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  1. - Top - End - #751
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    Default Re: Yora reviews Babylon 5

    That does not excuse the lack of actors on the bridge sets talking about what's going on. Those don't require any effects other than getting everyone in costumes and you can write whole battles without any exterior shots.
    Lack of CGI budget does not excuse poor writing.
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

    Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

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    S3E22: Z'ha'dum

    This episode obviously picks up right where the last one ended. Delenn leaves Sherridan to talk with Anna, who acts surprised that he didn't know she's alive. She implies that Delenn did know for a long time, and expects that she's going to tell him she's some kind of fake copy or imitator. She also wants him to come with her to Zahadum were his questions will be answered.

    G'Kar is showing Ivanova a big shipment of nuclear mines that are shielded from scanning and can be used to set ambushes for Shadow attacks in the future.

    Sherridan has Anna checked by Franklin, who confirms that she is definitely human, matches all her medical records, and even gets the correct results from a DNA test. He tells Franklin to keep looking for anything that could indicate that she's an imitation.
    He then goes to Delenn to ask her if she knows if it's really Anna, and Delenn says she isn't sure. He is quite upset and Delenn tells him that those who are captured by the Shadows are either killed or made servants. She assumed Anna was dead and she and Kosh agreed to not tell him there's a chance she could still be a servant, because Sherridan would try to search for her on Zahadum, which would be too dangerous. He's still very upset.
    Delenn says if she had known that Anna is still alive, it would have depended on what she had become whether she would have told Sherridan about it or not. Because nobody comes back from Zahadum the same way they arrived.

    Londo is grumpy because he's being called to Centauri Prime to serve in the emperor's court. Vir thinks that it's a great honor, but Londo feels that they are not interested in his own abilities but only his connections, and that they probably want to keep a closer eye on him in case he is plotting against the emperor, and have him somewhere they can easily assassinate him without problem.
    A human comes to them with a message from Morden that Londo has to leave the station immediately or there will be big problems.

    Franklin finds traces of implants in Anna's brain, which match the locations of the wiring in what I assume were the telepaths that PsiCorps send to the Shadows to control their ships.

    Sherridan wants to know what Anna has been doing on Zahadum all those years and why she never contacted him. She says she can't tell him anything about this, but all the questions will be answered if he comes with her to Zahadum. If he doesn't want to, she will return there alone. He says he must know what happened to the expedition. If she tells him that, he will come with her.
    She says when the Shadow ship was found on Mars, the excavation team spotted a signal being send by it. They expected that someone would come to recover it and put a hidden tracing device on board. When another Shadow ship arrived and tugged the ship away, they were able to follow it to Zahadum. Another expedition was send to go explore Zahadum and were caught by the Shadows. The Shadows were not able to deal with hostile attackers yet, so they made a deal with the expedition to give them their technology in exchange for them staying on the planet and keeping silent until the Shadows were back to full strength, And now the Shadows want to invite Sherridan to visit them and allow them to tell him the truth that the Vorlons and Minbari have been hiding from him. Sherridan tells her he will go with her and wants to meet the shadows. He also happens to have a datapad with two brain scans lying around in his quarters.

    Sherridan tells Garibaldi to have the Minbari crew of the White Star come over to the station to have all of them entered into the station's personnel register. He also has a datapad with special orders that he needs Garibaldi to take care of for him. Garibaldi is greatly surprised by the file, but Sherridan asks him to trust him, and Garibaldi agrees to do it.

    Sherridan gets ready to leave and packs two guns, and then sees a reflection of Kosh in the mirror saying again "When you go to Zahadum, you will die." Before he leaves, he tells the computer to record a message to be send at a later date.
    Before Sherridan and Anna leave the station, they run into Garibaldi again who gives Sherridan some kind of code word.

    Anna is feeling uncomfortable on the White Star, saying the Shadows don't want any Vorlon technology near them. Sherridan promises to park the ship in orbit and fly down to the planet with the EarthForce shuttle they took from the station.

    Franklin catches Ivanova and wants to know why Sherridan left with Anna, even though he gave him the report of her medical examination.

