Although it aired for five seasons and completed its story, Babylon 5 never really gained the mainstream traction that shows such as Star Trek did, but remains a cult classic nevertheless. Written almost wholly by J Michael Straczynski, the series was a much darker, gritter science fiction effort that predated similar efforts such as Battlestar Galactica and much of post-9/11 television in terms of style. A number of comics, novels, toys and spin-off films as well as an aborted series, Crusade, followed. As always, these are just ten of the best, not the ten best, episodes.
Season One, 18 May 1994
There may not have been a huge amount of action in this episode, but it was crucial to the overall development of the further plot. It introduced, obliquely, the Shadows, Mr Morden, and foreshadowed (no pun intended) the Narn-Centauri War.
Season One, 10 August 1994
A perennial fixture on top ten lists such as these, ‘Babylon Squared’ was a mind-bending, reality-warping episode that mastered the art of raising questions for long-running arcs well before Oceanic 815 crash-landed on a time-shifting island.
Season One, 3 October 1994
The finale of the first season also saw the departure of Sinclair as the station’s commander, the transformation of Delenn into a Minbari-Human hybrid, the assassination of Earth President Santiago and more. A moving, and deeply important instalment.
Season Two, 10 May 1995
Morden has been a shadowy, elusive presence on the station up until this point, but finally, we start to get some answers. Babylon 5 always excelled at presenting infodumps gracefully, and this is a fine example of that, where we learn the framework of the verse.
Season Three, 1 April 1996
Dramatic, action-packed and well-written, ‘Severed Dreams’ is possibly the best episode of Babylon 5, and always a fan favourite. The Earth Alliance civil war is kicked off in style here, complete with the kind of space battle you’d never see in Star Trek.
Season Three, 28 October 1996
A climactic moment features some brilliant (for the time) CG work, good acting from the ever-reliable Bruce Boxleitner, plot development and one of the most beautiful scores in the entire series. A truly vintage episode of the later Babylon 5 era.
Season Four, 3 February 1997
After all of the feints, heavy losses, pitched battles and more of the last few years, the Vorlons and the Shadows finally get a fat lip from the younger races and told to bugger off. It’s a little cheesy, but man, what an incredible space battle.
Season Four, 12 October 1997
Along with ‘Severed Dreams’ this was one of the best episodes of the series as a whole. Its complex, multi-layered story added to some great action as Sheridan and his alien allies launch their final attack to topple the neo-fascist regime of President Clark.
Season Four, 27 October 1997
Many fans consider this to be the actual ending of Babylon 5, and I’m inclined to agree. Unlike most shows, B5 actually gave us a full conclusion not only for the crew, but also for the entire human race as a whole. Far reaching, and very satisfying.
Season Five, 17 June 1998
The true reason behind the Centauri attacks (as if we didn’t already know) is revealed, and one of the darkest plotlines of the entire series comes full circle, eventually leading to the destruction of Centauri Prime and the proof that you just shouldn’t bargain with the Devil.