Sunday, 30 July 2017

BABYLON 5 Rewatch: Season 1, Episodes 21-22

 What can go wrong?

A21: The Quality of Mercy
Airdates: 17 August 1994 (US), 26 September 1994 (UK)
Working Title: The Resurrectionist
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Lorraine Senna Ferrara
Cast: Dr. Laura Rosen (June Lockhart), Janice Rosen (Kate McNeil), Karl Mueller (Mark Rolston), Centauri Minister (Damian London), Ombuds Wellington (Jim Norton), Rose (Lynn Anderson), Lurker (Phillippe Bergeron), Guard 1 (Kevin McBride), Guard 2 (David Crowley), Young Woman (Constance Zimmer)

Plot:    A psychotic serial-killer, Karl Mueller, is arrested on Babylon 5 and sentenced to the 23rd Century’s equivalent of the death penalty, the death of personality. He will be mind-wiped and programmed with a new, productive personality. Talia Winters has to scan his mind prior to the mindwipe, but is horrified to see that he has killed far more than the few people he was arrested for murdering. Unfortunately, her evidence is inadmissible in court. Later, Mueller escapes and goes on the run in Downbelow.

Dr. Franklin opens a free clinic treating the "lurkers" in Downbelow who can't afford to attend Medlab and receives some assistance from Ivanova. Franklin is mystified by his lack of patients and discovers another doctor, Laura Rosen, and her daughter Janice are treating the sick and needy. Laura used to be a respected doctor on Earth, but left after being diagnosed with terminal Lake’s Syndrome. Laura is using an alien device to heal the sick on the station. After initial scepticism Franklin is amazed by the powers of the machine, but is concerned that it seems to be draining Laura’s lifeforce at the expense of replenishing others’. Mueller, wounded by a gunshot, takes Laura hostage and forces her to use the machine to heal him, but she reverses it and drains his lifeforce entirely, curing her Lake’s Syndrome.

Londo is feeling bored and offers to show Lennier the "real" Babylon 5. He learns that Lennier has an awesome gift for determining statistical possibilities and puts this to use by employing him as an assistant whilst playing at cards. When Londo gets a duff hand, he decides to cheat by using a previously unknown tentacle-like appendage to grab cards out of the deck. When his trickery is discovered a huge fight breaks out, but luckily Lennier is trained in advanced martial arts and holds off the assailants. Because they are both covered by diplomatic immunity, Sinclair cannot charge them with causing the fray in Downbelow, but does manage to get them to pay for the damage. Lennier takes the bulk of the blame for Londo and Londo is in his debt. Londo tells him what purpose the tentacle serves and Lennier decides never to mention this again to anyone, even taking a solemn oath not to do so.

Laura leaves Babylon 5 to return to Earth and resume her medical career, whilst the alien healing device is turned over to Franklin for study.


Dating the Episode: Lennier arrived on Babylon 5 “six months ago”, confirming that half a year has elapsed between episode A5 and this one.

The Arc: The alien healing device reappears in episodes B2 and D20.

Lennier covers for Londo at the end of this episode by lying. This is a minor point here, but it is referenced in episode B14 and provides the key to the resolution of that episode.

Franklin’s Downbelow clinic has another purpose. We find out what it is in episode B7.

The Centauri tentacles are fully explained in episode C12.

Laura Rosen’s career trajectory seems to hold warnings for Franklin, as hinted at in episodes including C15, C18 and C21.

The Centauri Minister returns in episode C12 and many, many others. We eventually discover that his name is Milo Virini.

Background: Minbari have a strong aversion to alcohol, which drives them into a psychotic, unreasoning rage.

Centauri have tentacle-like appendages. Curiously, Adira didn’t seem to sport them despite wearing several very skimpy outfits in episode A3. This is because they are part of the male physiology only (although the statue of the Centauri goddess Li also possesses them, as he/she is a fusion of Centauri male and female characteristics). Straczynski suggested “Tentisticularites” as a possible name for the Centauri appendages. He has also noted that the Centauri genitalia are instead of, not in addition to, human-style genitalia. Presumably this means that Centauri and humans cannot interbreed.

