Season 2: The Coming of Shadows
“The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. A self-contained world five miles long, located in neutral territory. A place of commerce and diplomacy for a quarter of a million humans and aliens. A shining beacon in space, all alone in night.
“It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind, the year the Great War came upon us all.
“This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2259. The name of the place is Babylon 5.”
- Earthforce Captain John Sheridan
Captain John Sheridan Bruce Boxleitner
Commander Susan Ivanova Claudia Christian
Security Chief Michael Garibaldi Jerry Doyle
Ambassador Delenn Mira Furlan
Dr. Stephen Franklin Richard Biggs
Lt. Warren Keffer Robert Rusler
Talia Winters Andrea Thompson
Vir Cotto Stephen Furst
Lennier Bill Mumy
Na’Toth Mary Kay Adams
Ambassador G’Kar Andreas Katsulas
Ambassador Londo Mollari Peter Jurasik
Creator J. Michael Straczynski
Producer John Copeland
Executive Producers J. Michael Straczynski & Douglas Netter
Script Editor Lawrence G. DiTillio
Conceptual Consultant Harlan Ellison
Production Designer John Iacovelli
Constume Designer Anne Bruice-Aling
Visual Effects Designer Ron Thornton
Visual Effects Producers Foundation Imaging
Makeup Supervisor John Vulich
Makeup Producers Optic Nerve Studios
Music Composer Christopher Franke
Music Performers Christopher Franke & the Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra
A number of significant changes took place on Babylon 5 between the production of Season 1 and Season 2. The most notable was the change in lead actor: Michael O’Hare departed the show and was replaced by Bruce Boxleitner playing new character Captain John Sheridan. The change happened in such a way that O’Hare was unable to film a farewell scene, and J. Michael Straczynski had to explain the departure in the first issue of the Babylon 5 comic book instead
At the time, Straczynski said that Sinclair’s departure was a creative choice: with the mystery of the Battle of the Line to be resolved early in Season 2, Sinclair suddenly became a character to bounce exposition off and he had no actual stake in the new storylines that were becoming more important. Straczynski also indicated that O’Hare had the option to return to acting on stage in New York, which he missed. Straczynski claimed that he and O’Hare discussed the situation and, using a Lord of the Rings analogy, decided that Sinclair would leave the show like the Fellowship of the Ring splitting and then return later on to round off his storyline.
Some fans were sceptical of this choice, some believing that Warner Brothers wanted a better-known actor in the lead role and others claiming that the studio wanted O’Hare gone as they were unhappy with his performance. However, given that the first season had been a moderate success with O’Hare in the role, this seemed unlikely.
Many years later, after Michael O’Hare’s premature death from a heart attack in 2012, Straczynski agreed to reveal the truth. O’Hare had been suffering from mental health issues which gradually worsened over the course of the gruelling filming schedule for the first season. This manifested as paranoid delusions, with O’Hare convinced that people were out to get him or control him. Jerry Doyle, who played Garibaldi, confirmed this on his radio talk show and by the end of the season had effectively decided he couldn’t work with him anymore. Before that point, O’Hare confessed the severity of his condition to Straczynski and they agreed that O’Hare should leave the show for his own good. Straczynski did offer to delay production by a few months so O’Hare could seek treatment, but O’Hare did not want to endanger production or other people’s jobs. After leaving the show, O’Hare did manage to get the worst excesses of his condition under control and he returned for episodes B9 and C16-C17. Straczynski offered to keep the secret until his death but O’Hare suggested he keep it only until his death, as he felt that fans deserved to (eventually) know the truth and it might help people facing the same problem. Straczynski eventually revealed the truth at the Phoenix Comic-Con in 2013.
The change in actor resulted in some shuffling of the planned storylines for the opening episodes. Straczynski worked on creating a new lead character, someone who could have a direct tie to the unfolding storyline. This also involved shuffling events around in the opening few episodes. The planned opener, Chrysalis, Part 2 (although this was only ever a working title), was dropped back to second place and a new introductory episode was penned for the new character. This also allowed JMS to have a pause between two very intense, complex episodes (A22 and B2) to allow the viewers to catch their breath (especially since in the US the show moved straight into Season 2 after Chrysalis was aired for the first time). A number of actors were considered for the role of Captain John Sheridan, including relatively big names like James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars, a bomber crewman in Dr. Strangelove and Jack Ryan’s boss in Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games) and John Rhys-Davies (Professor Arturo in Sliders, Salla in the first three Indiana Jones films and Gimli in the Lord of the Rings films), but it ultimately went to Bruce Boxleitner, best known for his leading role in Scarecrow & Mrs. King and the title role in the film Tron.
The other major cast change was that, between seasons, Julie Caitlin Brown (who played Na’Toth) decided to leave to pursue the chance to appear in films and also because she was developing severe allergies to the make-up used. Straczynski elected to recast Na’Toth and Mary Kay Adams (best known for playing the Klingon Grilka in two episodes of Deep Space Nine) was introduced to take over the role. Adams and Straczynski clashed over her “soft” interpretation of Na’Toth and she left the series after just two episodes. Straczynski later managed to convince Julie Catilin Brown to reprise the role for a single episode in Season 5.
