Monday, March 16, 2009

Babylon 5 Companion Book: Point Of No Return

Babylon 5: Book Three: Point Of No Return
This includes a great section on Special Effects as well as an overview of Babylon 5, Season Three.
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Special Effects: For quite some time I had noted the radiant color in the show's production. When I had finally gotten around to reading the companion to Season Three it was evident that it was no accident. The use of explosive color was very much by design coupled with its gritty look as discussed by computer graphics artist Ron Thornton:
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Whatever else the effects might attempt to do, they have to make a dramatic imapct. One of the ways that is achieved is by using color. "We wanted to make Babylon 5 colorful," says Ron. "We wanted to use color to brighten it up. There had been so many movies with grey spaceship after grey spaceship, and of course, I get my inspiration from things like Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, when there was loads of color."
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It was also noted the Shadows vessels which many refer to as spider-like, not unlike myself, was also quite intentional and based upon the black widow spider combined with the nose of a dog. It definitely has that textured look. Further, the Minbari cruisers were a cross between a butterfly and an angelfish. I always saw the fish design in those ships but still can't quite make out the butterfly effect.
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Messages From Earth: There's a great point made about this episode in this chapter. It would appear it riffed on the comic book series released by DC Comics. There are moments here that reference events taken from issues 5 through eight of those comics. The comic series was apparently written during Season Two and J. Michael Straczynski borrows from those very books for this episode which I found interesting.
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Point Of No Return: In another interesting twist from this particular book regarding the episode from which the entirety of Season Three took its name we learn Majel Barrett, the wife of Star Trek's Gene Roddenberry, was supportive of the series in its infancy. Straczynski notes, "We heard she was nice-mouthing the show at various places, speaking well of it." He adds, "She felt that the feud between a certain party of Trek fans and B5 fans was pointless and silly, and she wanted to put her money where he mouth was, as it were, and come on the show and say, 'If I can do this, why can't you at least watch the show?" Straczynski was pretty moved and wrote what I think is one of the finer guest performances throughout the series as Majel played Centauri seer Lady Morella. Peter Jurasik goes on to talk about her presence and how awe-some her position was as wife to Roddenberry, overcoming that and becoming a fine actress as well. She has been a remarkable lady in many respects and remains the first lady of Star Trek.
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Severed Dreams: This segment touches on the whole Robert Foxworthy debacle and apparently a real funny outtake exists where Sheridan asks Major Ryan, "Where's General hague?" and Ryan replies, "He's on Deep Space Nine!" That's pretty good considering everyone here offered alot of insight into that whole DSN vs babylon 5 rivalry. Also, there's quite a bit on Jeff Doyle's broken arm incident that everyone offered alot insight on earlier. He was injured badly and moreso than I had imagined.
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Interludes And Examinations: There's a paragraph that struck me and it's never obvious or made clear throughout the series. As you know, I'm a huge proponent of acknowledging actors, directors and so on. On several ocassions I have mentioned my affection for Ambassador Kosh and even praised Ardwight Chamberlain for his performance. It is here in this chapter that it points out Chamberlain actually provides the voice only and that the physical work of playing inside the costume was provided by Jeffery Willerth. Now, not once did I see Willerth's name mentioned alongside Chamberlain's in the end credits of each episode. What is up with that? I know there's an autograph card out there provided by Willerth and that always confused me until I read this chapter because no where up through Season Three does it even mention Willerth's contribution. That's unfortunate because I feel he was instrumental in bringing the key scene between Sheridan and Kosh to life in this particular episode. Tip of the cap to Bruce Boxleitner who really credits Willerth in this entry for making the episode a classic. Interesting.
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War Without End Part Two: What can you say about this episode? Holy smokes! It nearly makes your head explode. There were some key points made here worth mentioning. When I wrote about this episode and mentioned the scene when Sheridan and Delenn kissed I talked about how it was so obscured by shadows it was kind of disappointing. Mira Furlan discusses that scene here and essentially feels the same way. She would have preferred more lighting. A fellow Babylon 5 fan, M, once mentioned it was for the shippers and she's right, granted Straczynski definitely tried to mess up the moment by making it "desperate" and hurried. He refused to give the shippers exactly what they wanted. Further, many of Lady Morella's prophecies are foretold here when Londo frees [and doesn't kill] the man who is already dead. The reference is to Sheridan because of his sacrifice in Z'Ha'Dum. The other prophecy is Londo giving into his greatest fear by releasing his power and giving his life over to G'Kar. This is fascinating and I didn't fully appreciate or make those connections at the time despite Harvemunken mentioning it in the comments of my blog entry. Still, I did feel I made the proper observation of the strangling sequence by G'Kar of Londo not as one of rivalry but more as 'knowing sacrifice' or understanding. It was interesting to see the reactions to this episode in this entry by the likes of Andreas Katsulas and Director Mike Vejar who found the proceedings so densely woven that it even confused them. The final point that is made was alluded to by M in the comments way back when I wrote about this installment after viewing it. After she mentioned it I definitelly got her point and here it really spells it out. It explains why it is a "war without end," as the present war could be won only with a victory in the previous war. It is a loop of time that is turned by Sinclair. Valen creates the Minbari Grey Council; his soul then passes to the Human Sinclair, who then goes back in time to become Valen and repeat the process on and on forever. Yeah, that's it, and as Boxleitner comments regarding O'Hare's exit. "He goes away being God!" That was a pretty potent piece of science fiction writing. At least Sinclair/ O'Hare goes out immortalized.
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Grey 17 Is Missing: I remember being pretty down on this episode. Interestingly, Straczynski wasn't a huge fan of how it played out either. He points out the big problem. Jeremiah was forced to articulate what Straczynski was trying to say solely through dialogue. As he puts it, "those ideas to do come alive on camera." He adds "Jeremiah tells Garibaldi, rather than shows him, about his philosophy." When Garibaldi is disinterested in his little speech as he looks for a way out, we're disinterested right along with him. I'm glad he points this out. It was lost on me too.
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Z'Ha'Dum: There is a great piece here where Sheridan discusses how he felt about the moment when The Shadow creature enters the room. Not unlike many of us who would have liked to have seen a bit of the hand-to-hand action, they discuss the edit and cut to the moment Sheridan's bloodied and attempting to escape. "I wish we'd been able to see a shot of what had just happened," decried Boxleitner. "I thought, for myself, it was an abrupt cut." I think that's fair and according to Boxleitner a scene was scrapped that dealt with that very aftermath for a number of reasons including budgetary. It's too bad. I would have liked a little more on that in the series, but it was still solid as played out.
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That's all for now, just a few thoughts from the book that is essentially like the Straczynski bible.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Having a whale of a good time!

