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Old August 1 2012, 07:56 AM   #31
Jan
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

DigificWriter wrote: View Post
I'll be back with reviews of/thoughts on episodes 21 and 22, but, in the meantime, I'd like to leave off by asking a question about something that I started thinking about after viewing Eyes and Legacies. In Eyes, there's a point at which Harriman Grey probes Susan's mind and makes mention of Talia Winters, but, within the context of the story of Eyes itself, said mention seems a bit out of place. However, it ceases to be out of place if you consider the possibility of swapping the 'chronological' order of Eyes and Legacies, with Legacies coming first and Eyes second. Does anyone know if these two particular episodes were meant to be swapped in terms of their chronology?
According to this list, the two should have been more separated but still in the same order.

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Old August 2 2012, 04:04 PM   #32
DigificWriter
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

^ Thanks for that, Jan. This post will cover my reviews of episodes 21 and 22, some overall thoughts on S1, and my reviews of episodes 1 and 2 of Season 2.

The Quality of Mercy
On the surface, this episode seems to be a bit of a standalone episode unconnected to the larger arc, but its significance only becomes clear once we get into Season 2. I also liked the episode's focus on Franklin because the last episode to focus on him was Believers, which, as I mentioned, isn't really my cup of tea, so it is neat to see a focus episode for him that holds up. The subplot of Lennier and Londo interacting is also great, because it gives Lennier something to do outside of just being Delenn's aide, and because it tells us something about the Centauri that we didn't know but probably should've guessed.

Chrysalis
The best season finales always wrap up what's happened over the course of the season, while also leaving you guessing and wondering what's going to happen next, and Chrysalis succeeds on both of these levels. We get some great stuff for every single one of the characters. The episode really doesn't have an 'a' and 'b' plot because everything that happens in it is so interconnected, but that's what you want in a season finale.

Now, my thoughts on S1 overall.

Overall thoughts on Season 1
In the commentary for Signs and Portents, JMS talks about how S1 was designed to achieve a balance between carrying out the 5-year arc and allowing viewers to come into the season and series at any given point, with episodes being split about 1/2 and 1/2 between standalone episodes and episodes that were important to the overall 5-year arc. Having viewed the season in its entirety, however, I have to say that I disagree with that assessment, and would submit that, of the season's 22 episodes, only Infection, TKO, and Believers are truly standalone. Everything else not only contributes to the larger arc of Season 1 and the series, but is also pretty 'essential' when it comes to how that larger S1 arc unfolds.

Now, my reviews of the first two episodes of Season 2.

Points of Departure
Although it's not labeled as such, Points of Departure could very easily be considered Part 2 of Chrysalis because, despite the week of in-universe time that passes, it pretty much directly continues the events of that episode while also serving as a transition into the new and larger story arc of S2. Captain Sheridan's introduction is incredibly well-handled and feels very seamless, giving us a glimpse into just how pivotal the events of the Earth-Minbari War truly were, particularly in terms of the way the war and its end are viewed by the Minbari themselves (or at least certain factions therein), which is of particular import when you take a look at that information in light of what Lennier tells Sheridan and Ivanova in this episode concerning the reason behind the Minbari's surrender at the Battle of the Line and in light of the events of S1 as a whole with regards to Sinclair and Delenn's story arc.

Revelations
Revelations is really our first opportunity to get a good glimpse into just who John Sheridan is, and it succeeds on all fronts in painting a picture of this guy and what motivates him. His interactions with his sister really help show that there's more to him than the competent commander and warrior we're told about and get to see in Points of Departure. The subplot involving G'Kar's return and the information he provides concerning the Shadows dovetails with the exploration of Sheridan's character rather nicely, and we also get to see the return of the machine from TQoM, which, as I mentioned, immediately and automatically increases the significance of that episode ten-fold.

