Wednesday, August 15, 2012

B5 Rewatch: And the Sky Full of Stars

Why hello there! Welcome to the Babylon 5 Rewatch. Today I'll be tackling the eighth episode of season one, "And the Sky Full of Stars."

Spoilers for everything, everywhere.

What Happened

A man disembarks into the customs area and security asks for his identicard. While it is being scanned, he exchanges significant glances with a man in the waiting area.

Commander Sinclair walks down a corridor and exchanges greetings in passing with a member of the security force. As that man walks around a corner, he is grabbed by two men. They address him as Benson, telling him that someone called Dex wants his money. Benson promises he'll have the credits for Dex first thing tomorrow. The thugs are dubious about this claim and one punches him. They tell him he has twenty-four hours and then they will do worse to him.

The man we saw boarding the station earlier settles in to his quarters and there is a chime at his door. He opens it and greets the man from the waiting area, asking if he was followed. The man tells him no and the first man pulls out a projection screen, saying he has identified the target. An image of Commander Sinclair pops up. The second man asks when they take him out and the first says soon. Man 1 and Man 2 begin to assemble something in Man 1's quarters.

Benson is called in to Sinclair's office, with Garibaldi in attendance. Sinclair comments that Benson hasn't been on the station very long and Benson says six months. Sinclair asks if he was informed when he signed on of the regulations about use of the casino by station personnel. Security personnel are prohibited from gambling while on duty and off-duty gambling is limited to fifty credits a week. Sinclair says he hears that Benson has been exceeding those limits. Benson protests this, saying they can check the casino's records. Garibaldi says they have but there is the unregistered side-betting to consider. He has information that Benson has been losing a lot and piling up debt. Benson swears this isn't true.

Sinclair says Benson needs to  understand their concern. If he is in deep enough to the wrong people, he is a security risk, ripe for blackmail. Benson says he understands and swears he's stayed within the limits. Sinclair offers him one last chance to come clean but Benson remains silent. Sinclair and Garibaldi exchange a look of frustration and Sinclair tells Benson he is taking him off of active duty pending an investigation. Benson looks worried and leaves. Garibaldi remarks that he can tell Benson is lying. Sinclair says everyone lies and orders Garibaldi to find out why Benson is doing so.

Man 1 and Man 2 have built an elaborate device of some kind. Man 1 asks about the power source and Man 2 says he couldn't bring anything like that on board the station without discovery, so he had to improvise. He promises it will be there soon though.

Benson approaches a door and looks around nervously before entering. A sign reveals that it is a highly secured area.

Franklin scans Delenn in the medlab. As he finishes, he thanks her, saying that he never gets to see a Minbari unless something is wrong. He appreciates her letting him scan her so he can have a baseline of a healthy Minbari in her prime to compare against any future patients of her race. As she gets dressed she says she was talking to Dr. Hernandez while she was waiting for the scan. She asks if it is true that Franklin used to hitchhike on starships. Franklin chuckles and says yes. He wanted to see everything out there that there was to see. He traded his services as a doctor for passage. But of course, he remarks, that ended when the war started. Delenn asks if he was involved in the war and he gets somber. He tells her that towards the end, when humans were losing, xenobiologists were told to hand over their notes on Minbari to be used for biological warfare. Delenn asks if he complied and he tells her he took an oath that all life is sacred. He destroyed his notes rather than have them be used for killing. Delenn smiles and says, "thank you." He nods at her. As she leaves he asks what she did during the war. She says that is a topic for another time and bids him good day.

Benson arrives in Man 1's quarters with a bundle. Man 2 asks if he has it and he says yes and hands it over. He remarks it's the biggest energy pod he could find. He says he doesn't know what this is all about and he just wants his money. Man 1 promises the credits will be deposited in his account within the hour. Benson asks about his transfer and Man 1 dismisses him. They hook up the energy pod to their device and Man 1 says he thinks they are ready to proceed.

Sinclair sleeps in his quarters and dreams about a space battle he was part of during the Earth-Minbari war. They flew into a trap. He wakes up just as things in the dream start to go bad. Sinclair stumbles to his kitchen and pours a drink of water. He then notices something odd about his computer and tries to activate it. Nothing happens so he tries to call maintenance. When that doesn't work, he heads to his bedroom and tries his link. He calls maintenance, then observation, then security, all with no answer. Looking disturbed, he gets dressed and then leaves his quarters. He gets in an elevator and heads to the Zocalo, unnerved to find it empty.

