Babylon 5’s greatest episodes

We go back through the classic sci-fi series Babylon 5, and salute some of its very best episodes...

If you’ve never watched Babylon 5, you’ve missed out on some of the best sci-fi ever aired on television, and even though the upcoming reboot may spare you from having to sit through the original series, you might still want to see what you’ve missed out on.

The Babylon 5 pilot aired in February 1993, but the series itself only debuted nearly a year later in January 1994. Unlike many science fiction series of its time, it did not get cancelled. It ran for its planned five-season run, which allowed J Michael Straczynski to tell the complete B5 story arc. The series corresponds to five years (Earth years 2258 to 2262) in the history of the main space-faring races (Human, Centauri, Narn, Minbari, and Vorlon) and the other races first introduced as the League of Non-Aligned Worlds. Six made-for-TV tie-in movies were also produced. One of those tie-ins (A Call To Arms) acted as a pilot (of a sort) for the spin-off series Crusade, which ran for only one season. Another made-for-TV movie and pilot, Legends Of The Rangers, was produced, but it was not picked up as another spin-off. The last two Babylon 5 stories titled Babylon 5 Tales were released directly on DVD in 2007.

This feature is not meant to be an exhaustive roadmap of the show. Instead, it highlights some of the best episodes of the five-year arc − not including the made-for-TV movies and spin-offs. We can’t list everyone’s favourite episodes, obviously, so we expect Babylon 5 fans to dutifully remind us of the episodes that should also have made the list. But here are our top picks from each season, presented in no particular order.

The Gathering vs. the original pilot

In case you’re wondering: yes! There is a distinction between the pilot that aired in 1993 and the made-for-TV movie dubbed The Gathering (an edited version of the pilot) that aired in 1998. If you missed the original pilot when it aired, chances are that what you watched later on, either on DVD or a streaming service, was the 1998 edit.

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So there are two versions of the pilot and even though the differences between them are slight, the Babylon 5 historians among us will be interested in viewing both, although it would be very hard to find a copy of the original version (harder than it is to find copies of the original, unadulterated version of Star Wars). The edits are by no means extensive, but Straczynski did use that opportunity to correct a few issues and add a few more touches to the original version.

Besides fixing a few things like Sinclair’s walk through the Alien Sector that looked more like a stroll through a zoo, The Gathering introduced a revised version of Sinclair’s first encounter with Vorlon Ambassador Kosh that foreshadows Sinclair’s ultimate fate. Revised, this scene now becomes a pivotal element of the series’ overarching narrative. The added dialogue underlines even more strongly the Minbari assassin’s last words to Sinclair, “there is a hole in your mind,” during the closing act of the pilot (the meaning of those words will only start to become clear by the first season finale, Chrysalis and the season 2 premiere, Points Of Departure.) Since The Gathering was released after season 4, the bit of prophetic dialogue introduced in that scene did nothing for the fans who had already seen Sinclair’s ultimate fate pan out in War Without End (episodes 16 & 17, season 3), but if you plan on watching the series for the first time, it is worth watching The Gathering before tackling season one.

Even though the series would only arguably find its voice in season 2, the pilot set the mood for the entire series. It’s also the only time we would get to hear tremendous character actor Peter Jurasik recite the series’ trademark opening narration. The voice-over introduction would see many changes over the course of the series, but this is the only time we get to hear its message so well captured by Jurasik’s gravely and emotionally charged voice (not counting some of its elements peppered into Mollari’s dialogue at the beginning of the tie-in movie In The Beginning).

Season 1: signs and portents

Many fans hate the first season. Many call it a mess. I merely like to see it as a series of great potential trying to find its voice, and as such it is my favourite season. While some would argue we would need to wait until season 2 for Babylon 5 to find its footing, it hooked me from the get-go. The sets, the colours, the special effects, the impressive space vistas inspired by the recent (at the time) pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, the work and chemistry of the actors, and the blend of all those elements made for very appealing sci-fi television, which was a rare thing back then.

The subject matter was much more mature than most of everything else on genre TV at the time. While all episodes of the first season might seem like filler episodes, JMS was dropping some subtle — and some less subtle — narrative elements setting up the overarching storyline. The series was innovating over other sci-fi shows of the time with the maturity of the content, the special effects and the overall tone. While the contribution of sci-fi authors to sci-fi TV was nothing new, Harlan Ellison was hired as a conceptual consultant on Babylon 5. Ellison’s actual contribution is unclear; JMS once said he had given Ellison free rein on the set, but if you’re a fan of Ellison, you’ll see his imprint on the series.

