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Old August 10 2012, 10:09 AM   #61
Gov Kodos
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Candlelight wrote: View Post
DigificWriter wrote: View Post
I swear I've seen the actress who played the character somewhere before, but cannot for the life of me figure out where.
Doubt it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjorie_Monaghan

She hasn't really done much.
She was in Voyager, the Doc's Beowulf Holodeck episode, Heroes and Demons. She isn't an actor who leaps off the screen to me, but I can easily imagine seeing her in a role and be bothered thinking I've seen her in something. If I didn't watch so much Babylon 5, I'd be hard pressed to remember her name from one role to the next.
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Old August 10 2012, 12:30 PM   #62
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

^I think I spotted her in Quantum Leap and I think she was in a very cheep looking show way back when on the Sci-Fi Channel. I think it was called Star Rangers, or something equally as cheesy.
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Old August 10 2012, 12:43 PM   #63
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Reverend wrote: View Post
^I think I spotted her in Quantum Leap and I think she was in a very cheep looking show way back when on the Sci-Fi Channel. I think it was called Star Rangers, or something equally as cheesy.
Her filmography at wiki says you are spot on. She was on a number of sci-fi shows in the 90's according to that, so I can see someone around here getting a familiar feeling from her face.
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Old August 10 2012, 12:44 PM   #64
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Happy 20th 'birthday' to Babylon 5! Today marks 20 years since the first frame of film was shot for "The Gathering". JMS wrote:

JMS wrote this post about the day: http://jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-7455&topic=Spiderman
"We pulled the trigger and got off the first shot on-camera at about 9:30 a.m. I tried, where possible, to stay out of the line of fire, since by this time I was vibrating enough to slide into another dimension, and didn't want to infect anybody else. Went off perfectly.

The main thing, for me, was that today the whole world came alive at the same time (the world of B5). Up until now, it's been pieces...we see the actors. We see the sets. We see the costumes. We see the actors in the sets but not in costume. We see the actors in costume but not on the sets. Finally, there it was at last...all of our characters, in full costume or uniform (and the uniforms look DYNAMITE!), on the sets. It was finally, fully, completely *real* at last.
"

Huge thanks to everyone who contributed to this show. It's brought many, many people many hours of entertainment, helped form communities and even encouraged some good things to happen in the real world.

Jan
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Old August 11 2012, 06:08 AM   #65
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I'm back with more reviews.

Rumors, Bargains, and Lies
A good alternate title for this episode would've been Manipulations, because that's precisely what this episode is about. From Sheridan cannily manipulating the League of Non-Aligned Worlds into doing exactly what he wants them to do to Delenn manipulating Neroon and Neroon manipulating Shakiri, there's a lot of manipulation going on in this episode.

The 'b' plot involving the Religious caste sinking to the low of actually conspiring to undermine Delenn and take their own lives and the lives of everyone else is also great, although it's not great in and of itself but because of the character development it allows JMS to put Lennier through. The episode really hammers home both Lennier's loyalty to Delenn and his willingness to lie to protect her and others, even if there's no real profit in doing so.

Moments of Transition
JMS and Walter Koenig once again prove that Alfred Bester is one smarmy bastard, although I did feel that JMS once again tried a bit too hard to let the audience see that there was more to what Bester was doing than meets the eye. I think it's pretty obvious by this stage that Bester never does anything straightforward, and we really don't need to have him reminding us of that.

This is the episode that officially made me like Neroon; I thought the character was interesting and likeable, even if his positions put him at odds with either Sheridan or Delenn, but this was the first episode - ironically also the character's last episode - that I really saw just how noble of an individual he was. His completely unsolicited gesture of sacrifice was extremely poignant, and John Vickery played the moment perfectly. I also really liked the symbolism inherent in the Starfire Wheel ritual, as well as in Delenn reforming the Grey Council, particularly since, as we found out in Atonement, she carries a piece of Valen - the original founder of the Grey Council - in her DNA. With her having reformed the Council, she's effectively become 'Valen returned' for her people, which I think is a neat bit of symmetry.

Although Talia Winters is still my favorite of the two main telepath characters in the series, I also love Lyta Alexander, and this episode really gives her something to do besides just being a pawn in other people's schemes. Even if it's not the way she would've wanted to do things, she's now taken control of her own life back, and I like that. It would've been nice to have gotten to see her actually get to work for Garibaldi once before William Edgars forced him to pull the plug on their relationship, but I digress.

