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Old July 7th 17, 10:03   #11
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

I imagine I'll slow down; I just kind of wanted to bank a few episodes while I have the time. Some of this is that I've been feeling a fair bit depressed, and I'm trying to distract myself. I don't foresee myself sticking to this level of frequency of posting.
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Old July 7th 17, 10:04   #12
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

The Parliament of Dreams

The introduction of Catherine Sakai. Carolyn Sykes was a pleasant enough character in “The Gathering,” but she along with the three main cast members who didn’t come over for the show had to be replaced. Of all the former lovers come to B5 – which given the nature of the show, I understand why that is how the show would have to deal with a story involving someone’s ex, but it’s a trope that gets used too much on Babylon 5 – Catherine Sakai is my favorite.

She’s interesting all on her own, not just through her connection to another character. She’s been enough of a presence in Sinclair’s life that Garibaldi recognized her on sight. She’s a business woman. A surveyor. Her and Sinclair’s history is extensive. She’s previously promised to stay away from him, apparently. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but your pants are talking to you.” Sinclair is clearly happy to see her from the moment he does.

To be honest, I don’t 100% fully buy the relationship between Sheridan and Delenn; I don’t not buy it, but it feels a bit more staged, and less organic. But pretty much from the first moment, I totally buy the relationship between Sakai and Sinclair. Some might think their banter is too clever, but I think it shows a significant psychological connection between the two. They have shorthand in their dialogue that feels so natural to me.

G’Kar’s song while fixing dinner is fun; I just sung along with him. But alas, he cannot eat due to death threat. This gives us our first real look at Narn culture. They have an organization of assassins. They have some form of governmental body that is organized by “circles.”

Sakai is not the only interesting, strong female character introduced in this episode; we also get Na’Toth. I love her and it sucks that she couldn’t stay in the show. She just flat out tells G’Kar that if she were the assassin, she would have killed him already. That’s a mighty forward thing to say to your new boss. She eventually has to think outside the box in order to save G’Kar, and she gets to kick him. Again, he’s her new boss.

Religion. The Centauri. It’s a party. There’s food, music, and plenty of booze. (I just saw a Narn attending in the background.) It’s not exactly the most pleasant of origins for a celebration: Centauri killing off an entire species. We learn that the Centauri is dominantly a polytheistic culture. Londo’s toast is fantastic. “But in purple, I’m stunning!”

Religion. The Minbari. Delenn is pleased to have her new aid Lennier arrive in time to help her with a display of Minbari dominant religion. Lennier is super passive. He lets slip to us viewers that Delenn is very high ranking in Minbari government. This might be the first time we’ve really gotten some information about how religious Delenn is. The Minbari display is much the opposite of the Centauri. Slow, quiet, and meditative. We get more hints of Valen. We get references to the Earth-Minbari War. We get references to the Minbari’s current governmental structure’s birth (“the nine”). In many ways, the display is very cryptic, much like the Minbari themselves.

Religion. Humanity. The premise has been that each culture is showcasing their dominant religion. This singularizes what they show us and unfortunately makes the aliens look like members of monocultures. And then Sinclair turns around and says forget the dominant religious display (and thus the premise of what they’re all doing), I’m just going to parade a bunch of different Earth religions before everyone. It’s nice. It makes a message. But it also raises the question of if he’s not going to stick to the dominant aspect of the display, then it would have been nice to have previously maybe had something of a point made that the various aliens weren’t anymore monocultural than humans were. I really doubt we’d be that special to be the only species capable of cultural diversity. In the human scene, there are some unfortunate stereotyping/caricaturing of some religions in the clothing used for the actors. And O’Hare mispronounces “Taoist.” I like the music that plays during the scene.

This is my favorite episode out of the first five.
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Old July 7th 17, 10:36   #13
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

Mind War

This episode was one I have a definitive memory of sitting on the floor of my living room watching one midday Saturday when it first aired.

This is our first episode to really focus on human telepaths. The parts about telepaths in “The Gathering” and “Midnight On The Firing Line” were introductions. This is our first our first step beyond that introduction. And it’s our first direct look at the PsiCorps. We got Ivanova’s story of her mother in MOTFL, but we get the severity of what PsiCorps is in this episode. If we’re inclined to side with Ivanova because of her story, how the PsiCops treat Talia, and Ivanova’s being so immediate in giving her a glass of water suggests to the audience that we shouldn’t dislike Talia for being PsiCorps, but that we should have a problem with the Corps.

