A sword is one thing, but where'd he get the chain mail?
I am Arthur, King of the Britons!
-King Arthur (David McIntyre)
The Jumpgate opens and an Earth passenger ship, the Asimov
, zooms towards Babylon 5. Up in C&C, Sheridan and Ivanova are grousing over the steep drop in trade since they declared independence from Earth. Docking fees make up the biggest chuck of their income, and they can't rely on the Minbari ships to protect them forever.
Downstairs, Garibaldi is holding up the line at the Post Office, incensed at having to pay 100 credits to retrieve his parcel. Overhead costs have increased, or so the obstinate postmaster claims. Seeing as this gentlemen is clearly well-fed, Garibaldi tries plying him with the contents of his box - racks of Italian meats, garlic cloves, and seasonings. The postal worker visibly salivates; sounds like he'd love
to get a piece of that action. No sooner does Garibaldi get to the part about the giant pepperoni sticks, however, than the Postmaster rudely yanks away the box in an epic Screw You. "Next!" You realize, sir, that this means war.
Meanwhile on the Asimov
, one of the passengers tosses in his bunk with nightmares. He stumbles down a narrow corridor between doors that refuse to stay shut, terrified by the sights beyond them. He runs, and finds a shining sword resting at the end, awaiting his grasp.
Dr. Franklin is impressed to find that Marcus has single-handedly diagnosed an outbreak of Banta Flu amongst the lurker population. As they discuss the unfairness of the lurkers' situation, Marcus muses that perhaps it would be worse if bad things happened to people because the universe thinks they deserve it. When the topic turns to Marcus' brooch, he explains that it symbolizes Minbari and humans uniting against a common enemy. Marcus continues to prattle on cryptically, saying the Rangers are trained "about terror—how to use it, and how to face it." Suddenly, becoming an Ranger sounds like the coolest gig in the universe. Franklin wants to learn more, but Marcus darkly replies, "No, you wouldn't." What do he think he is, an army recruiter?
Meanwhile, the Asimov
passenger from before has reemerged wearing a cape and chainmail. Great. Just when things were starting to get normal around here. When the man passes through customs, an alarm immediately sounds. One of the guard politely informs him that he's carrying a weapon, which is a violation under station rules. This causes him to go absolutely berserk, whipping out a broadsword and proclaiming himself King Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon and King of the Britons. Well, that
was unexpected. Thinking quickly, Marcus calls off the guards and bows reverently to "Arthur", who is pleased to be addressed by another Briton. Marcus promises to send word to Galahad and Lancelot - which suddenly provokes Arthur into holding his sword to poor Marcus' throat. Have at you, sir! As usual, Marcus' literary expertise is impeccable... but his chronology was off. This
Arthur hails from the Battle of Camlann, where nearly everyone - himself included, supposedly - was slain by Mordred's troops (Spoiler Alert). Recovering from this blunder, Marcus manages to sweet-talk Arthur into following him to MedLab. Lead on!
Franklin orders his aide to run "Arthur's" DNA through the system as he questions him about his identity. Arthur replies that his last memory is of dying on the battlefield of Camlann, and that he cannot rest until Excalibur is delivered back to the Lady of the Lake.
Marcus tries to shoehorn Arthur into the war council meeting, but a disinterested Sheridan gives it pass. Undeterred, Marcus reminds everyone that they did
pay host to Jack the Ripper, recently. Only Franklin seems open to the idea that the Vorlons might have been responsible for preserving and restoring another historical figure - though the practical part of him discards the notion. He can't investigate for psychological trauma, however, because the man has escaped MedLab.
Back in DownBelow, Arthur finds a distraught old woman weeping after a framed picture of her late husband was seized by ruffians. Arthur vows to help her, and sets off at once to vanquish the thieves. On the upper level, G'Kar is busy with a smuggler who is passing messages between the Narns and their families back on the homeworld. They hear a scuffle and from a balcony they see four thugs assaulting a man. Neither of them intervenes until Arthur appears, sword in hand, and demands the return of the portrait. He gives the loan shark a sound thrashing, with an admiring G'Kar looking on, but more thugs appear from behind. That prompts G'Kar to intervene on Arthur's behalf, leaping down from a balcony and busts loose into his Wolverine stance.
