In the eighth episode of the first season of Babylon 5, WHAT THE FUCK! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent, nonconsensual medical procedures, lost time, trauma/PTSD.
HI, WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS EPISODE, WHY DID THIS SHOW HAVE TO GO SO HARD, WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO JEFF SINCLAIR?
Look, I went into this knowing that Babylon 5 had hinted at many stories with a single film and seven episodes, but I still figured I’d have a much longer wait until I began to get answers. I say that fully knowing that “And the Sky Full of Stars” didn’t really answer that much, but still! What the fuck! I wasn’t ready for this episode!
Let me start with some questions, namely this one: What the fuck is happening on Earth? After the events of “The War Prayer,” I assumed the Home Guard was behind what was happening here because… well, it felt natural. There’s an anti-alien, “pro-Earth” feel to both of these episodes, but by the end of this episode, I think there might be two separate groups behind this. So what exactly does it look like on Earth right now? I’m getting the sense that things are possibly way more chaotic and challenging than the folks on Babylon 5 know. Which makes sense! They’re so far from home at the moment, and they only get news in bits and pieces. Yet these are huge issues. The Home Guard wants to expel all aliens and all alien influences; there’s another group that is convinced that Sinclair sold out humanity to the Minbari. That group is so desperate to prove this that they send people to Babylon 5 to kidnap Sinclair, drug him, and then invade his mind to find out the truth. WHICH IS A LOT.
But “And the Sky Full of Stars” doesn’t delve into a lot of these specifics, and it has the unnerving effect of disorienting new viewers. It makes this episode REALLY creepy because my imagination is left to run wild. Who else believes as Knight One and Knight Two do? Why are they named as such? Where did this tech come from, and will even more advanced tech be used against Sinclair in the future? And worst of all: What if they are right? Because there’s a huge misconception on the part of the kidnappers throughout this episode. They accuse Sinclair of treason, and their words make it seem like they think he’s done all this on purpose to cover up his guilt. But the truth is that Sinclair really can’t remember, and he wants to know what happened just as much as they do. Probably more! Unfortunately, there’s a very real chance that the Minbari did interfere in the future of humanity that day. From The Gathering to Delenn’s cryptic statements about her choice and the Grey Council, there have been a number of hints about what the Minbari did to Sinclair.
So what the hell is Sinclair supposed to do if these accusations turn out to be true? I don’t know, but the show has Sinclair suitably paranoid and terrified throughout this episode, which conveys that the character is frightened both by his circumstances and what he might find while deep in his mind. Well, there’s another angle to this: he is forced to relive the trauma of the Battle of the Line, where he watched everyone in his squad die. LITERALLY. It’s what the title refers to: the sight of the explosions of everyone the Minbari eliminated.
What I can piece together from this is that at the last moment, before Sinclair was able to ram that Minbari warship, he was kidnapped. Taken aboard the warship, he is experimented on. Possibly tortured? He also met the Grey Council, of which Delenn is a member. He was shot? With a weird triangle beam? Or it did something to his body? And he was returned after the Grey Council achieved what they wanted? It would explain the surrender because whatever the Grey Council did, they could see it through with a negotiated peace. For some reason, peace was better than wartime. Why? And why did Delenn make a good choice in the eyes of the other Minbari?
All of this is astonishingly compelling, and the fact that it is still not resolved only makes me crave the truth more. This is, for me, the episode of Babylon 5 that feels the most thrilling and exciting, and it’s what I needed to ignite my interest in the longer arcs. It’s placed early enough in season one that it gives me the sign I need that larger stories are being told, first of all. That’s so smart! But it also has a singular focus and vision, and that means that the script is biting, vicious, and beautifully paced. This has the potential to explain why Babylon 5 is so beloved, so frequently obsessed over.
Damn it, I NEED TO KNOW.
The video for “And the Sky Full of Stars” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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