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Television Series: Crusade
Production number: 108
Original air date: June 9, 1999
JMS Suggested Order: 12

Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by: Janet Greek

The first aired episode of the Babylon 5 spin off series Crusade

War Zone opens with an Earth Alliance explorer ship commanded by Captain Matthew Gideon returning to Earth after the battle with the Drakh which resulted in the destruction of the Victory, and the infection of Earth with the Drakh Plague (as seen in the Babylon 5 movie, A Call to Arms). Gideon is summoned to Mars, where he is given command of the Excalibur, 'the most advanced ship ever constructed by Humans' (even though the Minbari were involved in the construction). Gideon gathers together his choice crew, and sets off in search the galaxy for a cure to the Drakh plague. The Excalibur has five years before the plague adapts to Human biology, killing everyone on the quarantined Earth.

War Zone was the first aired episode to the Crusade series, and is considered by many to be the weakest. The fight scene in the opening, the cheesy stock footage of a riot, piles and piles of useless exposition... all because of involvement of the network sponsoring Crusade, TNT. All the other episodes escape this level of negative network involvement.

Negatives aside, War Zone also sets up some of the story arc elements that are seen throughout the thirteen episodes. The largest is that of the mystery surrounding the loss of the EAS Cerberus. Gideon was sent outside the ship to recon some damage, when an unknown ship destroyed the Cerberus, leaving Gideon as the only survivor. The Technomage Galen fortunately rescued Gideon, a fact that Galen had Gideon 'forget' up until the time they met again. The background of the unknown ship was one of the arcs that was to be in the first season of Crusade.

JMS Comments
From the Internet

Just for the record: I think the first one -- the only one written directly at TNT's behest -- is probably the weakest one, certainly the one I find least interesting. It's lumbered with buckets of exposition, explaining things that don't need explaining, too many fights, too many explosions, too much swaggering around, all stuff the net wanted.

Then we go back to the show we wanted to make...Path of Sorrows is terrific, Well of Forever is a solid character story, The Long Road is just pure fun (that's pretty much reverse broadcast order, btw)... there's one or two in the bunch that are a bit slower than I'd like, but those are the exception rather than the rule.

That's the thing about all this...in the negative comments about War Zone -- and actually there have been far fewer than I'd anticipated -- there ain't much that I'd disagree with. If anything, they've tickled me because they reflect EXACTLY what I'd said when these things were asked for. It's been a massive validation.

Cool War Zone quote
"This is my command. I'll do whatever's necessary. If that means turning the entire galaxy upside down and shaking its pockets to see what falls out, then that's what I'll do. I'm not subtle. I'm not pretty, and I'll piss off a lot of people along the way. But I'll get the job done."
     -Captain Matthew Gideon

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