Babylon 5: Reconciling "The Gathering" with the series

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Gotham Central, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. lvsxy808

    lvsxy808 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As stated by others, Vorlons do have some physical presence, and are not just energy. This can be seen when Ulkesh actively hits things in "Falling Towards Apotheosis" in season 4.


    It doesn't. The point is that Kosh voluntarily opened the suit in a way he ordinarily wouldn't. How can he open the suit safely if he requires all that wacky atmosphere in his quarters? Because the wacky atmosphere is a lie, a cover to make him seem more mysterious. We see later that he's perfectly capable of existing in standard atmosphere, and probably a vacuum too.


    And who would be most likely to know that combination of substances? The Shadows, of course. The Minbari assassin was one of the Wind Swords, the renegade Minbari who refused to stand down after the Battle of the Line, and instead went off on their own (to reappear in "Points of Departure"). They fell in with the Shadows, whether knowingly or not, and the Shadows used this one to try to kill Kosh. (These Minbari are also the same ones that had been harbouring Deathwalker ever since the Dilgar War.)


    Ah, but the Vorlons know that only the Shadows could possibly have a chance of poisoning them in this way. But they haven't been told about any changeling net. All they've been told is that Sinclair is responsible. That's why they want Sinclair handed over to them - to check him for Shadow influence. Easiest to do that on their home planet. Doesn't mean anyone else would ever be welcome there - they just have good reason to take Sinclair there.

    I guess the more hardline Vorlons simply think that the possible future importance of Sinclair's role in things is less important than the possibility he might have already been compromised by Shadows. Remember, it's usually only Kosh who thinks the younger races have much of importance to contribute. The rest of them think of us as just cannon fodder in their ideological war.


    Kosh fell for it because he's the more sentimental, friendly type of Vorlon. He knows Sinclair of old - they fought the first war together back when Sinclair was Valen. So he opened up his encounter suit to greet his old friend as himself. How did the Minbari assassin know he would do that, giving him the opportunity to poison him? Because the Minbari was working with the Shadows, who also knew who Sinclair was, and what Kosh would likely do. Kosh let his sentimentality almost get him killed - likely why he went so cold for a while afterwards.


    I'm pretty sure JMS has said that he never really intended that to be the nature of the Vorlons. He put that in there purely to sell the show to the suits at WB. He (probably not unreasonably) assumed that they wouldn't get his actual concept for the Vorlons - energy beings who are the basis for Angels and other religious figures in the mythology of countless worlds - and would have fought him if he tried to put that in there. So he pretended that it was a much simpler concept - scary monsters oooh! - just to get it past them and on the screen, after which he could do what he wanted. Also I think he said that they specifically asked him, "Ooh, what's in the encounter suit?" and he didn't want to let a pretty major spoiler out right off the bat, so he lied.

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  2. Reverend

    Reverend Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think you're getting thing a little confused. Yes, according to JMS that assassin was a member of the Wind Swords, but they were never went into exile, you're thinking of the warcruiser Trigati. The Wind Swords were the most militant of the warrior clans and they did harbour Deathwalker, but AFAIK there's no indication of them associating with the Shadows.

    The knowledge of how to poison a Vorlon most likely came from the time of Valen when the Vorlons walked openly (as seen in 'In Valen's Name'.) It would have been a closely guarded secret --even for Minbari--but somehow the Wind Swords got a hold of it. Maybe at some point in the last 1000 years a Wind Sword served as Satai and quietly took the information back to his or her clan.
     
  3. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, the Wind Swords. Another one of those S1 proto-ideas that fell by the wayside. They probably would have been much more important in the earlier version of the series where there was a Second Human-Minbari War.
     
  4. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    :techman: :lol:
     
  5. lvsxy808

    lvsxy808 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I always thought they were the same people. Although why an entire clan would all be on the same ship and no-one else is odd, so maybe you're right that they're not the same people.


    But I still reckon the assassin and whatever group he was part of had Shadow influence. The Shadows had their finger in every pie going - the Markab (test of the virus), the Drazi (purple v green), the Technomages (all Shadow tech), the Minbari (Wind Swords), the Humans (Psi Corps), the Narn (killed all the mind-walkers)... ad nauseam.

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  6. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ^ I didn't know the Shadows had anything to do with the Drazi green/purple thing. :confused: Where did you learn that?
     
  7. Reverend

    Reverend Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They're not. Minbari clans are *huge*. You're not going to get a whole one onboard just one war cruiser. It's just not practical. Remember that clans are groupings of extended families. For example, Delenn's family name is Mir, which is but one family of the Tenth Fane of Elleya. Even if you had a clan small enough to all fit aboard a warcruiser, I can't see the Grey Council giving any one clan that much independent power. Moreover why would any clan be so stupid as to take their entire population (including children and elders) with them into battle? Not going to happen.

