- Michael O'Hare as Jeffrey Sinclair
- Tamlyn Tomita as Laurel Takashima
- Jerry Doyle as Michael Garibaldi
- Mira Furlan as Delenn
- Blaire Baron as Carolyn Sykes
- John Fleck as Del Varner
- Paul Hampton as The Senator
- Peter Jurasik as Londo Mollari
- Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar
- Johnny Sekka as Dr. Benjamin Kyle
- Patricia Tallman as Lyta Alexander
- Steven R. Barnett as Eric
- Billy Hayes as Traveler
- Linda Hoffman as Tech #2
- Robert Jason Jackson as Tech #3
- F. William Parker as Business Man #1
- Marianne Robertson as Hostage
- David Sage as Business Man #2
- Ed Wasser as Guerra
- Greg Aronowitz as Minbari Assassin
- Ardwight Chamberlain as Ambassador Kosh
- Haley McLane as Voice of the Computer
- Unknown as Arnassian prostitute
- Unknown as Arnassian's date
Alien envoys come to the giant space station in the pilot that launched the five-year TV series.
In the Earth year 2257, a multitude of Humans and non-humans gather deep in neutral space at a new station, Babylon 5. Some of them are members of the station crew, including Commander Jeffrey Sinclair, Lieutenant Commander Laurel Takashima, Security Chief Michael Garibaldi, and Medical Officer Benjamin Kyle. Others are ambassadors from major alien governments: Ambassador G'Kar from the Narn Regime, Ambassador Delenn from the Minbari Federation, and Ambassador Londo Mollari from the Centauri Republic. Still others are refugees, smugglers, businessmen, diplomats, and travelers from a hundred worlds.
Babylon 5 is the fifth in a series of space stations dedicated to the dream of a galaxy without war, a dream that species from different worlds might live side-by-side in mutual respect. The dream of peace between the five federations is constantly in danger; the first three Babylon stations were sabotaged and destroyed, while the fourth disappeared without a trace 24 hours after it became operational. Significant tensions still exist between the major species, especially between the Earth Alliance and the Minbari Federation (they had fought a brutal war), and between the Narn and the Centauri (the Narn had been slaves of the Centauri for a hundred years, although the Narn are now free).
Babylon 5 represents the universe's last, best hope for peace. It will be the base of operations for an Advisory Council, hosting representatives from each of the five major federations, similar to the United Nations on Earth before it was dissolved. Commander Sinclair will represent the Earth Alliance on the Advisory Council, while ambassadors from the four major alien governments comprise the other four members of the Advisory Council.
As the crew awaits the arrival of the fourth and final alien ambassador, Ambassador Kosh from the Vorlon Empire, a transport ship arrives from Earth bearing Lyta Alexander, a human telepath who joins the station crew, and Del Varner, a civilian. As Lyta is settling in, Commander Sinclair receives a visit from an old flame, Carolyn Sykes. Ambassador Kosh arrives two days ahead of schedule and is on board the station less than a minute when he suddenly falls ill, apparently from poisoning. Takashima reports that the Vorlon High Command insists that Kosh's encounter suit "cannot be removed for security reasons". However, Dr. Kyle conducts a medical investigation and seeks to prevent Kosh's death, while Security Chief Garibaldi conducts an investigation.
Ambassador Londo Mollari quickly becomes a suspect in the case, as he had failed to show up at the appointed time with the other ambassadors to welcome Kosh aboard. As a security precaution, Commander Sinclair seals off the station, allowing no one to board or disembark. Worried that if Kosh dies the Vorlons will attack and destroy the station, Dr. Kyle and Lt. Cmdr. Takashima persuade Lyta to perform an unauthorized mind scan on the unconscious Kosh. As she conducts the scan, Lyta sees what Kosh saw as he boarded the station: Commander Sinclair welcoming him aboard, shaking his hand, and poisoning him with a skin tab. Lyta accuses Sinclair of attempting to murder the ambassador.
