Babylon 5 has gotten a shiny new remaster released on HBO Max and digital storefronts, which makes it a perfect time for me to revisit my critical analysis of the series. I began the project years ago, picking up in season two when the series really took off, and now I’m continuing on into Babylon 5 S3.
I’ll warn you now, if you’re looking for apolitical analysis, I will not pretend this is what you’ll read here. Political and cultural insights are the key to understanding popular culture, literature and other artwork, thus my view of Babylon 5 is painted by both the period where it was written and aired and the current. If you enjoy my books and share different political views than I do, you’re more than entitled to that. I am a lot more explicit on my personal social media about my views than I am here on this blog, but sometimes it’s not possible.
“Messages From Earth”
This is where things get pretty interesting. This episode sets up the expansion of the Nightwatch into a political police force and introduces a mysterious scientist on the run from Earthgov for her firsthand account of Earth’s knowledge of the Shadows. The scientist kicks off the episode on the run only for Marcus to rescue her just in time, placing her in the care of Doctor Franklin until she recovers.
G’kar is okay with doing time, explaining to Garibaldi that he’s writing down his own accounts and beliefs of existence while Garibaldi stumbles through the Book of G’Quan.
Dr. Mary Kirkish is completely fine, which is good, and explains watching a Shadow vessel excavated from Mars, something that Garibaldi was on the planet for although he didn’t see with his own eyes. Garibaldi unveils he found something at the old site which was a Psi Corps badge. Kirkish unveils Earthgov has found another one on Ganymede and is planning on excavating it and taking control of it for themselves. This pushes Sheridan to take the White Star and stop it, no matter the cost.
Oh, and the Nightwatch? They’re planning a big raid with mass arrests and Nightwatch assuming insane amounts of power. Zack can at least see this is bad while the rest are licking their chops, even noting Sheridan is missing and implying he’s complicit in a wacky conspiracy theory that everything happening is an alien conspiracy to undermine Earthgov and Clark. If you’re reading this with knowledge of the American conservative conspiracies that have been floating around in the age of Trump, this will all feel eerily familiar.
There’s a conspiracy against a conservative leader! We need to be vigilant! The elites cannot be trusted! Everyone who disagrees is a traitor!
It’s almost like history informs fiction, and as long as we refuse to learn from history, we keep repeating the same awful mistakes.
Sheridan, sans-uniform (ooh, symbolism) is forced to engage when the pilot that entered the Shadow vessel wasn’t prepared and the ship went “insane,” destroying the rogue vessel. Sheridan’s old vessel the Agamemnon arrives, making life a lot more difficult. Sheridan is tasked with destruction or firing upon an Earth vessel. Instead opting to head into Jupiter’s atmosphere and opening a jump point to disappear.
ISN reports inaccurate news that an alien vessel appeared and the Agamemnon destroyed it and the Nightwatch tasks Zack with figuring out where Sheridan went just in time for President Clark to declare martial law. That’s not good.
“Point of No Return”
This is indeed the point of no return.
Also, hey, Vir’s back! And Londo is pissed because his report paints the Minbari in a positive light and Londo requires revisions made that make them sound less impressive than they really are. That’s surely damning of their people. It’s not like I’ve ever seen that in modern western history. Lady Morella visits as well, with Londo and Vir greeting her just in time for the station to be in a state of utter chaos because of the martial law order back on Earth.
Sheridan is tasked with what seems like the impossible. A general reaches out to send news of chaos back home. General Hague (lol) has defied the order and gone rogue along with a fleet of ships, and a message is delivered from Hague to Sheridan.
“Everything’s gone to hell, John. God help us all. You’re on your own.”
Babylon 5 hasn’t been addressed yet, but they’re just waiting for the hammer to drop. All while the Nightwatch has a meeting planned and Zack is told to bring extra charges for his gun “just in case.” Sheridan lets G’kar free, who finds T’Lon waiting for him, giving him his loyalty. G’kar unveils newfound ideas that the Narns’ place in the galaxy is helping the humans, which is… certainly something!
An Earthforce general calls in and explains in somewhat goofy, obtuse terms to “respect the chain of command” and isn’t saying anything coded at all. The Political Office has issued the order and will take over station security. At the same time, Nightwatch is briefed that they’re in control and they’re all pumped up and ready to bust some skulls. Garibaldi walks in on a meeting where they demand loyalty or expulsion from the Nightwatch and flips his shit and a few tables. They relieve him of duty and walk him off. Things aren’t looking good.