Following the battle, G'Kar is still pumped over their victory as he and Arthur get drunk on ale. His chivalrous side is tickled by Arthur's tales of the Round Table; he is greatly moved when Arthur dubs him Sir G'Kar, the Red Knight.
Garibaldi, on the other hand, is suffering from a lack of sufficient awe—for the Post Office. His jittery aide wonders what they're doing breaking into the mail locker. Garibaldi says to put a lid on it; They've faced down the entire Earth alliance and two carrier groups, what is this guy whining about? Sure, sputters the lackey, but this is THE POST OFFICE. Garibaldi scoffs and breaks the lock, only to find the clairvoyant postal worker ready and waiting for him. He announces that the Postmaster General will hear about this. As a final insult, he charges Garibaldi an excuse 20 credits for the lock.
Arthur is lost again on the field of Camlann, telling G'Kar about the misunderstanding that had started the battle in which his knights met their deaths, but visions of Minbari vessels destroying Star Furies are dancing in his head. Marcus arrives to fetch Arthur, just in time to watch G'Kar faint from drink. Sir Gawain had that same problem, you know.
Sheridan addresses ambassadors from the League of Nonaligned Worlds, petitioning them to join an alliance to defend the station in return for being able to use the station for trade, travel and even peace negotiations among themselves.
Franklin has narrowed down Arthur's identity using his DNA; and what's more, he intends to tell him. Marcus examines the readout on the screen, and is horrified. He argues to let the sad bastard believe he is King of the Britons, but Franklin insists that the truth will "heal" him. So Franklin tells "Arthur" that he is David McIntyre, and was Gunnery Sergeant on the EAS Prometheus
which opened fire on Minbari vessels in a first contact situation and thus sparked the Earth-Minbari war. The memories flood back into him. In his fertile imagination they mix with a vision of himself trying to give back Excalibur but being struck down from behind by a black knight, and this knocks him into a state of catatonic shock.
The Captain is delighted to hear that enough of the League worlds are signing on to the mutual defense treaty to keep the station in business, but nobody's happy about what happened to "Arthur." Franklin is the most upset, berating himself for trying to fix everything again. With Marcus however he finally figures out what McIntyre came to the station to do: to give up the King's responsibility, the King's pain, the King's sword, to the Lady of the Lake. It is Delenn who is called upon to take up Excalibur, and thus relieve McIntyre's guilt for the war and its hundreds of thousands of deaths.
Garibaldi pays in full for his package, but springs a little surprise of his own: Rent for the space the office uses is due...and it costs one hundred and one credits. D'oh. That'll teach you to get between an Italian and his sausages.
His spirit lighter, McIntyre leaves the station bound for Narn, where G'Kar thinks the Arthurian legend is an excellent model for the resistance movement to follow. Watching him depart, Marcus suggests that Sheridan is forming a new Round Table with himself as Arthur, Kosh as Merlin, Franklin as Percival, Marcus as Galahad, and Ivanova as Gawain. Mordred is obvious, Marcus says (presumably Morden) but who is Morgana Le Fey?
- All Myths Are True: Subverted, though Marcus doggedly continues to insist otherwise.
Marcus: [gestures at Kosh] Merlin was a great teacher, you know!
Franklin: I'm not hearing this.
Marcus: They say he aged backwards. That was how he was able to foretell the future - by remembering it! Which means he came from the future! Maybe he had Arthur form the Round Table by remembering us!
- Angst Coma: Franklin tries to help "King Arthur" overcome his denial by confronting him with his real identity (against Marcus' warnings). The resultant trauma is so severe, he falls into a catatonic state. He recovers when Delenn (the "Lady of the Lake") stands at his bedside and accepts the sword.
- Anything But That!: The postal service is the one thing Garibaldi's lackey truly fears.
- The Atoner: Arthur, aka Gunnery Sergeant David McIntyre.
- Bash Brothers: G'Kar is so impressed with Arthur's gallantry against a pack of lurkers, he immediately down from a balcony to join the fight. The pair get drunk afterward, and Arthur promptly "knights" G'Kar with his sword.
