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Recap / Babylon Five S 04 E 03 The Summoning

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That's the Vorlon version of a Death Star.
Drazi Ambassador: Captain, we're sorry. We thought you were dead.
Sheridan: I was. I'm better now.

As preparations for the assault on Z'Ha'Dum continue, Ivanova gets the idea to go out and see if she can find some more First Ones. Delenn approves, but since Ivanova's Minbari is...thickly accented, she send Marcus along as an interpreter, with instructions to make sure none of the crew laugh at Ivanova.

Meanwhile on Centauri Prime Londo and Vir witness Cartagia and his court humiliating and tormenting G'Kar. They can only shake their heads.

After several days, Ivanova's search is going poorly, hitting nothing but dead-ends. They press on, while back on station Zack informs Delenn he's got the information G'Kar was looking for but can't get a hold of him. Since time is of the essence, he decides to chase it down himself.

Londo and Vir are walking through the palace gardens talking about what they saw. Londo wishes he didn't feel anything about it, it would make it easier to bear, but there's nothing they can do for now. Only when the time is right, can they make their move against Cartagia. Vir is still unsure about it, but the conversation is cut off when Cartagia suddenly appears, hands red with G'Kar's blood and cursing the Narn's stubborn refusal to scream. He talks about how he personally took over the torture, but G'Kar never made a sound. He then empties a bowl full of blood over a potted plant, then shoves it at Vir, who has had a considerable change of opinion. Cartagia needs to die.

Back on Babylon 5, Zack leads a shuttle wing out to track down Garibaldi, while Delenn goes to see Lyta. Her requests to the Vorlons for ships have gone unheeded, which Delenn finds surprising. Lyta thinks something else is going on, but has no idea what. She's begun to think the Vorlons don't care about them anymore, and is reluctant to inquire about what they're up to. Delenn asks her to at least try to find out.

Zack's wing is in pursuit of a suspect craft, and when it refuses to heed their demands to stop, they open fire striking its engine. Soon after it ejects a lifepod, and then explodes. Fortunately Garibaldi is on the pod. The computer says something about initiating a program and his eyes open. They bring him back to the station and in Medlab Dr. Franklin begins examining him, congratulating Zack for finding him. It was good fortune, and Zack seems to be thinking it was a little too good as Garibaldi starts to come around.

In the Vorlon's quarters, Ulkesh is withdrawing part of his conciousness from Lyta, which she finds painful. She begins demanding to know what's going on. She notes the differences between him and Kosh, thinking that Kosh actually cared about the younger races. Ulkesh is indifferent and Lyta insists she has earned some respect, which only gets her a contemptuous, "Respect? From whom?" Crestfallen, Lyta is about to leave, but then tries to read Ulkesh's mind. In response the Vorlon knocks her into the wall, then shows her just what's on his mind. She starts screaming.

Londo has gone to G'Kar's cell, trying to pursuade him to just give Cartagia what he wants, but G'Kar feels that doing so would mean he is no longer Narn. Londo counters by asking if his pride is worth the freedom of his world. G'Kar tells him he doesn't know what he's asking, but Londo says he does, then leaves.

On the White Star, Ivanova and Marcus are chatting about their lives after the war, when the scanners pick up something strange. Part of hyperspace seems to have been folded in on itself, and since the First Ones are the only ones that could do something like that, they decide to investigate. Inside they find a Vorlon fleet escorting a truly massive vessel.

In Medlab, Garibaldi is dreaming about what happened, when he jerks awake. Zack comes over and they talk about what happened, but Garibaldi doesn't seem to remember, and is surprised that two weeks have gone by.

The Brakiri ambassador meets with Delenn bringing information that some of the other ambassadors are arranging a protest rally in the Zocalo later today. Delenn doesn't intend to stop them, but she intends to go as give her side. Before he leaves, the ambassador says a strange ship has been sighted in hyperspace, seemingly heading toward Babylon 5.

On Centauri Prime, Londo and Vir are dragged out of bed in the middle of the night. A guard leads them to a darkened chamber where Cartagia sits waiting for them. G'Kar is also there, chained to a column, where Cartagia intends to have him beaten with an electro-whip, which will give an increasing level of pain with each stroke. At forty, it will be fatal, even for a Narn. The whipping will stop when G'Kar screams. The emperor begins counting strokes, and Londo and Vir watch. G'Kar bears the first few with little more than winces, but as they approach twenty he begins contorting his face to keep from crying out as Londo mouths "scream" to him and Vir tries to look anywhere else. By thirty strokes, G'Kar is twisting in agony as Cartagia counts on.