Lennier was born in a Minbari temple and raised in the ways of the religious caste. Six months ago, he left to travel to Babylon 5. He spent at least twelve years studying and probably a lot more.

In Minbari culture, it is considered honourable to help another save face.

The Minbari use base 11, not base 10, in counting (they count their fingers plus their head). Thus, Lennier isn’t referring to himself being in temple for 111 years when he says “Eleventy-one”. ‘Eleventy-one’ is actually 12 years. However, also note that this episode is the only one where the Minbari use this system. Presumably it got dumped on the grounds that some found it another Lord of the Rings reference and that it became too time-consuming to convert all the dates back and forth. It’s also possible the practice is archaic and Lennier is being a bit retro when he uses it.

“Stims” are used to overcome the need for sleep. However, they are not always reliable and prolonged use can be addictive. Their effectiveness over long periods of time is also debatable, and they are no substitute for real sleep.

Phased plasma blasts cauterise wounds, presumably to make it more likely for those hit to survive (useful in law enforcement).

“Spacing” – throwing someone out of an airlock – is a punishment that can only be administered for treason or mutiny.

References: “Eleventy-one” is a nod at The Lord of the Rings, where the hobbits of the Shire use “eleventy” to refer to people between the ages of 111 and 119.

The episode is a quote from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice: “The quality of mercy is not strrin’d, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”

Unanswered Questions: Who built the alien healing device?

Why is Londo taking the statue of Li into his bedroom? Wait, I don’t want to know the answer to that one.

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: If the Minbari use base 11, why is it being ten cycles since Dukhat’s death so significant in episode A20?

“Stroke off” is apparently a common 23rd Century euphemism meaning “F… off”. I humbly submit it doesn’t work as well.

People, even humans and Earth Alliance citizens, need to pay to use Medlab. This is the American healthcare system taken to the stars, but given the attitudes to healthcare in the rest of the world (and the US is only one small part of the Earth Alliance), it is extremely unlikely that such an unworkable system would be adopted on a global scale.

Behind the Scenes: Joe Straczynski was suffering from the flu when he wrote this episode, and has zero recollection of the process of writing it. He notes that the episode’s more bizarre humour can be attributed to the fevered state he was in when he wrote it.

It was scripted that Talia would scream when coming out of Mueller’s mind, but Andrea Thompson and director Lorraine Ferrara both felt this was cliched and mildly sexist. They changed it so Talia would half-collapse at the end of the traumatic process but not scream.

The prop guys and girls had a field day making Londo’s genitalia prop and handling it on set.

Peter Jurasik enjoyed the episode, since it introduced a more alien side to Londo and also paired him up with Bill Mumy, whom he enjoyed working with tremendously.

The episode was filmed on Bill Mumy’s fortieth birthday. His wife and son came on set and got to see him film his action scene.

Bill Mumy and June Lockhart previously appeared together as regulars on the hit 1960s SF series Lost in Space. Straczynski considered giving them a scene together, but couldn’t do it in a way that felt natural.

This episode was filmed in the week following the huge 1994 North Ridge earthquake in Los Angeles. Filming was interrupted several times by aftershocks and the crew got very nervous. At one point, June Lockhart suggested they stop shooting because a beautiful rainbow had appeared outside. The entire cast and crew left the studio to go outside and chill out for a few minutes watching the rainbow. Richard Biggs later related this as one of his most memorable days from filming the show, and he had great respect for June Lockhart doing that.

Familiar Faces: June Lockhart is an old-school Hollywood legend, best-known for her long-running role on Lost in Space alongside a very young Bill Mumy. She also starred in Lassie and had very numerous film and television roles in a career spanning sixty years. She has won the Emmy Award twice, as well as a Tony Award. Her last screen role was in 2009 in the film Super Capers. Since then she has effectively retired, but is still going strong at 92 years old (as of this time of writing).

