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Racing the Night
Maintained by David Boyd
Last Update on August 14 '99
Title: Racing the Night
Episode Order Number: 109
Production Number: 103
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski    Director: Mike Vejar
First US Air Date: Wednesday 04th August 1999
Episode Message Board: Talk about the Episode here
Contents: [Plot] - [Regular Cast] - [Guest Stars] - [Review]
Plot:

    A planet of ruins seems to hold promise of a real lead to the cure the Excalibur seeks... or is it simply the bait in an enormous trap? Gideon, her captain, must decide how much of a gamble he can take.

Regular Cast: Gary Cole, Daniel Dae Kim, David Allen Brooks, Marjean Holden, Carrie Dobro, Peter Woodward
Guest Stars: Madison Mason, Brenan Baird
Review:

By Lars Joreteg

Review: Crusade episode 9 - "Racing the Night"

"You speak well now - Let us see how proud you are in three years" - Keeper for this generation

"Racing the Night" is definitely the best episode of Crusade so far, an episode where the plot, action, and character interaction all works together to add up to something more than the sum of its parts.

On a remote world that has been dead for a thousand years, the Excalibur crew finds an abandoned city that appears to be a gold mine of knowledge. But even though the inhabitants disappeared long ago, the city is in an amazingly good condition. Where these people also wiped out by the Drakh plague, or is the city hiding another secret?

The core idea of this story of this episode is about how desperate times cause desperate measures. Through the beginning flashback we see how the other races are worried what humanity will do when the plagues incubation time is up. Justifying this fear of theirs, at the end of the episode we see how the quest for a cure caused one race to "take extraordinary means" (to quote Sheridan). Unfortunately their solution caused the death of many thousands of innocents of the last thousand years, but with their survival as a species at stake, this was an acceptable trade-off for them. This desperation - is it perhaps a sign of things to come? To what depths will the Earth Alliance go to find a cure, should time grow short? The peace and order of the Babylon 5 universe suddenly seems very fragile... In addition to this intriguing story, "Racing the Night" also is the most action-packed episode to date, featuring a fun chase through the city, and an attack on the Excalibur that gives the fighter pilots a chance to show off their skills. The script is very well written and moves along very nicely, giving each character an opportunity to shine, while also providing some wonderful dialogue. This is easily the best-written episode so far. Finally, at the end of the episode the apocalypse box makes another appearance, posing even more questions for us to ponder. I love mysterious and ominous endings. :-)

The cast is uniformly excellent in this episode and Gary Cole (as Captain Gideon) gives one of his best performances so far, this time showing a darker aspect of his personality. He is a shrewd and lucky gambler, but when will his luck run out? And how is the box affecting him?

David Allen Brooks (as Max Eilerson) does give a good performance, but his character is more stereotypical than usual.

This is the best episode so far for Dr. Chambers (Marjean Holden), she does a great job here. You've got to love that "Dureena-sized hole" comment. :-) Dureena (Carrie Dobro) is wonderful here as well, especially in her arguments with Galen. (Side note - her makeup has now reverted back to the way she looked in "A Call to Arms") Peter Woodward also hands in a great performance as Galen.

Lt. Matheson (Daniel Dae Kim) is give the least amount of screen time here, but he does a very good job with what he is given, even though he is the one given most of the exposition.

The effects in this episode were great, especially the space battle. The city chase scene was very good as well, even though it seemed to be inspired by a certain "pod-race" at times. :-) Perhaps not the most realistic chase sequence ever, but groundbreaking for a television series nonetheless. Hopefully we will see more alien city- and landscapes. Evan Chen's music was good again, one example being the deep planet scan scene. The tense moments and battle scenes were scored better than such moments in previous episodes as well. The production crew is also getting better and betters at using "virtual sets" (only partial sets built, the rest filled in with CGI during post-production), this episode being a prime example of that.

Sometimes while watching a television series, along comes an episode which makes you sit up straight and think to yourself "wow, this show is good!" When starting to watch Babylon 5, the eighth episode ("And the Sky is Full of Stars") was that kind of episode for me - from knowing almost nothing about Babylon 5, it made me an instant fan. While I've always liked Crusade from the beginning, this episode had a similar effect on me - it made me realize how good this show really is, and what incredible potential is there. Crusade truly deserves to survive, this episode is clear proof of that.

Rating: 9.5/10

- Lars Joreteg (lars.joreteg@usa.net)

 
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