Babylon Podcast #217: Our “Best of Babylon 5”

Welcome to Show #217!

Tim and Summer chat about the contents of “Artifacts Beyond the Rim”, the most recent and surprise edition from Synthetic Worlds and B5 Books.

This is indeed a unique collection full of historical references from the production of the series, including some fun, one-off items and photos.

Discussion: Tim, Summer and Bret talk about the episodes they consider to be on their personal “best of” lists. It’s so hard to stick to a “Top 5”, and to make it fair we all intentionally didn’t include the obvious episodes, like “Sleeping in Light”, “War Without End”, and a handful of others.

Bret’s Best of: GROPOS; Comes the Inquisitor; Intersections in Real Time; Severed Dreams; The Long Night; Confessions and Lamentations; Dust to Dust (Honorable Mentions go to: The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari; Believers)

Summer’s Best of: By Any Means Necessary; Geometry of Shadows; Confessions and Lamentations; Severed Dreams; Z’ha’dum; Between the Darkness and the Light; All My Dreams, Torn Asunder

Tim’s Best of: Midnight on the Firing Line; Dust to Dust; The Long, Twilight Struggle; The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari; In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum (Honorable Mentions go to: The Long Night; Messages from Earth; Soul Hunters; The Coming of Shadows; A Race Through Dark Places)

And yes, we’re probably going to touch on this topic time and again, depending on how many voicemails we get!

Lurker’s Guide 2.0: Summer is expanding the documentation to be covered at Lurker’s Guide 2.0, the major change being converting the episode guide into a full Wiki with cross-referenced topics, tidbits and everything you’d want in a Wiki. She’s still searching for pictures of rare collectibles, photos of magazine covers and toys, and all sorts of other B5 goodies that didn’t get included in the original guide during the years after Crusade. Let her know if you want to lend a hand.

More Parody/Filk Songs Wanted: If you know of any more B5-related fan songs out there, definitely let us know, so we can let other B5 fans know where to buy them! And if those CDs are out of print, let’s brainstorm on ways to get those songs back out there for fans!

Babylon Podcast Social Communities:
Twitter: @babylonpodcast

Babylon 5 Information Gathering: If you know of a dead or abandoned B5 related website that may be in need of a new home, let Summer know! Maybe we can mirror it here or house it on a sister site.

If you can, Please Donate to the show!

Promo: Slice of SciFi
Promo: How To Grow Your Geek


  1. To me this question is as silly to ask as “What was your favorite chapter of Dune?” or “What was your favorite chord on Strawberry Fields?”

    • Your statement is just as silly as you think the question is without some data to illuminate your position, because without said data points, this just looks like you’re trolling just to be trolling rather than debating a point of view.

      And for the record, I despise the Beatles, so you’ve got two strikes in one comment.

  2. Well, “favorite” is one of those opinions that cannot be assailed as an opinion not worth having, expounding, nor withholding. (IE decided on “favorites” instead of “bookmarks,” though I’ve always thought that was silly.)

    I’m glad to see something from Season 1 in this list. I was previously chastised by some for my complaint that a few of the hosts thought that Season 1 should not be watched first by a newcomer to the show because it might run them off or at least that it would not engage them sufficient to continue watching.

    So, following the rules set earlier, here are my favorites, sans explanatory theses.

    1. Believers, stunning turn of events worthy of Serling

    2. Comes the Inquisitor, Wayne Alexander at his best in a stage piece a trois

    3. Sic Transit Vir, a bold Latin title for an episode that encapsulates JSM’s philosophy of character development

    4. The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, puts it all in place, what nerve JMS had for this one

    5. The Corps is Mother, The Corps is Father, what an insightful commentary on the psychological manipulation of politics and religion and pseudo-science

    Can Jeffrey send in his favorites? We’re all busy, but this is easy.


    • Never said that the discussion wasn’t worth having. I just think that wording the complaint about the discussion in that particularly petty a manner is red flag, one labeled TROLL. It smacks of someone wanting to start an argument for no other reason than just wanting to argue to get the attention of being in an argument rather than stating a point and backing it up with personal reasons why.

      There are also numerous examples of drum or bass or guitar solos and riffs that both stand on their own and raise the level of the entire song, and there are passages or scenes in books that etch themselves as indelibly in the imaginationas do iconic scenes from film and television.