... or Star Trek IV: The Whale Movie. Come on, you know that's how you remember this one. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home [1986] is a classic in its own right. Leonard Nimoy directs what turns out to be one of Star Trek's funniest films coupled with a sweet environmental love letter without being preachy. It's an entertaining adventure yarn with the aging crew of the Original Series. I believe the old folks here might have been competing with Roger Moore [pushing it in A View To A Kill] in his final days as James Bond in the 007 pictures. Nevertheless, all are charming and I love both franchises. The original crew of the Starship Enterprise are simply the best!

With several bowls of popcorn in hand, I needed a fun film and one fairly age appropriate quickly the other night. I decided to unleash Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home on the neighborhood kids. They loved it. I have to say looking back on it, it was missing significant action for me. I also prefer the more serious tone of the series over the cutesy antics found here. I suppose when you get older you tend to compensate for your lack of action ability with comedy. Still, this is good and when I saw this in theatres I loved it myself especially when they transported the whales from Earth past back to present day Earth to save the planet. It's an interesting premise well-executed by Nimoy with great effects, a good story and snappy dialogue.

The film begins with a dedication to the men and women who lost their lives in the space shuttle Challenger. Director Leonard Nimoy the film with the sound of whales emanating from an incoming vessel of unknown origin.

Meanwhile, William Shatner is on trial as a terrorist. Can you believe in a world filled with the kind of terror that's out there Captain James T. Kirk would be considered one of them? He is being held accountable by a Klingon prosecutor for the murder of Klingons and the theft of a Klingon Bird Of Prey. The alien demands justice for Kirk's crimes. Spock's father, Sarek [with Mark Lenard returning], speaks on Kirk's behalf, making the case for his innocence.

Elsewhere, the exiled Kirk and crew agree to return to Earth in their stolen Bird Of Prey to face charges. All of this of course comes as a result of events which occurred in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. Spock continues to assimilate his intellectual growth via computer. He is approached by his mother when he is asked "How do you feel?" As a vulcan, Spock does not compute. His human mother, Amanda [played by the always beautiful Jane Wyatt returning], appeals to the human side of her son's very fiber. He is still coming to terms with his rapid growth and development particularly coming to terms with his human attributes. The question is one posed not only to Spock but also to the audience? It is a thread that ties the film together as you'll see here.

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Well thanks for asking. I'm feeling quite fine actually.
The alien probe passes the Saratoga sapping it of its power. Anything in its path is either damaged or destroyed. The probe is a funny design, simple but effective. It's like a long, metallic cigarette and it is one hell of an imposing, immovable object. Lt. Saavik [played by Robin Curtis] bids farewell to Kirk and informs him of his son David's bravery in saving their lives. Spock greets Kirk and Kirk insists he call him "Jim," but Spock just isn't quite there yet or as Bones puts it, "He's not exactly working on all thrusters." It's humorous as Kirk wills Spock to call him Jim with some frustration throughout the film. This is one of the trademarks of the series and the triangle of characters that is Kirk, Spock and Bones. Bones attempts to make a breakthrough in reaching out to his old friend, but is merely frustrated by his efforts as only Spock can thwart them.

