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Suckers (spoilers)

(This was originally posted on the Sci-Fi site. Londo's Hair requested that I repost it here, and, since I rarely get requests to "reprint" stuff, I was sufficiently flattered to do it.
I should note that the Rangers critcism was much more vicious - and ill-informed - on that site than the negative opinions expressed here.

I should also note that the post contains a mistake, which I've left in it because this is what I originally wrote. My thanks to "Zahtras_Scorpius" of the Sci-Fi Channel B5 board for reminding me that we did hear the word "Shadows" in S1, and even saw a Shadow vessel, when the ship carrying The Eye was attacked.

But I would argue that we still don't have an inkling that "Shadows" is the name of the creatures behind that black ship, nor the slightest hint that they represent an ancient evil and the counterpart of the Vorlons, things that only really emerge in S2. So I think my main point is still correct, in spite of this lapse of memory.

While I have expressed similar ideas in responses to threads here, I actually think this is a better and more succinct reply to what I regard as some of the sillier criticisms of Rangers)


Congratulations to all of those who fell into JMS's trap and are wasting endless time and bandwidth carping about all the "mistakes" in Rangers

I'm sure he's reading much of this criticism (it is basically all the same on usenet and most of the other B5 sites) and laughing his butt off.

There are two possibilities here:

1) JMS has suddenly been stricken with senility, doesn't remember the continuity of his own series, and screwed up massively.

2) There is more here than meets the eye, and facts that we haven't been given yet.

Naturally at least half the people who watched the movie assume that (1) is true.

They did this with The Gathering (lose the guy with the funny hair!)

They did it with each and every season of B5

They did it with all the TV movies.

They did it with Crusade

You'd think that, at a certain point, people would begin to recognize a pattern: JMS always sets up false expectations and then changes directions.

Watch The Gathering Now tell me where in that movie we see a hint that G'Kar will become a peacemaker and hero, there will be a war with an ancient race called The Shadows or that B5 would break away from Earth and fight a civil war. Four out of the five seasons were dominated by the Shadow war, the Earth Civil War and the aftermath of both. We never even heard the word "Shadows" in S1, which was dominated by the hole in Sinclair's mind and the mystery of the Minbari surrender. (Both of which would have been resolved early in S2, even if Michael O'Hare had remained as commander.)

JMS is a conjurer; he uses misdirection to fool his audience. He's also a mystery writer, and plays fair with that audience, leaving clues in plain sight.

Did anybody notice that the whole resolution of the plot involved doing the same thing twice, but in a different way, and the question of whether or not that could work? Did anybody notice G'Kar's last line, "No one here is exactly what he appears? But then, who is?"

Does everyone bitching about the movie really think that they're so smart that they spotted plot "flaws" that eluded JMS, Doug Netter, all the old B5 hands, and all the folks at Sci-Fi? That nobody spotted any of this between the first story conference in January and the completion of post-production in September? Either you are all real smart, or you think that all the people named are real dumb. Based on their track records, I suspect that they aren't, and that all of the apparent "problems" will be worked out very neatly in the series, if we get it.

I tell you, JMS is chuckling to himself and thinking, "Great. Now I've got them exactly where I want them."


A number of people have criticized my theory about what is going on in the pilot on the grounds that JMS would have to be pretty stupid to risk confusing and alienating his audience (confusing non-B5 fans, alientating the fans) by doing something like this. I find this interesting inasmuch as these same people, in their own critiques of the film, essentially say that JMS is stupid, since he botched his own series chronology, is diminishing the importance of the achievements of the Army of Light, and doing "something we've already seen before."

I don't see why they should object to my saying, from their perspective, the same thing, if for different reasons.

In fact, I don't think JMS is running much of a risk here. The non-B5 fans aren't going to know about the Shadow War, Thirdspace or other "repeated" elements, so they won't be confused or distracted by them. B5 fans have now had two series to get used to his methods, and should realize that if it looks like he has made a really stupid and elementary mistake in his own universe that odds are it is deliberate, and not what it seems. Here, I'm afraid, he overestimated his fans.

