From the beginning, both were running out of time. The space station that was the last, best hope for peace was sooner or later certain to be eclipsed by new political coalitions and technical advances. And John Sheridan, who guided the massive freeport through its most tumultuous days, knew that his own fate had been inalterably prophesied. Now both storylines converge in a 22-episode final season (with dazzling Exclusive DVD Extras!) whose events also include Sheridan's attempts to wage peace for the Interstellar Alliance, the tragic fate of the telepaths and the ultimate fireball destruction of the outmoded station after it is declared to be a spaceway navigational hazard. You are cleared for final approach to Babylon 5.
A disappointment after the superb two previous seasons, the final run of Babylon 5
found Claudia Christian departed and Ivanova replaced by Captain Elizabeth Lochley (Tracy Scoggins), who in a soap-opera twist turned out to be Sheridan's first wife. Sheridan was promoted to President of the Interstellar Alliance and the action moved to a group of telepaths seeking sanctuary from the PSI-Corp on B5
. Giving a prominent role to Patricia Tallman's Lyta Alexander, a love story for her was woven with the leader of the telepaths, Byron (Robin Atkin Downs). Meanwhile the aftermath of the Shadow War was explored as the origin of human telepaths became clear in "Secrets of the Soul," and the appearance of PSI-Corp's Bester (Walter Koenig) brought the plight of the refugees to a powerful close in "A Tragedy of Telepaths" and "Phoenix Rising."
This was immediately followed by a rare episode not written by J. Michael Straczynski. Much was expected of "Day of the Dead," penned by Neil Gaiman, the British creator of DC's landmark Sandman comic and graphic novel series. Yet despite a change of tone including a guest appearance by Penn & Teller as 23rd-century comedy favorites Rebo & Zooty, the story proved an incongruous side trip into an unexplained twilight zone of fantasy. As usual the season picked up toward the end, with a string of fine political episodes leading to "The Fall of Centauri Prime" and the haunting "Objects at Rest," in which Sheridan and Delenn leave Babylon 5 for new quarters on Minbar.
The final episode, "Sleeping in Light," was directed by J. Michael Straczynski and made an epilogue to the series. Set 20 years later, after all the sound and fury this quiet, elegiac tale is the apotheosis of the love story that proved the balance to the tragedy of the preceding darkness. A personal story resolved against a background of the epic, at once transcendent, deeply human, and profoundly optimistic, "Sleeping in Light" is as moving as any hour in the history of television drama and a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to one of the greatest series ever made. --Gary S. Dalkin