Welcome back to the Babylon 5 Season Two Book Club!
So much for my pinky swear, I’m still late a day, sorry.
Next episodes are “Spider in the Web” and “Soul Mates”, if someone would like to do either, let me know.
It’s very difficult to discuss this show without discussing the next one (or the one after that, or the one after that), or referring to the pilot; if you want to discuss something with a major plot point: please rot13 it. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them.
Everyone sitting comfortably? Then onward!
Season Two, Episode 5: “The Long Dark”.
Open! Cool, new ship! Weak signal from deep space, not coming from the location of the jump gate. It’s broadcasting a message on a frequency Ivanova’s never heard before, but it’s not alien… it’s the “Copernicus”. What’s the “Copernicus”? We’ll find out!
Cut to some other part of the station, we’ve got what looks like a psychotic breakdown by a station homeless guy… holy cow, it’s Howling Mad Murdock! He looks out a portal and sees the Copernicus, and runs off gibbering madly. Well, now, curiouser and curiouser. Break to opening credits.
Back from credits, Murdock is street preaching in the station. He accosts first G’Kar, then starts to go after Londo, and he’s grabbed by Garibaldi for preaching without a license. Exterior cut, a probe is out looking at The Copernicus. The bridge crew still isn’t sure where the ship was from. There’s an old U.S.S. logo. Apparently The Copernicus has been adrift, or lost, or forgotten, since before humans got Jump Gate technology. There’s a lifesign on board, so Sheridan orders the ship brought onto the docking bay. The doctor is flagged, and the command crew plus the doctor meet in the bay and board the ship. Shades of the away team! Shades of Space Seed! Zounds!
There’s at least one very old body in a stasis tube, but there’s also a live one. Cue pretty music, it must be a pretty woman, and it is. Something’s going on with the statis tube, Sheridan guesses that it’s because they entered the ship, so the doctor quickly opens the tube to get the woman to sick bay, and what looks like a cloud of strange vapor exits the tube. Doc and another medical personnel get the woman on a stretcher and the stretcher into an elevator, but she goes into cardiac arrest before they get to sick bay. Cut away!
Garibaldi is checking in on Murdock in a security cell. He’s asleep and having some sort of nightmare about something “incoming”. The guard doesn’t much like “Lurkers”, a nice pejorative for the possibly mentally unstable. Garibaldi gives a slight reprimand… “Were you in the war? I was. I’ve had that same dream.” Cut to Ivanova, mucking about on the Copernicus bridge. She bangs on a console and it comes alive, and there’s a Spooky Noise behind her. She looks about, and the camera changes to Odd Perspective so we know we’re some sort of something watching Ivanova, probably malignant. More Spooky Noises. Heavy breathing. Ivanova goes back to work on the console.
Back in Security, Murdock wakes up, and Garibaldi asks if he’s okay. Murdock sounds a lot more cognizant. Banter. Murdock has episodes where he doesn’t remember what he did during the episode. Garibaldi sees some PTSD here and tries to connect, but Murdock isn’t having any. No charges, so he leaves.
Over to sick bay, our mystery female crewmember made it. She’s having some sort of nightmare, the doc wakes her up. You’re gonna be okay! Cut to the bridge… Ivanova reports that the other stasis tube – the one with the body in it – didn’t malfunction.
It was… murder!
Over to autopsy, and the doc says our victim weighed in at about half his expected body weight at time of death. Starvation? Nope, not malnutrition, it was organ failure. Well, a rather particular kind of organ failure – the organs are missing. No evidence of them on the ship. Mystery upon mystery, Garibaldi wants to interrogate the woman, the doc says she couldn’t have done it because the log says she was in stasis the whole time. Sheridan points out that the dead guy didn’t wake up and pull his own heart out and hide it somewhere. The woman is awake again, Sheridan and Garibaldi want to have a chat with her.
Cut to her recovery room, the doctor is checking on her. Introductions. She’s part of a long-term deep space exploration mission, partnered with her husband. She wants to know how long they were in stasis. The doctor dodges, she presses, and he confesses that it was over 100 years. She wants to see her husband. The doc breaks the news, “He’s dead, Jim”.
