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Old February 27th 17, 08:17   #1
Raw Shark
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Thoughts on the Great Eye

We saw the Great Eye of Z'ha'dum only twice in the series. We saw much more of it in the Technomage novel trilogy. It is a vast, advanced and powerful machine which had tendrils throughout Z'ha'dum, and access to all its sensors, energies and resources. Basically it is like a mega version of the places of power the Technomages themselves set up on planets and moons. It serves as both planetary defense system for the Shadows' homeworld, and command and control system for their warships operating across the galaxy. Captain Sheridan's nuclear attack on Z'ha'dum's primary city disabled the Eye, but it was back in operation in just two episodes, for 'The Hour of the Wolf.' And this time, it exhibited telepathic abilities, speaking to everyone aboard the White Star 2 in the voice of their father, and entrancing them into surrender. The Great Eye appears to be the opposite number of the Great Machine, but much more ancient and far more powerful.

In the books, Galen the Technomage is present during Sheridan's attack. He has been let through to Z'ha'dum by the Great Eye, because he has been chosen to replace Weirden, the legendary Technomage leader who was enslaved by the Shadows a thousand years ago and has been living as a prisoner in the heart of the Great Eye ever since. The system requires an extraordinary being to serve as its central operator/slave. While Draal described being in the heart of the Great Machine as a wonder, Weirden's existence has been nightmarish. She has been trapped within, surrounded by the writhing bodies of Shadow thralls, is that out of Dante's Inferno? She has been forced to direct Shadow vessels to commit terrible acts of mass murder and genocide, conscious but not in control. Galen met with Weirden before she died, and saw numerous Drakh working there as guards. We know that at least three humans lived on Z'ha'dum, Morden, Justin and Anna, working for the Shadows in different capacities and circumstances. But there were more, including a psychotic P-12 telepath lent to the Shadows by Psi Corps, probably during the operation that Sheridan and Bester disrupted in 'Ship of Tears.' She was probably the one installed in the heart of the Great Eye after Weirden. Because Sheridan vaporized the city, Galen was able to escape before he could be enslaved.

And then the final Shadow War ended, and Z'ha'dum exploded. The Great Eye was part of the planet and thus was destroyed, everyone knows that. Except that Sheridan and Delenn saw a mysterious fleet of unidentified ships (the only time this happens in our story and is never resolved) evacuating the planet before it exploded, carrying whoever was living there and escaped, and whatever they took with them. We know that Earth got its hands on Shadow warship tech, which has been used to create the less-than-controllable hybrid destroyers seen in Crusade. And the Drakh have the terrible nanotech virus which was unleashed against Earth in 'A Call to Arms.' The Eye would be perhaps the most terrible remaining Shadow weapon, and it would hold the key to controlling the first two. Pieces of it may have been carried away by those remaining on Z'ha'dum after the Shadows departed the galaxy, for the purpose of restarting the great system elsewhere and establishing a new power base.

But where would it be installed? And would these components have been carried away by the Drakh... or by Earth?

Raw Shark

"And then what?"
Mr. Morden
"I... I don't know..."

Last edited by Raw Shark; February 28th 17 at 06:23.
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Old February 27th 17, 18:57   #2
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Re: Thoughts on the Great Eye

Funnily enough, I always thought the great eye mirrored the great machine on epsilon 3 perfectly. Maybe the Vorlons had their own as well.

I would have loved to have seen this scenario made into a B5 movie back in the day. The Eye and everything going on at Z'Ha'Dum had the potential to be a very very scary piece of cinema.

Where might an eye be installed? What about Earth after the great burn? The surface was scorched (like a certain other planet). What if the Eye started out with quite noble intentions (don't forget lorien lived on z'ha'dum) but was corrupted, and if this is the case could someone build an eye on let's say Minbar, only for it to become a weapon for the enemy in the future? Sheridan's appearence on the balcony on minbar in the last but one episode certainly hinted at the possibility that dark times might be ahead for minbar (Chris Franke's musical cue at that moment when sheridan peers out atand looks at the cityscape in front of him echoed Z'ha'dum/The Shadows).
I Used to be Circular Reason on JMS News in another life. Time flys eh?
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Old March 3rd 17, 07:35   #3
Join Date: Mar 2015
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Re: Thoughts on the Great Eye

What stands out for me on the show was that the "eye" is very obviously influenced by the eye of Sauron from LOTR. Ivanova encountering it whilst using the great machine especially seems very similar to Frodo at the seat of seeing on Amon Hen.

It doesn't ever seem entirely clear what it is on the show though, you could take it to represent some kind of collective will of the shadows and indeed the way it speaks to people with the voice of there fathers like the Vorlons seemed to hint at little at that.

Has JMS ever commented on whether he had any plans for it? you could argue Za,Ha,Dum being destroyed quite quickly after the end of the war might have been a product of the show being slimmed down to 4 seasons? I could potentially see it working with the Drakh story basically choosing them to carry on the Shadows work.

Last edited by Mororless; March 3rd 17 at 18:48.
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Old March 11th 17, 04:37   #4
Raw Shark
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Re: Thoughts on the Great Eye

"Our new home..."

