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Five Years (Annotated)

Words: © 1998 by Tom Smith, from an idea by Tom Smith and Leslie Larkins
Music: "One Week" by Ed Robertson
For those of you who have no idea what the heck this song is about, it's very simple. I'm a big fan of the Canadian group Barenaked Ladies, and also of the magnificent TV series Babylon 5. This is basically a lot of the highlights of the series, set to the tune of BNL's breakthrough hit, "One Week". If you're still confused, just keep reading. I'd like to apologize in advance for the errors that will inevitably creep in. I'll do some more research and fix things up as soon as possible. I would also like to apologize about this taking so damn long to get up onto the web page. However, it turned out to be a much, much bigger job to annotate it than it originally was to write it. Remember that I'm making notes for my Mom here. (Hi, Mom!) She's never seen B5, never heard BNL, and wouldn't know either of 'em if they tap-danced on her porch. One extra note: episode numbers are given in parentheses. (#209) would be the ninth episode aired during the second season (some episodes were produced out of order).

It's been... five years since we went online

Babylon 5 takes place over a five-year period between the Earth years 2257 and 2261. During the pilot movie, "The Gathering" (which actually takes place about six months before the first regular episode, "Midnight On The Firing Line"), it is stated that the station has only been online for about a year; this line could be accurately sung at the end of Season Four, except things were a little busy just then.

Laurel Takashima's gone, but Susan's so fine

Laurel Takashima (Tamlyn Tomita) was Lieutenant Commander for "The Gathering"; once the regular episodes began, she was replaced by Susan Ivanova (Claudia Christian).

Digression: No disrespect to Ms. Tomita, but I think we got the better end of the deal.

Five years since the Vorlon came,
Someone tried to kill him, Sinclair didn't take the blame

"The Gathering" shows an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the arriving Vorlon Ambassador Kosh Naranek (suit puppetry by Jeffrey Willerth, voice by Ardwright Chamberlain) and an equally unsuccessful attempt to pin the crime on Station Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (Michael O'Hare).

Twelve years since we held the line

The Battle Of The Line, the last stand of Earth against the Minbari invasion, occurred in 2245. At the last instant, the Minbari surrendered with no explanation.

Twenty-four hours missing outta Jeff's mind

Though there was no way Earth's defenders could possibly win The Battle Of The Line, they fought so valiantly that members of The Grey Council (including Delenn [Mira Furlan], later Minbari Ambassador to Babylon 5) captured an Earth ship for study. The ship they chose was piloted by Jeffrey Sinclair, who (the Minbari discovered, to their great shock) was the "reincarnation" of Valen, Minbar's greatest hero and lawgiver from a thousand years ago. The Minbari suppressed all knowledge of this revelation from Sinclair's consciousness, and released him; all he knew for many years was that he "had a hole in his mind".

Yesterday, it went off TV

The day before Thanksgiving, November 25, 1998. However, this song was written a few days before that.

But it'll still be okay 'cause we got the story

For a few months every year, every B5 fan who was on the Internet sweated bullets, waiting for word as to whether or not the show had been renewed for another season. There was a constant dialogue on the Internet as to how precisely the B5 saga would be completed if the PTEN syndication system dropped it; but, eventually, after PTEN was dissolved by Time Warner, B5 was picked up and finished by Turner Network Television (TNT).

Oh my God, how it enthralled me, with Garibaldi,
He's getting balder every season

Michael Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) started out with a bottlebrush haircut which, combined with similar eyes, mouth, and jaw line, made him look unnervingly like Bruce Willis did at the time. As the series progressed, both Jerry and Bruce lost hair, until finally both apparently shaved their heads completely. It is not know if they actually were separated at birth, but we always wanted to see Bruce do a walk-through on B5, where he and Garibaldi pass each other, stop, turn, look, maybe circle each other once, then warily move on....

