An archaeologist smuggles ancient artifacts onto the station, unleashing
a living weapon.
David McCallum as Dr. Vance Hendricks.
Marshall Teague as Nelson Drake.
P5 Rating: 6.33
Production number: 101
Original air date: February 18, 1994
DVD release date: November 5, 2002
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Richard Compton
- Ikarra 7, now a dead world, was a thousand years
ago home to a highly advanced space-faring society. Their
technology was organic: tools and artifacts made of living tissue yet
immune to decay. Invaded over a dozen times, they finally built 12
devastating organic warriors to protect them. Programmed to
destroy any but "pure Ikarrans", those warriors repelled the last
invasion and went on to kill any Ikarran who deviated from the ideal
(ie all of them). A
of the scene in which this is discussed is available.
- Organic technology is, according to archaeologist
Vance Hendricks, "The one trick Earth hasn't been able to crack.
The ability to create living ships that thrive in the vacuum of
space, to create weapons that produce their own power through
internal generation, like a firefly lights up at night."
- The Vorlons have organic technology, and it's
suspected that the Minbari do as well.
- Sinclair: "The last time I gave an
interview they told me just to relax and say what I really felt -
ten minutes after the broadcast I got transferred to an outpost so
far off the star maps you couldn't find it with a hunting dog and a
Ouija board." It's not clear whether or not this was a joke.
- Garibaldi: (to the reporter) "...and
after walking 50 miles, we finally made it out of the desert.
Later when he was put in charge of Babylon 5, Commander Sinclair
asked if I'd come work security. I said yes - it's been a great
- Garibaldi has been fired from 5 different jobs
for "unspecified personal problems". His assignment on Babylon 5
is probably his last shot in Earth Force.
- Garibaldi was in Earth Force during the E/M war,
but not on the Line.
- Who invaded Ikarra so many times? What was so
valuable about it?
- Why is Sinclair so prone to heroism (read:
suicidal bravery)? He's deliberately put his life on the line
three times now in the past year (cf "The
Gathering", "Soul Hunter").
Garibaldi suggests an answer: when the war ended it took away the
direction it gave his life, as happened to many veterans. So now
he's "looking for something worth dying for because it's easier
than finding something worth living for." Sinclair's not entirely
satisfied with that answer, and resolves to give it more thought.
- A "Bio-weapons" supplier backed Hendricks'
original expedition to Ikarra - they must have had advance
information about what was to be found there.
- Ivanova has little faith in the ethics of big
government organizations (cf "Mind War",
- Franklin appeared to seriously ponder the image
of great wealth Hendricks offered, before the guards took him away.
- A team from Earth Force Defense, Bio-weapons
Division confiscated the Ikarran artifacts just as the dust from the
weapon-chase was settling. Earth now has bio-tech of its own to study.
- Garibaldi: "The commander's a hands-on
kind of guy, he'll grab any chance he can get to take out a ship -
he's like that."
- This episode occurs right around the 2nd
anniversary of Babylon 5 going on-line.
- In a poll, 75% of "Interstellar Network News"
said B5 wouldn't last 5 minutes. Lloyd's of London put the odds at
500 to 1 against it lasting one year.
- The "Narn-Centauri negotiations" are to occur in
the near future.
- Sinclair: "How sharper than a serpent's
tooth." (His reply to Garibaldi's joking guess that Sinclair's
interview would get him shipped off the station and himself
promoted into Sinclair's position.) This is a quote from
Shakespeare (King Lear.)
- Dr. Hendricks says to Franklin, "There's a Martian war
machine outside, and it wants to speak to you about the common cold."
That's a reference to H. G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds," in which
the Martian invaders are killed by common microbes.
- Sinclair: "When you become obsessed with
the enemy, you become the enemy."
- At the last, the Ikarran begs forgiveness from
the "Great Maker".
- Franklin: "I'm starting to wonder if what
we just saw is a preview of things to come" (re: Pro-earth groups).
- The Interview
Reporter: "After all that you've just gone through, I have
to ask you the same question a lot of people back home are asking
about space these days. Is it worth it? Should we just pull back,
forget the whole thing as a bad idea, and take care of our own
problems, at home?"
Sinclair: "No. We have to stay here,
and there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists
about the environment, population control, genetics - and you'll
get ten different answers. But there's one thing every scientist
on the planet agrees on: whether it happens in a hundred years, or
a thousand years, or a million years, eventually our sun will grow
cold, and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us, it'll
take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-tsu, Einstein, Maruputo, Buddy Holly,
Aristophanes - all of this. All of this was for nothing, unless we
go to the stars."
- Ikarra may be an Australian Aboriginal word.
The Australian DSTO (Defence Sciences and Technology Organisation)
developed the anti-submarine weapon "Ikara" in the 1950's. It is no
longer in use in the Australian Navy, having been fired for the last time
in 1990. The Brazilian Navy may still use a variation of it.
Since the DSTO has a tradition of naming its products after warlike
Aboriginal animals, it's plausible that the word refers to an animal.