A new regular cast member was also introduced, Robert Rusler as Lt. Warren Keffer. JMS needed someone to tie into the ongoing storyline in Season 2 as well as satisfy Warner Brothers’ complaints about the station commander always leading fighter missions in Season 1 when that just wouldn’t happen in real life. Straczynski resented this note and always planned to kill Keffer off as soon as possible.
Ex-Taxi and Grease star Jeff Conaway (Kenickie!) had become a major fan of the series during Season 1 and instructed his agent to get him onto the show by any means necessary. He landed the role of recurring security officer Zack Allan in episode B6 and remained with the series until the end.
JMS originally planned to have Ivanova narrate the Season 2 opening titles. The change in lead actor necessitated having Sheridan do it instead. Bruce Boxleitner re-recorded the narration from episode B4 onwards to make it stronger (and also because the title sequence was complete by that point, making the synchronisation of narration and visuals easier). A new version of the theme tune was also arranged by Christopher Franke. He ‘tweaked’ the music slightly from episode B4 onwards. The Season 2 opening credits were also altered from episode B3 onwards to show the new-look Delenn.
The Season 2 title sequence features a “5” logo appearing behind each character before warping the next character over the top. This was a very complicated effect to pull off in 1994 and was extremely time-consuming for the editors and the effects team, so Seasons 3-5 feature somewhat more straightforward title cards.
Episodes planned but not made for this season included The Customer is Always Right and Unnatural Selection (aka All Our Songs Forgotten) by D.C. Fontana, Expectations by David Gerrold and The Very Long Night of Susan Ivanova by Straczynski (he later repurposed the plot – but not the storyline – for Londo in Season 5). Additional attempts to bring Harlan Ellison’s Demon on the Run to the screen also failed.
Between seasons Foundation Imaging upgraded their computers again, resulting in more and more ambitious CGI. During Season 1 they were using a mixture of Commodore Amigas equipped with Video Toaster cards and PCs, but during Season 2 switched over to high-end PCs running early-generation graphic cards. This resulted in improved visual quality and somewhat faster turn-around times for shots.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP
DC1: In Darkness, Find Me
Publication Date: October 1995
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Artwork by Michael Netzer (pencils), Rob Leigh (inks) & Robbie Busch (colours)
Date: The Earthdome scenes take place on 6 and 7 January 2259. The rest of the issue takes place a few days later, probably shortly after the events of episode B1.
Plot: Commander Jeffrey Sinclair experiences another flashback to the Battle of the Line at the end of the Earth-Minbari War. However, his memories are ironic, as he is now standing in an observation room on a Minbari warcruiser travelling through deep space. An acolyte approaches and tells him that the Grey Council will receive him in a few minutes.
Sinclair flashes back to a couple of days earlier. He had been recalled to Earthdome from Babylon 5 with no notice and no-one would tell him what was going on. Eventually he had a meeting with President Clark and Rathenn, a member of the Minbari Grey Council.
Rathenn produced a Triluminary and used it on Sinclair. This restored his full memories of his capture by the Minbari during the Battle of the Line. After being scanned by the Triluminary, it was confirmed that Sinclair had a Minbari soul. Rathenn confirms that Minbari souls have been disappearing from their species for millennia, and at the Battle of the Line they confirmed these souls were going to the humans. The Minbari halted the war rather than continue killing their own souls. Sinclair’s memory was blanked and he was released…with the full knowledge of the Earth Alliance President.
Later, Clark asks Sinclair to take up the role of Earth Alliance Ambassador to Minbar, at the request of the Grey Council and religious caste. Clark doesn’t believe in the soul story, but it’s important that the Minbari believe it, and continue believing it. Clark tells Sinclair he’ll be kept informed on Garibaldi’s condition. Clark is also concerned about rising tensions between the Minbari religious and warrior castes and asks Sinclair to help bridge that gap, if he can.
With little choice, Sinclair agrees. As the warcruiser carries on towards the Minbari homeworld, however, a member of the warrior caste watches Sinclair walk past and angrily decries the reasons for the surrender as “lies”.
Dating the Comic: A title card gives the date at the start of the comic.
The Arc: This comic confirms that there is more than one Triluminary, since Rathenn also carries it despite Delenn having taken possession of another in episode A20. Straczynski confirmed behind the scenes that there are three Triluminaries and they were not created by the Minbari.
The Minbari surrendered at the Battle of the Line because they believed that Minbari souls were being reborn (in full or in part) in human bodies and they needed to halt the war to stop killing their own brothers and sisters. Knowing that neither humans nor many of the Minbari would accept this, the Grey Council kept the reason for the decision secret. Episodes B1 and B11 follow up on this.
