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Can a simple agrarian society save their world from the aliens stealing their resources?
My family is re-watching Babylon 5. I will post reviews of each episode as we watch them, one or two a week.
Babylon Squared


Season 1, Episode 20

Originally aired August 10, 1994

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Jim Johnson

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, and Bill Mumy.

Babylon 4 suddenly appears in Sector 14, so Sinclair and Garibaldi investigate. The station is unstuck in time, going back and forth randomly. The crew is in a panic to get off. At the same time, Delenn is called to the Gray Council. She has been selected to replace Dukhat as the new leader of the Minbari.

Babylon 4 is a mess. As time ripples through the station, Sinclair and Garibaldi find themselves fighting in a battle, then Garibaldi meets his ex-girlfriend on Mars, all withough ever leaving the station. In the middle of everything, a strange creature named Zathras says that Sinclair is not the One. Someone in a spacesuit partially materarilizes and floats around. Zathras insists he is the One.

Delenn must decide to accept the greatest honor her world can bestow or leave the Gray Council and return to Babylon 5. It is not a decision she makes lightly.

The Gray Council is a wondrously mysterious place. It looks too huge to be on a spaceship, but the special effects are excellent. There didn't seem to be any kind of audience to the council's deliberations, so the dramatic lighting is a bit excessive. However, it makes for a great scene.

Zathras, played by Tim Choate, steals every scene. The costuming and makeup are perfect for his character. And the dialogue gives him one of the most unique personalities in the series.

Plot-wise, this is a big episode. This episode introduces Babylon 4, The Gray Council, time stablizers, Zathras, a triluminary, and the One. And it is the first time we hear the name Valen.

Reviewed by Romana Drew January 17, 2019



A Voice in the Wilderness Part 1 and 2


Season 1, Episode 18 and 19

Originally aired July 27, 1994

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Janet Greek.

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, Bill Mumy, Louis Turenne, and Ron Canada

Epsilon III, the planet Babylon 5 orbits, starts to have earthquakes, so Ivanova sends a geological team to investigate, but they almost get shot down by something located deep in a planetary fissure. Both Sinclair and Londo have visions of someone begging for help. Both disregard the visions. The Mars colony breaks out in war. Garibaldi worries about his ex-girlfriend who lives on Mars. And Delenn's old friend Draal stops by to for a final goodbye.

Sinclair and Ivanova manage to get inside the fissure and rescue the ancient alien controlling a gigantic machine before he dies of old age. Now that the controller is gone, the machine goes into self-destruct mode. Within a few hours, Epsilon III will blow up and take Babylon 5 with it. Just to make things easy to sort out, an Earth heavy cruiser comes through the gate uninvited, and the captain announces he has orders to take over the station and claim any technology on Epsilon III for Earth. He doesn't get far before the Takarn fleet arrives, claiming to be the rightful owners of the planet. And then they shoot at each other.

Often two-part episodes have a little too much plot for a one-hour episode, but not enough for two hours. That is not the case here. A strong well-developed plot and compelling characters carry this episode to its exciting and surprising conclusion.

There are some great scenes. When a survey team ignores Ivanova's orders, she opens the comm and gives them a piece of her mind. "Ivanova is always right. I will listen to Ivanova. I will not ignore Ivanova's recommendations. Ivanova is God. And if this ever happens again, Ivanova will personally rip your lungs out."

Delenn and Draal enlist Londo to pilot a shuttle to take the alien back to the machine. With a wide-eyed grin, Londo makes a suicidal run through the warring Tarkan and Earth ships to dive deep into the fissure with Garibaldi hot on his tail.

This is a great episode. Everyone is still in their original roles. There are only two episodes left before things change.

Reviewed by Romana Drew January 10, 2019



Legacies


Season 1, Episode 17

Originally aired July 10, 1994

Written by D. C. Fontana. Directed by Bruce Seth Green.

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, Bill Mumy, John Vickery, and Grace Una

Alyt Neroon, bigwig in the Minbari warrior cast, brings the body of Shai Alyt Bramner, a hero of the Minbari Earth war, to Babylon 5 so the Minbari on the station can see it. The body disappears, and Neroon blames everyone except the true culprit. He all but threatens war if the body isn't returned, further showing the rift between the Minbari religious and warrior castes.

