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Crusade Synopsis and Reviews

A Drakh virus has penetrated Earth's atmosphere and will kill everyone in five years if an antidote is not found in time.

Who Are You? What do you want? Where Are You Going? Who do you serve, and who do you trust?






A Call to Arms


A Call to Arms

Made for TV movie - 94 minutes

Originally aired January 3, 1999.

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Mike Vejar

Starring: Bruce Boxleitner, Jeff Conaway Carrie Dobro, Peter Woodward, Tony Todd, Tony Maggio, and Tracy Scoggins.

The end of the Babylon 5 story arc, and the beginning of the Crusade story arc. Galen, a technomage, tells Sheridan of an impending Drakh attack on Earth and the three people who will help him defeat the Drakh.

Garibaldi and Sheridan check out two new Interstellar Alliance destroyers, the Excalibur and the Victory. After a telepathic message from Galen, Sheridan hurries to B5 to find his new assistants. There he meets Dureena, a thief, and Earth Alliance starship captain Leonard Anderson. He can't find the third person, a Drazi.

Sheridan, Dureena, and Anderson commandeer the two new IAS destroyers and head for Earth to confront the Drakh fleet, destroy the planet killer, and save the world.

That would be a wonderfully happy ending, but then there wouldn't be much of a reason for Crusade. So, of course, that isn't how it ends.

A Call to Arms is Sheridan's last story in the Babylon 5 saga. He leaves the Excalibur for another captain to explore the galaxy and save the world. The movie is well crafted and exciting. Peter Woodward is wonderful as Galen. He has just the right amount of haughty self-confidence without becoming overbearing. Carrie Dobro does a great job as Dureena. She always looks slightly askance at most things and people but comes through in the end. For a thief, the character is surprisingly honest.

Although A Call to Arms is a bridge between Babylon 5 and Crusade, it is well worth watching as stand-alone movie.

Reviewed by Romana Drew February 2, 2020 - palindrome day.















War Zone

Episode 1

Originally aired June 9, 1999.

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Janet Greek

Starring Gary Cole as Captain Matthew Gideon, Daniel Dae Kim as Lieutenant John Matheson, David Allen Brooks as Max Eilerson, Peter Woodward as Galen, Marjean Holden as Dr. Sarah Chambers, Carrie Dobro as Dureena Nafeel, and Zeus Mendoza as Trace Miller. With Tim Thomerson as Senator McQuate and Will Schaub as Jenson.



Synopsis:

Matthew Gideon, captain of an explorer class starship, confronts a crewmember who is attempting to lead a rebellion because he fears that the ship is headed for Earth. Gideon flattens him, and first officer Lieutenant John Matheson takes him to the brig.

They jump to Earth and see the debris from the battle with the Drakh. Captain Gideon is ordered to Mars.

Galen, a technomage, watches events unfold in what looks like a crystal ball, including scenes of Drakh ships fighting Earth Force ships.

Near Ceti 4, an Earth Force ship chases a Drakh vessel, which is fleeing the Earth battle. They launch a distress beacon and force the Drakh ship to the surface of Ceti 4. The Earth ship is apparently destroyed since it is never heard from again.

On the planet's surface, Max Eilerson, an archeologist, watches the Drakh ship as it streaks through the sky and crashes. He sends Jensen to check it out.

The surviving Drakh shoot Jensen down. There is no way for the archeological team to call for help because of atmospheric interference, and they're certain the aliens that killed Jensen are after them. Trace Miller takes a shuttle and goes above the atmosphere to send a message.

On Mars, Senator McQuate makes Gideon captain of the Excalibur and orders him to find a cure for the Drakh plague. As Gideon is introduced to his team, Dureena Nafeel, a member of the Thieves Guild, fights her way in, demanding she be included. She is hauled off to the brig. Gideon insists Lieutenant John Matheson be his first officer even though he is a telepath. And after talking to Dureena, he adds her to the crew.

They all board the Excalibur and head out for a shakedown cruise. Before they even get started, Galen appears to Gideon

Outside the atmosphere of Ceti 4, Trace finds an Earth Force distress beacon. He uses it to interface with the archeological team's communications and sends a message to Earth. Once Earth Force gets the message, they divert the Excalibur to Ceti 4.

Gideon and crew take a shuttle to the surface of Ceti 4 and meet the archeological team inside a cave. Fighters from the Excalibur take out the Drakh soldiers who are advancing toward the cave. The Drakh remaining at the downed ship get word that reinforcements are on the way.

Gideon and team investigate the Drakh ship and get attacked by the remaining Drakh at the same time the Excalibur is attacked by Drakh ships. Gideon returns to the Excalibur to lead the space battle while Galen saves the crew still on the ground. They capture one of the Drakh.

