“Into the Fire”

So, we watched “Into the Fire” recently, as Geek Night wends its way through winter. It came, as so many episodes of Babylon 5 do, earlier than I expected. I remember, of course, that it’s a season 4 episode, but I thought it came later than episode 6 of, like, 24 or something. But there it is, sitting pretty at slot 6, on disk 2 of 6 in the season 4 boxed set.

It is, as the term has it, a WHAM episode.

It’s one we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of season 2 (though, to be honest, we’ve actually been waiting for it since the pilot, we just didn’t really know that).

Anyway. The episode opens with Sheridan and the Army of Light taunting both the Vorlons and Shadows into a confrontation. Since coming back from the dead, Sheridan has been bolder about taking on both sides in the war. Originally, the Army of Light was under the tutelage of the Vorlons, but in recent months it had become clear that the Vorlons were playing a longer game than the younger races had imagined. It had never been about defeating the ancient enemy, merely about driving it back. For who knows how long, the Vorlons had been using younger races to … well. It was more like a deadly brawl for the most part.

Lately, the Vorlons had decided to really go on the offensive, and actually beat the Shadows. Apparently. But actually, no. Just wipe out places where the Shadows had influence because…

OK, so there were basically two scenes and a couple of sequences to justify this as the cool episode it is, because looking too closely at the tactical decisions of the Vorlons and Shadows (Vorlons especially) just makes me think, “really? Nobody saw through this before?”

The sequences are the space battle stuff. Ships flying around, shoot-em-up, and like that. Great looking stuff.

The first scene that really rocks is when Londo confronts Morden, telling him to get the Shadow ships off the island they’ve been parked on for the last couple of months. It’s not entirely clear why the Shadow ships had to be parked on Centauri Prime, except for some game-playing with Cartagia, but they were there nonetheless, and Londo wanted them off. Morden, naturally, refused, so Londo blew up the island.

Morden: “You’re insane!”
Londo: “On any other day, you would be wrong. But today–today is a very special day.”

Wow. There are a couple of other scenes on Centauri Prime which are pretty cool. When Vir realizes that Londo is Shadow influenced, and the Vorlon planet killer eclipses their sun from orbit is pretty cool. And it’s pretty cool to see Vir get what he wants from one of his early conversations with Morden. “I’ll look up into your cold, dead eyes, and wave. Like this.”

The other cool scene is a speech by Sheridan culminating in, “get the hell out of our galaxy.” Not all confrontations are about combat, you see. Still, one of our viewers correctly noted that, actually, Lorien provided the final nudge to get all the First Ones to go.

Most of the rest of this season was set up in the next episode, “Epiphanies.” It has to do with the Earth Civil War, which has been on the back burner pretty much since sometime before the season 3 finale. Bester was back almost, but not quite not causing trouble. Garibaldi resigned as Chief of Security to go freelance helping people find things and people they’d lost in the Shadow War. Zach and Lyta made some personal connections, and she made some telepath-centric decisions which made things more difficult for Sheridan. And, probably, for her. I could not say, as I say when I could say more than I know… And the Delenn-Sheridan story took its first step toward becoming the Sheridan (Delenn) story.

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