Which isn't to say that he hasn't screwed up the continuity within the series or deliberately written something that contradicts something else when he sees a better way of doing something. He is certainly far from perfect.

But for something this massively contradictory to what's gone before to have "slipped through" is impossible. If JMS didn't realize what he was doing, others in the production team would have caught it. In fact, others did notice this, and commented on it.

I assume that those in the inner circle had already been told what was really going on, back at the script stage. Certainly they would have been let in on it when some of the production people began raising red flags. Those more peripheral to the project who expressed concerns were told, "There's more here than what appears in the pilot script, don't worry about it."



Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division


[This message has been edited by Joseph DeMartino (edited January 22, 2002).]

I agree %100 with your analysis. He put suttle things in there as a jab to the hardcore B5 fans, seeing if we would get it.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR> A number of people have criticized my theory about what is going on in the pilot on the grounds that JMS would have to be pretty stupid to risk confusing (non-B5 fans) and alienating (B5 fans) by doing something like this. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I also see this as NO risk whatsoever. Think about it people. As Joe said someone who hasnt seen B5 wouldnt know about the Shadow war or other such things. But how inviting or interesting would the idea of a pilot/movie about 'a race a billion years old' and 'eternal place of darkness' be? The trailers set up a LOT of mystery and people just catching them may check out the show for those very comments. So he can use that as bait, then take everyone in another direction when the series starts. There is something about ancient mysteries that lure people's interest...

'I don't believe in the no-win scenario' - JTK
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph DeMartino:
You'd think that, at a certain point, people would begin to recognize a pattern: JMS always sets up false expectations and then changes directions. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I still insist that someday JMS is going to take the direct, conventional route to something, and then he'll really surprise us...

Well said. And I certainly hope that JMS is laughing about it, rather than swearing in frustration and wondering why he even bothers...

-- Marty
"Always do what you're good at," they tell me.
So I go around annoying people.
Ya know, I remember a few weeks ago people were around this messageboard were talking about how Babylon 5 was a show for intelligent people, that it was so smart and that its fans were smarter than others, etc. This annoyed me, since I hate elitism, so I went on a rant about how it's not true, how it can be enjoyed my anybody, etc. I convincingly knocked people off of their proverbial high horses.

Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize. This is rare, but the mighty GKarsEye was wrong. Even more rare- I admit.

All of you with at least half of a brain, please get back on your high horse, because maybe we are smarter than other people. It astonishes me how people can watch five years of a television show and not have a clue about its methods and its technique.

I don't mean to sound like a jerk (though I always do), but some of these "criticisms" didn't even occur to me. Come on, another Shadow race? Of course that's not going to happen. So much was left open after that movie that it's absolutely impossible to guess what would happen in a series- and that's a good thing!

I'll be the first one to point out mistakes and stupid things. But there are certain kinds of mistakes that JMS would make, and some that he wouldn't. What are they? Go rewatch Babylon 5 and you'll see.

"You do not make history. You can only hope to survive it."
I've read way too many negative posts at various places, and I just keep thinking to myself, "you idiots! Don't you ever learn!" It's quite amusing. "No one is exactly waht he appears." That is blatantly stated in the movie, yet somehow people are ignoring it and takign everything at face value. (Sigh) Oh well, it'll be a bigger victory when JMS stuns them and they pull their heads out of their asses

We're all born as molecules in the hearts of a billion stars, molecules that do not understand politics, policies and differences. In a billion years we, foolish molecules forget who we are and where we came from. Desperate acts of ego. We give ourselves names, fight over lines on maps. And pretend our light is better than everyone else's. The flame reminds us of the piece of those stars that live inside us. A spark that tells us: you should know better. The flame also reminds us that life is precious, as each flame is unique. When it goes out, it's gone forever. And there will never be another quite like it
I said it before, and I'll say it again:

Joe, I love you.

It's amazing how you can think so coherently and look at a bigger picture.

Sheridan: Are you trying to cheer me up?
Ivanova: No sir, wouldn't dream of it.
Sheridan: Good, I hate being cheered up. It's depressing.
Ivanova: So in that case we're all going to die horrible, painful, lingering deaths.
Sheridan: Thank you, I feel so much better now.
I wanna be like Joe!

