The ghosts of Sinclair's past.Season 1, Episode 8
And the Sky, Full of Stars
Sinclair: What the hell is going on here?
Knight Two: Maybe you're asleep. Maybe you're insane. Maybe you're dead. Maybe you're in Hell! Not that it matters much, Commander Sinclair, because wherever you are, wherever you go, you're mine.
Two people arrive aboard the station, known only as Knight One and Knight Two. They rendezvous go to some empty quarters, where one of them says he's identified the target, displaying an image of Commander Sinclair.
A security officer, Benson, is being beaten up by some thugs that he owes money to. They give him 24 hours to come up with payment in full. Later he is called to Sinclair's office. He has apparently been spending too much time in the casinos and has racked up a lot of debt via gambling, which leaves him open to being compromised. Benson protests that he hasn't exceeded those limits in the casinos; Sinclair replies that the evidence suggested that Benson was gambling off the official records. He is removed from duty pending an investigation. Benson leaves, but goes to a storage room. Later he shows up in the Knights' quarters with a pilfered energy unit. He doesn't know what's going on, but he just wants to be paid, and leaves as soon as he's assured he will be.
That night, Sinclair wakes up in his quarters after a nightmare about the Battle of the Line. He goes to use his computer, but it's not working. His attempts to call a maintenance team go unanswered, as do his calls to C&C and security. Perplexed and worried, he makes his way to C&C, finding it deserted. His attempts to activate the systems or communicate with Earth Central seem to have similar results. He is about to leave when the main console suddenly comes to life. He asks about an evacuation, but is told there wasn't one, then scans for lifeforms; only one is found.
As he makes his way to where it is the lights suddenly start going off and he finds himself facing Knight Two.
Meanwhile, Garibaldi is sitting in his office when Delenn approaches, asking if he has seen the Commander. They were supposed to meet over an hour ago. When Sinclair fails to answer his call, he asks the ambassador to excuse him, and heads off to begin looking.
Sinclair demands to know what's happened to the station, and is told that it's fine. He himself has been taken and wrapped in cybernetics along with Knight Two. None of what they are seeing is real, except the pain, which he demonstrates by torturing Sinclair with a "cerebral discharge".
By now Garibaldi has confirmed that Sinclair is not in his quarters, and calls Ivanova to begin a station-wide search.
In the Knights' quarters, Knight One is controlling the virtual environment as well as monitoring both his subjects. At his partners request he cuts the discharge, releasing Sinclair. Inside the cerebral matrix Knight Two tells Sinclair that they are going to have a walk down Memory Lane, to the Battle of the Line. Something happened there, and they are not leaving until they find out the truth.
As Garibaldi and Ivanova organize the search efforts, Knight Two gives a summary of Sinclair's career. He was on the fast track for a while, and certain to make top brass one day, but something happened to derail that. Sinclair remains defiant, telling him he probably doesn't have much time as security will be looking for him soon, if they aren't already.
Knight Two brings up someone else, an image of an old squadron mate, Mitchell, who was killed at the Line. At first Sinclair refuses to give in, telling himself that Mitchell is just an illusion, but Mitchell continues asking accusing questions, until Sinclair finally responds, "I tried."
"Tried to do what?" demands Knight Two. Sinclair remembers trying to ram a Minbari Cruiser, but is unable to recall anything after that. Knight Two is not satisfied, however, and begins accusing him of not wanting to remember, "The day you became a traitor. The day you sold out—" He is cut off when Sinclair punches him in the gut.
"Well, well. Looks like the pain is real for both of us." Sinclair says with a satisfied look as he clenches his fist.
Ivanova is walking along a catwalk when Delenn approaches. She asks if there is anything she can do, but Ivanova assures her they are doing everything they can. The Knights are having troubles of their own. Knight Two is still reeling a bit from Sinclair's blow, but wants to go back in, even though Knight One is worried about it. They have about four hours before security searches reach their hideaway. They decide to increase both the cybernet's power and the dosage of the psychotropics to Sinclair, even though it would likely cause him to start hallucinating, and possibly even kill him.
Garibaldi takes a report from his second, Jack. Jack has pulled everyone in, even Benson. When Garibaldi objects, Jack says he's clean. A look at Benson's records accounts shows a positive balance after paying off lots of debts. A large payment was made only hours before Sinclair went missing. Suspecting a connection, Garibaldi wants Benson found. Benson, nearby, watches as security becomes abuzz with activity, and runs off.
In both the real world and the cybernet, Sinclair clenches and unclenches his fist. Within the cybernet, Sinclair finds himself in a dark space as lights come on, illuminating figures in Minbari robes. He asks them what they want from him, but one of them shoots him with some sort of staff weapon.
Benson arrives at the hideaway, asking for help, but stumbles on Knight Two and Sinclair wrapped in the cybernet. Knight One immediately shoots him. Sinclair, strapped to the cybernet, clenches his fist.
Knight Two begins pressing Sinclair about the robed figures. Sinclair resists, but his tormentor says if he fails more will come until the job is finished. Meanwhile a sweep of maintenance bots has found Benson's body floating outside the station. Figuring it couldn't have been dragged too far, he orders the searchers to concentrate on the area near where it was found.
Sinclair is still at Knight Two's mercy, who finds Sinclair's repeated assertions that he was unconscious for twenty-four hours ridiculous. He proposes a scenario in which, rather than face the forces arrayed against them at the Line, the Minbari took him in and co-opted him, turning him against his people. Sinclair declares this to be insane, and angrily tells how he and everyone sent to the Line was vastly outmatched. Knight Two demands to know why, then, did the Minbari surrender.
