivanova bows her head and begins to speak a prayer for the dead man that he - kind of guiltily - folds his hands and bows his head, putting his pad away. You could say that a doctor sees so much death that he might be inured to it, but it could also be because, as we will find out later, he is not a religious man at all, so to him a funeral holds little significance or meaning, the funeral of a stranger even less so.

    Delenn goes to see the Soul Hunter, trying to find out where his collection of souls is. She says she knows no Soul Hunter travels without his collection, and she will find any Minbari ones he has and set them free, so they can be reborn into the next generation of her people. The Soul Hunter scoffs at her belief, then he recognises her, says she was there when Dukat died, that she was one of those who stopped him. Then he asks how is it that a member of the Grey Council is here, holding a lowly ambassadorial position on this station? He calls her satai, which spooks her and she leaves. He breaks out of Medlab and goes after her. He goes to see N’Grath, the alien fixer who can provide, if you can pay. He wants a guide to the station, so that he can find somewhere private to take Delenn.

    Another Soul Hunter ship comes through the jumpgate, and its pilot asks to speak with Sinclair. He explains that the Soul Hunter already here is a loon; he has broken the code of their people. Having failed to capture Dukat’s soul, he went mad, and started taking souls before the people had died, becoming in effect a sort of I guess spiritual serial killer. He’s now got Delenn hooked up to some sort of machine which he says will take her soul. With the aid of the other Soul Hunter Sinclair and Garibaldi find his hiding spot and Sinclair manages to turn the machine on the Soul Hunter himself, killing him and saving Delenn.

    Later, Sinclair finds out that the word satai refers to a member of the Grey Council, the ruling body of the Minbari people. He wonders, as did the Soul Hunter, what such a distinguished person could be doing on Babylon 5, and why she is hiding it. He tells the Soul Hunter that Babylon 5 is off-limits to his kind. Later, Delenn is seen with souls, represented by floating orange spheres like golfballs, as they drift around her and seem to release energy into the air.

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  • Trollheart
    All right, we've done the first episode proper, so time for the first chart.
    And here it is.

    To nobody's surprise Sinclair is out and away in front, due to his pivotal role in essentially saving a whole bunch of lives and avoiding a war. Londo is next, mostly for sharing all but top billing with Sinclair and G'Kar, while Ivanova comes next, in third place, with Garibaldi taking fourth and Talia, due to her efforts in saving G'Kar's life, takes fifth spot. The Narn himself languishes at sixth, no doubt shaking his fist angrily at Mollari all the way up there above him, and the other three characters, who have not exactly done a lot this first episode - Delenn, Kosh and Vir - all share the seventh spot.

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  • Trollheart

    It may seem a small thing, but much of the resolution of the episode depends on it, so I ask how it is that G’Kar learned that the Centauri government were going to ignore the assault on Ragesh 3? It’s never explained, and while there could be several explanations, it’s just glossed over. Once you get to know the Centauri/Narn dynamic, and given that they look completely different to one another, you can’t countenance the idea of a spy working on Centauri Prime. Apart from anything else, we’ll see later that the hatred between both races leads to the immediate horrible torture and death of one by the other if they come into contact on their home ground, and it’s only outside forces and the fragile truce that keeps them from tearing each other apart. The Narn must have been expecting Centauri Prime to respond, so why would they put an agent in such clear danger just to confirm what they already knew? Yes, I suppose it could have been someone with a Changeling Net, but as we’ve learned in the pilot episode, those things are rare, expensive and hard to run without being detected.

    G’Kar could have bugged Londo’s quarters, but how? I doubt he’s ever been inside them. Perhaps he paid someone to do it? Then there’s Vir, the only other weak link in the chain. He is in fact literally the only other one who knows of the decision on the station, but again, when we get to know Vir we’ll see that, though he’s naive and often innocent as a child, he is ferociously loyal, and would not betray Londo. G;Kar could have overheard him telling someone, true, but Vir is not the kind to blab about important Centauri secrets, and anyway, that would have been happenstance surely, and G’Kar’s whole plan seems to revolve around being able to expose Londo’s duplicity to the council.

    JMS is a great writer, of that there’s no doubt, but everyone has an off day so I guess we can chalk it up to a loose end not tied up, but it smacks to me of laziness, being such an important point. I’m sure if asked today he would come up with some very plausible reason, but that’s after the fact, and the point is he makes no attempt to explain it in the episode, leaving us (well, me anyway) scratching our heads and thinking but how did G'Kar know? And no answer is forthcoming. It’s a sad lapse that tends to leave a sour taste in my mouth, despite the otherwise cohesion of the story. A quick scene, a word, a flashback would have explained it, but either he forgot it or decided nobody would notice. Well, he reckoned without me. If there’s a nit to be picked, rely on me. If there’s a plothole, well, to quote Khan: “I’ll chase him round the moons of Nemidia and round the Antares Maelstrom and through perdition’s flames before I give him up!” Or something.​

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  • Trollheart
    Themes breakdown


    Although Babylon 5 is technically a military station, and wars large and small will certainly feature, indeed provide the framework for much of the show, not every episode or every story arc will involve war. This one does, though in more of a threat than an actual conflict. The spectre of both the Earth-Minbari War and the conflict between the Narn and the Centauri hangs, and always will hang, heavy over the show like a dark pall, a flickering but not guttered flame, ready to spring back to life given the right spark. When Londo swears that if his nephew dies there will be war, you do get the feeling that he’s almost - almost - hoping this will be the case. Not that Karn will die, but that a pretext will arise to allow his people to renew their war against their hated enemy, a war he feels sure the Centauri would win. Whether that’s the case or not is another matter - the Narn have been building alliances and the Centauri Republic is not what it once was, but one thing is certain: the repercussions would be disastrous for the galaxy, as two old enemies clashed again, and likely other worlds would feel compelled, or be compelled, to take sides.

    Earth, on the other hand, remembers the war they basically lost, and are not about to get into another one, especially when it has nothing to do with them. You could be cynical (and I will) and ask what could the Narn offer Earth? Their planet has been stripped, mined of all its resources by the invader, they are in comparison to the Centauri a young race, and they do not really figure that much in the power structure of the galaxy. They are not, to put it another way, one of the superpowers. The Centauri, though their glory is fading, are yet a powerful race and Earth does not want to align itself with their traditional enemy; apart from this, as Garibaldi notes here, the Centauri were the first alien race humanity encountered, so there is some sort of almost sense of comradeship with them. The Centauri helped us find our way, take our first steps in the great playground of the galaxy, and can, perhaps, be looked upon as our galactic elder brother, so if we’re to take sides it will more than likely be with them.


