Babylon 5: Cultures: Shadows

Picture of a Shadow
A Shadow (a spider
without a name)

What do you think? It scares the hell out of me. The fact that I can’t see them in the flesh doesn’t make me feel any better.

The Shadows are thought to be the oldest race in the Galaxy.  Their real name is supposed to be 10,000 characters long and unrepeatable by humans.  A bit impractical don’t you think?  By the time they had told you what they were, you’d be asleep.

These spider like creatures have great physical strength and a superb ability to be considered the bad guy. If you lived on Babylon 5 you would probably substitute the words ‘Bogey Man’ with ‘Shadow’. I particularly like their ability to hide themselves from view i.e. They can’t easily be seen in normal light. Shadows also have a great way of communication, they screech at you. The sound of a Shadow chatting up his girlfriend sounds like a fork scraping the bottom of a saucepan.

They enjoy a good scrap…. from a distance. Although we often see a Shadow Battlecruiser in the odd B5 episode, they don’t normally fight their own wars, preferring to use other races to do their dirty work (I wish I could do that). Many races have had significant involvement with the

Picture of a Shadow Battlecruiser
A Shadow Battlecruiser complete with sentient ‘core’.

Shadows, most notably the Earth Alliance, Centauri Empire and even the Narns.

I don’t think anyone really knows what they’re after. I’m tempted to think after seeing the first part of Series Four that, like the Vorlons; they enjoy a good game of God. But this is too easy. Sure they’re supposed to be really evil, but maybe they just don’t know any better.

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It’s not like you can go into a pub and ask your Shadow buddy if he’d like a beer. You couldn’t see him for a start, and even if you could, how would he hold the glass.   Imagine it, you’re stood at the bar next to a pint of beer, seemingly suspended in mid air, listening to a series of ‘blonde jokes’ in a high pitch scream. Yep, even though they are not conducive to a good social environment,  the Shadows have had bad press of late. I think it’s simply that no one really understands them…. poor little things.

Morden was a Shadow Thrall, a human who volunteered to work for the Shadows (or die) when his ship (the Icarus) was captured while visiting the Shadows Home world, Z’ha’dum {zar- ha-doom}. As an ‘agent’ of evil, Morden was one of the best, which only goes to show that the Shadows are good teachers.

Another cool feature of the Shadows is the semi-sentient Battlecruiser. It requires a body to drive it. This body must be prepared before it is inserted into the vessel – permanently. If it is not prepared properly the ship will go berserk. This happened in 2260 when the Psi Corps came upon a Shadow vessel and tried to prepare and insert one of their own telepaths. Unfortunately the Battlecruiser went mad and was eventually destroyed.

Social tip: Never accept a lift from a Shadow

Although the Shadows can ‘kick ass’ in a fight, they are socially very inept and shy (and invisible). It seems their best friends are spaceships.

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The final show down came in episode six, Into the Fire, when they were tricked by the Army of Light into a direct confrontation with the Vorlons.  This was only a little battle and eventually they were persuaded by the First one to emigrate to ‘beyond the rim’ with the Vorlons and the other First ones.  Personally I was sad to see them go.

Race Rating – Shadows
Personality 1 (rancid butter) – 5 (cool dude) 1
Attractiveness 1 (requires paper bag) – 5 (Drop-dead-gorgeous) 1
Humour 1 (stomach-turning) – 5 (sidesplitting) 1
Dress Sense 1 (laughable) – 5 (hip) 1
Aggression 1 (big/little softy) – 5 (hard as nails) 5
Social Standing 1 (scumbag) – 5 (god) 5

Sad Geezer Race Rating   (out of 30)  =  14                          

This Culture review is © 1999 – 2019 Tony Fawl.
Not for reproduction without the authors express permission

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The BABYLON 5 names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of J. Michael Straczynski, TNT and Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner Entertainment Company. All rights reserved.

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