Faced with the threat of an imminent attack from Clark-loyal forces, Sheridan makes the fateful decision to declare Babylon 5's independence from Earth. Meanwhile, seeing apathy back home in the face of the threat of the Shadows, Delenn makes her own fateful decision: to dissolve the Grey Council.
- Bruce Boxleitner as Captain John Sheridan
- Claudia Christian as Commander Susan Ivanova
- Jerry Doyle as Security Chief Michael Garibaldi
- Mira Furlan as Ambassador Delenn
- Richard Biggs as Dr. Stephen Franklin
- Bill Mumy as Lennier
- Jason Carter as Marcus Cole
- Stephen Furst as Vir Cotto
- Jeff Conaway as Zack Allan
- Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar
- Peter Jurasik as Ambassador Londo Mollari
- Kim Miyori as Captain Sandra Hiroshi
- Rance Howard as David Sheridan
- Phil Morris as Bill Trainor
- Bruce McGill as Major Ed Ryan
- Jonathan Chapman as Religious Minbari
- Joshua Cox as Lt. Corwin
- Maggie Egan as ISN Reporter #1
- Matt Gottlieb as ISN Reporter #2
- Kim Strauss as Narn
- Regular characters appearing in this episode are John Sheridan, Susan Ivanova, Michael Garibaldi, Delenn, Stephen Franklin, Lennier, Zack Allan, Londo Mollari and G'Kar.
Ambassador Londo Mollari is returning to Babylon 5, complaining all the while on the chaos that has grown since Earth forces have begun rebelling against President Morgan Clark. As a result, there is a lengthy line at the customs check-in. He comments that part of the problem is the Narns that are replacing the Nightwatch in security detail. The Narn performing Identicard checks overhears this. Once Londo arrives at him, the Narn notes that his Identicard isn't working properly and needs to be confirmed, a process that he coyly notes will delay Londo's entry into the station for a few hours. All this does is make Londo complain even more. "This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!"
Elsewhere, the EAS Alexander, now commanded by Major Ed Ryan, is trying to hold off an attack by the Clark-loyal cruiser EAS Clarkstown. The battle is intense and both ships are heavily damaged. Finally, while extremely reluctant to do so, Maj. Ryan orders an attack that destroys the Clarkstown. Ryan morbidly comments on the fact that humans are killing humans and wondering how he will ever explain this to the widows and orphans (particularly those of his late commander, William Hague). Faced with a desperate need for repairs, he realizes there is only one place where the Alexander can get help: Babylon 5.
Sheridan calls a meeting of the command staff, informing them of the imminent arrival of the Alexander. The problem is dealing with Clark loyalists on the station. They decide to kill almost all comm channels (except one private channel and ISN) once it arrives.
Lennier leads Dr. Stephen Franklin to a secluded corner of the docking bays with an emergency. There, Ambassador Delenn is caring for a wounded Minbari Ranger that can't be seen since he is pursued by bounty hunters. He carries urgent news which has resulted in multiple attempts on his life. Just then, G'Kar appears, revealing he'd overheard. He offers to take the wounded Ranger through a covert route he knows.
Sheridan watches the latest ISN reports, revealing that the Mars Provisional Government has defied the martial law order. Ivanova reports that all preparations are in place. Just then, Lt. David Corwin reports a ship coming through the jumpgate. Sheridan tells Security Chief Garibaldi to enact the comm cutoff. He addresses the personnel in C&C, revealing that, yes, that is the Alexander, and yes, there are orders to capture the ship: orders which he will not obey as they go against the spirit of the Earth Alliance. He offers anyone not willing to go along to leave the deck. No one takes him up. Sheridan then rallies them, revealing that they are about to be thrown into momentous events and he needs every able hand to stand up for what is right.
In Medlab, the Ranger desperately relays a message to Delenn. Various races of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds are aligning themselves with the Shadows, fearing that, if they don't, the Centauri would conquer them. But in doing so, these races have become more aggressive, becoming themselves conquerors and turning on other races. Realizing this Shadow strategy can easily undo the uneasy alliance already in place, she asks how the Grey Council is responding. To her shock, she learns that the Grey Council is not getting involved, saying, "The problems of others are not our concern."
Maj. Ryan arrives on the station and reports to Capt. Sheridan, informing that Gen. Hague fell during the battle with the Clarkstown and that he has assumed command. He relays news from Earth concerning President Clark's martial law coup. Some Earth Senators have gone into hiding, but shock troops are everywhere, making everyone too scared to speak out. The martial law has eliminated street crime and many people are welcoming it. ISN is staying quiet to avoid being stormed and shut down at gunpoint. President Clark had been preparing for this move for the last year, inserting loyalists throughout the Earth Alliance government and Earthforce military to make sure that any dissent is quickly quelled. Mars is fighting the martial law order, however, even as he says this, he gets a message from the Alexander: Clark-loyal Starfuries are now bombing the domes on Mars.