Both Talia and Ivanova find a young telepath, Alisa Beldon. Talia wants to take her to Psi Corps. The Narn offer her wealth in exchange for genetic material. Ivanova tells Alisa there are better options.

Delenn proves instrumental in finding solutions to both Alisa and the missing body. She also continues to stack colored triangles on the increasingly complex structure on a table in her quarters.

Grace Una's portrayal of Alisa is sensitive, natural, and believable. Like most of Babylon 5, the casting is perfect. It was great to see Delenn put Neroon in his place in the end.

We get a hint of the future when Alisa tells Sinclair that she saw the word chrysalis in Delenn's mind.

This is another good solid episode. It continues to develop the characters and further the overarching plot lines within a complete and self contained story.

Reviewed by Romana Drew January 8, 2019



Eyes


Season 1, Episode 16

Originally aired July 13, 1994

Written by Lawrence G. DiTillio. Directed by Jim Johnson.

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, and Bill Mumy

Two men come to the station and question people about Sinclair. Turns out one is Colonel Ari Ben Zayn from Earth Force, and the other is Harriman Gray from Psi-Corps. They claim to be investigating Babylon 5 command staff to make sure everyone is loyal.

Ivanova refuses to be scanned. Sinclair gets pissed but feels compelled to comply. And Garibaldi investigates. In the meantime, Lennier becomes fascinated with the 1992 motorcycle Garibaldi is assembling. Garibaldi claims the bike is in pristine condition and that he is building it from scratch from parts he scavenged from all over. One would expect Lennier to catch the contradictory statements, but he doesn't.

This episode focuses squarely on Zayn and his increasingly unreasonable and apparently illegal investigative techniques. Unlike Bester, Gray is just a hapless telepath assigned to do a job. He tries to be nice, but no one wants to be near him.

Zayn, played by Gregory Paul Martin, starts out oily and harsh, but by the end of the episode, hatred consumes him. Apparently, he is jealous because he didn't get Sinclair's job.

It is delightful to see Jeffery Combs in his human form as telepath Herriman Gray. Science fiction fans know him as the Andorian commander Sharn; a Ferengi named Brunt, and another Ferengi named Kerm; the Vorta, Weyoun; Plenk a humanoid from the Delta Quadrant; Tiron, a questionable associate of Quark's; and others I may not know of.



Reviewed by Romana Drew January 3, 2019



Grail


Season 1, Episode 15

Originally aired July 6, 1994

Written by Christy Marx. Directed by Richard Compton.

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, and Bill Mumy

Station worker and general loser, Jinxo, owes money to a general lowlife named Duce. When Jinxo can't pay Duce demonstrates what will happen if he doesn't get the money. Someone, or something in an encounter suit, which looks a lot like Kosh, extends an appendage and touches the head of a woman tied to a chair. The creature wipes her mind, leaving her alive but comatose. Jinxo takes the hint and works the Zocalo picking pockets. Garibaldi catches him stealing from Aldous Gajic, who has come to Babylon 5 to hunt for the holy grail. Aldous takes Jinxo under his wing and tries to rehabilitate him.

As it turns out, Jinxo, or Thomas Jordan, his real name, worked on all five Babylon stations. As soon as he left, the stations either blew up or disappeared. He refuses to leave Babylon 5 for fear it will also suffer the same fate.

When the bodies pile up, Dr. Franklin determines a Na'ka'leen Feeder is on the loose. Londo goes bonkers when he finds out and hides in his quarters.

Even though most of the people on the station dismiss Gajic, Delenn treats him as an honored guest.

David Warner portrays Gajic with warmth, kindness, and just enough skepticism. The character is believable and likable. Tom Booker's Jinxo goes from Duce's timid pawn to Thomas, the next seeker of the grail. And, as for the Na'ka'leen Feeder, He isn't quite as scary outside of the encounter suit, but he isn't easy to kill either, making for exciting special effects.



Reviewed by Romana Drew January 2, 2019











Signs and Portents


Season 1, Episode 13

Originally aired May 18, 1994

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Jaanet Greek

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, Bill Mumy, Ed Wasser, Gerrit Graham, and Fredi Olster

Londo buys an ancient Centauri artifact called the Eye while Ivanova and Sinclair try to outwit the raiders. Centauri psychic, Lady Ladira, has a vision of destruction. Sinclair learns that the Minbari chose him to run Babylon 5, not the Earth government. And, Morden goes around asking VIP's, "What do you want?"

