Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 3: "War Without End, Part 1"

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Episode Information

Title: "War Without End, Part 1"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: Mike Vejar
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: October 12, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Sheridan and friends travel through time to steal Babylon 4 and send it 1000 years into the past.

This episode starts rolling very quickly. We see Sinclair on Minbar receiving a message addressed to him, left by Valen over 900 years before. After digesting the message, Sinclair prepares to leave Minbar with an air of finality. A Vorlon comments that Sinclair is "...the closed circle. He is returning to the beginning." Good to know that it's not just Kosh who's cryptic. On B5, we see that Delenn received a letter, also addressed to her in the same handwriting; she bemoans the fate of her friend.

On B5, the station starts receiving a distress call from sector 14; when Ivanova orders it to be played, it's clearly Ivanova's own voice calling desperately for help defending from an attack. Sector 14 is where Babylon 4 was lost and the reappeared in the first season in "Babylon Squared", so the command staff reason that perhaps there are some time-related problems happening again here. Garibaldi goes to check out the sector personally in a starfury.

The others are in the war room discussing the problem, when Delenn and Sinclair arrive separately. When Garibaldi calls in with a report, Sinclair is careful to remain in the background. Garibaldi reports that the "temporal rift" is wider than before, exacerbated by a tachyon beam coming from Epsilon 3, the planet B5 is orbiting. Garibaldi is able to get video from the distress call, which shows a distraught, frantic, and injured Ivanova on a ruined bridge of B5. She begs for any help and then cries, "Here they come!" and switches to a shot of many Shadow vessels bearing down on the station. The time of her distress call is just a few days in the future; the distress call keeps replaying.

Delenn manages to get everyone on the White Star heading toward sector 14, promising to explain on the way. And her explanation is pretty incredible, based on information that she claims she got from Epsilon 3 just hours ago. She shows a Minbari video from the last great Shadow war, 1000 years before: the great base of operations to help defeat the Shadow was Babylon 4. As Zathras said in season one in "Babylon Squared", Babylon 4 was needed for a base of operations - but no one suspected that it was needed in the past.

Delenn then goes on to show another record from the Great Machine on Epsilon 3, taken two years before (during the events of "Babylon Squared"): the White Star protecting Babylon 4 from a bomb attack by the Shadows. The others are amazed and stunned, but Delenn calmly tells them that they must go into the past, take control of Babylon 4, protect it from the Shadow attack, and make sure it gets back into the past 1000 years so that history is not changed.

Sheridan is extremely reluctant to believe that they should be messing around with events in the past, which is very wise. Delenn finally convinces him that they can't change the past by refusing to go on a mission that has already happened. Meanwhile, a ship from Epsilon 3 docks with them, carrying Zathras and time-manipulation equipment.

At Sinclair's request, Sheridan orders Garibaldi to return to B5 instead of joining up with them. When Garibaldi hears that Sinclair had visited, he's furious and hurt, but finally finds a message from Sinclair, saying good-bye.

Zathras gives everyone on the White Star time stabilizers so that they won't suffer the time flash-backs and flash-forwards like Sinclair and Garibaldi did in "Babylon Squared". The White Star enters the temporal rift, and they arrive near Babylon 4 as it was six years ago. They locate the small Shadow ship carrying the fusion bomb, and destroy it. However, they can't flee the blast of the bomb, so the ship is damaged.

Sheridan's time stabilizer is damaged, and he disappears; Zathras explains that he is unstuck in time, and could now be in the past or the future. Everyone is worried and indecisive, especially Delenn, until Sinclair steps forward and takes command, saying that they must continue with their mission. They must dock with Babylon 4 and get inside before the station's damaged sensors are repaired and they are detected.

We see Sheridan suddenly in the throne room of the Centauri Emperor: Londo. Londo is old, and he harbors a very strong grudge against Sheridan, having him beaten and tell him he will be executed soon. He accuses Sheridan of abandoning the Centauri Republic after he drove away the Shadows, and we see from Londo's window the city around the palace burning. Sheridan, of course, is completely disoriented and has no idea where or when he is.

Delenn is still distraught about Sheridan, but Sinclair tells her in Minbari that Sheridan will be alright - Sinclair knows what's going to happen. It's odd that Sinclair chose to tell her this in Minbari, since the only person it would hide the conversation from is Ivanova; indeed, Marcus seems to be listening intently, especially when Sinclair says that his path is clear. They dock with Babylon 4 and prepare to alter it for travel into the past, and thus ends part 1.

This episode is exciting because season one's "Babylon Squared" was one of the best and most intriguing episodes of the first season, and this two-parter promises to show the other half of that story. The things happening to Babylon 4 in that episode seemed so chaotic and arbitrary that it's hard to believe that our heroes were the cause of them.

This episode largely ratchets up the excitement and suspense, but absolutely nothing is resolved. We are left wondering what Sheridan's "clear path" is, and why he has been acting with such finality toward others. Why is Delenn worried about him?

We are left wondering how Sheridan will get back to his own time, and what happened to cause the future Londo he saw. Incidentally, Londo as emperor was predicted by Lady Morella in "Point of No Return", and since the Centauri Empire is ruined, we have to wonder if Londo has missed his chances to redeem himself.

We are left wondering why Sinclair doesn't want Garibaldi around for the current events. Incidentally, the scene where Garibaldi is trying to figure out the password to Sinclair's message is a nice sequence of references to past episodes, such as "peek-a-boo" from "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" and "fasten, zip" from "Babylon Squared", and the password turns out to be "hello, old friend" from season two in "The Coming of Shadows".

It's a pleasure to see Zathras again. Even though he is an expert on the equipment required for the time jumps, he's clearly confused by the cause and effect involved. And he's continually put-upon by having to do all the grunt work. It's nice to see some loose ends tied up, such as when Sinclair orders Zathras not to reveal anything when Zathras encounters Sinclair again (as Sinclair knows he does in "Babylon Squared").

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