Some fans have criticised Michael O’Hare’s performance in season 1, going as far as saying that the series was saved by his departure and replacement by Bruce Boxleitner in season 2. Those comments are unfair. O’Hare brought a spirituality to the role that underlined the general tone of the series. O’Hare’s Commander Sinclair had to be a counterpart to Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard that could stand on his own at a time when inspiring leading roles in sci-fi shows were scarce.

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O’Hare’s legacy would leave an important mark on the series, and the impact of his cameos later on in the series are strong reminders of the lasting impression he made on the series as a whole. It would have been great to see more of him, but his appearance in season 3’s War Without End offered very satisfactory closure to his personal story arc (not to mention providing the seed for a potentially amazing spin-off series taking place almost a thousand years before the original series).

Midnight On The Firing Line (season 1, episode 1)

By no means one of the series’ very best, but it is the first episode, and you absolutely need to watch it, even if it’s only to hear Mollari intone his trademark catch-phrase, “Ah! Mr. Garibaldi,” for the very first time (Babylon 5’s equivalent of “Beam me up!”). Peter Jurasik once said in an interview that all he had to do was recite that phrase to get into character before going onstage to shoot his B5 scenes. You simply have to love Jurasik for breathing so much life into Mollari with such memorable lines as: “The Council? The Council can go to Hell. The emergency session can go to Hell. And YOU! You can go to Hell too! I-wouldn’t-want-you-to-feel-left-out!”

You can’t mention Mollari without mentioning G’Kar, played by equally gifted character actor Andreas Katsulas. G’Kar is Mollari’s counterpart in all respects, and both characters would go through major transformation cycles throughout the series, making them the most nuanced, interesting and even endearing characters of the series. Their clash would become central to the overall narrative, their interactions providing a magnetic blend of humour, drama, and eventual brotherhood, culminating in their demise at each other’s hands. While their antics would at first seem like a version of Laurel & Hardy in space, their relationship developed into some of the most poignant material of the series. At any one time, you felt either the most profound disdain or compassion for the two characters. Their relationship provided some of the best character development moments and outstanding acting performances of the series.

The first episode also introduces Susan Ivanova, one of TV’s most badass female characters of all time. It also introduces the Narn-Centauri conflict, which would be central to the over-arcing storyline, first introducing the Narn as the aggressors and the Centauri as the victims, and setting the stage for the nuanced conflict between the two races over the course of the series.

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Midnight On The Firing Line also introduces the subplot of the relationship between Talya Winter and Susan Ivanova. Although it is not highly relevant to the storyline, it was one of the first attempts at exploring non-heterosexual relationships on genre television. The references are only very subtle, most probably because it was the only way JMS could get away with it at the time (he would have to wait until 2015 and Sense8 to be allowed to treat the subject more directly). The only outright declaration would come at the conclusion of Ceremonies Of Light And Dark (episode 11, season 3) when Ivanova revealed her love for Winter to Delenn.

Mind Wars (season 1, episode 6)

Psychic powers have always been a staple of sci-fi, especially on television, and B5’s take on telepaths as slave workers kept on a tight leash by a paranoid government provided ample material to be explored. Babylon 5 had an interestingly nuanced flirtatious relationship with the concept as the series continued, and Mind Wars was the first episode to tackle the issue. This episode is also the first appearance of Star Trek’s Walter Koenig as Psi Cop and all-around spook Alfred Bester. Babylon 5 would produce a number of villains over the course of its five seasons, but Bester comes out as the best of the lot, thanks in great part to Koenig’s unique performance, at once charismatic and chilling. This is an actor who hit such a career slump at one time that he confessed having considered becoming a cab driver. Some might argue that his acting skills are limited, and that he would have been better off taking that cab driver job, but Koenig became a key and favourite support character of the B5 universe.

This is an episode heavy on sci-fi and social issues, dealing with matters of equality and the potential of human evolution. William Allen Young (District 9) offers up a particularly endearing performance as Jason Ironheart.

This is the first time Garibaldi and Bester would lock horns. Their conflict would go on to provide some of the most intense and satisfying moments of the series, and they would even continue in book form in the third instalment of the Psi Corps Trilogy by J. Gregory Keyes, Babylon 5: Final Reckoning – The Fate Of Bester, which is considered canon.

Christopher Franke’s original soundtrack for the series is impressive as a whole, and the tracks written for this episode are particularly beautiful and eerie.

