Monday, December 29, 2008

Kirk & Bones: The Great Ice Planet Adventure: Part 4: Sometime Soon Scotty

And now back to our fearless heroes....hours later. Without Starfleet issued gear or weapons, Kirk and Bones are all alone on the ice planet.

Bones: I had this weird dream we were making snow angels and singing snappy space versions of our favorite yuletide classics. Believe it or not, I was even happy we were stuck here. I'm beginning to lose it.

Kirk: Well Bones, things are really beginning to look bleak. I can barely see you my friend. I can hardly move and feel as though I may nod off myself.

Bones: I know Jim. I'm not sure I can hang on much longer. I'm so cold. I can't feel a thing. I think I'm entering Stage 1 hypothermia. I'm starting to shake.

Kirk: Bones, hang in there. We need to do something and fast.

Bones: Damn it Jim, we need a miracle!

Kirk: Or a smokin' hot woman to wrap our bodies around to get warm.

Bones: Do you have no boundaries? Does anything shake your libido? Not even the cold. If we get out of this I may need to run a full scan on you you. Look, I'd have preferred an alternate kind of stiff myself, but it's really not looking likely at this point. The planetary readings indicated an extremely volatile atmosphere with extreme, sharp shifts in temperature. We can only hope at this point.

Kirk: I suppose. Until then Bones, you keep making snow angels and singing Christmas carols. I have my very own visual going and she's blonde and beautiful.

Bones: Can she sing?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

B5 S4 Ep16: Exercise Of Vital Powers

Haven't we all had nights like this? Take it easy on New Year's Eve or this could be you.

The liberation fleet is succeeding by usurping back control of the various colonies from Earth’s dictatorial hand. Up next on the menu: Earth.

On Mars, Garibaldi is convinced Sheridan is on a power trip. In a bit of a new reveal we learn Mars almost killed Garibaldi three times. Now he’s back for more. He’s a true glutton for punishment. Garibaldi is blindfolded on his journey to convene with William “the big guy” Edgars.

I can’t believe I’m back on Mars. I gotta be out of my mind.” Hmm… perhaps you are Michael. In fact, this show continues to push the boundaries of my mind as we enter Babylon 5, Season Four, Episode 16, Exercise Of Vital Powers [formerly titled Garibaldi Exercises More Poor Judgment As He Further Screws Up His Life And Everyone Else's In it].

On the station, Franklin is doing the very best that he can to bring back those telepathic Popsicles. The problem is as soon as they awaken they immediately bond with the nearest computer system. They’re also not very friendly when they snap to. They’re quite nasty actually. These extraordinary powers bring to mind Season One, Episode 6, Mind War. Talia Winters old flame had some significant control issues with his telepathic abilities. He was clearly a living experiment thanks to the Psi Corps. I suspect they aren’t connected somehow.

Zack asks Lyta to scan the victim of a crime. Her payment is standard commission plus 10% stress fee for reliving the attack. I love that kind of detail. Zack agrees. Now, while standing in medlab she scans a telepath patient of her own volition that Franklin had been attempting to revive with no success. The man’s eyes open WIDE. We hear the sounds of those creepy Shadows vessels. Franklin turns to see Lyta standing at the glass with the patient standing on the other side of it and reaching his hand onto the glass to touch her. She breaks from her scan and the man falls to the floor. Franklin is not troubled, but instead pleased by this development by displaying a soft smile.

Back on Mars, Garibaldi meets with Lise. She tells him he shouldn’t have come. Maybe that was the message she was trying to leave him previously that he deleted. Edgars enters and offers Garibaldi a drink, but remembers that’s not such a good idea for someone now clean and sober. He knows this of course because apparently he’s done a full background check on him. Edgars has people in high places who clearly shouldn’t be accessing his background records unless laws and access are completely different in the future Babylon 5 'verse. Ordinarily accessing criminal history records via a police system for personal use and non-criminal related investigations would be a violation of the law. Edgars doesn’t look too concerned about that sort of thing. Still, he could have gotten the information from any number of computer sources given the number of avenues that appear to exist in this future.

Garibaldi is no dummy. He reverses tables on Edgars and knows almost as much about him including his political influence back on Earth. Neither Edgars nor Garibaldi is fond of Clark. Edgars is clear he was behind Santiago’s assassination. Edgars believes Clark needs to be stopped from within, not via “military action” as Sheridan believes. Garibaldi and Edgars have a mutual need for each other to contend with their Sheridan issue. First, Edgars feels there are some trust issues between he and Garibaldi that need to be ironed out. Oh, minor details. Really, come on, why would something like trust between strangers be an issue when dealing with political assassination or governmental coup d' etat.

Wade is of course Edgars’ toadie or whipping boy if you will. He’s played quite well by Mark Schneider. His performance along with that of guest Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. [as Edgars] combined with recurring cast member Patricia Tallman are all terrific here.

Speaking of Lyta, an excited Franklin approaches her for help with the telepaths. He's not angry, but energized by her recent discovery. She apologizes for her involvement, but he insists it’s not necessary. She is surprised by his appreciation and he thankful for her intervention. She confirms she heard the sound of the Shadows vessels while connected to the patients. “It sounded like the scream a Shadow vessel makes when it goes by.” Yikes. That is a creepy ass sound. The hair on your back raises and, well let me tell you, that’s not pretty. She let go qickly and instinctively when she heard it. Franklin really needs her help and she reluctantly agrees.

On Mars, Garibaldi is abducted [again] while sleeping. Cloaked men take him to a room. I think they were men. It’s a guess, because they were cloaked. A female telepath is sitting awaiting his arrival. I hate interviews. I’ve never been to an interview in a darkened room nor do I ever want to do one like that. Sometimes though it feels like there is a bright white spotlight on you during those interviews. Edgars communicates via a linked sound system and comes off as a disembodied voice. She is there to provide a non-invasive surface scan to ensure his answers to a series of questions are truthful.

How do you feel about telepaths? “I don’t trust them. Never have. Never will.” Do you believe they are a menace to society? “The biggest we’ve got.” What happened to you when you disappeared from Babylon 5? “I don’t remember anything.”

The telepath appears to nod into the darkness with approval until this last inquiry.

One more thing. Are you still in love with my wife?” Why would you lie to this? You know you’re being scanned. Garibaldi’s reply, “No, no I’m not.” LIES LIES LIES YEAH! You can hear that Thompson Twins song can’t you? The telepath nods disapprovingly to confirm he is indeed lying.

Later Lise greets Edgars and inquires about Garibaldi to which he replies; “I think he’s put it all behind him. I think he’ll be a fine addition.” LIES LIES LIES YEAH! Queue the song again!

"Say goodbye to Hollywood, say goodbye my baby!"
As the female telepath prepares to leave with the intention of getting paid, Wade the toadie greets her with a fistful of lead and shoots her dead [so much for that payment and possibly stress pay to boot].

Back in medlab on Babylon 5, Lyta works with Franklin entering the patient’s mind slowly. The Shadows’ creepy chatter begins [not the screaming, but the chirpy, cricket-like chatter]. Their sounds do leave an indelible mark of shivers on the mind don’t they? Now this was really something. Remember those creepy X-Files-like fellows from Season Three, Episode 14, Ship Of Tears, well here they are again.