Shiv'kala, the Drakh leader who enslaved, tormented and controlled Emperor Mollari on Centauri Prime, laid out their objective in the aftermath of the last great war. The Drakh lost their original homeworld long ago, and lived on Z'ha'dum since then. Due to what they probably regard as Earth's meddling during the final Shadow War, they have lost their beloved masters the Shadows, and then they lost their adopted homeworld. They're a bit traumatized, and they are about to be one of the big losers of that war, unless they act. They seem to have a very big chip on their shoulder about Earth, something happened to their working relationship as co-thralls of the Shadows, probably some kind of betrayal, and thus the hateful plague attack. Earth's Shadow tech hybrid destroyer first appeared in 2258 or 2259, when it destroyed the EAS Cerberus. Did Earth find and adapt the Shadow tech they found on Mars in 2253 and elsewhere into powerful warships that quickly? Or did the Shadows share their dreaded tech with Earth to secure a new alliance, and corrupt a powerful new race in preparation for their next war against the Vorlons' way of thinking? I think the latter. The Drakh certainly have some Shadow tech capabilities, but their warships are nowhere near as advanced as those of the Shadows. I saw it written someplace that Earth's Advanced Omega destroyers used a beam weapon similar or identical to those used by Drakh ships, and this suggests a past working relationship. But there are other indications that the Shadows favored Earth over the Drakh, that humans had been chosen to be the new weaponized major race to serve the forces of chaos, much as the Minbari had served as the chosen agents of order under their de facto masters the Vorlons for a thousand years. The Shadows chose humans to serve as their chief adviser (Justin), their ambassador of sorts (Morden), their chosen replacement for the being at the heart of the Great Eye (Galen), and then perhaps the replacement for him when that didn't work out. It sounds like the Drakh have been spurned. They feel rejected, passed over by their masters, and they are lashing out at the competition.

So we have seen a Drakh presence in the Centauri Royal Palace, which points to their being a new Drakh homeworld there. But when Shiv’kala says “Our new home,” I think he's referring to Earth. JMS stated that the Drakh plague would be resolved halfway through the second season of Crusade, and that the cure would be worse than the disease. I think the Drakh would agree to shut down their terrible bio-weapon if Earth capitulates to their demands, including hunting down and killing all crew members of EAS Excalibur (except Eilerson, whom they would want alive, that's a whole topic of its own), and allowing the Drakh to set up a control device on Earth which would command the plague to stand down: the Great Eye. Once installed, it would begin to grow, and gradually take control of the planet, and everyone on it. Its power would grow and grow, including its defenses. Planetary defenses. Removing it would be a necessary nightmare, perhaps one of the huge strategic events JMS had planned for years ahead, perhaps during Crusade. The sort of thing that Sheridan kept bringing war fleets to Earth to deal with, threats to humanity. This time the threat would be global enslavement by the Drakh. Would Sheridan lead yet another fleet to Earth for this mission? Who knows?

Just how the Drakh feel about Psi Corps and IPX, I cannot say. But I think those two organizations had people working on Z'ha'dum, screwed the Drakh over after the Shadows departed, and left them to wither and die, while Earth organizations ran off with a lot of sexy Shadow tech. The Drakh got some of it, but had to scramble to find places to go and live in secret. Some went to Centauri Prime, some lived aboard their huge space fleet, and some probably went to the vast deep space Shadow base Z'dam, where the death clouds were stored and probably built. How could they plan to hamstring Earth's Shadow tech program in the new galaxy-wide, covert arms race? Take Earth out of the equation, subvert or destroy, via bio-warfare. The Drakh get to either control or eliminate a major galactic competitor race (a matter to be decided later, depending on how things play out), while they attempt to build on their own Shadow tech treasures, and perhaps extort more tech and resources from Earth. Justin said Earth could be riding high after the last Shadow War, jumping ahead 1000 or 10,000 years. This threatens the Drakh, it's like an eastward expansion of NATO. Sure, the West can do it, but the Russians will hate it, and there will be consequences. The Drakh had to act quickly, with the tools at hand, the Shadow tech plague and the last death cloud. They found three other death clouds at Z’dam, but these were turned against each other and destroyed by Vir and some young Technomage apprentices in the Technomage trilogy. The status of that base after thousands of fusion weapons were detonated inside it is unknown, but it’s vast, and Shiv’kala says something to the effect that the Drakh enemies will never find it. It seems likely it was the mysterious void in space that Sheridan took Excalibur into in ‘A Call to Arms,’ where he found the Drakh fleet, but this isn’t certain. If it was, and Z’dam was hanging out near Daltron 7 after the Drakh nuked it inside out, then it’s a mobile stealth base. Unless the Drakh carried out their nuclear attack/test on Daltron 7 because it was in their immediate vicinity, but that seems unlikely.

As far as Minbar goes, in 'The Lost Tales,' Galen tells Sheridan that a future Centauri onslaught can only be stopped by the powerful race that stopped them once before, Earth. Whether this refers to the ISA-Centauri War of 2262 or some other event we don’t know. So what happened to Minbar, homeworld of the galaxy's most powerful younger race? Was there a second Earth-Minbari War after all, with the Minbari losing this time, as prophesied by JMS' original plan for Babylon 5's story arc? Or did the Drakh or Centauri attack their homeworld? Would the mighty Minbari war fleets be eliminated by Earth's Shadow hybrid destroyers? Something momentous appears to have happened to the Minbari Federation, something that has apparently resulted in the loss of its status as the top galactic superpower. I can't imagine it would be bloodless. The Minbari were previously at the top of the pyramid after the First Ones departed the galaxy, but now Earth is the only power which can confront the Centauri war machine? Clearly, something changed, something toppled the Minbari from their role as galactic hegemon. And among the races remaining in known space, only Earth has been shown operating something more powerful than the Minbari war cruisers, its deeply-flawed Shadow hybrid destroyers.

If B5tv is about to be shut down, I'm ready to get some of my wild theories out in the open. I've been thinking a lot about the future of B5, Crusade and the Telepath War.

Raw Shark

“They don’t want it so we can fight these things, they want us to become more like them.”
Dr. Kirkish, ‘Messages from Earth’
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