Sunday, 26 November 2017

BABYLON 5 Rewatch: Season 3, Episodes 5-7

C5: Voices of Authority
Airdates: 29 January 1996 (US), 12 May 1996 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Menachem Bimetski
Cast: Draal (John Schuck), Julie Musante (Shari Shattuck), Lt. David Corwin (Joshua Cox), President Clark (Gary McGurk), Morden (Ed Wasser - uncredited) ISN Anchor (Vimi Mani), Security Guard #1 (James Black), First One Voice (Ardwight Chamberlain)

Date: Mid-February 2260.

Plot:    The B5 War Council assembles and are joined by Draal. Delenn has decided that they need to try finding the other remaining First Ones who may have remained behind along with the Shadows and Vorlons. Several First Ones apparently fought in the Great War of a thousand years ago, but have laid low since then. Marcus is against the idea: all Rangers are told to steer clear of any potential First Ones since they can be exceedingly dangerous. The others agree to the plan and Draal invites Sheridan down to Epsilon III to use the Great Machine to locate some of these alien creatures. However, not long after a new Political Officer arrives on Babylon 5 from Earth, Julie Musante. Musante is intent on making sure Sheridan follows policies implemented on Earth regarding alien relations, especially given Sheridan’s dubious decisions regarding the Centauri at Christmas (B22). Sheridan is tied up on the station and sends Ivanova in his place.

G’Kar, meanwhile, has noticed that everyone seems to be in secret meetings all the time and confronts Delenn about it, demanding to be let in on the secret. She refuses. Trying a different tack, G’Kar approaches Garibaldi. Whilst Garibaldi ponders the idea, G’Kar loans him The Book of G’Quan to encourage him to do the right thing.

Ivanova enters the Great Machine and reaches out across space and time for the First Ones. She sees a desolate planet and gets the feeling of an alien presence. She recognises the planet from starcharts: Sigma 957. However, another strange alien force appears, looking for her. It takes the appearance of a collection of brightly glowing eyes, arranged in a similar configuration to the eyes of a Shadow creature. She evades its attention, but is then swept along by her own thoughts and is shown something else from the past: Earthforce One exploding near Io over a year ago (A22). She overhears a transmission in which then-Vice-President Clark tells an unseen colleague (who sounds just like Morden) how much he wants Santiago dead. Ivanova emerges from the machine with a copy of the transmission and sends it to Sheridan. She and Marcus take the White Star to Sigma 957 immediately. There the same alien force which almost killed Catherine Sakai (A6) appears. Ivanova manages to establish communications and asks for the aliens’ help in the war against the Shadows. The aliens seem unimpressed and move off, but Ivanova keeps following them until they give in, apparently intrigued by human persistence. However, they make it clear they are not friends of the Vorlons and are not keen on having to fight alongside them.

Musante’s attempts to keep tabs on Sheridan are constantly frustrated and Zack Allan becomes suspicious something is up, especially when Garibaldi goes to a meeting with Sheridan based on a ‘Code 7R’ alert (meaning War Council business). Code 7R is not in the Earth Alliance regs. When Zack presses Garibaldi about it, Garibaldi tells him to keep his nose out.

Sheridan sends a copy of Ivanova’s transmission to General Hague and it is released to both the Earth Alliance Senate and ISN the following day. The Senate launches an immediate and full investigation, ignoring Clark’s cries that the recording is a fake meant to bring down Earth, and Musante is recalled to Earth to deal with the crisis in ‘public morale’ this generates.


Dating the Episode: The episode ends with Senate hearings into President Clark being proposed. Episode C8, conclusively dated to start on 4 April 2260, sees these hearings beginning their sixth week. Given that C2 takes place in late January and the need to account for the events of C3-C4, this would indicate that this episode takes place in mid-to-late February 2260, assuming it takes a week or so for the Senate hearings to begin.

The Arc: The aliens from Sigma 957, who first cropped up in episode A6, are now revealed to be First Ones, ancient species like the Vorlons and Shadows who remained when their comrades left our Galaxy (as related by Kosh and Delenn in B17). They don’t appear to be keen on the Vorlons, as is confirmed in episode D6.

