Revisiting Babylon 5 – 1×01 Midnight on the Firing Line


As the series has been around long enough, simple recaps of episodes are readily available on many places (among others Wikipedia). I will try to keep the articles to analysis of the content of the episode, events during the episode and how they may relate to future events (so Spoiler Warning if you still haven’t this by now over 20 years old series 😉  )

Thoughts on the episode

Besides the pilot movie “The Gathering” (which aired almost a year before this episode), this was the viewers’ first contact with the characters and races of this series’ universe and over the course of the episode we get a few glimpses of them, some more than others, but overall the airtime is decently spread out.

The narration during the Opening sequence serves to set up a bit of the backstory and present situation, informing us why Babylon 5 was built (peacekeeping effort after the Earth-Minbari war). The number and the narrator mentioning “the last of the Babylon stations” does kind of make you wonder what happened to the previous ones, though…

The 2 main concurrent story lines do a good job of intersecting and working off of each other and there are some small bits and pieces during the episode that refer to future events. Several of the main characters are set up in the episode. By having some of the characters (like Ivanova, Vir and Talia Winters) be new on Babylon 5 in contrast to others, the episode can explain a few things to the viewer without it being unnatural sounding “as you know” dialogue.

One of the story lines also serves to set up the council and the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, bringing together most of the races in the B5 universe in an effort to keep the peace. The Psy Corps and its handling of telepaths is also talked about near the end of the episode, explaining Ivanovas’ behaviour towards Talia Winters during the episode and her dislike of the Psy Corps in general, as her mother ultimately took her own life due to the existing regulations. One line of dialogue in particular can in retrospect be seen as foreshadowing, as Ivanova calls Talia as much a victim of the Psy Corps as her mother was.

Some past interactions between the main races are mentioned in the intro sequence and throughout the episode as well as some characteristics of the main races:

  • Centauri don’t seem to be the most trustworthy (first interactions between Humans and Centauri mentioned in dialogue between Garibaldi and Molari)
  • Minbari are honourable fighters (as experienced by Sinclair as a fighter pilot during the Earth – Minbari war)
  • Narn and Centauri can’t stand each other (have been at war in the past, with the Centauri having invaded the Narn home planet at some point)

While the two storylines in this episode don’t have much impact on the series overall (the last attack of the Raiders is foiled, with the Narn Command & Control ship providing Sinclair with the needed information to resolve the Ragesh 3 conflict), they are still used well as an introduction to the Babylon 5 universe.

The episode ends with Sinclair getting a message about a new problem just as he is going to sleep, essentially showing that “B5 never sleeps”.

Up next: 1×02 Soul Hunter

Series NavigationRevisiting Babylon 5 – 1×02 Soul Hunter >>

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