Wednesday, 3 January 2018

BABYLON 5 Rewatch: Season 4, Episodes 1-2

Season 4: No Surrender, No Retreat

“It was the year of fire, the year of destruction, the year we took back what was ours. It was the year of rebirth, the year of great sadness, the year of pain and a year of joy. It was a new age, it was the end of history, it was the year everything changed.
“The year is 2261. The place: Babylon 5.”
 -  Minbari Aide Lennier, Security Aide Zack Allan, Citizen G’Kar, Telepath Lyta Alexander, Centauri Aide Vir Cotto, Ranger Marcus Cole,
     Minbari Ambassador Delenn, Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari, Dr. Stephen Franklin, Commander Susan Ivanova, Security Chief Michael Garibaldi, Captain John Sheridan

Regular Cast
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
Marcus Cole                                                    Jason Carter
Security Aide Zack Allan                               Jeff Conaway
Lyta Alexander                                               Patricia Tallman
Vir Cotto                                                         Stephen Furst
Lennier                                                            Bill Mumy
G’Kar                                                              Andreas Katsulas
Ambassador Londo Mollari                            Peter Jurasik

Creator                                                            J. Michael Straczynski
Producer                                                          John Copeland
Executive Producers                                       J. Michael Straczynski & Douglas Netter
Conceptual Consultant                                   Harlan Ellison
Production Designer                                       John Iacovelli
Costume Designer                                          Anne Bruice-Aling
Visual Effects Producers                                Netter Digital
Makeup Supervisor                                        John Vulich
Makeup Producers                                         Optic Nerve Studios
Music Composer                                            Christopher Franke
Music Performers                          Christopher Franke & the Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra

Between-Season Changes

The changes between Season 3 and Season 4 were fairly restrained. The biggest cast change was the addition of Patricia Tallman to the cast as Lyta Alexander. Tallman had originally been supposed to join the cast full-time in Season 1, but negotiations broke down between the production company and her agent. By the time Season 4 came around the difficulties had been resolved and she was able to join the crew on a permanent basis.

The opening narration to the season was narrated by all twelve of the regular cast. JMS had apparently originally planned to use G’Kar or Delenn to narrate the opening but had eventually decided that by using any of the characters to perform the opening he was effectively saying they would survive long enough to reminisce about the past. This argument is countered by the fact that we already know from episode C17 that Sheridan, Delenn, G’Kar, Londo and Vir all survive for another seventeen years at least so presumably they’ve had plenty of time to reflect on past events.

During the writing of the early part of Season 4, JMS was informed by Warner Brothers that it was unlikely that a fifth season would be commissioned. In the five-year-plan for the series, the Shadow War was resolved in Season 4 but the civil war on Earth remained ongoing until about episode four of Season 5. In the original plan Season 4 would have ended with episode D18. Knowing it was unlikely they would get the fifth year, JMS decided to get rid of several stand-alone episodes he was planning and collapse certain storylines so they could finish in Season 4 instead of Season 5. As a result, the Shadow War ended about three episodes before it was originally planned (although how and why it ended remained the same), the campaign against Earth began only three episodes later and the civil war was resolved before season’s end. The final episode of the entire series, Sleeping in Light, was shot at the end of the season. However, the cable network TNT had bought the rights to show the entire series on re-runs and was keen for the fifth season to be included as well. As a result, TNT co-funded the fifth season plus four TV movies, two to be made between Seasons 4 and 5, the others to be made afterwards. This gave JMS the reprieve he needed and Sleeping in Light was moved to the end of Season 5, whilst the first episode of Season 5 (The Deconstruction of Falling Stars) was moved back to become the final episode of Season 4. Unfortunately, it was far too late to go back and restructure or re-edit episodes from earlier in Season 4, leading to complaints from some critics that the show was moving far too fast at the start of the season.

This situation is why Straczynski again wrote the entire season himself. Originally the hiatus between the Shadow War and the return of the Earth Alliance Civil War plot would have enabled two or three stand-alone episodes written by outside writers to have been included, but the faster pace of events meant that JMS had to write the whole season himself again.