Definitive proof of Clark’s involvement in Santiago’s murder is at last found and released to
the public. The crisis this generates continues through the next several episodes.

The person Clark is talking to is Morden, making an uncredited appearance. This has been confirmed by J. Michael Straczynski. The shot of Earthforce One exploding comes from episode A22.

Zack has become suspicious of Garibaldi’s recent activities, but Garibaldi refuses to bring him into the War Council because of his affiliation with Nightwatch. This friction between them continues through the next several episodes.

G’Kar wants to join the War Council. This is followed up on in episodes C9 and C14. G’Kar loans his copy of The Book of G’Quan to Garibaldi, who can’t read it because he can’t speak Narn. We see Garibaldi struggling to read the book over the next few episodes.

The Shadows possess a phenomenon or servant called “the Eye”. We learn exactly what this is in NOV16-18.

Ivanova makes contact with the Eye and is able to recover Clark’s transmission, which a normal human mind should not be able to do. This may be a reference to her mild telepathic ability as noted in episode B19.

Background: The Walkers of Sigma 957 are an incredibly ancient, powerful alien race. Sigma 957 is shown as being covered in alien technology presumably belonging to the Walkers. The Walkers manifest a stone-like head filled with fire. The very presence of their ship drains power from other ships, but the White Star is much less affected by this than Cathern Sakai’s Skydancer. This may be down to the Minbari and Vorlon technology powering the craft.

Earth Alliance government transmissions are sent with special encodings which can’t be faked.

The Shadows have a presence on the strange plane that the Great Machine can tap into.

References: Earth liner Loki is named for Norse trickster-god. This may be a nod to the idea that the First Ones are like gods.

The First Ones are a clear reference to the Great Old Ones and Elder Gods of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. This episode takes it further, noting that some First Ones can be found living in the ruins of ancient cities (like Cthulhu himself) and others walk amongst the stars (like Hastur the Unspeakable).

Ivanova raises an eyebrow in a Spock-like fashion and tells Sheridan that he is about to go “where everyone has gone before” when Musante is trying to seduce him, a clear reference to Star Trek. This confirms, alongside Ivanova’s reading of a Harlan Ellison book in episode A14, that she is a fan of 20th Century science fiction.

Unanswered Questions: Why was Clark openly discussing the impending assassination of Santiago on a com channel, no matter how well-encrypted? It’s possible that he and Morden were using some kind of Shadow technology that was deemed un-breakable by human technology, but it still seems like an unnecessary risk.

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: Ivanova says it is vital they follow the lead on the First Ones to Sigma 957 immediately. Why? They’ve been there for millennia. It might be that Draal fears the appearance of the Shadow Eye will scare the Walkers off, but why not say so?

The Walkers tell Ivanova to return and “call their name” but don’t give her their name. A cut line would have confirmed that they had transmitted this information to the ship.

Behind the Scenes: In a cut line, Draal notes that he nearly blew up Babylon 5 by accident when an insect landed on his nose unexpectedly.

This episode was originally going to air fourth and C4 fifth, but they were flipped when the CG post-production for this episode proved more extensive than first expected.

According to Straczynski, the Walkers’ diatribe about the Vorlons roughly translates as “The Vorlons can kiss my ass” (although what this means for a half-transcended higher being is unclear).

A cut line would have confirmed that the name of the true Walkers is 15,000 letters long. This idea was transferred to another race in episode C22.

The Nightwatch material was designed to echo the Gestapo from Nazi Germany, but also the Red Scare of the 1950s in the United States. Straczynski also noted that Musante is an expert saleswoman, so adjusts her speaking style from a driven and confident – but reasonable – tone when speaking to the other Nightwatch members to a more confiding and humorous tone with Sheridan when she realises he won’t respond to propaganda.

Jeff Conway wasn’t keen on his Earthforce uniform and complained about it frequently. Straczynski overheard one of his diatribes on the subject and wrote it into the script almost verbatim, to Conway’s disquiet.

Jeff Conway enjoyed this episode because it was the first time he got to play some real drama, when Garibaldi makes it clear he no longer trusts Zack because of his decision to join Nightwatch. Conway appreciated the slow build-up of the story because it made this dramatic turn more believable.

