Sunday, 24 September 2017

BABYLON 5 Rewatch: Season 2, Episodes 9-10

B9: The Coming of Shadows
Airdates: 1 February 1995 (US), 4 April 1995 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Janet Greek
Cast: Ambassador Jeffrey Sinclair (Michael O’Hare), Centauri Emperor (Turhan Bey), Centauri Prime Minister (Malachi Throne), Lord Refa (William Forward), Security Aide Zack Allan (Jeff Conaway), Kha’Mak (Neil Bradley), Ambassador Kosh (Ardwight Chamberlain), Ranger (Fredric Lehne), Narn Pilot 1 (Kim Strauss), Narn Pilot 2 (Jonathan Chapman), Customs Guard (Bryan Michael McGuire)

Date: Mid-April 2259.

Plot:    On Centauri Prime the Emperor of the Centauri Republic is preparing to depart on a state visit to Babylon 5. His Prime Minister objects due to the Emperor’s ill health, but the Emperor insists he must go, now, before it is too late. On Babylon 5 Ambassador G’Kar objects to Captain Sheridan in the strongest possible terms. The Emperor of the Centauri Republic being allowed to visit Babylon 5 is an insult against the Narn government. Sheridan points out that the current Emperor has actually gone out of his way to appease the Narn and is genuinely interested in peace. When Sheridan confirms that the Emperor will be allowed to visit Babylon 5, G’Kar storms out.

Lord Refa (from episode B3) arrives on Babylon 5 to consult with Londo. Refa tells him that the Emperor is sick, old and frightened. Without an heir, when he dies it will fall to the Centaurum to decide which nearest relative succeeds him. Refa wants Londo to make a speech to the Emperor outlining what has gone wrong recently with the Republic and predicting what will go wrong next. The meeting will be recorded. When the “predictions” come true, the Emperor will be seen as shortsighted, whilst Londo and Refa’s faction will appear to have their eye on the future. When the Emperor dies, they will determine who will follow him. Londo agrees to make the speech, although reluctantly. Vir disapproves strongly.

A human arrives on the station and immediately starts looking for Garibaldi. He finds him, but chooses to follow him rather than confront him directly.

G’Kar contacts Narn and is informed that the Kha’Ri has approved G’Kar’s plan to assassinate the Centauri Emperor. G’Kar records a last will and testament confirming that his government had no role in the attack and prepares to strike at the reception. He plans to leave his copy of The Book of G’Quan to Na’Toth in the hope of her future enlightenment.

The Centauri flagship arrives at Babylon 5 and the Emperor is welcomed on board. An official reception is organised and G’Kar turns up, unexpectedly. The Emperor is about to arrive when he suffers a massive heart attack and is rushed to Medlab. The Emperor is in a fragile state and might die at any time. He gives Franklin a message to deliver to G’Kar and the doctor agrees. Franklin tells G’Kar that the Emperor came to apologise to G’Kar for everything the Centauri did to the Narn during their occupation of the Narn homeworld and formulate a new peace treaty between their worlds. G’Kar is shocked and surprisingly moved.

Londo and Refa anxiously discuss what repercussions the Emperor’s premature death could have on their plans. Refa states they need to do something “spectacular” to assert their faction over the opposition and Londo recalls Morden’s promise to help him (B2). He tells Refa to have their allies in the Centauri Navy send a few ships to Quadrant 14, site of the largest civilian Narn colony. He then has Vir go and find Morden. Vir tells Londo not to do this, not to go down this path, but Londo’s mind is made up. Londo has a nightmare in which he sees his hand reaching out of the sun (as prophecised by Elric in B3) and images of dozens of huge, dark ships covering the sky of Centauri Prime. He sees himself as an old man, sitting on the throne of the Centauri Republic, dying with G’Kar’s hands wrapped around his throat (as previously related in episode A1). He wakes up, realising that he has just set himself unavoidably on the journey that will lead to his death. It is too late to change anything.

The Narn Regime’s largest civilian colony is located on a planet in Quadrant 14 with more than 250,000 inhabitants. A massive space station is in orbit, along with dozens of fighters and a heavy cruiser. Three Shadow warships appear and in their first salvo destroy the station and the warship. The fighters counter-attack, but lack the heavy weapons needed to damage the Shadow ships. They are annihilated and the Shadows bombard the colony from orbit before departing. On Centauri Prime agents of Refa murder the Prime Minister.