    No, the Trigati was a ship who's captain committed suicide rather than accept the ceasefire order at the Battle of the Line. His first officer took command and he and the crew went into a self imposed exile. It had nothing directly to do with the Wind Swords, or any one warrior clan.

    It's possible, but I don't know of any strong evidence even hinting at a Minbari/Shadow connection. Indeed, the fact that hight ranking Minbari have implants that detect shadow agents in close proximity would make it especially difficult for them to infiltrate.

    I also don't accept that the Markab genocide was the work of the Shadows either. It certainly wasn't confirmed as such within the show and I have no idea what makes you think the Drazi green/purple thing had *anything* whatsoever to do with the Shadows. That's their system of government and they've been doing it on a regular basis for quite a while.
     
  8. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    I'll also dispute the PsiCorps. Telepaths were created by The Vorlons for their own use, The Shadows don't like Telepaths, because they are a Vorlon Weapon and they disrupt Shadow Tech/influence (Hence the annihilation of the Narn Telepaths). Yes, The Clark Government was in league with the Shadows/Morden, and obviously there was some PsiCorps complicity, but, the connection was through The Government itself, not PsiCorps specifically. Bester is pretty high up and didn't know exactly where the complicity within PsiCorps was centered
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  9. lvsxy808

    lvsxy808 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm absolutely certain the Drazi thing is from the Technomage trilogy of books - Galen thinks about it at some point. He says that, unbeknownst to them, the origins of that governmental system go back to Shadow interference during the last war. It is, after all, just the Shadows' "conflict makes the victors grow stronger" philosophy writ small, with pointless conflict every now and then until somebody, it doesn't matter who, wins.

    I can't seem to find any online corroboration of that right now, but I'm convinced I'm not making it up, that I did read it somewhere official.

    For the Markab, I don't believe there is any official proof of that, no. But when A Call to Arms came out with its Drakh plague, I know there was speculation that it was related to the Markab plague, and that in fact the latter had been just a effectiveness test for the final larger version. So no proof, but it certainly makes sense to me and nothing specifically contradicts it to my knowledge.

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  10. Reverend

    Reverend Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'll do it for you then ;) : -

    [QUOTE='The Passing of the Techno-mages, Book II: Summoning Light' (p.115)]"The Drazi had arrived at the end of their five-year cycle, and as custom required, they had split themselves into two groups by drawing scarves of either purple or green from a great barrel. For the next year they would fight, and when the fighting ended, the winning side would take over for the next cycle. Their custom was mindless, pointless, the seeds planted long ago by the Shadows. In a small way, it reflected the very conflict that would soon envelop them all."[/QUOTE]

    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.

    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.

    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?

    Actually, though few are aware of it, one of the main reasons the Corps is they way it is is indeed directly related to the Shadows. Specifically, Kevin Vacit, Psi Corps' first Director was host to a Vorlon mind fragment and came in contact with some Shadow tech IPX found at Syria Planum (over a century before they dug the ship out.) This gave him visions of what was coming and knowledge that his telepaths would be needed.

    The aggressive breeding programs, strict internal controls, experimentation etc. all of it so that human telepaths would be as strong as they could be when the Shadows returned. Of course only he really knew this, so when he left, so did that knowledge and those that followed him continued what he'd set in motion for their own reasons.

    The Shadows did however get some influence within the Corps by way of Morden, his (pre-Icarus) connection with Earthforce New Technologies (IPX's unofficial military arm...or visa-versa) with whom the new Director (a non-teep ex-EF stooge) was also closely linked.

    It's one of the more obscure sub-plots in B5, though I get the impression Crusade would have gone into it more fully. Basically these are the same people that co-opted Psi Corps' black ops division, Department Sigma (which ran the Bureau 13 operation) and were in a secret power struggle with Bester's old guard faction. They were the ones behind the digs on Syria Planum and Ganemede, that planted Talia with Control, that conducted the experiments on Ironheart, that arranged for that shipment of telepaths and built those hybrid Shadow vessels.

    So yeah, there was most assuredly *some* Shadow influence within the Corps, but it was far from what you'd call total control. I think Justin even says as much. Something along the lines of their "friends within the Corps."
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
  11. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Ah, I had totally forgotten that whole Kevin Vacit plotline :alienblush:

    Been too long since I've read the PsiCorps Trilogy
     
  12. lvsxy808

    lvsxy808 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.


    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. :alienblush:


    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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  13. Reverend

    Reverend Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.

    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.

    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.
     
  14. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    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.
     
  15. Reverend

    Reverend Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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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.
     
  16. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    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 :( >
     
  17. Reverend

    Reverend Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  18. Gotham Central

    Gotham Central Vice Admiral Admiral

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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.
     
  19. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    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
     
  20. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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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.