***

I'll be back later with reviews of S2 episodes 3 through 6.
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Old August 2 2012, 11:20 PM   #33
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

DigificWriter wrote: View Post
I have to say that I disagree with that assessment, and would submit that, of the season's 22 episodes, only Infection, TKO, and Believers are truly standalone.
"Infection" has several direct tie-ins to "Messages from Earth"; there's what IPX is up to with trying to get their hands on this tech here and trying to track down the Shadow ship in the later episode; the concept of an organic machine with a human core in both episodes; and also the conversation between Garibaldi and the reporter about how he and Sinclair met ties right into the flashback in that later episode, although that's more clear if one reads the comic.
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Old August 2 2012, 11:47 PM   #34
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

^ I didn't know that, so thanks. I meant to put Grail on the list of standalones (that's what happens when you pet when you're sick), but either way, you're still looking at a significantly higher number of episodes (19 out of 22) tying into the larger tapestry of things than is indicated by JMS in his commentary.
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Old August 3 2012, 08:36 AM   #35
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I said I was only going to review episodes 3 through 6 in this post, but decided that, in order to keep some symmetry, I'd review all 4 episodes contained on Disk 2 of the S2 DVD set instead of just two of them, which means that I'm reviewing episodes 3 through 8 rather than 3 through 6. Because I'm still feeling somewhat under the weather, the following observations and thoughts might be a bit scattered, for which I apologize.

The Geometry of Shadows
The most significant things about The Geometry of Shadows are the introduction of Lord Refa and Susan Ivanova's promotion to commander. Otherwise, the episode is fairly standalone, marking a change from the third episode of S1, Born to the Purple, which was not only essential to the overall story arc of the season, but to the series as well. The episode does introduce the techno-mages, but not enough is done with them to really make that part of the episode truly have significance.

A Distant Star
Revelations marked the first real opportunity for us to be given a glimpse inside John Sheridan's character, and A Distant Star takes what we learned about him in that episode and further expands upon it by introducing the character of Captain Maynard, an old friend of Sheridan's who is both similar to and different from him. Beyond that, though, the episode has a great deal of significance because it again shows us that the Shadows are out there again, and that they're not just lurking near their home planet but are out and about in the larger realm of space as well.

The Long Dark
The Long Dark is really only the fourth episode to build on the overall theme and arc of Season 2, but it does so at a fairly leisurly pace in comparison to the way that S1's arc was paced. That actually makes the episode work fairly well because it gives us some clues about what's coming but still allows for viewers to jump in and be intrigued enough to continue without wondering what, if anything, they've missed.

Spider in the Web
I really liked this episode because it has a lot of layers to it. On the surface, it seems fairly standalone, but takes on greater significance when you look at it in terms of what it tells us about Talia and how it advances her character, particularly in light of what ends up happening to her later on in the season. This episode is also a fairly strong one for Sheridan in that it tells us some new information about him that helps explain why he's as quick to embrace the assertion that someone had conspired to kill President Santiago in Revelations. The information we learn about him here also plays rather nicely in terms of his actions in A Race through Dark Places.

Soul Mates
Soul Mates is, to my mind, the second 'standalone' episode of S2, but although it doesn't have a whole lot of significance in terms of the overall arc of S2 and of the series as a whole, it does have a fair amount of significance in terms of Londo Mollari's character, giving us a bunch of insight into him and advancing the storyline of his ascension to power without really having a whole lot to do with said ascension. The episode is also great in terms of giving us some pivotal character moments for G'Kar, although not enough is done with regards to him and any possible involvement he may or may not have had in what happens to Londo, which is somewhat of a pity.

A Race through Dark Places
I must confess that, for some reason, I didn't see Franklin being entangled with the telepath underground railroad coming, even though, in hindsight, the signs are there if you know where to look for them. His being involved, though, is a refreshing change of pace from what you'd expect, and also provides a glimpse into his character that is fresh and interesting. His decision to bring Sheridan in on things shows that he's placed an incredible amount of trust in his new CO. The episode is also great because it furthers Talia's story arc and also marks the true start of the relationship between her and Susan.