    They land on Zahadum and get inside a cave where they find an underground base with air suitable for humans. When they put their oxygen masks of in the airlock, Anna insists that he has to give her his gun. She takes him through some corridors and Sherridan notices that the doors have no controls on them. They come to a living room with human furniture where an old man and Morden are waiting for them. Sherridan asks the old man who he is, and he finds the question inappropriate and evades it. Instead he tells Sherridan that he's working for the invisible forces at the levers controlling society, and his name is Justin.

    Delenn gets the message that Sherridan recorded before he left. He tells her he's on Zahadum with Anna but couldn't tell her before he went. He says when he was on Babylon 4, he jumped into the future to see Centauri Prime in ruins and Delenn was there telling him that he must not go to Zahadum. He thinks that perhaps that future happened because he listened to her advice and that there could be a chance to prevent if from happening if he goes now. There could be a chance to bring an end to the war now, though he's pretty certain it's a trap.

    Justin tells Sherridan again of the ancient aliens that used to rule the galaxy millions of years ago but disappeared from sight, and the Vorlons and the Shadows staying around to see after the younger species that were evolving. The Vorlons want to control everything and have everyone follow their orders, but their allies think the best way is to let the young species fight things out among themselves and let them become stronger as a whole in the process. Justin says the death of some species is regrettable, but necessary for the greater good of all.

    A big Shadow fleet appears at Babylon 5 but stays at a distance and doesn't attack.

    Morden and Anna tells Sherridan that the Vorlons have abandoned their original mission to protect the younger species and instead are now trying to rule over them and make them their servants. They altered the various species to see them as heavenly beings and messed with their evolution to create telepaths to be soldiers in their planned attack against the Shadows. PsiCorps was created to prevent the human telepaths from being enslaved by the Vorlons.
    Justin says the Vorlons have no real hold over the younger species anymore, and the only thing that keeps them from being truly free is Sherridan. So they have to make him an ultimatum. Either he has to come over to their side, or they have to kill him and destroy Babylon 5. But killing him isn't their preferred option, since there always will be someone else to take up his role. To truly end this war, Sherridan has to lead his followers to their side.
    Sherridan doesn't buy it and says they always also have the option to mind control him in the same way they control Anna. It certainly is her, but it's no longer her own mind. He says they probably put her in one of the Shadow ships, and Justin and Morden are surprised he knows about that. Justin gets angry and tells Sherridan to do as he is told. The door opens and Shadows come in, and Sherridan pulls his second gun to shot them.

    G'Kar comes to Ivanova about the nuclear mines. Ivanova wants to know if they could use them against the Shadow fleet, but at these distances they would blow up the station as well. But the reason he has come to the command center is that two of them are missing from the arsenal.

    Shherridan manages to escape from the room with some injuries and flee into the tunnels, where he comes across a balcony looking over an enormous underground city around a dark pit and with a huge glass roof above. He sends a signal to the autopilot of the White Star that also arms the two mines in the hold.
    Anna and two Shadows catch up to him and she asks him to come back and continue to talk. She's isn't who his wife was anymore, but she can be his new wife.

    The end of his message to Delenn says that he loves her and expects to die.

    Sherridan sees the White Star racing through the atmosphere through the glass roof and hears the voice of Kosh telling him to jump into the pit. He jumps and the ship crashes through the roof, blowing up the entire city.

    At Babylon 5, the Shadow fleet suddenly turns around and disappears. But also taking Garibaldi's fighter with them. G'Kar thinks the only explanation is that the Shadows no longer regard them as a threat, and Ivanova realizes that Sherridan must be dead.

    On Zahadum, a few Shadow ships are flying over a hue crater.

    --

    Great episode. One of the big classics. Easily among the top ten without a contest.

    Buuut...

    This is one of the episodes that relies mostly on surprise to work. It's amazing the first time to watch it, but doesn't come close to the same level of either suspense or appreciation when watching it again later. Which in all fairness isn't really a huge objective for TV shows. Usually they are being made to be watched once. If people want to watch them again, that's an unexpected and unplanned bonus.
    However, there are plenty of episodes in this series that do retain a much greater amount of their enjoyment when you watch them again and already know more or less what is going on and will happen. Both the overall writing and the actor performances can be entertaining in their own right, even if the suspense isn't super high. And I feel in the case of this episode, most of it feels a little lightweight once the mystery is gone. I was thinking about calling it rushed, but that implies the episode being frantic and overloaded, which it clearly isn't. But I think this would probably have worked better as two episodes instead of just one. While the pacing of the episode is okay, I think the story would have benefited from having more time to let new developments settle in and simmer for a while. More time to have doubt and ambiguity. There is a bigger story with this material than the one we got.
    Interestingly, this does change at the end of the episode. The final five minutes are still as thrilling and gripping as they always were. But up to that point, the episode is really largely carried by the mystery. The writing and execution does not feel particularly outstanding.

