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Old February 16th 20, 04:15   #1
Morden
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Shadow Culture

A hallmark of Babylon 5 has always been humanity's exploration of culture. In contrast to Star Trek, which ventured into humanity's exploration of technology, and Star Wars, which ventured into humanity's exploration of ethics/spirituality.

As a fan, Babylon 5 has steeped me in alien cultures. I know more about the Centauri culture than I do about the Chinese culture. I know more about the Narn than the North Koreans. I'd even take my knowledge of the Lumati culture over what I know about my neighbor Canadians.
Earth, Minbari, Centauri, Narn, Vorlons, and the League of Non-Alinged Worlds - I'm a sociological expert. I can talk art, humanities, values, and civilization like I'm an interstellar Karl Marx. However, when it comes to the Shadows, I know even less about their culture than I do the unheralded Vree.

Despite nearly every episode title between season 2-3 referencing the Shadows, there is a scant amount we know about the qualities in their society. Are they an elder race? Of course. Secretive, like their fellow shepherds, the Vorlons? Naturally. Darwinian? Sure.

Do we have anything else?

Yes, there are pieces we know of Shadow culture, chiefly from "Z'Ha'Dum." Their name is 10,000 letters long, and the cities were built underground as a security measure. They come out every few thousand years and kick over all the anthills. The sounds on their planet - from the oxygenation of a chamber to a door opening - are hair raising. Also, they love to utilize associations to work covertly within alien government. Psi Corps, President Clarke, the Wind Swords, and even our own Londo Mollari can attest to their powerful persuasiveness.

As a result, what we know about the Shadows is left primarily to our imaginations. They are the intersection of legend and terror, and JMS sagely let our minds formulate the blanks. He did leave one powerful piece of text for us regarding what the Shadows value.

"You're what they call a nexus," Justin says in his pitch to Sheridan. It's an appeal to Sheridan's sense of self-aggrandizement, but that's not what's worth noticing. This is the point in Justin's appeal when the pronouns change whereas before he listed his own merits as a middle man, and now he cites the perceptions of the Shadows themselves. What's important here isn't Justin's patronization but the idea of what a nexus represents to the Shadows.

What is this elevated symbol they call a nexus?

Perhaps it's the Shadows' version of what Ezekiel 25:12 was to Jules Winnifield -- something cool to say before they kill the motherf*cker. Not impossible. Still, it doesn't ring true for a race so calculating. After all, if the importance the Shadows place on nexuses (nexi?) isn't real, why invent it for Justin's pitch? The Shadows have had to wage Great Wars for eons, and it seems likely that they've developed a very strict doctrine for the nexuses they would have encountered over the millenia.

Is a nexus applied exclusively to those in opposition to the Shadows? Sheridan, Valen, and who else qualify as candidates? To my knowledge, the term nexus is never used again in the series. It's another mystery that leaves along with the Shadows.

And since they're departure to the Rim in 1997, I've spent many daydreams wondering what is entailed when "you turn one way, and the world has a tendency to turn the same way."
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Last edited by Morden; February 16th 20 at 04:29.
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Old February 16th 20, 19:16   #2
Looney
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Re: Shadow Culture

Thank you for making my head explode.

My question is, do the Shadows have individuality at all? Was there once a Shadow who was a Nexus, or is this just their observation? Think about the fact that they can cloak themselves. This means they literally could have been standing next to people during countless changes in countless world's evolution. They could have been there when the Ikarrans created their weapons, and even been behind that creation knowing full well it might lead to their extinction, and so on. They might have known countless cultures and all of their Nexus personalities.
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Old February 22nd 20, 00:21   #3
B5_Obsessed
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Re: Shadow Culture

Quite literally, I believe a nexus is a turning point, an intersection in space and time. In Sheridan’s case he is the right man at the right place at the right time. The Shadows have done this enough that they have occasionally seen men or women or creatures of extraordinary power who threaten their plan. When that happens you turn them to the cause or take them out.
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Old February 23rd 20, 18:30   #4
Looney
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Re: Shadow Culture

See oddly enough in my many viewings of the series I have started to question this entire concept. I believe one might argue that Delenn is more important that Sheridan, but they knew she was too entrenched with the Vorlons and Sheridan might be more agreeable. The more I watch the series it seems that Sheridan is more a tool of Delenn's plan. Without Delenn there is so much Sheridan wouldn't known or been prepared for. If Delenn and Kosh hadn't begun grooming Sheridan what would he have accomplished? I just think this is another interesting angle to consider. I mean obviously we can only go on the information written on the script page. Clearly this means The Shadows believed Sheridan represented a "Nexus", which he obviously was for many reasons. I just think the root of that comes from what he got from Kosh, and more to the point Delenn. I don't know I just felt like rambling today.
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Old March 6th 20, 18:43   #5
Dusty Satai
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Re: Shadow Culture

