Babylon 5: Points of Departure
April 8, 2018 10:24 AM - Season 2, Episode 1 - Subscribe

[exposition, the episode] Goodbye Sinclair; hello Sheridan. Sheridan, previously the only Earth Force commanding officer responsible for taking down a Minbari ship during the war, has been assigned to Babylon 5 as Sinclair. A rogue Minbari warship is on the loose. Lennier reveals a secret. "I can only conclude that I'm paying off karma at a vastly accelerated rate."

-Garibaldi is still in a coma.
-Sinclair is gone; he is to be the Ambassador to Minbar. Sakai is also gone.
-Ivanova is briefly in charge during the Sinclair-Sheridan power vacuum. She... does not handle the stress with grace. Mainly with yelling, in fact. "The Chief of Security is in critical condition in MedLab. He thinks there's a conspiracy concerning the President's death. Ambassador G'Kar has mysteriously vanished, after two years we still don't know what Ambassador Kosh looks like inside his encounter suit, and Ambassador Delenn is in a cocoon."
-Because Delenn is still cocooned, Lennier delivers a mountainload of exposition: the reason the Minbari suddenly surrendered at the Battle of the Line is that, upon examining Sinclair, they realized that the humans were actually Minbari. Minbari believe in reincarnation and their numbers have been dwindling, with the 'best of us' seeming to disappear. It appears the answer to where Minbari souls were going was, well, Earth. Because the Minbari oppose the killing of another Minbari--their society's greatest taboo--the Grey Council needed to end the war immediately. Surrender was the quickest option. Few people know about the Minbari-Earther soul thing; the president at the time believed it was nonsense.
-Meanwhile, the Trigati, a Minbari ship that refused the order to end the Earth-Minbari war and instead went into exile, arrives at B5 to cause trouble, deciding that enlightened suicide is a good choice. Its commander sneaks onto B5, tries to kill Delenn to spark a conflict, fails; the ship arrives, tries to spark a conflict with B5, fails; a Minbari cruiser alerted by B5 shows up and disables the Trigati. The Trigati responds by blowing itself up. The end.
-Sheridan delivers a speech upon assuming any command and is superstitious about needing to deliver the speech within 24 hours. He keeps on being interrupted this episode, and winds up delivering the rambling speech (Dalai Lama; Abraham Lincoln) to a completely empty C&C.
-Sheridan managed the only victory against a Minbari cruiser by filling an asteroid field with nuclear bombs and luring the ship, the Black Star, in. Boom.
-Sheridan also really likes oranges.
-Ivanova and Sheridan know each other; this is effectively never brought up again.
-General Hague of Earth Force asks Sheridan to "do one more thing for him."
-Filming details: Sinclair's actor, Michael O'Hare, was suffering from mental health issues at the time and was replaced. This was never revealed before O'Hare's death.
-Filming details: by this point Andrea Thompson (Talia) and Jerry O'Doyle (Garibaldi) are in a relationship. They would marry within a few months of this episode airing; the marriage would be brief.

This season's voiceover is voiced by Sheridan:
"The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. A self-contained world five miles long, located in neutral territory. A place of commerce and diplomacy for a quarter of a million humans and aliens. A shining beacon in space, all alone in the night. It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind… the year the Great War came upon us all. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2259. The name of the place... is Babylon 5."
posted by flibbertigibbet (7 comments total)
Also note, over the next few episodes, the upgrades in Alien wardrobes--Minbari outfits are noticeably improved, and Londo will be wearing black instead of purple, with an improved crest-wig.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:25 AM on April 8, 2018

This really is All The Exposition, The Episode. I started watching the original run during S3 or S4, so I learned everything that's revealed here through osmosis from later events, or going back to The Lurker's Guide. Seeing it all laid out like this was a bit underwhelming, but I understand that the change in leads necessitated some big exposition. I'm a bit surprised how quickly the Human-Minbari link was openly stated. If I remember correctly, JMS is on record saying he didn't want to drip-feed that particular revelation to the main characters, but still, wow.
posted by Alterscape at 10:30 PM on April 8, 2018

Oh, right:

The Grey Council disapproves of Delenn's decision to enter the Chrysalis, and Sheridan is known as 'Starkiller' among the Minbari for his actions during the war. He is... very much hated.

Sheridan's ship was the Agamemnon before his transfer to B5. The historical Agamemnon (...well, the ship) was a British ship-of-the-line which was, for a time, commanded by Lord Nelson.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:40 PM on April 8, 2018

I'm a bit surprised how quickly the Human-Minbari link was openly stated. If I remember correctly, JMS is on record saying he didn't want to drip-feed that particular revelation to the main characters, but still, wow.

It steals the punch of what happens when Delenn does emerge, but at the same time I'm not sure how you could drip-feed it without it becoming really frustrating for the audience. The Earth-Minbari war and the end of it was one of the central questions of S1, but with Sinclair gone it loses a lot of relevance and it also isn't needed anymore as we have the new race on the prowl, and a growing Narn-Centauri conflict taking up space.

Bu an exposition heavy episode, to be sure.
posted by nubs at 7:59 AM on April 9, 2018

I rather wish they hadn't put Mira Furlan's new hair/makeup in the opening for the first couple of episodes, in the remastered version. I'm sure it was simpler for production but it did rather spoil my partner, who I was watching with (rewatch for me, first watch for her).

I have read fairly extensively about fan theories and JMS' writing re: what he originally intended for Sinclair's arc, vs. what we got. Looking forward to discussing when appropriate. Won't say anything more than that here, since thar be spoilers for future events!
posted by Alterscape at 7:30 PM on April 9, 2018

I agree re:Delenn’s New Do. My partner and I are also doing a rewatch (for him) and new watch (for me), and yeah the credits kinda gave that away.
Similarly said partner actually tells me not to watch the screen where you choose a particular episode, because either the episode titles or the thumbnail screenshots for the episodes can be spoilers too.
posted by nat at 12:36 AM on April 13, 2018

I also got spoiled for Delenn's transformation that way--I watched this episode for the first time a few weeks ago. (I actually think I started posting these threads when I was early on in season 2...)

At least this DVD set doesn't have the cringe-inducing "one character morphing into another" DVD title animations that the season 3(?) set has.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 4:36 AM on April 13, 2018

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