There were two planned season titles for Season 4, but JMS was uncertain about which one to use until he got to the writing of the last seven episodes of the season. The other title remains unknown.

The biggest change between Season 3 and Season 4 was the departure of Foundation Imaging as the CGI studio for the series, along with its owner Ron Thornton who had played a key role as Babylon 5’s key starship and CG designer (along with Steve Burg). This departure was unplanned and acrimonious, with Foundation Imaging informed after delivering the final shots for Babylon 5’s third season in the spring of 1996 that their services would no longer be required. This resulted in Ron Thornton having to let go most of the staff whilst he scrambled to find an alternative contract to allow the company to continue to exist.

During this period Thornton called on his colleague Dan Curry, who worked on the Star Trek franchise as senior visual effects producer, to see if there was scope for Foundation Imaging to pick up work on the only other big SF series in town. Curry offered Foundation a very short gig animating a CG worm for the Season 2 finale of Star Trek: Voyager. When that was delivered, Curry negotiated for Foundation Imaging to take over during Voyager’s third season as the provider of the majority of the show’s visual effects. The producers of both Voyager and Deep Space Nine had been slow to recognise the potential of CGI, preferring the use of motion-controlled models, but ultimately agreed that CG offered them the ability to create much more genuinely “alien” aliens and more interesting starships. Foundation Imaging delivered a few effects shots in Voyager’s third season before creating Species 8472 for the third season finale, as well as delivering epic effects shots depicting battles between the Borg and the new aliens. Foundation Imaging also provided support to Digital Muse on Deep Space Nine, working on the massive fleet battles during the Dominion War. In 2001 they also worked on the Director’s Cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, cleaning up the original visual effects and providing some new shots. Foundation Imaging also handled the CGI for Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles and the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise before Thornton decided to shutter the company in 2002. He later worked on the 2005 version of Captain Scarlet as CG director and passed away in 2016 at the age of 59.

Replacing Foundation Imaging was Netter Digital, a new effects company founded by Doug Netter, Babylon 5’s executive producer. According to Ron Thornton, there was a breach of contract with Foundation Imaging manoeuvred out the door in favour of the newcomers, who believed they could do the CG work cheaper and more efficiently (as they would be based in the Babylon 5 production offices rather than a separate facility across town). Thornton cited this as a conflict of interest, with Netter having seen Foundation Imaging’s success and illegally moved them out of the door to copy their work and benefit from it. However, the B5 production team (considerably later) counter-claimed that Foundation Imaging were negotiating a deal to do the effects work for the Star Trek series before their departure and were planning to assign only trainees and less-experienced artists to Babylon 5, as the Star Trek deal would be more lucrative. This explanation is contradicted by both the timing and the fact that Foundation Imaging had to lay off most of its workforce in the summer of 1996, which clearly would not have been necessary if the Star Trek deal was already done.

Foundation Imaging considered legal action, but an out-of-court settlement was reached. Netter Digital would go on to provide the CGI for the rest of Babylon 5, the four TV movies and the Crusade spin-off. Foundation would get the last laugh, however, since they recovered, prospered and went on to work for another six years whilst Netter Digital went bust after completing its work on Babylon 5. In an ironic twist of fate, Netter Digital was producing effects for Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future when it collapsed, and Foundation Imaging stepped in to replace them. Netter Digital inherited all the shots Foundation had done for the series to date, plus all the ship models and texture libraries, so there was a consistency of visual appearance carried across. Unfortunately, Netter Digital took a lot of flak for unimaginative space battle shots, scientifically impossible ship manoeuvres and uninspiring ship designs.

The title sequence for this season was once again changed. A collection of scenes from previous seasons was deployed along with both a “hero shot” of each actor and a profile picture.

Christopher Franke’ new theme tune was a more strident, martial variation on the theme from Seasons 1 and 2.


D1: The Hour of the Wolf
Airdates: 4 November 1996 (US), 24 July 1997 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by David J. Eagle
Cast: Morden (Ed Wasser), Emperor Cartagia (Wortham Krimmer), Lorien (Wayne Alexander), Minister Virini (Damian London), Ambassador Ulkesh/Kosh (Ardwight Chamberlain), Drazi Ambassador (Mark Hendrickson), Brakiri Ambassador (Rick Ryan)

Date: 28 December 2260-1 January 2261.