    There’s no question that the attack on Ragesh 3 is motivated by anything other than revenge. As Sinclair says - I can’t remember where, I think it’s a later episode - the Narn are like abused children who know nothing except how to abuse and be abused, and now they take any opportunity to strike out, back, against their hated enemy, repaying them for the occupation of their planet and seeking vengeance for all the Narn who have died under that occupation. Londo of course does not see it like that. Like many people, he sees only one side, typified in his comment to G’Kar about how the attack on defenceless people can be justified, and how the Narn grins that the shoe is on the other foot now. Londo doesn’t see it, but it’s of course true. It’s also true that two wrongs do not make a right. After World War II, a group of Jews got together and planned a revenge attack against the people who had exterminated so many of their kind. The plan was to seed poison in the Berlin water supply. The fact that this would kill innocent children who had nothing to do with the war, mothers and fathers who might have opposed it, did not register with these people. The fact that they were about to become the very thing they despised, that in seeking revenge in such a way they were coming down to the level of the Nazis, did not occur to them. We can understand their position and sympathise with it, but I doubt there are many who would have condoned it had the plan gone ahead.

    Revenge is of course always the worst motivation for a war, as it allows the practice and perpetration of the worst atrocities, the age-old cry of “they did it to us so we’re going to do it to them!” ringing out, and as ever, innocents who have nothing to do really with this situation getting killed, raped, maimed, losing their homes. Revenge almost never works as a tool for reparation or justice. It’s one of the oldest human responses to being attacked - attack back, and often harder. To quote Sean Connery in The Untouchables, they put one of us in the hospital, we put one of theirs in the morgue. And so the cycle of hated continues, revenge is revenged and that revenge is revenged, and nothing ever gets resolved until finally someone sits down and starts talking, or one or the other side is wiped out. With the Narn and the Centauri, it’s easy to see how their war can reignite and hard to see how they will ever learn to live together. Attacks like this don’t help.


    Like all the best dramas, Babylon 5 sees its main characters not just as a disparate collection of people living and working together, but as a family. Everyone cares for everyone else, helps everyone else, and as in all families, rivalries, arguments and conflict often result. There are those who do not get on, those who perhaps get on too well, and those whose loyalty is constantly divided between family members, or between family and outside interests. This does not just hold true for the humans, or for the staff at the station, as we will see. The concept of family is almost universal, and here we see our first glimpse of it with Londo, when he reveals that he stepped in to ensure his nephew was sent to a remote agricultural colony in order to protect him and save him from having to serve on the front lines (although what front lines, as the Centauri are not currently at war, I don’t know).


    Which feeds in from the theme of family. Londo wished to protect his nephew and used his position to get him a safe posting. Protection also shows when Sinclair goes after the raiders in an attempt to protect both the fragile peace between Narn and Centauri, and the Ragesh 3 colony itself. He’s also trying to protect the balance of power in the quadrant, as he knows that if one or the other of these two races gets the upper hand, it could spell trouble for everyone. Not least himself, as being the commander of the Babylon 5 station, some blame is bound to fall on him if, through the channel of communication, or lack of it, between the alien races, facilitated by their ambassadors at Babylon 5, war breaks out. The Babylon project, which already has at this point many detractors and naysayers, and people saying the money was wasted and should be going to other causes, could be seen to be, proved to be a failure. And if it is, then so by association is he. So there’s also protection of his own interests, those of Earth, and, to bring it down to its most basic level, his job, and those of all who work on Babylon 5.


    Whenever you have politics you will have dishonesty. It’s just how it is. People say what they think people need or want to hear, often with no intention of backing up whatever claims, promises, threats or assurances they make. When you factor in many different alien races, then the potential for distrust multiplies and suspicion will breed dishonesty. This will be a recurring theme throughout the show, but here we see it displayed by Londo, who decides to pretend he has not heard from his government that they do not intend to intervene in the Ragesh 3 situation, in the hope that he can force the hands (or tentacles, suckers, appendages) of the others. G’Kar too practices dishonesty, having Karn declare that the Centauri colony asked for help from them and invited the Narn in. And Sinclair - fine, honest, upright specimen of humanity, the very model of a good soldier - also twists the truth in his favour, though to be fair that’s not for his own ends. He sees his particular dishonesty as being crucial to ensuring the League vote for sanctions and help Londo. Of course, he doesn’t know about G’Kar’s plan to expose the Centauri ambassador. The road to Hell and all that. By commanding Ivanova to also pretend she did not get any instruction to the contrary, either from him or from Earth, Sinclair makes her complicit in his lie. But hell: what’s a bit of dishonesty between friends?


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  • Trollheart

    Garibaldi: “Then you give us the line about how Earth is some lost Centauri tribe, making us distant relatives. Until we finally got our hands on some Centauri DNA, and find out we’re not related at all. Appearances aside, we’re two totally different species.”
    Mollari: “A simple clerical error. We thought your planet was Beta 9, it was actually Beta 12. Okay, we made a mistake. I’m sorry. Here: open my wrists.”
    Garibaldi: “Centauri don’t have major arteries in their wrists.”
    Mollari: “Of course we don’t. What? Do you think I’m stupid?”

    Sinclair: “So, who are you voting for?”
    Ivanova: “I think I will vote for Marie Crane. I do not like Santiago. I’ve always felt a leader should have a strong chin. He has no chin. And his vice president has several. This to me is not a good combination.”

    Mollari: “What reasonable explanation could there be for the slaughter of unarmed civilians?”
    G’Kar: “Curious. We wondered the same thing when you invaded our world. The wheel turns, does it not, Ambassador?”

    Mollari: “I will kill him, sooner or later. My people have a sense, you see. We know how and sometimes even when we are going to die. It comes in a dream. In my dream, I am an old man - it’s twenty years from now - and I am dying, my hands wrapped around someone’s throat, and his around mine. We have squeezed the life out of each other. The first time I saw G’Kar, I recognised him as the one from my dream. It will happen. Twenty years from now, we will die with our hands around each other’s throats.”