    But boy, those last five minutes are legendary.

    What I really did like quite a lot is how Justin and Anna are trying to convince Sherridan that he has been deceived by the Vorlons and their servants and getting him to come over to their side, but at the same time get really annoyed and a bit angry when he doesn't seem to be convinced immediately. Sherridan even tries to play along a bit to get them to talk more and until the end doesn't really talk back to them. But you can see Justin getting close to shouting "Damn it, just do as you are told!"
    The overall effect is that they come across as thinking they are much more clever and subtle than they really are.

    At the end, it's still a great episode. And the ending is fantastic to wrap up the end of the season.
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

    Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

  3. - Top - End - #753
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    Default Re: Yora reviews Babylon 5

    Yes, this was a killer end to the season, although not without its flaws. For instance, Sheridan jumped down that pit mere seconds before a several hundred megaton nuke went off above him--he's vapour, frankly, he couldn't possibly fall far enough in that time to escape the blast. Also, in every external scene we've seen of the station since Severed Dreams there has been a couple of warships guarding it--yet, mysteriously, it's their day off when the Shadows actually turn up? I mean, it wouldn't have made any difference to the outcome and the ships would certainly have been destroyed, but for them to not be there at all is just annoying.

    I guess my biggest annoyance is Sheridan's excuse for ignoring future Delenn and going to Z'Ha'Dum anyway. She wouldn't be warning him not to go there if he'd never actually gone in the first place!

  4. - Top - End - #754
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    Oh yeah, forgot about that at end end. Sherridan's reasoning for why he has to go to Zahadum is really flawed. He isn't making sense there. He gets a warning about what he must not do or there will be terrible consequences, and his conclusion is that the warning was wrong and he should actually do it. And he does not have any piece of evidence for it. It would have been better if they had just left that sentence out of the script.
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  5. - Top - End - #755
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    Default Re: Yora reviews Babylon 5

    Sheridan's logic for going to Z'Ha'Dun is certainly iffy, but I guess that's because part of him hopes it isn't a trap.

    The Shadows trying to sell their endgame is always great "Those foul Vorlons want you to live as servants under their rule, but we want you to be free to die in neverending wars of extinction against each other."
    Okay. How about you go away and leave us out of your MegaTen larp?

    And as soon as someone disagrees ist "do as you're told". Hypocrytes.
    And the whole Anna Sheridan thing is just creepy.
    Does a good job showing how alien the Shadows (and Vorlons) are I guess.
    Sure, the other races have their moments, but that always seem a culture thing.
    The big two are truly alien.
    "If it lives it can be killed.
    If it is dead it can be eaten."

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  6. - Top - End - #756
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Oh yeah, forgot about that at end end. Sherridan's reasoning for why he has to go to Zahadum is really flawed. He isn't making sense there. He gets a warning about what he must not do or there will be terrible consequences, and his conclusion is that the warning was wrong and he should actually do it. And he does not have any piece of evidence for it. It would have been better if they had just left that sentence out of the script.
    It is a pretty weak justification, but every time I've watched it, I've always just sort of gone along with it, so for me at least it was never immersion-breakingly bad.

    It kind of makes sense if he was going there specifically to blow up the Shadows's power base and talking to Anna or whatever was just a pretext. Going on a decapitation strike suicide mission scans with what we've seen of him so far. But then why not just say so to Delenn? "Well gosh golly, maybe everything will work out better if I just walk into this really obvious trap," seems way too naive for him.

    I wonder how it would've worked out if this had been a two-parter. (Pick whatever filler episode you prefer to sacrifice to make room.) I feel like if Anna arriving and making her pitch had been given a full A-plot's worth of time... I'm not sure how that would work out, but persuading Sheridan to abandon every bit of advice he's ever gotten on the subject and go to Z'ha'dum definitely could've used a bit more... something.

