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Old September 10 2009, 03:02 AM   #1
Mr Light
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B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

What…? Another B5 thread?!

So I’m halfway through Season Four on my rewatch and the thought yet again occurs to me: why did the Shadow War end so early in the series? Why does the Earth War happen after it?

One of the basic rules of drama is your climax should occur as close as possible to the ending of your story. A denouement should be as brief as possible. For B5, almost 2/5 of the series is after the climax of the story.

I always thought the Earth War would have been much more interesting if the Shadow threat was still in the background, and the Shadow War finale was saved until after that.

Here’s my scenario:

Season One through Three as is.
4X1, 4X2, 4X3 as is, with a few more standalones thrown in. Sheridan returns from Z’ha’dum. I guess Lorien will have to stay behind for the purpose of this scenario, remaining a mysterious god-like figure who saves Sheridan‘s life, gives him something to live for, and then lets him escape from Z‘ha‘dum. Garibaldi is messed with by Bester and then “rescued” and returns to B5. The Shadows retreat from the war and hide ships on Centauri Prime.
4X4, 4X5, 4X6 only include the Centauri / Narn plotline. Londo and Vir assassinate Cartagia, free Narn, kill Morden, and wipe the Shadows off Centauri Prime.

At this point the Shadows remain in hiding and the Vorlons have yet to unleash their campaign.

Season Four continues mainly as is. With the Shadow threat in retreat, Earth and Minbar collapse into civil war. It’s more interesting this way because the Shadows are still around, presenting a distant motivation and pressure. Sheridan and Delenn need to get their homeworlds back into order so they can face the Shadows when they return! There’s a ticking clock!

After “Endgame”, the Interstellar Alliance is formed in “Rising Star”, with its primary goal to stand united against the coming Shadow threat. Cue Season Five.

First half of Season Five is the Shadow War Finale. The Shadows return with a vengeance and the Vorlons unleash their planet killer campaign of terror. I guess at this point Lorien leaves Z’ha’dum to join Sheridan’s cause. They kill Ulkesh and convince the Shadows and Vorlons to leave…. In episode 5X11.

I think this would make a much stronger statement of unity to have the entire Interstellar Alliance saying “NO!” to the Shadows and the Vorlons. As is, the only people standing with Sheridan were a few thousand humans, 2/3 of the Minbari, and the League (who are pretty much a joke in terms of power). The Centauri, the Narn, Earth Alliance, 1/3 of the Minbari… none of them were there.

This means the first half of Season Five doesn’t really happen. If Byron is there it’s as a couple episodes.

Second half of Season Five is mostly as is. With the Shadows defeated, the Drakh turn their eye to Centauri Prime and start a war between the Centauri and the Alliance.

Good idea? Terrible idea?
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Old September 10 2009, 03:47 AM   #2
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

You really don't know why it ended early?

From the beginning Babylon 5 was conceived to be a 5 year series with one overall series arc. However; Babylon 5 was going to be canceled at the end of season 4. JMS and company were given advance warning of the cancellation. JMS had the entire series planned out in his head and knew he wanted to get the story he wanted to tell completed. JMS then edited and rewrote various parts to fit his five year story arc into four years.

Then SURPRISE! Babylon 5 doesn't get cancelled but gets renewed for a 5th and final season. By then it was too late and the changes had been made. So, we have what we have.
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Old September 10 2009, 03:59 AM   #3
Mr Light
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

My point is, the Shadow War Finale could have taken place after the Earth War. Even if we do the scenario within Season Four, the final four/six episodes could have been the Shadow War finale.

For example...
401 The Hour of the Wolf
402 Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?
403 The Summoning
*SNIP*
404 Epiphanies
405 The Illusion of Truth
406 Atonement
407 Racing Mars
408 Lines of Communication
409 Conflicts of Interest
410 Rumors, Bargains and Lies
411 Moments of Transition
412 No Surrender, No Retreat
413 The Exercise of Vital Powers
414 The Face of the Enemy
415 Intersections in Real Time
416 Between the Darkness and the Light
417 Endgame
418 Rising Star
*SNIP*
419 Falling Toward Apotheosis
420 The Long Night
421 Into the Fire
422 Sleeping in Light
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Old September 10 2009, 04:31 AM   #4
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

No, I much prefer the way it was, although it would've been nice to see the season uncompressed and the civil war spill over into Season Five. The Shadow War pretty much had to be tied up after the events of Z'Ha'Dum. Sheridan's suicide run had stirred the hornet's nest so to speak, his return prompted the sudden removal of Ulkesh and his push to get all the First Ones out of the way.

Dramatically speaking it would be weird for him to return from Z'Ha'Dum and suddenly go after Clark.

That's like Bush going after Saddam instead of the Taliban. That's just silly.
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Old September 10 2009, 05:01 AM   #5
ManOnTheWave
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

Mr Light wrote: View Post
My point is, the Shadow War Finale could have taken place after the Earth War.
It could have. However, it was JMS's point that the end of the great war just lead to multiple civil conflicts like the Earth Civil War and the Minbari Civil War. He even had one of the character say that such conflicts "always" lead to civil wars. Those in turn lead to cold war and the arms race that lead to Crusade what with the development of the Whitestar battleships and the Earth's and Drakh's use and misuse of Shadow technology. It could have been switched around, but it would have been a different story.
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Old September 10 2009, 01:07 PM   #6
matthunter
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

Plus the whole plan of the Shadows was to keep the "lesser" races off-balance and fighting amongst themselves. Had Sheridan and Delenn gone off and engaged in infighting with their own governments (moreso than Delenn actually did by breaking the Grey Council) then they'd have been playing right into the Shadows' hands.
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Old September 10 2009, 01:19 PM   #7
Mr Light
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

The Shadows were down and out after "Z'ha'dum" and licking their wounds, though. Maybe they just took an entire season to recover instead of three episodes. Remember the League was already quitting the alliance thinking the Shadows had gone back into the shadows in "The Summoning". I just feel it's more dramatically satisfying to have the invincible god like aliens as the final villain. I know JMS was all about the aftermath of war but this way you can have your cake and eat it too.
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Old September 10 2009, 02:56 PM   #8
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

Earth was really the emotional core of the entire series.

