Babylon 5

Series Rewatch: Babylon 5 – Babylon Squared: Pivotal Moments in a Terrific Story

Written by J. Michael Straczynski and Larry DiTillio
Directed by Jim Johnston

In watching the series, much was made of the fact that “something” happened to the four previous attempts to build the Babylon Station. The most recent one just disappeared when they were almost done with it. It sounded like a good narrative, and at first, I didn’t think they would ever build more on it.

Babylon Squared opens with Commander Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) and Mr. Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) playing a prank on Lt. Commander Ivanova (Claudia Christian). Sinclair tells Garibaldi he’ll notify his next of kin, knowing Ivanova is going to want to kill him. It’s a bit of levity that also shows the camaraderie of the staff.

When one of the Station’s fighters is checking out nearby tachyon bursts that are unexplained, central command loses communication with the pilot. The fighter automatically returns to the station where they find out the pilot has died of old age. He was only 30 years old. Etched into a belt buckle is “B4”. Commander Sinclair informs them those tachyon emissions are in the same place where Babylon 4 disappeared. Soon they receive a distress call…. apparently from Babylon 4. Major Lewis Krantz (portrayed by Kent Broadhurst) of Babylon 4 says they are caught in a flux of some kind before the signal is lost. Ivanova states the signal is four years old.

Sinclair and Garibaldi head to sector 14 to see if they can locate Babylon 4, leaving Ivanova in charge of Babylon 5. They reach the sector and find Babylon 4 there. When they board the station, they find themselves under fire. Krantz appears, and then they are all in some kind of flux where Sinclair sees himself and Garibaldi in some kind of battle while trying to evacuate the station.

After that flux, Major Krantz brings them to see a creature known as Zathras (portrayed by Tim Choate) who they found on the station. When he sees Sinclair, he seems to recognize him, then declares him “not the one.” They are called to one of the bays where there appears a being in a space suit. Sinclair reaches out to him only to be thrown across the bay. Zathras then hands the being something he says he has fixed, then the being phases out of existence. Zathras tells them the being brought Babylon 4 here so they could evacuate all of the people from it. Babylon 4 seems to be shaking itself apart and they must leave Zathras behind. After the shuttle departs, the time distortion returns and Babylon 4 disappears.

The mysterious being returns and saves Zathras. When it removes its helmet, it’s a much-older Commander Sinclair. He laments that he was unable to change anything and it’s all just as he remembers it. A hand reaches out to comfort him, and a voice that sounds a lot like Delenn’s (Mira Furlan) comforts him.

Back in their own time, Delenn has been summoned back to Minbari to meet with the Grey Council. They inform her they have chosen her to lead them. Delenn protests that her work on Babylon 5 is needed. She refuses to accept the position, saying there is a prophecy that must be fulfilled that she plays a part in. The Grey Council argues with her that humans are not worthy of her sacrifice. They threaten to not allow her to return and she will lose her place on the Council. Still, she feels she must follow the path she believes is part of the prophecy.

Babylon Squared is an important episode in the overall story arc. It would have been interesting to know what was originally planned for Sinclair’s future, since the script was altered when O’Hare had to leave the show. It would seem that he and Delenn would have a future together, the way she and John Sheridan will now have. There’s nothing hard and fast in that, of course, but rewatching the series and knowing how things are going to turn out, this would seem to be the original intention. O’Hare did come back to close out Sinclair’s story and connect all the events from this episode to how the series’ story was ultimately developed.

There are so many things we don’t understand in the universe, so there’s a sense of temporal displacement being a possibility, especially in distant parts of space. Sinclair hesitates at first to tell Major Krantz where he’s from or how much time has passed since Babylon 4 winked out of existence. At first, he’s worried about the shock of it all, but eventually, he has to tell him.

The acting is good, with a balance of camaraderie and levity between the lead actors. Michael O’Hare takes the lead here, and it’s to his credit that the strain filming this series took on him emotionally didn’t show through. He has fun in places where he can let his guard down a bit, and has a forceful, in-charge personality when duty calls. The future Sinclair seems sorrowful, as if he’s seen some truly horrible things he’s trying to prevent. Don’t we all wish we could change some of the truly evil things in our world? Jerry Doyle is conflicted here as well. Garibaldi sees Lise (portrayed by Denise Gentile), the woman he loved who was introduced in the previous episode. She’s asking him all the right questions about his decision to leave Mars and work on Babylon 5, which makes me wonder whether she’s part of the temporal anomaly or something in his own mind. It’s a good play on Garibaldi’s own possible mental state at this point.

The worst acting comes from Broadhurst. He’s a little too earnest and emotional. I get it; he’s been stuck on the station for a while, not knowing exactly what’s going on and unable to reach out to anyone familiar, but he’s still a military leader. Tim Choate is terrific as Zathras. He’s become a favorite character of fans of the series. His dialogue is stilted, the way someone unfamiliar with our language might speak. He seems to speak in riddles, but later on, it will all make sense.

This is not the spot to pick up the series. It’s really a crucial part of the overall story-arc of the show. I really couldn’t appreciate all of the nuances that are contained in Babylon Squared until seeing it for the first time after watching the entire run. At this point, though, it seems to close the book on what happened to Babylon 4.

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