A Voice in the Wilderness (Babylon 5)

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"A Voice in the Wilderness"
Babylon 5 episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 18 & 19
Directed by Janet Greek
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Production code 120 & 121
Original air date July 27, 1994 (part 1)
August 3, 1994 (part 2)
Guest appearance(s)

Louis Turenne (Draal)
Curt Lowens (Varn)
Ron Canada (Captain Ellis Pierce, part 2 only)
Denise Gentile (Lise Hampton, part 2 only)
Aki Aleong (Senator Hidoshi, part 2 only)

Episode chronology
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"Babylon Squared"
List of Babylon 5 episodes

"A Voice in the Wilderness" is a two-part episode from the first season (episodes 18 and 19) of the science fiction television series Babylon 5.


Part One[edit]

A Minbari comes aboard Babylon 5 and asks a guard to take him to Ambassador Delenn.

Lt. Commander Ivanova tells Commander Sinclair that there has been some seismic activity on Epsilon III, the planet above which the station orbits. She has authorized a geological team to take a shuttle down to the planet and to investigate the seismic eruptions. As the ship nears the atmosphere, a powerful beam from the planet shoots out towards space. The beam knocks out a considerable amount of power from the shuttle and blanks out the controls on the station. The shuttle has fallen towards the planet, but has enough power to maintain a low orbit, not enough to escape. Ivanova sends two Starfuries to tow the shuttle back to the station.

In the conference room, Sinclair is mediating negotiations between Ambassadors Delenn and Mollari when the incident with the shuttle occurs. Ivanova tells him that everyone is all right, but shaken. When the geological team returns to Babylon 5, Ivanova meets with the head researcher, Dr. Tasaki, to find out what happened earlier. The doctor believes that the planet is uninhabited, which was the earlier belief, and that the seismic eruptions must have triggered an automatic defense mechanism.

Ivanova informs Sinclair that the signal coming from the planet has diminished a little. It's a series of regular signals repeated at specific intervals, but they are unable to decipher them. Sinclair thinks that Tasaki's team should have a means to make sure that the team gets down to the planet safely.

Ivanova asks the Commander if he had heard anything from the Mars Colony. Usually, there's something about the colony in the EarthForce status reports, but the latest report does not mention anything, which usually means that they are conducting military exercises, but they would have known about that. Sinclair believes the lack of a report is nothing but "a glitch in the system."

Delenn meets the Minbari from the beginning of the episode. It is Draal, Delenn's old mentor and friend. She is surprised at his sudden arrival on the station.

Sinclair is in his quarters watching the news when he finds out that there are riots going on in the Mars Colony, which have cut off all communications to the planet. The Martians are in an open revolt against the Earth-appointed provisional government. Fighting on the planet is intense and casualties are believed to be in the hundreds or higher. The insurgents who are carrying out the revolt say Mars will be free or "the sand will run red with Earther blood."

After Sinclair turns off the monitor, he hears a voice asking for help. When he turns around, a holographic image of an alien appears with a man saying, "Help me." Sinclair blinks again, thinking it's an illusion, and then the image disappears.

The next morning, Ivanova meets Sinclair in the mess hall and they talk about the situation on Mars and about the situation on Epsilon III, with the geological team ready to launch. Sinclair is sad about the situation on Mars because he was born and grew up on Mars. Ivanova is worried about Garibaldi.

Back in Delenn's quarters, Delenn and Draal are catching up on old memories, but Delenn wants to know why Draal has come to Babylon 5. Draal confesses that he is unhappy with his life. He feels that now he has spent his life on Minbar, he wants to go to the stars and see the universe, before the end, before he "goes to the sea."

In his quarters Garibaldi is talking to an EarthForce official, and trying to get a signal to Mars. All communications to the colony are cut off, except for authorized personnel. Garibaldi is furious about it since he's a security officer with clearance ultraviolet alpha and is not considered to be authorized personnel. Garibaldi leaves his quarters trying to figure out how to get a channel to Mars.

