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Old July 26th 15, 01:19   #81
Lennier's Tears
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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
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Old July 26th 15, 09:34   #82
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Re: EpDis: The Gathering

Sounds like you watched the original version with the Stewart Copeland music, rather than the special edition that JMS re-edited? The special edition answers the mystery of how Kosh came to be 'shaking hands' - um, spoilers I guess - he thought he recognised Sinclair as Valen and left his suit to greet him, only to be poisoned by the assassin. Though to be honest that still feels like a fudge - why reveal himself to Sinclair then when Kosh is so secretive otherwise and Sinclair doesn't know who he is at that stage anyway, and you'd have thought the assassin, armed with info about what the Vorlons look like, might have said something.

Also, the Vorlons want to extradite Sinclair and threaten the station, they clearly don't know he is Valen. Which of course, when the pilot was written, he was not intended to become. Adding the bit with Kosh recognising Valen just makes a bit of a mess of the story.

I think we're meant to take everything in the pilot as canon (ignoring any stylistic differences such as make up or props). Maybe the Grey Council made Delenn take those rings with her as a form of protection, but she was never happy about using them or never felt the need after the pilot. She only used them after G'Kar mentioned the Grey Council, so maybe she was worried her secret would be blown.

The Minbari only funded B5 didn't they, when Earth couldn't afford to build the station on its on after losing so much money on the first four?

I think the reason for the Vorlon super fleet was just Ron Thornton showing off. In the original script it was just, I think, four small Vorlon ships, but Ron Thornton thought that wasn't ambitious enough, so basically set out to feature more spacecraft on screen at one time than had ever been shown before, breaking Return of the Jedi's record and winning an Emmy in the process.

I think the scene with Lyta asking about the other four stations was just badly written exposition...

If you've not see the special edition, I recommend watching it and comparing it to the original. It restores Tamlyn Tomita's original performance (in the original version she had re-dubbed her lines as the studio felt she was too 'forceful'... wonder what they made of Ivanova then!!) and puts back in a few fun scenes in the Zocalo and customs with dust peddlers and aliens that want to eat their mates. But it also delves into George Lucas style-changes, like Kosh recognising Valen and changing the music score, neither of which were needed IMO. The best version of the pilot is probably a mix of the two versions.
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Old July 26th 15, 15:33   #83
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Re: EpDis: The Gathering

Spoilers for later seasons of Babylon 5 below. SO many spoilers.

Hmm, no I’m pretty sure I watched the newer version of the pilot. I can’t even remember the old version. I never owned it in any format, I think.

So, it’s just that I TOTALLY didn’t get what was happening in that scene. Yea, I heard Kosh say “Enthil Zha Valen”, but I didn’t get that that was WHY he was coming out of his suit.

Like you, I have all kinds of problems with that version of events.

The assassin was a Minbari. I don’t know what the average, non-Grey Council Minbari would know about Vorlons so I can’t really say that he SHOULD have known the Vorlon would be in an encounter suit, but I kinda feel like he should have He just got extraordinarily lucky that Kosh came out of his suit to greet “Valen”. And then he failed to be affected by the sight of a Vorlon.

Which is weird. The Vorlons were there when Sinclair went back in time to become Valen. They know that that hasn’t happened yet. Did Kosh make a mistake? Is that why he doesn’t reveal himself again to Sinclair after the assassination attempt? Still. The Vorlons MADE Valen. It doesn’t seem like they’d forget about that and be like “Oh hey, it’s my old friend Valen!”, or the other possibility, be all reverent towards Valen.

Additionally, aren’t Vorlons supposed to be highly telepathic? Wouldn’t Kosh pick up on the murderous intent of the fake Sinclair? Wouldn’t he instantly know that that’s not actually Sinclair? Is he really just looking at him with the Vorlon equivalent of eyes?

And then the fleet showing up .. It is, as you say, a bit of a mess.

Honestly, I can’t remember the extent of Minbari involvement in the Babylon project. I would look it up but I don’t have the best internet access just now. I’m typing this offline I was just so surprised that Delenn didn’t seem to understand the reason for it, but now I’m thinking maybe I just misunderstood that conversation.

I do like seeing all the Vorlon ships on the screen, even if I don’t understand why they would be there
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Old July 27th 15, 01:24   #84
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Re: EpDis: The Gathering

Stuff I forgot:
- G’Kar gets Londo to conspire with him on the Sinclair extradition vote by blackmailing him with information about his family. Apparently his family committed “certain atrocities” during the war, and he doesn’t want this information publicly known. I gotta ask why. Seems like that’s something the Centaurum would hand out medals for …

- Lyta is worried about getting kicked out of Psi Corps. Hah.