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Before long the probe is wreaking havoc on Earth's weather patterns. Electrical storms and cloud cover is so intense there is no sun. I must say the Bird Of Prey is a pretty spectacular ship design and one that I enjoy seeing on the screen even if it is in the form of a matte painting. Great color and design. Earth sends out a distress signal and informs Kirk and crew to avoid the planet.

Kirk opens speakers and listens to the sound transmissions. Using the database Kirk begins scanning the files for a match to other Earth lifeforms at Spock's suggestion. Uhura modifies the sound clip to determine what it would sound like underwater. Whales? Spock finds a match. Humpback whales to be exact. At this point, Humpback whales have been extinct since the 21st Century. Spock indicates they might need to find some whales because fighting the problem would be futile. Kirk orders Spock to figure out computations for time warp. Time warp must be really handy. You can fix anything.
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Weather patterns are certainly becoming critical on Earth. So Kirk and Scotty discuss the possibility of storing some whales aboard the Bird Of Prey in the form of a kind of intergalactic space aquarium for transport. Kirk informs present day Earth of his plans for time travel if they are sto stave off complete disaster. The crew's destination is the Pacific basin of Earth past. "May fortune favor the foolish," prays Kirk. I supose foolish is better than dead.
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As you might have guessed, they are successful in arriving at the latter half of the 20th Century. The Bird Of Prey picks up the sound of whales from San Francisco. Scotty informs Kirk the ship has some significant engineering issues that may not allow them to get home. The Dilithium crystals are weak. Those damn Klingon crystals! No cloaking ability and no time travel will be capable for 24 hours. Spock suggests nuclear material from the 21st Century that might just solve their problem. Photons will repower the crystals and give them the necessary power. Kirk asks Spock to cloak the ears and he makes a kind of instant sweat band to everyone's amusement.
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Off go our friends to the groovy sounds and goings on of 1980s Earth.

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Uhura and Checkov will handle the nuclear materials issue by looking for the "nuclear wessels." Sulu, Bones and Scotty will handle tank building and assembly issues inside the Bird Of Prey. Kirk and Spock will handle looking for the whales.
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This kills me as Chekov [with Uhura] is looking for the "nuclear wessels." It really kills me.

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And so begins the comical second half of the film as our heroes from the future take a step back in time to Earth of old for their comic antics and reactions to Earth circa 1986. One good example is when the taxi driver yells at Kirk and calls him a "dumb ass" only to have Kirk respond in child-like frustration with "double dumb ass on you." Money issues. Communication issues. This is all part of the fun. Here is one of those classic moments.

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It wouldn't be a proper Star Trek film without the vulcan neck pinch. You also get one of those frustrated "Jim" exchanges.
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Kirk and Spock arrive at the Cetacean Institute and meet Dr. Gillian Taylor [played like nails on a chalkboard by Catherine Hicks]. She reminds me of one of those yippee little dogs that nips at your heels when you ride by someone's house and it chase you for the next quarter mile.
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Classic line by Spock in response to learning about the whaling industry by humans back in the day: "To hunt a species to extinction is not logical." Some of the most interesting information on whaling can be found at the whaling museum in Nantucket, MA. And if you've never read the book you should do yourself a favor and check out In The Heart Of The Sea: The Tragedy Of The Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. It's a haunting, brutal but fascinating story. I think Spock would agree.
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The whales, George and Gracie, are slated to be released back to the ocean from the institute. Spock dives into the waters to speak with the whales via mind meld.
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Uhura and Chekov find the materials they need on a warship dubbed, ironically and with the proverbial wink, the U.S.S. Enterprise.
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Dr. Gillian Taylor gives the boys a ride as they attempt to explain who they are. Spock drops a bombshell by telling her Gracie is pregnant. It's a bombshell not because she's pregnant [and Taylor already knows as we find out later], but because he knows and she is dumbfounded by the possibility that Spock could know.

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Scotty, Bones and Sulu get their answers at Plexicorp. There are so many funny moments in this film it's hard to keep track.

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I remember having to train this fellow on how to use a mouse years and years ago. I literally had to hold his hand on the mouse and show him how to move his hand with the mouse in it. It sounds quite disturbing, but it's true.

Taylor: "Are you sure you won't change your mind?"

Spock: "Is there something wrong with the one I have."

Kirk: "Little joke." There's plenty here.
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Over dinner Kirk gives Taylor the lowdown on how he and his friends could help those whales.
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Taylor: "You're from outerspace."

Kirk: "No. I'm from Iowa. I only work in outerspace." You see.
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This is key moment in reaching Spock's humanity and the question of how he feels. It's easy to miss.