Upon receiving word that Sinclair has become the primary suspect in the case, Earth Central removes Sinclair from the Advisory Council and puts Takashima in his place. The Advisory Council considers a motion made by Ambassador G'Kar to turn Sinclair over to the Vorlon Empire to stand trial for attempted murder. Lt. Cmdr. Takashima votes no; Ambassador Delenn abstains; Ambassador Mollari votes in favor. Ambassador G'Kar reveals that he has received a proxy vote from the Vorlon Empire – a "yes" vote, which seals Sinclair's fate. Sinclair is told that he will be deported to the Vorlon Empire in 12 hours.
Following various leads, Garibaldi comes to suspect Del Varner might have been involved in Kosh's poisoning. When he enters Varner's quarters, however, he discovers Varner dead in a fish tank. Stumped, Garibaldi begins to doubt that he will ever solve the case. Meanwhile, Dr. Kyle discovers an antidote to the poison and begins to apply it to Kosh.
Later, at a bar, Londo apologizes to Garibaldi for voting in favor of Sinclair's deportation and tells him that G'Kar had pressured him to vote as he did, using evidence of his grandfather's activities on the Narn Homeworld back when the Centauri occupied it.
G'Kar meets with Lyta and tells her that there has been a complication. Lyta heads for the medical lab, where she begins adjusting some of the settings that are keeping Kosh alive; when Dr. Kyle realizes what she's doing, he tries to stop her and she attacks him. At that moment, a second Lyta enters the room – the real Lyta. Lyta's double manages to escape.
Garibaldi leads Sinclair to an area of the station that has been breached by a small ship and tells Sinclair that another dead body has been found on the station. The person has been dead for 16 hours, but he was also reported as having been seen alive since then. Upon further investigation in Varner's quarters, Garibaldi learns that Varner had been smuggling illegal technology between systems and that he most recently had gone to the Antares sector to acquire a changeling net – a device that can make an individual appear to look like somebody else. The crew realizes that Kosh had not been poisoned by Sinclair when he arrived at the station, but rather that he had been poisoned by someone who was using the changeling net to look like Sinclair. Since the use of such a device would put out a lot of energy, Takashima uses her scanners to pinpoint an area of the station with a high concentration of unidentified energy use. Sinclair and Garibaldi head for that part of the station just as a Vorlon squadron arrives in the vicinity of the station to pick up Sinclair for his voyage to the Vorlon Homeworld.
Sinclair and Garibaldi confront the mysterious assailant. Garibaldi is injured in the firefight. Sinclair finds himself fighting against a station technician, then against Del Varner, then against Lyta, then against himself. Finally, the changeling net is disabled, revealing the assailant to be a Minbari assassin. The assassin is a member of the Minbari Warrior Caste who wanted to discredit Sinclair as retribution for Sinclair's role in the Earth-Minbari war. Sinclair asks the assassin why he did it; the assassin replies, "There is a hole in your mind." Sinclair, realizing that the assassin has triggered an explosive charge, manages to get away just before an explosion rips a hole in the station's hull. The explosion throws the station off its axis and begins to tear the station apart from the inside. Takashima uses the station's stabilizers to reestablish its axis.
The Vorlon delegation, now satisfied that Sinclair is innocent, drops all charges against him. Garibaldi recovers from his injury, Kosh recovers from his poisoning, and the crew sets to repair the breach in the station's hull. Delenn regrets that it was a Minbari who was responsible for Kosh's poisoning. Sinclair confronts G'Kar, who he now believes to have been connected with the poisoning incident. The plan, Sinclair believes, was that the assassin would have arrived at Babylon 5 on a Narn supply ship, but they missed connections. So the assassin had to find another way in – namely, on the small ship that discretely breached the ship's hull. The assassin killed Varner and took the changeling net. Sinclair tells G'Kar that he is now implanted with a nanotech location tracker that Sinclair had slipped in G'Kar's drink. G'Kar is furious. Sinclair sternly warns him, "What you do here is your own business. But if you ever endanger this station again, my people will find you and the results will be most unpleasant." Sinclair later reveals to Garibaldi that there really is no location tracker, but since G'Kar thinks there is, he will keep looking and never find it.
