Category Archives: Babylon 5

Crusade – Continuity Order – S01E08 – The Memory of War

Attack of the Twenty Foot Woman

Written by J. Michael Straczynski

Directed by Tony Dow

Grade: C-

Spoilers follow.

Episode Synopsis:

When Gideon ignores Galen’s advice about not exploring a ruined planet, they find a hidden danger lurking.

Episode Review:

I seem to remember thinking this episode was okay in previous viewings, but now I have to say it’s become one of my least favourite and is particularly lacking after the high point of “The Needs of Earth.”

As it’s one of the first episodes produced, it feels (much like “Racing the Night”) that they want this episode to help define the show’s raison d’etre. Try hard they do – throwing everything at it, except the Excalibur’s kitchen sink – we get the team exploring an abandoned world, a spooky threat, Galen arriving with dire warnings, Eilerson being a jerk, Dureena discovering hidden passages (in the sky), Technomage intrigue, characters being taken over by a outside forces. Yet, despite this, it doesn’t even become the sum of it’s parts, never mind being greater than them. I may be in the minority here, but despite all the supposed big events and suspense, it all feels a little boring. In the end it just feels too rough around the edges and unfinished.

The stupidity of some of the situations are infuriating. You have to wonder how the mission briefing went: “There have been reports of an unseen killer on the planet below. Oh and we’re searching to the cure for a plague, does anyone see any similarities? Ring any bells anyone? No? Oh well, maybe we shouldn’t worry about wearing hazmat suits…” The crew of the Prometheus (the Ridley Scott one) took better precautions. Seeing as they’ve been warned of deadly invisible danger by Galen, you might think taking a huge scientific research team down might not be the best idea until they discover if the place is safe? Nope, the team they take is the largest one we ever see on the show.

Max acts as though the situation they’re approaching – dead world, potential technology, etc. is a uniquely amazing new opportunity. Strange, it’s just like the opportunity they just had in the episode “Racing the Night.” He must have memory issues.

Certainly a large part of the episode’s failings have to be the effects, because if you can’t suspend disbelief, then the whole story suffers. I realise it’s a particularly effects heavy episode and this was the show’s early days, but the quality control department must have been snoozing after a heavy lunch. There’s a bunch of poor effects throughout, but there are a few the standouts for me. There’s a shot of the probes launched by the Excalibur, splitting up over the world – the scale, physics and overall quality are just terrible. They had a reasonable shot of the probes being deployed from below the Excalibur, then they cut to the awful one. We’ve just seen the probes launched, ditch the crappy shot.

crusade 8 - probes

Then Dureena finds the secret “light bridge” (forcefield? hard-light hologram?) on the side of a building. Why it’s there, god only knows, it leads from the side of one building simply to the side of another (couldn’t someone have simply accessed the area from the other building instead?), although nonsensical, I can kind of forgive it as it gives us a cool moment of discovery and mystery.

What’s not forgivable is what happens next – the device powering the bridge starts powering down and instead of staying safely where she is (where she could be picked up by a skimmer) she decides to run back along a flickering bridge, made of light, hundreds of feet up in the air. To finally grind a handful of rock salt into the wound, the effects then completely shit a brick – the scale of Dureena to the path and building become so bad you almost have to assume it was left in as a joke – just look at the image.

crusade 8 - giant dureena

A little later Dureena and Max discuss the data crystals, where he berates her for not getting more of them. Well, why doesn’t someone get a bloody skimmer and go get the rest of them?! Why introduce the skimmers and then never use them? Yes, there’s some vague talk of a thin ozone layer allowing solar interference of electronics during the daytime, but it’s never mentioned whether it stops the skimmers, or just wait until night time.

I know I’ve mentioned not wanting to bang on about Chen’s music, but this is one of the worst examples. His atmospheric stuff is often fine, but it’s the character moments that end up so broad and melodramatic. For example: Galen’s entrance on the ship is unintentionally hilarious. He’s just dropped some silly, self-depreciating comments about “coming onboard, so hide the breakables” then he comes striding up the corridor in slow-mo with a highly portentous soundtrack so he can basically give us again the same information. Oh, another thing, there’s so much gratuitous slow-mo in this episode, ease up please Tony.

The biggest shame of the episode is that the smaller, character moments are often quite decent – quiet, thoughtful and interesting, sadly the main story that they’re woven into is so dull, forgettable and clichéd.

Did I just say clichéd? We have an unseen killer on the loose on a deserted planet (see Forbidden Planet, et al), regular characters taken over by an unknown force (every SF show ever – two episodes of Crusade’s thirteen include this trope), obvious IPX “redshirts” discussing expendability, then the pièce de résistance – having the Technomage avatar’s face in the explosion, pushing us beyond cliché to sheer parody.

crusade 8 - face

So what IS good?

As mentioned before, most of the quiet character moments away from the main story are actually pretty good, adding depth and nuance to the characters, it’s just a shame the story didn’t get the same treatment. As an example of these, Dureena’s retrieval of Galen’s staff is a nice moment. It’s done with zero dialogue and it solidifies his bond with Dureena – the hand contact in particular is a great little moment and one that helps toward his trust of her and possible future training. That they completely doused poor Carrie Dobro in mud, then let it dry just for this scene is pretty mean, but it sells the moment.

The reason the virus exists on the planet is vaguely interesting, and Galen’s discussion with the avatar brings up a few interesting questions about what Technomages will do and what Galen’s price might be. I like the idea that the avatar is only aware when activated to kill, so basically if he wants to stay conscious, he has to kill. It’s a good idea, but not well explored and glossed over too quickly.

The scene with Galen accessing the probes on the bridge looks a little static, but the crash-zoom into his eyeball and out are very well done. However, the graphics of Galen’s POV/interface when he’s scanning the caves is a bit clunky-looking.

The physical sets on the planet look good for the budget – the forest, the buildings and architecture Dureena clamber over, even the caves look okay, but then the CG caves look terrible and match up poorly with the green screened actors.

The scale of the story and what they’re trying to do is laudable of course. Many will say that it’s better to try something grand and difficult but fail, than succeed at something small and easy. Do you know what’s better? Attempting something large and difficult, knowing your limitations and working around them to succeed – something which Babylon 5 did on numerous occasions.

Crusade continuity check and notes:

  • Galenwatch – Present
  • Minor continuity issue (one that most people wouldn’t care about or notice) – the ISN news anchor describes the Drakh attack as having happened four months ago. Not the fault of the episode as first written and shot, but once it was pushed back, it clashes with other dates – most obviously “Ruling from the Tomb” which is set in June.
  • While it’s not exactly a continuity issue – the news programme feels like pure early-episode info-dump. All it does now is remind the viewer of lots of things we’ve now heard a great deal about, such as the Earth quarantine. The newsreader’s mention of what the Excalibur is doing and how it’s enlisting the help of the Rangers feels like very old news to those watching, yet it’s feels like she’s explaining something to us for the first time. From what we’ve seen in this order, we’ve already been told the Excalibur and the Rangers are being portrayed as heroes for Earth, while here they’re just a footnote in a news summary…
  • From the nanotech-virus in this episode we get the development of the nano-virus shield , which is a pretty cool idea, although only used once in the series.
  • With the medical imaging Chambers has on board, they are able to observe a nano-machine in real time, even enhancing it enough to see the Technomage symbol.
  • I had to laugh when Galen cuts off Dr Chamber’s explanation of what nanotech is. By the 23rd Century it’s ancient technology – it’s like someone today explaining to you what a steam engine is, plus he’s a Technomage

We get quite a lot of Galen backstory throughout:

  • We see some kind of implants (or the remains of) on Galen’s back. From what we’ve seen on Babylon 5 and Crusade, this is a new revelation, but those having read the Technomage trilogy will have a better idea of the significance.
  • Galen gets a bit of a shock about the reasons for his order’s warnings about this world – it seems they’re not above lying to hide their mistakes and embarrassments.
  • Galen’s staff came from the one who taught him – Alric from B5 episode “The Geometry of Shadows”

We also find out that the Apocalypse Box had a hand in finding this planet, and it was truthful in that they did find something of use, it just forgot to mention the danger. The Box also tells Gideon not to trust Galen – there’s many potential reasons, some of which may be true:

  • He may not be trustworthy despite evidence to the contrary
  • The Box knows Galen would oppose its presence and is sowing discontent between them
  • It knows some of the Technomage history the audience is not yet party to
  • Maybe it has limited ability to see the future and is foreshadowing the events of “The Well of Forever’?
  • Something else entirely?

It’s nice to hear a little about Dr Stephen Franklin on the news report, probably just to remind us he exists and there to whet our appetites for “Each Night I Dream of Home”

Chronological Order Analysis:

  • Production order  = 2
  • Broadcast order  = 10
  • Continuity order  = 8
  • Is this episode better in this order? – Yes

This episode works better here because the nanovirus they discover will be used to make the nanovirus shield seen in “Patterns of the Soul” and “Each Night” – “Broadcast Order” had “Patterns of the Soul” air first!

While it doesn’t have any glaring problems with continuity, to me this episode has somewhat of an “early feel” to it, like they were still trying to iron-out certain aspects of the show. This feeling would be the same in almost any possible order, except for one where only the “First Five” are watched. Overall, that’s pretty forgivable.

(All images are property of Warner Brothers)

 < Previous episode “The Needs of Earth” | Next episode “Visitors From Down the Street”>

Crusade – Continuity Order – S01E09 – Visitors From Down the Street

The Y Files, or Visitors From Another Show

Written by J. Michael Stracynski

Directed by Jerry Apoian*

Grade: C

Spoilers follow.

Episode Synopsis:

When Gideon rescues two aliens from their lifepod, the crew gets embroiled in a conspiracy and a quest for the truth

Episode Review:

Lets get to the elephant in the room straight away – this episode is more a parody of the X-Files than an episode of Crusade – so if you don’t know/love/hate that show, your mileage may vary considerably. I must say my timing on viewing this episode while the X Files “revival” mini-series is on, is a bit of a coincidence.