- Black and White Morality: Arthur and G'Kar versus the thugs. Lampshaded by G'Kar, who finds it very refreshing to be unambiguously in the right for once.
G'Kar:They were the bad guys, we were the good guys, and they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the floor!
- Bribe Backfire: Garibaldi attempting to placate the postal worker with delicious snacks.
- Call Back:
- The Drazi ambassador now speaks for the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, whose membership is a lot smaller than it was last season. This is to be expected now that some races have been conquered by their neighbors, with Shadow help.
- Marcus mentions Sebastian after the initial dismissal of Arthur's claim by the senior crew.
- Casting Gag: Michael York was JMS' original choice to play Sheridan, and he wanted to do it, but the PTEN execs refused.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Even at 1800 years old, "King Arthur" can still kick some ass. He chivalrously beats up a lurker for robbing a destitute old lady in Downbelow.
- Continuity Nod: The Asimov has been to Babylon 5 a couple of times.
- Death Seeker: Implied with David McIntyre, who was in battle after battle since the start of the war, including the Battle of the Line.
- Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age: Arthur's trusty sword gets the better of a half-dozen mooks with pipes.
- Foreshadowing: The last line regarding the person who represents Morgan le Fay of the episode alludes to the last episode of the season (i.e. Anna Sheridan). The line about Merlin also applies to Sinclair as Valen.
- Forgiveness: Delenn's forgiveness of David McIntyre is ultimately what heals him.
- Gray and Gray Morality: G'Kar celebrates not having to deal with this for today with "Arthur" (this and ancient evils) after thumping the thugs.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The obstinate postal worker complains that without his resources on Earth, he has to utilize back-doors, smuggling routes, and legal loopholes in order to keep the mail delivered on time. Garibaldi turns the argument around on him by observing that without Earthforce paying its overhead, the post office has back due rent. He offers the postal worker a protection fee of 101 credits.
- Ironic Echo: "Not so much when you think about it, is it?"
- Large Ham: "King Arthur" is an expansive talker, as can be expected. Also, he's played by veteran ham Michael York.
- Loan Shark: As if living in a sewer and eating from garbage bins wasn't bad enough, Lurkers are often victims of extortionists due to their non-legal status.
- Meaningful Echo: King Arthur's line about resurfacing in the 23rd century "because I am most needed here and now" is analogous to Delenn and Sheridan being "the right people, in the right place, at the right time".
- Meaningful Name: McIntyre's old ship, the Prometheus, is named after a Titan in Greek mythologoy who gave fire to mankind.
- Napoleon Delusion
- Not Quite The Right Thing: Once again, Franklin's attempt to do the right thing (by bringing Arthur back to reality) hasn't helped at all. He lampshades this in a later conversation with Marcus.
- Not So Different: The meeting between Delenn and "King Arthur". Both had idealistic/mystical personalities. But their real similarity as that both bore heavily the knowledge that they had helped to start the Earth-Minbari war. Indeed "King Arthur" might actually have fired the shot that killed Delenn's beloved mentor. A very well done reconciliation scene.
- At the time the episode first aired, "In the Beginning" had not yet been written (and it didn't air until after "Atonement", which was the first revelation of Delenn's part in starting the war), so some of the subtext only became obvious in retrospect.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: The postal worker.
- Shame If Something Happened: Garibaldi's war versus the post office.
- Shoot Out the Lock: Garibaldi blasts the padlock containing his beloved food. The postman is there to stop him, and fines Garibaldi for the lock.
- Survivors Guilt: In addition to the usual survivors' guilt that plague the survivors of the Battle of the Line (Sinclair included), David also carries the guilt of having fired the first shot of the war.
- There Are No Therapists: Either this is true, or Franklin was so determined to fix "Arthur" himself that he pulled rank. It...didn't go well.
- Trust Password: Subverted (see below).
- Unstoppable Mailman
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Marcus decides to put his accent to good use, bowing before "Arthur" and claiming that Galahad and Lancelot are onboard, as well. "Arthur's" face immediately darkens; Galahad and Lancelot died at the Battle of Camlann!