Monday 18 December 2017

BABYLON 5 Rewatch: Season 3, Episodes 21-22

C21: Shadow Dancing
Airdates: 21 October 1996 (US), 15 September 1996 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Kim Friedman
Cast: Barbara (Shirley Prestia), Anna (Melissa Gilbert), Drazi Ambassador (Mark Hendrickson), Brakiri Ambassador (Jonathan Chapman), Lt. David Corwin (Joshua Cox), Husband (Doug Cox), Thug #1 (Nicholas Ross Oleson), Thug #2 (John Grantham), Man (J. Gordon Noice)

Date: 15-19 December 2260, Z-minus 6 days to Z-minus 2 days.

Plot:    Delenn calls a meeting of the War Council and tells them that they have discovered a possible location the Shadows are planning to attack. However, they have no way of knowing when the Shadows will strike or how many ships they will bring. She asks that all the races send considerable numbers of ships to the engagement, but the League races are unwilling to risk weakening their defences around their homeworlds. Delenn and Lennier eventually manage to convince them by committing a sizeable Minbari fleet to the trap as well. Meanwhile, Sheridan orders Ivanova and Marcus to take the White Star to Sector 83 and keep an eye out in case the Shadows turn up early. The refugee traffic into the system has died off in the last few weeks so the Shadows may attack at any time, before the refugees feel it is safe to leave the sanctuary of the area and return home. They depart for the system.

Dr. Franklin is still on ‘walkabout’ in Downbelow and sees a man being attacked by two thugs. When he tries to intervene, he is stabbed and left for dead.

Sheridan and Delenn leave Babylon 5 on the Minbari warcruiser Dogato and rendezvous with the League ships and the Narn rebel cruisers. Sheridan feels they don’t have enough ships, but the League worlds sent all they could spare.

The White Star arrives at Sector 83 and takes up a surveillance position behind a moon. After a few hours a Shadow scout vessel appears and the White Star engages it. Crippled, the Shadow scout tries to ram the White Star. The White Star destroys it, but it is damaged in the explosion. It is left dead in the water whilst the automatic systems try to repair the engines, but the main Shadow fleet of more than a dozen vessels appears and begins moving towards the refugee staging ground. With little choice, Ivanova and Marcus send the signal to the main fleet.

Franklin, hallucinating from blood loss, sees another image of himself appear and urge him to fight on and live, instead of just giving up as he always does. He manages to stagger into the local market and he gets taken to Medlab.

One of the Shadow warships breaks off to investigate the crippled White Star, but then a series of jump points opens and the War Council’s fleet emerges. The telepaths start jamming the Shadow vessels, although they can’t stop all of them, and a massive, pitched battle erupts. The new White Stars prove their worth, as do the Minbari, Drazi, Narn and Vree warships, but even so a large portion of the fleet is destroyed and almost all of the ships that survive are heavily damaged. The Shadows retreat after taking substantial losses.

Back on the station the outlook is grim. The Shadow attack was repulsed, but the allies lost twice as many ships as the Shadows. Sheridan now fears a retaliation against B5 itself and has the station put on full defence alert. Franklin recovers from his wounds and starts helping out with the injuries from the battle. Sheridan offers him his job back and he accepts.

In hyperspace a Shadow vessel drops off a smaller craft, which heads towards Babylon 5’s jump gate...

Delenn tells Sheridan that when Minbari couples become close they spend three nights together. The female watches the male as he relaxes during sleep and sees if she approves of his ‘true face’ which is so revealed. Sheridan falls asleep in his quarters whilst Delenn watches. The door opens and a human woman walks in, telling Delenn that she is Anna Sheridan, John’s wife...


Dating the Episode: Dates are extrapolated from the previous episode.

The Arc: The first major fleet battle between the Shadows and the allies ends with victory for the allies, but at a hefty price. This explains some of the League ambassadors’ actions in episodes D1-D3.

The Narn heavy cruiser G’Dok reappears from B22 and C18 and chalks up its second Shadow warship kill. Drazi heavy cruisers and White Star-class ships also destroy several Shadow warships.

