Some of the crew are caught with the Brakiri as they celebrate their "Day of
the Dead," a remembrance of the recently deceased. A pair of famous
entertainers visits the station.
Harlan Ellison as the voice of Zooty.
Bridget Flanery as Zoe.
Penn and Teller as Rebo and Zooty.
Ed Wasser as Morden.
P5 Rating: 8.44
Production number: 511
Original air date: March 11, 1998
Written by Neil Gaiman
Directed by Doug Lefler
- Once every 200 years, a comet approaches the Brakiri
homeworld and signals the Day of the Dead, in which, for one night,
people can interact with those who've died.
- In their youth, Lochley and her friend Zoe spent much of
their time on drugs and lived in squalid conditions. Lochley's
father, an EarthForce marine, had no idea where she was. Zoe eventually
committed suicide, something which has haunted Lochley her entire
life. After the suicide, Lochley's father located her, and shortly
thereafter, putting her old life behind her, Lochley enrolled in the
- Kosh has sent a message to Sheridan via one of the
visiting deceased: "When the long night comes, return to the end of
- According to Morden, Lennier is fated to betray the
Rangers. Morden also hinted that Lennier would die soon.
- Rebo and Zooty have starred in a variety of shows and
movies. Zooty speaks via a small handheld device, and both of them
have studied Minbari, Narn, and other forms of humor. Minbari humor,
Rebo says, is based on failure to attain spiritual enlightenment,
though puns seem to be effective in Minbari humor as well.
- What does Kosh's message mean? Any relation
to the episode
"The Long Night?"
- Was Morden's prediction about Lennier correct? If so,
how and why will Lennier betray the Rangers?
- What is Zooty's machine? What does it tell him to do?
- There are two possible explanations for the visitations.
First, one of Lochley's suspicions may have been correct, that the
whole affair was an illusion or a trick of some kind. A sufficiently
powerful telepath might have pulled memories of Dodger, Adira, Zoe,
and Morden from the people in the Brakiri section. The memories of
Morden would more likely have come from Londo than from Lennier, of
course. Zoe's message from Kosh could have been based on Lennier's
memories; Lennier almost certainly knew about the close relationship
between Kosh and Sheridan.
The other possibility, of course, is that what appeared to happen
really did happen: the dead returned.
If the Day of the Dead can be taken at face value, then given
Lyta's description of being inside someone's mind at the time of death
("The Paragon of Animals")
and Byron's description of the echoes of a sentient mind persisting in
nearby objects after death
("A View from the Gallery")
it seems that there's more going on with death in the B5 universe
than meets the eye.
It's possible that the echoes mentioned by Byron never actually go away,
and that a powerful enough telepath can pick them up long after the
fact. In that case, the Day of the Dead may be the result of group
telepathy on the part of the Brakiri (several telepaths joining
together can produce greatly amplified powers, e.g. in
"A Race Through Dark Places.")
Clues to another possibility are found in the Soul Hunters' practice
of capturing the souls of the dying
Perhaps the Soul Hunters aren't the only ones doing so -- and whoever
else is involved does it on a much larger scale and in such a way
that they aren't noticed. In that case, the tunnel of light Lyta saw in
"The Paragon of Animals"
might simply be a representation of the dying person's mind being
extracted for storage. And her belief that the living aren't supposed
to know what's on the other side of that tunnel would be consistent
with a clandestine Soul Hunter-esque group that wanted its presence to
remain unknown. If that's what's happening, a natural question is,
why? And why would that group allow some minds to escape on a day of
significance only to the Brakiri? Perhaps the Brakiri are involved with
the group somehow.
- All the people who returned suffered untimely
or violent deaths: Morden was decapitated on Londo's orders
("Into the Fire,")
Adira was poisoned
("Interludes and Examinations,")
Zoe committed suicide, and Dodger was killed in combat
Is that significant, or is it simply that people who die in such a
manner are more likely to have unfinished business with the living?
- Lochley's escape from the squalid lifestyle she described
was a sort of rebirth. Perhaps that's why she has a phoenix on her
- Judging by Garibaldi's interaction with Dodger, he and
Lise are still together. Is she still on Mars? In the past, she
wasn't willing to tolerate Garibaldi going off to live on Babylon
5 while she stayed on Mars
Has her attitude changed now, or is she expecting him to return
in the near future?
- Dodger mentioned "technomancy" as a possible explanation
for her appearance. A reference, most likely to the technomages
("The Geometry of Shadows.")
How widely-known is the existence of the technomages?
- Lennier told Morden that Sheridan hadn't died on Z'ha'dum.
Did he simply mean that Sheridan didn't die permanently, or does
he not believe Sheridan died at all? Given Lennier's jealous
feelings toward Sheridan (manifested, for instance, by referring
to him as "your partner" to Delenn rather than by name) it's possible
he's not inclined to believe in any of the larger-than-life stories
Also of note is Morden's surprise that Sheridan wasn't back for the
Day of the Dead. Is that a sign that Morden, or what's left of him,
doesn't know that Sheridan survived? That's unlikely, given that
Morden himself survived long enough to hear about Sheridan's return
to Babylon 5
Or does Morden know something Sheridan doesn't about the nature of
Sheridan's second lease on life?