He got attacked, his buddy Jack, he went and shot him in the back
To keep on track the planned assassination/treason

This is pretty much the main plot for "Chrysalis" (#122), the last episode of Season One. Jack (Macaulay Bruton), a semi-regular character and apparently Garibaldi's aide-de-camp if not second in command, was part of a conspiracy to kill Earth President Luis Santiago. Garibaldi discovered this plot, although not Jack's involvement (until later), and Jack shot Garibaldi to silence him. Santiago was killed, and Vice President Clark (Gary McGurk) was sworn in.

Hot like Ivanova and Talia

Talia Winters (Andrea Thompson), assigned to B5 by the Psi Corps (an arm of the government both populated by and in control of Earth's telepaths), was a commercial telepath, licensed to monitor both sides of trade negotiations to be sure that what was being promised was what would be delivered. She tended to cross swords with Lieutenant Commander Ivanova, whose mother had been a telepath driven to suicide by the Psi Corps. This unlikely pair became friends and ultimately lovers.

We're gonna Draal ya

In "A Voice In the Wilderness (#s 118 & 119), we meet Draal (first played by Louis Turenne, later by John Schuck), one of Delenn's most beloved teachers. Believing his life to be void of further purpose, he came to B5 to say goodbye to Delenn before committing a dignified suicide. However, a Great Machine was discovered on Epsilon 3, the planet B5 orbits, and Draal eventually became its caretaker.

And then we'll kick a little Zathras

"Ahhh! Many have kicked Zathras. Zathras first appeared in "A Voice In The Wilderness". Zathras not sure exactly what Zathras is -- half troll, half werewolf, half mechanical engineer, half stand-up comedian, half Gollum from The Hobbit. Yes, Zathras knows that is two-and-a-half. But Zathras would rather half more than not have at all. Zathras one hundred ten years old, oldest servant to caretakers of Great Machine. Life is hard; nobody listen to poor Zathras. But Zathras used to bearing burdens of others. Zathras has even come to enjoy it. Zathras understands fullness of Time. You are finite. Zathras is finite. This paragraph is finite."

Al Bester's in the Psi Corps

Bester (Walter Koenig, "Chekov" from Star Trek) was a Psi Cop, perhaps the leader of the Psi Cops, perhaps one of the top leaders of the Psi Corps. You have to be a level 12 telepath to be a Psi Cop; for comparison, Talia Winters was level 5. In "Ship of Tears" (#314), we learner that his first name is Alfred, giving him not-at-all-coincidentally the same name as one of the greatest SF writers of all time, author of the seminal mental-powers novel The Demolished Man.

We got a mind war

"Mind War" (#106) was the episode in which Bester first appeared.

Ironheart's the mower and you're the grass

"Mind War" concerns Bester's attempts to capture a rogue teep (escaped telepath) named Jason Ironheart (William Allan Young), whose powers have grown to uncontrollable levels. In one scene, he dissolves an assailant, using a vortex-of-shimmering-spheres effect very similar to one used in the 1992 movie The Lawnmower Man.

Digression: The name "The Lawnmower Man" is licensed from a short story written by Stephen King. Thankfully, except for that reasonably cool title, the movie has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with that story. There was a comic book adaptation of it once in a Marvel Comics black-and-white mag, by of all people Walt Simonson, who damn well should have known better, and it was frankly one of the grossest and most pointless pieces of garbage I've ever seen.

Lennier and Vir will share a beer

In "The Fall Of Night" (#222) Ambassador Delenn's aide Lennier (Bill Mumy) and Londo Mollari's aide Vir (Stephen Furst) share a drink and their concerns about the future.

And watch Adira

"Born To The Purple" (#103) tells the story of Adira Tyree (Fabiana Udenio), a dancing girl and slave whose mission is to steal the Purple Files (personal collection of blackmail information) of Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik). She falls in love with him instead.

disappear

In "Interludes And Examinations" (#315), Londo is joyously awaiting the return of his beloved Adira. Unfortunately, when her ship arrives, she is dead by poison.

Without her, Londo's Morden likely bound for darkness

Morden (Ed Wasser), the human agent of the mysterious Shadows, tells Londo that Adira was killed by Lord Refa (William Forward), Londo's greatest rival for control of the Centauri Republic. Morden is lying through his teeth: He himself arranged Adira's death, to lure a grieving Londo back into the Shadows' plans for galactic chaos.