The telepaths, although helpful in slowing the Shadows down, don’t seem to have affected the course of the battle that much. This explains why the situation isn’t referred to again until Season 5.

The ancient Egyptian blessing Sheridan gives Ivanova and Marcus was previously referred to in episode B4.

Franklin’s long trek through Downbelow which began in C15 comes to an end.

There is a long, somewhat inconclusive discussion about the dream Sheridan had in episode B11. Sheridan in a Psi Cop uniform was probably a hint of their new alliance with Bester (from C14). Ivanova saying “Do you know who I am?” was almost certainly a reference to her latent telepath abilities (B19). “You are the hand” is more difficult but Delenn points out that everyone has two hands, opposite but equal. “The man inbetween” the dream-Garibaldi mentioned may be some sort of opposite number to Sheridan’s, possibly on the Shadows’ side. This may be an explanation for Morden or, possibly more likely, the newcomer in episode C22.

It is likely, given the events of D4, that Kosh himself (or whatever tiny part of him is left in Sheridan) triggered the recollection of the dream in that moment, as it was germane to what was happening.

Despite Delenn’s statements indicating it is the first time, this is actually the second time she’s seen Sheridan sleeping; the first was in episode C8, on the White Star.

The end of this episode matches Delenn’s vision on Babylon 4 from C17. The woman is Anna, Sheridan’s supposedly dead wife.

Anna’s reappearance was foreshadowed by Marcus’s musings on Morgana Le Fay in episode C13.

According to NOV7, the snowglobe that Delenn drops and smashes was a wedding gift from Anna to Sheridan.

Background: Sector 83 is the location of the system being used as a refugee gathering area. Ships have been pouring in for two months but have dropped off in the last few days.

At least 15 Shadow warships and many dozens of fighters jump into the system before the battle begins.

The Alliance fleet consists of Minbari Sharlin-class warcruisers and Nial-class fighters, Brakiri heavy cruisers, Vree battle saucers, Drazi Sunhawks and Warhawks (and fighters), one Narn G’Quan-class heavily cruiser (almost certainly the G’Dok), numerous Narn Frazi-class fighters and of course several dozen White Star-class attack ships. Interestingly, Sheridan does not commit any Starfuries or Thunderbolts from Babylon 5 to the battle.

Vree battle-saucers can “rain” massive torrents of energy fire on targets below them. One ship uses this tactic to wipe out a squadron of Shadow fighters in a single fusillade.

Minbari warcruisers can inflict severe damage on Shadow warships: the warcruiser Enfili almost obliterates a Shadow ship by itself before it is taken out by two other Shadow ships.

The Enfili is not related to the Enphili aliens, who appear in episode E3.

The Minbari warcruiser Dogato is the ship that Sheridan and Delenn command the battle from.

At the end of the battle, nine Shadow warships are shown retreating to hyperspace. Only two Shadow ships are destroyed on-screen but the implication is that more were lost (and would have had to have been, to give the 2:1 ratio given the number of Alliance ships we see destroyed). The implication is that at least six Shadow warships were destroyed in the battle, with twelve Alliance capital ships also lost. The Alliance death toll was likely in the low thousands, given that one Sharlin-class warcruiser was definitely destroyed with a confirmed crew of 600 (although there may have been survivors in lifepods or in the intact sections of hull).

Minbari have a type of blood known as “R-negative”.

This episode introduces a new type of Shadow vessel, namely the scout craft that nearly takes out the White Star.

References: The scenes with Franklin on walkabout and getting stabbed was inspired by a real event from J. Michael Straczynski’s life. Whilst living in San Diego, California in the early 1980s he would sometimes go for long walks early in the morning to clear his head and think things through. During once such walk he was mugged and brutally beaten up by a gang. He credits his survival through force of will. Franklin’s Season 3 story arc (minus the drug addiction) was a nod at this, as was the decision to drop a thermonuclear bomb on the city.

“Commander Ivanova is on Channel 4” was a nod to the UK television network which first showed Babylon 5, and in fact gave this episode its world premiere.

