Definitions

Falling Stars

The Deconstruction of Falling Stars

"The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" is the final episode of the fourth season of the science-fiction television series Babylon 5.

Synopsis

This episode takes place after the events of the rest of the series. It shows the effect that the Interstellar Alliance had on history from the point of view of the far future. The episode shows certain pivotal events 100, 500, 1,000, and one million years after the founding of the Alliance.

Almost as soon as President Clark is dead and Earth is liberated, pro-Clark elements who aided his fascist rise to power try to paint Sheridan as a madman trying to take over the government, as they are afraid of losing political standing in the next election; (though Mars hails the B5 forces as liberators). This advances to the point that by 100 years later, we see a televised debate between several historians whose interpretation of history is grossly inaccurate, as they all mistakenly believe that the role of Sheridan and Babylon 5 in the war against the Shadows and in overthrowing Clark has been exaggerated over time. Their opinions range from totally negative views of Sheridan, to at best, one historian saying that the movement against Clark was due to a broad range of social factors and that saying that one man was responsible for the successful overthrow of Clark was verging on romanticism. She also declares that Sheridan was a megalomaniac. However, an extremely old (over 140) Delenn then makes a surprise entry to the debate, saying simply that Sheridan was a good man who cared about the world even when the world didn't care about him.

The action then switches to 500 years after the events of the series: the anti-alien, xenophobic sentiment that began after the Earth-Minbari War and which Clark capitalized on and expanded (and which we saw growing in the last segment) has now divided the Earth Alliance to the brink of civil war once again. One side (possibly stemming from Mars and the outer colonies, which were pro-Sheridan, as well as some elements on Earth) believes in co-existing with alien races as part of the Interstellar Alliance (therefore allies of the Rangers; the Rangers are a significant force within the Alliance). Meanwhile, the other side is a neo-Orwellian fascist regime of the kind Clark tried to establish, which is xenophobic and hates all "alien influences". Human territories are divided, with each side controlling different colony worlds as well as divided regions on Earth itself. The anti-alien fascist faction is trying to set up forged holographic records to show that the heroes of Babylon 5 were in fact war criminals opposed to Earth, i.e. showing a holographic Dr. Franklin horrifically experimenting on human children using alien organs, having Sheridan make a passionate speech saying he and his alien masters will conquer Earth, before shooting human and alien prisoners, etc. The anti-alien faction will use this propaganda to whip its population up into a jingoistic frenzy, so that they will be ready to go to fight the pro-alien faction. As the anti-alien faction's propaganda creator Daniel explains, the anti-alien faction is about to launch a sneak attack against the pro-alien faction as the opening move of an all-out war, and with the advantage of this sneak attack (directed at civilian population centers to shock the pro-alien faction into submission) the anti-alien faction will win the war. However, the computer-generated holographic images of the Babylon 5 crew are based on historical data and recorded memories of the original crew, so they still think and act just like Babylon 5's original crew, who the anti-alien faction has foolishly underestimated. Right before Daniel can shut the recreations off, the holographic version of Garibaldi, as characteristically skeptical and mistrustful of others as his true self was, stalls him long enough to figure out his plan: practically the moment he was recreated, he had, without Daniel noticing it, hacked into the computer network of the military base the propaganda holovideos are being filmed in and hence gained information of the general situation and the conflicting factions. The holographic Garibaldi finally tells Daniel that he has sent out a signal warning the pro-alien faction of the impending sneak attack, and they have got the drop on Daniel's faction, launching their own sneak attack first, giving them the advantage in the upcoming war. Garibaldi tells Daniel not to worry, as the pro-alien faction is more humane than Daniel's, and will probably only target military bases and not civilian population centers as Daniel's faction planned to do..."but, this wouldn't happen to be a military installation, would it?" Garibaldi says with a smirk, as Daniel runs away in terror. Garibaldi, heroic even 500 years after his death, looks at the other frozen holograms of his crew, and says "rest easy, friends, rest easy" as the entire base explodes.