So it begins

A quote from Kosh in "Chrysalis" (#122), referring to The Shadow War: "And so it begins."

And then Delenn will spin Triluminary
Thin and glowing spider webs and step into the Chrysalis

The other plot of "Chrysalis" (#122). Believing herself the child of prophecy, and hoping to reunite the severed parts of her people, Delenn uses a device known as the Triluminary to spin a silken cocoon, in which she is transformed into a half-human, half-Minbari.

G'Kar is helpless, then he's hostile, then a holy man

Narn Ambassador G'Kar (Andreas Katsulas) begins the series as an angry, ineffectual creature who sees nothing but desperate options to avenge himself and the Narn on the Centauri, who ruled them for a hundred years. As time passes, he plots the assassination of Londo and even of the Centauri Emperor. He wants nothing more and nothing less than to lash out at those who he feels still oppress him and his people.

Finally, in "Dust To Dust" (#306), while under the influence of a drug which grants him telepathic powers Narn do not normally have, G'Kar savagely beats Londo and Vir, and probes Londo's mind to find the truth about his place in the various machinations of the past few years. In the midst of this, he has a revelation of his and his people's places in the universe, through a vision placed in his mind by the Vorlon Kosh.

During his incarceration for the assault on Londo and Vir, G'Kar seems to grow. He begins writing a book of truths and revelations, and by the end of the third season he is beginning to be regarded as a prophet among his people. By the first third of the fourth season, he is a full-blown messiah, or would be if he was willing to accept the job.

Digression: Andreas Katsulas is one of the best actors in the history of the world. Period. Right up there with Anthony Hopkins, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, he's THAT freakin' good. And he's like Ginger Rogers, backward and in heels: Katsulas delivers more emotion under ten pounds of latex than most actors deliver in an entire career.

Trying' hard not to smile in front of Sheridan

In "Objects At Rest" (#521), G'Kar tries to remain stoic when saying goodbye to his friend John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner). But they've been through too much together, and have become good friends, and neither one can help smiling.

I'm the kinda guy who laughs at the Shadow horde

John Sheridan was known online as "The Smiling Captain" for almost all of Season Two. When he finally did get cranked off, it was scary.

Can't understand, then you're not a three-edged sword

Another Kosh-ism, from "Deathwalker" (#109): "Understanding is a three-edged sword." B5 creator J. Michael Straczynski says the three edges are your side, my side, and the truth in between.

I have a tendency to do my thinking with my hands

I can't recall any direct quotes regarding this, although Garibaldi probably said something similar along the way; but the real symbolism here is towards the Psi Corps. Skin contact increases the strength of telepathic contact, so Psi Corps members are supposed to always wear gloves, ostensibly to reduce the risk of accidental intrusion. Of course, it also works very well as just one more layer of isolation between "teeps" and "mundanes"... almost reducing "normal" people to another, lesser species....

I have a history of taking off my gloves

In "A Race Through Dark Places" (#208) Talia visits Ivanova, basically wanting a friend to talk to. Ivanova tells her she will certainly talk, but not until Talia takes off the Psi Corps badge and removes her gloves. After a moment's hesitation, Talia does so. Their true closeness is marked from this point.

It's been... five years since Third Age began

One of the signature phrases of the series is, "It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind." Captain John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) explains them in "Into The Fire" (#406): "We began in chaos, too primitive to make our own decisions. Then we were manipulated from outside by forces [the Vorlons and the Shadows] who thought they knew what was best for us. And now... now we're finally standing on our own."

John met Delenn

When she emerged from her chrysalis in "Revelations" (#202).

Digression: She's hot.

but Anna would be back again

Anna Sheridan (first seen in "Revelations" [#202] played first by Beth Toussaint, and later by Melissa Gilbert) was Sheridan's second wife. She and one hundred thirty-nine others were presumed dead in the loss of the exploration vessel Icarus. That was bad enough, but it turned out that the Icarus went to Z'Ha'Dum and woke the Shadows. Morden, another crew member, became the Shadows' agent willingly... and, as Sheridan found out much later ("Shadow Dancing" [#321]), Anna was alive as apparently well, and working for the Shadows.

