Saturday, June 21, 2008

B5 S3 Ep10: Severed Dreams

X-Wing Fighters Attack! I mean Starfury Attack!

I am currently singing Severed Dreams in my head to the tune of Johnny Hates Jazz' Shattered Dreams. That one hit wonder was a terrible thing, but it works to the title of this episode just fine.

Babylon 5, Season Three, Episode 10, Severed Dreams [or Dad, Everything Is Going To Hell], by all accounts is considered one of the most popular episodes from Season Three. I have to admit, having seen some of the high marks on this one out on the web perhaps my hopes were set a bit high. It was indubitably a rock solid entry but it didn’t rank as one of my favorites. Might I be suffering from a touch of Babylon 5 fatigue if that's possible? Rather I think that’s the great thing about our favorite series. The things that make us who we are allow for a subjective reaction to the drama and the action. What one person hates another might love and so the reverse is true. Nevertheless I do like the raised stakes and the decisions being made by our heroes and heroines are indeed courageous and exciting.

The Narn are in a full security posture on Babylon 5.

The Alexander [a great Greek military commander] is under siege by Earth Force cruisers and will be destroyed unless they open fire with their aft batteries pretty quick. Wisely, they open fire with their aft batteries and unleash a world of hurt on the Clarkstown. So long sucker! Major Ed Ryan [played by familiar character actor Bruce McGill] brings the epic drama down to a personal level by speaking with a crewman about the people that are dying by their very hands. These are men with families like us. The damaged Alexander jumps to Babylon 5 for necessary repairs. Sheridan learns it is coming and tasks Garibaldi with severing communications channels, except for one private line and an ISN band.

Hell moment:
Sheridan: “Hague is arriving here in a few hours and Hell is riding in with it!"
Hey! There goes the White Star!
Elsewhere on the station, a Minbari has arrived with information, but is wounded and must be protected. We all know of Super G’Kar’s strength [after he lifted Vir in Dust To Dust] and he single-handedly carries the wounded to medlab. It’s interesting as trust begins to develop and unfold between the races. The injured Minbari confirms to Delenn and Lennier that “the Shadows are moving.” Alliances have been made among the non-aligned worlds with the shadowy forces of evil. This causation has created war between the worlds battling under the allusion they are protected by the very Shadows entity that is actually compelling these events to unfold. War is indeed growing.

The Alexander arrives and Sheridan orders all crewmen to assist despite standing Earth orders to the contrary. Cub scout Corwin is definitely looking a bit perplexed and we are uncertain within which camp he will fall as he struggles with each new crisis. Sheridan assures the crew the Alexander is NOT the enemy and deserves their humanitarian assistance. Sheridan makes an emotional plea to the crew about “our humanity.” He is an unorthodox Captain balancing emotion and instinct with judgment, decisiveness, courage, justice and the side of the man that is unmistakably Starkiller.

Major Ryan informs Sheridan of the shocking news that General Hague is dead. Hague has been killed in the fighting. Martial law has been implemented in full force with the exception of the Mars colony. Earth Force command has ordered the indiscriminate bombing of Mars to make a point. I really liked the Hague character and was hopeful he would return but clearly that t'was not to be.

Deeply concerned by current events Delenn embarks to Minbar to shake up the stodgy, old Grey Council. We are Grey. We are perfect. We are unmolested. We are above it all. We are boneheads. We are about to get our head and hands served to us by Delenn. Lennier does warn her that she may not be received well. Delenn could care less and plays a little Whack-A-Minbari. She has also discovered G’Kar, judged by his actions, has grown and through his own personal journey is changing.
The station surrounded by Minbari Cruisers looks like a whale in a fish-filled ocean.
A jumppoint opens and Earth Destroyer Churchill has arrived in Babylon 5 airspace. On Earth, ISN is being invaded by Earth Force troops and disrupts ISN's broadcast just seconds before it was deliver information of an ongoing Earth project they had been forced to suppress for some time. Earth colonies are breaking away in protest. Captain Hiroshi is in charge of the Churchill [do you love these World War II connections? Hiroshi-ma? Churchill?] and has arrived to inform Sheridan that Clark is moving elite forces upon any colony moving against him. Hiroshi warns that reinforcements are en route to Babylon 5 to seize control and command of the station. The captain and crew will be arrested and Babylon 5 will fall directly under Clark’s control via Nightwatch. Sheridan has roughly six hours before they arrive and all HELL breaks loose. Boy that felt good.
So, there are two options: 1. Fight [= die] or 2. Surrender [= court-martial]. Wow, that's great sign us up!

