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-   -   EpDis: Learning Curve (http://www.b5tv.com/showthread.php?t=9342)

vacantlook October 12th 06 20:55

EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Refresher Links:
Lurker's Guide Main Page for Learning Curve
Lurker's Guide Extended Synopsis for Learning Curve

Jan October 14th 06 12:27

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
I voted 'good'. I loved Lockley tearing into Garibaldi but was less fond of the 'application of terror' aspect and I wasn't fond of the way Delenn became suspicious of Lochley & Sheridan's previous relationship.

Jan

hypatia October 14th 06 13:59

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
She sensed there was something between the two. And boy, it turns out she was right. :lol:

I rather liked the application of terror bit. Nothing quite like seeing a violent bully being isolated and then forced to fight on equal grounds. :)

The only thing is: wouldn't it be better to wait until the patient healed a bit? The "as soon as he can walk" seems a bit over-the-top to me.

RW7427 October 15th 06 21:55

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Learning Curve is excellent stuff. Great viewing! ;)

Shaal Mayan October 15th 06 22:01

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Voted excellant but I didn't really go for the Garibaldi storyline of him being suspicious of Lochley and the fact that it continued into the season.I loved the application of terror plot giving new insight into the minbari and the rangers .All in all a personal favorite in season 5.

Springer October 16th 06 17:10

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Hmm, I'll have to watch it again maybe but I've always considered this to be one of the worst episodes of the series. The Rangers are almost like vigilantes out for revenge in this episode, above the law, which to me seems really wrong considering they are supposed to be akin to the interstellar police in the Alliance. Plus the revelation that Sheridan was married to Lochley is pure soap opera rubbish (though Garibaldi's reaction in the next episode is great - "how many wives has he got?!") and Turhan Bey is utterly wasted in this episode.

Sindatur October 16th 06 17:16

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Quote:

Hmm, I'll have to watch it again maybe but I've always considered this to be one of the worst episodes of the series. The Rangers are almost like vigilantes out for revenge in this episode, above the law, which to me seems really wrong considering they are supposed to be akin to the interstellar police in the Alliance. Plus the revelation that Sheridan was married to Lochley is pure soap opera rubbish (though Garibaldi's reaction in the next episode is great - "how many wives has he got?!") and Turhan Bey is utterly wasted in this episode.

Who's Law?

Springer October 17th 06 07:26

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Quote:



Who's Law?

The incident took place on the station, so it would be the law on Babylon 5, which, although no longer part of Earth Alliance would still follow the rules of due process. That means arrest and trial.

Besides, I don't recall 'terror' being mentioned in the 'declaration of principles' that the Alliance is meant to hold so dear.

hypatia October 17th 06 13:21

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
The Declaration of Principles wouldn't go into details about how they'd punish criminals. Maybe lynching parties are in style again. ;)

It is very Minbari and very "Ranger" mentality, though. They consider themselves to be doing work so important, they often break rules, don't they?

puzzle October 17th 06 13:24

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Law is a funny thing. Some laws are definitely founded on sensible thoughts, but justice can be obtained without them. Notably, application of law (perhaps with the exception of contagious disease) has brought to people the greatest injustices in history.

Most institutions which try to enforce law, end up twisting it to their own practical ends. Sooner or later, law enforcement starts to mainly perpetuate the state and government writing law, everything else being a side effect.

Before it goes that far, multiple stages of decay can be observed, but that's where all known societies have always ended up. Unless another society cannibalized their state first, and imposed its own law... until it ran to ground.

At first glance, Rangers seem like a state agency. On closer observation however, they are peculiar. While they have a long history of being sponsored by the Minbari government, they have increasingly broken loose from the grasp of any particular state, and become a sovereign entity in their own right.

They have a fleet. They have a personnel department for crewing the fleet. They accept volunteers, and actually not everyone. What code of conduct they have, we the viewers learn preciously little about. Do they tolerate dissent? How far? Do they shape their policy by discussion? Do they consider their policy obligatory? In what extent? We don't know... but due to their military origin, we can assume as much: during battle, they do exhibit a chain of command, and expect their members to adhere to it. Mostly. Because we have seen some improvise a lot, and some retreat from battle, even if they got effectively demoted.

