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The Babylon 4 Station
|First appearance||Babylon Squared|
|Class||O'Neill cylinder, two rotating sections|
|Fighters||Starfury fighter craft|
|Length||6 miles (9.7 km)|
In the series, Babylon 4 was the immediate predecessor of Babylon 5 and the largest of the Babylon stations. It was constructed using materials left over from the three previous stations (as seen in details such as Babylon 3 emblems on some surfaces.)
Although the two stations share similar internal layouts, Babylon 4 is much larger than Babylon 5, and actually has engines which can physically move it through space if necessary. While Babylon 5 only rotates in one direction, Babylon 4 had two sections rotating in opposite directions. Babylon 4 also has a different color (B4 is green, B5 blue).
In the show it is first revealed that the station mysteriously disappeared just after construction was completed. The officer in charge, Major Lewis Krantz, sent out a distress signal. (Krantz was an EarthForce Marine, not intended to be part of the station's permanent crew; he was assigned to supervise the final stages of construction, then to turn it over to an EarthForce Naval officer who would be the permanent CO).
Late in the first season of the show (episode "Babylon Squared") Babylon 4 reappears, four years after it disappeared, and the crew of Babylon 5 mount a rescue mission to save the crew. Babylon 4 is surrounded by a mysterious distortion field which can have terrible effects on those encountering it. The first pilot sent out to investigate the disturbance is killed after being rapidly aged by the field. There is also an alien of an unknown race, known as Zathras, who is found on the station. His origin is unclear and when it is attempted to remove him from the station, a support beam falls on him and traps him. He is abandoned as the evacuation is completed. Associated with Zathras is a being known as "The One," to whom Zathras gives a repaired time stabilizer, indicating that The One is at least in part responsible for the disappearance of the station.
Two years later (two part episode "War Without End") the full story behind Babylon 4 is revealed. It turns out that those responsible for the theft of the station are the crew of Babylon 5. With help of the Great Machine on Epsilon 3, used to create the time field, the crew travel from 2260 to 2254 to stop Babylon 4 from being destroyed by the Shadows. Zathras turns out to be one of the race that maintains the Great Machine. He provides the crew with time stabilizers to stop them from becoming 'unstuck in time'. After preventing Babylon 4's destruction, the station is boarded and an attempt is made to induce the crew to evacuate. The attempt succeeds, but backfires, slinging the station four years forward in time to 2258. The rescue from that year is then seen through clips from "Babylon Squared."
After the conclusion of the 2258 rescue the station re-enters the time distortion. It is found that, because Jeffrey Sinclair had come to Babylon 4 in 2258 without the benefit of a time stabilizer, he has aged many years. If he returns to 2260 he will die. John Sheridan, Susan Ivanova, Marcus Cole and Delenn return to 2260; Sinclair and Zathras take the station back in time to 1260, during the previous Shadow War. The Minbari are losing the war against the Shadows and urgently need a new base of operations. Sinclair uses a triluminary, technology from Epsilon III, to transform his form into that of a Minbari. He thus becomes Valen, 'a Minbari not born of Minbari.' He then offers Babylon 4 to the Minbari to continue the war, and thus Sinclair's fate is revealed.
In the comic book series In Valen's Name, which is considered canonical, the ancient, decaying Babylon 4 is found in orbit of an uninhabited planet. It is drawn into the gravity well and burns up, but not before Delenn is able to view accounts of Valen's life by his three most trusted friends. The last message on the crystals is a message by Sinclair to the B5 crew, in which he apologizes for his decision not to prevent the Earth-Minbari War, stating that it was the only way for a greater good, the Babylon stations, to come to pass.
Behind the scenes
According to a rough outline for the series, apparently written between production of the pilot movie and first season, the original plans for the fate of Babylon 4 were quite different. At this point, the fundamental layout of the timeline was different, with many events written into Babylon 5 originally being planned for a sequel series named Babylon Prime. In this version, Babylon 4 would be taken into the future - specifically the year 2263, where it would function as the new base of operations against the Shadows following the destruction of Babylon 5; Babylon Prime would be Babylon 4's new name.
Unlike the Babylon 5 that was ultimately produced, the original plan was for the story arcs of the Shadow War, the Earth Alliance falling into dictatorship and the conflict between the Minbari religious & warrior castes to not be resolved by the end of the series: the series finale would show the station Babylon 5 being destroyed by the Minbari warrior caste and the sequel series would feature the same characters on Babylon Prime as renegades - the station's engines would also have been used to effectively make Babylon Prime a starship.
The outline would ultimately be revised to make Babylon 5 more ambitious and epic in scope, incorporating most features of "Babylon Prime" into its own five-year story. With the fate of Babylon 5 being revised, the fate of Babylon 4 was accordingly altered and it was rewritten to be taken into the past, not the future.
The discovery of Zathras by the crew of B4 was also changed between "Babylon Squared" and "War Without End". During filming of "War Without End", an attempt was made to film the scene as described in "Babylon Squared", with Zathras appearing in a flash of light in the middle of a meeting and being captured. However, both the director and Straczynski felt that the scene was awkward and unnecessarily long, and so it was decided that Zathras would be captured in a cargo bay, and careful editing of the footage of "Babylon Squared" was made to avoid the inconsistent explanation of Zathras' capture.
- Straczynski, J. Michael (7 September 1996); "(War Without End): Vorlons in the Past"; The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5; CompuServe, compiled and archived by Steven Grimm; "Yeah, B4 had more firepower, and it had one thing B5 doesn't...engines that can move it forward if necessary."
- S1xE20: "Babylon Squared"
- S4xE16-17: "War Without End"
- "Babylon 5: The Scripts of JMS: Volume 15", 06.22.08
- Babylon 4 entry in the Babylon 5 Tech Manual
- Babylon 4 entry in the "Voltayre's Encyclopedia Xenobiologica"