Plot:    Seven days have passed since Sheridan vanished at Z’ha’dum and the war has paused. No further Shadow attacks have been reported and the League are beginning to withdraw warships from Babylon 5 to bolster the lines of defence around their homeworlds. Delenn, Lennier and G’Kar attempt to convince them that the war isn’t over. Delenn wants them to send an expedition to Z’ha’dum, but the Drazi, Brakiri and Gaim (three of the most powerful non-aligned races) vehemently refuse and the others follow their lead.

On Centauri Prime Londo is summoned before Emperor Cartagia and finds him young and much given to the pleasures of the flesh. He is also rather eccentric, telling Londo to attend to “the arrangements” without telling him what they are. Baffled, Londo returns to his quarters to find a familiar face waiting for him: Morden. Morden seems to have been involved in some sort of accident. His skin is almost literally burned away and he is obviously in pain, but he assures Londo that he will get better. He tells Londo that there has been an “incident” at Z’ha’dum and his associates are safeguarding some of their ships by hiding them under the surfaces of various planets, as they did a thousand years ago. Emperor Cartagia has graciously allowed them to hide some of their ships on Centauri Prime itself. These are the arrangements Londo must tend to, although Londo is horrified at the thought.

Delenn meets with the Vorlon ambassador and asks for its assistance. If the Vorlons now make a stand against the Shadows, the League worlds may fall in line. However, the Vorlon is uninterested, telling her that Sheridan has opened an “unexpected door”. They will do now what must be done now. Later, the Vorlon takes a part of itself back from Lyta, who is unhappy with the rough way it treats her compared to Kosh. She goes to see Ivanova with a plan. If they take a White Star to Z’ha’dum Lyta’s Vorlon-enhanced telepathic abilities might be able to detect Sheridan’s presence. Ivanova agrees and she, Lyta, Delenn and Lennier depart for Z’ha’dum on the White Star 2.

Zack Allan discovers an intruder in Garibaldi’s quarters, but it turns out to be G’Kar. G’Kar is concerned that in all the concern over Sheridan, Garibaldi’s disappearance has been forgotten, although Zack assures him that this is not the case. G’Kar resolves to find Garibaldi no matter the cost and leaves the station.

On Centauri Prime Londo’s worst nightmare (B9) comes true when he leaves the Royal Court, looks up into the sky and sees dozens of Shadow warships flying overhead. He goes to see Cartagia and urges him to have the ships leave, but Cartagia refuses. He believes the Shadows are the ancient gods of Centauri legend and will elevate him to godhood, as the emperors of old were elevated. Londo is shocked, believing him to be mad, and sends word to Babylon 5 that Vir must join him on the homeworld as soon as possible.

The White Star 2 arrives at Z’ha’dum and begins scanning the planet electronically, whilst Lyta uses her telepathic powers. However, they find nothing. Suddenly, a collection of eyes appears nearby, the same telepathic force Ivanova encountered last year in the Great Machine (C5) and begins hypnotising the crew into landing on the planet. Luckily, the ship’s automated defences kick in and the ship flees into hyperspace. Once in hyperspace the crew return to normal and they return to Babylon 5 at maximum speed.

Vir arrives on Centauri Prime and Londo tells him that Cartagia is mad. He must be removed from power, even if means killing him.

On Z’ha’dum a cowled figure shuffles through underground passageways before taking shelter bfeore a fire. The figure turns out to be Sheridan. A tall, humanoid alien appears and asks if he can share the fire and Sheridan agrees. The alien starts considering the human with interest...

Dating the Episode: The episode begins seven days after the previous one and spans four days (including a two-day jump to Z’ha’dum and back and a three-day jump from B5 to Centauri Prime for Vir).

The Arc: The League worlds believe the war is over, at least for now, and is withdrawing the ships that have been defending Babylon 5 since C13 so they can return home and bolster their own defences. However, the Narn rebels and Minbari remain in support.