Delenn decides to depart to speak to the Grey Council about their apathy. She leaves Lennier to act in her place in her absence. Before leaving, she thanks G'Kar for his help and comments on how much he's changed since the two first met.
As her transport leaves through the Jumpgate, a jump point opens nearby, and another Earthforce destroyer emerges. It is the EAS Churchill, commanded by Capt. Sandra Hiroshi. She's on their side, here with urgent news for Ryan and Sheridan.
Meanwhile, Jane continues to report on the Mars attacks. Just then, she is interrupted by Rick who quickly announces that Orion VII and Proxima III have seceded from the Earth Alliance in response to the Mars attacks. He is going out over the air with the news now because Earthforce troops are in the process of storming the ISN News Center in Geneva. He tries to inform the public about Clark's covert actions, but an explosion starts collapsing the set. Then, ISN goes off the air.
Capt. Hiroshi comes aboard the station to relay the news. In response to the secessions, Clark is sending elite loyalist forces to seize control of all other Alliance colonies. As part of this, a task force led by the EAS Agrippa and the EAS Roanoke is en route to Babylon 5. Their orders are to capture the station and the Alexander. When Maj. Ryan offers to leave to draw away attention, Hiroshi reveals that the orders came before his arrival. Clark wants to seize the station anyway because of Sheridan's actions against Nightwatch. Ryan and Hiroshi leave to return to their ships, and the command staff have a decision to make. It's clear Clark wants them gone: one way or the other. But they have the station's quarter-million residents to consider as well as the people being repressed by Clark and his promise to Delenn to make the station the light in the darkness. So Sheridan takes a vote: surrender or fight? The vote is unanimous: fight.
With the loyalists just hours away, rapid preparations are being made. Sheridan orders all security personnel on alert: including the Narns, who G'Kar has assured will stay loyal. He orders two squadrons on rotation and the rest ready to drop on a moment's notice. He tells Dr. Franklin to clear Medlab of low-priority cases to make room for incoming casualties. Before leaving to make a call, he also tells Ivanova to contact Draal on Epsilon III so he can employ the Great Machine's holographic system for an impending announcement.
Aboard the Valen'Tha, an acolyte bars Delenn's path into the Grey Council's chamber. Delenn talks him down, declaring that the Grey Council will listen to a former Satai and the chosen of the late Dukhat whether they want to or not, and nothing will get in her way. The acolyte steps aside.
Delenn steps into the light and addresses the Grey Council. In a scathing speech, she denounces the Grey Council as impotent, caring more about their own affairs than the greater goal they had sworn to hold back the darkness represented by the Shadows. Therefore, if the covenant they had made with Valen is no more, then the Council itself is no more, and to emphasize this, she takes the staff of leadership and breaks it with her bare hands. She then appeals to the Council to join her so as to join the fight against the Shadows. Her speech has the desired effect, as five Council members – from the religious and worker castes – leave with her.
After some time, StellarCom completes a connection to Earth. Sheridan is calling his father, David Sheridan, for reassurance and advice, and because it will be last time they will be able to talk for the foreseeable future. Father reassures son and reminds him of what he'd been taught: "Never start a fight, but always finish it."
Meanwhile, Sheridan's orders to arm for battle ripple through the station. All security personnel, human and Narn alike, don riot gear and PPG rifles while Starfury squadrons begin patrol flybys of the station.
Now with more confidence, Sheridan reports to C&C. Ivanova reports that the holographic system is online and waiting to scan him. Once scanned, his image appears before everyone on the station as he makes his announcement: In response to the impending attack on the station and the acts against Mars and other Earth civilians in clear violation of the Earth Alliance Constitution, Babylon 5 is seceding from the Earth Alliance and declaring independence until Clark is deposed. He then urges all non-essential people to their quarters before the battle begins and offers anyone who wishes to leave safe passage out once the battle is over. He then asks once again if anyone in C&C doesn't want to get involved in the battle. Only one person takes it up. Ivanova than requests that she take flight in a Starfury, responding to Sheridan's protests by noting that in a human-vs-human battle like this, someone on the command staff needs to be there to help steady the pilots. Sheridan finally agrees then goes to his station. He links up with Ryan and Hiroshi and tells everyone to stand by. After a lengthy pause, Lt. Corwin's station reports the jumpgate opening; the loyalists have arrived.
Capt. Dexter Smith of the Agrippa delivers the order to surrender. The Alexander and Churchill launch fighters in response while Sheridan replies that the orders are unconstitutional and that they've seceded as a result. He warns that they will defend themselves, which results in the channel closing. It is clear they intend to fight. He orders all squadrons to not engage until fired upon, repeating the words told by his father.