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Collecting the necessary materials Uhura is beamed aboard the Bird Of Prey, but Chekov is captured by the military. I can't imagine a Russian being captured on the Enterprise on Earth in 1986 is a good thing for Chekov with the Cold War and all. Chekov makes a break for it but gets hurt and is hospitalized in critical condition.
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I love moments like this.

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Sulu brings back some nifty materials for the whale tanks via chopper. While outside the Bird Of Prey Dr. Taylor is yelling for Kirk in the park. They beam her aboard to quiet down that yippee little dog. She is an annoying woman and an annoying actress. Kirk is informed the whales have been released. Chekov is in the hospital and critical, but our man Bones saves the day. Spock agrees the one must be saved. "It is the human thing to do."
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They bust into the hospital in medical garb and using Dr. Taylor as a patient with a bad case of upper abdominal distension otherwise known as "cramps." Damn that doctor lingo sounds good though.
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Back on board the Bird Of Prey the crew heads off looking for the whales. I'm reminded of a-ha's song We're Looking For The Whales. I never really thought I'd have reason to think of that song until now.
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There are a number of very subtle moments like this throughout the film bringing the Spock we know and love back into the fold.

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Our fearless heroes find George and Gracie just in time arriving above a whaling ship prepared to harpoon their catch. Lock and load. Scotty beams our watery mammal friends aboard the ship with water for the containment tanks to boot. "Admiral, there be whales here!" celebrates Mr. Scott in excitement. Back to the future they must go. I'm not really sure about the whole time travel special effect. It was a little pathetic and weak.
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The Bird Of Prey arrives and crashes waterbound into the Earth oceans releasing the whales to communicate with the probe and in turn prevent the destruction of Earth. It's a flawless landing that might never actually happen in real life except for that one miraculous instance in New York's Hudson Bay. Bless them.
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Success. I love the visuals of the Bird Of Prey in the water and rain. It's a nicely executed segment with the cast outside looking on at the surviving whales against the backdrop of the green vessel. I also like the swimming moments with the crew. There is such joy in these shots. So what exactly was the probe that spoke whale? Why? Why did it need to hear the whales in order to go away? I can only say I have no idea still, but fascinating. Happy with its findings, the probe turns and departs, but to where it has gone is anyone's guess.
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The sun shines once again and all is literally right with the world.
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The epilogue: Kirk is brought before the court for his charges with his crew and Spock. Spock, who while not named, chooses to stand with his shipmates. Kirk pleads guilty, but the court dismisses all charges except for Kirk's charge of disobeying the orders of a superior officer. In effect, it's a godsend as he is reduced in rank to captain from admiral. He will be back in command of a starship as only we have come to know and love. They receive the one and only home they know, the NCC-1701-A, U.S.S. Enterprise. There is great meaning in the film's title, the voyage home, on many levels and this is no exception for the crew.
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Spock says goodbye to his father. This is yet another fine moment in the Star Trek cannon answering his mother's question asked earlier in the film.

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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is worth the trip.
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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: B+

Monday, March 9, 2009

How To Change Toilet Paper

This just cracked me up tonight.

I came across this toilet paper change by my Girl Wonder. Lazy or efficient?

Needless to say it's not pretty, but apparently gets the job done.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Rocket Man

It was a classic that kind of worked for me here. A portion of the final exciting sequence from Babylon 5 Thirdspace.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Babylon 5: Thirdspace

The design of the artifact is one of the best things about Thirdspace [along w/ Sheridan's spacesuit].

Earth Year 2261. It is the year between wars. The Shadow War is over. The Earth War is coming.

Contact was made with Thirdspace. "We almost didn't survive it. I only hope we never come across it again, because next time no one is going to survive it," narrates Sheridan. Those are pretty strong words. It'll be interesting to see what he means and what enemies he is referring. I had some idea about In The Beginning's story, but I knew nothing about the content of this one. We're about to find out more about the third Babylon 5 film fittingly titled Thirdspace from Babylon 5: The Movie Collection.

Ivanova is guiding the Delta Squadron starfuries into a heated dogfight against raiders attempting to take supply ships. The White Star fleet arrives as reinforcements to back Ivanova against the raiders who surrender.
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Lyta can be so pretty.
Lyta Alexander sits down across from two clients for a scanning job. It's a domestic dispute. One man versus another over an affair with his wife. To make matters worse, it's brother versus brother. As Lyta scans the brother who denies the affair, she sees the visual of an unusual space vessel. She is troubled a touch by what she sees but confirms the man's denial is the truth. After twenty years of thinking his brother had an affair with his wife she confirms he is indeed telling the truth that he did not. It was odd though. I'm uncertain if she actually did get the truth here since she was clearly distracted by the vessel in question.

While in hyperspace enroute to the station, Ivanova encounters that very vessel glimpsed by our telepathic friend Lyta. Her team links together like a "string of pearls" to investigate while avoiding getting lost. The behemoth of a vessel appears to be abandoned or dead. Ivanova requests five starfuries and "all" of the starfuries. It's BIG. She brings the immense artifact back to Babylon 5. It's so big the jumpgate struts have to be pushed outward to accommodate its size. Yeah, it's massive.