    Kosh: “They are a dying people. We should let them pass.”
    Sinclair: “Who? The Narn or the Centauri?”
    Kosh: “Yes.”

    Ivanova: “Mister Garibaldi, you’re sitting at my station, using my equipment. Is there a reason for this, or to save time should I just snap your hands off at the wrist?”

    Mollari: “The council! The council can go to Hell. And the emergency session can go to Hell. And you, you can go to Hell too, Vir! I wouldn’t want you to feel left out!”

    Ivanova: “What happened back then was not your fault, but it’s part of who you are. And yet, you’re as much a victim as she was.”
    Talia: “I don’t feel like a victim.”
    Ivanova: “No. And so far I cannot decide whether that is good or bad.”

    Important Plot Arc Points

    Each point has an Arc Level. It's pretty self-explanatory. So I'll explain it anyway.

    Red is the highest, and means this is very important indeed to the plot arc, in fact the main story could probably not proceed or unfold without this, or some of it anyway. Something to make a note of and keep an eye on; it's likely to lead to other important revelations and plot strands.

    Orange is important, but not as much as Red. It may be something that will unfold and then vanish from the storyline, or it may just not be something critical to the plot, but still important.

    Green signifies that this, while still a part of the plot, is nowhere near as important as either of the other two.

    Arc Level: Red

    Kosh plays, for now, very much a peripheral, almost a bit-player role in this and future episodes, but soon enough he and his people - but mostly he - will come to be absolutely indispensable to the plot arc and the glue that holds at least seasons two to four together.

    The Presidential Race
    Arc Level: Red

    Yes it seems little more than a distraction right now, but as season one comes to a close and there are shattering revelations, the fact that Santiago won will become the lynchpin of seasons two to four, and set Babylon 5 on an irrevocable collision course with its own government. Although merely a footnote to the story here, the leadership on Earth will turn out to be a pivotal point which will lay down some totally jaw-dropping moments on the way. The end of this season will see the beginning of that seachange, and it will not be for the better!

    Talia/Psi Corps/Ivanova
    Arc Level: Red

    The eventual and slow emergence of the shadowy Psi Corps will become another crucial element to the show, and the relationship between Talia and Ivanova will have a staggering impact on later seasons. The revelation that Ivanova's mother was a telepath is a relatively minor one, considering what is to come, and Talia Winters has a huge role to play that will only become clear near the end of season two. Psi Corps itself will become more involved and entangled with the affairs of the station, proving themselves at times a deadly enemy, not only to Babylon 5, but to all races.

    Londo and G’Kar
    Arc Level: Red

    The interaction between these two former enemies at times descends, or if you prefer, rises to the level of all but flatmates, with the two of them being nearly the quintessential galactic odd couple, and they provide some of the best and most cutting humour in the show. But darkness shadows the path of one of them, and you might be surprised to find which one I’m referring to. And that dream Londo had? This will turn out to be so much more than it seems on the surface. This is an ongoing struggle between the two races which will have a massive effect on both of them in the future, and also on the wider galaxy. Also, as the series progresses, there will be no clear good or bad guy, loyalties and sympathies will shift like desert sands, and it will become hard to know who is in the right, for a long time.

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  • Trollheart

    Title: “Midnight on the Firing Line”

    Season: 1

    Main Character(s): Londo, G’Kar, Sinclair,Garibaldi

    Supporting Characters: Vir, Delenn, Kosh, Ivanova, Talia

    Premise: After an unprovoked attack on a Centauri colony, war looms between Londo’s people and the Narn.


    Babylon 5

    C&C (Command and Control)
    Council Chamber
    Commander’s quarters
    Garibaldi’s quarters
    Londo’s quarters
    Alien Sector
    Zocalo (Shopping mall basically)




    Ragesh 3


    Space battles/encounters: 2

    Writer(s): JMS

    Things to watch: First meeting between Ivanova and Talia Winters; first mention of ISN; first mention of the Presidential race on Earth; first mention of Londo’s dream of his death; first proper appearance of, and dialogue from, Kosh

    Arc Points*: 3

    Rating: 7/10

    Rating breakdown: Although this episode could be better, for essentially the pilot, or at least first in the commissioned series, it’s better than most other series. It sets up a whole lot of subplots and gives us almost immediately some sense of each character and their relationship to one another, and it asks questions which will (mostly) be answered in this or coming seasons. Even the subplot, often used in series like this to bolster up a weak main plot, feeds into the main storyline and helps it to come to a relatively satisfactory conclusion. The episode also earns points (well, it’s the series really) for being able to cope with so many changes, including new actors and characters, and yet retain the spirit, and indeed follow on from the story of the original pilot movie. Overall, it’s a very good indicator towards the future quality of the show.

    * Arc Points is a measure of how important the episode is to the story arc, how it contributes to it or hints towards it, and obviously any episodes which contain large revelations relevant to the overall arc will score high. As you might expect, a standalone story which has little to no impact on the arc will be in the 1 or 2 mark, while revelatory ones can go all the way up to 10. As this episode is really only laying down the barest hints, while it should technically have a higher rating I can’t really justify that, so it has a perhaps lower Arc Point than it should.

    A Centauri agricultural colony comes under sudden and unprovoked attack by unknown raiders. It soon becomes clear that it’s the old enemies of the Centauri, the Narn, who have been at each other’s throats since the Narn finally forced the Centauri off their home planet after a long occupation and guerilla war of attrition. As the station picks up a believed survivor of the attacks - though an Earth-registered vessel - Garibaldi suspects raiders (space pirates) who have been operating in that sector of space may be responsible, and heads out to investigate. Talia Winters, the Psi Corps replacement for the now-departed Lyta Alexander, introduces herself to Ivanova - as she is second in command of the station, this is something regulations require her to do - but the lieutenant seems very aloof and even hostile, all but ignoring her.