At the docking bay, Ivanova is briefing the research team on the mission to the planet. They will provide Starfuries to escort the shuttle as it enters the planet's atmosphere and conducts a low-altitude scan of the surface of Epsilon III but not to take any risks.

Sinclair is with Ambassador Mollari, who wants to know if they find anything useful down on the planet, would they let him know. The commander refuses.

The shuttle leaves Babylon 5 and proceeds towards the planet as the Starfuries launch and provide escort.

At the departure gates Garibaldi asks Talia for help. She's reluctant at first, but after Garibaldi tells her of his life on Mars two years ago, specifically a relationship he had with Lise Hampton, she agrees to help him. Garibaldi asks her if she can get a channel to the Mars Colony through a Psi Corps research center near the colony. Talia is surprised that he knows about the classified center.

As the research team enters Epsilon III's atmosphere, the shuttle picks up three missiles coming from the planet heading towards the shuttle. Taking evasive action, the shuttle manages to dodge two of the missiles, but the third missile hits the shuttle's aft stabilizers. Three more missiles are launched towards the shuttle trying to finish them off, but Ivanova orders the Starfuries to fire towards the planet in a wide angle firing pattern to throw off the targeting systems on the missiles so that they will not be able to lock-on. Firing afterburners, the shuttle manages to get out of the atmosphere.

In a meeting with the Commander and Ivanova, Dr. Tasaki shows them that the initial scans of the planet indicated that there were no life forms or any automatic systems on the surface of the planet or up to 2 miles below the surface. The doctor then shows them an image of the planet, which shows a large crack on the surface, most likely caused by the quakes happening on the planet. Within that crack the scanners picked up a fissure, which was most likely made artificially, where the missiles had come from, 5 miles within the planet's surface, indicating that there was something very valuable down there that would require a heavy defense system. Ivanova and Sinclair agree that they should go down there themselves to see if it presents a threat to the station, or a "first contact" situation.

Londo sees something in a corridor. It's the same image that Sinclair had seen earlier, the same image asking for help.

Sinclair and Ivanova head down to the planet. After a missile attack, thwarted by Starfuries, they enter the miles-deep fissure. They come to an artificial opening and land in a landing grid.

Back on Babylon 5, Talia tries to get a relay channel established between Babylon 5 and the Mars Colony through the Psi Corps research center there, but fails to get authorization. They are willing to find out if Lise's name is on the wounded list from the Mars fighting.

On the planet, Sinclair and Ivanova find a system of tunnels that have booby traps. Once they get past the traps, they find a long bridge surrounded by machines as tall as buildings.

In Londo's quarters, Delenn introduces Mollari to Draal while taking him on a tour of the station.

Garibaldi is trying to establish a connection to the shuttle to get in touch with the Commander and find out what's happening on Epsilon III, but he is unsuccessful.

Talia tells Garibaldi that Lise's name wasn't on the survivors list, though neither the dead nor the wounded lists could be checked.

Garibaldi gets a connection to Epsilon III.

Sinclair tells Garibaldi about their discovery below the planet's surface, but seismic activity in the area causes the ceiling to cave in and prevents Sinclair and Ivanova from returning to their shuttle. They then continue the other way when they see the alien image from earlier, who points them in a certain direction. They discover a room where they see the actual alien hooked up to a machine. The alien then wakes up and tells them that if they do not help him, everyone will die.

Ivanova and Sinclair then take the alien out of the machine and to Babylon 5. As that is happening, the station picks up a ship coming through the jumpgate, "a big one". There is a look of confusion on Garibaldi's face as the episode ends.

Part Two[edit]

Part two begins with a recap of part one.

A big ship comes through the jumpgate. It is an Earth Alliance heavy cruiser.

Capt. Pierce, commanding the Earth Alliance heavy cruiser EAS Hyperion, demands to speak to Commander Sinclair.

In Medlab, Dr. Franklin has managed to stabilize the alien's condition, but does not know who or what he is.

Sinclair meets Pierce and asks the reason for his sudden arrival. Pierce tells him that he and his ship were headed to the Vegan outpost when they received orders from EarthForce Command to come to Babylon 5 on the authority of the Office of Planetary Security to assume control.

