Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, “Crusade”: Episodes 1-2

Space Archaeology: Even Cooler than Archaeology

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

1: War Zone

It’s always exciting starting a new TV series, and I was doubly excited going into this series as a newly minted Babylon 5 fan. Nothing like having more Babylon 5! It quickly becomes apparent in this first episode that special effects is being more heavily utilized. We see a bunch of different locales fairly swiftly, including one of my favorite sci-fi tropes, the future archaeological dig. I was also excited to apparently have a technomage on board from the beginning? They were one of the intriguing side adventures left largely unexplored after the end of Babylon 5’s run.

The stories in this episode seem to open into a bunch of potential paths. There’s the archaeological team of questionable legal status trying to figure out what to do about a crashed alien ship. I enjoyed this little plot. then, there’s Captain Matthew Gideon and his newly assembled crew, including Dureena Nafeel–a thief, Dr. Sarah Chambers, the science nerd (I think? we don’t get a great picture of her yet), and Lieutenant John Matheson, a telepath.

The ship they help crew, the Excalibur, is almost comically huge (more than a mile long, I believe they say). I always wonder about obscenely huge ships in science fiction like this. Where do the resources come from? What makes such huge ships worth the investment when they can’t cover nearly as much space as many smaller ships? It’s a complaint I have a lot, but I’ll bury it for now.

I thought the aliens on the planet where the archaeologists were at were a bit silly looking. Also, the acting seemed more forced than it did on the main Babylon 5 series.

Since watching this first episode I learned that the continuity is strange and the viewing order is all messed up. Oh well, I think I’ll just keep going in the order they have on DVD. I thought this was a decent series opener. I’m interested in watching more, for sure.

2: The Long Road

So there’s a dragon… in SPAAAAACE! I gotta say, I love the idea of a dragon in space. My first impression, though, was that this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever in the universe of Babylon 5. Anyway, the dragon appears to only be the, er, biggest of the problems on the planet. There’s any number of other prank-like efforts to thwart mining the planet. That’s a problem, because the planet has some mineral that potentially helps humans fight the Drakh plague.

Anyway, Galen, the technomage, is highly amused by Captain Gideon’s attempts to blend in with the local populace, who are apparently… somewhat displeased by the efforts to strip mine their planet as well. After a mob comes to tell them to get out of town, Alwyn, a local technomage (?) intercedes and saves them. Galen seems even more amused by this, which is interesting to me.

Alwyn is the cause of all the troubles for the mining operation, and he is extremely displeased by how the planet he is trying to serve is being destroyed by the need to be efficient and speedy. (As an aside, Alwyn is also unhappy with the “cowardice” of the technomages for leaving just as the Shadow War was breaking out.)

After the situation escalates into a hostage crisis, the technomages show up. They’re a tad put out. The Earthforce people who try to stop the situation beleive the technomages are only able to create “smoke and mirrors,” and after they fly straight through the Dragon, this seems to be true. But then Galen and Alwyn show up and wreak havoc with some holo-demons Alwyn designed which apparently can interact physically with people. But the situation continues to escalate, until Alwyn decides to take it upon himself to end it all. His preparation of a devastating spell prompts Captain Gideon to use his main gun to stop him. Alwyn appears dead, but he is alive–apparently using himself as a distraction to force Gideon to destroy the mining operation with the Excalibur. It’s a poignant moment when he talks to Galen after this. He sees the “glassed over monument” of the mining pit as a good reminder and warning.

I think this episode has me buying in to the series a lot more than the first episode did. The technomages are awesome. I actually thought about the show Firefly quite a bit during this episode. It felt like an episode of that show, with all the wheeling and dealing and balancing the interests of a big military power with the interests of the locals. It’s a fine episode of television.

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Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

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