So in broad perspective, we don't know what code the Rangers adhere to (or pretend adhering to). Not even whether they are liberal or authoritarian. We do know they aren't totalitarian (so far good), but we also know they aren't anarchist either (well, that's not a big surprise).

They have an internal structure of control and feeback, presumably taking the form of a chain of command. It is doubtful if they have established customs for electing their leader. The current one (Delenn) was apparently nominated by the previous one (Sinclair), who was apparently nominated after consulting with the Minbari government by the previous one.

There has, however, been a pressure for development, and development responding to it. Rangers have been growing into a military arm of the Interstellar Alliance. That comes in handy for both (at least while the two organizations are headed by Delenn and Sheridan) since the Rangers, aside from a reluctant Minbari government, don't appear to have a predictable financing mechanism. They might take donations (reasonable), don't levy taxes (reasonable) but in environment where states do levy taxes, an organisation feeding from the leftovers of states' feast could arguably not play a similarly structured game in the same league for long.

While the Alliance has the necessary funding to sustain Rangers in their expanded role, it also has more sources of whim besides its leaders and Minbari traditions. The Alliance represents a whole bunch of species/planet/faction governments, and several pieces of paper. Most prominent among those, stands the declaration of principles, but while it's an eloquent statement of what is desired and held in regard, fishing clarifications out of it sounds like a difficult job. So perhaps one should say, that the Alliance is in the process of building up its formal operating principles from scratch, and doesn't have them yet?

Babylon 5 in turn, while being formally an Earth colony, effectively became an independent (partly) Human settlement during civil war. While it hasn't held serious debate regarding applicable customs ("laws", or perhaps switching over to anarchy ;) ), it seems reasonable from the viewpoint of everyone onboard that pre-civil-war Earth laws would apply, mostly (except those enacted past the point when Earth government was considered to have been misappropriated, and those changes introduced on Babylon 5 which nobody challenged or protested). Or that someone might expect them to apply, even if no law really does. ;)

Now, formal background being somewhat clearer, from the viewpoint of consistency between the Rangers' actions and pieces of paper (and traditions without a corresponding piece of paper), one might assume one of many viewpoints, including but not limited to:

- it could be quite consistent with the Minbari traditions and pieces of paper which Rangers used to follow
- it could contradict many of the Alliance worlds' laws, and almost certainly some
- whether it would contradict Earth laws, would be arguable depending on many details and technicalities
- the latter might include whether Security was summoned at ealiest opportunity after making the arrest, whether the arrested were explained what was going on, and whether they were given opportunity to peacefully wait for Security to arrive

Now, all that is interesting, but being of persuasions which treat law as merely an indicator of prevailing governmental attitudes, I'll prefer to additionally widen the range of questions by asking:

- whether reasonable selectivity was present, to ensure retribution would befall only those who provoked it
- whether reasonable care was taken, to avoid needless escalation of fighting beyond the level of harm which retribution was being carried out for
- whether bystanders who hadn't wronged the Ranger (if any) and expressed disinterest in waiting for (or rejected the authority of) Security were permitted to leave, if their claims of not being involved sounded credible (otherwise it might follow that they might produce weapons and use those) except if they were recognized as most definitely lying (in which case one would have to accept escalation and still stop them)
- whether the intent wasn't doing to anyone, what they hadn't previously done to others
- whether the outcome wasn't doing to anyone, what they hadn't previously done to others
- whether the outcome wasn't forcing anyone who hadn't intended so to fight
- whether the risk of the last two outcomes was low or high

Basing on those, I would say the response was fairly ill-adjusted, typical of what one might expect from Minbari traditions. However, ill-adjustedness taken account for, it wasn't totally stupid either.

