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Atonement

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Delenn is summoned back to Minbar where she must justify her actions of the past years by undergoing a ritual that draws out memories of her past. Meanwhile, Sheridan sends Dr. Franklin and Marcus to establish contact with the Mars Resistance.

CastEdit

StarringEdit

Guest StarringEdit

Co-StarringEdit

Cast NotesEdit

SummaryEdit

IntroductionEdit

With Michael Garibaldi's resignation, Zack Allan has been promoted to chief of station security. So the Minbari are fitting him for an Army of Light uniform. Unfortunately, the fitting process is irritating Allan's sensitive skin, and he keeps complaining. The tailors respond by occasionally pricking him with their needles. Lennier, while urging him to be patient, secretly enjoys Allan's schadenfreude and (in Minbari) hints the tailors on how to keep aggravating him. Allan later confesses his reluctance to wear the uniform since it's a tacit admittance that Garibaldi isn't returning to the job.

Meanwhile, a Minbari cruiser arrives in Babylon 5 space and sends a shuttle into the station. Delenn is expecting it. Callenn, representing her clan, the Tenth Fane of Elleya, approaches. The clan has summoned her back home, but Delenn asks for one more day to make preparations. Callenn agrees but urges she make the time worthwhile, since there is a chance she will not be returning to Babylon 5.

Act IEdit

Commander Ivanova is paged by C&C. Maintenance wants to meet with her about equipment shortages, but she replies it'll have to wait. She has already been invited to a supposedly-boisterous Drazi religious festival. She passes by Medlab.

Inside, Dr. Stephen Franklin is installing a prosthetic eye in G'Kar. G'Kar experiences a brief burning sensation as the initial activation burns some neural relays into place, but is eventually able to experience stereoscopic vision again. Franklin explains some of the nuances of prosthetic eyes. The eye cavity has been cleaned and sealed so it can no longer be infected. The eye must be recharged nightly, but it is designed to be removed and replaced. It should be turned off when removed to prevent disorientation. And it is a human eye color rather than a Narn one due to Franklin's lack of supplies; he will recolor the eye at a later date. G'Kar takes in the facts patiently, then eventually starts reveling in some of its more novel traits. Meanwhile, Sheridan contacts Franklin and asks him and Marcus Cole to meet in his office in about an hour.

A short time later, Sheridan passes by a transport tube when it opens to reveal Ivanova shoving away a semi-conscious Drazi as she stumbles outside while supporting herself with a cane, and both are covered in garland. Sheridan tries to ask what happened to her, but Ivanova firmly interrupts and tells him not to bother. He continues onward and rings the doorbell of Delenn's quarters. She lets him in. She eventually appears...in a very uncharacteristic black dress. Sheridan is both puzzled and intrigued at this. Delenn invites him to dinner. She reminds him of the Minbari tradition: a couple that is to marry must spend at least three nights together so that the woman can observe the man in his sleep and learn his true face. They've already spent two nights (one aboard the White Star, and one just before he went to Z'ha'dum) but still need the third. Sheridan notes that he's busy but senses her urgency. She confesses that she is to leave for Minbar tomorrow, for an indefinite period, so she wants to complete the ritual. Sheridan gets the feeling Delenn isn't being completely forthcoming, but he promises to meet her tonight; he just needs to settle some other matters first.

One is his meeting Dr. Franklin and Marcus. Now that President Clark has stepped up his propaganda campaign, the station is losing credibility. So Sheridan is forced to take action sooner than he planned. He has an urgent yet very secret mission for them. The first thing they need to do is get around Earth's blockade, so they are to travel discretely to Mars and link up with the Mars Resistance. It's a very important mission and one he'd prefer to undertake himself, but he's too recognizable. Which is why he chose Franklin. Someone from the command staff has to go to show credibility, and of the command staff, he as Medlab Chief of Staff is the least conspicuous. Marcus is going as bodyguard, and he notes that the mission will take some time since they have to plot a discrete and roundabout course. They are to leave immediately, and they are to tell no one else. Before leaving, Franklin asks if Sheridan wants him to learn of the whereabouts of his father, David. Sheridan refuses; the risk of being spotted is too great, and if Clark had him, they'd find a way to let him know.

That night, Delenn observes Sheridan as he sleeps for the third night. She watches him very reverently, as it may be the last time she will see it. She eventually leaves her quarters, leaving him to sleep.

She proceeds to the docking bay, but is surprised to see Lennier waiting for her. She had planned to leave alone, but, as ever, he is committed to following her wherever she goes. This time, however, Delenn warns Lennier that what she is about to undergo could reveal things about her that could alter his opinions about her. Lennier does not care; he will not break his pledge, and if what she says is true, then he will only learn to understand her better. Delenn warns that, in her case, understanding can be dangerous. Nevertheless, she appreciates his company.

