Babylon 5 : Thirdspace

Babylon 5 had 5 tv films produced along with the 5 season tv series, 7 if you include the pilot movie The Gathering & Lost Tales : Voices In The Dark. In the crazy world of Babylon 5, production order vs chronological order is confusing and debatable as to which to follow; I have chosen to follow the latter order so as to make more sense of the story, which when taken in the production order can be confusing. Today we look at Thirdspace, which is actually the 2nd movie, 3rd overall if you include the pilot. It was broadcast on television after In The Beginning, which although is the 1st movie, 2nd overall if you include the pilot, is set partially well after all the events in the series & movies! Confused? Believe me I was until I found a list that made sense. So anyways – when Essentially a stand-alone episode, the film is set after the Shadow War (episode 406 “Into the Fire” and before war was declared with Earth (episode 414 “Moments of Transition”. The presence of both Dr. Franklin and generic priligy Delenn, along with changes to Zack Allan’s uniform further place the events just before episode 409 “Atonement”, to the extent that its continuity problems can actually be resolved.

An enormous ancient artifact is discovered in hyperspace and towed to the Babylon 5 station for investigation, at which point the xenoarchaeology corporation Interplanetary Expeditions sends a representative, Dr. Elizabeth Trent (guest star Shari Belafonte), to take control of the artifact’s examination. After the artifact is towed near the station, it begins to affect the nfluence the dreams of many inhabitants of Babylon 5, eventually controlling many of them during their waking hours as well. Some of them demand to Dr. Trent’s team members that the work on the artifact be sped up. They would later become violent to the rest of the residents on Babylon 5. During one run around the artifact, a maintenance bot has contact with the artifact, it unwittingly sparks to life and begins drawing power from the station with the draining rate becoming alarming.

Eventually her studies brings Elizabeth Trent to the conlusion low interest unsecured loan that the artifact is a Jumpgate (one created well before the current range) that takes one neither to normal space nor to hyperspace but to a “third” space (hence the movie’s title), built by the Vorlons a million years ago with a purpose that cannot be expressed in human terms except as an attempt to make contact with the gods. In reality, Thirdspace is a parallel universe inhabited by a violent, telepathic alien species even older and more powerful than the Vorlons that is bent on exterminating all life other than their own. It is believed that once the Vorlons made contact in Thirdspace, the aliens  telepathically converted a small army of Vorlons to fight and die for them. The ensuing battle ended in a stalemate; the non-thrall Vorlons shut down the gate, but the remaining Vorlon thralls prevented the artifact’s destruction by sending it into hyperspace where it was lost but preserved (in hopes that it might one day be reawakened).

Lyta is the one who is chosen by a fail safe built into the gate by the Vorlons not affected by the Thirdspace aliens and takes over her. Although she initially lashes out, injuring humans who have been affected by the artifact, she is able to be the medium that the fail safe program uses to communicate to John Sheridan how to deactivate the gate. Meanwhile as the violence grows in the station as the affected beings attack the non-affected ones, the device is finally reactivated, the Thirdspace Aliens stream out from the portal in small fighters and begin a devastating assault on Babylon 5, obliterating large cruisers with little effort using their superior technology & weaponry. Even Trent is affected as she kills her colleague and almost kills Ivanova but the latter is too quick for her. The struggle is ended when John Sheridan enters the artifact via flight suit to plant and later detonate a nuclear bomb, destroying the artifact just as the first wave of Thirdspace heavy warships begin to emerge. Once destroyed, the telepathic influence stops and the station returns to normal. Sheridan and Delenn conceal the true nature of the artifact from those who ask questions, and confidently assure themselves that the incident is unlikely to occur again. In private, Lyta broods with the knowledge that the artifact was only one of many mistakes the Vorlons have made in the past. Trent is thoroughly shaken and leaves her job temporarily but leaves her final report with Sheridan.  The artifact was created because of the Vorlons’ belief that they were equal in power to the gods, perhaps a reference to the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, and it is as a result of Sheridan’s and Trent’s shared pride and refusal to cooperate that it is activated.

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