Nightwatch riots (again, seem familiar) against the people, Lady Morella, Vir and Londo get stuck in the ruckus and Vir catches a bottle to the head. Sheridan coughs out the martial law order and seems pretty upset with the whole thing. It doesn’t take long to realize what General Smits was telling him before, the Political Office cannot issue commands to military personnel.
G’kar has both an offer and an idea for Ivanova.
Morella tends to Vir while Londo wants her premonitions to tell him his future. She touches Vir’s Londo’s hand and has a glimpse at the same visions that’ve haunted Londo of… not good things. Oh, and Sheridan and co. invite Zack into a meeting.
Zack plays along with Nightwatch, telling them he couldn’t be complicit in their actions, and sets up a meeting where Nightwatch can find the real traitors. What follows is the old bait and switch, where Zack leads the geared up Nightwatch into a hangar, then bails, while Sheridan reveals the order from the Political Office is illegal and for Nightwatch to either leave or surrender their weapons, badges and comms and sit under house arrest. All agree it’s a very temporary solution, but hey, Zack came around, right? The Narn have assumed duty as station security as a part of G’kar’s big plan.
Delenn returns to give news that most of Hague’s ships have been shot down and Babylon 5 remains a holdout.
Oh, and remember Londo and Vir? Lady Morella reveals her visions of the future: Londo will be the Emperor. Darkness will happen. Oh, and Vir will be Emperor, too. One will take over after the other one dies.
Vir as Emperor?!
I could write thousands and thousands of words about “Severed Dreams.” I still might. Londo returns to the station to see the Narn in charge and finds himself held up by them. Oh, the humanity.
Things are coming to a head, though, as the EAS Alexander is at the command of Major Ed Ryan after the death of General Hague, forced to fire upon Earth ships to survive. After taking massive damage, there’s only one place left to go for repairs: Babylon 5.
Sheridan prepares for the oncoming struggle, preparing his command staff that he’s left in the dark for what will probably be the singular event that tests their allegiances. A Minbari Ranger returns to relay a message that members of the Non-Aligned Worlds have sided with the Shadows out of fear of the Centauri conquering them otherwise. Delenn learns of her own people’s inaction and is determined to change their minds.
The Alexander pops through after news of Mars refusing the martial law order and breaking free comes through and the horror of Earthgov bombing civilians on Mars to send a message. A few Earth Senators have escaped or gone into hiding, but the rest have been rounded up and detained. Clark’s totalitarian grip has no boundaries.
An ISN broadcast shows an apprehensive newscaster relaying the information about the Mars attacks while attempting to remain impartial only for her colleague to slide in and say he can’t sit idly by anymore, that there’s information being withheld and the people are being lied to. Proxima III and Orion VII have declared independence. As he does this, the building comes under attack, Earth forces storming in and the feed cutting out.
Again, a totalitarian, fascist government undermines free press. It restricts their ability to report clearly while selling the lie that they’re not loyal or somehow biased against them. If this isn’t familiar to you, I’d ask you why.
Captain Hiroshi’s ship jumps in to warn B5 of an impending attack. Sheridan is tasked with surrender and most likely be detained or even executed, or fighting. Everyone agrees they fight.
Delenn approaches and admonishes the Gray Council for their inaction, urging the 2/3rds that aren’t the military to stand up for what’s right and join her. You see, a powerful military is one thing, but when the people (in this case the religious and workers) band together they have more power. There’s really no way of knowing what this is trying to say, right?
Sheridan harnesses the old man hologram power as they shut down Earth-controlled comm systems and makes his case to the station: Babylon 5 refuses to follow the illegal orders and will break free from Earth’s control. They’re to prepare for battle, and anyone who wishes not to get involved is free to go. Some go, most stay, including the reluctant Corwin who was always on their side, just couldn’t figure out if Ivanova was into him or what.
The battle goes down and it isn’t pretty. Lots of people get hurt or die. Marines breach the station and the Narns fight to the death. Earth ships clash, and Captain Hiroshi sacrifices herself and her crew to fend off more attackers. When Delenn and the Minbari appear, the battle is over, forcing the loyalists to flee at the much-stronger Minbari forces.
Outside of a few injuries, our main cast is fine and Babylon 5 has officially made themselves enemies of a fascist government back home.
Join me again for another look into Babylon 5 S3. But really, you watch Babylon 5 to get to “Severed Dreams.”