Unanswered Questions: What was the actual casualty toll from the battle?

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: If Anna is MIA, or even listed as KIA, her identicard should trigger a security alert. Indeed, it appears it does as Zack Allen is alerted. Security should have detained her and Sheridan been informed. Anna just strolling into his quarters is a dramatic conceit.

The White Star creates its own jump point outside B5 rather than using the jump gate. According to Straczynski, this really was for purposes of drama (as well as it being a re-use of an effects shot from earlier in the season).

Some of the CGI for the battle sequence is re-used as backdrops for Sheridan and Delenn’s command ship. This results in a few odd moments, such as the Shadow retreat sequence playing behind Sheridan in one scene several minutes before the Shadows actually flee.

Similarly, the shots of the Minbari telepaths are reused from episode C18.

Sheridan says that his dream whilst a prisoner of the Streibs (from episode B11) was a week before Ivanova confirmed that she was a latent telepath (in episode B19). This is erroneous, as B11 took place in June 2259 and B19 most likely takes place in October 2259.

Behind the Scenes: The scene where we see Anna boarding B5 (from her POV) and people reacting strangely was not in the script. In fact, the script specified that people should not be surprised to see her (they have no idea who she is), but the director got confused.

The brief and minor role of Barbara (the mother of the little girl Franklin befriends) appears to have been written and cast with a relatively well-known actress to pull viewers’ attention away from Melissa Gilbert as Anna in the credits. Anna was also listed without her surname, to preserve the surprise of her appearance.

Bruce Boxleitner was coming down with a cold during production, so had to go back and re-dub his scenes during the battle to make them more forceful and commanding.

Familiar Faces: Shirley Prestia (Barbara) was a familiar face on American television, debuting in the late 1970s. She appeared numerous times as a guest star but surprisingly did not become a series regular until the late 1990s, when she played Mattie Gelman on Night Stand. She later had a recurring role as Delores on Home Improvement and as Janet on Dharma and Greg. She sadly passed away in 2011.

Review: A strong character episode for Dr. Franklin, where he hits rock bottom and discovers his real self, although the visuals of him literally meeting himself are perhaps a bit too on-the-nose. The space battle is highly impressive (even if the geography of the battle is confused due to the constant re-use of the same CG shots) and seeing the Shadows get a real bloody nose is satisfying. The shift in tone at the end of the episode, resulting in the cliffhanger, is powerfully effective. ****

Ivanova: “Who wants to live forever?”
Marcus: “I do, actually, but what the hell?”

C21: Z’ha’dum
Airdates: 28 October 1996 (US), 22 September 1996 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by
Cast: Anna Sheridan (Melissa Gilbert), Justin (Jeff Corey), Morden (Ed Wasser), Ambassador Kosh (Ardwight Chamberlain), Lt. David Corwin (Joshua Cox), Messenger (Ron Campbell)

Date: 19-21 December 2260, Z-minus 2 days to Z-day.

Plot:    Sheridan is left stunned by Anna’s unexpected arrival on the station. He has Franklin run medical tests on her confirming she is the real Anna and not something made to look like her. He confronts Delenn, who admits that she and Kosh were not as sure about Anna being dead as they told Sheridan at the time. Sheridan is furious with her.

G’Kar has been liaising with the Gaim about getting hold of some of their tremendously powerful nuclear devices. Several dozen thermonuclear bombs, each capable of unleashing 600 megaton blasts, have been installed on the station for use in the Shadow War, presuming they can find some way of nuking the Shadows without killing themselves as well. An associate of Morden’s relays a message to Londo, warning him to leave the station soon for his own good. Londo was leaving anyway: he has been ordered back to Centauri Prime and promoted to Advisor on Planetary Security to Emperor Cartagia.

