General Richard Franklin, father of Stephen Franklin, arrives on Babylon 5 with an army of 25,000 Earthforce Marines ("Ground Pounders" or GROPOs as they are also known) about to be deployed in a war zone.
- Bruce Boxleitner as Captain John Sheridan
- Claudia Christian as Commander Susan Ivanova
- Jerry Doyle as Security Chief Michael Garibaldi
- Mira Furlan as Ambassador Delenn
- Richard Biggs as Dr. Stephen Franklin
- Andrea Thompson as Talia Winters
- Stephen Furst as Vir Cotto
- Bill Mumy as Lennier
- Mary Kay Adams as Na'Toth
- Robert Rusler as Lieutenant Warren Keffer
- Andreas Katsulas as Ambassador G'Kar
- Peter Jurasik as Ambassador Londo Mollari
- Paul Winfield as General Richard Franklin
- David L. Crowley as Lou Welch
- Ryan Cutrona as Sgt. Major Plug
- Ken Foree as P.F.C. Large
- Morgan Hunter as Pvt. Kleist
- Marie Marshall as P.F.C. Dodger
- Art Chudabala as Pvt. Yang
- Joshua Cox as Tech #1
- Maggie Egan as ISN Reporter
- Elisa Beth Garver as Tech #2
- Mowava Pryor as Tonia Wallace
- Unknown as Frank
- Unknown as Pvt. Ellison
- Unknown as Pvt. Achmed Nazim
- Unknown as Pvt. Moretti
- Unknown as Pvt. Martin
- Unknown as Pvt. Romano
- Unknown as Cavins
- Regular cast members appearing in this episode are John Sheridan, Susan Ivanova, Michael Garibaldi, Stephen Franklin, Warren Keffer, and Delenn.
Commander Ivanova enjoys a quiet shift in C'n'C--only to have her peaceful day shattered with the sudden arrival of the EAS Schwarzkopf (J) at the lead of an Earthforce task force. The task force is commanded by General Richard Franklin who comes aboard and is greeted by Captain Sheridan. General Franklin orders the captain to find billeting for his troops—all 25,000 of them, as they will be staying for several days. Sheridan asks if he is related to Dr. Stephen Franklin, and the General confirms that Stephen is his son. He tells Sheridan that he will get in touch with Stephen only after he's overseen the unloading of his men onto the station.
The Marines march onto the station checking in and being assigned their quarters under the firm direction of Sgt. Major Plug. Commander Ivanova and Security Chief Michael Garibaldi are overwhelmed trying to oversee the transition. Finding space for all the troops proves extra challenging, and Garibaldi worries about how colorful things will get once the Marines find their ways to the more lively portions of the station.
At 0900, General Franklin briefs Sheridan, Ivanova, and Garibaldi about the classified mission that has brought his army there. Within a few days, they will be leaving for nearby Akdor to assist the Sh'lassen Triumvirate in suppressing a rebellion. Until EarthGov makes the news of the aid official, the mission is to be kept a secret. Franklin explains that part of the reason why they are on Babylon 5 is so he may confer with Sheridan over his battle strategy, as Sheridan had previously been to Akdor. He also announces that his task force has brought with him equipment to upgrade the station's defense grid, making it far more powerful. Sheridan and the rest of his staff are uneasy about what this situation bodes for the future.
Warren Keffer returns to his quarters, only to find two Marines crashing in his quarters (Large and Yang). Keffer is not happy about the arrangements, and there is a bit of tough talk, but Large eventually becomes much more friendly when he sees Keffer willing to stand his ground.
General Franklin visits with his son in his quarters. They discuss the family, though the atmosphere is somewhat tense. The elder Franklin cannot disclose the mission to his son. They begin sniping at each other when General Franklin suggests his son could be better spending his time focusing his efforts on humans, claiming that aliens categorically pose a threat to humanity. This upsets Stephen, who suggests his father spend less time trying to "murder" aliens and more time trying to understand them. His father storms off at these words.
Commander Ivanova escorts a group of Marines to Medlab, where she explains to Dr. Franklin that due to the space shortage some of the Marines will need to stay in Medlab. Franklin angrily objects. Ivanova insists, and asks Franklin why he is so on edge. Franklin admits that it's because of his father: he admits that despite how much he loves his father, he always ends up angry at him. Ivanova is sympathetic, but is interrupted before she can talk to him further. She invites him to meet him after shift at the Eclipse Cafe to talk some more. They meet up later as scheduled, and Franklin vents about the problems he's always had with his father. He tells Susan that the General always made a better soldier than a father. Stephen explains that it was even harder because of all the dangerous missions his father went on, with the family worried during every operation that they would never see him again. Susan encourages him to talk to his father, no matter how painful it might be, since once he is gone it will be too late. Her tone is enough for Stephen to pick up on the idea that the Marines are not simply heading for Io as reported.
Ambassador Delenn expresses her dislike for the large number of soldiers aboard the peaceful space station to Garibaldi. He informs her it will only be for a few days, then leaves to deal with a disturbance. Delenn is then confronted by a trio of drunken Marines, lead by Kleist, who harass her about her appearance. The harassment quickly threatens to turn violent as they crowd around her.
