26 December 2013

B5 Review: The Long Night & Into the Fire

Londo and Vir continue to work to bring down Emperor Cartagia while the Army of Light prepares to end the conflict that surrounds them.

The Long Night
Londo meets with Centauri officialsThe Army of Light continues to gather at Babylon 5 and prepare for the conflict to come while Ivanova reluctantly goes in search of more First Ones with Lorien.

On Centauri Prime, Londo and Vir meet with some officials and plot the downfall of Emperor Cartagia while on Narn. Londo meets with G'Kar, who has had one of his eyes removed at Cartagia's request, to make sure that their deal is still intact.

Vir retrieves a needle to be used on Cartagia and delivers it to Londo, who is full aware of the consequences of what he is about to do. However, things turn out quite different during G'Kar's procession as Cartagia lashes out against Londo forcing Vir to take action instead.

With Cartagia gone, Londo is appointed Prime Minister of the Centauri Republic and his first action is to withdraw their forces from Narn in order to better protect homeworld and then to look at removing the remaining Shadow influences.

Amongst all this, the Army of Light are alerted to a new Shadow weapon which has been unleashed and is obliterating Vorlon touched planets. Lennier reveals they have located the next Vorlon target, Corianna 6 with a population of over 6 billion. This pushes their timeline forward and Sheridan convinces the League worlds they have to engage the Vorlon's in order to save Corianna's people. But, in doing so, he intends for the Shadows to be at the conflict as well.

This is most definitely an important episode for the series as finally, the mad man Cartagia is taken care of and we see Londo continue in his ascension towards what he sees is his destiny in becoming Emperor one day.

It's also important as Narn is freed after over a year of occupation under the Centauri and we get to see the resentment in the Narn people compared with the knowledge of the truth by G'Kar.

All of this occuring as a build-up to what we'll expect to be an ultimate showdown as Sheridan leads the Army of Light from Babylon 5 for Corianna 6.

Rating: 7/10

Into the Fire
Londo and Vir on Centauri Prime
The Army of Light make their stand against the Vorlon and Shadow fleets at Corianna 6 while Londo finds out some disturbing news about Mr Morden.
Ivanova and Lorien finish up their search for the First Ones while Sheridan and Delenn lead the Army of Light against Vorlon listening posts before continuing on to Corianna 6. Meanwhile, Londo and Vir are working to remove the last Shadow influences on Centauri Prime before the Vorlon fleet arrives. 

By the time Ivanova catches up with the fleet, the Vorlons and Shadows come out of hyperspace and with some detonations of nuclear bombs among asteroids taking out some of their ships, Sheridan manages to get their attention and the fighting breaks out.

Londo is informed of Morden's implication in Adira's death. Londo meets with Morden to ask him to remove the Shadow fleet from Selini, which he refuses to do. Londo has Morden's 'Shadows' killed by his guards and on Morden's continued refusal to remove the ships, Londo destroys the island and the ships on it. He has Morden taken away, who promises Londo that the Shadow allies will remember what he did today.

As the battle rages on, the Vorlon Planet Killer nears its target and Sheridan is forced to signal the First Ones to intervene. The emerge and take out the Planet Killer before entering the battle against both the Vorlons and Shadows.

On Centauri Prime, Londo informs Vir he has told the Vorlons that the Shadow influences have been removed - but a Planet Killer eclipses their sun and Vir points out that Londo is touched by the Shadows. The Planet Killer leaves orbit as the Vorlon fleet at Corianna 6 calls for reinforcements - saving Centauri Prime.

Sheridan and Delenn are then pulled away by the Vorlons and Shadows and the battle pauses. Each of them discuss that the two older races have lost their way and cannot continue to look after the younger races like this. That this is no longer about each race looking after the younger races but about which ideology is right, that of the Vorlons, or that of the Shadows. 

Once it is found out that Lorien was helping broadcast the conversation to the rest of the fleet, the Shadow Planet Killer attempts to eliminate them - but other ships take the missile hits for them. As the Vorlon and Shadow emissaries reappear to Sheridan and Delenn, Sheridan sums up what they have learned. Lorien convinces the two races it is time to move on - and they, along with the First Ones and finally Lorien, depart beyond the Rim.

Returning to Babylon 5, Sheridan tells Delenn of the 'third age of mankind' they are now entering and all the uncertainty that lies ahead now that some of the magic has gone...

This episode wraps up the major conflicts of the Shadow War and it's worthy to note that this has happened fairly early in the season. It was a special effects feast at the time it came out with such massive and dramatic battle sequences that amazed at the time. On the DVD conversion, some of the sequences appear to suffer a little in terms of smoothness but the way the battles are shot is still quite impressive.

The story is important as it sums up why these conflicts have been occurring and it sees the maturing of the younger races, including the Humans and Minbari - while Londo's story develops - with the removal of Mr Morden, has he perhaps lost another opportunity to avoid the future he fears is coming?

My Rating: 8/10

05 December 2013

B5 Review: The Summoning & Falling Toward Apotheosis

Season Four continues in the aftermath of Sheridan's visit to Z'ha'dum and Garibaldi's disappearance with the Vorlon's revealing their next course of action in the Shadow War...

The Summoning
Cartagia tortures G'KarZack makes an important discovery regarding Mr Garibaldi's whereabouts while the League worlds decide not to assist Delenn in her plan to attack Z'ha'dum.

Marcus and Ivanova take a Whitestar to enlist some of the First Ones to help them and Londo & Vir are subjected to seeing G'Kar tortured by the will of Emperor Cartagia.

While tracking down a ship believed to have Mr Garibaldi aboard, Zack and team retrieve the Chief but not before the ship explodes.

Marcus and Ivanova come across something else entirely while searching for First Ones. Hidden in Hyperspace, a massive fleet of Vorlon ships, including some never seen before that dwarf even their largest cruisers. The Vorlon have taken matters in to their own hands it seems, with Lyta being kept out of Kosh's thoughts and these new ships obliterating entire planets that have been touched by the Shadows.

As the League worlds rally against Delenn's attack on Z'ha'dum, a mysterious ship arrives at the station and Sheridan returns, with Lorien in tow. Sheridan is able to turn around the League worlds and regain their support.

On Centauri Prime, Cartagia is displeased with G'Kar and his reactions to Centauri humiliation. Londo and Vir are forced to witness and plea with G'Kar to give the Emperor what he wants in order to save both their worlds.

The Summoning is a good episode for the season as pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place and the wheels are beginning to turn once again - albeit, not in a good way with the Vorlon rampage and G'Kar's torture. There is at least some hope with the return of Garibaldi and Sheridan that things may return to 'normal'.

My Rating: 7/10

Falling Toward Apotheosis
Garibaldi confronts KoshThe Vorlon's take drastic measures in the war against the Shadows while Londo pleads with Cartagia and Morden to have the Shadow ships removed from Centauri Prime and Sheridan plans to have Kosh removed from the station.

The Vorlon Planetkillers are on the loose and destroying any worlds touched by the Shadows - the rules have changed. Ivanova presents information from Babylon 5 about colonies offering assistance to fleeing refugees.

Word of the attacks reaches Centauri Prime where Londo confronts Cartagia and Morden who both insist the Shadow ships will remain as Centauri Prime is too big a target for even the Vorlon fleet.

