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Old July 26th 15, 01:19   #81
Lennier's Tears
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: DC-ish
Posts: 322
Re: EpDis: The Gathering

Goodness, I have a lot to say about this

I just watched The Gathering for the first time in a few years. I don’t always include it when I start watching Babylon 5, and happened to skip it on my most recent re-watch. It had probably been about three years since I last watched it. I haven’t seen it nearly as often as the rest of the show. I also had already been watching B5 for a few years before I finally watched the pilot. Thus, I haven’t seen it nearly as many times as other episodes. Because of that, it can still really surprise me! When I put it on yesterday, I was mostly remembering some of the weirder stuff, but as I watched, that weirder stuff seemed pretty minor, and I kept thinking how good this pilot really was, even with all the changes that had to be made to the story between it and the actual series.

It really is quite good! It introduces all of the characters and gives a lot of background information that you might not notice on first watching but that still fits nicely with the overall story if you’re familiar with it. Some of the characters look a little different, but their personalities and mannerisms are already there, so it really FEELS like Babylon 5 even if it doesn’t look exactly like the familiar Babylon 5.

I’m going to put a spoiler warning here, in case anyone who’s JUST starting on Babylon 5 and has only seen The Gathering happens to be reading here (and I REALLY hope there are such people around, even all these years later!). In the paragraphs below there are spoilers for later episodes. You should heed this warning! The strength of Babylon 5 is in its main storyline, which is truly excellent, and there are some great “reveals” along the way.

So, SPOILERS below!!

As much as I like the established characters on the actual show, I think I could have really grown to love the characters introduced here. Perhaps not so much the very 80s Carolyn Sykes … But Dr. Kyle and Lieutenant Takashima, for sure. I think it could have been heartbreaking to have Takashima revealed as a mole after we came to love her and her illegal coffee-growing. Even from the little glimpse we get from her friendship with Dr. Kyle, it seemed they genuinely liked each other. Incidentally, I never would have picked up on all the hints that she was involved in the assassination attempt in the pilot. Knowing that that was in store for the character it becomes somewhat obvious, yes. But, I probably wouldn’t have picked up on it until she was revealed (unless it was made more obvious as time went on).

I love how much of G’Kar and Londo’s personalities is already in here. There are obvious difference in costume/makeup/prosthetics, but the mannerisms and voices are the same and thus it still looks like them. I do think that the changes were for the better in their case.
As for Delenn, I actually quite like her as an alien of ambiguous gender. How radical it would have been if they’d left her like that and still have her start a relationship with either Sinclair or Sheridan. Possibly too radical for a general audience 

There are various things that got changed for the series, or that are maybe just never mentioned again, making me unsure whether they’re supposed to be canon. Some are minor things that seem like they were changed because they’d just look/work better. Others are more major. I’ll mention some of them below.
  • Minor details:
  1. Costume/makeup on most of the alien characters. I already mentioned that. Changes were definitely for the better.
  2. Data “cards” instead of data crystals like in later episodes.
  3. Communication bracelets instead of those hand-attached links they’ll have later. Speaking of which, there’s some weirdness going on where in some scenes the characters use their “link”, while in others “go get So-and-So” is followed by someone actually walking off to go get/call said person.
  4. Heh, Not-Morden in C&C
  • Stuff that I think is more major and either got changed, or maybe I just don’t fully understand how it fits into the main storyline.
  1. Delenn has some kind of “ring of power” in a secret compartment in her quarters. It can crush people with “gravities”. This ring is never seen again on the show. I’m assuming that means we’re to assume it never really existed? Delenn is also quite strong in the pilot. She picks up injured Garibaldi and carries him out of the alien sector like it ain’t no thing. I guess she might still be that strong in later episodes, we just don’t see her picking up people again (that I can remember )
  2. The station gets knocked out of position by the explosion at the end. That (and the ring of power) are one of the weird things I remember most about this pilot. There are lots of explosion over five seasons of Babylon 5 but they don’t have the same effect. Are we to assume that that never happened, or just that it’s never mentioned again?
  3. Lyta makes a big deal out of being a P5. She mentions having to train for years, and how so many other people can’t handle that training at all. Later on we meet several P10s and higher (and we get that same story). In later episodes it is indeed confirmed that Lyta is (was) a P5, but was that originally meant to be a super high P level?
  4. Speaking of Lyta, when she comes on board, she asks Sinclair why the station is called Babylon 5. She has no idea that there were four other Babylon stations. Where was she living that she doesn’t know that? Or was that originally meant to not be common knowledge?
  5. And speaking of THAT, was the Babylon project not a joint project with the Minbari? That’s not really ever mentioned in the pilot, is it? At the end Delenn is asking Sinclair why the station even exists.
  6. Delenn gives Sinclair a data “card” with all her information on the Vorlons. Is that supposed to have happened? If so, presumably it didn’t really have everything she knew about the Vorlons ….
  7. Speaking of the Vorlons … I gather from the discussion here that the hand/poison thing really is supposed to have happened as we see it. That’s .. weird. Why would a Vorlon be shaking hands?
  8. Also speaking of Vorlons, why did they send that whole fleet? Were they trying to hide the fact that they really don’t need a whole fleet to take out Babylon 5, or were they not originally meant to be so super powerful?

That’s all I can think of right now … I’m sure I’ll have to add to it later
I think we're well beyond pastels now.
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