Mark Rolston is best-known for playing the role of the marine Drake (Vasquez’s ill-fated smartgun partner) in the movie Aliens. His other numerous roles include Lethal Weapon 2, RoboCop 2, The Shawshank Redemption, Eraser and the Saw franchise, in which he plays Dan Erickson. In recent years, he has switched to voice acting, appeared in Voltron on Netflix and voicing Deathstroke in the video games Arkham Origins and Arkham Knight.

Jim Norton, of course, returns from episode A15 as Ombuds Wellington.

Damian London, who plays the Centauri Minister, has numerous credits in Hollywood stretching back to the 1950s, starting in movies before doing shows like Get Smart and The Bob Hope Show. His recurring role on Babylon 5 was his last series of roles before his retirement. There’s a good interview with him here.

Review: One of those episodes that felt a bit disposable on original release but on rewatching improves a lot. The guest cast are pretty good and the morality of personality-erasure is both disturbing and fascinating. The Londo/Lennier comedy subplot is also very well-handled, with Bill Mumy finally coming into his own. As usual at this point, the downside is some ropey dialogue. ***½

Londo (on the Minbari): “They are a strange people, but they’re okay.”

A22: Chrysalis
Airdates: 28 October 1994 (US), 3 October 1994 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Janet Greek
Cast: Catherine Sakai (Julia Nickson), Morden (Ed Wasser), Stephen Petrov (David Anthony Marshall), Deveraux (Edward Conery), Security Aide (Macaulay Bruton), Vice-President Morgan W. Clark (Gary McGurk), Ambassador Kosh (Ardwight Chamberlain), ISN Reporter (Maggie Egan), Senator (Cheryl Francis Harrington), Narn Pilot (Mark Hendrickson), Medtech (James Kiriyama-Lem), Paramedic (Wesley Leong), Lurker 1 (Liz Burnette), Lurker 2 (Gianin Loffler), Guard 1 (John Rioj), Guard 2 (Bergen Williams), Woman (Ed Wasser), Station One (Marianne Robertson)

Date: 30 December 2258-1 January 2259.

Plot:    The Babylon 5 Advisory Council meets to discuss a growing border dispute between the Centauri Republic and Narn Regime. A Narn military base has been operational in Quadrant 37 for five years but has recently begun violating Centauri space by sending patrols across the border. The Narn claim they are pursuing Centauri navy vessels which violated their territory first, but Londo dismisses the claim as as a lie. When Londo begins threatening G’Kar with military retaliation, G’Kar storms out in anger.

An informant working for Garibaldi, Stephen Petrov, is found badly injured in the Zocalo. Before he dies he tells Garibaldi that, “They’re gonna kill him.” Garibaldi goes looking for answers in Downbelow, but the lurkers either don’t care or seem scared to talk. One lurker agrees to talk to Garibaldi and tells him both he and Petrov did some cargo loading for a businessman named Deveraux. Petrov did some snooping around and discovered something that scared him to death. Garibaldi arrests Deveraux, but Deveraux appears remarkably unconcerned, even when he is put into the brig. He warns Garibaldi he is interfering with something far too big for him.

Mr. Morden (from episode A13) returns to Babylon 5 and arranges a meeting with Londo. Londo is furious because the Centauri government has ordered him to cede Quadrant 37 to the Narns as a goodwill gesture. Morden has a different idea: Londo can tell his government that he will personally take care of the Quadrant 37 problem himself. Londo is incredulous but, based on Morden’s recovery of the Eye, decides to extend a little trust. He has the message relayed to Centauri Prime, much to Vir’s astonishment.

President Luis Santiago is conducting a goodwill tour of the Earth Alliance colonies in the Solar system. His ship, Earthforce One, departs from the Mars colony after dropping off Vice-President Morgan Clark, who is suffering from the flu. Earthforce One heads for its next destination, the colony and transfer point on Io, near Jupiter.

Ambassador Delenn sends Lennier to see Ambassador Kosh with an important question. Lennier returns with the reply: “Yes.” Shocked, Delenn goes to see Kosh herself and demands to know if it is true. Kosh opens his encounter suit and reveals his true form to Delenn (though not to us). Delenn thanks him and returns to her quarters, where she is assembling a curious crystal device.

