The Gathering / In the Beginning / Thirdspace / River of Souls / A Call to Arms

The River of Souls

Written by J. Michael Straczynski

Directed by Janet Greek

First broadcast 8 November 1998

This story takes place in June 2263.

The Soul Hunter

On a deserted planet, an expedition led by Dr Richard Bryson discovers a hidden chamber filled with globes containing the souls of billions of people, all of them victims of the Soul Hunters.  Bryson believes that he has found a method of eternal life, and meets up with Garibaldi on Babylon 5 to discuss further funding for his researches through Edgars-Garibaldi Industries.  Garibaldi is hesitant, but Bryson experiments with a globe he stole from the chamber to try to prove his theories.  He unwittingly lets the souls escape from the globe.

A Soul Hunter arrives aboard the station to reclaim his order's stolen property - but Bryson has disappeared and the escaped souls are beginning to run rampant aboard the station.  A holo-brothel owner who is giving Lochley and Zack some grief is unaware that the souls are beginning to possess the forms of some of his holograms (in particular one in the image of Captain Lochley herself).  When the globe cannot be recovered, a fleet of Soul Hunter ships surrounds the station demanding it be returned.

Lochley argues with the Soul Hunter that stealing souls is wrong; they are condemning the souls to live the rest of their "lives" trapped in the globes, an unfulfilled existence.  When the escaped souls attack Lochley herself, her soul is taken aboard the globe while her body lies momentarily dead.  One of the souls, appearing as an image of Dr Franklin, tells her that the Soul Hunters claimed the people of his world at the wrong moment: they were not dying, they were about to evolve out of their physical forms.   The torment of change has slowly turned many of the souls trapped in the globe insane and they are demanding vengeance on the Soul Hunters.

A holobrothel replica of Captain LochleyWhen Lochley returns, she realizes that the holograms are a distraction from the souls' true intent: overloading the station's reactor core, so that all of the Soul Hunters in surrounding space will be obliterated with them.  The Soul Hunter, thinking over Lochley's words, sacrifices himself to the globe to try to rebuild the souls' lives and change the ways of his people.  The Soul Hunters take the missing globe, souls and all, and leave the station.

Notes: The Soul Hunters were first introduced in Soul Hunter.  The Soul Hunter mentions their appearance at the outbreak of the Earth-Minbari War (In the Beginning).

The soundtrack, by Christopher Franke, is available on CD.

The River of Souls This story was to be novelized by Yvonne Navarro, however the plans were dropped when J. Michael Straczynski was unhappy with the results.

Main Cast: Jerry Doyle (Michael Garibaldi); Tracy Scoggins (Captain Elizabeth Lochley); Jeff Conaway (Security Chief Zack Allen); Richard Biggs (Dr Stephen Franklin); Joshua Cox (Lt. Corwin); Martin Sheen (Soul Hunter); Ian McShane (Dr Robert Bryson).

Martin Sheen is the father of actors Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, and has appeared in lots of stuff (including Apocalypse Now and the TV series The West Wing).  Ian McShane is best known for his role as British antique-dealer-detective Lovejoy.  Originally the actors were approached to play each other's roles, but Sheen requested that he play the Soul Hunter instead.

The Gathering / In the Beginning / Thirdspace / River of Souls / A Call to Arms