Babylon 5 Season by Season: No Surrender, No Retreat Review
No Surrender, No Retreat is Jane Killick's in-depth guide to the fourth season of Babylon 5. This title is also the overall title of the show's fourth season and is emblematic of the events taking place: John Sheridan leads the forces of Babylon 5 head-to-head against the Shadows, Vorlons, and the forces of Earth President Clark.
Ms. Killick begins with an essay entitled "Script to Screen". This section begins with a look at the script-writing process used by J. Michael Straczynski and continues with explanations of how the various departments bring Straczynski's vision to the screen. Babylon 5's high production values and attention to detail are examined. For example, by turning in the script early, Straczynski allows his department heads time to confer so that the sets, costumes, makeup, and props are consistent with each other and the background of the story. The section continues with a look at the filming schedule and postproduction.
The second section of the book is an essay about the fourth season as a whole. Ms. Killick takes this opportunity to chart the major themes running through the story. The fourth season includes three major story lines: the conclusion of the Shadow War, the Minbari civil war, and the conclusion of the Earth civil war. Most of the season is fast-paced because Straczynski wanted to tie up the major story threads since it didn't look like they would be renewed for a fifth season.
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. Unfortunately, the 11th hour production of "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" left little time for its inclusion in this volume, so readers must turn to the fifth volume for an analysis of this episode.
With a story as complex as Babylon 5 it is hard to keep the events of five seasons straight. Babylon 5 Season by Season: No Surrender, No Retreat is an indispensable addition to any serious Babylon 5 fan's library.