On Babylon 5 Garibaldi notices the man following him and has him arrested. The man agrees to tell him what he wants, but only if can speak to Garibaldi alone. Garibaldi agrees to talk to him later. Elsewhere, G’Kar meets with Londo and offers him a drink in salute to his honourable Emperor. A shaken Londo accepts the drink, realising that he unleashed the dogs of war at the moment a lasting peace could have been forged. At the same moment, a Centauri flotilla reaches Quadrant 14 and finds the colony in flames. As they begin to send down troops a Narn patrol arrives and opens fire on the Centauri ships, believing they carried out the attack.

Ambassador Kosh arrives to see the Emperor and answer his wish to see a Vorlon before he dies, although Kosh doesn’t reveal his true form. He tells the Emperor that the situation between the Narn and Centauri can now only end in fire. The Kha’Ri contact Babylon 5 and tell G’Kar about the attack. They send the news on an open frequency so that the B5 command crew overhear. G’Kar goes insane with rage and sets out to kill Londo, but Sheridan manages to stop him. Londo and Refa are summoned to Medlab to see the Emperor die. Just before he expires, he damns them both, but Londo lies and says that the Emperor has blessed the new Centauri military expansion.

Garibaldi’s prisoner delivers a data crystal to him and Garibaldi plays it. To his surprise, it contains a message from Sinclair, now on Minbar as the Earth Alliance Ambassador. Sinclair tells Garibaldi he has a greater purpose on Minbar than just representing Earth and tells him he is in charge of a group known as the Rangers, consisting of both humans and Minbari. Their job is to patrol the frontier, watching out for unusual signs. Sinclair tells him a great darkness is coming and that the Minbari have been waiting for it for a long time, but is not yet able to tell him everything. Garibaldi goes to Sheridan and tells him what he can, namely that the Centauri are in contact with the same alien race G’Kar was talking about a few months ago (B2). These aliens must have overwhelmed colony’s defences to allow the Centauri to slip in and conquer the planet. Sheridan realises they can use this information to their advantage.

A full meeting of the Babylon 5 Advisory Council is convened. Londo refuses to allow the Narn civilians who survived the attack to leave the planet, promising they will be “taken care of”. Sheridan tells him that Earth will send observers to make sure the Narn are well-treated. The observers’ will also determine what new weapon the Centauri used to take out the defences so quickly. Londo refuses to risk the bluff and agrees to let the Narn civilians return to the homeworld after all. However, this is not enough for the Narn. The Narn Regime declares war against the Centauri Republic, vowing not to let the Centauri overrun them again. Babylon 5’s mission has failed: the Centauri and Narn are now at war.

Refa leaves Babylon 5, telling Londo that the Emperor’s nephew has risen to the throne, a young man who feels as they do about the future. Vir is surprised that Londo has not asked for a reward like being named to the Royal Court himself, but Londo insists that he will work from behind the scenes only. It is much safer that way. The Ranger also leaves, promising to supply Garibaldi with the information he needs to keep track of the war. Meanwhile, Delenn also receives a message from Sinclair...


Dating the Episode: The Season 2 DVD timeline suggests this episode takes place in April 2259.

The Arc: The slowly building Narn-Centauri tensions (first seen in episode A1) explode into full-scale war here. The war will rage across the rest of the season but features prominently in episodes B12, B15 and B20.

This is the first mention of the Rangers. We learn more about them in episodes B20 and C1. Reappearing for the first time since A22, Sinclair’s role on the Minbari homeworld is fully explored in the comics DC1-DC4 and the book NOV9. Sinclair turns up again in the series in episode C16.

Sinclair reveals that the Minbari (or “some of them”) have been waiting for the darkness for a long time. We learn more in episodes B17 and TVM1.

We meet the new Centauri Emperor in D1. We don’t discover until episode B16 that the old Centauri Emperor in this episode is called Turhan and that his Prime Minister is called Malachi (the same names as the actors who play them). That episode also reveals that the new emperor is called Cartagia.

According to Straczynski, the Emperor had a vision of his death (as with Londo in A1 and here) in which he saw a Vorlon present, hence his fascination with them.

We see Londo’s dream coming true in episodes C17 and D1. The hand reaching out of the star is a reference to Elric’s prediction in B3. There are also flashbacks in this sequence to A1 and A22.

