Babylon 5

Season 2 Episode 4

A Distant Star

Aired Monday 7:00 PM Nov 23, 1994 on

Episode Recap

Jack Maynard, the commander of one of the rare Earth explorer ships, the Cortez, and an old friend and commander of John Sheridan, sends word to Babylon 5 of his imminent arrival. In between joking with Ivanova about his nickname, "swamp rat", and Maynard's nickname, "stinky", Sheridan draws everyone's attention to the amazingly impressive ship coming through the jumpgate, as it is a rare one and they'll be lucky to encounter two of them in their whole career. Sheridan goes off to welcome his friend aboard. While discussing Cortez's upcoming mission to explore the Rim and expand its known borders, they run across Delenn, who has come to ask the Captain to schedule a Council meeting. Maynard is surprised by her appearance. The same applies for Babylon 5, and for Sheridan having accepted an office job, away from space.
Garibaldi is receiving his routine examination by Dr. Franklin, who is on a mission to change everyone's eating habits, and put them on a healthy diet. He starts off with Garibaldi, giving him a list of what is allowed to eat and what not, banning his favorite, but highly unhealthy traditional dishes. Garibaldi isn't happy about it but he is forced to take the diet papers with him. In Sheridan's quarters, he and Maynard have a longer conversation. The conversation makes Sheridan rather uneasy, putting doubts in his mind about whether a bureaucratic position such as this isn't preventing him from doing what he most enjoys, which is commanding ships, participating in battles and travelling through space. His displeasure is exposed by his yelling at Garibaldi for having bothered him with something trivial. Later on Maynard and Sheridan share a drink with Ivanova and two of the Squadron leaders. The pilots ask if there's really something dark and mysterious out there on the Rim. Maynard confirms their suspicions, having come across something odd and indescribable himself: A black, almost invisible shape of a large vessel.
Garibaldi arranges to smuggle the ingredients for his favorite dish into the station. Dr. Franklin hands a diet schedule to Captain Sheridan as well, trying to get him to lose some of the extra weight he's gained. Sheridan protests but has little choice than to leave holding the diet printout.
A representative of the Minbari people on Babylon 5 confronts Delenn with the issue of her transformation. The population feels uncertain as to whether she is part of their race anymore. Delenn refuses to provide him with a definitive answer, as she feels her dignity is being violated, and is furthermore not at liberty to discuss the secrets that led her to her decision. So she has no other choice but to wait for the issue to be presented to the Grey Council.
Back in Medlab, it is Ivanova's turn to participate in the diet program, only in her case more pounds need to be gained. She protests that she's going to gain fat, but leaves with the diet paper too. Sheridan escorts Maynard out before he begins the Cortez's exploration mission on the Rim. Back in his office, which is stacked with bundles of papers and all kinds of trivia, he tells Susan he feels frustrated by the amount of trivialities he has to deal with every day, and conveys his concern about being the proper man for the job. Susan insists that he should tell her if he is not feeling up to the task. In the end he goes back to his stack of papers and makes a joke, but the expression on his face is clearly still troubled.
The Cortez suffers irreparable damage and is stranded in hyperspace. As they are drawn in by the gravitational pull, drifting further away from Babylon 5, all they can do is transmit a distress call and hope someone gets it. The lock-on signal from the station being lost, there is no way for them to head back. They are lucky in their misfortune, as Babylon 5 receives a partial signal from their transmission. Sheridan calls for a gathering of the Squadron pilots.
In Medlab, Delenn is examined by Dr. Franklin, who is eager to get more information on her current medical condition. From a scrap of conversation with her Franklin accidentally learns that Garibaldi has smuggled in the ingredients for his special dish.
Sheridan and Ivanova explain to the pilots their rescue plan. They intend to create a "Lifeline" of ships that will progressively extend all the way into remote areas of hyperspace to try to find the Cortez. Each fighter can lock on to the signal of the previous one, and not get lost in hyperspace. The mission is a risky one and some of the pilots may not return. All of them accept the risk. C&C sends a message to the Cortez, that ships are coming to their rescue. However, when the fighters actually approach the Cortez's location an unknown, black, spider-shaped vessel appears and destroys one of them, the Squadron leader. A second one is incapacitated. The pilot, not being able to withhold his position any longer, shoots to point the way home. Maynard understands the signal and leads the Cortez to the direction of the next ship outward. That way the Cortez and the remaining ships use the Lifeline and return to the station. The fighter pilot is left stranded in hyperspace. Everyone believes he is dead.
Franklin catches Garibaldi when he is receiving his "secret" shipment. His initial intention is to take it away but Garibaldi explains to him how his father used to prepare that dish in his birthday, and how he makes it every year in his honor. Franklin is convinced and they make plans to have dinner together. Sheridan has an enlightening conversation with Delenn in the garden. They discuss the missing pilots and their sacrifice and how "At the right moment they were in the right place and knew what to do." Delenn states her belief that everyone is in the right place, where the universe puts us, because "We are the universe made manifest trying to figure itself out." This lifts a large part of the burden from Sheridan's shoulders, and grants him new strength and determination to deal with the challenges in his path. The fighter pilot stranded in hyperspace observes another unknown enemy vessel like the previous one. He manages to lock on to its signal before it vanishes. Following the same coordinates he finally makes it back to Babylon 5.
The pilots and officers have a drink together, honoring the deceased Squadron leader. The surviving pilot is promoted to Squadron leader. He gives a description of the eerie, frightening sensation the enemy ship gave him. "Like someone just walked on your grave", he says. Garibaldi and Franklin are dining on the special dish together, and Franklin turns out to really like it in the end. Susan walks in Sheridan's office to find him working late, having tidied up all the mess on his desk, feeling enthusiastic and refreshed. His conversation with Delenn is obviously the reason for his new-found inspiration.
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