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Recap / Babylon Five S 04 E 09 Atonement

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There is nothing to fear in the dreaming. Only that which we bring with us. The dreaming takes us forward and the dreaming takes us back.

Zack is being fitted for his new uniform, but is being rather difficult about it, complaining about the fit, the materials and the tailors until one of them jabs him with her needle.

Zack: She did that on purpose!
Lennier: Yes, I believe she did. I will deal with this. (in Minbari) Good work. Give me a moment with the human. And next time use a bigger needle.
Zack: And don't you forget it!

They step away and have a short talk, in which Lennier get Zack to admit that he's more concerned about taking Garibaldi's place. He's still under the impression that the chief will come to his senses and take his position back.

A group of Minbari, led by one named Callenn, meet with Delenn to discuss travel arrangements. She says she will tell Sheridan she is leaving but not why. Callenn advises her to reconsider, since if the Dreaming does not go well, she may not be permitted to return.


Ivanova is on her way to some kind of party at the Drazi ambassador's place, while Franklin is in Medbay fitting G'Kar with an artificial eye.

G'Kar: Just as long as it isn't in backwards; I've peered into my own soul more than enough lately.

After some discomfort, and initial outrage that it isn't a proper Narn red eye, G'Kar begins to amuse himself by taking it out and looking at himself with it, as Franklin gets a call to come up to Sheridan's office later.

Sheridan is on his way to Delenn's quarters when a battered Ivanova emerges from a transport tube. She stumbles away ("Don't even ask"), and a befuddled Sheridan rings Delenn's door chime. As the door opens he's surprised that she's no where to be seen, at least at first. Her bedroom door opens and she steps out wearing a low-cut, form-fitting black dress. Surprised, Sheridan asks if there's some occasion, since she's doing something to his thought processes and he can't remember if there is right now. She just wants to have dinner with him. Oh, and she wants to finish up that Beautiful Dreamer ritual the Minbari have. Sheridan's still not sure what exactly she sees in it, but he's open minded.


Sheridan: I try not to be judgemental about alien cultures...when they are dressed like that.

She tells him the first night was on the White Star and the second in his quarters the day before he went to Z'Ha'Dum. To be complete they need one more night. He's unsure since he's going to be late this evening, but she's willing to wait. Sensing something is up, he gets her to tell him that she's going back to Minbar for quite possibly a long time. Still realizing that she's holding something back, he agrees to dinner and their third night.

Later in his office, he briefs Stephen and Marcus on the mission he's sending them on. Clark's propaganda machine has been pounding on them for weeks and Sheridan wants to make a counter move before it's too late to do anything. He's sending them to make contact with the Resistance on Mars. That will enable them to establish alternate lines of communication and begins getting ready for the inevitable fight with Earth. Franklin will go representing B5 command staff, since he's not as likely to draw attention as Sheridan, and Marcus will act as his bodyguard. And they are to leave as soon as possible, since it will take a long time to go the roundabout way.

Before leaving, Stephen offers to try and find some information about Sheridan's father, but Sheridan says not to. They don't have the resources to spare and the story was probably a plant to lure anyone trying to follow-up on it into the open. The fact that they didn't mention anything about him directly indicates that they don't have him, and Sheridan wants to keep it that way. The best thing they can do is move quickly.

That night, Delenn gets up from where she'd been sitting by Sheridan's bed, caresses his face, then heads off to catch her ship. Just before she gets to the docking bay, Lennier intercepts her. He intends to follow her, but she thinks he should stay here, that he might learn things about her that he might regret. Undeterred, Lennier sticks with her.

On Minbar, Delenn is brough before her clan to explain the actions she has taken. Callenn lists what she has done, making herself genetically compatible with humans, and now taking one as a prospective mate, and all without the counsel and concent of her clan. She protests that she must follow the calling of her heart, that she loves Sheridan, but they feel they must make certain she is making the correct choice. To do that, she will enter the Dreaming, which will show her the truth of her actions. After that they will render their decision and Delenn agrees to abide by it.