The Earth Alliance President was told why the Minbari surrendered. This knowledge was passed down to her successors, Santiago and now Clark (who was informed by the Minbari on assuming office). Clark doesn’t believe the story but does know that the Minbari believe it, and that was all that saved humanity from extinction.
Sinclair’s appointment to Minbar as ambassador is the result of pressure from the Grey Council and the religious caste. The warrior caste are not happy about it. Clark suggests that Sinclair may be able to bridge the gap, possibly a reference to Sinclair’s handling of Neroon in episode A17. The tensions between the religious and warrior castes play a larger role in B11 and Season 4.
Background: No Minbari has killed another for “thousands of years”. It is the ultimate taboo in their society.
Earth Alliance Spaceport 022 in located in the Eastern European Sector, Geneva. It services flights to and from Earthdome.
References: Sinclair breaks out his go-to poem, Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, when he decides to impress the Minbari with some dope literature.
Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: When he appears “in the flesh” in episode C16, Rathenn appears to be an acolyte of the Minbari religious caste rather than a member of the Grey Council. Book NOV9 does re-confirm that he is indeed a member of the Grey Council at this time, however.
The Minbari “soul shortage” is said to have begun six thousand years ago in this comic. Episode B1 says two thousand. The correct figure is eventually revealed as one thousand, according to episode C17. However, this is itself a retcon, as the “vanishing Minbari souls” storyline was heavily amended in the War Without End two-parter to reflect Straczynski reconceptualising Sinclair’s entire storyline.
It’s a bit odd that Geneva’s spaceport is listed as being in Eastern Europe when Geneva is pretty far west.
Earthdome looks nothing like it does in episodes C1 and D21.
Apparently, Sinclair overheard the Minbari discussing his fate and his Minbari soul, necessitating his memory wipe. Presumably they would have been speaking Minbari and he would not have been able to understand them.
Behind the Scenes: DC Comics expressed an interest in releasing a Babylon 5 comic during the making of the first season and, as a keen comic fan himself, Straczynski agreed to kick off the series. The comic only lasted a year before concluding due to creative differences.
Straczynski had already written comics, including issues of Teen Titans and Star Trek. He later become a very prolific and respected comics author himself, heavily lauded for his 2001-07 run on The Amazing Spider-Man (followed by shorter runs on Thor and Fantastic Four).
Due to the publication dates of the comic and its international distribution, British fans learned the “secret of the Battle of the Line” from this comic rather than the TV show, since Season 2 did not start airing until February 1995, four months after US transmission.
Familiar Faces: This episode marks the first appearance of Minbari religious caste member and Grey Council representative Rathenn, who’d previously been mentioned by Delenn and Draal in episode A18. He finally shows up in the flesh in episode C16. President Clark also shows up.
Review: As comics go, this is not great. Heavily immersed in the mythology of the show, this is a useful (and kind of cool) side-story for TV fans and not of much use for getting DC Comics readers to watch the series. Still, it’s good to see Sinclair learn the truth about his missing memories. ***
B1: Points of Departure
Working Title: Chrysalis, Part 2
Airdates: 2 November 1994 (US), 7 February 1995 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Janet Greek
Cast: Shai Alyt Kalain (Richard Grove), Satai Hedronn (Robin Sachs), General William Hague (Robert Foxworth), Alyt Deeron (Jennifer Anglin), Shai Alyt Vastor (Michael McKenzie), Ambassador 1 (Jonathan Chapman), Ambassador 2 (Mark Hendrickson), Ambassador 3 (Kristopher Logan), Merchant 1 (Rus Fega), Merchant 2 (Bennet Guillory), Young Woman (Catherine Hader), Pilot (Brian Starcher), Agamemnon Crewmember (Kim Strauss), Security Guard 1 (Greg Wrangler), Security Guard 2 (Thomas Valinote), Station One (Joshua Cox), Station Two (Debra Sharkey), Station Three (Kim Delgado)
Date: 8 January 2259.
Plot: The EAS Agamemnon responds to a distress call from a cargo ship under attack by pirates. After driving off the attackers the Agamemnon leaps to hyperspace. Her captain, John Sheridan, receives a priority transmission from General William Hague, one of the Earthforce Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hague informs Sheridan that a Minbari warcruiser has been seen in Sector 423/27, less than two jumps from Babylon 5. The warcruiser has not been authorised to enter this sector and it is believed the ship may be the Trigati. Sheridan is slightly surprised, but agrees to rendezvous with the second warcruiser the Minbari government has despatched to reign in the rogue vessel. Hague tells him that there is another important assignment waiting for him...
On Babylon 5 the station is in a state of controlled chaos. Commander Sinclair has been recalled to Earth for reasons unknown, leaving Ivanova to cope with the multiple crises going on. Security Chief Garibaldi remains in a coma, Ambassador G’Kar has vanished without a trace and Ambassador Delenn appears to be in some sort of cocoon. The crew are still stunned by President Santiago’s death, whilst the Narn populace is still angered and worried about the loss of their outpost in Quadrant 37. General Hague contacts B5 and informs Ivanova that Sinclair will not be returning to Babylon 5. He has been reassigned at the personal order of President Clark and will now be based on the Minbari homeworld as the first Earth ambassador given permanent residence there. Ivanova is shocked, even more so when he tells her that Captain Sheridan will be the new CO of the station, despite protests from the Minbari government. Ivanova makes preparations for his arrival.