To argue well about its exact level of stupidity, we'd have to possess detailed knowledge about how much the Rangers precisely knew. If they knew a lot and avoided risks, the tally of stupidity might come out shorter than foreseen. If they didn't know what the fuck they were starting, and hoped "they'll greet us with flowers, and hopefully there won't be any bystanders in the way", we'd have to open another page for the stupidity subtotals.

PillowRock October 17th 06 15:48

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Quote:

Besides, I don't recall 'terror' being mentioned in the 'declaration of principles' that the Alliance is meant to hold so dear.

The Rangers were not talking about terror in terms of applying "terror" to the criminal.

They were talking about the "terror" that had been created in the mind of the Ranger and his need to face / confront that terror so that he would not be reacting from a phobic mindset in the future.

The important part was for him to come face-to-face with what had terrorized him so that he could have som measure of control, mostly in terms of mental control of himself, in such situations. It was more a coincidence of the circumstances of his particular incident that dictated that this involve a violent confrontation with a criminal, not some requirement of "terrorizing" violent criminals. If he had been burned in a fire, then that application of "terror" would have involved him going into or through a burning room or something similar.

Even if he had lost the fight, he still would have faced the situation with some measure of control and would likely not have as irrationally phobic of a response to similar situations going forward. That was the point, not giving "terror" to the guy who had beaten him.

puzzle October 17th 06 23:24

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Some additional points, after having several more moments of idle time to proceed wearing out a perfectly good keyboard:

- It seems the Ranger didn't commence with fighting that guy before he picked up the staff. I don't recall the episode well enough to remember whether anyone suggested, or didn't suggest that he pick it up. In any case, the consequence of picking up a weapon you are offered, seems pretty obvious without use of explanatory language. It's fighting.

-Bah, fear of losing a fight is natural, but the preferable way to deal with having lost a fight, is not always getting into the next one straight away. Then again, if the person who caused grief is still within reach, and is the kind of person for whom it's awfully justified to cause some grief in return, and one's healthy enough to go causing it... the proposition of "why not, let's try again, but this time if you fail, we'll handle him anyway" certainly sounds more sensible.

PillowRock October 18th 06 00:11

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Quote:

fear of losing a fight is natural

Sure, fear is a natural, good thing.

However, there is a difference between reasonable fear that stops you from doing suicidal things ...... and the kind of irrational phobic fear that tends to be caused by a traumatic event, which blocks out the ability to think analytically and rationally. The one tends to keep you safer while the other just makes it more likely that you will get yourself (or your comrades) killed with an unreasoned response somewhere down the line.

The Rangers were practicing a form of "get right back on the horse ...." before a full blown phobia has a chance to take root.


And, he had not just "lost a fight". He had been beaten into a near coma (or was it actual short erm coma?).

RW7427 October 18th 06 02:11

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
And remember how Delenn tells Dr. Franklin "There are higher courts Steven. Surely we will find justice in one of those."

I wonder what courts those could be. ;)

Chilli September 26th 07 12:31

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
I do hope JMS meant part of the message of this one to be that the Rangers kind of suck.

Seriously, a force that pretends to be all about being "good", that can supersede the law at will for their petty revenge rituals? Scary shit.

Jan September 26th 07 13:45

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Pillow Rock makes good points.

In script book #12, JMS makes it clear that this is one of the episodes he wishes would drop off of a pier someplace. The story of how he came up with the story of the Ranger facing his terror, though, is a part of his personal history. He was mugged when he was young and almost died of his injuries. Upon leaving the hospital, before anything else, he needed to go back to that site and face his fear.

I never had a problem with the Mor'a'dum (sp?) because we already knew from Marcus that the Rangers teach their people "...terror. How to use it and how to face it." Anyway, if this is part of the Minbari tradition, it's not against the law for them. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking of the Minbari by human values but it's still supposed to be an alien culture.

Jan

Galahad September 26th 07 13:52

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Which kind of makes you wonder what terror Marcus faced (I can't remember if it was covered in "To Dream in the City of Sorrows". I'd wager it had something to do with returning to Mars or observing a shadow attack on a colony to face the loss of his brother... because as far as we know, that was the most traumatic thing he had experienced prior to meeting him.

vacantlook September 26th 07 20:49

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Galahad
...I'd wager it had something to do with returning to Mars....