Five years since we net Neroon

Shai Alyt Neroon (John Vickery), in Legacies (#117). He's a member of the Minbari Warrior caste (Delenn is of the Religious caste), and also a member of The Grey Council which rules Minbar.

He ended up a hero, started out a major loon

Neroon was so vehemently a member of the Warrior Caste that he blamed Delenn personally for any perceived weakness demonstrated by the Minbari, and might have gone so far as to do violence to her, were it not for the intervention of the ranger Marcus ("Grey 17 Is Missing", #319). This incident changes many of Neroon's perceptions, and by the time of his death ("Moments Of Transition", #414) he realized that, while he had been raised a Warrior, his heart belonged to the Religious Caste.

Three years since the Shadow War

The Shadow War was basically the entire point of the series, and it was in fact two, two, two wars in one: The attempt by the Shadows, a ancient and horrific race of insectoid beings, to plunge the entire galaxy into war, all in the name of evolution; and the Terran spur of that war, in which President Clark and the Psi Corps colluded with the Shadows to rule Earth. The main action started about halfway through Season Two, and stretched all the way through Season Four.

Nastier than any aliens we'd seen before

Man oh man. Star Trek managed to easily turn the Klingons into sex gods. The Alien (Ripley's Believe It Or Else, remember?) was so obviously phallic that H. R. Giger might as well have just put a guy in a penis suit (which is, by the way, a longstanding tradition at The University Of Michigan's Medical School Musical, called the "Smoker" -- don't ask). But the Shadows were skin-crawlingly awful, in a way grosser aliens (e.g., John Carpenter's The Thing) couldn't touch. The first time we saw even the briefest... shadow of one of the things, in "Chrysalis" (#122), the Internet was alive the next day with "What the HELL was that!?"

Yesterday, all the Narns were freed

In "Whatever Happened To Mister Garibaldi?" (#402), G'Kar is captured by the Centauri. Emperor Cartagia (Robert Wirtham-Krimmer), who is right up there with Caligula, intends to keep G'Kar as a plaything. But Londo, trying to undo the monstrous evil he has done, strikes a deal with G'Kar: freedom of his enslaved people for aid in assassinating Cartagia. G'Kar agrees, Cartagia is eventually assassinated, and Londo keeps his bargain, freeing the Narn.

Digression: Wirtham-Krimmer kicks ass as Cartagia. The first six episodes of Season Four, which wrapped up the galactic front of the Shadow War, featured some of the tightest writing and greatest acting I've ever seen. And, in the midst of Sheridan turning to a born-again Patton before our eyes, G'Kar becoming the Messiah of Narn, Londo and Vir risking everything to save Centauri Prime from first the Shadows and then the Vorlons, and, and, and... Wirtham Krimmer still stole every scene he was in.

But there is still something Keeping hold on Centauri

We first saw a "Keeper" in "War Without End, Part Two" (#317), around the neck of the aged Emperor Londo. (This was a time-travel episode, with a sequence seventeen years into the future.) The Keeper was either an minion or a biotech creation of the Shadows -- a grotesque, spidery thing with one baleful eye, which sat invisibly wrapped around the neck of its victim, tapping into the central nervous system, controlling the words and actions of its victim. Londo found out that he could put it to sleep for a time by drinking heavily.

Medieval Marcus

The Rangers, an independent band of Human and Minbari warrior/courier/spies, were first seen in "The Coming Of Shadows" (#209). They were organized and trained by the former Commander of Babylon 5, Jeffrey Sinclair. (Some fans thought that calling these people Rangers was either a rip-off or a debasement of the same term from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings.) The first Ranger who was a recurring character was Marcus Cole (Jason Carter), who frankly looked so much like Robin Hood that he became known affectionately as "Ren-Fair Boy".

the Rescue Ranger

There is no known affiliation between Time-Warner and Disney (producer of the animated series Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers). However, a lot of female fans would love to see Jason Carter at a Chippendale's. Ee-yuk-yuk-yuk-yuk-yuk!