Anna reveals something of what happened to her. Seven years ago an Interplanetary Expeditions uncovered an alien vessel on Mars. It was returned to the aliens who built it, but unknown to them a tracking device was placed inside (C8). The Icarus was despatched to investigate further. When it landed on Z’ha’dum the Shadows were already awake, having just revived from a long hibernation (NOV7). The Shadows agreed to provide new technology and knowledge to the Icarus crew in return for secrecy, but there was an accident and the Icarus was destroyed. The others willingly remained behind on Z’ha’dum to continue working for them. Now they want to talk to Sheridan face-to-face to discuss the war. Sheridan agrees, but before they leave he has the entire crew of the White Star transferred to Babylon 5 and makes some arrangements with Garibaldi as well. He leaves in secret, without telling anyone else other than Garibaldi.

The White Star arrives at Z’ha’dum and Sheridan and Anna go down to the surface. In an underground city Sheridan meets Morden again and another human, an elderly human called Justin. Justin, Morden and Anna explain something of the true nature of the war. The Shadows are not evil as such and the Vorlons are not good as such. That’s not what the war is about. Both races were left behind by the First Ones to look after and encourage the younger races. The Vorlons believe in law, order and discipline. The Shadows believe in chaos, anarchy and freedom. The Vorlons teach the younger races, letting them know , the Shadows force them to grow stronger by making them fight wars, between one another where possible, against the Shadows themselves if necessary. But, at some point in the past few millennia, the Vorlons came to believe that their way was the only way and took an active hand in organising the younge races against the Shadows, genetically engineering telepaths among their ranks and even directly fighting the Shadows themselves when it proved necessary (such as in C15). The Shadows want Sheridan to abandon the crusade against them, because it is pointless. The whole idea of the war is to accelerate evolution: the unworthy, weak races are destroyed. The strong get stronger. The Vorlons want to retard the development of the younger races, the Shadows want to encourage it. However, Sheridan distrusts everything the Shadows say and reveals that he knows that Anna was put inside a Shadow ship. Franklin found the scars indicating she once had the Shadow cybernetic implants that allowed her to interface with the Shadow ship systems, like the telepaths they found five months ago (C14). Justin agrees, but says they pulled her out once they found out who she was and who Sheridan was. But it is too late: she will never be the same again. Sheridan continues to resist and question what the Shadows are up to and Justin gets annoyed, telling him he’ll do what he’s told. A Shadow enters the room behind Sheridan, but he pulls out a concealed weapon and guns it down.

On Babylon 5 Delenn receives a time-delayed message from Sheridan. He tells her he knows what’s waiting for him on Z’ha’dum is a trap, but he must go anyway. When he was in the time rift and flashed forwards to Centauri Prime twenty years in the future Delenn told him not to go to Z’ha’dum, but he wondered if that future had been caused by him not going to Z’ha’dum. To avert that future he came anyway. He tells her he loves her and goodbye. Meanwhile, Shadow warships come out of hyperspace and surround the station. Ivanova launches fighters but the Shadow ships make no aggressive moves. Garibaldi takes out a fighter as well to help in the defence, but the crew are unwilling to fight unless they have to. Ivanova ponders trying to get the Gaim nuclear bombs outside, but G’Kar tells her two of the bombs are missing.

Bloodied and battered, Sheridan emerges on a balcony overlooking the Shadow capital city just under the surface of Z’ha’dum and sees a huge pit falling away into the bowels of the planet. He uses his comlink to send a homing signal to the White Star, whichs enters the atmosphere and begins heading towards his location. The two 600 megaton nuclear bombs arm themselves. Anna and two Shadows appear and she offers to love him in a way the old Anna could never have done. Sheridan hears the voice of Kosh telling him to jump and, with nothing to lose, he plummets down into the abyss. Moments later the White Star crashes through the overhead access portal and explodes. The thermonuclear blast vaporises the city and everything for hundreds of miles around.

The Shadow ships jump to hyperspace, having determined that B5 is no longer a threat without Sheridan. However, one of the Shadow ships locks onto Garibaldi’s fighter and pulls it into hyperspace with it.

Hours pass and B5 C&C determine that the White Star’s transponder has ceased functioning, indicating it has been destroyed. Garibaldi’s disappearance is also noted. G’Kar continues writing his history of the war and Delenn and Lennier hold vigil over a candle, waiting for word...