    Heck, if Anna hadn't been the messenger, but Sheridan had been told she was alive on Z'ha'dum (with sufficient proof), him running off on a rescue mission would've also been a more plausible way to go about it. (Even if it makes him look worse for "cheating" on Delenn, because 90's shipping rules are dumb.)

  7. - Top - End - #757
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    Default Re: Yora reviews Babylon 5

    I kind of read it more to be him trying to Fight Fate.

    A lot of the indications of the future that he's seen paint it as quite frankly not that great of a place, so him going to Z'Ha'Dum was trying to change the future.

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  8. - Top - End - #758
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kantaki View Post
    Sheridan's logic for going to Z'Ha'Dun is certainly iffy, but I guess that's because part of him hopes it isn't a trap.
    His logic does not seem that bad....

    He knows two things:

    1.Future Deleen tells him to NOT go to Z'Ha'Dun...though that makes no real real sense. Future Deleen knows they win the Shadow War and all the other good stuff. Yet she is willing to risk LOSING the Shadow War. Why? Because she is selfish and does not like the 20 year time limit?

    Also for a fun twist. Deleen is quite upset about him not going to Z'Ha'Dun, a LOT more then a person who only just started dating some one would react. So Sheridin might have figured out that he did live after going to Z'Ha'Dun.

    2.Kosh. He says the famous "If you go to Z'Ha'Dun, you will die". But Sheridin knows that not everything a Vorlon says...even Kosh..is 100% true. After all, right before he is killed Sheridin mentions the ''going to Z'Ha'Dun" prophecy to Kosh...and Kosh's answer is "Yes, now". So....did that mean that Sheridin would have lived before....even when Kosh said "If you go to Z'Ha'Dun, you will die".

    Though in the end, the enemy is inviting Sheridin right into their home and he figures out a way to sneak some bombs in....so he is more then willing to take the chance to strike a big blow.


    And about surviving the fall....well he didn't. He died. That peice of Kosh in him though protected and saved....maybe even regenerated his body. Then Lorean ''fanned the flames of life" or what not. So...you know...lots of space magic.

  9. - Top - End - #759
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarrgon View Post
    Future Delenn tells him to NOT go to Z'Ha'Dum...though that makes no real real sense. Future Delenn knows they win the Shadow War and all the other good stuff. Yet she is willing to risk LOSING the Shadow War. Why?
    I always assumed Delenn told him not to go to Z'Ha'Dum because he told her he'd seen her in the future and she told him not to go to Z'Ha'Dum. Particularly because he then told her in this episode that her telling him not to is partly why he did. So Future Delenn rather than speaking her own mind is trying to preserve the timeline by saying what Sheridan told her she said.
    "'But there's still such a lot to be done...'
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  10. - Top - End - #760
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    I dunno, she seems genuinely upset when she's telling him not to go there--she's either a fantastic actress (which of course Mira Furlan is, but you know what I mean!) or there was genuine emotional weight behind what she was saying.

    Also, there are a couple of things to remember here. Firstly, we don't know that destroying Z'Ha'Dum actually had much of an influence on the outcome of the Shadow War:

    Spoiler
    Show

    Despite the destruction, the Shadows still seemed plenty powerful during the battles in season 4--in fact, they don't start nuking planets into oblivion until then, so one wonders if that was done at least partially in revenge for the destruction Sheridan caused?


    Secondly, when Delenn is talking to Sheridan in the future cell, it's canonically 18 years in the future, and thus the fact he only has a couple of years left may well be weighing somewhat on her mind at that point; whereas the outcome of a war that to her is 18 years in the past would not be so immediate.

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    Default Re: Yora reviews Babylon 5

    I read the theory somewhere (maybe tvtropes?) that Sheridan thought that he didn't go to Z'Ha'Dum in the future where he meets Delenn and that this was the cause of the distruction he witnesses there.

    Spoiler: Season 5
    Show
    Which would also explain why he never does anything about that and, in fact, seems to forget about it completely.

    Maybe Delenn has convinced herself that it was the other way round - that there would have been less casualties if Sheridan had not gone to Z'Ha'Dum and that they would have beaten the Shadows anyway.