A Minbari warrior named Kalain arrives on the station and immediately heads for the ambassadorial wing in Green Sector. Hedronn, a member of the Minbari Grey Council, confronts Lennier in his quarters and tells him that Delenn has broken her word to the Council by proceeding with the prophecy despite their warnings (given in episode A20). He tells Lennier that, should the Trigati appear in this sector, he must tell the humans what the Council has told him. A repeat of past mistakes cannot be allowed. Hedronn then almost literally bumps into Kalain in a corridor. Kalain tells him that the Grey Council has betrayed Minbar by allowing Sinclair onto their world and letting the Starkiller take command of Babylon 5. Kalain warns him he will do now what must be done.
Sheridan arrives and Ivanova gives him a brief tour of the station, as well as bringing him up to date on recent events. Ivanova admits her surprise that Sheridan was the one to replace Sinclair: during the Earth-Minbari War Sheridan destroyed the Minbari warrior caste’s flagship, the Black Star, by luring it into range of two nuclear bombs in the Solar system’s asteroid belt. It was the biggest human victory of the whole war, but the Minbari believe it was cowardly and dishonourable. Hedronn informs Sheridan of Kalain’s presence, telling him that Kalain is the captain of the Trigati. He also warns Sheridan that the Minbari will not tolerate his presence on Babylon 5 as easily as they did Sinclair’s. Sheridan tells Ivanova that the Trigati was a Minbari warcruiser whose captain committed suicide at the Battle of the Line rather than surrender to the humans. Her crew went into self-imposed exile rather than dishonourably surrender as well. Kalain is arrested after breaking into Delenn’s quarters and threatening Lennier and is thrown into the brig, but refuses to tell Sheridan where his ship is. Sheridan is puzzled, since for a thousand years no Minbari has ever killed another Minbari. Why should Kalain betray not only law but also custom and tradition as well?
Lennier arranges an audience with Sheridan and Ivanova and informs them that he has been authorised to speak for the Grey Council and tell them why the Minbari surrendered at the Line. This is necessary because if the Trigati appears they cannot be permitted to destroy it. Lennier explains that during the Battle of the Line the Grey Council decided to take a human prisoner on board and study him to learn more about Earth’s defences. The human they chose was Sinclair. They interrogated him and scanned him. During the scanning, something terrible was discovered: Sinclair had a Minbari soul. The Minbari, shocked, captured and scanned other pilots, but it was true. Minbari souls were, and still are, being reborn, in part or in whole in human bodies. This has been happening for more than one thousand years, with the Minbari race diminishing. At the Line the Council learned why. They stopped the war to avoid killing their own souls. Knowing that neither the humans or Minbari were ready for this information, it was kept top secret. Sinclair’s memory of the event was erased and they let him go. Because Sinclair was their first direct contact with humanity, they kept him under close observation to see if he would remember the truth. Lennier tells Sheridan and Ivanova that the secret must be kept: high-ranking members of the Earth Alliance have been informed of the truth because changes are coming and the Minbari and humans may have to work together at some point in the future.
The Trigati emerges through the Babylon 5 jump gate and launches its fighters. Babylon 5’s fighters launch to defend the station. Alyt Deeron demands the return of Shai Alyt Kalain, but Kalain is dead, having killed himself in the brig. Deeron’s forces advance on Babylon 5, but Sheridan is puzzled that their sensors can detect the Minbari ships. During the war, the Minbari employed stealth systems to hide their vessels from targeting computers, yet they aren’t bothering to use them now. He orders the Starfuries to hold their position and not fire and then sends a transmission through the jump gate. The Minbari fighters advance on the Starfuries, but also refuse to fire first and return to the Trigati. Sheridan realises that the Minbari wanted Babylon 5 to make the first move so they could die with honour. The Trigati begins to retreat, but a second warcruiser jumps in and orders the Trigati to stand down. When the Trigati refuses, the second ship slices off the Trigati’s hyperspace engines with a particle beam, preventing the ship from escaping. The crew of the Trigati destroy themselves and their ship rather than surrender. The Minbari captain, Shai Alyt Vastor, is unhappy with what he has had to do here today and warns Sheridan that his part in this will be remembered. The second warcruiser leaves. Later, in Delenn’s quarters, Lennier expresses regret at not being able to tell the Earthers everything. After he leaves the chrysalis begins to crack...
Dating the Episode: A title card at the start of the episode confirms the date.
