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Old September 24 2013, 10:39 PM   #31
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

Ah, I had totally forgotten that whole Kevin Vacit plotline

Been too long since I've read the PsiCorps Trilogy
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Old September 25 2013, 12:35 PM   #32
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

Reverend wrote: View Post
Still I wouldn't count that as direct intervention any more than say, the very existence of the grey council is a result of Shadow interference. Doubtless there are hundreds, if not thousands of worlds touched by the influence of both the Shadows and the Vorlons, probably often with neither side being aware nor caring of their impact.
Oh no, I'm not really counting it as direct intervention. More that the Shadows just sort of screwed with them at some point, had a Morden-type agent make an offhand suggestion somewhere along the way. You're probably right that they mostly forgot about them after that. And when this new cycle came about, they didn't consider them important or dangerous enough to warrant further messing - they concentrated on the larger and more worrisome cultures like Earth and Centauri.


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Thing is, the Markab Draffa plague was an actual living pathogen, one that was already known to have existed in their homeworld's ecology in the past. The Drakh "plague" wasn't a plague at all. It was an intelligent nano-tech virus that could be specifically adapted to a target species. The whole five year thing was simply because the Drakh didn't have the time and/or expertise to set it properly, so if defaulted to an auto-adapt mode. That or they'd originally intended to use it on Minbar before the planet killer was destroyed. I forget exactly.
IIRC, the 'no time to prepare' part is from A Call to Arms, and the 'meant for Minbar' part is from the Centauri Trilogy.

But I'll give you the nano-tech.


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What clinches it for me though is that if Draffa was a Shadow attack, it totally undermines the point of the episode. The Markeb died because of hubris, self delusion and blind adherence to religious dogma tied to social stigma. They didn't die because the Shadows wanted them dead. If they wanted them dead, they were perfectly capable of wiping them out by other means. Plus it doesn't fit their MO, just offing them like that. It doesn't really serves their ideology, does it?
Again, I'm not really claiming that the Shadows went about exterminating the Markab because they specifically wanted them dead. I'm thinking it was more another low-level operation like the Drazi. They didn't really care about the Markab one way or the other, it was just about testing out the virus (if we forget about the nano-tech bit for the moment), and the Markab were a convenient lab rat.

And I don't think that necessarily harms the 'point' of the episode from the audience's POV. How the Markab react to the disease - blaming it on an undesirable minority, refusing to treat it because the victims are 'shameful' - remains the same. And the lesson for the audience remains the same. I'm only saying it's a vague possibility that the virus may have Shadow origins.

I see it like this - after 'losing' the last Shadow War and in the time since, the Shadows and their agents went around screwing with as many sentient races as possible. They did this in various ways but all to the same ends - to try to make those races fight amongst themselves and prevent them from banding together into a substantial force that could stand against them next time around.

The Vorlons did the same thing by creating telepaths in as many races as they could. For them, everyone gets the same treatment, organised and structured and controlled, perfectly Vorlon. The Shadows' strategy was of course chaotic - everyone gets different treatment, lots of different methods.

Suggest a governmental system that involves lots of pointless fighting. Introduce a virus and suggest that a subset of your population is to blame. Offer super-powerful tech that's almost impossible to control. Maybe they're responsible for the Hyach exterminating the Hyach-do as well, could be. All with the point of keeping everyone off balance enough to not create a coherent challenge to them.

They left the humans until last because the humans were barely sentient last time around and nobody really expected them to make much of themselves this time either. But they still tried - telepath versus mundane, maneuver a dictator into power, feed anti-alien sentiment.

I know that none of these things have to be the case. But I think they could be. I realise it's a bit small-universe-syndrome to think that everything bad that ever happened was because of the Shadows, and I'm sure it wasn't. It just fascinates me to think of all the tiny ways they've been screwing with us all for so long.

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Old September 25 2013, 04:13 PM   #33
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

Again, I'm not really claiming that the Shadows went about exterminating the Markab because they specifically wanted them dead. I'm thinking it was more another low-level operation like the Drazi. They didn't really care about the Markab one way or the other, it was just about testing out the virus (if we forget about the nano-tech bit for the moment), and the Markab were a convenient lab rat.
Why would they need do that when they already have a perfectly lethal viral weapon that they've had for *at least* a thousand years but probably a *lot* longer. I think both the Shadows and the Vorlons are a good million years past the R&D phase of their technological development.

Besides IF they wanted to test something like that, they'd pick a bronze tech world that nobody would notice was even gone.

