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|Babylon 5 character|
|First appearance||A Voice in the Wilderness|
|Last appearance||Voices of Authority|
|Portrayed by||Louis Turenne (A Voice in the Wilderness)
John Schuck (All subsequent appearances)
|Affiliated with||Great Machine|
In his first appearance in A Voice in the Wilderness, Draal was played by Louis Turenne. Feeling that he had no place in modern Minbari society, he set out to visit his former student Delenn on Babylon 5 one final time before leaving to go "to the sea." During his visitation, the planet Epsilon III was experiencing geological instability, which threatened the orbital trajectory of the space station. It was discovered shortly thereafter that the planet housed a massive, globe-spanning mechanical system called the Great Machine, which was failing due to the terminal health of its supervisor, a lone alien named Varn. Because the Great Machine required a sentient mind to function as its central operating system, Varn's declining health was causing systematic failures that threatened the planet's integrity. Draal, reinvigorated by a sense of purpose and the opportunity to assist others in a way he no longer could on Minbar, gladly and willingly offered to take Varn's place as the custodian of the Great Machine. He then utilized the planet's defenses to destroy the violent separatists of Varn's species who had returned to take back its weapon systems.
Once in place, Draal's presence restored the planet to a stable condition and warned all of Babylon 5 station personnel to refrain from landing on the surface; he intended to preserve Varn's mission to protect the advanced technology from misuse, and thus, barred anyone from journeying to the planet until they were ready. Draal indicated that the machine had a role to fill in some future event, and that he would come to them when ready.
Involvement in the Shadow War
The next year, Draal appeared to Captain John Sheridan and put the Great Machine at the disposal of Sheridan and his allies in the fight against the Shadows. Louis Turenne was unable to reprise the role of Draal, so John Schuck was selected to play the role of Draal. The difference in appearance between the two men was explained by having the Great Machine restore Draal's health and appearance, making him appear 30 years younger. In the meantime Draal had discovered that he was not alone on the planet, that there were others there who helped take care of the Great Machine, one of them a being named Zathras.
Draal would appear again in the episode Voices of Authority, again played by Schuck. This time he helped the crew of Babylon 5 make contact with an ancient race considered to be one of the First Ones. While interfaced with Draal's computer, Susan Ivanova found the evidence in the Great Machine that President Morgan Clark had indeed orchestrated the assassination of President Luis Santiago.
After this appearance, Draal was mentioned from time to time in other episodes, but made no further appearances in the series. Schuck became unavailable due to commitments to a play, and producers did not want to cast a third actor for the role. J. Michael Straczynski has stated that he had other plans for the character, including an appearance in the first part of War Without End.
When Babylon 5 declared independence from the Earth Alliance in the episode Severed Dreams, the crew used Draal's holographic systems to allow Sheridan to broadcast the declaration to residents and crew on board the station. Ivanova asked Sheridan if they should seek Draal's help in defending the station. Sheridan said it was their fight, not his, and that he wanted to keep Draal's alliance with the station a secret as long as possible.
Later that year Draal used the Great Machine to expand the temporal rift in sector 14, where the Babylon 4 station had been. Doing so allowed John Sheridan and Jeffrey Sinclair to take the White Star back in time, and ensure that Babylon 4 entered the temporal rift and wound up 1,000 years in the past as was its destiny. Sinclair rode the station into the past, and became the Minbari leader Valen. Once Sheridan and the White Star arrived back in the present, Draal closed the rift so that no one else would become trapped in there.
After the Vorlons and the Shadows left the galaxy, President Morgan Clark began a propaganda war against Babylon 5 and its crew. In order to counter this propaganda, Sheridan and Ivanova decided to broadcast their own reports on the atrocities of the Clark regime from the station's War Room. Because of the great distance from Babylon 5 to Earth, Ivanova enlists the assistance of Draal and the Great Machine to provide the massive power needed to enhance the broadcast signal across the divide.