    Also I think that he didn't tell Delenn that he knows that he is going to die, because he doesn't want to discuss it; he sacrifices himself but he wants to cling to the hope that he will come back, however feeble. (And maybe he was afraid that the Shadows would have a way to hear it if he told Delenn about the bombs. Especially since there are invisible Shadows running around the station.)
    Last edited by Alandra; Today at 11:59 AM.

  12. - Top - End - #762
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    Season 3 Summary

    Oh, yeah. Season summary. I almost forgot.

    E1: Matters of Honor
    E2: Convictions
    E3: A Day in Strife
    E4: Passing through Gethsemane
    E5: Voices of Authority
    E6: Dust to Dust
    E7: Exogenesis
    E8: Messages from Earth
    E9: Point of No Return
    E10: Severed Dreams
    E11: Ceremonies of Light and Dark
    E12: Sic Transit Vir
    E13: A late Arrival from Avalon
    E14: Ship of Tears
    E15: Interludes and Examinations
    E16: War Without End, Part 1
    E17: War Without End, Part 2
    E18: Walkabout
    E19: Grey 17 is missing
    E20: And the Rock cried out, no Hiding Place
    E21: Shadow Dancing
    E22: Z'ha'dum

    Season 1:
    Season 2:
    Season 3:

    Best Episode: E10: Severed Dreams, which you might have guessed by now.
    Worst Episode: E3: A Day in Strife, because it's lots of bits and pieces with no coherent plot.

    Wow, what an amazing season. It has only two episodes that I rated as not having enjoyed them, and they are both really more orange than fully dark red. S3E3: A Day in Strife is the only one that could conceivably be called a stinker, but it's still nowhere near as awful as the true stinkers from the previous seasons. And more than half the episodes rated as good. That's really outstanding given how grumpy I always am about these things.
    The season has a bit of a slow start in the first third, but then it becomes fantastic. And in this case, slow start means being very solid average.

    Interestingly, or perhaps not, it's the main-plot episodes that stand out as the great ones. S3E4: Passing through Gethsemane is great because Brad Durif and S3E13: A late Arrival from Avalon I mostly enjoyed because of Michael York, while fully accepting its flaws. This show was just 20 years ahead of its time. Imagine what it could be today with only main plot and no need for filler.
    I think one thing that isn't done terribly way is the way they separated the human Civil War and the galactic Shadow War into more or less separate stories, which were then covered in two separated blocks of episodes. I can understand the reasons for why one would do that. It's easier to follow and it doesn't draw out events and developments for too long. There also is the intention to make it secret or at least ambiguous if the Shadows have their fingers in the Civil War. Blending those two storylines together would be difficult, but I think when done well it would have improved the quality of the season even more. The way it is now, the Civil War story was left hanging after episode 10 and then more or less was out of sight, out of mind. That being cut off from support from Earth did come up many times, but only as a logistical problem. At no point in the second half of the season was there any appearance that EarthForce is still an ongoing threat to the station. Or that the Civil War is still being actively faught elsewhere. I know season 4 will go back to this, but it's still not handled elegantly here.

    Thinking about character development, I think the only real changes that have happened are with G'Kar and Londo. Everyone else seems to be very firmly established in their roles. And even for those two, the changes are not very dramatic. G'Kar is considerably different at the end of the season than at the start, but it's not much of a process. It just happens in one scene in S3E6: Dust to Dust and then he's instantly transformed into a new man. But also not too new. The anger is gone, but I feel a bit like he didn't get much new in its place, other than a commitment to offer help when he can. And unfortunately, while he does help many times, it's never really anything that feels really substential. He gets Narn to replace the deported Nightwatch people in secutity, he is the first to offer to send a ship to help testing telepaths against the Shadows, and he supplies the nuclear mines. It's all helpful, but he's only assisting others, not making any big moves himself.
    Londo's character develpment is a bit fuzzy. At one point he seems to be determined to abandon his humanity and serve the Shadows not caring for the cost, and then by the end he's back to trying to reduce their influence because he's a good person. And I don't really recall any events that caused that. It just happened between episodes.

    Good amount of space pew-pew that mostly is quite entertaining and serves a purpose and isn't just for show. I think there's actually not that much of it, but what they have is well used.

