With the other races and the Earthforce vessels that joined the insurrection behind Captain Sheridan, President Clark makes his last stand at Mars and Earth. When his fleet is disabled over Mars, he decides that if he cannot rule Earth, no one can.
- Bruce Boxleitner as Captain John Sheridan
- Claudia Christian as Commander Susan Ivanova
- Jerry Doyle as Michael Garibaldi
- Mira Furlan as Ambassador Delenn
- Richard Biggs as Dr. Stephen Franklin
- Stephen Furst as Vir Cotto
- Bill Mumy as Lennier
- Andreas Katsulas as Ambassador G'Kar
- Peter Jurasik as Ambassador Londo Mollari
- Jeff Conaway as Security Chief Zack Allan
- Jason Carter as Marcus Cole
- Patricia Tallman as Lyta Alexander
- Ungela Brockman as Earthforce NCO
- J. Patrick McCormack as General Lefcourt
- Marjorie Monaghan as Number One
- David Purdham as Captain James
- Carolyn Seymour as Senator Crosby
- Julian Stone as Captain Mitchell
- Regular characters who appear in this episode are John Sheridan, Susan Ivanova, Michael Garibaldi, Delenn, Stephen Franklin, Lennier, Marcus Cole, and Lyta Alexander.
- Ivanova has no lines, as she is comatose throughout the episode.
- Gary McGurk’s fourth, and final, appearance in the series as major antagonist, President Morgan Clark. However this would be the only one of his appearances in which he appears in person and not through some kind of communication device.
In hyperspace, the combined fleet of the Earth Alliance Resistance and its alien supporters gathers in preparation for the push to Mars. Aboard a Minbari ship, a mortally wounded Susan Ivanova lies comatose, watched over unceasingly by Marcus Cole. Delenn enters the room and informs him a transport has arrived to take her to Babylon 5, as there is no chance to treat her without its resources. Though reluctant to leave, he eventually leaves to assume his post. Delenn hesitates in leaving, as she too feels the shock of probably losing such a close friend as Ivanova.
On Mars, Dr. Stephen Franklin records a log:
- "November 1st, 2261, Doctor's Personal Log – We're ready. We're starting the final strike to free Earth and Mars. I don't know if this is gonna work, but it's gonna be one hell of a fight either way."
He and Lyta Alexander have been coordinating with Number One and the Mars Resistance in their part of the upcoming battle. Among one of the more unusual things being done is the transport of some 30 coffin-sized cases with the telepaths altered by the Shadows. With the help of an insider named Kelley, they are being transported into the Earthforce ships that are loyal to President Morgan Clark, one to each. Kelley (and Number One) are puzzled as to why they are transporting people in cryo units, and Franklin explains they are a way around the loyalists detecting weapons and that their effectiveness will be revealed soon.
A little later, on the Martian surface, they link up with Michael Garibaldi who was scouting ahead. Using code names based upon Snow White, he orders strike teams to advance on three ground stations surrounding the spaceport while his group advances on a fourth. Meanwhile, shuttles commence delivering final provisions (including the cryo pods) to the loyalists in orbit.
At Ground Station Alpha, Earthforce soldiers keep a cautious watch. They know something is coming and are figuring the Mars Resistance to play a role. The station commander tries to contact Station Bravo but does not get a reply. Before he can wonder what is happening, one of the officers puts on a breather and draws a PPG on him. At the same instant, the exterior door bursts open. After a brief fistfight, Garibaldi and his strike team subdue the remaining officers, give them breathers, throw them outside, and secure the door behind them. The insider compliments Garibaldi on their efficiency. With luck, the other teams achieved similar success, meaning they effectively control the spaceport perimeter and the base itself does not know. Once the base re-pressurizes and the door controls removed to prevent enemy re-entry, everyone removes their breathers.Garibaldi observes the last of the shuttles depart the spaceport, meaning they will deliver their cargo to the destroyers in forty-five minutes. With a timeframe established, Franklin and Alexander make preparations. Franklin removes a strange piece of headgear and puts it on Alexander.
- "We're one jump from more trouble that most of you have seen during your years in Earthforce. It is my supreme hope that, in all the years after this, we may never see a day like this again."
He contacts the rest of the fleet and relays the battle plan. The first objective is to neutralize Mars so as not to be flanked. Then they will move for Earth. To maintain the "clean fight," the White Star fleet (all with human commanding officers) and the Resistance destroyers will carry out the fighting. The alien supporters will maintain a support role: acting only defensively. After ordering the fleet to await further orders, he disconnects everyone but Cole. He will lead the advance strike as soon as Garibaldi relays some necessary information.
