When a cryonic sleeper is awakened, a deadly, evil force is unleashed on
Anne-Marie Johnson as Mariah Cirrus.
Dwight Schultz as Amis.
P5 Rating: 7.64
Production number: 205
Original air date: November 30, 1994
DVD release date: April 29, 2003
Written by Scott Frost
Directed by Mario DiLeo
- An out-of-place cut of Garibaldi searching for Amis
- Earth got jumpgate technology from the Centauri in the mid-22nd
century. Before then, humans were mostly confined to their own
- Sometime between the 20th century and the arrival of the Centauri,
signals of possible extraterrestrial and intelligent origin were
- A small number of explorers volunteered for long-term interstellar
missions, so long-term that they had to be cryogenically frozen for
the duration. These missions were launched until the Centauri made
contact with Earth, eliminating the need for sleeper ships. At least
some of these ships were set to home in on any signals they might
- During the war, Garibaldi was a "gropo" ("ground pounder"), stationed
on an outpost or base rather than a ship. He and some of his companions
barely escaped death in a surprise attack by the Minbari.
- Another outpost was attacked by a vicious creature of some kind,
an insidious beast that affected the minds of the soldiers stationed
there, then killed them one by one, ripping their internal organs
completely out of their bodies.
- The Markab, like the Narn, believe there was a great darkness in the
past, something that was defeated only after a painful struggle.
At least some among them suspect that the darkness is rising again.
- What was the creature? Was it really one of the Shadows?
- How did it detect and board the Copernicus, which was travelling at
a significant fraction of lightspeed?
- What did it want with people's internal organs?
- Is it really dead? (We suspect so, but without a body....)
- What was the substance hanging off Amis when he was suspended in
midair? Garibaldi makes a face as he tears it off Amis.
- What happened to Amis afterward?
- Garibaldi says to Amis, "You were just about to accuse the Centauri
ambassador of being in league with the devil... which might not be
too far from the truth." Just a meaningless offhand remark, or does
Garibaldi somehow know what Londo is up to?
- The fact that the Copernicus was headed for Z'ha'dum indicates that
the Shadows have been gathering their forces for some time, at least
10 years, leading to the possibility that they've been meddling in the
affairs of the major races before their recent involvement with Londo.
- Contempt for the Lurkers seems to be pervasive, if not almost
universal. Even Dr. Franklin, normally a level-headed person, was
ready to dismiss a claim made by a Lurker out of hand, and one of
the security officers said, "Damn lurkers, we should space 'em all."
- No mention was made of any attempt to retrieve the sleeper ships after
first contact with the Centauri. Presumably such a task would have
been easily accomplished. One explanation might be that the first
contact threw Earth into such turmoil that retrieving frozen
astronauts became an insignificant priority. Perhaps an attempt
was made but was unsuccessful; if the Copernicus had locked onto
any signals along the way and changed course, it might be nearly
impossible to track down in the vastness of space.
- The Copernicus timeline seems to be:
- Before the Centauri contact: Signals of extraterrestrial origin were detected.
- 100+ years ago: Sleeper ships were launched on long voyages,
Copernicus among them.
- 12+ years ago: Copernicus detects signals from the Minbari CP in
an obscure system and homes in on them. (Presumably the signals stop,
and Copernicus doesn't revive the crew.)
- About 12 years ago: Amis has his encounter with the creature. The
EarthForce listening post is essentially destroyed by it. Amis is kept
alive. For some reason the creature does not interfere when he is rescued.
- Less than 12 years ago: Copernicus passes through the system. The
creature boards, changes course, and kills Mariah's husband before settling
into the "life tube" with her.
- 4+ years ago: Copernicus detects signals from the region of space where
the Babylon stations are under construction. In keeping with its underlying
directive to seek out such signals, the vessel changes course.
- A year or less ago: Copernicus begins decelerating, and apparently uses
up all its remaining fuel to do so. At some point it begins transmitting
a greeting signal.
- Now: Copernicus arrives, unpowered and without even any thruster fuel
remaining (it's tumbling when first spotted).
- 10% of the air supply aboard Copernicus was lost when the creature boarded,
presumably vented into space. This implies that for some reason the creature
came in through the door (there was no airlock) or penetrated the hull physically
to gain entry. This is only odd because Amis insists that it could pass through walls.
- Why wasn't Copernicus detected earlier? There could be a few reasons. First,
the ship apparently used up all of its hydrogen fuel and all of its thruster fuel
on approach to B5. This leaves unanswered the question of what it was doing
for power afterward, but apparently it had enough to keep transmitting its
greeting message and keep internal systems going. But tumbling, it may have
been unable to keep a high gain antenna pointed in-system. Add to this the
fact that nobody was listening for it (Ivanova says it's on an unusual frequency)
and it becomes fairly reasonable that it came all the way insystem without being
- How fast and far did Copernicus travel? This one is more difficult. The minimum
answer is 25 LY and .25C. The distance between the Sol System and B5 seems to
be about 25 light years, and this is the minimum distance Copernicus had to cover.
To cover 25 LY in 100+ years, Copernicus had to travel at 1/4 C (on average).