Cartagia: Thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine...

Cartagia smiles in sadistic glee as Londo breathes a sigh of relief.

Ivanova's White Star return to Babylon 5, asking to see Lyta immediately, and for C&C to monitor sector 70x10x53. For what, she's not sure.

In the Zocalo, Lennier notes people seeming to be heading somewhere, and informs Delenn. In C&C Ivanova arrives just as the strange ship from earlier jumps out, and begins activating docking sequence using their own codes! Ivanova scrambles a security force to be there when it docks. Garibaldi, still not 100% suits up to be there as well.

Delenn goes to where the rally is being held, arriving just as the Drazi and Hyach ambassadors start. They inform the crowd about Delenn's plan to attack Z'Ha'Dum. They believe that the Shadows may just go away, but Delenn protests they will attack either way.

As security arrives in the docking bay, they are stunned by who emerges from the ship.

The rally begins taking a more violent turn, the crowd pressing in on Delenn, as the Hyach ambassador carries on about how folly it is to go to Z'Ha'Dum, that no one who does comes back and Sheridan died in his attempt, just as the captain himself appears on the catwalk next to them.

The ambassadors sheepishly apologize then let Sheridan speak.

He begins telling the crowd some of the things he learned, most importantly that the Shadows can be killed and there is a way to end the war once and for all. To do that, he will need the support of every government.

Sheridan: Together we will form the largest fleet in history, not just for a battle, but to change the shape of the galaxy! Not just for ourselves, but for out children, and our children's children. And tell your governments that the only man to survive Z'Ha'Dum send this message: We can end this, not just for now, not just for the next thousand years, but forever! I stand before you as proof that it can be done! We can fight and we can win, but only if we do it together! Can I count on you? Will you stand together?

As the crowd cheers in support, Delenn makes her way to Sheridan and the two embrace.

Later in his office, Sheridan explains what the real cause of the war is to the command staff, with Lorien present. Originally, the Shadows and Vorlons stayed behind as caregivers for the younger races, but they had opposite views on how to do it. Originally, they had an agreement that they both abided by...

Sheridan: Something, Mr. Garibaldi?

Garibaldi is staring suspiciously at Lorien, wanting to know just who he is, but Sheridan's being rather tight-lipped on the subject at the moment. Garibaldi, for some reason, is acting even more suspicious than usual, and is not happy to have information withheld.

Delenn tries to steer the conversation back to the war, and Sheridan explains that at some point both of them decided that their way was the only way and they've been fighting ever since, with the younger races caught in between.

Ivanova and Marcus come in with Lyta in tow. They're happy to have Sheridan back, but they've brought grim news. They lost track of the Vorlon fleet they found somewhere near a known Shadow base. It's gone now.

Lennier: The base?
Lyta: No, the planet. They destroyed an entire planet.

There were over four million people there, but to the Vorlons it was an acceptable loss. It's only a matter of time before the Shadows retaliate. The war is back on.

Garibaldi: We could barely stop the Shadows. How do stop them and the Vorlons?
Lyta: I don't know. All I know is unless you do stop them it won't matter who wins and who loses, because none of us, not a single world for 70 light-years in any direction, will live to see it.

