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-   -   EpDis: Messages From Earth (http://www.b5tv.com/showthread.php?t=8621)

vacantlook November 10th 05 16:32

EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Refresher Links:
Lurker's Guide Main Page for Messages From Earth
Lurker's Guide Extended Synopsis for Messages From Earth

vacantlook November 10th 05 16:36

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
I love the meeting with Dr Kirkish. Marcus leading her to the meeting in slow motion with the wardrum music going is rather tense to me. The way that she, now in a position to tell someone important what she saw regarding the Shadows, but how she almost cracks before being able to get any words out is excellently performed. And the whole telling of the story of the Shadow ship on Mars is rather unsettling; it's perfect for the Shadows.

KoshFan November 11th 05 02:23

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
I remember seeing this ep for the first time... the ominous Shadow music playing over the excavation on Mars... and I was thinking, "They were on Mars. They were that close."

Just seeing the name Syria Planum -- even in a totally non-B5 context -- still gives me shivers.

RW7427 November 11th 05 05:56

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
I love this ep. It's totally awesome! One of the best of season 3. :cool:

Shaal Mayan November 11th 05 15:24

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Excellant the beginning of the start of the very best b5 episodes the slow march to the separation to the EA.Seeing the shadows over mars definate *shivers*

Springer November 11th 05 15:45

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
One of my favourite episodes from Season 3. The Shadow ship on Mars is creepy as hell, I like the tie-in with the DC comics, and the battle at the end is exciting. Definite A.

Elric November 16th 05 13:44

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
This was very nearly an A for me, but I'm reserving the A votes for the real "wow factor" episodes. If I could, I would give it a B+++.

A great ep, and is part of the lead up to Shattered Dreams. I think this is the point where B5 really starts to shine (even more so than certain eps from season 2).

When I first watched B5, I had seen a few eps from earlier seasons, but this was where I really started to get hooked.

RW7427 November 16th 05 15:37

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
I love the stuff with Dr. Kirkish and the Shadow ships on Mars and Ganymede. :cool:

darth_librarian November 16th 05 16:12

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
The slightly naff trek photon torpedo acting aside (they never quite managed it as well as the trek team) this was great, really great. Cool effects and a whole Lovecraftian/ Frankenstein look at the shadow ships. Forms part of an amazing three episode story, probably may favourite bit of season three (all of which is pretty amazing...)

Estelyn September 14th 10 23:00

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
This episode is chockful of interesting stuff! I like seeing the direction G'Kar is taking, and his comments about no distractions and the benefit of silence are great.

I too took note of the martial drums in several scenes - we heard them an episode earlier in a humorous context (Ivanova bringing "back" the roses to Marcus), now they feel ominous in the scene with Dr. Kirkish and when Sheridan and Delenn leave the station for what could have been their last fight.

Some interesting camera and light work - G'Kar's head moving back into the shadow when Garibaldi's visit ends, the slow motion camera going past each member of the conspiracy when Dr. Kirkish is there, to mention only a couple.

The Night Watch liason scares me - he really believes in what EarthGov is doing, and that kind of self-righteous person is extremely difficult to handle. When he says that watching people on the security cameras is feeling like God, we can see some of the motivation that drives him.

In contrast, Zack's increasing discomfort with NightWatch and its policies is becoming very obvious. Lots of arc-relevant elements in this episode!

Alioth March 31st 11 01:51

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by KoshFan (Post 243770)
I remember seeing this ep for the first time... the ominous Shadow music playing over the excavation on Mars... and I was thinking, "They were on Mars. They were that close."

Makes you wonder what they were up to, circa 1000 years ago and the last Shadow War, regarding the then-non-spacefaring humans. They seemed to have some kind of base there (and on Ganymede), just as they had a base on an isolated island of the Narn homeworld long before that race became spacefaring. Were one or both of these footholds (on Narn and Human doorsteps) used for operations to manipulate these primitive races, or just for strategic position in the war itself?

And as for why those ships were left behind (there may have not been bases and these vessels somehow crashed or were disabled and downed on these worlds, but it happening twice in the Sol System seems too coincidental--unless actual battles were taking place there), I would imagine it was to tempt humans with further technology (and their influence) once they were sufficiently advanced enough to find them, and follow them to Z'Ha'Dum. (And humans happened to be the first ones there to "wake them up"--I wonder if they had left ships for other races to find, and humans got there first.)