The Sinclair/Sakai relationship continues. She’s going to get her own plot this episode, and it’s not connected to Sinclair but to her job and her life. She’s more than just a love interest. We see how she works. And she gets to talk to G’Kar. We’ve had a lot of anger and militancy from G’Kar, but the previous episode and this begin to complicate his character for us. As he eventually tells Sakai, “no one here is exactly what he appears,” and then demonstrates for us himself in this episode. And we get to see the Walkers of Sigma 957. It’s easy to think they’re just some quick thing to be forgotten, but no, they return later in the series and in a big way. G’Kar’s conversations with Sakai in this episode give us our first real taste of how G’Kar is connected to larger cosmic and philosophical thoughts. This is the episode where we truly get our first realization that G’Kar is a very layered character.

Jason Ironheart is one of our major guest characters this episode. What was that I just said in the last review: they over use the trope of the ex coming to B5. Well here is Talia’s lover. (And instructor, which is creepy.) Ironheart is no longer a regular telepath. He’s become telekinetic. A product of PsiCorps experimentation. Turns out the PsiCorps wanted him to be an assassin. The idea of using telekinesis to assassinate someone quietly is something JMS would write in other of his work too.

The PsiCops are freaky. Walter Koenig as Bester is fantastic. The man many had loved as Chekov on Star Trek is now a villain, and he makes everything super uncomfortable. The other PsiCop however sometimes even looks like she’s physically chewing her lines of dialog. Not the best casting there, perhaps.

The human (or close enough) character becoming “something more” is a trope used so frequently it’s tiresome. It’s the necessary destination for this plot, but it doesn’t keep it from feeling cliché. I can’t remember how I felt about it at the time this episode was new though. But it enables Ironheart to give Talia her “gift.” The beginning of her ascent to greater telepathic power. Unfortunately, since Andrea Thompson eventually wanted off the show, she didn’t get to play this part of the plot to its conclusion seasons later.

I like the music in this episode. It has an appropriate amount of creepiness to it.
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Old July 7th 17, 14:42   #14
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

Two of the best from Season 1. These two give G'Kar a lot more depth -- "Parliament" that he's even more dangerous than he seems (but also hilarious on occasion), "Mind War" that he's a lot more decent than he seems. And more eloquent.

I really like both Na'Toth and Catherine and wish they'd been around a lot more.


As to the religious aspects: there are some hints that the aliens are not so monolithic. The Minbari are really the only ones who only present one belief, and that makes a lot of sense, really. The Centauri have "gods by the bushel, gods for every occasion," so it's clearly a bit of pick-from-the-menu approach with them. We have two Narn beliefs mentioned -- followers of G'Quan and G'Lan. (Considering that G'Lan is later revealed to be Kosh, or at least a Vorlon, it's interesting that the Narns made a formal religion out of it. I think that actually ties in with something from one of the Psi Corps books, which I can go into if people aren't familiar with them.) But yes, more variation would have been nice.

The last scene with what Sinclair puts together is heart-warming, but maybe it doesn't stand up to full scrutiny, no. What makes it a big deal is that this episode says, "This is science fiction, yes, but religion is not going to be a punch line, a punching bag, or a plot device on this show." And that I appreciate.


I'm sorry to hear you are feeling poorly, VL. I have been, as well -- and I, too, armor my mind in tales in order to make it through.
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Old July 7th 17, 17:20   #15
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vacantlook View Post
I imagine I'll slow down; I just kind of wanted to bank a few episodes while I have the time. Some of this is that I've been feeling a fair bit depressed, and I'm trying to distract myself. I don't foresee myself sticking to this level of frequency of posting.
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I'm sorry to hear you are feeling poorly, VL. I have been, as well -- and I, too, armor my mind in tales in order to make it through.
Sorry, don't take this the wrong way but HAHAHAHA. That is me laughing with you not at you. I do the same thing when I am depressed. I start watching B5 and wanting to talk about B5 or trying to plan to go to a convention where I might meet some B5 folks. It is tough because I want to post stuff about episodes and the shows all the time, but when I do I rarely seem to get a reply. I also get discouraged because I realize sometimes I am repeating sentiments I've stated before. You know what though, since 2013 I've tried to keep B5 in my life as much as possible and it really has made a difference. It is a little difference, but I have noticed it. What I mean by that is I am on of those people who WATCHES A LOT. I also collect A LOT. I've found focusing more of my attention on my love for B5 has really made me feel better. It can be discouraging at times, but it can also be WONDERFUL - see me in Galveston 2014 or at Space City Comic Con with Jan in Houston last year. Okay I am going to start rambling more than I already am so I am going to move on to the next episodes and save you the trouble of reading more on this topic. LOL I will just say this, times are tough as hell and I GREATLY appreciate being able to come here and talk to people who love something I love too.