Typical predictions for nuclear engines driving ships to low-reletivistic speeds say
that it takes between 10 and 40 tons of reaction mass/fuel per ton of dry weight
to accelerate a ship to low-C (1/10C to 1/4C more or less) and decelerate it again.
So either the ship we saw was the core of a much larger ship and all the empty tanks
were ejected, or it's made of very lightweight materials, or both.
- 100 years seems like a reasonable time for a slower-than-light
interstellar journey, yet Mariah was surprised to learn that much
time had passed. Her reaction could just be due to the disorientation
she was probably experiencing, or perhaps the mission was planned
to be less than 100 years long due to limitations of the cryogenic
units or some other shipboard system.
- The name Amis seems to be a pun, as in something is
amiss with Amis. The name Amis is pronounced the same as "Amos,"
the name of an Old Testament prophet. Prophets like
Amos spent lots of time warning folks about dire and
immediate events, much like what Amis did in the Zoccalo.
- Writer Scott Frost was also on the writing staff of
a show whose atmosphere was often similar to that of this episode.
- When Garibaldi is in the Zocalo, the Drazi sitting next to him is
not wearing a colored sash. Since the ritual combat in
"The Geometry of Shadows"
was supposed to last 1.2 earth years, shouldn't he have been
wearing a purple sash, per Ivanova's solution to the problem?
A possible explanation is that once she did what she did, the
combat was over on Babylon 5 and sashes were no longer required.
- A possible reference to Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to
the Galaxy" takes place as Amis leaves his cell. With a towel around
his neck, he claims, "I've got everything a man needs."
- Franklin administers a drug to a catatonic patient called
DeValera. Eammon DeValera was an Irish politician and
poet, with a real gift for rabble-rousing.
- To follow up on your (Dianne's) other point...yes, from time to time,
as we push ourselves to the limit, we're going to crash and burn.
That's part of the risk if you really want to try and do something
different. We push the envelope...and sometimes get a papercut. I
had, for instance, MUCH more in mind for the EFX in the final
confrontation in "The Long Dark." But we were, alas, about this
> < much ahead of the technology to pull off what I wanted.
- The shadows have their servants, which are being
recalled to their places of power. That was one of their
- Shadow servent. Soldier of darkness. Not a shadow,
but a good, close friend of same.
- RE: Londo looking "more wicked," we're doing some very small,
subtle things to his appearance, his wardrobe, pulling him into a
darker range of fabrics. (Honest to god, you wouldn't believe how
careful and detailed we are in setting this stuff up.) He'll even
be getting a new, slightly darker coat, straighter lines, closer in
style to Refa's, before the season's out. It's really interesting
when you know where you're going....
- What was the race of that ambassador?
I believe that was a Markab.
- Tom: the quibble you raise is one of the points I'm trying to make.
You say someone from 1890 would go crazy. I vehemently don't agree.
Go back and read letters from the 1890s. Heck, go read letters from
1776; the language, the emotions, they're all very much the same. The
chrome of technology has changed, some social styles and attitudes
have changed, but people still go through school (usually), get married,
raise kids, hold jobs, and look to a better future one day.
Mariah was also a scientist, sent forth expecting and prepared to see
new things; this isn't the same thing as an average person just plucked
out of time.
I think people -- Americans in particular -- over-emphasize how much
things change with time, in large measure because in a country that's
only 200+ years old, we *really* don't understand what time IS here.
The Romans who left grafitti all over parts of England are only one
step removed from the South Central taggers of today....
- Re: Ivanova and Sheridan going into the Cortez upon it being pulled
into B5...this was an Earth vessel, remember, stating it's on a mission
of peace, with a cryogenic suspension chamber in use. There was zero
perceived danger. Also, if I were the captain of a naval vessel today,
and I came across an intact sailing vessel that went missing in the
1890s, you'd have to hold a gun at my head to KEEP me out of that ship.
People are, by nature, curious...and this would be a fascinating puzzle
to solve. (Editor's note: the Cortez was the ship in "A Distant
Star." JMS meant the Copernicus.)
- A couple of thoughts on Sheridan, btw...triggered by messages I've seen
or had alluded to in which he's gigged for smiling too much, unlike
Sinclair...just checked back in some of my archives, and for the first
four or five episodes, the number one complaint about Sinclair was that
he either smiled or smirked too much....
Meanwhile, just a little something for the folks on-line to
contemplate...remember the first rule of Babylon 5: nobody is what they
appear. Not entirely, anyway. There's always something going on,
something that somebody's not telling. Some folks are making the error
of looking at Sheridan -- as they looked at Sinclair, or Londo, or Vir,
or G'Kar -- and thinking "this is all that he is." Except, of course,
that they weren't and he's not. I would not create a character that is
just what you're seeing.
Aside from that, and this is a separate issue...there are really two
ways to deepen a character and give him a dark side. One is to do
something to him *before* you meet him, which he's still recovering
from (Sinclair). The other is to meet him, and THEN drop him down a
well. In a way, Londo is illustrative of the latter; you get to know
him, and he's funny, colorful...and then you start to move him.
So suffice to say that Sheridan is going to end up getting more and
more conflicts, and getting booted to the head, and as someone noted
above, caught in the conflict between being a good officer and being a
patriot...which can sometimes be the same, and sometimes VERY different