The Centauri have sent several expeditions into Vorlon space, none of which have returned. We learn in episode B15 that the Earth Alliance has done the same thing and in TVM1 that the Minbari have as well.

It is likely that this is the first chance Londo had to avert his destiny and failed the test, as related by the Empress in episode C9. Specifically, Londo could have listened to Vir and not sought out and asked for Morden’s help.

Background: Centauri Prime resembles Earth. The Centauri capital city is located on the north-west coast of a large continent in the northern hemisphere.

The Centauri Emperor is a hereditary position, although the House holding the throne can change through various means. The Emperor has four telepaths who serve as messengers. Raised together from birth, two accompany him everywhere whilst the other two remain on Centauri Prime. That way the Emperor and the Royal Court can keep up to speed on what the other is up to.

Centauri women shave their heads to “rise above” the petty competitiveness of their men (who compete to have the largest crests on their heads). Centauri men either style their own hear or wear elaborate wigs.

The Centauri Navy is revealed to have three primary ship types in this episode: the large Primus-class battlecruisers, the Vorchan-class attack cruisers and the Sentri-class fighters. Despite being a relatively small vessel, the Vorchan can generate its own jump point, being the smallest vessel in the show shown to be able to do this (until episode C1).

The current Centauri Emperor’s grandfather ordered the strip-mining of Narn. His father ordered the execution of ten thousand Narns. The current Emperor has gone out of his way to offer reparations, however (spin-off media suggests that the current Emperor also ordered the withdrawal from Narn on his ascension to the throne, although this is off unclear canonical status).

Sinclair has established an organisation on Minbar called the Rangers, made up of humans and Minbari. President Clark doesn’t know about this and Sinclair doesn’t want him to know. Their job for now is to serve as scouts and listeners on the frontier. Only Delenn and Garibaldi know about them at this point.

The Rangers have had a presence on Babylon 5 for two months. This specific Ranger has visited B5 three times in the last month.

There was a planetary draft in effect on Earth during the war with the Minbari. Sheridan entered the service several years earlier.

References: The Rangers are another reference to Lord of the Rings, to the organisation of soldiers and heroes who operate behind the scenes in opposition to the Shadow (Sauron). Their most famous member, of course, is Aragorn, but it is revealed that it is made up of both humans and elves (Minbari).

Straczynski also used the name as a nod to the Texas Rangers, the US Army Rangers and his time writing Walker, Texas Ranger. The Ranger costume drew inspiration from the Minbari warrior caste uniforms shown in episode A17.

The “hands of friendship” Centauri greeting, previously seen in episode B3, is used more prominently in this episode. According to Straczynski, it’s a Roman greeting to show that you aren’t carrying a knife in your hand. However, this is a more recent invention stemming from an 1898 performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and there is no evidence that the Romans ever used it. Plenty of Roman art and coins shows the Romans practising a standard handshake instead.

Unanswered Questions: What happened to the Emperor’s four telepaths, given they knew that Londo and Refa lied about the Emperor’s last words?

Did the Centauri honour their promise to release the Narn POWs from Quadrant 14? Garibaldi seems to suggest they did at the end of the episode, but this is unclear.

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: For some reason, the Centauri Emperor, Prime Minister and the new Emperor all go unnamed in this episode. Larry DiTillio found this a bit weird and gave them names in episode B16: Turhan for the Emperor, Malachi for the Prime Minister (both named after their actors) and Cartagia for the new Emperor. The Ranger is also unnamed, and never gets one.

Later episodes, particularly C14, confirm that there is a range limit on telepathic powers and these require line of sight or a reasonable level of proximity. Hyperspace can boost this connection. However, in this episode the four Centauri women are linked across 75 light-years and are able to communicate instantly with one another. This seems inconsistent with the use of telepathy throughout the rest of the show.

The Centauri warship which carries the Emperor to B5 appears to be scaled too small in scenes where it is shown next to the station; when a ship of the same class shows up in B15, it is considerably larger in comparison.

Although the Centauri warships and fighters are all new designs, the Centauri shuttle appears to be a lightly-reskinned version of the Earthforce shuttle design.

When G’Kar is dictating his last will and testament, the computer transcribes the Narn text from left to write. However, later episodes (most notably C9) confirm that Narn text is written from right to left.

