It’s an action-packed, emotional roller coaster of a season for Babylon 5. The previous three seasons of development and growth come to a head in some unexpected ways. Here’s how we rated this season’s episodes:
- “The Hour of the Wolf” – 6
- “Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi” – 3.5
- “The Summoning” – 6.5
- “Falling Towards Apotheosis” – 5
- “The Long Night” – 7
- “Into the Fire” – 9.5
- “Epiphanies” – 4
- “The Illusion of Truth” – 2.5
- “Atonement” – 3
- “Racing Mars” – 3.5
- “Lines of Communication” – 4
- “Conflicts of Interest” – 2.5
- “Rumors, Bargains, and Lies” – 5.5
- “Moments of Transition” – 3.5
- “No Surrender, No Retreat” – 6
- “The Exercise of Vital Powers” – 1.5
- “The Face of the Enemy” – 1.5
- “Intersections in Real Time” – 0
- “Between the Darkness and the Light” – 7.5
- “Endgame” – 6.5
- “Rising Star” – 6
- “The Deconstruction of Falling Stars” – 4
Various shenanigans with the networks broadcasting Babylon 5 led to the originally planned seasons 4 and 5 being squished down into a single season, and the results are visible. In some ways, the results were good, as the pace of the action noticeably picks up and gives an urgency to important episodes dealing with the Vorlon-Shadow war and the Earth civil war. In other ways, the effects were less positive, though, as the story often feels cramped and rushed. In the end, we have an average rating for this season of 4.5, down from season 3 but on par with season 2.
Given how much story had to be condensed into this season, it is particularly jarring when the season pauses for a number of self-contained (and sometimes self-indulgent) episodes such as “The Illusion of Truth,” a demonstration of how propaganda works, “Intersections in Real Time,” in which Sheridan is tortured, and “The Deconstruction of Falling Stars,” a meditation on how history is transformed into legend. None of these episodes scored very well with us. “Intersections in Real Time” is our lowest rated episode of the season, at a complete 0, for being both unpleasant to watch and unnecessary to the larger story. The season also spends an inordinate amount of time watching Garibaldi make bad life choices, which we could also do without.
But when this season works it really works. At the top of the ratings we have “Into the Fire,” at 9.5, which pays off years of development as the younger races of the galaxy stand up to the ancient Vorlons and Shadows and tell them to get the hell out. This episode fully delivers on the promise of the series, being both exciting and thoughtful, and deftly transforming our entire perspective on the two mysterious races at the heart of the series’ central story. The last few episodes of the season proper, “Between the Darkness and the Light” (7.5), “Endgame” (6.5), and “Rising Star” (6), are less spectacular, but they bring the long-simmering Earth storyline to a satisfying close.
A lot of what makes Babylon 5 great is on screen in season 4. It may not be exactly what was planned at the outset, but it lives up to the promise of the earlier seasons.
Image: Babylon 5 Season 4 DVD cover via IMDb
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