A transport vessel reports a raider attack, so Sinclair sends an entire wing of fighters to help, leaving the station defenses vulnerable. Londo arranges for Lord Kiro to take the Eye back to Centauri Prime, but Kiro is kidnapped. Raiders attack the station, and in the confusion, Lord Kiro is spirited away -- almost.

Morden is quiet, and polite, and utterly evil. Both Londo and G'Kar, in their inimitable ways, initially treat him as a nuisance, but in the end, they tell him what they want. Delenn kicks him out and continues to arranges trangular shaped objects in layers.

And a shadow vessel makes a brief but decisive appearance.

This is a big and important episode. It never disappoints, and it establishes several plot lines that carry through the entire series. G'kar and Londo will come to wish there had never been an episode 13.

Reviewed by Romana Drew December 28, 2018







By Any Means Necessary


Season 1, Episode 12

Originally aired May 11, 1994

Written by Kathryn M. Drennan. Directed by Jim Johnson

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, Bill Mumy, and Sarah Douglas

Faulty equipment and fed up dock workers lead to an illegal strike, while Londo and G'Kar duke it out over a G'Quan Eth plant.

Miscommunications in the landing bay kills a dock worker and damages a Narn transport, destroying the G'Quan Eth plant that G'Kar needs for a religious ceremony. Never fear, Londo has the only one on the station, which he keeps just out of G'Kar's reach. In the meantime, spaceships stack up outside the station and tempers flare. The Earth Senate Labor Committee gets involved, and a full blown riot is in the making.

Although the strike is probably meant to be the main story, G'Kar and Londo steal the show. The Narn ritual must be held at a specific time, and time is running out. First Londo agrees to sell the G'Quan Eth for an exorbitant price. But when G'kar gets the money, Londo changes his mind just to taunt G'Kar. It is delightful to watch the two actors play off each other.

In the end, Sinclair gets the better of both the Senate Labor Committee and Londo Mollari.

This is a fun episode, well written and well acted.

Reviewed by Romana Drew December 26, 2018







Deathwalker


Season 1, Episode 9

Originally aired April 20, 1994

Written by Lawrence G. DiTillio. Directed by Bruce Seth Green

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, Bill Mumy, and Sarah Douglas

Na'Toth nearly kills a woman dressed in Minbari clothing as she enters the station. She claims the woman is a Dilgar named Jha'dur, or Deathwalker, an infamous war criminal and assassin. Jha'dur should be long dead or at least quite elderly, but here she is in the prime of her life.

As Dr. Franklin treats her and saves her life, he discovers that she really is Jha'dur and that she has an anti-aging drug she intends to sell to Earth. This leads to dissent on several levels. Some want her tried for war crimes, some want the drug, and Na'Toth has a personal vendetta to avenge. Sinclair barely manages to keep control.

At the same time, Kosh asks Talia to help with a negotiation. As in most things Vorlon, the negotiations don't make any sense, but they do cause Talia to have disturbing visions.

This episode gives insight into the Dilgar war, the league of non-aligned worlds, and a faction of the Minbari warrior caste called Windsords. And according to the Kosh, we are not ready for immortality. It moves along without any problems. There isn't much humor but the outcome is never predictable, especially the end.

Reviewed by Romana Drew December 22, 2018







War Prayer

Season 1, Episode 7

Originally aired March 9, 1994

Written by D. C. Fontana. Directed by Richard Compton

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, Bill Mumy.

An old flame of Ivanova's, Malcolm Biggs, played by Tristan Rogers, drops by to say hello, and maybe pick up where they left off, while a plague of attacks on non-humans sets the station on edge. When Minbari poet, Shaal Mayan, played by Nancy Lee Grahan, is attacked and branded, Delenn demands Sinclair find the culprit, and G'kar attempts to incite a riot.

In the meantime, Vir's cousin Kiron, played by Rodney Eastman, and his girlfriend Aria, played by Danica McKellar, come to Babylon 5 to marry against the wishes of their parents. Londo insists they go home and accept their arranged marriages. They refuse, and then they also become victims of the attackers.