      By using those example questions in that fashion, and attempting to appear disdainful of all of us for even asking the question, it just enhances the appearance that his only reason for posing that question in that manner was to serve up another helping of red herring for no good debatable reason.

      Let’s just say I had become accustomed to a better level of question from Arkle, so I’m disappointed that, from this example anyway, he also wants to be the troll craving to be fed. Thus my asking for legit reasons and examples why he feels the question is silly and doesn’t deserve to be asked.

      All works of art, great and small, have moments of brilliance and momentary flaws. Pointing out which ones are which and why we feel they are what we classify them as is not silly. To look at creations as complex as novels, poetry, television shows, films, and hell, even cars, and say that their components can’t be broken down and examined separately as compared to the whole is someone with either no imagination, no intellectual curiosity, no love for anything, or is just plain walking dead.

      Sorry to be so direct and blunt about it, but that question was baseless and so intentionally devoid of intellectual curiosity that it annoyed me, greatly. I had to say something.

  3. Wow, I was just expressing an opinion. The first two words of the post were “To me.” WTF Summer, what exactly did I do to get on your bad side so quickly? I mean, the harshest word I used was “silly.” You can stronger language than that from two college friends complimenting each other.

    • Is it an opinion if you don’t back it up, explain why you do or don’t feel it’s a valid question to ask, or is it just an inflammatory nonsequitor?

      The original statement is accusatory, like you think we wasted your time; but we had fun asking the question and giving folks our answers, and we want to hear what other people’s answers might be. If you had said why you didn’t like the question, I would have let it pass. If you had said that you couldn’t answer the question because [insert reason here], I would have let it pass.

      Instead, your phrasing seemed like you were pissing on the fun we were trying to have, and in a dismissive and belittling fashion, and that’s what pissed me off. Now, if you’d said that about the Hair show, I would have also let it slide, because that WAS inherently silly, from start to finish..

  4. I honestly was not trying to rain on anyone’s parade. If I’m guilty of anything here, it’s poor wording.


    I’m afraid my sin is that I struggle with all the episode titles. However, a select couple that I know the titles of:

    Comes the Inquisitor: Through Sebastian we learn more about the Vorlons than in any other single episode – they will take individuals from other races, modify them to suit their purposes, deliver some pretty tough love, but it is just that… love. You have to dig deep to see the true purpose to a Vorlon’s actions/words.

    Deconstruction of Falling Stars: It’s an excellent end to the story, delivered in such a way that – as is always the case with JMS – knowing what happens in the end only serves to peak your interest further.

    And finally, something I want to go back and look for in Confessions and Lamentations: Lenir’s reaction to Delenn seeking comfort in Sheridan the moment they leave quarantine; I wonder if there’s any hint of “Oh, so we’ve just both endured that hell and you’re going to go cry to that guy!? Don’t worry about me I’ll be OK… hmph.”

  6. Arkle, my favorite chord in “Strawberry Fields Forever” is the A minor. My favorite chapter of Dune is the one where House Atriedies loads into the Guild Highliner.

  7. Okay, my “Best of”, and by your rules discounting “Sleeping In Light” and “War Without End,”….

    5) The Coming of Shadows — this has Londo’s dream, with the Shadow ships flying overhead, the hand stretching out of the stars, and his eventual death by (and killing of) G’Kar. The Narn-Centauri war starts up, and in a scene that still sends chills down my spine:
    Centauri Emperor: How will this end?
    Kosh: In fire.

    4) The Geometry of Shadows — yes, yes, “Purple.” “Green.” All very amusing (although it begs the question how the Drazi managed to become a space-faring race…) The real stories here are Garibaldi finally taking back his job and his confidence, and Londo trying to get an endorsement from the techno-mages, with hilarious results but a prophetic warning.

    3) Severed Dreams — We’d been waiting for this moment for most of the year and this episode did not disappoint. Sheridan breaks off from the Earth Alliance, Delenn dissolves the Grey Council… and who could forget Delenn’s kick-ass action hero moment: “only one Earth commander has survived an encounter with a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, Be Someplace Else!”