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This episode is also very significant to the overarching storyline of the Shadow War. What may appear as a mere filler subplot will turn out to be instrumental in the outcome of the Shadow War: Catherine Sakai, Commander Sinclair’s love interest, encounters a strange spacecraft from an unknown alien race (who happen to be one of the First Ones) near planet Sigma Nine-Five-Seven. The encounter would have cost Sakai her life, were it not for Ambassador G’Kar’s help. The incident also provides an interesting character development moment for G’Kar who could easily have turned out to be a one-note villain in a reptilian mask, but early on in the first season, JMS was already working to develop the character beyond the one-dimensional villain that G’Kar might have seemed like in the pilot.

Deathwalker (season 1, episode 9)

Actual sci-fi content in ‘sci-fi TV’ can be scarce at times. The true gift of sci-fi is its ability to make social comments about current events and inspire development, both in science in society.

Deathwalker is a very good argument of the cost of scientific advancement on the moral values of a civilisation. It’s one of the grittiest episodes of season 1 and Sarah Douglas (Superman II) in the title character offers up the best genre performance of her career. The final intervention of the Vorlon may leave some people feeling cheated of an actual ending, but a lot of viewers won’t fail to see the irony of that ending.

The episode also made you want to see more of the Dilgar (the savage race of which Sarah Douglas’ character is the last known survivor) and of the war they launched on the races of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds. Watching this episode made you feel like you were reading a good, hard sci-fi novel, and not merely some space opera fluff.

Believers (season 1, episode 10)

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This was a powerful episode dealing with a timeless issue: religion versus scientific advancement. This had been tackled on Star Trek in one form or another on several occasions, but never in such clearly contrasted emotional tones. It’s not merely a matter of right vs. wrong; it’s about the pros and cons of the precepts of a religion that has survived faster-than-light travel clashing against the social values of a multicultural, advanced community (the Babylon station) and the personal beliefs of a medical doctor with the power of life over death. A brilliant, emotionally charged performance by Richard Biggs as Dr. Stephen Franklin, a fine actor who left us before his time.

As much as some people have been saying that the first season was a mess, early first season episodes likes Believers, Deathwalker and Mind War were already setting the tone for a very mature, thought-provoking sci-fi show. Granted, it did not have the commercial appeal of other mainstream television shows, but Babylon 5 provided avid sci-fi buffs something to sink their teeth into.

A Voice In The Wilderness (season 1, episodes 18 & 19)

The first two-part episode of the series. Babylon 5 served up few two-parters over the course of its five seasons, although it can be argued that many other episodes were two or three-parters spread over separate seasons (such as season one’s Babylon Squared and season 3’s War Without End).

This is a key episode for many of the main cast. Best performance nod goes to Peter Jurasik for revealing an unknown and unforeseen side of Mollari. This episode also foreshadows Mollari’s eventual fate and sacrifice for his entire race. Like G’Kar, Mollari slowly reveals himself as an interesting nuanced character going through changes.

This is a key episode in the slowly unfolding drama of the Shadow War, although it does not seem like it at first. This is also one of my favourite Delenn and Sinclair episode. I stated earlier that many fans felt Michael O’Hare wasn’t a good actor, but right on the step of his engaging performance in Legacies (episode 17), O’Hare delivers yet another performance that further strengthens Sinclair as a truly believable tragic character.

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Babylon Squared (season 1, episode 20)

A great sci-fi episode tied very closely to the overall story arc and that sheds some lights on the fate of the Babylon 4 station first mentioned in the pilot, which was said to have ‘disappeared’ before being commissioned.

Time travel on television had already been beaten to death, but without giving away any major spoilers before these events come full circle in War Without End, it is brilliantly handled here without getting too pseudoscientific or without slipping into pop science paradox mumbo-jumbo. This episode aired in the later half of the first season when the series had started to find its footing. The characters are more fully defined following key episodes such as Signs And Portents, Legacies, and A Voice In The Wilderness.

The episode did not resolve the Babylon 4 mystery. It merely introduced more details and developments that further compounded the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Babylon 5’s predecessor.

This episode also features the first appearance of Tim Choate in his endearing performance as Zathras, a support character that would make other appearances and become a fan favourite.

Season 2: the coming of shadows

The Geometry Of Shadows (episode 3, season 2)

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One word: Technomages. We get our first glimpse of that cabal of scientists/mystics, and it is a great one — not only because they are way cool, but mostly because Elric (the only Technomage we actually get acquainted with) is played by Michael Ansara. Ansara delivers an outstanding performance that nailed, in one brief episode, the complete essence of the Technomages. We would get other glimpses of the Technomages in the spin-off series Crusade, the tie-in movie A Call To Arms and the direct-to-DVD anthology Babylon Tales, but Ansara’s performance was a tough act to follow despite a valiant effort by Peter Woodward as fellow Technomage Galen.

