A Distant Star
|"A Distant Star"|
|Babylon 5 episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Jim Johnston|
|Written by||D.C. Fontana|
|Original air date||23 November 1994|
"A Distant Star" is an episode from the second season of the science fiction television series Babylon 5.
In the opening scenes of the episode, an EarthForce Explorer-class ship, the EAS Cortez, is seen. The ship's captain, Jack Maynard, is an old friend of Babylon 5 commander Captain John Sheridan. Maynard decides to take the Cortez to Babylon 5 to be resupplied; during the stopover he plans to visit his friend Sheridan before the Cortez returns to the remote galactic rim.
The Cortez arrives. Sheridan shows Maynard around Babylon 5, but during his tour Maynard observes that being a space-station bureaucrat doesn't seem to suit a "die-hard spacer" like his friend John, something which upsets Sheridan, who begins to wonder if he's in the right job.
Maynard tells Sheridan, Lt. Keffer and others about a strange experience he had on the galactic rim; while patrolling near the Cortez in a shuttle Maynard spotted what he believed to be a huge, dark, ominous vessel hovering nearby. The vessel vanished before his co-pilot could see it, but Maynard is clearly troubled by the incident as he tells it to Sheridan.
Minbari Ambassador Delenn is being questioned by her own people as to whether or not she is still "one of them"; her physical change into a Minbari/Human hybrid has apparently led some Minbari to reject her. Despite her attempts to answer the concerns of the Minbari on Babylon 5, some of the station's Minbari still reject her authority and insist on dealing with their government at home, something she reluctantly agrees to allow.
Commander Ivanova is still recovering from the broken foot she suffered while trying to stop a Drazi riot (in an earlier episode), and Security Chief Garibaldi is also still recovering from being shot in the back.
The Cortez finishes resupplying and heads back out to hyperspace. An explosion on board causes the ship's tracking system to lose the signal from the jumpgate, resulting in the ship becoming lost in hyperspace. Since no ship has ever been found once becoming lost in hyperspace, the prognosis for the Cortez is grim.
Babylon 5 launches a rescue operation using Starfury fighters to relay the jumpgate signal to the Cortez. They follow a plan in which each Starfury forms a link in a long chain of fighters — each fighter stays locked onto the fighter behind it.
Galus, the Zeta Squadron Commander, and Lt. Keffer locate the Cortez and are about to start rescue when a huge, dark vessel materializes, destroying Galus' Starfury, and disabling Keffer's. The vessel looks exactly like the one described by Maynard earlier. The ship vanishes.
Keffer repeatedly fires his fighter's weapons towards the direction of the jumpgate; after some time Maynard realizes what Keffer is doing and moves the Cortez towards the jumpgate, thus saving his ship and crew. Keffer appears doomed, as his damaged fighter drifts in hyperspace. However, he is able to escape hyperspace when another of the mysterious ships appears and vanishes; Keffer follows the vessel's trajectory until he locates the jumpgate beacon and is able to return to Babylon 5.
Keffer is disturbed by his experiences with the mysterious vessels and becomes determined to obtain proof that they exist.
A side plot involves Dr. Franklin taking the opportunity to subject Ivanova, Garibaldi, and Sheridan to a "food plan" to improve their health; they are all placed on a diet. All three find their diets most unappealing and look for ways to sneak other foods into their diets, particularly Garibaldi. He has become determined to acquire the ingredients for and cook bagna càuda, which Franklin strongly objects to. Ignoring this, Garibaldi enlists the help of a dockworker to get the necessary ingredients, but is caught by Dr. Franklin. Garibaldi explains that his father always cooked bagna càuda for his birthday, and after his father died, he continued to do so every year, in his memory. At this, Dr. Franklin allows this particular infraction of his food plan—on the condition that Garibaldi cook enough for two, and allow Dr. Franklin to join him.
- Some details of the structure and navigation of hyperspace are revealed.
- Lieutenant Keffer sees a strange ship in hyperspace, leading him to an obsessive, season-long effort to learn what they are.
- Lt. Keffer is promoted to command of Zeta Squadron following the death of Galus.
- Delenn's physical change is becoming increasingly controversial among her own people; she feels increasingly isolated from them.
- While not explicitly mentioned in the episode, the series creator explains that Explorer ships both map unknown regions of space and leave behind jumpgates that they construct.
- Explorer ships have a SPOF design flaw.
- Bagna càuda is an authentic Italian dish.