Behind the Scenes: Originally the events of this episode were split between several different ones: the Shadow attack and the Narn declaration of war would have taken place as a subplot in a script called The Very Long Night of Susan Ivanova, the death of the Centauri Emperor would have come in Rites of Passage and the introduction of the Rangers and Sinclair’s message to Garibladi would have appeared in A Race Through Dark Places. When Straczynski ended up with too many episode ideas for the second season and Race Through Dark Places ran too long to include the Ranger subplot, he condensed the events into one episode.

J. Michael Straczynski sent round a memo after this episode was filmed saying that this was the level of quality they should strive to attain every single week. Peter Jurasik drily replied that this would depend on them getting the same quality of script every week, something he later admitted was only “half-joking”.

Straczynski included the full script for episode in the second edition of his book The Complete Book of Scriptwriting (1996).

Andreas Katsulas enjoyed playing G’Kar’s clear-minded belief that killing the Emperor would simplistically solve all of the Narns’ problems. He cited that belief among some in the United States at the time (1995) that killing Saddam Hussein would somehow end all of the problems in the Middle East overnight. Prophetically, this would be proven to be the case several years later, when Hussein’s removal unleashed even more unstable and dangerous forces, arguably as happens after the Emperor’s death in this episode.

Peter Jurasik was “really blown away” by Andreas Katsulas’s performance in this episode. When filming the drink scene in the Zocalo, they did four takes and each time Katsulas brought a different energy and sensibility to the scene. Jurasik found it hard to keep up with him.

The “elderly Londo” make-up job took six hours to apply. Jurasik enjoyed riffing with makeup artist Greg Funk, comparing him to Salvador Dali as he experimented with different makeup and paint approaches to get the best result.

There was an additional line of dialogue after Londo’s “For once, we have something in common,” to Vir. Londo continues, “I am on old man, what is lost by trying? As the humans say, who dares wins.” Vir replies, “Who dares sometimes gets his head cut off and stuck on a pike.”

The scene with Michael O’Hare was filmed very early in Season 2, before O’Hare moved back to New York, and Straczynski kept in hand for the appropriate place to put it in.

The scene where Londo is looking up at the sky was filmed in the studio car park. Amazingly, it is one of only two scenes in the entire series shot outdoors (the other one is in episode D1).

This scene was inspired by a recurring dream that J. Michael Straczynski had as a child, looking up at the sky and seeing strange dark ships passing overhead.

This episode was running high on the budget due to the number of actors, so Straczynski decided not to have the meeting between Morden and Londo on-screen to save money by not having to hire Ed Wasser again.

This episode won the 1996 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Performance, beating Deep Space Nine’s The Visitor and the films Apollo 13, Toy Story and 12 Monkeys. Accepting the award, Straczynski was shocked when fans in the audience started clapping and stamping the floor en masse. The award can later be seen on Ivanova’s desk in episode E22.

Three episodes from B5’s second season were longlisted for the award, with B20 (The Long, Twilight Struggle) and B22 (The Fall of Night) also making the cut. However, Straczynski withdrew the other episodes so as not to split the vote, as happened during Season 1.

Babylon 5 also won a “Shadow Hugo” Award from, also awarded at the same WorldCon. The award was presented by the SFFWA, but they had to come out of their suite to give Straczynski the award, Straczynski having previously resigned from the body over their refusal to reinstate the Dramatic Nebula Award (a now-infamous vitriolic argument that raged in the early 1990s, where Straczynski sparred with George R.R. Martin over the matter). Straczynski said he wouldn’t go into the SFFWA suite if he was “dying of lung cancer and they were giving out free chemotherapy at the door”.

Warner Brothers took out a special trade advertisement to congratulate Babylon 5 on winning the Hugo, running the following week.

Familiar Faces: Malachi Throne (Centauri Prime Minister) played Commodore Mendez in the original Star Trek episode The Menagerie. He also played Romulan Senator Pardek in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Unification, which reunited him with Leonard Nimoy as Spock. A veteran of American stage and screen, he passed away in 2013 at the age of 84.

Turhan Bey was an Austrian actor of Turkish origin. He had an active career in Hollywood from 1941 to 1953. He returned to Austria to work as a photographer and artist, and startlingly had no film or TV credits until 1993 when he returned to Hollywood to receive an award. He was offered several TV roles and spent several years working as an actor again. For Babylon 5 he had originally auditioned for the role of Elric in episode B3. Straczynski liked him, but felt he was too nice for that role. He remembered him and cast him as the Emperor instead. Guilty at killing him off, he brought him back as Turval in episode E5. Bey retired in 2002 and passed away at the age of 90 in 2012.