Sinclair, talking with Sen. Hidoshi, wonders if Capt. Pierce's mission goes against Sinclair's authority, solely given by the President, having final jurisdiction over the sector. Sinclair claims that unless told by the President himself, he is still in command of the sector and has final say on any matter. Hidoshi tries to compromise by getting Sinclair to share the authority with Pierce, which Sinclair strongly objects to.

Ivanova tells Sinclair that a flight of ships departed from the Hyperion were heading down to the planet below when they were attacked by the defense systems of the planet. Sinclair speaks to Pierce; he tells him that ships trying to enter the planet below would never make it unless they had an encoded jamming device. When Pierce demands that they hand it over, Sinclair tells him that it is being repaired and cuts the connection. Sinclair admits to Ivanova that they do not have a jamming device; however, the bluff will discourage Pierce from sending down any more ships to the planet for a while.

Ivanova tells Sinclair that there has been an increase in the seismic activity in the planet below. It started at the same time the Hyperion sent ships down there, but they are not natural quakes as before. They are a chain of fusion reactors inside Epsilon III that are at least 5–10 miles long, and are heading for critical mass, which will break the planet apart from the inside until it explodes.

Based on the readings, the planet's fusion reactors will hit critical in 48 hours and blow up the planet and take Babylon 5 with it. A Doomsday machine. It will take at least 3–5 days to evacuate the station. The chain reaction started after Sinclair and Ivanova brought the alien from Epsilon III; without anyone to control the machine, the system will keep running on automatic until it self-destructs. Sinclair decides to give another 12 hours to try to find a solution to the situation, but if that fails, then they will evacuate the station.

Ivanova runs into Mollari, who demands to know if the rumors that they have found someone in the planet below and brought him to Babylon 5 are true. Ivanova denies the rumors. Mollari demands to know what's really going on, and Ivanova's response is "Boom, boom boom boom, boom boom, BOOM", and leaves.

In Medlab, it seems the alien from the planet below is in pain. As Delenn and Draal are walking toward Delenn's quarters, Draal hears a voice calling his name and proceeds with Delenn to follow the voice and find out where it is coming from.

In Garibaldi's quarters, Sinclair speaks to Garibaldi about three things. 1) Sinclair admonishes Garibaldi about the "incident in the Zocalo" where he roughed up someone who was enthusiastic about killing Martians, 2) He offers Garibaldi a clear channel to Mars, and 3) He requests that Garibaldi ensure that Ivanova leaves the station in case of evacuation.

In Medlab, Draal and Delenn see the alien in isolation, and Draal says that "he's the one" that called. They then proceed into the Isolab and the alien talks to Draal. The alien tells him that the planet will explode if anyone tries to land down on Epsilon III.

Ivanova tells Sinclair that the alien is awake and can confirm their information about the planet blowing up if anyone sends ships to the planet. She tells him that the Hyperion is preparing to send down another team to the planet—they have found out that Sinclair does not have a jamming device. Sinclair then tells Pierce not to send any ships down to the planet or it will explode, but Pierce does not believe him. Sinclair activates the station's defense grid and targets the Hyperion, which then cancels the launch of its ships.

A ship comes through the jumpgate and scans Babylon 5 and the Hyperion. They then get a message from the ship from an alien, Takarn, who looks like the same species as the alien that they found on the planet below. They are the last group of the species, had searched the galaxy for 500 years to find this planet and stake a claim to it. Takarn orders Babylon 5 and the Hyperion to surrender and to leave, or be killed, and gives them ten hours to comply. Before the station can send a reply to the aliens, the Hyperion tells the aliens that this sector is under Earth jurisdiction and that they have no right to take over the planet; they have 9 hours to withdraw.