Sheridan begins to put his plans into motion but needs Kosh removed from the station. Garibaldi and his team confront the ambassador and he refuses to leave. Lured out by Lyta, Sheridan is able to trap the ambassador and with the help of Lorien unleashes the final remnants of the former Kosh to fight the new ambassador and leave the station.

Finally, Cartagia remains displeased with G'Kar's lack of performance and offers Londo to suggest a form of punishment. Londo dismisses the question leaving Cartagia to ask for one of G'Kar's eyes to be removed - fulfilling another prophecy from Londo's dream...

An important episode in the development of the Shadow war with our perception of the Vorlon's finally turned around as they rampage through the galaxy and the removal of 'bad' Kosh from the station. Londo and Cartagia are now to travel to Narn where it would seem the plan to remove the crazed Emperor may take place - but what about the Vorlon fleet that will almost certainly have Centauri Prime in its sights?

While there are some nice developments, including the realisation that Sheridan has only 20 years at most left in him, thanks in part to Lorien's life energy transfers and the proposal between Sheridan and Delenn, the episode is mostly centered around the Vorlon problem and works to add pieces to the puzzle of what's to come rather than stand out on its own.

My Rating: 6/10

13 November 2013

B5 Review: The Hour of the Wolf & Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?

With the Shadow War at a pause due to the events on Z'ha'dum, Season Four begins with the further fulfillment of a part of Londo's dream and the answers to two important questions will present themselves. What happened to Sheridan at Z'ha'dum and what happened to Mr. Garibaldi?

The Hour of the Wolf
Delenn, Ivanova and G'Kar face the League Even though the war has paused, there's still mayhem on Babylon 5 as Ivanova and Delenn try to convince the League worlds to continue to support the station and to be involved in the search for Sheridan on Z'ha'dum.

Meanwhile, Londo takes up his new position on Centauri Prime and we (the audience) get to meet Emperor Cartagia for the first time. Following the attack on Z'ha'dum, the Shadows have been forced to seek outside help much earlier than expected and Cartagia has given them an island to use as a base on Centauri Prime - bringing to reality Londo's vision of Shadow ships flying above him.

We soon learn that Emperor Cartagia is quite mad and has brokered a deal with the Shadows. For allowing them a piece of Centauri Prime, they will ascend him to godhood even if it means the destruction of the planet and all its people - much to the shock of Londo who calls on Vir to get on the next transport from Babylon 5.

Ivanova, Delenn and Lyta take the (or a?) Whitestar to Z'ha'dum but they aren't able to locate Sheridan in time before 'The Eye' attempts to get them to land on the planet surface. Some forward thinking by Lennier keeps them safe.

With everyone's attention seemingly on Sheridan and his whereabouts, G'Kar takes it upon himself to search for Garibaldi.

Coming off the cliffhanger that was Z'ha'dum, Season Four gets off to a slower start showing us the aftermath of the events that closed out 2260. We get some answers fairly quickly about what happened with Vir's retelling to Ivanova through Londo's contacts, Morden's appearance in Londo's room on Centauri Prime and of course Sheridan and the strange alien being at the end of the episode. We finally get to meet the Emperor that replaced Turhan through Refa and Londo's work during Season Two.

My rating: 6.5/10

Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?
Delenn tells of her plan to attack Z'ha'dumSheridan meets Lorien, a strange and enigmatic alien who informs him that he is dead while G'Kar's search for Garibaldi puts him in grave danger.

Lorien explains to Sheridan that he is stuck between 'tick and tock' as well as much of the history of the First Ones, the Shadows and the Vorlon. He helps Sheridan find his way back asking the questions 'Who are you?', 'What do you want?' as well as 'Why are you here?' and 'Do you have anything worth living for?'.

Marcus catches up with G'Kar in search of Mr Garibaldi in an attempt to help and reminding the Narn that he risks capture on sight as an enemy of the Centauri Republic. G'Kar however convinces Marcus to leave him alone as he has found some evidence tied to Garibaldi's Starfury - it doesn't do much good as Centauri agents are tipped off and G'Kar is captured.

Delenn announces that she intends to use the Whitestar fleet to attack Z'ha'dum, with or without the League worlds at their side.

Londo and Vir are summoned by Emperor Cartagia on Centauri Prime and presented a gift - G'Kar, in chains. Londo convinces G'Kar to help him remove Cartagia from the throne, but in return, Londo must free Narn.

Finally, as the episode title suggests, we see Garibaldi in an enclosed room being harshly interrogated. When he becomes aggravated, he is subdued and a Psi-Corp officer is seen.

A lot happens in this episode that I forgot about. I figured it was simply about the search for Garibaldi but there is much more - including all the information we gain from Lorien's teachings to Sheridan. There are some nice moments too including the log entry Sheridan recorded about Delenn and learning to fly. But what will become of G'Kar now that he has finally been captured - how can Londo uphold his end of the bargain to rid his world of the crazy Cartagia and free Narn too?

Rating: 7/10.

16 August 2013

B5 Review: Point Of No Return, Season Three

I think Season Three will always be my favourite season of the show. In my first watch of the series I came back into it at Exogenesis which was perfectly positioned just before the mayhem that would follow with the Earth conflict, Sinclair's return and the Shadow War.

Sheridan and Delenn watch Keffers footage 

Just like Season Two, The Coming of Shadows, this season picks up from the events of The Fall of Night with the station under repair from the Centauri attack and bombing of the shuttle that nearly killed Sheridan. Races believe Babylon 5 has been blessed after Kosh revealed himself in order to rescue Sheridan in the same incident.

We are introduced to Marcus in Matters of Honor who tells the crew of a Ranger training facility under threat on the Centauri border. Providing Sheridan and the crew with a new ship, the Whitestar, based on Minbari and Vorlon technology. The crew are able to evacuate the trainees and outwit the enemy. 

G'Kar and Kosh 

Meanwhile, Earth is investigating the Shadow vessel footage captured by Lt Keffer's gun camera and use the fear of a powerful, unknown alien race to further increase President Clark's control back home. Much of the beginning of the season remains lighter, less arc oriented stories until Voices of Authority where Clark's involvement in Santiago's death (Chrysalis) is realised when Ivanova interfaces with the Great Machine on Epsilon III. From this point forward, Earth heightens its paranoia and the reach of the Nightwatch grows. 

By the time a Shadow ship is awakened on Ganymede and destroyed at Jupiter by Sheridan and Delenn aboard the Whitestar, President Clark declares martial law (Messages from Earth) and attacks the Mars colony for failing to follow suit shortly after. Earth ships begin fighting one another and Babylon 5 declares independence along with other Earth colonies in protest. Delenn breaks the Grey Council and with the help of the Minbari Worker and Religious castes, brings ships to Babylon 5 to offer protection (Severed Dreams).

After dealing with renegades on the station, there is a slight break in the action and hints at happenings on Centauri Prime in Sic Transit Vir

Shadow ship on Mars 

The crew team up with Bester and intercept a shipment of telepaths headed to be processors for Shadow vessels (Ship of Tears). Once the Shadows begin fighting in the open, Sheridan convinces Kosh to commit Vorlon forces to the fight, with dire consequences in Interludes and Examinations.

We learn the fate of Babylon 4 and come to better understand the events from Babylon Squared, revealing who Valen really is and who is The One in the War Without End two-parter. 

