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|Babylon 5 episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Adam Nimoy|
|Written by||J. Michael Straczynski|
|Original air date||September 22, 1996
October 28, 1996 (US)
Aboard Babylon 5, John Sheridan and Delenn are shocked by the appearance of Sheridan's wife, Anna, believing her to have died on the Shadow homeworld, Z'ha'dum. Anna, aware of the conflict with the Shadows, allows herself to be submitted to medical tests to prove her identity, as she wants to have Sheridan return with her to Z'ha'dum. Dr. Franklin verifies she is Anna, but is unable to explain the presence of epidermal scarring. Privately, Delenn tells Sheridan that she knew Anna was still alive, but could not tell Sheridan as he would risk his life to save her; Sheridan doubts if he can trust Delenn again but she admits she still loves him.
Meanwhile, Ivanova prepares the station for potential conflict, and G'Kar offers a supply of thermal fusion weapons stashed aboard the station that can be used to take out Shadow vessels when they come out of hyperspace. Elsewhere, Londo tells Vir that he has been promoted to an adviser of the Centauri Empire, which he considers as punishment to allow his actions to be more closely monitored. A human tells Londo that they share a common friend and that if he values his life, he will leave the station; both Londo and Vir agree this "friend" is Morden, a human working for the Shadows.
Sheridan approaches Anna and tries to learn more, agreeing to go to Z'ha'dum if she explains how she ended up there. Anna recounts that she had been invited by Dr. Chang of Interplanetary Expeditions (IPX) to board the Icarus and study an ancient civilization on a planet near the Rim discovered by one of their probes. She later learned that Dr. Chang lied; IPX had previously discovered an alien ship buried on Mars and activated it. They feared that the owning species would come for it, so they equipped it with a tracking device. As expected, the ship was unearthed days later by an unknown species, and was traced to this planet: Z'ha'dum. There, they traced an energy source to the center of the planet, where they met the Shadows. Though most of the Icarus crew was destroyed by an apparent accident, Anna and the other survivors were offered a chance to stay alive and study the advanced technology in exchange for remaining quiet about their discovery.
Sheridan secretly arranges for their departure, and has a Minbari White Star currently orbiting the station evacuated under the pretense of a security check by Garibaldi. While packing, Sheridan sees Ambassador Kosh appear in a mirror, warning him that if he goes to Z'ha'dum, he will die. Sheridan records a message to Delenn to be delivered several hours later, and then he and Anna quietly depart in the empty White Star to Z'ha'dum.
They take a shuttle to the planet's surface, and Anna leads them to a room where two humans wait for them: an older gentlemen named Justin and Morden. Justin explains that the Shadows and the Vorlons are the last two of the elder races that remain in this area of space, watching over the younger races. The Vorlons believed that maintaining order was necessary to guide these races, while the Shadows felt conflict was required. This led to a long ongoing conflict, with both sides enlisting the help of other races to try to gain victory. Both the Vorlons and Shadows see Sheridan as a "nexus" in the conflict, and Morden asserts that since Sheridan has opted to side with the Vorlons, he must either willingly join with the Shadows or will be forcibly taken. Sheridan demands to know if Anna had the same choice, and Morden reveals she did resist, and was forced to pilot a Shadow vessel, creating the scarring they observed, until the Shadows recognized her value to Sheridan. As Shadows enter the room and converge on him, Sheridan runs and eludes them.
At the same time, Delenn receives Sheridan's message, which tells her that he knows that going to Z'ha'dum is likely a trap, but he feels that it may help prevent the dismal future he had witnessed if the Shadows won. The message ends with Sheridan telling Delenn he loves her; Delenn collapses and cries as the message ends.
Ivanova and the station crew discover that several Shadow ships are suddenly converging on the station; she orders the station fighters, including Garibaldi, to scramble but not fire as the Shadow ships have not engaged either. Ivanova contacts G'kar, issuing the orders to prepare the thermal fusion devices but learns that two have gone missing.
On Z'ha'dum, Sheridan is chased by Anna and the Shadows into a large room with a skylight and a balcony overlooking an abyss. He sends a remote command to the White Star, causing it to start a crash course with the planet, and arms the two thermal fusion devices he had brought aboard. Just as the ship is about to crash, Sheridan hears Kosh's voice in his head, telling him to "jump now". Sheridan jumps over the balcony into the abyss as the ship collides with the skylight, engulfing the complex in a massive explosion.
The Shadow ships around Babylon 5 suddenly depart. Garibaldi and his fighter go missing. As the remaining crew ponder why the Shadows left, Ivanova realizes that Sheridan is gone.
Rowan Kaiser of the A.V. Club praised the episode as one of Babylon 5's strongest. Kaiser particularly stressed the characterization of Sheridan in the episode, helping to give his character meaning that had otherwise been absent or vague in previous episodes. Io9 included "Z'ha'dum" as one of the best season cliffhangers in television in a 2012 list, setting up events in the show's fourth season that are considered the show's "meat".
- "Babylon 5: “Z’ha’dum”". A.V. Club. September 6, 2013. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
- Anders, Charlie Jane (June 19, 2012). "Season-ending TV cliffhangers that actually paid off". Io9. Retrieved November 24, 2015.