Points of Departure
- Ivanova: Chief of Security is in critical condition in Medlab. He thinks there's a conspiracy concerning the president's death. Ambassador G'Kar has mysteriously vanished. After two years we still don't know what Ambassador Kosh looks like inside his encounter suit. And Ambassador Delenn is in a cocoon.Sheridan: A cocoon? As in a moth or a butterfly?Ivanova: Yes, sir. About yea high.Sheridan: Interesting place you have here.
The Earth Alliance starship Agamemnon is on patrol when her CO, Captain John Sheridan, receives a call from General Hague of the Joint Chiefs. He bears disturbing news of a rogue Minbari warcruiser being in the area. The Minbari have dispatched a ship to investigate, but it hasn't been seen yet. Regardless, he wants Sheridan to make contact with them when they show up, since he's shown he can handle them in the Minbari War. He also has one other instruction, which comes straight from the president.
On Babylon 5, Ivanova is in a bind as Commander Sinclair has been recalled to Earth for no apparent reason, and the cornucopia of problems the station has are now falling on her. Garibaldi is still in critical condition, G'Kar is missing, no one knows where he is, and Delenn is still in her chrysalis. Ivanova is pulled from the mess by the general calling her. He informs her that Sinclair will not be returning to the station as he has been assigned as the first human ambassador to the Minbari. Captain Sheridan will be taking command of Babylon 5 now. Ivanova has worked with him before, but she says it's going to be controversial, but the decision has already been made.
In Delenn's quarters, Lennier continues his vigil when Hedronn, one of the Grey Council comes in. He looks at the chrysalis and comments that they told her to wait, but now they are committed to the path. He tells Lennier that the Trigati, the rogue cruiser, is in the area and if it comes he is to tell the humans what he knows.
Ivanova is trying to assemble an honor guard to meet their new CO, only to be told that he's already arrived. She rushes out of C&C as Sheridan strolls into the boarding area. Ivanova runs up and surrenders command to him. While his luggage is taken care of, she takes him on a tour of the station, and gives him a rundown of the current situation. Meanwhile, a Minbari in warrior's garb arrives. He goes to a computer terminal and requests a guide, but leaves after being shown Green Sector, the ambassadorial area.
Sheridan's tour ends in his quarters, which, he is delighted to learn includes a running water shower. Ivanova asks why he was chosen, and he tells her that he was apparently President Santiago's second choice. Next they talk about the president's death barely a week ago. Crew morale has been down and Ivanova herself has never felt so helpless. They resolve to make the best of it, and Sheridan says he's going to get ready for his good luck speech.
Hedronn is somewhere on the station, when the Minbari who arrived earlier walks past him. He recognizes him as Kalain and is surprised to see him there. He tries to follow, but Kalain grabs him and holds a spiked weapon to his throat. Kalain demands to know why Sheridan the Star Killer has been put in command, and Hedronn tells him the Minbari protested but Earth ignored them. When Kalain asks if Delenn ignored him as well, Hedronn is further surprised. Kalain tells him he has his own supporters in the Grey Council. He also knows Sinclair is on Minbar, but doesn't believe him being ambassador is the whole story. He warns Hedronn to leave then walks off.
Sheridan goes up to C&C and starts to give his speech. Before he can finish, security calls in, saying a Minbari wants to see him. It's Hedronn, and he tells Sheridan and Ivanova about his encounter with Kalain, and that he's here to cause trouble, though he won't say why he thinks that. Sheridan guesses that Kalain is part of the Trigati's crew, and Hedronn's reaction tells him he's right. Hedronn is not happy and expresses his displeasure with Sheridan's appointment, before leaving. Sheridan deduces that Hedronn is on the Grey Council; it's the only way an old religious scholar could know a high-ranking member of the warrior caste well enough to recognize him twelve years later.
Having him here isn't going to make the Minbari happy; he was the only human captain who faced a Minbari warcruiser and lived to tell the tale, when he mined an asteroid field with nukes then lured the Minbari flagship, the Black Star into it and destroyed it. It was their only real victory in that war and he's not willing to apologize for it. He realizes that Kalain feels betrayed by his people, he figures that he might try to strike at their representative. He orders security to Delenn's quarters.
They arrive to find Kalain holding Lennier at gunpoint, but he surrenders himself without incident. Later, as they interrogate him, Sheridan asks what his plan was. Kalain refuses to give a straight answer, but reveals enough to let Sheridan know there's something deeper. Calling it for now, they start to leave but Sheridan has one more question: where is the Trigati? Kalain does not answer.
Outside, they are met by Lennier. He asks them to come to Delenn's quarters as he has important information to tell them. He tells them that at the Battle of the Line the Grey Council had come to personally observe the final assault on Earth. Delenn noted that they ought to take one prisoner to interrogate about the planet's defenses. She watches the fighters around them and seems to choose one at random, and it is brought aboard. The pilot: Jeffrey Sinclair. Lennier continues, telling how the Council discovered something astonishing. Minbari belief is that their souls are reborn in later generations, but that they had been losing many of theirs. Their probing of Sinclair found that Minbari souls are being born in human bodies. This was the reason they ended the war, but because they could not tell anyone, for fear of throwing their society into turmoil, they covered it up and had the memory of it removed from Sinclair's mind. Lennier tells them that he has told them this because changes are coming.