Dr Franklin must face his addiction and Lyta returns to the station to help test a theory that telepaths can hurt Shadow vessels (Walkabout). With that information, and a fleet of Whitestars, the fight is taken to the Shadows in Sector 83, the first major engagement and win for the League worlds and alliance in Shadow Dancing. Shortly after, a ghost from John's past arrives, his thought-dead wife Anna. She convinces him to go to Z'ha'dum where Morden and the middle-man, Justin attempt to bring him around to their way of thinking. Sheridan falls into a pit at Z'ha'dum and the Whitestar is destroyed detonating two nuclear devices in one of their cities...


Point of No Return is definitely a rollercoaster event and no small feat considering show creator, J. Michael Straczynski wrote every episode for this season. The average episode score is much higher than the previous two at 7.29 with the lowest score of 6/10 being offered three times to A Day in the Strife, A Late Delivery from Avalon and Grey 17 is Missing. Not all 'bad' episodes, but just ones that didn't stand out so much for me. A 9.5 for Z'ha'dum as the seasons finale and cliffhanger is the highest of the season, the series and in fact the highest score I've given in a review. It's still the best cliffhanger I've experienced and a standout episode, even more so than some of my favourites in Messages from Earth, Severed Dreams, Interludes and Examinations and War Without End.

G'Kar has a realisation early in the series that changes his outlook and he struggles to keep the Narn on Babylon 5 unified toward a common goal. He also finally learns the truth about the Shadows aiding the Centauri and Delenn's knowledge of it all. Londo goes for a ride as well, creating fear with the power he has gained and severing ties with Morden, only to re-establish them when Adira is killed. Londo takes revenge against Lord Refa for this action - but he is yet to find out that it was in fact someone elses doing.

Shadow Dancing

Marcus confesses an interest in Ivanova, even though she quickly becomes irritated with his presence early in the season. Lennier similarly confesses a love for Delenn, though he realises it can never be as she and John grow closer. Meanwhile, Vir has been busy during his assignment to Minbar and is reigned in by Londo and used as a tool to implement Londo's plan against Refa in And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place.

Once again, the show has taken us to a different place from when we began and Season Four awaits and will continue to take us in different directions again...

14 August 2013

B5 Review: Shadow Dancing & Z'ha'dum

Babylon 5's third season heads towards it's stunning finale with these two episodes set to blow viewers away as Sheridan takes the fight to the Shadows and an unexpected arrival on the station changes everything.

Shadow Dancing
Battle in Sector 83
Z Minus 7 Days

Sheridan and Delenn plan their attack on the Shadows in Sector 83 while Stephen's walkabout finally comes to an end.

Delenn attempts to convince the League worlds to commit ships to fight the Shadows while Sheridan unveils his plan to the War Council about taking on the Shadows in Sector 83. He assigns Ivanova and Marcus the task of being a scout to inform the fleet once the Shadows arrive.

With Ivanova and Marcus on their way, Delenn tells Sheridan that they will spend the night, as is Minbari tradition once the battle is over. Stephen in Downbelow comes to the aid of a man being beaten by two thugs and is subsequently stabbed and left for dead.

In Sector 83, Ivanova and Marcus detect their opposite number, a Shadow ship scouting the area. They are soon detected and work to stop the ship from alerting the fleet. After destroying it and taking damage themselves, a huge Shadow fleet emerges, forcing them to send a signal to Sheridan's fleet.

Franklin finally meets himself as he expected to. His other self feels no pity for him in his situation and tells him to stop giving up and running away - forcing him to drag himself to find help.

Ivanova and Marcus aboard the Whitestar are almost out of options as a Shadow fleet bears down on them, with a ship noticing them and on an intercept course. Sheridan's fleet arrives in time and the two sides engage in battle. The Shadows take damage and retreat, but not before inflicting heavy losses to the Army of Light.

Franklin manages to find help in a crowded area of the station while Garibaldi wonders when the Shadows will approach Babylon 5 now that they've shown they can be hurt.

As Sheridan and Delenn spend their first night together, an unexpected visitor comes through the doorway - Anna Sheridan.

Z Minus 2 Days

Shadow Dancing is a great episode that begins to tie up certain threads that have been long running throughout this season and the entire show. We get to wrap-up Franklin's struggle and finally the fight is taken to the Shadows in epic style as we see many ships from the League worlds fighting for the first time - I remember being in awe of the Vree saucer and it's weaponry as a kid. For the romantics, John and Delenn's relationship continues to bring them closer - only to be interrupted by something quite unexpected at the end which can only mean that the season finale is going to be something rather special and important to the storyline.

My rating: 8/10.

Anna SheridanAnna Sheridan has come to take John back to Z'ha'dum so that he can hear their side of things and meet 'the man in the middle'.

Shocked by Anna's sudden reappearance (and apparent reincarnation) John is immediately suspicious. Anna agrees to undergo any tests to prove she is who she claims to be. Delenn is put under scrutiny as she and Kosh told John that Anna would have died at Z'ha'dum - as they assumed she would not have served the Shadows.

Franklin's tests reveal Anna is real but notices some scarring on the back of her neck and runs some further tests. John probes Anna for more information before committing to go to Z'ha'dum with her and learns that the Icarus mission was sent to the Shadow homeworld after a tracking beacon was placed aboard a Shadow ship uncovered on Mars (see Messages from Earth).

Franklin concludes the scarring on the back of Anna's neck matches the scarring found on the telepaths Sheridan, Bester and crew rescued earlier in the year (Ship of Tears). However, John agrees to go to Z'ha'dum with the Whitestar - after ordering the Minbari crew off the ship and having Garibaldi carry out some instructions for him.

At Z'ha'dum, John is introduced to Justin and meets Morden once again in one of the Shadow cities. They talk to John about their point of view and how the Vorlon's have been interfering with the other races. The Shadows believe in strength through conflict and want John to understand their point of view and let go of the alliance he and Delenn have forged with the younger worlds.

As a fleet of Shadow ships surround Babylon 5, Delenn receives a message from John explaining his actions and that he loves her. Ivanova and G'Kar attempt to put some nuclear warheads outside to use against the Shadow fleet but realise these actions could be foolish and G'Kar has noticed that two warheads are missing.

On Z'ha'dum, John reveals he knows that Anna was subjected to a Shadow ship and isn't quite the Anna that he married and loved. He manages to escape their room, fighting his way out to a balcony overlooking the city and a large pit below a huge domed window.

John calls the Whitestar which begins a descent through the planet's atmosphere and two nuclear devices arm for detonation. As Anna emerges to entice John back one last time, he hears Kosh's voice telling him to 'Jump! Jump now!'. He falls from the balcony as the Whitestar comes crashing down and detonates the nuclear bombs.

The Shadows retreat from Babylon 5 and Ivanova instantly knows that something bad has happened to Sheridan.

The Shadow War has paused and Sheridan is gone. Garibaldi has also gone missing along with his Starfury as he was among the pilots launched to confront the Shadow fleet surrounding the station.

Z'ha'dum is an emotional rollercoaster, certainly for John and Delenn but it also finally brings about the events which we knew were coming - that John would eventually go to Z'ha'dum. 

Ultimately, I think this episode will stand out as the best of the series for me when all the ratings are done and dusted. I was floored by the ending of this episode when I first saw it all those years ago and on each re-watch I am continuously amazed and it will always be my favourite sci-fi cliffhanger. It's also the first episode that seemed to keep Eleonor, my wife fully engaged throughout and it's just brilliantly done - at a time when main characters being killed off was never heard of. Z'ha'dum changed everything.