When Sheridan laid the options on the table in front of his crew, they clearly choose to fight. What I loved about this moment was how much I love the character of these characters. Loyalty. Justice. Determination. Integrity. This is why we love these guys. They believe in each other and they believe in Babylon 5 and what it represents. The fight in these characters never wanes. These aren't pacifists, appeasers, but true fighters. Sheridan has surrounded himself with people of genuine conviction. Ivanova, Garibaldi and Franklin desire peace but they are willing to fight, even die for it along with their captain. These are fiery individuals with a passion for justice. Love ‘em!

Starfuries are prepping for battle in the bays of Babylon 5.

Delenn, another fired-up individual, has a clear bone to pick with the Grey Council, a smaller head bone, but a bonehead nevertheless. She wills her way into the council chambers. Delenn scolds their pacifism. She scolds them for rejecting the prophecy that is upon them. The Shadows are real and she propels and wills them to listen. And the Grey have been warned.

We stand between the candle and the star, the darkness and the light. You say the words, but your hearts are empty. Your ears close to the truth. You stand for nothing but your own petty interests. The problems of others are not our concern.” Breaking a council staff she symbolizes her break from the council and the prophecy of the council’s dissolution. She will fight. Some take her side, while others do not. The time for isolation is over.

Sheridan worries for his family back home amidst Earth's chaotic shake-up and whether or not he will even survive the coming battle and see them again. He calls his father in one of the more intimate moments in this epic entry.

Here is the former father of Sheridan in Knives. He certainly looks kind enough AND he has hair.
I love how Sheridan is humbled with pride for his father. “Never start a fight, but always finish it.” [Words to live by]. By the way that is definitely not the same father I remember seeing from Knives in his vision while the alien force was inside his body. I thought this new fellow was a good choice. He delivers a believable component to the story. We'll never know how the other actor would have conveyed the role of dear old Dad since he never spoke a word and only reached out his loving arms, but this was a good choice for the father of Captain John Sheridan.

The Starfuries launch. Sheridan utilizes Draal’s holographic projection utility to deliver a kind of State of the Station address across Babylon 5. He informs the people aboard that the station has seceded from the Earth Alliance and will act as an independent state until Clark is removed from office. I immediately considered how that might affect the safety and function of the station. Without funding or support via Earth from that point forward repairs and supplies might get scarce and hard to come by. I was also wondering about Epsilon 3 as a defense to Babylon 5, but Ivanova asked that very question. Sheridan sees Epsilon 3 as a last resort, their ace in the hole. For now he calls it Babylon 5’s fight, if they don't get blown out of the sky. His crew is given the chance to leave and Corwin stands ground with them. The allies continue to mount.
I love team shots like this one!
Ivanova is a full-bodied woman of the people and heads out in a Starfury to assist the men and women by backing them in person. She wants the troops to know what’s at stake and that they have her support as Lt. Commander. Sheridan relents to her decision. The Churchill and Alexander join forces with Babylon 5.

Sheridan attempts contact with the arriving Earth fleet and insists they stand down from their Earth orders to take control of Babylon 5. They are unconstitutional. The Agrippa [named after a Roman general and statesman] and the Roanoake sever communications with Babylon 5. Not good.

The sky is alight and crawling with spaceships. A Breaching Pod [very cool infiltrator] lands on the hull of Babylon 5 at the junction of Brown 95. Garibaldi and troops assemble and head to the insertion point. Earth forces breach the hull and the casualties begin. There is some cool slow-mo intensifying the sequence and sadly the Narn continue to be slaughtered.