RW7427 March 31st 11 12:51

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Quote:

Were one or both of these footholds (on Narn and Human doorsteps) used for operations to manipulate these primitive races, or just for strategic position in the war itself?
I don't remember the episode, but I do remember G'Kar talking about how the Shadows had a base on one of the southern continents on Narn. He said, "They took little interest in us". That to me doesn't sound like the Shadows were manipulating the pre-spacefaring Narns. I can only assume the same was true for the Humans. It sounds as if those bases were just for strategic purposes of some kind.

vacantlook March 31st 11 14:36

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by RW7427 (Post 368930)
Quote:

Were one or both of these footholds (on Narn and Human doorsteps) used for operations to manipulate these primitive races, or just for strategic position in the war itself?
I don't remember the episode, but I do remember G'Kar talking about how the Shadows had a base on one of the southern continents on Narn. He said, "They took little interest in us". That to me doesn't sound like the Shadows were manipulating the pre-spacefaring Narns. I can only assume the same was true for the Humans. It sounds as if those bases were just for strategic purposes of some kind.

"Matters Of Honor", first episode of season three; I just watched that one the other day. :)

I can't remember for certain, but didn't Delenn at some point in some episode or another say that the Shadows hid their ships on various planets and the like in order to keep a low profile for a while. Because of their philosophy, the Shadows come out every now and then to kick over all the anthills and then return to a state of dormancy for a while, only to begin to stretch forth again millenia later.

Alioth April 1st 11 00:06

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by RW7427 (Post 368930)
Quote:

Were one or both of these footholds (on Narn and Human doorsteps) used for operations to manipulate these primitive races, or just for strategic position in the war itself?
I don't remember the episode, but I do remember G'Kar talking about how the Shadows had a base on one of the southern continents on Narn. He said, "They took little interest in us". That to me doesn't sound like the Shadows were manipulating the pre-spacefaring Narns. I can only assume the same was true for the Humans. It sounds as if those bases were just for strategic purposes of some kind.

I was thinking very covertly--like having Morden-like agents (natives of the planet they might abduct and "program") approach certain leaders of the day and do favors or otherwise influence them. We know the Drazi came up with their "green and purple" contest before they were spacefaring, and suspect it was a Shadow influence, so if we suspect this we're acknowledging they're not necessarily above leaving nonspacefaring primitives alone (and we know the Vorlons aren't either). To pre-scientific societies they could manufacture "supernatural" phenomena as means of manipulation of such peoples.

Only thing is, I can't think of particularly significant events that happened in Human society (at least Western) in the 1200s... but maybe there was a little thing or two that led to a big thing, and such would make a fascinating story. As for the Narns, I don't know if it's ever mentioned when they turned on the telepaths that emerged in their population--but that would certainly be something the Shadows had interest in. Maybe they planted a meme that got it started--although suspicion of mind-readers is probably pretty natural anyway.

Alioth April 6th 11 03:37

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Alioth (Post 368964)
As for the Narns, I don't know if it's ever mentioned when they turned on the telepaths that emerged in their population--but that would certainly be something the Shadows had interest in. Maybe they planted a meme that got it started--although suspicion of mind-readers is probably pretty natural anyway.

D'oh! Turns out that question was answered in "Ship of Tears", a few episodes later. Don't know how I missed that the first time. Although the nature of what happened, in G'Quon's words, was kind of cryptic. Were the "mindwalkers" killed "unto their children, and children's children" by the Shadows directly, or through other Narns (I got that latter impression somehow from an earlier episode)? I'll have to look back again and get the exact quote from the Book of G'Quon, but apparently what happened to them did happen during the last Shadow War.

Lennier's Tears February 7th 15 01:10

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Great arc episode! Lots of very exciting Shadow stuff, trouble with Earth getting REALLY serious. Good stuff!

I have no response to the question in the last post on this thread. I don't know the details of what happened to the Narn telepaths. But, I haven't read any of the B5 novels or comics, so there's rather a lot of the backstory that I don't know at all. Perhaps someone else will know!

Comments on the episode:

The breakfast scene at the beginning: It's fun and entertaining and a good segue to the Marcus fighting scene. I do have a question about it. Bacon and eggs are hard to get on Babylon 5? Later in this episode Sheridan says it's a 2-day jump to Earth space. That doesn't seem SO long that you can't get eggs ... Is it just that people don't eat that sort of thing much in the 23rd century, and thus it's hard to come by?