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Old July 7th 17, 17:38   #16
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

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The Parliament of Dreams
I understand why that is how the show would have to deal with a story involving someone’s ex, but it’s a trope that gets used too much on Babylon 5
I don't think it gets used too much. I think it gets used poorly a couple of times, but on the whole I think people coming out of character's pasts really adds to the show. Unfortunately having too many of them be ex-loves might have been a misstep - See War Prayer for an example of an ex-relationship I didn't quite buy.

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To be honest, I don’t 100% fully buy the relationship between Sheridan and Delenn; I don’t not buy it, but it feels a bit more staged, and less organic. But pretty much from the first moment, I totally buy the relationship between Sakai and Sinclair. Some might think their banter is too clever, but I think it shows a significant psychological connection between the two. They have shorthand in their dialogue that feels so natural to me.
I definitely agree with this. I have always felt that the Sheridan Delenn relationship was poorly executed. I don't think it is terrible, but I think it falls into the category of plot aspects that needed more time to evolve so they didn't feel rushed. Chalk it up to another weakness caused by telling a story in a TV show. You have a formatted structure you have to squeeze everything into and some things can't be given the proper exposition to make them seem real. Sinclair and Sakai it was pretty instant, but they had the benefit of previously being involved in a time the viewers never saw. They fell into a pre-established relationship.

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They have an organization of assassins.
This raises a question that I think I know the answer to, but can't remember. Is the Assassin's Guild just an aspect of Narn society? Obviously Raiders and The Thieves' Guild are not specific to one race or government.
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Old July 7th 17, 18:30   #17
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

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Mind War
but that we should have a problem with the Corps.
Yep, prior to this it was kind of an "I don't know" about the Corps, but this episode definitely establishes - "Fear the Corps."

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This is the episode where we truly get our first realization that G’Kar is a very layered character.
Yes I think "truly" is the proper use here. This is the moment where G'Kar's layers really come out in an obvious manner. Personally I feel like G'Kar's best early moment that makes you question whether or not he is going to be the villain he has been to that point comes in Born To Purple. That whole episode gives G'Kar a lighter appearance, but the first moment is when Sinclair and G'Kar find Londo waiting to watch Adira dance. When Adira starts and Londo ushers the two of them to sit, G'Kar does so without hesitation. That moment is absolutely BRILLIANT to me.

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What was that I just said in the last review: they over use the trope of the ex coming to B5. Well here is Talia’s lover. (And instructor, which is creepy.)
Absolutely agree in this instance. Making him an ex-lover felt weird, but I completely understand why JMS had to do it. If Ironheart had just been a friend or admired Instructor the weight of the situation would not have felt as real. If she didn't have a romantic attachment to Ironheart I don't think it would have been as believable to have her help him. Plus as we moved forward we had to know the emotional stakes had to be high for her to turn on the Corps. If Ironheart had just been a friend then it wouldn't seem as real later on when she defends the Corps, if that makes sense. Plus this does establish her beginning to turn from the Corps.

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The PsiCops are freaky. Walter Koenig as Bester is fantastic. The man many had loved as Chekov on Star Trek is now a villain, and he makes everything super uncomfortable. The other PsiCop however sometimes even looks like she’s physically chewing her lines of dialog. Not the best casting there, perhaps.
Yes Felicity Waterman definitely seemed out of her element here. I don't know if it was her or poor direction or just not quite having a sense of how she was supposed to play it on both of their parts. I have to say that I feel like it is her because Koenig is so FREAKIN' AWESOME! If there was some question as to how they were supposed to play these characters I don't believe Bester would have been so spot on. I could be wrong though. Maybe Koenig just thought he should play it this way and she thought she was supposed to be a different sort. I will say the one thing that has always bothered me about this episode is that Ironheart vaporizes her. It just never made sense to me that he would go that far with her and pull back with Bester. It is one of those moments where they did it to illustrate what Ironheart could do, but at the same time it seemed to take the episode off course for a second. In the end it REALLY works because it makes certain she NEVER comes back. Nothing against Felicity Waterman, but the character just didn't come across as well as she could have.

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The human (or close enough) character becoming “something more” is a trope used so frequently it’s tiresome. It’s the necessary destination for this plot, but it doesn’t keep it from feeling cliché. I can’t remember how I felt about it at the time this episode was new though. But it enables Ironheart to give Talia her “gift.” The beginning of her ascent to greater telepathic power. Unfortunately, since Andrea Thompson eventually wanted off the show, she didn’t get to play this part of the plot to its conclusion seasons later.
This goes back to something I said the other day. Normally this would be a plot I didn't care for. Like vacantlook says, "cliche" and I often say "SciFi for SciFi sake", but of course JMS then takes a plot I wish he hadn't done and turns it into something that works very well for me, or could have worked very well had Thompson stuck with the show - (PS I love her, but I love Lyta more.)
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Old July 7th 17, 20:58   #18
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

As far as I can tell, the Assassins' Guild is Narn exclusive. I don't remember it ever being mentioned other than this particular instance. But it's well known enough that Na'Toth can discuss their procedures (the black flower) and can put on enough of a ruse (knowing they always send a backup in case the primary doesn't finish the job) to get into place to help G'Kar. One would think assassins would be more secretive with their ways.

