Babylon 5

Series Rewatch – Babylon 5: Chrysalis – Jump Point to the Rest of the Series

Written by J. Michael Straczynski and Larry DiTillio
Directed by Janet Greek

The final episode of the first season of Babylon 5 sets up most of the stories that will be explored during the rest of the series run. It’s pretty obvious after viewing the rest of the series how some of the stories for several of the characters were intended to play out, but the actors left the show for one reason or another. Writer J. Michael Straczynski always had exits for various characters planned, just in case. There are several stories that were likely lost because of this.

Chrysalis opens with the Narn and Centauri arguing over Narn incursions into Centauri’s space. Meanwhile, one of Garibaldi’s (Jerry Doyle) informants is attacked and he tries to warn Garibaldi someone will be killed. Commander Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) is enjoying some downtime with Catherine Sakai (Julia Nickson) and proposes. Life seems to be going on as normal at the station.

Londo Mollari: But this – this, this, this is like – being nibbled to death by, uh – Pah! What are those Earth creatures called? Feathers, long bill, webbed feet, go “quack”.

Vir Cotto: Cats.

Londo Mollari: Cats! I’m being nibbled to death by cats.

Ambassador Mollari (Peter Jurasik) receives a communique from Mr. Morden (Ed Wasser), asking to meet. He offers to help fix the Centauri problem with the Narn outpost in Sector 37. Morden tells him to tell his government that Londo will personally take care of the problem in Sector 37. Londo asks what the price is. Morden replies that at some time in the future they might come back and ask for a favor.

Commander Sinclair visits G’Kar (Andreas Katsulas) and asks him to stand down and give the Centuari room to maneuver. G’Kar refuses. Later on, Na’Toth (Caitlin Brown) visits G’Kar to tell him everything in Sector 37 is gone; the outpost, the ships, the soldiers. Even G’Kar knows the Centauri could not have done that so cleanly.

Garibaldi investigates the death of his informant in down-below. He’s told that whatever Petrov – his informant – found out, it scared him half to death. He locates people who have a connection, but they manage to escape. When he investigates further, he finds shipping containers with transmitters in them. As he’s going to inform Sinclair what he’s found, he is shot.

Delenn (Mira Furlan) meets with Ambassador Kosh. Whatever he shows her, it inspires her to keep going on the path she has chosen. She meets with Sinclair and promises to explain more of what happened to him during the battle of the line, but says there isn’t much time. Sinclair promises to get back to her once he’s figured out what happened to Garibaldi. When Garibaldi is found he’s rushed into surgery but manages to tell Commander Sinclair that they are going to kill the President. He watches ISN with Ivanova (Claudia Christian) and other members of the crew as the President’s ship is blown up.

Londo meets again with Mr. Morden. He has a problem with the killing of 10,000 Narn in cold blood. Morden tells him that his name is being spoken of as a hero on Centauri Prime, a long way from where he was despairing at the beginning of the episode. Still, it doesn’t sit well with Londo.

Commander Sinclair is watching the inauguration of President Clark (Gary McGurk) when he receives a visit from Ambassador Kosh, reminding him of Delenn. However, it is too late. Sinclair arrives at her quarters to find her enclosed in a cocoon of sorts. Lennier (Bill Mumy) tells him she is changing, but he has no idea how.

Commander Sinclair: Nothing is the same anymore….

There is so much here that has a bearing on the rest of the series. For the first time, viewers get some idea of the fact that there is a secret enemy out there that is very powerful. What happened to the Narn is frightening to all, even Londo, who benefits from the actions of Mr. Morden’s “friends.” We also get our first few glimpses of “The Shadows” although no real details on just what they are. It’s really just enough to give the viewer a sense of trepidation for what’s to come and it’s executed very well.

Many of the characters are tragic figures, written as beings who have good sides and bad sides. That’s particularly true of Londo Mollari and G’Kar. They hate each other, with good reason, yet both have a conscience of sorts. Londo is unnerved after the Narn are destroyed. Although he’s benefitting from his “friendship” with Mr. Morden, he seems to already have a sense that it’s a dangerous one and has second thoughts, even as he’s being exulted as a hero back on Centauri Prime.

No one seems to want to take the warning that the President was going to be killed seriously. The Senators back on Earth refuse to listen to Sinclair and open an investigation. However, the viewers know that this was a conspiracy and that there are many people involved in it, even people who are very trusted on the Station. It’s likely there are people in high places in Earth’s government who also want to silence anyone trying to claim that it was anything other than a tragic accident.

Spoiler for the rest of the series: It’s pretty obvious what the intention was for Sinclair’s story, based on what John Sheridan’s story is. Michael O’Hare would leave the series at the end of this season, though he would come back for a two-parter that gave Sinclair a very interesting send-off. Bruce Boxleitner took on the role of John Sheridan, who replaces Sinclairin Command of the Station. Sheridan lost his wife who was on a deep-space exploration and develops a relationship with Delenn. Just as they become serious, his wife reappears. It’s fairly obvious that the intention was for Sinclair to be the one with the relationship with Delenn and Catherine Sakai was the one who was going to go missing then reappear. Andrea Thompson’s departure also sidetracked what could have been the first lesbian relationship portrayed on television. It was hinted that Talia and Ivanova had the beginnings of a relationship during this season, but it never gets fully explored due to that departure.

This season-ending episode is a cliffhanger without it being an overt cliffhanger. We don’t know what is going to happen to Delenn. Who are the alien “friends” that Mr. Morden is working with? Will Garibaldi live? Will someone kill him before he can be identified as one of the conspirators? Who wanted to kill the President and why? Not all of these questions will be answered right away, and this was the first show on television not to wrap things up neatly within an episode or two. It does this very well and really is the standard for serialized storytelling on television.

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