|Episode:||23|||||Writer:||J. Michael Straczynski|||||Air Date:||02-Nov-1994|
I've decided that Sci-Fi Adventures needs more variety, so this year I'm planning to feature more TV series and cover less episodes of them. I can't watch entire 26 episode seasons of multiple series and fit them all into 12 months, there aren't enough hours and I write too slowly.
But I can watch 22 episodes of one series, so right now I'm committing myself to giving you reviews of Babylon 5 season two in its entirety, starting with Points of Departure!
I usually mention here that I'll be writing SPOILERS for this episode and earlier ones, but I should also point out that the DVD box art, the DVD menu, the DVD episode list and the region 1 DVD opening credits all spoil Delenn's condition after the events of the season one finale (I'm being as vague as I can here). So if you haven't see the series yet, you should probably wear a blindfold while purchasing, handling and watching season two DVDs, at least for the first couple of episodes.
Oh and stay way clear of the commentary tracks until you've seen the entire series, all five seasons of it.
Chrysalis ended on New Years Day, so there's been just 7 days since the events of last season.
Like it says on screen, this is the EAS Agamemnon, named after the mythological commander of the Greek forces during the Trojan War. We saw a ship called the Hyperion last season, so it seems that Earth's military vessels are all a bit Greek (though not many have a name this awkward to spell or say).
But the Agamemnon's an Omega-class destroyer, one of the heaviest vessels in Earthforce, and far newer and more advanced than a Hyperion-class heavy cruiser. They have a rotating section to create gravity, they're covered in guns, they look like a cross between a steam train wearing smoke deflectors and the Leonov from 2010: Odyssey Two and they're only given to the best and most politically well regarded captains in the fleet.
Right now he's being given two jobs by General Hague (who you can just about see on that second monitor over his shoulder):
- Locate the rogue Minbari cruiser Trigati which has been AWOL during the 12 years since the end of the war.
- ... we'll find out later.
The production team have also started shooting with a higher f-stop to allow for more contrast, so the show doesn't look as murky now.
In her log she explains that it's been eight days since the death of Earth Alliance President Santiago, and five since Commander Sinclair was recalled back to Earth. In his absence she's been left to run the station herself, but her idea of diplomacy is to shout at people until they agree with her so it hasn't been going well.
This is a really cheesy scene by the way. It starts with a whole swarm of ambassadors trailing her around the station, jumping around and yelling over each other about seating arrangements. They follow her into a lift, the doors close, then it cuts to them opening on another floor to reveal that she's scared them into silence. It gets the point across, but the series usually respects itself more than this. Praying mantis crime boss aside.
Though I do like her line about moving their chairs outside, down the hall, across the station and into the fusion reactor
Now it's Ivanova's turn to get a message from General Hague and we get to learn the second part of Sheridan's orders. It turns out that Commander Sinclair won't be returning to Babylon 5 and Captain Sheridan will be taking over to replace him as the protagonist and lead action hero, permanently.
Michael O'Hare needed to step away from the series due to his mental illness (he did well to hold on long enough to finish the first season), but his character's departure makes perfect sense in-universe. Sinclair wasn't the first choice to command Babylon 5 by a long shot and had to struggle to hold onto his position against factions in the government who wanted him gone. After the assassination of President Santiago, it makes sense that the new administration would kick the guy out the first chance they got.
Deep Space Nine also got a new lead actor for its last four seasons, as Avery Brooks was replaced by Avery Brooks with a shaved head and a beard. No one ever came out and said that he was a parallel universe doppelgänger from the dimension where he's a much better actor, but we could all tell.
This season we also get this new shot of a market with a second floor digitally composited in. I think they were getting jealous of Deep Space Nine's multi-storey mall. Plus the actors all get their faces in the credits now, so we know who is who!
Delenn remains the Minbari ambassador to Babylon 5, but she's been negligent of her duties of late, due to being inside a chrysalis since the end of Chrysalis. Whether she'll come out as a moth or a butterfly no one knows, but this guy definitely isn't happy she went inside in the first place. He's part of the Grey Council, the Minbari government, and they specifically told her to let prophecy attend to itself (back in Babylon Squared). I guess he was waiting for her to trip and fall inside by accident or something.
He tells Lennier that if the rogue Minbari cruiser Trigati turns up he should tell the humans everything they've told him. It's time they know the truth.
Ivanova surrenders command of the station to him, and gratefully so as she's had a miserable week. Plus she's served under Sheridan before and knows he's not like all those smug bastard captains that showed up during season one to undermine Sinclair's authority.
He's actually very cheerful and friendly, though the fact that he's her old friend means that doom will eventually follow in his wake. Delenn's old friend got stabbed by a Space Nazi, Ivanova's old friend turned out to be the Space Nazi who did it, Franklin's old friend smuggled a bio-weapon on board that nearly killed them all, Talia's old friend was a super telepath that nearly killed them all, and Garibaldi's old friend had him arrested for conspiring to assassinate the President. Oh plus two old friends showed up at once in the episode TKO and made the episode TKO happen.
