Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Kail, Nov 21, 2015.
The first season is more about world building and laying the ground work for later payoff.
Or how about the inconsistency of which washroom the female officers were using.
But with Season 1, as Straczynski has said, he kind of designed it to be a time to “burn off” the generic ideas that were expected of every sci-fi series before getting into the main story.
1x03 - Born to the Purple
A character driven episode shedding a tad more light on one of the show's more intriguing figures is appreciated, even if the execution is iffy to say the least.
I enjoyed Londo's continued showcase as a hedonistic, passionate horndog. But is he a remnant of the great empire that the Centauri once was, or is he a symbol of what they became after declining? I'm looking at fellows like Vaar (sp?), Londo's manchild assistant, and trying to figure out just what a dominant Centauri power could look like. Just what exactly is in these "purple files" of Londo's?
The main problem is that everything about the main plot could be seen a mile away. Londo falls in love with a beautiful dancer, but surprise surprise, she's not all she seems. She's a slave at the mercy of a misery-faced villain and, as a slave, is totally helpless. What's more, as a helpless slave, she'll need to be saved by the mighty, manly heroes. And she is!
Unfortunately the acting (Londo aside) just wasn't strong enough to carry such a flimsy story. Hey, as guest stars go, I'd much prefer the scenery-chewing style of Soul Man in the previous episode compared to the totally subdued Trakis. The ending suggests a sense of pathos for Londo, but the romance isn't strong enough to achieve that effect. It feels little more believable than a mere crush on Londo's part.
The B-plot didn't grab me, but continuing to flesh out Ivanova certainly isn't a bad thing. I wonder which grim detail about her past is coming next?
Overall, not an especially impressive episode in terms of plot, but there were several smaller character moments to enjoy. Plus, "moon-faced assassin of joy" might be worth a star all by itself.
- Was that blonde Casanova bar patron who gets violently rejected by the female Narn the same guy who's later flung aside by Trakis? If so, I hope it becomes a running joke for him to appear and immediately get thrown into various items of furniture.
- Now there's something that Trek ships sorely miss: a non-holographic place on board for lovers to gaze into one another's eyes over a candlelit dinner. Ten Forward, and Quark's with half-naked Dabo girls frolicking around two tables down hardly count.
- "Just don't give away the homeworld."
- What are the Vorlons up to?! Let's check in with them next!
Adira: still a less ridiculous hairstyle than Londo's.
I'll just say that it's an episode that, for me, works better for what it sets up than for what it manages on its own.
If I'm not mistaken everything you mention in there is addressed eventually. Babylon 5 is a show that very rarely, possibly even never, sets up things without following through on them, but some of the stuff does take several seasons to finally come about. One of my favorite set ups in the show comes up fairly early and doesn't end up paying off until late in the 4th season. At first it seems like kind of a little side comment, but it ends up paying off at the end.
Spoiler: MAJOR LONDO AND G'KAR SPOILER, DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE WHOLE SHOW
For those who have seen the show, I'm talking about Londo and G'Kar's deaths where when it's first set up it seems like they'll be fighting, but when it actually happens Londo wants G'Kar to kill him to get rid of the Keeper.
Spoiler: Dangling Plot Threads
Though we never do find out what the big deal, if any, was about the purple files to begin with.
OK, I completely forgot about that one.
I'd imagine we got a taste of the sort of thing in the Purple Files back in "The Gathering," where G'Kar blackmails Londo with information about his grandfather being a secret war criminal during the occupation of Narn. Though, as we learned more about how much the Centauri resented the Narn for overthrowing them, I have to wonder how bad it could've been for the Centauri to be scandalized by it. Of course, the whole Republic seems to run on scandal and innuendo, so maybe they're just well-practiced at feigning outrage for political expediency.
This next part is nonspecific for BlueStuff, but I'm spoilering it just to be safe. It's subtextual, and scattered across two or three episodes over four years, so it's easy to miss when it comes up (the Lurker's Guide, especially, really seemed to enjoy hedging and not drawing the obvious conclusions whenever it came up).
Spoiler: Londo and Adira's relationship
A big part of the reason that Londo fell so hard for Adira, aside from being a sad, lonely old man and her being totally out of his league if money and power didn't enter into it, is that she reminds him of his first, greatest love, the one who got away.