Londo has returned to Centauri Prime, seen the image from his vision of Shadow ships filling the skies of the homeworld come true and learned that the Emperor he and Refa put on the throne is mad (B9). He and Vir begin conspiring against them.

Garibaldi and Sheridan are both missing following the events of C22. G’Kar goes looking for Garibaldi. This is followed up on in D2-D3. Sheridan, we eventually discover, is alive and well under Z’ha’dum. We find out how he survived in D2.

The White Star was destroyed in C22 so one of the other White Star-class ships has been drafted in to replace it. We eventually learn (in D15) that this vessel is generically referred to as White Star 2.

At Z’ha’dum Lyta’s eyes turn black in the presence of the Shadows and the “Eye” that Ivanova encountered in the Great Machine (C5) appears to look for them.

Morden survived the nuclear blast at Z’ha’dum and is slowly healing, presumably due to Shadow technology. We see this process continue in D4 and D6.

NOV18 explains how Morden survived the incident while Anna and Justin were incinerated. In both cases, the explanation is that a team of renegade techno-mages was on the planet to disrupt the Shadows’ plans and take revenge for a Shadow strike against them, and they shut down the “Eye” (Z’ha’dum’s controlling super-AI, which coordinates the planet’s defences). This allowed the White Star to crash without being shot down. One techno-mage chose to spare Morden’s life by encompassing him in a near-impregnable defensive shield, but had no qualms about tossing him out into the burning radioactive ruins afterwards. The Shadows then rescued Morden before he could be killed by the radiation damage.

Ivanova reports that she knows where to find allies to fight the Shadows. We find out what she’s referring to in episode D3.

Background: According to Straczynski, the Vorlons had not been expecting Sheridan’s strike on Z’ha’dum nor the close alliance with Kosh. The Vorlons are very inflexible and do not like surprises, but they are also capable of adapting to favourable circumstances.

As hinted at in episode C4, Vorlons can separate pieces of their consciousness and place it in other beings, allowing them to gather intelligence more efficiently. Lyta seemed to enjoy carrying Kosh around, but Ulkesh is darker and less concerned with her well-being.

The Centauri capital city is located in the north-west of a continent in the northern hemisphere of their homeworld. This continent has a sea which cuts into its western coast, similar to the Mediterranean. Centauri Prime has one large moon, similar to Earth’s. The Centauri capital has a significant time difference with Babylon 5.

As confirmed in previous episodes, the Centauri hair crest is seen as a sign of status and power. The Emperor’s unusually short crest allows him to go out among the people incognito.

According to Straczynski, the “voice of infinite sadness” Delenn hears is Lorien’s, not the Shadows’.

Following the events of C12, Vir seems happy to give high-level Centauri intelligence (received from the Shadows) to Ivanova.

The chasm on Z’ha’dum that Sheridan fell into is more than two miles deep.

References: Emperor Cartagia is clearly influenced by the Roman Emperor Caligula (12-41 AD, reigned 37-41). Caligula inherited the throne from his uncle, Tiberius, and his reign started out well. He sponsored great building works (including two new aqueducts for Rome) and the Empire conquered the province of Mauretania. However, his rule soon spiralled into whimsy, decadence and perversion. He near-bankrupted the Empire with excessive spending and sponsored an ill-advised military adventure to Britain that went badly wrong and never even left the European mainland. He was assassinated by the Praetorian Guard for leading the Empire to disaster. Although some doubt the wilder tales of debauchery and insanity (noting that these claims were commonly made against political enemies in Rome), they have become part of the popular imagination.

Caligula was succeeded by the shy, bumbling Claudius, who is a possible inspiration for the character of Vir Cotto. The story of the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius was related by Robert Graves in his classic novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God, of which (and the 1970s BBC television adaptation) J. Michael Straczynski is a huge fan. Caligula is oddly a popular figure for science fiction writers, as he (or, more accurately, an android replica of him) shows up in the Red Dwarf episode Meltdown, where he teams up with Rasputin to interrogate our heroes and threaten them with bizarre and arbitrary methods of torture (“Rasputin, bring hither the swimsuit with the bottom cut out and unleash the rampant wildebeest!”).