What the hell are those things apart from big damn ugly? Clearly, if not a relation to The Shadows, they are somehow “dark servants” of The Shadows.

Random thought while watching Babylon 5: One thing is clear in wathcing this series and that is there isn't a single minute that goes by that doesn’t serve Straczynski’s story in play. Whether material serves the series as a whole or a single thread within an episode there isn’t an ounce of fat to trim from his lean tale. No time is ever wasted time. I suppose that is the art of great scriptwriting. It is the fine art of Straczynski storytelling to be sure.

Garibaldi meets with Edgars. “I assumed I passed.

Classic line:
Edgars: “Do you know how the ancient Greeks defined happiness?
Garibaldi: “Not off hand, but I’d be willing to bet it involved three goats and a jug of wine.” Ha! Now that is the classic Garibaldi we know and love. He's in there. He's just off.

Edgars points to a potential world run by telepaths. What then? Would it not be like George Orwell’s 1984 and big brother? Edgars sees that possibility as real. This is a stirring exchange. This excerpt, taken out of context, could be applied to almost any period of time and almost any political reality today. It is a frightening reality. Take a look around. It’s out there. This is a stirring segment.

These are powerful political observations well articulated by Straczynski. The holocaust comes to mind. Wake up Europe. Wake up Americas! It’s happening as we speak. “Nobody takes power. They’re given power by the rest of us, because we’re stupid, afraid or both.” Wow! That is a scary truth. That is some of the most potent writing of the series right there.

So Edgars points out the mega-corporations are running things. “We just don’t show ourselves much. People wouldn’t understand. So we let them think they still have a voice.” Tell us something we don’t know. Clark is clearly an amateur according to Edgars. Edgars plans on impacting change behind the scenes and is fearful Sheridan’s military intervention will ruin everything. Clark will become paranoid, panic and rush Edgars’ timetable. “Once you decide you’re in all the way I’ll tell you the rest. We’re gonna’ change the world Mr. Garibaldi.” This whole section between Garibaldi and Edgars is dialogue intensive, but there’s a lot of meat on them there bones worth tasting. There's a lot of life and political truth to it.

Meanwhile, Clark’s forces have been defecting to Sheridan’s fleet. Sheridan is informed Delenn will be returning to Babylon 5. He checks in with Franklin as well who is getting annoyed with the boss man. I can relate to that. He believes he can neutralize the implants within the telepaths for periods of time. He demands to know why he needs these telepaths so badly. Sheridan tells Franklin and the man looks defeated and somewhat shell-shocked.

That's a moving sequence. It’s funny how friendship finds itself in unexpected places on the show. Surprisingly Franklin feels much the way Garibaldi had felt concerning Sheridan and his potential change here, perhaps not to the same degree. I never noted a huge change in Sheridan to be honest. I never really felt that different about him. I suppose he is a little more driven and less compromising, but Garibaldi, and now Franklin, keep pointing to his changes. Now I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t something to it this series is leading to. Boy, Franklin sure is getting gray by Season Four.

Back on Mars Garibaldi and Lise have it out. Perhaps a mud-wrestling contest in their skivvies could have made it more entertaining a la Duran Duran's Girls On Film. Garibaldi can’t understand why she’s with Edgars never mind old flame Franz. She is worried for both Garibaldi and Edgars. So let's get this straight, they aren’t actually lovers, but they do have a lover’s spat. She even throws Franz back in his face. Ouch! Still, I like this scene between them.

Edgars meets with Wade the whipping boy. We see three telepaths in a secret room dying from what looks like, Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease [a more common form is MRSA or methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus]. That’s just God-awful stuff. Though, flesh-eating disease is not a virus, but rather of the bacterial kingdom. How do physicians and scientists come up with these names and keep them straight? Anyhow, they will die soon. They have been off some kind of “drug” for five days now. “It will be over soon,” comforts Edgars to the dying man. To the side, Edgars tells Wade to “put them all down” like they're cattle. He adds, “There’s enough pain in the universe already. Let’s not add to it until we have to.” Uh-oh. That doesn’t sound good.

Later, Garibaldi tells Edgars he’s in. Edgars indicates he better not be in and he’ll need to prove it by not sleeping with Lise. Kidding. Edgars tells him, “Give me Sheridan.” He wants to hand him over to Clark. Garibaldi agrees to give Sheridan to Edgars but not to Clark. He can’t do that. Now I’m thinking, ‘that’s stupid.’ Obviously Edgars will hand him over to Clark himself. I don’t get Garibaldi sometimes. Garibaldi adds, “You get to Sheridan through his father.” New information alert: Apparently Sheridan’s father has a rare blood disorder that needs medical attention from time to time. They should be able to smoke him out via this avenue. Confidential medical records, hell, what's confidential anymore in the world of Babylon 5? “You get him. You can get Sheridan.” Garibaldi believes he can help.

The final moments with Garibaldi on the tram are quite sad and lonely. “I can’t feel anything anymore. I don’t know what I care about anymore except Lise. It has to be done. I hope he can see that someday.”

Garibaldi is traveling down a dangerous road. He is messed up.

Exercise Of Vital Powers: B

Friday, December 26, 2008

Kirk & Bones: The Great Ice Planet Adventure: Part 3: Snow Angel Dreaming

Kirk: Boy, this is fun Bones.

Bones: I'm sure glad we left all of our vital gear back on the Enterprise. Looks like we'll have as much time as we'd like down here.

Kirk: Yeah, with no way to reach Scotty we should have plenty of time to enjoy this Winter Wonderland.

Bones: Sure wish we had some Christmas tuneage Jim.

Kirk: That's alright. We can sing our own songs.

Bones: Great. How bout' Rudolph The Red Nosed Galileo or Rockin' Around The Ferengi Money Tree or Silent Klingon.

Kirk: I was thinking Santa Android or Tribble, It's Cold Outside. Actually, it's not really a Christmas song, but more of a winter number. I always loved God Rest Ye Merry Romulans, Frosty The SnowGorn or The Little Drummer Borg.

Bones: Haha. This is way too much fun. Seriously, let's keep it traditional.

Kirk: Fair enough, but after we sing Jingle Bells, let's build a snow woman with really big snow boobs.

Bones: Damn it Jim, what's wrong with you?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The One To Be Pitied

No, that's not The One To Be Pitied. That's the very first Sci-Fi Fanatic turkey ever made!

It's been a tough week for The One To Be Pitied [so I gave her a blog entry]. She had her appendix taken out after being rushed to the hospital on Monday. She survived. She's in pain though. I am waiting on her hand and foot and that is definitely usurping my blogging time. Recovery time is about 7-14 days and she tends to milk it every step of the way. You know how it goes. It's more like 14 days. Perhaps I should be the one to pitied. I'm kidding. I know people have it a lot rougher out there and I'm thankful for alot of things. Fortunately The One To Be Pitied will be around to torture me for a very long time. I'm also lucky to converse with like-minded people like yourselves. What we have in common far outweighs what differences we all might have. Now if we could only get everyone to agree. My aunt, whom I mentioned when I spoke about Majel Barrett Roddenberry's passing last Thursday from leukemia, learned the very next day her leukemia went into remission. Funny life. It's like Ying Yang on this planet. It really is.