Catherine Sakai returns to Babylon 5 to celebrate the New Year with Sinclair. Sinclair proposes and she accepts. He asks Garibaldi to be his best man and accepts, whilst Ivanova agrees to be Sakai’s maid of honour. Garibaldi receives a report that Deveraux has vanished from the brig. Garibaldi tells Sinclair that Deveraux’s PPG (phased plasma gun) has no serial number, similar to a special forces Earth intelligence operative, but Deveraux isn’t on the register. Garibaldi begins to have a very bad feeling about this.

Three Narn medium cruisers are rearming at the primary military station orbiting a colony in Quadrant 37. Suddenly a group of jet-black, insect-looking ships materialises from nowhere. They decimate the orbiting defences, fighters and warships in less than a minute and bomb the colony into atoms before vanishing again without a trace.

Garibaldi investigates the cargo that Petrov was loading for Deveraux, although Deveraux’s cargo ships left hours ago. He finds one shipment of crates that didn’t make it out and discovers transmitters programmed to broadcast static across Earth Alliance Gold Channel frequencies. He also discovers a triangulation system programmed with the coordinates for the transfer point orbiting Io. He alerts Sinclair something is up, but refuses to voice his suspicions over the comlink. Deveraux appears and threatens Garibaldi, but Garibaldi draws a weapon first and holds Deveraux at gunpoint. Before he can do anything, Garibaldi is gunned down from behind by one of his own security officers, his aide Jack. Sinclair sends out search parties to find Garibaldi after he fails to turn up for the meeting, but is interrupted by Delenn. Delenn tells him she knows he remembers something of what happened at the Battle of the Line. She offers to tell him the truth and he agrees, but only once he has found Garibaldi.

Na’Toth arrives to see G’Kar and tells him that the base in Quadrant 37 has been utterly destroyed by unknown forces with the deaths of 10,000 Narn warriors. G’Kar realises that the humans, Minbari and Vorlons have no reason to attack the Narn, the Centauri don’t have the will and the other worlds aren’t powerful enough. He begins to wonder if there is some other race out there.

Garibaldi, despite being massively wounded, crawls into a lift and reaches the Zocalo, where his body is found. He is rushed to Medlab and manages to warn Sinclair that someone is planning to kill President Santiago at Io. Sinclair has an emergency warning sent to Io, but the Gold Channel frequencies are being jammed. Only the ISN feed is still available. The crew can only sit and watch in horror as Earthforce One loses all power before exploding in a colossal fireball just short of Station Io. No survivors are found.

Londo is horrified at what Morden has done, although Morden reminds him that the Narn are the enemy. Morden tells Londo that now his name is being spoken at the highest levels of the Royal Court on Centauri Prime. He tells him that, with the help of Morden and his associates, the Centauri can reclaim their rightful place in the Galaxy.

ISN reports the swearing-in of President Morgan W. Clark on Earthforce Two as it returns to Earth from Mars. Clark announces that, whilst Santiago’s policies will be respected, he will turn his attention more towards the needs of Earth. Kosh appears and tells Sinclair that he has forgotten something. Sinclair rushes to Delenn’s quarters to find her encased in a “chrysalis”. Lennier tells him she is transforming into something else, but does not know what.

Na’Toth goes to see G’Kar again and finds him gone. He has left a message explaining that he is returning to Narn immediately. He has certain suspicions regarding the Quadrant 37 attack and is setting out to investigate personally. It may be some time before he returns.

Earthdome angrily denounces Sinclair’s claims of an assassination, claiming that Earthforce One’s fusion reactor exploded by accident. Sinclair is explicitly ordered not to discuss his “wild theories” with anyone for fear of spreading panic.

In his quarters Morden’s “associates” appear: semi-invisible, insectoid aliens, known only as “Shadows”. Morden tells them that Londo is perfect for their plans.