Dating the Episode: Dates are extrapolated from the previous two episodes. Z-day – the moment Sheridan nukes Z’ha’dum – is 21 December 2260, which provides the dating for early episodes of Season 4.

The Arc: According to Anna, Justin and Morden, the Shadows and Vorlons are not actually mortal enemies, more opponents in a philosophical debate about which of their ideologies is more correct: the Vorlons, who teach the younger races to strengthen them, and the Shadows, who make them fight for the same reason.

The Shadows claim that the Vorlons broke the rules of engagement between their competing ideologies, most notably by creating telepaths as weapons to fight the Shadows. Given what we know of the Vorlons (now and later), this may even be true.

Interplanetary Expeditions knew where Z’ha’dum was as early as 2253, when they put a homing device on the Shadow ship they found on Mars. They sent the Icarus expedition in 2256, working alongside Earthforce’s New Technologies Division. NOV7 explains (which we will cover in our next instalment) why they waited this long.

This episode confirms that the Shadows were already awake (or already awakening) when the Icarus reached Z’ha’dum. The Shadows didn’t want the Icarus crew to leave because they feared it would bring their enemies (presumably meaning the Minbari and Vorlons) down on them. NOV7 reveals what really happened when the Icarus landed on Z’ha’dum.

Some of the other Gaim nuclear bombs seen in this episode are used in D6.

Sheridan refers to the telepaths they intercepted in episode C14. Anna was placed inside a Shadow ship (although she isn’t a telepath) but removed when her importance was discovered. According to Justin, once you’ve been inside a Shadow ship, you are never the same again. We see Franklin comparing Anna’s scans to Carolyn Sanderson’s (from C14).

Sheridan refers to his flash-forward to the future in C17 and wonders if that future could be averted by him going to Z’ha’dum. As we find out in NOV15, the answer is no.

The Shadows claim that they will die if anything “remotely” Vorlon touches Z’ha’dum. Sheridan, of course, appears to have been touched by Kosh in episodes B11 and C15, so may qualify as “remotely” Vorlon. The White Star, of course, is based partially on Vorlon technology and it touching Z’ha’dum at the end of the episode turns out to be a bad idea.

This episode confirms that telepaths appeared among the younger races as a direct result of Vorlon genetic tampering. This indicates that the Vorlons are all naturally telepathic and telepaths among other races only exist due to Vorlon tampering. They presumably created Narn and Minbari telepaths before the Great War of 1,000 years ago and human, Centauri and other races’ telepaths for use in this war. We actually see the Vorlons creating the first human telepaths in NOV10. The revelation that telepaths were created as weapons for use against the Shadows will have unforeseen consequences in episodes E7 and E9.

There is a question about why the Shadow city is built around a giant hole in the ground. We find out why in episode D2.

Justin may be the man “in between” mentioned in Sheridan’s dream in episode B11 and pondered about in C21. Next to nothing is revealed about him, however, even when we revisit this storyline in NOV16-18.

Some of the “flipside” events of this episode are portrayed in book NOV18, where we see exactly what happened after Sheridan tried to shoot the Shadow. This book also reveals a little more about Justin (though not who he is and where the hell he came from) and explains how the White Star was able to breach the Shadows’ planetary defences to crash into the city without being shot down.

Having destroyed the Black Star during the Earth-Minbari War, Sheridan has now also destroyed the White Star, further justifying the nickname “Starkiller”.

According to Straczynski, the Vorlons have not attacked Z’ha’dum (and, presumably vice versa) because of the rules of engagement between the two sides, but there may be another reason. We find out what that is early in Season 4.

Background: The Shadows live in cities rather like humans. They can be harmed by PPG energy blasts.

The Shadows’ true name is 10,000 characters long and is unpronounceable by humans.

According to Straczynski, there is no distinction between military and civilian Shadows. They are the same thing, all united in their purpose. As a result, Sheridan had no qualms about nuking a city filled with 100,000 of them (more or less).