It is unfortunate that we did not get to see more of the Technomages (and of Ansara, mostly) during Babylon 5’s tenure, but this was, after all, by design; Elric does explain to Sheridan that the Technomages are going away because of the great impending darkness. It would have been interesting, however, to see what part Technomages could have played in the war against the Shadows. On the other hand, maybe their knowledge and wisdom was vast enough to realise that the coming war was more of a conflict between order (the Vorlon) and chaos (the Shadows) than an actual ‘Good vs. Evil’ war, and that it was better to leave the various races to decide on their own which doctrine to adopt.

Mollari’s exchanges with Elric were both entertaining and prophetic. Mollari asks Elric if he will have to spend the rest of his life paying for one little mistake, and Elric’s answer is a reference to the decision that launched Mollari on his dark path and association with the Shadows. Mollari does get what he wanted from the Technomage… somewhat. Elric’s prophecy regarding Mollari is also foreshadowing. When Elric mentions he hears the voices of millions of people crying Mollari’s name, Mollari asks if they are the voices of his followers, but Elric answers, “no! Your victims.”

Confessions And Lamentations (episode 18, season 2)

Another great science versus religion episode. One of the things I liked about Babylon 5 was its capacity for tackling the conflict between evolved social conscience and traditional religious values without sounding overly condescending.

This episode sees the total extinction of the Markab caused by a plague. It’s a race against time to find a cure despite the stumbling blocks caused by the religious values of the Markab. It’s something that had been seen in fiction already, but its treatment and message in this episode hit home like never before. The scene where Delenn comes out of the isolation ward where the Markab had secluded themselves is particularly heart-wrenching. With hardly any words, Mira Furlan’s performance conveys the full horror of the final outcome. This is a key character moment for Delenn, second only to her life-saving moment in Severed Dreams (episode 10, season 3).

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The Fall Of Night (episode 22, season 2)

As season finales go, this one packed quite a wallop. Things come to a head, from Sheridan granting asylum to a Narn battleship to the long anticipated reveal of Vorlon Ambassador Kosh’s appearance − and that last one is a doozy. Straczynski knows how to drag out a mystery. He waited 45 episodes (counting the pilot) before finally revealing Kosh’s appearance. You can trust Straczynski’s vivid imagination to not only come up with something original, but also something with shock value. And this came right on the heels of the previous episode, Comes The Inquisitor, where we learned that Jack the Ripper was the Vorlon inquisitor sent to test Delenn and Sheridan’s dedication to the cause.

Sheridan blowing the Centauri cruiser “straight to Hell” in order to protect the damaged Narn cruiser is one of the series most intense space battles. As if that wasn’t enough, Kosh saves Sheridan from a botched assassination attempt by Centauri terrorists. In so doing, Kosh is forced to come out of his environmental suit for everyone to see. What comes next is a true testimony to Stracynski’s gift as a writer. At a time when CGI was still in its infancy, some far-fetched computer-generated alien would probably have been sufficient to satiate the fans and provide a sufficiently satisfying closure to the mystery of Kosh’s appearance, but that wasn’t good enough for Straczynski. Once Kosh steps out of his environmental suit, every witness sees him not only as a winged being of light, but also as a figure from their history or mythology: Valeria for the Minbari, Dro’shalla for the Drazi, G’Lan for the Narn, and a nameless angelic being for Sheridan and the other humans. Only Ambassador Mollari of the Centauri seems to see nothing at all, leaving a bit of mystery to be revealed about the Vorlon at a later time.

Season 3: point of no return

Passing Through Gethsemane (episode 4, season 3)

This episode is a strong social commentary on a futuristic society’s take on capital punishment. Academy Award nominee Brad Dourif plays endearing brother Edward, a member of a group of monks residing on B5. It turned out that brother Edward was in reality a murderer who underwent the ‘death of personality’ − the 23rd century alternative to the death penalty where telepaths are used not only to wipe criminals’ minds, but also to implant different sets of memories and personalities before returning the offenders to society.

The episode is interesting not only in terms of its commentary on crime and punishment, but also for its treatment of Brother Edward’s final tragic fate and reflection on how much it takes for a person to expiate his crimes. Another very good sci-fi episode that pushed the boundaries of the genre on television.

