Point of No Return
In my humble little opinion season three of Babylon 5 is the one of the finest seasons of television in the entire history of the medium. This was the absolute peek of J. Michael Straczynski’s small screen space opera. Admittedly, it’s not 100% perfect. It was at this point that Straczynski started writing ever single episode himself (an impressive achievement to be sure) so inevitable dreck like ‘Grey 17 is Missing’ gets sandwiched in between all the great stuff. And we were pretty much spoilt for choice with great stuff this season. After two years worth of build up this was the season where things were finally starting to pay off.
The season started quietly enough with a group of mostly standalone tales of varying quality and significance. But by the time we got to ‘Messages from Earth’ the fan was well and truly hit. The entire status quo of the series was suddenly turned upside down and there would be no going back. Straczynski didn’t so much as jettison the reset button as completely obliterate it. ‘Point of No Return’ saw the Earth Alliance became a fascist dictatorship under President Clark forcing the crew of Babylon 5 to break away into an independent state. This all lead to ‘Severed Dreams’ (another Hugo winner) as our heroes fought to defend the station from Clark’s forces. From now on Sheridan and company were cut off from home on their own (and got some nifty new uniforms to boot).
The season soon settled down for a bit after that until the Shadow war finally kicked off in full. ‘Interludes and Examinations’ sees Kosh make a devastating sacrifice on Sheridan’s behalf. The two-parter ‘War Without End’ saw the return of Sinclair and finally revealed the true story behind the disappearance of Babylon 4. After the big battles of ‘Shadow Dancing’ everything comes to a head in the season finale as Sheridan goes with his not-so-dead wife, Anna, back to Z’ha’dum. They should really use this episode in media studies as an example of how to write a truly great season finale. It’s simply a breathtaking 45 minutes of television that no one has yet to come close to equalling or surpassing.
With some many big events jostling for screen time JMS wisely doesn’t let the characterisation get lost in amongst all the explosions. Sheridan and Delenn kept making gooey eyes at each other. Ranger Marcus Cole arrived on the station and wasted no time hitting on Ivanova. G’Kar finally found inner peace and a new purpose in life. Franklin struggled with drug addiction and resigned. And Londo’s decent into darkness continued despite his best efforts to escape his destiny.
Season three was the middle chapter of Babylon 5 and the point in which it got seriously worse for our heroes before it could eventually get any better. Creatively the show was riding on a high note. From the acting to the special effects everything was at its absolute best. Sadly the show would never be this good again. Outside factors would eventually derail Straczynski’s carefully constructed five-year-plan resulting in a rushed forth season and a disappointingly muddled final season. But season three still stands as a shinning beacon of everything that was, and still is, great about Babylon 5.
- Introduction from series creator J. Michael Straczynski
- Audio commentary on 3 episodes
- "Behind the Mask: Creating the Aliens of Babylon 5" documentary
- "Designing a Better Narn" documentary
- "Designing Tomorrow: The Look of Babylon 5" documentary
- Personnel files
- Data files
- Shadow dossier