Babylon 5 - Season 4
Another season under my belt and I'm still not sure what to make of this show, but I will say it has gotten much more compelling as it went along.
It's an interesting choice to have the Shadow War get wrapped up at the midpoint of the season and have the second half be about the rising tensions with Earth. Feels like two different seasons.
Ivanova really takes over leadership in Sheridan's absence. He was thought dead when he rammed his ship into the Shadows' homeworld last season but he was saved by an Ancient named Lorien who breathed life into his dead body to give him a few extra years on the mortal coil. He comes back to B5 and everyone treats him like a savior and it's hard to argue the point.
Garibaldi had gone after Sheridan and was captured by a Shadow vessel in the finale so it takes a few episodes before we find out what happened to him. Actually I'm still not sure what happened. He was held captive and tortured, I guess. G'Kar gets some info on his whereabouts before he is captured and taken to Centauri Prime as a prisoner. Marcus finally rescues Garibaldi who decides he doesn't want to run station security anymore so he becomes a private eye, leaving Zack in charge of security.
We get a nice little mini-arc about Londo back on Centauri Prime realizing that the new Emperor he helped put into power is a total loon, knows that the Shadows will destroy Centauri Prime when they're done with the alliance, but doesn't care. Londo decides the Emperor must die and calls on Vir to help him with the task. They come up with a plan and when it starts to go south, Vir steps up and does the deed. I liked it, it shows that while Vir values life and peace and kindness he will do what he has to do. What didn't feel correct was that after they find out Morden somehow survived the nuking of Z'Ha'Dum with only a few burn marks, Londo puts his severed head on a pike and Vir smiles and laughs at the sight. It would have been in character for Londo to be pleased with that, not Vir.
It took me a bit by surprise that the Vorlons suddenly turn against the Alliance after spending so much time seeming to groom them for war against the Shadows. The Shadows had planted ships on all the Alliance worlds that could be activated at a later date and the Vorlons decide the only way to prevent these reinforcements from coming into play is to start blowing up all the member worlds, which seems to run counter to their original plans. The B5 White Star fleet lures both Shadows and Vorlons into a remote sector where they start duking it out. Ivanova says "we can't just sit here and let them fight it out" and I thought why not? Let them kill each other and then deal with whomever's left. Ivanova instead plunges into the fight which gets a lot of Alliance ships killed too. Finally Sheridan summons a representative from the Vorlons and Shadows to his bridge and tells them to knock it off and go home, and they do. Well, that was abrupt.
Now the second half of the season deals with Earth's smear campaign against B5 for seceding and declaring independence. B5 loses all support and other non-aligned races are convinced not to do business with them. Earth continues waging war on Mars and Proxima, and B5 decides they need to fight a war against Earth which is still under the rule of President Clark who assassinated the previous President.
This is when Garibaldi turns against Sheridan and I didn't really understand it. They have a big public shouting match so I thought what was happening was they were pretending to part company publicly but would secretly be working together, and it took me several episodes to realize that it was all supposed to be at face value. I didn't find it very believable. At the end of the season we find out Garibaldi was being influenced all along which made more sense.
Marcus and Franklin run off to join the Mars resistance and team up against Earth, and it's nice that our characters are split apart so we can see different aspects of the war.
Delenn goes back to Minbar where I guess they have decided that since their holy man Valen was actually half-human that the earlier revelation that Minbari souls were being reincarnated into Humans was sort of a mistake and they don't want to continue the cultural contamination. That could be a problem later. Still, Delenn passes a trial and gets to marry the human Sheridan.
I did like the way the Sheridan/Garibaldi conflict resolved. Garibaldi leads Sheridan into what is probably a trap but won't betray him outright. Sheridan ends up leading the final assault on Earth to victory.
The episode where Sheridan was in Earth custody and being interrogated was good. A lot of the stuff back on Centauri Prime between Londo and G'Kar was also good, Londo pledging to free Narn again if G'Kar helps him with the Emperor.
I guess Earth was still in league with the Shadows even though the Shadows had called off the war? They have Shadow-tech ships in the final battle. I guess that explains why when Garibaldi was captured by the Shadows he ended up in the custody of Bester and the Psi-Corps who brainwashed him, but wasn't Bester on the outs with the Corps by then and against Earth? I don't know.
Ivanova sacrifices herself in the final battle but is brought back from the brink. That alien healing machine is kind of an easy way to undo a character death. I'm glad they haven't used it that often. I understand Marcus' sacrifice but too bad he didn't know that you can take turns with someone else and bring someone back without killing yourself.
There's probably a ton of things I didn't mention. As with previous seasons, I liked the overall storyline but I would say I liked the episode-by-episode proceedings more this season than before.
At some point this was intended to be the final season before TNT came in and threw them a bone with Season 5, right? My watch-order list told me to hold off on the final S4 episode until after S5, Crusade, and the movies.
The Shadows had corrupted Psi Corp over the years and had ties with them. Bester was against the Shadows as they implanted his lover with their tech and was playing the role of spy against the shadows while loyal to the Corps.
The Vorlons had gone berzerk over the death of Kosh and finaly decided that enough was enough and that the shadows were to be exterminated for good, the Shadows also decided they had enough of the Vorlons and wanted them wiped out as well and to both sides any lesser races that were destroyed were of no consequence.
Remember, they were going to blast Centauri Prime even though Londo purged all Shadow influence....except for him! It was only them being called away that saved their planet.
Vir told Morden in the last season that he wanted Morden's head on a pike as a warning for ten generations to come about the price of favors and that he would smile and wave at his severed head. Vir got his wish, which was the only unselfish wish voiced to Morden and the Shadows.
Morden survived the planet being nuked with more then just some scars, he was a walking cinder pile being regenerated by the Shadows. After they left they couldnt heal him from being decapitated.
However Morden did warn Londo that the Shadows still had allies......
Vir killing Cartagia was more of an accident, he had the weapon yes but Cartagia basically turned into it and stabbed himself during his rant.
But yes he had to perish. In Season 5 Londo will pay for all his sins
Clarke obtained a lot of shadow tech for experimentation and study and that tech was still on Earth after they had left.
Marcus studied Franklin's logs about the machine and he knew the risks. However Ivanova being saved and Marcus dying was not the original plan of JMS, contracts, budgets, she was going to leave the show as I recall, decided to stay then left before Season 5 due to money as I recall.
However years ago, JMS wrote a story in the Amazing Stories Magazine that dealt with Marcus as he was placed in stasis pending revival no matter how many years it would take.
Also the two main plots were resolved this season as there had been some doubt about getting a 5th.
S4 was going to originally end with the episode that is used at the end of Season 5, dealing with Sheridan's final days
Londo and G'kar become frenemies for sure in this season and it carries into Season 5 despite some rightous bitterness from G'kar
Also B5 still had support from non aligned worlds as they saw how corrupt Earth had become and gladly formed the new Alliance with Sheridan as President.
The Vorlons and SHadows purpose was to nurture and train the younger races, but they had lost sight of their purpose after all this time. Sheridan made them realize that the younger races were able to stand on their own and didn't need them any more. Lorien assured them it was okay and the First Ones all leave.
But the Drak'h are coming......