Babylon 5

Series Rewatch – Babylon 5: Points of Departure – New Season, New Characters

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

The second season of Babylon 5 opens with a change in the leadership of the station as we see the ship Agamemnon being led by Captain John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) receiving a communique from General Hague (Robert Foxworth). There is a renegade Minbari vessel in Earth space. Sheridan once destroyed a Minbari vessel during the war, which is why Hague is calling on him now. He states “You’ve beaten them once, and, if necessary, you can do so again.” Sheridan thinks he will be coordinating with Babylon 5, but Hague tells him there’s more.

On board Babylon 5, Ivanova (Claudia Christian) is temporarily in charge after Commander Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) was recalled to Earth with no explanation. The place seems to be going crazy. Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) is still in serious condition in Med Lab, and Delenn (Mira Furlan) is still in her chrysalis. Ivanova gets the news from General Hague that Sinclair will not be returning, having been assigned as Earth’s first ambassador to the Minbari. John Sheridan will be the new station commanding officer.

Sheridan arrives to little fanfare since Ivanova was misinformed of the time. She takes him on a tour of the station, then asks him why he was assigned as the new commander. Sheridan admits doesn’t know why, except apparently, he was the late President Santiago’s first choice if anything happened to Sinclair.

Lennier (Bill Mumy) is watching over Delenn in her chrysalis when he receives a visit from Hedronn (Robin Sachs), a member of the Grey Council. They are distressed that Delenn did not heed their decision to wait. Lennier is ordered to watch for the Trigati, the renegade Minbari vessel, and “tell the humans what we’ve told you” if it appears near the station. Of course, this eventually happens, and finally, the mystery of why the Minbari stood down and ended the war is revealed.

A Minbari named Kalain (Richard Grove) arrives on the station and warns Hedronn to “leave now while you can.” Is he the leader of the renegade Minbaris? It would seem to be the case. Hedronn warns Sheridan that Kalain is there, and admits that he was second in command of the Trigati. They haven’t been seen since the end of the war twelve years prior. However, Hedronn does not recognize Sheridan’s authority and makes it clear the Minbari government is not happy with his presence here.

Sheridan deduces that Kalain will try to harm Delenn and sends a security detail to her quarters. They arrest Kalain and question him. Lennier comes to Sheridan and tells him the story of why the Minbari stood down and ended the war, as well as why there is reverence for Commander Sinclair among them. Sheridan and Ivanova aren’t sure they believe what Lennier is telling them, but it’s obvious the Grey Council and other Minbari do.. However, the Trigati then appears through the jump gates and threatens the station unless Kalain is released. However, Kalain committed suicide while being held. Sheridan deduces that they are trying to bait him into reigniting the war and also taking the blame for it.

This is a good start for the second season. J, Michael Straczynski stated he had “escape plans” in case any of the actors decided to leave, and the changing of the Station Command from Sinclair to Sheridan is handled very well. Informing him of the current state of things is also a great way to bring any latecomers to the series up to speed. It’s made apparent with Sheridan’s interaction with Ivanova that he has been a real soldier out in the field. He hasn’t had fresh fruits or vegetables in two years and he’s excited to learn his quarters have a real shower in them.

The problem of the renegade Minbari is really secondary to these changes. It does serve notice, however, that not all of the Minbari were happy about the war ending. They also aren’t happy with Delenn. At this point, little seems to be going the way the Minbari Grey Council wanted it to go. It’s an important story development as it sheds light on the conflict within their own government and among the Minbari people.

The other species inhabiting the station are only shown in passing. Ivanova is dealing with quarreling species at the beginning of the episode, but other than that, it’s mostly about Sheridan and the Minbari. However, Sheridan does much to advance his own cause with the Minbari with the way he handles this situation. He resolves it without an armed conflict erupting, despite the best efforts of the crew of the Trigati.

There is humor as Sheridan attempts to give his “good luck speech” which he has used before within 24 hours of taking command. In the end, he is giving it to a near-empty room. I would think C&C would have to be staffed all the time, but he seems to be the only one there.

The effects are well-done, particularly the space battle. The remastering has sharpened the edges and made them more crisp overall. This was made very early on in the advent of CGI and it shows at times, but overall it looks great. Some of the lighting and colors still bleed into what’s around it, but overall it’s a huge improvement over the DVDs I’ve had since the show was first released. The consoles in C&C appear more detailed and easier to imagine as a functioning control center for the station.

Points of Departure is an episode that does what it has to do, which is to give us insight into the overall story arc while bringing in a major new character and having another one depart. The acting is good and there’s a good balance of humor and action. The show is still not at its peak, though, and it will only keep getting better from here.

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