(This is a guest recap from our very own Katherine!)
We open with Londo complaining and insulting the new Narn security forces, who retaliate via detailed observance of regulations.
General Hague’s ship Alexander fights and destroys another ship, the Clarkstown. Major Ryan, now in charge of the ship following General Hague’s death, mourns the other ship’s commanding officers, whom he knew. The Alexander sets course for Babylon 5.
Sheridan learns the ship will arrive in five hours, and has Garibaldi set up a way to shut down all communications (except a private channel for the top personnel, and the ISN feed) the second the ship arrives so that Earth won’t be immediately aware of its presence.
ISN reports that Xavier Montoya, head of the Mars Provisional Government, has refused Clark’s orders to institute martial law.
The Alexander arrives, and Sheridan tells the B5 command staff that they will be assisting the ship, and that anyone who opposes this is free to leave their post. The station must provide humanitarian aid, he says, because “As much as our humanity got us into this, our humanity is the only thing that’s going to get us out again.”
G’Kar assists Delenn and Franklin by carrying an injured Minbari Ranger to Medlab. The Ranger reports that the Shadows have exploited the Non-Aligned Worlds’ fear of the Centauri to make alliances with many of them, and have then incited those worlds to attack their neighbours. He reports that the Minbari government, the Grey Council, has heard of this but has said that the problems of other species are not their concern.
Major Ryan arrives on Babylon 5 and meets with Sheridan, Ivanova, and Garibaldi, telling them of General Hague’s death. He reports that most people on Earth support martial law, as it has virtually eliminated crime. Clark has control because he’s spent the last year ensuring that all people in key Earthforce positions are personally loyal to him. Ryan receives a message that Earthforce has started bombing Mars, including civilian targets.
Delenn leaves Babylon 5 to speak with the Grey Council. As her ship leaves, the Churchill, commanded by Major Sandra Hiroshi, arrives.
An ISN anchor, against the protests of his colleage, reports that the colonies on Proxima 3 and Orion 7 have broken away from the Earth Alliance in reaction to the bombing of Mars, and have declared themselves independent states until Clark is impeached. “Clark doesn’t want this information released, but we have to say this now because I don’t know how much longer we can stay on the air,” the anchor says. On cue, armed troops invade the ISN broadcast centre. “There’s information you don’t have. What’s going on for the last year, we haven’t been allowed to tell you.” The broadcast cuts out.
Major Hiroshi confirms the broadcast by telling Captain Sheridan and Major Ryan that she’s just come from Orion 7, who have declared independence. Clark is sending his elite forces to seize control of any other colonies or outposts that could oppose him. Hiroshi has intercepted orders to the Agrippa and Roanoak, ordering them attack Babylon 55 with heavy reinforcements, take control of the station arrest and detain Sheridan and the other members of the command staff, and put the station under the direct authority of Clark and the Nightwatch. They’ll arrive in six hours or less. Sheridan, Ivanova, Garibaldi, and Franklin all agree to stand and fight.
On the Grey Council’s ship, Delenn is stopped by a sentry who says the council will not see her. “I served the Council for sixteen cycles. I was the chosen of Dukhat to replace him. I held him when he died. His blood is on my hands, his spirit in my eyes, his word on my lips. You will step aside, in his name and mine, or in Valen’s name I will tear this ship apart with my bare hands until I find them!” The sentry backs down. Delenn sees the council, and tells them she was warned them for three years about the Shadows and been ignored. She accuses them of no longer believing in anything. “If the warrior caste will not fight, than the rest of us will. The Council has lost its way. If it will not lead – if we have abandoned our covenant with Valen – then the Council should be broken, as was prophesied!” She breaks the staff that represents the Council’s authority, and urges the members of the worker and religious castes to support her, and to fight. “Break the council, and come with me. The time of isolation is over. We move now, together, or not at all.” She leaves the Council circle, and six of the nine members follow her.
Sheridan makes battle plans and gives orders. In the calm before the storm, he calls his father on Earth. His father reminds him of the first advice he ever gave John: “Never start a fight, but always finish it.” He tells him to do what he thinks is right, and not worry about his parents – they have friends who will look out for them.
Sheridan addresses the entire station using Draal’s holographic system, telling them of Clark’s crimes and of his decision to declare Babylon 5’s independence from Earth until Clark is removed from office. He urges everyone to stay in their quarters until the current fight is over. He tells the command staff that anyone who wants to can leave now, and one man does. Lt. Corwin, who previously told Ivanova he’d be uncomfortable going against orders, decides to stay. Ivanova convinces Sheridan to let her fly a Starfury with the other pilots, saying there should be a member of the top staff alongside them in their difficult position of having to fire on Earth forces.
Two Earthforce destroyers jump into the system and demand the station’s surrender. Sheridan calls their orders unconstitutional and refuses. He orders the Starfuries to approach the enemy ships but not to fire unless the Earthforce ships do so. The Earthforce ships fire, and battle is joined.
Garibaldi leads the station security staff, Narns included, against an Earthforce boarding party. These guys aren’t any different from the troops who were boarding in the crew’s quarters at Babylon 5 during the episode “GROPOS” during the last season – exactly a year ago in the show’s timeline. No matter how the battle ends, on some level this is a defeat.
Hiroshi’s ship is damaged and cannot survive; it takes the Roanoak down via ramming. Ivanova’s Starfury is hit and spirals out of control; she ejects. B5 and the Alexander, firing together, destroy the Agrippa – against the intent of Sheridan, who hoped to only disable it. Just then, two more Earthforce destroyers jump into the system. Just in time, Delenn arrives on the White Star, with three Minbari capital ships. She declares Babylon 5 under her protection. The Earthforce destroyers refuse her claim: “Do not force us to engage your ship”.
Delenn responds with words regarded by many as one of the more epic moments of Babylon 5. “Why not? Only one human captain his ever survived battle with a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else.” The Earthforce ships decide that discretion is the better part of valour and leave.
Sheridan expresses his gratitude to Delenn when she returns to the station. “Seeing your face at that moment was probably the single finest moment in my life.” They have the beginning of a romantic moment before the other top staff arrive. The staff and residents of Babylon 5, gathered in the Zocalo, give a resounding round of applause.
This is an overwhelming turning point in the show. Up until now, Babylon 5 has been an Earthforce station; despite its diplomatic role, it was a military installation under the authority of the human government. Now, it has fought against Earth at the side of Narns and Minbari. It was created for diplomacy; not it is at war with Earth and preparing for war against the Shadows. It is something entirely different than what it was formally created to be.