He keeps moving through the station, eventually making his way to the bridge, which is also deserted and powered down. He tries to open the communications, demanding all sectors report. There is no answer. He tries calling Earth Central. No answer. He tries sending a distress call to any ships in the Epsilon grid, but no answer. He calls out to activate the computers a few times but nothing happens. As he turns to leave, the computer powers up, saying "online." Sinclair asks if an evacuation had been ordered while he was sleeping. The computer tells him no, the station is in condition green. He orders a scan for life forms and only one other is found, in the central corridor Blue Sector.

Sinclair races to that location but doesn't see anyone. He mutters out loud, "what the hell is going on?" A disembodied voice answers maybe he is asleep, maybe he is dead, maybe he is in hell. With each suggestion, a section of lights in the corridor goes out, until he is standing all alone in the dark save for one light right on him. The voice says it doesn't matter though, because wherever he is, wherever he goes, "you're mine." A door slides open to reveal (an ominously lit) Man 1. Sinclair turns to face him, terror starting to creep across his face.

Garibaldi sits at his desk reading the newspaper. Some of the headlines we notice include "Home Guard Leader Convicted," and "Psi Corps Involved in Political Tangle." Delenn comes in and apologizes for intruding, but she was supposed to meet the Commander over an hour ago and he never showed up. She wonders if Garibaldi has seen him. Garibaldi asks if she tried the observation dome and she says yes, as if that was the first place she looked. She adds that Ivanova hasn't seen Sinclair since the previous evening. Garibaldi tries raising him on the link and when he gets no answer excuses himself to look into it, promising to get back to her later. Delenn looks very unsettled.

Sinclair demands of Man 1 to know who he is and what he's done to the station. The man says he's done nothing to the station, although Sinclair is a different story. It is his mind here with Man 1 while his body is elsewhere. They are in a virtual reality. So it's not real, Sinclair says. Man 1 scoffs, what is real? Garibaldi walks in, saying he has been looking everywhere for Sinclair, and Man 1 shoots him. Sinclair cries out but Man 1 says, oh, not real, as you said. Sinclair turns around and there is no body where Garibaldi had fallen. Several different versions of Garibaldi appear and then disappear as Man 1 toys with Sinclair, saying he can kill him as many times as he likes. He calls it a shadow play. Of course, he is real, he says, appearing right behind Sinclair, and Sinclair is real. He disappears, his voice calling out that the pain, that is also real. A circle of light envelopes Sinclair and sends a shock of electricity through him.

Garibaldi arrives at Sinclair's quarters and getting no answer overrides his door. He finds the room empty, with the Commander's link sitting on his bedside table. He radios Ivanova in C and C and tells her they have a problem.

Man 2 sits over the device he and Man1 constructed. We see Man 1's hand, heavily wired up, raise in the air and we hear Man 1 order him to cut the cerebral discharge. Man 2 says he is cutting power to fifty percent. In the virtual reality the column of light cuts out and Sinclair falls to the ground. Man 1 says it is curious they have all of Sinclair's life to play with and yet his thoughts are rooted in the station. It must mean a very lot to him. No matter though, they have all the time they need. Man 1 remarks that his associate is watching over their bodies while he is in Sinclair's mind.

Sinclair asks what he wants and Man 1 says the truth. Ten years ago Sinclair was at the battle of the line, the final battle of the Earth-Minbari war. He was out of touch with Earthforce Defense for twenty-four hours. Sinclair says his ship was damaged and he blacked out. Man 1 scoffs that so he testified. But he doesn't believe Sinclair, and neither do a lot of people. So he's going to find the truth, even if it kills Sinclair.

Garibaldi checks in with Ivanova but neither of them have any leads. Garibaldi is ordering a search of the station, recruiting volunteers to help, but it could take days. Franklin opines they might not have that long, especially if the Commander has been hurt. Ivanova says she's asked their base in the Tigris sector to track every ship that has left the station since Sinclair was last seen. Garibaldi also grimly says they should send some bots to go over the station's hull to search for a body, just in case. If someone killed Sinclair and shoved him outside (or airlocked him), the station's gravity would have kept the body in place. She is not happy about the prospect but agrees it is a necessary step.