My rating: 9.5/10

19 July 2013

B5 Review: Grey 17 is Missing & And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place

Apologies for taking so long updating the blog. I've had a bit of a lifestyle change in the past few months and things have come up. Motivation to complete these reviews has been a bit lacking but I figure I need to get back into the habit!

Grey 17 is Missing
Zarg in Grey 17Garibaldi investigates a missing person in Grey sector and finds an entire level that has gone unnoticed since the station went online. Meanwhile, Delenn agrees to lead the Rangers.

I always used to remember this episode for the Grey 17 part of the storyline rather than the Delenn becoming Entil'zha part. This time around, I look at it in the opposite. The Delenn storyline is certainly the stronger part and brings this episode over the line of 'average' as we learn something of her past and we see the problems on Minbar growing since Delenn broke up the Grey Council in Severed Dreams. Neroon is back and has a nasty encounter with Marcus in the process.

However, Garibaldi gets stuck on a level that has been missing in Grey sector with a cult. This side of the story reminds me of the Star Trek episode Arena where Kirk fights off against a man in a lizard suit (a Gorn), instead here, Garibaldi fights off against a man in an alien suit (a Zarg).

I don't want to sound too harsh, as I said above, what stood out for me with this episode, this time was the more important story surrounding Delenn. For that, I give it a 6/10.

And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place
Brother Theo meets his associatesZ Minus 14 Days

Religious associates of Brother Theo arrive on the station bringing news from Earth to the crew. Sheridan has been spending much of his time trying to recruit telepaths in their fight against the Shadows while trying to figure out the Shadows' motives. Londo works to end his feud with Lord Refa once and for all.

There is an ominous feel to this episode from the very beginning when we're presented with a countdown to 'Z'. Religious visitors from Earth bring news of resistance to President Clark's regime back home and try to bring some joy to the station during their visit.

Sheridan's near obsession with the Shadow War keeps Delenn and the others at a distance. It takes a sermon from Reverend William Dexter, for Sheridan to see that he should let Delenn in and after taking this advice, the two are able to figure out the Shadow attack 'plan'.

The bulk of this story though concentrates on Londo and Refa. With an elaborate plan, Londo is finally able to see an end to the dispute between the two houses and although Vir gets caught up in it all, Londo is able to help G'Kar in the process. The episode ends with one of the most interestingly captured (and memorable) scenes of the series involving G'Kar and Refa and then a beautiful moment with Sheridan and Delenn, leaving us at Z Minus 10 Days.

My rating, 7/10.

10 June 2013

B5 Review: War Without End, Part Two & Walkabout

With the crew attempting to take Babylon 4 through time and Sheridan seemingly lost to them, we continue the third season as Dr Franklin also appears to have gone missing...

War Without End, Part Two
SinclairSinclair and crew continue to work on bringing Babylon 4 through time while Zathras attempts to bring Sheridan back from being 'unstuck'. Sheridan finds himself a prisoner in the Centauri Royal Palace at the hands of Londo, 17 years in the future. He sees Delenn and learns they have a son, who is safe.

The events of Babylon Squared begin to play out when Babylon 4 accidentally jumps through time to 2258. Sinclair begins aging rapidly due to his exposure to his prior exposure to the time rift. The crew press on, but while looking for components to fix Sheridan's time stabiliser, Zathras is captured by station staff - meeting Commander Sinclair from 2258.

In 2277, Sheridan and Delenn are brought before Londo who has had quite a bit to drink and reveals his 'keeper', a dark servant left behind when the Shadows were defeated. Londo asks the two of them to save his people by allowing them to escape. As Sheridan begins to be pulled through time again, Delenn tells him 'Do not go to Z'ha'dum!'.

Babylon 4's staff are evacuated and Sinclair attempts to contact Garibaldi but is unsuccessful. Sheridan returns to their time period and Zathras reveals his knowledge of 'The One' to Sinclair, The One who was, Delenn, The One who is and Sheridan, The One who will be. Sinclair takes Babylon 4 back a thousand years and activates the chrysalis to transform himself into Valen - one of Minbar's most revered figures. He delivers the station with the help of the Vorlon's.

Sheridan and the rest of the crew return to 2260 with the time rift closed by Draal and the timeline restored.

A great episode for how it connects and answers the other side of the story that began in Babylon Squared. We also have the 'first' kiss between Sheridan and Delenn and see that Londo's dream of being killed at the hands of G'Kar is very much on track. There are still many questions that remain that will no doubt be answered in the fullness of time. 8/10.

Sheridan and Ivanova meet new KoshThe replacement Vorlon ambassador arrives at the station and Sheridan decides to test their telepath vs Shadow theory in the Whitestar. Meanwhile, Stephen's 'walkabout' brings him in to contact with a talented singer.

Lyta Alexander also returns to the station in the wake of Kosh's death and we get the impression that 'new Kosh' is a bit darker - from the colour of his/its suit to the way it interacts with the rest of the crew and Lyta.

Narn cruiser G'Tok returns to Babylon 5 after we last saw it in The Fall of Night for replenishment and for her captain to meet with G'Kar. When learning of Sheridan's mission to confront the Shadows head on, the captain declines from assisting as do the League worlds, leaving the Whitestar and a lone Minbari cruiser on their own.

Franklin meets Cailyn, a singer in a Downbelow bar. The two hook up but the doctor can't help but interfere when he notices she has a drinking habit and needs Metazine to help her sleep. He later finds she's suffering a terminal disease and the Metazine helps with the pain.

Garibaldi confronts G'Kar about the Narn cruiser sitting outside the station after the Whitestar has left and convinces G'Kar that he has the power to change the minds of those who would rather sit back and let someone else take the risks.

Sheridan, Lyta and a small Whitestar crew engage a Shadow vessel and manage to take it out after power is used up from the jump engines and Lyta's own abilities. They are successful but are soon in the sights of several Shadows ships not wanting to let them escape with what they know. The Minbari cruiser renders assistance before the G'Tok arrives and helps take out another Shadow ship. Sheridan thanks G'Kar for his help, who then reveals he is not aboard the Narn ship, but in a Narn fighter as part of a fleet of combined ships from the League. The remaining Shadow ships retreat.

Amongst the action, Lyta has been looking for something, a remnant of Kosh after his death and it appears she may have found it within Sheridan by the end of the episode.

Definitely a good one to watch with some development to Franklin's arc and a vital bit of information in the war against the Shadows. 7/10.

02 June 2013

B5 Review: Interludes and Examinations & War Without End

Sheridan and Delenn look at pulling the races together to fight the Shadows, but it's difficult when half of them don't like the other half and some mysteries of the past are explained with the return of an old friend as Season Three continues...

Interludes and Examinations
Kosh appears to Sheridan in a dream The Shadows have begun attacking in the open. The first attacks are hitting the Brakiri the hardest but other races aren't willing to assist. The Gaim ambassador states that if they stay quiet, they may not be noticed - unless Sheridan can prove that their side has equal power to the enemy. Sheridan must find a way to bring the races together, but it is something that's never been done before. Meanwhile, Morden confronts Londo about pulling the Centauri out of recent engagements with other worlds and Dr Franklin faces a hard truth.