Just then the Trigati comes through the jumpgate. The station goes to full alert, and in his cell, Kalain pulls a tooth out, splits it open to reveal a blue poison, and swallows it. Sheridan contacts the cruiser and tries to talk to them, telling them this could spark another war. He is told that the war has already begun. But no one's been killed yet, until security reports that Kalain has killed himself.
The Trigati launches fighters, and Sheridan orders Zeta Squadron to intercept them. He goes to a tactical station and notices the scanners are able to track the Minbari fighters, something they shouldn't be able to do. He suddenly orders Zeta Squadron to hold their fire and position. He then orders a laser transmission sent through the jumpgate. The Minbari approach the stopped Earth fighters and fly right by them. Sheridan had realized that the Minbari wanted them to fire the first shot.
Another warcruiser arrives, the one the Minbari sent after the Trigati. It fires and cuts off the Trigati's drive fin. Rather than surrender, the Trigati sends one message, "Honor," before destroying themselves.
Sheridan contacts the warcruiser and thanks them for their help. The commander is less than cordial, saying many Minbari considered the Trigati and her crew heroes. "Their deaths will be mourned and your name will be remembered." The ship then leaves.
Later Sheridan is having doubts about whether coming here was a good idea. He thinks the whole incident occurred because he was here. Ivanova dismisses the idea and tells him to give himself the benefit of the doubt.
Lennier speaks to Delenn's chrysalis, telling her he did as he was instructed. He hopes the Earthers will discover the truth before it is too late. As he leaves, the chrysalis begins to split open.
Later that evening, Sheridan is finishing up his good luck speech... which he's giving to an empty C&C.
This episode contains examples of:
- Authors of Quote: Sheridan is a big fan of Abraham Lincoln, and we get our first sample at the end of this episode.
- Ace Pilot: This marked the first appearance of Warren Keffer, the fighter pilot character that the network wanted JMS to put in.
- Batman Gambit: Sheridan sends a signal to a Minbari ship that he presumes is hiding nearby, because it would make sense for the Minbari to have a ship discretely searching the area to find the Trigati once it began to be sighted in the area. If he had signaled for the Agamemnon instead, it could have started a war. It's not clear what would have happened if the Minbari ship wasn't actually around, however.
- A failed one by the Trigati and its fighters: they try to get the EarthForce fighters to fire first, by turning off their usual stealth technology and then flying straight at them. Sheridan realizes what's going on, orders his fighters to stand down, and the ploy fails.
- The Cavalry: Sheridan calls another Warcruiser in to deal with the Trigati.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Agamemnon is shown early in the episode, along with some dialogue about sightings of a renegade Minbari warcruiser. There's also an easily-missed line about the Minbari government sending a cruiser of their own to look for it. When the renegade shows up, one might expect the Agamemnon to similarly turn up to save the day. Instead, it's the other Minbari ship that arrives.
- Continuity Nod: Garibaldi once mentioned to Ivanova that at the same time each day, C&C went offline for computer maintenance, and that no one was generally on duty there at that time. The brick drops in this episode, which ends with Sheridan giving his good-luck speech to an empty C&C.
- Cool Starship: The EAS Agamemnon, an Omega class Destroyer that Sheridan commanded before his transfer to B5, makes the first of several appearances on the show.
- Cyanide Pill: Kalain has one hidden in his tooth.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The voiceover for this season is spoken by Bruce Boxleitner in-character as John Sheridan. However, when it was originally recorded, Boxleitner had nothing but the text to work from. When the footage was put together for the opening credits, Boxleitner asked to re-record the speech to better match the action on the screen, and to do it with more feeling. The improvement between the two takes in incredible.
- Guile Hero: Sheridan. He's the only Earth officer to defeat the Minbari in battle, and it's indicated that he used very underhanded tactics to accomplish it. In this crisis, he quickly figures out the ploy the Trigati's crew is attempting, and foils it by having his forces stand down and signalling for Minbari support that he presumes to exist nearby, despite the Minbari keeping their presence in the area secret, based entirely on the assumption that it would make sense for them to have a ship nearby.
- Historical-Domain Character: Per JMS, John Sheridan is a descendant of General Phillip Sheridan, a Union officer in the The American Civil War.
- Honor Before Reason: The crew of the Trigati prefer to die in battle rather than go home after twelve years of self-imposed exile.
- Mundane Luxury: Sheridan is giddy over the prospect of getting his hands on some fresh fruit for the first time in years. Finding out that his quarters have an actual shower in them have him positively swooning.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Kalain tries to invoke this, but Sheridan realizes what's going on and manages to avert it.
- Out of Focus: Three months after the previous episode, G'Kar is still unaccounted for, Garibaldi is still in a coma, and Delenn is still in her cocoon. They don't do much in this episode...though we do see a Flashback involving Delenn at the Line. Jerry Doyle joked that this was his favorite episode, as he got a full paycheck just for lying on his back.
- Red Baron: The Minbari named Sheridan "Star Killer" for destroying the Black Star.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: What are the odds that the new commander of the station would have the same initials as the old one? This is due to JMS wanting the hero to have his own initials. Of course, Jeffrey Sinclair and John Sheridan have very little else in common...
- The War Just Before: Sheridan is the only Earth officer to score a victory against the Minbari, something they just can't seem to let go.