In Medlab, Sinclair talks to the alien to find out if the planet really does belong to the new group of aliens. The alien, who gives his name as Varn, Guardian, Protector, tells them that the new group of aliens are outcasts, a violent faction of their species that were banished from their planet, and trying to claim Epsilon III as their own, which must not be allowed, and then passes out. Dr. Franklin tells Sinclair that Varn is dying, and has been for a while, which is why the station has been picking up the seismic disturbances. The more that Varn suffers, the more Epsilon III heads towards self-destruction.

Sinclair confronts Delenn and Draal, since they were in Medlab when Varn regained consciousness and spoke to Draal. Draal confirms that he and Delenn were there and that Varn spoke to him, but it was the same information that the Commander already knows. When Sinclair asks them why they were there, Draal says that Varn's spirit called to him and appeared before him, just like to Sinclair and Mollari. When Sinclair leaves, Delenn and Draal talk. Delenn knows as well as Draal what Varn meant when he talked about "another." Varn did not ask, but Draal could see it in his eyes. Just as he is talking, Londo walks into the room and believes that the three of them should talk.

Pierce tells the Commander that they have a crisis on their hands and that the aliens are jamming them, preventing them from contacting EarthCentral. Sinclair believes that there's still time to figure out a solution to the crisis, but Pierce claims that they have given an ultimatum: surrender or be destroyed, which Pierce does not plan to do at all. He's planning a preemptive strike on the aliens, but cannot succeed if Babylon 5 does not commit its forces to the battle. Sinclair agrees to help.

In the garden, Mollari, Delenn, and Draal are talking about the situation and Varn. Mollari tells them that Varn appeared to him as well, not just to Draal and Sinclair. Delenn is perplexed as to why Varn appeared only to Mollari, Draal, and Sinclair. Draal believes that it is because they are most familiar with the Third Principle of Sentient Life. He thinks that Mollari could be of great service to them. Mollari agrees. Mollari admits he realizes one of them will not return from Epsilon III, which Draal knows is certain. They decide to go together.

A Centauri ship leaves the station. Garibaldi calls and tells Ivanova that someone has grabbed Varn from Medlab by creating a diversion.

Takarn tells them that they have ignored their warnings by sending a ship down to the planet. Now, the ship is preparing to attack them. The Centauri transport is heading to Epsilon III, dodging the shots from the alien ship. Pierce tells them that the alien ship has targeted the Hyperion and is launching fighters, asking Sinclair to launch his fighters as well. Sinclair launches fighters and orders them to fire at will. As the fighters shoot at the enemy, the alien ship then splits into three parts, one for Babylon 5, one for the Hyperion, and one heading for Epsilon III. Ivanova notes that whoever is piloting the ship is "a madman." The pilot is Londo, with Draal, Delenn, and Varn in the back.

Ivanova tells Sinclair that the shuttle is about to enter the planet's atmosphere. This is where the planet's defense systems fired at them. When the shuttle goes into the atmosphere, there are no missiles fired. Garibaldi follows the Centauri transport in another ship. The Centauri transport is able to make it down to the planet untouched and heads toward the landing grid. Back above the planet, the Hyperion is moving, its forward guns ready to fire. When Garibaldi reaches the landing grid, the Centauri shuttle has already landed, with Mollari, Delenn, Draal, and Varn already heading towards the central console of the machine.

Ivanova tells Sinclair that the enemy ship is almost within the defense grid's firing range. Sinclair then orders the defense grid to target the ship and prepare to fire.

Back on Epsilon III, the group has reached the Great Machine room, and Varn seems to be adjusting the controls on the machine when Garibaldi arrives and is surprised to see them there. Mollari tells him that the situation is very bad and believes that they can help. Varn creates a pocket of air for them to breathe. Delenn says that the Machine needs a mind to run, otherwise it will destroy itself. Draal is going to take Varn's place at the heart of the Machine.

On Babylon 5, Sinclair orders the defense grid to fire at maximum range. The defense grid fires at the enemy ships, causing some damage.

Garibaldi believes that there has to be another way and will not allow Draal to go into the machine, but Draal says that there is no other way. Draal wants his life to have meaning.

With the battle raging on in space, the alien ship fires on the station and causes serious damage to its forward section. The enemy ship is powering up its weapons and preparing to fire. A large power surge comes from the planet, disabling all the weapons systems on the ships and station.