- A slight visual gaffe: When the bioweapon self-destructs and falls to
the ground, its head is facing to the left (away from the camera.) But
when Sinclair watches him turn human again, Nelson's head is facing to
the right (toward the camera.)
- We'll definitely be dealing with the aspects of how fighting in a war
can affect you. And this isn't just a vague promise: watch the end of
the third (currently) scheduled episode, "Infection," for a scene
between Sinclair and Garibaldi that really deals very straightforwardly
with this issue. It's a conversation you wouldn't expect to see in a
show like this.
- [Infection] has a lot of action, which you'd expect, and a big
conclusion, which you'd expect. What you *won't* expect, I think,
is what happens afterward, in a conversation no one generally has
in TV after big action stuff has gone down. And it's something to
chew on, I think....
- Thanks. Sinclair's final speech there is the simplest truth about
space exploration that I can think of...and the most
compelling..and the most overlooked. As Henry Kissinger once said,
"It has the added benefit of being true."
- Sorry; there's no one more critical of my work than me, and when it
comes to "Infection," I'd just kinda prefer it if it kinda vanished
in the night. I feel that way about only two episodes out of 22,
so that's not too bad, I suppose.
- "Infection" is definitely not indicative of the season overall; that
is, in my view, one of our weaker, possibly weakest episodes.
- And like I said...I have problems with "Infection" as well, so there
is no flame from me. I guess part of it is knowing what was in the
script that should've been carried off better, but wasn't. And part
of it is my fault; I tried to use the Nelson/machine as a metaphor;
it wasn't supposed to be about the Nelson/machine, but about the kind
of people who would create it, the kind of people who would sell it,
and the kind of people who would confiscate it even KNOWING what it
was (and of course the kind of people who would *use* it).
Unfortunatly, when you put somebody in that kind of suit, that
*becomes* the story, and from that point on you're pretty much doomed.
It was also in places too much an obvious metaphor, and the "hand of
the author" is showing too much. It was the first script written for
this season, after the long break after the pilot, and I think I was
trying to find the characters' "fingerprints" and getting into the
flow of the series, which took a script or two.
- The problem with "Infection" from a writing POV is that it was the
FIRST one written for this season, and I was having a hard time
finding the "fingerprints" of the characters again after so much time
had passed after the pilot (it was nearly a year between the revising/
shooting of the pilot, and the writing of the first series script).
As on *any* show, it takes a while to get up to speed once you hit
series. That was the real problem, and there wasn't any real way to
get past it except to write it, re-acquaint myself with the characters,
and move on. I probably would have opted out of doing it had we had
more scripts on hand, but we didn't. And oddly, many on the
production team *liked* the script quite a lot, and kept saying it had
to be done.
- I'd slice this a little finer and suggest that it wasn't so much the
*stupidity* of racism and the whole genetic purity aspect, but the
IMPRACTICALITY of such ideas. If you follow the idea to its logical
conclusion, *nobody* is pure. Which was kind of the point.
And oddly enough, there's a pro-genocide discussion in "Deathwalker."
- I allow a small smile...in the course of any given script, I put in
little things that I figure nobody will ever notice, but which for me
help just a bit to keep on track with the character, and which may
resonate to anyone paying attention. You cite Sinclair's line about
joining Garibaldi "on the LINE," and Garibaldi noting that Sinclair
keeps putting his life "on the LINE," and the similarity to the
phrase "the Battle of the Line."
It was a throwaway...but a conscious one.
He's still fighting the same battle. He's never stopped. In one way
or another, he keeps putting himself out there, caught in a loop....
- Actually, the reporter's question was *not* (from a 2258 point of
view) stupid. Earth is far enough from the other major races not to
have to worry about iminent invasion. At the time of the story, there
is a VERY strong isolationist movement growing back home, which you'll
hear more about as we go in. Space travel is *expensive*, even in
2258, and there are still a lot of problems to be resolved back home.
While the Earth administration in Earthdome keeps pressing to go
further and further, various nation/states in the Earth senate are
taxed further to finance explorations which they don't always share in
equally, the Mars Colony is threatening secession...things are falling
apart by degrees. So in light of all that, the question is
- The ONLY reason that they were able to pick up the blasts in
"Infection" was because they were SO powerful that they registered on
the station's sensors. Ordinary PPG blasts don't show up.
- I have nothing to do with the description applied to the show by
others. In that episode, the affected person isn't "turned into" a
machine. It is sort of a living armor-like compound that grows over
the person's body, and begins to influence the person in question.
That is the sum and substance of it; he isn't transmuted, his biology
isn't changed, his brain isn't replaced, and so on.
My suggestion: judge the episode based on the episode, not on what
choice of words someone else used in trying to synopsize the episode.
Because Moby Dick can be summed up as, "A nut chasing a big fish."
But there's obviously more to the story than that, and it's not
Originally compiled by Matthew Ryan firstname.lastname@example.org