    When proof comes through of the attack on Ragesh 3 having been perpetrated by Narn, Londo goes to kill their ambassador, G'Kar, but he is restrained from doing so by security. He later tells Sinclair about a dream he has had. He says that Centauri can sometimes sense how and when they will die, and he has dreamed of himself and G’Kar strangling each other to death twenty years in the future. He also reveals that the attack on Ragesh 3 is personal to him, as his own nephew was assigned there at Mollari’s instructions, in order to keep him away from the front lines. Now, he feels as if he has sent Karn to his death. Sinclair advises that they are trying to put together a coalition to protest against the attack and put pressure on the Narn government.

    Garibaldi reaches the ship that was sending out the distress call, or rather, what’s left of it, which isn’t much. He theorises that the raiders are using much heavier weaponry, and wonders where they’re getting it from. Back at base, Ivanova continues to avoid Winters, and Sinclair goes to see Kosh, as a council meeting is about to be convened on the Ragesh 3 situation. When Londo hears from homeworld that the colony is too small and distant to risk a confrontation with the Narn, and that thus they are going to do nothing, he concocts a plan to force them to take action by pretending to the council that he has not heard from his people. If he can get the council to pass a resolution to step in, the Centauri Republic will have no choice but to get involved. Vir, his attache, is worried: what if the council finds out they lied, that they knew they were playing them? Londo does not care.

    Sinclair is told by his government to delay the vote, or if he cannot or will not, to abstain from it on behalf of Earth. With an election only twenty-four hours away, and having just recently survived one war (that with the Minbari) his homeworld is not eager to get involved in another. It’s clear from what he’s told that Earthgov (the government of Earth, duh) want nothing to do with the Narn/Centauri conflict, and intend to remain neutral. Sinclair worries that this will damage the Centauri position, if their main ally is forced to abstain from the vote, and may lead others, especially those from the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, to follow suit. Suddenly Sinclair has an idea about the raiders, and tells Ivanova to take his place at the council meeting while he goes off to encounter the pirates. He grins that Ivanova was not instructed to abstain, and as far as she knew, without being advised to the contrary, Earth was voting for sanctions.

    At the meeting of the council, G’Kar pulls the old “Sudetenland defence”, saying in essence that Ragesh 3 is a Narn colony and that they were just taking it back from the Centauri. Then he has a transmission beamed in where Karn, Londo’s nephew, obviously under duress, declares that the Narn “liberators” are there at his request, and that all is well. When Londo says this is a lie, he walks right into G’Kar’s trap. The Narn somehow knows of the communication from Centauri Prime, that states they will take no action, and G’Kar now asks for the charges against his people to be dropped on the basis of this being nothing more than a personal vendetta between Mollari and himself, something, he says, the council should not be involved in. Humiliated, defeated, angry, Londo makes preparations to go and kill G’Kar, but on the way he brushes past Talia, who, being a telepath, picks up the strong feelings from his mind and goes to warn Garibaldi before Mollari can carry out his plan.

    Sinclair has returned after a successful mission, and his suspicions have been confirmed: the Narn were supplying the raiders with the heavy weapons. Luckily, on board the command ship are recordings of the attack on Ragesh 3, which back up Londo’s story and disprove the one Karn was forced to tell. Backed into a corner, and with no choice, G’Kar orders the withdrawal of his forces rather than have the information be brought before the council. Talia and Ivanova finally meet, and the lieutenant explains that her mother was a latent telepath, and they’re only given three options: join Psi Corps, go to jail or take drugs to inhibit their ability. Ivanova tells Talia that her mother took the third choice, and it slowly killed her. Therefore she hates and distrusts the Psi Corps, and all telepaths. The Presidential race ends in a victory for incumbent, Luis Santiago.

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  • Trollheart
    Season One: Signs and Portents

    It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind, ten years after the Earth/Minbari War. The Babylon Project was a dream given form. Its goal: to prevent another war by creating a place where humans and aliens could work out their differences peacefully. It's a port of call, home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs and wanderers. Humans and aliens wrapped in two million five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal, all alone in the night. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last, best hope for peace.

    This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258, the name of the place is Babylon 5.

    As I mentioned in the introduction, Babylon 5 was conceived as a five-year story arc, both in the show's fictional universe, and in the real world. The series would run over five seasons from 1993 to 1998, and each of the five seasons was subtitled, with a tagline that gave some clue as to the part it would play in the overall story arc. Season one, with its title of Signs and Portents, alluded strongly to the placing of the pieces on the chessboard, as it were; the drawing of battlelines, the arrangement of characters and plot elements, and hidden and not so hidden clues within the episodes that would point to a greater, overall truth which would come to drive the whole plot. Not every episode in every season advances or even contributes to the main story arc, and season one more than most, as it was here that the very skeleton of the plot was being built. But the signs are there, if you know where to look for them. Or have someone to point them out to you.

    But first, there have been some character changes, as mentioned in the intro to "The Gathering". Let's take a look at the important ones.

    Lieutenant Commander Susan Ivanova (played by Claudia Christian)

    Replacing the (I thought) somewhat wooden and one-dimensional Laurel Takashima from the film, Ivanova is the new second-in-command on the station. She is of Russian descent, and as such can be seen to be quite cold and clinical as she goes about her duties. She has a softer side, though she hardly ever lets anyone see it. She will become indispensable as the commander's - and later the captain's - right hand throughout most of the series.

    Doctor Stephen Franklin (played by Richard Biggs, RIP)

    Having seen what lies beneath a Vorlon's encounter suit in the movie, Dr. Kyle is recalled to Earth, and Franklin is sent as his replacement to Babylon 5, where he assumes the post of Chief Medical Officer. His outspoken ways and often arrogant belief in himself and in his abilities tends to land him in trouble with the commander, but he's fiercely loyal and dedicated to his vocation.

    Talia Winters (played by Andrea Thompson)

    As the second resident commercial telepath on the station, Talia replaces Lyta Alexander, whose fate we learn some time later on, and which will have another big effect on the storyline. Talia, too, will impact on the plot, though her part will end, coming to critical mass as it were, near the end of season two. After that, there will be no third telepath, at least, not officially.

    Vir Kotto (usually known only as Vir, and played by Stephen Furst)

    Attache to Ambassador Mollari, Vir is a young, impressionable Centauri with a great sense of duty, and eager to please his new employer. He sees his posting to Babylon 5 as a great honour, though Londo tells him it is the joke job handed out to those among their people the Court can't find a proper place for. Vir will soon lose his childlike wonder though, and become both a staunch ally and later a vehement opponent of Londo, while carving his own name in Centauri history.

