Crusade: S01E12: War Zone

This sadguide is ordered in the order that JMS intended for the series to be aired. So when you read this review and think, “hmm this sounds like a pilot, but it’s the twelfth episode, what’s up with this?” No your not having an aneurysm, this was the pilot, the pilot that TNT wanted. JMS never intended this episode to be produced. But it was, so he stuck it in “his” order toward the end. Its not a very good episode either.

There are lots of technical nit-picks that makes this unwatchable when compared with the rest of the B5 universe. Oh and TNT had a huge say in what happened in the pilot. For instance the fist fight scene at the beginning. After the news of the Drakh attack reaches Gideon’s deep space mission, and the crew learn that they too will be returning to earth, many of them revolt. But after Gideon challenges the leader of the mutiny to single unarmed combat, and kicks is ass, the mutiniy is over. Just in time for the ship to arrive at earth and survey the damage. Gideon and Matheson do so from the window of their ship, which has artificial gravity. But a rotational artificial gravity ship cannot have side windows. The windows would be on the floor of the craft! Anyway, the damage is bad.

There’s lots of debris floating around the planet. It was a bloodbath, err metal bath. Soon after they arrive at Earth, they are summoned to Mars for further orders. Elsewhere in the galaxy, and Earth Force destroyer is perusing a Drakh spaceship, their intent is to capture the crew for questioning. Too bad they get killed first. But they don’t die in vain. They do enough damage to the vessel to force it to crash on a nearby planet. This planet is currently be excavated by Max Eilerson’s IPX team. It’s your run of the mill archeology dig, that is until they spot a flaming ball dropping from the sky. When they send someone to investigate the crash, they discover that it’s a ship, manned by very hostile aliens (Drakh).

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Eilerson orders his crew into nearby underground ruins for safety. Back on Mars, Gideon learns that he will head a new mission, one to find a cure for the plague. He’s told that he has less then five years to find a cure, or the entire planet will die. He will be given the newest ship in the fleet, the Excalibur. He accepts provided that he will be given free reign over the mission, and that his current XO, Lt Matheson will continue to be his first officer. They reluctantly agree since they are nervous due to his telepathic abilities, but Gideon won’t take the job without him. He’s also introduced to the medical team that will join him on this ‘Hail Mary’. Dr Sara Chambers will lead the medical research division aboard the Excalibur. After the pleasantries, he hears Dureena Nafeel screaming from the hallway.

The general explains to Gideon that she is a member of the thieves guild with a very impressive criminal record. Dureena seeming very proud of her exploits, tells Gideon that she wants to be on the mission, since the Drakh killed her people. She also brings up that she was with Sheridan on the Excalibur’s original mission. Gideon decides to also bring Dureena on his mission to find a cure for the Drakh plague.  Their first mission, is to intercept the downed Drakh ship and capture its leader for interrogation. As soon as Gideon is aboard the Excalibur, he orders the ship to jump to Ceti 4, and their mission. Following closely behind is Galen’s ship. He lurking around, as always. They arrive quickly at the planet and immediately receive a distress call from Eilerson below. The Drakh are closing in on their positions.

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They send a bunch of shuttles and starfuries down to the planet to wipe out the Drakh attack force, and to find the captain of that ship. They make short work of the attack force and then go down to rescue the archeologists. Eilerson is pleased to be rescued. But his joy is short lived when he is conscripted to help with the mission to find the Drakh captain and salvage the downed ship. But he can’t do much about it. If he doesn’t help out, he’ll be left on the planet. So its off to the Drakh ship. When the crew first arrive on the ship, its empty and quiet. With no surprise to the viewer, the crew is ambushed by the Drakh. The Drakh get in a few good shots and take out some crewmembers. They almost kill Gideon, but Galen steps in at just the right time, to aid in the fight.

But the landing party aren’t the only ones with problems, the Excalibur is also attacked by a Drakh rescue fleet. Gideon quickly takes a transport up to the ship to take command of the space fight. Not that he was really needed, the miniscule fleet was no match for the Excalibur. The crew down below has the same luck. They quickly find and capture the Drakh captain. The interrogation of the Drakh captain doesn’t go very well. He considers himself a prisoner of war, and won’t cooperate or betray his people. That’s just fine with Gideon, because the captain will be sent back to Earth, for further questioning. After learning this the Drakh captian gets very distressed, knowing that he too wil die of the plaugue he helped to unleash.

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To conclude the episode, Galen and Gideon have a little fireside chat. Galen explains that he has nowhere left to go, since he was booted out of the Order of the Technomages. Gideon offers him an invitation, to join the mission.

In response Galen asks the questions that we hear in the beginning credits of every episode:

“Who are you”
“Mathew Gideon, Captain, earth Force”
“What do you want?”
“To find a cure for the Drakh plague before it wipes out all life on earth.”
“Where are you going?”
“Anywhere I have to.”
“Who do you serve and who do you trust?”
“I don’t know”

And with that Galen says he’ll join the mission.

Not a very good episode compared with the others, but if I were watching the show for the first time, and had knowledge of the B5 universe, I would have kept watching.

Discuss this episode in the Babylon 5 & Crusade Forum

This Crusade review is © 2004 Ryan Bechtel.
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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