Babylon 5

Season 3 Episode 21

Shadow Dancing

Aired Monday 7:00 PM Oct 24, 1996 on

Episode Recap

In the convention hall, Delenn and Lennier are trying to convince the ambassadors of the Alliance to contribute with ships and military personnel to a secret project they are preparing. The ambassadors are naturally curious to learn more about it, but Delenn refuses to reveal it for fear of it being compromised. If the plan reaches the Shadows the element of surprise will be lost. The ambassadors refuse to accept that however, claiming that Delenn and the Rangers don't trust them enough.

Delenn: So far we have kept every promise we've made. We told you that telepaths could be used to slow the advance of the Shadows, we supplied you with telepaths if you didn't have your own, we have saved the lives of many of your people. If we haven't earned your trust by now, then please go. Nothing more will be required of you.

That settles the issue of trust. The Drazi representative points out that providing ships for this secret campaign will weaken their defenses in their homeworlds. Delenn tells him it is a risk that needs to be taken. The ships will hold position in hyperspace, awaiting the signal for their final destination. Once the signal has arrived, they will make the jump. The Minbari will contribute as many cruisers as they can to the mission, as well as the White Star fleet, as yet unrevealed to the other Alliance members. Delenn leaves so that the body can deliberate.
Sheridan assigns to Marcus and Ivanova a mission upon which the whole plan is depending. As the number of refugees escaping to Sector 83, the Sector in the middle of the area around which the Shadows are attacking, has significantly diminished, a Shadow attack is expected there soon. The idea is to surprise them in the middle of their attack, and launch a counterattack against them. But for the plan to work, and for Sheridan's fleet to be able to get there in time, a scout ship must patrol the area, and alert the fleet about the Shadows' arrival the second it takes place. Otherwise the Shadows will be long gone by the time Sheridan's fleet jumps out of hyperspace. Marcus and Ivanova will command the scout ship. Their chances or returning are 50% at best, since the Shadow vessels are extremely fast, and they will have to break radio silence to notify the others of the Shadows' arrival. That will draw attention on them and will cause the Shadows to pursue them. In addition, it is completely unpredictable whether the Shadows will send one ship ahead of their fleet, or will appear all at once. Sheridan advises Marcus and Ivanova to draw as little attention as they can, complete the mission and "get out fast". They will take the White Star, as speed might prove a crucial factor in their survival. The two accept the mission in spite of the obvious risk.
Delenn returns to the convention room, to find only the Drazi ambassador waiting for her. For a moment she fears the Alliance has declined to assist in the mission, but the ambassador informs her otherwise. The allies will give all the ships they can spare, and they have already departed for their homeworlds to make the necessary arrangements. "I only hope that you are right because it will cost us greatly if you are wrong", the Drazi ambassador tells Delenn.

Ivanova and Marcus await their departure signal from C&C. Sheridan sends the White Star away reminding Ivanova of an old Egyptian blessing. Marcus asks her what he meant. "May God stand between you and harm, in all the empty places where you must walk", she replies. Zack suggests some lunch to Garibaldi, who refuses due to being busy. He is worried about Franklin, and asks Zack if he's heard anything about him. Garibaldi feels guilty for not having insisted enough in Franklin's case, as if has he somehow neglected his own responsibility towards his friend. Zack tells him Franklin needed to "get his head screwed on straight", and that only he could do that for himself. When Zack leaves Garibaldi is still very worried.

In the bazaar in DownBelow, a couple from Earth with their little girl are visiting the station. The mother argues with her husband about whether there are homeless people back on Earth as well. The little girl loses her ball, which rolls away and ends up in a homeless man's feet. The man is Dr. Franklin. The girl approaches him and he makes some funny gestures for her, and gives her the ball. The girl's mother pulls her away from Franklin, obviously afraid for her daughter's safety. In the White Star, Ivanova wakes Marcus up for his watch in the command deck. They have a brief discussion concerning Marcus' fluency in Minbari, and how important it is for a Ranger to be able to speak and think in Minbari, before he can complete his training. Marcus gives Ivanova a sample phrase in Minbari, which means "you're the most beautiful woman I've ever met".