No Surrender, No Retreat
This episode really reminded me of the Pegasus arc from Battlestar Galactica (Pegasus and Resurrection Ship Parts 1 and 2), with Sheridan having to go up against members of Earthforce the same way that circumstances forced Adama to take a stand against Cain.

I think my absolute favorite part of the episode was the lengthy conversation between Londo and G'Kar. Over the course of a single scene, JMS, Peter Jurasik, and Andreas Katsulas encapsulated the entire complicated and tumultuous relationship between these two particular characters, and did so in brilliant fashion. What makes the scene even more powerful is that, despite Londo saying that he and G'Kar will never be friends and G'Kar being incredibly hostile and standoffish, we as an audience know that the relationship between these two will eventually evolve to the point where Londo is able to call G'Kar 'my old friend'. The bookend to the scene where G'Kar comes and has a drink while Londo is also drinking and telling him that he'll sign the mutual support agreement is also brilliantly written and acted and is also enhanced by what we as an audience know is eventually in store for these two characters as far as their relationship is concerned.

The Excercise of Vital Powers
I really don't like William Edgars; the guy is too self-assured for his own good and is just as much of a megalomaniac as President Clark is. He also doesn't have the charisma that somebody like Alfred Bester, who's also somewhat of a megalomaniac, to make you like him even though you're supposed to hate him.

I understand what JMS is trying to do by associating Garibaldi with a guy like Edgars, but there are so many red flags going up as Edgars draws Garibaldi into his net that seeing Garibaldi slowly let himself be drawn into said net really doesn't do his character a whole lot of favors because not only does it make him rather unlikeable, it also makes him look rather stupid since it's clear he's being played and yet he doesn't seem to see that he's being played.

I love seeing JMS put characters into situations where they have to do things that are clearly against their moral fiber, and he and Richard Biggs hit one out of the park in this episode with the 'b' plot involving Franklin finally making some headway with the telepaths rescued from the 'ship of tears' - thanks to some help from Lyta - only to find out that the reason Sheridan wants him to make said headway puts him in an extremely uncomfortable position. The scene towards the end of the episode where he and Lyta are in the hallway outside MedLab is brilliantly written and acted.

I really liked this batch of episodes as a whole, because they really mark the 'coming together' of the various storylines that JMS has been setting up since Epiphanies and start to put us into the 'home stretch' as far as the season's second-half narrative is concerned.

***

I'll be back later with reviews of episodes 17 through 20.
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Old August 11 2012, 09:16 AM   #66
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Jan wrote: View Post
Happy 20th 'birthday' to Babylon 5! Today marks 20 years since the first frame of film was shot for "The Gathering". JMS wrote:

JMS wrote this post about the day: http://jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-7455&topic=Spiderman
"We pulled the trigger and got off the first shot on-camera at about 9:30 a.m. I tried, where possible, to stay out of the line of fire, since by this time I was vibrating enough to slide into another dimension, and didn't want to infect anybody else. Went off perfectly.

The main thing, for me, was that today the whole world came alive at the same time (the world of B5). Up until now, it's been pieces...we see the actors. We see the sets. We see the costumes. We see the actors in the sets but not in costume. We see the actors in costume but not on the sets. Finally, there it was at last...all of our characters, in full costume or uniform (and the uniforms look DYNAMITE!), on the sets. It was finally, fully, completely *real* at last.
"

Huge thanks to everyone who contributed to this show. It's brought many, many people many hours of entertainment, helped form communities and even encouraged some good things to happen in the real world.

Jan
And happy birthday Claudia Christian!
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Old August 11 2012, 01:15 PM   #67
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Candlelight wrote: View Post
DigificWriter wrote: View Post
I swear I've seen the actress who played the character somewhere before, but cannot for the life of me figure out where.
Doubt it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjorie_Monaghan

She hasn't really done much.
He probably saw her on the Voyager episode.
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Old August 11 2012, 08:24 PM   #68
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I honestly swear that Marjorie Monaghan has been the lead in something that I've seen, but I don't recall having seen her in any of the stuff that her filmography indicates she has been in outside of B5, so she must just remind me of someone else.

I said that I was only going to review episodes 17 through 20 in this batch, but decided that, because I had the momentum, I'd just watch the remainder of the season in one fell swoop.

