Ranger Marcus Cole
Marcus Cole, played by Jason Carter, is a fictional character in the universe of the science-fiction television series Babylon 5. He was a regular in the third and fourth seasons of the show. During his time on the series he was a leading member of the Rangers, a military force consisting of Humans and Minbari who served the “One”, a triumvirate consisting of Jeffrey Sinclair / Valen, Delenn, and John Sheridan.
Marcus Cole joined the Rangers after the death of his brother, who was himself a Ranger, and Cole appears to blame himself for his brother’s death. Delenn mentions at one point that Cole’s reasons for joining the Rangers may have been motivated more by personal guilt than by a true desire to serve, and that this may have ultimately accounted for his tragic fate. Cole is a fearsome opponent in combat – his skill with the Minbari fighting pike is well-known, and is just as skilled in unarmed combat; he once knocked an entire room of opponents unconscious without a mark to show for it. He is a virgin, which raises the eyebrows of Commander Susan Ivanova; she does not learn until it is too late that one reason he has remained a virgin is because he loves her and is waiting to win her heart.
Marcus Cole was born on the Arisia Mining Colony, where his family operated a relatively dangerous mining operation. His brother William had left the colony and become a Ranger on Minbar; he was killed by the Shadows while visiting Marcus on Arisia. Marcus was one of the few survivors (if not the only survivor) of the attack. Much of Marcus Cole’s early background is told in the novel To Dream In the City of Sorrows by Kathryn Drennan.
Marcus Cole joined the Rangers following the death of his brother, William, and at times he seems to have joined the Rangers as a form of guilt over his brother’s death.
Cole became close friends with Dr. Stephen Franklin. Defending Delenn during her transition to become “Ranger One”, Cole engaged Neroon in a fierce one-on-one battle. Despite losing, and nearly being killed, he earned Neroon’s respect, even getting Neroon to laugh warmly. It was also revealed on the show (episode: The Summoning) that Marcus Cole was a virgin, a character aspect which was a marked departure for a dashing hero role. However, the combination of his virginity and fighting skill once led him to (only half-jokingly) compare himself to Sir Galahad (A Late Delivery From Avalon).
He fell in love with Susan Ivanova. However, the two did not become involved in the course of the television series. Some attribute this to Ivanova’s previous history of disastrous romantic relationships, such as her relationship with Malcolm Biggs. Later, after a devastating attack on Ivanova and Cole’s White Star during the battle to reclaim Earth from the tyrannical government of President Clark, Cole took the severely injured Ivanova to Babylon 5. Using an alien execution device that takes one person’s life-energy and transfers it to another, he sacrificed his life to save hers. His corpse was then preserved by Ivanova’s request in cryogenic suspension in the future hope that he might be revived. This was actually not shown in the series, but in the credits of “Sleeping in Light”. The credits showed each character as we first saw them and as we last saw them, and the last image of Cole showed a cryogenic capsule showing that he was preserved at Captain Ivanova’s request.
Cole’s story concludes in “Space, Time & the Incurable Romantic”, a short story written by JMS and published in Amazing Stories #602. It takes place hundreds of years after the series ends. Cole (still preserved in cryogenic suspension) is revived when the homeworld of those who built the life-energy transfer machine was found. He then proceeds to create a clone of Ivanova by enlisting one of Garibaldi’s descendants to help him. Endowing it with her exact memories by stealing the scans done of her memory, he then strands them on a lush, fertile and uncharted world with the intent of living “happily ever after” together. There are significant moral questions raised by his actions in this story, but JMS has been quoted as “wishing to give the character the happy ending he deserves” while at the same time raising the type of ethical question for which Babylon 5 is famous.