The “hour of the wolf” is in many cultures the time between night and dawn. It wa previously used as name of a 1968 film by Ingmar Bergman, the title of a 1975 album by Steppenwolf, a 1989 novel by Robert McCammon and a WBAI radio show. The title was later used for the 2015 entry for the Eurovision Song Contest by Azerbaijan.

Unanswered Questions: Why do the Shadows sometimes hide their ships on uninhabited worlds (like Mars and Ganymede in C8) and sometimes on inhabited ones (like Narn and now Centauri Prime)?

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: There are some differences between Londo’s dream of the future in episode B9 and the realisation of the moment in this episode. In the dream he is standing alone, possibly amidst wreckage, whilst Shadow ships pass overhead. In the episode he is standing with a crowd outside the Royal Palace. According to his verbal account of the dream in episode C1 there were also two thousand or more Shadow ships passing overhead, but we later learn that there are only around one hundred Shadow ships on Centauri Prime. Of course, the dream may have exaggerated things or Londo may be recalling details incorrectly.

Vir reports that Sheridan was “seen” falling into the chasm on Z’ha’dum. Given the entire area was incinerated by nuclear blast ten times more powerful than the Tsar Bomba seconds later, the questions how and by whom? Do the Shadows have CCTV?

Zack says it’s more important to find Sheridan than Garibaldi. Given Babylon 5’s resources and those of its allies, why not do both?

Behind the Scenes: The black contact lenses used for Lyta’s telepathic scenes were quite uncomfortable and would leave Patricia Tallman’s eyes weeping for some time afterwards.

During writing, Straczynski realised that Londo was wearing his old purple coat during the dream where the Shadow ships arrive. He had to write the wardrobe scene to explain why Londo is back wearing his old coat again.

Stephen Furst had a health scare related to diabetes between Seasons 3 and 4. He lost a lot of weight in a short period of time, to the surprise of his co-stars and the wardrobe department, who quickly had to adapt his costumes.

Familiar Faces: Wayne Alexander (Lorien) previously played the sinister Mr. Sebastian in episode B21, as well as the Narn G’Dan in episode C20.

Robert Krimmer (Cartagia) was training as a lawyer before deciding to become an actor. He adopted the name “Wortham” from his wife’s maiden name to make his name stand out more. In the 1980s and 1990s he appeared on several series such as St. Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues, Knots Landing, The Paper Chase, Family Medical Center and Days of Our Lives. He is best-known for playing Reverend Andrew Carpenter on One Life to Live. In 1999, frustrated with the drying up pool of roles in American television, he quit acting and completed his lawyer training before entering practice with Arnold, Bleuel, LaRochelle Mathews & Zirbel in Oxnard, California.

Damian London (Minister Virini) previously appeared on Babylon 5 in episodes A21 and C12. His slightly nervy performance was highly memorable with both fans and J. Michael Straczynski, who asked him to return in Season 4.

Review: Season 4 of Babylon 5 arrives firing on all cylinders. We’re past the time of secrets and backstory, it’s now full steam ahead to the end of the Shadow War. The shift in pacing and structure felt a bit jarring on original transmission, but now feels more like a natural consequence of the explosive events and intensity ramping up. Apart from several lacklustre CG shots (particularly the static and un-threatening depiction of the Eye compared to its more terrifying appearance in C5), this is a great opening episode for the season. ****

Drazi Ambassador: “You cannot win this war, Commander. You can only hope to survive it!”

Morden: “Flesh is transitory, flesh is a prison, flesh is an instrument. Flesh can be replaced. And flesh does as it’s told.”

Morden: “If there is a madman on the throne, it’s because you and Refa put him there.”

Ulkesh: “He has opened an unexpected door. We do now what must be done now. His purpose has been fulfilled.”

Sheridan: “How did I get here?”
Lorien: “You were born.”

D2: Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?
Airdates: 11 November 1996 (US), 31 July 1997 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Kevin James Dobson
Cast: Lorien (Wayne Alexander), Isaac (Lenny Citrano), Harry (Anthony DeLongis), Emperor Cartagia (Wortham Krimmer), Minister Virini (Damian London), Ambassador Ulkesh (Ardwight Chamberlain), Centauri Officer (Rick Scarry)

Date: 3-4 January 2261 (approximately).