As the fighters close, he finally orders the station itself locked down, the blast doors closed, and the Defense Grid armed. Soon, the loyalists open fire, and the battle begins. Ships and Starfuries engage each other. Loyalist fighters begin targeting the station, and Sheridan responds with the Defense Grid. The Alexander, taking damage, decides to approach the loyalists point-blank. Then a breaching pod is reported approaching the Brown Sector hull.
Garibaldi quickly responds by deploying security to Brown 95. While Garibaldi tries to organize security at a chokepoint, the Narns, unfamiliar with human tactics, charge ahead, forcing Garibaldi to do the same. Soon, the breaching pod penetrates the hull, and a company of Earthforce Marines engages security. It is an intense firefight with casualties on both sides.
Meanwhile, an attack by several Starfuries penetrates defenses and damages C&C. Sheridan responds by redirecting the Defense Grid towards the loyalist destroyers.
Meanwhile, the Churchill is mortally wounded. Unwilling to go down without a fight, Capt. Hiroshi orders ramming speed on the Roanoke, destroying both ships in a kamikaze attack. Observing the spectacle, Ivanova is distracted and collides with another fighter, forcing her to eject. Meanwhile, the Alexander and Babylon 5 concentrate on the Agrippa and cripple it, but it explodes before it can respond to Sheridan's demand to surrender. The immediate danger over, Sheridan asks for a damage assessment. Corwin reports damage to all sectors and the marines still fighting security in Brown Sector. Just then, his Jumpgate alarm goes off as they realize, to their dismay, that loyalist reinforcements are coming in. A few seconds later, however, Corwin reports four Jump Points forming over them. From these emerge three Minbari Sharlin-class warcruisers and the White Star, with Delenn in command. She orders the Earth ships to withdraw, coldly pointing out that the only Earth captain to ever win an engagement with a Minbari ship, Sheridan, is now under their protection. The Earth ships turn around and jump out of Babylon 5 space. With profound relief, everyone realizes the worst is over. Sheridan gives the recall order.
About an hour later, despite the intense fight, Security manages to defeat the Marines, capturing all remaining who weren't killed. Garibaldi, with an injured ankle, is helped by Zack Allan. The Battle for B5 Independence is over; the station has held.
After the Battle, Sheridan and Ryan discuss what happened, and where they will go from here. Ryan decides to seek out other Alliance personnel willing to fight Clark. Due to the loss of the Churchill, Sheridan agrees to take on many of its Starfuries to reinforce the squadrons they lost in the fight. Ryan notes that Sheridan is no longer wearing his Earthforce uniform. After today, Sheridan replies, he can't wear it with a clear conscience any more.
Arriving in the docking bays, Garibaldi shows Sheridan the line of people leaving: mostly Nightwatch and those wishing to return to Earth. They agree they'll have to keep an eye for other Nightwatch still on the station in hiding. Then, Ambassador Delenn arrives on the station, and Sheridan thanks her immensely for the effort she made to get assistance from the Minbari. Delenn responds that they're in this together; she did what she had to do, and in a gesture of human understanding, she offers her hand to shake. Surprised, Sheridan shakes it, but then he kisses it as well. Just then, the rest of the command staff appear and (after exchanging a knowing glance) offer to take the two of them to the Zócalo.
When they arrive, everyone in the Zócalo gives a standing ovation, thanking them for defending the station and standing up to President Clark's tyranny.
"May I have your attention, please? In the last few hours, we have learned that warships are coming this way from Earth, their orders are to seize command of Babylon 5 by force. As commanding officer and military governor of Babylon 5, I cannot allow this to happen. President Clark has violated the Earth Alliance Constitution by dissolving the Senate, declaring martial law, and personally ordering the bombing of civilian targets on the Mars colony. He is personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people. Following these attacks Orion VII and Proxima III have broken away from the Earth Alliance, and declared independence. Babylon 5 now joins with them! As of this moment, Babylon 5 is seceding from the Earth Alliance! We will remain an independent state until President Clark is removed from office. At the end of this current crisis, anyone who wishes to leave for Earth is free to do so. Meanwhile, for your own safety, I urge everyone to stay in their quarters until this is over. That is all."
- – Captain John Sheridan, declaring Babylon 5's independence.
"Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else."
- – Ambassador Delenn
Robert Foxworth, who played General William Hague, could not play his role due to a prior commitment to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so Hague was written out of the show and his role replaced with his subordinate, Major Ryan.
For this episode Babylon 5 won the 1997 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. It was the second time it won the award after winning in 1996 for "The Coming of Shadows".
Although the visuals show the Churchill destroying the Roanoke, Sheridan incorrectly hails the latter vessel and offers to take on survivors. He was actually referring to the Agrippa, which had already been clearly seen in several shots (such as when Ivanova is ejecting from her Starfury) after the Roanoke is destroyed. It is true that in "Intersections in Real Time", Captain Sheridan is specifically charged with the destruction of the Roanoke and not the Agrippa, but given the nature of that episode, few such accusations can be taken at face value.
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