Lorien shows up, and things get stranger

The Vorlons and the Shadows are among The First Ones, the eldest in the galaxy. But Lorien (Wayne Alexander), who Sheridan met in the dark catacombs of Z'Ha'Dum ("The Hour Of The Wolf" [#401]), is the First One, a being nearly as old as Time itself. He has been waiting for someone like Sheridan, to bring about the Third Age, not merely of mankind, but of all the Younger Races.

Watching out the window of a White Star, it came from Minbar

The first White Star-class ship is seen in "Matters of Honor (#301). It is a hybrid of Minbari and Vorlon technology, considerably faster and more powerful than anything of a comparable size, indeed fast and powerful enough to stand toe-to-toe with a Shadow ship. But the really impressive White Star view is the one out the window in "And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place" (#320), when Delenn shows Sheridan the fleet of White Stars that have been built, piloted by Rangers, all under Sheridan's command.

And then we'll steal Babylon Four

The plot of "War Without End" (#316 & 317). Minbari legend tells of the appearance of Valen, their greatest warrior and prophet, who appeared a thousand years ago in a great space station to help defeat the Shadows. That station turns out to be Babylon Four, which (as far as our heroes in 2260 know) simply vanished six years ago (in 2254, jeez, ya can't keep the time travel straight without a scorecard). So, basically, the good guys have to move B4 (of course it's "before") through time -- good thing they built it in Sector 14, where there's a convenient temporal rift....

Sinclair's fork would be a Valen Tine, he travels through time

Sinclair stays with Babylon Four. His destiny is to transform himself in the same way Delenn did, using the Triluminary to become "a Minbari born not of Minbari" -- in other words, he becomes Valen, and leads the Minbari to victory against the Shadows a thousand years in the past. As is often the case with male Minbari, he has a three-tined bone crest on his head. (A FORK! So he's got "Valen tines"! It's a JOKE, son! I kee- I say, I keep pitchin' em, an' you keep a-missin' 'em....)

And Ba-Bear-Lon Five is too cute

"There All The Honor Lies (#214) featured The Babylon 5 Shop, opened in the Zocalo to sell souvenirs (and cut Earthforce's expenses). One item was an adorable teddy bear in a baseball shirt that said "Bear-Ba-Lon Five" on the back and "J.S." (ostensibly for John Sheridan, see digression below) on the front. Upon seeing this, Sheridan ordered the shop immediately closed... and then he went to the nearest airlock and spaced the bear.

Digression: The bear was a gift to series creator J. Michael Straczynski from writer Peter David. However, it seems that Joe HATES cute, and he wrote the bear into the show so he could space it. This caused a mild uproar among the show's fans ("He SPACED THE BEAR!"). Peter David got some measure of revenge later, on Space Cases, the short-lived SF show he and Bill Mumy created for the Nickelodeon network: The bear showed up as a plague vector, filled with nasty diseases by an evil alien race called the Straczyn, who wanted to conquer the universe but didn't have much of a budget to work with. (Best line in the show, possibly in the series: "What kind of MONSTER would space a perfectly good Earth bear?")

Digression The Second: Why does the lyric say "Ba-Bear-Lon" when the show said "Bear-Ba-Lon"? Because it's easier to sing.

Lyta comes back

After "Divided Loyalties" (#219), Lyta goes off to Vorlon space, returning in "Passing Through Gethsemane" (#304). The Vorlons... modify her, boosting her psionic abilities monstrously, and also making her a suitable vessel for "carrying" a Vorlon's essence (on those occasions when a Vorlon might wish to travel undetected). After the Shadow War, she goes away again for awhile, trying to find a new purpose.

and she's eyein' a guy named Byron

Upon Lyta's return, she meets Byron (Robin Atkins-Downes), the charismatic leader of a band of rogue teeps, trying to win a home world for their kind. Lyta falls in love with him, and watches him sacrifice himself for the cause.