Firstly, I think it will help immensely to get some context if, by chance you weren’t around in the 1990s. This episode aired August 1999. The X-Files had been on TV for about six years by that point and had become an integral cultural artifact of the 1990s. Its popularity rode the wave of interest in the paranormal and alien abductions that had begun early in the decade and then swept over all the 90s. That’s not to say it was a weak cash-in, it remains one of the best, iconic shows of the 1990s and while it’s on-going (arc/mythology) stories were made up as they went (more like BSG than B5), it was one of the other 90s shows that brought more novel-like, serialised structure to the fore on US TV. As it had such a well-defined style it was immensely easy to parody and even the X-Files had shown signs of not taking itself too seriously in episodes like “Post-Modern Prometheus” and others that completely parodied itself (“Hollywood A.D”) were soon to come. I’m sure there was barely a sketch show in the 90s which didn’t include an X-Files parody. If, by some chance you’re reading this and weren’t around in the 90s, you wouldn’t believe how omnipresent it was in pop-culture. If you remember how Lost was treated in the 2000s or Game of Thrones now, it was triple that.

That’s why this episode felt like an old joke by 1999, because it really was. However, JMS was obviously a fan and at least that shines through in the depth and number of references littered throughout. I figured I’d try and list all the references, but I doubt I found them all.

X-Files References:

1) Mulder and Scully = Durkani and Ullysa. They share heights, body build, clothing and even their Predator-style dreadlock “hair” (Pred dreads?) are similar colours. He’s the true believer, she’s the skeptic – although why he has a British accent I’m not sure…
2) Mottos – Durkani mentions they have to look for the truth “out there” – Mulder’s iconic poster stated “The Truth is “Out There”, the phrase “Trust no-one” is also used.
3) Motifs – The start of the episode opens with the characteristic X-Files location and date. There’s much use of flashlights, clunky cell phones, dark settings. There’s lots of talk of government cover-ups and the proof always being erased. The lifepod is the clichéd “Flying Saucer” design, and Evan Chen’s music even has a few notes with some kind of whistle to emulate Mark Snow’s score.
4) Ullysa refers to how they burnt “the files”
5) The bad guy is a slimy older chap with a liking of cigarettes – an obvious nod to the Cigarette Smoking Man, but he mentions they used to work for him, which is also similar to the X-Files, where he appears to work partly with the FBI as well as the “Syndicate” in early seasons
6) A more subtle nod is the taped ‘Y’ shape left on the window – a parallel to the ‘X’ that Mulder would use to signify wanting to meet with “Deep Throat”. You have to assume this mean Durkani and Ullysa work on The Y Files.
7) The alien/outsider cover up. The alien’s cover-up takes the most clichéd of the usual UFO conspiracy lore and puts a new spin on it:
a) Their “cigar shaped objects” are simply our airships
b) Their “Martian Face” is Mt. Rushmore. This raises an issue – their race has no hyperspace capability. Why would the population think they could send probes that would get to another star system within their life time?
c) Marsh gas is also used as an explanation for UFOs
d) The sketch Durkani’s obtained about their “Roswell” includes people with “strange round eyes” and they find mysterious artifacts, like golf clubs

crusade 9 - ros

The alien’s actual motivation for the conspiracy is interesting and often missed when people discuss this episode – that’s not to say it’s very logical, but there’s more to it than some seem to notice. They’re not simply using the threat of outsiders and the conspiracy to manipulate their population and simply make them easy to control. Yes, it helps their goal, but they’re doing this to try not to attract undue attention to their race – The government knows about other space-faring races and hyperspace, but they lack the technology or a jumpgate to travel that way, so they understand they are at a huge technological disadvantage with nearly all other races in the galaxy. Until they are advanced enough to protect themselves, they’re trying to scare their population away from space exploration as a whole. The idea of avoiding contact with other races until they could defend themselves is a great idea and one that could have been examined in an interesting way in a serious episode, but here’s it’s just tossed in the pot here and lost in the mix of overall silliness.

crusade 9 - nasa

That the alien’s tech has developed to look human makes some sense, with their space launches looking very NASA-like. Although why would they have their spaceships look quite human and modular, and then have their lifeboats look like a saucer makes little sense – it’s not like they were using the saucer as an “image” for the conspiracy – they were bigger on cigar-shapes, however it’s all there just for that visual joke I guess.

The X-Files itself is never actually mentioned so it’s not clear whether the aliens got their idea wholesale from the TV show or just got the idea from transmissions from that era regarding conspiracy theories and US government activities. I’m guessing that completely ripping off the TV show itself would have been too meta.

The upshot of all this is that while we’re on the main storyline everything is so targeted at poking fun at the X-Files that the story and writing are mediocre and disposable. Maybe you can just dismiss this episode as a fun romp, but the X-Files parts really aren’t that funny. It’s another bottle show, the only scenes on another world a very Earth-like office and some muddy views of space shuttle analogues launching.

Easily the best parts are those away from the main story, the tiny subplots of the odour and Gideon’s search for a breeze. Gideon and Matheson’s relationship throughout is playful and funny part of the episode, but no-one else from the main cast gets any screen time. That the on-going smell joke actually goes somewhere amusing is the biggest surprise of the episode to me.

Crusade continuity check and notes:

  • Galenwatch – Absent
  • The date (May 13, 2267) clashes a little with Ruling From the Tomb – but these two episodes were not close to each other in the Broadcast Order either. The dates are something very few people would be likely to notice, unless you were some kind of internet nitpicking arsehole…
  • They are in the Eridani sector – B5 is located in the Epsilon Eridani system – maybe this isn’t too far away, but what constitutes a “system” in Babylon 5 lore isn’t well defined from what I remember.
  • The Excalibur has weapon scanners that identify all known technology. Apparently.
  • The Excalibur has the same yellow cargo lifters on-board as Babylon 5.
  • We get a quick discussion on the new telepath controls – Matheson can’t scan or use his abilities unless he’s in a position where it may save life.
  • The probes Gideon drops at the end are completely different to the small ones used in “The Memory of War” and the balloons are very similar to those used by NASA for dropping rovers/equipment. Although those deploy their balloons after entering the atmosphere by parachute!

*Who was Jerry Apoian?

Apart from playing hunt the X-Files references, the most interesting thing about the episode is that it’s directed by someone named “Jerry Apoian.” I’ve not heard of him before – Babylon Productions tended to keep to a small roster of directors they used most often and also allowed cast and crew to sometimes direct, so I was intrigued to see who he was. I googled him and his lone IMDB reference is for this episode, I wonder what the story here is.

Chronological Order Analysis:

  • Production order  = 4
  • Broadcast order  = 12
  • Continuity order  = 9
  • Is this episode better in this order? – YES

It has little to no effect on the on-going story, so it fits fine here – especially as it’s one of the “First Five” episodes. The only real problem is the date at the start and the lingering “early” feeling to the production. This was worse when it was 12th episode, as it used to feel more like a squandered opportunity to advance the story coming right at the end of the Broadcast Order. Here’s it’s just a silly, forgettable episode.

(All images are property of Warner Brothers)

 < Previous episode “The Memory Of War” | Next episode “Each Night I Dream of Home” >

Crusade – Continuity Order – S01E10 – Each Night I Dream of Home

Hello, Old Friends

Written by J. Michael Straczynki
Directed by Stephen Furst

Grade: B+

Spoilers follow.

Episode Synopsis:

The Excalibur returns to Earth to run a few medical trials in secret, picks up a VIP, then gets ambushed by the Drakh.

Episode Review:

While not exactly ground-breaking or the most innovative of stories, it does its job well, rattles along at great speed, with plenty of action along the way, and just enough time to fit in a few tough questions and character moments. Another great directing job by Stephen Furst, another of the “old friends” involved in this episode.

The surprise package is a bit of an odd idea. If you noticed the credits, then you know he’s the guest star. If somehow you didn’t, it must be a nice surprise if you’re a Babylon 5 fan. However, if, by chance you didn’t watch Babylon 5, all the build up might seem pretty anticlimactic! I do like his somewhat mini Tardis-like box though.

Richard Biggs settles back into the character of Dr. Franklin like an old shoe, and gets some nice moments to shine, his angst over infecting a man simply to act as a baseline is very refreshing, despite the big picture. His presence makes the whole venture feel like it has more to do with the Babylon 5 universe than almost anything else to date in Crusade. The moment where Lochley arrives in the medbay, just after Franklin enters the pod, and so doesn’t know he’s in there, is a little melancholy, but seeing as they only worked together for a year isn’t as sad as say, Ivanova or Garibaldi missing him.

We see Gideon’s cynicism come to the fore – he dislikes the senator’s politics and busts Masterson’s balls for expecting their own ships not to fire on them. Their banter, as usual, is one of the better aspects of the episode. We get to hear yet again about Gideon being rescued and never ignoring a distress call. Had this been the fifth episode it might have worked fine, but as tenth, this is seriously old news and getting repeated way too often.

Probably the best action scene in the episode is the drive-by pickup of Lochley. I love the image of the tracking circle (or whatever it is) focusing on Matheson’s eye, not very sure what it was supposed to do apart from look kind of cool – it would be a pretty distracting the way it shines in his face!

crusade 10 - eye

I do have a couple of other observations on this scene though:
1. It might have been a good idea if someone were to warn Lochley that they were going to do this high speed, high risk rendezvous – What if she saw them coming and decided to get the hell out of the way?
2. Matheson mentions picking “her” up – is this a slip? How would they know who’s on board? Can their scanners detect a person’s sex? Or does Matheson refers to all ships as her?

Dr. Chambers gets a rare chance to take center stage and all her scenes with Franklin are excellent, throughout which the mutual respect is evident. The little ‘malfunction’ she orchestrates to take the load off Franklin is quite a nice element. I did like the manual hydraulic pumps for opening the doors after the lock down.

This is a very heavy effects episode, but they vary greatly. The Starfury capture is pretty good, but the battle looks muddy, the scale always feels off and there’s little flair to it all. The scale of Earth to the Moon is also way off when the Excalibur arrives at Earth. I think part of the problem is the textures of Drakh ships and the Excalibur – both have very smooth surfaces with little texture (or greebles), so at a distance they often end up getting the “rubbery” effect.

We get an added voiceover just as Gideon enters the Medbay to see Lochley. This was originally written as the first time they meet, and instead they had already met in “Ruling From the Tomb”. Their interactions here are so much more entertaining and realistic, that it really makes you wish they’d never met at all in “Ruling.” There’s a spark here that was utterly missing without a trace in “Ruling”. The “first date” line also makes no sense having seen them share dinner!