Interludes... is a story with a lot happening. While Sheridan attempts to bring the younger worlds together to fight the Shadows, Londo is preparing for the arrival of Adira, who we saw early in the first season - but Morden has other ideas for Londo. Franklin and his 'problem' with Stims comes to a head, endangering the life of a patient in Medlab and Garibaldi tries to offer help only to be pushed away.

After discussing the problem of the younger races with Delenn, Sheridan goes to Kosh to bring the Vorlons into the fighting. Kosh refuses as Sheridan confronts him and after what would seem to be an angry outburst by the Vorlon, Kosh agrees to assist, but letting Sheridan know that he won't be there when he goes to Z'ha'dum - reinforcing the fact that Sheridan will die if he goes there... now.

With the younger race ambassadors convened in the war room during a Shadow Attack, they are witness to a Vorlon fleet engaging them and forcing the Shadows to retreat. This gets the younger races to sign on with Babylon 5.

Morden and his associates receive word of what has happened and go to pay Kosh a visit in his quarters. In his final moments, Kosh reaches out to John, appearing as his father in a dream. Apologising for being scared and letting him know that he was right.

As Kosh's belongings are placed aboard his transport and it leaves the station for its own burial, Dr Franklin decides to step down as Chief of Staff until he can sort things out.

Londo awaits Adira's ship but she does not show. He comes across the Medlab staff bringing out a female Centauri on a stretcher and he weeps. Finally, a conversation with Morden, Londo is manipulated into thinking that Lord Refa was behind her death - poisoned, as Londo did to him. Londo arranges a new deal with Morden, setting him down a new darkened path...

An excellent episode with so much going on and so many emotions running around for so many of our characters. I think it deserves an 8.5/10.

War Without End, Part One
Ambassador Sinclair Ambassador Sinclair returns to Babylon 5 to pull Babylon 4 through time to fight in the previous Shadow War.

This is quite the episode of important events. Remember in Season One when Babylon 4 mysteriously appeared and all that stuff that was going on that we couldn't really make much sense of? Well, those questions appear to be on the verge of being answered. Here we learn that Sheridan, Sinclair and Delenn are involved (at least, in some part) in the disappearance of the largest of the Babylon Stations and if they fail, Babylon 5 will be destroyed in a Shadow attack.

Draal has concentrated all his energy in the Great Machine to the time rift in Sector 14 to allow the Whitestar to travel back, defeat a Shadow attempt to destroy B4 and then take the station through time, back to the previous Shadow War where it would help the Army of Light to victory. Draal sends Zathras to assist the crew with time travel but Sheridan becomes 'unstuck' when his stabiliser is broken. Sheridan timeshifts to the future where he is met by an older Emperor Mollari on Centauri Prime, preparing Sheridan (and Delenn) to be executed for their crimes in ruining Londo's world as a side effect of winning the war against the Shadows.

This story is so big that it needs two parts and doesn't even have a 'B story' to run alongside. It's only fitting that Sinclair should return for a two-parter in any case!

An excellent episode that leaves us wanting more - particularly to see how events from Babylon Squared will finally be explained... Rating: 7/10.

01 May 2013

B5 Review: A Late Delivery from Avalon & Ship of Tears

A Late Delivery from Avalon
G'Kar and Arthur The first Earth transport liner for months arrives at Babylon 5 bringing with it a troubled individual who believes he is King Arthur of the round table. Franklin and Marcus attempt to figure out who he really is while Sheridan and Ivanova look to gain more support from the other races in the defense of the station and Garibaldi refuses to pay the Post Office's new, exorbitant fees since the station declared independence.

Arthur is traumatised by a past event but goes about his business on the station, helping the weak in Down Below and meeting G'Kar when he comes upon a group of loan sharks attacking a man. Eventually, Franklin is able to uncover the truth surrounding Arthur - that he was gunnery sargeant aboard the Prometheus, the Earth ship that made first contact with the Minbari and in a misunderstanding, started the Earth-Minbari War. Arthur is really David McIntyre and he also served in the Battle of the Line. The King Arthur persona draws parallels with his life story but allows him to escape the truth that Stephen brings back to him. Only with Delenn's forgiveness is McIntyre able to move on.

A Late Delivery from Avalon is a fun episode with a much different look, sound and feel about it. Michael York plays a convincing 'Arthur' and Christopher Franke brings a unique soundtrack to an episode about a knight. We are also offered a bit more insight into the Earth-Minbari War, particularly how it began.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Ship of Tears
Ivanova and Bester ISN is back on the air, but unfortunately it is just broadcasting more propaganda and misinformation to its viewers, particularly about their last transmission before the station was cut off. Meanwhile, Sheridan is out testing some of the new Thunderbolt Starfury's that came to the station following the destruction of the Churchill in Severed Dreams. They pick up a distress signal which turns out to be Bester in a Black Omega Starfury.

G'Kar confronts Ivanova about becoming a part of the alliance that has been building while Bester reveals he knows of a transport ship carrying weapon systems for the Shadows and since he has become aware of the Shadows, they are interfering with his own plans for Psi-Corps.

Delenn takes it upon herself to talk to G'Kar before inducting him into their 'War Council'. In their meeting, she admits that G'Kar was right when he first warned of the coming darkness, but they could not speak out. That they could have said something when the Centauri, with Shadow assistance crushed the Narn in the recent war. Delenn is deeply emotional and apologetic but knows that G'Kar may take some time to forgive her.

Sheridan and Bester take the Whitestar and intercept the Shadow transport. Strangely, they avoid a conflict with one of the Shadow motherships. Aboard the transport, they find 100 telepaths in cryogenic suspension. The ship pilots took their own lives before they could be captured. Once back on Babylon 5, Dr Franklin unfreezes one of the telepaths and notices their cyberweb implants on either side of the head.

Bester is able to identify the telepath by her ID bracelet and realises she is someone he knows, indeed, someone he loves and who he had only seen a few weeks prior. In Medlab, she has entangled herself and interfaced with the station's wiring, attacking Bester on the sight of his Psi-Corps badge. In the commotion, she sends Bester a telepathic message of alien surgeons and Shadow ships.

The Shadows intended the telepaths to be integrated into Shadow vessels and for this, as well as saving the life of his loved one (carrying child), Bester allies himself with the Babylon 5 staff to fight the Shadows.

Garibaldi is able to decipher a section of the Book of G'Quan where he discovers that telepaths on Narn led by G'Quan were able to drive the Shadows off their homeworld 1000 years ago. Then the Narn telepaths were wiped out.

The War Council realise they have a potential weapon to fight the Shadows with - and not a moment too soon as the Shadows have come out into the open and have begun attacking Brakiri space...

Another Bester episode but quite an important one for the arc as we are about to get into some more heavy episodes towards the end of Season Three. My rating, 7/10.

29 April 2013

Trek Review: Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country

Still my favourite of the films featuring the cast from the Original Series, The Undiscovered Country brings us the last voyage of the original crew. A devastating explosion of a Klingon moon could spell the end of the Klingon Empire who come to negotiate a treaty with the Federation to allow for their continued existence. While escorting the Klingon High Chancellor to Earth, the Enterprise appears to attack the High Chancellor's ship and he is assassinated. Kirk and McCoy are detained and it's up to Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew to piece together what happened. It is also nice to see Sulu get his own ship - the Excelsior.