***

Thus far, I'd say that S2's list of 'essentials' looks like this:
Points of Departure
Revelations
A Distant Star
The Long Dark
Spider in the Web
A Race through Dark Places

I'll keep updating this 'essentials' list as I go, and will be back with thoughts on episodes 9 through 12.
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Old August 3 2012, 05:40 PM   #36
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

The episode does introduce the techno-mages, but not enough is done with them to really make that part of the episode truly have significance.
In the main show, no. Much more is done with them in Crusade, and in two of the three novel trilogies. They're basically Jedi with an overdone sense of theater.
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Old August 3 2012, 08:30 PM   #37
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I'd forgotten that TGoS does feature the prophecy about Londo that we later see in dream/vision flashes in The Coming of Shadows (more on that in a sec), but even that isn't enough to make the episode significant.

I did say I'd be back with reviews of episodes 9 through 12, so here we go.

The Coming of Shadows

I loved this episode. It does a masterful job of throwing the story arc for the season into high gear, and also gives us a full season's worth of character growth for a number of characters, particularly Londo. As I was watching the episode, I kept being reminded of these words from Albus Dumbledore - "Soon each of us will face a choice between what is right and what is easy" - which sum up Londo's actions here pretty succinctly. He makes the easy choice here rather than the right one and it's going to come back to haunt him.

GROPOS
I got a very strong sense of deja vu as I was watching GROPOS, to the point that I felt I could've been watching my all-time favorite TV series, BSG. I believe I mentioned during one of my earlier reviews that one of the episodes reminded me of the BSG episode Unfinished Business, but GROPOS didn't remind me of BSG, it felt like BSG. The relationship between Richard and Stephen Franklin felt like the relationship between Lee Adama and his father, and the GROPO private Dodger felt like the B5 version of Kara Thrace, and would've been an excellent recurring character.

All Alone in the Night
AAitN is an interesting episode because it is both easy and hard to determine the episode's significance, which hadn't been the case. On the one hand, you've got Delenn's storyline, which will take on incredible importance, but you've then got the Sheridan story that is perhaps a bit too ambiguous. The things we find out in the episode concerning the thinking behind Sheridan's assignment to the station really help inform his character and also dovetail very nicely with his actions in Spider in the Web and A Race through Dark Places, which only helps increase the significance of those two episodes.

Acts of Sacrifice
You could almost call AoS a sequel to both The Coming of Shadows and A Racd Through Dark Places, because AoS really starts to show us for the first time the tangible consequences of the events of TCoS and gives Sheridan an opportunity to rely on the resources and resourcefulness of Franklin that he becomes aware of in ARtDP. The 'b' plot involving Ivanova adds some lighthearted fun to the episode and serves as a nice counterpoint to the episode's more serious 'a' plot, and also let's Claudia Christian show off her comedic chops.
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Old August 3 2012, 08:30 PM   #38
DigificWriter
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I'd forgotten that TGoS does feature the prophecy about Londo that we later see in dream/vision flashes in The Coming of Shadows (more on that in a sec), but even that isn't enough to make the episode significant.

I did say I'd be back with reviews of episodes 9 through 12, so here we go.

The Coming of Shadows

I loved this episode. It does a masterful job of throwing the story arc for the season into high gear, and also gives us a full season's worth of character growth for a number of characters, particularly Londo. As I was watching the episode, I kept being reminded of these words from Albus Dumbledore - "Soon each of us will face a choice between what is right and what is easy" - which sum up Londo's actions here pretty succinctly. He makes the easy choice here rather than the right one and it's going to come back to haunt him.

GROPOS
I got a very strong sense of deja vu as I was watching GROPOS, to the point that I felt I could've been watching my all-time favorite TV series, BSG. I believe I mentioned during one of my earlier reviews that one of the episodes reminded me of the BSG episode Unfinished Business, but GROPOS didn't remind me of BSG, it felt like BSG. The relationship between Richard and Stephen Franklin felt like the relationship between Lee Adama and his father, and the GROPO private Dodger felt like the B5 version of Kara Thrace, and would've been an excellent recurring character.

All Alone in the Night
AAitN is an interesting episode because it is both easy and hard to determine the episode's significance, which hadn't been the case. On the one hand, you've got Delenn's storyline, which will take on incredible importance, but you've then got the Sheridan story that is perhaps a bit too ambiguous. The things we find out in the episode concerning the thinking behind Sheridan's assignment to the station really help inform his character and also dovetail very nicely with his actions in Spider in the Web and A Race through Dark Places, which only helps increase the significance of those two episodes.

