Two-hour TV movie.
The crew discovers a mysterious, ancient artifact in hyperspace.
Shari Belafonte as Dr. Trent.
P5 Rating: 8.05
Production number: TNTCF1
Original air date: July 19, 1998
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Jesus Treviño
Novelization by Peter David
Reader reviews of the novelization, and online ordering, can be found at
- Over a million years ago, the Vorlons, believing
themselves just one step short of godhood, decided to build a device
to open a doorway to what they believed was the well of souls, the
source of life. The device, similar in basic function to a jumpgate,
did open a hole to another place: a universe
inhabited by an alien race even more powerful than the Vorlons, a
race that believed itself the only intelligence worthy of existence.
The aliens were extremely powerful telepaths, able to take control of
many of the Vorlons and turn them against their own kind. Eventually
the aliens were beaten back, but before the device could be destroyed,
some of the Vorlons under alien influence flung it into hyperspace.
The Vorlons never found it.
- The Vorlons implanted Lyta with a memory fragment
detailing the story of the device, and instructions for its destruction
should it be found. They also left her with memories of some of their
- Interplanetary Expeditions operates outside the bounds
of the Earth Alliance regulations that govern most companies.
- Babylon 5 carries a small supply of tactical nuclear
weapons small enough to be carried by hand.
- Zack wants to date Lyta, and has gone so far as to tell
- What were the Vorlons' other mistakes? What else does
Lyta know about Vorlon history?
- How long did it take the Vorlons to vanquish the aliens?
- What did the Vorlon writing on the artifact say?
- Who built the original set of jumpgates?
- What was the alien city, and what was the spire in its
center? Why were so many people having visions of it? Possibly
the city was on the alien homeworld, but why would they broadcast
images of their world to strangers?
- How much of Dr. Trent's supposition about thirdspace was
correct? Barring the obvious problem of the alien race, could
thirdspace be used as she described, like a faster version of
hyperspace? Are there other spaces beyond thirdspace, perhaps an
infinite number of them?
- Does Lyta remember anything Zack said to her?
- This story took place after
the Shadow War, but before the declaration of war against Earth. That
puts it between
"Into the Fire"
"Moments of Transition."
Other clues allow it to be placed more precisely. It took place after
"The Illusion of Truth"
because that was the last time Zack wore his Earth Alliance uniform.
Just after Zack was fitted with his new uniform in
Delenn greeted Callenn and told him she'd be ready to leave for
Minbar in one day, less than the amount of time elapsed in this story
(Sheridan remarked to Trent that she'd had five days to examine the
artifact.) It couldn't have taken place after
since Dr. Franklin left in that episode before Delenn returned; the two
of them weren't on the station at the same time again until after the
declaration of war.
That puts "Thirdspace" between the first and second scenes of
(a slight inconsistency since Callenn's ship can be seen to arrive
in the opening shot, before Zack's fitting) unless Zack's visit to the
Minbari tailors wasn't the first time he wore the uniform. If his visit
was just an adjustment, possibly a result of being in fistfights
in "Thirdspace," the story takes place between
"The Illusion of Truth"
- The raiders fighting Ivanova's squadron were attempting
to steal a shipment of Quantium 40, which is used in jumpgate
That resonates with the discussion between Trent and Morishi about
the building of jumpgates.
- Why didn't the White Stars open jump points for Ivanova's
squadron after the fight with the raiders, rather than forcing her
to travel slowly to the nearest jumpgate? One answer is that
Starfuries aren't equipped to navigate in hyperspace unless they
start off from a known location and can follow a beacon.
- How did Dr. Trent know that the Vorlons enhanced Lyta's
telepathic abilities? One possibility is that Bester, or someone
else in the Psi Corps, told IPX about it. Bester discovered Lyta's
- In Ivanova's dream, Vir was caressed by women while Ivanova
was killed. That may have been because Vir was willing to give in to
the alien influence, while Ivanova insisted on questioning it. He was
rewarded for his compliance while she was punished for her resistance.
- How did the Vorlons get into thirdspace to begin with?
If, as Lyta said, the door has to be opened from both sides, that
would imply that the aliens in thirdspace already had their side
open and were waiting for someone from normal space to reciprocate.
Or maybe they somehow become aware of what the Vorlons were up to, and
opened their side at roughly the same time. Either way, they've been
waiting for the door to reopen for over a million years, though of
course time may not pass at the same rate in thirdspace and normal
- The fighters that emerged from the gateway appeared
similar in basic form to Vorlon ships. Were they examples of ancient
Vorlon ship design? The aliens might have kept possessed Vorlons
around to use as cannon fodder in case the gate opened again, on the
assumption that it might be the Vorlons doing the opening.
- Were the Vorlons alone in their fight against the aliens?
Given the potential danger, it's possible the Vorlons found themselves
fighting alongside the Shadows and other First Ones against the alien
forces; the Shadows would have as much of a vested interest as anyone
else in seeing the aliens beaten back (though it'd be consistent with
Vorlon arrogance to not mention anyone else's involvement to Sheridan.)