Anyway, so I made my very first turkey ever because, well, because no one else was going to make it. It came out pretty good. It looks really, really good, but it was a little dry. I like the dark meat over the white meat. How bout you?

The Boy Wonder tried to teach his grandmother Bakugan. Apparently it didn't go so well. He told me in the kitchen with a smile, "I tried to teach gram Bakugan - failure." I laughed. He has given her a manual to learn the game for next time. Picture that.

Anyway, Christmas Eve was a fairly successful night considering I opened many canned vegetables and resorted to Ben & Jerry's for dessert. The way I look at it folks, life isn't always perfect and I'm thankful for the little things like, family and friends and Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5 and....well, you know. I thought it was as good a time as any to get sentimental. I suppose I was moved by the spirit.

Hope you all have a nice holiday season and a Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Babylon 5: To Dream In The City Of Sorrows

I picked up Kathryn Drennan's Babylon 5: To Dream In The City Of Sorrows and it was off to an explosive start. Like anything else I write about here on Musings Of A Sci Fi Fanatic please don't continue unless you've already read the book. I essentially sum up each chapter with a play by play and the occasional musing. My apologies for this one being a bit long. It's certainly intended for us B5 die hards and is not for the faint of heart or for those with very little time on their hands, for which most of us would qualify.

Prologue: We jump past the events of War Without End. Marcus is nearly killed by Neroon and is sent to Tuzanor to recover from his beating by Delenn for his loyalty in defending her during her installation as Ranger One. Marcus goes to The Chapel to consider his friend Jeffrey Sinclair. He gazes at the statue of Valen wondering if Valen is indeed the same man as Jeffrey Sinclair.
Chapter 1: We're taken back to the Battle Of The Line via nightmare to reconnect us with Commander Sinclair. I must admit her writing style was very natural, articulate and it flowed nicely as she really captured the character's personality for me. A couple of things struck me about reading the chapter. I found myself missing Commander Sinclair and appreciating his character much more in retrospect. WHAT! I know. "Did I hear that correct?" I've been a critic of Michael O'Hare, but the big lug has grown on me. Further, I was happy to know I'd learn more about what happened following the end of Season One to one of the series' most beautiful characters, Sinclair's lovely fiance Ms. Catherine Sakai.
Chapter 2: I love the details that are fleshed out about Minbari culture, Sinclair and Rathenn. I remember we met Rathenn briefly in Season Three, Episode 16, War Without End Part One.
Chapter 3: Sinclair seemed to be getting the runaround from all parties involved on Minbar, his newly relocated home. It's interesting that Clark placed him exactly where he needed to be following Santiago's assassination. It ironically played right into the hands of fate and the Minbari's plans. I'm not quite sure why, but Sinclair rarely gets the straight skinny from his assistants for a guy slated to become Valen.
Chapter 4: Sinclair continues to flashback through dreams [more appropriately nightmares] offering detail about what exactly transpired between him and the Minbari. The nightmares allude to Season One, Episode 1, Midnight On The Firing Line and Episode 8, And The Sky Full Of Stars [the abduction by Earth loyalists] lending us even greater insights. There was a hole in Sinclair's mind, and ours too, but now we're beginning to see the big picture concerning what happened to Sinclair. Sinclair's frustration grows being on Minbar. He greets Earthers, as an ambassador, who have arrived on Minbar from Earth. He is given a copy of Universe Today to learn more about the political state of affairs back on Earth. Based upon the headlines, he learns of the destruction of Earthforce One. He knows the Clark presidency is dirty. Drennan does a sensational job of weaving her tale into the already established facts setup within the Babylon 5 series. Sinclair's frustration builds to the point he writes a letter of resignation and prepares to vacate Minbar.
Chapter 5: A Catherine Sakai chapter. We catch up with Sakai who is piloting an Earth survey vessel dubbed Skydancer. It's essentially her ship. Drennan really does a superb job of describing the spaceship's interior and prescribing it a personality all its own. I love spaceships and Drennan makes me want to have my very own Skydancer. She does me proud. The chapter picks up days after Sinclair asked for Sakai's hand in marriage in Season One, Episode 22, Chrysalis. The author takes us back to both Sakai and Sinclair's first meeting at Earthforce Academy. Nice stuff. The more I read the more sympathetic a hero Sinclair has become for me.
Chapter 6: A Marcus chapter. Loads of backstory details and information regarding his brother William who is planning a trip to Minbar. At this point I'm seeing the book flesh out the characters that are highlighted on the cover including Sinclair, Sakai and now Marcus. I suspect they are all pivotal to the sroty within the Babylon 5 universe. It would appear they will converge at some point.
Chapter 7: Sinclair plans to depart following his resignation, but agrees to join Rathenn to visit The Chosen One outside of Yedor. The Chosen One is Jenimer. There once was Dukhat. The first Chosen One was Valen, of course. We get more on the first Shadows War and Valen bringing The Vorlons on board. Again, Valen created Grey Council, formed an elite fighting force and reorganized Minbari society. No wonder he's legendary. This is a fascinating chapter as it delves headlong into The Shadows saga. I really enjoyed the finer details that informed much of what we saw in the actual television series. There is alot of background to Valen and Minbari life. There is also much to learn about the Entil' Zha.
Chapter 8: An intense chapter that delves into the philosophical and questions of the soul. Sinclair and the Minbari serve as vehicles for the conversation on 'what is soul?' The prophecy, with relation to Sinclair, is also a focal point. Sinclair establishes his credentials as the human tasked with establishing The Rangers. We also get more insight into who can join The Rangers. Apparently the seemingly omniscient, open-minded genius that was Valen believed it was fine if the worker caste joined to become Rangers. Sinclair alludes to feeling just fine about it too. Hmmm...wonder why? [wink, wink, nudge, nudge] There's also further proof on why the Minbari were masters of concealing the truth. The Rangers were very much a part of that concealment. The ugly Vorlon, Ulkesh, continues to rear his head with puzzles. Rathenn and Sinclair continue to get cozy.
Chapter 9: We return to the life and times of Catherine Sakai. We learn some interesting details about Hyperspace Travel Syndrome [HST] and the affects of extended hyperspace travel. We also get a good bit of detail on the jumpgate system and its history. There's some attention paid to Sakai's parents. Things get interesting from a traditional sci-fi perspective when she reaches Planet UTC45-03A in her Skydancer. Something isn't right on the planet below and it has something to do with Quantium 40. I could have sworn Bester was looking for some of this in the series at one point. I know someone was interested.
Chapter 10: Neroon and Sinclair go toe to toe for a chapter concerning Sinclair's appointment as Ranger One. In the end, he is appointed to the position but Neroon refuses to lend him the Minbari title of Entil' Zha. He'll need to earn that. It's a well-structured and consistent chapter.
Chapter 11: As the head of The Rangers Sinclair receives his new Minbari wardrobe. He is brought to the City Of Sorrows more formally referred to as Tuzanor. It was formerly the site of much bloody, savage Minbari on Minbari violence. Over one million Minbari died in one day here. Never again. We get a detailed mapping of the compund where The Rangers will train. All are invited to try for a position as Sinclair wishes to invite the worker caste and humans. Their mission is peace. He thinks of Catherine Sakai and their future on Minbar. I thought this was one of the most interesting paragraphs mused by Sinclair: " hit him again how odd it was to take up residence in a building last occupied a thousand years ago by Valen himself, the greatest personage in Minbari history, venerated almost to the point of deification." Yeah, that would be you. This is followed with extensive research by Sinclair on the "mythic" leader that would be all about... HIM! We are introduced to Minbari Sech Durhan, the master teacher of the denn'bok or Minbari fighting pike. Apparently he is not on board with humans being trained with the weapon. Sinclair finds himself at odds with Minbari traditions at times in the hopes of getting Rangers trained. Sinclair receives his official badge. In the end only 34 [of 78] Rangers take formation. The warrior caste boycotts. What a stodgy bunch of curmudgeons. Sinclair dreams in the City of Sorrows, but cannot remember those dreams when he wakes. Hmmm.