Lennier offers to act as guide and protector for her, and they are sent to a room filled with white mist. Lennier realizes that Delenn has been here before, and she explains that she once, as a terrified young acolyte, acted as protector and guide for another; Dukhat, the greatest Minbari of his day.

As she speaks, a dignified looking Minbari appears, sitting perfectly still as a younger Delenn approaches nervously. He invites her to sit with him and tell him her name, Delenn of the Family of Mir, a name he recognizes.

Dukhat: You have a proud heritage, Delenn of Mir, prouder than you know.

A different memory suddenly appears, of starships shooting at each other and people around her dying, which sets Delenn to screaming. Lennier tries to calm and comfort her as she sinks back into the past.

On the Valen'tha, Dukhat marches past, calling for Delenn to come with him. He brings her before the Grey Council and begins explaining an issue they have been debating for some time, whether or not to make contact with a race known as humans. Each of the three castes has said "no", and he asks if she would like to hear why.

Delenn Perhaps another might be better suited to...
Dukhat: The correct answer is "yes".
Delenn: Yes.

The worker caste are worried about their position if new sources of food and artifacts becomes availible, the religious caste are worried about the influence of a primitive and violent culture on their own, and the warriors just think they're not worth the effort. He then asks Delenn what she thinks. She tries to protest, but he insists, with some mild prodding, she give an answer. With the entire leadership of her people watching her (probably glaring at her), the girl tries to stammer out an intelligent and thoughtful-sounding answer. She starts by quoting Valen, but Dukhat is more interested in what she thinks. She ventures the opinion that the Universe presents mysteries (such as the humans) as a gift, and that common politeness would demand at least attempting to understand it.

Dukhat: Aha! You're curious! You'd like to know, to simply understand. Simple curiosity.

He commends her for her thinking, while condemning with council for being so caught up in their own superiority that they don't even consider the possibility, and for forgetting the simple joy of discovery. He then dismisses them until the next day.

As Delenn follows him out, she asks if they will make contact. No, they will be even more stubborn and overruling them at this point would do no good, but she has impressed Dukhat enough to take her on as his personal aide. She is astounded, but gladly accepts.

Dukhat: Where this will all end I don't know, but there are still many years ahead of us in which to find out. I suspect the journey ahead of us will be a curious and fascinating one. It always is.

In the present, Delenn smiles as her memories move forward.

The Grey Council has gathered to induct Delenn as their newest member. As she holds her hand to the Triluminary it suddenly begins glowing. Dukhat glances around, noting the looks of astonishment on the others of the Council. That evening he comes to congratulate her, and she asks about what happened earlier. He explains that it confirms something he had suspected for some time, but before he can explain further an alert begins sounding.

He and Delenn return to the Council Chamber, where the display shows a groups of unknown ships approaching their location. Delenn believes they are human ships (she'd done some investigating on her own) but they cannot understand their transmissions. Per Warrior Caste tradition they are approaching with gunports open, but when Soul Hunter ships appear, they realizes something terrible is about to happen. Dukhat orders the ports closed, but the human ships open fire, doing serious damage to the cruiser and killing many on board. Dukhat is among those wounded, and as Delenn tries to pull him to safety he dies in her arms. Moments later, another of the Council comes tells her the Council is split on whether to pursue and exact revenge, or wait to analyze what happened and asks for her vote to break the tie. Grief-stricken, Delenn orders retaliation, strike them all down, kill them all!

Delenn: NO MERCY!

Words which haunt Delenn to this day.

Lennier is shocked that she was the one who gave the order, something she had never even considered herself capable of. She'd never known such rage before or since.