- Morden said to Lennier, "And you want wisdom?" Lennier
replied yes. That marks the first time he's been able to find out what
a Minbari wants (he failed to get an answer to that question from
"Signs and Portents.")
Telling Morden what one wants, and getting it, has usually had
disastrous consequences in the past.
Is Lennier's willingness to answer the question further
foreshadowing of his alleged betrayal of the Rangers? Will his
betrayal hinge on acquiring some sort of wisdom?
- Morden told Lennier, "One does not go to the dead for
wisdom." That's not an opinion shared by the Brakiri, though: the
greeting for the holiday, judging by the conversation between the
merchant and Londo, is, "May the Comet bring you wisdom."
- Morden told Lennier that the other end of the corridor
was over 200 million light-years away, while Lochley said to Sheridan
that she was 27 light-years away. Who was right? If Morden was
right, where was the Brakiri section really taken? 200 million
light-years is a distance on an intergalactic scale. The fact that
Lochley was able to contact Sheridan in real time suggests that Morden
was exaggerating the distance.
- As is often the case with his pronouncements, Kosh's
message can be taken several ways. "The long night" may refer to
Sheridan's death in 19 years. "The end of the beginning" is more
ambiguous. Does it refer to the end of Sheridan's original life?
If so, it might mean Sheridan should return to Z'ha'dum (odd, since
Z'ha'dum was destroyed in
or perhaps that he should seek out Lorien. It's even possible Kosh
was referring to Coriana 6, where, as Sheridan said, the second age
of mankind ended; what good it would do Sheridan to return there
It might also refer to the end of Babylon 5, which was the site of
the beginning of the Interstellar Alliance. If Sheridan is to take
up residence on Minbar as planned
but returns to Babylon 5 at the end of his life in 2282, also the
year of the station's destruction
("The Deconstruction of Falling Stars")
that might account for the ambiguity surrounding his place of death
- Morden likes coffee.
- Brakiri are nocturnal.
- Garibaldi sleeps with a gun under his pillow.
- Morden's head is still on the pike outside the
Centauri Imperial Palace
("Into the Fire.")
- Universe Today front-page headlines:
Back page headlines:
- Meet Rebo & Zooty Up Close and Personal
- Babylon 5 will air Rebo & Zooty Movie Marathon
- Rebo and Zooty Arrive
- Interstellar Alliance Talks to Resume
- Londo Mollari to Become Centauri Emperor (this news story was
briefly referred to by the Brakiri merchant Londo talked to:
"You are Centauri emperor-to-be. Universe Today.")
- Reclamation of San Diego Wasteland gets Underway (the
nuking of San Diego was mentioned in
"Midnight on the Firing Line,"
and the wasteland was shown in
"Spider in the Web.")
- Stocks: How your credit Rates
- Narn Consulate Opens on Mars amid Controversy
- Earth Senate Votes More Money for Titan Terraforming
- The poem Dodger recited was actually "A Few Figs from
Thistles" by Edna St. Vincent Millay, not an Emily Dickinson poem.
Garibaldi's attempt was by Dickinson, however, a poem titled "Because
I could not stop for Death."
Because I could not stop for Death--
He kindly stopped for me--
The Carriage held but just Ourselves--
We slowly drove--He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility--
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess--in the Ring--
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain--
We passed the Setting Sun--
He passed Us--
The Dews drew quivering and chill--
For only Gossamer, my Gown--
My Tippet--only Tulle--Or rather--
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground--
The Roof was scarcely visible--
The Cornice--in the Ground--
Since then--'tis Centuries--and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity--
- Dodger's parting line, "Parting is all we know of heaven,
and all we need of hell," is from another Emily Dickinson poem,
"#1732," published in 1896:
My life closed twice before its close -
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me
So huge, so hopless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.
- Rebo's line upon arriving in customs, "I have nothing to
declare except my genius," is a quote from Victor Hugo (later quoted
by Oscar Wilde among others.)
- Morden's comment that he could see the future, but not the
past, may be a reference to Dante's "Inferno." In Canto X, Farinata
degli Uberti, a heretic, prophesizes Dante's banishment from Florence.
When Farinata is asked how the dead can know the future, but not the
present, he replies that according to the Divine Plan, the damned can
see far into the future, but nothing of what is present or what has
happened. After Judgement, when there is no longer any future,
the intellects of the damned will be void.
"Ah, so may your soul sometime have rest,"
I [Dante] begged him [Farinata], "solve the riddle that pursues me
through this dark place and leaves my mind perplexed:
you seem to see in advance all time's intent,
if I have heard and understood correctly;
but you seem to lack all knowledge of the present."
"We see asquint, like those whose twisted sight
can make out only the far-off," he said,
"for all the King of All still grants us that much light.
When things draw near, or happen, we perceive
nothing of them. Except what others bring us
we have no news of those who are alive.
