[Episode Written By: JMS] (10/09/02)
The Excalibur is forced home on a secret mission concerning the plague, leading to potentially important discoveries. The Drahk catch wind and the first battle in the series ensues.
The final curtain call for Crusade let's us in on a few secrets concerning
the plague, and gives hints that the pace of the series was about to pickup.
Although not the best of the 13 filmed episodes, this one caries its weight
nicely and the return to Earth is a fitting swan song to the series.
The appearance of Lockley in the episode to "save the Excalibur's fury teams" is laughable and, if left out, this episode would have been much better. Another forced appearance by her only emphasizes that she should not be in the series and certainly not in the opening credits. In fact if you go to your VCR's or DVD's and remove her scenes the episode runs perfect as if she was never there, totally. Her thread is truly totally irrelevant.
The episode gives a ton of new light on the plague and suggests that
it may not be exactly what it appears to be, a fact that is not lost on
discussions with JMS that suggest strongly that the plague would not be
the central focus of the Crusade story once we left season one. The
Drahk are a welcome menace in the episode and like all good villains are
best when they are kept to a minimal. Less is more, just like the
It is very curious that the Drahk fleet was warned about the attack but is never brought totally into battle. This could mean that the Drahk are in fact toying with the Excalibur for some reason. Certainly they could appear at any time and wipe out the lone ship. It is almost certain that there is a reason the ship has not been destroyed (once again, the series is not what it appears to be).
Although the first battle is welcomed, we do get a first hand look at one of the Excalibur's artistic flaws. Because it is so big, battles involving it are extremely odd to film, almost to the point where they become impossible. We get a look at almost all of the ship's weapons but at no point have any idea where on the ship they are. You can't get the ship into the full frame most of the time, and if you do go with a long shot the fact that it is black hides it form view. Also, its impossible to determine its relation in size to other ships. For instance, the Drahk mothership and fighters seem to be on camera the same size. You would think they were if not for the establishing shot of a fighter coming out. Retractable wings for the Excalibur would not only have solved this problem but also been technically justified because they would have protected the ship during combat.
The highlight of this episode is Dr. Franklin's appearance which adds
a ton to the cast. The interaction, even through glass, with Gideon
is very dramatic, reaching an artistic level in one minute that we never
see with Lockley in the series. The Franklin scenes, even though
mostly exposition, are some of the best of the series and prove why JMS
is such a good writer. Because of Franklin, not because it is the
last aired episode, this one is not to be missed.
Look for the appearance of both Drahk species together.
MUSIC: (4.5 STARS)
Less is more, and less is delivered. Music never imposes and hits the nail on the head on every scene. And looking back at this episode, the musical inspiration seems to look clearer with age. I am reminded of the music of Disney's Tron, and I see perfectly what the composer was doing. Periods of no music at all are frequent which only go to highlight those periods with music. And for once, the last minute of the episode is not drowned with sharp tones. It ends in a nice, fitting, ballad.
ACTING / CHARACTERS: (3.5 STARS)
On a whole this episode is very well acted, but you have to keep in mind there are very few characters actually here and very few locations, so the range of acting present is minimal, hence the lower score. There is very little to rate on frankly. Gideon and Franklin shine together. Franklin's moments are all grand, and not because of the words he says, but how he says them. Lockley's performance brings down the cast substantially and is mono toned. She sticks out like a sore thumb not only because she should not be in this episode, but does not match the tone of this episode.
Supporting characters, sometimes off balance in the B5 and Crusade universe, are near perfect.
PLOT: (3.5 STARS)
There is nothing truly original about this episode. It is mostly
exposition. As a vehicle to bring out new facts about the Drahk plague
it does its job well. And although these facts are very important,
they are nevertheless few and far between. Self sacrifice and the
chain of command are key points in this one.
The whole deal about who is going to press the button to infect the patient is pretty pointless and is forced. Although bad touches like these are brought up with great little touches like pneumatic manual door lifters that are perfectly executed and rather interesting. When technology fails, technology should really show its true colors and it does there.
CGI: (3 STARS)
For a episode with a battle in it, very little was done in the way of
battling. The detail in the Drahk fighters are minimal and they look
like a mass of brown stuff. They need work. Organization of
the battle scenes due to the Excalibur's size (as stated above) is a real
problem. Most of the time we don't know where action is taking place.
Movement of the maintenance bots is too simple.
The highlight of the Episode is the rotation of Lockley's star fury as it entered the Excalibur's main landing bay. The detail on the craft and of the physics hardens back to the early days of B5 season one where the staff paid the most attention to those things.