    2) Between The Darkness And the Light/Endgame/Rising Star — I’m sorry, but you cannot peel this three- episode apart. Pretty much the end of the series proper (I mean, does anybody REALLY believe JMS planned to show us the events of the fifth season) and it kicks serious ass. Sheridan’s rescue juxtaposed with the White Stars battling the Warlock-class Earthforce ships…wow. Marcus’ death is tragic but somehow not unexpected. Sheridan is seemingly humbled and forced to resign from Earthforce — only to emerge as the President of the new Intersteller Alliance (that scene with him and General Lefcourt is priceless.) A fantastic end to the story, except for…

    1) Deconstruction of Falling Stars — in some ways, this makes a better series finale than “Sleeping In Light.” We are shown that while the future is not always idyllic, Sheridan and Company did change history for the better.

    Be seeing you.

  8. > Marcus’ death is tragic but somehow not unexpected.

    If you are of the camp that feels he’s dead, why would JMS not show something of a burial or final ceremony for him? As a Ranger, regardless of how he died, he would have deserved and received this honor. Instead, the lack of this closing allowed the small hole for the possibility gnats to fly through and create all kinds of future stories with Marcus included. Has JMS ever ruled on this?

    And, I agree with you about this not being unexpected. The word ‘tragedy’ is more often misused than properly applied these days, but JMS is applying ancient tragedic principles here to magnificent effect.

    I don’t know if Jason will ever come back for a longer interview, but it would sure be interesting. From what I heard, he was really, really playing against type for Marcus.


  9. Marcus was most assuredly NOT dead. He was stored in cryonic suspension and revived five hundred years later, per JMS’s short story “Space, Time and the Incurable Romantic” (published in the Summer 2000 issue of AMAZING STORIES).

  10. Three hundred years later, wasn’t it?

  11. Gary The Great says

    I didn’t know Jan and Jason were both in the Marcus is not dead camp. Yea! Now if only we could get jms’ short B5 stories published maybe other could be swayed.

  12. Gary, Jason hinted at that during our conversation on the (upcoming) Babcast. And while I know “Space, Time, and The Incurable Romantic” is canon (it has to be) I have always considered Marcus to be Schrodinger’s Ranger.

    Michael, I love “Sic Transit Vir”. Lyndysty tangentially reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George and Jerry prentend that that George is “O’Brien” at the airport…. “I think she’s hot for me.” “SHE’S A NAZI, GEORGE!”

    However, STV goes on my list of Personal Favorites as opposed to Five/Ten Best. Yes, it’s a vague and arbitrary distinction, but there it is.

    CaptMurdock – you ran into the same conceptual problem we had. Listen to the discussion, and our lists quickly expand from five to sevenish, eight or so… 😛

  13. JMS has said that “Space, Time…” is canon.

    As for Tim’s theory of Schrödinger’s Ranger, I invite your attention to a deleted scene from “Rising Star”:
    Med-Tech: There was still some residual brain
    activity, so we decided to put Marcus
    into cryonic freeze. So if you ask
    me whether he is alive or dead…the
    answer is both, and neither. We
    got him at the moment in-between.
    Whether we will ever be able to
    revive him–
    So…no life energy but residual brain activity. Which do you you use to determine life or death? 😉

  14. Hunh. I was unaware of the deleted scene and of JMS’ short story (I’ll have to see if i can find it). I was actually going by a comment in Andy Lane’s Babylon FIle Vol 2 that stated that the producers waffled it around for a while but finally decided that Marcus should just be dead.

    (Boy, is that gonna suck. He wakes up five hundred years later, Ivanova’s long dead, and Earth is about to go fudge-nutty…again! “For *this* I come back?? Wake me back up in another thousand, if you please…”)

  15. Gary The Great says

    If you get your hands on the short story, you’ll see the inventive solution, although to think Ivanova is less crafty than a Garabaldi hologram is disheartening.

  16. And, to those who know the ending of S,T,atIR – does it creep you out like it creeps me out? It reminds me of the final scene in “A.I.”

  17. Neil Ottenstein says

    This is a hard question. Five favorite episodes in no particular order:

    1) Babylon Squared – just an amazing mind-blowing episode with so many tantalizing questions attached to it

    2)In the Shadow of Z’Ha’Dum – an extremely intense episode with loads of drama and possibilities

    3)Ship of Tears – our team actually working with Bester

    4)The Face of the Enemy – we finally find out what really happened with Garibaldi

    5)Messages from Earth/Point of No Return/Severed Dreams – three beautiful episodes rolled together that just were a gigantic high point of the series. If I had to pick just one of these it would probably be Messages from Earth – just because we had that great mass viewing of it with JMS calling in at the end.

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