"To the Ends of the Earth" Review
When TNT cancelled Crusade during the production of its first season, several scripts were already written that were never produced. "To the Ends of the Earth" is one of them. It would have been the next episode shown, airing after "Each Night I Dream of Home".
"To the Ends of the Earth" would have kicked off Crusade's first main story arc. It is to Crusade what "Signs and Portents" was to Babylon 5. As I predicted before Crusade aired, this major arc has nothing to do with finding a cure for the Drakh plague.
J. Michael Straczynski published his script for "To the Ends of the Earth" on Bookface.com where it could be read for free. Unfortunately, the site closed in January 2001.
In "The Path of Sorrows" we saw a flashback to the destruction of the Cerberus nine years earlier. Ensign Gideon was the only survivor because he was outside the ship repairing damage. The disaster took place at the same time as "The Geometry of Shadows" on Babylon 5, and Gideon was in the path of the techno-mage exodus. Galen rescued Gideon and befriended him.
EarthForce classified the loss of the Cerberus as a jump engine accident, but Gideon knew better. His ship had been destroyed by another vessel. While Gideon had no way of identifying the alien ship, it was clear to the audience that it was some sort of Shadow hybrid. Gideon committed himself to proving the truth and avenging his shipmates.
In "To the Ends of the Earth", Gideon's Apocalypse Box gives him a lead on the ship that destroyed the Cerberus. Gideon immediately recalls the team that is searching an alien ruin for a cure to the Drakh plague and takes the Excalibur in pursuit of the Shadow hybrid. His obsession is noted by the crew.
The reactions of the main characters illustrate the alliances that Gideon maintains with them. Max Eilerson and Dureena Nafeel are content to let Gideon get his revenge. Lieutenant Matheson is an informed co-conspirator. He has worked together with Gideon for years to track down the Shadow hybrid, and he also seems to know about the Apocalypse Box. Dr. Chambers weighs the options against her priority of saving lives. She is initially opposed to chasing the Shadow hybrid until she learns that stopping the ship might save lives. Galen has promised to help Gideon on his quest, but he is suspicious and fearful of the source of Gideon's information.
Straczynski's script is very detailed. He includes camera directions and notes about what the characters are thinking. It is much more that a simple transcript of dialog and stage directions. Straczynski is able to convey a sense of tension even in this format that isn't intended for audiences. It's worth reading just for the educational aspect alone.
As expected, "To the Ends of the Earth" asks far more questions than it answers. Who is building ships with Shadow technology? What types of ships are they building? Where are they? What are their plans? There are a few tantalizing clues about the answers to these questions, but they bring on new questions themselves.
Captain Gideon's character is someone who has a priority that is higher than finding a cure for the Drakh plague. Galen is reinforced as someone who knows more than he lets on and is operating under a different agenda. Both situations show promise for further development.
The character of John Matheson comes off much stronger in this script than he does in the earlier episodes. This is a welcome change for the underused Matheson.
Reading this script makes me even angrier that Crusade was cancelled. This show was really going somewhere, and it wasn't a humdrum five-year search for a cure.
Fortunately, Straczynski also posted the script for "End of the Line" on Bookface.com. This episode answers some of the question raised in "To the Ends of the Earth".
Fans of Crusade owe a debt of thanks to Joe Straczynski for publishing "To the Ends of the Earth" online. He didn't have to publish it, and he didn't have to make it available for free. This is an exciting and pivotal episode, and I highly recommend to everyone that they take the time to read it.