According to Delenn (who was presumably told by the Vorlons), Z’ha’dum appears to be the Shadows’ actual homeworld, not an outpost or an adopted planet. According to Anna, time doesn’t work quite the same way there and she didn’t know she’d been gone that long, although this might have been a lie.

According to Straczynski, the Shadow who later sneaks up on Sheridan was waiting in the room next door, which is why Anna is keen to get Sheridan away from the door.

The nuclear explosion on Z’ha’dum was between 1,000 and 1,200 megatons in size. To put this in comparison, the largest nuclear explosion in human history was that of the Russian RDS-220 hydrogen bomb – better-known as “Tsar Bomba” – detonated over Severny Island on 30 October 1961. This bomb was merely 50 megatons in size but generated a mushroom cloud over 35 miles tall. The nearest observers were over 100 miles away but the explosion still lit up the entire horizon and the cloud was easily visible from space. The fireball alone was more than five miles in diameter. This bomb was approximately 1,500 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 and would completely obliterate a city the size of Paris. The Gaim nukes would be, by comparison, more than 30,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb.

References: Sheridan plummeting into the pit on Z’ha’dum is a clear nod to Gandalf and the Balrog falling from the Bridge of Khazad-dûm in The Lord of the Rings.

Delenn’s Minbari saying of “what is past is sometimes the future” appears to be a misquote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, “What is past is prologue.”

The Shadow/Vorlon conflict is rooted in philosophical ideas Straczynski had picked up from philosophers like Hegel and Jung.

Unanswered Questions: Who the hell is Justin, where did he come from and why is he working with the Shadows?

Why don’t the Shadows destroy Babylon 5 in a fury as they retreat?

Mistakes, Retcons and Lamentations: Not a mistake, as such, just a rethink. In episode B2 Anna Sheridan was played in a video message by Beth Toussaint, with the idea she’d come back “in the flesh” in this episode. However, when the idea of using Melissa Gilbert – Bruce Boxleitner’s wife and a relatively high-profile American TV actress herself – was floated, the studio backed it enthusiastically. As a result, the previous video appearance was reshot for this episode with Melissa Gilbert. There was a plan to slip it into future repeats of episode B2 (“like Soviet revisionism”, according to Straczynski) but this proved unworkable since it would have meant Toussaint not receiving residuals for future repayments and media releases, which would have incurred union and financial issues.

Anna says that she’s been missing for five years, but it’s actually four (she vanished in December 2256 and this episode takes place in December 2260).

Sheridan and Anna wear only breathers on Z’ha’dum but the Icarus expedition had full spacesuits (B17). This discrepancy was pointed out to Straczynski by novelist Jeanne Cavelos as she was planning NOV7. Straczynski suggested it would be First Contact Protocol to wear full body suits on arriving on an alien planet, so as not to contaminate the planet with microbes.

When the Shadow ships surround Babylon 5, the station’s defensive fleet of Minbari warcruisers, League vessels and White Star-class ships has mysteriously evaporated into thin air.

The plummeting CG Sheridan is a bit goofy-looking, mainly because his arms are too long.

Behind the Scenes: Melissa Gilbert was married to Bruce Boxleitner (Captain Sheridan) from 1995 to 2011, having dated from around 1993. The idea of casting her came about when it appeared that Beth Toussaint (who had played Anna in episode B2) would not be available. The studio was keen because it allowed them to generate some PR, as Melissa Gilbert was a well-known TV actress in the United States at the time.

Gilbert and Boxleitner’s actual wedding photos were used in the episode.

Originally there was going to be a linking scene where Sheridan wounds the Shadow, avoids a counter-attack from Morden, runs out into the corridor and gets into a scuffle with other human Shadow servants (where he bloodies his hand) and runs off to the balcony. This scene was lost for time and budgetary reasons, to Bruce Boxleitner’s frustration as he felt the transition (from inside the nice lounge to standing bloodied on the balcony) was a bit abrupt.