    Lennier (played by Bill Mumy)

    A man those who watched the sixties sci-fi classic show "Lost in space" will know as Will Robinson, Mumy plays attache to Delenn, the Minbari ambassador. But just as Vir's fate will take him places he could never have guessed at, Lennier's place in galactic history is also assured. He is devoted to Delenn, later revealing that he is in fact in love with her.

    Na'Toth (played by Julie Caitlin Brown, later Mary Kay Adams)

    And just as the other two ambassadors have attaches, so must G'Kar. His aide comes in the form of Na'Toth, a determined, fierce female Narn who initially makes no secret of her dislike of her new employer, but whom she eventually becomes fast friends with.

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  • Trollheart

    A show like Babylon 5 - well, there was and probably never will again be a show like Babylon 5 - needed to be watched carefully and with your full attention, as often little breadcrumbs of information would be dropped at the most unexpected moment and in the most unexpected places, small snippets that might seem unimportant at the time but which later fit into the giant galactic jigsaw puzzle JMS was building and showing us only a corner at a time.

    This will track the slow evolution and eventual revelation of the story arc - at least, the one that ran through the first three seasons, episode by episode. I won't be doing this after every episode - not all of them impinge on, effect or have anything to do with the arc, at least intitially - so maybe every five episodes I'll come back to this to see how we're doing and what, if anything, we've learned, or, as Hermes once noted in Futurama, if answers only raise new questions, as they frequently will.

    Pilot episode: The Gathering - Nefarious elements are already at work to ensure the newly-opened Babylon station does not last long. An attempt is made, not only to assassinate Vorlon Ambassador Kosh, but to place the blame for this attack on Earth via the commander of the station, Jeffrey Sinclair. It emerges that the agency behind this attempt at a frame-up is the Minbari government, or more specifically the clan known as the Wind Swords. There is also clear but unprovable evidence that the Narn Regime has a hand in this plot, too; this will be the only time, if I remember correctly, that G’Kar’s people work with the Minbari, other than an unsuccessful attempt by him to create an alliance between Delenn and himself.

    Points on the Arc

    This is where I’ll break down the individual elements of each episode that pertain to the overall story arc (or one running parallel to it) and follow the thread, as it were, through the complicated tapestry that JMS weaves.

    Although this is not a spoiler-free venture, I will only mention what is revealed in each episode so that other episodes can fill in the blanks, answer questions and eventually build the whole picture.

    Kosh and the Vorlons

    (Sounds like a punk rock band, no?)

    Introduced here too is the most alien of aliens; Kosh, last of the ambassadors to arrive at the station (this is never explained; were they waiting for something, perhaps to see if this, the fifth of the Babylon stations, survived?) is a Vorlon, and nobody at all - at this stage anyway - knows what one looks like.

    Easily solved, you might think, as everyone will see Kosh, but no. Vorlons never travel without their protective encounter suit, claiming the atmosphere of any world other than their own is poisonous. In the event, an attempt is made on his life by a Minbari posing as a human (actually posing as two humans - the Minbari warrior has killed and used the changeling net to assume the form of the trader/arms dealer Del Varner, and then Commander Sinclair himself) which could have various aims. First, it could and does destabilise the nascent relationship between both Earth and the Vorlon Empire and it and the Babylon station. There has been a lot of opposition to the Babylon Project, many believing it is a waste of time and money, and with the three stations before it having been sabotaged, and the fourth mysteriously vanishing, those voices can only be growing louder.

    It’s also an attempt to have Sinclair removed from command, and perhaps replaced by someone more accepted by the Minbari, even one of their own people. We’re told that Sinclair fought on the Battle of the Line, Earth’s final stand against the victorious Minbari forces, and Delenn’s people have surely not forgotten that a short time ago he was the enemy. Distrust must be hanging heavy in the air between the two races. Though the Vorlons seem to be almost psychic, even Kosh is unlikely to have foreseen that in order to have his life saved, he would have to allow another species to see inside his encounter suit. That could not have been part of the plan. We’re given a tantalising hint here, when Dr. Kyle says now that he has seen a Vorlon, nothing can ever be the same, though it will be the closing episode of season two before we understand what he means. And even then, we won’t really understand.

    Battle of the Line

    Historically perhaps the most futile last-ditch defence of a hopeless position since The Alamo or Stalingrad, this was Earth’s final defence, its attempt to give the invading Minbari fleet the good old human finger and take as many of them with them as they could before Earth was overwhelmed. Quite why the enemy surrendered just as they seemed to have victory in their grasp (no "seemed" about it: they had won, all over bar the shouting) is another mystery that will thread its way through the show and will take a season extra to be explained, coming in on a plot-twisting double episode in season three. It will, however, be referred to throughout the seasons leading up to that.


    We’re here given a very simplistic sketch of G’Kar, leader of the Narn, and his people, with an unmistakable parallel between the Jews and the Nazis. The occupation of his home world and its all but destruction has driven G’Kar to zealot-like fury against the Centauri oppressor, but relatively quickly we will start to understand his plight and that of his people, and sympathise with a race which is not at all the brutish, unreasonable one presented here.


    If there’s one regime the Centauri seem based on it’s the Roman Empire. We don’t learn a massive amount about them here (though we will of course later) but Londo’s impassioned and bitter speech to Garibaldi allows us to see already into their society, and we see they are a fading empire, a power on the decline; once rulers of the galaxy (if we’re to believe Mollari) now having lost almost all of their territory they have been reduced to a curiosity, a sideshow, something to entertain the more powerful races, most of whom are younger than they.

    Fed up with what he sees as a pointless appointment, Londo whiles away his time on Babylon 5 gambling, whoring and drinking, just like a Roman senator but without any of the power. He is a man who believes destiny came calling, but at that time Londo Mollari had not even been born, and so the chance for glory went to others. Londo is a man out of time, yearning to bring back the “good old days” to his people, for them to retake their place among the superpowers of the galaxy. To some degree, too, the Centauri Empire could be seen as an allegory of the British Empire, as its subjects revolted and demanded and fought for independence, leaving Britain with a small handful of nominal colonies, and reducing it to almost an onlooker on the world stage.


