The Long Dark
A small ship emerges from deep space and head for Babylon 5, emitting a signal they don't recognize. It didn't use the jumpgate and it's broadcasting a message, "This is the Copernicus. We come in peace." Aboard the station, a lurker named Amis suddenly awakes yelling, "Through the walls!" He then clutches at his head, as though in pain, then crawls to a viewport, saying "I see you!" Later he is in the Zocalo acting like a some kind of crazed doomsday preacher. G'Kar walks by and Amis begins getting in his face. Londo is nearby and finds it highly amusing, until Amis turns to him. As the ambassador tries to get away, Garibaldi comes by and nabs Amis.
Garibaldi then joins Sheridan and Ivanova in C&C as they try to identify the ship. They see its name, Copernicus, and Sheridan recognizes it as a pre-hyperspace sleeper ship, sent out before contact was made with the Centauri, which means it's more than a hundred years old. Scanners detect lifesigns aboard and Sheridan orders it brought in, and the doctor informed of a possible patient.
Upon entering the ship, they find two cryogenic suspension pods. One has a withered corpse inside, but the other has a woman. Her lifesigns begin to fail and Franklin orders the pod opened. As they do there is an unusual gust of wind, but they quickly dismiss it. The woman is placed on a gurney as Franklin and his staff rush her to Medlab. Along the way, another unusual occurrence happens as the lights in the transport tube suddenly flicker on and off.
Back on the Copernicus, Ivanova activates the ship's power, but as she does she hears strange noises coming from another part of the ship. She goes to investigate but there's nothing there.
In the brig, Amis wakes from a nightmare. Garibaldi is nearby and Amis asks him what he did. "You were about to accuse the Centauri ambassador of being in league with the devil, which may not be too far from the truth." He then asks where Amis was stationed. Amis replies nowhere special, he was just a ground-pounder, same as Garibaldi. He then asks about the things Amis said in his sleep, but doesn't get an answer, then recommends seeing a counselor before Amis leaves.
In Medlab the woman wakes up. They find her name is Mariah Cirrus, and Franklin tries to keep her calm.
Ivanova comes to Sheridan's office with her report. The cryo tube didn't malfunction, someone killed its occupant and the list of suspects is pretty short. Franklin examines the body, and determines that the man was severely underweight and malnourished, but the cause of death was organ failure, they were removed somehow. Garibaldi wants to interrogate Mariah, but Franklin insists she couldn't have done it. Sheridan still wants to talk to her.
Later Franklin comes to find her. He explains that she has been in stasis for over a hundred years. She's shocked but wants to know where her husband is. Franklin informs her that he died, but to her surprise she doesn't start crying. Her tear ducts were dried up.
Later after she has had some time to recover, he takes her out to meet the present day. She is taken aback by all the aliens roaming the station, and asks what has happened during that time. Franklin gives her a quick rundown, and they are soon joined by G'Kar. Franklin introduces them and she hesitantly shakes the Narn's hand. G'Kar then says, "Take my advice and go back to the time you came from. The future is not what it was."
As she looks at him, she suddenly sees herself back in the cryo tube. She opens her eyes, and sees a shadowy face rush at her, and she screams. She wakes up to find herself in Franklin's quarters. He asks her what she was dreaming, but she doesn't remember. Franklin then breaks the news that her husband was in fact murdered. She assumes he thinks she did it, but he assures her that's not the case, but they do want to find who did it. As he tries to comfort her, they get very close and Almost Kiss, but Franklin breaks it off, feeling it's not appropriate.
Amis is at it again, telling the crowds that doom is upon them. Garibaldi grabs him and marches him out, but Amis protests that it's real, and that is came from the Copernicus. He knows, because he saw it during the war.
In another part of the station, an alien is foraging through some junk when he looks up, seeming to see someone. He then screams as it lunges toward him.
Later, when the alien's body is examined, Franklin finds the organs are gone, but there is no entry wound, just like Mariah's husband. Garibaldi is beginning to think there's more to her than she lets on, and recounts what he found about Amis' story. An entire unit was slaughtered, except for Amis, and the Copernicus' records show it flew very close to the moon it happened on.
Franklin tries to dismiss it, saying she was with him all last night, but Sheridan orders a watch put on her anyway. He then goes to meet with the League of Non-Aligned Worlds about this problem. In chambers, the Markab ambassador makes the claim that Mariah has brought something with her, a soldier of darkness. Londo scoffs at the notion, but G'Kar asks the Markab to continue. The Markab then describes a force of darkness that has long slept but is now waking and calling its followers to it.
Later that night, Garibaldi wakes with a start, then goes to find Amis. He has the lurker show him where he saw the creature, but all they find is another lurker. Amis begins calling out, demanding the creature come back and finish it. He then breaks down sobbing. Garibaldi sits next to him and tells him about a guy in his old unit who they all thought was crazy but eventually was proven right. He tells Amis he believes him, then asks what happened during the war.