Acts of Sacrifice
You could almost call AoS a sequel to both The Coming of Shadows and A Racd Through Dark Places, because AoS really starts to show us for the first time the tangible consequences of the events of TCoS and gives Sheridan an opportunity to rely on the resources and resourcefulness of Franklin that he becomes aware of in ARtDP. The 'b' plot involving Ivanova adds some lighthearted fun to the episode and serves as a nice counterpoint to the episode's more serious 'a' plot, and also let's Claudia Christian show off her comedic chops.
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Old August 4 2012, 03:00 AM   #39
DigificWriter
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I was hoping to wait a bit longer so as to avoid double-posting, but finished the next batch of episodes quicker than I expected. Before I jump into my reviews, though, I figured I ought to update my 'essentials' list:
Points of Departure
Revelations
A Distant Star
The Long Dark
Spider in the Web
A Race through Dark Places
The Coming of Shadows
All Alone in the Night
Acts of Sacrifice
Hunter, Prey
There All the Honor Lies
And Now for a Word
In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum

Now, my reviews of the last four eps on that list.

Hunter, Prey
Of all the episodes on my above 'essentials' list, I think Hunter, Prey is the most encompassing in scope, drawing in story threads from Chrysalis, Points of Departure, Spider in the Web, A Race through Dark Places, and All Alone in the Night, while also doing a bit of subtle foreshadowing as well.

There All the Honor Lies
As I was watching this ep, I was struck by the number of similarities it has to The Gathering in terms of its structure, theme, and certain plot elements, and while I stand by my earlier statement of The Gathering being worth watching if only for the sake of completeness, I also think that TAtHL does a better job with its themes and is more pivotal and farther-reaching. If all of that weren't enough to make the episode awesome, though, there's also the fact that it heralds the birth of the 'Great Babearlon 5 Feud'.

And Now for a Word
The 'conceptual gimmick' behind this ep may have been done elsewhere, but I find myself hard-pressed to say whether or not it's ever been done better. BSG's Final Cut comes very close, but doesn't cover nearly the same amount of thematic ground as ,ANfaW, which is what pushes the latter ep over the top.

In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum
This episode could very easily have lent its title to the season instead of The Coming of Shadows and it wouldn't have been out of place. The episode could also have very easily been made into a two-patter because of how much storyline ground it covers, drawing in threads from TWP, SaP, Chrysalis, Revelations, TAtHL, and ANfaW while also laying down a number of new story threads for the future. It's a major undertaking and is a huge testament to JMS' skills as a storyteller that things don't get bogged down.
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Old August 4 2012, 05:14 AM   #40
Jeff O'Connor
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Oddly enough (given the show's general tone versus BSG and B5) I think Stargate SG-1's "Heroes" two-parter is the best of the mockumentary-in-space-opera contenders. All three of those are great, though, and this one is really close.
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Old August 4 2012, 11:22 PM   #41
DigificWriter
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I'm back to update my 'essentials' list, finish off my reviews for S2, and offer some overall thoughts on the season.

First, an update on my 'essentials' list:
Points of Departure
Revelations
A Distant Star
The Long Dark
Spider in the Web
A Race through Dark Places
The Coming of Shadows
All Alone in the Night
Acts of Sacrifice
Hunter, Prey
There All the Honor Lies
And Now for a Word
In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum
Knives
The Long Twilight Struggle
The Fall of Night

Now, my reviews.

Knives
This episode proves that, even after 35 (37) episodes, there are still new layers of character to be peeled away. In contrast to his actions in TCoS, Londo does what is right rather than what is easy, and you can see how difficult it is for him. The episode also offers a nice callback to B2 with its 'b' plot, which is a nice counterpoint to the Centauri and Londo
-focused 'a' plot.

Confessions and Lamentations
With the exception of TGoS, this season's previous standalone episodes have dealt with some pretty weighty material, and this ep continues the trend, bringing about a major change in the fabric of the B5 universe and doing it in fine fashion. The episode also really succeeds in upping the ante on the evolving relationship between Delenn and Sheridan, providing both with some great character development.

