It was some months ago that I had the fortune of watching Babylon 5 again. I hadn't watched the show in years, and it was exceedingly difficult to find it rebroadcast even on cable stations. I had absorbed the show, watching several episodes a day for weeks on end. It's unfortunate that the series is so easily overlooked in comparison to the behemoths of Star Trek and Star Wars.
The writing is far, far superior to any other space opera I have had the fortune to watch. It was also a difficult series to get into, as the episodes were so contiguous that you could nary watch a single one apart from the rest. It took on stereotypical plotlines in science fiction -- an ancient "evil" returning (the Shadows), telepaths, evolutionary manipulation by aliens, and blended it all into one fantastic plotline.
There was also one particular subplot that wasn't so stereotyped for the genre. In the story, an ancient race had manipulated the politics on earth for it's own end. It granted a reckless and ignorant fool the planetary presidency, while they were buttressing the true enactors of power -- Nightwatch and the Psi-core. Both were eerily similar to the Gestapo in tactics, motif, and dress. Nightwatch, however, was just a needless shell. The true power was held by the Psi-core. They believed they were superior to the "mundanes" due to their gift of telepathy. Not only did they believe they could control the planet, but the thoughts of it's citizens.
All of this seemed far away in the story compared to the Shadow War, to which Earth was oblivious. Indeed, the ever growing fascist government of the planet was not properly dealt with until the Shadows were driven from the Galaxy. Surprisingly, the conclusion of this subplot was an anticlimax. The war was not won with firearms or powerful spacecraft. It was won with words. This was also atypical for the genre. After this, the cast and characters of the show turned their attention to their home planet.
After a bitter fight in the outlying solar system, they approached Earth. The lead character then made the following broadcast.
This is Captain John Sheridan. We are here on the authority of a multi-planetary 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.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! 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.
It was with cold realization I had noticed the parallel to current day events. The thought sent shivers up my spine and beckoned tears at my eyes. The show concluded over 8 years ago, and it had made a startling -- if inadvertent -- prediction. Gibson had made similar predictions about the future in Neuromancer. What other authors and playwrights have made other bold and stunningly accurate predictions?
Today however, thinking about all of this, the room seems colder somehow. The lay of the land seems inperceptibly but undeniably more harsh than the days that came before. And I wish that someday soon, I can hear some sensible words, and warmth on my face.