Lyta is connected to it and visualizes scenes inside the Zocalo with aliens slaughtered while the shadow of a creature moves against a well-lit wall behind her. She disengages from her visual. Was she seeing the future here? Meanwhile Vir requests to investigate. Sheridan and Delenn indicate he needs to wait as do the other non-aligned worlds. Everyone appears eager to find out more about this mammoth spacecraft. Sheridan does indeed want to view its contents first. "Besides... it is mine."

Zack investigates the hull and notes visual signs of weapons fire on its exterior. Zack is wise to consider it a threat and proceeds with caution. One of his colleagues calls it "beautiful." He indicates "so is a cobra." Good point. In hindsight, the "beautiful" remark reflects the influence the mammoth vessel was having on people in its proximity immediately after coming through the gate.

One of the automated maintenance bots attempt to take a surface sample but loses its energy supply and goes lifeless after being absorbed by the mystery craft. Further they are unable to recharge the bot top top it off. A passenger arrives on Babylon 5 and wants to speak with Sheridan.
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Crazy wall writers are generally not a good sign.
In her quarters Lyta is feverishly writing "There is danger remember." She is, as my boy wonder said, "creeping me out." She is disturbed to be sure and writing like a crazy woman channeling something. It's never a good sign when your main characters are writing the same four words over and over like a character possessed. A woman, Dr. Elizabeth Trent [played by Shari Belafonte], arrives to access the "artifact." She's from an interplanetary corporation called IPX based on Earth. She insists Babylon 5 is not equipped to handle exploration of the craft. Apparently news travels quickly. Sheridan's terms include ensuring his team works with her team in full cooperation. The station team has first dibs on everything. He also wants some supplies. If it she does not comply it will be "scrap" metal. Her team's samples indicate the vessel under examination is over one million years old. The Dr. agrees to Sheridan's conditions. Dr. Trent's teams sets up on the station. It's general chaos and Ivanova is less than pleased with the proceedings. She is precious. She will be missed in Season Five.

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Elsewhere Lyta is deeply troubled by images of the artifact. She cannot escape that which is affecting her mind. She wakes from her dream state. Zack finds her in an elevator and she is clearly mumbling those words over and over, "There is danger remember." There's a terrific mood and sense of suspense building within this feature by Director Jesus Trevino. The power goes out and both Lyta and Zack are stuck on the elevator together. Whether Lyta is actually aware of it or not remains to be seen. Zack asks her out on a date. I can't help but place the events of this episode shortly after he brought her some pizza in Season Four, Episode 7, Epiphanies. This is a really rare comical moment in a rather serious film and is equally touching. It's gotta be lonely out there in space.

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Poor Zack. Little did we know how he made every effort to spill his heart out to her and she never even registers his voice. The power returns and Lyta is none the wiser. Zack may as well have talked to himself in the mirror. So was the power outage due to the artifact? Probably.

The maintenance bots swarm the space vessel and appear to be headed for a collision with the artifact. The starfuries organize and destroy the bots before damage is incurred. Lyta is found in the control room and she is sweating, shaky and indicating "we have to stop it" as she holds a PPG at Zack's head. You may want to rethink that date Zack. She's one of those headache girls. She faints. Later, Dr. Biggs examines her and she cannot remember anything. Lyta has a plum role in this film. Lyta looks into the security camera. She knows she is being watched. Could she be connected to the artifact somehow? Could she be streaming information back to the vessel?

Dr. Trent has a lot of knowledge on Lyta apparently. She gives quite a bit of backstory on Lyta and her journey to Vorlon space and how she got there. She feels Lyta may be under Vorlon influence and that she may be a danger to the project. She also believes Lyta may be looking to destroy the artifact on behalf of the Vorlons.

Scaffolding is built all around the artifact as part of IPX's analysis of the ship. A man wakes from a nightmarish dream frightened and indicates whatever that thing is looking at them it should be kept away. He is disturbed by what he sees.

Dr. Trent suspects the artifact possesses a technology even more advanced than the jumpgate technology. People are acting very strange and Zack is informed of the scenarios affecting people on the station since the craft's arrival.

