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Racing Mars

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RACING MARS
Babylon 5, Episode 4x10
Production number: 410
First aired: 21 April 1997
76th Babylon 5 episode to be aired
Production Credits
Written By: J. Michael Straczynski
Directed By: Jesus Trevino
Executive Producer: Douglas Netter
& J. Michael Straczynski
Producer: John Copeland
Production Designer: John Iacovelli
Director of Photography: John C. Flinn, III A.S.C.
Editor: Suzanne Sternlicht
Music By: Christopher Franke
Episode Chronology
Story Date: May 11th - 13th, 2261
Chronological Order
Preceded by: Atonement
Followed by: Lines of Communication
Broadcast Order
Preceded by: Atonement
Followed by: Lines of Communication
Episode Gallery

Franklin and Marcus arrive on Mars only for the Resistance to suspect them of being spies. Garibaldi gives an interview for ISN that angers Sheridan.

CastEdit

StarringEdit

Guest StarringEdit

Co-StarringEdit

FeaturingEdit

Cast NotesEdit

SummaryEdit

IntroductionEdit

Commander Ivanova reports to Captain Sheridan in his office. The timing is excellent, as he was about to call her himself. He wants to talk to her about how they can work around the Earthforce embargo and start bringing in necessary supplies to the station again. The station only has about 2–3 months before their reserves start running dry. Ivanova notes they can employ the black market if necessary, but Sheridan notes that even the underground is getting leery of the station because any human ship caught breaking the embargo risks serious prison time. Ivanova immediately replies that she'll begin making all the necessary arrangements...as she has already been working on the problem so as to allow Sheridan deniability in case something goes wrong. In fact, given that Sheridan hasn't taken personal time off in over nine months (during which time Sheridan had died, come back to life, and ended the Shadow War), she is now officially reliving Sheridan of command for the sake of his health. She insists he take time off before the Earth Alliance Civil War heats up again. She also notes that Dr. Franklin and Marcus have yet to make contact, though they're not supposed to make contact again until after meeting the Mars Resistance, which they probably won't be able to do for a few days yet.

Aboard a human transport liner, Marcus tries to kill time by playing I Spy. Franklin is not the least bit interested in joining in. He really likes Marcus, but the entire trip has been a continual aggravation. Suddenly he looks around to see Marcus gone. A few seconds later, however, Marcus returns dragging another human with him. Marcus suspects him of being a spy.

Act IEdit

Franklin starts interrogating the stranger. He replies that he's the brother of the liner's pilot, so he gets to hitch rides. Franklin still doesn't buy it. Why weren't they told of him? "Probably forgot," he replies. Franklin motions Marcus to let him go. The man introduces himself as John Demeter, aka Captain Jack. Marcus volunteers nothing that would give him or Franklin away and insists he keep his distance from them. Captain Jack agrees and offers to share dinner. Marcus shows they already have meal bars, but Jack offers better fare: Insta-Heats. Franklin's tempted, but Marcus wordlessly refuses, so Jack retreats elsewhere.

Sheridan flips through the channels, but as usual the only channel available on the station is ISN, and it continues to run propaganda stories. Their most recent story covers an interview with Michael Garibaldi, recently resigned from his post as Chief of Security. The way he talks about Sheridan, Delenn, and the others troubles Sheridan deeply.

He soon confronts Garibaldi in the halls, and Garibaldi immediately realizes the visit concerns the interview. He gets right to the point and pulls no punches. He knows he challenged Sheridan's authority with the interview. Tough, he replies; that's freedom of speech. But Sheridan goes in another direction. Why the sudden animosity? He changed his mind, he replies. Sheridan tries to get him to reconsider; President Clark is smearing them badly enough as it is without him helping it along. But Garibaldi says he doesn't have time. He has a client to meet soon, and he's not the type that respects authority. Sheridan then lays down the law: everyone's entitled to an opinion, yes, but if you don't like the station right now, keep it to yourself. Garibaldi refuses to back down. As a crowd gathers around them, Sheridan and Garibaldi continue to trade barbs. Garibaldi insists Sheridan deflate his ego some, and Sheridan insists Garibaldi not risk the station on a grudge. Then Sheridan leaves. In the distance, three strangers eye Garibaldi with interest.

Back on the liner, Franklin resents Marcus turning down the Insta-Heat, seeing as the meal bar's taste, texture, and enjoyment factor pale in comparison. Marcus points out they're supposed to avoid contact. Then Captain Jack starts reciting a curious rhyme:

Lyta had a little Vorlon.
Her skin was pale as snow.
And everywhere that Lyta went,
Her Vorlon was sure to go.