Ivanova: What does that mean? Marcus: It's... just a greeting. It means... "my words are inadequate to the burden of my heart". Ivanova: That's an unusual greeting. Marcus: Well, they're an unusual people.

Marcus leaves for the command deck, while Ivanova makes a series of unsuccessful attempts to sleep in a Minbari reclining bed.
Delenn brings to Sheridan the documents that the Alliance has signed. They are still reluctant to offer their full participation, but it is to be expected as the war effort increases. Sheridan tries to convince Delenn to stay behind, but to no avail. She tells him that when they return from the mission, they will spend the night together, according to an old Minbari custom. The male sleeps, and the female observes him during sleep, which according to the Minbari is the time when one's true face is revealed. If she approves of the man's true face, she stays on for two more nights. If not, the couple separates.

While Franklin is wandering in DownBelow, he hears someone screaming for help. He climbs down a ventilator and sees two men beating up a third one. He intervenes and one of the attackers stabs him in the abdomen. The two run away. Badly injured, he asks for help from the man whose life he just saved. The man turns out to be a drug dealer, who refuses to call for help for fear of being arrested. He leaves Franklin bleeding on the floor and runs away in his turn. Some time later, Franklin has made various failed attempts to climb back up the ventilator shaft. The floor is full of bloodied hand prints, and Franklin has given up trying, and is desperately calling for help.
Aboard the White Star, just as Ivanova has managed to find a way to sleep, Marcus sends an urgent call for her. She runs off to the command deck, where she sees on the monitor a small Shadow scout ship patrolling the area, to make sure it's clear for the attack. It hasn't noticed the White Star, but the eclipse they had been using as cover is just ending. When the sun comes out again, the Shadow scout notices them, and tries to signal its fleet. The White Star increases all power supplies to maximum, in order to jam the signal. Delenn and Sheridan are receiving the final report from Lennier: everything is ready for the attack, and they are only awaiting the signal from Marcus and Ivanova. Delenn shows a very impressed Sheridan the inside of a Minbari cruiser's tactical center. In DownBelow, Franklin is about to bleed to death when his "other" self appears. Instead of being friendly, however, the alternate Franklin is very irritated.
The White Star is trying to maintain its jamming rate while the Shadow scout is in pursuit. When it realizes it can't fight them, it rams them head on, leaving most of their engines damaged. At that moment a vast Shadow fleet appears, with countless scout ships, Shadow vessels and Shadow cruisers. The White Star remains unnoticed for the moment, but if it sends the signal that will change. "Well, who wants to live forever?", Ivanova says, and Marcus presses the signal button. While Delenn, Sheridan and everyone else prepare for a decisive battle, Ivanova and Marcus wait for their jump engines to go back online. The Shadow fleet is only 20 minutes away.
Franklin is still bleeding somewhere in DownBelow, hearing his alternate self telling him how he walked away from everything in his life so far. His career in the military, his research on Minbari biology, as well as his job. The stims were his means of escape from his daily professional routine, and the walkabout is the means to get away from everything, including his own self. He has behaved irresponsibly because he was afraid to do otherwise. While Franklin tries to say something in reply his "other" self interrupts him. Franklin is on the verge of death. "Well fine, do what you want, because you and I have parted ways a long time ago. So you go ahead and you die, because I really don't care anymore", the "other" Franklin tells him.

Just as the Shadows have arrived at the location where the attack is to take place, and one of their ships is moving against Ivanova's White Star, the Alliance fleet arrives. An impressive array of large cruisers, small fighters, carrier ships and scouts fills the sky, drawing the Shadow fleet's attention towards them. Inside the Minbari cruiser's tactical center, a dome lights up in the ceiling, presenting the battle in live feed. Sheridan can command the entire fleet, as the transmission from there is linked to all ships. Sheridan starts giving his first orders. While the telepaths will attempt to jam the capital Shadow vessels, the Alliance fleet's heavy fighters will assume attack formation. Escort ships will create a buffer zone between the telepaths and the enemy ships. While the Shadows are slowed down by the telepaths, the fighters will launch an attack and clear the way. Medium class ships will provide the fighters with cover, aiding them during the attack. Everyone else will attack at will. The battle begins.