Ambassador Kosh, fully recovered, assumes his position as the Vorlon Ambassador on the station. In the station's garden, Sinclair reveals to Delenn what the Minbari assassin had said about the "hole" in Sinclair's mind. Delenn says that is just an old Minbari insult. Sinclair, however, tells her that he had fought in the climactic battle of the Earth-Minbari war and that there is a 24-hour period during the battle, just before the Minbari surrendered, that he can't account for.
Takashima declares Babylon 5 open for business.
"No, that's what I'm trying to tell you. We were beaten. We didn't stop them, they stopped themselves! And I wish to hell I knew why."
- – Sinclair to Carolyn Sykes
"There is a hole in your mind."
- – Minbari assassin to Sinclair
"So, Doctor, just what did you see when you looked inside that suit?"
"There are moments in your life when everything crystallizes…and the whole world reshapes itself, right down to its component molecules. And everything changes. I have looked upon the face of a Vorlon, Laurel, and nothing is the same anymore!"
- – Laurel Takashima, talking to Dr. Benjamin Kyle
"The Gathering" was nominated for the 1994 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, which was ultimately won by Jurassic Park.
The Gathering was the series pilot, so a number of design differences between this and the main series can be seen.
- Delenn's makeup design was substantially different with a pronounced jawline prosthetic and a distinct gap between head bone and skin - There had been plans for Delenn to be male (changing to female in the chrysalis) and the makeup design reflected this.
- Earthforce uniforms had different epaulets and lacked the leather panel on the front. They also lacked flight-wings on the right shoulder
- G'Kar's makeup design was different
- Earthforce weapons were not PPGs, but looked more like flattened energy weapons
Original and Special Editions
There are two versions of this film. The original version premiered as the series pilot. When the series moved to TNT for a fifth season, the network commissioned a Special Edition cut to introduce their viewers to Babylon 5.
Differences Between Editions
- Several scenes were shortened or added.
- Londo's opening voiceover was shortened to remove his lines about Sinclair being the station's final commander.
- Sinclair dealing with the "tourist problem" and his confrontation with the Dust smuggler were not in the original version.
- Footage was removed from Sinclair's tour of the alien sector because fans complained it looked like a zoo.
- The meeting between G'Kar and Lyta was shortened to remove a "privacy mode" technology that JMS didn't like and a reference to G'Kar's mate.
- Takashima's lines about the coffee beans were not in the original cut, and consequently, an illicit coffee plant was also used by her replacement, Lt. Commander Ivanova, in the series.
- Carolyn's meeting with Delenn was added.
- The scene when Sinclair tells of the Battle of the Line was lengthened to show him finding the medal and throwing it at the door. Audio clips of the battle from "And the Sky Full of Stars" were added.
- When Garibaldi and Sinclair are chasing the Minbari, Sinclair tells Garibaldi to set his PKG to "force 5," implying the PKG is an energy weapon with varying settings. This line was removed because it was later established in the series that the PKG was a projectile weapon.
- A few scenes were added to the final chase, such as Garibaldi being pulled into the alien sector and Delenn helping after Sinclair pulled him out.
- Revised special effects of the space station were added. Kosh's hand when he meets Sinclair was made to glow to match his appearance in the series. The line, "Entil'Zha Valen" was also added to the scene to foreshadow Sinclair's future and explain Kosh's trust in him.
- Music for the original version was a mostly electronic score composed by Stewart Copeland. For the Special Edition, the series composer, Christopher Franke, provided the score that matched the series.
- Tamlyn Tomita's dialogue in the original release was a re-recorded performance to soften her performance. For the special edition, JMS restored the original recordings of her lines.