"I don't know. Maybe the universe blinked, maybe God changed His mind."
Knight Two asks if anything has ever made him question that. Sinclair is about to respond, when he suddenly remembers the Minbari warrior from "The Gathering
" saying, "There is a hole in your mind." Knight Two seizes on this, and convinces Sinclair to go and look. He finds himself back with the robed figures, but this time he goes up to one and pulls up the hood. He pauses, saying, "I know you." He is the shot by the staff weapon again, but this time he manages to reconnect with his physical self. He yanks himself out of his restraints, destroys Knight Two's cyber interface, and knocks Knight One out. It is clear he is delusional as his leaves the room and begins wandering the station. As he encounters various people in the halls, he sees the cloaked figures, rather than who they really are, which prompts him to fire on one of his own security personnel as she tries to talk to him. She begins to call in his location, but Knight One has woken up and shoots her In the Back
before she can send the message. Ivanova traces the link and sends Garibaldi toward that location.
Knight One catches up with Sinclair, and the two start shooting at each other. Sinclair also shoots at Garibaldi's forces when they arrive, and anyone else who crosses his view. Then Delenn shows up. She slowly approaches Sinclair, trying to get him to remember who he is. He points his weapon at her, but does not fire, repeating, "I know you." He flashes back to the robed figures, and pulling the hood off one. It was Delenn. He suddenly fires his gun...behind Delenn; Knight One falls to the ground. Soon after Sinclair collapses.
The next day, after the psychotropics has been flushed from Sinclair's body, he asks to see Knight Two. The meeting does little, the man's brain has been scrambled, leaving him with little more than a vacant expression. He does react to Sinclair, saying there's something in his head saying they both might still be inside.
He then goes to thank Delenn for her help. She asks if he remembers anything, but he says, straight-faced, "Sorry, not a thing." After he leaves, another Minbari appears, telling Delenn he must never find out, and if he does, she must kill him. Delenn reluctantly agrees.
Back in his quarters, Sinclair begins to recount what he now remembers. He was taken aboard a Minbari cruiser, tortured, interrogated, and brought into the presence of the Grey Council itself. What Delenn was doing there, and what they don't want him to remember about that day, he doesn't know, but resolves to find out.
Tropes present in this episode include:
- Call Back: "There is a hole in your mind."
- Continuity Nod: The newspaper Garibaldi is seen reading has headlines relating to several events in recent episodes; the clearest example of this would probably be "Narns Settle Raghesh III Controversy". (It also includes one or two articles that are Foreshadowing for later events).
- The Ending Changes Everything: In a broader sense: the season finale casts an entirely new light on Jack's actions in this episode. It seems likely he too was assisting the Knights in their actions; at the very least, he tried to convince Garibaldi that Benson was harmless—unsuccessfully, of course. It's also likely that Jack warned Benson that the rest of security was looking for him.
- Foreshadowing: Garibaldi's newspaper includes a couple interesting stories: Psi-Corps in Election Tangle: Did Psi-Corps Violate Its Charter In Endorsing Vice-President? and, as a Freeze-Frame Bonus (though heavily blurred and virtually unreadable), Is There Something Living In Hyperspace?
- Harsher in Hindsight: Sinclair's hallucinatory state after escaping takes on a dramatically darker and harsher subtext; after Michael O'Hare's death, it was revealed he left the show to get treatment for schizophrenia.
- He Knows Too Much: Knight One shoots Benson when he sees Sinclair and Knight Two in the VR cybernet.
- In the Back: Knight One shoots a Security officer this way before she can alert C&C to the commander's location.
- Hopeless War: The Minbari War was sure to end with the destruction of humanity, which is why their sudden surrender at the Battle of the Line was so shocking.
- Large Ham: Knight Two seems to adopt this deliberately when interrogating Sinclair.
- MacGyvering: A real life version. The special camera lens to create the hallucinatory "fish-eye" effect was lost, so the cameraman simply shot through a punch bowl. It worked perfectly.
- Mind Rape
- Neural Interface
- No Name Given: We never learn the names of the two Knights. Even their designations, Knight One and Knight Two, are only revealed in the credits.
- The Reveal: Delenn was present when Sinclair was captured at the Battle of the Line.
- Script-Reading Doors: There's a particularly striking moment near the end where a door opens the moment Sinclair decides to leave, before he's actually started moving toward it.
- Talk to the Fist: Sinclair does this once he's had enough of Knight Two's snide insinuations regarding his loyalty to Earth. Two is so surprised that it temporarily knocks him out of the simulation.
- Trapped by Gambling Debts: Benson. Sinclair and Garibaldi are Genre Savvy enough to have him relieved of duty as soon as they learn of this, but that doesn't stop him from accepting money to help the bad guys. When Benson's debts suddenly disappear, Garibaldi correctly sees this as a red flag.
- The Treachery of Images: Discussed between Knight Two and Sinclair within the VR cybernet.
- Unexpectedly Abandoned: Sinclair's VR interrogation starts with him waking to find the station deserted.
- Wham Episode
- What Might Have Been: JMS offered both Walter Koenig and Patrick McGoohan a role in the episode as one of the kidnappers. Both had to decline for health or scheduling reasons, but Koenig was later cast in a recurring role as Bester.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: For both Sinclair and Knight Two, as it turns out.
- You're Insane!: Sinclair's reaction when the interrogator explains his theory about Sinclair being a Minbari sleeper agent.