"And the Sky Full of Stars" is an episode from the first season of the science-fiction television series Babylon 5. The episode title is derived from a line Sinclair says in the Pilot episode: "and the sky was full of stars, and every star was an exploding ship - one of ours."
As the episode begins two mysterious men, known only as "Knight One" and "Knight Two", meet at Babylon 5. Together they construct a sophisticated neural device which causes its users to imagine that they are in a highly realistic but illusionary environment. They then kidnap Commander Sinclair
, the commander of Babylon 5, and attach him to the device. As it develops, both Knight One and Knight Two are members of a covert, sinister organization on Earth which is determined to eliminate all alien influence from the planet; their "names" are merely codes. They have kidnapped Sinclair to force him to relive his memories of the Battle of the Line
, the final battle of the epic Earth-Minbari War
ten years earlier. In this battle the Minbari destroyed almost all human resistance and were on the verge of destroying the Earth itself when they suddenly, and shockingly, surrendered on the eve of victory. Sinclair had led a fighter squadron which was annihilated in the attack; Sinclair's fighter mysteriously vanished for 24 hours and when it reappeared on sensors the Minbari surrendered. Although Sinclair claims that he has no memory of the missing 24 hours, Knight One is convinced that he is hiding something and is determined to find out what it is.
At first Sinclair doesn't realize that he's in a simulation; he awakens in his quarters and discovers that his computer and communications don't work. When he leaves his quarters he finds that the entire station is deserted. He finally meets Knight One, who tells him that he is actually inside a computer-generated illusion; in the real world both Sinclair and Knight One are strapped into chairs and connected to the neural device. Knight Two is monitoring both men to make sure that the machine doesn't damage their brains. Knight One believes that Sinclair is lying about his experiences at the Battle of the Line, and he accuses Sinclair of being a traitor to humanity. Knight One's theory is that Sinclair secretly agreed to help the Minbari take over the Earth Alliance from the "inside", and in exchange the Minbari allowed Sinclair to survive the battle. Sinclair angrily responds that Knight One's accusations are absurd. Knight One then forces Sinclair to relive the Battle of the Line; Sinclair watches helplessly as his squadron is decimated by Minbari warships. Eventually Sinclair punches Knight One, causing him to vanish from the simulation and awaken in his chair, Sinclair's simulated "punch" leaves Knight One in considerable pain.
Meanwhile, on the real Babylon 5 Sinclair's kidnapping has been noted, and Security Chief Garibaldi begins a station-wide search. Realizing that he doesn't have much time before they are discovered, Knight One gives Sinclair a dangerous dose of drugs which weaken his resistance to the machine. Sinclair then remembers what happened to him. His fighter was damaged, and believing that both he and all of humanity were doomed, Sinclair decided to ram the nearest Minbari cruiser in an act of desperation. His fighter was instead captured and he was taken aboard the Minbari warship. There he was tortured and examined by the Minbari, and he was taken before the reclusive Grey Council, the Minbari's ruling body. There he saw Ambassador Delenn. After seeing her, Sinclair breaks out of the neural machine and punches Knight One in the chair next to him, short-circuiting the machine and frying Knight One's brain. He punches Knight Two and steals his pistol. Still drugged, he hallucinates and sees Babylon 5 personnel as Minbari crewmen, he shoots at them. Knight Two awakens and goes after Sinclair, but is killed by Garibaldi. Sinclair is confronted by Delenn, she convinces him to put down his weapon.
After recovering in medlab, Sinclair tells Ambassador Delenn that he remembers nothing of his experience. However, in his quarters he says in his journal that he remembers everything, and he vows to find out why the Minbari took him aboard during the battle and why Delenn seems to have so much interest in him. In Delenn's quarters a mysterious Minbari tells her that, if Sinclair ever learns the truth about what happened to him at the Battle of the Line, he must be killed. As Knight One is being led off the station back to Earth Sinclair confronts him and asks questions. However, the damage to his brain is so severe that he cannot remember even his real name, he is led away looking confused and dazed.
- This episode has great significance, as it is the first time that Jeffrey Sinclair begins to move towards understanding his missing 24 hours (mentioned in "The Gathering") and realising the role his identity means he must play, in the future and the past. (See "Chrysalis" and "War Without End", parts 1 and 2.) The episode also reveals that there is a secret, growing conspiracy within the Earth Alliance to eliminate all alien influence from the planet; this conspiracy will become a major factor in later seasons of the series.
- Ambassador Delenn is clearly involved in Sinclair's experience aboard the Minbari cruiser.
The role of Knight Two was originally offered to Walter Koenig
, who was unable to accept at the time for health reasons. Walter Koenig was later cast as the recurring character of Bester. The role of Knight Two was then offered to The Prisoner
star Patrick McGoohan
, who likewise wished to accept, but was out of the country at the time of filming, and had to decline as well.