I'm a literature major. I love literary theory. You give me anything, even the side of cereal box, and I will take great pleasure in ripping it apart. Not in a critically bad way, but ripping it apart.

I agree that there's much more going on here than what we've been presented with on the surface.

After seeing Rangers for the second time, I have kept some opinion on the script, but I noticed some things, small details I hadn't seen on the first run, that really made me say:

Rangers could be truly great. Not in the sense of "Wow, what a great space battle!" but in the sense of "Another Seminal Science Fiction Show."

I'm totally convinced of that.

channe@cryoterrace | "I wonder," said Frodo, "but I don't know. And that's the way of a real tale."
As everyone has already posted, and I'll just reiterate in my own, odd little way, JMS builds stories out of more than one thing. I do not understand people who claim to be true fans to be as critical as I have seen around here. It is true that scifi fans are the most loyal, but also the most deadly of fans, but I think some of it is just too quick to judge.

I have even my own quips about a few things, but none of them are major, and NONE of them would ever have me NOT want this new series. The big problem with the weapons pod? Come on. Weapons are not the focus of B5 stories, so if that's going to be the deal breaker for you, then I don't understand why you watch it in the first place. (note to all, this doesn't mean all those who said something negative about it...we all can dislike certain aspects, but it doesn't need to be a deal breaker) It's about the people, not about the weapons.

And the people are dimentional. Perhaps that's an opinion, but I could see it right away. There is a huge amount of depth in these characters, people. The naming ceremony itself proved that, if not other parts along the way. Dulaan/Martel scenes showed great chemistry, along with the rest of the cast that got pretty large parts, and there is some real history to get into there.

More than all that, though, people seem to somehow totally forget what happened in B5 in it's beginning. The Gathering is nothing special. There are lines in there that are not the best in the world...there are things that might not have fit. Heck, the first season was wrought with very stereo-typical, problem comes, people work on problem, problem solved by the end of the episode type things. That's how the man works! Lulling you into a false sense of bordem or security. Then all those little plot points you thought were just boring mishaps come up and bite you where it really hurts.

It is discoraging for someone who at least will give him a chance to work his technomancy (well..sorta) to see those who claim to be die hard fans not giving him the same opportunity. Given how much he has already given us, how much he had to fight every step of the way just to keep his first 5 year show on the air...he could have just ran away from all this trouble a long time ago. It isn't exactly a walk in the park, and I would wager that a great many, especially those who are the loudest and perhaps most....undiplomatic, would not have even tried, let alone stuck it out this long.

Well...anyway....I at least think he deserves the chance, and I already see potental in this one, so...as the saying goes...doesn't matter if others agree with me. Fight for what you believe.

It's like I've always said, you can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4 than you can with just a kind word.
Oh...and I wanna be like Joe too.

An aspiring writer is my passion, and I can only dream of being as good as he. It's not idol worship, or kissing the ground he walks on....it's just simple respect and admiration.

Everyone has people they respect besides themselves. (Well....most do.)

It's like I've always said, you can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4 than you can with just a kind word.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Oh...and I wanna be like Joe too.

I feel I should point out that this (and probably channe's similar statement) refers to Joe Straczynski, the Great Maker, and not to your humble correspondant.

(Although I have to admit I liked the post better before I realized that.


Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division


[This message has been edited by Joseph DeMartino (edited January 22, 2002).]
Actually, Joe, I believe that they WERE referring to you. Being a good little juche has taught me how to spot talent, and you my boy, have it up the yang. It's time for your own cult of personality! Yes, you too can be like Che, Lenin, and Oprah! You even have the handy dandy, all purpose one word name! People will automatically think of YOU when they hear Joe! Now all we need is for antony to make the colors of this page red and things will be all set.

Long Live Joe!

I wouldn't normally do this, because I hate trek. However:
There is an old Vulcan proverb; Only Nixon can go to China.
Pretty sure they meant you Mr. DeMartino

You are after all one of the few sane voices of the Babylon 5 online community (and it's multitude of forums).