The Face of the Enemy
In the commentary track attached to this episode on the S4 DVDs, JMS talks about Garibaldi as being a 'judas'-esque figure for this episode, and while I certainly see the comparison, I don't really know if it was necessary to bring things to this point in terms of Garibaldi's character. I think there are other ways that JMS could've handled Garibaldi's character arc throughout Season 4 that would've still accomplished the 'end goal'. Dovetailing his sleeper agent arc with the capture of Sheridan felt rather unnecessary to me, and felt like a blatant attempt to make Garibaldi a wholly unlikeable character for the sole purpose of being able to 'rehabilitate' him in the future.

The best parts of this episode for me were the portions involving Franklin, Lyta, and Number One, because, as JMS points out in the commentary, there's a rather strong physical resemblance between Marjorie Monaghan and Patricia Tallman; I would also argue that there's a very strong resemblance between the two in terms of their characters, as both are very strong-willed women whose strong-willed nature is very much on display in their scenes together.

The final scenes between Bester and Garibaldi where Bester puts all of the pieces into place and basically gloats about having played Garibaldi like a well-tuned fiddle work primarily because of Walter Koenig's performance; he was incredibly well-suited for the role of Bester because he's got this natural charisma that makes you want to root for his character on some level while also simultaneously hating his guts.

Intersections in Real Time
I didn't like this episode at all. I didn't get it or understand what its purpose was, so the less ultimately said about it the better. It felt both unnecessary and cumbersome, which is not something you want when you're ramping up the tension of your story arc and wrapping things up into a nice little package.

Bruce Boxleitner does offer a very good performance, but it's not enough to overcome the superflous nature of the episode as a whole.

Not only did the episode overall feel superflous, unnecessary, cumbersome, and ultimately out-of-place, so too did its ending. If JMS felt it was absolutely necessary to do an episode like this, he should have simply had Sheridan pass out at the end of the episode and wake up at the beginning of the next in a different room.

Between the Darkness and the Light
The three best things about this episode are Garibaldi's redemption (particularly the scene where he lets Lyta deep-scan him and she subsequently projects what she saw into Number One's mind (which, incidentally, seems like it should've been impossible, which makes me wonder if Number One might've been a latent telepath herself, which would be a nice bit of symmetry), the scenes that lead up to Ivanova's life-threatening injury aboard the White Star, and the scene where Londo - of his own volition - organizes the League into giving the Army of Light fleet their complete cooperation. It is a stirring moment for not only the character of Londo, but for actor Peter Jurasik, and is, for me, one of the absolute highlights of the series and season.

The stuff involving Sheridan hallucinating being back on Babylon 5 was interesting, but didn't make up for what happens in Intersections in Real Time, and ultimatley loses some of its power and potency because it's inherently dependent on that episode and is therefore tainted by it.

Endgame
This episode is where it all comes together; everything that's been building since Epiphanies gets wrapped up and wrapped up in incredibly gripping fashion. There is about as much action in this one single episode as in the entirety of Seasons 1, 2, and 3 combined, yet JMS doesn't let the action overwhelm the poignancy of the story as it concerns our characters. From Marcus' noble yet completely misguided decision to give up his life force to bring Ivanova back to Sheridan's speech as he and his ships enter Earth space, the character moments in this episode are played perfectly and really compliment the action elements of the episode to a T.

Rising Star
This episode is one gigantic denouement and in lesser hands could've felt superflous. Thankfully, JMS has the skill and talent to make it feel not only relevant but also make it work incredibly well as both the aftermath of the storylines he'd been building since Epiphanies but also a bridge to both the future and to The Deconstruction of Falling Stars.

Sheridan's scene with Bester, his resignation speech, and the scene on Babylon 5 between Susan and Franklin are by far the most powerful parts of the episode, and are perfectly played.

The episode's humor is also perfectly played. Londo's ribbing of G'Kar is superbly acted by Peter Jurasik and really serves as both a nice commentary on their relationship and how far they've both come as well as a precursor to where their relationship ends up going in the future.

I really would've liked to have seen Sheridan and Delenn's wedding, but in an episode where so much else is going on, I can understand why JMS chose to have it happen offscreen and to only talk about it.

The episode's final scene, with G'Kar using his prosthetic eye to spy on Delenn and Sheridan's 'nocturnal activities' is not only the perfect way to end the episode, but one of the funniest things I think I've ever seen anywhere.

The Deconstruction of Falling Stars
I said earlier in my reviews that I didn't initially get why JMS would choose to end Season 4 with an episode like The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, but that my perspective on things was changed when I realized that, along with And Now for a Word, The Illusion of Truth, and Sleeping in Light, it forms part of a quartet of episodes that not only serve as a retrospective on the historical nature of the overall Babylon 5 narrative, but also, in many respects, a restructuring of that historical nature, and my perspective was shifted even further by actually watching the episode.

