Babylon 5: In the Beginning (1998) is a science fiction television movie set in the Babylon 5 fictional universe. It was written by J. Michael Straczynski and directed by Michael Vejar.
The film originally aired January 4, 1998 on the TNT cable network, a couple of weeks before season five of the series began. It focused mainly on characters part of the established Babylon 5 cast, but it did include the notable guest star Reiner Schöne (playing Minbari leader Dukhat).
In the Beginning tells the story of an important event in the history of the Babylon 5 universe. Ten years before the television series Babylon 5is set, Earth becomes involved in a deadly conflict with the just-discovered Minbari race. This war nearly leads to the extermination of the human race, but it is mysteriously halted at the last moment by the Minbari leadership for reasons that would remain secret for over a decade. This near-destruction of the human race led to the Earth Alliance creating the Babylon space stations as a means of preventing further wars.
During the first four years of the Babylon 5 TV series, numerous hints about and glimpses of the Earth–Minbari War were offered. When the program moved to the TNT cable network for its fifth season, a set of television movies were ordered to promote it, and Straczynski chose to use the first of these to tell the story of the war he had so often alluded to in previous episodes.
The movie opens with a view of Centauri Prime in flames. A man is seen looking out of the window of the Royal Palace looking at the destruction. A boy and his younger sister are seen playing in the royal throne room and looking out the window watching numerous buildings go up in flames. Their governess finds them and tells them that it’s the Emperor’s window and that only he can look out that window. It is then that the Emperor hears them and tells them to come in front of him. It is then revealed that it is an aged Londo Mollari. Mollari allows the young boy to be Emperor of the Centauri Republic for five minutes in which he may give any order he wishes. He wishes that he be told a story of great battles and heroes and villains. His sister wants to hear a true story. Mollari decides to give them both what they want and decides to tell them the story of the Earth–Minbari War that happened 35 years ago and in which he was present at the time while he was ambassador to Earth.
The movie begins before the war, when the human race feeling cocky following their defeat of the Dilgar—is rapidly expanding into space. Word reaches them of the mysterious Minbari race. Though they are warned by Centauri ambassador Londo Mollari to leave this race alone, they seek to research the species first-hand.
Meanwhile, the Minbari Grey Council, led by Dukhat, has become concerned that the Shadows may have returned to Z’ha’dum in fulfillment of Valen’s prophecy. They are taking a roundabout route to the dark world to investigate when they encounter Earth ships, specifically the Prometheus, seeking to investigate the Minbari.
A misunderstanding then follows. The Minbari ships turn towards the Prometheus and engage their long range sensors to gain more data on the unknown Earth ship. Unknown to the Minbari, the intense EMP field generated by their long range sensors have the unexpected side effect of disabling the Prometheus’ jump engine, preventing the Prometheus from retreating. As the Minbari ships draw closer, they open their gun ports—a sign of respect in their culture. The interference from the Minbari sensors also prevent the Prometheus from determining whether or not the Minbari ships are charging their weapons. The captain of the Prometheus, with his jump engines disabled and the Minbari ships approaching in apparent preparation fire weapons, misinterprets this as a sign of aggression and opens fire. The Minbari ships are heavily damaged, and their beloved leader Dukhat killed. In retaliation, the Grey Council announces a holy war against humanity, and the Earth–Minbari War begins.
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