A holographic image of Draal appears and tells them that the planet belongs to none of them: it belongs only to itself, and to the future. Sinclair is told that the secrets on this planet must be kept and would give any race an advantage over all the other races. Therefore, the interest of all races is that none of them should have it. He then entrusts the safekeeping of the planet to the Babylon 5 Advisory Council and will rely upon the Commander's guidance in the enlightened self-interest of the Council to make sure that the Great Machine on Epsilon III is left alone until the time is right. If enlightened self-interest should prove insufficient to the cause, then they should understand that the defense systems on the planet below are fully operational and not to attempt to land on the planet and that any approach will be met with deadly force. When the time is right, they will be here, waiting, but not until then. The image of Draal then disappears, and the controls on Babylon 5 return to normal.

The enemy ship is still heading toward the planet. They did not listen to Draal's warning and are still bent on trying to take over the planet. As they get near, a powerful beam from the planet slices and destroys the enemy ships.

On the planet, Mollari tells Delenn that they should leave now; Garibaldi agrees with him, but Delenn does not want to go yet—she wants to have one last moment with her old teacher and friend before she leaves. Varn then tells her that he will take care of Draal in the remaining days that he has left, and will know whether the Machine has truly accepted him or not. Delenn is certain that the Machine will accept him. He tells her that like him, the Great Machine will extend Draal's life, and will see all the tomorrows, hear all the songs, and touch the edge of the universe, with just his thoughts. Delenn knows that her thoughts will always be with him and that he will hear them. She then recites the Third Principle of Sentient Life, which is its capacity for self-sacrifice, for a cause, a loved one, for a friend, and says goodbye and hopes that someday, she will see him again. They then leave and return to the station.

As the Hyperion is preparing to leave, Pierce admits to Sinclair that they received a communique from EarthDome, where President Santiago confirmed that Cmdr. Sinclair had final jurisdiction over this sector and apologizes to Sinclair if he exceeded his authority.

In his quarters, Garibaldi receives a call from Sinclair telling him that they managed to get a signal to Mars and that they have located Lise, who's alive, but injured. Lise shows up on the screen, happy to see Garibaldi, having heard that he was turning Mars upside-down looking for her. He confesses his mistakes to her. He tells her that he's got some leave coming up and wants to spend it on Mars with her, and try to fix things up between them. But Lise tells him that she's married to Franz, and that they are expecting their first baby. Garibaldi is disheartened at the news, but tells Lise that he's happy for her.

In the observation dome, Garibaldi is standing there, looking at the stars, when Delenn comes in and joins him. They both enjoy losing themselves to the stars and enjoy the peace and quiet that it brings. Garibaldi then asks Delenn why she did not tell the Commander about their plan to have someone take Varn's place at the heart of the Great Machine. She tells him that if she had gone to them, Sinclair would be the one in the machine and not Draal because she knows that Sinclair is looking for a purpose in his life, but his destiny lies elsewhere. When Garibaldi asks about Londo, Delenn tells him that she got him to go along in exchange for a return of favors, which Delenn knows she's going to have to repay. She feels that Londo has found something within him that he thought was long buried. Garibaldi says that there are some things that should be left buried and leaves, quietly wondering, "What kind of a name is Franz?" Delenn then looks out the window, and says goodnight to Draal.

Arc significance[edit]

  • Epsilon III, the planet Babylon 5 orbits, is not as dead as it appears.
  • Introduces the Great Machine.
  • Introduces the character of Draal. Louis Turenne, who plays Draal in this episode, was not available in a later episode due to health issues. In all following appearances, John Schuck plays the character, the change in appearance and mannerisms being attributed to the Great Machine restoring his youth.
  • Introduces the character of Lise Hampton, Garibaldi's old flame. She would later reappear during seasons 4 and 5.
  • The revolution on Mars begins.
  • Londo uses the favor Delenn owes him after the events of this episode to get Vir the job of Centauri Ambassador to Minbar in 2260.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]