Man 1 reads a list of facts about Sinclair (we learn he was born on the Mars Colony and has been a career officer). He quips that Sinclair was believed to have a bright future, maybe even make Admiral one day, and wonders where he fell off the merry-go-round. Sinclair tells him to go to hell and says he doesn't have to answer any questions. He doubts Man 1 has as much time as he claims as well. Security is looking for him, probably turning the station upside down to find him. Man 1 says that's assuming they are still on the station and haven't taken him somewhere else (so glibly that it's obvious he's trying to throw Sinclair off the accuracy of his conclusion). But Sinclair is right, he says, that he doesn't have to tell him anything. He asks what about someone else, though.

A voice behind him says hello and he turns around to find Mitchell, one of the pilots that was in his squad when they flew into that trap Sinclair had been dreaming about earlier. The apparition of Mitchell walks forward, asking Sinclair why he did it. Why did he betray them? He steps forward again, an accusing look on his face, saying he and the others fought for Sinclair, and beside him. Sinclair turns to Man 1 and tells him Mitchell's dead, he knows this isn't real. Mitchell keeps talking, saying they swore they would all go down together. But Sinclair's alive, and they're dead. Because of Sinclair. Sinclair shakes his head, saying that isn't true. He tried to warn Mitchell, but Mitchell didn't listen. He never did. Sinclair says he tried...

...tried what? Man 1 asks, and Sinclair flashes back to that fight. He tried to ram the Minbari cruiser. Man 1 asks him about it and Sinclair does not deny it, saying that was in his report. And then what? Man 1 asks. Sinclair says he doesn't remember, he has never been able to remember what happened next. Man 1 snaps that is because he doesn't want to remember, that on that day he became a traitor and betrayed the human race. Sinclair has enough and interrupts Man 1's tirade, punching him. Man 1 falls down and fizzles out and Sinclair is surprised. He remarks that it looks like the pain is real for both of them in the virtual reality.

Delenn finds Ivanova and asks if there is anything she can do. Delenn asks if they've tried Talia but Ivanova answers that she is only a level five, and not trained for search and recovery. All they can do right now is continue the search and wait. They pass under a walkway and Benson overhears them, a concerned look on his face.

In Man 1's quarters we see that he has been knocked out of the virtual reality. Man 2 asks if he is sure he is alright and he insists he is fine. Sinclair just caught him by surprise. Breaking him won't be easy. He asks what's going on outside. Man 2 says that all he knows is what he's seen on the monitors, and that is that a full-scale search has been launched. They have maybe three or four hours before it gets to their sector.

Man 2 thinks Man 1 should rest but Man 1 wants to get back into the virtual reality. He is convinced he is close and that Sinclair is hiding something. They need to accelerate the program though, break him faster. Man 2 says he can up the dosage of the drug they've got Sinclair on, but it might make him hallucinate. Man 1 says to do it, and to bring up the power 30% then put him back in. Man 2 cautions that such measures could shatter Sinclair's mind, or kill him. Man 1 shrugs. Then he dies, he says.

The search continues with no results. Garibaldi orders security to split the search groups into smaller teams to cover more ground more quickly. The man says they've already done so. He's even pulled off-duty personnel and Benson back into the search. Garibaldi balks, saying Benson is a security risk, he was taken off active duty pending the investigation. The security man shrugs and says he knows but he checked and Benson is clean. He even has a surplus in his accounts. No debt to anyone. That gives Garibaldi pause. He says that's not possible, he checked the other day and Benson was tapped out. He pulls up the records and sees a list of payments made after a deposit of fifteen thousand credits was transferred to his account--just a few hours before the Commander went missing. Garibaldi tells his man to find Benson, he wants to ask him some questions.