Along the way, there ARE a couple of things that are set up, then dropped. IIRC, that was jms trying something out, realizing it didn't work, and moving on. There are also things that he sets up and had to drop because of, say, an actor leaving.
I imagine it would largely depend on who currently sits on the throne. Mostly though, you're right; it's more about appearances than anything else.
Spoiler: Purple Files
I don't know this for a fact, but even though the Narn were not considered "friendly" in anyway, it was no longer acceptable to have abused them, imagine a current German politician having it spread all over their grandfather was big in the SS, it's damaging even though the grandson had nothing to do with it. Emperor Turhan and Prime Minister Malachi were both in favor of moving away from that Imperalistic, conquering past, while old guard conservatives like Londo were on the outs, that's why later when Cartagia comes to power with the likes of Refa backing him the Centauri did such things as carpet bombing the Narn homeworld. While Turhan and his conciliatory faction were in control to have that kind of past was embarrassing. And face and position are huge in Centauri politics. Londo was already sent to B5 to get him out of the court anyway, they didn't want him around. The fact that he becomes so favored later shows the huge shifts to come.
It didn't end well for the Xon. The Centauri have a history of committing genocide. Based on what we saw of their major religion, most Centauri probably don't have anything akin to Christian sensibilities. They seem to be more like the pagan Romans -- if you have the military strength, take what you want and make it yours.
Spoiler: Xon and gods
Do you know what the last Xon said just before he died? [clutches chest] AAAAGGGHHHH!
. . .
[A drunken Londo climbs across a dinner table as he describes a collection of Centauri statues.]
This is Ben-Zed, god of food! And…Li, goddess of passion! And Mo-goth, god of the underworld, and protector of front doors. Gods by the bushel! Gods by the pound! Gods for all occasions!!
[He leans toward a discomfited Delenn.]
Have I ever told you that you are very cute for a Minbari?
[He crawls over to Garibaldi.]
Oh! And you are cute, too, in an annoying sort of way. Everybody's cute. Everybody's cute! Even me. But in purple, I'm stunning!
[He passes out on the table.]
Ah! He has become one with his inner self!
He's passed out.
1x04 - Infection
Definitely a stinker.
I don't even want to go too into depth for this one, as full as it was with cheese and all too blunt xenophonic themes/Nazi parallels. It even had the famous Trek trope of the villain being talked to death (though usually it's computers).
The monster stalking the station shooting lightning and roaring felt so out of place it was embarrassing. The dialogue was laced with false profundities, especially at the end.
Of course, this isn't much of a deterrent: I'm well used to first seasons of Trek for example featuring utterly terrible episodes - they're an almost endearing tradition. Move Along Home? Code of Honor? So I can certainly endure a few of these in Babylon 5. Although, I hope it's not too much to expect it to be uphill from here?
- Dr Franklin: what an arrogant, unlikeable character! Why are TV-doctors always so appalled whenever someone else tries to make a medical suggestion of any kind? "And uh, which medical school did you go to?"
- The idea of organic weapons is interesting. If it can be developed in the framework of a better plot, they may be onto something.
- There seems to be a pattern emerging: no Londo/G'Kar = no good.
"Nomad, YOU are flawed and imperfect!"
Well, if it helps, this is generally agreed to be one of the bottom-five Babylon 5 episodes, so you've either hit the show's quality-floor, or there's not very much worse waiting for you.
I give Franklin a pass for arrogance most of the time. If doctors still have to contend with patients religiously devoted to medical misinformation half of which was invented for profit then legitimized on daytime talk shows it’s a miracle doctors aren’t MORE arrogant.
The whole episode except for the last few minutes is basically "filler" but filler for a reason.
In the Gathering, Soul Hunter, and now this one, Cmdr. Sinclair was really throwing himself into very dangerous situations. Watch that last conversation again with that in mind.
There's some other things in there that come back up later, but you don't really have to watch the whole episode, just that last part.
Sadly, this isn't even the most arrogant I think we'll see Franklin get. But we'll talk about that if/when we get there.
Perhaps he's all too aware of the Dunning-Kruger effect and is tired of unqualified people expressing a badly informed opinion. As character flaws go, it's believable.
Watch this space. The season 1 stories often set up themes that are explored in greater depth later on.
Interesting point - maybe that is largely true for season 1; I don't think so thereafter.
The majority of the regulars get real character development over time. It's one of the great things about the show, the characters face consequences for their actions and no one is immune.
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