Chapter 12: I must admit with all of the training for the Rangers in hand to hand combat we never did see much of it for the fight against The Shadows and that is sorely disappointing. Sinclair has his work cut out for him in training new Rangers. He engages the Vorlon Ulkesh and finds him elusive. I thought about it for a bit. It's interesting the Minbari turned to the Vorlons for help. It seems part of their genetic make-up to ally with others, which led me to think of Forell in Babylon 5, Season Four, Episode 11, Lines Of Communication, when he turned to the Drakh. Sinclair and Ulkesh continue to be at loggerheads. Sinclair finally meets his match in Sech Durhan. The gloves come off in a concentrated fighting pike battle where Durhan puts Sinclair to the test. Sinclair earns Durhan's respect who agrees to train both Minbari and Human. Jenimer, The Chosen One, exhibits signs of fragility as he crumples in a heap. Sinclair receives a full report on The Shadows’ movements and is stunned by how little he knew. He has words with Rathenn regarding the lack of communication by the Minbari. Rathenn insists, as Delenn did in the series to Sheridan, The Shadows musn’t know how much they know even if it costs lives [as it did for the Narn in the series]. You'll recall the powerful sequence between Delenn, Kosh and Sheridan in Season Two, Episode 16, In The Shadow Of Z'Ha'Dum. In fact, Sinclair wonders, “how much has Delenn told Sheridan?” Ulkesh indicates Sheridan isn’t ready. We were given that impression through much of Season Two of the series. Jenimer promises to keep Sinclair better informed. Sinclair needs to send a transmission to his fiancĂ© out on the rim. He will send it coded so the Shadows are unaware of what he knows. I like this final bit in the chapter when Sinclair responds to a comment by Ulkesh to “concentrate on the cause.” Sinclair: “You can never forget the personal. Or else what are you fighting for? The person who fights only for the cause is always in danger of becoming a fanatic, or of losing any reason for fighting at all. But the person who fights for his family and his home fights just long enough and just hard enough to win, without losing himself to the violence or the cause.” Amen. If that isn’t a complete reality check in this world I don’t know what is. Perhaps I should consider changing the name of my blog to Musings Of A Sci Fi Lover. What do you think?
Chapter 13: Catherine Sakai is seeking more planetary resources. She reconsiders Ymir and wonders how the planet was possibly devastated. She can't make sense of it. I love author Drennan’s terrific detail in the Sakai chapters referencing and detailing her ship Skydancer. Unexpectedly she receives a coded transmission from her honey back on Minbar. “Catherine, remember Sigma 957? Your current situation is different-but similar. Be careful. All my love, Jeff.” She ponders the meaning and reads between the lines understanding it to be a warning. I remember Sigma 957. I remember the conversation she had with G’Kar who essentially saved her ass by dispatching from Babylon 5 during Season One, Episode 6, Mind War. She knew there was an alien presence out there on the outer rim. I must admit I thought Catherine might turn her ass around based upon the message, but instead she continues on two more missions with her intentions to be careful. I'm not sure she's getting the message and I’m not sure 'careful' is going to cut it.
Chapter 14: We are reminded of the Minbari addiction to ceremony with the official graduation of the first new Rangers. The Minbari should be called the Ceremoni. The Ranger Credo: I am a Ranger. We walk in the dark places no others will enter. We stand on the bridge and no one may pass. We live for The One. We die for The One. Now, at first [and they do get to this], I’m thinking, so is Zathras a Ranger. Sinclair wonders the same thing later. By tradition they pledge to The One. Sinclair is not crazy about the whole concept of worshiping. It has a cult of personality ring to it. I can’t say I blame him. Sinclair believes in pledging to duty and protection of life. Sinclair plans to implement a communication stream by stationing Rangers on Babylon 5. Ulkesh and others insist, yet again, Sheridan is not ready. Sinclair will inform his closest friend, Michael Garibaldi. One of the things I love about Drennan’s book is how closely she ties and weaves it into the world of the Babylon 5 series. It makes sense this book is cannon because it runs everything by the letter of the law as established by Straczynski. You’ll recall the video delivered by Marcus to Garibaldi in Season Two, Episode 9, The Coming Of Shadows. We see through this backstory how Sinclair labors to formulate his words for that transmission. He makes every effort to speak in code so as not to inadvertently tip the Rangers' hand by alerting The Shadows to knowledge of their movements should information fall into the wrong hands. You will recall the words, “Stay close to the Vorlon and watch out out for shadows. They move when you’re not looking.” This line was always curious to me, but understandable. With the novel we understand more fully Sinclair’s intentions. He refers to Garibaldi’s instinctive ability to decipher what he means. He recalls an old saying Garibaldi subscribed to, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Garibaldi added, “And if I don’t know which a person is, I stay really close.” It all makes perfect sense after reading the book and knowing what we do within the series by Season Four. Sinclair tasks the Rangers with delivery of three messages to Garibaldi. The third message is private, and does not receive prior approval by the Minbari or the Vorlons. It is a message for Catherine. It is a request for her to come to Minbar upon her return to Babylon 5. I must admit I was hard on Michael O’Hare and hsi input and was called on it. There is a certain charm about him. Drennan truly revitalizes his character and, in a way, brings O’Hare back to life for me in this. I also seemed to blindly believe O’Hare was cast aside from the television series in favor of Bruce Boxleitner. In retrospect, having seen the series to date, his role makes sense and his assignment worked within the parameters of the story whether it was planned or not. It would seem it was planned based upon the intricacies of Babylon 5’s story. It feels natural given how events have unfolded and how the details were laid out within Drennan’s book so meticulously. If not, Straczynski has sold me or fooled me. Sinclair is very much alive in this world. Feeling alone in the city of sorrows, Sinclair misses Catherine more than ever.
Chapter 15: The story of Marcus and his journey to becoming an elite Ranger. He is on the Arisia Mining Colony working the inherited family business. His brother William [a.k.a. Willie] arrives and the two have words and some heated arguments over responsibility and doing right by the family. Marcus is clearly the responsible one. Willie has taken up work with the Minbari and is now a Ranger. He looks to bring Marcus on board. Needless to say Marcus is skeptical of the Minabari and the military caste in particular. He’s also dubious on Ranger One, Jeffrey Sinclair. William tells Marcus he is needed and Ranger One wants to meet with him. All of the tension is a result of these two brothers being very different, but Marcus loves William. William, too, loves Marcus. William has matured and Marcus believes he will make the effort to meet Sinclair.
Chapter 16: Catherine Sakai begins her journey back to Babylon 5. While sleeping in hyperspace her sensors pick up something and sound her alert. She checks into the readings. She is surrounded by a fleet of twelve. Things are hairy. She is pleased the ships do not fire upon her. Who wouldn't be? Apparently the properties of hyperspace make it a bit of a gamble at taking a shot to boot and potentially inflicting damage upon one's self. In effect, the vessels could strike one another. It certainly didn’t help Warren Keffer in the series. Bull's eye! Skydancer adjusts course and Sakai finds herself followed. She prays she might make it out of hyperspace. After some time she comes upon the jumpgate with the Shadows vessel tailing her at the same distance. She escapes by a hair through the gate, but is fired upon and damaged badly. Nevertheless she docks with the Universal Terraform Operations Ship. It was a close one and I had a bad feeling about her chance to survive here, but she did it and lives to see another chapter.
Chapter 17: The Marcus/ William arc continues. Marcus takes William out for a flight. It is on this little excursion they happen upon the destructive purple-pink firepower of The Shadows upon the colony. Marcus XO Sphere personal flyer all but crash lands with damage on the surface of Arisia 3 as they attempt to get to a fully fueled shuttlecraft. William is thrown from the wreckage, bleeding profusely and growing weaker. William slips away and asks Marcus to finish what he started as a Ranger. A voice [Vorlon?] tells him to “Go!” I can’t recall which episode, but Marcus speaks of his brother I believe and references what The Shadows did to him. So William and all colonists are killed on Arisia 3. Marcus tastes revenge. Marcus struggles to reclaim his brother’s body before leaving in the shuttle. Explosions grow near and The Shadows move closer. The voice, “Go!” Marcus takes flight and leaves his mining colony and the past behind. Overcome with radiation poison, he injects a serum into his body and passes out. His ship glides through space on autopilot.