And Reebo in a Zooty Zoot Suit

Reebo and Zooty are the most popular comedy team on Earth (although Londo doesn't get them -- but then, Londo doesn't get The Hokey Pokey). They finally show up (portrayed wonderfully by comedy magicians Penn & Teller) in "Day Of The Dead" (#510?), firing off their trademark line, "Zooty! Zoot Zoot!"

Gonna meet the violence with defiance and Alliance

The entire point of the Interstellar Alliance, the coalition of worlds and races Sheridan has brokered for The Shadow War, is to show both the Shadows and the Vorlons that the younger races have grown up: they don't need the Shadows or the Vorlons, and they don't need to be involved in -- or caught in the middle of -- their eons-long dispute.

'Cause the Giants left the playground with a lot of blood and sorrow

After the end of The Shadow War, Sheridan says, "The giants have left the playground," referring to the Vorlons, the Shadows, and the rest of the First Ones.

Gonna get a room on Z'Ha'Dum

At the end of "Shadow Dancing" (#321), Sheridan's wife, Anna, returns (apparently from the dead) with an irresistible offer: Come to Z'Ha'Dum and find out what's really going on between the Shadows and the Vorlons. In "Z'Ha'Dum" (#322), Sheridan accepts, and is led through the bowels of the harsh alien world to a quite hospitable room, where a man named Justin (Jeff Corey) attempts to convince him to throw in his lot with the Shadows.

The ship'll zoom and then go

Unfortunately for Justin, Sheridan has planned ahead, setting his White Star on remote control. He summons it to the planet surface -- not to pick him up, but to deliver its payload....

Boom-Shubba-Lubba

This is a double: (1) The White Star mentioned in the previous annotation is carrying two nuclear devices. It crashes through the skylight protecting the Shadows' underground city, it blows up, everything is vaporized. That would be the "boom". (2) In "Acts Of Sacrifice" (#212), Ivanova is called upon to negotiate an alliance with the Lumati, a race which believes itself evolutionarily superior and which will not negotiate with races it believes to be inferior. The representative of the Lumati eventually agrees to deal with them, and to seal the bargain in their customary way: sex, with Ivanova. Ivanova takes advantage of the Lumati's ego, and lack of knowledge regarding human sexual practices, to fool him with one of the most hilarious dance numbers in history: "Boom-shubba-lubba-lubba, boom-shubba-lubba-lubba... dance-shubba-lubba-lubba, drink-shubba-lubba-lubba, kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss-GRAB!... Tell me about your portfolio! Lie to me about your family!..."

'Cause there's always one tomorrow

And this makes it a triple: In "Grail" (#109), someone tells Ivanova that the station hasn't blown up. (It's an ironic thing -- the station wasn't really in danger of being blown up... in that episode, at least.) Ivanova shrugs grimly. "No 'Boom' today? 'Boom' tomorrow. There's always a 'Boom' tomorrow."

How can I help it if I think they're driving Johnny mad?

Near the end of Season Four, EarthGov captures Sheridan. The interrogation they put him through ("Intersections In Real Time," #420) is simply awful, very 1984-ish.

All the time used to smile, now he's Dave's dad

A reference to Sheridan's fan-given nickname for the first half of Season Two, "The Smiling Captain", and to his son by Delenn, David, whom we have not seen but apparently begins Ranger training when old enough ("Sleeping In Light", #522). Sheridan isn't happy about that at all.

I'm the kinda guy who'd rather walkabout than run

"Interludes And Examinations" (#315) show the culmination of Dr. Stephen Franklin's growing addiction to "stims" (chemical stimulants): He nearly kills a patient, and resigns his post as Chief of Medlab, intending to go "on walkabout" until he finds himself (and if the idea of wandering on a space station sounds unlikely, remember it's five miles long with dozens of levels). In "Shadow Dancing" (#321), he involves himself in a fight and is left for dead... and finds himself, or, rather, hallucinates himself, and has an argument with himself, in which he realizes he has run from pretty much everything in his life. He fights to live, is found by station personnel, and survives, eventually returning to his post in Medlab.