I can't remember: what happened to Marcus on Mars?

A_M_Swallow September 27th 07 03:27

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by vacantlook (Post 309406)
I can't remember: what happened to Marcus on Mars?

Marcus dated Number One and spotted the creature on Captain Jack's shoulder.

Garibaldi comes from Mars and it keeps trying to kill him.

Galahad September 27th 07 08:17

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by vacantlook (Post 309406)
I can't remember: what happened to Marcus on Mars?

I got a little mixed up.

Marcus spoke of being from a colony and I misheard Mars (A Late Delivery from Avalon), his early life and the event I was referring to (the Shadow attack that killed his brother, the place he worked and a woman he was particularly fond of), happened on a different colony - Arisia:


Quote:

Marcus Cole was born on the Arisia Mining Colony, where his family operated a relatively dangerous mining operation. His brother William had left the colony and become a Ranger on Minbar; he was killed by the Shadows while visiting Marcus on Arisia. Marcus was one of the few survivors (if not the only survivor) of the attack. Much of Marcus Cole's early background is told in the novelization To Dream In the City of Sorrows (ISBN 0-345-45219-4) by Kathryn Drennan.

Marcus joined the Rangers following the death of his brother, William, and at times he seems to have joined the Rangers as a form of guilt over his brother's death.
My bad.

The point I was making was that in all likelihood, the event that caused him most terror was probably the one that led to him joining the rangers in the first place. Certainly, Turval was aware of it in the episode we are discussing... and he obviously saw it as a cause for concern.

I suppose for Lennier, terror would be facing up to his actions/inaction with regard to Sheridan in "Objects at Rest".

Chilli September 27th 07 09:38

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by A_M_Swallow (Post 309444)
Marcus dated Number One and spotted the creature on Captain Jack's shoulder.

Er .. no.

Franklin dated Number One, while Number One sent Marcus off to "stand guard" - to be out of the way.

Galahad September 27th 07 10:52

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chilli (Post 309457)
Er .. no.

Franklin dated Number One, while Number One sent Marcus off to "stand guard" - to be out of the way.

That's what makes the scene so funny. Marcus is completely aware of what she's up to. I keep having to wind back every time Marcus turns round with the "50 credits" jibe, it just cracks me up

wish i could find it on youtube..

Cell April 5th 08 02:43

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
I'm in the process of watching through all of B5/Crusade/LOTR yet again, and I just came upon this episode. Man oh man, I had forgotten just how bad this episode makes the Rangers, the IA and maybe even JMS out to be. This whole idea of circumventing the local authorities, the law, and justice for the idea of revenge through terror is quite sad indeed.

The Rangers are supposed to be a peace keeping force, the guardians of the light in the galaxy that is the IA. But in this episode they go above the law to inflict revenge and terror upon a man, and they crack jokes as if their actions are quite cavalier while partaking in their atrocious actions. Now, sure, the man was not a good man and he had beaten the Ranger nearly to death. However what should separate the Rangers from your common thug or fascist zealot is their ability to enforce the peace through the law and the true tenets of justice. Instead they do the exact opposite and take on the persona of Nazi Germany's SS in the process. This episode doesn't make the Rangers honorable or endearing in any way, instead it paints them as terror mongers, willing to exact their own idea of revenge upon the populace in whatever manner they see fit. Fairness doesn't matter, the law doesn't matter, justice doesn't matter, due process doesn't matter, and in the end because they are willing to do this the Rangers lose a lot in my eyes.

This takes us to Delenn, who not only goes along with the Mora'Dum, but pulls rank to make sure it is enforced. Are we really supposed to believe that a character that has spent the better part of the last 10 years doing everything in her power to show people the mistake of enacting revenge would now do the same? This is the same character that shouted for revenge upon the death of Dukhat and then realized the error of her ways and cried out that the needless death and seeking of revenge stop. Despite building that very important facet into her character here we have her going against all of that and seeking for revenge right away and hiding behind laws and tradition to make sure that revenge is meted out.

