Babylon 5 Review – “No Surrender, No Retreat” (Season Four)

The “Low Point” here was almost the three week delay
caused by exchanging a defective copy after my
retailer’s exchange deadline, but that wouldn’t be
fair to the show’s creators.

Cast

Bruce
Boxleitner
as John Sheridan.

Claudia
Christian
as Susan Ivanova.

Jerry Doyle as
Michael Garibaldi.

Richard Biggs as
Stephen Franklin.

Mira
Furlan
as
Delenn.

Bill
Mumy
as
Lennier.

Peter Jurasik as
Londo Mollari.

Stephen Furst as
Vir.

Andreas
Katsulas
as G’Kar.

Jeff
Conaway
as
Zack Allen.

Jason
Carter
as
Marcus Cole.

Patricia
Tallman
as
Lyta Alexander.

Written by J. Michael Straczynski.

Directed by various individuals, including Stephen
Furst. Full information is available from
this
IMDB page
.

Past TV reviews can be found here.

This
DVD
release
has English, French, and Spanish
subtitles.

Original Airdate

This, the fourth season, originally aired in 1997.

Synopsis

The Shadow War ends, and the Civil War plays out
completely. Only one
year in the series remains.

High Point

No Surrender, No Retreat is the best overall
episode, but
Garibaldi’s developments and actions in the last six
episodes
(particularly the last one) gave the best individual
highs.

Low Point

The last scene in the last episode. There’s only so
high N
can get before the developments of humans N
years from now
become impossible to predict.

The Review

This show remains original, ending the war
that seemed to be
the ultimate goal of the series very early, making me
wonder what
could possibly come next. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects are still limited by the
undeservedly low budget,
although they have improved significantly.
I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is still the driving force of the
show without question.
The incredible story structure is still here, with
complete stories
being told in single episodes that contribute to an
incredible whole.
I give it 6 out of 6.

The acting is still uniformly good. Some
guest stars are
unimpressive, and Lyta’s hissy fit in “Between the
Darkness and the
Light” didn’t play out well at all, but the rest went
very well. I
give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is excellent. I’ve
never seen another
show where a completed storyline can feel like a
cliffhanger, making
me wonder what would be on those other 4 DVDs. It’s
a hell of a ride.
I give it 6 out of 6.

The production still gives the impression of
being the result
of giving very talented people half of their
requested budgets. They
get the job done, and the sets on Mars get more
extravagent, and the
editing style starts to really go to new areas
towards the end of
Garibaldi’s unusual behaviour. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s an excellent season in an
excellent series.
I’m stilll sorry I missed it the
first time around, but I’m very glad that it made it
to DVD. I give
it 6 out of 6.

In total, Babylon 5: Point Of No Return
receives 38 out of 42.

16 replies on “Babylon 5 Review – “No Surrender, No Retreat” (Season Four)”

  1. obiwan says:

    Low point
    I don’t really agree with the low point. I found that episode rather amusing, really. I don’t think it pretends to predict accurately, it’s just a plausible future (kind of reminds me of some of Asimov’s stories).

  2. cb says:

    high point
    My personal high point was in “The Face of the Enemy” when Bester explained to Garibaldi what happened to him. It was an awesome delivery by Koenig, and the first time I saw that episode I rewound and rewatched that segment twice.

    But since this was probably the best season of sci-fi tv ever, I’m sure everyone will have their own favorite moments.

    -cb

  3. Lurch_Kimded says:

    Low Point…
    The “Get the hell out of my galaxy”.. yeah right… two ancient races who could wipe out planets in seconds are gonna suddenly turn into teenagers after getting a row from Sheridan and Deleen… grrr… I just wished JMS had used series four to end the war and series five for the human civil war and ISA creation.

    Rant over…

    • Mr. Vapor says:

      Re: Low Point…

      The “Get the hell out of my galaxy”.. yeah right… two ancient races who could
      wipe out planets in seconds are gonna suddenly turn into teenagers

      The actual conclusions and speechifying wasn’t too bad (to me anyways) it fit
      in with B5 and how things where being set-up. But I do cringe every-time
      when at the end of that speech when the shadow guy says so meekly “Will
      you, come with us?” to Lorian. That was just bad if you ask me, and it mars an
      otherwise great ending.

      • Gaewyn says:

        Re: Low Point…

        The “Get the hell out of my galaxy”.. yeah right… two ancient races who could
        wipe out planets in seconds are gonna suddenly turn into teenagers

        The actual conclusions and speechifying wasn’t too bad (to me anyways) it fit
        in with B5 and how things where being set-up. But I do cringe every-time
        when at the end of that speech when the shadow guy says so meekly “Will
        you, come with us?” to Lorian. That was just bad if you ask me, and it mars an
        otherwise great ending.

        Ahh yes… but how does any “parent” feel when it is driven home to them that not only do their children not want them any more… but that they were bad parents. I have seen one parent get that exact treatment and there is nothing quite like the look that they have when they realize. The shadows and the vorlons had just that happen to them… and all they could do was cling to their “parent” at that moment.

        I will grant they don’t really explain that enough but… if you put it in that context it makes WAY more sense.

    • TwistyHat says:

      Re: Low Point…

      The “Get the hell out of my galaxy”.. yeah right… two ancient races who could wipe out planets in seconds are gonna suddenly turn into teenagers after getting a row from Sheridan and Deleen… grrr… I just wished JMS had used series four to end the war and series five for the human civil war and ISA creation.

      Rant over…

      Yep, but the shadow war would still have ended that way, none of the smaller races would be able to blow them up – you would have to outargue them.

