Things fall apart when they should be coming together, the torches are passed to a new generation, and the future awaits with open arms and a mischievous smile. Welcome my friends. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2262. The place: Babylon 5.
1. Who’s On First
The first and second halves of “Objects at Rest” are very different from each other, despite sharing a central melancholy about endings and new beginnings. There isn’t one A-plot this time around, unless you count “Sheridan and Delenn leave B5” as the plot. Instead, there are a number of tiny loose ends to tie up and future events or potential plots we’ll probably never see to be seeded.
For the first 15-20 minutes, we’re finishing our goodbyes on the station. Sheridan gives Lochley his official blessing and thanks, hoping for a quiet departure. Franklin appoints his new Chief of Med Lab, Dr. Lillian Hobbes, whom we last saw in “Walkabout” and we learn that Ta’Lon will be the new ambassador for Narn. Tessa gives her first intelligence briefing and we see Garibaldi complete his reworking of Edgars Industries’ board, filling it with the good kind of troublemakers from the company. Even Lennier returns to help Delenn & Sheridan move out.
Along with these changes are a number of speeches and conversations, justifying the choices to us and the characters, while taking the time to make a few final points about the characters we’re seeing leave. The cumulative effect of it all is to solidify that, yes, this is the end of the station as we knew it but, no, it is not the end of Babylon 5. There is a new guard coming in, full of semi-new faces and old, and we can rest easy knowing the world will continue on in interesting ways, even when we are no longer there to witness them.
It’s truly a testament to the show’s strengths that not only am I sad to see the main characters depart and separate, I’m extra sad we won’t get to see Lochley’s team in any meaningful way. Not because we’ve spent so long with these new characters, though we have for some of them, but because we know them just well enough to be invested and nothing more. There’s all that room to see them grow, just as we’ve done with all the others.
What a blessing it is, to be able to pass the world on to the next generation.
2. What’s On Second
One of the things I’ve been working through in these last few episodes is what a show should be at its end. Should it be the infinite promise of new adventures with old characters? Is it a definitive end to one character/set of characters’ journey? Should it be the resolution of a major conflict? Is it simply a stopping point? Should it be loud? Quiet? Contemplative? Sad? Happy? A melange of all of the above? I don’t think I’ll have an answer but I think, for Babylon 5, what we have here in the final salute to the crew and in Delenn’s final speech is the perfect encapsulation of its answer.
When people leave the station for good.
Babylon 5 is not about its crew or its world or any long-term plot – it is a story about the station. The crews will come and go, and we will mourn and celebrate in due course, but so long as it is in good hands, the station will keep going, the world will move on and it will be as lively and full as it always was.
However, when Sheridan and Delenn leave for Minbar, the last of the main cast is gone from the station (Vir, and to a lesser extent Zach & Lochley, being a major exception.) As the final vestiges of the original crew, their departure – like that of the Vorlons and Shadows moving beyond the Rim – signals the conclusion of an era and the beginning of something new. It is an ending, and it is our ending, but we can trust there will always be more out there in the uncertain future.Continued below
3. I Don’t Know’s On Third
Did you think I was done yet? We haven’t even gotten halfway through the episode!
It’s easy to feel like the show could have finished with that final salute but, as with the show on the whole, there is more to resolve and the messiness of reality to deal with. This makes the fall of Lennier such a compelling turning point for “Objects at Rest.” We’ve known for a while that he was going to do something to betray the Rangers but who could’ve expected he’d do it in this way?
I absolutely love everything about this decision. It’s a moment of weakness that nevertheless has nearly fatal consequences and destroys the lies he’s been telling himself. It’s brutal on him, brutal on Sheridan, who was always very awkward around Lennier, and even more brutal on Delenn. I was weeping the whole time along with Delenn as she defends Lennier to Sheridan and then receives Lennier’s final message of penance.
It’s an interesting reversal too of Delenn’s empathetic optimism and Sheridan logical pragmatism, not in that their positions are reversed but in the framing. There’s a deep uncertainty in the characters as to whether Lennier meant to let Sheridan die and whether he can ever come back from this. We know he didn’t, or at least that he was coming back to fix his grave mistake, but the second question nags at us as it does them.
