Points of Departure (Babylon 5)

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"Points of Departure"
Babylon 5 episode
B5 Points of Departure 1.jpg
Sheridan Arrives
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 1
Directed by Janet Greek
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Production code 201
Original air date 2 November 1994
Guest appearance(s)

Richard Grove (Kalain)
Robin Sachs (Hedronn)
Robert Foxworth (General William Hague)

Episode chronology
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List of Babylon 5 episodes

"Points of Departure" is the first episode of the second season of the science fiction television series Babylon 5. It first aired on November 2, 1994.[1] The DVD brochure included with season two teases the episode by saying "New station chief Capt. John Sheridan is tested by a warship leader (Richard Grove) who wants to goad him into initiating a battle so that Minbari forces can justify a counterattack on Babylon 5."[2]

The A.V. Club argues that "if you want to understand Babylon 5's place in television history, you can grasp a lot in just the first few minutes of 'Points of Departure.'"[3] One reason for this is because the show had just "replaced its protagonist and hero," something shows would no longer consider doing.[3] According to The A.V. Club, a change made in the season two title credits, the additional line "The year the Great War came upon us all," is "a big promise to make... a huge change in the status quo, and television of the era didn't really go for huge changes to the status quo."[3] About this episode, Geek.com writes that "things have changed quite a bit, and trust me: they won't ever be the same again."[4]


Earth Alliance Destroyer EAS Agamemnon is seen orbiting an unspecified planet. Captain John Sheridan is heard informing an unspecified party that if they have any further trouble with hijackers to contact him and he will handle the situation. Sheridan then receives an incoming message from General William Hague, the Chairman of the EarthForce Joint Chiefs of Staff informing him of sightings of a renegade Minbari warcruiser, the Trigati, and orders for "one other mission."

In a voice-over we learn that Lieutenant Commander Ivanova is temporarily in command of Babylon 5 and that Jeffrey Sinclair, the Commander of Babylon 5, had been recalled to Earth 8 days earlier. The events from the last episode of season one are recounted.

Ivanova then receives a message from Hague. He informs her that Sinclair is being reassigned permanently, as the new Earth Ambassador to Minbar, the Minbari homeworld - the first human allowed to live there. Sheridan has been appointed as the new commanding officer of Babylon 5.

After his arrival, Ivanova gives Sheridan a tour of the station; he appears excited about his new command.

Sheridan soon learns that the Trigati has been sighted in hyperspace near the station. The Trigati had participated in the historic Battle of the Line, the final battle of the Earth-Minbari War ten years earlier. When the Grey Council suddenly gave the order to surrender when the Minbari were on the verge of total victory, the Trigati had refused to surrender. Instead, the warship had gone into exile and had spent the years since the war roaming the galaxy. Sheridan believes that the re-appearance of the Trigati is a bad sign, especially since the Minbari still resent him as the "Starkiller", the human who destroyed their flagship, the Black Star, during the war. Sheridan believes that the Trigati may attack the Babylon 5 station in revenge for him being named the new commander.

The Trigati commander Kalain is arrested while apparently trying to kill Delenn. The Trigati soon exits hyperspace, approaches Babylon 5, and launches fighters. Babylon 5 activates defenses and launches fighters, but Sheridan has doubts as to whether the Trigati really intends to attack. He is suspicious because during the Earth-Minbari War the Minbari ships used stealth technology which made their ships impossible to detect on targeting sensors, yet the Babylon 5 sensors can target both the Trigati and her fighters. Kalain commits suicide in his jail cell. Sheridan realizes that the Minbari ship is trying to make it look as if the humans provoked an attack, so they can start the Earth-Minbari War again and die with honor. Sheridan tells Ivanova to send a signal via laser beam into hyperspace; the signal alerts another Minbari warcruiser, which exits hyperspace and orders the Trigati to surrender. The second Minbari cruiser fires a beam which destroys the Trigati's engines. Unable to escape, the Trigati destroys itself rather than surrender. Sheridan thanks the commander of the second Minbari cruiser for their help, but the Minbari commander tells him that the Trigati's destruction is a "dark day."

As the episode ends, Sheridan finally gets to give his standard welcoming speech after assuming a new command. However, since the dome is on standby,[5] no one is present in Command and Control (C&C) to hear it.




Arc significance[edit]

  • Sinclair, the commander of Babylon 5 during the first season, is transferred to Minbar as Earth Ambassador. His story is continued in a series of comics and the novel Babylon 5: To Dream in the City of Sorrows. He is also seen again in the second and third seasons.
  • Captain John Sheridan assumes command of Babylon 5. We learn that the Minbari still resent him because of his victory over them in the Earth-Minbari War and protested his command assignment to the station they helped fund.
  • The Minbari Grey Council chose to surrender at the Battle of the Line because, after capturing Sinclair during the battle and examining him, they learned that he was carrying a Minbari soul. The Grey Council then learned that Minbari souls were being reborn into human bodies. Since Minbari do not kill one another, they chose to surrender rather than continue to kill their own souls. However, believing that neither the warrior caste nor humans would accept the truth, they had chosen to keep this fact from both groups.
  • Sheridan was President Santiago's second choice to command Babylon 5 after Sinclair. The new President, Morgan Clark, likes him because he believes he will be tougher in dealing with alien races on the station than Sinclair was.
  • The Grey Council's order to surrender at the Battle of the Line was bitterly opposed by much of the warrior caste. This has led to a growing rift between the religious and warrior castes in Minbari society. The rift will eventually lead to a civil war on Minbar in the fourth season.
  • Delenn did not consult with the Grey Council about her transformation, and they do not approve of her decision.

Historical references[edit]

  • The Earthforce Alliance personnel only lounge is called Earhart's after famous female aviator Amelia Earhart.[6]
  • The ship John Sheridan begins the episode in command of is called the Agamemnon, which was also the name of several ships in the British Royal Navy.[6]
  • In his "lucky speech," Sheridan quotes from Abraham Lincoln, who was president during the American Civil War.[6] The quotation is: "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. We cannot escape history. We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial though which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the last generation. We shall nobly save or meanly lose our last, best hope of Earth."[7]

Production details[edit]

  • "Points of Departure" was originally titled "Chrysalis, Part Two."[8]
  • In 2013, series creator and writer J. Michael Straczynski revealed that the reason Jeffrey Sinclair left the show is because actor Michael O'Hare "suffered from delusions and paranoia due to mental illness."[9] Straczynski's remarks indicated that "the most important truth of O'Hare's struggle with mental illness is that he loved the fans, that they were what sustained him during the difficult times in his life."[9]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Points of Departure". Internet Movie Database. IMDB. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Babylon 5: The Complete Second Season: The Coming of Shadows (2003 ed.). Warner Home Video. p. 3. 
  3. ^ a b c Kaiser, Rowan (8 March 2013). "Babylon 5: Points of Departure / Revelations". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Templeton, Graham (16 January 2015). "Babylon 5 condensed: How to watch sci-fi's most intimidating masterpiece". Geek.com. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  5. ^ http://jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-8503&query=36
  6. ^ a b c "Lurker's Guide Page: "Points of Departure"". The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  7. ^ "Character Quotations John Sheridan". IMDB. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  8. ^ http://jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-8969&query=Chrysalis,%20Part%20Two
  9. ^ a b Roth, Dany (28 May 2013). "Straczynski reveals moving story of why Michael O'Hare left Babylon 5". Blastr. Retrieved 2 August 2015.