- G’Kar’s involvement in the assassination attempt is something problematic to me. Not that that’s out of character, he’s scheming right from the beginning. But this is pretty serious stuff. Did he know what he was involved in, or was he just providing a service?
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Old August 6th 15, 17:07   #85
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Re: EpDis: The Gathering

Just rewatched The Gathering last night (Damn you all, now I'm committed to sacrificing 100+ hours or so of my life to B5... again)

On the topic of Kosh getting poisoned, he couldn't have left the suit. Unless I misheard they found the poison residue where it entered the suit, on the back of the right hand, as Lyta saw in her vision and that was how they knew which countering agent to create. (Do the suits have hands? I dunno, the whole thing's a mess.)

On Lyta saying how awesome she was for being a P5, I didn't take that to mean that it was top of the line, just that she was definitely separated from the riff-raff by that point. How many Ivanovas must they go through before they find a Lyta? She's out of the Little Leagues, but she's not quite shooting the three point touchdowns from behind the red line at the bottom of the ninth yet. (Or something. I don't sports.)

> "kicked out of the Psi Corps. Hah."
I don't remember the finer points of the Psi Corps exit strategies, but violating the rules has consequences. Unauthorized scans of a Vorlon that ended in punishment could result in her not exactly being an "active member" of the Corps any longer.

>G'kar's involvement
Yeah, it's definitely a bit darker than I'd expect from G'Kar. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that he was just smuggling, but who's to say what the original vision was? Though he also seemed quite gung-ho at the trial to get Sinclair blamed and carted off. Leading to...

>Mollari atrocities
This seems a little odd as well, but I'm willing to accept that there are always atrocities to be committed from certain points of views. Maybe Grandpappy Mollari had a taste for Narn flesh, in any sense of the phrase. Seems odd that G'Kar would waste his hold over Londo to get his vote in this case, however. Surely there are more profitable political maneuverings that could have been done with a one-time guaranteed vote on the council.

>aren’t Vorlons supposed to be highly telepathic?
Do we ever see them act telepathically inside of their suit, or is it just insinuated that they 'are' telepathic? Lyta said the suit was shielded against her, maybe it acts both ways. Listening to the constant mental whining of the baby races might get annoying.

> I was just so surprised that Delenn didn’t seem to understand
Again, my interpretation, but I'm pretty sure that Delenn didn't care specifically about the answer to any question she asks, she's more interested in what the answer says about the person she asked.

Lyta not knowing about B5 is slightly less excusable, but you gotta cram in that exposition somehow. Maybe the Babylon stations just don't really matter at this point in time. You are (probably) aware that we have a space station in real life, but can you name all the modules on it? Would you know if one module kept failing?

If you would know, would your mother? Cousin? Sister? Now spread humanity out over the galaxy and see if every citizen would keep abreast of every multi-trillion dollar government project that just kept ending in failure.

>why did they send that whole fleet?
To be fair, the imminent death of a Vorlon would be of concern to a number of them, so there was probably no shortage of manpower willing to go. Also, all the firepower in the universe does you no good if nobody knows you have it. If a single, dinky little ship had shown up and demanded the captain it would have been laughed off until it started blowing things up. Everybody respects a fleet.



Aside from all that, I thought Takashima's lines all sounded fairly forced. She may have grown into the role as time went on but I wasn't feeling it yet. And what's with the coffee thing? You're going to risk getting court martialed for some coffee beans? Fine, you like coffee and you're a wacky little rebel, so get a planter and grow it in your room. There's absolutely nothing gained by taking space away from the food crops. And the speech about it having been a long time since you broke the rules, fine, that's foreshadowing, but you literally just told the guy that you broke the rules to give him the beverage he is currently sipping. (same scene, right?)

Sinclair seemed to have an 'emotion', which is something I don't remember from the last time I watched Season 1. Maybe he deserves a clean slate this rewatch. We'll see.

I get that he's semi-suicidal, but maybe bring more than 1 man to capture the bad guy. Just a thought.

Do we ever see those PPG-proof vests again?

Who the hell steals a breathing mask and then runs away? You steal the mask and then use your martial artsiness with the punching and the kicking and the killing. Stupid warrior caste. Also, that was the lamest ambush ever. He dragged Garibaldi all the way there just for that trick?

Why does B5 have electrified guard fences? The fence should keep you away from the electrified part, not kill you itself. Are there no unions on B5? This is a safety issue. How many maintenance workers brush against that daily and meet an untimely end?

I have some issues with the physics of the whole "station knocked off axis" thing. How much atmosphere would they have to vent to cause that much rotation / stress on the station? Sounds like it would have been a catastrophic amount and there should be safeguards in place to prevent it.