They instantly react, as the rhyme is a code phrase. Captain Jack is in fact their forward contact with the Mars Resistance. But he'd been as hesitant as they in revealing himself, for the same reasons. Now that trust has been established, Jack once again offers the Insta-Heats and begins to rummage for a few necessities for their arrival. Eventually, he gets out the Identicards they will be using on Mars. To Franklin and Marcus' mutual chagrin, the only cards available for the two of them (out of what the Resistance could steal from the Transit Bureau) are Jim Fennerman and Daniel Lane: a gay couple out on their honeymoon.

Act IIEdit

Some time later, Garibaldi is met in a quiet hallway by the same men who had eyed him earlier. They'd seen what he did and point out he's not the only one who thinks that way. If he wants to help the cause, perhaps Sheridan needs help himself. They can provide it. Before he leaves, they caution that it's best to act soon, before it's too late.

As they take a tube shuttle to where they will meet the rest of the Mars Resistance, Captain Jack tells Franklin and Marcus some of the more outlandish stories being spread about Babylon 5: fleets of aliens swooping in to take over the whole planet, all of Mars being written off and left to fend for themselves. Marcus explains that Sheridan has never forgotten or forsaken Mars. There had just been more pressing matters. Captain Jack is puzzled when Marcus mentions a war, and they realize just how isolated Mars has been to have never picked up news about the Shadow War. Franklin continues to rant about Marcus' banter.

Some time later, a shuttle arrives with some cargo Ivanova has been expecting: a group of underground merchants. She invites them into Sheridan's office and makes them an offer. In exchange for helping the station with needed supplies, their ships will be maintained by the B5 crew and escorted by Starfuries. In addition, various charges of trespassing, smuggling, drug trafficking, and so on will be forgiven. She imposes only one restriction: legal cargo only—no side business.

As he leads them through some old mining tunnels, Captain Jack lays out how things will proceed. Once they've been vetted, the rest of the Mars Resistance will be summoned to hear their case. He gets lost for a moment, but he eventually finds the way. But then, guards from the Resistance bar their way, PPGs drawn.

Act IIIEdit

The guards order Franklin and Marcus against the wall, and they're searched. They eye Marcus' Denn'bok with interest, and one of them, the Resistance's Number Two, recognizes the weapon. Eventually, they're led down another tunnel and told there's word of a hit squad being sent to take out the head of the Resistance, and they were supposedly from the outer sectors. Since the two of them also came from that way, there's a chance they're the hit squad. Thus the overabundance of caution. They did pick up that someone was coming from Babylon 5, but the message was incomplete. So he asks for their real Identicards. They can check the DNA record against blood samples and their security clearance against Babylon 5 to check their identities. Reluctantly, Franklin and Marcus offer them up to Captain Jack who then hands them to Number Two. He tells Captain Jack to stay put, as the check can take a few hours, and he warns the guards to shoot if they do anything suspicious.

Back on Babylon 5, Delenn walks through the Zen Garden and finds Sheridan deep in thought. Sheridan explains he's contemplating his behavior around Garibaldi. He explains that Garibaldi seems so different. He keeps hoping Garibaldi will come around again. Delenn believes both of them have to bridge the divide, each in his own way. Sheridan changes the subject, and Delenn notes that he has the day off. She wants to undergo another ritual in preparation for their marriage. Sheridan is getting exasperated with the tedium, but to Delenn the tedium is a way to maintain order; they help to make sure things are not taken lightly. Tonight, she wants to undertake shan-fall. To Sheridan's surprise, it involves the two of them "discovering one another's centers of pleasure."

Back on Mars, Franklin complains about the heat, but Jack seems comfortable in spite of wearing a very thick coat. Marcus stands so Jack can sit next to Franklin and show him something: a picture of his daughter Elysha. On the back is her address. Marcus asks if Jack had met Number One before, and he replies they've met numerous times. He'd wanted to bring back something from Deneb IV but came back empty-handed, as usual. Suddenly, the guards surround Franklin and Marcus. The Identicard check came back negative. Just then, a woman joins them. Number Two says she shouldn't be involved, but she insists. She is Number One. As they talk, Franklin notices Jack getting nervous; so does Marcus. Suddenly, there is the sound of a PPG charging, but Jack's hand is shaking, hesitant. Marcus and Franklin quickly knock out the guards. Franklin urges the woman to get down as Jack finally shoots at her prior position. Marcus shoots with another PPG and hits Jack in the shoulder. Surprisingly, an alien is blasted off that shoulder. It quickly slithers away. The guards try to run after it. In the chaos, a wounded Jack disappears into the tunnels.