    The Minbari seem something of a contradiction here. Delenn, their ambassador, preaches peace and harmony, yet abstains from the vote as to whether to move Sinclair’s trial to the Vorlon homeworld. On the other side of the coin is the Minbari warrior, who actively takes steps to remove Sinclair via the attempted slaying of Kosh. Is there such a schism in their people that one faction will support Babylon 5 while the other will undermine it? And what is the reason her people surrendered at the Battle of the Line?


    Another thing few other science fiction shows tend to explore is the control and manipulation of the mind by those who are either genetically born to it, or who are trained in the art. Telepathy is a scary concept: how can you trust anyone who may know all your deepest, darkest secrets just by looking at you and seeing your thoughts? How can you lie to someone like that? How can you protect yourself? How powerful does that make them? Here, telepathy is dealt with on two levels initially: first, as a commercial bargaining tool, where Lyta hires herself out to businessmen (yeah, sounds dodgy, but not in that way!) who wish to ascertain the sincerity of the other person in the negotiation. It seems quite an unfair advantage, to have a telepath at your behest, but apparently it’s allowed by Psi Corps, under the strictest conditions.

    More seriously though, Lyta is then asked to scan the mind of the dying Kosh - something she balks at, not having the permission of the ambassador nor his government, but fearing, as Sinclair does, that to let Kosh die will kick off a war - to see who attacked him. This represents the first time a human has seen into the mind of a Vorlon, and it will bind both the destiny of humanity and also Lyta’s own personal future to that of Kosh.

    Back home

    This is a catchall label I will use as the series goes on to refer back to what is happening on Earth. As already mentioned, there is much opposition to the Babylon Project, and this will only grow as it becomes more successful and also more controversial, but it can be reasonably accepted that Earth does not want another war, so would tacitly approve the scanning of Kosh. They are however careful to ensure that approval can only be inferred, passing the decision back to Sinclair. Sink or swim, the commander is on his own on this one, as he will find increasingly to be the case as time goes on.
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  • Trollheart

    The arrival of the ambassador from Vorlon (like some of the races here, their homeworld is the same name as their race) occurs unexpectedly, as his ship comes through the jumpgate early, and Sinclair goes to meet him alone. However, before he can get to greet the ambassador, a klaxon blares around the station advising an emergency, and on reachiing the alien Sinclair sees that he has fallen ill and he is rushed to medlab. Fearing that the ambassador may die, thus provoking a lethal response from his government, Dr. Benjamin Kyle, Chief Medical Officer on the station, asks Lyta to scan the Vorlon's mind telepathically. She is reluctant, as firstly scanning without the person's permission or consent is against the law, and she could be thrown out of Psi Corps, the body which regulates, trains and employs all telepaths; and secondly, this could conceivably be seen as a hostile act, the invasion of the privacy of an alien ambassador's mind, the breaking of diplomatic immunity in its most literal sense.

    However, when the alternatives are put to her she has no choice but to agree, and is shocked to see in Ambassador Kosh's mind the picture of Sinclair poisoning him by attaching a small disc to his exposed hand. With such irrefutable evidence, a trial is convened and Sinclair is relieved of duty. Unconvinced, however, Garibaldi, who is his friend and served with him on the Mars colonies, and who got the job here from the commander, investigates to see if there is another answer. Meanwhile, the politics and powerplays that drive and characterise Babylon 5 come to the fore, as representatives jockey for position, eventually voting to allow Sinclair to be extradited to Vorlon to stand trial for murder.

    But Garibaldi is interested in a traveller who came aboard about the same time as Lyta, a man called Del Varner, who is a petty thief and smuggler wanted in several systems. He breaks into the man's quarters but is shocked --- and annoyed --- to find Varner dead. So much for that lead! However, as he tries to figure out a new strategy, it seems that Lyta is in medlab trying to finish Kosh off by turning off his life-support, before Dr. Kyle catches her. As she runs off though, she walks in the door and it's obvious there is an imposter on the station.

    More or less confined to quarters, Sinclair tells Carolyn, his girlfriend, about the Battle of the Line, and his part in it. He tells her that as the battle reached its height he decided to ram one of the Minbari cruisers, determined to take one of them with him, but he blacked out and when he came to it was twenty-four hours later, and the war was over. The Minbari had unaccountably surrendered, and no-one has ever been able to say why.

    Looking further into the dead smuggler's records, Garibaldi discovers that he had been trafficking in specialised items, and his last run had taken him to the Antares sector, where he had got his hands on a changeling net, a portable force-field that allows one to bend images around it, essentially enabling them to take on any shape or form they wish. Including that of the commander! So it wasn't Sinclair who had poisoned Kosh --- as Garibaldi had been sure anyway --- but Varner, using the changeling net to look like him! But... Varner is dead, so who killed him, and why? Had he an accomplice? A second suspect, who even now is running around the station, probably at this point trying to get off it?

    He has Takashima use the station's scanners to pinpoint the huge energy signature the changeling net woudl put out, and they discover that there is indeed a second man, or rather alien. An assassin from a Minbari warrior caste, who once they have overpowered him tells Sinclair "You have a hole in your mind!" That cryptic remark resonates with the commander, as he knows that there is a twenty-four hour period that he can't account for during the Battle of the Line. It's a phrase that will come back to haunt him, and lead to a massive development and finally revelation as the series progresses.

    Once Sinclair's innocence is established then, everything, for now, goes back to normal, and the massive station, with the recovered Ambassador Kosh installed as its final representative, is opened for business.

    Important plot arc points:

    This is where I will refer to scenes, people, quotes, occurences, anything that will later have a large impact on future episodes/seasons. I'll rate them from Green through Orange to Red, which will correspond to their importance and how they influence the series and the plot as a whole. If, in later seasons, they tie in to a previous plot point, I'll reference that.

    The Battle of the Line

    Arc Level: Orange

    Note: the final defence of Earth from the attacking Minbari warfleet, the Battle of the Line was the last stand against the invasion fleet. It has gone down in human (and Minbar, and other) history as one of the bravest and yet most futile actions ever, and yet it worked (or seemed to) as the attacking fleet stopped short of destroying Earth, and in fact surrendered. Many who were there at the time believe something else happened: they know they were outmanned and outgunned, and were losing, had lost the war. There was no reason why an enemy vastly superior, on the very cusp of victory, would suddenly decide to end hostilities. Sinclair would later say "Maybe God blinked!" but the truth will turn out to be very much more stunning and unbelievable than that.

