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Reflections on the Vorlon


I feel a bit bold posting a new thread after less than 24 hours on the board, but I love talking about B5, so here goes.

What do people think about Kosh? To be more specific, was he (or whatever the correct pronoun is for a Vorlon) the leader of the Vorlons? Were there other Vorlons out there like him -- that is, more sympathetic to the younger races? Personally I think that "Kosh dies and suddenly the rest of his race goes on a killing spree" is a bit suggestive that he was kind of holding them in check. Oh, and just to clarify -- I'm talking about the REAL Kosh here, not "Kosh 2." There's only one real Kosh, jms said as much somewhere.

Anyway, just an invitation for reflection on the most enigmatic B5 ambassador ever.
I very much doubt Kosh was the leader of the Vorlons. Nobody sends their leader out to be an ambassodor. The purpose of an ambassor is to be a contact between seperate civlizations. This is not the purpose of a leader
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What do people think about Kosh?

He's a Vorlon ambassador
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To be more specific, was he (or whatever the correct pronoun is for a Vorlon) the leader of the Vorlons?

No, he was the Vorlon ambassador
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Were there other Vorlons out there like him -- that is, more sympathetic to the younger races?

(shakes Magic 8 ball) Not Likely

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There's only one real Kosh,


[Kosh] Yes. [/Kosh] /forums/images/icons/tongue.gif
Good questions, all of them.

I doubt if Kosh held a clearly leading position. However, it possessed plenty of influence and brought about several changes in Vorlon policy (some by decision, one by death).

It had enough influence to pursue goals visibly intersecting with those of Ulkesh (especially noticable in conversations with Sinclair, in the book "To Dream in the City of Sorrows"). However, given lack of knowledge about Vorlon private communications, we cannot tell if they also discussed their differences.

In the technomage book trilogy, it is implied that the way Kosh interacted with the younger races was (among most Vorlons) considered a bad habit.

I personally suspect that Kosh acquired this habit from Valen, the only person from among the younger races who could have caused a serious split in Vorlon attitudes.

Kosh clearly had some respect for Valen, even a thousand years later, enough to greet a person who looked like Sinclair without scanning him first, nearly getting assassinated in the process ("Gathering").

Ulkesh, on the other hand, seemed to try ensuring that Sinclair would not become someone influencing Vorlons, instead being unilaterally influenced by Vorlons.

Basing on circular logic, we may conclude that Ulkesh could not have been concerned about that... unless Sinclair really did influence the Vorlons, perhaps causing Kosh to take up the "bad habit" of interacting with younger races.
One thing I would like to bring up:

In the episode "Interludes and Examinations", After the Vorlons break the "not attack directly" rule with the Shadows, the Shadows kill Kosh. Conclusion: Kosh is important.

Kosh is always and forever *exactly* what he appears to be, no less and no more. At the same time, Kosh is absolutely *nothing* like what he appears to be.
These are not contradictory statements.

And this is about the straightest answer I've given yet on the subject, believe it or not.

I think it would be just about impossible to put Kosh on the outside of a mug.
I look at Kosh as the Fonze of the Vorlons. Sheridon of course plays the Richie Cunningham character. Fonze is always trying to help Richie out of tough situations.

*kosh looks into the mirror* [Kosh] eyyyyy [/Kosh]
I really liked Kosh. He said a lot with very few words - a sign of great wisdom /forums/images/icons/wink.gif He adopted a father-like attitude to the younger races - especially with Sheridan.

As for Ulkesh, I knew he was bad news from the moment he appeared on babylon 5 /forums/images/icons/mad.gif He just looked evil

For me, the whole Vorlon thing really added to the B5 Universe - they are so unlike any other alien race in other sci-fi shows.

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Conclusion: Kosh is important


I think this was more of a revenge attack for breaking the rules between the Shadows & the Vorlons but I guess he must have been fairly important to be the ambassador, and to have been there when B4 was given to the them (at least I think he was there - please correct me if I'm wrong).
Even before reading the Techno-mage trilogy, I thought Kosh Naranek was the odd-ball among the Vorlons. I figured the reasons he was assigned to observe and contact the younger races was half because he was the only Vorlon who wanted to and half to get rid of him for awhile - a misfit, just like Londo's posting to Babylon 5. I say he was the first to choose "the third side", the side of the Younger Races. His visiting Sheriden in his dream as his father was really touching and showed how he felt about Sheriden.

