Crusade: S01E01: Racing the Night

Crusade starts with but a dream. A dream to continue the Babylon 5, the greatest show on television. A dream for another great space opera. But more specifically, the pilot starts with a dream. Captain Matthew Gideon is having a dream about one of the first meetings he had with various alien ambassadors about a right of passage through there space. His mission is to find a cure for the Drakh plague. A disease unleash on Earth, in B5: A Call to Arms.

All animal life on earth has 5 years to live before the virus kills them all. And to do so he’s going to travel the known and unknown universe to find one. That is of course if the alien governments will let him travel through their space first.Most of the ambassadors are disturbed by Gideon’s past actions. Apparently he has little disregard for the rules, and likes to see results. No wonder he was hand picked by Pres. Sheridan for the job. He also is a very good card player, as many broke alien captains will attest too.

Since he is a gambling man, the Drazi ambassador proposes a bet. They’ll allow free passage through their space for four years. After that time, he must and the Excalibur must remain in orbit of Earth and personally destroy any ship trying to leave out of fear of their immanent death by the plague. He naively agrees. An Earth general sitting in on the meeting, is alarmed at his decision, but understands it. He then shows Gideon to his new ship, the Excalibur, and tells him that he is Earth’s last best hope. The politely tells him “Don’t screw this up!”And with that, he wakes up.

Dr Chambers contact him on his wrist radio and tells him that they’ve moved onto the next row of buildings, and everything looks good. He replies that this is when he expects trouble. She calls him a pessimist, but he says that he’s a realist. He then makes his way down to the planet. And like clockwork shortly after he arrives, some young redshirt, I mean crewman is brutally attacked.The crew are examining the planet of a long gone advanced civilization. Its a very advanced society, which just disappeared one day a few centuries ago. It appears to be very promising as one of the buildings appears to be a tome of knowledge. It has near complete equations that promise faster ships, better metals, and all sorts of grand technology. Or so their star archeologist Max Eilerson, claims.

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But Gideon doesn’t care about that stuff right now. He’s more concerned with finding medical knowledge, then making money.In the next room is Dr Chambers, after examining soil samples she finds DNA from dozens of other species, the date back only a few decades. Someone else has been to this planet before them, despite its untouched look. Furthermore, she is concerned about why all the math equations and such are written on the walls and not in books.Dureena, the ships resident thief is doing her own searching. She’s going through various tunnels searching for more information. But all she’s finding is skulls, dust, oh and some super large power source. Before she can investigate further, she is summoned back because of the dead crew member. The poor berk was vivisected.

All of his internal organs were taken. Which is odd, since the planet was supposed to be completely uninhabited. Before they can check out the body too long, some robot ships arrive, to ruin the day. The crew scrams like roaches. Gideon jumps on his hover bike and proceeds to lead the ships on a chase through the abandoned city. He managed to destroy several ships, by outmaneuvering them into walls and such, but eventually its gets to much for him. He jumps off his bike as its about to hit a wall, taking out a couple more vessels. Of course, now he’s screwed. That is until Galen arrives to rescue him. Galen is a technomage, so he’s got lots of flamboyant powers as well as also being a cocky SOB.

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Onboard the Excalibur, Gideon is discussing the situation with his first officer, Lt Matheson. Matheson believe that the ships were an automated defense system. But it must be a very poor one, since the crew was on the planet two days before it was activated. Gideon decides to stick around and find out what’s up with the planet. Galen has an idea.

He wants to send a sort of advance hologram of himself down to the surface. The goal is for the hologram to be captured, so that he can discover what’s going on.And it works. Promptly a ship arrives, and begins laser dissecting the Galen clone. It takes his various organs and head with it. The organs are transported to another structure. Inside it’s a graveyard of alien ships. From this Galen infers that this planet is a lure for aliens to come by, and be captured for dissection and study. At this point, Dureena debriefs the command crew on what she found, including the power source.With Dureena’s information they are able to target their scans, and learn that deep in the planets core, are billions of people in cryogenic life support.

This triggers a reaction from the planet. It launches about a hundred attack ships, and traps the Excalibur in a gravity field so it cannot escape. In response, Gideon launches fighters, to destroy the invaders and the gravity beam. They make short work of the attack ships, but can’t do much damage to the gravity beam. After most of thier fighters are destroyed, the planet intensifies the beam and begins to pull the Excalibur down. Gideon fires the ships main guns in response. The main guns destroy the gravity generator with no trouble. The main weapon uses so much power that it depletes the ship of most of its energy for a minute.After the explostion, the planet contacts the crew. A hologram of an alien called Gulon appears.

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He tells Gideon that his people are also infected with the Drakh plague. When they couldn’t find a cure in three years, they froze their entire civilization. Everyone except for one person who would remain awake, and monitor the planet and run medical tests on those who visited their world. When that person dies after two years, another is awakened to take his place. They have been doing this for almost a thousand years.He offers to share their plague knowledge if he’ll send some ships their way for study. Gideon says no dice. He doesn’t want more to die needlessly.

Gulon, tells him, that he may be more willing in a few years when time is running out. Gideon says that when they find a cure, they’ll be sure to bring it back to his world, free of charge.

And just to be sure that he doesn’t harm any one else. He orders the rest of the planetary defenses destroyed.

At the end of the episode we see Gideon talking to a glowing box. He tells it that, “The last choice was not a good one.”It replies, “things change”Gideon says, “Maybe, or maybe your holding back. So where to next?”And with that, the first episode ends. Pretty cool for a pilot. It jumps right into the story, without any distractions.

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Crusade episode review are © 2003-2004 Ryan Bechtel.
and not for reproduction without the authors express permission

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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