On final memory appears, as a Minbari fleet floats amid the ruins of an Earth outpost. In the Council chambers, Delenn is informed that their people are mobilizing for a full-scale war. She wants to stop, admitting that she acted in haste, but it's too late. Their people have gone mad and scream for blood. And thus began a war that nearly consumed the human race, something Delenn has been trying to make up for ever since. Lennier speculates that this is why she intends to marry Sheridan, but she quickly slaps that idea down. He admits he doesn't believe she would do that, but points out the others will come to that conclusion. Delenn wonders why the Dreaming showed her this.

The chamber opens and Callenn sends them to get some rest. The findings will be discussed in the morning.

Delenn finds herself unable to sleep, as memories keep running through her mind. As she settles on her last moments with Dukhat, she realizes he was trying to tell her something, but she can't make out what. Getting up, she goes back to the chamber. Lennier follows, and when Callenn catches them, she demands he join them as well. Reluctantly, he follows them in, and together they see what Dukhat was trying to say in his last moments...

Dukhat: You are a child of Valen...

Later, Lennier comes with a scroll of family histories that he "obtained" from the archives of the Grey Council. Delenn waves it in Callenn's face, explaining that she is a descendent of Valen, originally the human Jeffrey Sinclair. After his change, Valen was still partially human, and passed that down through his children to the modern age. How many, she asks, carry his legacy? Callenn admits they cannot be counted. Delenn decides that she will make the case that she was never fully Minbari to begin with and so there will be nothing to lose by marrying a human. Callenn fears it will cause great confusion among their people, but Delenn is not willing to relent. As she and Lennier start to leave, Callen comes up with an alternative. In ancient times, after a war between their peoples, the winning side would give a daughter in marriage to the other as a symbol of life. He offers to pass her union with Sheridan as this tradition, an offering to the humans who died in the Earth-Minbari War, which he imagines would be a great sacrifice. Delenn just gives him a knowing smirk.

Back on B5, Sheridan is waiting as Delenn arrives. She just tells him everything's fine now. He's simultaneously amused and annoyed that she won't say what it was all about but the important thing is she's back. As they walk off, she asks about Stephen and Marcus, who are already on their way to Mars. Sheridan thinks they'll probably turn this into a sight-seeing tour, take the time to enjoy themselves.

On a slow freighter that smells like a martian pleasure dome on Sunday morning, Marcus is playing with his pike, and singing, while Stephen is really wishing he had a gun.

"I am the very model of a modern major-general..."