    I also really enjoyed the continuation of the Babylon 4 story, even though it was brief, and getting some actual insight into Kosh, even though he had very few actual scenes. And I really liked the civil war semi-three-parter. I usually am not much of a fan of military sci-fi, but I really enjoyed how these episodes incorporated the chaos and confusion of huge events going on with nobody really having the full picture. I do remember the failed coup in Turkey a few years back and the coup in Egypt some years earlier, and following it on the news while events were in full motion. I think these episodes very much felt like that, and people probably felt similarly when following the news about the Yugoslawia war and the chaos after the end of the Soviet Union, which happened at the time this show was being made.
    It's something I've not really seen done similarly in any other shows or movies, but a kind of material that can make for really amazing stories. Though it's probably quite hard to pull off well without it feeling too messy. But with the way TV looks today, I think there's plenty of people who could come up with something that is worth giving a shot.

    Now I am very curious about how season 4 will compare to this. Will it feel better, will it feel not as good? Will it be just as good but very different? Really looking forward to the last quarter of this great story.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarrgon View Post
    1.Future Deleen tells him to NOT go to Z'Ha'Dun...though that makes no real real sense. Future Deleen knows they win the Shadow War and all the other good stuff. Yet she is willing to risk LOSING the Shadow War. Why? Because she is selfish and does not like the 20 year time limit?
    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Secondly, when Delenn is talking to Sheridan in the future cell, it's canonically 18 years in the future, and thus the fact he only has a couple of years left may well be weighing somewhat on her mind at that point; whereas the outcome of a war that to her is 18 years in the past would not be so immediate.
    Spoiler: One of the book trilogies. Same one that goes into why Centauri Prime is on fire.
    Show
    The books establish that this is essentially correct. In the book, she's already increasingly worried over Sheridan's upcoming death. And in that scene she is overcome by (and immediately regrets) a burst of selfishness. The dread of his coming demise overrode her reason and her ethics for just a moment or two. And hey, unlike the last time that happened to her, it didn't result in a nearly successful genocide. So, y'know, progress.
    Last edited by Grey Watcher; Today at 12:52 PM.

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    S4E1: The Hour of the Wolf

    New opening credits. Not quite sure if I like them. Feels a bit overloaded with too many narrators and too many reused footage from previous seasons episodes. The music feels faster paced though, contrasting a bit with the more brooding gloom of the previous ones. I get the idea, but the execution seems a bit rough.

    Garibaldi is still missing and Sherridan is presumed dead. The Shadows have been quiet for the last week and nobody knows what's going to happen next.

    Ivanova's alarm goes off and informs her of a big pile of messages and appointments, but she's already up and looks like she never went to bed in the first place.

    Ivanova, Delenn, and G'Kar are trying to convince the ambassadors that the war is not over yet and they can't withdraw their ships to their homeworlds. Instead they have to go on the offensive and invade Zahadum, now that Sherridan has shown they can be hit there. As with previous negotiations, the Gaim ambassadors drops some hard truth and says that Sherridan went to attack Zahadum and now he's dead. Mic drop, ambassadors exit stage left.

    Londo is at the imperial palace and really isn't impressed. The young emperor Cartagia is a twit and the prime minister appears to be demented. The emperor has big plans for the empire and wants Londo to take charge of things.

    Vir tells Ivanova that the Shadows have send a message to Londo's office on the station, which states that Sherridan made the White Star crash into their city on Zahadum causing a massive nuclear explosion and that he fell into a two mile deep chasm seconds before the explosion.

    Londo goes to his rooms where he is greeted by Morden, who has been terribly burned and implies that he might not really have survived the explosion strictly speaking. But his masters are seeing to it that he continues performing his duties for them. Given the current state of things, the Shadows need new hiding places, and Emperor Cartagia has agreed to let them store some of their ships on Centauri Prime. Londo thinks that's a terrible idea and Cartagia is not reliable, but Morden tells him that he and Refa put Cartagia on the throne as their puppet and dealing with him is now Londo's problem. Londo doesn't want to be the Shadow's agent on Centauri Prime, but Morden is sure that he will do the job to the best of his abilities, because he's afraid who else might get the job if he refuses it.

    Delenn tries talking to the Vorlon ambassador about help keeping their alliance against the Shadows together and trying to rescue Sherridan if he is still alive. But the Vorlon just doesn't care about any of that.