Review: This is Babylon 5 as a Shakespearean tragedy. Londo has a choice to help broker a monumental peace with the Narns, ending a century and a half of blood, or to usher in a new war which will kill thousands or millions on both sides. He makes the wrong choice and the reverberations of that will be felt for decades to come. The actors are all on top form, Straczynski’s dialogue has never been better (“the past tempts us, the present confuses us and the future frightens us”) and the Shadow assault on the Narn base is a short, brutal space battle that is startling in its savagery. There are some awkward moments – Morden’s absence is odd and the Ranger stuff feels shoehorned into the plot – but this is one of Babylon 5’s very best episodes. *****

Sheridan: “If you love, love without reservation. If you fight, fight without fear.”

Emperor: “The past tempts us, the present confuses us and the future frightens us, and our lives slip away, moment by moment, lost in that vast, terrible inbetween. But there is still time to seize that one last fragile moment, to choose something better, to make a difference.”

G’Kar: “I reach out my hand and he betrayed me. He knew, and he betrayed me!”

Sinclair: “Stay close to the Vorlon and watch out for Shadows. They move when you’re not looking at them.”

Emperor: “How will this end?”
Kosh: “In fire.”

Londo: “I have no choice!”
Vir: “Yes, you do.”

Londo: “I have no desire to be Emperor. No, I prefer to work behind the scenes. The reward is nearly as great and the risk far, far less.”

G’Kar: “Before coming here I received a communique from my government. For a hundred years the Centauri occupied our world, devastated it. We swore we would never let that happen again. This attack on our largest civilian colony has inflicted terrible damage and loss of life. They have crossed a line we cannot allow them to cross. As a result, two hours ago my government officially declared war against the Centauri Republic. Our hope for peace is over. We are now at war. We are now at war.”

B10: G.R.O.P.O.S.
Airdates: 8 February 1995 (US), 11 April 1995 (UK)
Written by Lawrence G. DiTillio
Directed by Jim Johnston
Cast: General Richard Franklin (Paul Winfield), Sergeant Lou Welch (David L. Crowley), Sgt. Major Plug (Ryan Cutrona), PFC Large (Ken Foree), Private Kleist (Morgan Hunter), PFC Dodger (Marie Marshall), Private Yang (Art Chudabala), Tonia Wallace (Mowava Pryor), ISN Reporter (Maggie Egan), Station One (Joshua Cox), Station Two (Elisa Beth Garver)

Plot:    The Earthforce warship Schwarzkopf comes through the jump gate, escorting five heavy transports. They dock with the station and General Richard Franklin of the 356th Infantry Division comes on board. He informs Captain Sheridan that he has 25,000 troops needing to be barracked until they are ready to leave in several days’ time. A somewhat surprised Sheridan prepares quarters for his huge number of guests.

General Franklin – who is coincidentally Dr. Franklin’s father – briefs Sheridan and the command crew on the 356’s mission. Akdor, the third planet of the Sh’lassan Triumvirate (a member-race of the League of Non-aligned Worlds), has launched an uprising against the legitimate government. The Sh’lassans have requested aid from Earthdome and, somewhat surprisingly, President Clark has agreed to intervene. He is hoping to gain trade concessions from the Sh’lassans and also to use their space for ship movements. The area is close to Narn and Centauri space and Earthforce needs to keep an eye on the fighting which is slowly escalating there. Babylon 5 will be the forward base for the assault on Akdor and to help protect the troops, Franklin’s technicians are installing new weapons into Babylon 5’s defence grid. Once they are finished Babylon 5 will be able to take on warships with little problem.

PFC Large and Private Yang are billeted with Lt. Keffer in his quarters. Keffer is unimpressed and the natural marine-pilot rivalry hardly helps the situation...but then they find some common ground. The two marines are particularly impressed by his account of recently going head-to-head with an entire Minbari squadron (B1). A female marine, PFC Dodger, attracts the interest of Garibaldi and they almost go to bed, but he chickens out due to his desire for something more than a one-night stand. Dodger is unimpressed, but agrees to come back and see him after the mission.