Londo demonstrates sensitivity and depth in this episode as he comes to terms with his feelings about his three arranged marriages and arranged marriages in general. And Ivanova learns that her old flame isn't quite the man she remembered.

This is a good solid episode, not a masterpiece but well worth watching. It explores feelings and justifications for racial hatred and intolerance but tempers it with action, humor, and romance.

Reviewed by Romana Drew December 18, 2018








Mind War


Season 1, Episode 6

Originally aired March 2, 1994

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Bruce Seth Green

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, Bill Mumy, Walter Koenig, and Julia Nickson.

This episode introduces Alfred Bester, Psi Cop extraordinaire, played by Walter Koenig.

Talia Winters' friend and mentor Jason Ironheart, played by William Allen Young, comes to Babylon 5 for one last goodbye, and to evade capture by the Psi Cops. The victim of Psi Corps experiment, he has developed advanced telepathic abilities. Bester either wants him, or wants him dead. With little control of his abilities, Ironheart wreaks havoc on the station.

In the meantime, Sinclair's friend, Catherine Sakai, heads off to Sigma 957 against G'Kar's warning not to go. There she encounters something mysterious and dangerous.

In the early episodes, G'Kar seems to be an angry troublemaker, but as time passes his character develops surprising depth. Some of that is seen here in his relationship with Sakai.

Walter Koeing steals every scene he is in. There is always a tension surrounding Bester that never lets go. Although, he sometimes seems to be a villain, and no one on the station likes him, he is committed to his job and considers his actions to be honorable and necessary.

Reviewed by Romana Drew December 16, 2018











The Parliament of Dreams


Season 1, Episode 5

Originally aired February 23, 1994

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Jim Johnston

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, Richard Biggs, Bill Mumy, and Caitlin Brown

This episode introduces Lennier, played by Bill Mumy and Na'Toth, played by Caitlin Brown

During a festival to celebrate different religious beliefs, G'Kar is notified that someone is about to assassinate him. You will know pain. You will know fear. And then you will die. At first, he suspects his new attache, NaToth, but she isn't the assassin, so they join forces to find the real killer.

Sinclair rekindles his romance with an old girlfriend. The Centauri host a feast of gluttony and debauchery. The Minbari contemplate life, death, and rebirth. Sinclair introduces representatives from some of the many Earth religions.

The Centauri, Minbari, and Narn cultures are further developed, but other than G'kar running around trying not to die, there isn't much plot to this episode, However, that isn't much of a problem. It has some great scenes. G'kar's, fear and pain is palatable. Londo becomes one with himself after crawling on the table, kissing a statue's ass, and passing out drunk. Take a good look at the statue. It gets explained in a later episode.

And from the moment he walks into the show, Delenn's personal aid, Lennier, is the perfect complement to her character.

Reviewed by Romana Drew December 7, 2018








Infection


Season 1, Episode 4

Originally aired February 2, 1994

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Richard Compton

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, and Richard Biggs

Dr. Stephen Franklin's old friend, archeologist Dr. Vance Hendricks, played by David McCallum, brings a box of artifacts from Ikarra VII to examine. Unbeknownst to Doctor Franklin, Hendricks assistant, Nelson Drake, played by Marshall Teague, didn't send the artifacts through quarantine, and he killed a guard to get them on the station.

The artifacts are designed to convert people into unstoppable bioweapons, monsters with built in guns programed to destroy anyone who does not conform to the ideal version of an Ikarran. Nelson gets blasted by one of the artifacts and turns into a hunting, killing machine. He then goes around the station randomly vaporizing people and melting holes through walls.

The plot is a bit predictable and straightforward. The Nelson/monster has to rest after every kill, and then he returns stronger than before. How he gets all that power is never explained. Did he eat? Did he hook into the station's power grid? Oh well, Nelson/monster's costume and makeup are great.

David McCallum does a fine job as Dr. Franklin's good old friend who isn't quite as honest, or clueless as he first appears.

Reviewed by Romana Drew November 29, 2018









Soul Hunter


Season 1, Episode 2

Originally aired February 2, 1994

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Richard Compton

Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian, Stephen Furst, Andrea Thompson, and Richard Biggs (as Dr. Stephen Franklin.)