Divided Loyalties
I really thought going into it that I'd be putting DL on my 'essentials' list and am really disappointed that I can't. The episode's content ought to have been pivotal, but not enough is ultimately dine with its various parts to make the whole work as well as it ought. We aren't shown Ivanova and Talisman making the decision to go to bed together, which robs the later reveal of Talisman being the 'Control' spy of the maximum amount of power it might've had, and the same thing can be said of the reveal's effect on Sheridan, Garibaldi, and Franklin as well.

Like TGoS, DL is a standalone that shouldn't have been a standalone, and ends up falling far short of its potential. It's still a good episode, but isn't as good as it could've been if things had been done just a little differently.

The Long, Twilight Struggle
If Divided Loyalties falls short of its potential, TLTS more than succeeds in avoiding the same fate, offering a fitting and incredibly tense 'pentultimate' exclamation point to the season and once again drawing in numerous past story threads and weaving them into a glorious whole that more than adequately sets the table for things to come and significantly disrupts the status quo of the season and series, doing so in fine fashion.

Comes the Inquisitor
Comes the Inquisitor, like TGoS and DL, is a standalone that ought not to have been a standalone, but where those other eps are standalones either because of their content or the execution of their content, CtI ends up as a standalone because of its placement. The episode really ought to have occurred much earlier in the season, and its placement as the pentultimate ep of the season ends up robbing its content of some of its oomph and strength, which is unfortunate.

One interesting thing about the episode is that, for me, it evoked strong parallels to And the Sky Full of Stars, striking me as being very much for Delenn and Sheridan what the events of AtSFoS were for Sinclair.

The Fall of Night
The Fall of Night felt very much like a direct continuation of TLTS and ought to have directly followed it, but it doesn't suffer in the least from the separation caused by the airing of CtI in between.

As with TLTS, JMS manages to flawlessly and adroitly provide some significant alterations to the status quo of the B5 universe while also tightening the proverbial noose and bringing all of the seasons ongoing story threads together into a single whole just as he did with Chrysalis. However, the one thing that differentiated TFoN from Chrysalis is that TFoN ends with a sense of the main story arc for the season being resolved, whereas Chrysalis ended on a cliffhanger.

Finally, my overall thoughts on the season.

Overall thoughts on S2
Like the second season of BSG, S2 of B5 starts out by resolving story threads that were either set up or left over from the previous season, but also sets up the new story arc for the season. However, after starting out with a lot of momentum, the season stumbles a bit with a standalone ep that should not have been a standalone in The Geometry of Shadows. Fortunately, it quickly regains steam and doesn't stumble again until Divided Loyalties, but again regains steam and finishes incredibly strong despite the misplaced decision to air CtI between TLTS and TFoN.

***

I'll be back later with reviews of the first four eps of S3.
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Old August 5 2012, 04:13 AM   #42
DigificWriter
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

I again apologize for the double-posting, but when you're not feeling good, the only thing you can really do besides sleep is watch TV. This post will, as mentioned earlier, cover my reviews of S3 episodes 1 through 4, as well as some observations I had on the structure of B5 as a whole based on the end of S2 - as outlined in my last post - and the start of S3.

I figured I'd start out with said observations, since they sort of inform my reviews of/thoughts on the first four eps of S3.

I've heard B5 the series described as a SINGLE 'novel for television', but I think it is better described as a pair of 'novels for TV', with the S2 finale The Fall of Night being the end of the first 'novel' and S3 marking the beginning of the second 'novel'.

Now, my reviews.

Matters of Honor
I mentioned above that I thought B5 was better described as being a pair of 'novels for TV', and Matters of Honor is the primary reason I came to that conclusion. I mentioned in my review of The Fall of Night that I felt it wrapped up the S2 storyline rather succinctly, which effectively makes Matters of Honor a 'new beginning' for the series as well as the start of the third season and, as I mentioned, makes it feel very much like the start of a new 'novel' that follows on from events in the previous 'novel' but is also very much its own thing. The introduction of Marcus Cole and the White Star contribute to this sense, and the episode's ending, with Morden being on Earth, sort of cements it.