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Voices Of Authority (episode 5, season 3)

I could say this is one of my favourite episodes because it is a pivotal moment of the main storyline arc when Ivanova and Marcus manage to recruit some of the First Ones for the war against the Shadows, but I’d be lying. This episode made the roster because of Ivanova’s nod to Star Trek’s famous, “where no one has gone before.” When Sheridan is subjected to the sexual advances of a snooping political officer who obviously uses sex as a weapon, Ivanova says to Sheridan, “Good luck, Captain. I think you’re about to go where everyone has gone before.”

Severed Dreams (episode 10, season 3)

This is the episode when Babylon 5 finally makes its stand against corrupted Earthgov (the Earth Alliance Government) in league with the Shadows. It was only a matter of time before Sheridan’s actions would catch up to him; this episode came right on the heels of Point Of No Return when Sheridan kicked Nightwatch (Earthgov’s Orwellian propaganda and public control arm) off the station.

All hell breaks loose when two renegade Earthforce warships fleeing Earthgov come to B5 bearing bad news: Earthforce is coming to B5 with orders to seize control of the station and detain its command staff. The camera pulls back/zooms in on Sheridan when the news and the decision at hand hit him: Surrender or fight… He choses to fight, and so begins one great episode.

One of Babylon 5’s most important contributions to sci-fi is the quality of its space battles. We already had seen some great ones, most notably in season one’s A voice in the wilderness, and this one did not disappoint. I have always been baffled by space battles in other TV shows (for example, when it came to ‘evasive actions’ in the three-dimensional void of space where there is nothing to ‘evade’ to). Babylon 5 lent some much needed realism to space battles − and gravitas: From Major Ryan (admirably portrayed by Bruce McGill who was reluctant to play the role when first approached) launching his “right down their throat” attack to Captain Hiroshi ramming down an Earthforce ship.

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As if those scenes did not provide enough intense moments, they were quickly upstaged by Delenn’s most shining moment as she brings in the cavalry in the form of several Minbari battle cruisers. What follows is one of the most emotionally charged and intense moments of the series, and one that definitely set Delenn as one of the most badass female characters of sci-fi. As B5 is about to fall, Delenn challenges the attacking Earthforce ships. I would do the dialogue a great disservice by trying to describe what happens next, better to let the script speak for itself:

Delenn: “This is Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari. Babylon 5 is under our protection. Withdraw… or be destroyed.”

Earthforce Captain Dexter Smith: “Negative. We have authority here. Do not force us to engage your ship.”

Delenn: “Why not? Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari fleet [Sheridan]. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else.”

War Without End (episodes 16 & 17, season 3)

Without a doubt the most pivotal episode in the run-up toward the full Shadow War in season 4, this episode also features the return of Jeffrey Sinclair (in more than a voice-over or quick cameo). O’Hare’s comeback was a breath of fresh air − not that the series had grown stale, quite the contrary. But we saw the return of an older, wiser, battle-scared Sinclair that further strengthened O’Hare’s legacy on the series. The chemistry between him and Boxleitner was not perfect, but it was interesting to see them share the screen and drive this important episode forward.

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Straczynski has a ‘gift’ for stretching out a mystery. Deep into the third season, this episode finally answers a few questions, resolves a few mysteries, and provides full closure for the Sinclair/Valen arc. The last sequence showing Valen (a Minbari not born of Minbar − that sentence is finally made clear) on Babylon 4, nearly a thousand years before the series timeframe provides both a conclusion to Sinclair’s fate and a taste of the first Shadow War (again, what a prequel series that would make).

Season 4: no surrender, no retreat

Into The Fire (episode 6, season 4)

This is it: The final moment of the Shadow War. Sheridan’s alliance faces both the Vorlon and the Shadows in the showdown of all showdowns. This episode delivers on everything that the series promised. Sheridan’s understanding of both the Shadows and the Vorlon comes full circle: whether they stand for good versus evil, or more accurately order versus chaos, the races no longer need either the Vorlon or the Shadows. The battle takes place both on the physical and mental levels. The outcome ends up being somewhat anticlimactic, but it is much more satisfying than a simple nuke fight in space. This is, after all, more than just space opera. The two elder races, along with Lorien (the first sentient being to have been born to the universe) and the remaining First Ones leave for ‘beyond the rim’ in order to allow the younger races to grow into their own destiny.

“Did we just win?” Marcus asks. “Don’t jinx it,” Ivanova answers. Fair enough.