The Arc: We finally learn in this episode the main reason the Minbari surrendered at the Battle of the Line, a plot point raised in PM and A2 before being addressed in A8, A13, A17, A20 and A22. The Minbari believe that the diminishment of their species (in terms of population numbers) over the past thousand years (Lennier says two thousand but Straczynski admitted that this is a mistake and it should be 1,000) has been due to their souls being reborn as humans. Because Minbari do not kill Minbari they stopped the war against Earth to not kill the other half of their spirits. Lennier later admits this is not the whole truth. We find out additional information about this event in episodes C17 and TVM1. The prophecy mentioned by Delenn in A20 is again referenced, but this time we learn that the same prophecy also foretells that Minbari and humans will fight side-by-side against the great “darkness” that is coming. We see more of this in episodes B2, B9, B20 and C1.
General Hague returns in episode B11 when we learn additional reasons why he assigned Sheridan to Babylon 5.
The Trigati was originally commanded by Sinoval, the Minbari captain who killed himself rather than surrender at the Battle of the Line. This was referenced in episode A17. There are hints that the Minbari assassin seen in episode PM may have also been affiliated to the Trigati crew.
Kalain’s disillusionment with the Grey Council is a symptom of a greater problem among the Minbari castes, addressed again in episodes B11, C10, D11, D13 and D14.
Hedronn returns in episodes B11 and (oddly, under a different name) TVM1.
Sheridan’s destruction of the Black Star comes back to haunt him in episode B14. We actually see this event in TVM1.
We learn in episode B15 that the Agamemnon is an Omega-class destroyer, one of a new breed of ships built after the Earth-Minbari War. The Omega-class has a rotating section to allow the crew to move about as if in a gravity environment.
Background: Sheridan has spent two years on the Galactic Rim exploring new systems and patrolling the frontier. During that time, he had contact with the Narn, Centauri and representatives of the League of Non-aligned Worlds, as well as a few Minbari. He hasn’t had a fresh orange since leaving on that assignment. Ivanova served under Sheridan at the Io colony. We first learned that Ivanova worked on Io in episode A7.
Sheridan’s father was a diplomatic envoy and took him to see the Dalai Lama when he was 21, roughly twenty years before the events of this episode.
As of circa 2239, the Dalai Lama once again resides in Tibet.
Babylon 5 utilises XV-7 tracking units to scan local space.
The B5 jump gate is located directly “in front” of the docking sphere, so a laser transmission from the main coms tower can be sent straight into hyperspace.
According to Straczynski, the Minbari were embarrassed by the Black Star incident as they got cocky and overconfident and paid the price. Sheridan was, of course, only fighting as a soldier should, but his destruction of the Black Star made him well-known among the Minbari, just about the only human whose name they knew, so a lot of their anger and resentment for the death of Dukhat and the entire war ended up being levelled at him.
This episode marks the first appearance of Earhart’s, the Earthforce Officer’s Club on Babylon 5. According to Straczynski, only swing or big band music is permitted there.
According to Straczynski, General Hague’s medals were awarded for service in both the Earth-Minbari and Dilgar wars.
Sector 423 by 27 is two jumps from Babylon 5.
All visitors to Babylon 5 are given Earth Alliance identicards to facilitate their use of station services.
The large “fin” at the rear of the Minbari warcruiser is part of its jump drive.
References: The Agamemnon is named after a great leader of the Trojan War, the King of Mycenae and the military commander of the Greek forces during the Siege of Troy. Agamemnon survived the war but was killed by his wife Clytemnestra. He is often portrayed as a manipulative politician and dishonourable leader, often at odds with the great hero Achilles.
Sheridan quotes from Abraham Lincoln’s December 1862 speech to the US Congress: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. We cannot escape history. We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honour or dishonour, to the last generation. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, our last, best hope of earth.”
The Earharts bar is, of course, named after 20th Century aviator Amelia Earhart.
Captain Sheridan is a direct descendant of General Philip John Sheridan of the Union Army, who fought during the American Civil War.
The Agamemnon was heavily inspired by the starship Alexei Leonov from the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact (based on Arthur C. Clarke’s novel 2010: Odyssey Two). The most notable inspiration is the rotating drums, which are identical in design on both ships.
Unanswered Questions: What did the Trigati crew hope to accomplish? And why did they reject the authority of the Grey Council? If they consider the Council’s order to be dishonourable, why do they then feel dishonoured themselves?
Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: Babylon 5 is still using XV-7 tracking units, the same kind as used in the war twelve years earlier. You would assume that Earthforce would have updated their tracking units in that time, especially given their attempts to break Minbari stealth technology.
Sheridan suggests that the Trigati targeted Babylon 5 because he was there. However, at the start of the episode General Hague reports that the Trigati has been spotted near B5 when Sheridan is still in command of the Agamemnon.
When B5 sends its laser transmission through the jump gate, the gate is directly “in front” of the station and pointing towards it. However, multiple episodes show ships coming through the gate and travelling towards the station from the right (with the station usually shown in quarter or half profile from the left). Other episodes (most notably TVM2) do show that the jump gate can move, but there is no indication in this episode of this being done.
