"Reporting live from the ISN news center in Geneva."
And Now For a Word
In the process of putting this report together, it didn't take us long to learn the most important rule of survival aboard Babylon 5: expect the unexpected.
We start from a report from an ISN news desk with special correspondent Cynthia Torqueman, as we the viewers are treated to her experience of the controversial Babylon 5.
The first few minutes witness an armed Narn cruiser destroy a Centauri transport, and the first view is focused on Dr. Franklin trying to help the survivors of the strike, while Captain Sheridan offers "no comment." Londo is quick to point out how hostile the Narn are being in neutral territory, but G'Kar denies it saying he will receive a statement from his government shortly.
The next three interviews are from the chief docker Delvientos
(about how every loading and unloading task seems to be always on a priority list), Lt. David Corwin (and how rewarding the experience is), and Captain Sheridan himself (about his service in Earthforce, and the chances of how long the station would last).
We then go to Dr. Franklin in the med bay, and he reveals why he hates jokes about people being spaced
, one of his friends was spaced, suffocating after fiddling with switches on walls.
G'Kar comes up with a statement about the Centauri transport shot down: he claims said ship was a weapons transport that would be bound for the front lines in the Narn-Centauri conflict, and promises to put a stop to the weapons trafficking, even if it means shutting down Babylon 5 itself.
We come to a statement from Earth Senator Ronald Quantrell about how beneficial keeping the station may be, and Sheridan comes back with a retort: The Earth Alliance hasn't recovered from the Earth-Minbari War. At the bridge deck, the news reporter comes to Commander Ivanova, who is investigating the recent attack, and she gives her life story to the reporter. Chief Garibaldi is next, and admits he'd rather have a quiet life on Babylon 5. Ivanova calls him up to the deck.
After the human staff are consulted, the Torqueman gets a shot of the mysterious Vorlon Ambassador Kosh, but is not able to talk. Delenn is next. She talks about her homeworld, how she had changed overall after the Season 1 finale, and stops when the Earth-Minbari War gets mentioned.
Ivanova's investigation is finished, calling for all available ambassadors to come to a hearing. G'Kar's suspicions have been verified, and Sheridan is royally upset
at Londo; Babylon 5 is in neutral territory, and not
to be used as a staging area/munitions depot, and anything that causes that to change would put all the residents in a dangerous situation. Londo is quick to retaliate, but Sheridan and Delenn shoot him down, then G'Kar demands that the remaining Centauri ships be seized and searched. Just before the debate gets seriously heated, a fight begins outside. Delta Squadron is deployed, and Sheridan, after some deliberation, calls for a neutralization order (disable first, destroy as a last resort). Sheridan calls for any combatants to be thrown in the brig, then nearly does so with Londo and G'Kar, but calls for a "neater" action since the cameraman's on his left.
Sheridan: Then invite them again, as firmly and politely as you can. This nonsense has gone on long enough.
(cut to docking area where captured Narns are herded in)
Torqueman: The "nonsense" Captain Sheridan referred to is the Narn-Centauri war, which, over the past several months, has grown into a conflict which threatens to spill into other systems and lead to an escalation of hostilities. Prior to the battle we just witnessed, ISN spoke with representatives from both sides, in order to better understand the history of this conflict.
We now hear G'Kar's life story about the Narn-Centauri War, and said his father was hung by a tree after spilling the equivalent of hot coffee on a Centauri. He was able to run away and score his first kill. Next is Londo's story about the war, and said the Narn had started to resort to violence at first.
Back on C&C, a Centauri Battle Cruiser jumps in right on top of the station, and Londo calls up. He demands the suspected Centauri transports be returned to Centauri space, and until then any other ship will be interdicted or shot down
We cut to a Psi Corps commercial. Next is Senator Quantrell about how Babylon 5's involvement comes at a price.
Returning to Babylon 5, Torqueman waits outside the council chambers trying to get statements from Sheridan ("All sides are still talking.") and G'Kar, who says this is proof the Centauri are a menace and promises to make it clear to them this will not be allowed. He rushes off as Torqueman tries to ask what he means.
Back with Senator Quantrell, he and Torqueman discuss what happens next, the senator voicing concerns that having an outpost like Babylon 5 only puts Earthforce personnel between warring factions, and that the loss of life might have been avoided. Torqueman points out that they are at war, which means people die, but he retorts that it wouldn't have happened in their backyard.
In C&C, Sheridan calls the Centauri cruiser, telling them Earthgov has rejected their demands and if they make any hostile attack, the station has its weapons loaded to bear. After that he sends a single shuttle through. Several tense moment pass but it flies past the cruiser without incident.
On C&C there is jubilant applause, but just as Sheridan opens a channel, a Narn cruiser jumps in and assaults the Centauri cruiser. After the Centauri cruiser gets shot up, the Narn cruiser attempts to jump out, but their drives malfunction and the ship explodes.