Removed from the main conflict, Mollari and the entire Centauri race face their own war at home, removing all Shadow influence from their world. Mollari’s cycle also comes full circle, but there will be a terrible price to pay in the future. The story isn’t over yet.

Between The Darkness And The Light and Endgame (episodes 19 and 20, season 4)

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You would think that defeating both the Vorlon and the Shadows would be enough, but the series still had a lot of loose ends to tie up, including the conflict with Earthgov. The Shadows were gone, but President Clark still held the Earth Alliance under Orwellian rule. The rest of the season would be devoted to Sheridan’s fight to reclaim Earth. The series had not run out of steam, and it served up quite a number of other outstanding episodes.

Between The Darkness And The Light made the list because it leads up to the final confrontation with Earthforce, but mostly because it features Ivanova’s shining moment. While Sheridan is still being held by Earthgov, Ivanova takes command of the fleet for the Alliance’s next engagement. When the fleet faces overwhelming odds from Earthforce warships equipped with Shadow technology, Ivanova’s answer to the order to stand down or be destroyed is worthy of Inigo Montoya’s famous challenge to Count Rugen in Princess Bride:

“I am Susan Ivanova. Commander. Daughter of Andrei and Sophie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance and the boot that is gonna kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart. I am death incarnate. And the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me.”

She had me at “sweetheart.”

Endgame brings the series full circle. The final battle is epic with the fate of the entire Earth population in the balance. In many ways, this lesser conflict brings even more closure and emotional satisfaction than the conclusion of the Shadow War did, maybe because it hit closer to home.

Season 5: the wheel of fire

Some would argue that there were no good episodes in season 5, and that the series should have ended with season 4 − and it almost did. Season 5 did go ahead, but even some of the most die-hard fans would agree that the series had started to wind down: The Shadow War was over. The war with Earthgov was over. Ivanova was gone. Fan-favourite Marcus was gone. The new Alliance was in its infancy, and it would probably have been best to treat it separately as a spin-off. But Straczynski’s plan was for a five-year arc. You have to respect and admire his dedication in keeping the series alive for its planned duration.

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Tracy Scoggins came on board to replace Sheridan at the helm of the station. Her performance and fan appeal did much to help swallow the bitterness of Ivanova’s departure, but she had some very big shoes to fill, and season 5 could not live up to the previous seasons. However, season 5 still delivered two key episodes: Objects At Rest (episode 21) and Sleeping In Light (episode 22).

Objects At Rest (episode 21, season 5)

This episode left me reeling. Saying goodbye to favourite TV characters when the show goes off the air is always a sad affair, and this one was a real tearjerker. Unlike Star Trek: The Next Generation’s final episode, where we bid farewell to the entire crew as they continue to boldly go as one big family, the B5 characters all go their separate ways, which made it even more bitter than sweet. Some characters we would never see again. Others would make a comeback − most notably Andreas Katsulas (in Legends Of The Rangers), and Richard Biggs (in Crusade) before their passing.

Sleeping In Light (episode 22, season 5)

Sleeping In Light was not originally intended as the season – or the series – finale. It was actually filmed at the end of season four. Since Straczynski wasn’t sure if there would be a fifth season, Sleeping In Light was meant to serve as either the fourth or fifth season finale.

Either way, this was a very emotional farewell to Sheridan and to the series. Although it would also have provided a satisfying series finale at the end of season 4, its impact was made even more wrenching since it was broadcast right on the heels of emotionally charged Objects At Rest. Sheridan was living on borrowed time after his fatal accident on Z’ha’dum. His time was up, and Lorien came back to take him beyond the rim where the Vorlon, the Shadows and all the First Ones now dwelt.

Since this episode was filmed prior to Claudia Christian’s departure from the show during season 4, it meant we also got to see Ivanova once again.

Not unlike the legend of the return of King Arthur, some believed Sheridan would come back some day. Given all that would happen on Earth in the thousands of years to come (as previewed in season’s 4 finale, The Deconstruction Of Falling Stars), it would make sense that the Earth would, again, need its hero down the line.

Although some would argue that Babylon 5 has not necessarily aged very well and that a reboot is warranted, it is sad to see so much legacy material making way for a more ‘current’ version of the B5 story. Reboots, remakes, and reimaginings are all the rage right now, mostly because some people are simply running out of ideas, and others can’t help but mess with a good thing, but the recent return of other fan favourite shows starring the original cast (X-Files, Twin Peaks) shows us that the old guys still have a lot of action left in them. Given the richness of the Babylon 5 universe, the original lore provides a lot of departure points for new B5 adventures without having to resort to reboots.