And I don't think that necessarily harms the 'point' of the episode from the audience's POV. How the Markab react to the disease - blaming it on an undesirable minority, refusing to treat it because the victims are 'shameful' - remains the same. And the lesson for the audience remains the same. I'm only saying it's a vague possibility that the virus may have Shadow origins.
It matters because if it was a Shadow virus, then it wouldn't have mattered how they reacted, they're dead either way. If it's a real pathogen then they could have beaten it. That's the tragedy. They were killed by their own arrogance and stupidity, not altogether unlike the Hyach/Hyach-do situation. Whether it's a pandemic or a multi-generational species wide genetic breakdown that finally does them in is besides the point.

They left the humans until last because the humans were barely sentient last time around and nobody really expected them to make much of themselves this time either. But they still tried - telepath versus mundane, maneuver a dictator into power, feed anti-alien sentiment.
Pretty sure you mean sapient, not sentient. AFAIK, just about every vertebrate on the planet is sentient. Regardless, the "last time around" was about 1260 AD. Pretty sure humans have been sapient for a lot longer than a thousand years. Try something closer to a million. Indeed I'm pretty sure the current thinking is that humans have always been sapient because it was our pre-human ancestors that were the first to gain self awareness, the capacity for reason and abstract thought.

No, the Shadows left us alone because we were well out of the way, not a space faring race and also probably because the Vorlons may have already staked a claim they weren't willing to challenge.
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Old September 25 2013, 04:18 PM   #34
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

On the Draffa Plague, also consider Franklin found a cure in only a single episode for the Draffa Plague, but, wouldn't have found a cure for the Drakh Plague for a couple of full seasons, even with an expedition going out looking for assistance, and Doctor Chambers making the Virus shield fairly early on.
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Old September 25 2013, 04:41 PM   #35
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

Plus, wasn't what prompted Franklin's breakthrough for the cure the fact that Draffa jump species to the pak'ma'ra? The Drakh plague wouldn't have done that. It's species specific. Also, again, it's a nano-tech virus. That alone pretty much clinches it for me.
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Old September 25 2013, 05:11 PM   #36
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

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Plus, wasn't what prompted Franklin's breakthrough for the cure the fact that Draffa jump species to the pak'ma'ra? The Drakh plague wouldn't have done that. It's species specific. Also, again, it's a nano-tech virus. That alone pretty much clinches it for me.
Yup, he compared their "color" blood cells (Pak'ma'ra and Markab both had a same color in common, and that led him to the cure).

The Nan-tech virus was programmed for a specific species (Humans), but, I don't think we know it can't jump Species? The League wanted to shoot down anyone trying to leave Earth with the Virus and Dureena's Lost Tribe got it from the Black ops guys <Sigh what Crusade could've become if it wasn't sabotaged and killed in the crib >
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Old September 25 2013, 09:34 PM   #37
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

Actually I'm pretty sure the Markeb had yellow blood cells and the pak'ma'ra green. IIRC it was that they both had a similar function--something about specialised neural relay chemicals? Human and presumably Minbari nervous systems don't work that way, so there was no danger of cross-species transmission in that case, but others would have been vulnerable.

I'm not sure if it was ever established that the Shadow "bio-genetic plague" was dangerous to non-humans. I know Dureena's people were confirmed as being infected, but I don't think they knew for a fact that it'd kill them or just lay dormant in their systems.

I think the strict quarantine was a case of the ISA not willing to take the chance. And the EA of course since, while the vast majority of humanity was Earthbound, there was still a more than viable population living on the various colonies. One assumes that there was a not insignificant number of aliens on Earth at the time (diplomats, merchants, tourists etc. etc.) so you'd think they would have been tested. In the very least I would have thought they'd be confined to their respective embassy compounds for their own safety, especially with riots breaking out all over the planet.
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Old September 27 2013, 02:37 PM   #38
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

Whats amusing about all of this is that the one act of genocide on the show that we know about for certain, we can be fairly certain was caused by the Vorlons not the Shadows. Of course I'm talking about the extinction of the Dilgar. Its a good bet that the antiagapic was based on Shadow tech and that the Vorlons simply did away with them before they became a problem.
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Old September 27 2013, 03:02 PM   #39
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

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Whats amusing about all of this is that the one act of genocide on the show that we know about for certain, we can be fairly certain was caused by the Vorlons not the Shadows. Of course I'm talking about the extinction of the Dilgar. Its a good bet that the antiagapic was based on Shadow tech and that the Vorlons simply did away with them before they became a problem.
Well, iut's not quite right to say The Vorlons did away with Them, it was only Deathwalker we know they did with, and yes, she was the last of her Species. We don't know what happened to the rest of her kind (I don't believe) and she was the only threat for the Anti-Agapic
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Old September 27 2013, 03:29 PM   #40
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