Behind the Scenes: The cast and crew – most notably director Janet Greek – worked hard to integrate Bruce Boxleitner onto the team. Boxleitner worked extremely hard to learn his lines and learn about his character and the show, and his professionalism impressed his costars considerably.
Jerry Doyle often joked that this was his favourite episode of Babylon 5, as he showed up, laid on a table and had no lines but picked up full salary.
Straczynski was aware that giving the explanation of the Battle of the Line to Sheridan and Ivanova (neither of whom had been involved in that story thread) through a lengthy infodump from Lennier was not an optimal solutions. His original plan was for Delenn to tell Sinclair after she emerged from the chrysalis, but events required him to move faster. He did decide to feature more flashbacks to the battle to make the exposition easier to sell.
The original broadcast version of this episode features an impressive visual effect on the Minbari warcruiser when the ceiling shimmers down and unfolds into the 3D holographic display surrounding the Grey Council. However, the DVD version (which crops the CGI for widescreen) almost completely cuts the effect off as the camera zooms in under the shimmering, dramatically reducing the impact of the effect.
Bill Mumy was acquainted with Bruce Boxleitner’s then-wife, Melissa Gilbert, and as a fellow veteran of TV decided to act as an unofficial liaison with Boxleitner, showing him around and introducing him to the rest of the cast and crew.
Ivanova’s line about paying off karma at a vastly accelerate rate was a saying from Straczynski’s then-wife, Kathryn Drennan.
Straczynski hated the BabCom logo, so had it reworked for Season 2.
Familiar Faces: Bruce Boxleitner (Sheridan) is best-known for his role as the title character in the film Tron and its 2011 sequel Tron: Legacy, as well as the TV series How the West Was Won and Scarecrow and Mrs. King.
Robin Sachs (Hedronn) has numerous genre credits in both British and American TV shows, movies and stage plays, as well as a late career resurgence as a voice-over artist in both video games and animation. He is arguably best-known for playing the recurring role of Ethan Rayne on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and voicing space mercenary Zaeed Massani in the Mass Effect video game series, as well as playing Sergeant Roderick on SpongeBob SquarePants. Sachs passed away from a heart attack in 2013; several hundred Mass Effect players staged a multiplayer gathering as a tribute to him.
Robert Foxworth (General Hague) is a well-known American character actor on stage and screen. He made his first screen appearance in 1970 in The Storefront Lawyers. He made frequent guest appearances on American TV from the 1970s onwards. His other genre credits include Star Trek (playing Admiral Leyton in two episodes of Deep Space Nine and a Vulcan politician on Enterprise) and Transformers; he has voiced the character of Ratchet since the 2007 Michael Bay movie. Foxworth was actually auditioned for the role of Sheridan, and Straczynski liked him so much he wrote the part of Hague for him.
Review: This episode could have been a bit of a mess, since it has to introduce a major new regular character right in the middle of the chaos that A22 left the story in. However, it ends up working really well. The pause in the chaos before the next episode picks up those story threads gives Straczynski a chance to give Sheridan a really good introduction, resolves the mystery of the Battle of the Line (maybe a little more clunkily than we’d like, but it serves) and gets the second season set up really well. Also, with maximum respect to Michael O’Hare, Bruce Boxleitner brings a lighter edge to him, more of a sense of command and charisma that immediately lightens the show up a lot. The result is a winning episode that sets up the second season nicely. ****
Ivanova: “I’ll say a prayer for him.”
Franklin: “He’s agnostic.”
Ivanova: “Then I’ll say half a prayer.”
Sheridan: “It’s amazing what two years on the rim can do to you.” (indeed)
Sheridan: “Interesting place you have here.”
Hedronn (to Sheridan): “If there is a doom on this station, it is because you brought it here!”
Lennier (to Kalain): “If you are going to kill me, then do so. Otherwise I have considerable work to do.”
Lennier: “I wish I could have told them the rest, about the great enemy that is returning, and the prophecy that the two sides our spirit must unite against the darkness or be destroyed.”
Airdates: 9 November 1994 (US), 14 February 1995 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Jim Johnston
Cast: Elizabeth Sheridan (Beverly Leech), Anna Sheridan (Beth Toussaint), Morden (Ed Wasser), President Morgan W. Clark (Gary McGurk), Security Aide Jack (Macaulay Bruton), Sergeant Lou Welch (David L. Crowley), Narn Captain (Mark Hendrickson), Medtech (James Kiriyama-Lem), Narn Navigator (Michael McKenzie), Deveraux (Edward Conery), Guard (Warren Tabata)
Date: Approximately 22 January 2259.
Plot: A meeting of the Babylon 5 Advisory Council is disrupted - again - by the continued absence of Ambassadors G’Kar and Delenn. A frustrated Londo demands that both governments be reprimanded, but neither Sheridan, Lennier, Na’Toth or Kosh second the motion. Londo demands to know where G’Kar is, but all Na’Toth will tell him is that the ambassador is investigating the destruction of the Narn base in Quadrant 37 (A22).
