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Severed Dreams [Season 2]

This episode rightly deserves the praise lavished upon it, and its Hugo award. Independence Day? Come on, it didn't have a chance compared to this. Big explosions? Yes. Great special effects? Yes. Great soundtrack? Yes. A plotline that touches you to the soul? I don't think so. Severed Dreams comes out on top, compared to any other sci-fi film or series you could care to name.

Severed Dreams kicks off with the first engagement involving the Alexander. Major Ryan has to destroy an attacking carrier to save the Alexander, but it's something different to what you normally expect. He knows the crew of the carrier, he's fighting his own people. This engagement isn't impersonal, the enemies aren't aliens who simply want to destroy them. Destroying them isn't something he wanted to do.

As the Alexander arrives, the consequences of the declaration of martial law become clear. The rebel group aren't having much success, and Delenn doesn't seem to happy to find out that the Grey Council has decided that "The problems of others are not ours." Could things get worse? This is Babylon 5, not Star Trek. Face reality.

ISN is taken over, and I've got to admire the anchorman who's desperately trying to tell the viewers of Orion and Proxima 3 declaring independence. It's something he had to do, which seems to be an undertone throughout this episode.

When Delenn confronts the acolyte stopping her from entering the Grey Council meeting, the true Delenn is revealed, the Delenn who still has fire in her eyes. Not the Delenn I've been seeing lately in Season 4, an attachment to Sheridan who doesn't seem to have free will. The Breaking of the Grey Council has good acting, but even though it's extremely important to Minbar and Babylon 5, it hasn't really been given the significance it has needed. It's overshadowed by the other events of Severed Dreams, and I reckon it should have been given it's own episode. To the viewer, it doesn't really make sense, and it doesn't really matter. Who cares what the Grey Council are doing when Babylon 5 is going to be attacked? You could argue that it's all a matter of the arc and that people will realise what it means later, but it seems so distant. You'd think the breaking of the group which has controlled Minbar for millennia would get a little more air time, so people could realise what exactly it means.

Back to Babylon 5. Sheridan calls his father, who tells him not to start the fight. Sheridan announces that Babylon 5 is seceding from the Earth Alliance until President Clark is removed from office. Okay, a minor gripe here, but that seems a little naïve. Just because Clark is kicked out of office and his equally nasty second in command steps in doesn't mean everything is fine. I'm being petty, but there isn't much else to fault with this episode. Justin puts it perfect in 'Z'ha'dum'. But more of that in another review.

The battle. Ivanova goes out to command the Starfuries, and there are a hell of a lot of Starfuries, counting those from the Alexander and the recently arrived Churchill. Battle commences, and we have some serious ass-kicking done here, but even with the defence grid, a breaching pod arrives. The security teams are on it, but as they take up positions to cut off the invaders, the Narn security group rushes past to confront them head to head. This is the scene which has affected me the most from Babylon 5. When the Narn rush forward to be slaughtered, I've always had a shiver run down my spine. I've heard that I'm not alone here, and I'd like to find out if there are more of you who're similarly affected. Maybe it's the music - the eerie, echoing music with the drum beat steady in the background, as the soldiers perform their duty. They're all fighting for a cause that's important to their heart, and the Narn have something to prove - they have to die for something, and this is as worthy a cause you can get.

You think you can't see any better TV than this, but the shivers came back when the Churchill crashed into another destroyer: 'There's nothing we can do except…' The Churchill collides in slow motion, as both ships are ripped apart. Sheridan goes on the offensive, and orders the defence grid to be aimed at the destroyers, who are thoroughly beaten. He takes no pleasure in this when he believes he has disabled a destroyer, and then it explodes from the inside. When the station can take no more, Earth Alliance reinforcements come. Just a few seconds later, Delenn arrives with 3 Minbari cruisers and the White Star. Again, Delenn is in her good old 'I am not to be argued with' style, and the Earth Alliance ships beat a undignified retreat.

Severed Dreams ends with Sheridan and Delenn have a few personal words together, and the people of Babylon 5 cheer him. No-one can fail to miss the bitter ending as we can see that Babylon 5 has won a battle, not the war.

The music for this episode affected me just as much as the storyline, and that's why I bought the soundtrack CD. I can't express exactly how the two instances when the Narns are gunned down and the Churchill is destroyed affect me, but if you listen to the music, maybe you'll have an idea. 'Severed Dreams' fully deserves its awards, and this episode alone should be enough to show that Babylon 5 isn't just another science fiction show.

Why 'Severed Dreams'?

I think someone asked this question to JMS (Joe Michael Straczynski) once. Babylon 5 was a place of dreams, a dream of peace between all the races in the galaxy. A dream made form. When war and death reaches Babylon 5, from its own creators, it is the death of that dream. A Severed Dream.