The ’90s space opera television series Babylon 5 had a rocky start with its feature-length pilot, The Gathering. Its main flaws included clunky exposition, subpar acting, and dodgy make up and special effects (even when compared to the series proper). Many Babylon 5 fans aren’t fond of The Gathering and recommend skipping it entirely because of this.
So when I first watched The Gathering, I expected something truly horrendous, like a high school rendition of Macbeth – but by golly, the naysayers were wrong and I fell in love. Here’s a list of some of the best random things about it. Hopefully I can convince you to give it a little love, too.
1. Dark C&C
You can barely see anything here and annoying lights keep flashing, but I liked how passing ships provided fleeting illumination.
2. Garibaldi Intro
When we first see him, he appears on a monitor behind Takashima, but he’s kept out of focus so that the first good look we get of him is in person shortly afterward.
3. Zócalo Song
This ’80s New Wave-sounding song is fantastic; it also plays a couple times in early season 1. You can barely make out some of the lyrics: “Set me free / Let me be”. It’s a mystery who composed it or what the song’s even called. Why wasn’t this ever released on one of the many Babylon 5 soundtracks?
4. Identicard Screen
Looks like something out of Blade Runner.
5. Commander Takashima and Dr. Kyle
These two are never seen again after The Gathering, so you can turn off your brain any time you see the two of them alone together in a scene (just kidding – don’t do this).
6. Dinosaur News Anchor
We only see him for a couple seconds, but come on, it’s a dinosaur news anchor!
7. Sinclair’s Smile
In Lyta’s vision. Looks kinda creepy; maybe a hint that this isn’t the real Sinclair?
8. Finger Pointing
For a brief moment, The Gathering becomes a melodramatic ’80s crime show.
It’s almost like he’s trying to remember his name as he’s saying it. Party too much last night, senator?
Reminds me of Mr. Fathead from Rocko’s Modern Life for some reason.
11. This Uniform
It’s so big and baggy and white. If I had to wear this, you can bet I’d spill spaghetti sauce all over it…even if I wasn’t anywhere near spaghetti.
12. Gorilla Bartender
The instant this strange costume appeared, I knew there was no way we were going to see it again. Too bad.
13. Gravity Rings
These things are cool but they never show up again. Also G’Kar is fantastic in this scene.
14. Sinclair’s Globe
When Sinclair talks about The Battle of the Line, I can’t help but focus on this cool globe in his quarters. Is the ball in the middle Earth and the ball surrounding it space?
15. Environmental Screen
A lot of the screens we see in The Gathering, while a bit primitive by today’s standards, still look cool. But this one in particular has the most primitive-looking graphics…and it’s so, so beautiful, like it’s from an old DOS game.
16. G’Kar’s Gills
This close up of his throbbing gills is a little gross, but you can’t help but keep looking.
17. Assassin Hiss
The assassin, when disguised as Lyta, makes a hissing noise when he bumps into the real Lyta in the hall. Overusing the changeling net must have made him part-monster.
18. Med Bay Knobs
From some angles, they almost look like Xenomorph heads. Am I trying to pad this list to get to 21? Of course not!
19. Dress Uniform Collars
They make me think of pin-feed edgings from Dot matrix printer paper, which I just learned is called continuous paper.
20. “There is a Hole in Your Mind”
The Gathering‘s most famous quote that gets repeated a couple times in the show, such as the season 5 intro. Sometimes I like to say, “there is a hole in your wallet” when someone makes a large purchase.
21. Kosh Head Tilt
During the party at the end, everyone claps and cheers for Kosh and he tilts his head as if to say, “Aww shucks, guys.”
Bonus: This Promo Photo
(Via b5scrolls.com) It looks like it was either taken right before filming or some time after because what’s up with Garibaldi’s goatee?