Sinclair tells Sakai that nothing is the same anymore and he is unsure of what to make of all that has happened. Garibaldi has slipped into a coma and may not recover, whilst security maintains a full watch on him at all times...overseen by Jack. And in her quarters, Delenn continues her bizarre transformation...

Dating the Episode: On-air captions confirm that the episode starts on 30 December 2258 and ends slightly after midnight on 1 January 2259.

The Arc: Delenn’s actions in this episode are a direct continuation of her actions in A20. The Triluminary – the triangular device given to her by the Grey Council in A20 – is used in this episode to complete the crystalline cocoon-generating machine she has been working on. This is the first episode to directly confirm a secret relationship between Delenn and Kosh. The only prior hint of this was the respectful bow he gave to Delenn in PM. We learn the exact truth behind the Vorlon-Minbari relationship in episode B17. Delenn emerges from her cocoon in episode B2, although the reasons for it are not 100% revealed until episode C17.

Kosh reveals his true appearance to Delenn. We learn more about the Vorlons in episodes B13, B17, B19, B22, C4, C15 and D4.

Morden crops up again in episode B2. His associates – the “Shadows” – remain largely a mystery until episode B17.

We also find out what the question was that Delenn sent Lennier to ask Kosh in episode B17.

The Centauri-Narn feud which has been building since episode A1 continues to escalate here, although G’Kar is thrown off the scent by the savage destruction of Quadrant 37. We see the outcome of his investigations in episode B2.

The death of Earth Alliance President Santiago is apparently the result of an accident, although there has been a prior attempt on his life (in episode A11). Sinclair believes he was murdered by someone with a lot of power and influence in the Earth Alliance government. This plot thread is followed up on in episodes B2, B11 and B13 before culminating in C5 and C8-C10.

The lurker who helps Garibaldi find Deveraux turns up again in episode B7.

Garibaldi’s aide, who shoots him in the back, has appeared before in episodes A6, A8, A12 and A16. In A6 he was very subservient around Bester; in A8 he may have been involved in the Knights’ plan to kidnap Sinclair; in A12 he is just helping Garibaldi; and, best of all, he appears in Ivanova’s dream in episode A16 as the figure representing ‘Tragedy’.

Background: The Narn-Centauri border is patrolled by both sides. Interestingly, both this episode and B9 use the term ‘quadrants’ when referring to systems along the border, rather than the ‘sectors’ used elsewhere. This suggests that quadrants are specifically used to refer to this area of space and that there are 40 of them along the border (something backed up by some of the ancillary material). The Narn military base in Quadrant 37 has been operating for five years prior to this episode. Some of the quadrants are neutral space (like Q37) and others are firmly claimed by one side (like Q14 in Narn space).

Three Narn T’Loth-class heavy cruisers, a massive space station and an entire surface colony, along with several squadrons of fighters, were destroyed by the Shadows during their attack. Two Shadow warships were involved in the attack. Narn weapons fire caused no or negligible damage.

There is a hitherto unknown, major alien race out there. They are nicknamed “Shadows” and are six-limbed insectoids, four limbs they walk on and two they hold out in front of them like praying mantises. There are several Shadows accompanying Morden, but they can phase out of reality and become invisible to normal sight.

The Shadow warships, contrary to early belief, do not actually use Star Trek-style cloaking devices, but instead ‘phase’ from hyperspace to real space and back again without the need to open and close time-consuming jump points. Their warships are fast and extremely powerful, capable of destroying Narn capital ships with single shots.

The “Five Planet Goodwill Tour” presumably refers to Earth, Mars and Jupiter (and the colonies on Jupiter’s moons). It’s unclear what the other two planets are: possibly counting the Moon as a planet and maybe Saturn, since smaller colonies on Saturn’s moons are sometimes hinted at. It may also be that the tour is interstellar, and Earth’s two largest out-system colonies (Proxima III and either Orion VII or Vega VII) will also be included.