Franklin is still conversing with his alternate self, who taunts and provokes him into letting go and dying. "I wanna do it all again", Franklin says and while the other Franklin questions that, he insists and uses his remaining strength in a superhuman effort to climb up the ventilator shaft. His alternate self encourages him, and he doesn't give up regardless of the pain. He finally manages to climb up. In Sector 83, the battle is raging on. Ivanova and Marcus head towards it to lend a hand. Sheridan is trying to protect his ships while at the same time preventing the Shadows from outflanking them. All available ships are thrown into battle. Franklin walks with difficulty to the bazaar in DownBelow, where Security finds him. The battle is in its peak, with many Alliance ships being destroyed, but keeping their own against the Shadows. The enemy fleet is taking heavy losses as well. Eventually, after many casualties from both sides, the Shadows decide to flee. Victory lies with the Alliance. Sheridan and Delenn embrace in the tactical center, satisfied of the outcome but also in mourning for the lives lost in battle.

Later, in the station, a Medlab team is rushing Franklin off to surgery, while Ivanova, Garibaldi and Sheridan are running along, anxious about his condition. Shuttles with dozens of wounded from the battle are constantly coming in as well. Franklin's condition is critical but stable. He lost a lot of blood, but will survive his wounds. Sheridan, Ivanova, Marcus and Delenn update Garibaldi on the outcome of the mission. It was a success, but at a heavy price. Managing to unite the Alliance in a common attack is a very significant achievement, but next time the element of surprise will not exist. Garibaldi wonders when the Shadows are going to retaliate.

Garibaldi visits Franklin at Medlab to check on him. They have one of their friendly, funny dialogues and Garibaldi lets him get some more rest. It seems the doctor is recovering. Somewhere in hyperspace, a Shadow vessel releases a small carrier. Sheridan, Ivanova and Delenn discuss the Shadows' next step, whether they will hit Babylon 5 and when. Ivanova points out that the station is an easy target for them, and if they haven't attacked it yet there must be a reason. Sheridan remembers the dream Kosh had sent him when he was captive aboard the Strieb ship. Most of it has proved of some significance. In the dream, Ivanova was asking: "Do you know who I am"? Later on she proved to be a latent telepath. Sheridan was wearing a Psi Cop's uniform, which might indicate their collaboration with Bester. Garibaldi said "The man in between is searching for you", and then Ivanova appeared again, dressed in a funeral dress and veil, saying: "You are the hand". As each person has two hands, one equal and opposite to the other, Delenn assumes Sheridan's equal and opposite might be looking for him. Sheridan gets tired of interpreting a dream, and focuses on the more practical side of the matter: Babylon 5 is in danger, which will be arriving soon. He orders 24-hour fighter patrols around the station. The small carrier ship that came out of the Shadow vessel is moving through hyperspace.

Franklin is awake and partly recovered, but in a wheelchair. He is helping out the doctors in Medlab by giving them instructions and advice. Sheridan stops by to offer him his job back, if he still wants it. Franklin replies that he discovered the true meaning of life, which is focusing on the here and now, making each moment matter, instead of defining yourself based on the things you are not. He is willing and eager to take his job back. As Sheridan receives a message from Delenn in his ComLink, he leaves. Franklin shows a nurse how to use the cauterizer, this time in a very polite and friendly manner.

Someone mysterious is going through Identicard check in the docking bay, and then enters the station. Sheridan is sleeping in his quarters, while Delenn is watching him, according to the old Minbari custom. She seems pleased by what she sees. As the mysterious stranger proceeds, Ivanova receives a call from Zack in the middle of the night. Someone important to Sheridan has just arrived, and she will definitely want to hear who it is. Back in Sheridan's quarters, Delenn picks up a snow-globe while she contemplates. The door opens, and a woman comes inside. She introduces herself as Anna Sheridan, John's supposedly dead wife. Delenn drops the snow-globe, which falls on the floor and breaks in little pieces.