I think what I love most about it is how sudden and understandable it all is. Terrible, yes, but it’s easy to see the logic and the struggle and the failure of Lennier’s character, bent under his unresolved jealousy that he let fester beneath his Ranger training. It adds to the shock of it all too. Seeing the trust broken forever between him and Sheridan is bad enough but seeing him reject Delenn’s olive branch is even worse, precisely because it is the right thing for him to do.
He has to do Teshuva to be able to come back.
To do Teshuva, to “repent” as it is often translated, means not just to apologize or make amends and ask forgiveness but to also take the steps necessary to change oneself and ensure it never happens again. So Lennier leaves to do just that. Even knowing he is forgiven by Delenn, and perhaps would be, in time, by Sheridan, he leaves. Because while Delenn may have forgiven Lennier on her own, that is only one step and they both know it, even if Delenn wishes he could take the next one by her side.
4. Why’s in Left Field
Londo’s appearance on Minbar came as a shock to me. It really shouldn’t have, seeing as how the Drakh are playing the long and sneaky game. After two episodes of sad lonely Londo though, you can see why I’d assume he’d be completely cut off from the rest of the crew for the foreseeable future. It was a bittersweet reunion, layered as it was on top of Lennier’s betrayal and departure, as Londo was not there as a friend, or even of his own will, but to set the stage for a Keeper to infiltrate the new Alliance headquarters at some indeterminate time in the future.
Yet Londo clearly was hoping he could warn them under the guise of him asking for whiskey or other spirits. I can’t believe I’d forgotten that alcohol puts the Keepers to sleep! That was a key plot point back in “War Without End, Part 2”. What a way to bring it back and layer even more into the conversation.
And did you see Delenn nearly notice the Keeper on Londo’s neck?! I wonder how she was able to do that. And what would’ve happened if she did. Or if it noticed that she did. We don’t know if she’ll realize something later on or not. The possibilities are endless, but the remaining chances to explore them are finite.
There’s not much more I can say about Londo that I haven’t already. This is simply one final goodbye and a chance to confirm Sheridan & Delenn’s suspicions that something’s not right and that they should be worried for their friend, even if that worry is small at the moment.Continued below
5. Today’s Catching Tomorrow
As any eagle eyed reader may notice, this isn’t actually the final episode of the series. There’s still one to go. Yet I’ve been talking as if this is the finale, the last word on all things Babylon 5. In part, that’s because it kind of was, at least for the original series.
“Sleeping in Light,” the next and final episode, was originally shot when they thought the show would be ending with season 4 as a way to providing a satisfying resolution to the show’s 5-year story in only 4. That’s why the penultimate episode of season 4, “Rising Star,” is functionally the season 4 finale, with “The Deconstruction of Falling Stars” serving as a coda and a bridge to the final season.
“Objects at Rest” on the other hand was the last episode produced for the show at TNT and is thus the final episode written to take into account the whole of season 5. It is JMS’ opportunity to give all the characters the send-offs they deserve and prepare us for the show’s end in a way he couldn’t when “Sleeping in Light” was first written and filmed. To give us the whole emotional finale – magnificent, slow, and meaningful – in addition to the more practical narrative finale.
Hence ending on a quiet moment between Delenn and Sheridan, expressing their love and fears and care for one another. It is an image that fills me with hope and joy, even as it is tinged with sadness. A feeling as Babylon 5 as anything can be.
That about does it for now. Join me again in a week for an episode out of time, a reunion and our final sojourn on the station where, during the year of no surrenders and no retreats, we placed President Clark under arrest.
This is Elias. Signing out.
Best Line of the Night:
Delenn: “When I was first assigned to Babylon 5, I had to learn to speak several languages: Drazi. Brakiri. Centauri. And, of course, English; the human language of commerce. Some words have always come easier to me than the others.
One of the most difficult words for me was…’goodbye.’ There is no corresponding word for ‘goodbye’ in Minbari. All our partings contain within them the possibility of meeting again…in other places…in other times…in other lives.”
So you will excuse me if I do not say goodbye. Our souls are a part of this place. Our hopes, the foundation of our future, and we will pass this way again.”