Warning: the following post is FULL of spoilers
Obviously the “coolness” of something is a highly subjective thing, even the definition of the word could be argued to mean a million things in this context. For me it means it could have been something I’d never seen before, an amazing plot twist, great effects or great writing. It’s not necessarily about the best speech, best acting or biggest moments.
Getting to ten moments was difficult as hell, there is a ton of great moments and performances, but if didn’t make me think ‘cool’ then they didn’t make the list.
Please remember this is simply a bit of fun! I decided to put them in the chronological order of the show, not by favourite:
1. The Sigma 957 ‘Walkers’
S01E06 – Mind War
This is our first real impression that the ‘universe’ of Babylon 5 is bigger, more awesome, stranger and scarier than it first seems – those enigmatic Vorlons are just the tip of the iceberg. Watching this at the time of first broadcast as a teenager, with only a few other shows as a point of reference, was simply awesome – you’d never see anything as epic as this on Star Trek (at least at that time). G’kar’s summation of Catherine Sakai’s encounter is just perfect.
2. The First Appearance of the Shadows
S01E13 – Signs and Portents
There’s no way the first appearance of the Shadows wouldn’t make the list. They show up for a split-second, destroy a ship that has been a major pain in the ass for Sinclair in the blink of an eye and yet somehow don’t turn Londo’s trinket into a cloud of plasma. The ship is black, sleek, almost spider-like and partially glimpsed – a move straight out of Alien. From what I remember, the spine-tingling screams would come later in season 2, but this was more than enough. JMS preferred to refer to them as Shadowmen, lets be honest though – ‘The Shadows’ is about fifty times cooler. Their first appearance is at the start of the following compilation:
3. Babylon 4 Appears
S01E20 – Babylon Squared
There are so many awesome moments and unanswered questions in this episode, that I can’t just pick one – I know this is cheating, but it’s my blog:
a) It appears there’s another Babylon station; it’s bigger, cooler looking (in my opinion) and green. Oh and it’s adrift in time…
c) We find out this station is being stolen to help win a war against dark forces. At this point in the overall story, it seemed implicit that this happens in the future. This is backed up by Sinclair being somehow caught up in this future-stealing of B4 and is ‘The One’ – whatever that cool sounding title means!
4. Our Heroes DON’T Save the President
S01E22 – Chrysalis
Another episode that blew me away at the time and shows this isn’t your regular TV show – it seems like our heroes have all the pieces of the conspiracy and will be able to stop the attack on the EA President. Then Garibaldi is shot by his right-hand man and their chance is gone. Most TV shows avoid change, B5 wouldn’t be the same without it.
5. Kosh is Seen by (Almost) Everyone
S02E22 – The Fall of Night
So many cool things happen in a row here that it’s impossible to separate them out; it’s a series of awesome that keeps on building all the time. First Sheridan writes the best apology ever:
Then on the way to deliver that apology he has to jump out of a moving axis train to avoid a bomb. This means that he’s jumping into the zero-G at the center of a space station that produces its gravity by rotation, so while he isn’t being pulled to the floor by gravity, he’s still going to hit it at a high speed (train speed + jump + station movement = physics is a bitch). We learn no-one can get out to save him in time with a jet pack (they have those on board?), so Kosh flies off to save John. After two years we finally see that guy, you know, the one whose appearance has been teased countless times, revealing himself as an angel and flying up to save Sheridan…
Except that where Sheridan sees an angel, the Drazi see Droshalla, Narn see G’Lan and Minbari see Valeria – all races see their own version of a holy ‘being of light’ – Kosh is truly recognized by everyone.
Except Londo, Londo sees nothing…
The varied implications of this scene on so many events past, present and future is immense and one hell of a thing to do in the last episode of a season…
6. The White Star and a Shadow Ship dogfight, in Jupiter
S03E08 – Messages From Earth
Man I love this whole scene – the sheer audacity of the whole idea – a dogfight in a gas giant! The effects are amazing, probably my single favourite bit of work Foundation Imaging does on the three seasons they handled the effects. I know there’s only a handful of effects shots in this sequence compared to others, but they’re awesome.
Apparently JMS gave Foundation Imaging the option of doing this or having a Shadow vs EA vs White Star battle in Jupiter’s orbit – good choice F.I. this was like nothing that’s been seen on TV.
7. Delenn’s Arrival
S03E10 – Severed Dreams
What an episode. From the declaration of independence, raging ship to ship battles outside, to the boarders inside, the scale of this episode is incredible and a complete game-changer. Everything the crew has planned feels like it could collapse at any moment. Our heroes get the upper hand at a terrible price, then the EA reinforcements show up… it’s all over. Then it isn’t:
8. Sinclair becomes Valen
S03E16+17 – War Without End
WWE forces us to revise some of the cool stuff we thought we knew from Babylon Squared, but in ways that are insanely satisfying and very clever. It’s chock-full of amazing moments, but as the story begins to come to a close, these new facts about when and where B4 is being taken bring you a slow realization of just what Sinclair’s plan is and how perfect it is. JMS doesn’t always get full respect as a writer, but here he’s at the top of his game as we realize just how ambitious and well-layered his plan was regarding the transformation of Sinclair into Valen. Everything has come full circle and Sinclair’s destiny is fulfilled – he’s truly the arrow shot from the bow. He’s exactly where he needs to be – for himself and the universe.
9. Vir’s Wave
S03E06 – Into The Fire
I’ll admit, this is probably my favourite of these ‘cool’ moments. There’s so many great moments from Into The Fire – even if the solution to the Shadow / Vorlon problem was a bit polarizing to fans.
However, the best moment in the episode and maybe the series entirely, isn’t a big effect or pivotal moment, but an incredibly quiet one, and the character involved is Vir – quiet, awkward, unassuming Vir. It’s so amazingly satisfying – Morden gets his just desserts and Vir gets exactly what he asked for from Morden. It’s payoff, glorious payoff.
10. Humans become ‘Second Ones’
S04E22 – The Deconstruction of Falling Stars
Deconstruction is an odd episode in many ways (a series finale in the wrong place almost) with the various stories a little piecemeal, but despite this, the overwhelming impression of this episode (and much of Season 5) is promise for the future.
This feeling is summed up as we learn the narrator of the episode, a human, is viewing ancient historical data on Earth, just before it is about to be consumed in a supernova. As the episode ends we see he’s evolved into a being of energy, inhabits an encounter suit much like a Vorlon’s and leaves upon an organic-looking ship bearing the seal of the Rangers…
So there you have it. I’m sure no one will agree with all of my choices as the ‘best,’ if you have any you’d care to share, please leave a comment.