This episode contains examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: Supplementary material reveals that Delenn's clan is called the Tenth Fane of Elleya. Her family (Mir) is part of it.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Minbari have a custom dating back to the days when they actually made war on each other where the winning side would offer a daughter in marriage as a symbol of life. Delenn's clan decides to pass off her marriage to Sheridan as this.
  • The Atoner: Delenn has regretted starting the Earth-Minbari War, and has been trying to make up for it ever since.
  • Awful Truth: Callenn clearly regards the fact that countless modern Minbari have human DNA as this, and Delenn is able to use it to leverage an agreement where he approves her marriage as an ancient Minbari reconciliation custom in exchange for her keeping it to herself.
  • Call-Back:
  • Character Development: The change in Franklin's character is quite pronounced here; the old Franklin could barely drag himself away from Medlab long enough for a good night's sleep. Here he agrees to an extended mission that will have him away from Babylon 5 for possibly weeks.
  • The Clan: Delenn is summoned by hers to explain why she is going to marry a human. Lennier is from another clan, but he accompanies her anyway.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When Ivanova goes to the Drazi...Party? Blowout? War? Whatever it is, she's wearing the Green Leader sash. Considering how she'd resolved that particular conflict, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that she left the "party" in not the best shape.
    • When Dukhat takes Delenn as his protege, he says, "I cannot have an aide who will not look up. You will be forever walking into things." She said the same thing to Lennier when he arrived.
    • Zack's uniform still doesn't fit properly.
    • The Grey Council may be disbanded but their security remains.
    • Dukhat mentions the Centauri have had dealings with the humans for some time. If you recall, the Centauri were the first aliens humanity encountered.
  • Credits Gag: "I am the very model of a modern major-general..."
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Delenn holds Dukhat in his final moments.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Delenn causes Sheridan to forget what he was thinking when she appears in her Little Black Dress.
  • Don't Ask: Ivanova when she emerges from the Drazi party.
  • Easily Forgiven: Lennier forgives Delenn for starting the Earth/Minbari War, despite losing family on the Black Star. He doesn't seem to be one to hold a grudge.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Callenn seeks to keep Minbari "pure".
    • The Warrior Caste's reason for not making contact with the humans is that it would be a waste of time and effort, which basically boils down to, "They're not Minbari, therefore they're not worth noticing."
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: When the Soul Hunters appear, the Minbari realize tragedy is about to strike, but it's too late to do anything about it.
  • Foreshadowing: Callen recalls a tradition from long-forgotten times when Minbari fought against each other. This tradition might come back into vogue soon.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: After one of the tailors jabs Zack, Lennier commends her in Minbari, while making Zack think he's scolding her.
  • Intrigued by Humanity: Delenn is curious enough about humans to start researching them on her own time after hearing about the Grey Council's deliberations on the subject.
  • Loophole Abuse: Callenn's solution makes use of an all-but-forgotten custom from when Minbari still fought wars with each other to approve Delenn's marriage to Sheridan.
  • Major General Song: Thank you, Marcus.
  • Mandatory Line: Ivanova's brief appearance.
  • Mentor Archetype: Dukhat to Delenn.
  • Moment of Weakness: Delenn, consumed by rage and grief over Dukhat's death, was asked to cast the deciding vote for the action to take after the attack by the Earth vessel.
  • Mood Whiplash: The start of the Dreaming goes from the tranquil first meeting between Delenn and Dukhat to a full-scale space battle in a matter of seconds.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Delenn immediately regrets her enraged decision, but it's too late to stop a full-scale war.
  • My Greatest Failure: Delenn's is starting the Earth/Minbari War in A Tragedy of Impulsiveness.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Delenn inadvertently starts a genocidal war when she votes to destroy the human ships.
  • Never Found the Body: Valen's, part of what adds to his mythology.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Neither of her parents are there, but Delenn faces getting this from her clan. Callenn eventually rescinds the veto to keep her quiet about what she discovers.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: Neither the audience nor Delenn hear Dukhat's last words when he first says them. It's only when she goes back to the Dreaming late in the episode that she finally hears what he said.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The meeting between Delenn and King Arthur get this after you find out about Delenn's part in starting the Earth-Minbari war.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: The vision replays over and over in Delenn's mind until she realizes that the important part of the vision was what Dukhat was trying to tell her just before he died. She then goes back to The Dreaming in order to hear what it was:
    Dukhat: There was a purpose to my selection. Your heritage—you are a child of Valen.
  • Secret Legacy: Delenn finds out she is descended from Valen, a.k.a. Jeffrey Sinclair, which means she's always been part human.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The origins of Valen and the Triluminaries have been lost to history by the time Delenn joins the Grey Council.
  • Stock Episode Titles
  • Undying Loyalty: Lennier reestablishes just how loyal he is to Delenn after finding out about her vote.
  • Uneven Hybrid: Turns out Delenn was partially human even before entering the chrysalis. Countless other partially-human minbari are also out there, most likely without even realizing it.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Delenn's reaction to Dukhat's death.
    "No mercy! No mercy!"
    • The Minbari in general during the war with the humans. As one of Delenn's colleagues tells her, they are "a world gone mad", and the fires of their madness cannot now be controlled; they must burn out over time.
  • Vision Quest: The Dreaming.
  • Warts and All: Delenn fears that her standing with Lennier would be harmed from his knowing her involvement in starting the Earth/Minbari War. She's wrong; Lennier holds no grudge despite losing family on the Black Star.
  • We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: The Warrior Caste's tradition of approaching with gun ports open is misinterpreted by the Earth ships as hostile intention and they take preemptive action, leading to a devastating war.

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