There are fifty recognised gods in the Centauri pantheon (and many more household deities), if “Zoog” is counted. According to Straczynski, Zoog was a minor household deity whose house got him counted on the formal list through blackmail, negotiations and every bit of leverage they could muster. The other Centauri consider this a vanity project and many of them don’t recognise Zoog, even if he is in the official count.

Sinclair and Sakai have known each other for between twelve and fifteen years, so met sometime between 2243 and 2246.

There is a hedge maze in the Garden in Babylon 5’s Green Sector.

Grid 001 by 5 by 9 is the location of the transfer station off Io. 1010105 is the Gold Channel communications frequency for Earthforce One.

There is only one jump gate in the Solar system. This is located in orbit around Io (for security, so there is a warning if an alien force comes out to attack Earth). There is also a transfer station – Station Io – in orbit, shuttling people from Io to Earth or Mars.
References: The assassination of President Santiago and the accession of President Clark was meant to be a nod to the assassination of President Kennedy and the accession of President Johnson in 1963. The swearing-in scene on Earthforce One was staged to resemble Johnson’s swearing-in on Air Force One, and by a bizarre coincidence was shot exactly thirty years later to the day.

Io is a real-life astronomical body, one of Jupiter’s four big moons (alongside Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, all of which have colonies or mining outposts on them in B5). It is the most volcanically active body in the Solar system and a potential source of mineral resources, explaining why Earth has colonised it.

“Expect me when you see me” is another nod to Lord of the Rings, said by Gandalf to Frodo when he is leaving the Shire.

Unanswered Questions: Did Lianna Kemmer die with Santiago on Earthforce One, as hinted at by episode A11? Straczynski suggested this was a possibility, or that she would be doing what she’d been doing in A11, clearing security on Io before the President’s arrival, and thus may have survived. He had plans to clarify this down the road but never got around to it.

Why does everyone think Earthforce One was destroyed in an accident if all of the communication frequencies were being jammed?

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: A senator gives Sinclair a direct order not to discuss Santiago’s ‘assassination’. However, as we learn in episode C9, a senator cannot give direct orders to military personnel as they are outside of the military hierarchy.

It seems a bit odd that the President and Vice-President of the Earth Alliance are travelling together on the same ship. In real life, the American President and Vice-President never go on such tours together, so in case something happens to one of them the other one can take over. Straczynski argued that this would be implausibly expensive if extended for space travel, and would be a waste of budget if an event required both the presence of the President and Vice-President.

On the episode’s original broadcast in the United States, the video uplink facility discovered some audio pops in the episode. Instead of fixing them digitally, they rebuilt the entire episode in the editing room. By mistake, they used raw footage (not post-processed) of Londo entering the hedge garden. As a result, most of the background is missing and replaced by the studio wall and a door. This was fixed for all subsequent releases of the episode, but the production team were furious at the mistake. There was also a similar mistake in a Downbelow composite shot, and the uplink team also added a “TO BE CONTINUED” legend at the end of the episode, which wasn’t supposed to be there.

Jupiter doesn’t look really spherical when we briefly see it. It looks like the CG anti-aliasing could have been a bit better.

Behind the Scenes: This episode was written and filmed twelfth in the running order, despite airing last. Straczynski wanted to get to it early (ish) to allow more time for the CGI effects. This means that Ed Wasser (Morden) had to film this episode before his character’s debut in A13 (filmed sixteenth).

Straczynski was disappointed on seeing Ed Wasser’s first scene filmed on-stage, as he felt that Wasser went for dark and menacing rather than light and charming. However, on seeing the completed scene Straczynski realised he was wrong and sent Wasser a message congratulating him on his performance.

According to Straczynski, his intention with this episode was to make the viewer feel that a “madman” had taken control of the wheel and was doing things that no other series would do, including having the heroes “lose” their struggles in the episode and ending on a series of downers.

This was the first of ten episodes of Babylon 5 that aired in the UK ahead of the United States. In this case, Warner Brothers decided to hold the episode back so it could lead into the second season the very next week, which irritated Straczynski as the whole point was to have a big cliffhanger that would get viewers talking for months until the show came back. Channel 4 made the decision to air the episode in the UK first because the show had done well for them in the ratings (which also inspired them to start showing Season 2 much earlier in the year than Season 1), and their contract with Warner Brothers allowed it.