Torqueman: (at anchor desk) As journalists, we would be remiss in our responsibilities if we suggested that events such as those you've just witnessed were typical of the situation on Babylon 5. Like anyone else, they have good days and bad days. But there can be no question that it is a flash point that can only grow hotter as time passes. And yet, growth only comes through pain and struggle, so perhaps we should allow Babylon 5 time to realize, or one day, even exceed the dreams we have invested in it. We'll be back with some concluding thoughts right after this message.
Torqueman: After the crisis was over, the debris cleared, and the bodies counted, we asked each of the people involved in this story one question: Given the danger, at the end of the day, as Mr. Garibaldi said, is it worth it?
Garibaldi says yes, they found out the Centauri were transporting weapons and put a stop to it. "We learn, that's what humans do." Londo also agrees, and learning lessons is one of the things that keep Babylon 5 alive. G'Kar presents his doubts, Ivanova gives a curt "yes", Delenn says yes, saying it's a "great gift, but a terrible responsibility." Senator Quantrell thinks we'll have to wait and see. Dr. Franklin says yes (because of medical intervention), Delvientos says yes (for the sake of pension), and so does Captain Sheridan, however, he says it's not for any of the reasons above, but for the sake of creating peace and working out interracial problems. He says Babylon 5 is more or less about making a better future...
"I'm Cynthia Torqueman. Goodnight."
This episode contains examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: Torqueman mispronounces Susan Ivanova's last name as "I've-a-nova".
- Are We Getting This?: The shot of Kosh came at a point between the filming of segments. After Kosh retreats, Torqueman says "Did we get that? Tell me we got that." (They had.)
- Armor-Piercing Question: Torqueman's question to Delenn about her physical change to part-human clues Delenn in that her well-intentioned action may have actually made things worse in some regards...and makes her visibly upset, to the point of crying.
- Ascended Extra: We finally learn the name of one of the C&C officers: David Corwin. He gradually becomes more prominent as the series continues.
- Blatant Lies: Corwin's (very nervous) description of Babylon 5 as a calm, cheerful workplace where nobody ever gets mad. While Commander Ivanova glares at him from the background.
- Camera Abuse: B5's numerous, independent "Securecams" floating around the hull; we see a few of them get trashed during a skirmish between Narn and Centauri ships.
- Continuity Nod: One of the sponsors of the program is Interplanetary Expeditions.
- Damage Control: When the Narn and Centauri start fighting damage to the station includes a hull breach in Blue 70. Sheridan sends a repair crew down then orders the fighters to deal with the belligerents.
- A Day in the Limelight: Usually ISN is just in the background. Here they take center stage.
- Finagle's Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong...while a news crew is onboard to film it and broadcast it to millions of viewers.
- Funny Background Event: Watch Ivanova's reactions as Lt. Corwin describes Babylon 5 as a nice, quiet place where hardly anyone gets mad.
- Humans Are Special / Humans Are Diplomats: Delenn's reason for saying Babylon 5 is worth the risks. Humans alone would build a station for the entire galaxy to use, rather than just their own kind.
- Intrepid Reporter: Cynthia Torqueman.
- Kick the Dog: An unintentional one by the reporter, whose interview of Delenn just after she's been rejected by her own people too is enough to leave the Ambassador in tears.
- Kinda Busy Here: Non-telecommunications variant: Franklin tells off the reporters for bugging him while he is hip deep in seriously wounded patients.
- Look Ma, I Am on TV!: A couple of the shots of Torqueman in public areas has a bunch of people (humans and aliens alike) trying to get into the camera's shot field.
- Magical Security Cam: Barely averted. Upon realizing a camera couldn't fit into some of the angles seen (at least, as we knew them in the mid-'90s), JMS ordered a CG small floating camera in the background of an early shot to explain this.
- Naval Blockade: After the fight between Narn and Centauri ships Centauri battlecruiser shows up and positions itself between the station and the jumpgate, threatening to fire on any ships attempting to travel between them, unless the Centauri ships that had been impounded are released.
- Paparazzi: Ambassador Kosh finally meets his match...and retreats rapidly.
- Subliminal Seduction: PSI CORPS IS YOUR FRIEND. TRUST THE CORPS. Arguably the whole point of the episode, considering its title. "And Now For A Word" calls to mind the phrase continuing "...from our sponsors". As only two organizations get an advert inserted into the program (well, every version of the program, and this is the only full-length advert), we might guess who was sponsoring it. They certainly got that word in.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: Dr. Franklin once watched a friend die from an accidental spacing. For this reason, he doesn't find "spacing" jokes particularly funny.
- Tuckerization: Word of God is that Lt. Corwin was named after Norman Corwin, one of J. Michael Straczynski's writing instructors.
- 24-Hour News Networks: ISN
- War Is Hell