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Recap / Babylon Five S 01 E 00 The Gathering

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Season 1, Pilot:

The Gathering

I was there at the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind. It began in the Earth year 2257, with the founding of the last of the Babylon stations, located deep in neutral space. It was a port of call for refugees, smugglers, businessmen, diplomats and travelers from a hundred worlds. It could be a dangerous place, but we accepted the risk because Babylon 5 was our last, best hope for peace. Babylon 5 was a dream given form, a dream of a galaxy without war where species from different worlds could live side by side in mutual respect. Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. This is its story.
Londo Mollari

Babylon 5 is online and ambassadors are arriving from all the major races: the Minbari, the Narn, the Centauri and even the reclusive Vorlons. However, the Vorlon ambassador Kosh is attacked on arrival, and when the station's commercial telepath, Lyta Alexander, reads Kosh's mind to learn who attacked him, she identifies the assassin as Jeffrey Sinclair, the EarthForce Commander in charge of B5. As Sinclair navigates the political minefield of the station, all the while protesting his innocence, it's up to Security Chief Michael Garibaldi to find the real culprit before Babylon 5's mission is scuppered before it even begins.

Some small edits and revisions were made for the pilot's DVD release.


Tropes featured in The Gathering include:

  • Artificial Gravity: Delenn owns a set of rings which project and control artificial gravity fields. They don't appear in the series proper, but serve here to demonstrate that Minbari technology is more advanced than the average.
    • The station is, of course, famously modelled after an O'Neill model that uses centrifugal force to simulate gravity. Sinclair also mentions to Lyta Alexander that they can modify rotation on specific sections to increase or decrease the gravity to suit the needs of certain species.
  • As You Know: It's hard to justify Lyta Alexander not knowing the history of the Babylon Project, and needing to ask Sinclair why the station is Babylon Five. We just have to brush it off as clumsy exposition.
  • Attack on One Is an Attack on All: While Kosh is being treated, the Vorlon Empire sends a fleet of ships which are prepared to destroy the entire station and start a war if the accused commander Sinclair isn't handed over to them.
  • Clear My Name: Commander Sinclair.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Most famously, Delenn's gravity rings, but many various changes to costuming and makeup (most prominently that of Delenn and G'Kar, as well as that of the Minbari Assassin, whose crest is shaped in the manner of how female Minbari will be depicted in future episodes), and other minor elements, plus no less than three major supporting characters who are replaced with Suspiciously Similar Substitutes in the regular series.
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    • Delenn was originally intended to be a male character portrayed by a female actor, to make them more alien. This was dropped when they couldn't get the voice modulation to sound good, plus Mira Furlan was understandably uncomfortable with playing a role where her face was covered up and her voice was altered, not knowing of certain future developments (the chrysalis would have also made her female if this stayed in).
    • Lyta Alexander protests that scanning Kosh without permission could get her "thrown out of the Psi Corps," as though it were a simple guild or trade association. Once the Psi Corps start showing up in the series proper, it becomes clear that membership is mandatory and for life, and while they certainly have punishments for abuse of their talents, simple expulsion isn't one of them.
    • Sinclair and Lyta's trip through the alien sector is so at odds with the later series that it was removed entirely for the special edition.
    • In a minor case, Delenn is unfamiliar with poetry, though a couple episodes will feature her friend Mayan, one of the most revered Minbari poets of the time.
    • The spinning lights on the floor on Takashima's station, some of the consoles on C & C and Medlab which had blinking lights, the security "voyeur" window in Customs, the guns & rifles used by Security (which had a passing resemblance to Star Trek phasers and had different firing and sound effects), the wristwatch communicators, Security Flak jackets, symbols on station sections, were later no longer seen or changed (ie the wristwatch communicators turned into the Link that attaches to the back of the palm; the controls and displays were replaced with Okudagram-style consoles; the symbols on each section were replaced or just given text, ie "Red Sector" and with the stylized "5" of Babylon 5; the guns were replaced by PP Gs and their rifle counterparts, Takashima's station got rid of the rotating lights and the console was enlarged).
    • The "core" shuttle is depicted as requiring passengers to be strapped in like in a rollercoaster since gravity would be less at this section since the station's centrifugal force gravity simulation wouldn't reach the center of the ring where the core shuttle is. In later episodes, they will remove this requirement with no explanation and people just ride the shuttle much like a regular train where people can sit or walk around with no ill effects (though there were still in-station voice announcements saying that the core shuttles have low gravity).
  • '80s Hair: Carolyn Sykes and her top frill.
  • Foreshadowing: "There is a hole in your mind." and Kosh greeting Sinclair with "Entil'Zha Valen".
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you look carefully when the assassin bypasses an identicard slot to access a set of quarters, you can briefly see the words LAUREL TAKASHIMA CLEARED in a small display window. This was supposed to be a clue to a wider conspiracy, but the character was dropped, and it never went anywhere.
  • Paranoia Gambit: Sinclair tells G'Kar that the drink he just swallowed contains a nanotech tracking device which has attached itself somewhere in his intestines. He warns G'Kar that if his schemes ever endanger the station again, he will be hunted down. After G'Kar leaves in a huff, Sinclair tells Garibaldi that there is no device, and the two are amused at the thought of all the uncomfortable probing G'Kar will undergo to try to find and remove it.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Londo at first insists he had no idea voting for Sinclair's extradition would be more than a deadlock. Garibaldi presses on what he would have done if he had known, and Londo admits he still would have caved to G'Kar's blackmail, though Garibaldi still thanks him for his honesty and sincere regret.


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