Dr. Franklin and his father meet and, as usual, the meeting is strained. General Franklin never understood his son’s refusal to fight and become a doctor instead, but eventually came around to his way of thinking. Their latest arguments have been around their attitudes to aliens: the general, following his part in the wars against both the Dilgar and Minbari, is suspicious of them and naturally assumes hostility; the doctor sees them as examples of the wonder of the universe. Before he leaves, the general manages to build some bridges.

A few days later ISN reports on the assault on Akdor. The Earthforce troops are victorious and the main enemy base at Matok has fallen, albeit with heavy losses. General Franklin survived, but Dodger, Yang and Large all died in the battle.

The Arc: The war against the Dilgar is mentioned. This was last referenced in episode A9. It will be referred to again in episode TVM1.

General Franklin is described as “The Scourge of Janos VII”. We find out in episode B16 that Sheridan has also visited that planet.

Babylon 5’s defence grid is massively upgraded in this episode. We see it in action in episodes B22 and C10.

Some of the marines who arrive on the station fought in the recent Mars Rebellion (A18-A19).

Many humans, mainly those who fought in the Earth-Minbari War or at least lived through it, take offence at Delenn’s transformation. This follows on from the Minbari discomfort with it (in B4) and will be followed up on in episodes B14 and B15.

Garibaldi mentions his relationship with Lise Hampton (from A19-A20) and his feelings for Talia Winters. Both relationships will be referenced in future episodes, whilst his near-one-night-stand with Dodger is referenced again in episode E8.

Dr. Franklin is a fan of the Markab species and enjoys their fruit drink “orcha”. Episode B18 expands on Franklin’s relationship with the Markabs.

Background: The Earth Alliance marines are referred to as ‘GROPOS’, as we first head in episode B5. This rather forced acronym stands for ‘GROund-POunderS’.

A previously unseen class of Earthforce warship is introduced: the Nova class. This ship has the same forward hull as the Omega-class destroyer, but is smaller and does not have the same rotating section as the Omega. It replaces the rotating section with a massive array of plasma cannons for devastating volleys of fire. The Nova served during the Dilgar and Minbari wars, but is now an older and outdated ship, relegated to escort duty and support operations.

Babylon 5’s new defence grid combines the previously-seen anti-fighter guns with pulse cannons, interceptors and mine launchers. The new grid also comes with a new tracking system three times faster than B5’s old one, which (as we saw in episode B1) uses old tech from the Earth-Minbari War.

Garibaldi’s father, Alfredo Garibaldi, served in the Marines under General Franklin during the Dilgar Invasion.

General Franklin is one of Earthforce’s most decorated soldiers. His nickname is “Old Firestorm” and he is known (amongst others) as the “Liberator of the African Bloc”, “Scourge of Janos VII” and “Hero of the Canal Wars”.

Earthforce uses masers (lasers using microwaves rather than beams of heat) as a heavy weapon during ground combat operations.

The Sh’lassan Triumvirate controls a sector of space adjoining both Narn and Centauri space. There is a Sh’lassan embassy on Babylon 5, but it’s unclear if they are members of the League of Non-aligned Worlds. Sheridan visited Matok on Akdor during what sounds like the “Turanni” expedition. According to the second B5 RPG, the Sh’lassans are actually an independent colony of humans who separated from the Earth Alliance nearly a century ago and have evolved slightly differently as they live under the glare of a blue supergiant star, explaining why the Earth Alliance feels it has a stake in the war. None of this is confirmed or denied by this episode.

According to this episode there are twenty alien species with permanent residence aboard Babylon 5. From previous and upcoming episodes plus the show’s writer’s guide, we can name all twenty (Centauri, Narn, Minbari, Vorlon, Drazi, Hyach, Llort, Pak’ma’ra, Markab, Abbai, Brakiri, Gaim, Grome, Hurr, Ipsha, Vree, Sh’lassan, Yolu, Cascor and Trakallan). The Sh’lassans have never appeared in the flesh (that we know of) but Sheridan mentions there is a Sh’lassan embassy on the station.

The Earth Alliance is officially neutral in the Narn-Centauri conflict, but General Franklin fears they will be drawn into the war and forced to choose sides if the war continues for any length of time.

References: The EAS Schwarzkopf is named for General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. (1934-2012), better known as “Stormin’ Norman”, the commander of ground operations during the 1991 Gulf War. As the commander of 750,000 troops from two dozen countries, he commanded the largest deployed, war-fighting military force since the end of the Second World War.