Chapter 18: Two of our novel's key players converge on Babylon 5. There are two parts running concurrently on Marcus and Catherine. Marcus reawakens in medlab under Dr. Hobbs care [we remember Lillian]. Hysterical from radiation poisoning Marcus is subdued. A repaired Skydancer exits the UTC Ops Ship destined for Babylon 5. She references the logs for Sigma 957 once again. I’m beginning to wonder if the aliens she encountered there were in fact NOT The Shadows but perhaps one of The First Ones. I wonder. Her UTC employers seem to understand, based upon the data, she was in an inherently dangerous position when she had to let go of her mineral cargo and damage the jumpgate in order to escape The Shadows. She docks on Babylon 5 and is greeted by Zack. Zack gives her the news about Sinclair and his sudden promotion to Minbar as Earth ambassador. The appointment happened just after she left. Later, Marcus speaks with Dr. Hobbs and learns he’s the only survivor of the Arisia Mining Colony and ISN is busy blaming faulty equipment on the colony for the explosions. Marcus must warn everyone. Elsewhere, Sakai gets a room and catches up on her messages looking for something from Sinclair. She finds a message that he loves her and wants her to come to Minbar so he can explain everything. The book does such a splendid job at filling in the gaps left by the series to our imagination. An Earth representative requests Marcus sign off on a form indicating Arisia was the victim of an “industrial accident.” Marcus knows the whole thing smells, but signs anyway for the money. He plans on using the funds to get to the truth. Meanwhile, UTC suggests Catherine sever ties with Sinclair. She severs her ties with UTC in anger instead. She contacts Minbar and is informed she should not come. She continues to get the runaround until Garibaldi lends her a hand.
Chapter 19: Catherine Sakai finally arrives on Minbar to see Sinclair. Sakai and Sinclair discuss the legend of Valen. Valen never created the caste system. He elevated the worker caste to equal status with both religious and warrior in the hopes of abolishing the caste system altogether. So the question remained, would Sakai still want to marry Sinclair? She still want to be with Sinclair. Much holding, squeezing and kissing follows.
Chapter 20: Sinclair dreams he becomes Valen with the bone crest sprouting from his head. Sinclair shares a bit of his shared history with Sheridan to Catherine. Sinclair and Sheridan have known each other since the Academy and have not always been on the same foot. Sinclair is called to a meeting where he learns Delenn has been removed from Grey Council and replaced by Neroon, leaving only two religious caste members. There is now imbalance. We also learn Ulkesh disapproves of Sakai’s presence. “You are the arrow and must not be deflected.” Sinclair is less than happy with Ulkesh, but it's clear Sakai’s presence is going to be a problem.
Chapter 21: Marcus awaits meeting Sinclair in Tuzanor. It’s ironic his brother had to die to bring Marcus into the fold. After all it was Marcus who intended on carrying on the family business. Here he is on Minbar once again trying to carry out his family and brother’s name. Marcus learns of many Minbari who knew his brother and he is touched. He meets fellow Ranger Inesval who shares his respect for Sinclair with Marcus. Sinclair is revered for defeating the Minbari in hand-to-hand confrontations. I believe we can look to the pilot, The Gathering, of Babylon 5 for a case in point. The second case involves Sinclair kicking “Neroon’s ass.” “Some believe that Sinclair, a Human, may possess at least part of Valen’s soul." You don’t know the half of it pal. The warrior caste fears him. As a group, several met Sinclair and bowed before him, but not Marcus. Sinclair notices. As if speaking directly to Marcus Sinclair announces that all who seek revenge against The Shadows are not welcomed. I really enjoyed this segment regarding the Rangers’ mission statement. “The Rangers are a military group dedicated to nothing less then preserving the future and all life. Even our enemy’s life, if possible. This is by the word of our founder, Valen. We are not looking to annihilate our enemy, only to defeat his aims of destruction. Never forget they are living beings also, however distorted their motives and actions appear to be.” Those are some lofty goals. I mean talk about taking the high moral ground. That is a stiff plan, a noble one, but hard to the core. Marcus likes it. Sinclair speaks with Marcus personally and apologizes to him for his loss. Marcus fills him in on events and on the strange response he received by Earth Central.
Chapter 22: This would be the lover's spat chapter. You can hear her now. Catherine Sakai sings, “I wanna' be an Airforce Ranger. I wanna live a life of danger.” The two quarrel over her interest in becoming a Ranger. She was an Academy Officer once. She’s unafraid of danger and she would like to be a Ranger. Sinclair worries for her, but relents in the end. They head into their quarters to make mad, passionate love. I don't picture Sinclair as passionate, but Sakai definitely a sensual hottie! This chapter had me thinking about how Garibaldi and Ivanova were asked to be in their wedding in Season One. The episode number escapes me. It seems like ancient history. It had me recollecting how very close Garibaldi was to Sinclair. Their connection was dropped abruptly and Garibaldi had to connect with Sheridan in Season Two from scratch. This in turn got me thinking about how Straczynski has built this wonderful world, fully-realized with a brilliant cast of characters. Building mythology is a careful, delicate and difficult business. It's rare to see someone do it outside of Star Trek. He had it all laid out and dropped his audience smack dab into the ongoing lives of these beings within this complex universe with Season One of Babylon 5. Massive excellence.
Chapter 23: Ranger training camp with Marcus and Catherine. We are introduced to meditation with instructor Sech Turval. We learn Marcus is less than a fan of this segment of training. Turval makes him a believer in the end. Interesting fact: Every Minbari should learn delight, respect and compassion. Marcus finds meditation less than delightful. Marcus prefers pike and flight training. He’s an action man. Good, because Turval puts a little of his own action on his ass and beats him in one shot. It’s also interesting to note Turval proudly refers to Marcus’ brother William as a once great Ranger. Marcus bows out of respect to his teacher. He is a humbled man who is educated on the importance of meditation [and avoiding a good ass-kicking].
Chapter 24: Marcus bumps into a praying Sinclair within The Chapel. The two chat and Sinclair recommends he read The Meditations Of Marcus Aurelius. It’s a book about leadership. The two talk intensively about former leader Valen. Marcus overhears Rathenn report to Sinclair as he leaves that Jenimer, The Chosen One, is dying. At this point, we kind of had that sense.
Chapter 25: Sinclair visits Jenimer at The Chosen One’s palace. I think this chapter is a fine example of how Drennan really fleshes out the world of Straczynski, in this case Minbar. Sinclair holds the hand of his dying friend and Jenimer speaks these important words, “Continue to dream. You dream for us all.” Sinclair clearly represents Minbari hope. There is a great sadness on Tuzanor steeped in a tragic Minbari past that has in some ways crippled the Minbari as dreamers and yet Sinclair can dream there. Moments later, Neroon is given the last dying wish of Jenimer. He is to anoint Sinclair officially as Ranger One in Minbari tradition referred to in Minbari as the Entil’ Zha. Neroon is less than happy, but begrudgingly pays respect to Sinclair out of respect to Jenimer. Two points should be made after reading this chapter. A. Neroon is a right prick! B. For all the knocks I have given Michael O’Hare while watching the Babylon 5 series, I truly can’t imagine anyone else being the character combination that is Jeffrey Sinclair. As I read this book, O’Hare’s every move is embodied in the Sinclair character I have imagined that Drennan has further developed here. O’Hare is indubitably Jeffrey Sinclair and I have learned that I like this man. Funny how things can change.
Chapter 26: The ceremony to install Sinclair as the Entil’Zha is overseen by Rathenn and Neroon. Neroon presses protocol demanding Sinclair drink the ceremonial sha’neyat, a liquid poisonous to humans. Sinclair agrees to drink one sip to satisfy tradition, which Neroon approves. Sinclair and Sakai proceed to the ceremony where Catherine is his second. Neroon does not disapprove somewhat surprisingly. Inevitably Sinclair takes his sip controlling the internal agony within his body long enough to don the robe of Valen. He whispers to Sakai, “tasted-like-molten lava.” He never sacrifices his humor. Neroon savors his agony with some satisfaction. Sinclair makes it to the medic. He suffers a fever for three nights and finally pulls out of it expressing he had many dreams over the course of those nights. Kosh tries to tell him something. Ulkesh is evil. We got that impression in the series especially following is sadistic treatment of Lyta. We also learn Sinclair's father died in the Dilgar War. I’m not sure of the significance of the Dilgar War just that it did happen. He also dreams about Father Raffelli and his influence on him following the Earth-Minbari War. The good news is Sinclair is alive.