Convictions
With Matters of Honor marking the start of a new story for the series as well as S3, JMS bought himself the storytelling capitol to do a 'slow build', and he is therefore able to justify Convictions being a standalone episode that further builds on the show's existing characters as well as bringing new characters - or old characters come back - into the mix. He more than takes advantage of the opportunity afforded to him, providing what I would consider to be the best standalone episode of the series.

A Day in the Strife
Although largely standalone, A Day in the Strife takes character threads from both Seasons 1 and 2 and uses them to start building towards the future. Its 'b' story also does this with regards to Dr. Franklin, and also gives us some great moments for other characters as well, particularly Ivanova and Sheridan.

Passing through Gethsemane
JMS packs a LOT of symbolism into this episode, and also gives us a unique opportunity to see more of the way religion works in the B5 universe. Brad Dourif is fantastic, making Brother Edward one of the best one-off characters to appear on the series to date, and the episode's ending not only provides an excellent character moment for Sheridan, but a bit of mystery as well insofar as it concerns Lyta and her relationship to and with Kosh.

Edit: In order to avoid triple-posting, I am adding reviews for episodes 5 through 8 to this post.

Voices of Authority
And so it begins in earnest. After a 'slow build' with standalones for episodes 2, 3, and 4 of the season, JMS kicks the next chapter of the series' story - and that of the season - into high gear with an episode that rivals the best work by other prolific writer-creators such as Joss Whedon and Ronald D. Moore.

There are so many callbacks to earlier story threads and seeds that are planted for the future in this episode that it's hard to know what to focus on, so I'll just mention two things:
1) Zack Allan has really gotten himself into an untenable situation, and the question of whether or not he can get himself out of it makes for supreme drama.
2) The Sigma 957 First Ones' reaction to Ivanova 'name-dropping' the Vorlons provides excellent subtle humor while also letting Ivanova do what she does best.

Dust to Dust
There was so much going on in S2's A Race through Dark Places that I didn't even mention Alfred Bester in my review of that ep, but he was a lot more subdued in that ep than he was in his first appearance in Mind War, and certainly more than he is here.

Even having been injected with sleeper drugs, the man is a smarmy bastard, and the way he tries to bait nearly every character he interacts with only process just how incredible Walter Koenig is as an actor because it takes someone of incredible skill and charisma to make you hate Bester but want to root for him at the same time. In fact, this ep is where Bester truly becomes the Tom Zarek of the B5 universe, cementing himself as one of the series' most memorable yet hated characters.

Sticking with the comparisons to BSG characters for a moment, this ep is the place where G'Kar becomes the Gaius Baltar of B5, setting the stage for a transformation into something far more than just a simple antagonist character.

Exogenesis
After two incredibly great arc episodes, we're back to what is nominally a standalone, albeit one that also provides a fair number of arc-centric character moments due to its significant focus on Marcus and its 'b' plot concerning Ivanova subtly scouting Lt. Corwin.

The episode also struck me as having a very Star Trek-like vibe to it in terms of the Vindrazi parasites, which struck me as being what the parasite alienns from the TNG episode Conspiracy might've been had they been non-hostile.

Messages from Earth
JMS really knows how to up the ante. He did it with The Coming of Shadows and In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum in S2, and he does it again here, finally tightening the noose around our characters and forcing them into a situation where desperate measures have to be taken, thereby setting the stage for what I would consider to be one of the best cliffhangers in TV history (I would rank it up there with Angel transforming back into Angelus and the Cylons invading New Caprica) in President Clark's declaration of martial law.

The episode also features some great character moments for Sheridan, Delenn, Marcus, and Ivanova, significantly advancing both of the eventual relationships involving the four characters and providing a bit of 'breathing room' to balance out the game-changing events with which the rest of the episode's plot deals.
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Last edited by DigificWriter; August 5 2012 at 08:55 AM.
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Old August 7 2012, 12:44 AM   #43
Jan
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

Thought this might be of interest to some of the folks here. This week (Fri., Aug. 10, to be exact) marks the 20th anniversary of the start of filming Babylon 5: The Gathering. (Yikes!)