Straczynski considered suggesting that fans submit the entirety of Season 3 for the Best Dramatic Hugo Award in 1997, but this triggered some debate in the committee so he dropped the idea. The fans instead submitted episode C10 (Severed Dreams) why duly won. It was eventually decided that this idea was fine in principle, paving the way for Game of Thrones’ victory for its first season in 2012.

Familiar Faces: Melissa Gilbert (Anna Sheridan) was a successful child actress, debuting on The Dean Martin Comedy Hour in 1968 at the age of just four. In 1974, at the age of nine, she was cast in the lead role of Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. She played the role for ten years before returning for multiple TV movies spinning off from the show. After appearing in several films and guest shots, she played the role of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl on Batman: The Animated Series. She married Bruce Boxleitner in 1995, whilst he was filming the second season of Babylon 5 (they later divorced in 2011). They have one son together, Michael, named in honour of Gilbert’s Little House co-star Michael Landon, who had died in 1991. Gilbert was the President of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001 to 2005. In 2016 she ran as a Democrat in the election for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District. She dropped out of the race due to health issues. Her most recent high-profile TV role was as herself in the reality show Dancing with the Stars, where she finished fifth in the 2012 season.

Jeff Corey (Justin) was an American stage and screen actor and director. He was also a respecting acting tutor, teaching Leonard Nimoy as a young man. They retained a lifelong friendship. Corey’s career began in the 1940s and he starred in several Hollywood movies and TV series in the early 1950s. However, he was blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee after he both refused to give up the names of “Communist sympathisers” in Hollywood and tore into the committee on the stand, ridiculing them and their decisions. Corey couldn’t work for twelve years, but instead switched to teaching, tutoring Jane and Peter Fonda, James Dean, Richard Chamberlain, James Coburn, Jack Nicholson, Sharon Tate, Barbara Streisand and Robin Williams, among others. In the 1960s he resumed his screen career, appearing in The Cincinnati Kid (1965), as the main villain in True Grit (1969), as Sheriff Bledsoe in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and as the Grand Vizier in Conan the Destroyer (1984). Corey also worked behind-the-scenes on Superman (1978), directing screen-tests and feeding Lex Luthor’s lines during auditions. In television he appeared in The Outer Limits, Star Trek (as Plasus in The Cloud Minders) and Spider-Man: The Animated Series. His last screen appearances were on Charmed and The District in 2000; he passed away in 2002 at the age of 88.

Director Adam Nimoy previously directed episode C4. The son of actor Leonard Nimoy, he found himself directing his father’s teacher Jeff Corey during this episode.

Review: The real air of doom and inevitable darkness holds sway over this episode, which is extremely impressive. The voiceovers risk going a bit OTT in portentous, but they manage to get away with it. Bruce Boxleitner delivers one of his best performances as Sheridan here, being determined and resolute, as well as shaken to his very core when Anna shows up and he realises that Delenn has misled him. Mira Furlan also delivers a killer performance and Christopher Franke gives us his best score in quite a while. Events build to one of the series’ most shocking endings. This is the ultimate point of crisis in the Babylon 5 story arc, the moment when the last lingering questions (well, almost) are answered and after this point the story kicks into high gear as it heads to a resolution. This is Babylon 5’s Red Wedding or Bridge of Khazad-dûm moment, and it delivers on it wonderfully. *****

Justin: “Evolution will be served.”

Kosh: “Jump. Now!”

“It was the end of the Earth year 2260 and the war had paused, suddenly and unexpectedly. All around us it was as if the universe were holding its breath, waiting. All of life can be broken down into moments of transition or moments of revelation. This had the feeling of both. G’Quan wrote: ‘There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way.’ The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition to be born in moments of revelation. No-one knows the shape of that future, or where it will take us. We know only that it is always pain.”

  - Citizen G’Kar

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1 comment:

Jason Hay said...

I never saw the Shadows leaving B5 space the way they did as deciding that the station was no longer a threat with Sheridan out of the game. I always figured it was an immediate response to their home world getting nuked and them going "Oh sh!t" en masse.