Babylon 5: Thirdspace

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Babylon 5: Thirdspace
Thirdspace.jpg
TNT Promotional Poster for Babylon 5: Thirdspace
Genre Science Fiction
Distributed by TNT
Created by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Jesús Salvador Trevino
Produced by John Copeland
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Starring Bruce Boxleitner
Claudia Christian
Jeff Conaway
Patricia Tallman
Shari Belafonte (guest)
Joshua Cox (guest)
William Sanderson (guest)
Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter (guest)
Music by Christopher Franke
Cinematography John C. Flinn III
Editing by David W. Foster
Production company Babylonian Productions
Country United States
Language English
Original channel TNT
Release date July 19, 1998
Running time 94 minutes

Babylon 5: Thirdspace (1998) is a made-for-television film that is part of the Babylon 5 science fiction universe. It was written by J. Michael Straczynski and directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño.

The movie was originally shown on July 19, 1998 on the TNT cable network, during the run of season five (originally being shown between "Movements of Fire and Shadow" and "The Fall of Centauri Prime"). In addition to members of the regular cast of the Babylon 5 TV series, it features the notable guest-stars Shari Belafonte (playing Dr. Elizabeth Trent) and William Sanderson (reprising the role of "Deuce" that he played in the episode "Grail").

According to Straczynski,[citation needed] the film is based on the writings of H. P. Lovecraft (most noticeably, "The Call of Cthulhu"), although Lovecraft's creatures (the Old Ones) are not actually referred to by name in the film.

The action-based story, which ties into the Shadow/Vorlon plotline, centers on the return of an ancient and overwhelming alien force which had once attempted to destroy life in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Plot and theme[edit]

The film deals with an enormous artifact that is discovered in hyperspace and towed to the Babylon 5 station for investigation. The xenoarchaeology corporation Interplanetary Expeditions sends a representative, Dr. Elizabeth Trent, to take control of the artifact's examination.

The artifact begins to influence the dreams of many inhabitants of Babylon 5, eventually controlling many of them during their waking hours as well. These thralls, led by Deuce, first demand that the excavation be accelerated, and then become increasingly violent towards the rest of the Babylon 5 population. After a maintenance robot sparks a contact, the device begins drawing power from the station, causing power fluctuations.

Elizabeth Trent reveals that the artifact is a Jumpgate 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. Long ago, the Thirdspace 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 then telepathically informs John Sheridan how to deactivate the gate.

When 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; the Thirdspace fleet is so advanced that the single-occupant fighters possess deflector shield technology, making them extremely hard to destroy. The violent behavior of the individuals under the artifact's control is intended to disrupt the station's defenses. The struggle is ended when Sheridan enters the artifact via flight suit to plant and later detonate a thermonuclear device, 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. Trent, shaken by the way in which the artifact affected her, turns over her final report and goes on an indefinite hiatus.

Sheridan and the others 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.

The central theme of Thirdspace is hubris.[citation needed] The artifact was created because of the Vorlons' belief that they were equal in power to the gods, perhaps[weasel words] 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.[original research?]

Story arc significance and continuity[edit]

Babylon 5 TV seasons and films
1993–2007

In order of series chronology:
2245–48 • In the Beginning (1st film)*
2256 • Babylon 5 station commissioned
2257 • The Gathering (Pilot)
2258 • Signs and Portents (Season 1)
2259 • The Coming of Shadows (Season 2)
2260 • Point of No Return (Season 3)
2261 • No Surrender, No Retreat (Season 4)**
2261 • Thirdspace (2nd film)***
2262 • The Wheel of Fire (Season 5)
2263 • The River of Souls (3rd film)
2265 • The Legend of the Rangers (5th film)
2266 • A Call to Arms (4th film)
2267 • Crusade (spin-off series)
2271 • The Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark
2278 • In the Beginning (1st film)*
2281 • Babylon 5 station decommissioned

* The framing story is set in 2278.
** The final episode of the season includes scenes of future events up to 3262 and beyond.
*** The story is set between the two wars in season 4.
The final episode of series is set in 2281.

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 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.[1]

In the season 5 episode "The Fall of Centauri Prime", Delenn (while talking to Lennier about themselves drifting in hyperspace) appears to refer obliquely to the events of this film by pondering, "Who knows what's out there; maybe we'll find a million-year-old jumpgate left over by the First Ones."

The fictional artifact was designed by science fiction and fantasy artist Wayne Barlowe after the script was written. In the novelization, the description of the artifact does not match what appears in the film. Most notably, the artifact in the novel formed into a jump gate that was larger than the station when it became operational. In the film, however, it rearranged itself and actually decreased in size.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grimm, Steven (February 12, 2005). "Guide Page: 'Thirdspace'". The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5. Sunnyvale, CA: Midwinter Software. pp. "Episode List" section. Archived from the original on 28 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 

External links[edit]