The Excalibur picks up a Senator who comes on board with a guy. He then instructs them to go to Earth but doesn't tell them why. Along the way they pick up a distress call from Lochley who is trapped...
Several years after the end of the Great War (detailed in the main Babylon 5 TV series) the former servants of the now-exiled Shadows attempt to avenge their old masters by introducing a powerful biological weapon into Earth's atmosphere. After five years of adapting itself to humanity's genetic makeup, it will kill every human being on the planet. Since this plague was the product of a technology far ahead of humanity's, there isn't enough time to develop an original solution - instead, humanity will have to comb through the ruins of older alien civilizations with the hope of finding some ancient, advanced technology that can cure the disease. Leading this high-stakes archeological mission is a starship of the new Interstellar Alliance, the Excalibur, and its crew drawn from the Alliance's elite troubleshooting corps, the Rangers. Written by
Erich Schneider <email@example.com>
In talking about Crusade, one must first recognize the fact that we are talking about a series that was cut short before it even aired. Only 13 episodes were produced of the show and of those 13 a handful do not do the series or its predecessor, Babylon 5 justice.
True to form J. Michael Stracynski (hereby referred to as "JMS") set about to tell us a story, albeit one not as tightly plotted as Babylon 5 or as driven by multiple story arcs, but a story nonetheless. A story meant to further the Babylon 5 universe, but a story that was cut short.
Similar to what JMS did with Babylon 5, the first season episodes of Crusade set up A LOT of what was going to be dealt with later on in the series. The result is that these episodes, on a whole, are mediocre at times, because they lacked the effect of having a later episode revisit some themes set up there and bring them to fruition. Several first (and second) season episodes of Babylon 5 seemed mediocre at the time, but when revisited after watching later seasons, they became gems of foreshadowing, plot development, minor details, etc. all of which added to the show.
But, I'm dwelling on the past and like so many others, disregarding the fact that this show is a good example of quality television in and of itself. With only 13 episodes, JMS did set up a whole sub-section of the Babylon 5 universe, showed us new areas to explore, reunited us with some old friends, sowed the seeds of what was to be a very interesting plot development, and even poked fun at the X-Files (fans of that show take heart, JMS and Chris Carter are good friends and it was done more as a homage than to criticize the show).
One of JMS' strengths is in his characters. These are people who are flawed, who are crude, dishonest, have secrets in their past, but still work together and are the team I'd want looking for a cure were we to be infected with a plague like the Drahk one.
Captain Matthew Gideon is perhaps the most flawed. He's a gambler, he doesn't take anything from anyone, he's angry over the loss of a ship he served on, but most of all he's determined. For all that though, he's not one to jump into things head on, he more prefers to have an ace up his sleeve. That `ace' being, at least some of the time, his mysterious `Apocolypse Box,' which started sowing seeds of doubt.
Lieutenant Matheson is the upstanding officer on the ship, loyal to a fault. He's a telepath left with the burden of proving to the world that telepaths don't need an organization to police them, as the Psi-Corp once did. He's got the sword of Damocles above his head and a past history of violence against the Corp.
Doctor Chambers wasn't given much time to develop, but like Dr. Franklin on B5, she cares about her patients and is willing to do what it takes.
Max Eilerson is the resident archeologist, linguist, and pain in the butt. He seems to annoy just about everyone and yet, he's indispensable. Just because he's searching for a cure to save every man, woman, child, and alien on Earth doesn't mean he can't find a way to get rich out of the deal...
Which brings us to Dureena, the thief with a code of honor. Dureena is trustworthier than Eilerson, despite her background. She does provide the important role of being the one person who can pick locks, sneak in and out of places, and search alien worlds for the cure.
Finally, there's Galen, who is the most interesting. He's a Technomage, which means he uses science and technology to simulate magic. That means he's the one with the ability to save the crew and spy on them when needed. He rescued Gideon 10 years in the past, when his ship was destroyed and now cares for him as if Gideon were a stray cat he took in and yet more times than not, it seems he needs Gideon more than Gideon needs him.
It's a shame all this potential was left in the limbo good shows go when they are taken off the air. Even more so when you learn how the first season was to end. Without spoiling things (in the case of some miracle resurrecting the series), it seems that a lot more people than we thought are using the Shadow tech that the virus is based on. President Clark's Shadow enhanced ships in `Between the Darkness and the Light' was just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, it's a lot more recent use of Shadow technology than another group in the Babylon 5 universe that bases what they do on that same technology. The former group, at the end of the season though, was willing to protect their secret use of the Shadow tech at any cost.
For now though, we are left with 13 episodes, most of which do make for good television as stand-alone episodes. And yet, they could have been so much more...
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