I'd imagine the other Vorlons are more like Ulkesh Kosh, though maybe not as sever. My only reasons for thinking they might not be as extreme as Ulkesh is because he is often seened paired with Kosh so they were probably trying to balance both of them - each on their own far side of the spectrum. Plus Ulkesh seemed to enjoy tourmenting the younger races so he might have welcomed such contact more than other Vorlons. The rest of the Vorlons didn't seem very nice though - possibly willing to destroy B5 because of an alleged assassination attempt, breeding telepaths on hundreds of worlds, many to suffer for centuries, just to be used as pawns, wanting others to worship them, etc.

So what sides were Kosh and Ulkesh on during the original Thirdspace incident? /forums/images/icons/smile.gif
I think Kosh, was more like Delenn than Londo, I don't think the vorlons would have seen B5 as a joke. I believe Kosh was sent as an observer, like Delenn was over Sinclair, but to observe the races in general, not just one person.

He obviously had sympathisers and support from deep within the Vorlon High Command, how else do you explain a whole fleet of military vessels doing his bidding.

We know Kosh is young for a vorlon, I suspect it was the younger "more impetuous" vorlons who joined the fray (though what the word impetuous means for the vorlons is anyones guess!), maybe that's why there were not enough vorlons at the time of Sheridan's demand, apart from the fear factor, Kosh was having to fight a battle back home to get a more sturdy force?

I think Kosh's authority is similar to Delenn's, i also think they rejected him in a similar way. If Kosh was posted away from home, he was able to influence political opinion.

I agree about Ulkesh entirely, i didn't get creeped out by him so much on Minbar, but there was a sinister feel about him as soon as he arrived on B5. When he was looking at Lyta at that funny angle, I knew he was going to do something completely malicious, and then the sudden move of his head just did it all for me. Notice how in council meetings, he always seems to look down his "nose", whereas Kosh's head is always tiltingl down or level.
It's amazing how much emotion was conveyed through those encounter suits. JMS & Co. certainly did a good job of bringing the Vorlons to life especially since the only physical movement was their head and the eye/iris. I also thought the voice effect (when they decided to speak) was an excellent touch too /forums/images/icons/smile.gif
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<font color="yellow"> Originally posted by Galahad: </font color>
We know Kosh is young for a vorlon,


We do? [Gideon's best sarcastic voice] No, we don't. [/Gideon's best sarcastic voice]

I got the impression that Kosh Naranek was quite a bit older [1] and outranked Ulkesh [2].

[1] Remember Lorien's "I think I met it (Kosh Naranek) once."

[2] Ulkesh defers to Kosh in "In the Beginning," and no this isn't a case like the Lumati, or the Maratans in Crusade's "The Needs of Earth."
Yes, JMS has said that Kosh is one of the older Vorlons. Ulkesh wasn't much younger, but he is, a bit. I really like the Kosh-Delenn parallel, especially as how the entire rationale for the Earth-Minbari War (Dukhat's death) could be a parallel for the Vorlon crusade after Kosh dies.
Really, i always believed Kosh was older, but I thought I read something to the contrary, stating that Kosh was only 6,000,000 years old which was young for a vorlon. Maybe that was tongue in cheek. One person who could set the record straight once and for all would be Joe DM... I'm sure he'll be around sooner or later if we keep the thread up.

Now, I have a question.

In Dust to Dust, Kosh incites the drug induced telepathic G'Kar to see his father dying on a tree. We are then faced with two images. One is the Vorlon Narn form (G'Lan), the other is just described as "Narn Image". We have no idea what G'Quan looked like, all we know is that he was a telepathic Narn. Is it possible that Kosh used the image of G'Quan as well as G'Lan?
For Lorien to meet a Vorlon, the meeting would have to occur before Lorien took up residence on Z'ha'dum -- because no Vorlons go to Z'ha'dum (if they go, they rarely come back).

To Sheridan, Lorien told that it had resided on Z'ha'dum "for a long time", indirectly implying times comparable to the age of Earth. If such was the time scale, Kosh would be several billion years old.

If Lorien occasionally departed from Z'ha'dum or Kosh visited while the Shadows were not there, other options would remain open. Moreover, we don't know if direct proximity is required for First Ones to "meet". They might just as well chat across several light years, and consider having "met" each other.
Yeah, I agree that the Ulkesh on Minbar that is in the novel "To Dream in the City of Sorrows" does seem like a different "person" if you will than when he is on Babylon 5. On B5, he seemed more rigid and "hard-assed" for lack of better term.

