Babylon 5 - Episodics (#322)

Written by J. Michael Straczynski, directed by Adam Nimoy

Captain Sheridan is surprised by the arrival of a woman claiming to be his dead wife Anna. She's come from Z'Ha'Dum, home of the mysterious Shadows, and offers Sheridan a chance to find out what the Great War is really all about. They leave for Z'Ha'Dum where they're greeted by a man called Justin and Morden, a Shadow agent. Justin tells Sheridan that while most races prowling the galaxy a million years ago have since moved on, the Vorlons and Shadows remained behind. The Shadows believe strength comes from conflict while the Vorlons are agents of order. Sheridan realizes that Anna is now an agent of the Shadows and summons the White Star loaded with two nuclear weapons taken from Babylon 5. As the ship approaches, Sheridan climbs onto a balcony overlooking a bottom- less chasm and hears the voice of Kosh telling him to jump. He leaps into the pit just as the White Star detonates, destroying the Shadow city. While the station mourns Sheridan's loss, Commander Ivanova is faced with another problem: security chief Garibaldi is missing, his ship last seen in a battle with the Shadows. Has Sheridan survived? Where is Mr. Garibaldi? Those answers await in season four...

As the third season of Babylon 5 reached an end, the show's creator, J. Michael Straczynski, decided to reveal some of the secrets behind the Vorlon-Shadow war. The Shadows, who had always been perceived as the villains, were merely agents of change while the Vorlons had been manipulating the younger races for centuries. As with many B5 episodes, there are numerous literary allusions to be found in 'Z'Ha'Dum,' from 'The Tempest' to 'The Lord of the Rings' in which Gandalf falls into a pit at Khazad-dum. The war between Order and Chaos has been fought many times, notably in Babylonian creation myth, one reason why Babylon was chosen for the name of the series. Giving the show a much-needed publicity boost was BruceBoxleitner's real-life wife Melissa Gilbert playing Anna Sheridan. The couple allowed one of their own wedding photos, slightly retouched, to be used in 'Z'Ha'Dum.' The episode was directed by Adam Nimoy, son of Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy, who shot most of Boxleitner and Gilbert's scenes after the cast had been released for the summer. Boxleitner was the last to leave, shooting nearly a dozen takes for his final leap; the actual ten-foot drop made it a true cliffhanger to end Babylon 5's third season.

Joe Nazzaro

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