- It may have been the conflict with the alien race that
prompted the Vorlons to invest effort into researching and developing
telepathy. The Vorlons were almost certainly strong telepaths before
the conflict, though, since Lyta mentioned that they had already been
making themselves appear as beings of light when they visited other
- Though it was never stated outright, the purpose of
concentrating fire on the front of the artifact (which itself begs
the question of which side was the "front") was probably to redirect
shield energy away from the other side. That's evidenced by the fact
that a hole opened in the force field in the rear when Ivanova ordered
everyone to fire at the same time.
- Why wasn't Draal's help enlisted? The Great Machine might
not have had enough power to destroy the artifact outright, but its
weaponry would presumably have been helpful in the assault. Given
the high stakes -- a powerful, implacable enemy even the Vorlons
considered a threat -- it's not clear what reason Sheridan would
have had for holding Draal in reserve.
- What were the creatures in the artifact? Were they members
of the alien race? Did they arrive after the artifact was powered
on, or were they lying dormant for millenia? The fact that they
had the same shape as the shadow in Lyta's vision, and their tentacles
looked like the one in Ivanova's dream, suggests that they were from
- This was the fourth time Sheridan used nuclear weapons
against vastly superior alien forces; he used nuclear mines to destroy
the Minbari cruiser Black Star
("In the Beginning")
and a Shadow city
He also used nukes to get the attention of the Vorlons and Shadows at
("Into the Fire.")
- Chronologically, the movie takes place during
season four, after
"Into the Fire."
- According to producer George Johnsen, "Thirdspace" contains
more new special effects shots than all of season one combined.
- Noted science-fiction illustrator
"Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials,"
designed the artifact.
- Deuce also appeared in the season-one episode
- In the crowd scene on the observation deck just after the
artifact is powered up, the albino smuggler from
can be seen briefly.
- Spelling error: during Trent's voiceover, when she's
examining the displays on several of the monitors in her office,
the text "EMF EMMISSIONS" can be seen running vertically down the
side of one of the computer displays. It should be "emissions."
- Science goof: Ivanova claimed that carbon dating was
used to determine that the artifact was over one million years old.
Unless she meant some different process than what's referred to as
"carbon dating" today, that wouldn't have been possible. Carbon
dating is a very specific process: it is used to determine the age
of dead plants and animals, and is based on the assumption that the
amount of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of carbon, in the Earth's
atmosphere has remained more or less constant over time. The theory
is that a living organism will ingest C14 from the air and maintain
about the same ratio of C14 to normal carbon in its body as exists
in the atmosphere.
After an organism dies, the C14 in its body breaks down and isn't
replaced; a rough time of death is determined by measuring the
difference between the amount of C14 in the atmosphere and the amount
remaining in the organism's body.
Thus there are several reasons the B5 crew couldn't have used carbon
dating to determine the age of the artifact. First, the artifact
wasn't alive (though that point is debatable considering its Vorlon
origin.) Second, given that the B5 crew had no idea where the artifact
came from, they wouldn't have had a baseline to compare against, and
thus couldn't have determined a difference in C14 levels. Third,
C14 has a fairly short half-life; carbon dating can't be used to
determine ages much beyond 50,000 years since all the C14 breaks
down in that amount of time.
- Sheridan's passphrase contained the word "Abraxas."
The Abraxas was a figure from Gnostic mythology, most commonly found
on small talismans called
which were popular for a time in the Roman Empire.
- When will it air?
I checked my figures, and apparently it's either
the 9th or the 19th of July for Thirdspace...they've moved it up at TNT
from their original November plans as sort of a way of giving a present
to B5 fans after having to wait for the NBA Playoffs to finish.
- Barlow did a great job for us designing very alien looking
stuff that looks different than what we've done before...a nice break
in our format...
- "You mentioned that you were already shooting Thirdspace,
the first B5 movie. Wasn't "In The Beginning" the Minbari war story
going to be first?"
The prequel is aired first, but produced second, because B5
didn't exist during the prequel time period, so rather than tear and
and rebuild sets, we're doing Thirdspace first.
- How is having more money affecting the
production? How is the crew handling making a movie?
Actually, we don't really have that much more money. Each
episode costs a tick under $1 million; for purposes of discussion,
let's round that up to 1. So you're now talking 2 million for 2 hours.
Now you've got another million to spend. *But* ALL the prices go up by
union scale and whatever else can be negotiated. Actors fees go up,
writers fees go up, directors fees go up, crew fees go up...so at the
end of the day, you find you have a *little* more to spend, but not
really that much.
As for how everyone's handling it...really no different than the
series. Actors learn their lines, directors do their shots, the
atmosphere on set really isn't much different. The only substantive
difference is that, because we know we won't be airing these until
January and March/April, at soonest, we have more time in post and can
therefore do more EFX.
George calculated that there are as many EFX in "Thirdspace" as
in the entire first season of B5.
- Early season five doesn't seem to have much
I did keep the first batch just a *bit* on the light side in
order to have room to do the massive amount of rendering on "In the
Beginning" and "Thirdspace," the latter of which has (finally delivered)
topped out at 27 minutes of CGI out of 94 minutes, which has got to be
some kind of record.
- Is it set at the end of season
No, it would be about mid-fourth season.
- Anybody can follow this movie and enjoy it; whether
you've seen the show before or not.
- "I have heard that Thirdspace might be the pilot or
lead-up to Crusade. True,untrue?"