Aside from that, I'm overly critical because it's easier to talk about the negatives than the positives. I enjoyed it overall and will continue with my rewatch of the series.
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Old August 6th 15, 22:03   #86
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Re: EpDis: The Gathering

There are some really good points here ... Especially the one about Lyta not knowing why there's a 5 in Babylon 5. I tend to think of Babylon 5 (and the Babylon Project) as this enormously important thing, because of course that's where the show is set, and that's the only perspective we ever get to see. There's probably a whole lot of people back on Earth who never go into space, and who don't remotely care about any colonies or space stations. On the other hand, you'd think she would have done her research before accepting a job at a distant space station

I also often feel like I'm being overly critical or nitpicky, but I do it because I love the show! I just sort of obsess over all the details, and I really want there to be explanations for all the things I wonder about.

I'm pleased to hear you're doing a re-watch. I also just started one, right on the heels of the previous one. That's because I only started posting here partway through season 2 last time and I want to participate in ALL the episode threads. So, you'll have some company!
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Old August 6th 15, 22:31   #87
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Re: EpDis: The Gathering

>On the other hand, you'd think she would have done her research before accepting a job at a distant space station
If you accepted a job in New York, would you bother researching what happened to Old York? =]

With varying degrees of success, they started out trying to make B5 seem like a craphole in an unimportant (to daily human life) part of the galaxy. Londo was assigned there more or less as a joke. Delenn is the only one important there, and she's incognito for the sole purpose of monitoring Sinclair.


>and I really want there to be explanations for all the things I wonder about.
I'm the same. I hate when I can't come up with something in-universe, and the only possible answer ends up being "because it's a show and the writer was wrong."

>have some company
Good to hear. It'll be more interesting to sort of rewatch it with somebody else, since the damnable wife refuses to watch B5 with me. (Damn you, Sinclair, you and your questionable charm!)

I'll probably be watching roughly one episode per evening. Don't really have the time to binge-watch like I once did.
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Old August 6th 15, 23:01   #88
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Re: EpDis: The Gathering

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If you accepted a job in New York, would you bother researching what happened to Old York? =]
Well, as it happens, I would ... because there's a good chance that would be at least somewhat relevant to the job I'll give you that that's not going to be true for the vast majority of jobs, but I don't think the comparison is fair. New York has been called that for rather a long time, and I think people have at least a vague understanding of the reason it's called that, and are at least vaguely aware of the existence of an "old" York. I would think that if New York was founded after "Old York" suddenly and mysteriously disappeared, people would be more likely to know about the origins of the city, even if it happened a long time ago. Babylon 5 is brand new, I feel like any quick Google (in universe equivalent of Google) would provide an interested person with a bunch of information on how it came to be and what happened with the previous versions. All of this stuff JUST happened in the past few years.

Quote:
>have some company
Good to hear. It'll be more interesting to sort of rewatch it with somebody else, since the damnable wife refuses to watch B5 with me. (Damn you, Sinclair, you and your questionable charm!)

I'll probably be watching roughly one episode per evening. Don't really have the time to binge-watch like I once did.
Your wife finds Sinclair so un-charming that she doesn't like the show??
I tend to binge-watch in spurts these days. Some days I go through several episodes, and then I'll go several days or longer without watching anything. Kinda depends on what else I have going on at the time.
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Old August 7th 15, 14:17   #89
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Re: EpDis: The Gathering

>old York
Fair enough. I'm not fully committed to justifying Lyta's bit of clunky exposition, but I've done the best that I can. It's the only explanation that doesn't break down to "because it's a show, and the writer was dumb" =]

>Sinclair
Well, she was hesitant about the entire show and didn't make it through more than 2 episodes before swearing it off. She didn't like Sinclair, but she didn't like anybody else yet either. I blame Sinclair because he's an easy target and that way there's a small chance of getting her to watch season 2, but that never panned out.
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Old August 7th 15, 18:52   #90
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Re: EpDis: The Gathering

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>old York
Fair enough. I'm not fully committed to justifying Lyta's bit of clunky exposition, but I've done the best that I can. It's the only explanation that doesn't break down to "because it's a show, and the writer was dumb" =]
I don't know if I'd go that far. They had to stick that information in there somewhere ... I'm sure I couldn't have come up with a better way to do it, either. Not without making that bit of dialog longer ("So, I heard about the previous stations being blown up and that last one disappearing, how do you feel about that?" "Well, I blah blah blah".) It probably just stands out to us because we've watched it a million times.

Quote:
>Sinclair
Well, she was hesitant about the entire show and didn't make it through more than 2 episodes before swearing it off. She didn't like Sinclair, but she didn't like anybody else yet either. I blame Sinclair because he's an easy target and that way there's a small chance of getting her to watch season 2, but that never panned out.
That's too bad. I think I've forced Babylon 5 on everyone I've dated since the late 90s (if they didn't already like it). I've never come across someone who didn't like it, even if no one is QUITE as enthusiastic about it as I am
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