Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 2: "Hunter, Prey"

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Episode Information

Title: "Hunter, Prey"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: Menachem Binetski
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: May 21, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Sheridan rescues an doctor with crucial information concerning the late President's assassination.

Garibaldi has received information (presumably from the Rangers, which we met in "The Coming of Shadows", although no one else on the command staff knows about them yet) that the physician of then-Vice President Clark, Dr. Jacobs, has fled Earthgov and may be on B5. Dr. Jacobs has information that may compromise Earthgov, and so Earth Force is searching for him, dead or alive. Shortly, Agent Cranston of Earth Special Intelligence arrives on B5 to lead the search there. Cranston says Jacobs is on the station to sell his information in order to ruin Earthgov.

Sheridan and Garibaldi don't like the feel of the situation, but they have no choice but to help Cranston with the search. Dr. Franklin was once a student of Jacobs, but doesn't know anything about his current whereabouts - and is adamant that Jacobs would never sell out the Earth Alliance.

Cranston and Garibaldi set up the search with B5's security force. Cranston reveals that all EarthDome personnel have microchips implanted in them that send out a short-range signal so they can be found in case of kidnapping. This means that the search teams can home in on the signal once they get close enough to Jacobs to pick it up.

Sheridan receives a signal to meet with an operative of General Hague, who is coordinating the "good guys" trying to fight corruption in Earthgov and Earth Force, as we learned in "All Alone in the Night". The operative tells Sheridan that Jacobs must be found, protected, and smuggled off the station. Jacobs has information that Clark wasn't sick (as he said he was) when he left Earth Force One just before it blew up and killed President Santiago. Clark has decided that it's time to eliminate Jacobs, sending Jacobs on the run. General Hague's operatives were supposed to guide Jacobs, but there was a miss-step, and Jacobs came to B5.

Sheridan is not amused to find out about all this after he's already got B5's security searching for Jacobs. He assigns Garibaldi to the search - Garibaldi's going to have to avoid his own security forces, after all. Garibaldi enlists Franklin's help, since Franklin knows Jacobs. They begin searching through downbelow, the obvious place for a fugitive. Meanwhile, Sheridan manages to delay and prolong Cranston's search.

We have seen a few scenes of Jacobs in downbelow, very much out of his element. He's followed and finally abducted by a thug named Max and his henchmen. Max goes through Jacobs' possessions, looking for anything of value. He comes upon the data crystal with Jacobs' crucial information. Once Max views the data, he realizes he can ransom it and Jacobs to Cranston; he contacts Cranston and sets up a meeting.

Franklin recognizes Jacobs' pocket watch being fenced in downbelow, which leads him and Garibaldi to the henchman guarding Jacobs. They ambush Max when he returns and force him to return the data crystal. Obviously, Max's meeting with Cranston doesn't go off.

The situation is escalating, however, because Cranston has discovered that B5 has internal sensors that could be altered to search for Jacobs' identity chip. It will take some time to make the alterations, but if Jacobs isn't off B5 by the time they are finished, he will be found.

Sheridan has a plan, but it's kept a mystery to us viewers. The alterations to the sensors are done, and Cranston and the others on the bridge when they are activated. The sensors do not detect any signal from Jacobs. Traffic in and out of B5 has been halted for the time being, but Kosh requests permission to leave. Cranston gets suspicious and orders a scan of Kosh's ship, even though it's against Vorlon orders - the scan turns up nothing. Kosh is allowed to leave. Sheridan "asks" Cranston and his agents to leave as soon as possible.

Where did Jacobs go? Earlier in the episode, Sheridan spoke to Kosh a couple times, about Kosh's appearance in Sheridan's dream in "All Alone in the Night" and about Kosh teaching Sheridan "to fight legends". This is an unprecedented amount of communication for Kosh to have with anyone, and apparently his relationship with Sheridan will continue. At any rate, Sheridan somehow persuaded Kosh to hide Jacobs on his ship. Kosh would only allow it if Franklin medicated Jacobs into a comatose state; even so, when Jacobs returns, he says the ship sang to him. Sheridan turns over Jacobs to Hague's operative.

This episode demonstrates the twisted web that can be woven when conspiracies begin to form within Earth Force. Sheridan and the command staff end up working against their own security. Sheridan must trust Hague an awful lot to turn over Jacobs and his information to Hague's operatives, when for all Sheridan knows, Hague will make Jacobs "disappear" just like Clark wanted to. I hope that Sheridan made a copy of the information as insurance. Where is Hague collecting all this information and informants? How much longer will Hague feel he has to collect evidence against Clark before he can reveal it?

I was a little annoyed by Hague's operative on B5 that talked to Sheridan. She shows up with quite a peremptory attitude, and does nothing to help out Sheridan. We have no idea who she is or what her job is, but she seems like someone of reasonable importance. How nice of her to talk to Sheridan, disappear while he does the hard work, and then re-appear to take Jacobs away. I feel like she could have been helping somehow in between. Her final "pat on the head" to Sheridan at the end seemed somewhat condescending.

The incidental plot with Sheridan and Kosh has a lot of potential. We learn that Kosh's ship probably has biological components - that it's alive in some way. This is supported by the "singing" of the ship to Jacobs. Is this kind of technology typical of advanced civilizations, or are the Vorlons unique?

We still don't know why Kosh appeared in Sheridan's dream in "All Alone in the Night", although it doesn't seem to have been accidental. Even so, we don't know if Kosh was trying to convey a message, or was just observing Sheridan's dreams. Kosh makes a number of statements here that will become much clearer later in the series. He says that the people of other races are not ready to see him, because "they would not understand." Kosh seems ready to dismiss Sheridan, until Sheridan asks him "What do you want?" Although Sheridan doesn't realize it, this question is the same one that Morden asked each of the ambassadors last season in "Signs and Portents" on behalf of the Shadows. Are the Shadows the legends Kosh will teach Sheridan to fight? Ironically, the legends may turn out to be the Vorlons themselves. Sheridan already shows a lot of courage to confront Kosh so forcefully in this episode.

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