But I like the fact that Kosh showed an interest in the younger races, even inviduals like Sheridan. He seemed to care for the younger races, whereas the rest of the Vorlons, including Ulkesh, didn't, and just used them for their own purposes.
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I very much doubt Kosh was the leader of the Vorlons. Nobody sends their leader out to be an ambassodor. The purpose of an ambassor is to be a contact between seperate civlizations. This is not the purpose of a leader


Right. That would be like the Minbari sending a member of the Grey Council to serve as ambassador, or the Narns sending a member of the K'ar'i. Oh, wait a second... /forums/images/icons/smile.gif

Actually I agree with Andrew, and not only because I don't think the Vorlons had a single leader. I'm not even sure the Vorlons had a government as we'd understand it. They had something called the High Command, which seemed to call the shots. But whatever they had, I don't think either Kosh or Ulkesh headed it.

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Kosh clearly had some respect for Valen, even a thousand years later, enough to greet a person who looked like Sinclair without scanning him first, nearly getting assassinated in the process ("Gathering").


Except that Kosh doesn't greet the assassin. He thinks, "Entil'Zha Valen" to himself. Lyta, during her scan, is hearing Kosh's thoughts, not anything he said aloud. (Check the DVD. The musical tone of his translator is not heard before that line, and there is a slight echo to the sound, an indication that this is a "thought balloon")

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After the Vorlons break the "not attack directly" rule with the Shadows, the Shadows kill Kosh. Conclusion: Kosh is important.


The mere fact that he is on B5 and helping to direct the war makes him important (and the Shadows are certainly aware of his role.) That doesn't necessarily mean he is among the most important Vorlons. Actually what he mostly was was available. He was a Vorlon not on their homeworld, and not out in space aboard one of their extremely powerful ships. He was a target they could get to. Also he was the one directly responsible for violating the rules of engagement, so he was the logical target for revenge. Don't forget, the Shadows do not respond to the Vorlon provocation by abandoning the rules themselves and switching to direct flee-to-fleet engagements. Instead their response is proportional and limited. They exact a price for what the Vorlons did, then they go back to business as usual.

Kosh could have fled B5, after all, in which case the Shadows would have sought revenge by taking out another target of opportunity.

This is developing into an interesting conversation. One thing that JMS said that struck me is that Kosh had, in a sense, "gone native". I can't find the quote, but it is an important part of his character. He came to view the Younger Races in a way that was very different than any other Vorlon - and Sheridan, not Sinclair or Valen, was the real catalyst for his change of heart. I'm going to limit my comments to that for the time being. I want to see how this discussion continues. In the meantime, here are some JMS quotes that touch on the issues raised here that I was able to find. Some of them settle points raised above, others will probably provoke new questions:

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Tom Knudsen <72347.1626@compuserve.com> asks:
> Since Kosh and Ulkesh seem to have the authority to dictate Vorlon policy from what you've said, can we assume that they were near the top of the Vorlon heirarchy (whatever THAT may be)? <

It's not a hierarchy as you or I would understand it... and the weird thing is, though I kinda know how it functions, I'll be damned if I can figure out how to explain it in words.


> {original post unavailable} <

They're not that far apart in age, but yes, Kosh would be a bit older


> 5. Besides being extremely old, was Kosh an average Vorlon or particularly special in terms of strength, skill, or status? No other ambassador on the station has demonstrated the clout back home to sortie an entire fleet at a moments notice. Delenn and Londo have only called on forces from a particular faction in their polities. <

He was certainly well regarded... one of the older of the vorlons.


And yes, Kosh and Ulkesh were contemporaries, though Ulkesh was the more military of the two, very isolationist, while Kosh was the curious one, interested in the younger races, and more willing to extend himself (with sometimes unfortunate results). Kosh always worried what Ulkesh would do without his moderating presence... and ultimately had to be the one to take him down to allow the younger races to step forward.


No, I wouldn't call them friends. They had a certain respect for one another, but Ulkesh always thought Kosh was soft, and Kosh always worried that Ulkesh was dangerous. In their own ways, both were right.


Certainly he came to care about us more than the vorlons intended.



And one more that seems to sum up his whole position on the subject. /forums/images/icons/smile.gif

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There's a lot more to be said of the story of Kosh, and the Vorlons in general... and part of me says explain it later... and another part says that if you explain mysteries too much, it destroys them.




