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EpDis: Midnight On The Firing Line

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Priorities first, Happy B-Day VL.

I think MotFL was excellent. It really built on the story from the Gathering, and setup, much more, how you viewed the characters (That gets turned topsy-turvy throughout the series, several times). I believe MotFL and AtSFoS... are the best episodes of the first half of Season 1 (Each episode of S1 has it's purpose and advancement, but these two are 5 star)
I think was an excellent way to start off a series. I only gave it a 'Good' vote because what came later was mindblowing.

One part I liked was when Sinclair, the military officer, tries to get Londo and G'Kar to talk and work things out and, of course, fails miserably. Quite a difference from the normal military on a sci-fi show that is all in favor of blowing everything to shit first and trying diplomacy later.
Priorities first, Happy B-Day VL.

Thank you. It's not technically for a couple hours yet (October 2 is the big day), but I guess the board's timing system is set up a bit differently than my personal time and that's why it already lists me thusly.

Moving on to thoughts on MOTFL, I gave it a C. I didn't think it sucked by any means, but I didn't bounce endlessly with a happy from it. It felt a lot like a first episode, and I think that detracted from it somewhat, in my personal opinion.

I loved the set up of several different plots in one episode. We got:
<ul type="square">[*]Narns attack Ragesh 3
[*]Raiders attack a transport
[*]Ivanova and Talia clash
[*]Earth Alliance election day[/list]
And while having several different running plots was great, that they often connected and overlapped, but still kept their own identity was amazing. It takes some tight ass writing to get a story done that well!

I thought it gave some considerable revelation and foundation for the Narn-Centauri conflict right there in the first episode, so with that being an issue that gets further developed like crazy as the show progresses, I think it's great that there's such a strong foundation established here right off the bat in the first episode. The Narn-Centauri conflict was more alluded to in "The Gathering," but here it's full-on brought to the surface.

The raiders attacking the transport, a problem that pops up every once in a while throughout the show, wasn't really all that, but being that it wasn't there to serve as a main plot but instead to just give us a display of what the starfuries are and to connect to the A-plot, it was decent. The starfuries remain, and most likely will always remain, one of my absolutely favorite space ships in any show or movie. Being as young as I was back then, I hadn't really conceptualized that ships in space would be so capable of making use of all three dimensions despite the occational exposure to it happening in other shows and movies. It wasn't until I saw the starfuries that that concept really clicked for me.

And while we had the big, more galactic plot going on regarding Ragesh 3 and the raiders, we got what is probably my favorite thing about the episode: the personal conflict between Ivanova and Talia. That scene near the end when Talia sits down at the bar and talks with Ivanova still gets to me. I think Claudia did a tremendous job with that scene. I truly feel expression of pain of having lost a loved one and anger at the outside forces that spurred that loss. And Talia's responses are great too: there is a bit of conflict within herself as she listens in that she believes in the Corps but wishes there was something she could say that would help Ivanova but knowing ultimately there isn't anything that would make it better.

And then that tiny little bit about the presidential election seems so insignificant, like it's just background coloring, but it's setting up major plot development to come. It is this sort of layering that is available to a story that has its major elements written long before any scripts are written that I really love about Babylon 5.
There was one thing I liked more about "The Gathering"'s Delenn's appearance: the ears. The ears Minbari have in the show look like just an obvious plain flat prosthetic, while the ears of "The Gathering" looked more real in that they looked like there was an actual hole that went into the head, instead of just the flatness of the series Minbari ears.
I gave it a B.

It started the series well, but if we're restricting the highest score to 'A,' I can't say I would give this episode the same score as some of the truly amazing episodes later on.
I had to give the ep an A. Now, it's not up there with the likes of heavy hitters like Sleeping in Light, Z'ha'dum, and Into the Fire, but it goes a long way to give light to the Narn/Centauri conflict. The Narn/Centauri War is part of the reason why B5 exists in the first place.
B for me, a solid B -- a phenomental leadoff episode, setting up loads of plots and a brilliant mix of action and character. We're introduced to all the characters near-perfectly. But compared to, say, "Messages From Earth," is this Grade A? Nope. Vital to what comes after it, an excellent foundational ep, and spectacular on its own, but it suffers by comparison to the brilliance of the later episodes.

