And Now for a Word

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"And Now For a Word"
Babylon 5 episode
B5 And Now For a Word 1.jpg
Cynthia Torqueman of ISN introduces her audience to Babylon 5
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 15
Directed by Mario Di Leo
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Production code 214
Original air date 3 May 1995
Guest actors

Kim Zimmer (Cynthia Torqueman)
Christopher Curry (Ronald Quantrell)
Granville Ames (Psi Cop)
John Christian Graas (Johnny)
Leslie Wing (Mother)

Episode chronology
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List of Babylon 5 episodes

"And Now For a Word" is an episode from the second season of the science fiction television series Babylon 5. The documentary format used in this episode was later revisited for the fourth season episode "The Illusion of Truth".

Synopsis[edit]

Cynthia Torqueman, a reporter for the ISN network on Earth, is the host of an ISN news series called "36 Hours". As the episode begins Torqueman is seen sitting at her anchor desk at ISN headquarters; she announces that the next segment of "36 Hours" will feature the Babylon 5 station and whether it is worthwhile for the Earth Alliance to continue funding and supporting the station. A number of public opinion polls are shown throughout the episode; the polls indicate that humanity's support for the Babylon 5 project is dwindling as the station's proclaimed mission of "creating the peace" falters. A key theme of the "36 Hours" segment is the ongoing Narn-Centauri War. As Torqueman's ship approaches the station, its cameras record several Narn and Centauri merchant ships opening fire on one another. A brief battle then ensues; it is ended only when Starfury fighters from Babylon 5 destroy or disable the fighting merchant vessels from both species and arrest their crews. Torqueman interviews Dr. Stephen Franklin, Babylon 5's medical chief, who is obviously irritated by her questions as he rushes to save the lives of various Narn and Centauri who have been wounded in the battle.

Torqueman spends most of her time on Babylon 5 interviewing the station's human command staff, its leading alien ambassadors, and talking with ordinary humans on the station (such as dockworkers). She also interviews an Earth Alliance Senator named Ronald Quantrell, who equivocates on the Project's success and claims that Earth only supported the station immediately after the Earth–Minbari War, when Earth's weakness forced it to promote galactic peace. Quantrell claims that, since the Earth Alliance has rebuilt and improved its military forces to a much greater strength since the war, the Alliance no longer needs to promote galactic peace or fund the expensive Babylon 5 station. His comments are strongly criticized by Captain John Sheridan, Babylon 5's commanding officer, who argues that Earth still doesn't have the level of technology to fight the Minbari, Centauri, or "god forbid" the Vorlons, and that Babylon 5 is still the "last, best hope for peace" in the galaxy. However, Sheridan's message is belied by the continued fighting between the Narn and Centauri. Ambassador G'Kar of the Narn claims that the Centauri have been using Babylon 5 (supposedly neutral territory) to load illegal mass driver weapons onto their merchant ships to attack the Narn. Ambassador Londo Mollari of the Centauri Republic disputes this and claims that the Narn are lying. Both ambassadors are interviewed by Torqueman; G'Kar tells her of the Centauri occupation and enslavement of his homeworld, and of his people's determination to never let it happen again. Londo tells Torqueman that the Centauri only occupied Narn to "help" the Narn raise their standard of living and claims that his people "voluntarily" left Narn when they were asked to do so. Torqueman also interviews Delenn, the Minbari Ambassador, and quizzes her about her physical change into a Minbari/Human hybrid, asking pointedly if it is not an insult to the memory of those who died in the Earth-Minbari War; Delenn is so upset that she cannot finish the interview. Torqueman also gets a first-ever televised glimpse of Kosh, the reclusive Vorlon ambassador, but he refuses to talk with her.

When Sheridan tells Ambassador Mollari that he has ordered all Centauri merchant vessels to be searched for illegal weapons, Mollari tells him that this "violation" of the Centauri's sovereign rights will not be tolerated. Shortly afterward, a Centauri Primus-Class battlecruiser exits hyperspace directly above Babylon 5 and targets its weapons on the station. Mollari announces that the battlecruiser will blockade Babylon 5 unless Sheridan revokes his order to search Centauri ships. Sheridan believes the Centauri are bluffing and to prove it, he sends a single merchant ship past the Centauri battlecruiser. When the battlecruiser doesn't fire and allows the merchant vessel to leave unharmed, the crew in the command center applauds their commander's seeming victory. However, a Narn G'Quan-Class Heavy Cruiser exits hyperspace and attacks the Centauri battlecruiser. A fierce battle erupts between the two ships; Sheridan tries to get the ships to stop fighting, but to no avail. The Narn cruiser destroys the Centauri cruiser, but is heavily damaged in the process. When it tries to flee, its jump engines explode and the Narn cruiser is destroyed. Torqueman concludes the segment of "36 Hours" by stating that, while Babylon 5 is definitely a dangerous place and will continue to be a source of controversy and conflict, it should also be given more time to fulfill the dreams of its founders.

Arc significance[edit]

  • The Centauri are transporting illegal mass driver weapons for use against the Narn. A few episodes later these weapons will be used by the Centauri to bombard the Narn homeworld with large meteors.
  • It is reported that the Narn have lost 6 of the 7 most recent battles in the Narn-Centauri War; and they are losing the war.
  • Public support on Earth for the Babylon 5 Project is declining, and a growing number of Earth Alliance Senators oppose continued funding and support for the Babylon 5 station.
  • Hidoshi, previously most vocal supporter of Babylon 5 and visible member of the Earth Alliance Senate, is no longer a Senator.

Production details[edit]

  • The Psi-Corps commercial contains a semi-subliminal message: during the closing of the commercial "The Psi Corps is your friend. Trust the Corps" flashes on the screen.[1][2] This is another reference to Paranoia. See also: Hidden message.
  • While not credited as such, David Corwin is named on screen for the first time. He is still credited as "Tech #1" in the end credits.
  • Kosh's title Naranek is spoken on screen for the first time.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Babylon 5 Season 2 Episode 15, "And Now For A Word", Hulu, at timestamp 32:25
  2. ^ Straczynski, J. Michael (Writer/Executive Producer) Di Leo, Mario (Director) (2003-04-29). Babylon 5: The Complete Second Season (multiple DVD set). Burbank, CA 91522: Warner Home Video. Event occurs at 32:24 in Disc 4 episode 15. ISBN 0-7907-7605-7. UPC 085392424221. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2009-10-31. "THE PSI CORPS IS YOUR FRIEND. TRUST THE CORPS." 

External links[edit]