Chapter 27: Sinclair is proud of his Ranger graduates. It’s especially strange to have them vowing their allegiance to him, in particular his lover Sakai. The saying goes, “I am a Ranger. We walk in the dark places no others will enter. We stand on the bridge and no one may pass. We live for the One. We die for the One.” Sinclair and Sakai discuss having the wedding on Minbar since going to Babylon 5 anytime soon is unlikely. Rathenn and Ulkesh want to discuss Babylon 4 and the timerift and interrupt their conversation. They also discuss Epsilon 3. I have felt right along that Epsilon 3 has seemed kind of useless, but according to the book here it had a lot to do with controlling the temporal rift. I’m not sure I was clear on that watching the series. Again, the Great Machine is capable of manipulating the size of the temporal rift. Having read this, Epsilon 3’s significance seemed a little greater within the context of the Shadow Wars story and Sinclair becoming Valen et.… Sinclair begins to press Ulkesh on the Vorlons’ interest in the Great Machine. He inquires with the Vorlon regarding why The Shadows don't just attack Epsilon 3. It turns out The Shadows are making every effort to expand the rift utilizing their own technology. This chapter really delves into the Epsilon 3/ timerift/ Shadows equation in great detail more so than it was ever dealt within the series. Controlling the rift from Epsilon 3 requires a great deal of energy by the Great Machine and the one controlling it. The White Star prototypes are introduced to us here. There are preparations to take on the Shadows at the point of the temporal rift. The new White Stars will require top pilots. Sakai will be among them. Now, I had another bad feeling about this. I’ve had a bad feeling about Sakai since I started reading the book. I suppose since she was a non-factor in Season Three, Episode 16/17, War Without End I suspected she would wind up pushin' up daisies as they say. So Marcus and Catherine are chosen for the mission to stop The Shadows at the rift. Sinclair is displeased seeing Catherine selected at the top of the pilot list. He volunteers to join them and Rathenn and Ulkesh protest vehemently. Solid literary excitement.
Chapter 28: Our three heroes converge as a team preparing to take on their mission. The trio studies the enemy, their White Stars and the device they need to destroy. Rathenn has also notified Sinclair he will be joining them on their trip to the Babylon 5 jumpgate. The triad discusses the time-shifting properties of the rift based upon Sinclair’s previous experience. The unit prepares to launch but not before a shuttle lands on their Minbari freighter to deliver three small packages from Epsilon 3. Who delivered those packages? Could it have been Zathras or some derivation of the brotherhood. The three devices are time stabilizers. Each is given one specific to them by Rathenn. After Rathenn departs Sinclair swaps his with Sakai assuming the device that was given to him is even safer than the one she was given. Off to space they go. Why do I get a bad feeling about this? I sound like Han Solo.
Chapter 29: The threesome engages five Shadows fighters surrounding the detonation device near the time rift. All are destroyed. That went smoother than I expected. The device explodes and disorients the team as they illogically begin getting sucked toward the time rift. Marcus, Catherine and Sinclair begin to pull away when out of nowhere one remaining Shadow ship strikes Catherine. She is now hurtling helplessly toward the rift. Sinclair hopes her Vorlon-based ship has the technology capable of repairing itself. I knew this was coming. I wasn’t sure how it was going to end only that it would end. I just had a bad feeling going into the book regarding Catherine. At this point I knew the rift would close just shy of Sinclair saving her. That’s right Catherine Sakai is lost on the other side of the rift as it closes behind her. Where is Catherine? Could she be with Valen? I guess we’ll never know, but that’s a love story heartbreaker for you. Sinclair is crushed and manages to report to Marcus, “Fighter two is gone.” For Sinclair, his whole world just went right out the time rift window.
Chapter 30: It was this incident with The Shadows where Sinclair obtained his trademark scar. The man is in a deep state of sadness and anger as he relives the events over and over. He is adamant with Rathenn that he will return as soon as Draal reopens the rift. Ulkesh and Rathenn insist that it is not advisable and nearly impossible to find her. Where could she have gone if she survived and what time? Sinclair once again flies off the handle over the insensitivity of Ulkesh. He informs Rathenn he will deal with him direct and wants no part of the Vorlon. Sinclair agonizes over the loss of Catherine and goes to the temple to ask why. Marcus is there as both try to make sense of it all. In his quarters Sinclair is visited by Kosh. I always liked Kosh. Kosh expresses sadness to Sinclair over his loss, but impresses upon him that he must carry on. Sinclair wants to know why, but merely gets the impression he has a role to fulfill. That’s how it always seems with the Vorlons. It's like a chess game. He craves to know if Catherine is out there to be found. He hears the disembodied voice of Kosh and the hopeful reply, “Perhaps.”
Chapter 31: Marcus says goodbye to the City of Sorrows, Tuzanor, before heading to Zagros 7 [Drazi country]. I believe this places us closer to the point where we first meet Marcus in the Babylon 5 series as he makes his narrow escape with a Drazi from Zagros 7 in Season Three, Episode 1, Matters Of Honor. The newly scarred Sinclair bids Marcus farewell. Sinclair reminds him to be leary of the Minbari and the Vorlons. Marcus and Sinclair share a disbelief in the concept of pre-destination. They believe their choices influence the future. I would agree our choices in this life do.
Epilogue: Marcus experiences discomfort following his battle with Neroon. This epilogue clearly takes place following the events of War Without End and Sinclair’s path to become Valen in the distant past [or a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away]. This takes place during the initiation, if I recall correctly, of Delenn's installation as Ranger One. Marcus recalls Sinclair’s mission to the past with Babylon 4 and the irony of it all. You see, Sinclair was a powerful advocate for the future as Ranger One and to see him sacrifice himself to go backwards in time left him shaking his head. Still, it was the future Sinclair was protecting in his choice to go back. This is a pretty significant epilogue.
This story is at once epic while embracing the intimacy of a love story. Sinclair, according to the TV series, was clearly fulfilling his fate as savior to the future, but the book delivers greater depth and significance to his decision and the thinking that went into that choice. After all Catherine Sakai went through that rift. We did not know that information in the series. The curious question for Marcus was if Sinclair went through the rift out of a sense of duty and mission as The One or for personal reasons to find her. This book offers a whole other layer to the story and I loved it all the more for it. Throughout the story Sinclair fought the Minbari and Vorlon forces that surrounded him as they insisted he had a role to play. It was his destiny or fate. With that destiny awaiting him he was often steered away from veering off that path. Sinclair knew the jig, but he also believed in the goal despite not being entirely clear on it. He didn't necessarily believe all of the hype that surrounded his part in it. He was a firm believer in making individual choice [a truly human trait in most parts] of his own free will. By secretly [and it was a secret; we never knew this in the series] desiring to find Catherine he was able to go back and fulfill prophecy while doing so on his own terms. The beauty of it is that Sinclair sincerely made his choices out of love. The romantic in me would like to believe it was love that championed his greatness and success. Marcus returned to Babylon 5 to examine the philosophical ramifications of the man he knew to be the Entil’ Zha. Sech Turval handed Marcus a letter which suggested Sinclair had found one Catherine Sakai and that they were together. Could Valen have written it in the distant past and ensured Marcus would indeed receive it some day? Did he truly find Catherine or was it something transcendental regarding life and souls and finding delight? Either way it was a beautiful ending to a terrific chapter in the Babylon 5 saga and a solid book telling a single critical portion in this epic tale.
To Dream In The City Of Sorrows is a fitting title to the novel by Kathryn M. Drennan. It captures the mood of the book, which is often layered with a sorrowful tone. Further, as the epilogue points out, “To dream in the City of Sorrows, was to dream of a better future.”
This is the first book based on the Babylon 5 series I’ve read and it’s a wonderfully written story. Drennan must have made J. Michael Straczynski proud. I’m not sure of his involvement, but it certainly fits into the series like a glove. Like many who have visited here have mentioned before, this is deservedly pure cannon. I thank my fellow Babylonians here for the recommendation.