Man 1 orders the cyberfield increased 30% and inside the virtual reality, Man 1's voice calls out for Sinclair to think, to remember, what happened on the line? A buzzing fills Sinclair's ears and he tries to block it out. Suddenly it stops and a hooded figure appears behind him, holding an ornate staff. He spins to face the figure. The camera pans around to reveal several more similar figures surrounding him. He asks what they are doing there and what they want. The question echoes and the figures remain silent. The one with a staff raises it and points it at Sinclair, shooting some sort of energy at him and causing him to fall over.

Benson arrives in Man 1's quarters demanding Man 2 help him. He says the entire station is looking for him, they think he had something to do with the Commander's disappearance. Man 2 declares he doesn't have time for this and Benson says he doesn't care. They hear a noise from the other room and Benson pushes through, seeing the Commander restrained to a chair, he and Man 1 hooked up to the virtual reality machine. He expresses shock and Man 1, only half in the virtual reality, orders Man 2 to "terminate." Man 2 shoots Benson.

In the virtual reality Man 1 realizes that Sinclair saw something just before he blacked out. He says he almost saw it too. He is even more convinced Sinclair is hiding something and demands to know what it is. He says that's why Sinclair came back to the station in his mind, that's where he hides, behind duty and obligation. Sinclair says that Man 1 wouldn't understand and Man 1 says he's wrong. He's a patriot too, in his "own way." He promises if he fails more will come until the job is finished. But he isn't going to fail. He's going to find out what the Commander is hiding, and now.

Garibaldi is called to identify a body found outside the station, and it is Benson. He asks where it was found, thinking whoever tossed him out wouldn't have been able to carry it far without being noticed. He has the search concentrated to the Red Sector.

Man 1 calls out to Sinclair, demanding for the last time to be told what happened at the Battle of the Line. Sinclair says he was trying to ram the Minbari cruiser and something passed in front of his eyes. He blacked out, the next thing he knew it was twenty-four hours and the war was over. Man 1 jumps in, yes, the Minbari surrendered on the eve of their victory. Gave up, just like that. Does Sinclair expect him to believe he just slept through the whole thing? He didn't just black out, his ship disappeared. Sinclair says the screens malfunctioned and his hearing proved it.

He asks why Man 1 is doing this. The Minbari didn't win, they surrendered. Man 1 says that is precisely his point. Why did the Minbari surrender? He thinks they took one look at Earth's defenses and realized what it would cost them to invade. He thinks they changed their strategy to attack within, by recruiting people like Sinclair. He tells Sinclair to look at Earth. Aliens are buying land, taking up residence, opening businesses. He says what they couldn't take they are corrupting. Sinclair asks what that has to do with him. Man 1 says no one wants to die, especially not alone out in space. He thinks Sinclair surrendered to the Minbari, agreed to work for them, be their eyes, ears, and voice. He agreed, along with how many other people. Sinclair calls Man 1 insane, insisting he never betrayed Earth. Man 1 says how can he be sure if he really doesn't remember what happened? What about Mitchell?

Sinclair interrupts him saying he has no idea what the hell he's talking about. Mitchell and the others were his friends and he saw them die one by one. For years after the war he couldn't look at a Minbari without wanting to attack them. Because of his friends, because of what he saw in the war. He remarks that Man 1 thinks the humans could have won but he wasn't there. They were outgunned and outmanned. When he saw them in that battle, Sinclair says, he didn't just see his own death, he saw the death of the whole human race.

Then why did the Minbari surrender, Man 1 asks. Sinclair snaps that he doesn't know. Maybe the universe blinked. All he knows is they got a second chance. Man 1 skeptically asks that in the ten years since, has nothing ever made him doubt that story that he blacked out. Sinclair says no, nothing. Except...he pictures a Minbari telling him there is a hole in his mind. Man 1 moves in, whispers to him to think. Doesn't he want to know, just for himself? Sinclair says yes, he does, and Man 1 encourages him.

He flashes back to the battle again, to realizing it's a trap. To seeing Mitchell shot down, his entire squad destroyed. His ship was hit and in desperation he tried to ram the cruiser, to take as many out with him as he could. But the Minbari ship stopped his and pulled it on board. He was taken prisoner and brought before the hooded figures. One held up a prism of some sort in front of him and it glowed. Then there was a flash of light and he was standing in the center of the circle of hooded figures. He asks who they are, why they are doing this. He runs up to one and grabs the hood, looking inside. In surprise, he recognizes the figure, saying he knows them. The figure with the staff raises it and shoots him, knocking  him out.