"I walk, i shop, i sneeze. I'll be a fireman when the floods roll back. There's trees in the desert since you moved out ... and i don't sleep on a bed of bones."
All Joe-worship aside, I'm just tickled pink that the "Suckers" article got posted here...

-Londo's Hair
"Vir, intelligence has nothing to do with politics!"
I agree with everything in this post.
thanks joe.

No choice, no choice at all.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>"No one here is exactly what he appears? But then, who is?" -- G'Kar's <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This last line was were i got happy, cause of what we know about JMS and how he thinks, a bit. He loves to make us think, oh its just another vorlon vs. shadow war, but JMS would never makes us go with the same story. I see great things of this series, i really do think it will be made into a series, and i can't wait to see what wonderful storys come out of it.


Chaos makes you strong, chaos makes you better, chaos makes you advance........chaos will destroy you if you don’t survive it first.
For some people (I'm one of them) part of the reason to watch B5 IS for the weapons. This also falls into the rest of the special effects but IMO B5 has some of the best weapon/ship effects of any series.

This however doesn't mean that I don't like the plot. Which is also wonderful I don't think I've seen that good a show carried out for that long a period of time. Nor do I think there's been an enemy as hm..frightening..mysterious as the Shadows.

Hey joe {IE- DeMartino},
I was extreemly impressed with the wisedom and discernment you used to express your views of the creator Joe Straczynski's new work. As I expressed under my topic response to: Casper's B-5 LR Disappointment, my wife and I gave the movie 4 out of 5 stars.

Despite very very minor nit picks, I was very pleased with the final product. I'm so excited it's crazy. I have some wonderful ideas for the series I hope he'll hear them.
Leaving plenty of birth for the creators original thoughts of coarse.
How do I write to him any way?

Joe De Martino, you really gave my heart a lot of peace about the whole project and I thank you for it.

It would be so wonderful if JMS took control of the majority of the writing. Being a writer myself, I understand the physical and burdensome demands this puts on him. I hope he's up to the challenge. He is so involved with all his other projects. I hope he doesn't get burned out before he even starts.

As always, I salute him, he is quite the trooper.

Seriously hyped up about the new series,
i only have one more thing to say..........

"You have always been here." Kosh speaking to Sheridan (from:All Alone In The Night

Steven S McLaughlin

Even if he thought of the same thing previously by sending him the idea you have ensured it can not be used. We almost did not get the Babylong Five episode Passing Thru Gessemene(sp?).

Also unless it's urgent personal communication you should probably place it on the moderated board he reads and posts to instead of emailing him.

"Crying isn't gonna get your dog back. Unless your tears smell like dog food. So you can sit here eating can after can of dog food until your tears smell like dog food or you can go out there and find your dog."-Homer in The Canine Mutiny
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by for the one:
How do I write to him any way<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Again, I agree with the Doctor.
-Don't- email JMS unless absolutely necessary. The best way to ask him a question is to post a message in the moderated newsgroup and hope he answers.

For those who have no clue what we are talking about, try Google's Groups service where you can read and post messages (you just have to register an email with them).

Good luck!

Monica Hübinette | Abyss : B5 <- New & Improved!
Pouch-sucking spawn of a bladder fish! Son of a fitch piece of smelt! Tok-swallowing fenbarger! Thrak it! --Na'Feel swearing in B5LR
Great to see that the life of the B5 boards are still strong as ever. Joe, you are amazing with your prose and ability to engage people in deep thought. Imagine me watching The Gathering with my mother, all the while trying to explain what happens to G'Kar over the 5 seasons of B5, and why even though you think he should be the bad guy, he isn't.

I love B5 and JMS for the twists, turns, and character developement. G'Kar is a prime example of what he says at the end of the Legend movie. And who would have thought that Londo would have turned out the way he did. Everything is a twisted WEB of cause and effect. I can't tell you dates or timelines, but I love to look back and forward to see how it all plays out.

Let's hope that we get a series out of this. There is so much to tell, and I, for one, want to get to know more characters.

Happy Hunting...


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