The scene then switches to Earth, 1,000 years after the events of the series. The war between pro-alien and anti-alien factions 500 years previously led to a disastrous nuclear war dubbed "the Great Burn" which caused massive destruction and reduced human civilization on Earth, even 500 years after the war, to medieval technological levels. Two monks in an abbey are discussing the half-legendary heroic figures from Babylon 5, and whether they were even real (they have since been stylized in illuminated manuscript images almost as if they were Arthurian figures). However, it is revealed to the audience that in secret, humans on the colony planets survived and human civilization continues off of Earth, where the pro-alien faction won. However, seeing as so many on Earth would be embittered about the destruction wrought on the planet, the pro-alien victors felt that if they immediately went back and tried to help rebuild, anti-alien isolationist sentiment would just cause people to turn on them again. Instead, they embarked on a slow, long-term plan to send the Rangers to Earth masquerading as monks, setting up abbeys across Earth which would "rediscover" new technology incrementally, which was actually dropped off by ships from space. 500 years after the Great Burn, Earth has only redeveloped up to the point that they're just starting to introduce gas-powered generators. However, the Rangers are convinced that "this time, we'll get it right" and are determined to rebuild Earth as slowly as it needs to be to make sure that an anti-alien, anti-technology backlash doesn't occur again, "even if it takes us another 2,000 years".

At the end of the episode, one million years after the series, humanity leaves Earth for the last time as the sun goes nova (apparently long before the Sun should naturally go nova, and implied by JMS to indeed not be a natural occurrence). Humanity leaves for a new homeworld called New Earth (which JMS has confirmed in later interviews to be the Vorlon homeworld). Humanity has evolved into energy beings similar to First Ones, and use encounter suits similar to the Vorlons, but with two glowing 'eyes' instead of one. (According to creator J. Michael Straczynski, the Minbari have also reached this point, while the Narn and Centauri have not; they have not died out, just not evolved to First One-like status.)

Arc significance

  • Delenn is still alive 100 years after the events of Babylon 5, at which time she is extremely old even by Minbari standards.
  • 100 years after the formation of the Interstellar Alliance, some events of Sheridan's life and death are often dismissed as legend.
  • 500 years after the events of Babylon 5, an isolationist faction of humans attempts to break away from the Alliance, leading to a civil war that devastates Earth.
  • 1,000 years after the events of Babylon 5, the Rangers are still trying to rebuild a devastated Earth.
  • One million years after the events of Babylon 5, humanity is depicted as having finally evolved beyond its crude "physical" bodies, and into beings similar to the Vorlons. They appear to wear encounter suits almost identical to the Vorlons, except for the head, which instead of being a block-shaped head, is closer to the shape of the human head. Humanity leaves for New Earth, as the Sun goes nova. The encounter suit and ship seen most prominently in this sequence both bear the emblem of the Rangers.

Production details

Episode particularities

The episode has an unusual history. During the filming of the fourth season, the show appeared destined for cancellation. As a result, plotlines were shortened and resolved ahead of schedule. After the completion of the final episode, but before its airing, the cable network TNT approached the creators of the show with an offer of cable distribution and funding for a fifth season.

The show's creator, JMS, insisted that the final episode not be seen prematurely. As a result, a new fourth-season finale had to be composed. The episode was filmed as part of the fifth-season production run, and hurriedly composed for airing in its proper place before the switchover from PTEN to TNT. This is the reason that Claudia Christian, who had left the show prior to the fifth season, appears in the series finale.

The form of this episode is substantially different from most episodes of Babylon 5. All other episodes were shot as unified storylines; however, Deconstruction exists as a series of vignettes examining society's views of the events of the series from increasingly distant future viewpoints: one year, one hundred years, five hundred years, one thousand years, and eventually one million years in the future.

The episode ends with a dedication:

"DEDICATED TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO PREDICTED THAT THE BABYLON PROJECT WOULD FAIL IN ITS MISSION. FAITH MANAGES."

On Usenet, JMS described this message thus:

"...for the reviewers and the pundits and the critics and the net-stalkers who have done nothing but rag on this show for five years straight, it is also a giant middle finger composed of red neon fifty stories tall, that will burn forever in the night."

Monastery sequence

The vignette that takes place one thousand years later in a monastery bears some similarities to Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz. While writing the episode, series creator J. Michael Straczynski noted the similarities:

External links

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