In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum

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"In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum"
Babylon 5 episode
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 16
Directed byDavid J. Eagle
Written byJ. Michael Straczynski
Production code217
Original air dateMay 10, 1995
Guest appearance(s)

Jeff Conaway (Zack Allan)
Alex Hyde-White (Pierce Macabee)
Ed Wasser (Morden)

Episode chronology
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"And Now For a Word"
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List of Babylon 5 episodes

"In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum" is an episode from the second season of the science fiction television series Babylon 5.


Babylon 5 continues to serve as a hub to evacuate Narn citizens from worlds under attack by the Centauri, sending the healthy off to the Narn homeworld, but also treating the wounded, creating crowded conditions within medbay and stressing Dr. Franklin and other medical personnel. Ivanova, seeing Franklin trying to stay awake through the use of stims, orders him to take bed rest and nourishment, allowing his staff to handle medbay duties. Some of the station's staff, including Talia Winters, become involved with the voluntary "Nightwatch" vigilante program promoted by EarthGov to help improve security on the station.

Vir Cotto meets with Morden in lieu of Ambassador Mollari, Vir expresses his discontent of Morden's presence, hoping that Morden's "associates" can arrange to have his head impaled on a pike so that Vir can wave at it later. However, Vir does agree to take a data crystal to Mollari when he returns.

Captain Sheridan is going through his wife Anna's old belongings when Garibaldi arrives to talk to him about the Narn situation. Their discussion turns to Anne's death in the apparent destruction of the Icarus, along with the rest of the crew, but as they go through the ship's personnel, Garibaldi recognizes a face: Morden. Knowing that Morden is still on the station, Sheridan has security watch all points of departure, and they capture Morden after he completes his business with Vir. Sheridan begins to interrogate Morden, demanding to know how he survived the Icarus' destruction and what happened to Anna. Morden is vague and avoids most of the questions. Garibaldi pulls Sheridan aside, reminding him that unless he can charge Morden with a crime, it is against Earth law to hold him. Sheridan refuses to let Morden go until he gets answers, and Garibaldi resigns his post, not wanting to be part of this. Sheridan assigns Zack to stand in Garibaldi's place.

Word of Morden's detainment spreads on the station. Vir, speaking for Mollari, asserts that Morden is a guest of the Centauri empire and thus must be released under diplomatic immunity, but Sheridan refuses. Both Ivanova and Franklin also caution Sheridan about his thirst for information. Desperate, Sheridan calls for help from Talia, arranging for an incidental meeting between her and Morden to give him time to briefly scan Morden telepathically, but even the brief contact causes her anguish and pain. Sheridan makes sure Talia is otherwise fine, but as he leaves medbay, he is approached by Ambassadors Delenn and Kosh, who warn him he must release Morden immediately, and offer him to tell him the reasons for this.

In private, Delenn explains that eons ago, elder races of beings, known now as the First Ones, roamed the galaxy, helping out the younger races before deciding to go "beyond the rim". During their presence, they have united the younger races to fight against a race known as the Shadows, who seek to bring destruction across the universe. Once defeated the Shadows have always retreated and waited for the next best moment to attack, which is coming soon, as the Shadows were awakened by the arrival of the Icarus on the planet Z'ha'dum, the Shadows killing any of its crew that did not agree to become their agents, like Morden. The last Shadow war was over a thousand years prior, when some of the First Ones remained, but since then, only the Vorlons remain of the First Ones, leaving the younger races to fend for themselves. Delenn asserts that they must work quietly and secretly against the Shadows to give themselves time to prepare, and stresses the need to release Morden to avoid giving the Shadows a reason to attack.

Sheridan takes this all in while talking to Zack in the security center. He frets over his decision, comparing it to the Coventry myth; while they have knowledge that they could take action on to prevent the loss of innocent lives and potentially future attacks, taking that action would tip their hand to the enemy. Further, Sheridan finds himself in a situation similar to Zeno's paradox, that the closer he gets to the truth, the more he finds he needs to learn. Suddenly, Sheridan hears a noise from Morden's cell camera feed, and has Zak manipulate the visual frequencies of the camera. Sheridan briefly sees images of insect-like creatures in the room with Morden but they quickly disappear. After a moment, Sheridan tells Zak to let Morden go.

Sheridan apologizes to his staff about his actions, and Garibaldi returns to his position. Sheridan goes to ask Kosh to teach him how to fight the Shadows, asserting he will use that information to go to Z'ha'dum to find Anna, believing her to still be alive. Kosh warns him "If you go to Z'ha'dum, you will die."

Arc significance[edit]

  • Vir reveals his desire to see Morden beheaded:
  • The history of the war between the Shadows and the other races, including the First Ones, is described for the first time.
  • This episode establishes Morden's relationship to Anna Sheridan.
  • This is the first episode where Franklin states he's taking stims, foreshadowing his future abuse.
  • Franklin reveals himself to be a Foundationist, a religion founded just after humans first went into space.
  • The first mention of the Nightwatch.
  • The Vorlons are revealed as being one of the First Ones.
  • Z'ha'dum is revealed to be the home of the Shadows.
  • This episode establishes Sheridan's relationship with Delenn.
  • The question that Delenn asked in Season 1 to which she was simply given the answer 'yes' was 'Have the Shadows returned to Z'ha'dum'?

Production details[edit]

This episode was originally intended to air after "Knives", rather than before, with Sheridan's hallucination of the Icarus in that episode serving as a reminder to the audience of his wife's fate before more details were revealed in this episode.[1]

Cultural references[edit]


External links[edit]