Babylon 5 - Episodics (#321)
"Shadow Dancing"

Written by J. Michael Straczynski, directed by Kim Friedman

Sheridan and Delenn believe the Shadows are about to kill the refugees in Sector 83, so they decide to attack first. Delenn asks the League of Non-Aligned Worlds for all the ships they can spare while Sheridan sends Marcus and Ivanova in the White Star to act as scouts against the Shadows' arrival. Franklin is still on his walkabout Down Below when he interrupts a fight and is stabbed by the attackers who leave him lying in a pool of blood. Elsewhere, the White Star encounters a scout ship which manages to disable them just before the Shadow fleet arrives. Marcus and Ivanova are able to get a message to their own fleet in hyperspace. As Franklin continues to lose blood, he sees his own image standing before him, talking about all the mistakes he's made in his life. Franklin decides he wants another chance to live and drags himself to where people can find him. In a massive battle Sheridan's fleet manages to repel the Shadows but loses two ships for every Shadow vessel destroyed. Back on Babylon 5, Sheridan and the others wonder when the Shadows will strike back; in fact, they've already sent Sheridan's wife Anna to the station...

Captain Sheridan leads a fleet of ships in a preemptive strike against the Shadows, and Dr. Franklin's journey of self discovery ends unexpectedly in this penultimate episode of Babylon 5's third season. The relationship between Sheridan and Delenn also reaches a new level, that of a Minbari custom: when a couple become close, the female spends three nights watching over the male so that his true face is revealed during sleep. In this case, the ritual is inter- rupted by the sudden arrival of Sheridan's (supposedly) dead wife. Anna Sheridan is played by Bruce Boxleitner's real-life wife Melissa Gilbert, identified in the opening credits as 'Anna' to retain the surprise as much as possible. The episode cuts back and forth between the massive space battle and Franklin's near-fatal stabbing which forces him to confront himself and the mistakes he's made in his life. Writer J. Michael Straczynski later revealed that the attack was taken from a similar mugging incident in his own past. Although the Shadows have been temporarily defeated, Garibaldi sums up the situation by asking, "Now that we've shown them we can hurt them, how long until they come knocking on our front door?" The appearance of Anna Sheridan answers that question...

Joe Nazzaro

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