Despite being a pretty good episode, “Each Night” really feels like it should be nearer the start of the run. Are were supposed  to believe after the amount of time that’s passed that they’ve only just decided to run these reasonably basic tests? That they haven’t even discovered it’s a nano-virus yet?

Crusade continuity check and notes:

  • Galenwatch: Absent
  • Refers to the Drakh attack being a few months ago (so 2-4 months?)
  • Very minor continuity error – Gideon describes this as their first “major battle” with the Drakh. Maybe he forgot “War Zone” – I wish I could.
  • Not exactly a continuity error, but one that shows just how none of the orders can ever work perfectly – we’ve seen “Racing The Night”, it shows Gideon on board Babylon 5 – He didn’t meet Lochley? The CO of the station? Pretty bloody unlikely.

We learn more here about the Drakh plague than the rest of the season combined. How much of it actually makes any sense biologically / technologically, I’m not so sure, but we learn the following:

  1. It’s targeted and concentrates on the vital organs – brain, heart, lungs, etc.
  2. It’s a nano-machine, not biological at all
  3. It’s able to mutate and ‘disappear’ into the host very shortly after infection.
  4. Its mutations appear to be able to mimic existing diseases and it appears to be trying different ones until the most lethal one is found and will then be activated in all the machines. Does that mean it would be trying out new mutations all the time? So that in the end it might kill everyone just by trying all the existing viruses?
  5. It’s very similar to the nano-machines used in the nano-shield developed from Technomage tech (funny that).
  6. It’s only infecting mammals
  7. Franklin and Chambers discuss the possibility that all the machines can communicate with one another, suggesting a ‘hive mind’ and that the possibility the machines can actually ‘think’.
  8. Franklin describes a ‘screen’ to detect anything down to 50 microns. I’m pretty sure bacteria are smaller than that and virus a lot tinier.
  9. It starts very small and is able to decompress once in a host. Like a Zip File. Really, that’s how Dr Franklin puts it. How 1999. This is answered in a previously unreleased still from a deleted scene where Franklin is able to isolate the Drakh Plague under an electron microscope and finally see it:

crusade 10 - bug

  • The medical imaging that was so helpful in allowing them to actually see the nanotech machines in “The Memory of War” doesn’t seem to be available (remember kids “nano” doesn’t just mean small, nanotech is technology on the scale of about 1 to 100 nanometers). The technology they seem to have onboard the ship just doesn’t feel consistent. Seeing as both the Technomages and the Drakh seem to like messing with nanotech viruses, does no-one think there might not be a connection? Or think that if they could reprogram the Technomage tech as a shield, it couldn’t be reprogramed to target the Drakh nanotech in the body?
  • We’ve seen tablets used on Crusade before and have been used as far back as the original Star Trek and probably beyond in SF, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen them used as tool during combat – Matheson is using his for reports and to convey orders I think.
  • We get one of our few glimpses of a Warlock class destroyer – The EAS Foxfire.
  • Interesting to see that the space plumber (David Williams) comes from Paterson, NJ, USA – I’m sure there’s no coincidence that JMS was born there, as he wrote the script.
  • I think this is the first time we see that they have the same type of MaintBots on board as Babylon 5.

Chronological Order Analysis:

  • Production order = 5
  • Broadcast order = 13
  • Continuity order = 10
  • Is this episode better in this order? – Yes

Again, as this is part of the “First Five”, it’s in a better location than the Broadcast Order, but like the others it feels “early” from a production point of view. Right now, a part of me wishes that this could be earlier in the run.

(All images are property of Warner Brothers)

< Previous episode “Visitors From Down the Street”| Next episode “Patterns of the Soul” >

Crusade – Continuity Order – S01E11 – Patterns of the Soul

A Conspiracy to Stop a Conspiracy

Written by Fiona Avery
Directed by Tony Dow

Grade: B-

Spoilers follow.

Episode Synopsis:

The Excalibur is ordered to assess a small human colony for signs of the plague, Dureena discovers something surprising and Gideon’s distrustful nature pays off.

Episode Review:

This is an episode I thought was very forgettable when watched the first time, and while it has quite a few things that are not in it’s favour, it actually ends up reasonably compelling. This reassessment comes because we’ve since learnt that the Excalibur crew were going to be betrayed by parts of Earthforce and become fugitives as the series progressed. In the light of this information, this episode looks more and more like foreshadowing, rather than going over themes seen often in Babylon 5 (shades of grey in the military, government and corporations conspiring together, black projects, etc). The effect this produces reminds me of moments when you’d go back and watch season 1 episodes of B5 after watching the later seasons.

The overall conspiracy is interesting, but there’s quite a few things that work against this episode in general.

The first being the General (Thompson) – he’s so shifty and evasive that the audience and Gideon are immediately suspicious – he’s utterly transparent. The next problem is the counterpoint antagonist amongst the colonists (Tim) played by Eric Ware, to say his weird, hysterical delivery is immediately grating doesn’t go far enough, but as he also gets some dreadful dialogue it at least gives some unintentional laughs – especially as he threatens he might crush Dr. Chambers with his “Cy-Ber-Net-Ic Arms!” Ooo! Beware the arms!

The last point is the one that almost kills the episode for me. Dureena’s race (which is never named to my knowledge – they come from Zander Prime, so – Zanderians?) are a barely-veiled Native American stereotype.

crusade 11 - native

It’s disappointing from a show associated with Babylon 5 – yes, you could draw parallels between the Centauri and European “Imperial” traditions, or the Minbari having some Japanese undertones, but here they just seemed to need a quick solution and picked the Native American template. The intro scene with the tribal elder talking to Robert Black is horribly clichéd melodrama. Additionally, I have to say when the old guy’s face is revealed to Dureena it’s not immediately apparent they are the same race, the make-up isn’t as distinctive on screen as they might think. That they were marooned in the previous Shadow War (so, over 1000 years ago) is a bit interesting, but they seem to have done nothing in the intervening years it seems.

The whole problem looks to be a completely Earthforce-related matter, so why is Dureena along for the ride anyway?! I know – because the plot dictates it. Then she just happens to stumble over the same old, dying guy as Robert Black. Is this a very small planet? Also, wouldn’t the crew scan the planet for lifeforms as a matter of standard procedure when approaching a new planet?

These negatives aside, there’s quite a lot of good too. Earthforce has always been portrayed in quite a realistic manner, with suitable shades of grey throughout. Here we see far more Machiavellian forces at work within it, infecting the colonists because they perceive them to be a threat. That Max’s opinion of Pro-Zeta Corporation is that they are above the law and certainly not above murder to keep secrets is a nice turn. This ambiguity and threat from within are what lift this episode above the more negative aspects and this is probably one of our first real views into the long term future of Crusade, had it had continued.

Maybe the fact Gideon completely disobeyed a direct order and falsified information in front of his entire crew is to demonstrate he’s an insane gambler, trusts his crew implicitly, or that someone would betray that trust in the future. Or maybe it was just lazy writing.

While it appears to be night all the time, this is probably one of the better uses of the “indoors for outdoors” method used for Crusade – where they actually shipped flora on stage to portray new planets, although they seemed to have maxed out the budget on grass. Maybe they should have called this place Planet Turf (sorry).

Brian Thompson, playing Robert Black, turns in a surprisingly quiet and understated effort. He ends up surprisingly sympathetic, despite the fact he tends to get far more “bad guy” roles. That he’s not the stubborn knuckle head he could have been, is a nice surprise. Instead Tim gets that role.

The scene with Gideon using someone else’s codes to get “ultraviolet” clearance is fun. The way it plays out it’s clearly implied that he won the access while gambling – not a huge surprise knowing Gideon is an inveterate gambler. Sadly, they have to go and explain it at the end, in case you’re a bit slow.

Max continues to talk the talk about being a hard-nosed corporate money-maker, but his chat with his bosses show his reports are long overdue and his change of heart over selling-out Dureena’s people seems to mark a gradual change of heart and growth for the future, or maybe to make a future betrayal more shocking…

The ending is bittersweet as Dureena finds out her people are infected also and likely to die in less than a year, not the five the humans have.

Crusade continuity check and notes:

  • Galenwatch – Absent – That’s three in a row, the longest stretch so far.
  • Tim mentions it took them six months of searching to find Theta 49, this might mean they have been looking for six months since the plague hit (making the attack six months ago), or that they had to research for six months to find Theta 49 (or a combination of both), in which case we have no idea how long the attack was from the point of view of this episode.
  • While General Thompson was able to get President Sheridan’s express permission for the mission, I doubt he knew about about the hidden agendas.
  • This is the first (and only) time we see the nanovirus shield used. We learn the nanovirus shield should last 48 hours after application – with no option to consume anything in the infected zones. If the nanovirus shield is in the lungs and mouth, wouldn’t it also end up in the digestive tract? After 48 hours does it turn to dust like the probes we saw in “A Memory of War?” – that wouldn’t be good in for your health…
  • Earlier versions of the script emphasized the low-tech “back to basics” approach Robert Black’s group wished to follow, this gets a bit lost in the produced episode.
  • I’m trying to remember if it’s the first time we see the full-size skimmer model, sadly it’s only for a second or two in the dark, but it’s a sexy bit of hardware.

crusade 11 - skimmer

  • Hey it’s the Shadows again! This is the third time they show up in flashback – I know they have a long history of being spooky assholes throughout the galaxy, but sometimes it does feel like B5 fan-service having them pop up so often.
  • For your information and mine, I googled “Sharks” as a card or dice game and couldn’t find any obvious matches, maybe it was made up for Crusade.
  • It’s a nice nod back to B5 universe history that Robert Black (part of a black project no less) was a GROPO during the Minbari War and took part in the Battle of the Line. In what capacity though, wasn’t it all in Earth orbit? Also, didn’t only 200 of 20000 people involved survive?
  • As only the Excalibur crew know the colonists are there, what would happen if they were all to die? The tiny colony (30 people) would be marooned there with a very small gene pool to continue from. Thinking about it, that’s also very true for Dureena’s race’s colony that apparently started with a hundred people, but has been there for about a thousand years –  are they horribly inbred?
  • Last thought – what is up with the “recycling system” on the colonists ship – do they just have a room with a hatch in the top that they simply throw their trash in to “recycle”. Is it like the trash compactor in Star Wars?  Why would there be a screen in there?