B5_Obsessed is on the right track. A Nexus is a linchpin or a node, that is why the Shadows put effort into trying to persuade Sheridan instead of just killing him. I think Justin even said something to that effect. As Sheridan is the right man in the right place at the right time, whatever he chooses to do will affect everything around him.
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Old March 7th 20, 12:52   #6
Springer
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Re: Shadow Culture

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The more I watch the series it seems that Sheridan is more a tool of Delenn's plan.
I'm not sure about that – I'd say both he and Delenn were tools in Kosh's plan. Delenn wasn't even going to tell Sheridan about the Shadows, even when he was forcing the issue regarding Morden – Delenn had to look to Kosh for the go-ahead to tell him. Of course, Kosh was already training Sheridan, and Delenn may not have had knowledge of that.

And on some level, Kosh knew that a piece of him had to go to Z'Ha'Dum with Sheridan, so he could find Lorien. That was everything Kosh was training him for. And Kosh took advantage of what happened to Anna to motivate Sheridan.

What I find interesting is that although Sheridan was the right man in the right place at the right time, it was all a huge coincidence that he was there in the first place. Suppose Anna hadn't been on the Icarus? Or suppose Sinclar hadn't left? Or that Sheridan hadn't been picked to take over on B5? We know that Sinclair would then have been the right person in the right place at the right time. If not him or Sheridan, then maybe someone else would have fulfilled that role. One of the things JMS emphasised in the story was the role of archetypes – it wasn't the case that there was a chosen one, but a chosen position, and someone would have risen up to that position of a nexus, whether it had been Sheridan, Sinclair or someone else.
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Old March 7th 20, 16:42   #7
Looney
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Re: Shadow Culture

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The more I watch the series it seems that Sheridan is more a tool of Delenn's plan.
I'm not sure about that – I'd say both he and Delenn were tools in Kosh's plan. Delenn wasn't even going to tell Sheridan about the Shadows, even when he was forcing the issue regarding Morden – Delenn had to look to Kosh for the go-ahead to tell him. Of course, Kosh was already training Sheridan, and Delenn may not have had knowledge of that.

.
VERY, VERY excellent point all around. My only addition would be this; would Sheridan have cooperated so easily had he not felt some level of attraction for Delenn? And if that desire for Delenn didn't exist would Kosh alone have been able to influence Sheridan? AND speaking of "right place at the right time" would Sheridan have been attracted to Delenn pre-transformation or was the fact that he met her after she adopted a more human appearance the true "linchpin" in the whole stack of dominos?!?!?!?!?!

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Old March 7th 20, 19:25   #8
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Re: Shadow Culture

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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Looney View Post
The more I watch the series it seems that Sheridan is more a tool of Delenn's plan.
I'm not sure about that – I'd say both he and Delenn were tools in Kosh's plan. Delenn wasn't even going to tell Sheridan about the Shadows, even when he was forcing the issue regarding Morden – Delenn had to look to Kosh for the go-ahead to tell him. Of course, Kosh was already training Sheridan, and Delenn may not have had knowledge of that.

.
VERY, VERY excellent point all around. My only addition would be this; would Sheridan have cooperated so easily had he not felt some level of attraction for Delenn? And if that desire for Delenn didn't exist would Kosh alone have been able to influence Sheridan? AND speaking of "right place at the right time" would Sheridan have been attracted to Delenn pre-transformation or was the fact that he met her after she adopted a more human appearance the true "linchpin" in the whole stack of dominos?!?!?!?!?!

After what the Shadows did to Anna Sheridan, I don't think so.
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Old March 8th 20, 18:48   #9
Springer
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Re: Shadow Culture

Another point to consider is that we know the Vorlons – or Kosh, at least – had been using Sebastian for centuries to try and find someone capable of filling the roles that Sheridan and Delenn filled. But we don't know how long Kosh himself had been looking – he may have tried to find someone every time the Shadows came out of hiding, across a million years, and it wasn't until he found Delenn and Sheridan that he found the right people. Maybe there were others in the past but they failed, where Delenn and Sheridan succeeded.

Which makes you wonder why he didn't try it with Sinclair/Valen, in terms of finally ending the conflict rather than postponing it, but maybe it was the Sheridan–Anna link that opened up a door to getting him on Z'Ha'Dum and finding Lorien. Sinclair wouldn't have been able to get anywhere near Z'Ha'Dum, but Kosh may have suspected that the Shadows would use Anna to invite Sheridan to Z'Ha'Dum if he became too much of a problem for them.

Kosh may have been planning all this a long time.
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