Act IIEdit

The two of them travel to Minbar where, in white robes, Delenn appears before her clan. Callenn questions whether Delenn is truly doing the right thing in choosing to marry a human in Sheridan. No Minbari has ever married an alien, and she agreed to this without the advice and consent of her clan. And there is the matter of her use of the Triluminary to become a part-human hybrid. Delenn claims it is the calling of her heart that drives her decisions, but the clan isn't so sure. The clan elders must decide on the matter, and if they decide against it, she as a member of the clan must abide and stay away. To help draw out all the motivations and reasons behind her actions, she is to undergo an ordeal known as the Dreaming. Lennier volunteers to enter the Whisper Gallery with her as protector and guide.

The Whisper Gallery is very cold, and Delenn and Lennier each drink a very cold liquid before entering. As the effects of the Dreaming begin to take hold, Lennier senses Delenn's familiarity with the ritual; this is not her first time. Delenn admits this. Once before, she had entered the Dreaming as protector and guide for another: none other than Dukhat, the most enlightened of their race. Back then, the experience had terrified the young, naive acolyte.

As she speaks, her memories appear before them, the Dreaming drawing them out to see. In this recollection, Dukhat is in the Whisper Gallery, patiently meditating. Delenn is nervous, wondering what is going on. Dukhat explains that the Dreaming does not bring fear unless one brings fear with them.

Then, suddenly, she sees the attack on the Valen'Tha, and Dukhat's tragic death. In the Dreaming, Delenn screams.

Act IIIEdit

Delenn lies on a bench. One in the Dreaming can become overwhelmed by fears like these. Lennier as second promises to stay with her and steady her regardless as more of Delenn's memories are revealed.

Her memories proceed to a time when she (still an acolyte) and Duhkat were aboard the Valen'Tha, the ship of the Grey Council. He invites Delenn into a debate he and the rest of the Council had been discussing: the matter of first contact with the Humans. Compared to them, the Humans are raw, savage, and potentially dangerous. The Nine have differing reasons for resisting the idea: the Worker Caste fears being weakened by more sources of food and artifacts, the Religious Caste fears alien beliefs being introduced to their race, and the Warrior Caste want nothing to do with primitives. Urged on by Dukhat, Delenn introduces her opinion. The Humans are out there waiting for them: an unknown, a mystery. Since the greatest threat is the unknown, wouldn't the most prudent course of action be to remove the veil of mystery and learn more about them? Dukhat leaps on that notion, but to her favor. Clinging to their petty concerns and smug sense of superiority, the Grey Council have overlooked some of their most basic traits: like simple curiosity. Later, He reveals that he won't make contact with the humans yet. Too many Minbari are against the idea, and one should not wield authority like a club. However, it's always best to advise someone when they're doing something stupid; at the very least, they'll know they're doing something stupid. Drawing Delenn into the discussion has probably made the Council dislike her, but things like this will happen, especially now that he has chosen her to be his aide and pupil. He also gives her an important piece of advice: look up and never be ashamed of who you are.

The Dreaming advances again, to the day Delenn became Satai: herself one of the Nine. Dukhat congratulates her on becoming Satai, but Delenn notes some uneasiness in him. When Dukhat had presented the Triluminary, it glowed slightly in her presence. Dukhat explains that it was confirmation of something he suspected about her, something that drew him to select her and train her to be where she is now. But before he can continue, there is an alarm.

A group of alien ships has come into sensor range of the Valen'Tha, and Delenn identifies them as Human ships. By coincidence, the Humans have already initiated first contact. However, the Minbari cannot translate their language. The Valen'Tha is approaching in the traditional stance of respect: with gun ports open but unarmed. But then Delenn notices a new group of ships in the distance: Soul Hunters. The Minbari know Soul Hunters only come when death is imminent. Dukhat suddenly realizes the Humans will misinterpret their actions and orders the gun ports closed. Too late. Misinterpreting the open gun ports as aggressive and fearing they were about to be shot at, the Earthforce ships fire on the Valen'Tha. What happens immediately afterward is well known: Dukhat tragaically dies in Delenn's arms, mouthing words no one can understand. But then Delenn's memories reveal something no one else had known before. The Nine stood divided on how to react to this: four want to withdraw, four want to retaliate. In her grief and outrage, Delenn casts the pivotal vote: to retaliate...totally and completely.

Act IVEdit

With the vengeful words, "No mercy!", Delenn essentially declared the Earth-Minbari War. Delenn explains her feelings then: her fury at the loss of such a great man, and for seemingly no reason at all. In that moment, a rage she didin't know she possessed overtook her. Lennier wonders if this was that Delenn feared he would see. Lennier tries to comfort her. She had been swept up by events beyond her control, but Delenn is adamant. She let her rage overtake her...and in doing so, tremendous suffering followed. Even later, as her reason returned to her, she found that this same rage has spread throughout her race. They can't stop the war even if they wanted to...not until nothing remained of the human race. Another of the Nine, regrettably in hindsight, admits they should've made the first contact: not the humans.