I like newly enlightened G'Kar in his prison cell. The religious-y music that plays on the closeup of his writing is a nice touch.

I like all the scenes with Dr. Kirkish. The slow motion and music and such works really well with that meeting room scene. The flashback scenes with the Shadow ships on Mars are pretty chilling. Once again we find out that Interplanetary Expeditions is shady as hell*.

That scene with Sheridan taking off his Earth Alliance pin and staring at it are really well done. It illustrates well what he must be feeling.

That blond-haired Night Watch guy is super creepy. I agree with Estelyn above that his comment about feeling like a god, watching all those people on the security monitors tells us much about why he's an excited participant in the Night Watch program.

The White Star scenes: Something going on with the camera angles here. The command chair looks pretty far from all the other consoles, and there appears to be a console practically in the hallway, when Sheridan walks by it on his way to get some sleep.

The scenes with Sheridan and Delenn on the Minbari beds is a nice buildup to their later relationship. I like Sheridan talking about the sound of rain, and missing his father.

I always like everything White Star. Some excellent action sequences here. Sheridan tricks another Shadow ship. I like how they sort of crumple when they are destroyed, consistent with the whole "spider" theme they have going on.

Of course it had to be the Agamemnon that confronted the White Star. For Sheridan, that's not just "one of his own", it's his own ship! This is a great bit, where he can't decide what to do, and this time it's Delenn with the clever plan.

I enjoy Marcus' chart at the end :) I get the impression he's not just well-educated in English literature, he seems to know his Earth history pretty well too, using the Ottoman Empire as a model. Who would think to do THAT? :D

[The following is a total side note]

* Dr. Kirkish says that the goal of Interplanetary Expeditions is to use archaeology in order to find "new" technology. That seems to be a pretty established idea in the Babylon 5 universe's 23rd century, not many people seem to think there's anything wrong with that basic idea, it's just IPX's shadiness that they have a problem with. That idea makes me pretty sad, but I guess it makes sense, considering humankind was at the brink of extinction just a decade before. I imagine many people would be in favor of using all scientific research to put Earth in a better position relative to other races.

There are ethical medical doctors in the Babylon 5 universe, as we have seen with Dr. Franklin's refusal to hand over his notes on the Minbari, even during the Minbari war. Ethical archaeologists, though ... a bit harder to find. Dr. Kirkish is the first and only "good" archaeologist we get to see on B5. Although the fact that she chose to work for IPX is questionable, but then this isn't the post-capitalist utopia of Star Trek, so I suppose an archaeologist has got to make a living any way they can ...

All the other archaeologists we see on B5 are "bad guys". It's a major plot point in "Infection", and both "The River of Souls" and "Thirdspace". [There's also a tiny archaeology story element in "Soul Mates", with the Centauri artifact Matt Stoner is selling, which ends up severely injuring Londo. Matt Stoner mentions his selling the artifact is perfectly legal because he acquired it in a documented archaeological dig and has all the paperwork. That seems to be a thing that is normal and acceptable in the B5 universe, so that doesn't make him a bad guy for THAT reason, I suppose.]

This isn't necessarily anything to do with the B5 story, as the way in which the B5 archaeologists are bad guys is much the same as the way archaeologists are bad guys in ALL of fiction. Fictional archaeologists are pretty consistently villainous. Not in that they are plotting great evil, but mostly they are so caught up in their own interests, on the hunt for fame or riches, that they end up doing unethical stuff that endangers everyone around them. Of course that's a lot easier to do in fiction than in real life, because of the abundance of curses, demons, aliens, and any other evil thing you can think of. Real life archaeology is rather more boring.

Anyway, I'm obviously a bit hung up on how archaeology is portrayed in fiction. It does have an effect on real world archaeology.

I'll stop talking now :p

Springer February 10th 15 11:09

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Let's not forget that Sheridan's wife was also an archaeologist... okay she turned bad, but that was down to the Shadows! Eilerson in Crusade is more complex. He's greedy and out for himself, and gives the impression that archaeologists just work to make a discovery and get rich, but I have a feeling his character would have changed over time.

Indiana Jones was an archaeologist...

