108: War Zone

Written by
J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by
Janet Greek
First broadcast
9 June 1999

Earth has been quarantined following the bio-genetic virus released by the Drakh, and mass rioting has broken out.  It is predicted that within five years all life on Earth will be wiped out.  Captain Matthew Gideon suppresses a violent protest by his own crew on their journey back to Earth, before he is called to Mars.  An Earthforce destroyer forces a Drakh ship it is pursuing to crashland on a barren world, Ceti IV, where archaeologist Max Eilerson is leading an expedition.  Gideon is assigned to the experimental new ship, Excalibur, to lead a team of experts and explore space to discover a cure for the virus.  Dr Sarah Chambers is medical chief of staff, and Gideon requests his own crewmember, Lt John Matheson, to join him as well - despite initial concern that he is a telepath.  The alien Dureena Nafeel also insists that she be included on the team.

The archaeological expedition on Ceti IV is attacked by the crashed aliens, and Gideon responds to a distress call to rescue the archaeologists.  He also receives a personal message from an unknown outside agent, telling him that he has help on his mission if he needs it.  While the Excalibur fights off Drakh ships arriving to rescue the survivors, the crew capture the one Drakh aboard the crashed ship.

When Eilerson manages to translate the Drakh language, Gideon recruits him as well.  The Drakh is returned to Earth for interrogation, but first warns Gideon that if they fail in their mission and Earth dies - who will be left to support him, and what will he have left to defend?

Gideon locates the source of the mysterious message - the Techno-mage Galen, whom he had encountered nine years previously, and did not flee known space with his colleagues.  Gideon asks Galen to join his team, but Galen asks him who he serves and who he trusts, but Gideon responds that he no longer knows.  Galen agrees to join.

Notes: Events in this episode take place directly after the telemovie A Call to Arms.  The Techno-mages were introduced in The Geometry of Shadows, where they were seen departing known space in that episode to avoid the Shadow War.  We see more about Gideon's being stranded in space in The Path of Sorrows (see also the novel Summoning Light).  Matheson is a telepath, and follows the new rules for telepaths following the outcome of the Telepath War, which has taken place sometime between the end of Babylon 5 (2262) and now (2267).  The alien seen in Lines of Communication is revealed here to be one of a race of foot soldiers for the Drakh themselves, who were first seen in In the Kingdom of the Blind, Movements of Fire and Shadow and The Fall of Centauri Prime.   Earth President Susanna Luchenko is mentioned (see Rising Star).

Galen says "And so, it begins", an echo of Kosh's words in Chrysalis; he also asks Gideon "What do you want?" a question asked by the Shadows (Signs and Portents), and "Where are you going?", a question Lorien asked Sheridan in Sleeping in Light.

Guest Cast: Alex Mendosa (Trace Miller), Tim Thomerson (Senator McQuate), Mark Hendrickson (Drakh).