Chronological Order Analysis:

  • Production order  = 10
  • Broadcast order  = 5
  • Continuity order  = 11
  • Is this episode better in this order? – Yes

This episode is better here for many reasons, but the biggest being the fact that we now see the “nanovirus shield” being discovered in “A Memory of War” prior to this episode.

This is the first episode after the uniforms magically change back to “black” and to be honest it wasn’t jarring, I barely noticed it.

(All images are property of Warner Brothers)

< Previous episode “Each Night I Dream of Home” | Next episode “The Well of Forever” >

Crusade – Continuity Order – S01E12 – The Well of Forever

Who Should You Trust?

Written by Fiona Avery
Directed by Janet Greek

Grade: B

Spoilers follow.

Episode Synopsis:

Galen brings the crew information on an ancient structure hidden in hyperspace, with the promise of it containing knowledge that may help with finding a cure. Matheson is interrogated to ensure he’s complying with the new rules for telepaths.

Episode Review:

I disliked this episode during the first broadcast. It was the third episode and you could tell what the writer was trying to achieve, but it fell flat as you had no investment in the characters. It didn’t work because of what the audience brought with them, or rather what we didn’t. We barely knew the characters or their friendships and relationships with one another, so issues involving trust, hidden agendas and betrayals didn’t carry much weight.

The story idea seemed interesting, but the story rises and falls on Galen and how much we may like him or think him trustworthy. At this point we barely knew Galen – then we’re forced to accept that Gideon barely protests his hijacking of the ship? A ship that is searching for a cure for over 6 billion people? For me at least, the episode didn’t work in the original order and it was one of the reasons I was interested in a new episode order, so it actually made me look forward to seeing this episode this time.

I’m glad to report it really works so much better in this order. That’s not to say it’s perfect and it’s still pretty much a ‘bottle’ episode, but it feels right in this location. We, the viewers now have the background in the relationships and more importantly, their motivations, to give the events their correct weight. While not vital, I’ll admit reading the Technomage Trilogy definitely helps with the Galen/Isabelle moments as well, but even without reading them, viewing in this order has allowed us to see Isabelle’s death in “The Path of Sorrows,” which definitely helps excuse Galen’s betrayals and allows us to sympathize with him.

The beginning of the episode is great fun, as Galen arrives acting like a kid in a candy store. That he retains his enthusiasm in the face of Dureena’s superstitions, Max’s cynicism and Gideon’s guarded interest keeps it a lot of fun. Max is on top form trying to puncture Galen’s enthusiasm with some wonderfully acerbic lines.

While the A-plot of the episode is about the Well of Forever, it also weaves in a B-plot and while reasonably separate (aside from both being on the Excalibur), they both explore the theme of trust in different ways.

The B plot, has Matheson being subjected to telepathic interrogation by telepathic deep scan, to ensure he’s adhering to the new rules for telepaths. This is the first major exploration of this issue since the disbanding of the Psi Corps after the Telepath War. While it seems some of the rules are relaxed (no gloves, telepaths can work more freely in all walks of human life), compliance is now ensured by submitting to a six monthly deep scan to make sure they aren’t breaking the rules. Sadly, the new “watchmen” (as Gideon calls Mr. Jones, though his actual position is never stated) seem very similar to the old Psi Cops – shady, in love with their own power, utterly self righteous, and probably with their own agenda.

Mr Jones’s approach to how he deals with Matheson is somewhere between condescension and bullying. The process as this “Mr. Jones” conducts it looks highly invasive – the word “abuse” seems right when you see Matheson’s reactions during and after the scan. Throughout this, Dureena’s concern for Matheson and her help against Mr. Jones help highlight that this is a crew that really has bonded and look out for one another. It makes you wonder whether anything has improved at all for human telepaths. The only negative part of this story is that Gideon’s solution to Mr. Jones’s report is a bit “pat” and goes a little too smoothly.

Although it’s never stated, most of the interactions between Galen and Dureena hint at him probing her opinions, thoughts and motivations before deciding whether to go ahead with training her in the Technomage ways. These are yet more moments that pay off better having seen episodes such as “A Memory of War” first. Additionally, that moment when Galen tries to sit down in her quarters is hilarious.

The part with the Fen (the horny, hyperspace alien jellyfish in case you forgot) is still silly, but a nice, light interlude in a fairly serious episode. It’s an obvious poke in the eye towards TNT (their notes included injecting more alien sex into the show) but at least we get the “thrusters” line out of it. Whether the Fen are also poking fun at the fans (“Fen” is sometimes joking used as a plural for fans of SF/Fantasy), but the line “They’re barely sentient. They’re attracted to bright, shiny objects, but they lose interest quickly” answers that question I feel.

crusade 12 - space jellyfish humping

The scene where Galen tells Gideon that he’s taking control is good, and far better in this order. When this was the third episode in order you expect Gideon to retaliate more – whereas now you understand that while Gideon is furious with Galen, he really does trust Galen despite his actions, but understands there’s nothing he can do to stop him, and settles in for a longer game to see where it takes them.

When we finally arrive, the Well of Forever is a suitably mysterious and interesting object, although to me it looks like a cross between a ribcage and a space pretzel. Closer up, each “limb” resembles intestines, not the effect I think they were going for.

The Well is hidden behind what’s referred to as a hyperspace veil, in fact very similar to the one the Drakh had used in “A Call to Arms” – wouldn’t the crew be concerned by this? If this is the same technology it seems Galen’s sensors had no problem with it. We learn from the scans that the Well contains a huge quantity of Quantium 40 – the substance required for the construction of jump gates, understandably this gets Max’s attention more than anything else.

Galen then departs to visit the Well alone, and is followed by Galen, also alone. When we finally find out his motivation, it shows he’s not a bad guy, but isn’t above using others for his own needs. From “The Path of Sorrows” we know Galen is carrying a lot of anger directed towards a cold, uncaring universe, one that would take his true love away after such a short time together. Maybe this might help him develop personally. If you’ve read the Technomage novels, we saw that Isabelle was a good person and deserving of a resting place such as this this.

Okay, you knew it was coming, because despite all of these nice things I’ve been saying, I’m still only giving it a “B” grade. It suffers from a couple of the usual gripes:

  1. The score again. While mostly okay, the moments with Galen laying Isabelle’s remains to rest in the Well need to be sad and solemn. Here it’s at Lifetime-movie levels of saccharine clunkiness.
  2. Talking of clunky, here come the effects again… While most of them are acceptable, if nothing stellar, just look at this composite shot as it pulls back from Galen on the Well. The scale of everything is completely off. The “limb” is far too narrow, Galen is sitting at a peculiar angle, we’ve just seen how wide the area Galen’s on is and most of it’s missing behind him.

crusade 12 - zoom out

Effects and music complaints aside, the major part that doesn’t work for me and sadly brings the episode down a few notches, is Galen and Dureena’s discussion just after they leave the Well. I find it a frustratingly forced attempt to tie everything together into some kind of tidy conclusion – when one simply isn’t needed. This results in Galen having to construct some kind of mystical “moral of the story.”

Apparently, everyone had an answer they could have received at the Well. He makes it sound like this was a known feature of the Well (like a genie granting wishes or something). It might have been nice of him to have informed the crew or even the audience of this! This seems arbitrarily tacked-on and makes Galen sound like a prick, as apparently there were all these issues the crew could have used his help with, but he never let them know! In the end he sounds like a completely selfish know-it-all, who doesn’t even get the answer he wanted! I really don’t think this was the effect the writer wanted to give, but that’s the conclusion it gave me. The earlier drafts of the script don’t flesh this out any further, so it’s not as though it was cut for time.

Despite my reservations, this episode probes some deeper subjects such as loss, trust and the betrayals that can come from single-mindedness and should be applauded for that. Added to that the main characters are written very well and it excels in most of the quieter, head to head moments.

Crusade continuity check and notes:

  • Galenwatch – Present, but says he’s off for a while at the end. This is the last time we see our bald wizard in a Crusade episode.
  • With the episodes in this order we get two Fiona Avery scripts in a row. In my opinion, “Patterns” has interesting mythology, while the story and characterizations aren’t that great, whereas “Well” has great characterizations, little mythology and the story is okay.
  • So what were those questions and answers?
  1. Galen – Q: “Why?” (although not stated, most likely “Why did Isabelle have to die?” Or “Why her and not me?”) / A: Might take longer
  2. Gideon – Q: Never stated / A: According to Galen he got it, but wasn’t listening. Hard to know what he’s referring to.
  3. Matheson – Q: Never stated / A: Galen says as he didn’t go to the Well he never heard it.  Makes you wonder if his answer would have come from the supposed telepathic boost he would get in hyperspace. The most likely candidates to hear something from would have been Galen, Gideon or Mr. Jones.
  4. Max – Q: Is there anything in the universe he can’t have? / A: The Well. Although that’s because Galen takes it from him.
  5. Dureena – Q: “Is there anyone who isn’t motivated by money or power?” (a bit rich coming from a thief) / A: Galen implies it’s him. We’ll see, or rather we never will.
  6. Chambers – Q: Could they afford to pay for more cast this week? / A: No.
  7. Trace – Q: Can I be in another episode? / A: No.
  • How did Galen finally find the Well?
  • While it’s not a continuity issue per se, Dureena clearly states her people have been taught to avoid certain places – one of those being cliffs. In just the previous episode “Patterns of the Soul,” (also written by Fiona Avery it should be stated) – Dureena’s people are seen praying right by a cliff. It’s even referred to by Dureena’s people as The Sacred Cliff!
  • The Well has an atmosphere surrounding it – is there any reason why it’s compatible with humans? Although, to be fair, about 75% of the alien species seen on Babylon 5 were O2 breathers, so maybe this isn’t that far-fetched.
  • One of the earlier draft scripts mentions that the appearance of the Well is because the original structure accumulated deposits of “hyperspace coral.” This explains its somewhat organic appearance.
  • Regarding the Fen, Max mentions that IPX have long heard about things living in hyperspace. I’m sure this subject is mentioned in late season 2 on Babylon 5 (on a news report / possibly a newspaper), and was obviously referring to the Shadows, who could move easily throughout Hyperspace. IPX would know all about the Shadows by now, so his reference seems odd.
  • Galen’s interface with his ship and the Excalibur continues the ‘crystal ball’ motif he’s seen using many times, although this time it takes the design of the Excalibur’s system interfaces and the effects look excellent. Probably my favourite instance of Technomage tech.