That is beautiful! Oh no, I think I'm under its influence. Help me!
In her quarters Ivanova wakes with a breeze running through her hair. She gets up to see a white light in her passageway. She walks through and she is now in her uniform and looking up at the architectural beauty of some kind of core. Vir stands next to her. "It's beautiful" he says. That's what everyone says. Everyone is mesmerized and entranced by this physical siren song. They want to go there and be there. Ivanova struggles to ask "what is it?" as if fighting for control. There is of course the lingering question of some latent telepathic abilities within Ivanova that could be in play here. Vir tells her easily, "you shouldn't ask questions like that." I would imagine the artifact would prefer you just go along with its program. A long, dark tentacle nears her eye and she wakes screaming. At this point the boy wonder quickly exits the room only to return to my bedside later at night with nightmares of Babylon 5. While not exactly the same, and certainly predating it, I was reminded of Event Horizon at this point to some degree. I love the film Event Horizon. It's a mix of horror and science fiction and may be more horror than sci-fi, but I suppose that is debatable. Still, it's a solid film and one of Director Paul Anderson's better works. Director Jesus Trevino is doing a nice job with the proceedings found in Thirdspace to create a haunting atmosphere. The people aboard Babylon 5 are being influenced by the craft found in hyperspace in a similiar way the crew in Event Horizon was influenced by the ship they found after being missing for some years.

People gather around Bill Morishi, assistant to Dr. Trent. We also see the reappearance of William Sanderson who also made an appearance in Season One, Episode 15, Grail as a character named Deuce. He's uncredited here in the intro and appears to be playing the same part [his credit does appear in the end credits]. Everyone is being drawn to this thing. Sanderson tells Mr. Morishi he needs to go faster and make it work. Everyone departs after looking on in a trance-like state. My mind was working at this point. Perhaps this artifact was brought to hyperspace and left there unattended for a reason. Perhaps it was such a danger it needed to be disposed of and hyperspace seemed like the logical place for it to be lost. Not to mention the thing is so big it was unlikely to fit through a jumpgate given their average sizing. This could be completely wrong but at the time of this writing it seemed like a possibility.

Sheridan and Dr. Trent discuss the issues at hand surrounding the artifact. Nothing is conventional about this space age "dig" and Sheridan indicates violent activity is up 30%. Sheridan notes a symbol on Trent's paperwork. It is a Vorlon symbol and she attempts playing dumb, but thankfully Sheridan is too damn smart for that bullshit. He calls her on it and demands a report with her findings in 48 hours. There is no question the Vorlons are involved in this one in particular with Lyta's ramblings as a predictor.

Sanderson is caught attempting to open the airlocks by security. He tells Zack and Ivanova "It's outside. It's calling me. It's calling all of us. They know who we are there in the city." Ivanova asks "what city?" This is well acted sequence. I always loved character actor Sanderson in everything he's done from Bladerunner to Newhart to Deadwood. This gives a glimpse of why he is so good.

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Bill Morishi tries to tell Dr. Trent what he experienced earlier and before he can describe his bizarre story he is interrupted by Trent's own aspirations and general desire for professional glory mixed with political conspiracy. Looking at a computer map it would appear external power sources were damaged to prevent an internal generator from working and activating its inherent power. Trent wants it fixed. Clearly the Vorlons or some other race of beings decided to disable this thing and put it to bed before it killed everyone around. Now the humans have rediscovered it and are bringing it back. Trent wants everything reconnected. Torishi wisely plays it cautious. He needs to agree for such a decision to happen and he asks her to convince him. She explains that jumpgates are fast and allow races to travel in weeks or days, but that this artifact could be even bigger. There is mention of a myth that the Centauri invented gate technology when in fact it was a race much older. Gate technology was discovered and assembled and put back together from hyperspace. She believes it goes beyond normal space and hyperspace. You got it. Thirdspace. This would be fast. Travel could be instantaneous. I'm not sure where she is getting her hunch from, but perhaps she is using her knowledge of the gate system to make this leap as a longtime analyst for IPX. She can taste that Nobel Prize despite referring to it as a "weapon" just moments earlier. Torishi goes on to explain what I was thinking. The signs of damage indicate the race that created it attempted to use it as a potential weapon only they were stopped before they had the chance. He wonders why it was in hyperspace. Why wouldn't the attacking race want to use it for themselves? Trent indicates , ah "it doesn't matter." What! She's lost her freakin' mind. Torishi looks skeptical. Why would you not want that information. It's kind of important. Yeah, it matters babe! She's thinking about being in those history books and Torishi indicates he'll go along with it. Oh, you'll go along alright. You'll all be history if you go down this dangerous road. If only Lyta could help.

Vir bumps into Ivanova and indicates the vivid dream he has experienced and Ivanova realizing they shared the same dream asks what happened to her in the dream. He indicates she was killed, eaten actually. He wasn't going to tell her that part. That story is enough for her and she snaps out of her lethargy regarding the warning signs around Babylon 5 reporting to Sheridan "I think we have a problem with the artifact." Good for Ivanova. She gets it. She doesn't stay sleepy for long that's for sure. That's why she's so good. She is often times very head's up.

Ivanova calls out to the work crews who have modified and are now testing an energy cell. "By whose authority?" she demands. The man thought she authorized it. She directs him to break off immediately. "It's too late" the man says. Damn, I was just going to say that. "We have contact" he reports. All aboard Babylon 5 stop in a trance-like state including Vir. Reactivated the artifact lights up and the crew working on it is destroyed. This ain't going to go well. Like zombies, many aboard Babylon 5 appear to be servants to this thing. I cannot help but want to see that monster. I'm really hoping for a monster in this one. Did I mention I like monsters?