In Mars orbit, the last of the Clark loyalist fleet assemble for a last stand and receive shipments from planetside. The fleet flagship is the EAS Apollo, commanded by General Robert Lefcourt, an old instructor of Sheridan's and a firm believer in the supreme authority of the law, no matter who is in charge. All the loyalist ships have had their IFF systems updated to recognize Resistance destroyers as foes, and deadly force is authorized. The force of 35 destroyers assembles, waiting for the battle to begin.
The headpiece Franklin is applying on Alexander is a psionic amplifier. She is about to engage in a very long-range telepathic scan, and even with help from the amplifier, she needs to be outside to get enough reach. Meanwhile, Garibaldi uploads some data to "Snow White" (Cole).
Even as he awaits the order to begin, Cole cannot stop thinking about Ivanova. Although the others like Lennier appear to be consigned to fate, Cole cannot help but think there is something they have not thought about. Just then, the data from Garibaldi comes in as well as the go-ahead.
At Station Alpha, Garibaldi orders everyone to take cover. It is then that he reveals that what he had given Cole was planetary coordinates accurate to within feet: the kind of data one needs to successfully pull off a jump directly into an atmosphere. Even as Number One and the others listen in disbelief, the jump vortex appears and the atmosphere rumbles with the turbulence. Cole in his White Star emerges and strafes the spaceport. Noticing one turret still active, Number One orders the station's guns destroy that turret before it can fire on Cole.
In space, Captain Mitchell reports on the attack, but Lefcourt orders no action. He assumes it to be a feint meant to draw some of the ships away from the main line. He is patient and wonders what Sheridan's next move will be: in particular, what kind of "ace in the hole" he will employ.
Even as explosions rock the spaceport, Sheridan relays a message to Alexander: "Do it." Alexander stands and looks out into space. Her eyes begin to turn black from the intense psychic exertion. Inside, Franklin explains what is happening right now. She is reaching out to the cryo units sent to the destroyers. She is touching each of them, awakening them. Reprogrammed to become the central core of a Shadow vessel, they instinctively get up and move towards a computer interface, so as to merge with it and take control. The insider is shocked at the callous way Franklin describes such horror, but Franklin is only this way because he has surrendered to the inevitable. Without the technology available back home on Earth, there is no hope of removing the Shadow implants, meaning they are as good as dead. By employing them in this way, they can serve in the most humane way possible. By taking over the computers, they can disable up to thirty destroyers without having to kill the crew, and perhaps open the way to free their comrades from their enslavement. Thirty lives to save over thirty thousand.
Sheridan receives word that Alexander's activated the telepaths. He gives the go-ahead for the main assault. Lefcourt looks on as a swarm of jump vortices herald the arrival of Sheridan's fleet as predicted. Suddenly, the Apollo's computer goes dead. Word reaches him that the same thing is happening to most of the fleet. Before Lefcourt can order any able destroyer to advance, communications go dead. Lefcourt suddenly realizes this was what the feint had covered up: a sneak attack brought aboard with their last supply run.
Aboard a Sharlin-class ship, Delenn reports on the enemy's status. To Sheridan's relief, she reports that the telepaths did their job. Twenty of the destroyers are disabled and five more are losing control, leaving ten active destroyers to fight. Using the chaos to his best advantage, he orders the White Stars to concentrate on the remaining destroyers, crippling them before they can take action. Meanwhile, destroyer security forces begin to encounter the telepaths. Though the telepaths fight back with arcs of electricity, one by one, the security forces take down the telepaths. However, the damage is done. Within minutes, the loyalist fleet is neutralized with few casualties. The Battle of Mars, such as it is, is over.
The way is now clear to move to Earth. Sheridan orders Delenn and the alien forces to remain at Mars to assist any vessels whose condition deteriorates further. As Cole's White Star leaves Mars and rejoins the main fleet Cole himself leaves the bridge to see to personal matters. In another room, Cole accesses the Babylon 5 archives, seeking out any references to treating mortal injuries. Once the fleet is assembled, Sheridan sets the jump target: Earth Beacon 11629.
Cole's search request completes, and he eventually comes across Franklin's log of healing Garibaldi with the Alien Healing Machine. In spite of Franklin's recorded warnings about its life-transferring nature, Cole orders a shuttle prepared.
Mitchell reports the killing of the telepath, but they are still dead in space and without external communications. Angrily, Lefcourt orders repairs completed with all possible speed.
To her surprise, Lennier reports to Delenn's Sharlin, claiming to be answering a summons from her. Before either can realize what just happened, Cole turns his White Star around and leaves the fleet. Lennier begins to suspect what happened.
Delenn tells Sheridan that Cole went AWOL and has gone back to Babylon 5. Sheridan fumes, but as he continues the conversation in private on an earpiece, he realizes Cole has learned about the machine, but Sheridan cannot send anyone to pursue him. Time is critical at this point and the final push must proceed. Regretfully, he orders the final jump.