crusade 12 - crystal

  • Gideon mentions that Galen once referred to the crew of the Excalibur as his family now – I think that would be in “The Memory of War”.
  • We find out a lot about how telepaths are organized and treated following the fall of Psi Corps at the end of the Telepath War:
  1. While the Psi Corps is gone, it’s replacement is still full of shady individuals dressed in dark clothes. The disreputable elements are now hiding behind bureaucracy instead of secrecy it seems. Their organization is the Senate Committee on Metasensory Abilities (SCMA? SCOMA? Skooma? not very catchy I must say). They’ve kept the Greek letter “Psi” as their logo, but dropped the shield surrounding it.
  2. All the investigators (watchmen?) are called Mr. Jones (Have you been to Wales? We are all Jones) as a form of anonymity, it seems they come to check on telepaths every six months. Naming a mysterious character called “Mr Jones” is something JMS has hinted at online many times.
  3. Mr. Jones’s interactions with Matheson are very interesting. He seems able to deep scan Matheson without a struggle, suggesting he’s likely a P12 rated telepath (much like the old Psi-Cops) and that Matheson is lower. He is confirmed as P6 in the unproduced script “Value Judgements”.
  4. Mr. Jones states that Matheson is not just one of the first telepaths allowed in Earthforce, he’s the first and so is being held to a higher standard. How did he become the first?
  5. Mr. Jones accuses him of multiple minor infringements. The main one I can think of is his scanning of Natchok Var in “The Needs of Earth”. His mental contact with the snow globe alien in “The Path of Sorrows” may be another.
  6. We know Matheson was deeply involved in the conclusion of the Telepath War and despite being in the Psi Corps, he finally learnt how corrupt they were and assisted in their defeat (see “The Path of Sorrows”). It’s unlikely all the Mr. Joneses were only from the rogue telepath side, this one might be out to get him because of that.
  7. We hear Matheson refer a number of times to non-telepathic humans as “normal” and not “mundanes” in this episode – I didn’t catch whether Mr. Jones refers to them as this at any point.
  8. From the actions of this representative, you have to think the SCMA may outstep their authority in the near future, one way or another.
  • Sheer speculation, but when Galen talks with Gideon about trust, then promises never to betray his trust and help him to fulfill his promise to the memory of the 300 (the crew of the Cerberus, not the Spartans) it feels like it’s mirroring Sheridan and Kosh’s pact about going to Z’Ha’Dum in Babylon 5.
  • Hey it’s the Excalibur’s gym again!
  • You may or may not find this as funny as me, but I’ll leave you with this… The scene where Gideon is removing the amulet to leave it at the Well, leads to a moment where Galen’s hand moves down and out of shot. The motion honestly looks like he’s going to stuff the amulet in his tight, shiny leather pants. It’s really disconcerting.

crusade 12 - pants

Chronological Order Analysis:

  • Production order  = 6
    Broadcast order  = 3
    Continuity order  = 12
  • Is this episode better in this order? – Yes

If you’ve just read the review I’m pretty sure you get the impression this episode is far better in this location! Only one more episode to go sadly.

(All images are property of Warner Brothers)

< Previous episode “Patterns of the Soul” | Next episode “The Rules of the Game” >

Crusade – Continuity Order – S01E13 – The Rules of the Game

Babylon Flashbacks

Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Jesus Trevino

Grade: C

Spoilers follow.

Episode Synopsis:

The Excalibur stops at Babylon 5 to allow Gideon to obtain access to a planet, Lorka 7, as he has a lead he wishes to follow up there. While on Babylon 5, Max has a personal issue to deal with.

Episode Review:

Following the pleasant surprise of the benefits “The Well of Forever” gained from improved placement in this order, I hoped the same effect might apply for “The Rules of the Game.” Sadly it’s hoping a for far too much from what remains a mediocre affair. I’d kind of forgotten chunks of it until I watched it again (a little like “Patterns of the Soul”), which pretty much says it all.

Overall, the feeling it gives me is that they found a bunch of old Babylon 5 B-plots from under the sofa cushions and tacked them together. This means we end up with an episode combining some of the more forgettable political and protocol elements that permeated much of seasons 1 and 2 of Babylon 5. Even the appearance of a previously unseen relative/wife/ex (delete as required) is pure, early season Babylon 5.

The two plots running throughout the episode get about the same amount of screen time, but calling either of them the “A plot” seems generous.

Plot B1 – Gideon is interested in visiting visit Lorka 7. According to him, the world was once home to a technologically advanced race. They left a planet covered in ruins and another race colonized the planet, about 500 years ago. This race call themselves Lorkans, and despite being within Brakiri space, are only a protectorate, so the Brakiri insist Gideon must get their permission to visit.

The two Lorkans representatives on the station don’t want him to go there and plot to kill him. The two Lorkans never state why, and the reason the Lorkan official gives is that they were taking Lorkan technology and selling it on the black market. Is there more to it and these two became scapegoates after they screwed up?

The whole Lorkan culture feels written to be a poke in eye of religious dogma, which in itself I have no problem with, but it’s done in a pretty heavy-handed manner. The Lorkans, as with most zealots, think themselves “pure” and so are immensely self-righteous. Tim (Zathras) Choate plays Pollix, hamming it up beneath prosthetics and a weirdly affected croaky voice, the “Most Holy” wavy-hand thing doesn’t help matters.

This whole plot is an excuse to have Gideon pair up with Lochley in a story of mild peril. To ensure they place themselves in harm’s way, a pissing contest is started by Gideon that ends up with him and Lochley in Down Below, where they try and score points off each other. It makes Gideon look patronizing and dumb, and that’s before we know Lochley is playing him for a fool. The romantic aspects veer from the believable to unbelievable (although, maybe not as bad as in “Ruling From the Tomb”). However, in the end it does progress their relationship more.

Speaking of which, and while I kind of don’t want to, I should mention the shower scene. Oh god, I don’t know where to start. At first it just feels a bit voyeuristic, then the 1980s sexy-times saxophone starts up and it feels super sleazy as we see them strip in silhouette. At least the saxophone makes it unintentionally hilarious and to give credit where it’s due, the “transport ship docking” scene after, is a pretty funny nod to the old “train in the tunnel” trope.

crusade 13 - sexy times

After they get jiggy with it, the little scene where they both dance around any kind of commitment is kind of amusing too, so it’s not like this episode is a complete loss.

The Lorkans are a weak threat and their weapons (a crystal in the palm) look pretty lame. Yes it brings to mind Delenn’s ‘pain ring’ from the pilot, but trust me, I didn’t want reminding. Additionally, the energy bolt effect looks extremely unwieldy, and that ozone build-up smell must be insanely strong.

crusade 13 - magic gems

Plot B2 – While all the Lorkan shenanigans is going on, we get a tale of Max’s wife needing help with a loan shark, which results in a case of cat-napping. Really.

Initially we get Max trying to placate the shark by paying back the loan amount, and after he refuses, he takes Max and Cynthia’s cat, Mr Kitty for ransom. While it’s nicely humanizing to think of Max naming his cat, Mr Kitty, the whole plot is just too silly.

Of course, the loan shark (Mueller) and his goons are all the usual, poorly-drawn stereotypes with little threat, which is a shame, but no surprise. However, Max’s solution is pretty surprising, if a little convoluted. His forcing Mueller to have Mr Kitty washed and groomed is a funny moment.

The episode works very hard to give back story for Eilerson, and make him a sympathetic character for once. Probably the best moment is shortly after Max fixes Cynthia’s problem and admits he loved her – As he leaves her room, he has to pause outside to gather himself before carrying on.

Both plots are hindered by are some god awful fight scenes. Whether the fault of the choreography, the direction, or both – they’re seriously unconvincing. In the one Gideon just kind of falls on the Lorkans, they all struggle, the Lorkans have the opportunity to vapourize them ten times over, but don’t. In the other, Chambers get the drop on that dope of a loan shark after he threatens to rape Cynthia, then turns his back on Chambers and ignores her, leaving himself open to be disarmed. You have to say Chambers reaction to the threat is markedly different here to that in “Patterns of the Soul” – where ‘run away’ seemed to be option number one.

Ignoring the lame action, this episode works best in the quiet moments shared by the characters. For example, Chambers and Cynthia’s chat about Max, or Lochley discussing the benefit of taking uninterrupted quiet time (very much echoing Gideon’s hunt for a ‘real breeze’ in “Visitors From Down the Street”). Sadly the weak threats and contrived situations bring the whole episode down to a highly forgettable level.

