Babylon 5

Series Rewatch – Babylon 5: And The Sky Full of Stars – Liars and Portents

Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Janet Greek

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

With the introduction in prior episodes of the “Earth First” movement, there’s already precedent for a secret cabal on Earth that isn’t happy with opening up relations with alien races. In And The Sky Full of Stars, that secret group apparently wants answers to the question of what happened at the end of the Earth-Minbari War.

Everyone lies. The innocent lie because they don’t want to be blamed. The guilty because they have no choice. Find out why he’s lying.

– Commander Sinclair

Commander Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) is kidnapped by two humans (Judson Scott and Christopher Neame), known only as Knight One and Knight Two. Although the Commander is still on Babylon 5, security cannot locate him. The two men drug him and probe his mind to try to find out what happened to him when he blacked out for 24 hours during the Battle of the Line, 10 years before, at the end of the Earth-Minbari War. They believe he is a traitor and formed some sort of alliance with the Minbari to take over Earth from within.

Employees of the Station, security, in particular, are forbidden from gambling while on duty, and severely limited when off-duty as well. We learn this because one of Garibaldi’s (Jerry Doyle) officers, Benson (Jim Youngs) is deep in debt due to his gambling and ends up helping the men holding Sinclair. He is murdered when he finds out what they were really doing.

Doctor Franklin (Richard Biggs) is trying to get comprehensive files on the various species on the station so he has something to go on if he has to treat them. Delenn (Mira Furlan) allows him to take readings so he has a baseline for the Minbari. While there, they talk about events during the War. Doctor Franklin is forthcoming about his experience in xenobiology and destroys his notes of what he learned about various species rather than allow them to be used as weapons. Delenn is not so forthcoming about what she did during the War.

When all is said and done, what Commander Sinclair was subjected to did bring back the memories that were blacked out, although he won’t admit it. He’s cryptic, particularly to Delenn, since she was there in the memories that had once been blacked out.

The scenes in the drug-induced simulation are interesting. Sinclair doesn’t know at first that it’s a simulation. He thinks he’s still on Babylon 5 and none of the systems are working and no one is responding to him. It soon becomes evident to him that he’s having some type of hallucination. Knight Two keeps coming to him in the hallucination and tries to push him into remembering the events of the Battle of the Line. Sinclair doesn’t like remembering, particularly when it comes to seeing some of his fellow pilots killed in action.

Although mentioned in the past, this is the first real venture into the history of the Earth-Minbari War and the Battle of the Line. It’s a significant contribution to the overall story arc in establishing the events that took place leading up to the Minbari surrendering just when it looked like they would be victorious, as well as the destiny of the character of Sinclair. Michael O’Hare does a terrific acting job here. He really captures the feeling of a man trapped inside of his own brain. Was it a little too close to the truth for O’Hare? I know he ended up leaving the show because mentally it took a toll on him and scenes like in this episode make it easier to understand.

It’s also interesting to note that in the scene where Sinclair is brought aboard the Minbari cruiser and he’s interacting with the Grey Council, he asks “What do you want?” This question is critical to several parts of this overall story arc. It’s how the Shadows eventually figure out which race can be recruited to their side, and what people will ally themselves with them. With the knowledge of future events, this small line takes on way more significance.

Although there have been hints up until now that this series is more than a story of the week, this episode really sets the tone that there’s a lot more going on that won’t be wrapped up in just one episode. The dialogue is excellent – the writing in this series is the best I’ve ever seen. People talk like real people talk, with some wise-cracking in between everyday events and it’s enough to lift some of the heavy tones the show has at times. The actors seem to be settling into their roles. What could have been a convenient plot device works better than many other shows that tried the same storyline. If you’re not sold on the show after this episode, you probably won’t be.

Previous episode of the series (link): Babylon 5: The War Prayer

Next episode of the series (link): Babylon 5: Deathwalker

6 replies »

  1. “…he’s interacting with the Grey Council, he asks “What do you want?” This question is critical to several parts of this overall story-arc.”

    Thank you, Patti: I missed that!!
    And I’ve seen this series 5 times!