    Zack finds G'Kar in Garibaldi's quarters. G'Kar tells him someone has to go searching for Garibaldi and he's looking around his rooms to prepare for the search. He also wonders if his poster of Duffy Duck is a religious icon of one of Garibaldi's household gods. Zack thinks about it for a moment and says it kind of is. If it's a god, it would be the god of frustration, which G'Kar finds very funny.

    Londo is frustrated because he can't find his black coat. The prime minister says he's send it to be cleaned and the emperor demands his presence in the palace garden right now. So Londo grabs his old purple coat and follows him. They walk outside and find a small crowd staring at the sky, with a large fleet of Shadow ships flying overhead.
    Londo goes to find the emperor in the throne room and wants to know what the Shadows have offered him for being allowed to have a base on Centauri Prime. Cartagia thinks the Shadows are the old gods of ancient myths and as emperor they will elevate him to a deity as well. The threat of Centauri Prime becoming a target for the Shadow's enemies is of no concern in light of that.
    Londo walks out without a word and tells the prime minister that the emperor is made. He's told that it's not wise to say such things in public, as those who have done so before have disappeared, and it's said that the emperor is keeping their heads in a dark room where he goes to speak with them. (Which he does.)

    Londo calls Vir and tells him he has to come to Centauri Prime immediately, as he needs people he can trust.

    Lyta comes to Ivanova in the middle of the night and offers an idea that they take one of the other White Stars to Zahadum to go searching for Sherridan. Since she and Sherridan were both connected to Kosh, she thinks there's a chance she might be able to sense him from space if he is still alive. Ivanova is feeling so terrible right now that she says Sure, let's get Delenn and go.

    They get to Zahadum and Lyta blocks the Shadow ships from noticing them. Ivanova tries to call Sherridan's com but gets no response. Delenn takesLyta's hand and tries to reach him telepathically. Lyta senses that the Shadows are seeing them, and Ivanova can feel something as well. They see the face of a Shadow and its talking to them, telling them to land on the planet. The ship turns around and goes into hyperspace, and Lennnier tells Ivanova that he programmed the autopilot to make an escape if he stops using the controls. Neither Lennier nor Lyta picked up anything from Sherridan.

    Vir arrives in Londo's rooms and he tells him that the emperor is insane and spying on him. Vir wonders if anyone else know that the emperor is mad, and Londo tells him that everyone in the palace knows it. It's just nobody talking about it. Londo needs an ally he can trust not to betray him and who won't be putting himself over the good of Centauri Prime, and Vir is absolutely behind him. Londo tells him the only thing they can do is to kill the emperor.

    In the caves of Zahadum, Sherridan is wandering around and meets and old alien man. He asks the alien why he is still alive, and the alien says that this is a very good question.

    --

    Season 2 and 3 both started somewhat weak after the strong endings of the previous seasons and I was expecting something similar here. But this is actually a really good episode for starting a new season.

    It does not really have a strong plot. It does not give any answers and nothing is resolved. It also doesn't have any particularly notable scenes or dialog. But what it does is setting up the storylines for the new seasons, as well as refreshing everyone's memories about where the story had left of.

    Morden being cryptic about his questionably alive status is quite fun. I think nothing really comes from it, but it's still neat. Though I think they might have made his introduction a bit early. We could have gone assuming he is dead for a good while up until the point where his involvement becomes relevant again, though I don't actually remember when that will be.

    It's a bit silly, but I like that moment with Londo missing his new coat that has gone to the laundry so that he has to wear the old one once more for the moment when he looks up at the Shadow ships, matching the image from his vision in season 1. It's winking at the fourth wall, but in a very understated fashion.

    I also actually really liked the performances for Ivanova this episode. She's mostly just sitting around by herself looking mopey. But making it look meaningful without being cringy requires serious acting talent. Now that I think of it, the acting for Ivanova is always the most impressive when she's really upset. The other great example I can think of is in S2E19: Divided Loyalties.
    Pissed off or mildly annoyed Ivanova is fun, but seriously upset Ivanova is always impressive to watch.
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

    Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

  15. - Top - End - #765
    Retired Mod in the Playground Retired Moderator
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    Apr 2004

    Default Re: Yora reviews Babylon 5

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    S4E1: The Hour of the Wolf

    ... the prime minister appears to be demented.
    Props to Damian London for making this character work. He makes someone who lives at the intersection of fop and doormat feel genuine.