Crusade continuity check and notes:

  • Galenwatch – Nope, tune in with The Lost Tales to see any more Galen (maybe read the Technomage Trilogy or the unproduced scripts).
  • Gideon states he has a little over 4 years to find the cure. If so, it suggests they’ve spent almost a year so far on the quest, with little to show for it.
  • I was trying to remember if the Crusade version of Babylon 5 had the same empty feeling that The Lost Tales episode had suffered from. In fact, this episode does a decent job of conveying the scale and busyness, although Down Below seems almost too busy. Chambers describes the station as “noisy, crowded and always in trouble” – a nice line for Babylon 5 fans. I have to say, every time we’ve been back to the station after “Objects in Rest” (“The River of Souls”, “A Call to Arms”, this episode and The Lost Tales) it seems like a smaller and quieter place, lacking a certain magic.
  • We go back to the Dark Star club on Babylon 5 and it’s looking more 1980s and trashy than ever.
  • We’re reminded that Babylon 5’s commander gets a shower with real water, not a vibro-shower. Gideon doesn’t get real water on the Excalibur.
  • Was the world known as Lorka 7 when the previous race inhabited it, then the colonizers took “Lorkan” as a race name, or were they already Lorkans and named the planet for themselves? If the second, it suggests there may be a Lorkan Homeworld out there somewhere.
  • We never find out who the previous owners of Lorka 7 were, or where they went. You have to wonder if they were victims of a previous Shadow War.
  • We never find out where Gideon got his lead on Lorka 7 from, maybe a little box told him.
  • Just how much is a credit again? Gideon and Lochley’s bet is for 100 credits and the loan shark wants 100,000 – are they roughly equivalent to a dollar of today’s money? Seems about correct.
  • We get a lot of background on Max here:
  1. He was a prodigy who go beaten up as a kid a lot, and grew up stunted socially.
  2. IPX appreciate his intelligence and so he became a company man, Cynthia says that’s when she lost him.
  3. She left him as he grew more distant and only spoke of work – he sees it as a betrayal, but still loves her.
  4. Max says he’s only loved three things in his life: his work, Mr Kitty (“that damn cat”) and Cynthia. His poor parents…
  5. Max has a secret spot in his quarters, full of artifacts/weapons. I’ll admit it, it’s kind of cool. Wonder if any more of his “goodies” would ever turn up.
  6. Speaking of which – what’s that disc object in the back there? It looks kind of familiar…
  •  Yep. Maximilian Eilerson has a Predator “Cutting Disc” (from Predator 2) – now that’s what I call an Easter Egg! Oh, the crossover potential… Hats off to the prop guys sneaking that one in!
  • I’ll just to point this out. In one scene Cynthia has just chewed Max out over his handling of Mueller and he then left in a hurry, leaving her scared and panicky about what Mueller might do. A door chime sounds and she says “Enter!” without checking who the hell it is!!
  • The exploding collar is a good threat, but it’s been seen on screen so many times – The Running Man and Wedlock spring to my mind right now.
  • Despite having made friends with the Thieves Guild on the station in “A Call to Arms”, Dureena doesn’t make an appearance in this episode. Sadly, neither does Zack Allen.
  • Mr Kitty is/was JMS’s cat, this is made clear by the title card at the end of the episode.
  • This might be reading far too much into it, but I think I see a little spark develop between Chambers and Eilerson in this episode. The show has always gone out of its way to show Chambers always thinking the worst of him (such as her berating him in “Patterns of the Soul”). Her seeing another, almost human side to him, getting a little personal history and seeing that he does have the ability to care for someone else apart from himself, might be the first step in moving the two characters together. Maybe. This could be a Londo / G’Kar relationship that does end in bed.
  • Another thought on the subject of relationships – Lochley is a recurring character and in an unconventional relationship with Gideon – I wonder what the long term plan might have been for a character that isn’t based on the Excalibur? In particular, what would have happened once the Excalibur got into deep shit with Earthforce? Might she have joined them? That said, last time Earthforce got morally dubious she stayed loyal, so maybe she might have become the hunter? (Travis to Gideon’s Blake?) Sorry, speculation overload there.

Chronological Order Analysis:

  • Production order  = 12
  • Broadcast order  = 7
  • Continuity order  = 13
  • Is this episode better in this order? – Maybe

Having “The Rules of the Game” as the last episode in the Continuity Order makes the series end on something of a low note (the Chronological Order finishes with it also). Maybe “The Well of Forever” might be better to finish on. I’ll have to ponder this for the conclusion feature.

(All images are property of Warner Brothers, except Predator 2 image, 20th Century Fox)

< Previous episode “The Well of Forever”Continuity Order Conclusion >

Crusade: The Continuity Order Conclusion

Well that’s that. While I started this exercise to watch in the Continuity Order and analyze that, I also looked at the episodes and reviewed them also, so this conclusion will be in two parts – the first being an analysis of the Continuity Order and the second, more of my conclusions about the show in general.

Continuity Order Analysis

Overall, I felt that the Continuity Order is a decent improvement in the order of the episodes over the “Broadcast Order”. Especially for those first time viewers of Crusade coming from viewing Babylon 5,  I would heartily recommend the Continuity Order over any other. It fixes the most continuity errors of the “Broadcast” and “Chronological” orders, gives better pacing overall and the rearrangement of certain episodes affords them greater impact.

While the fixing of continuity errors is important, I felt that the movement of certain episodes for pacing and impact have a greater effect on the viewers enjoyment.

While it might be obvious if you’ve read the reviews, you’ll probably know that in my opinion, the biggest problem this order fixes is the early placement of “The Well Of Forever.” When viewed in this order it actually resonates with the audience. When it was third in order, it simply felt like an unwarranted diversion from the Drakh plague and served to make Galen appear to be a huge asshole.

Moving the “First Five” episodes earlier also does a few good things. First of all it brings the series back on track sooner, with more urgency to their quest. This is a show about a pro-active quest for a cure (at least for the first season as planned) , not simply reacting to events put in their way – a problem the “Broadcast Order” suffers from in far too many of the early episodes. Secondly, as the “First Five” episodes were produced first, most had an understandably “early” feel to them, such as too much expositional, and characters being portrayed more broadly. These aspects are still noticeable in this order, but are less obtrusive. I wish these episodes could be even earlier, but certain ones have to be before them.

The movement of “Patterns of the Soul” means that like “Well…” it’s another episode that resonates more with the audience due to its placement later in the run. Dureena’s discovery of a lost tribe of her race is a stepping stone in Dureena’s character, she finally loses the responsibility she’s carried of being the last of her race and having to preserve their memory. That is now replaced by her motivation to focus on others and find a cure for them.

While this order fixes continuity errors such as the Nano-Virus Shield being used before it’s discovery, and keeps the order in which Gideon and Lochley meet, there are still a few continuity errors that remain and are unfixable without editing or adding new dialogue:

  1. Largest of all – in “Racing the Night” we see Gideon’s first meeting about taking on the job – all of which takes place on Babylon 5, not Mars. Also, somehow Gideon manages not to meet Captain Lochley while he’s there.
  2. The “disappearance” of the grey (bellhop) uniforms in between “Each Night I Dream of Home” and “Patterns of the Soul” – This is so minor that it’s quite forgivable.
  3. The dates of the Drakh Plague Conference on Mars and the events in “Visitors From Down The Street” appear to occur out of order. There’s a couple of these kinds of errors, but they would only be noticeable to the most eagle-eyed and so pretty forgivable.

For me, the only slight disappointment that comes from the Continuity Order, is that it finishes with “The Rules of the Game.” If you were so inclined you could say that this displays something about the circularity of life, and that this show finishes where it began… The problem for me is that this order finishes on an utterly mediocre episode that leaves the viewer with no sense of closure. “Each Night I Dream of Home” might have been poorly situated from a consistency point of view (in the Broadcast Order) but its central message about striving for a solution when all seems against you, was a nice note to end on.

So all in all, the Continuity Order for me, is the best of the possible orders. That’s not to say it magically makes Crusade amazing. Despite the reasons that caused it, Crusade is not a great show – it has some great moments, but also its fair share of bad along the way. Overall you’re left with a feeling of missed opportunity, which is the saddest of all conclusions for a spin-off from the mighty “Babylon 5”.

If you want my more detailed thoughts on Crusade, please feel free to keep reading, otherwise thanks for your time.

The Continuity Order is your Friend. Watch the Continuity Order.

Crusade Series Analysis

crusade start

Crusade has become something of a “Curate’s Egg” for me, but I’m sure for many other Babylon 5 fans. I’m sure a part of that was my initial high expectations, which then became tempered by the tales of development hell and actual cancellation by TNT prior to the first episode even being released, yet despite all that, how bad could the final show be, with those involved? After all, the creator and most of the crew of the show I’ve probably (actually) gotten the most obsessive about in my life were making a spin-off…

The following is my own personal feelings on the various aspects of the show we got, I’m not trying to say my opinions or outlook are any more valid than anyone else’s, but here we go…


Arc plots

“War Zone” re-sets the stage after “A Call to Arms”, but only “The Path of Sorrows” or “Each Night I Dream of Home” are probably 100% arc vital after that. Yes, a few other arc instances occur, but with those three episodes we learn about the most about: the Drakh plague, the Cerberus incident, Technomage schisms, the Apocalypse Box and the Telepath War fall-out – all the most interesting directions the series would have explored. “Patterns of the Soul” re-introduces conspiracies within Earthforce, but the episode’s events looked unlikely to effect the show much – just hint at further development.

Compare this to the first half season of Babylon 5. As well as a huge amount of universe building from scratch, we also get introductions to important storylines and foreshadowing: The mystery of the Minbari surrender, the Narn-Centauri conflict escalation, the Vorlons being mysterious, Telepaths as a blessing and a curse, then Mr Morden shows up with his “associates”…

Had this been all we got in Babylon 5, it would have been very similar to Crusade – in such that it’s “setting out its stall” so to speak. However, what it did that Crusade didn’t get a chance to do is progress the arc plots. Babylon 5 had introduced a major on-going plot regarding the “hole” in Sinclair’s memories – by the eigth episode we actually get it explored in a big way and are left with a pile of implications and questions. In comparison, in Crusade we’ve had interesting, shiny baubles dangled in front of us, but no real progression. Of course, we now know we were only an episode away from some major revelations before it was cancelled…


Crusade as developed, had plenty of room for standalone episodes, but like Babylon 5, standalone episodes were not Crusade’s strong point – For every “The Needs of Earth” or “The Well of Forever” we get a “Ruling From the Tomb” or “Rules of the Game”. While I’d say none of the episodes are quite as weak as “Infection” or “Survivors” – it’s still disappointing from a team on a roll after Babylon 5.

Something that bugged me a little, is that after “A Call to Arms”, the so-called antagonists – the Drakh – barely feature, we only see them in two episodes. Really, just two: “War Zone” and “Each Night I Dream of Home”. I know the plague was going to be wrapped up in a season or two, to be replaced by an Earthforce threat, but it’s a little strange.


The cast, much like Babylon 5, was fit for the task. Maybe not packed with big names (bar Gary Cole) or even names I’d even heard of at the time, but they fit their roles nicely.

Gary Cole’s laconic Captain could say just as much with a glance as a sentence, was sardonic, yet happy to drop the silly stuff in once in a while.

Daniel Dae Kim was excellent as Matheson, despite not always getting the most to work with, his relationship with Gideon was warm and amusing, and the chances he got to stretch his acting muscles (“The Needs of Earth” and “The Well of Forever” jump to mind) showed a quiet depth and sensitivity. I was happy to see his career took off afterwards (and just noticed him in an episode of Seinfeld)

Peter Woodward plays Galen as the usual Tolkein-like wizard mix, he’s playful, intelligent, self righteous, evasive and has a dark streak of steel beneath it all – I’m not sure if the intent was to never know which version of him you’d get every time, but he could seem a little inconsistent.

