We took a longer break than expected between seasons in this rewatch. In fact, we watched the entire run of Farscape – another excellent show that I highly recommend you catch (it’s all on Netflix).
But we returned to Babylon 5 finally and have just finished the second season… and what a season it was! A new station commander, a brutal war, and more shocking revelations move the overall story from setting the stage to putting the players in motion, stirring the pot as the plot moves inexorably to a boil (how’s that for mixing metaphors).
Once again, the Facebook page has synopses for all 22 episodes. I noticed that they tended to be significantly longer on average this season. Maybe that has something to do with the increased amount of cool or important moments, or perhaps it’s just that I like to ‘hear myself speak’ – it’s hard to say.
(If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the review of season 1, Signs and Portents, before you get into this season. I’ll be assuming you know who and what I’m talking about.)
Season Two (A.D. 2259) — The Coming of Shadows
Commander Sinclair is reassigned as Earth’s ambassador to Minbar, and Captain John Sheridan assumes command of Babylon 5. Delenn emerges from her cocoon as a Human-Minbari hybrid, much to the horror of her own people. Previously respected, she is now shunned by her homeworld. Lennier, Delenn’s aide, reveals the secret that the slaughter of Earth by the Minbari ten years earlier was halted because the Minbari discovered that their souls were being reborn in Human bodies, and thus they were destroying themselves.
Through his contact, Mr. Morden, Londo enlists the help of a powerful and mysterious race to begin a brutal war with the Narns. When the Centauri bomb the Narn homeworld with asteroids, reducing the green planet to little more than a wasteland, the Narns are beaten and fall to Centauri occupation once again. For his part in achieving victory over the Narn, Londo is regarded very highly by the new Centauri emperor, who was himself installed through backroom manipulations by Londo and Lord Refa. The Centauri begin to rebuild their empire.
Delenn and Garibaldi receive a secret message from Sinclair. He tells them that he has reformed the Anla’Shok, or Rangers, an elite Minbari fighting organization comprised of Humans and Minbari working in secret to learn about the race helping the Centauri. He also tells Garibaldi to “stay close to the Vorlon,” but does not explain why.
Delenn and Kosh tell Sheridan that a dark and terrible ancient enemy, dormant for 1000 years, is beginning to move once again. They know this race by only one name: the Shadows. The Shadows are one of the two remaining oldest races in the galaxy. The other is the Vorlons.
Sheridan learns that Morden was aboard the same exploration vessel as his wife, Anna, and has him detained to try to discover how he survived when his wife and everyone else died. Morden himself is listed in Earth records as deceased. He discovers that the exploration team accidently woke the Shadows when they visited Z’ha’dum and that Morden is constantly accompanied by the (usually) invisible Shadows. Rather than risk letting the Shadows know how much he knows about them, Sheridan lets Morden go.
Delenn and Sheridan are tested by an inquisitor sent by the Vorlons.
Sheridan narrowly escapes a bomb in the transport high above the gardens in the center of the station, but his life is still in danger as he falls toward the garden below. Kosh must reveal himself to save Sheridan, and is seen as an angel of light to everyone but Londo, who sees nothing. Each observer sees an angel of his own race.
As the season closes, the Centauri Empire expands again, the Narn resistance is building, and the first recording of the Shadows – the first proof of their existence – goes public. Babylon 5 as a hope for peace has failed. It has now become our last, best hope for victory.
My rewatch experience
I’m still riding high on the awesomeness that is the back end of this season. The visuals that bothered me early in the first season are almost completely a non-issue now – though I do still lament the lack of a high-quality remastering, the quality of the story in the second season overwhelms any lack in that area.
It’s really amazing to me how quickly I get into these episodes – even the lesser of them. I’ve rewatched other shows and not been nearly as involved with the characters. If you’ve watched this show from the beginning, you can’t help but be invested in these characters and truly care about what happens to them. Yeah, it’s a little embarrassing from time to time when the humor is a little corny, but it’s always at least part of a character moment and I totally get the drive that creates corny humor so I can go with it. (I’m thinking of ‘human style sex’ and ‘babearlon 5’ primarily here – at the least you can’t say those moments aren’t memorable.)
But more than anything, it’s just wonderful to watch the growth of these characters – especially knowing where they are all headed. There are so many things that move forward here: Vir’s confidence, Lennier’s love for Delenn, Delenn and John’s relationship beginning, Londo being built up even faster than he can really handle, and G’Kar’s suffering as he’s brought low and pulls himself up. Even Kosh, while remaining enigmatic, is beginning to be drawn more as an individual, not merely “omniscient” and mysterious, but capable of being influenced by others. And then of course there’s the whole ‘angel’ thing, through which we learn more about the Vorlons and which will have greater implications down the line.
It’s just a joy to watch something this consistently high quality.