JMS on the other hand tries to hide behind the message he has put forth with the clumsy Garibaldi scene in the station house with Zack at the end of the show. His whole "The Minbari do this and then this and then this" is a very vein attempt at somehow justifying their actions throughout the episode. I fully believe in the SS comparison that I put forth earlier, and one must wonder if this is how JMS views the ultimate police force as actually working? Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge JMS fan, but I can't help but balk at his apparent idea of how the Rangers should work, and honor and justice. If it had been one or two Rangers that think this way then that I could buy, beings will be beings after all, but to have it built in as a group standard and to have it presented as good thing is not something I can get behind. All this episode did was paint the Rangers, Delenn, and the IA in a bad light and it's quite shocking in how bad of a light it put them in.

Estelyn February 3rd 11 12:21

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
A lot has been said about the questionable aspects of this episode, and I must admit to being of two minds about it. Despite the fact that administration of justice should not take the form used by the Rangers, there's something in me that cheers when the bully is proven to be a coward when faced with a courageous opponent alone.

I do enjoy the bantering conversations between the two senior officers - it's nice to see members of two different castes aware of their differences but not battling each other. And it's fun to see the young Ranger (Tannier?) smile over that - we so seldom see Minbari smiling.

The contrast between Sheridan, whose military position was strongly influenced by his political opinions, and Lochley, who adheres strictly to the chain of command, is clearly defined without being judged. Is one position more meritorious than the other? I can understand Sheridan better, but then I'd not like to be part of a military structure.

I do like Delenn's clarity in seeing the possibilities for a purpose for Pak'ma'ra Rangers.

There is a good deal of psychological wisdom in facing one's terror/fear as soon as possible, aside from the method used here. And the philosophical question raised, ln the worth of death with or without reason or meaning, is an interesting one.

One additional detail - we are getting a hint of Lennier's future actions in the report of his overactivity in training. I do like it when clues are dropped over a period of time, then solved later on!

No, this episode isn't a favourite of mine, but still worth watching.

Lennier's Tears March 8th 15 02:47

Re: EpDis: Learning Curve
 
Ehh, it's not a great episode, but it's OK ... It has some obvious problems, but it's entertaining enough.

I'm a big fan of Puzzle's huge post on the first page of this thread :) That's a pretty detailed analysis of the legalities involved with the Ranger storyline here. I agree with the people who said that it seems out of place for Delenn to override station command/security so that one Ranger trainee can experience the "terror" part of his training. It makes perfect sense for the Minbari to have such a thing in their training, because, well, they're Minbari, and everything is full of ritual. But, even Delenn expresses in this very episode the sentiment that Rangers are no longer just Minbari, and perhaps the training should be adjusted to better accommodate other races. Still, we're going to take over your station here for a second so this one guy can face his terror.

The actual execution of that part is entertaining enough for me. I enjoy the back and forth between the Ranger teachers.

Something I thought was interesting, and which I never really thought about before: All the Ranger trainees we see in this episode are wearing Ranger pins. Does that mean that one becomes a Ranger as soon as one is accepted to Ranger training? There is no "graduation" ?

About that scene where Garibaldi and Lochley get into it in the mess hall: I think it makes sense for Garibaldi to be so distrustful. That's entirely in character. It also fits with the general Babylon 5 feel that there's no black and white in their disagreement. I do find their frequent arguing a bit annoying. I don't get why so many people applaud when Lochley gives her speech and walks out. THEY all broke away from Earth. I don't see any of them back in the Earth Force uniform. She just said that the people who broke away from Earth sacrificed either loyalty, duty, or honor. Why would you applaud someone saying that about you?

I'm not a fan of the "Sheridan and Lochley had a previous relationship" story, which is still only hinted at here. And how did this not come up before in any conversations between Sheridan and Delenn? Did they never discuss why Sheridan picked Lochley for the B5 command?


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