Marjean Holden didn’t often get to do much beyond just “being the doctor,” but she always seemed kind and caring, with a nice line in dry humour from time to time.

Carrie Dobro was excellent as Dureena, her character always seemed fresh and immediately improved any episode she appeared in. Her playfulness, her ability to convey hot-headed rashness at one moment and serenity the next was great.

David Allen Brooks as Eilerson was also great, a character who at first seems the epitome of the slimy 80s company man (think “Burke” in Aliens maybe), got the best lines and the funniest put downs. He’s knows he’s always the smartest guy in the room, if someone else is correct, they just got lucky. That he was slowly growing into an actual human being in front of our eyes was interesting. As he sees his skills being used to do more then just make a big paycheck, and instead be appreciated, was great to watch.

Tracy Scoggins to a greater or less extent continued her character as portrayed in Babylon 5, while she was solid enough, she didn’t get much to do with progressing the plot and her character grated on me endlessly.

Most of these actors aside, from Gary Cole, Tracy Scoggins and Daniel Dae Kim, haven’t had much screen time since, and that’s quite a shame.


Hating on Evan Chen’s score has gone beyond beating a dead horse by now. My opinion is that I understand why they tried it, but it wasn’t great. That said, I feel it was getting better as the episodes progressed. Overall, I think we’d all have preferred Christopher Franke to continue and I’ll leave it at that.


First of all, it must be said the Excalibur is a fabulous piece of work. The sets, the design, everything looks great and easily the equal of other, higher-budget SF shows of the time. Although for some reason the cavernous gym and recreation center still seem ridiculous to me. The other stand-out has to be the shuttle interior, being built on hydraulics really sells the idea of atmospheric flight, completely unlike the usual placid scenes you get in every other TV show.

The temporary “interior” sets were usually pretty decent, especially the multiple ruins sets. Sadly they would fall back on the “dark, industrial corridor” sets that looked lifted straight from “Down Below”, because they were.

Crusade attempted to shoot everything on stage, with the intent to save a huge amount over location shoots. The problem with that is making them look real – this also involves time and money. While they would use the trusty, old “dusty tunnels and polystyrene rocks” method of every SF show, ever, they also tried to show alien worlds with different ecosystems. While a great goal, the problem was that they worked to varying degrees, especially once composited with CG backgrounds. Even with the best will in the world, only about half of these “indoor for outdoor” shoots actually produced something that looked natural, and not an obvious set. Nature is random and messy – trying to portay this artificially is very difficult.

Yes, they were trying to do a story on a bigger scale, with new worlds most weeks, but they’d already had some practice with the concept ahead of time. Babylon 5’s “The Ragged Edge”, “The River of Souls” and “A Call to Arms” – all were all developed and written so that they could incorporate and test some of the techniques they wanted to use in Crusade – In my opinion they often looked as good or better than they looked on Crusade.

CG Effects

Crusade was trying to show a wider view of the universe than Babylon 5, with its aim to include more planets and city-scapes than Babylon 5 ever did. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons (beyond the expense) that Babylon 5 concentrated on space effects is that the technology available for the budget allowed it to look good enough, the technology required for realistic cities, forest etc. just wasn’t there. Sadly, it’s very apparent in Crusade that it still wasn’t. Almost all the worlds have a “rubbery” appearance that’s the downfall of low texture and “muddy” CG.

You can use the episode “War Zone” as a microcosm for the failings of the CG.

Desolate landscapes, which should be easiest, look like texture-less renderings. Composite shots, such as the ones with Max on the planet near the start are either composited with the angles wrong or people fading in and out through the CG.

This lack of texture / quality control causes a lot of the space effects to look lacking as well. It doesn’t help that the Excalibur and Drakh vessels when shot at medium and long distances look slick and texture-less – close up there is some textures, but it’s lost at distance.

The CG figures, which thankfully they only repeated once, were frankly bad at a distance and then very poor close up. I’m sure someone had to spend a bunch of time on it, but someone on quality control should have looked at it, said it doesn’t work, and shot it live, because it really could have been.

To repeat a point made in one of the episode reviews – I understand they were trying to do something not attempted on TV before and it’s very laudable they tried. Some might say it’s better to try and fail than play it safe. I’d say it’s better to push what you can do on a budget, but realize what works and doesn’t – something Babylon 5 tended to do.


So that’s the Crusade we got and it’s not great. It is great occaisionly, but also it’s terrible occaisionly. For the most part it’s reasonably fun, interesting and adequate – how’s that for completely damning with faint praise?

I’m sure my continued interest in it is due to it being the spin-off of a show I loved and is set in the same universe. The actual tales of what happened behind the scenes at TNT that have trickled out are just amazingly ridiculous and demonstrate why we got such compromises throughout. In the end it leaves you frustrated as it’s just another of those “might have beens” of the continuing Babylon 5 universe.

As stated above, the “Continuity Order” is very much an improvement over the original “Broadcast Order”. That said the “Continuity Order” doesn’t magically make bad episodes good, or fix the major gripes I have with the series. While the vast majority of these gripes were caused by the interference of TNT, I can only review the show we got and not the one I wished for back in 1998.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings about a fifteen year old tv show, even more so one that only lasted thirteen episodes….

If you’d like to continue on this journey, I’m going to follow up with an article on the unproduced episodes of Crusade. These have either been made available online or as part of the Babylon 5 / Crusade script books.

I’ll be starting with “The Ends of the Earth” and when I’ve completed the pieces I’ll post the link to continue here.

(All images are property of Warner Brothers)

The Many Viewing Orders of Crusade (and a Watch-through)


For many reasons, there are multiple episode orders that now exist for watching the short-lived television series Crusade, which was a spin off from the acclaimed SF TV series Babylon 5. I’m going to do my best to cover them all and analyze the pros and cons of each, but first a little…


Back in 1999, ST:DS9 was wrapping up, ST:Voyager and Stargate SG1 were plodding along doing their thing and this funny little show with Muppets called Farscape just started, but for me, Crusade was the next, best hope for space-based TV science fiction after Babylon 5 ended.  I remember waiting with great anticipation for what was to come. Then came the worrying rumours of production hell, until finally we received what was produced. I’ll try to summarize how I felt at the time:

Throughout the first broadcast (for me it was on Sky One), it was hard not to be disappointed by the choppy quality, jarring tonal variation and shifting character personalities. Then there was that soundtrack, the bloody soundtrack – I promise I’ll try not to dwell on the misconceived, distracting, plinkity-plonky-plonk-plonk… sorry, where was I?

“A Call To Arms” laid out the main themes well enough – the Excalibur would be out there searching for a cure to the Drakh plague, an illness that will kill the entire population of Earth in five years or less – so priority number one is and should always be, the cure. The first episode continues this priority (and recaps the situation for those who missed the TV movie) with a large dose of action, exposition and heaps of cheese.

Then how do they follow this up for the next two episodes? The first is all too in love with Technomage whimsy; wizards, holo-dragons, “spells” and demons. Followed by an episode where Galen (a character we barely know at this point) hijacks what appears to be the lone spaceship scouring the known galaxy for a cure, all for his own mysterious agenda. This all serves to deflate the urgency of the show’s “mission” – as well as make Galen look like a dick.

Thankfully the show gets back on the cure trail again for the next episode out, with episodes then generally alternating between looking for the cure and solving problems they come across. There was still some variability in quality and tone, but with good episodes mixed in there.

Finally, we reached the last five episodes. These five episodes were the show before TNT interfered with it, the “pure” show, so to speak and were produced first (I’ll refer back to these as the “First Five” episodes from time to time for ease of reference, sorry if that brings back bad memories of the “Final Five” from the dying days of the BSG reboot). Now we finally saw how the show was meant to be.

It wasn’t perfect, but it did a lot more of what we were lead to expect: The team would scour ominous ruined cities for ancient technology and forbidden knowledge, mull over moral quandaries, get hints at conspiracies and have to make tough decisions along the way. All this with a healthy concentration on the “mission” of the show – the cure. Not all of the five episodes were classics and there was room for improvement of course, but it felt like it could have been a worthy successor to Babylon 5, while different enough to rightfully hold its own. The final episode returned the now, sadly-missed Richard Biggs in what was to be his last Babylon 5 performance, for one of the better episodes of Crusade’s 13 episode run, so at least it went out in style.

After finishing on a high, I felt cheated, as I’m sure many fans did, but we knew this was not the fault of the writers, production crew, actors, etc. They gave it their all in amazingly trying circumstances (really, go look up the story – it’s mind-boggling), but by TNT the heralded “saviors” of Babylon 5. TNT had produced the final season of Babylon 5, the four TV movies and then decided the best thing to do was “fix” their new show until it was completely broken, and left little chance of another channel rescuing it.

I re-watched the show a second time a few years later, again in the broadcast order and it cemented the views I discussed above, but I always felt the order of episodes could be improved to give a better experience of the show – especially for first-time viewers coming in fresh from Babylon 5. This post is my attempt to analyse if there is a better order for viewing the show than in “Broadcast” order.


I knew a few orders existed online, so I looked them up and checked for any others. So here are the ones I found, plus a couple I actually made up after a bit of thought – currently I’m up to 7 and there’s an argument to be made for all of them (almost):

Option 1 – The “Original Broadcast” or “DVD” Order

00. A Call to Arms
01. War Zone
02. The Long Road
03. The Well of Forever
04. The Path of Sorrows
05. Patterns of the Soul
06. Ruling from the Tomb
07. The Rules of the Game
08. Appearances and Other Deceits
09. Racing the Night
10. The Memory of War
11. The Needs of Earth
12. Visitors from Down the Street
13. Each Night I Dream of Home

As well as the original broadcast order, it’s also the order the DVDs are in and the order it’s listed when downloaded (I believe). I’m sure it’s the order almost everyone watches it first time around. However, due to the weaknesses of watching in this order, which I addressed above, I believe you shouldn’t watch it in this order.