    Narn vs Centauri

    Arc Level: Red

    Note: The enmity between the Narn and the Centauri, the oppressed against the oppressor, the conquered for the conquerors, is an old wound that is still fresh. It means no Narn would ever trust a Centauri, and very much vice versa. The Centauri see the Narn as vile, backward, subhuman beings who are only good as slaves, and though they were eventually forced off Narn in a war of attrition, they still consider the planet theirs. They do not accept that they were defeated, merely that it became "too expensive to be worth staying". The relationship between the two races will form a pivotal strand of the plot, and in a tremendous piece of writing our attitudes towards and opinion of each race will change radically as the seasons progress.


    Arc Level: Red

    Note: Though having almost a peripheral role in this pilot movie, the mysterious and enigmatic Vorlons will become the puppet masters of the second and third seasons, leading into the fourth, and will become more entangled in and important to the fates of not only humans, but all races.

    Lyta Alexander/Telepaths/Psi Corps

    Arc Level: Red

    Note: Although Lyta is replaced for seasons one and two by another telepath, the role of their parent organisation, the dark and shadowy Orwellian Psi Corps, will become more pronounced and deep as it insinuates itself into the life of the station and makes its own plans for using certain members of its staff, resulting in a massive power struggle that will have cataclysmic consequences down the line.

    "You have a hole in your mind".

    Arc Level: Red

    Note: This seemingly incomprehensible and unimportant remark will impact hugely on the truth behind the Battle of the Line, why the Minbari surrendered and why Commander Jeffrey Sinclair is key not only to the fate of humans but also to the rest of the galaxy. However, we will not find out exactly why until close to the end of season three, in an explosive revelation.


    Commander Sinclair to tourist, about to make an, ahem, assignation with a female alien: "I wouldn't. You know the rules about crossing species. Stick with the list."
    Tourist: "What are you, a bigot or something?
    Sinclair: "No, but you've obviously never met an Arnassian before. After they're finished, they eat their mate!"

    Ambassador Londo Mollari to Garibaldi: "You make very good sharks, Mister Garibaldi. We were pretty good sharks too once, but somehow, along the way, we forgot how to bite."

    Londo (after Garibaldi has departed): "See the great Centauri Republic! Open nine to five, Earth time!"

    Generic business man to Lyta Alexander: "Some day I'm gonna find the guy who thought up the idea of renting telepaths to businessmen, and I'm gonna kill him!"

    Ambassador G'Kar to Lyta, on the subject of creating a race of Narn telepaths: "Would you prefer to be conscious or unconscious during the mating? I would prefer conscious but I don't know what your... pleasure threshold is."

    Londo to Garibaldi: "I suppose there will be a war now? All that running around and shooting at one another: you'd think that sooner or later it would have gone out of fashion!"

    Dr. Kyle: "There are moments in your life when everything crystallises, and the whole world reshapes itself, right down to its component molecules, and everything changes. I have looked upon the face of a Vorlon, and nothing is the same anymore."


    Why does Delenn abstain from the vote to extradite Sinclair to the Vorlon homeworld? When she says she is here merely to observe, what is she watching?

    What was the Minbari assassin's involvement with G'Kar? Why does he meet him in the Alien Sector (disguised as Lyta Alexander) where he tells the killer "there's been a complication"? What has he to gain from the assassination of Ambassador Kosh?

    Was there a connection between the fact that the poison used on Kosh can only be found in the one sector from which Carolyn had returned? Was it merely coincidence that she arrived at the station twenty minutes before the assassination attempt?

    What really happened to Sinclair at the Battle of the Line?

    What did Dr. Kyle see under Kosh's encounter suit?

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  • Trollheart
    Just before I begin, I have a personal story about this pilot movie. Living as I do in Ireland I of course had and have no access to the US networks, and happened to stumble across the movie in a video (look it up) rental shop and thought it looked good. Taking it home and watching it I was rapt, and thought my god how can someone not make a series out of this? It seemed to be setup for at least a sequel, with its closing line "Babylon 5 is open for business!" and I just thought damn it, another great movie that could have led to a series, and left it at that. Well, I didn't. When I brought the video back I asked the guy behind the counter if he knew if there were any more movies, or a series even, and he grunted (no doubt very interested in my query as he carefully polished the slipcase on Vampire Serial Killer Babes IV: Fangs Baby or some such nonsense) that he didn't know. Substitute the word know for the word care and I think we had a better and more honest answer to my question.

    So home I went, dejected but not surprised. Surprise was, however, to the nth degree when some months later Channel 4 announced a brilliant new science-fiction series coming soon, called, yeah, "Babylon 5"! I could not believe it, and quickly set about making sure I had enough blank tapes (I said, look it up! What do you think Wiki is for?) to ensure I recorded every episode, as through some cruel caprice of the gods it was airing at something like 5pm, while I was still at work. Ah, but with a video recorder (look, I'm getting really tired of you...) there was no reason I should miss a moment of what I felt sure would be my new favourite science-fiction programme!

    As, of course, it proved to be.

    Pilot episode/movie: "The Gathering"

    The pilot movie that would lead-in the series, should it be commissioned, "The Gathering" (originally just called "Babylon 5" before it was clear there would even be a series) is important in many ways. Its plot sets up the backdrop to the series, and introduces us to many of its characters, even if some of those would not last beyond this film. It hints at the very beginnings of a deeper story, and even from this standalone movie you can see the depth and intricacy of JMS's writing, so that it woudl have been a shame --- indeed, a crime --- had the series not been taken up. But happily it was, and the rest is television history.