Long-time fan Lee Whiteside has begun a blog which will be highlighting some of the interesting posts from back then as well as any news of celebrations that may come along. So for those interested,

http://www.azsf.net/b520/?p=13

Lee's very knowlegable so I expect this to be fun.

Jan
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Old August 7 2012, 02:02 AM   #44
Candlelight
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

DigificWriter wrote: View Post
^ I didn't know that, so thanks. I meant to put Grail on the list of standalones (that's what happens when you pet when you're sick), but either way, you're still looking at a significantly higher number of episodes (19 out of 22) tying into the larger tapestry of things than is indicated by JMS in his commentary.
Grail has minor details thrown in; ripping from Wikipedia here :
  • Jinxo's explanation of his "curse" clarifies the circumstances of the destruction of the first three previous Babylon Stations, and indicates that the disappearance of Babylon 4 was particularly sudden and uncanny. (-> Babylon Squared)
  • While talking with Gajic, Delenn and Lennier indicate for the first time that the warrior and religious castes of Minbari are often at odds. (-> Points of Departure, Severed Dreams, the Minbari Civil War, etc)
  • Kosh's reply of "good" when told that the mystery of the Vorlon's true appearance has been misused to provoke fear among the population of the station hints at the deliberate manipulation he is engaged in. (-> The Fall of Night)
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Old August 7 2012, 02:18 AM   #45
DigificWriter
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Re: Re-watching Babylon 5 (* SPOILERS *)

It's hard to believe it's been 20 years since cameras first rolled on B5. I didn't discover the show until around 2002, so it'll be interesting to get a glimpse at what the build-up to the shooting of the pilot was like.

I have a lot of reviews to catch up on, but wanted to post my list of 'essentials' for S3 because, up to this point, I hadn't yet done so:
Matters of Honor
Voices of Authority
Dust to Dust
Exogenesis (the first standalone ep to make one of my 'essentials' lists, although not the last)
Messages from Earth
Point of No Return
Severed Dreams
Ceremonies of Light and Dark
Sic Transit Vir
A Late Delivery from Avalon

Point of No Return
Past the point of no return
No backward glances
Our games of make-believe are at an end

Past the point of no return
The final threshold
What warm unspoken secrets
Will we learn
Beyond the point of no return?

The above comes from The Point of No Return, one of the pentultimate songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, and describes what JMS does with the ninth episode of Season 3 rather succinctly. The Point of No Return does indeed mark the 'final threshold' for Babylon 5 and its characters, although it is by no means the first threshold (which was crossed as early as last season [Season 2] for some characters and as recently as Dust to Dust for others).

Just as The Phantom (Erik) does in that lyric snippet above, JMS asks his characters - and us as an audience - 'what warm unspoken secrets will we learn past the point of no return' and proceeds to start giving us those answers both in this episode and in three of the four to come.

There's another lyric snippet from The Point of No Return that is particularly relevant and appropriate to the events of this episode and the ones to come, and it is sung by the character of Christine.

You have brought me
To that moment when words run dry
To that moment when speech disappears
Into silence
Silence.

I have come here,
Hardly knowing the reason why
In my mind I've already imagined
Our bodies entwining
Defenseless and silent,
Now I am here with you
No second thoughts
I've decided
Decided

Past the point of no return
No going back now
Our passion-play has now at last begun

The above refrain is, to me, a perfect descriptor of our characters' situation in this episode, particularly Sheridan (although it's not a perfect fit given the rather erotic and sensual nature of the lyrics).

In closing my thoughts on the ep, I'd like to use one more piece of lyric from The Point of No Return that I think perfectly describes both the episode itself and the storyline of Season 3.