As the Earth Alliance Resistance jumps into Earth orbit, Sheridan begins a transmission to all Earth frequencies:
- "This is Captain John Sheridan. We are here on the authority of a multiplanetary force that can no longer stand by and watch one of their greatest allies falling into darkness and despair. We are here on behalf of the thousands of civilians murdered under orders from the current administration, who have no one else to speak for them, and on behalf of the Earthforce units that have joined us to oppose the tyranny that has darkened Earth ever since President Santiago was assassinated three years ago. We are here to place President Clark under arrest, to disband Nightwatch, and return our government to the hands of her people."
As he speaks, President Morgan Clark writes on his desk and the planetary defense grid begins to turn to the fleet. Sheridan continues:
- "We know that many in the government have wanted to act but have been intimidated by threats of retaliation against your families, your friends. You are not alone anymore. We call upon you to rise up and do what's right. We have drawn their forces away from Earth and disabled them. The time to act is now."
Emboldened by the declaration, the Earth Resistance finally takes action. An Earthforce squad led by Senator Crosby marches on the President's Office.
- "This is not the voice of treason. These are your sons, your daughters, whose loyalties have never wavered, whose beliefs in this Alliance has forced us to take extraordinary means. For justice, for peace, for the future, we have come home!"
As the resistance forces approach, Clark finishes his writing and arms the defense grid. Soon a salvo of missiles launches from the platforms. Sheridan orders evasive action and the Starfury squadrons launched to intercept the missiles. He then orders the destroyers to target the platforms. Back on Earth, with the resistance attempting to break down the doors, Clark draws a PPG from his desk, aiming it at his head. Just as the Resistance breaks through, he fires. As the battle in orbit continues, Crosby notices the writing on the desk. Clark had written the line, "The Ascension of the Ordinary Man" again and again on the sheet, except that some of the letters had been circled.
Sheridan soon receives a transmission. It's Crosby. She reports that Clark committed suicide. More importantly, she reports what the circled letters spell out: "Scorched Earth." She has learned that Clark has programmed the defense grid's particle beam cannons to turn toward Earth and set them to fire in ten minutes. He intended to take the entire planet with him. Upon hearing this, Sheridan orders all ships to target the defense grid, and immediately calls in Delenn and the alien fleet for assistance. The defense grid fights back, and many ships from all races involved are destroyed. The Agamemnon itself is critically damaged with no weapons systems, but ahead of it is the final platform about to fire on the North American Eastern Seaboard. With no other ships able to assist, Sheridan grimly orders ramming speed on the platform. Just then, the Apollo jumps in, and Lefcourt comes to Sheridan's aid. The Apollo fires on the platform and destroys it just in time for the Agamemnon to ride through the fireball. Soon, the news reaches him: mission accomplished. Earth is saved. Although Lefcourt tells Sheridan he still has to face a court martial, he also welcomes Sheridan back home to Earth.
Captain James relays the news that Sheridan is wanted planetside as soon as possible. Delenn will join him later, but Dr. Franklin has already left Earth, hoping to keep Cole from committing "a terrible mistake."
ISN – the real ISN – returns to the air for the first time in over a year. Still choked with emotion, reporter Jane begins by speaking on behalf of the rest of the ISN crew, describing the imprisonment, torture, and sometimes death they endured. All that came to an end this morning. She then reports the breaking news: that of Sheridan's successful liberation of Earth. She goes on to keep the civilians on Earth calm, telling them that EarthGov is still working to compile the list of casualties. The Earth Alliance Civil War is now over, and it now time for humans to come back together and begin the process of healing and rebuilding.
Aboard a White Star, Franklin frantically tries to contact Babylon 5 without success. In between, he replays the log entry that sent Cole on his mad dash. Back on Babylon 5, though, Cole's mad dash comes to its grim conclusion. Even as the Alien Healing Machine drains the life force out of him to resuscitate Ivanova, Cole, in his final words, declares his love for her.
- The Earth Alliance Civil War ends with the Liberation of Earth and the suicide of President Morgan Clark.
- Sheridan's strategy to disable the destroyers defending Mars combines several facts discovered from earlier episodes:
- Since it was possible to jump out of a planetary atmosphere, it is also possible to jump into one, provided the jump vortex doesn't cause the craft to crash onto the planet's surface (from "Messages from Earth").
- The fact that the Shadow-altered telepaths would connect to computer systems and take control of them (from "Ship of Tears").
- The fact that Lyta Alexander can make telepathic contact with those telepaths and stabilize them, even if only temporarily (from "The Exercise of Vital Powers").
- Despite being one of the main villains of the first four seasons, President Morgan Clark only ever appears physically in this episode; only in a non speaking capacity, taking his own life. Previously Clark was only seen in either News Footage or speaking to Sheridan or Mr. Morden through video communique.
|Babylon 5 Season 4 "No Surrender, No Retreat"|
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