That'll be the consistent problem for rating B5 episodes. Too many mindblowers, so the rest just aren't as good.
If you compare it to other episodes in the series, it's was good. If you compare it with all the other dreck it was competing with during its original run, even Byron episodes get an A! :eek: :devil:
I have started doing reviews for every episode of B5 for a site that I write for, here's a link to my review of this episode. I figured this would be cool to post, but if it's not then just let me know and I won't post the links to any of the other eps in their respective pages here when I get around to posting them for that site. Any comments or feedback would be welcome, either here or at the actual site.

I thought that this episode was much better than the pilot, there was a lot of plot going on and the acting was more uniform and generally better (the replacement characters were a great improvement). I also liked the way that the problems on Ragesh 3 were mirrored in microcosm by the relationship between Londo and G'Kar. However for me this episode really came to life during the final scene between Winters and Ivanova where we find out why Ivanova has been rude. That was genuinely, character driven tension,and beautifully acted.

The main plots were mostly good although the episode was somewhat ruined for me by the Deus Ex Machina moment linking two independent story lines when, coincidentally Sinclair found a Narn on the Raiders' command and control ship, which then allowed him to blackmail G'Kar into withdrawing the Narn Forces on Ragesh 3. Put it this way, if the Raiders had started a couple of months earlier or later then this tool wouldn't have been available and the Ragesh 3 situation would not have been sorted out.

I'm also not sure that the Narn would have backed down so easily...in fact I had quite a lot of sympathy for their position. If Ragesh 3 was originally a Narn planet then why shouldn't they have it back? 100 years is no time at all (just look at various former colonies around the world today). Re-invasion/war may not be the right route to take but it doesn't mean that the principle isn't correct.
Very much agreed. The Gathering definitely has it's problems, and Midnight on the Firing Line is definitely superior to it. The next 4 or 5 episodes may be a little uneven (some are very good, some not so good), but, once you get beyond those, 95% or better of the episodes are are of really good quality.
The main plots were mostly good although the episode was somewhat ruined for me by the Deus Ex Machina moment linking two independent story lines when....

To me it says that the two storylines weren't independent. The raiders storyline was more about the Narn than the Raiders, as it reveals that the Narn are major blackmarket weapons dealers. The Raiders were just the means by which we learned of it in this episode. Who knows how Sinclair would've handled the Ragesh situation without the Narn/Raider weaponry incident, but that he used the Narn/Raider incident to solve the Ragesh problem reveals Sinclair's political resourcefulness.
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Yeah, I always felt folks ought to start with "Midnight." In fact, considering how complicated the B5 universe is, it's an amazing introduction to a whole lot of things. -- I almost started telling what those things were, but for Urban's sake I'll keep quiet. Suffice it to say, if you watch "Midnight" again after watching the whole series through, you'll be astonished at what gets hinted at. With the possible exception of the first episode of Firefly, this is the most perfect first episode of a series that I've ever seen.
It still stands up well today, and I have nostalgia about being 14 or so and loving the Starfuries. It was enough to get me watching. Signs and Portents got me hooked ...
It still stands up well today, and I have nostalgia about being 14 or so and loving the Starfuries. It was enough to get me watching. Signs and Portents got me hooked ...

I actually became quickly attached with the Gathering, due to the CGI, it was awesome, and I would've watched more of the show just for that. But, Mind War and And the Sky Full of Stars got me hooked, and future great episodes just added something even more special for me.
Urban Roy...I think you are spot on.

I got into the show around 2005 and quickly gobbled it up. I started with The Gathering, and I must admit, that was enough to hook me in. And then I've always loved "Midnight on the Firing Line". I think the TG and MoTFL are probably the two episodes I've watched the most, believe it or not. There is just something about them that I love...and even I would probably not rank them as my top two favorites.

If you can, I would suggest downloading The Gathering from iTunes so that you can watch the original broadcast version...on DVD we get the TNT "Director's Cut", so to speak, of The Gathering. I think the original is fun to watch for comparison, as there is some interesting stuff in there (at least, IMHO).

I just know it'll be fun to relive the series with you...keep the thoughts coming!

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