It totally makes sense that the `ultimate' conflict should be about defeating the Shadows in ourselves.
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Old September 10 2009, 03:11 PM   #9
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

kipron wrote: View Post
Earth was really the emotional core of the entire series.

It totally makes sense that the `ultimate' conflict should be about defeating the Shadows in ourselves.
That's the way I tend to look at it. While I understand Light's point of view here, the overall story seemed to be somewhat atypical from most other similar series and stories. Ending the Shadow War second is the more traditional and dramatic way, but jms wrote this series in a way somewhat skewed from more common stories, not completely but certainly with an eye towards going in at a different angle.
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Old September 10 2009, 03:43 PM   #10
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

*giggle*

I love discussions like this. What is the series about? No, really, what is it about? Everything is laid in front of you in the first season.

The first season - Well, the whole series is about Sinclair, and this big old hole he has in his mind.

The second season - Wait, what? Sinclair's gone? Well that's ok, because the whole series is about G'Kar and Londo's conflict, just like they showed in the first season.

The third season - The Shadows? Who the frak are these guys? Oh right, we saw them in the first season. So that's what the show is about, it's all about the Shadows and their fight with the Vorlons.

The fourth season - Um, waitaminute. Sinclair's gone, Londo and G'Kar are sort of friends, the Shadows and Vorlons are gone. Oh, ok. It's about the conflict with Earth and President Clark. Waitaminute again, the very first episode was about Earth politics, and we've seen bits of that all along. Oh, now I get it, it's all about Earth's politics and Clark trying to get as much control as possible.

The fifth season - well, you see where this is going.
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Old September 10 2009, 04:06 PM   #11
kipron
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

OmahaStar wrote: View Post
*giggle*

I love discussions like this. What is the series about? No, really, what is it about? Everything is laid in front of you in the first season.

The first season - Well, the whole series is about Sinclair, and this big old hole he has in his mind.

The second season - Wait, what? Sinclair's gone? Well that's ok, because the whole series is about G'Kar and Londo's conflict, just like they showed in the first season.

The third season - The Shadows? Who the frak are these guys? Oh right, we saw them in the first season. So that's what the show is about, it's all about the Shadows and their fight with the Vorlons.

The fourth season - Um, waitaminute. Sinclair's gone, Londo and G'Kar are sort of friends, the Shadows and Vorlons are gone. Oh, ok. It's about the conflict with Earth and President Clark. Waitaminute again, the very first episode was about Earth politics, and we've seen bits of that all along. Oh, now I get it, it's all about Earth's politics and Clark trying to get as much control as possible.

The fifth season - well, you see where this is going.
But aren't all these things kinda related?

I mean, the relationship between Earth and Minbar is mirrored and juxtaposed with the Centauri/Narn and the Shadows/Vorlons.

In each pair, the parties are stuck in some kind of stalemate, battling both each other and themselves.

Where the Centauri/Narn don't survive, the Shadows/Vorlons survive but don't end up any more enlightened. Really the Humans and Minbari are the only species that actually learn something, partly because of what happens to the others.
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Old September 10 2009, 04:17 PM   #12
The Evil Dead
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

I always viewed the Earth Civil War as Babylon 5's "Scouring of the Shire"
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Old September 10 2009, 06:14 PM   #13
Skywalker
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

The Evil Dead wrote: View Post
I always viewed the Earth Civil War as Babylon 5's "Scouring of the Shire"
Bastard, I was gonna say that!
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Old September 10 2009, 08:19 PM   #14
blockaderunner
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

I WANT MY DAMN TELEPATH WAR!!!!

I just wanna see Bester get his comupance from Garibaldi. Is that too much to ask?
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Old September 10 2009, 08:22 PM   #15
blockaderunner
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Re: B5: Shadow War End After Civil War

OmahaStar wrote: View Post
*giggle*

I love discussions like this. What is the series about? No, really, what is it about? Everything is laid in front of you in the first season.

The first season - Well, the whole series is about Sinclair, and this big old hole he has in his mind.

The second season - Wait, what? Sinclair's gone? Well that's ok, because the whole series is about G'Kar and Londo's conflict, just like they showed in the first season.

The third season - The Shadows? Who the frak are these guys? Oh right, we saw them in the first season. So that's what the show is about, it's all about the Shadows and their fight with the Vorlons.

The fourth season - Um, waitaminute. Sinclair's gone, Londo and G'Kar are sort of friends, the Shadows and Vorlons are gone. Oh, ok. It's about the conflict with Earth and President Clark. Waitaminute again, the very first episode was about Earth politics, and we've seen bits of that all along. Oh, now I get it, it's all about Earth's politics and Clark trying to get as much control as possible.

The fifth season - well, you see where this is going.

Hey, with the shifting politics of television, I'm surprised that JMS had some contingency plan for season 5 (which, BTW, was miles ahead the last two seasons of TNG which ran way too long IMO).
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