    CHARACTER AND CAST FOR "THE GATHERING" (Characters/actors who were changed after this are italicised, with notes on who replaced them)

    Michael O'Hare (RIP) as Commander Jeffrey Sinclair

    Jerry Doyle as Chief Michael Garibaldi

    Mira Furlan as Ambassador Delenn

    Tamlyn Tomita as Lieutenant Laurel Takashima (Replaced by Claudia Christian, playing Lieutenant-Commander and later Commander Susan Ivanova)

    Andreas Katsulas (RIP) as Ambassador G'Kar

    Johnny Sekka as Doctor Benjamin Kyle (Replaced by Richard Biggs (RIP) playing Doctor Stephen Franklin)

    Peter Jurasik as Ambassador Londo Mollari

    Blaire Baron as Carolyn Sykes (Replaced by Julia Nickon-Soul, playing Catherine Sakai)

    John Fleck as Del Varner (Never seen again)

    Peter Hampton as the Senator (Never seen again)

    Patricia Tallman as Lyta Alexander (Replaced for seasons 1 and 2 by Andrea Thompson as Babylon 5's onsite telepath, but Lyta returns from the end of season 2 and features quite prominently, if sporadically, during the third fourth and fifth seasons)

    The year is 2257. Mankind has made contact with alien races and moved out into the galaxy, mostly by way of "jumpgates", technology shared with them by the Centauri, a much advanced race, and have built a space station, which they call Babylon 5, in neutral space. Here, all races are welcome. It's a trading post, jumping-off point, conference centre, diplomatic post and holiday destination for humans and aliens, and an important factor in keeping the uneasy peace between the various races. Babylons 1 through 4 have all suffered various untimely demises, with the final station prior to this, Babylon 4, actually vanishing twenty-four hours after going online. This small snippet of information is an example of a seemingly-offhand remark that will turn out to have massive importance as both season one and three come to a close.

    There are five main races in this part of the galaxy, including humans, and they are the "superpowers" that run things. They are vastly different, each with their own idelology, traditions, history and outlook, and while some are content to live in peace there are old wounds that are festering between others, wounds which will not heal and which will all too soon plunge this sector of the galaxy into war. For now though, a quick look at each of these aliens.

    Minbari: without question the most logical, spiritual and coldly clinical race, the Minbari revere life and peace but are nevertheless divided into three classes, or castes: Worker, Warrior and Religious. They have just come off the back of a vicious war with humankind, during which Earth itself was almost overwhelmed, but for the fact that the Minbari, with victory within their grasp and all opposition to them smashed, mysteriously surrendered at what came to be known as The Battle of the Line, Earth's last stand against the implacable enemy. The reason they halted hostilities will become clear, and again have a huge and profound effect on the story arc, later on. When we meet them in "The Gathering", they seem more observational than confrontational, almost monklike, as if they're waiting for some great event to unfold.

    Narn: Looking like reptilian humanoids, the Narn are a proud race of mighty warriors, but not so long ago were subjugated by their old enemy, the Centauri, who enslaved them for years, ravaging their planet and stripping it of all its resources, leaving the Narns far behind in terms of technology. Due to their treatment at the hands of the Centauri, the Narns are out for revenge and will side with anyone against their old oppressors. They are also trying to gain any technological or military advantage that would allow them to wipe out the Centauri.

    Centauri: An ancient race of people whose lifestyle and traditions seem to be based on that of the Roman Empire of antiquity, the Centauri are a fallen people. They still have power, but used to command a vast empire which has shrunk as their influence in the galaxy has waned. They long for "the old days", and keep an abiding hatred and contempt of the Narn in their hearts, their other desire being the elimination of the whole race, which they consider inferior. The Centauri were the ones who sold jumpgate tech to the humans, and so are essentially their oldest and closest allies among the Five Races. They see the humans as less evolved, younger versions of themselves when they were at the height of their power.

    Vorlons: A mysterious race cloaked in secrecy and rumour, no-one has ever seen a Vorlon. They leave their home planet but seldom and when they do, always wear a bulky encounter suit, as the atmosphere of other planets is lethal to them. At the time this takes place, hardly anything is known about the Vorlons, and legends about them include one which holds that if anyone sees a Vorlon without his encounter suit they will turn to stone.

    As the movie opens, station commander Jeffrey Sinclair is waiting to welcome a Vorlon as the fourth ambassador to Babylon 5. The first race we meet however is one of the Narn, a man called G'Kar (jyih-kar) who is in fact the Narn ambassador to the station. He comes across as belligerent and pushy, a thoroughly nasty fellow. The station's resident telepath arrives and greets Sinclair. Her name is Lyta Alexander (lee-ta) and through her induction to the station we learn various things, such as that the aliens resident on the station have their own sector (Green) where their quarters can be maintained with the correct mix of atmosphere and gravity to allow them live safely. Sinclair's security chief, Michael Garibaldi, opines that he does not trust telepaths. This will become a recurring theme throughout the series.

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  • Trollheart
    Originally posted by Jan View Post
    Sometimes things glitch. If I've got a long post I do my best to copy it before posting 'just in case'.

    So...apologies if this is just something I don't 'get', but what's the purpose of 'scoring' the characters? I realize that I'm one who has favorites but seldom participates in 'least favorit' threads. I mean, is there going to be a scoreboard?
    Okay, the idea about scoring them is to put them on a chart and see who does best. As in, is Garibaldi doing more in this episode than Sinclair, is Kosh beating them all into a tin hat, where did Morden come from and why is he at number one? All that sort of thing. It's just really for fun and because I love doing charts, and I think it's cool to see this one rise and that one drop. Also gives me a lot more to do when watching the episodes, but hey, that's me. As for the episodes, well, that's pretty obvious I imagine.

    The thing is, consider looking at this half a season in, and wondering if Sinclair is still going to be at number one, for instance, or if that big deal Londo made is going to push him up the chart? Who'll be at the top? Who'll be at the bottom? The tension! The suspense! The pointlessness of it all! Well, you gotta do something while you're waiting for them to finish your coffin, don't ya?

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  • Jan
    Sometimes things glitch. If I've got a long post I do my best to copy it before posting 'just in case'.

    So...apologies if this is just something I don't 'get', but what's the purpose of 'scoring' the characters? I realize that I'm one who has favorites but seldom participates in 'least favorit' threads. I mean, is there going to be a scoreboard?

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  • Trollheart
    Incidentally, does anyone know if I did something wrong here? I hit PREVIEW, which I usually do before posting, and the screen just went grey and wouldn't let me do anything. I had to (heart in mouth) hit the backspace, after which my post was gone. But luckily your system retains some sort of backup so I didn't lose what I had written. Am I not supposed to use preview, or is there something odd about it here?

    Hmm. Tried it again and it didn't have any problem. Very weird. Anyone notice Morden hanging around maybe?

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