The starfuries appear ready to launch but there is no power to the bay doors. Now why is Zack unaffected or Sheridan? Perhaps it picks and chooses people according to some kind of susceptibility. Vir and Ivanova are clearly candidates. Ivanova is somehow not affected at this time oddly enough and I'm not sure that is logical. Perhaps the strength of her character jarred her from its hold. At well over the one hour mark G'Kar is absent, as well as Londo and Lennier. Garibaldi too is missing from the installment. Their absences should place us at a specific point in time in Season Four. Perhaps they are on the station and just not involved in this one, although Vir did mention Londo was on Centauri Prime. Hmmm, I'll have to think about it.

Fights are breaking out across the station and Zack is giving the folks under the alien influence a one-hand fistful of Kenickie fury. He can kick it. They're fighting their way to the fighter bays. Zack is doing his best to keep them all at bay from the bays.

Sheridan wants to find Lyta. It is starting to come to a head. He suspects there are telepathic impulses coming from the artifact which is clearly influencing Lyta as well. Being a Vorlon-modified human telepath she is clearly affected by it. She is also concerned. Could she be concerned because the Vorlons were concerned about it?

With the loss of power corrected the starfuries launch. Concerned about the fighters moving in on the artifact Toirishi indicates to Trent they need to do something. She agrees. The camera pans away and we hear the shot of a PPG which I assume to be Trent killing Torishi as she is clearly the vessel's greatest advocate and now protector. She is under alien influence to be sure at this point.

All hell is breaking loose on the station. Delenn and Sheridan meet at Lyta's quarters. They override the door and go in. Her eyes are lit Vorlon white. Without seeing another moment it is definitely the Vorlons who have tried to contain this thing. The Vorlons indicate through her they have failed and that the door is opening. Outside the starfuries are having little impact on the enemy. The Vorlons had been prideful and wanted to be the first ones to unlock the portal or gateway to the artifact eager to get to the other side never considering what they might find there. The all powerful god-like Vorlons have erred by kind of believing in their own press as potential gods. Unfortunately, it would appear the race from Thirdspace is an even greater might beyond comprehension. They are telepaths and they are also the antithesis of life. It's like the gate to hell. They used the Vorlons and created a powerful army based on the Vorlon race. This race is so powerful even the Vorlons were willing to die for them. That's power for you. The Vorlons stemmed the tied, "fought them back," and disabled the device. Those that were loyal to this race managed to get the device back into hyperspace to hide it. I had suspected this was where it was going earlier. I mistakenly thought it was hidden by the Vorlons purposefully to preserve order when instead it was the alien-influenced Vorlons who absconded with it to hyperspace to protect it. So I was a little off but sort of in the same galaxy. The artifact is a doorway to a race that believes all other life forms must be exterminated. It is a doorway to another universe where many races have been slaughtered. This is a link from one universe to another. This race can see the Vorlons and others and awaits its chance to come to this universe, destroy the prideful Vorlons and supplant this universe with its unrivalled power. It really is like a portal to hell. The Vorlon memories are emitted from Lyta which tells the story of their past errors.
*
God that always looks so painful.
Delenn asks a great question. "Why can't they make a gate from their side?" Lyta tells them the door must be open on both sides. As long as the door was closed on this side they could not come here. Ooops! I have a feeling they've had their door open for quite some time waiting to pounce. "They must be stopped." Sheridan asks "How?" and Lyta does one of her Vorlon transfer thingies. As the light passes from her eyes and mouth and into Sheridan after she tells him to "learn." Man, you get rid of one Vorlon and get another.
*
As Vorlon-like craft come through the portal, the starfuries attack. As one might expect, the starfuries are no match for these evil forces. They make the Drakh and Shadows look like sissy fighters. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit.

Sheridan must go alone. Lyta falls to the floor in her room but not before giving some real insight into the minds of the Vorlons and what they really believe. "One mistake. One of many, so many." Apparently the Vorlons are not as perfect as we perceived their belief to be.

Ivanova finds a dead Mr. Torishi and talks with Trent about what happened. She whips up a phony story. Ivanova wants to know what she knows about that thing out there. Sheridan is calling in the Minbari cruisers and asks Ivanova to command the White Stars. She glances over at Mr. Bill with a PPG blast to his back and remembers Trent indicated Torishi was coming at her and shot him. Well, getting shot in the back doesn't jive with her story of self-defense. Ivanova opens up a can of Russian-style whoop ass and takes her down hard. Fists are flying along with legs kickboxing style.