In Man 1's quarters, Sinclair manages to break through his restraints. Man 1 watches in horror as Sinclair pulls free. This causes a shock to go through Man 1 and he falls unconscious in his own chair. Man 2 runs in and Sinclair drunkenly knocks him out. He looks around, his vision blurry, and mumbles that the Minbari have broken through and he needs to get back to his ship before lurching off.

Sinclair stumbles through the station with Man 2's gun. A pair of residents come up behind him and he hides, seeing them as hooded figures. After a moment he follows them.

Man 2 wakes and sees that Man 1 is out for the count. He grabs a gun and some other belongings and leaves his room.

A member of security sees the Commander and hails him, but he sees her as a hooded figure and shoots her. She avoids the shot and calls C and C to report that she has found him and is going to follow when she is shot from behind. Man 2 walks on and follows after Sinclair. Ivanova tries to hail the officer who called but gets no answer. She asks where the call came from and Garibaldi sends his people to that area. Ivanova tries paging Sinclair, asking him to report in. He shakes his head at the announcement. Delenn hears it as well. Sinclair gets to the Zocalo and Man 2 finds him and shoots, heedless of the market's patrons. Garibaldi arrives at about the same time and takes out Man 2. He tries to speak to the Commander but he is still out of it from the drugs and fires at Garibaldi.

Garibaldi ducks behind cover and gets a hail on his link. It's Franklin. They've found Man 1 and he thinks that Sinclair was treated with psychotropic drugs. He warns Garibaldi that in his present state he may be delusional and is probably very definitely dangerous. Garibaldi gives him a snarky reply to that. Delenn arrives at the Zocalo and carefully approaches Sinclair. Garibaldi tries to warn her to stay back but she keeps on. She tells Sinclair he is safe now, no one will harm him. He pulls the gun on her and stands, telling her to stop. He says he knows. He says he knows her, who she is. She says she is his friend, reminding him she is Ambassador Delenn. He says no, and flashes back to the hooded figures, she was the one he recognized when he pulled back the hood. He fires his gun, but not at Delenn, at Man 2 who had stood up behind her. He looks at Delenn again and she tells him, "Welcome home," before he collapses, caught by Delenn and Garibaldi.

Sinclair is in the medlab, recovered from the drugs given to him. Garibaldi comes in and Sinclair asks about their prisoner (Man 1). Garibaldi says he's being sent on a prison transport back to Earth for a trial. Earth Central claimed jurisdiction. Sinclair asks why there and not on the station. They say he's part of a group trying to prove collusion between Earth officials and the Minbari. Franklin remarks that he doubts they'll get much out of him. His brain was pretty fired from a neural feedback when Sinclair pulled out of the virtual reality. Sinclair says he wants to see the man now. Franklin starts to object but Sinclair insists and Garibaldi leads him out.

Man 1 is being escorted out Sinclair stops them. Sinclair asks his name, but the man doesn't remember. Sinclair says this was too big for him to have pulled off on his own and asks who he was working for. Man 1 tries to answer but can't come up with anything. As they start to lead him away, he turns, addressing the Commander. He says there is something in his head, it says maybe he's still inside. Maybe they are both still inside. Sinclair watches him go.

Sinclair goes to visit Delenn and she is relieved to see he is better. He thanks her for her help, apologizing for his behavior while he was delusional. He says it is strange that seeing her was the only thing that snapped him out of it. She says she is glad that he did snap out of it and suggests he gets some rest. As he turns to go she asks him, out of curiosity, if he remembers anything from his experience. He flashes to the memory of pulling back a hood and finding Delenn staring at him, then lies and tells her no. Not a thing. He leaves and Delenn turns. Another Minbari steps out from behind a door and says that Sinclair must never know what happened. If he does find out, he will have to be killed. He asks if Delenn understands. She is quiet for a moment, but then answers yes, though clearly unsettled by the prospect.

In his quarters, Sinclair takes a drink and calls on his computer. He makes a personal log entry and says "I remember." He says he was taken inside a Minbari cruiser, interrogated, and tortured. He thinks it might have been the Grey Council. Before they surrendered, they must have blanked his memory and let him go. He wonders why Delenn was there, and what it is that they don't want him to remember. He says he has to find out.