Off topic: We never did find out about the special properties of the nanovirus in Crusade, did we? I recall reading that JMS sought advice about it from people at JPL. My guess is that once it had infected a host species, the nanovirus functioned somewhat as a distributed network smart-dust supercomputer that could adapt faster than the countermeasures thrown at it. You'd have to attack the communication links to defeat it.
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Old September 27 2013, 05:00 PM   #41
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

I honestly view The Gathering as having the same relationship to the rest of Babylon 5 as the Kristy Swanson Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie does to BtVS the series: its events happened and inform (the rest of) the series, but it's not a part of the series.
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Old September 27 2013, 10:39 PM   #42
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

Sindatur wrote: View Post
Gotham Central wrote: View Post
Whats amusing about all of this is that the one act of genocide on the show that we know about for certain, we can be fairly certain was caused by the Vorlons not the Shadows. Of course I'm talking about the extinction of the Dilgar. Its a good bet that the antiagapic was based on Shadow tech and that the Vorlons simply did away with them before they became a problem.
Well, iut's not quite right to say The Vorlons did away with Them, it was only Deathwalker we know they did with, and yes, she was the last of her Species. We don't know what happened to the rest of her kind (I don't believe) and she was the only threat for the Anti-Agapic
The Dilgar all died when their homeworld's sun went nova, presumably after the EA chased them back out of League space.

And yeah, killing the last survivor of a race is not genocide. The Dilgar were already a dead race by that point. Hell, they'd be a dead race even if there were a half dozen of them left. I'm pretty sure for a species to be viable there needs to be a base minimum of genetic diversity.

Also, there's ZERO evidence that the immortality serum was Shadow tech. Hell, I'm pretty confident that if the Volrons didn't snuff her, then the Shadows would have. Having all the younger races running around slaughtering each other to become immortal would but equally undesirable to both parties.

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Off topic: We never did find out about the special properties of the nanovirus in Crusade, did we? I recall reading that JMS sought advice about it from people at JPL. My guess is that once it had infected a host species, the nanovirus functioned somewhat as a distributed network smart-dust supercomputer that could adapt faster than the countermeasures thrown at it. You'd have to attack the communication links to defeat it.
It was established that the virus was intelligent and directed. Able to bypass non-critical parts of the body and go straight for the vital organs, glands, bone marrow etc. I think Franklin said it was similar to that techno-mage virus they ran into, but a lot more complex. Which makes sense given their origins.

Of course it's possible that the virus is advanced enough to swarm communicate across a host or even the whole planet, but all we know for sure is that the techno-mage one needed a central control mechanism to keep issuing programming or the virus would go inert. Honestly, given the nightmare scenario of an intelligent nanotech virus gone out of control--especially if you depend on organic technology--I'd be willing to bet that centralized control is more of an in-built safety precaution than a technical limitation.

In that case then the Drakh would have to have gotten it past the defence net and dropped it from orbit. Maybe that's how they finally cured the plague. Perhaps they just found the off switch?

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Old September 29 2013, 06:36 AM   #43
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

Yeah, the Dilgar went full Nazi when they learned their sun was going to go nova, they had done quite a bit of damage to the Non-Aligned worlds and it was EF's interference that forced the Dilgar back into their own system to be eliminated by the nova. The Wind Swords sheltered Deathwalker and I think it was insinuated elsewhere that there was a Dilgar colony that pretty much went bronze-age somewhere.
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Old September 29 2013, 12:48 PM   #44
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

AFAIK, canon information on the Dilgar is pretty scarce. Indeed I think everything we know about them comes from that one episode. That is that in 2230 they swept through the non-aligned sectors (and at least one Narn colony) raising ten kinds of hell, that Earth got involved and ultimately defeated them. Then in 2232 their sun went nova and that was the end of them. Pretty sure there's nothing extra in the CDROM, the published background notes or the script books. If there is I'm sure Jan would know.

I don't think it's ever said why Earth got involved. I can't see the EA helping out of the goodness of their hearts, or even just to curry favour with the league worlds. Perhaps the Dilgar hit an Earth colony so they felt the need to rattle some sabres and make an example so as not to appear weak.

I don't think it's ever mentioned why exactly the Dilgar invaded in the first place, but then it's not much of a leap to suppose that their sun about to go nova is one hell of a motivation for rapid expansion.

Never heard anything about a survivor Dilgar colony though. Was it in one of the novels?

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Old September 29 2013, 03:12 PM   #45
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Re: Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

The Dilgar were conquering Nazis they wanted to rule/kill everyone... Earth joined the war to increase their standing in the galactic community.
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