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Except that Kosh doesn't greet the assassin.

[/quote] It did greet "Sinclair" (the Minbari assassin) by partly or fully dropping its defenses, with a gesture which Lyta subjectively perceived as handshaking. The words, true, were never verbally said, but the greeting was unusual and indicated a high degree of trust.
See told you Joe would sort it /forums/images/icons/grin.gif /forums/images/icons/grin.gif /forums/images/icons/wink.gif

I will cede on the age issue. It was probably someone using jms's name to back their own opinion, and spice up a moderately interesting article. I prefer the idea of Kosh being an old codger anyway /forums/images/icons/laugh.gif

Maybe the vorlons work like termites or something, each playing out thir part in a single song, each working to the same rhythmn. Some people have said that termites only have a collective conscioussness, and while I believe the vorlons have their own individuality, I believe they are united in one purpose... order above all. I know what I am trying to say here, but the words are hard to form. These ones are inadequate. I think if one vorlon moves, they all move. So if Kosh does something radical, he is like an instrument that starts playing a new tune. The other instruments will "cover" for the differing instrument so as to make sure it still sounds like a single tune, then together moving the melody back to whatever course the collective desire. Isn't the vorlon language based on music? This would i believe back my theory up. E.g. Kosh starts blowing his own trumpet to a different tune to the vorlon race. The vorlons love order so much, that they will bring themselves in line with Kosh so that they still act/appear to be unified.

In other words, Kosh by insisting on an attack on the Shadows, persuaded the other vorlons to join the cause, for the preservation of order.

I think the vorlon high command is like an orchestra!
Interesting guess. By this reasoning, Shadow society would aspire to some place between a particle counter and broken router. /forums/images/icons/tongue.gif

It is true that Vorlons seem to speak "in parallel", as if many words were being said simultaneously. With a little assumption, this might also describe their society. You cannot have many voices speaking at once without them mixing to some degree.

I would therefore guess that Shadows prefer to speak "serially", meaning fast, possibly with long words and expressions, but always sequentially. It would seem likely that where the Vorlons might move together, each Shadow might move in a different direction.


Joe wondered about which influence changed Kosh. Clearly, given its age, we cannot pinpoint such an influence. Should we even assume that Kosh was an "average Vorlon" to begin with? To me it seems that if Kosh was an average Vorlon, that time was long past.

It had once met Lorien. It interacted with the younger races. It once met a person from a then unknown kind, who came from the future to serve a purpose which helped the Vorlons, but also wished to choose his own path.

That person, probably to some degree, told Kosh what the future would hold. I would wonder how it would change me, should someone reveal my future, or thank me for some favour I have not done yet? It certainly was an additional reminder: sometime in the near future, things will change.

Kosh also studied the technomages, apprentices of the Shadows, possible enemies, their equivalent to telepaths, who ultimately chose a separate path. With lots of different (and for most Vorlons, odd) habits, Kosh probably had a broader horizon than most Vorlons.

Kosh sought to direct the events from a space station of many different inhabitants, and found many of them also wishing to choose a separate path. From their homeworlds, from the great and destructive change the Shadows sought to organize, from the Vorlons as well.

Seeing that, Kosh could have wondered what those temporary creatures considered important, what goals they lived for, if chaos and order truly meant anything. It could have slowly realized both sides had failed. That neiter agents of chaos nor lords of order were doing what they initially set out to do. Being old, Kosh could have remembered what they initially planned to achieve.

Realized that if one hopes to teach, one should first learn about those who one wishes to teach, for otherwise one doesn't know if one has anything to teach. Realized that if one hopes to change, one should first consider which features need change, and who is willing to change, before changing something Shadow-style, randomly against the wishes of others.

I cannot tell what caused Kosh to doubt, consider things in the first place, gradually revise its approaches. Regardless of any interactions in the past, which could have triggered the change, its mindset was still seriously flawed when it arrived, when it commented about the Narn and Centauri, later demanded an inquisition and proof of loyalty from Delenn.

But perhaps, seeing other creatures notice and regret their errors (sometimes in suitable conditions, with the help of others, overcome past errors) Kosh started noticing its own errors too, and wanted to try the same? Unfortunately for Kosh, chances had ran out when using the Vorlon fleet played it into a corner. To stay and die, or leave and let what you hoped be destroyed?

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