Season 1 Episode 1

War Zone

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Jun 09, 1999 on TNT
out of 10
User Rating
60 votes

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Episode Summary


Captain Matthew Gideon is assigned to the prototype destroyer Excalibur, to spearhead the search for a cure to the plague unleashed by the Drakh. His first mission is to seize a downed Drakh space craft on Ceti 4.

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  • A more appropriate classification would have been "Unnecessary Episode."

    TNT was supposed to air the Babylon 5 movie "A Call to Arms" and then start Crusade with "Racing the Night." So, "War Zone," an introduce the characters episode, would have been unnecessary. Then, TNT airs "A Call to Arms" six months *before* and then immediately *after* "War Zone" which, as JMS said, makes no kind of sense.

    Anyway, regarding "War Zone," I thought it was an OK episode, except for the fight scenes at the beginning (no real reason for the crew to think they were being taken back to Earth **where they might be infected**), the Ensign *James*/Mr. *Ames* name mixup, Sen. McQuate/Tim Thomerson who obviously had trouble getting through his lines, the shuttle pilot Jensen who wouldn't know evasive maneuvers if they bit him on the backside, and the exposition heavy, connect-the-dots ending.

    Max Eilerson/David Allen Brooks steals the show, and the episode is best whenever he's in a scene. Most of the other actors also turn in fine performances, although Dr. Sarah Chambers/Marjean Holden definitely has some wooden lines which sound like they shouldn't be coming from the doctor character (e.g. re. the type of fire during the shootout on the Drakh ship).

    Enjoy for the Max Eilerson scenes and the CGI, but remember this episode was done at TNT's behest, and a lot of the not so great stuff in this episode was a direct result of TNT-Atlanta's hands-on approach and notes.moreless
  • When the creator, J. Michael Straczynski, calls an episode the worst; you had better listen.

    The episode "War Zone" was written at the network's (TNT's) request. JMS calls it "probably the weakest one, certainly the one I find least interesting. It's lumbered with buckets of exposition, explaining things that don't need explaining, too many fights, too many explosions, too much swaggering around, all stuff the net wanted."


    He goes on to say, "it's exposition heavy, too much swaggering macho stuff, no real depth, just stuff blowing up. The ones that follow are much better."

    I have to agree.

    The mutiny scene was ill planned and not useful to the plot line.

    The introduction of the ship telepath is poor.

    Still this is the continuation of Babylon 5. We all waited patiently and hopefully for this to air. It would have been difficult for us to see much fault in it back then.

    As a "Crusade" episode and a script by the master JMS it may be lacking, but it is still a pleasure to watch.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Galen: And so it begins.

    • Eilerson: That's the fun part about being an archaeologist, Sam. The present constantly getting in the way of exploring the past. But who knows? Maybe we'll find something of valuable we can send back to the corporation. Nothing like the occasional surprise to keep things interesting, eh, Sam?

    • Senator McQuate: You're a dangerous man when you want to be, captain, and right now we need a dangerous man.

    • Gideon: But just so we're clear, once we go, this is my command. I'll do whatever's necessary. If that means turning the entire galaxy upside down and shaking its pockets to see what falls out, that's what I'll do. I'm not subtle. I'm not pretty, and I'll piss off a lot of people along the way. But I'll get the job done.

    • Trace: I've got plans for the weekend and being dead ain't part of 'em.

    • Dureena: Yes, I'm a thief, and a damned good one. You need to get inside something, you need to get out, tunnel under, go around, go through, I'm it. You're going to hit some pretty strange places, you're going to need a lock pick. There isn't a lock made that I can't get through.

    • Gideon: That's our ship.
      Dr. Chambers: That's a ship? It's huge.
      Gideon: A mile and a quarter long. The most advanced and fastest ship ever built by humans. It's beautiful.
      Dureena: It'll do.

    • Gideon: John, you know what causes most problems? Ambiguity. Not knowing which decision is the right one. You're the best first officer I've ever served with and I consider you a friend. So there was no ambiguity. And no problem.

    • Galen: Hello, Matthew. I just wanted you to know that I am here, and I'm watching, in case you should need help.
      Gideon: Who's this?
      Galen: Have you forgotten me so soon? Sad, but the way of the world, I suppose. Expect me when you see me.

    • Eilerson: The story of my life. I finally find a city like this, intact, deserted for ten thousand years. Probably contains hundreds of patents that I could exploit and I'm going to die. I can appreciate dramatic irony as much as the next person, but this is pushing it a bit!!

    • Eilerson: You're bluffing.
      Gideon: I never bluff.

    • Drakh Captain L'shan: And when your world is gone, who will support you? Who will you serve? Who will you be?

    • Galen: What do you want?
      Gideon: To find a cure for the Drakh plague before it wipes out all life on Earth.
      Galen: Where are you going?
      Gideon: Anywhere I have to.
      Galen: Who do you serve and who do you trust? (he pauses for a response, but doesn't get one) Who do you serve and who do you trust?
      Gideon: I don't know.
      Galen: Then I will go with you.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Tracy Scoggins is credited but doesn't appear.

    • One of the lines spoken by Mr. Ames to Captain Gideon on Mars is that they "had to make certain compromises to get this show on the road." JMS has stated that this was a deliberate reference to TNT's interference with the show.

    • This episode was made when the network decided that the original opening episode, "Racing the Night", did not explain the situation well enough for their target audience. So for this one, TNT wanted large amounts of exposition. They also wanted the episode to start off with a fist fight, to include a "cool" fighter jock, and to contain video footage of the riots on Earth. The latter was impossible to film within the series budget. This forced the producers to insert stock news footage.