Act IVEdit

They eventually kill the alien and bring it to Franklin for an examination. Number Two returns with their actual Identicards; Jack had swapped them in the exchange earlier. Number One is puzzled as to why Jack would turn on them like this, but Franklin offers an explanation. The alien is crawling with tiny fibers that can bond to the nervous system. In other words, it's a kind of body-controlling parasite. Jack probably wasn't acting of his own free will. It was also preventing him from revealing the fact to them, but Jack was working around it in ways it couldn't detect: wearing a coat in the heat, mentioning not getting anything at Deneb IV when it's one of the biggest market colonies in that area. And giving his daughter's address was a way to notify next of kin. Guards soon return and report he boarded a tube shuttle. They also report he took a Thermal Grenade. Since he apparently still had his resistance comset, Number One tries to contact him.

In the tube shuttle, Jack says that he cannot return. He explains how aliens came to him one night without warning and planted the parasite on him. He also explains that it wasn't the first time it had been knocked off him. The trouble is that it is able to regenerate from the parts still embedded in him, so there is only way to be sure. Commenting on how he'd always wondered how strong the shuttle tubes were, he detonates the grenade and blows himself, the alien parasite, and the shuttle car. The tube is able to contain the blast.

Sheridan comes back to Garibaldi and offers to try to talk to him more civilly, but then an alien walks up to him and speaks to him reverently, to his chagrin. Garibaldi grabs her and tries to tell her Sheridan is just a human. Sheridan demands he let her go; he's hurting her. He keeps talking, so Sheridan tries to grab his shoulder. Garibaldi responds by punching him, knocking him to the floor. Security are about to arrest Garibaldi, but Sheridan insists on letting it go, but he warns Garibaldi, "Because of everything we've been through before, you get that one free. Next one, I take your head off." And he walks away.

That night, he grudgingly heads to Delenn's quarters. He finds there are numerous Minbari inside with her, including Lennier. To his chagrin, he learns that one thing about the ritual of shan-fall she neglected to mention was that it involved witnesses. Sheridan finally says no. Exploring and learning each other he can understand, but an audience? Nonetheless, Delenn draws him into the bedroom and closes the door.

Act VEdit

The following morning, a rather confused Sheridan leaves Delenn's quarters and enters a transport tube with Lennier. In a very awkward moment, Lennier tries to break the tension by doing something human. However, the way he says, "Woo-hoo" only makes the situation more awkward.

On Mars, Number One reports that the other Resistance leaders are coming, but it will be a couple days before they arrive, so she's made arrangements for them to stay at a hotel that doesn't ask questions. She then invites Franklin to join her for dinner. They'll meet at the Red Planet Hotel...in the honeymoon suite...

The gentlemen who had confronted Garibaldi yesterday meet him in a bar that is opening up. He called them to let them know he's now interested in their offer. He's willing to undermine Sheridan but he will not hurt him in so doing. They promise not to hurt him, only to take Sheridan when the time is right and see that he gets help. With that, Garibaldi signs on with them.

Memorable quotesEdit

"My pilots don't have accidents."
"They will. I'll see to it."
"You wouldn't."
"I've got a 200-megawatt pulse cannon in the forward cargo bay that says otherwise."

A smuggler and Ivanova


ContinuityEdit

  • This is the third time the Keeper has been seen in the series. The first time was in "War Without End, Part II", when Emperor Londo in the future reveals his. The second is in "Epiphanies" when Regent Virini discovers his. At no time has it been given a name (this will not happen until season five).
  • Captain Jack mentions aliens who came in the night and planted the Keeper on him. No one at this point knows they are the Drakh. Delenn will meet the Drakh in "Lines of Communication", but even then no one will know the Drakh are responsible for the Keepers.

NotesEdit

  • This episode provides an in-universe explanation for Garibaldi being bald in season four; he got involved when one of the smugglers brought in an exotic compound. In reality, actor Jerry Doyle had been balding throughout filming of the series, as seen by his hair being shorter each season until he decided to appear bald.
  • Garibaldi angrily responds to a Brakiri woman's near-religious reverence toward Sheridan by saying, "He's not the pope! He doesn't look anything like her," indicating that the leader of the Catholic Church in 2261 is a woman. It is not clear if this pope is Bernadette II, who is referenced in an episode of the sequel series Crusade set in 2267.

DVD releaseEdit

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

External linksEdit

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