      Though it would have been nice if they had known they got the last season and we were stuck with that twit byron :)

    • SteveB says:

      Re: Low Point…

      The “Get the hell out of my galaxy”.. yeah right… two ancient races who could wipe out planets in seconds are gonna suddenly turn into teenagers after getting a row from Sheridan and Deleen… grrr…

      Actually, that was the only reasonable conclusion that premise could reach. Discovering a McGuffin (like Shadow ship vulnerability to telepaths) works as a means to buy time, but would look cheesy as the overall solution. What did work was the “you can kill us, you can’t make us play your game any more” message.

  4. UncleJam says:

    Question

    Just the other day I was watching “Into the Fire” for the umpeenth time
    and something struck
    me. I had never thought of this before, but maybe someone else has and can
    help me out.

    After all the fighting is over and the First Ones are gone, Sheridan
    explains to Delenn the meaning behind the phrase “Third Age of Mankind”,
    which has been floating around since the S1 opening monologue (I don’t
    recall if it was used in “The Gathering”).

    Therein lies my confusion. S1’s monologue was spoken by Cmdr.
    Sinclair. But how would he know this was the “dawn of the Third Age of
    Mankind”? He was no longer around in 2261 when the First Ones left. And the
    Third Age obviously isn’t a Minbari concept that he could have picked up
    during his time with the Rangers, as Sheridan has to explain it to Delenn.
    Making things even worse is the fact that the monologues appear to be
    current with each season, not spoken from a future point looking back, as
    evidenced by the continued use of the phrase “The year is…” and Marcus’ line
    in the S4 monologue even though he doesn’t survive the season.

    Or am I just overthinking this?

    • obiwan says:

      Re: Question

      Or am I just overthinking this?

      Yes. :)

    • valen1260 says:

      Re: Question

      Therein lies my confusion. S1’s monologue was spoken by Cmdr.
      Sinclair. But how would he know this was the “dawn of the Third Age of
      Mankind”? …
      Making things even worse is the fact that the monologues appear to be
      current with each season, not spoken from a future point looking back, as
      evidenced by the continued use of the phrase “The year is…” and Marcus’ line
      in the S4 monologue even though he doesn’t survive the season.

      Have you not seen the series finale? “For those of you archiving this special ISN broadcast…” The series was always told as a retrospective. How else would they know it “was the last of the Babylon stations”? The use of “the year is”, I think, is grammatically acceptable. If not, it’s at least poetically licensed as we change from omniscient narration to more-or-less first-person experience.

      I don’t know what significance there is to who narrates the season. Remember, Londo narrated the pilot, and was also the storyteller in “In the Beginning” (I love the last scene of ITB, btw.). The first three seasons are by the highest-ranking officers. Nearly everyone gets a say in S4, and S5 is just sound clips.

      • Timeshredder says:

        Re: Question

        We have to remember (and this has been indirectly addressed, I think) that they fully intended the war to end in season five. They faced cancellation, and wrapped things up in four– and then discovered they were going to have a fifth season after all. But they did a very good job with handling the situation, and making the time-travel element make some kind of sense– something certain other shows have not been enterprising enough to manage.

        • Gaewyn says:

          Re: Question

          But they did a very good job with handling the situation, and making the time-travel element make some kind of sense– something certain other shows have not been enterprising enough to manage.

          Bwahahaha *dies laughing* I sure hope you meant that pun at the end… cause that just about killed me :}

        • Trekkie says:

          Re: Question

          something certain other shows have not been
          enterprising enough to manage.

          That’s one of the best puns I’ve seen in a while, intentional or not. :)

        • UncleJam says:

          Re: Question

          Which war do you mean? The Shadow War? Nope, that was always intended to end about where it did.

          From the Lurker’s Guide:

          Are you happy with having to hurry season four along in case the show isn’t renewed?
          Truth: I go back and forth. The “Into the Fire” thing, for instance… it would’ve likely been a two-part episode, but it still would’ve ended up exactly where it ended up. A few more big explosions, but I wonder also if that really adds anything past a certain point.

          Parts would’ve been a bit more laid-back if I had decided not to cover my bets on renewal

          That’s just one of the places where JMS has said much the same thing.

          And though I’m too lazy to look for it, I know JMS has said that even if he had known there would be a fifth season, S5 would have ended up pretty much as it did. IIRC, the biggest change would have been to stretch the civil war arc into the first four eps of S5 (i.e. S4 was supposed to end with “Intersections in Real Time”).

          This also means that we still would have gotten stuck with that “twit” Byron, as someone upthread complained. But if Claudia Christian had been around for S5, he would have hooked up with her. ::shudder::

          • valen1260 says:

            Re: Question

            This also means that we still would have gotten stuck with that “twit” Byron, as someone upthread complained. But if Claudia Christian had been around for S5, he would have hooked up with her. ::shudder::

            Not to harp on CC’s departure, because the work she put in B5 is fantastic, but I think that her leaving was probably just as big a kink in S5 as the 11th hour renewal.

  5. Trekkie says:

    High Point? The Series
    I was an avid fan of this series and watched it every time it was on TV, and
    then another time or two through the whole season when it moved to Sci-Fi.

    So of course I’ve bought all five box sets and have yet to watch them for some
    reason or another.

    however this series won huge points with me by making my WIFE watch it
    every time it was on with me, rerun or not. Not very many sci-fi shows have
    that claim to fame (only Farscape has that claim with her) she normally will
    watch if she is tired and fall asleep with most other shows (taking care of two
    little ones is hard work) but when Farscape or Babylon 5 are on she’s up and
    at attention.

    What was really funny was it was hard to tell who was more pissed off when
    Farscape went off the air for money reasons, me or her.

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