Babylon 5: Babylon Square
March 22, 2018 5:35 PM - Season 1, Episode 20 - Subscribe

[major arc] Babylon 4 reappears after vanishing four years ago. The Grey Council meets. "Summoned, I come. In Valen's name, I take the place that has been prepared for me. I am Grey. I stand between the candle and the star. We are Grey. We stand between the darkness and the light."

-Babylon 4 reappears where it had previously "wrinkled" and vanished (see also: Grail). The first pilot sent out to investigate the unusual tachyon readings comes back--having died of old age. Finally, Babylon 4's distress signal reaches Babylon 5, and Sinclair and Garibaldi send a convoy of transports to try to evacuate Babylon 4.
-A strange, never-before-seen alien is on Babylon 4 and is under detention for being onboard illegally. He is Zathras. Zathras is always with the coming and the going. "Zathras not of this time. You take, Zathras die. You leave, Zathras die. Either way, it is bad for Zathras." He perks up when he sees Sinclair on Babylon 4, only to deflate and say "No, not The One."
-It seems Babylon 4 is being pulled through time and there's little time left to evacuate.
-A human in a body-obscuring space suit is flickering through Babylon 4. Zathras recognizes this person as "the One" and says he is giving everyone else time to evacuate. Zathras gives The One a 'time stabilizer' and he disappears.
-When Sinclair tries to touch the blue-suited being, he is thrown back. Sinclair also receives a vision of Garibaldi sacrificing himself, sometime in the future, to save Sinclair in a heavy combat situation.
-As the situation escalates, Babylon 4 becomes to shake. Zathras is pinned by a falling beam and is reluctantly left for dead.
-Meanwhile, Delenn is summoned by the Grey Council (a group of 9). They announce they have elected her leader; she refuses the honour, saying she must remain on Babylon 5 and fulfill the prophecy. This angers the Council, as it means for the first time they disagree. They agree to figure out if Delenn can remain on the council some other time, narrowly vote to let her remain on Babylon 5, and give her a strange transparent object as a gift.
-The prophecy discussed is that humanity is needed to stop a terrible darkness. Delenn wants to find out if it is correct.
-Meanwhile, in another time, a much-aged Sinclair in a blue spacesuit tells a woman (who is clearly Delenn, despite her face never being shown) that he "tried to warn them" but it happened exactly as it had last time.
posted by flibbertigibbet (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
God, this was so cooooooool. Even cooler the second time around.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:04 PM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

This was such a cool idea. Actually, this was several cool ideas.
posted by jameaterblues at 7:05 PM on March 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't think I actually saw this episode the first time I watched the series, in the 90s. Can confirm: several cool ideas. So cool.
posted by Alterscape at 7:29 PM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Major Krantz is one of my favourite one-off characters on B5. I love the way he's completely overwhelmed and manic, but also able to (just barely) keep stable enough to command.

Also: Fasten, then zip.
posted by Banknote of the year at 8:45 PM on March 22, 2018

I still maintain a variation on Babylon Squared was originally intended to be the final episode of the series. Sinclair traveling back in time to become Valen would have made a completely natural bookend to the story set up by the first season. Having finally learned why Sinclair was replaced made me very sad. I have lots of criticisms of JMS but the way he never once hinted at O'Hare's departure being anything but a mutual artistic decision that didn't negatively impact his intended story (despite that being transparently false) was the mark of a solid moral core.

I go back and forth on whether I think they should have recast. I suppose you can't do that and maintain the "mutual artistic decision" facade. And Boxleitner did a good job. I just wish we'd gotten to see the original story arc.
posted by Justinian at 9:59 PM on March 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh shoot, I got this confused with War Without End, the quasi-sequel with Babylon 4 and O'Hare's return. I am stoopid.
posted by Justinian at 10:01 PM on March 22, 2018

So you're half-right, according to JMS's recounting of his original plan. The other half of Babylon Squared was intended to be the B5 finale, but not for those reasons. Here's a summary of the original plan (spoilers: it also discusses B5 as it was actually filmed, including season 5 events).

And for anyone who didn't know, Michael O'Hare was dealing with serious mental health issues during season 1, and was medically unable to continue with the workload.
posted by Banknote of the year at 10:10 PM on March 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

The blue spacesuit in this one should look familiar to fans of 2001, as it's of the same design seen in that movie. While Stanley Kubrick famously had most of the sets/props/costumes from 2001 destroyed after filming to keep them from being recycled in other films like what had happened for Forbidden Planet, when the film studio made the sequel 2010, they didn't care about the issue. The spacesuit ended up with a Hollywood costume rental and when B5's production team couldn't afford to make a suit from scratch, that was the only suit available for rental at the time.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:41 PM on March 23, 2018 [4 favorites]

Did anyone else notice the film crew guy caught on film at 29:11? Hilarious.
posted by overhauser at 2:03 PM on January 13, 2020

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