Anyway, I love this episode. The music is some of the best in the series and really helps make the episode. In an interview in SFX (issue 5, I think, I still have it somewhere), Ron Thornton says JMS gave Foundation Imaging the choice of having the battle in space or in Jupiter's atmosphere, and of course Thornton chose Jupiter so they could do something that hadn't been done before. I wonder how Sheridan would have defeated the Shadow ship if it had been in space?

Lennier's Tears February 10th 15 22:15

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
I was never quite sure if Anna Sheridan was supposed to be an archaeologist. Is that explicitly mentioned anywhere? I haven't read any books/comics, just going by the stuff in the episodes, but it's entirely possible I missed something. What about Morden? There must have been multiple archaeologists on that ship, but presumably also some other people like geologists, xenobiologists, and who knows what else. (Incidentally, I'm not sure if they are archaeologists as such, or "xenoarchaeologists" or some other made up word like that. It'd be interesting to see how the term would have evolved after alien contact. Presumably at this point the discipline isn't any longer solely concerned with the human past, but with the "sentient past" or some such. In theory, anyway. In practice, we see that IPX and the like are really only interested in getting their hands on some "new" technologies)

I did NOT know that a major character in Crusade was an archaeologist. I am planning on watching that for the first time when I'm done with this current B5 re-watch. This is good to know, now I have some advance warning :p The character as you describe it sounds similar to the archaeologists in Infection, River of Souls, and Thirdspace.

Indiana Jones is a great example of a fictional archaeologist who is presented as a hero and NOT a bad guy for a change, but he still does a lot of the same things the bad guy archaeologists do in fiction, so he's highly problematic as the "public face" of archaeology. It doesn't prevent me from enjoying an Indiana Jones movie, though. Just like my hangups about this topic don't prevent me from loving Babylon 5 as I do. It does cause me to go off on tangents (not like I don't already have a tendency to do that ... ), and I have strayed pretty far from Messages From Earth in this thread :o

Anyway, yes, excellent episode :p

Springer February 11th 15 09:52

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
I think Anna's job was mentioned in Revelations and in Thirdspace. The book The Shadow Within might mention Morden's profession, but I can't recall what it was. For some reason I have it in my head he was a linguist?

Eilerson in Crusade is great, probably the best character on the show. But yes, doing it to get rich, not to preserve history.

I'd have loved to have become an archaeologist. Settled for astronomer though :-)

Lennier's Tears February 11th 15 19:42

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
"settled" :p I suppose all jobs have their ups and downs ...

I just browsed the Babylon 5 Wikia and you are quite right. Mr. (who actually appears to be Dr. ) Morden has a very detailed background. He is indeed an archaeolinguist. Anna, on her page, is described as a "xeno-archaeologist", so I guess that answers my question about terminology. Wouldn't that make Morden a "xeno-archaeolinguist"? :D

I think this note at the bottom of the page (Morden) explains the Mr/Dr thing:

Quote:

According to Jeanne Cavelos, J. Michael Straczynski had originally conceived Morden as "a low-level technician on the Icarus, who was jealous of Anna's education and success", though when she handed in her synopsis for "The Shadow Within", Straczynski "...never asked me to change Morden from the way I'd envisioned him."
I clearly have a lot of reading to do! :p

Dr. Kirkish doesn't appear to have any more background than what we see here in Messages From Earth. I don't think there's anything more about that Mars excavation she was working on. I'd love to learn more about the methods used for such a task, but I suppose that was never actually written :p Also, why is anyone touching anything with their bare hands int he middle of Martian winter? :o

Springer February 12th 15 09:53

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lennier's Tears (Post 451088)
Also, why is anyone touching anything with their bare hands int he middle of Martian winter? :o

I don't think it is explicitly stated anywhere in the show, but I think JMS has said that they are terraforming Mars, which is why they can get away with breathers and duffle coats rather than spacesuits.You'd have to crash a lot of comets into Mars though to get sufficient water vapour and other gases released to increase the atmospheric pressure significantly.

Lennier's Tears February 13th 15 02:54

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Ah, that makes sense. I wonder if that has something to do with the way that Shadow ship is buried, also. It's buried deeply. How were those deposits formed? Are they volcanic? Or was the ship buried on purpose?

[I realize there probably are no actual explanations for this in the story, just people's assumptions or best guesses. I'd love to hear people's explanations, though :D ]

Springer February 13th 15 10:07

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lennier's Tears (Post 451107)
Ah, that makes sense. I wonder if that has something to do with the way that Shadow ship is buried, also. It's buried deeply. How were those deposits formed? Are they volcanic? Or was the ship buried on purpose?