Plot:    G’Kar is following up on Garibaldi’s trail and arrives on a remote colony world. He has found what appears to be a piece of an Earthforce Starfury sold by a scrap merchant. The merchant isn’t interested in talking to G’Kar and a fight breaks out, but Marcus Cole turns up to help out. They question the merchant again and learn that he got the Starfury fragment from a contact in Interplanetary Expeditions named Montaigne. Marcus returns to Babylon 5 to track him down, whilst G’Kar plans to leave the planet and travel to the area where Garibaldi’s fighter was found. Perhaps he can learn more there. However, before he can depart he is attacked by Centauri troops and arrested.

Delenn is fasting in mourning for Sheridan but her part-human body cannot withstand the rigours of fasting as well as a Minbari. However, she blames herself for Sheridan’s ‘death’ on Z’ha’dum and believes that if she dies, it will be a fitting punishment. Franklin tells her he found a log entry from Sheridan that might be interesting to her and she watches it. In it Sheridan reveals just how much he loves her. Resolved not to dishonour his memory, she summons the Ranger fleet to Babylon 5 and tells them that in eight days’ time they will attack Z’ha’dum.

On Centauri Prime Londo and Vir are summoned to a party in Cartagia’s audience chamber. They are shocked to see G’Kar being held prisoner and tormented. Cartagia makes a gift of him to Londo.

Garibaldi is being held in a featureless metal cell and is constantly being asked, “What happened after you left Babylon 5?” He doesn’t remember and begins smashing the walls. He is knocked out by gas and the door opens to admit a Psi Cop...

Londo strikes a bargain with G’Kar. He will spare G’Kar’s life if G’Kar helps Londo kill Cartagia. G’Kar makes a counter-proposal: he will help, but only if Londo arranges for all Centauri forces on Narn to be withdrawn. Londo agrees.

On Z’ha’dum Sheridan talks to the strange alien, Lorien. Lorien reveals that he is one of the First Ones, actually the First One, the oldest of his race who in turn are the oldest of all races. Lorien has dwelt here on Z’ha’dum for millennia and tells him that is one of the reasons the Shadows make their base here, out of misguided respect. Lorien also tells him that part of the essence of a Vorlon, Kosh, resides within Sheridan. Sheridan is startled to discover that he doesn’t have a pulse and gradually realises that Lorien has essentially ‘frozen’ time at the moment of Sheridan’s death on Z’ha’dum. Sheridan wants to live so he can resolve the war but, most importantly, so he can be with Delenn. Lorien offers to save him, but the process might not work. Sheridan agrees and everything goes black. Lorien stands above his corpse at the bottom of the chasm on Z’ha’dum and begins reviving him...

Dating the Episode: Dr. Franklin’s voiceover gives a date of 8 January 2261 and says it’s been nine days since Sheridan and Garibaldi’s disappearance, which is erroneous. Assuming that reference is accurate, the correct date would be 30 December…or two days before the previous episode ends! Straczynski later confirmed this was a mistake and 3 January would be the correct date.

The Arc: The information G’Kar and Marcus uncover on the colony is used in D3.

Delenn is planning an assault on Z’ha’dum with the Rangers and the White Star Fleet. Much of D3 is given over to discussing the viability of this plan.

Garibaldi is still alive and apparently a prisoner of the Psi Corps. We eventually discover what really happened to him after C22 in episode D17.

Sheridan effectively “died” on Z’ha’dum during the events of C22. However, a First One named Lorien who lives beneath the planet suspended him at the moment of death and has spent the last few days observing his reactions to the situation he finds himself in. He begins bringing Sheridan back from the brink. We discover exactly how he does this in D4.

Lorien is the reason the Shadows always return to Z’ha’dum, since they are paying their respects to him. That is also why there is a huge two-mile-deep chasm in the middle of the Shadow capital, as seen in C22. Presumably Lorien’s status as a First One enabled him to save Sheridan (and himself) from a one-gigaton thermonuclear blast taking place just a few miles overhead.