Can't understand why they killed their own son

A very controversial episode, "Believers" (#110, written by noted author David Gerrold) featured an alien family whose sick child can be cured by a simple surgical procedure, but their religion forbids such opening of the body -- it would release the boy's soul. Determined that his patient should live, Franklin end-runs around everybody and, against orders, performs the operation. The parents of the boy are horrified at first, but then seemingly accept the situation... but it's only a ploy to get the kid away from Franklin. They ceremoniously kill him; since his soul has been released, they're doing the flesh a favor. Franklin just doesn't get it, which isn't the first time.

I have a tendency to shorten everybody's hair

In "The Hour Of The Wolf" (#401), Londo returns to Centauri Prime as part of the Imperial Court. Emperor Cartagia has instituted shorter hair on the males as a new fashion.

I have a history of lopping off heads

Also in "The Hour Of The Wolf", Cartagia shows Londo his private room, where he goes to think. In the room is a table, covered with about fifteen severed heads of his political enemies. He talks to them.

Digression: One of the heads is cast from a rubber mask of Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar). Nobody told Peter Jurasik (Londo); they just let him find it during the shot, and it unnerved him sufficiently to get the reactions and expressions the director wanted.

It's been five years since "The Gathering"

As mentioned at the outset, the pilot episode.

Beginning, middle, end, Joe wrapped up the whole thing

B5 had many underlying attractions -- its story, its philosophy, the phenomenal talent involved. But one was possibly more important than any other: the idea of the "story arc" -- like any good book, the story of B5 would have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This made it a very tough sell to television markets, and a lot of people in the industry figured Joe Straczynski would fail for one reason or another -- lack of funding or interest, sudden plot holes that couldn't be explained, the temptation of continuing the saga if things did go well and the networks started waving money at him. Joe fought for what he wanted at every turn, and, for the most part, got it: B5 is a complete saga. It tells its tale, it lets you know how everything worked out, and it ends.

Five years since we saw this show,
How good it was gonna get, there was no way to know.
Three years since we really knew,
We voted Joe a Hugo, then we gave him Number Two

The Hugo Awards, named for Hugo Gernsback (the first really prominent SF editor, and coiner of the the term "science fiction"), are the SF Fannish equivalent of the Oscars. The fans vote on the best works of the year, and the awards are presented at the World Science Fiction Convention, or WorldCon. In 1996, "The Coming Of Shadows" (#209) won the Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation. "Severed Dreams" (#310) won in 1997.

Yesterday, it went off TV
But we have still got Crusade, so we ain't too sorry

Crusade was intended to continue adventures in the same universe as B5 without the same cast. The new cast had lots of potential, and was led by the excellent Gary Cole (American Gothic, Midnight Caller, the Brady Bunch movies) as Captain Matthew Gideon. The premise was that The Drakh, dark servants of the Shadows, intend to revenge themselves and their fallen masters by sowing a death-spore into Earth's atmosphere that will doom all life on the planet in five years. (Joe likes that time-span, doesn't he?) Gideon and his crew search the galaxy, looking for survivors of this spore or any other information that might help them find, develop, or steal a cure.

Joe, I've seen Crusade -- you're gonna be sorry

There were only three problems:

(1) The TNT Network wanted quite a lot more action on the show than Straczynski wanted.

(2) The premise was ludicrous -- "Is the cure on this planet? No? Well... how about this planet? No...?" It's possible something could've been done with it, but it didn't work out that way, because:

(3) I think Joe Strazcynski was tired. He'd been writing B5 nonstop for five years, and, frankly, it showed. Some episodes of Crusade were so bad that, if they'd been Star Trek, I would have simply turned them off and never bothered with the show again. On the other hand, some of the characters were great, and -- for the first time -- Captain Elizabeth Lockley (Tracy Scoggins) seemed interesting and attractive.

The show ran for thirteen episodes, and TNT did not renew it. I don't even think they reran it.

Bring me the head of Londo Mollari

One of the phrases that kicked off this song's existence. Also a reference to the film Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia.

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