On the Excalibur, Gideon questions the captured Drakh while Eilerson translates. Since the Drakh is not cooperative, Gideon threatens to send him to Earth where he can die of the plague.

Trace and Eilerson are added to the Excalibur's crew.

The last scene shows Gideon and Galen on another planet. Galen questions Gideon and then agrees to join the Excalibur's crew.



Review:

This is an excellent and exciting introduction to the series. It sets up the overarching challenge - saving Earth - and gathers a diverse and interesting group of characters.

The scenes shift quickly between Gideon, Galen, Trace, Eilerson, and the Drakh. But continuity is never lost, and the story flows smoothly. This technique lets the viewer take in multiple events happening at the same time. It also has the feeling of driving the plot forward at a fast pace.

Gary Cole is the perfect Matthew Gideon. He is a no-nonsense, take action, kind of guy with a wry sense of humor. David Allen Brooks plays Max Eilerson as a self-important ass, which is good counterpoint to the other characters. Daniel Dae Kim plays Lieutenant John Matheson as unflappable. He never gets excited or emotional, but he is always there when needed. Peter Woodward and Carrie Dobro continue as Galen and Dureena from A Call to Arms.

With a five-year timeline to save Earth, there must have been hope that the Crusade would last five years. But only thirteen episodes aired, and the main storyline was left unfinished. Still, the characters are complex, and it is easy to develop an emotional connection to them. The stories are well-written and fun to watch.

Reviewed by Romana Drew February 7, 2020.














The Long Road


Episode 2

Originally aired June 16, 1999

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Michael Vejar

Starring Gary Cole, Daniel Dae Kim, David Allen Brooks, Peter Woodward, Marjean Holden, Carrie Dobro, and Zeus Mendoza. With Alison Lohman as Claire, Mik Scriba as Barkeep, Marshall R. Teague as Captain Daniels, and Edward Woodward as Alwyn


Synopsis:

The building shakes, and two people call for help. Outside the window, a gold creature with a big red eye ambles by.

On the Excalibur, Captain Gideon shoots hoops while First Officer Matheson tells him about problems on Regula IV, where an enormous golden dragon is attacking mine workers. Upon hearing about the dragon, Galen invites himself along.

Earth Force Captain Daniels asks Gideon for help. He is mining Regula IV for an antiviral mineral that has helped extend the lives of the human settlers. But the locals are making it difficult.

Galen insists that only he and Gideon go to the surface. There they enter the village pub, buy a drink, and wait. After the pub empties, a group of locals returns and confronts them. Alwen, another techomage, enters and disperses the group.

In Alwen's house, they eat and then visit the mine. The settlers were never consulted before the mine was constructed, and it's damaging the local ecology.

Settlers kidnap several mine workers and demand Earth Force leave.

When Daniels hears about the kidnapping, he orders his troops to the surface to free the hostages. They encounter a dragon in space. Guessing it is a hologram, they fly right through it. Then they go to the pub and demand the hostages be freed.

Alwen and Galen show up unleashing a hoard of demon-like flying creatures. At first, the Earth Force troops are unconcerned, believing the demons to be harmless holograms. But the demons become solid and kick people around. In the end, the settlers capture the Earth Force troops.

Alwen tries but fails to persuade the settlers to release the hostages, so he takes things into his hands.

A young woman, the barkeep's daughter, Clair, collapses. Alwen determines that she is dying from an overdose of the antiviral mineral. The mineral has become airborne because of mining. Gideon takes her to the Excaliburfor treatment.

In the middle of the mine, Alwen puts on a great show of special effects. Gideon tells Daniels that Alwen intends to use the curvature of the mine to create an energy beam that will destroy the Earth Force ship. Daniels asks Gideon to kill Alwen. Gideon pauses a moment, gives Daniels a quizzical look, and then fires the Excalibur's main guns, destroying the mine.

Clair has been successfully treated and returns to Regula IV. The mine is being glassed over. The settlers agree to work with Daniels to find a safer place to mine.

Galen and Alwen discuss the future. Since Alwen is believed to be dead, he will go somewhere else.

When the Excalibur leaves, Alwen follows in his ship, which has golden dragons painted on its wings.


Review:

The Long Road covers the hazards of strip mining as well as the disregard of less technological people in order to take their natural resources against their will and without compensation. Instead of preaching, the episode weaves this into an exciting story.

Galen and Alwen have a complicated past and interact well. Daniels is a typical military type bent on getting what he thinks he deserves regardless of who he has to push around.

The set up for the conclusion is excellent. Alwen is determined and somewhat reckless. He might be able to destroy the ship and be willing to sacrifice his life to do so.

The moment of doubt comes when Gideon is so easily persuaded to use his main gun, his biggest weapon.

This is a good, solid episode. The pace is just right, and the dialogue is well written, with lots of humor tucked in unexpected places.

Reviewed by Romana Drew February 11, 2020.