The character of Julie Musante was named after a prominent Babylon 5 fan who engineered a fund-raising effort to reimburse Michael O’Hare for a convention appearance where the organisers had not paid him correctly.

Actress Shari Shattuck mispronounced “Minbar War” as “the Minibar War”.

Familiar Faces: Ed Wasser (Morden) gives an uncredited voice performance as the person discussing Santiago’s murder with Clark.

Shari Shattuck (Julie Musante) has appeared in TV series such as Dallas and Knight Rider and films including On Deadly Ground, Spy Hard and Laker Girls, as well as numerous soap operas. She is also a novelist, having penned the Callaway Wilde series of mystery novels featuring a Los Angeles socialite-turned detective, and the Greer Sands series about psychic investigations. Her latest novels are Invisible Ellen (2014) and Becoming Ellen (2015). Her appearance on Babylon 5 led her to also being cast on Hypernauts (also produced by Doug Netter) the same year. After a guest spot on The Young and the Restless in 1999 she focused on writing her novels and also plays.

Ardwight Chamberlain normally plays the voice of Kosh. He provides the voice of the First One here, as Straczynski wanted the idea there was some consistency to the way all these ancient alien races spoke to the lesser beings.

John Schuck returns as Draal from episode B20. Startlingly, this episode marks the final appearance of Draal on Babylon 5: all future communications with Draal happen off-screen or through minions. This was down to Schuck’s availability.

Review: This is an entertaining episode. John Schuck dials down the ham and the character is all the better for it. His dynamic with Ivanova is also quite entertaining. Shari Shattuck is extremely entertaining as the political officer, right up until she suddenly turns into a Gestapo officer when she interrogates the Nightwatch members (including Zack), which is a great bit of acting. Jeff Conway is finally given something meaty to do as Zack and steps up to the plate and delivers. The confrontation with the First Ones is also entertaining. The weakest spot in the episode is the sheer ease with which our heroes discover the evidence they can use to nail Clark, but that’s lampshaded (“it’s walked in the door!”) and the important thing is to get the story moving quickly. Overall, very solid. ****

Draal (to Ivanova): “I like you! You’re trouble.”

Julie Musante: “We’ve revised the rules of evidence to make them more…flexible.”

Julie Musante: “It is going to take the efforts of every loyal citizen to keep Earth safe and ideologically pure.”

Marcus: “I think you just hit a nerve. The Vorlons must owe them money or something.”

Ivanova: “They understand our language, they’re just not willing speak to us in it.”
Marcus: “Who knew they were French?”

C6: Dust to Dust
Airdates: 5 February 1996 (US), 19 May 1996 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by David J. Eagle
Cast: Alfred Bester (Walter Koenig), Mr. Lindstrom (Julian Neil), Narn Image (Jim Norton), Ambassador Kosh (Ardwight Chamberlain), Ashi (Philip Moon), Ambassador Vizak (Kim Strauss), Centauri Diplomat (John Frederick Jones), Psi Cop (Judy Levitt), Ombuds (Dani Thompson), Shop Owner (S. Marc Jordan), MedTech (Gwen McGee), Crazed Man (Walter O’ Neil), Man (David Shark), Security Guard (Harry Hutchinson)

Date: This episode ends on 4 March 2260.

Plot:    Whilst the Earth Alliance Senate’s investigation into Clark’s involvement in Santiago’s death continues, Psi Cop Bester is despatched to Babylon 5. He is on the trail of a “dust” smuggler called Lindstrom. Sheridan is worried about Bester scanning the crew and finding out about the War Council and barely manages to stop Ivanova blowing Bester’s ship up before it docks. Bester confronts the command staff and is shocked to see a group of Minbari telepaths are present. Talking in guarded terms, Bester and Sheridan make it clear they each have the other over the barrel regarding the Talia Winters situation (B19) and Sheridan manages to make Bester agree to ingest telepathic-suppressing drugs whilst he’s on board. Bester and Garibaldi - reluctantly - team up and go searching for Lindstrom.

Vir returns from Minbar for a visit with Londo. Vir is horrified when his report on Minbari culture and society is rewritten by Londo to make it appear that the Minbari are more decadent and inferior to the Centauri.