This episode introduces another main character, Dr. Stephen Franklin. And Sinclair learns that Delenn is a member of the Gray Council, the ruling body of Mimbar.

The soul hunter, played by Willian Morgan Sheppard, nearly crashes into the station in his damaged spaceship, but he is saved and set free to roam Babylon 5. Soul hunters collect the souls of the dying and preserve them in glass spears. Having failed to collect the soul of the Minbari leader, Dukhat, during the Earth Minbari War, this soul hunter sets his sights on Delenn. Rather than wait for her to die, he plots to kill her and add her soul to his collection. Needless to say, that is against soul hunter rules, and Sinclair is determined to stop him.

Delenn believes souls should be free so they can reincarnate into the next generation, which explores another aspect of Minbari religion and sets up future story lines.

The plot works, but the acting falls a bit flat. Willian Morgan Sheppard's performance lacks the kind of fascinating presence or evil power that would make this a great episode. His mumbling and chanting is more irritating than threatening. So, this episode is a little slow and lackluster, but worth watching.



Reviewed by Romana Drew December 3, 2018







Midnight on the Firing Line


Season 1, Episode 1

Originally aired January 26, 1994

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Richard Compton Starring: Michael O'Hare, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Peter Jurasik, Andreas Katsulas, Claudia Christian (as Susan Ivanova,) Stephen Furst (as Vir Cotto,) and Andrea Thompson (as Talia Winters.)

This episode introduces three more main characters, Lt. Cmdr. Susan Ivanova, telepath Talia Winters, and Londo's assistant Vir Cotto.

Narn warships attack the Centauri agricultural colony on Ragesh 3. The unprovoked attack sends Londo into a fit of rage because his nephew is stationed there. G'kar is equally outraged because the Centauri destroyed his world. He claims the attack was justified. Sinclair goes after the raiders.

This episode is full of emotional posturing and political maneuvering which move the plot along at a good clip. It introduces the complex relationships between Londo and G'Kar, and between Ivanova and Talia. While in the background the election of President Santiago sets up future episodes. There is also a great scene with Delenn and Garibaldi, and his second most favorite thing in the world.

Both the makeup and costumes are an improvement over the pilot, and the characters are better developed. The introduction of Vir and Ivanova adds comic relief and emotional depth.

Reviewed by Roman Drew November 29, 2018











The Gathering


Pilot

Originally aired February 22, 1993

Written by J. Michael Straczynski. Directed by Richard Compton Starring: Michael O'Hare (as Jeffery Sinclair,) Jerry Doyle (as Michael Garibaldi,) Mira Furlan (as Delan,) Peter Jurasik (as Lando Molari,) Andreas Katsulas (as G'Kar,) and Patricia Tallman (as Lyta Alexander.)

The pilot introduces the main non-humans Delenn, a Minbari, G'Kar, a Narn, Lando Molari, a Centauri, and Kosh, a Vorlon. It also introduces three of the major human characters, station captain Jeffery Sinclair, station security chief, Michael Garibaldi, and telepath, Lyta Alexander. Although, Lyta disappears and isn't heard from for a while, she does return to play a major role in the series.

In the year 2275, ten years after the end of the Earth Minbari War, Babylon 5 serves as neutral territory for resolving disputes and as a center of commerce.

The members of the Babylon 5 Council, Delenn, G'Kar, Lando, and Sinclair wait for Kosh, the fifth member of the council to arrive. Kosh is poisoned before he gets more than a few feet inside the station. If he dies, the Vorlon empire will destroy the station. Since Kosh lives inside an environmental suit, treating him, or even diagnosing him is nearly impossible until Lyta uses her telepathic powers to find out how he was poisoned. However, that implicates Sinclair.

This is a bit of a who-done-it with evidence leading in the wrong direction and Vorlon ships charging weapons.

Although the acting is often a bit flat, the story is well developed, and the pacing moves the plot along at a good clip. The early 1990's special effects are not as cutting edge as they once were, but they still work fine, especially the fighter ships. Their thrusters actually fire in the correct direction when they turn, accelerate, or slow down.

After having seen the entire series, the makeup and costuming, in the pilot is also a bit rough.

The pilot does a great job of setting up the major plot lines that run through the entire series. It is a must see if you want to watch the series.

Reviewed by Roman Drew November 27, 2018