So may you understand that all we know
will be dead forever from that day and hour
when the portal of the Future is swung to."
- Dodger was a visiting ground-pounder in
she died in battle. Adira met Londo in
"Born to the Purple"
and was killed in
"Interludes and Examinations."
- The comet as a symbol of death among the Brakiri was
first mentioned in
"A Day in the Strife,"
which, by coincidence, aired in reruns on TNT the same day this episode
- Rebo and Zooty were previously mentioned in
"Rumors, Bargains and Lies"
In the former episode Londo complained that he didn't find them funny,
an opinion he no longer holds.
- Another coincidence: On the day the episode premiered,
news organizations reported that an asteroid was expected to make a
close pass by Earth in 2028. The Brakiri comet's close approach,
of course, is what signals the start of the Day of the Dead.
- The Day of the Dead has an Earthly equivalent; there's a
of the same name on November 2 (it's celebrated elsewhere in Latin
America too.) It's based partially on the Roman Catholic day of
remembrance for the deceased, All Souls Day.
Candy skulls are a common feature of Mexican Day of the
- One of Rebo and Zooty's movies was called "Sons of the New
Desert." That's a reference to a 1933 Laurel and Hardy film,
- "Zoe" means "life" in Greek.
- This episode was the first one not written by JMS since
in season two.
- According to Neil Gaiman on
"It's a ghost story about religion, or a drama about comedy and the
nature of metaphor, or something like that."
- Production start date: November 13, 1997.
- Harlan Ellison, who played the voice of Zooty's machine,
played another machine voice previously: Sparky the computer
("Ceremonies of Light and Dark.")
- This episode was originally supposed to be three slots
later in the airing sequence, but was pulled back due to the spring
hiatus on TNT (see
- TNT used the intended the airing sequence when the
episode was rebroadcast, putting it between
"The Ragged Edge,"
but that causes a continuity problem: Londo and G'Kar are featured in
this episode, and neither of them is on the station between
"The Ragged Edge."
- Continuity glitch, possibly due to the aforementioned
schedule shuffling: at the end of
Londo and G'Kar left for the Centauri homeworld, yet they were on
the station again in this episode. Not necessarily a glitch, since
they could have been to Centauri Prime and back again, but that
- Londo's comment, "If Vir can be emperor, an Earth cat
can be emperor," may be a reference to
in which Londo and Vir confused cats and ducks.
- About the casting of Rebo and Zooty
Their name came up in discussions, and they just seemed a
- Neil wrote for R&Z, and we looked around for
casting...it occured to someone -- may have been me, maybe casting, I
don't remember -- that it might be better to use a real comedy team
than create one. B5 called P&T, and they said yes.
- Do both characters have lines?
Yes and no.
- "Was it always part of the script for Zooty to speak
through a machine, or was that something added so that Teller won't
have to speak on camera?"
- Was the audience's laughter genuine or just
Depending on which take was being shot...half and half.
- Why was this episode shot after
which was originally scheduled to air first?
We shot it out of story-sequence to give us more time to prep
512, which was a big episode. So it'll actually be aired as 513.
- It was originally intended to be set after "Phoenix Rising."
- We felt it wise to adjust the airing
order so we could ramp up the following episodes prior to the NBA delay
without having any interruption in the tone of the episodes (i.e., 2
tense, 1 funny, 2 tense vs 1 funny and 4 tense in a row).
- We suggested moving up DotD because the NBA playoffs
will hit after #12, and better to have 3-4 intense episodes in a row,
culminating in 12, than to break up the middle, which would've been okay
as a respite if there wasn't going to be a break, but since there is a
break now, I want to slam the last few before it hits for more impact.
- How much do you have to get involved in outside
It varies, I get involved to different degrees with different
writers; with Neil, it was more "What do you want to write?" He
noodled around with some ideas, ran one past me that he liked, and I
liked it...he asked for a truckload of scripts for reference, picked
the characters he wanted to use, researched them, we talked on the
phone and via email a number of times as he refined his ideas further,
then wrote the script. I tucked and nipped a little here and there,
but pretty much left it alone.
- Neil kept the humor sort of off-base...operating on the
assumption that there are some things that become au courant or funny
because of context: Steve Martin's "excuuuuse me," for instance. Now,
it ain't funny, it's just annoying...at the time, EVERYbody was saying
it and laughing. R&Z are similar cultural phenomena...their "with a
machine" catchphrase, for instance, which the crowd new and reacted to.
To us, and Lochely, it didn't mean anything. Lochley's reaction was
tailored to be EXACTLY the same as most women's (and some guy's)
reaction to the Three Stooges: either it's funny, or you can't figure
out why people are laughing.
- Why didn't you have Marcus visit Lennier?
I didn't write it. It's Neil's script. The characters he chose are
the ones he wanted to play with.
- How did Neil know what Kosh's message should
Actually, in that scene, Neil didn't write Kosh's message. He asked
what it would be, and I gave him that, knowing that I'd been looking
for a way to slip that in as early as season 4.