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Old February 26 2010, 05:03 PM   #691
TheGodBen
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

Chrysalis (****)

This episode was good, entertaining and had some epic moments that I'm sure will be important in season 2, but it didn't have the shocking twist that I was expecting. The assassination of President Santiago encapsulates all this this, it's an exciting situation, it's suitably epic and the consequences of this aren't going to be forgotten (I'm assuming), but it was telegraphed well ahead of time that something was going to happen, and ultimately I didn't feel anything about his death because Santiago hasn't been a real presence this season. Sure, it was mentioned that he was elected back in the first episode of the season, and we saw his ship at the station one time, but we never met him or had a firm grasp of how important he was. There were times when he felt like a figurehead and that the real power laid with the military or the PsiCorps. Watching EarthForce One exploding was awesome, but I have little reason to care about it right now.

I felt a similar way with the plot involving Londo and the Shadows. Watching the Shadows destroy the Narn base was great and I imagine that this will be a major talking-point for season 2, but the plot didn't tell me anything that I hadn't already inferred from Signs and Portents; there's a race of powerful beings that are courting the Centauri because they're the most desperate of the major powers. We got a feel for the power of the Shadows and their willingness to use force, and we got a hint of what they look like, but there's nothing ground-breaking here for somebody like me, a person who knows there will be a war against these guys at some point in the future.

The plot revolving around Delenn doesn't mean anything at the moment, although it was a giant tease; she promised to tell Sinclair everything he wanted to know about the battle of the line, Sinclair doesn't show up until it's too late and we learn nothing. I was expecting answers, I wasn't expecting Delenn to be captured by the cum-monster from Enterprise's Vox Sola.

The episode ends with Sinclair declaring that everything is different now, and I don't have an idea why he thinks that. I have no doubt that things will be different next season, partly because there's a new face at the centre of the DVD cover, but I don't see why somebody in-universe would think that everything is different based off the events that happened in this episode. I could feel the heavy hand of the writer in that line.


For those not familiar with the format I will be posting a review of the season before moving on to season 2. And for those familiar with the format you can now play a fun game and try to guess what amazing new colour the border of the graphs will be.
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Old February 26 2010, 05:15 PM   #692
Lindley
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
The episode ends with Sinclair declaring that everything is different now, and I don't have an idea why he thinks that. I have no doubt that things will be different next season, partly because there's a new face at the centre of the DVD cover, but I don't see why somebody in-universe would think that everything is different based off the events that happened in this episode. I could feel the heavy hand of the writer in that line.
Think back to how you felt after 9/11. It's meant to be a similar sort of moment.
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Old February 26 2010, 05:17 PM   #693
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

I think part of the problem is JMS expects viewers to "live vicariously" through the characters. As you said, Santiago hasn't really been seen, so you have put yourself in the characters' shoes and try to think how you'd feel if your President had been killed and you're the only one who knows it was a murder conspiracy.

Obviously, he did it this way to create plot-revelations for later, but I think it could have still been executed better.
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Old February 26 2010, 05:21 PM   #694
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

TGB, understand that on top of the good point Lindley just made, Sinclair is also weighed down by the knowledge that this was no accident. It was an assassination, and those responsible are unknown. Not only does Sinclair have to deal with the death of their head of state, he has to decide what to do with the knowledge he has regarding how this came about. The culprits are at large but mysterious. That has to affect his future and the future of the station as well as the EA society overall.
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Old February 26 2010, 05:23 PM   #695
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

Lindley wrote: View Post
Think back to how you felt after 9/11. It's meant to be a similar sort of moment.
GodBen resides in Ireland. Unless he is a pan-western civilization type of guy who has nightmares about the "islamification of europe", I doubt 9/11 really made him feel anything. Not everyone on the net is american. And non-americans usually don't feel 9/11 the same way as americans do. Sorry, but sometimes this assumption is annoying. For us, it's just like some african war would be for you.

Of course, I'm just speaking for myself here.
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Old February 26 2010, 05:28 PM   #696
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

I suspect that Lindley's use of the pronoun was more "editorial" than presumptuous. However, your point is still taken.

That aside, the analogy is still a good one.
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Old February 26 2010, 05:29 PM   #697
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

Ah. Well, that's what the Location field is (rarely) used for.
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Old February 26 2010, 05:45 PM   #698
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Chrysalis (****)

This episode was good, entertaining and had some epic moments that I'm sure will be important in season 2, but it didn't have the shocking twist that I was expecting. The assassination of President Santiago encapsulates all this this, it's an exciting situation, it's suitably epic and the consequences of this aren't going to be forgotten (I'm assuming), but it was telegraphed well ahead of time that something was going to happen, and ultimately I didn't feel anything about his death because Santiago hasn't been a real presence this season. Sure, it was mentioned that he was elected back in the first episode of the season, and we saw his ship at the station one time, but we never met him or had a firm grasp of how important he was. There were times when he felt like a figurehead and that the real power laid with the military or the PsiCorps. Watching EarthForce One exploding was awesome, but I have little reason to care about it right now.