Oh, huzzah, back story! What a frelled up way to get it, but still. So. The Minbari were about to crush Earth. They set a trap for a human fighter squadron and after killing them, captured the sole survivor. Their ruling body interrogated him and then wiped his memory and set him free. After which they surrendered to Earth. Now, a member of that same ruling body is serving in disguise (sort of) as an Ambassador on a station run by the very man that they had interrogated years before.

It's all very mysterious, isn't it?

Of course, poor Sinclair is kind of a pawn in all of this, and now he knows it. He still doesn't know why though. But you can bet your backside he's going to do what he can to find the truth out now. Which is sort of unfortunate, since the Minbari don't want him to know, to the point of telling Delenn to kill him if she has to.

But here's the cool thing: Delenn clearly has misgivings about that order. She knows her duty to her people but...she really does consider Sinclair a friend. Whatever she saw when the Grey Council interrogated him at the end of the war, on top of everything she's seen since they have been working together on Babylon 5 has all led her to develop a great respect for the man.

I think that we can kind of see where Sinclair is coming from a little bit more after this episode too. It's been brought up before that he fought the Minbari in the war and his attitude towards them on the station is therefore surprising. But, as he told Man 1, he saw exactly what the Minbari were capable of at the Battle of the Line. They could easily have wiped out humanity, and for some reason, they chose not to. But that doesn't mean that another race equally capable won't come along and try the same thing. So. He now fights for peace among the races to prevent just such a thing from ever happening to his people (or to any other race). I also think we've seen he's the kind of man who learns from his experiences, so as he gets to know the other races, he is also coming to respect and understand them as well, and genuinely thinks that galactic cooperation is the best route for all parties involved.

But of course there are conspiracy groups on Earth who believe something hinky is up. (Insert eye-roll here.) We know that there is a growing belief that the aliens are taking away or getting in the way of humanity's glory. That they are somehow a threat to the preservation of human culture as we know it (as if culture in and of itself is not and has not always been a living, growing, ever-changing thing). It's no surprise that those people believe Earth would have turned the tide and wiped out the Minbari if given the chance. So they see the Minbari's surrender as denial of that chance, of that "glory." They therefore think it must have some sort of insidious deeper purpose. That the Minbari backed down because they thought they would lose and are now only biding their time before reattempting the ruination of our species. Sigh.

Who better for those people to suspect than someone like Sinclair? He was on the front lines of the war, was there at the final battle, mysteriously disappeared before the Minbari surrendered. Now, he runs a station meant to cater to aliens and spreading their cultures and influences to humans. So obviously he must have been in cahoots with the Minbari. (This is where a sarcasm punctuation mark would come in very handy, by the way.)

I mean, yes, we now know more of the truth about what happened just before the Minbari surrendered, and that Sinclair was more involved in it than even he knew. But. There are ways of going about finding the why of things, and then there are ways, if you get my meaning.

For the record, when trying to convince someone that you have valid reasons for your evil shenanigans, and you use a statement like "we're both patriots," and then have to quantify it by adding "in our own way," well. One of of the two of you clearly has a very skewed idea of what it means to be loyal to the ideals of your country/planet. Bah. Conspiracy theorists. Just an observation. I'm not saying there's not more than one way to be patriotic, mind you, just that, for the most part, ways that have to be explained to be patriotic, to convince someone you're on the same side as them for realsies? Yeah, those usually are exactly the opposite. It's villain logic, I know. They never actually believe they're the bad guy.

Favorite Quotes

"He's lying. I can tell." (Garibaldi)
"Everyone lies, Michael. The innocent lie because they don't want to be blamed for something they didn't do, and the guilty lie because they don't have any other choice." (Sinclair)

"Mr. Garibaldi, there are days I am very glad I don't have to think the way that  you do." (Ivanova)


That wraps up another week of the rewatch, thank you so much for stopping by! I am going to be taking a week off due to my daughter and myself both having birthdays coming up this weekend. So we'll pick up again with the next episode, "Deathwalker," on Monday August 27. Hope to see you then!

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