I don't know how many people here would be familiar with author Terry Brooks' Shanarra series, but this episode felt very much like that series in terms of its overall structure, execution, and what it ultimately was trying to say and accomplish. The fourth set of scenes in particular felt very Shanarra-esque to me, with Brother Alwyn taking on the role of Shanarra's Druids, and was one of the absolute highlights of the episode.

Another standout portion of the episode for me was the second set of scenes with Delenn making a surprise appearance to basically refute everything that was being said about her late husband. Mira Furlan did an amazing job in employing the 'glower' (which some people can do and some people can't), and seeing the reactions of the victims of her 'glower' only helped sell the moment.

This episode really stands out as one of the series' best, not only because of what I talked about before in terms of its symmetry with ANfaW, TIoT, and SiL, but also because it represents JMS at his finest. It is truly his finest work to date and really serves as both a fitting wrap-up to Season 4 and an incredibly succinct commentary on Babylon 5 as a whole. The episode also forms the second part of a double finale, with Rising Star being the first part.

Overall thoughts on Season 4
I loved Season 4 as a whole, with only Intersections in Real Time putting a small blight on the season's incredible quality in terms of the writing, acting, and story pacing.

There's an incredible amount of symmetry in the season from its beginning in wrapping up storylines from Z'Ha'Dum to its masterful double finale of Rising Star and The Deconstruction of Falling Stars, and the season represents some of JMS' finest work as a writer-creator. The season also brings our characters full-circle in a number of respects while also leaving just enough room for the future.

As sad as it was to say goodbye to both Marcus and Ivanova, the way that it ends up being handled is pitch-perfect and brings both characters to a place where they end up leaving on their own terms: Ivanova as a Captain with an opportunity to find out who she truly is and Marcus as a noble, if misguided, martyr who sacrificed everything he possibly could to save a woman whom he loved yet who never returned that love while the opportunity was there.

I mentioned earlier that Marcus is my second-favorite character in the series, but what I didn't mention - and didn't actually realize until right now - is that the reason he's my second-favorite character not only has to do with Jason Carter's masterful performance and JMS' incredible writing, but also because the character is, for all intents and purposes, the Severus Snape of the series, the only significant difference between the two characters being that Marcus is portrayed as a likeable guy whereas Snape was not.

***

I'll be back later with reviews of Season 5 episodes 1 through 4.
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Old August 12 2012, 06:26 AM   #69
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I was hoping to avoid another double-posting situation, but sometimes you don't get what you want.

No Compromises
With Season 4 wrapping up storylines into a neat little package, and with Claudia Christian leaving the series, Season 5 requires another 'restart', and that's exactly what we get with No Compromises. However, unlike in Season 3, there really are no minor story points that JMS can use to help flavor or enhance the episode, so he's forced to introduce some new ongoing story threads and he does so brilliantly.

I may be in the minority, but I really like the characters of Elizabeth Lochley and Byron. Like Ivanova, Lochley is a hardass, but she's a different breed of hardass than Ivanova and is actually perfectly suited to commanding a place like B5 because she's uncompromising, and Byron has the charisma of somebody like Alfred Bester and the softspokenness of a Ranger, which makes him an interesting wildcard.

The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari
I really liked this episode. Even though it's largely standalone, the insight it provides into Londo's psyche is absolutely essential.

I love that the people Londo saw in his internal 'dreamscape' were Sheridan, Vir, Delenn, and G'Kar because they have had the most significant impacts on him directly. There is one slight issue with regards to Londo's apology to G'Kar, though, in that this is actually the second time he's apologized (he also.did so last season in No Surrender, No Retreat, although, in that instance, G'Kar rejected the gesture).

The 'b' plot involving Lennier served as a neat counterpoint to the Londo 'a' plot and once again brought back the story thread of Vir and Lennier meeting at the same bar counter and conversing, and injected a bit of humor into the episode courtesy of Lennier's hilarious reaction to Vir hugging him.

The Paragon of Animals
This episode was excellent from top to bottom, and really lets some of the characters shine.

G'Kar as a bureaucrat speechwriter is a nice change of pace for his character, yet doesn't feel anathema to the character as he'd been used in previous seasons, and the closing scenes with him coming into the conference room and confiscating the copies of the ISA's Declaration of Principles was hilarious.