As the weight of their situation sinks in, the Vorlon fleet continues on to its next target.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Armor-Piercing Question: Londo has a couple for G'Kar while trying to persuade him to scream, "Is you pride worth the freedom of your homeworld?" After G'Kar protests that if he gives Cartagia what he wants he would no longer be Narn, Londo points out that his people are also no longer Narns, only slaves, and then dead slaves, and asks if that's really what G'Kar wants. G'Kar doesn't answer.
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: Sheridan's reaction to Ivanova, Delenn, and Lyta taking a White Star to search for him:
    Sheridan: I heard that you three went to Z'ha'dum after me. That was foolish and dangerous. And I can't thank you enough for trying.
  • Back from the Dead: Sheridan, of course.
  • Broken Pedestal: The pedestal Lyta had the Vorlons on crumbles here.
  • Call-Back:
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Cartagia willingly gets in on the action, all just so he can hear G'Kar scream.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: The guards are so used to Cartagia's antics that, compared to the horrified Vir staring at the pot Cartagia just threw into his hands with his mouth agape, they barely react to his "pain technicians" rant or him dumping water he just used to wash G'Kar's blood off his hands onto a plant and simply look done.
  • Continuity Nod: G'Kar's refusal to scream for his tormentors hails back to when he was tortured by an assassin. He said then he would rather die than give him the satisfaction.
  • Cool Starship:
    • Lorien's ship has a unique design.
    • The Vorlon planet-killer is terrifying, but impressive.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Lyta's complaints to Ulkesh have distinctly sexual overtones.
    Lyta: You didn't have to pull out of me so fast. You hurt me... you felt... cold, hard.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Lyta starts to demand this of Ulkesh but is coldly shut down.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: A Vorlon fleet struck a planet that was host to a Shadow base. The planet isn't there anymore.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: The Drazi and Hyach ambassadors, who want to prevent Delenn and her few remaining supporters from continuing attacks on the Shadows. They believe that if the Army of Light doesn't antagonize the Shadows, they might well go back to sleep for another thousand years, but if Delenn and company press on, it will drag everyone down into the abyss. As is usual with this trope, the Drazi and Hyach ambassadors aren't antagonists...they're just wrong.
  • "I Can't Look!" Gesture: As G'Kar is being whipped, Vir hides behind Londo looking anywhere else, seeming on the verge of throwing up.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: The Drazi and Hyach ambassadors' claims that no one who goes to Z'Ha'Dum returns is shattered moments later as Sheridan walks up right beside them.
  • Internal Reveal: Delenn and the others finally learn the truths about the Vorlons and the Shadows which Sheridan discovered at Z'Ha'Dum at the end of the previous Season.
  • Lightning Lash: G'Kar is tortured with a particularly nasty version that ups the voltage with each hit, becoming lethal at forty lashes. He screams at thirty-nine.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: When Lyta tries to read Ulkesh, he knocks her to the floor then opens her mind. What she sees sets her to screaming.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Vir keeps trying to find some way out of their predicament that doesn't require bloodshed; until he meets Cartagia, who waters the plants in the garden with G'Kar's blood!
    Vir: Londo, remember what I said before about there must be another way? I was wrong. Kill him.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Ivanova has been teaching herself Minbari. This trope results. Delenn informs her crew that anyone who laughs will find themselves on the wrong end of Delenn's temper.
  • Rabble Rouser: The Drazi and Hyach ambassadors act as such when they try to protest Delenn's plan. It's stopped when Sheridan appears next to them, and they sheepishly beg his pardon.
  • Really 700 Years Old: All Sheridan tells them about Lorien is that he's "older than he looks."
  • Rousing Speech: Sheridan delivers one to the crowd in the Zocalo to get them ready to confront the Shadows once and for all.
  • The Power of Love: When Sheridan says, "I'll never leave you, Delenn, not if the whole universe stood between us," he's not kidding.
  • Screw the Rules, They Broke Them First!: Sheridan reveals that the Shadows and Vorlons did have a set of rules regarding how to bring up the younger races, but at some point one of them decided their way was the only way and the cycle started. It's never said who actually started it.
  • Slasher Smile: Cartagia's as G'Kar finally screams.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Hinted at but finally driven home by what Lyta says, the Vorlons are lawful, while Kosh was good.
  • Pain Technicians: "...they used to be called Torturers, but ever since they got organized it's Pain Technicians."
  • Unexpected Virgin: Marcus reveals to Ivanova that he is a virgin.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Sheridan's recovery from his death is left unexplained to the rest of the crew. Even to the audience, it's only clear that Lorien had something to do with it—we don't learn the details until later.
  • Vicious Cycle: The Shadows and Vorlons are revealed to be part of one, fighting each other indirectly over and over again, with the younger races caught in between.
  • Weird Trade Union: Cartagia at one point complains about the pain technicians getting organized.
  • Wham Shot: First, Marcus detects a distortion field in hyperspace, like a piece of it folded onto itself as a sort of hiding place. When they enter to investigate, the scanners are having difficulty registering what is out there, but we see Ivanova's reaction as she looks outside the Whitestar's window. Then we see the massive Vorlon Dreadnought....that pans out to reveal several more Dreadnoughts.....then them being collectively dwarfed by the absolutely massive Vorlon Planetkiller.
  • Whip of Dominance: Emperor Cartagia puts G'Kar through various forms of torture, but is frustrated when nothing seems to break him. His sadism is finally sated when he has G'Kar whipped with a particular agonizing Lightning Lash and G'Kar finally succumbs and screams in agony, to Cartagia's delight.