Forces are gathering to stop the floodgates of hell from coming through that portal. Jumpgates open from every angle with the good guys arriving. I like our chances now. Sheridan puts on a pretty snazzy space uniform. I like it. I always loved the blue space uniform from Babylon Squared, but this kicks it up a notch on style and design points. He is given access to tactical nuclear weapons after a hand scan and identification reading. I'm thinking the buck stops here. With no mention of this particular episode in Season Four, I must say it's a pretty big event that transpired. WHEW! And here they come. Assault on the front of the artifact begins. It is protected by a kind of energy shield which is making the process difficult. Sheridan launches toward the artifact via spacesuit armed with rocket boosters as the battle rages. It's pretty funny to see him floating through the melee in that little suit. I mean, by God, that is one dangerous mission run. Holy smokes! I suspect it has something to do with the forcefield around that artifact and what Lyta was able to tell him. She must have given him some input with regard to its weaknesses or weak points. Attacks on those other-universe spaceships is not easy. They are equipped with significant forcefield energies and taking them down is seemingly futile for the starfuries. The White Stars appear to be having better luck. And so one reports, "We can barely hurt those things." That's exactly how I was seeing things. They are heavily equipped defensively.

Ivanova commands her forces to continue pounding at the defenses around the artifact. It's like one of those video games where you have to break through to the mothership while not getting killed by all the surrounding firefights. Sheridan jets his way to the artifact's hind side. Sheridan reports to Ivanova that he is in position. Ivanova indicates the energy field must be hammered. He slips through the rear as the energy field flags in one key point. In he goes with his nukes. The war rages and there is one point where one of the enemy ships is going head to head with a White Star until they both break through and explode. It's a very cool battle moment. I'm uncertain if it was Ivanova's ship but her ship is badly hit as we see in a few moments.

Sheridan reaches the central core. He is arming the device. Ivanova and Delenn have a visual on the great ships that are headed their way. "Give me a break" says Ivanova. Yeah, they are enormous. I'm starting to understand why Sheridan opened the beginning of this film with those harsh words.
Armed, the nuclear device begins a 5 minute countdown. He is greeted by a rather large creature, tentacled creature. SO COOL! I totally get my monster. This is a particularly cool creature in design and despite this early era CGI it does look pretty nifty. I can only guess this is some kind of a defense mechanism for the artifact and not one of the actual races from the other universe. I am uncertain. Tentacles begin to come around. Sheridan contacts the computer for autopilot of his space suit and sets it for top speed quickly moving passed the CGI animal, which quickly gives pursuit. Another appears and they would appear to have razor sharp CGI teeth. The artifact would appear to be able to generate tentacles from pure energy by sheer will as desired. Yeah, these things would definitely be a problem. Sheridan makes it to a portal. There is a weird editing moment when it looks like the tentacle sort of has him dead to rights, but then it really doesn't. It's a strange bit of editing. He gets out of the core and the tentacle just misses his ass. He orders the assault fleet to break off. As I watched that nuke countdown its last 7 seconds I thought this had better work. Could you imagine if it was a dud? They would have been royally screwed. The artifact is destroyed as well as ships around it. BIG EXPLOSION! You are so TOAST! Now, come on, let's be honest here folks. I have to admit I don't think there's a snowball's chance in hell Sheridan would have survived that explosion in that space suit. No way. He would have been a goner. I mean it's a freakin' nuclear explosion! All he feels is a few shockwaves and he spins around and off he goes back to Babylon 5. I don't think so. Really. The man has like nine lives. Thank God the gateway to hell was closed off though. Yikes. That is one scary space place.

I like Sheridan's commentary and wrap-up.

video

The Vorlons covered up their mistake ages ago. The humans did the same except this time, with the help of the Vorlons through Lyta, we were able to finish the job. I kind of agree with Sheridan's assessment here. The final words of Lyta are telling though. I suppose they contradict Sheridan's feelings. If this was just one mistake of so many others, what other mistakes yet to be uncovered are out there? We won't know until they happen, because no one needed to know. No one was told the truth. Straczynski you are a real son of a bitch when it comes to making a point. Nice touch. I still agree with Sheridan. I'm with anyone who keeps surviving and cheating death.

Finally, now we can get back to the ho-hum fighting against Earth forces and the less challenging tasks at hand for the end of Season Four.

So I would place Thirdspace somewhere within the realm of Season Four Episode 7, Epiphanies through Episode 9, Atonement. We know Dr. Franklin has not left for Mars. We know Londo is down on Centauri Prime. We know Zack is the Security Chief. It would also appear he had the courage to approach her for some summer lovin'. We also know the Shadow War is over. Still, you all know for sure out there in the great vastness of our space, cyberspace. All in all it is a good, self-contained story with a great lesson and a little more layering to the Babylon 5 mythology for those paying attention specifically involving the Vorlons and the lovely Ms. Lyta Alexander.

Thirdspace: B

*Thirdspace wins the award for most photos I've ever uploaded to a blog entry. It nearly killed me like the damn artifact central to this story that nearly destroyed everything in this universe. Lordy!