I felt a similar way with the plot involving Londo and the Shadows. Watching the Shadows destroy the Narn base was great and I imagine that this will be a major talking-point for season 2, but the plot didn't tell me anything that I hadn't already inferred from Signs and Portents; there's a race of powerful beings that are courting the Centauri because they're the most desperate of the major powers. We got a feel for the power of the Shadows and their willingness to use force, and we got a hint of what they look like, but there's nothing ground-breaking here for somebody like me, a person who knows there will be a war against these guys at some point in the future.
I guess you're not easily surprised.

Keep in mind that unlike some modern arc shows such as "Lost" or "Prison Break", B5's main purpose is not to shock and surprise its viewers, but to tell them a story. Shocking plot twists usually work only the first time you watch a certain show, while a good story can make you rewatch it numerous times and still find it interesting.
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Old February 26 2010, 05:56 PM   #699
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

Exactly. At the time I wasn't shocked. But the assassination of Santiago was a bell tolling. Up to this point, Earth affairs seemed pretty solid. Earth seemed to be a confident, up and coming power making it's presence known in the galaxy. Then THIS happens, w/o warning. I felt the shock of the characters, though I didn't fee shock. But for me, it was a sense of forboding, the shot across the bow.

To me, it was like a fuse on a big bomb had been lit. That's what it felt like. It made you wonder just what it portended.
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Old February 26 2010, 06:29 PM   #700
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

Lindley wrote: View Post
Think back to how you felt after 9/11. It's meant to be a similar sort of moment.
I was surprised that nobody had flown a passenger plane into a sky-scraper sooner, I remember contemplating what would happen if somebody flew a jet into the Empire State Building a few months before.

I guess the news of terrorism doesn't shock me. As Jimmy Bob said, I grew up in Ireland through the 80s and 90s, and while I lived far enough away from Northern Ireland that I never encountered terrorism personally, it was constantly in the news. I remember where I was in 1996 when I heard that the Provisional IRA abandoned their ceasefire and bombed Canary Wharf, and the day in 1998 when the splinter group Real IRA bombed Omagh, but I was too young to really care.

So when September 11th happened I thought that the scale of the devastation was impressive and I was saddened by the loss of innocent life, but I certainly didn't think that everything was different.

CorporalClegg wrote: View Post
I think part of the problem is JMS expects viewers to "live vicariously" through the characters. As you said, Santiago hasn't really been seen, so you have put yourself in the characters' shoes and try to think how you'd feel if your President had been killed and you're the only one who knows it was a murder conspiracy.
I'd wonder why anyone would go to the effort to kill someone with such minor powers. But if somebody killed my Taoiseach... I still wouldn't care that much. I'd be shocked and I'd want to know why it happened, but at the end of the day some new guy is going to be put in charge and things will continue as usual. I guess I'm just too cynical to think that the death of a politician will change things that much.

Lindley wrote: View Post
Ah. Well, that's what the Location field is (rarely) used for.
You mean my alcoholism and extreme love of potatoes didn't give it away?

I used to use the location field of other sites but found that random American people I didn't know would be shocked by my presence (because electricity shouldn't exist here) and on some occasions I was asked if I knew their far-flung relatives in Ireland. "Yes, I do know the Kelly family, I know five of them, but the chances of me knowing your Kelly family is very low. "

Luckily this site doesn't seem to contain the same level of imbeciles, but since nobody else uses the location field properly I feel free not to.

Truth_Seeker wrote: View Post
Keep in mind that unlike some modern arc shows such as "Lost" or "Prison Break", B5's main purpose is not to shock and surprise its viewers, but to tell them a story. Shocking plot twists usually work only the first time you watch a certain show, while a good story can make you rewatch it numerous times and still find it interesting.
But I kept being told by people that the finale to season 1 had a shocking twist and that it would really get me interested in the show. It might have had that effect on me had I not heard about the Shadows in advance.
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Old February 26 2010, 07:26 PM   #701
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
But I kept being told by people that the finale to season 1 had a shocking twist and that it would really get me interested in the show. It might have had that effect on me had I not heard about the Shadows in advance.
I can buy into this line of thought, since I first saw Chrysalis after watching S2-4. I could certainly appreciate the episode for what it accomplishes, mind, but much of the 'shock' of the events didn't impact me nearly as much as it potentially could have had I watched it first-run.
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Old February 26 2010, 07:52 PM   #702
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
I'd wonder why anyone would go to the effort to kill someone with such minor powers. But if somebody killed my Taoiseach... I still wouldn't care that much. I'd be shocked and I'd want to know why it happened, but at the end of the day some new guy is going to be put in charge and things will continue as usual. I guess I'm just too cynical to think that the death of a politician will change things that much.
Givien that JMS was writing for an American audience, I'd imagine that the EA President has a great deal more power than your Taoisearch has. A quick google search on the position of Taoisearch leads me to believe that this is the case.

For example, the EA President, like the American President, is the Commander-in-Chief of his country's armed forces. While his authority over them isn't entirely absolute it is so close to being absolute that it might as well be. If somebody killed Bush and Cheney shortly after 9/11 Iraq would most certainly be a much less interesting place today.
Congress can refuse to fund a war, but it would be insane of them to do so once the shooting starts.