What raging FIRE shall flood the soul
What rich desire unlocks it's door

Past the point of no return
The final threshold
The bridge is crossed
So stand and watch it burn
We've passed the point of no return

Severed Dreams
Severed Dreams is the third of a four-part narrative quartet that starts with Messages from Earth and doesn't truly reach a conclusion until Ceremonies of Light and Dark, and JMS uses the events of the episode to build on those of PoNR and set the stage for CoLaD, doing so in fine fashion. This is the episode that won the series its second Hugo Award, and the reasons show in spades. The action and drama present in this episode are some of the best to come out of a SciFi TV show in the past decade-plus, being on par with the best of BSG (such as 33 [which also won a Hugo], Exodus P1 and P2, and Daybreak P1 and P2) and Joss Whedon's Serenity, and JMS is also at his finest here, presenting our characters with a series of trials by fire through which they pass with remarkable aplomb. The episode also features some of his finest unintended humor in terms of the reaction of our characters - particularly Sheridan's - when Delenn and her Minbari cavalry come riding to the rescue. Speaking of Delenn, she is also at her finest when she tells the Earthforce ships in no uncertain terms to back off or suffer the consequences, and Mira Furlan delivers her best performance of the series.

Ceremonies of Light and Dark
Ceremonies of Light and Dark not only provides an excellent conclusion to the four-part arc started in Messages from Earth, it also serves as an excellent follow-up to Season 1's The Parliament of Dreams. It also provides a nice counterpoint to Season 3's Convictions.

The episode's final scenes, with each of our characters participating in Delenn's rebirth ceremony, not only provides an excellent glimpse into their characters and provides a rather poignant summary of where they have come and who they have been up to this point, it also sets the stage rather excellently for who they will become, particularly Sheridan, as his confession of his feelings for Delenn is brilliantly written and acted.

Sic Transit Vir
Vir has consistently been one of the best secondary characters in the series, and this episode once again allows him to shine, giving Stephen Furst the opportunity to prove that he's just as suited to handling drama as he is to handling comedy. The only mistake JMS makes in the way he handles and advances Vir's characterization is that he doesn't have Vir assert himself enough in the face of the way Londo tries to paint his noble and incredibly selfless actions in trying to, in some small way, atone for his people's mistakes by helping the Narns.

It is somewhat of a shame that JMS never brought back the character of Lyndisty, because it would've been rather neat to see Vir muster up the courage to more harshly condemn her attitude, although he does do a fairly good job of it as he and she going their separate ways at the end of the episode.

A Late Delivery from Avalon
I loved this episode. It doesn't push Convictions out of its place as the best standalone ep of Season 3, but comes awfully close with a combination of incredibly strong writing and a story that seems tailor-made for the B5 universe, using Arthurian legend to encapsulate and state what B5 - the series - is all about in about as fine a fashion as you possibly could.

The episode also serves as a nice counterpoint to Season 1's Grail, which is somewhat fitting as there is a bit of a resemblance, IMO, between David Warner and Michael York.

Ship of Tears
"War makes strange bedfellows". Whoever originally coined this phrase could not have been more right or crafted a better descriptor for Ship of Tears, an episode which not only starts to further Season 3's storyline, but also builds rather nicely on and correlates incredibly well with every single telepath-centric storyline that has been part of the series to date.

Walter Koenig delivers his most powerful performance as Alfred Bester to date, and the moment when he says 'your war is now my war' is one of the most poignant, well-written, and well-acted moments of the entire series. The best thing about that moment is that we, as an audience, know that this alliance is temporary at best and that Bester's going to eventually do something to screw Sheridan and Co. over, but we still can't help but inwardly cheer as he says the words.

The episode also marks a turning point for G'Kar as he is finally, formally, and officially brought into the 'Army of Light' that's been building since the beginning of the series, and also provides Andreas Katsulas and Mira Furlan with the opportunity to demonstrate some of the finest acting of the series to date. The scene in which Delenn confesses to G'Kar what she and others knew and why they chose not to use their knowledge to act in saving the Narn homeworld is heart-wrenching, and Andreas Katsulas' delivery of the line 'But not today' says so many things in so few words.

***

I'll be back later with reviews of episodes 15 through 19, but, in the meantime, I'd really like others to offer their own thoughts on what I've posted to this point, particularly my 'essentials' lists and my thoughts on the overall nature of the series' narrative.
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"There is no 'supposed to be.' It's an adaptation, a word that literally means change. Why bother making a new version if it doesn't offer a fresh approach?" - Christopher L. Bennett

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