- Amis: We were an intelligence-gathering unit, not set up for heavy combat. We'd heard the Minbari were setting up a command and control post, so we slipped onto a small moon before they finished the perimeter scans. We set up camp in old ruins of some kind. As far as we knew, it was a dead world. It came in the night, during a storm. We heard nothing, saw nothing...It came right through the walls, like a hot wind. The first man died, just meters from me — never even screamed. We ran... we ran. For a second, I thought I lost it, and then I saw it. Standing in the middle of a ball of lightning. It looked like it had come straight from hell.Garibaldi: How did you survive?Amis: I didn't! It kept me alive. As a snack. It becomes part of you, feeding on you. The lucky ones were the men who died on the moon. What it took from me I can never get back. When the rescue party showed up, I weighed 85 pounds. That's how I knew it was on this station. A part of me's still inside that thing. I can feel it. But nobody ever believed me...until now.
Garibaldi asks if he can use this to find it, and Amis says he thinks that's what it's been trying to do all along. He then runs off.
Franklin find Mariah aboard the Copernicus. It's the only thing she has left of her old life. She admits things weren't perfect between her and her husband, and that she wants to find the thing that killed him. Later Garibaldi approaches her and asks her help in finding Amis.
Sometime after, Sheridan and Ivanova get a signal from Garibaldi, along with reports of weapons fire. Sheridan orders the heavy artillery brought out, and they head off to find the chief. Garibaldi is looking for Amis, and finds him being held in midair. He tells Garibaldi to shoot it, and the chief obliges, making the creature drop Amis. Sheridan and Ivanova arrive and Sheridan orders a kill zone set up, but Amis tells them it won't work.The creature's too patient; it can wait them out. He then runs out, enticing it to come after him. When it does, the guards all open fire, hitting it from all sides until it fall down and dies.
Franklin is watching over Amis, who will be fine, when Mariah comes in. She's returning to Earth to put the final parts of her old life to rest. Franklin expresses interest in her if she comes back, but she doesn't think it'll ever happen.
In C&C, Ivanova comes to give Sheridan a report. The Copernicus suffered a heavy oxygen loss as it passed the moon Amis was stationed on, but afterwards, it had a new course. The creature had reprogrammed it to fly to Z'Ha'Dum. Something is going on there, and neither of them like it.
In his quarters, G'Kar looks at the book of G'Quan, which has an illustration of the creature.
This episode contains examples of:
- All for Nothing: Mariah laments the pointlessness of her mission, since first contact with aliens was made just a few years later, but Franklin assures her that the courage and vision shown by her and her husband gave it meaning.
- Almost Kiss: Franklin and Mariah. They break it off since it wouldn't be very appropriate.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Amis' sanity may be questionable, but he knew what he was talking about when it came to the Dark Soldier. Garibaldi listens to Amis because he knew a fellow soldier (back from his days as a GROPO) who was just as crazy — but was right about their garrison's defenses being weak.
- Cryonics Failure: Averted. The cryo tube didn't fail, its occupant died of something far more sinister.
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: Garibaldi observes that PPG shots are like nothing more than a bee-sting to the monster, but Sheridan replies that while one bee-sting might just be an annoyance, a hundred of them can still kill you.
- Demonic Possession: It lives inside its host and slowly feeds on them.
- Dramatic Irony: When Amis asks what he was doing, Garibaldi tells him, "You were about to accuse the Centauri ambassador of being in league with the devil... which may not be far from the truth." Michael, if only you knew...
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Mariah Cirrus has spent the last hundred years in cryo-stasis.
- Foreshadowing: Note which ambassador of the League who is the one to point out how the Shadows operate. At this point nobody actually know much about them, and they are hardly named, except as the "force of darkness". Yes, it is the Markab ambassador. At the end of this season, the Markab have gone extinct.
- Florence Nightingale Effect: Franklin and Mariah come close to romance, but ultimately avert it. Franklin expresses interest if she ever comes back but she quickly shoots the idea down.
- Harbinger of Impending Doom: Amis, who comes across as a loon. Well, he is a loon, more or less, he just happens to be correct. He's faced the Dark Soldier before.
- Hell Seeker: The Dark Soldier had reprogrammed the Copernicus to take it to Z'Ha'Dum.
- Human Popsicle
- Irony: An example that only becomes apparent when you watch the show through for the second time. Likely not deliberate, but there's something wonderfully ironic in having the Markab ambassador, of all people, speak out about the dangers of ignoring the truth because you don't want to confront it (See the episode "Confessions and Lamentations").
- Nothing Is Scarier: The Dark Soldier is able to turn himself completely invisible and can go through solid walls, so there is no easy way to figure out where he is going to attack from.
- Percussive Maintenance: While trying to activate the Copernicus' computers, Ivanova hits them at one point.
- Pre-Insanity Reveal: crazy homeless doomsayer Amis (played by Dwight Schultz) is arrested early in the episode for disturbing the peace. When Amis starts saying "Incoming! Incoming!" in his sleep, Garibaldi realizes he's a Minbari War veteran.
- Guard: How do you know?
Garibaldi: I've had that same dream.
- Properly Paranoid: A crazy homeless guy is ranting about an evil, invisible monster that can walk through walls. He's right. Garibaldi also mentions a guy in his unit during the Minbari War who insisted their perimeter defenses were weak when everyone else said they were solid. He was right too.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Amis is firmly in the full-blown crazy variety of this trope. Except it wasn't the war itself that messed him up, it was his entire squad (except for him) being wiped out by an invisible alien that could move through walls and killed its enemies by ripping their organs out through their mouths.