To Dream In The City Of Sorrows: A-

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kirk & Bones: The Great Ice Planet Adventure: Part 2: In Deep Trouble

Kirk: Bones, it's been just a few hours. Look at us. We're drowning in snow. How's that communicator looking now?

Bones: Jim, Scotty is sure to beam us up soon. Don't we have a 24 hour rule or something?

Kirk: We've been here for just over 4 hours Bones. How exactly is that going to help? The snow is up to our teets already.

Bones: Damn it Jim I'm a doctor not a meteorologist. I understand your sexual frustration. Listen, we should be fine. Snow acts as an insulator. It will keep us warm until Scotty locks into our coordinates and beams us back aboard the Enterprise.

Kirk: I hope you're right Bones. Insulator or not my pitooties are still knockin' together cold. In fact, I never could understand the whole insulation theory with snow. It's not nearly as warm as that green ultra hot hottie from alpha quadrant.

Bones: Is that all you think about Jim?

Kirk: Is there anything else? Oh, I'm also thinking we should bring a red shirt with us next time. He'd have died for us to find someplace warm. Jesus, Montgomery get off your haggis and let's go.

Bones: Honestly Jim. Stuffed pig's intestines. How does he eat that stuff?

Kirk: And where the hell is Spock?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

B5 S4 Ep15: No Surrender, No Retreat

The White Stars are pretty cool.

Enough is enough!” The captain has spoken via captain’s log. Sheridan narrates from his log file as Babylon 5 prepares itself for war against Earth Forces. In the previous episode ten thousand civilians were killed in an instant thanks to the order of President Clark. Sheridan and Ivanova approach the alien races to fall in line behind their revolution to free Earth from his stranglehold. Sheridan informs the races that all mutual defense treaties with Earth shall be declared “null and void."

The races are requested to donate one destroyer class ship to the cause, but will not be required to do much more so they may stay as neutral as possible and Babylon 5 can avoid perception problems. From now on Earth stands alone. “We’re taking back Promixa 3. We’re taking back Mars. Then, we’re gonna’ take back our home or die trying.” He means it. This is war! Nothing is ever easy when it comes to fighting the good fight on Babylon 5. Welcome to Babylon 5, Season Four, Episode 15, No Surrender, No Retreat [formerly titled Londo & G'Kar Steal The Show Again Amidst Wicked Cool Space Battles].

