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Babylon 5 Season by Season: The Wheel of Fire Review

The Wheel of Fire is Jane Killick's in-depth guide to the fifth season of Babylon 5. This title is also the overall title of the show's fifth season and is a quote from King Lear: "For I am bound upon a wheel of fire, that my own tears do scald like molten lead."

Ms. Killick begins with an essay entitled "Looking Back Over Five Years". This section discusses the challenges Babylon 5 faced over its run as well as its achievements. Joe Straczynski successfully produced a good science fiction story for fans who continually discussed its story arc, characters, and special effects.

The second section of the book is an essay about the fifth season as a whole. Ms. Killick takes this opportunity to chart the major themes running through the story. The fifth season includes two major story lines: Byron's martyrdom and the infiltration of the Centauri Republic by the Drakh. Underlying these plots is the dispersal of the crew of Babylon 5 across the galaxy.

The meat of the book is the episode guide. This section is comprised of one chapter for each episode, and each chapter includes a cast list, short synopsis, and an analysis of the episode. Dedicated Babylon 5 fans may find the synopses lacking because they are written nonlinearly and occasionally have surprising omissions. However, the analysis sections more than make up for the synopses. On these pages, Ms. Killick's informed interpretations serve as a framework for quotes from the cast and crew. Numerous actors and crew members - as well as J. Michael Straczynski himself - were interviewed for this book, and their comments have been dispersed to appropriate places throughout the episode guide. All of the comments relating to a particular episode or issue are grouped together. As a bonus, this book includes a chapter on "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", the last episode of Season Four. In this volume, the cast list for each episode omits regular cast members who do not appear in that episode. This is a better quick reference than the full cast lists that appeared in previous volumes.

With a story as complex as Babylon 5's it's hard to keep the events of five seasons straight. Babylon 5 Season by Season: The Wheel of Fire is an indispensable addition to any serious Babylon 5 fan's library.


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