Over to Murdock, he’s sneaking around on the station. Ah, he’s been looking for the Copernicus, and he’s found it. He’s having a replay of his episode of the crazies… we think… ah, but we get Alien Camera Optics again and it’s apparent that Something is watching him… Some. Thing. Crewman interrupts, and chases Murdock off.
Cut to the doctor who’s escorting our survivor, Maria, around. Unlike Ripley, she’s a little bit more enchanted with the changes that have happened in 100 years than freaked out. The doctor reveals that it was the Centauri that gave humans Jump Gate technology, in return for trade. How mercantile of the Centauri! Bummer, to know that your heroic exploration vision was a big waste of time. Some disillusionment. G’Kar introduces himself with a cryptic warning, and Maria passes out with some sort of vision of herself in stasis. Maria awakens in the doctor’s quarters, and he reveals that something murdered her husband… something that was on that ship. She’s incredulous, no, we were the only two on the ship, you think I killed him! The doc says “No!”, whoa, doc, he puts the moves on her and goes in for some kissing. Awwwwkward!
Cut to Garibaldi, he’s having lunch next to some alien eating an unmentionable. Enter Murdock, preaching death and destruction, “A soldier of Darkness has come on that ship from the past, I have seen it!” Garibaldi hauls him into a corner, and Murdock says, “Death came on that ship from the past, I saw it do the same thing, during the war.” Garibaldi hauls him off. Cut away, there’s some normal alien rummaging through some stuff, and we’re looking at him through the Alien Camera Optics again, he cries out and the scene cuts to black with alien screams. Whatever the Some Thing is, it’s back and ready to party.
Back from blackscreen, we’re at the scene of an autopsy of that alien that just got the kaibosh put on ‘im. All of the internal organs are missing. Doc is mystified, no exit wound, just like Maria’s husband. Garibaldi tells Murdock’s story: during the war, he was part of a landing party of 47 where 46 of them didn’t survive, just him. Amis (Murdock’s actual name in the episode) thinks that the same thing that killed his 46 buddies was on the Copernicus. The doc is dubious, no scans picked up anything on the Copernicus. Garibaldi mentions that he tracked the Copernicus’s trajectory and it had passed through the gravity well of the same moon Amis was stationed on (my credulity breaks here for a sec). Maria might not be what she appears. Doc protests, “she was with me last night”. Garibaldi gives him, “Geeze Paden, her old man ain’t even cold yet” Doc gets huffy, Sheridan gives him Command Voice. We put the woman under guard, doc you check her bioscan and make sure she’s people, and we’re finding out what the hell is going on here!
Now we’ve got a diplomatic incident, Sheridan needs to talk to a group of aliens that think the Copernicus brought Some Thing scary onto B5, and they want her off for bringing something evil on the ship. Londo mocks the ghost story. G’Kar is a bit more spiritual about it, either to irritate Londo or because the Narn are just a bit more spiritual than the Centauri (I go with option #2). The alien who is leading the group to get Maria off the ship seems to allude to a myth or a legend or a historical occurrence of these evil things being around before. G’Kar nods. Sheridan doesn’t believe in a Dark Force, but he does agree that something is going on. Alien Voiceperson threatens to do something about Maria if Sheridan won’t. Sheridan gives Judge Dredd, bring it, I’m in charge. Ivanova gives him a small critique for losing his diplomatic cool. Meeting adjourned with a zoom in on G’Kar. Ah, are we going to have a repeat event where G’Kar takes some matters into his own ambassadorial hands?
Cut to Garibaldi, waking up in his quarters. Bad dream? Premonition? He gets up and heads off, quick cut to him waking up Amis/Murdock in his sleeping quarters. Here’s your chance, Amis, take me to where you found it. A call to courage, Amis is up for it. They’re off to the station’s underbelly. Amis motions down a corridor: it was back there. Down said corridor, something moves. Garibaldi whips out his six-gun and goes investigating. Suspense Music. Nope, just a lurker digging through a pile of stuff. Amis yells out at the Some Thing, come and get me! and then collapses into a sitting position. Garibaldi tells War Stories about a friend during the war who everybody thought was paranoid, because he kept saying something was out there… until the day he was right, and the guy was the first to get it. He was a nut, but he was right. Garibaldi believes Amis, even though Amis isn’t sure Amis believes Amis. Garibaldi asks Amis to tell him what happened during the war, and Amis tells his tale.