Unanswered Questions: Why did the Earth Alliance, now pursuing a greater isolationist policy, suddenly agree to deploy 25,000 troops to help a very minor alien race?

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: Babylon 5’s defence grid is upgraded so it can handle a warship. Given the fates of B1-B4, it is unclear why B5’s defence grid wasn’t better-equipped previously. There may have been budgetary considerations, especially given the claims in spin-off material that Babylon 4 was quite heavily armed for self-defence and Earthforce couldn’t afford to do the same for B5, deferring the cost for a couple of years.

Why is Ivanova personally directing traffic when the marines come on board? Aren’t there other subordinates who could be doing that?

The impression the series gives is that Io Colony has a relatively small population, since it is located in an incredibly harsh environment (the most volcanically active body in the Solar system, inside Jupiter’s radiation belts). So why would Earthforce be sending 25,000 troops to the moon, as the cover story suggests?

Despite the episode’s best efforts, “stroking” is in no manner a convincing swear word.

There seems to be a disconnect between the size of the heavy transports as they enter B5’s docking bay (they barely fit inside) and how small they appear inside the station.

Behind the Scenes: Jerry Doyle had been complaining about not getting laid on the show since the first episode, and was disbelieving that Londo had gotten laid before Garibaldi. Larry DiTillio gave him his wish here, but Doyle decided that Garibaldi would not risk a relationship with Talia Winters for a one-night stand and suggested that Garibaldi would turn Dodger down, only to regret it later on when she was killed. Straczynski agreed, but DiTillio thought it wasn’t a plausible development.

Mira Furlan was very unhappy with the scene where Delenn is threatened by Kleist, feeling she should have gotten out of it herself rather than needing to be rescued by Dodger.

Larry DiTillio and Jim Johnston collaborated on the big fight sequence, both wanting to reference big bar room brawls from Westerns.

Director Jim Johnston had eighty-five extras he dressed up as marines. He had them circling the camera and used digital trickery to make them look a lot more numerous than they really were.

Larry DiTillio had interviewed every regular actor on the show and assembled large notes on their biographies, as he liked to use actors’ real experiences to help sell their reaction. In this case, Richard Biggs had really grown up as a military brat with a career father in the US military. DiTillio even used the real names of Biggs’s sisters for Franklin’s siblings.

Biggs enjoyed Franklin being presented with a situation where his medical genius couldn’t help him, and he was out of his depth and element.

This episode went far over-budget due to the intricate CG shots and large numbers of extras and stunt people. Straczynski had to write two smaller-scaled episodes to balance the books; these episodes might be B13 and B14 (possibly B21) but it’s unclear as B13 does have several elaborate CG shots.

Familiar Faces: Paul Winfield (General Franklin) is a highly familiar and decorated American actor, best-known to genre fans for playing the role of Captain Terrell in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Lt. Traxler in The Terminator (1984). He passed away from a heart attack in 2004 at the far-too-young age of 64; he predeceased the even more tragic death of his screen son Richard Biggs by just two months.

Ken Foree (Large) is best-known for playing the protagonist Peter from the original 1978 movie Dawn of the Dead and a televangelist in the 2004 remake.

Marie Marshall (Dodger) played the role of Kelsey on Star Trek: The Next Generation’s infamous “Die Hard episode”, Starship Mine, amongst many other guest roles on American television.

Review: An interesting episode, despite some wince-inducing OTT macho dialogue from the soldiers. The downbeat ending is appropriate, and the episode does make some powerful points about jingoism, patriotism and sabre-rattling. However, the relationship between a child and their father (and almost never their mother) being problematic but overcome by them admitting they love one another is an irritating staple and cliché of American television drama. ***½

Garibaldi: “Leave it to the infantry to ruin a guy’s morning.”

Richard Franklin: “I had an Alfredo Garibaldi under my command during the Dilgar Invasion. Excellent soldier.
Garibaldi: “That was my dad.”
Richard Franklin: “So much for genetics.”

Large: “You got some kind of problem, airboy?”
Keffer: “Yeah, I got a problem. Just give me a minute to find a ladder and we’ll hash it out face to face.”
Large: (after a beat) “He’s all right! You all right!”

Sheridan: “There is only one truth about war: people die. Killing is part of a soldier’s job, we can’t deny it. We can only live with it and hope the reasons for doing it are justified.”

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