The EA President, like the US President, also has absolute authority over the entire Executive Branch of his government. He appoints the heads of all his departments and agencies. They serve at his pleasure and can be dismissed at his pleasure and he can effectively dictate policy to them.

A change in President usually means a change in all Cabinet-level positions at the very least. There is a great deal of turnover in the upper levels as staff hand-picked by the old guys is fired and replaced with people hand-picked by the new guys.

These facts mean that a change in President can mean a huge change in policy and how policy is implemented, either because the President himself demands it or because the guys he appoints do or because guys who are appointed by the guys he appoints does.

This is especially true if some of the former President's policy decisions were unpopular. In most countries the Chief Executive is likely to tow the party line. A US President will also do so to a point, but most also have their own goals and pet projects that might conflict with the goals of their party. These tend to get dumped immediately upon a change of power. Sometimes a new President can go so far as to sabotage an old President's programs, such as when Andrew Jackson drove the Second Bank of the United States into Bankruptcy (an act which caused severe damage to the economy) simply to spite John Quincy Adams, who he blamed for his wife's death. (Yes I know that was 180 years ago. It's still a good example).


So yes, a new President is a very big deal and the death of one to assassination especially so. The transition can cause far-reaching policy changes. Just remember, JMS is an American writing for Americans. The political system of his [s]America stand-in[/s] Earth Alliance is going to be similar to the political system of the United States.

Last edited by hyzmarca; February 26 2010 at 10:31 PM.
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Old February 26 2010, 08:11 PM   #703
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

Fun fact: The Vice President Clarke's swearing-in scene was staged to resemble Lyndon Johnson's swearing-in after the Kennedy assassination, right down to the woman in the pink dress.

Coincidentally, the scene was also shot on the anniversary of that event.
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Old February 26 2010, 08:40 PM   #704
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

Lindley wrote: View Post
Fun fact: The Vice President Clarke's swearing-in scene was staged to resemble Lyndon Johnson's swearing-in after the Kennedy assassination, right down to the woman in the pink dress.

Coincidentally, the scene was also shot on the anniversary of that event.
The similarities don't end there. JMS was very much going for a Kennedy parallel with Santiago. Kennedy brought forth the "new frontier" with a reign of optimism despite a tense political geoscape. Same with Santiago with his support of the Babylon Project. An optimism that quickly evaporated upon their respective assassinations.
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Old February 26 2010, 09:06 PM   #705
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Lindley wrote: View Post
Think back to how you felt after 9/11. It's meant to be a similar sort of moment.
I was surprised that nobody had flown a passenger plane into a sky-scraper sooner, I remember contemplating what would happen if somebody flew a jet into the Empire State Building a few months before.

I guess the news of terrorism doesn't shock me. As Jimmy Bob said, I grew up in Ireland through the 80s and 90s, and while I lived far enough away from Northern Ireland that I never encountered terrorism personally, it was constantly in the news. I remember where I was in 1996 when I heard that the Provisional IRA abandoned their ceasefire and bombed Canary Wharf, and the day in 1998 when the splinter group Real IRA bombed Omagh, but I was too young to really care.

So when September 11th happened I thought that the scale of the devastation was impressive and I was saddened by the loss of innocent life, but I certainly didn't think that everything was different.

CorporalClegg wrote: View Post
I think part of the problem is JMS expects viewers to "live vicariously" through the characters. As you said, Santiago hasn't really been seen, so you have put yourself in the characters' shoes and try to think how you'd feel if your President had been killed and you're the only one who knows it was a murder conspiracy.
I'd wonder why anyone would go to the effort to kill someone with such minor powers. But if somebody killed my Taoiseach... I still wouldn't care that much. I'd be shocked and I'd want to know why it happened, but at the end of the day some new guy is going to be put in charge and things will continue as usual. I guess I'm just too cynical to think that the death of a politician will change things that much.

Lindley wrote: View Post
Ah. Well, that's what the Location field is (rarely) used for.
You mean my alcoholism and extreme love of potatoes didn't give it away?

I used to use the location field of other sites but found that random American people I didn't know would be shocked by my presence (because electricity shouldn't exist here) and on some occasions I was asked if I knew their far-flung relatives in Ireland. "Yes, I do know the Kelly family, I know five of them, but the chances of me knowing your Kelly family is very low. "

Luckily this site doesn't seem to contain the same level of imbeciles, but since nobody else uses the location field properly I feel free not to.

Truth_Seeker wrote: View Post
Keep in mind that unlike some modern arc shows such as "Lost" or "Prison Break", B5's main purpose is not to shock and surprise its viewers, but to tell them a story. Shocking plot twists usually work only the first time you watch a certain show, while a good story can make you rewatch it numerous times and still find it interesting.
But I kept being told by people that the finale to season 1 had a shocking twist and that it would really get me interested in the show. It might have had that effect on me had I not heard about the Shadows in advance.
In fact death of Santiago is a plot device , a very important plot device for something else in future...
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