Lorien tells Sheridan that he has a Vorlon inside him. This confirms what was hinted at in C15, C18 and C22, that Kosh, or at least a part of him, still lives on in Sheridan.

The planet Zafran VII is mentioned. Its neighbour world, Zafran VIII, appears in NOV16.

Interplanetary Expeditions gave the location of Garibaldi’s Starfury to the salvager. IPX were previously involved in the excavation of Shadow ships on Mars and Ganymede, as related in C8. The question of where IPX got the information is answered in D17.

Background: This episode suggests that Z’ha’dum may actually be the homeworld of Lorien’s species (presumably it was more hospitable back then) and the Shadows make their primary base there out of respect for Lorien, not because it’s their homeworld. The evidence in other episodes and books is contradictory.

The Shadows “used to” understand Lorien’s philosophy and neutrality, but somewhere along the way have lost their way.

Sheridan’s log entry is dated 14 May 2260, between the events of C11 and C12.

Garibaldi’s Starfury was found abandoned in space in Sector 87.

Minbari can fast for two weeks as part of their mourning process.

This episode is the first time we see both Centauri and Narn hand weapons (their version of PPGs) being fired. The Centauri energy weapon appears to have some kind of stun setting.

References: Lorien is a name taken from The Lord of the Rings, namely the elven kingdom of Lothlórien, ruled by Celeborn and Galadriel.

Unanswered Questions: Why did the Shadows lose their way and stop understanding Lorien’s philosophy? If they disagree with him, why do they continue to show respect at Z’ha’dum?

Why did Lorien wait for one of the younger races to show up if he disapproves so much of the Vorlons and Shadows? Why not just intervene and save millions of lives?

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: In Dr. Franklin’s opening log entry he says that it’s been fourteen days since Sheridan was presumed killed at Z’ha’dum and nine days since Garibaldi disappeared. These events happened on the same day. Repeats and the DVD release fix this by replacing the “fourteen” with “nine” in a dub (which works because you can’t see Richard Biggs when he says “fourteen”).

Of course, the “nine days” itself is wrong, as that would put Sheridan’s disappearance on 31 December 2260. The last three episodes of Season 3 all confirm that these events happen on 21 December, a full ten days earlier. Ironically, the “fourteen days” reference was closer to the mark.

Behind the Scenes: Jason Carter was a big fan of the work of Peter Brook’s international theatre company, of which Andreas Katsulas had been a member for fifteen years. He felt slightly intimidated working with Katsulas for this reason, which Katsulas found amusing.

When Jerry Doyle was filming the cell scenes he inadvertently hit himself in the groin, which made him even more annoyed and fed into his intense performance.

This is the first episode of Babylon 5, barring the pilot, not to feature Claudia Christian as Ivanova. She filmed a scene at the end of the episode (after Marcus returns to B5) where she asks to borrow a White Star from Delenn and Marcus, but this was moved to episode D3 for time.

Familiar Faces: Rick Scarry (Centauri officer) later had a recurring role as Brendan Kelly on the drama series Weeds.

Review: The intensity is preserved from the previous episode with a lot of stuff happening in a short period of time. It’s a new feel for Babylon 5 but works quite well. However, it does mean some story elements are rushed. It doesn’t feel quite logical that G’Kar would personally leave Babylon 5 to search for Garibaldi, and given he explicitly says he has no idea where to start searching it’s a bit convenient that he stumbles across evidence leading to Garibaldi quite easily. The fast pace means such things can be overlooked a bit, however. The philosophical discussion between Lorien and Sheridan is a bit hackneyed but ultimately explains why Sheridan survives (whether it’s a good idea to introduce a benevolent super-powered god-being at this point in the narrative to help wrap everything up is another question). ****

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1 comment:

Alex Walsh said...

At the time I assumed that the ending with Lorien telling all the other ancient races to knock it off and stop behaving like kids was caused by the truncation of the story into 4 seasons rather than the planned 5 but it's sort of depressing that the great war was always destined to end with a telling off. It's much like the Naked God in the Nights Dawn trilogy in that respect.