Delenn mediates peace talks between Londo and Ambassador Vizak of the Drazi Freehold, but the Centauri make outrageous demands, such as the concession of seven Drazi colony worlds. The Drazi refuse to consider this and the conflict continues. Delenn and Lennier are pessimistic that Londo has been lost to a dark and dangerous path, but Vir assures him that Londo will surprise them all one day.

Meanwhile, Lindstrom has a meeting with G’Kar. G’Kar is keen to give the Narn Resistance an edge over the Centauri and plans to use dust to try and give his Narns permanent telepathic powers. Lindstrom leaves a small sample with G’Kar, but when he goes to pick up the main batch Garibaldi and Bester are waiting for him and take him prisoner. G’Kar ingests the sample and, gaining telepathic abilities, storms into Londo’s quarters and takes him prisoner. He ransacks Londo’s mind and discovers that a man named Morden directly put Londo on the road that led to the conquest and re-occupation of the Narn homeworld. He also learns that Londo was assigned to Babylon 5 as a joke by his superiors in the Royal Court. G’Kar suddenly sees an image of his father, who tells G’Kar that this is not the way. If he carries on like this, the Narn and Centauri will be locked into a cycle of destruction and retribution which will last until both races are utterly destroyed. He turns into G’Lan (as personified by Kosh in episode B22) and flies off, whilst G’Kar collapses. Nearby, Ambassador Kosh watches with interest before walking off. G’Kar is arrested and sentenced to sixty days in jail by the Ombuds.

Bester leaves Babylon 5, noting to an associate that it is a pity the dust project has gone so terribly wrong...

Dating the Episode: The events of episode C9 take place five weeks – thirty-five days – after this episode.

The Arc: We’ve heard about dust ever since PM, but this is the first time we get an explicit description of what it does.

Psi Corps created dust itself in an attempt to transform “mundanes” into telepaths, thus bolstering their numbers (although this conflicts with Psi Corps’ previous alleged goal of becoming a super-elite force dominating the rest of the human race), but the project has never succeeded in creating a viable telepath. It is unclear if Psi Corps deliberately released dust into the general populace or if it was stolen or released by telepath malcontents.

Vir’s run-ins with Londo over his intelligence reports continue in episodes C9 and C12.

The Centauri are demanding seven colony worlds from the Drazi Freehold as the price of an armistice. The Drazi understandably refuse to consider this.

In a very important plot revelation, G’Kar tells Lindstrom that although there are no Narn telepaths around today, there once were. They were killed off centuries ago. This sets up certain plot points in episodes C14 and C18.

G’Kar previously told the story of his father’s death in episode B15. This episode recreates that scene exactly.

It is implied that Kosh is behind G’Kar’s “revelation”. The image of G’Kar’s father says “I have always been here,” as Kosh said to Sheridan in episode B11, and describes the cycle of life and death between the Narn and Centauri in a manner similar to Kosh in A1 (“They are a dying people, we should let them pass”). In addition, the image turns into a winged, angelic figure at the end of the dream identical to Kosh in B22 and, in the real world, we see Kosh looking at G’Kar’s unconscious body.

According to Bester his predecessors in the Psi Corps organised the sleeper programme which Talia Winters was part of. He claims that Talia was “dissected” upon her return to Earth after the events of B19, suggesting she was killed. However, Ivanova dismisses this as an attempt to get a rise out of Garibaldi.

Although Garibaldi despises Bester, they ironically make a good team. This is followed up in later episodes.

Londo rewriting Vir’s report about Minbar starts a running joke which continues through episodes C9 and C12.

Background: Dust enhances human mental activity to the point where it temporarily triggers the latent telepathic gene. It also works on alien races, but only those who possess the gene. The idea of a drug affecting multiple species with radically different biology also appears to be unlikely, but later episodes expand on how this may be possible.

The Drazi ambassador to Babylon 5, whom we’ve seen on and off since Season 1, is revealed in this episode to be called Vizak.

G’Kar appears to have moved to quarters in Red Sector. This makes sense, given he is no longer an ambassador and would not be eligible for quarters in Green Sector. His new room has the exact same lay-out as the old one.

Londo is a fan of the free salted peanuts given out on long spaceflights. Vir remembers to get some for him. Despite being well-travelled for a Centauri, Londo has never been to the Minbari homeworld.