Option 2 – The “JMS Sci-Fi Channel” Order

00. A Call to Arms
01. Racing the Night
02. The Needs of Earth
03. The Memory of War
04. The Long Road
05. Visitors from Down the Street
06. The Well of Forever
07. Each Night I Dream of Home
08. Patterns of the Soul
09. The Path of Sorrows
10. Ruling from the Tomb
11. The Rules of the Game
12. War Zone
13. Appearances and Other Deceits

Back in 2001, when Babylon 5, Crusade and the TNT movies were playing on the Sci-Fi Channel, JMS apparently came up with an order that according to JMS was “best from a story point of view, even though it means some visual inconsistencies in terms of unexplained costume changes.”

Yes, it’s a great idea to start with “Racing the Night” and a couple of the “First Five” episodes, but then it just goes kind of batshit crazy. Personally I’d feel immense pity for any first-timers watching the show in this order. The uniforms chop and change, the chronology is all over the place, and as the continuity is so screwed up. It ends with “War Zone” and “Appearances” just jammed on like an after thought or a parallel universe story. It would be better to just dump them completely if watching in this order.

Personally, I think this order is the route to madness, but some people online swear by it. That said, people online swear by a lot of crazy stuff. The nice folks over at Babylon Podcast (link to the first episode in this order) watched through the show in this order, so please feel free watch and follow along with them, because I sure as hell won’t watch it in this order.

Option 3 – The “JMS Chronological” or “True JMS” Order

00. A Call to Arms
01. War Zone
02. The Long Road
03. Appearances and Other Deceits
04. The Memory of War
05. The Needs of Earth
06. Racing the Night
07. Visitors from Down the Street
08. Each Night I Dream of Home
09. The Path of Sorrows
10. Ruling from the Tomb
11. Patterns of the Soul
12. The Well of Forever
13. The Rules of the Game

This is taken from Wikipedia and is considered the “true” order by JMS. While an improvement over the Sci-Fi Channel and Broadcast orders, I still feel this version is too flawed.

JMS endorsed this version and it appeared in the Official Babylon 5 Chronology (published in The Official Babylon 5 Magazine in 1999-2000). Author Terry Jones explains the running order was changed to fill JMS’s desire to have the grey “bellhop” uniform stories incorporated within the black “explorer” uniform ones, dates included in the show and the dialogue changes in “Each Night I Dream Of Home”. It also fixes the “nanovirus shield” issue. It is also supposed to work with the unproduced scripts which were published in various places online and in the Crusade script books.

Initially this appears to be a great improvement over the previous two orders. It brings the original five episodes earlier in the run which helps the pace of the show, as well as moving the Well of Forever much further back. Despite them stating it fixes continuity errors, it still leaves some:

  • Gideon and Lochely meet in Each Night I Dream Of Home (ep 8)- and appear to know each other, but then meet for the first time in Ruling From the Tomb (ep 10).
  • “Racing the Night” still starts with a dream/memory that contradicts War Zone.
  • The grey jumpsuits magically disappear without comment in the Path of Sorrows (now ep 9) – although this isn’t the worst crime ever.

Some of this is quite jarring if you want to enjoy a smooth, consistent storyline. It should be stated that the original broadcast order also had an issue with the “nanovirus shield” being used before being discovered, as well as dubbed dialogue being added to “Each Night” to keep the continuity on track, so it’s not like the original broadcast order was perfect even with fixes.

Option 4 – The “All-inclusive” Chronological Order

Very much related to Option 3, this order can be found in the Babylon 5/Crusade script books. It incorporates all of the produced episodes and the unproduced scripts into an order that attempts to give the clearest picture of how the show would have developed if they had gone to a full season, instead of the half we got.

It does include all of Option 3 – The Chronological Order, and so includes the continuity errors, however, as most viewers (first time or otherwise) won’t have access the scripts to be able to pursue this option, Ill not be doing this order in this piece.

Option 5 – The “Continuity” Order

00. A Call to Arms
01. War Zone
02. The Long Road
03. The Path of Sorrows
04. Ruling from the Tomb
05. Appearances and Other Deceits
06. Racing the Night
07. The Needs of Earth
08. The Memory of War
09. Visitors from Down the Street
10. Each Night I Dream of Home
11. Patterns of the Soul
12. The Well of Forever
13. The Rules of the Game

While looking on Wikipedia at the various series orders, I noticed another option! The so-called “Continuity Order.” This takes the JMS Chronological Order – with all the benefits to pacing and characterization, but re-adjusts it to allow for the Gideon/Lochley meeting to occur in order, as well as a couple of other tweaks.

I’ve tried looking up online to find who actually worked this order out, so I can give credit where it’s due, but to no avail sadly. It’s not featured in the Crusade book either – so thanks to you, whoever worked it out! Feel free to drop me a comment if you know who came up with it.

Option 6 – The “Pure” or “First Five” Order

00. A Call to Arms
01. Racing the Night
02. The Memory of War
03. The Needs of Earth
04. Visitors from Down the Street
05. Each Night I Dream of Home

There is an option I’ve not seen mentioned online, and one that seems like an obvious option. That’s the one I’ve called the “Pure” or “First Five” order. This simply takes “A Call to Arms” and adds the first five episodes produced before TNT really screwed around with the show and that’s it. You get the show in it’s purest form, un-muddied by interference. So you get to see two excellent episodes, one good and two more mediocre ones.

This removes ALL continuity issues, but it leaves you with the frustration of knowing there’s eight more episodes that now don’t fit with the rest.

Option 7 – The “Expanded Pure” or “Screw TNT” Order

00. A Call to Arms
01. Racing the Night
02. The Needs of Earth
03. The Memory of War
04. Visitors from Down the Street
05. Each Night I Dream of Home
06. The Long Road
07. The Path of Sorrows
08. Patterns of the Soul
09. The Rules of the Game
10. The Well of Forever

The “purest” view of how Crusade should have turned out is just the first five episodes produced and was discussed in Option 6.

This order I’ve developed starts with the “First Five” order and then continues on as far as possible without causing continuity issues. This does mean the uniforms change for no reason after episode 5, but that’s not a major issue really. We now have to lose the episodes “Ruling From the Tomb” the first meeting of Lochley and Gideon – no great loss,  “Appearances..” as the suit change would be the wrong way around and as “Warzone” completely clashes with “Racing the Night” we have to ditch “Warzone”, really no great loss.

Going Forward – A Watch through of the Continuity Order

I have to admit I prefer the idea of watching all the episodes in the best possible order, so I’m going to try Option 5 – The “Continuity” Order. I believe the only serious remaining issues are the “Racing the Night” introduction clash and the jumpsuit change, but I’ll just imagine a scene where Gideon goes to the Excalibur laundry room to fix the sonic-washing machines on uniform laundry day (I believe JMS said that had the show continued, there would likely have been a comment to this effect).

So I’ll stick to the Continuity Order in my watch-through – reviewing the episodes as I go, as well as commenting on the continuity and whether this new order is actually beneficial.

(All images are property of Warner Brothers)

Beyond The Rim

0 - beyond the rim2

May 22nd will be eleven years since Richard Biggs sadly passed away. So I figured why not make myself more sad by making this image. Unfortunately there’s no image I could find that also incorporates Tim Choate and Michael O’Hare.

(Original image owned by Warner Brothers)

The Declaration – a Babylon 5 Wedding Reading

Back when I was preparing for my wedding I was looking for a secular reading. I saw all the usual ones you may have heard, as well as some lesser-known ones. I looked for something that meant something to me, I searched for ‘nerdy’ wedding readings (and the like), but nothing ever seemed to fit.

Finally I found one I liked and used, but I never found one I loved. Roll on a few years and I came across the odd post online about people using a version of G’kar’s “Declaration of Principles” as written by J Michael Straczynski and realised how close it fit for what I would have liked to have said at my wedding.

For those of you not familiar with the series, the declaration is written for the newly-formed “Interstellar Alliance” (something like the Federation in Star Trek), by G’Kar – a warrior/philosopher.

However, I’ve not seen any of these modified versions anywhere. The original speech is from episode s05e03 – “The Paragon of Animals” and is as follows:


ISA Declaration of Principles by J Michael Straczynski

The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice.
The language is not Narn, or Human, or Centauri, or Gaim or Minbari
It speaks in the language of hope
It speaks in the language of trust
It speaks in the language of strength and the language of compassion
It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul.
But always it is the same voice
It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us,
And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born
It is the small, still voice that says
We are one
No matter the blood
No matter the skin
No matter the world
No matter the star:
We are one
No matter the pain
No matter the darkness
No matter the loss
No matter the fear
We are one
Here, gathered together in common cause, we agree to recognize this singular truth and this singular rule:
That we must be kind to one another
Because each voice enriches us and ennobles us and each voice lost diminishes us.
We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future.
We are one.


It’s performed memorably in the episode by both Bruce Boxlietner and Andreas Katsulas as John Sheridan and G’Kar respectively, their fabulous performance can be seen below. I apologise for the clip quality:

Now I realise for those doing a completely nerdy wedding, the declaration might be considered sacred and should not to be changed. However I felt that such wonderful ideas and sentiments would benefit everyone if they could be used more widely.

To this end I conducted a few edits to remove some of the fictional names (the human languages now included are the most spoken in the world) and the more ‘cosmic’ elements to provide a more secular reading for weddings. So with apologies to Mr Straczynski, what follows is my edited version, the punctuation is edited to produce a flow somewhat like Andreas Katsulas’s delivery, but you can adjust or edit it further to suit your style:


The Declaration of Principles by J Michael Straczynski
(Edited by N Clatworthy)

The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice.
The language is not English, or Mandarin, or Spanish, or Hindi or Arabic.

It speaks in the language of hope.
It speaks in the language of trust.
It speaks in the language of strength and the language of compassion.
It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul.
But always, it is the same voice

It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us,
And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born.

It is the small, still voice that says:

We, are, one.

No matter the blood,
No matter the skin,
No matter the race,
No matter the country:

We are one.

No matter the pain,
No matter the darkness,
No matter the loss,
No matter the fear:

We are one.

Here, gathered together in common cause, we can agree to recognize this
singular truth and this singular rule:

That we must be kind to one another

Because each voice enriches us and ennobles us and each voice lost
diminishes us.
We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire
that will light the way to a better future.

We are one.