It came in the night, during a storm, nobody heard anything or saw anything and it came through the walls and started killing everybody. Amis saw it. He was only kept alive as a snack, he says, when the rescue crew arrived he weighed 85 lbs, and a part of him is still inside that thing. He can feel it, even if nobody believes him. Garibaldi wants to know if Amis can lead him to it. Amis thinks the Some Thing has been calling to him this whole time, for unfinished business. He runs off, Garabaldi calls after him. Cut!
We’re on the Copernicus, with Maria at a console and the doctor wondering what she’s doing there. This doctor-Maria thing is a little weird on both sides. Turns out she wasn’t all that about her husband any more. Seems weird to head off on a long mission with someone you’re not all that about, but hey. We get some character exposition from the Doc. Dun dun dun… She thinks there was something using her to keep it alive until it could find more food.
Back to Garibaldi, looking for Amis. He hears a scream, and we cut to black as he goes looking. Back from the cut, Sheridan is saying that the official accounts of Amis’s war party is that the Minbari did it. Garibaldi doesn’t buy the official record. Wait, is Amis dead? No explanation so far. He retells Amis’s story about being able to feel the thing on the ship. Some kind of symbiosis, wonders Sheridan? Maybe Maria could track the thing, too. Ivanova says she could be scounting for this thing without knowing that she’s doing it. Sheridan points out that the Thing is going to start feeding again, so they’re going to have to get ready for it. Cut!
Maria’s in medlab. Garibaldi wakes her up. I think you can help me find Amis. He’s just missing? Can you feel this Thing? She says she thinks she can. The doc wants in. We’re a search party of three.
Cut to the bridge, Ivanova is reporting gunfire, she thinks it was Garibaldi. Sheridan orders the area of teh report sealed. The doc isn’t answering, either. Time for the Heavy Weapons. Sheridan, Ivanova, and a crew of security personnel come across the doctor tending to two partial victims, Maria is there. Garibaldi pulled them out and he went back in. Sheridan deploys troops around the area and heads in with Ivanova. They come across a body. What’s the plan? asks Ivanova, “Try not to get killed,” replies Sheridan. Still no sign of Garibaldi or Amis.
Cut to Garibaldi, calling out for Amis. He finds him floating in apparent mid-air. SHOOT IT! yells Amis. Garibaldi shoots at something he can’t really see other than a small mist cloud behind Amis, the impact gives us a quick outline of the Some Thing. It drops Amis. Garibaldi grabs Amis and they start to flee, Sheridan shows up and unloads with the big guns at the Thing, which seems to give it pause. It’s not dead, you can hear it. It’s still there. Sheridan muses that one bee sting won’t kill you, but a bunch might, and he calls Ivanova to set up an ambush. Amis says it can smell a trap. You gotta give it what it wants! He runs out into the open and says come and get me! Whatever It is obliges, and everybody shoots it before it can rip out his guts. It’s over!
Cut to medlab, Amis is just banged up. Doc contributes a bit more weird conversation to Maria. Thankfully she says she needs to see what Earth is like, maybe we’ll hook up someday. Off she goes. Glad that’s over for now.
Cut to Ivanova, Turns out the Thing, whatever it was, not only jumped on the Copernicus, it reprogrammed it to give it a ride out to the Rim, to the same place where G’Kar told them Bad Things Were Amassing. It was only the default programming of the Copernicus that led it to stop at B5 in the first place.
Something’s going on, Commander.
Okay, last time for that joke during the recaps, I swear. We all know how reliable a promise that is. Cut to G’kar, reading what looks like a page out the Necronomicon, with a picture that uncannily looks like the Thing as we sorta saw it outlined when it was finally killed. Something’s going on, and the Narn know something about the Something.