Following a less than stellar performance with The Final Frontier, The Undiscovered Country returns to 'good Trek' by being an even numbered film, having Nicholas Meyer back in the directors chair and instead of searching for God, we're dealing with real world issues - the fall of the Klingon Empire akin to the fall of the Soviet Union.

We begin with Captain Sulu in command of the Excelsior, encountering a shockwave emanating from what is left of Praxis, a Klingon moon. The incident sparking dire consequences for the Klingon Empire.

At a meeting of officials within Starfleet, we learn the Klingon Empire has roughly 50 years left in it and that Sarek and Spock have been in contact with Gorkon, the Klingon High-Chancellor to begin peace talks between the Empire and the Federation. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are selected to meet with Gorkon's ship and escort them to Earth.

In Spacedock, we meet Lt Valeris, the new Vulcan helm officer aboard Enterprise and we are soon on our way to meet with the Klingons where Kirk makes a log entry about his feelings towards Klingons and Spock talks to Valeris about her replacing him aboard Enterprise.

After meeting their ship, Kronos One, Kirk surprises the crew by inviting the Klingons over for dinner aboard Enterprise where we meet Gorkon, his daughter Azetbur and General Chang. An interesting 'dinner from hell' comes together with the sharing of Shakespeare, interesting table manners and clashes of cultural ideals. After dinner, recovering from what they've just gone through and headaches from too much Romulan Ale, Spock detects a large radiation concentration emanating from Enterprise, right before two torpedoes strike Kronos One, disabling her artificial gravity and sending her spinning out of control.

While the Enterprise crew work to find out what happened, two officers in Starfleet space suits and gravity boots board Kronos One and shoot Gorkon and some of his crew. Kirk surrenders when Chang regains control and prepares to attack. Kirk and McCoy attempt to assist Gorkon but he passes away before them.

General Chang arrests Kirk and McCoy. They are put on trial and sentenced to life imprisonment on the penal asteroid, Rura Penthe. Once there, the duo meet Marta who offers them information and a possibility of escape. Once outside the barrier that prevents beaming, Kirk suspects Marta isn't all she appears - aside from the fact she's a shapeshifter. They are soon discovered by the prison guard and on the cusp of finding out who's responsible when Kirk and McCoy are beamed aboard Enterprise.

Putting some theories together, Kirk and Spock work to oust a mole aboard Enterprise and reveal Lt Valeris is involved in a conspiracy that goes to the highest levels of Starfleet and the Klingon Empire as well. On top of all this, it is discovered that the Klingon's have themselves a prototype Klingon Bird of Prey that can fire whilst cloaked (which was used to disable Kronos One).

Sulu and the Excelsior stand ready to help Kirk and the Enterprise as both ships and crew head to Khitomer to prevent another assassination attempt. The Enterprise takes the first few hits from Chang's Bird of Prey before Excelsior arrives on the scene, also taking damage. Spock and McCoy reconfigure a Photon Torpedo to track the Bird of Prey's ion trail and are able to defeat Chang and continue to Khitomer.

Kirk and crew barely save the Federation President and uncover high-ranking Starfleet officers involved in the attempted shooting.

Nicholas Meyer returns to the director's chair after his work on The Wrath of Khan and it shows. The Enterprise looks her best in this film with nice details throughout the interior. Cliff Eidelman composes a wonderful score for this last instalment including the building and climatic opening theme. The score for VI is also among my favourite of the Trek scores, even though it was Eidelman's only effort in the franchise.

The Undiscovered Country takes us through light and dark and talks of endings, suited to this film's position for the Original Series crew. While keeping a humour about itself, it also takes a look at people's prejudices and opposition to change and in classic style, it pits Kirk once more against the Klingons.

The final adventure for Kirk and crew is a great ride and puts events in motion that would lead to peace between the Federation and Klingons as seen in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The final sign-off by Kirk and the signatures of each cast member before the closing credits is an excellent and fitting way to bring the Original Series to an end.

My Rating: 4 Stars or 8/10
Eleonor's Rating: 4 Stars or 8/10 (as well!)

Interestingly, my favourite of the Original films doesn't out-score The Wrath of Khan (4.5 stars) but who says that favourites have to also be the best? :)

20 April 2013

B5 Review: Ceremonies of Light and Dark & Sic Transit Vir

Following the action-packed trilogy that turned the series on its head, we take a short break with these next two episodes of Season Three - that's not to say that wheels aren't continuing to turn...

Ceremonies of Light and Dark
Sheridan in a gunman's sights Some of the remaining Nightwatch on the station have plans to remove the Minbari ships protecting the station while Delenn and Lennier try to put together a rebirth ceremony following the hardships and changes the station has recently gone through.

Delenn begins rounding up people to attend the rebirth ceremony, but sadly meets a lot of resistance with many such as G'Kar, Londo and Marcus busy with other affairs or reluctant to attend. When the Minbari fleet Captain comes aboard for a tour of the station, the Nightwatch team capture him and Delenn before alerting the command staff and providing the ultimatum of removing the Minbari ships or their hostages will be killed.

Londo meets with Lord Refa to dissuade his further dealings with Morden as the Centauri are deeply embroiled in conflict on multiple fronts and Londo fears they are weakening their forces foolishly should Morden's associates decide to turn their attention to the Centauri at some point. Refa initially refuses until Londo reveals he has introduced a poison into Refa's system.

Marcus and Lennier set out to find who is responsible for Delenn's capture and Lennier reveals a secret to Marcus about his feelings for Delenn. Sheridan and crew, battling an annoying artificial intelligence that was resurfaced in the computer system, are able to flush out the Nightwatch in Grey Sector and free the Minbari hostages.

With Delenn in Medlab from injuries suffered, the time for the Rebirth ceremony has nearly passed. Sheridan, Ivanova, Garibaldi and Franklin bring the ceremony to her. Handing in their uniforms (giving up something they truly believed in) and offering a secret that no one else has been told. In return, Delenn provides them with new uniforms...

Ceremonies... is an excellent episode to follow on from the events of Severed Dreams. Many other shows would have just moved on and assumed that everything was cleaned up in the previous episode but this shows that all things continue to remain imperfect and how this affects our characters and the station. Add to that the realisation of the relationship between Sheridan and Delenn as well as a new look for our command staff and at the halfway point in the series we are beginning anew...

My rating: 6.5/10

Sic Transit Vir
Sheridan and Ivanova on helping the Narn escape the Centauri Vir receives a surprise visit from his wife-to-be while it is discovered that he has been a busy many during his appointment to Minbar - what exactly has he done to over 2000 Narns?

This is one of those obscure episodes of the series that can so easily go unnoticed but has many great moments in it. From Ivanova's dream about turning up to work naked to Londo's hatred of bugs and a realisation about what the Centauri are doing to the Narn population on their homeworld. Aside from seeing Minister Virini again, we get to meet Lyndisty, Vir's betrothed and she opens a window to the way other Centauri view the Narn and it's quite horrific at how easily she justifies their treatment. This of course is mirrored with Vir's own actions of attempting to save as many Narn as he can whilst assigned to Minbar.

Sheridan prepares a meal for Delenn which also has some funny moments and Ivanova finds her purpose with trying to help continue Vir's cause.

A short review as there aren't many other issues covered in this episode. There's finally some decent concentration on Vir's character and how far he has come since the show's start. I give it a 6.5/10.

