Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 1: "And the Sky Full of Stars"

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Episode Information

Title: "And the Sky Full of Stars"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: Jnet Greek
Rating (out of 4 stars): *** 1/2
Reviewed on: February 6, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Sinclair's memories are probed so that he finally remembers what happened to him at the Battle of the Line.

Two men, known as Knight One and Knight Two, arrive at B5 with cases of unusual equipment and rent quarters. They pay off a security guard with a gambling problem to get a power source for their equipment. The identify their "target" as Sinclair.

Sometime later, Sinclair wakes up from a nightmare of the Battle of the Line. Communications on the station are not functioning, and when he makes his way through the station to the bridge, the station appears empty. After a delay, the station computer system seems to be working, and it reports another life form, in the central corridor.

When he gets to the central corridor, things get more eerie as the station begins turning itself off. First the voice, then the form, of Knight Two are detected. Knight Two tells Sinclair that they are in a virtual reality simulation, and we learn "behind the scenes" from the Knights that Sinclair is being given some very heavy drugs. Knight Two tells Sinclair that they are going to finally find out what happened to Sinclair during the 24 hours he was out of communication with Earth during the Battle of the Line. Sinclair repeats the story that even we know: he tried to ram a Minbari ship, but blacked out. Knight Two doesn't accept this, and makes it clear that he can compel Sinclair by more than just virtual reality trickery - he can stimulate Sinclair's pain centers.

Meanwhile, Delenn reports to Garibaldi that Sinclair missed his morning meeting with her, and some quick checking by Garibaldi reveals that Sinclair is missing. Garibaldi and Ivanova organize a search, but it's going to take a few days to cover the whole station.

In the VR simulation, Knight Two creates an image of Mitchell, Sinclair's wingman in the Battle of the Line. Mitchell tries to make Sinclair feel guilty for living while he died, but frankly Sinclair gives himself enough of that already. Sinclair relives the Battle of the Line again up to the point where he blacked out, and claims not to remember. He gets angry at Knight Two's prodding, and gives him a solid punch in the stomache. Knight Two really feels this, and drops out of the simulation. He orders Knight One to increase the dosage of Sinclair's drugs, despite the possibilty that it will cause hallucinations and brain damage.

Garibaldi discovers the big payment the security guard that helped the Knights got, and starts looking for him as well. Frantic, the security guard goes to the quarters where the Knights are holding Sinclair. When the guard sees Sinclair, Knight One kills him and dumps the body outside the station. It's discovered sometime later, which lets Garibaldi narrow down the search area.

In the VR simulation, Knight Two keeps prodding Sinclair about the hole in his mind. Knight Two posits the following sequence of events: Sinclair didn't black out, but was captured by the Minbari. The Minbari had realized that defeating Earth militarily was going to be too costly. The Minbari somehow bought him out, and then they released him to act as a spy for them within Earth Force so they could conquer from within. Knight Two supposes that the Minbari did this with many humans. Sinclair knows how ridiculous this is, since he saw the overwhelming superiority the Minbari had in firepower at the Battle of the Line.

Even though Sinclair doesn't believe Knight Two's claims, he does realize that something strange happened to him during that time, since the Minbari assassin in "The Gathering" told him "there is a hole in your mind." He finally breaks through the memory block and remembers what happened: when he tried to ram the huge Minbari ship, it captured him in a tractor beam like a fly in amber. He was taken aboard the Minbari ship and tortured at some length. Finally, he was bound inside the chamber of the Gray Council (figures entirely cloaked in gray). One of them held a triangular device up to him, and it glowed. At a later point, when he was released, he rushed up to that figure and pulled off the hood - the figure was Delenn. Another Minbari knocked him out, and he surmises the Minbari wiped his memory and put him back in his ship.

Sinclair has finally figured out what fills that hole in his mind, but we never find out how much of that Knight Two saw, because in real life, Sinclair manages to break out of his bindings and smash Knight Two's VR equipment. He punches Knight One, grabs aa gun, and races out of the room. However, the drugs have caused him to continue to hallucinate, and he thinks he's still aboard the Minbari ship during the Battle of the Line. He shoots at security guards, seeing them as Minbari. Knight One begins chasing after him.