The “sleeper” drugs which inhibit telepathic abilities take about three hours to kick in and then seem to last for a day or two before losing their effectiveness.

References: The dust smuggler’s aliases, Lindstrom and Morgenstern, are the surnames of two characters from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

The Zocalo shopkeeper being persecuted by the security officer appears to be Jewish, which adds a sharper edge to the Nightwatch/fascism parallels being drawn.

Unanswered Questions: Who is paying for G’Kar’s new quarters on the station?

Why would a Minbari transport be giving out salted peanuts?

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: In this episode Bester seems to suggest that the Psi Corps created dust five years ago. However, in A11 Garibaldi says that they were dealing with dust problems on Europe seventeen years earlier. It is possible that dust previously existed and the Psi Corps began adjusting it five years ago.

It’s barely visible, but Londo goes from squinting in his right eye in the long shots to his left eye in the close-ups. This is because Peter Jurasik forgot which eye was supposed to be injured in the break between doing the long-shots and close-ups and guessed wrong.

Behind the Scenes: Using the Minbari alphabet developed for the show, Vir’s Minbari shirt says “Aloha!” This was the costume department’s idea and Straczynski didn’t hear about it until he was on set.

Vir giving Londo peanuts was an improvisation on Stephen Furst’s part.

During the scene where Londo is lying bloodied and battered on the floor, Jurasik looked up at the camera and said, “You wouldn’t believe it but three wine coolers and I’m buzzed.”

Straczynski and producer John Copeland spent hours putting together the montage scene when G’Kar invades Londo’s mind. Some of the shots in this scene are only a few frames long, so huge numbers of shots had to be found from previous episodes. Straczynski notes that they nearly went blind trying to put the sequence together.

The episode was inspired by Straczynski’s realisation that the best and most threatening bad guys either have to be right some of the time or they have to win, to keep up the level of threat. After two loses for Bester, he had to win or complete his objective in this episode, which is the case.

Actress Andrea Thompson (Talia Winters) was happy to return to Babylon 5 for a guest spot to wrap up Talia’s storyline, but Straczynski chose not to re-use her. Instead, he hints in this episode that Talia is dead.

Familiar Faces: Walter Koenig reprises his role from A6 and B7 as Mr. Bester, of course, and Koenig’s real-life wife Judy Levitt reprises her role as a Psi Cop from episode B7 (we may infer that her character is Bester’s wife, but this is not confirmed).

Jim Norton plays the Narn image which Kosh projects to G’Kar, confirmed by Straczynski to be G’Kar’s father, G’Qarn. Norton previously played Ombuds Wellington in episodes A15 and A21 and Markab Dr. Lazarenn in episode B18. Ironically, Norton playing G’Kar’s father under heavy prosthetics meant he couldn’t also play Ombuds Wellington, so a new Ombuds character had to be invented for the episode.

Review: There’s some very good stuff in this episode: Katsulas and Jurasik are on fire, as usual, and Walter Koenig is excellent. The Garibaldi/Bester dynamic is excellent and it’s good to see Bester win, just when him constantly losing was getting old. The dust plot feels a bit under-developed though, especially since we never really hear about it again. ****

Franklin: “I will not condone murder. We cannot kill him.”
Ivanova: “Can we wound him? Just a little?”

Sheridan: “Nothing like a level playing field to ruin a Psi Cop’s day.”

Londo: “I have only seen political naivete this complete once before, in a speech before the Centaurum by Lord Jano. When he was finished, we recommended that be sterilised in the best interests of evolution, and then we remembered that he was married to Lady Jano, so really there was no need.”

Kosh (as G’Kar’s father): “Some of us must be sacrifice if all are to be saved.” (this is more prophetic than maybe Kosh intended)

Kosh (as G’Kar’s father): “You have the opportunity, here and now, to choose. To become something greater, nobler and more difficult than you have ever been before. The universe does not offer such chances often, G’Kar.”

Bester: “For what it’s worth, Mr. Garibaldi, I enjoyed working with you. Maybe we’ll do it again someday?”
Garibaldi: “Not a chance.”