Far out on the Galactic Rim, G’Kar is leading a four-ship patrol on an investigation of a remote, barren world. They come under fire from unknown alien fighter craft. The last Narn fighter sacrifices himself so G’Kar can escape and bring warning of what they have discovered to Babylon 5.
Sheridan’s sister, Elizabeth, arrives on board to see her brother for the first time in two years. They catch up on old times, but Sheridan finds it hard to talk about his late wife, Anna, who died on a science mission shortly before the Agamemnon left for the Galactic Rim.
Dr. Franklin requests permission from Sheridan to use the alien healing device he recovered a couple of months ago (A21) to heal Garibaldi, who is still in his coma. Sheridan agrees, but only if he and Franklin both donate parts of their life-force to the security chief. Garibaldi comes around and is shocked by news of Sinclair’s replacement and Santiago’s death. He cannot remember who shot him since he was gunned down from behind.
Mr. Morden arrives back on Babylon 5 and meets with Londo. He tells him that according to his sources, as he expected, Londo’s name is now being mentioned at the highest levels of the Centauri government after he took credit for resolving the Quadrant 37 situation. He is sure Londo will receive some interesting offers soon. He tells Londo that his associates want Londo to do a minor favour for them, in return for their assistance: they want to know if any news relating to events on the Galactic Rim comes up at the Council. In return, they offer to provide another “demonstration” of their power against any target Londo would care to nominate. Londo agrees to keep his ear to the ground.
Garibaldi asks for help from Talia Winters in recalling when he was shot. She agrees to scan his mind to see if there are any details he forgot and Garibaldi suddenly remembers that there was a mirror at the end of the hall. Looking into the mirror in his mind, Talia and Garibaldi both see his aide, Jack, firing a PPG. Security arrests Jack and Garibaldi questions him. Jack refuses to tell him who he was working for, but does claim it had nothing to do with Homeguard. Before Garibaldi leaves Jack gives him the Psi Corps salute. Garibaldi talks to Ivanova and Franklin, recalling the scandal last year when Psi Corps illegally told their members to vote for Morgan Clark as Vice-President. He wonders if Psi Corps had anything to do with Santiago’s murder. President Clark contacts Sheridan and orders him to send Jack back to Earth for a full investigation. Sheridan reluctantly complies.
G’Kar returns to Babylon 5 and talks with Na’Toth. Following the attack on Quadrant 37 G’Kar concluded that only a major power could have mounted such a strike, but none of the four other races had a reason to do it and the lesser ones were not powerful enough. He concluded that some other force was out there and began consulting Narn history texts. According to The Book of G’Quan, a revered Narn prophet, a great darkness engulfed the skies of Narn more than a thousand years ago, a darkness which originated on the Galactic Rim, from a desolate and barren world known as Z’ha’dum. G’Kar took a flight of fighters to investigate the supposedly dead planet, but instead came under attack from the unknown alien fighters. He brings his evidence to the Advisory Council and tells them that to investigate his claims the Narn government has despatched a heavy cruiser to Z’ha’dum. Londo alerts Morden, who thanks him for his cooperation. When the Narn warship reaches Z’ha’dum a Shadow warship is waiting for it and blows the Narn ship apart. The Narn government dismisses the loss as an accident and claims it will not be able to send another investigative ship for some time. Lennier then announces that Ambassador Delenn is ready to return to her role on the Council. Delenn enters, now looking much more human and even possessing hair. She claims that this transformation and the granting of permission for Sinclair to live on Minbar is part of an attempt to bring humans and Minbari closer together. Sheridan, for once, is speechless.
Elizabeth returns to Earth, but leaves Sheridan a message Anna sent to her just before they went their separate ways. In it Anna says how grateful she is Dr. Chang gave her a place on the Icarus mission and how much she loves her husband. Sheridan is finally able to say goodbye to her. Ivanova then gives him some disturbing news: Jack has vanished. The transport carrying him back to Earth was intercepted by a vessel bearing Earthforce identifications and the correct transfer orders, but the ship is not on the Earthforce register. The only piece of evidence they had that Santiago was assassinated has now vanished without a trace.
Dating the Episode: In dialogue, Sheridan says he’s been on board Babylon 5 for about two weeks.
The Arc: Pretty much a sequel to A22, with all the major plots of that episode being carried forth. Garibaldi awakens from his coma and, with help from Talia, identifies Jack as his assailant. Jack seems to hint that Psi Corps was involved in Santiago’s death but refuses to elaborate any further. We learn more about this plot strand in episodes B11, B13, B17, C5 and C8-C10.
Morden tells Londo that his influence on Centauri Prime is now rising and he should receive some interesting offers soon. This is followed up on in episode B3. Morden next appears in episode B17 (although he is mentioned and is apparently present offscreen in episodes B9 and B20).
The Narn history texts go back more than a thousand years. It is insinuated that, although they are the youngest of the major spacefaring races (according to G’Kar in PM), they have actually had knowledge of interstellar travel and other worlds for more than a millennium. G’Quan, the Narn prophet who mentioned the “great darkness”, is the holy figure G’Kar reveres, as previously revealed in episode A5. We learn more about the darkness in B17 and the involvement of the Narn with it a millennium ago in C1 and C14.
