Sleeping in Light
|"Sleeping in Light"|
|Babylon 5 episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||J. Michael Straczynski|
|Written by||J. Michael Straczynski|
|Original air date||25 November 1998|
The final episode of Babylon 5 starts without opening credits, beginning instead with a narration by Michael Garibaldi.
"The Interstellar Alliance, based on the homeworld of the Minbari Federation, was founded in the Earth year 2261, shortly after the end of the Shadow War, twenty years ago. Twenty years of history. Those of us who have survived have seen it all. And those of us who understand, have been waiting, and dreading, the arrival of this day..."
Twenty years have passed since the end of the Shadow War and Sheridan's death (and resurrection) at Z'ha'dum. Now, Sheridan realizes that his life is approaching its end, after several nights of the same dream wherein he sees a reprise of Lorien explaining that he can only extend Sheridan's life for 20 years, but no longer.
Hoping to enjoy the company of his old friends one last time, Sheridan dispatches Rangers with messages. As each Ranger delivers his message to the widely dispersed friends, we get a glimpse into the lives these people have led since they left B5. Michael Garibaldi is the head of the Edgars-Garibaldi corporation, Dr. Stephen Franklin is the head of xenobiological research on Earth, Ivanova is now a General with Earthforce, and Vir Cotto is Emperor of the Centauri. As each receives his or her invitation to dinner, none needs to ask why. They all knew this day would come.
The group arrives on Minbar, and they have one last meal together as they laugh and reminisce about their experiences. Sheridan gives a toast to all those who have died: "To absent friends — in memory still bright." Garibaldi remembers G'Kar, Vir remembers Londo, Delenn remembers Lennier, and Franklin and Ivanova remember Marcus. They later spend the evening together in the garden. Ivanova finds she is unable to stay, and leaves to go to bed by herself. Delenn follows her, and in her capacity as President of the Interstellar Alliance asks Ivanova to assume the leadership of the Rangers after Sheridan dies. Ivanova is dissatisfied with her role in Earthforce, feeling that she is little more than "an old war horse, trotted out after a parade so all the kids can point at it." She tells Delenn that she will consider her offer.
Sheridan and Delenn spend one final night together. Sheridan decides to leave Minbar, and as the next day is Sunday on the Earth calendar, to go for "a Sunday drive" in space. He doesn't want to die on Minbar, but in space and feels that doing so would be an important symbol to the Alliance. The next morning, Sheridan dresses in his old Army of Light uniform and prepares to depart Minbar before anyone else awakes, but runs into a formally dressed Delenn. She tells him that "it's a beautiful day, the perfect day for a Sunday drive" and, barely holding back emotion, tells him that if he is going to leave he must do so now. They tearfully embrace one final time and say their farewells (the Minbari having no word in their language for "goodbye"), and Sheridan departs.
Sheridan first goes to Babylon 5. There he learns from Zack Allen that the Earth Alliance is preparing to shut down and scuttle the station since the avenues of trade and diplomacy have largely bypassed the aging, off-the-beaten-path station. Zack has come out of retirement to serve on Babylon 5 leading up to the shut-down, which is why he missed his invitation to Minbar. Sheridan notes that he and Babylon 5 are inextricably linked even now, and begins to feel his body shutting down. He tells Zack that he won't be able to stay for the decommissioning ceremony, and announces that he will visit the Coriana system, thus fulfilling the request relayed to him from Vorlon Ambassador Kosh during the Day of the Dead: "When the long night comes, return to the end of the beginning."
When Sheridan arrives at the Coriana system, he is very tired, and he knows the end is near. The computer warns him that his life signs are fading, and Sheridan tells the computer to shut down. As the ship shuts down, Lorien appears to Sheridan and tells him that the First Ones have not forgotten him, and that they have been waiting for him beyond the rim of the galaxy. Sheridan asks if he can come back, but Lorien tells him that his old life is over and that it is time to start a new journey. The cabin of the ship fills with light. Ivanova narrates: "An expedition to Coriana space found Sheridan's ship a few days later, but they never found him. All the airlocks were sealed, but there was no trace of him inside. Some of the Minbari believe he'll come back some day, but I never saw him again in my lifetime."
Ivanova, Garibaldi, Franklin, Delenn, Vir, and Zack attend the decommissioning ceremony, taking one last look around the station before departing on the final shuttle against an honor guard of ships from member worlds of the Alliance. The final shutdowns are completed as a maintenance worker (played as a cameo appearance by creator of Babylon 5, and writer and director of this episode, J. Michael Straczynski) shuts down the system and the fusion reactors are set to overload. Babylon 5's existence ends in fire, as was prophesied.
Garibaldi returns to his life on Mars, Ivanova becomes head of the Rangers, and Zack Allen becomes a Ranger and a diplomat working with Vir on Centauri Prime. Ivanova gives the final narration: "Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future, and it changed us. It taught us that we had to create the future, or others will do it for us. It showed us that we have to care for each other, because if we don't, who will? And that true strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely places. Mostly, though, I think it gave us hope that there can always be new beginnings, even for people like us. As for Delenn, every morning for as long as she lived, Delenn got up before dawn and watched the sun come up."
The end credits of the episode are played as if the series was a documentary created by Interstellar Network News: "And now, for those of you that have been archiving this ISN Special Documentary, the people responsible." Then follows a rapidly flashed montage of the crew and production staff of the series, concluding with the final line: "Funding for this program was made possible by grants from the Anla'shok Memorial Fund."
This episode takes place in the year 2281, 19 years after the events depicted in the fifth season of the series. At the beginning of the fourth season, Sheridan was saved by Lorien when he went to Z'ha'dum. But as a consequence, Sheridan would only have an additional twenty years left to live.
It appears that Centauri Prime has been liberated, and at least on speaking terms with the Intersellar Alliance. Londo and G'Kar presumably have died at each other's hands as foreseen in the earlier two-part episode "War Without End".
The Babylon 5 station ends "in fire" as has been predicted by visions several times in the series: decommissioned and destroyed by Earth Force as a hazard to navigation, but having succeeded in its mission.
- This episode was actually filmed at the end of the fourth season. Because of uncertainty whether or not there would be a fifth season, the story was written to play as either the fourth or fifth season finale. When it was confirmed that TNT had picked up the show for the fifth season, the first show for season five, "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", was filmed and replaced "Sleeping in Light" as the fourth season finale. J. Michael Straczynski stated that the finished episode was never marked as complete and handed over to the studio for fear that it would leak at some point in the year before it would be shown.
- This episode is the only one of the series which was directed by the creator of Babylon 5 (J. Michael Straczynski), in which he also made a cameo appearance (as the maintenance tech who shuts down the lights on the station).
- The title sequence for this episode appears at the very end, and shows the characters in their earliest and latest chronological appearances (excluding The Gathering, in which prosthetics and costumes were markedly different than they were in the series as well as TV-movies and flashbacks to the Earth-Minbari War). It also includes pictures of others not normally included, such as the crew and production staff (the end of the episode features a rapidly flashed montage of pictures of the staff). Because the episode was filmed at the end of season 4, the sequence reflects the season 4 cast; Marcus and Ivanova are both included while Lochley is missing.
- The 1996 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, won by "The Coming of Shadows", was used as a prop in Ivanova's office.