Marcus checks in with Sheridan. Clark has six Omega class destroyers between the jumpgate and Proxima 3. Meanwhile Sheridan informs Franklin to make every effort to safely defrost the telepaths. They need to be reawakened “soon.” But Franklin needs to get them off mind control safely. Defrosting the Popsicle people won’t be a problem given those refrigeration units are in dicey way. Granted their condition is another story.

I knew almost immediately Michael Vejar directed this installment. He has such a unique style with the camera including those nice, tight close-ups. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. His work has a trademark stamp to it offering an especially consistent quality.

Sheridan is heading to Proxima 3 basing his hopes on the fact that some of the 6 vessels set up around that planet will join his cause. “No surrender, no retreat,” declares Sheridan to his second-in-command.

Vir is in the midst of a nightmare when Garibaldi visits him. Vir informs Garibaldi, clearly the last to know, of the station’s plan to take back Earth and the colonies. The mole is now in the know.

I love Vir’s hair in that sequence. Hysterical. He is such a loyal soldier. I admire and love him for that. By the way at first I didn’t pay it much mind, but after a thought, could he have been visited by the Keepers? It would appear they are getting around and folks are waking from nightmares and dreams as a result only to find something attached to their neck. I wonder if he too has been visited. He didn't reach for his neck though.

As Ivanova prepares the starfury squadron she informs them to use operational codes only.

Lt. Corwin: “So from now on I guess the operational phase is trust no one.”
Ivanova: “No. Trust Ivanova. Trust yourself. Anybody else shoot ‘em.”

Sheridan has a plan. He is placing one White Star by Earth and two by Mars in the hopes of triggering a response by Earth to mobilize forces away from Proxima 3. It will make it all the more viable to liberate the planet. Marcus is headed to Proxima 3 with a unit of White Stars.

Meanwhile on Babylon 5, Londo visits G’Kar in his quarters. I am speechless and humbled by the sheer strength of these two talents. What a powerful, intimate portion of this episode that must be revisited. Here it is in two parts. I could watch these two actors all day long.

G’Kar’s response to Londo’s toast was not what I had hoped for, but I wasn’t surprised by it either. In hindsight with everything Londo has put G’Kar and his people through I certainly understand G’Kar’s reasons. The fan in me was hoping for a greater reconciliation more quickly, but that is entirely unrealistic and it just wouldn’t make sense. You just can't expect G'Kar to throw his arms around Londo. He hasn't done a thing to earn it despite G'Kar largely big and forgiving heart. Londo refers back to this crucial, powerful moment in Season Two, Episode 9, The Coming Of Shadows. Straczynski has allowed for tremendous, real, character growth and change throughout the series for his cast.

Elsewhere on the station Sheridan prepares his pilots for combat. “The job of a soldier is to destroy the enemy and come home alive… to that end, do what you have to do.”

How about the fancy Babylon 5 logo on the White Star? Cool. The intention is to identify the craft as belonging to that of Captain Sheridan.

This war machine has a nifty design. It's one of my preferred warships in the series. It's Cool.
A unit of White Stars appears in orbit on the other side of Proxima 3. Sheridan was banking that the more aggressive, hostile Heracles would investigate, but it does not. A second unit of White Stars arrives. A tense game of chess proceeds forward. The third and final unit led by Sheridan joins the mix.

Sheridan: “You are ordered to stand down or leave the Proxima System at once. You are in violation of the Proxima treaty. And your attacks on civilian transports are illegal under the rules of engagement and the Articles of War. You can leave peacefully if that is your choice. But we are prepared to use deadly force if necessary.” Cool captain speak. I'm saying 'cool' way too much at the moment and that's not cool.

It’s kind of hard to argue against Sheridan. He does have the moral high ground.

MacDougan, commander of the Vester, breaks radio silence and engages his old friend Sheridan.

Sheridan: “Any action you take in support of an illegal order makes you an an accomplice of that order.”

Sheridan appeals to his old friend's conscience for justice. MacDougan actually trained Sheridan on issues of moral authority. There is an image of Sheridan peering into space from the bridge of his White Star and it’s one of the coolest I’ve seen [darn, I used the root word cool again]. The Heracles opens fire first. The captain of the Heracles, now taking heavy damage, demands support from the Vester. MacDougan won’t support “illegal orders.” One of the men on the Vester, under orders by the Heracles, relieves MacDougan of duty at gunpoint, but not for long. Sheridan begins testing the positions of those destroyers with an unknown record regarding their stance or position with Earth gov.

MacDougan reclaims authority of the Vester bringing it back to the fold and non-aggressor status. The Juno has left the system, two are non-hostile, but the Pollux is hammering away at the White Stars. The Pollux is hit back by a flagging White Star. The White Star loses control and crashes into the Pollux as it too explodes in a ball of fire. The Nemesis surrenders. There is lots of coo.... refreshing action in this entry.

Sheridan informs the Heracles to surrender. Scrawney Commander Sandra Levitt takes control of the ship placing Captain Hall under arrest. Good decision commander otherwise you would all be space dust in about 60 seconds! So the mission objective is complete.
You have to love the element of surprise. It is a definitive part of a winning strategy. I've mentioned the element of surprise previously in some entries and here again. Certainly this is nothing new in the war strategy playbook and I'm not shedding light on anything Earth-shattering [no pun intended for this entry]. I happened upon this terrific quote from To Dream In The City Of Sorrows that says alot. It's interesting because it's from the defensive posture of expecting surprise and says alot about why surprises aren't good. This is from a segment in the book when Catherine Sakai thinks about her lover, Commander Sinclair. "He always said he didn't like surprises- the result of a life spent in the military. She remembered him lecturing at the Academy: Surprises in the military could cause disaster or death. That's why one trained and prepared over and over to eliminate as much of the element of surprise as humanly possible. ...there were always going to be surprises... that no amount of training and preparation could eliminate." There you have it from the man himself. Precise reasoning on why surprises are NOT good. Surprise parties Good. Surprise battles not so good. Sheridan must determine friend or foe next.

Sheridan: “Our mandate is to defend Earth against all enemies foreign and domestic.”

Sheridan tells Commander Levitt he wanted it to be a “clean fight” opting to exclude involvement by the alien races. ISN will indubitably create its own smear campaign. I can see it now. SHERIDAN: A PUPPET TO ALIEN INFLUENCE. The surrendered parties now discuss their options aboard the White Star.

Later, in yet another special moment for the episode, G’Kar visits the bar in the Zocalo and sits next to Londo much to Londo’s surprise. With a cooler head prevailing G’Kar drinks. This is a big humungo step for G’Kar and a huge tip of the hat to a leader who has been completely trounced for a very long period by the Centauri. I'm not so sure I could do it.

There’s such hope and beauty in that scene. It must have been very hard for G’Kar, a big swallow of the Narn pride, to return to speak with Londo. Fortunately Londo, as only Londo can, didn’t blow it. G’Kar continues to prove why I have loved him from almost the very beginning and never wavered from my support of him. He is my favorite and he is indeed an important part of the relationships on the station.
The NO CLARK photo in the Voice Of The Resistance logo is pretty good. “Proxima 3 is free.” Garibaldi is heading to Mars with no plans to return to Babylon 5. Garibaldi is surely a big question mark for me right now.
No Surrender, No Retreat: B+