The real reason why Delenn undertakes her transformation, aside from it being prophesised, is not fully 100% explained until episode C17.
This is the one and only time that President Clark directly talks to any of the series regulars. He appears again in episodes C5 and D20 and is probably the most mentioned-but-doesn’t-actually-appear character in the whole series.
Garibaldi refers to a scandal last year about Psi Corps recommending its members vote for Clark as Vice-President. We saw an article on this in the paper that Garibaldi was reading in episode A8.
Sheridan’s wife died on an archaeological mission more than two years ago. We learn more about this in episodes B17 and C22 and actually see it in NOV7.
The alien healing device, obviously, is the one Franklin inherited from Laura Rosen in episode A21.
Background: The jump gate at Z’ha’dum is different to the standard design seen elsewhere in the series, using three pylons instead of four. Episode B9 suggests that this gate is actually of Narn design, but G’Kar indicates that before he investigated the planet no-one had gone to Z’ha’dum in centuries, certainly not since the Narn were invaded by the Centauri. Episode D7 suggests it may have been built by allies of the Shadows instead.
This episode marks the first appearance of the Shadow fighters. It also shows, for the first time, that “conventional” weapons can hurt the Shadows when a Narn fighter rams and destroys one of the Shadow ships.
This episode also features the first appearance of the Narn G'Quan-class heavy cruiser, which replaces the T'Loth-class assault cruiser from Season 1 (specifically A1 and A22), a design that Ron Thornton hated.
A hazmat (hazardous materials) team is operating at the start of the episode. According to Straczynski, they are clearing up the wreckage of the Trigati from the previous episode.
This episode features the first shots from inside hyperspace, showing it to be a red-and-black realm of confusing visual distortions.
Earthforce military vessels are permitted to use the space dock facilities at Centauri Prime, presumably due to the close relations between the Earth Alliance and Centauri Republic.
According to Straczynski, Delenn’s new head structure has introduced gap between the bone and the rest of her skull, so her hair can go through it or over it according to her preference.
References: Z’ha’dum is a very clear and obvious reference to The Lord of the Rings, where the dwarven mines of Moria are also known as Khazad-dûm.
At the end of the episode G’Kar reads from the poem The Second Coming by Yeats. This is a popular go-to poem in SFF, and is quoted extensively in Stephen King’s novel (and TV adaptation) The Stand.
Anna Sheridan’s ship was called Icarus, after the Greek legend of the man who created his own wings out of wood and glue, but flew too close to the sun and paid the price for his hubris. There is an analogy here.
G’Kar says he has looked into the abyss and will never be the same, a nod to the writings of Friedric Nietzsche.
Unanswered Questions: Why do the Narn write off the destruction of one of their best ships so easily?
Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: Unavoidable, but of course when Anna Sheridan appears in later flashback scenes she is played by a different actress to Beth Toussaint, creating a slight mismatch in this material.
No mirror is in evidence in the corridor in episode A22 when Garibaldi is shot, so it’s a bit convenient one appears here.
Behind the Scenes: When he slammed the cane down on the table in the interrogation scene, Jerry Doyle inadvertently hit himself in the groin with the metal cane. The pain Garibaldi shows in the rest of the scene is therefore genuine.
Peter Jurasik was unhappy with his performance in this episode, feeling that it took him longer to get back into the character than it should have done.
Andreas Katsulas had no real interest in poetry, but he did enjoy reading the poem at the end of the episode, showing as it did both another side to G’Kar and also his growing interest in humans.
Bruce Boxleitner felt it a little difficult to get into Sheridan’s emotional backstory so quickly, but was helped out by his co-stars and director Jim Johnston, who found him very professional and easy to work with.
The bridge of the Narn cruiser is a CG set.
Familiar Faces: Beth Toussaint plays Anna Sheridan in this episode, in the video message Sheridan watches. She has numerous American TV credits, but is arguably best-known for playing Tasha Yar’s sister on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Review: A pretty good follow-up to A22, although arguably it resolves a lot of things a bit too neatly (Jack being unmasked and arrested so quickly is a bit convenient). The episode is also odd in that it doesn't make it clear that Delenn is now a half-human/half-Minbari hybrid, and also feature's Sheridan's amazing disappearing sister (which given his later heavy family storylines about his dad is a bit strange). However, the rising Shadow/Londo storyline is still effective and some of the visual effects are still extremely impressive. There's a feeling of rising doom in this episode which is effectively unnerving. ***½
Londo: “Why don’t you eliminate the entire Narn homeworld while you’re at it?”
Morden: “One thing at a time, Ambassador. One thing at a time.”
G’Kar: “Weep for the future, Na’Toth. Weep for us all.”
Garibaldi (upon waking up from a coma he’s been in for three weeks): “What’s up, doc?”
G’Kar: “I’m too late. Everything is too late.”
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