Another Marine, P.F.C. Elizabeth Durman, steps in and yells for the others to back off from Delenn. When they refuse, she stands her ground, allowing Delenn to flee. A physical altercation erupts between the Marines. Delenn finds Garibaldi and he immediately rushes to the scene. He arrives right after Plug who, having successfully corralled the brawling Marines is busy shouting at them. Garibaldi asks the sergeant major to drop the matter and he agrees. The Chief introduces himself to Durman, who goes by the nickname "Dodger." Dodger thanks Garibaldi for making sure she got off the hook and is surprised to learn she'd just kept Kleist from assaulting an ambassador. They exchange a few pleasantries before he's called away to another disturbance. As he leaves, Dodger shows interest in him.
Sheridan discusses Operation Sudden Death with General Franklin. Sheridan insists that the Sh'lassen government has lied about the sheer strength of the rebel fortress and encourages him to find another way than fighting. The General insists that he must carry out his orders, orders which state the fortress must be captured. They are interrupted by Stephen, who tries to talk to his father, only to be rebuffed. Stephen gets upset again and leaves. The General admits to Sheridan about how different he and his son are. Sheridan defends the doctor, saying he is a man of principle and the utmost integrity. Sheridan encourages him to keep talking to his son.
Dodger tracks down Garibaldi in the Zócalo and invites him to show her around. Garibaldi agrees. Soon afterward they are at his place, passionately making out. Garibaldi stops them, however, before they have sex, saying they are moving too quickly, a problem he has always made in his relationships. Dodger gets angry and embarrassed, telling him that her job does not allow for relationships and she only was looking for a one night stand. She storms out, leaving Garibaldi at a loss for words.
In C'n'C, Ivanova discusses the upgrades to the defense grid with Sheridan, admitting how impressed she is at how much more powerful they are.
General Franklin goes to see his son. Curtly, he apologies for dismissing his son earlier and for not being around as often as he would have liked when Stephen was growing up, but nevertheless expresses his outrage at how Stephen called him a "murderer." Stephen confesses how frustrating their relationship is, how they cannot talk and how much more terrifying it gets whenever his father is called out into a war zone and he does not know if he will see him again. Both men soften their tones, discussing how despite their differences they retain a deep love and respect for each other. They eventually embrace.
Keffer enjoys some more stories from his temporary roommates in the Casino. Large is a cool hand, having served for thirty years, but Yang is a rookie and admits he is nervous about the idea of first going into battle. Meanwhile, Garibaldi finds Dodger in the casino. She apologies for blowing up on him, and admits that she has a feeling the army is not really headed for Io. Garibaldi cannot confirm this, but Dodger picks up on it, though does not press the matter. As they talk, Keffer accidentally knocks over Kleist's drink. This prompts a scuffle that soon turns into an all out brawl. Garibaldi links for reinforcements before joining in the fight alongside Dodger. The brawl is only broken up when Sgt. Major Plug, General Franklin and Captain Sheridan arrive. Franklin orders all the Marines out, announcing they are about to embark on their mission.
The troops quickly board their ships. Sheridan wishes the General the best of luck. Before he leaves, he shares a last parting moment with his son. Meanwhile, Garibaldi finds Dodger and says good-bye. She promises to come back and visit and they share one last passionate kiss.
Some time later, a crowd gathers in the Zócalo to watch ISN where Tonia Wallace is reporting live from Akdor on the fighting at Matok. Some previously taped footage of the battle is shown followed by a live interview with General Franklin, where he announces the operation a success, though admits the victory comes with a high cost. A wounded but still able Sgt. Major Plug calls the General away and the interview is terminated. Stephen is relieved to see his father alive and well.
Lou Welch delivers a casualty report to Garibaldi and Keffer. Both men look over the list and fall silent, obviously saddened by what they read.
On Akdor, Dodger, Large, Kleist, and Yang are shown dead on the ground—all killed in action.
"Life is life, whether it's wrapped in skin, scales, or feathers."
- – Stephen to his father
"Look, I don't know what lamebrain came up with that idea, but there's no way you two're staying here!"
"You got somethin' of a problem here?"
"Yeah, I got a problem. Just give me a minute to find a ladder and we can hash it out face to face!"
- – Keffer and Lang getting to know each other
"Minbari don't have hair."
- – The bald marine Kleist harassing Delenn
"Leave it to the infantry to ruin a guy's morning."
- – Garibaldi
- Babylon 5's Defense Grid receives a major upgrade, making it far more capable of defending itself.
- While exchanging war stories, Keffer tells Large and Yang of the time he and his squadron faced down a squadron of Minbari fighters (which occurred in "Points of Departure").
- The Narn-Centauri War is briefly mentioned throughout the episode:
- Still in its earliest stages, General Franklin suggests that the conflict will eventually engulf much of that part of the galaxy and Earth may eventually be forced to choose sides.
- Delenn explains to Garibali that G'Kar and Londo Mollari refuse to even speak to one another, both seemingly anxious for the conflict.
|Babylon 5 Season 2 "The Coming of Shadows"|
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