13 April 2013

Trek Review: Star Trek V - The Final Frontier

On Nimbus III, the planet of intergalactic peace, a renegade Vulcan captures the Earth, Klingon and Romulan Ambassadors in the hopes of attracting the attention of their governments. When Kirk and crew investigate, the Enterprise is captured and put on a course for the centre of the galaxy in search of God.

The Final Frontier is often talked of negatively among Trekkers and even my memories of it weren't too great. However, a recent re-watch left me thinking the movie wasn't all bad. So I'll try to focus on the positives...

We are introduced to Sybok, a Vulcan that appears to embrace emotion - something we have not seen before (except when Spock was under some other, outside influence) and something we didn't know was really possible. Sybok is able to take away a person's 'pain', helping them be free and he then enlists them into his cause. He is searching for Sha Ka Ree, the Vulcan equivalent to Eden or the home of God. After Sybok captures the Earth, Klingon and Romulan ambassadors in a bar he hopes to attract a starship they can use for their quest. How Sybok figured he'd get a Federation starship as opposed to a warship from the Klingons or Romulans, we're not too sure.

A Klingon commander learns that Starfleet has dispatched the (still teething) Enterprise to Nimbus III and in the hopes of having his own glory in a confrontation against Kirk, he sets a course. Arriving at Nimbus III as Sybok and his followers have Kirk and crew hostage in a shuttle heading for their ship. Using a plan to quickly get their shuttle aboard the Enterprise, our crew are successful in evading attack by the Klingons. Sybok then detains Kirk, Spock and McCoy before proceeding to take over the ship.

It's here, in the holding cell we learn that Sybok is in fact Spock's half brother. Scotty has realised what is happening and works to free the trio from the cell, letting them know how to access the emergency transmitter. Unfortunately for them, the transmission is received by the Klingon ship in pursuit, portraying themselves as Starfleet and promising to send assistance.

Sybok finds the escaped trio and relieves McCoy and Spock of their pain, but Kirk refuses. The Enterprise then encounters the galactic barrier. Sybok relinquishes command to Kirk after being convinced the Captain will continue them on course through to see what is on the other side.

Encountering a strange planetary body, Sybok takes Kirk, Spock and McCoy in a shuttle to have a look. Watching from the bridge, no one notices the Klingon Bird of Prey on an intercept course on the aft tactical screen.

On the planet, the landing party encounter a being that introduces himself as God but Kirk soon becomes suspicious when he starts to show increasing interest in their starship and using it, prompting Kirk to ask 'What does God need with a starship?' Unimpressed, the being attacks both Kirk and Spock before Sybok realises what he has done. Sybok distracts the being to allow the others to escape but the shuttlecraft is inoperative. Kirk orders McCoy and Spock beamed back to Enterprise and he soon comes face to face with the angry being before a Klingon Bird of Prey appears and destroys it with a single disruptor shot. Kirk is then brought aboard the Bird of Prey and introduced to Klingon Ambassador Koord who orders the ship's commander to apologise for their pursuit and aggression towards them. Koord also introduces the ship's gunner, none other than Spock.

While the idea of searching for God is overly ambitious, what we find with The Final Frontier is that it tries but ultimately fails on many accounts. There are plenty of good character moments for our trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy with the other characters getting their screen time as well, although the Scotty/Uhura relationship was questionnable, but at least not over done. Sulu and Chekov get decent roles with Sulu's piloting skills put to the test and Chekov getting to sit in the captain's chair for a bit. There were even some decent moments from the shore leave sequences including the mountain climb/fall, 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat' and Sulu & Chekov not wanting to admit they're lost in the forest. - perhaps the biggest crime relating to the characters was Uhura's 'dance of distraction' in the desert?

There are others areas for nitpicking as The Final Frontier ultimately hit problems during production and underperformed after its cinematic release. This is clearly a science fiction movie of the late 80's with a similar feel to others of the time period including Total Recall - down to Jerry Goldsmith's familiar sci-fi musical score and an alien tabletop dancer with no less than three boobs! Another scene that disappoints fans is when Spock, with his rocket boots assists Kirk and McCoy in a turbolift shaft which clearly represents Decks 52 and 78 on a 23 deck starship ascending from bottom to top (when we all know Deck 1 is the Bridge at the top and Deck 23 is at the bottom of the ship).

Star Trek V's wiki entry at Memory Alpha cites strong criticism of the poor special effects that were used. Industrial Light and Magic weren't involved in this movie as it appears another choice was selected and ILM were involved in the production of several other (competing) movies at the time. I would suggest that the space scenes didn't suffer so much as the 'Mountain' scenes did and those portraying the 'God' being.

Jerry Goldsmith brings back the familiar Star Trek theme and Klingon motif he first used in The Motion Picture in this movie while William Shatner this time takes on the role of director. Laurence Luckinbill plays the villain in Sybok and I thought he actually played the role really well.

For all its failings, there are some things to appreciate in The Final Frontier. But thankfully this was not the final instalment of the Original Series movies, as my favourite, The Undiscovered Country would not have been possible otherwise.

My Rating: 3.5 stars or 7/10
Eleonor's Rating: 3.5 stars or 7/10

07 April 2013

B5 Review: Point Of No Return & Severed Dreams

Things continue to intensify for Earth and our crew following the events in Messages from Earth.

Point Of No Return
Garibaldi confronts the NightwatchEarth is thrown towards civil war in the wake of President Clark's declaration of Martial Law. On the station, Emperor Turhan's third wife, Lady Morella arrives at the request of Londo for a tour of the station, but he actually has something else in mind.

The Earth Alliance is in disarray following the Martial Law order. Clark has dissolved the Senate so his orders go unchallenged. Sheridan receives orders to implement Martial Law on the station and hand over security to the Nightwatch.

Lady Morella arrives for a tour of the station but Londo, knowing she is a seer, wants her to determine if the future that he has seen in his dreams is what will be, or if he can avoid it.

ISN reports a firefight between Earthforce ships near Io which is broadcast across the station as Sheridan implements Martial Law. A fight breaks out on the Zocalo as Nightwatch security attempt to break up the crowd.

Sheridan analyses the message sent to him about the handover of security duties to the Nightwatch and finds a loophole. He and the command staff work to bring Zack in on their plans and with his help, they alleviate the Nightwatch problem. G'Kar offers his assistance (after prematurely being released from prison) by enlisting Narn on the station as security officers.

We are left with the realisation that our staff are on their own after General Hague is revealed to be on the run and outgunned by Clark's forces. Morella also makes an interesting announcement to both Londo and Vir before she leaves.

The title episode for the third season, Point Of No Return holds up as the centrepiece of a trilogy surrounding the mayhem in the Earth Alliance where "Everything's gone to hell". Our crew take a bit of a backseat to the action in this one but there is certainly a feeling that they will be embroiled in it sooner or later.

There is much to be learned from Lady Morella's perspective in this episode as well with the alliance between Centauri Prime and Earth in the spotlight while fighting is breaking out amongst the Earth Alliance. There is also much to be appreciated by the fact that Lady Morella is played by Gene Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry.

An excellent episode, enjoyable and tense, my rating is 8/10.