C7: Exogenesis
Airdates: 12 February 1996 (US), 26 May 1996 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Kevin G. Cremin
Cast: Matthew Duffin (James Warwick), Jacque Lee (Wylie Small), Duncan (Aubrey Morris), Lt. David Corwin (Joshua Cox), Florist (Ross Gottstein), Samuel (Eric Steinberg), Trader (Donald Willis), Dr. Harrison (Carrie Dobro), Kat (Kathryn Cressida), Man (Michael McKenzie), Lurker (Roger Rook), Woman (Leslie Pratt), Writhing Man (Brian Freifield, uncredited), Shuttle Pilot (Doug Cook, uncredited)

Date: 27 March 2260.

Plot:    A group of lurkers from Downbelow are possessed by some kind of alien lifeform and begin spreading the ‘infection’. Franklin and Marcus team up to investigate and eventually discover that a benign alien race known as the Vendrizi are joining forces with humans who volunteer to gain their insight and knowledge. The Vendrizi are attempting to gather all the knowledge of the universe together. After they prove their friendly natures, Franklin agrees to help them with any medical problems they encounter in the future.

The Rangers report that Shadow warships are gathering in Sector 700, near the border of Centauri space. It is unclear what for. Marcus informs Garibaldi that a ‘package’ he is expecting will arrive in seven days.

One of the C&C crewmen, Lt. (j.g.) David Corwin, is promoted and Sheridan begins to worry about him seeing or overhearing something he shouldn’t. He despatches Ivanova to find out if he can be trusted, but Corwin misinterprets her offer of dinner as a sign of romantic interest. He decides to buy some flowers for her, chickens out and tells her he found them outside her quarters. Simultaneously Marcus reveals he is interested in Ivanova. Confusion follows, which ends with Ivanova thinking Marcus is interested in her and Marcus that Ivanova is interested in him. Ivanova decides that Lt. Corwin follows the regs too vigorously to be relied upon in a crisis and reluctantly tells Sheridan they should not bring him into the conspiracy...for now.

Dating the Episode: It is one week before the events of the next episode, when Marcus’ “package” arrives.

The Arc: Lt. Corwin’s loyalties are fully put to the test in episode C10.

We find out what Garibaldi’s “package” is in episode C8.

The Shadows are gathering their fleet for some uncertain purpose. We hear about what they are getting up to in episode C10 but it’s episodes C14 and C15 before we see them properly in action again.

This episode marks the beginning of a “bromance” for Marcus and Franklin which continues into Season 4.

Background: The Vendrizi are a long-lived alien race who have appointed themselves guardians of knowledge and information across many generations.

Earhart’s is for the use of Earthforce personnel only, although this rule is not rigidly enforced.

Ivanova still has her illegal coffee plan in the Garden.

Orion VII is an Earth Alliance colony and it harbours a form of life known as a flamebird.

Communication links are keyed to individual users. Someone else trying to use them triggers a security warning.

References: Marcus refers to “the Scottish Play”, which of course is a reference to Macbeth. Some British actors are superstitious about the name and refuse to speak it out loud, something that confused a lot of American viewers.

The shuttle pilot at the start of the episode sounds like he’s doing a Sean Connery impersonation. The voiceover actor responsible, Doug Cook, was not doing this deliberately and it came out that way due to the background noise when they were recording the “walla” for the episode.

In this episode we see a complete docking sequence for a ship arriving at Babylon 5 for the first time, with the ship landing on an internal lift and being brought down to the docking bays via an airlock mechanism. This was a Ron Thornton homage to Thunderbirds and other Gerry Anderson puppet shows with elaborate machinery and launch and landing sequences. Thornton later worked on a revival of Anderson’s Captain Scarlet TV show.

The “Copeland J5000” is a reference to producer John Copeland.

“I saw flamebirds dying on Orion VII” maybe a reference to Blade Runner and Roy Batty’s “Tears in the Rain” speech.

Unanswered Questions: What became of the Vendrizi? They’re all set up to show up again later on but we never see them again.

Do the Vendrizi have knowledge of the Shadows and the previous Great War? They’ve been around for half a million years, after all.

Where did Duncan get the money to leave Babylon 5? Did Marcus give it to him?

Where did Marcus get the tennis ball from?

