The Babylon Project

TKO is an episode from the first season of Babylon 5, which is collectively entitled Signs and Portents.

Garibaldi is surprised when an old friend comes to Babylon 5 to fight in the mutai — a savage alien fighting arena. Ivanova has trouble dealing with her father's death.



Also starring[]


Guest starring[]



Cast notes[]



A civilian ship arrives at Babylon 5, and among the arrivals are Rabbi Koslov and Walker Smith. They had a pleasant conversation aboard as they traveled.

In Downbelow, Michael Garibaldi makes an arrest of two smugglers. When he turns his back on one of them, the thug pulls a knife. Fortunately, Smith is there and knocks the man down. He happily greets Garibaldi, and the two are clearly old friends. Smith had a promising boxing career until something happened – a story Garibaldi wants to hear from Smith personally. The two agree to meet later.

Act I[]

Garibaldi and Smith enjoy burgers in the Zócalo and reminisce about the "good old days." Smith notices that Michael is no longer drinking and ribs him for it.

In her quarters, Susan Ivanova is enjoying a good book when Rabbi Koslov arrives. Susan is delighted to see him, as he has been a close friend of the family for a very long time. He tells her that before her father died, he entrusted him with her legacy. He is troubled that she never returned to Earth after his funeral, and that she has declined to sit Shivah. She insists her duties prevented it. They make plans for dinner later that night.

After their meal, Smith explains that he was offered a bribe to throw a fight. He refused, and was subsequently framed for taking performance enhancements, destroying his career. He explains that he has come to Babylon 5 to participate in the Mutai, an alien fighting circuit. Smith believes winning the Mutai will allow him to get his career back. Garibaldi is stunned, as the Mutai is a no-holds-barred fighting ring that has resulted in more than a few aliens being either killed or crippled.

Before dinner, Rabbi Koslov meets with Commander Jeffrey Sinclair to talk about Ivanova. Sinclair had no idea her father had passed away. Koslov explains how tense things had been between Susan and her father for many years, but he knows she has not fully dealt with his death. He asks Sinclair to grant her time off to sit Shivah, and Sinclair readily agrees.

Koslov proceeds to dinner with Ivanova at Fresh Air. Koslov mentions his meeting with Sinclair to Ivanova. This only upsets Ivanova, who runs out of the restaurant in tears.

Act II[]

Garibaldi accompanies Smith to the Mutai dojo. The Muta-Do, the being in charge of the Mutai, informs Smith that humans are not allowed to fight in the Mutai. He knocks down the rude Smith and orders him to leave. In the Zócalo, Smith stews over being cast out. Garibaldi chides Smith for not respecting what the Mutai means to the aliens who partake in it. Angry, Smith storms away. He runs into an alien named Caliban, who offers to help Smith fight in the Mutai.

Sinclair calls Ivanova into his office, offering his condolences about her father. He offers her indefinite leave to sit Shivah, but she insists that is not necessary. He insists on talking to her about how she is dealing with things. She remains closed up, however.

Smith tracks down Michael and apologies for walking out on him. He asks Michael to come with him to check out the championship fight at the Mutai that night. Michael agrees to meet him there.

At the fight, Smith and Garibaldi watch the championship fight, which the "Sho-rin," or local champion, easily wins. The Muta-Do asks if there are any challengers who wish to take on the Sho-rin next, and Smith steps forward and declares his challenge (since if the Sho-rin accepts the challenge, there must be a fight). The Muta-Do finds the challenge worthy and the Sho-rin (Gyor) accepts it. The fight is scheduled for three days later. Garibaldi is annoyed with Smith, but not nearly as annoyed as several of the local aliens. One of them, Migo, angrily states that humans have no business getting involved with the Mutai and threatens that he will help protect its integrity.

Act III[]

Rabbi Koslov comes to Ivanova's quarters. He delivers her "legacy," a samovar that has been in her family for over three hundred years. He asks her one last time if she will sit Shivah. While she appreciates what he is trying to do, she admits that she has never been able to forgive her father for not showing his love to her, even when he needed her. Koslov realizes that since she cannot forgive, she cannot mourn. He tries to continue, but she insists on going back on duty and leaves.

Garibaldi accompanies Smith to meet with Caliban. Caliban has agreed to become Smith's "Ka-Tow," or coach, and explains that his last fight was against Gyor.

Ivanova accompanies Koslov through the customs area. Before he boards his ship, however, she rushes to him. She decides that she does want to sit Shivah after all and asks her Rabbi to help her.

Smith trains with Caliban. Word about his historic fight has spread, and even ISN features a brief story about it. Garibaldi still thinks the fight is a bad idea, but agrees to watch his back at the fight.

Act IV[]

In C'n'C, Ivanova approaches Sinclair and informs him she would like to take his offer of leave to sit Shivah. He grants it, and tells her that he would like to attend. Rabbi Koslov makes all the arrangements. The Shivah is conducted in Susan's quarters, with Sinclair and a small community of people turning up to provide support and pay their respects. Susan is finally able to forgive, and to mourn. She is thankful for Sinclair's help, and his friendship.

The fight at the Mutai begins. During the battle, Migo – standing in the crowd – pulls a dart gun, planning on shooting Smith during the fight. Luckily, Caliban notices and alerts Garibaldi, who is able to stop him. The fight itself goes back and forth, until neither opponent can stand. The Muta-Do declares the fight a draw and the crowd starts chanting Gyor's name. Then Gyor stops them and leads the crowd in chanting Smith's name instead. His victory earns him acceptance among the assembly.

Act V[]

The following day, Koslov bids his farewell to Ivanova and Sinclair.

At the same time, Garibaldi says his good-byes to Smith. Before leaving the station, Smith is approached by the Muta-Do, who informs him that humans are now accepted into the Mutai. Smith thanks Garibaldi and Caliban before leaving.

Memorable quotes[]

"One of these days, Garibaldi, you're going to learn to watch your back."

Walker Smith


  • The B story in this episode is a continuation of the B story from ("Born to the Purple") in which Susan's father passed away.
  • Walker Smith's line about Garibaldi never watching his back foreshadows his eventual betrayal in ("Chrysalis") and will become a recurring theme for the character in later episodes.


Working Without a Net

Ivanova, reading Working Without a Net, by Harlan Ellison

  • The book that Ivanova is enjoying just before Rabbi Koslov arrives at her quarters is entitled Working Without a Net, by Harlan Ellison; a picture of Ellison appears on the back of the book jacket. Someone has created a fake Amazon page for the book.[1]
  • Famous real-life boxer Sugar Ray Robinson's birth name was Walker Smith, Jr.
  • The ship that Yossel Koslov is about to enter to leave Babylon 5 before being called back by Ivanova is called White Star.

Possible Errors[]

  • The area where the Mutai is held has Yellow Sector markings, but yellow sector is supposed to be the zero-G sector encompassing the fusions core, rotation drive, and support systems.

DVD release[]

This episode, along with the other episodes from season one, has been released on DVD with extensive special features.


External links[]