In space, a damaged Starfury crashes into Control and Command and the explosion and damage is minimal thanks to closed blast doors. The Churchill is hammered and in flames and is going down hard but not before crashing headlong into the Roanoake. Ivanova is clipped while piloting her ship by another Starfury, but jettisons to safety [floating in space?] after losing control just seconds before the Starfury explodes into the Agrippa. The Alexander follows suit by absolutely annihilating the Agrippa with its own arsenal of awesome firepower.

This is a striking looking shot by the effects team with Babylon 5 in the foreground as an array of jumppoints open as points of light and surround the station.
The consequences of the battle while severe give hope to Babylon 5 the storm has ended until more Earth Force ships arrive. The new arrivals couldn't come at a worse time as Babylon 5 assesses its poor hull integrity. Things look dire, and as the shit continues to hit the proverbial fan things go from bad to worse as four jumppoints open around Babylon 5. Is it curtains or cavalry for Sheridan? Yes, the cavalry has arrived in the form of Commander Delenn and the Minbari to the rescue!

Man she kicks ass! She delivers a forceful ultimatum. It's one of her best 'stand by your man' moments to date. Thinking back, those effects have come along way indeed.

Garibaldi is injured in the fight, but not critical. Sheridan is handed over the remaining Starfury fleet following the destruction of the Churchill. This addition replenishes and reinforces Babylon 5's own weakened fighter contingent to full strength.

The Alexander heads off to find other Earth defectors.

Babylon 5’s diverse alien population and their rousing ovation greet Sheridan as hero.
Severed Dreams: B+


Anonymous said...

A couple comments on this episode:

1. General Hague was supposed to come back for this episode, but the actor had a "conflict"--i.e., he'd locked in time for filming this episode months in advance, but canceled because he got double-booked... for a spot on Deep Space Nine. So he got zotted. (See also: )

2. Jerry Doyle, who plays Garibaldi, actually broke his arm filming the end of that fight scene. He came in, tripped over an extra, and snapped it. And because he was such a trooper, he insisted on filming the end of the scene before leaving. So they taped him up and sent him in for a reshoot... and he tripped and broke his arm AGAIN.

He insisted on finishing the shot, and if you watch the bit where Zack helps him slide down the wall, you'll see his arm, er, bend wrong.

Now THAT'S dedication.

- Aris

Anonymous said...

This episode won the show the second Hugo award (the first was for Coming of Shadows, in Season 2).

So I gather there are no longer complaints about the SFX? :) Wait until you see Shadow Dancing ...


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Hey Aris/ M.
Yeah, the effects are quite astonishing especially considering its day and the fact it was for television on a shoestring by most standards. That Bloody Deep Space Nine again! You have to admit, it's not just mere coincidence they arrived at the same time. Someone had to have had Straczynski's concepts and given them to others to flesh out. I remeber in a screenwriting class the professor mentioning it wasn't all that abnormal for a script to float around Hollywood and morph into similiar ideas as a result. Case in point: Deep Star Six/ Leviathan and then The Abyss [obviously The Abyss being the far superior product]. Thanks for the link.

Juanita's Journal said...

"General Hague was supposed to come back for this episode, but the actor had a "conflict"--i.e., he'd locked in time for filming this episode months in advance, but canceled because he got double-booked... for a spot on Deep Space Nine."

That actor was Robert Foxworth, who ended up doing a two-part episode on DS9 about an attempted coup against the Federation. Frankly, I thought the episode was crap and that Foxworth should have chosen B5, instead.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Hello and thanks for writing Juanita. Well, it's funny you mention DS9. I haven't seen it and definitely plan on seeing it someday. I hear such mixed reactions concerning that particular Star Trek outing. So it's interesting to hear your remarks about Foxworth choosing that show over B5. I will say this, I wish he had come back to B5, I thought his input made for alot of intrigue and where it was going looked really promising. It's a shame.

On a side bar, I met a young man at a DVD store once who told me he loved Babylon 5. It's a funny story and I've actually wrote it into one of my upcoming entries. Anyway, he also said he LOVED Deep Space 9. So there you have it, someone who loved both. Further he said he hated Voyager and I've never heard that before from anyone. I look forward to delving into Star Trek down the road after I enjoy the final two seasons of Babylon 5 along with the films.