Severed Dreams
Earth TaskforceFighting has broken out across the Earth Alliance and General Hague's ship, the Alexander has taken serious damage in a firefight with a Clark loyal ship, the Clarkstown. With nowhere to turn, they head to Babylon 5 for refuge. Meanwhile, President Clark orders attacks on Earth colony's failing to implement Martial Law and has Babylon 5 in his sights...

The crew receive word that the Alexander is on its way and make preparations for her arrival. Meanwhile, Delenn is troubled by the report of a Minbari Ranger bringing news of Shadow movements and conflict springing up among the League of Non-Aligned Worlds. The Grey Council have not intervened as they believe "the problems of others are not our concern". With this news, Delenn sets off to confront the Council.

Major Ryan arrives aboard the Alexander, explaining that General Hague was killed in the recent firefight with the Clarkstown. During his briefing with the Babylon 5 staff, they receive word that President Clark has ordeered Mars to be bombed for not implementing Martial Law on the colony.

Another Earthforce destroyer, the Churchill arrives with Captain Hiroshi bringing news that Orion VII and Proxima III have seceded from the Earth Alliance in response to Clark's bombing of Mars. Hiroshi also informs Sheridan and Ryan that they intercepted attack orders to a fleet headed to Babylon 5 who are to arrest and detain the command staff and restore the Nightwatch as security in order to stop the station from seceding as well. Sheridan makes the difficult decision to make their stand with the two Earthforce destroyers.

Delenn puts herself before the Grey Council and tells them they have lost their way. She breaks the council, as was prophesied and calls on the Religious and Worker castes to pool their forces into fighting the Shadows since the Warrior caste will not.

Sheridan calls home to his father to wish him well and then makes a stationwide announcement informing of his decision to stand with Orion VII and Proxima III, declaring independence from the Earth Alliance until President Clark is removed from office. 

Ivanova requests permission to join a Starfury squadron to assist their crews who will potentially be going up against their own people. Captain Dexter Smith of the Agrippa arrives with his taskforce ordering Babylon 5 and the renegade ships to stand down and surrender. Sheridan attempts to appeal to the Earthforce Captain that the orders they have received are illegal but they are fired upon and a firefight ensues. Sheridan coordinates the station's defense while Ivanova takes charge of the Starfury's. Garibaldi works with security forces against a breaching pod bringing large casualties.

The Churchill takes massive damage and in their final actions rams the Agrippa and takes them out of the equation. Ivanova loses her Starfury after a collision but is able to eject to safety amongst the battle. Babylon 5 and the Alexander take out the Roanoke but before the dust can settle another group of Earthforce ships arrive ordering Babylon 5 to surrender. Feeling beaten, Lt Corwin reports that multiple jump points are opening above the station - when all seems lost, three Minbari War Cruisers appear led by the Whitestar.

Delenn communicates with the Earthforce fleet telling them that Babylon 5 is under their protection and to withdraw or be destroyed. Initially refusing, Delenn informs them that the only human Captain to survive battle with the Minbari is behind her - they are in front of her. Valuing their lives, the Earthforce ships retreat.

This is a fantastic episode for it is mostly a special effects showcase of battles and explosions. But it is also very emotional. Eleonor was feeling quite concerned about Ivanova's decision to join the Starfury squadron, the scenes of the Narn security officers taking hits from the intruding Earthforce's is extremely powerful and poignant from G'Kar's recent vision about sacrifice. John's call to his Dad before announcing Babylon 5's independence and even the realisation that they may have lost when the reinforcements arrive to take the station. 

Severed Dreams is a great conclusion to the trilogy of episodes that turns the show on its head. Our crew are now renegades to the Earth Alliance but in doing that they are not alone as Delenn has managed to bring support from Minbar.

Just because I will always love this episode for all its action, I give it an 8.5/10.

03 April 2013

B5 Review: Exogenesis & Messages From Earth

Babylon 5's third season continues with these two episodes. Exogenesis was the first episode I managed to watch after a long hiatus in the series' initial run on television and Messages From Earth grabbed me by the hook...

VendriziMarcus enlists Dr Franklin's help in investigating what appears to be an invasion by parasitic aliens while Ivanova investigates Corwin's loyalties and whether he can be brought into their conspiracy group.

A bit like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and its Ceti Eels, I always remembered this episode for the somewhat graphic scene where one of the parasitic aliens, a Vindrizi, bonds with a human host. While not an important 'arc' episode, we do learn more about Marcus in this one, including his interest in Ivanova, which I had forgotten had been so outrightly spoken about.

The other part of the story involves Ivanova attempting to find out whether Corwin can be trusted and brought into their secret circle. The recently promoted Lieutenant, not sure himself about a meeting arranged by Susan in her quarters which leads to some fun and awkwardness surrounding the purchase of some flowers.

Not the strongest installment in the season but it did reintroduce me to the series and most of the characters I remember from Season One. There was enough in it to keep me interested in what was to come, 6/10.

Messages From Earth

Shadow Ship uncovered on Mars Marcus ensures the safety of Dr Mary Kirkish, coming to Babylon 5 with information that forces Sheridan to take action and possibly go up against Earth sooner than expected...

If Exogenesis (above) is what reintroduced me to the series after a hiatus, Messages From Earth made sure I kept on watching as I realised there was much I had missed regarding the overall arc but also that there were some very serious stories to come. 

Dr Kirkish brings her story to the crew, of finding a Shadow ship buried beneath the surface of Mars and how their IPX expedition was told to leave the area and another ship coming to dig it out. Garibaldi backs up her story and shows a Psi-Corps badge that he found near the site. Kirkish also brings news that another dig is underway on Ganymede where another Shadow ship has been found but this time it's being kept a secret as though someone in Earthdome wants to harness the ship's power themselves. After telling her story Delenn has Lennier look after Dr Kirkish and take her to safety in Minbari space.

Sheridan must then make a decision about what to do and decides to take Delenn and the Whitestar to Earth space to destroy the Shadow ship on Ganymede before it is brought online. The rest of the crew cover their absence, particularly under the watchful eyes of the Nightwatch. Ivanova has trouble coming to terms with the fact that Sheridan may be forced to attack an Earth ship and blames Marcus for sending him and Delenn on a suicide mission.

The Whitestar jumps into Earth space near Jupiter and heads straight for Ganymede picking up transmissions from the site where the ship is being held. A 'subject' is entering the ship to merge with and activate it and upon doing so the ship goes out of control and attacks the base. Sheridan orders the crew to engage the ship and hopes that if the merge didn't go as planned, they may have an advantage. Forcing the ship to pursue them to Jupiter, Sheridan out-maneuvers the Shadow vessel in Jupiter's gravity and has it destroyed. Preparing to return home, the Whitestar comes under attack by the Agamemnon, John's old ship. Boxed in, Delenn orders the Whitestar perform an atmospheric jump into hyperspace to escape.

On ISN, reports are that an alien ship attacked the Ganymede colony and was pursued to Jupiter where it was destroyed by the Agamemnon. Shortly after, President Clark signs a decree declaring Martial Law on Earth.

This is a fantastic episode on many levels. The story, realising that the Shadows have hidden their ships everywhere in preparation for the coming darkness, realising the Psi-Corps may be involved, the audio with that awakening Shadow scream that we get to hear twice and the special effects throughout make this a great episode to be reintroduced to the series and its larger arcs. The stakes are high and just when it looks like our crew got away with everything, I still get chills when we are informed that Earth is under Martial Law.

Rating: 8/10