No wonder Ivanova's so stressed out, if she's been trying to get the entire station redecorated in a week. Maybe this was Sinclair's revenge for having his station taken away from him. "Ivanova, if I'm not back in three days, take Babylon 5's military budget for the year and spend it on giving the station a full makeover."
|1-16 - Eyes|
After Sheridan finishes admitting that he dreams about fresh oranges, Ivanova fills him in on everything else that's been going on lately: Ambassador G'Kar has vanished, Ambassador Delenn is in a cocoon, they've discovered that the President's death wasn't an accident, and they still haven't learned what Ambassador Kosh looks like under his encounter suit (though they're fairly sure he isn't a brain-sucking tentacle creature at this point).
Ivanova: "I hear they still call you Starkiller."Uh... no, they haven't forgotten, that's why they still call you Starkiller.
Sheridan: "That was a long time ago, 12 years. Maybe they've forgotten about it by now."
Incidentally, Luke Skywalker was originally going to be called Starkiller as well. Either way his name's still Luke S... as in George Lucas. J. Michael Straczynski apparently likes naming heroes after himself as well, as Jeffrey Sinclair just got replaced by John Sheridan.
Also if you write out the first names of the three main Earthforce characters in the series, John Michael Susan, you'll see some very familiar initials.
Kalain (the rogue Trigati captain with the ice claws on the right) is a bit pissed off at the moment. He could tolerate Sinclair being in charge of B5, after all the Minbari were the ones who chose him for the job, but Sheridan running the place is an obscenity. Hedronn (the Grey Council guy on the left played by Robin Sachs) explains that they protested, but the new Earth government just ignored them!
Kalain's not happy about Delenn's transformation either, or Sinclair being on Minbar. In fact he warns Hedronn to get off of Babylon 5 fast, before he acts on his anger. Not sure whether that was a 'I'm gonna stab you with ice claws' threat or an 'I'm going to blow up the station' threat, but either way it's not good for Hedronn.
We get a momentary glimpse of Jerry Doyle as Garibaldi here to continue his perfect attendance record, but he doesn't exactly say much. If you count the pilot movie he's actually the only actor to have been in every single episode so far. Sinclair had him matched, but since he's been reassigned to Minbar he's now out of the running. If you're curious, second place is Ivanova, third place... is Tech #1.
Sadly Marianne Robertson's final appearance as Tech #1 was in Chrysalis, so she's gone now, but the title has been passed down to Joshua Cox, who one day will get a name.
Sheridan's a canny captain though and figures out that Kalain must be the commander of the Trigati and that Hedronn is Grey Council. Hedronn reveals that the Trigati crew believe they were betrayed by their own government when the Minbari surrendered during the war 12 years ago and have been in self-imposed exile ever since. But with Sheridan here they've got a reason to come out of retirement.
Hedronn's not all that happy about Sheridan being in charge here either, yelling at him on his way out for bringing a doom to the station. Turns out that Sheridan earned the name Starkiller by blowing up the Minbari flagship, the 'Black Star', during the Earth-Minbari War. Earthforce sensors can't lock onto Minbari ships due to their stealth systems, so he mined an asteroid field and got the ship that way instead. It was the only real victory Earth had during the whole war apparently and Sheridan's not about to apologise about it to Hedronn, Kalain or any Minbari.
Suddenly Sheridan figures out what Kalain's up to. If he feels that the Minbari government betrayed him by surrendering, he's going to be going after their representative... Ambassador Delenn!
We're already seeing how Sheridan's command style differs from Sinclair's as he's standing behind his security people, like a commander should. Sinclair would've grabbed one of their guns and gone in first. In fact he would've gone in without them and ended up in a fist fight against a super-strong Minbari warrior. And he would've won.
With Kalain in custody and the Trigati out there ready to make its move, Lennier realises that it is the right time to tell Sheridan what the Minbari have been keeping from us all last season: the reason that they surrendered during the Earth-Minbari War!
This means that the humans they'd been slaughtering were the ones spoken of in their ancient prophecy, and they'd been given clear instructions not to interfere with their very important destiny. Whoops.
But there's more to it than that. Turns out that the Triluminary isn't a general purpose prophecy detector, it reacts to something very specific.
So that's why the the Grey Council really surrendered during the war, because Minbari don't kill other Minbari (not deliberately at least). They had to keep it a secret though because if the public knew what was going on it could cause chaos. That's a pretty major reveal for the season premier; they must be tidying the Sinclair arc away in a hurry now that he's left the show.
Of course it might all be bullshit, Sheridan definitely doesn't buy into it, but what important is that it's the 'truth' that the Minbari leaders and Delenn are operating from. And we do know already that souls can be real tangible things thanks to Soul Hunter.