Delenn realizes she has spent the last ten years trying to atone for that one mistake: a mistake which echoed into history. Was her desire to marry Sheridan another gesture of atonement? Lennier doesn't think so, but the clan will, and they will not see it in a very positive way. Delenn wonders why the Dreaming showed her this tragic incident. But then, the doors to the Whisper Gallery open and Callenn declares the Dreaming ended.

That night, Delenn ponders the visions she had in the Dreaming. Her thoughts focus to Dukhat's words about her heritage and to his dying moments. In her grief, she hadn't paid attention to Dukhat's last words, but they were spoken nonetheless. They were in her memories. If only she could recall them...

Delenn leaves her chambers, a puzzled Lennier following. She is returning to the Whisper Gallery. She needs to enter the Dreaming again. Callenn appears and asks what is happening, but she bids him drink as well and join her in the Dreaming. The truth await them. They just need to pay attention this time.

She focuses her memories to that moment just before Dukhat died. She urges everyone to listen as intently as possible. And there, finally, Dukhat's final words can be heard: "You are a Child of Valen."

Later, Lennier returns from the Grey Council archives...having been forced to subdue the guards protecting them. The scroll he hands to Delenn helps to support the case the Dreaming was showing her. It is a genealogy record.

Delenn is a Child of Valen: one of the innumerable Minbari descended from Valen. But now they know Valen wasn't wholly Minbari, since he had originally been the human Jeffrey Sinclair: transformed by the original Triluminary and sent to the past to become Valen. After Valen helped to win the First Shadow War and reformed Minbari society, he married and have children, but persecution forced them into seclution. After his death, Valen's children rejoined the Minbari population, taking their heritage with them. The Triluminary had confirmed Delenn carried that heritage since it was programmed to react to Sinclair's DNA. The crux of the matter is that Children of Valen are not pure Minbari. Each one of them carries some small piece of Sinclair's original human DNA passed down through the centuries. That's why human and Minbari souls had begun crossing. Lennier realizes Callenn knew of this secret. Callenn explains that he's been trying to maintain the image of their race's purity; the knowledge that Valen was once human shatters this long-standing belief. Once again, emotion had overtaken reason. Since Delenn was never pure Minbari, even before her hybridization, what loss is there in her marriage to a human? Why not let her go away so as not to "taint" their race further? Callenn pleads for her not to reveal the secret; it would destabilize Minbari society. He then contrives a way to save face and keep the secret. Given that they did surrender to the humans at the Battle of the Line, tradition from before the time of Valen provides a solution: when a clan war ended, each side would offer one of their clan in marriage to the other. The marriage represented both reconciliation and renewal. Delenn considers the proposal as she leaves.

Act VEdit

A much-relieved Delenn is surprised to see Sheridan waiting for her in the arrivals area. It seems Sheridan was as anxious as she was during their separation. He's as relieved as she is to be back together. Lennier leaves the two of them alone so they can talk. Delenn confides that her affairs back home are settled, though she will not elaborate on what she was doing there. Sheridan reports that Franklin and Marcus are still en route to Mars. Contact has been sporadic, but it was to be expected. He wonders if they're making a vacation out of it...

Aboard some unremarkable ship, Marcus sits in an alcove, opening and closing his Denn'bok. The sound is beginning to aggravate Franklin, sitting across from him. The accommodations (a zero-gravity cargo ship) aren't helping matters. After Franklin threatens guns, Marcus offers to sing instead. To Franklin's continued aggravation, Marcus chooses The Major General's Song...

Memorable quotesEdit

"What the . . .?"
"Don't . . . even . . . ask."

Sheridan and Ivanova, upon the latter stumbling garland-strewn out of a transport tube.


Behind the ScenesEdit

  • Jason Carter, playing Marcus Cole, sings The Major General's Song in a single take that is used in place of the standard music for the closing credits. At the very end of those credits, after Richard Biggs (as Stephen Franklin) screams, Director Tony Dow's voice can be heard saying "cut!"
  • A scene that was shot but ultimately cut from the final edit featured an additional conversation between Franklin and Marcus on a White Star while en route to Mars and featured a brief conversation on Marcus's childhood spent reading classical literature on the mining colony as well as a brief description of their route to Mars. The scene was ultimately removed as the Director's cut ran 4 minutes over.[1]
  • This episode shows events of the Earth-Minbari War that were not shown in the movie.
  • This is the first time since Season 1 that Mira Furlan has filmed new footage in the original Delen makeup.
  • Claudia Christian's sequence with the Drazi is a call back to her season 2 role as 'Green Leader'. She also has her cane once again at the end, although it does not appear that her character has broken her foot this time.

DVD releaseEdit

This episode, along with the other episodes from season four, has been released on DVD with extensive special features.

ReferencesEdit

  1. The Official Babylon 5 Magazine Volume 1, Issue #4 (Dec 1997) - Page 53 (Marcus And Franklin: The Odd Couple go to Mars)

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