Maybe if the show had been explicit and Talia specified she was an adult when Ironheart was her instructor then it wouldn't seem quite as creepy. But Talia has already informed us (through her conversation with Ivanova in "Midnight On The Firing Line") that she was raised by the PsiCorps. If she had said something like, he had been my instructor but then years later the relationship developed, then it wouldn't have been so creepy either. But without any kind of details like that, it's a bit weird. She was raised by the Corps and there had an instructor with whom she had had sex. I could really use some clarification on the timing of all that.

I wonder if Ironheart was fully in control of things when he vaporized the PsiCop. Like with that PsiCop, the guy playing Ironheart was okay, but not the greatest actor. So sometimes I'm not completely sure how I should read the character. The actor didn't seem to portray any facial expression of shock or anything over her disintegration, but narratively his powers were overwhelming him enough that he was causing the station to quake, so he could have been just trying to wack her with some kind of telekinetic push but overdid it.

I like the performance of Lyta more, I think, especially her blackeyed "What do you know of hell" or however the comment was, and the scene where she's discussing essentially being a telepathic superweapon with Garibaldi. I think I like the potentiality in Talia's narrative more. With episodes like the one she had in the second season helping the runaway telepaths, Talia pushing back against the PsiCorps would have been more personal that it feels for me when Lyta does it. Part of that, I guess, is that I really don't buy Lyta and Byron (because it wasn't ever supposed to have been Lyta in love with Byron in the first place, and I think that still echoes even if they did write the two of them together).
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Old July 8th 17, 01:08   #19
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

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I don't think it gets used too much. I think it gets used poorly a couple of times, but on the whole I think people coming out of character's pasts really adds to the show. Unfortunately having too many of them be ex-loves might have been a misstep - See War Prayer for an example of an ex-relationship I didn't quite buy.
Heh, funny thing: I had to think about this for a second because "War Prayer" also has a great example of someone from a character's past that works just great: Delenn and Shal Mayan. Delenn also has Draal come through later in S1.

The only time I can remember an old friend of one of the humans coming through is Walker Smith, unless we count Kemmer in "Survivors." And of the ambassadors, only Londo has an old friend (his dueling buddy) turn up.

Stack that up against exes (once each for Sinclair, Talia, Ivanova, and Garibaldi, and twice for Sheridan) and family (Sheridan's sister, G'Kar's uncle, fathers for Sheridan, Ivanova, and Franklin) and I feel friendship is under-represented.

On the other hand, maybe that makes sense. It's mentioned that Garibaldi has almost no friends aside from Ivanova, Sinclair, and Franklin. Franklin's a workaholic. Ivanova's the same. Maybe the lack of friends turning up is supposed to tell us something.
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Old July 8th 17, 01:13   #20
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Re: Rewatching Babylon 5.

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Sorry, don't take this the wrong way but HAHAHAHA. That is me laughing with you not at you. I do the same thing when I am depressed. I start watching B5 and wanting to talk about B5 or trying to plan to go to a convention where I might meet some B5 folks. It is tough because I want to post stuff about episodes and the shows all the time, but when I do I rarely seem to get a reply. I also get discouraged because I realize sometimes I am repeating sentiments I've stated before. You know what though, since 2013 I've tried to keep B5 in my life as much as possible and it really has made a difference. It is a little difference, but I have noticed it. What I mean by that is I am on of those people who WATCHES A LOT. I also collect A LOT. I've found focusing more of my attention on my love for B5 has really made me feel better. It can be discouraging at times, but it can also be WONDERFUL - see me in Galveston 2014 or at Space City Comic Con with Jan in Houston last year. Okay I am going to start rambling more than I already am so I am going to move on to the next episodes and save you the trouble of reading more on this topic. LOL I will just say this, times are tough as hell and I GREATLY appreciate being able to come here and talk to people who love something I love too.
I hear you! I can start to feel myself running low on the stories I need, sometimes, and have to consciously remind myself of them. Last night was a little rough and I had to bring G'Kar back to mind, and the others, to get myself through it. Where would I be without G'Kar? (And Buffy, and Tiffany Aching, and Cazaril, to wander a little farther afield, fictionally...)

And where would I be without this site? I had some lonely years in college, a time when one is theoretically not supposed to be lonely, and this site definitely filled a hole. Markas in particular helped keep me sane.
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