He's trying to listen to his holographic girlfriend talk about hotel wallpaper but he's called over by another pilot to see the big-ass Minbari cruiser coming to murder them, and we get this brilliant piece of dialogue:
"It's getting so a man can't even enjoy a letter from home any more."I dunno, maybe it's just his delivery that makes it sound ridiculous, I can't tell. He doesn't get time to say much else though before their Starfuries are scrambled.
Sheridan's a bit confused by their behaviour as all he's done is locked someone away, until he puts two and two together and checks the status of their prisoner. And it turns out that Kalain's dead, killed by a poison in his tooth. All part of a plan to escalate the situation.
The Trigati fighters are closing in, so Sheridan has no choice but to order his own Starfury fighters to intercept.
By the way there's Joshua Cox on the left in his new position as Tech #1, hanging around in C&C and relaying information to the command staff exactly as he did in season one. Except with more lines now I guess.
He said earlier that he didn't want to make any provocative moves that could trigger a shooting war, but if I was on the Trigati and I saw a bright red energy beam shoot out from the top of the station like that, I'd have concerns. Especially as the ship is currently sitting between the station and the jump gate they're shooting at.
Fortunately they don't react, though the Minbari fighters are still inbound and the pilots in the Starfuries are getting a little nervous.
The rogue Minbari want an honourable death in combat, so they're doing whatever they can to start a fight without actually starting the fight. Sheridan knew what they were up to when he realised that they'd disabled their stealth systems, and if he doesn't play along they can't open fire.
Then the other cruiser shows what one of these things can do when they're not holding back...
The Trigati can't escape, but the crew are unharmed, so that's pretty much a win. Or at least it would've been if they'd surrendered instead of setting their engines to overload, vaporising the ship and all the fighters surrounding it. Sheridan thanks the second ship for the assist but just gets more crap about his name being remembered.
He's worrying now that he actually has brought doom to the station, because if Sinclair was still in charge none of this would've happened. But Ivanova tells him there's enough guilt in the world without him looking for more of it.
But the humans have to learn this for themselves, for the sake of the ongoing story arcs.
This is a brand new location for this season: Earharts, the station's officer's club. Which is good, because it gives the Earth Alliance cast somewhere to hang out together outside of work, and bad, because they only play swing and big-band music here.
He was supposed to meet them here actually, but there's something he has to do first. Whenever he takes a new assignment he has to give a certain speech within 24 hours, as it's become his good luck charm. Superstition, there's an admirable quality in a leader. He was interrupted earlier though so now he has to rush to finish it off in time.
I'm going to have to go looking through my text for 'Hedronn' and make sure I never called him 'Headroom' by mistake. I should probably check that I haven't gotten any 'Sinclair's and 'Sheridan's swapped around as well.
Despite being by the same writer and director (JMS and Janet Greek) Points of Departure isn't exactly Chrysalis, Part 2, but as a point of departure for the new season it gets the job done, introducing a new protagonist and handing the series over to him. And Bruce Boxleitner takes the ball and runs with it as the friendly but cunning John Sheridan, showing that Doctor Who isn't the only series that can actually grow stronger by getting a new lead actor. Not that I had any problem with the character of Commander Sinclair or Michael O'Hare's acting (well, except when the character was acting), but Sheridan brings a new life to the series, which goes well with the new look and the improved sets. It feels like they've come a long way since the pilot movie, partially because no one from the pilot is actually in this story, with Londo off screen, G'Kar off station, Garibaldi still in a coma, and Delenn seen only in flashbacks.
As far as the mythology goes, this makes it pretty clear where the Minbari stand, resolving Sinclair's arc from season 1. It's a shame he wasn't around to hear the answers (and Delenn wasn't around to reveal them), but that's his own fault for forgetting to visit her in Chrysalis. But even though the episode states that the President is the only other human besides Sheridan and Ivanova who knows the full story about Minbari souls being reborn in humans (and he doesn't believe it), Sinclair's actually on Minbar now so I'm sure he'll find out eventually. Also who'd have thought that Soul Hunter would provide a necessary piece of the puzzle? Why won't they just let us forget that bloody episode?
Oh plus there's that Trigati plot that the episode's actually about. It was alright, can't complain about getting to see the Starfuries out and about, but I feel like I got enough of the warrior caste sulking about not getting to wipe out humanity back in Legacies. Though to be fair here they're also sulking about someone actually beating them... in one single encounter over a decade ago. Which is something entirely different! It's nice though that there was a puzzle to be solved here, and interesting that even though Sheridan did everything right, it still ended in tragedy with the Minbari cursing his name. More so than they were already I mean.
So yeah this one's worth watching, as it introduces the series' main character, it's important to the ongoing plot and it's fairly decent in its own right.
If you want to share your thoughts on Points of Departure, my website, or stuff, then feel free to leave a comment in the box situated below. It hungers for your insights and opinions.