[I realize there probably are no actual explanations for this in the story, just people's assumptions or best guesses. I'd love to hear people's explanations, though :D ]

I think it said somewhere that the Shadow ship was buried 300m down. I find it amusing that the IPX were probably digging it out carefully, then along comes the other Shadow vessel and just blasts it out with its energy beam.

Syria Planum is a volcanic region on Mars, there are several very large shield volcanoes in the vicinity. So the deposits are probably partly volcanic, but also with a lot of deposition from flowing water, as the volcanism would create temperatures warm enough to melt ice and let water flow. We're probably talking about a history dating back three and a half billion years, but presumably the shadow ship has been there less than a million years, maybe just a thousand years since the last war, so any sedimentary deposits would have been messed up when they buried the ship.

The question is, what were they doing so close to Earth? Coincidence?

Lennier's Tears February 13th 15 21:36

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
I think Dr. Kirkish says that they assumed, based on depth, that the ship had been there for about 1000 years. If you are familiar with (and really understand) the stratigraphy of the location, you could indeed make a pretty good guess at the time of deposit of an object you have not yet excavated, based on how deep below the surface it is. But, that really only applies to objects that were at surface level at time of deposit, and then became buried over time. If the ship was buried on purpose, it would intrude into much older layers. This would become apparent during excavation, but it doesn't seem like something their "sonic probe" would be able to pick up on.

On the other hand, I think she may have said "AT LEAST 1000 years", which could be accurate if they had a good date on a layer on top of the ship, but nothing else. It would be pretty meaningless if you couldn't guess at just much more than 1000 years, considering how big a window that leaves.

According to the Wikia, the ship was at 300 feet below the surface, which is "only" about 91 m (you have an excellent memory, Springer, even if your brain substituted meters for feet, which is an entirely reasonable thing to do ... I refuse to believe that archaeologists decided, sometime between the 21st and 23rd century, to abandon the metric system). At first glance, that, to me, seems like a completely ridiculous depth for a 1000-year-old something. But then, my ideas of what is or isn't reasonable are entirely based on my experience on Earth. I really have NO idea what would be reasonable in a volcanic region on Mars. The other thing about that depth, though, is that those ships are really big. In the images we see of the excavation, it looks like some of its spidery legs are practically at surface level. I suppose we can't see if they took off a mound from the top ...

I too laughed at how the Shadow ship shows up and just shoots the other ship out of the ground. "Screw your careful excavation!!". Couldn't they have shown up a bit sooner and saved the archaeologists all that unnecessary work? Although, apparently these 23rd century archaeologists have some spiffy methods. Dr. Kirkish says "it took us weeks just to excavate half of it" like that's an unusually long time. Those ships are BIG! I guess perhaps they also had a pretty large crew working on that ...

"What were they doing there?" is indeed an excellent question. If the 1000 year date is indeed correct, it could be something war-related, but it could also be that the Shadows had some interest in being near this young race that would soon be getting ready to go into space (assuming a 1000 years doesn't mean that much in Shadow time, with them being as old as they are).

[OT: I'm sitting here looking at my post before I hit "submit", thinking "Oh my god, what have I become??" All of this, about something like five minutes worth of TV from 20 years ago? But, anyone reading along clearly isn't that different from me :p ]

Springer February 14th 15 15:20

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
Hmm. Not much has happened on Mars over the past 1,000 years. Dust storms come and go but the dust is made of such fine particles it's not going to be able to bury something to that extent, and the next storm that comes along would just blow it all off anyway. There's been no volcanic activity in a long time. Maybe Kirkish didn't appreciate the geology on Mars. One of the NASA rovers on Mars has been visiting craters that aren't as deep as the excavation site and the sedimentary layers in the crater walls go back hundreds of millions of years or even older.

I wonder if Sinclair/Valen knew the Shadows were in the Solar System?

Lennier's Tears February 14th 15 20:20

Re: EpDis: Messages From Earth
 
I guess that must mean the ship was buried on purpose, then. But why? To hide it from the humans until they were ready? In "The Hour of the Wolf", we learn that "a thousand years ago, the Shadows seeded hundreds of worlds with their ships", but just one ship per planet seems a little weird.

Excellent question about Valen/Sinclair. I guess if he did know, he didn't mention it... It wouldn't have made much of a difference, I suppose.


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