Peter Jurasik loved the conflict Londo was put into. On the one hand, he has a sense of morality and finds the notion of killing ten thousand people – even Narns – horrific. But he is also blinded and fascinated by the fame and glory that his actions have unleashed.

During the original shooting of the scene where G’Kar and Na’Toth discuss the Narn attack and become emotional, director Janet Greek had to intervene because she felt they were getting too emotional and almost crying. She wanted the Narn stoicism to still be there, albeit cracked a little.

The scenes on Earthforce Two where President Clark is sworn in were shot thirty years to the day after Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Straczynski noted that this was not intended, and the atmosphere on set was “very strange” once someone brought it up.

In the Medlab scenes Jerry Doyle held his breath for a couple of minutes before shooting commenced, to make it sound more plausible that he was fighting to catch his breath when talking to Sinclair.

Straczynski noted that they were making this episode long before any renewal notice from Warner Brothers. He simply went for it, hoping that if the show was cancelled a mob of unruly fans would storm the studio offices. Fortunately, this proved unnecessary.

Due to reasons, we’ll explore in the next article, Michael O’Hare left the series between Seasons 1 and 2, so this marked his final on-screen, regular appearance as Sinclair (although he would return for guest shots in episodes B9 and C16-C17). His final filmed appearance was episode A16. This episode also marks the final appearance of Julia Nickson Soul as Catherine Sakai. With Sinclair gone, Straczynski decided it would take too much time to explore her character and story further, to the detriment of the rest of the arc. NOV9, however, does reveal her eventual fate.

During online discussions after PM aired and Tamlyn Tomita decided not to return for the series, Straczynski confirmed that Takashima would have been a traitor. Some fans assumed that this storyline had transferred to Ivanova, so Straczynski deliberately picked another character to betray Garibaldi.

This episode also marks the final on-screen appearance of Marianne Robertson as the Station One dome tech. Robertson chose to go travelling for a couple of years with her husband.

Familiar Faces: Again, a picture of B5 executive producer Douglas Netter is used to stand in for President Santiago.

Gary McGurk (President Clark) started his career in Hollywood in the early 1980s. He had a recurring role on soap opera The Young and the Restless and guest-starred on many shows before getting his recurring role on Babylon 5. After Babylon 5 he would go on to play Dwayne Hoover on Home Improvement.

Review: Outstanding. This episode brings together an enormous number of subplots, briefly-mentioned character moments and elements of backstory from the entire first season and the pilot and ties them together with a most satisfying “click”. B5’s usual problems at this point (so-so production values, some iffy supporting actors) are present and correct – Deveraux is a boring and unconvincing villain – but they can be happily overlooked for the pacing, the structural ingenuity and the fact that Straczynski and the rest of the team were clearly not kidding when they were said they were willing to really shake things up every once and a while. This is the ground shifting beneath everyone’s feet and setting up the (generally far superior) second season. ****½

Kosh: “And so it begins.”

G’Kar: “It wasn’t the humans. The Centauri don’t have the will. The Vorlons don’t care. The Minbari wouldn’t do it, and the other worlds aren’t powerful enough for a strike like this. There’s someone else out there, Na’Toth.”

Lennier: “She is changing.”
Sinclair: “Into what?”
Lennier: “I do not know.”

Morden (to the Shadows): “When the time is right, Ambassador Mollari will do exactly as we wish. Destiny is on our side.”

Sinclair: “Nothing’s the same any more.”

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Erik said...

This is my first comment, but I wanted you to know that I've been really enjoying this series! I'm watching along with the posts. (In the US, the show is available free on Verizon's just-started streaming service, Go 90.)

Anyway, these comment sections have been empty, but you've got at least one reader. :)


Adam Whitehead said...

Thanks! The hits for these articles have been quite high (much higher than for the Lost rewatch last year) and have generated discussion on Twitter and Westeros, so it seems to be working!