Behind the Scenes
- Originally, it was to have been eventually revealed that Laurel Takashima was involved with the assassination attempt on Ambassador Kosh. While this never came to fruition, one can clearly read, "Laurel Takashima cleared" on the monitor of Del Varner's quarters, when the Minbari assassin visits him.
- Long before 'Babylon 5' went into production J. Michael Straczynski wrote a pilot screenplay to show to the various studios in an attempt to sell the show. This original draft contained a number of significant differences from the final shooting script including Garibaldi attempting to contact his dying father back on Mars, a shape-shifter in place of a Minbari assassin with a changeling net, Londo acting as a part-time pick-pocket, a Dr. Chakri Mendak instead of Dr. Benjamin Kyle, several scenes between Lyta and Laurel Takashima, Delenn and others that were later cut and a discovery about Delenn's 'lifestone' and what that means to the Minbari.
It also featured many more character scenes with Sinclair and Garibaldi and a developing plot in which Sinclair was not put on trial but finds a whole different and more interesting way to solve the mystery of Kosh's would-be assassin and the introduction of Kosh's life-mate, Velana, who plays a very important role in the script.
This original 1989 pilot script was published for the first time in October 2005 with Volume 1 of Babylon 5 Scripts.
- In both the original release and the special edition the Minbari Assassin utters the phrase, "There is a hole in your mind." This is a reference to the 24 hour period at the end of the Earth-Minbari war where Sinclair had his memories erased following his capture, torture and interrogation aboard a Minbari vessel at the Battle of the Line.
- Although not seen in the series, the changeling net worn by the assassin is referenced by Garibaldi in a talk with Officer Lou Welch in the episode "The Geometry of Shadows."
This TV Movie was released on VHS and later on DVD, both the original aired cut and the TNT commissioned special edition. It was also included in the Region 1 Babylon 5 The Movies Collection DVD and Babylon 5 - The Movies DVD sets as well as the Region 1 and 2 Babylon 5: The Complete Universe DVD.
Errors and Explanations
- Lyta says that if she breaks the rules, she could be thrown out of the Psi Corps. It is later established that Psi Corps does not allow any telepath to leave. This could be wishful thinking on Lyta's part
- In the beginning of the movie, when the hostage situation is occurring, when the hostage is first shown her hair is covering her face. The camera switches to Sinclair and when it switches back to the hostage her hair is no longer in her face. She could have shifted it while the camera was focused on Sinclair.
- The Senator orders Sinclair to cease any involvement with the investigation, and Lt. Cmdr. Takashima to take his place on the advisory council. While the latter is a diplomatic matter, the investigation would be a security-- and therefore military-- issue. A senator cannot give a military order. (A Senator giving a military order actually is a plot point in season 3 of the series.) Perhaps the senator believes that, as a representative of the government, he has the right to have all orders he gives to be automatically obayed. This is later seen in "Point of No Return" and "The Fall of Night". Sheridan arrests Nightwatch as they ignore the military chain of command and Frederick Lantze attempts to order Sheridan to end his fighter combat drills.
- When officers find that Ambassador Kosh has collapsed, Cmdr. Sinclair tells Lt. Cmdr. Takashima to "get security" even though his Chief of Security Michael Garibaldi is standing next to him. The 'Get security' order could refer to additional guards.
|Babylon 5 franchise|
|Babylon 5 & Crusade Episodes by Season|
|Signs and Portents • The Coming of Shadows • Point of No Return • No Surrender, No Retreat • Wheel of Fire • Crusade: Season 1 • Unfilmed Episodes|
|The Gathering • In the Beginning • Thirdspace • River of Souls • A Call to Arms • The Legend of the Rangers • Voices in the Dark|
|Novels • Comic Books • Short Stories • Reference books • Magazines|
|DVD Releases • VHS Home Video • The Official Guide to Babylon 5 • Babylon 5: Into the Fire|