A security guard's report leads Garibaldi to the central corridor, where Sinclair and Knight One are shooting it out, but Sinclair doesn't recognize Garibaldi, either. Security guards and Franklin have discovered the VR equipment, and Franklin warns that Sinclair is drugged and delusional. Delenn has heard some of the search communications and enters the central corridor and slowly approaches Sinclair. He flashes back to seeing her at the Battle of the Line, but even so, he does not shoot her. He finally shoots Knight One, and then collapses.

The next day, Sinclair has mostly recovered from the drugs. He goes to see Knight Two before he is sent back to Earth for trial, hoping that he can find out more about who the Knights were working for. However, the damage he caused to Knight Two's VR equipment fried a lot of Knight Two's brain and memories, and he reveals nothing useful.

Later, he visits Delenn to thank her for bringning him to his senses. She asks him if he remembers anything, but he denies it. Lucky for him, since Delenn has another Minbari hiding in her quarters who says Sinclair must be killed if he remembers what happened. We know Sinclair does remember, because he dictates it into his personal log, along with the vow to figure out why the Minbari did those things to him, and what Delenn's involvement was.

This episode takes its name from Sinclair's description of the Battle of the Line in "The Gathering": "The sky was full of stars, every star an exploding ship. One of ours." This is such an evocative image for me as an astronomer, since I know just how many stars you can see in the sky. In "The Gethering" we didn't see the battle, but here the image lives up to the description.

Exactly who or what organization was behind the Knights' attack on Sinclair? Knight Two seemed to believe the conspiracy theory he was pushing, but for all we know Knight One was a hired mercenary for the job. Just how many people back on Earth doubt Sinclair's report on blacking out and are suspicious of him? Frankly, Knight Two's constructed sequence of events sounds like a looney conspiracy theory that few people could believe, but he is correct in saying that Sinclair's career has stalled out. That type of non-advancement might be expected for an officer who has technically not doen anything wrong, but who isn't trusted. Has Sinclair never put this together?

How did the Knights envision their mission ending? Did they have some plan to wipe Sinclair's memory of the incident and release him? Were they hoping to really find some evidence of treason and take him back to Earth (covertly or not)? Were they planning on killing him? I can't envision an ending that is good for the Knights, given the certain and effective search Garibaldi would undertake, which makes them dedicated fanatics. Abducting, torturing, and/or killing an Earth Force officer can't have a light sentence, if they were captured alive. Was their mission really worth dying or going to prison for?

This brings us to the ultimate motivation for the organization behind the Knights. Why would anyone develop this bizarre conspiracy theory? I think this irrational and fanatic attitude demonstrates a deep wound to humanity's pride. They did "win" the Earth-Minbari war because the Minbari surrendered at the Battle of the Line. But despite the official story that the Minbari were turned back by Earth's military, most people, or at least the ones in power, realize that the Minbari's military forces were overpowering. These people are scrambling to find any reason to explain why the Minbari would surrender, and they are coming up with off-the-wall explanations.

Now that Sinclair knows that Delenn took part in creating the "hole in his mind", how will their relationship continue? He may not know the Minbari are looking for any sign that he remembers what happened, but he's smart enough to realize he needs to keep it to himself until he knows more about the reasons behing the Minbari's actions. If the Minbari are so worried that he'll remember, why didn't they just kill him in the first place? (We'll get the answer to that in season 3.) At least now we know why Delenn has been sent to observe him - to see if he remembers.

Although this episode was overwhelmingly focused on the plot involving Sinclair, we did get a few nice tidbits on other characters. Franklin described to Delenn how he traveled extensively before the Earth-Minbari war, trading his services for passage. We also learn how seriously he takes his profession, since he said that during the war he destroyed his notes on Minbari physiology rather than turn them over to the government. Delenn is grateful to hear this, but nicely sidesteps the question of what she did during the war - she was part of the ruling body of the Minbari, presumably making critical decisions about the war.

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