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: After his first meeting with Samuel, Marcus walks off saying, “I don’t like it,” when Samuel is still very clearly within earshot.

This episode says that links can be only be used by authorised users, but in episode A11 Garibaldi uses Cutter’s link to contact Security. It might be that as Security Chief, Garibaldi is authorised to use any link on the station (although his status had been revoked, it might not have been possible to reprogram the links without recalling every one on board). It might also be that the security measure is to prevent non-Earthforce personnel from using links, whilst Earthforce personnel can use each other’s links.

It’s unclear why the Vendrizi needed to break into Duncan’s quarters through a hole in the wall, when Duncan voluntarily agreed to join them.

Behind the Scenes: Straczynski was interrupted halfway through the writing of the episode for some major production-related meetings about the crew strike and didn’t get back to it until a week later, but which time he’d lost the thread of where he’d been going with the episode. As a result, he feels the second half of the episode doesn’t live up to the first and he considers this episode to be maybe the weakest of Season 3 (along with C19).

The writing of this episode – and the filming of episode C3 – was disrupted by a strike by some of the crew, who wanted to go union. The production team supported them (Warner Brothers opposed the idea) and the dispute was resolved in a few days with the crew being granted union status.

The shot at the end of the teaser, with the lurker being “joined” by the Vendrizi, came out as rather more graphic and disturbing than Straczynski planned. He issued a warning to the show’s online fans that they might want to be careful if small children were watching the show (although it wasn’t that bad).

Straczynski discovered he had problems shutting up Marcus once he started talking on the page.

Joshua Cox, who normally didn’t get much to do apart from take orders in C&C, enjoyed having a larger role on the show. This was a thank you from Straczynski who appreciated Cox’s sterling work in the background. Claudia Christian championed Cox and encouraged Straczynski to give him a name (in episode B15) and then a more prominent role in the story.

Straczynski was careful to call Macbeth “the Scottish Play”, since both actors in the scene were British. Ironically, a few weeks later one of the hairdressers said Macbeth out loud in front of Michael York, who made her go through a silly “undoing the curse” routine by walking around the soundstage three times.

Kathryn Cressida (Kat) makes her final appearance as Kat, Babylon 5’s hardest-working bar manager. She previously appeared in episodes A18, B7 and B12.

Richard Biggs and Jason Carter got on extremely well, bouncing lines and jokes off each other on set. This dynamic helped Straczynski decide to team them up again in later episodes.

Familiar Faces: Aubrey Morris was a very well-established British actor who played his first screen role in 1948. He played P.R. Deltoid in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and is arguably best-known in SFF circles for playing the bath-obsessed Captain of the Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet ship in the 1981 BBC TV adaptation of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, of which Straczynski is a fan. Morris’ other roles included Z Cars, On the Buses, The Wicker Man, The Sweeney, Alien Nation, Lovejoy, Columbo and Deadwood. His last role was playing Albert Zimmerman on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Morris sadly passed away in 2015.

Eric Steinberg (Samuel) is a very familiar face from American television. He has had recurring roles on Supergirl (as Commander Gor), Pretty Little Liars (as Wayne Fields), Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless and Stargate SG-1 (as Netan).

Wylie Small (Jacque Lee) has had a long career in Hollywood circles, starting on L.A. Law in the 1990s. She has also appeared in 7th Heaven, The Naked Gun 33 1/3, Ally McBeal, NCIS and Bones.

James Warwick (Matthew) is a British actor resident in the United States since the 1990s. He is best-known in genre circles for playing Lt. Scott, the commander of the Earth marines who help the Fifth Doctor defeat the Cybermen in the classic Doctor Who serial Earthshock. In the United States he had recurring roles as a voice actor on Iron Man and Fantastic Four. Due to an effective ability to impersonate Liam Neeson, he voiced Qui-Gon Jinn in the various video games that accompanied the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999. His more recent career has been focused on acting on stage.

Review: This could have been a stronger episode then it turned out to be. The “comedy of errors” between Ivanova, Corwin and Marcus is both funny and also sets up Ivanova and Marcus’s later relationship, and the episode has a pretty excellent guest cast. Unfortunately, the Vendrizi turning out to be good guys renders their earlier, more sinister behaviour inexplicable and the episode just fizzles out at the end. ***

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