    Spoiler: Season 5
    Show
    And he does a good job of staying true to that character even when things get very, very dark for him.
    And managing to have such a character die with dignity is some good stuff.


    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Morden being cryptic about his questionably alive status is quite fun. I think nothing really comes from it, but it's still neat. Though I think they might have made his introduction a bit early. We could have gone assuming he is dead for a good while up until the point where his involvement becomes relevant again, though I don't actually remember when that will be.
    I don't know. While I think his "survival" might have been made more effective by waiting until episode 2 or 3, I don't think holding back until he becomes plot relevant would work. I think not establishing him as alive (for a certain definition of "alive" beforehand would make his reappearance feel contrived.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I also actually really liked the performances for Ivanova this episode. She's mostly just sitting around by herself looking mopey. But making it look meaningful without being cringy requires serious acting talent. Now that I think of it, the acting for Ivanova is always the most impressive when she's really upset. The other great example I can think of is in S2E19: Divided Loyalties.
    Pissed off or mildly annoyed Ivanova is fun, but seriously upset Ivanova is always impressive to watch.
    I love it when an actor can really sell their character when the character's not doing anything. It's pretty rare to see in film and TV. I don't know if that's for want of actors that can actually do it or just the way directing and editing are done means it seldom gets used, but I've done just enough acting in my time to find it truly impressive when an actor can embody a character in the midst of boredom, grief, or (as in this case) that numbness-born-of-depression.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Season 3 Summary

    Imagine what it could be today with only main plot and no need for filler.
    Y'see, I don't think bringing the show up to modern standards of arc-driven shows would really work. I found a review of the show someone wrote and one particular passage summed up a lot better than I ever have why I think the filler episodes work. (Well, maybe not the specific filler episodes, but their role in the overall pacing of the narrative.)

    (In the interests of credit-where-it's-due, here's a link to the full review. Though most of it kind of meanders a lot, I feel like it misunderstands some things entirely, and a good chunk gets into socio-political stuff: https://www.tor.com/2019/06/13/babyl...ble-sf-series/ )

    This structure is so effective that even the plot twists and status quo shifts which are poorly foreshadowed, or ill-explained, or over-explained feel natural and world-shaking because Babylon 5’s pace always gives you time to breathe, and the world is so believably lived in, that any crisis that strikes it feels immeasurably more impactful than damage wrought onto a world that we’re meant to understand changes from the get go. By the time the show starts hurtling along a set of truly serialized arcs in Season 4 there’s a feeling that anything could happen. It still feels fresh today, maybe even fresher than it did in the 1990s simply because very few people are making shows like this anymore. Modern serialized television asks you to be a voyeur to the chaos, to consume it as fast as possible, or to consume it as a communal project. You and your friends waiting for the next big bombshell and treating everything between like treading water. A show paced like Babylon 5 asks you to come live in those in-between moments. It wants you to watch the chaos from inside the world and to stick with it during the long silences.
    It's not say that there's anything wrong with writing a nail-biting, cliffhanger-heavy story or that there's a problem with one that moves the narrative along swiftly. But I just feel like the sense of grandiosity that Babylon 5 aims for (and achieves most of the time) would be undercut without the in-between spaces.

    Let's look at The Lord of the Rings. In the books, Frodo's departure from the Shire is very long and drawn out. Apart from a couple of close calls with the Ringwraiths, it's mostly just the Hobbits backpacking across the Shire. We spend several chapters on a sidetrek through the Old Forest, chilling with Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, and nearly getting Barrow-Wighted to death. And it isn't until we get to Bree that the main plot even comes back into it. In the movies, it's far more frantic, with Frodo not even putting up the "everything's fine, I'm just moving out to the country" pretense: it's a tense, almost frantic stealth mission across the Shire. And with everything between the Shire and Bree cut, the impression is much more that the Ringwraiths are on their tail the whole time. Both are good versions of the story, but I think that extra breathing room gives the book version a certain sense of profundity that the films don't quite capture, no matter how many grandiose pans across magnificent landscapes they put in.

    I think the same is true of B5. While there's room to quibble about the exact number, placement, and content of the filler episodes, I think removing them altogether would diminish the whole in not-immediately-obvious ways.
    Last edited by Grey Watcher; Today at 03:08 PM.

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