It was good to get some more interspecies/interplanetary intrigue and conflict injected back into the series, and the plight of the Enfili and the Drazi's complicity in it make for great drama and give Sheridan an opportunity to assert himself in his new role, which is great.

I said earlier that I really like Byron; the actor they cast in the role is really good and imbues the character with just the right amount of fire, charisma, and selfrighteous anger that you can't help but be drawn into his worldview. His scenes with Garibaldi and Lyta were highlights of the episode for me and really help sell him as this guy who could cause some trouble but who is inherently a good guy. He actually rather reminds me of Gaius Baltar in many respects.

A View from the Gallery
These types of 'lower decks' alternate-POV episodes can be really hard to pull off, and, for the most part, JMS is able to successfully do so. There are a few places where it felt like the characters of Mack and Bo were shoehorned into interacting with some of the major characters, but that's sort of the nature of the beast when you're doing an episode like this.

Beyond JMS' writing, what ultimately makes the episode work is the fact that Mack and Bo are genuinely likeable 'everymen'. I particularly liked their interactions with Byron and Delenn, although it did seem somewhat convenient that they'd get 'herded' directly into the area where Byron and his fellow telepaths were holed up.

Their commentary on Londo and G'Kar's relationship was also a highlight for me, especially since JMS actually references it in his commentary for The Deconstruction of Falling Stars.

I'm also going to bring back my 'essentials' list for the season after it went away for Season 4 on account of not being needed due to every episode of S4 being essential (even if I didn't personally like Intersections in Real Time):
No Compromises
The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari
The Paragon of Animals

I want to close this post by making the following observation:
In the DVD introduction to the season, JMS laments having to start the storylines for the season without any momentum, but I personally don't think he needed any, as he was easily able to successfully do a cold restart thanks to the strength of the show's characters both old and new.

***
I'll be back later with reviews of episodes 5 through 8.
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Old August 12 2012, 08:17 AM   #70
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I never liked the fifth season for a couple of reasons; the main
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Old August 12 2012, 12:20 PM   #71
Jan
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Season 5 has some of my favorite episodes ever, especially ones like 'The Long Night of Londo Mollari' and 'A view from the Gallery', but also the ones later on toward the end. I can understand people not liking a character or batch of episodes but folks really seem to go overboard when it comes to Byron and his followers.

Jan
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Old August 12 2012, 12:40 PM   #72
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Byron just irks me, not over the actor whose fine in the job, but the whole telepath thing in season 5. Byron's poor pitiful us routine, the character assassination on Lyta, that telepath issues weren't given the constant fleshing out that even Clark and Earth gov got just make me not care much about Byron. Also, Zack's early summation of Byron being essentially a martyr looking for someplace to happen really summed up the guy. More unlikable cult leader than decent guy is how he came across to me in just about the whole arc.
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Old August 12 2012, 12:44 PM   #73
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Gov Kodos wrote: View Post
Byron just irks me, not over the actor whose fine in the job, but the whole telepath thing in season 5. Byron's poor pitiful us routine, the character assassination on Lyta, that telepath issues weren't given the constant fleshing out that even Clark and Earth gov got just make me not care much about Byron. Also, Zack's early summation of Byron being essentially a martyr looking for someplace to happen really summed up the guy. More unlikable cult leader than decent guy is how he came across to me in just about the whole arc.
You should read the psi-corp series, Byron is equally irksome as I recall, though it's fleshed out more. You can see how he ended up like that, though it doesn't make him any more likable.
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Old August 12 2012, 12:48 PM   #74
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

teacake wrote: View Post
Gov Kodos wrote: View Post
Byron just irks me, not over the actor whose fine in the job, but the whole telepath thing in season 5. Byron's poor pitiful us routine, the character assassination on Lyta, that telepath issues weren't given the constant fleshing out that even Clark and Earth gov got just make me not care much about Byron. Also, Zack's early summation of Byron being essentially a martyr looking for someplace to happen really summed up the guy. More unlikable cult leader than decent guy is how he came across to me in just about the whole arc.
You should read the psi-corp series, Byron is equally irksome as I recall, though it's fleshed out more. You can see how he ended up like that, though it doesn't make him any more likable.
Do you mean the Keyes Psicorp Trilogy? I read that, it was pretty good. I don't remember Byron, but that's probably just me deleting his parts in my mind.
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Old August 12 2012, 12:52 PM   #75
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

He's not in it hugely. And yes that one.

The techno mage trilogy is one of the best things I've ever read.
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