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The Arrogant Sheridan


In the early part of the Z’ha’dum episode it seems to me that JMS ramped up Sheridan’s arrogance to the max. Sheridan assumes his knowledge about Anna is infallible. Delenn knew that if she did even suggest that Anna might be alive Sheridan would go to Z’ha’dum and he basically confirmed her worst fear. She apparently didn’t know that Sheridan had told Kosh of his intention to go to Z’ha’dum. But, when Sheridan launches on Delenn, he is on the verge of doing a Londo. Remember when Sheridan told Ivanova that without Anna nothing else mattered? Londo is willing to let the universe burn for the sake of revenge. At this point Sheridan isn’t thinking too clearly because his pride has been hurt. He revels in being the boss and won’t tolerate any challenges to the plans he had already made. He uses a pretty poor excuse to cover his desire for revenge. “I’m doing it for Centauri Prime.” Give me a break! (Like Franklin’s alter ego chastising him about “self-indulgent Foundationist crap.”) In the time flash Delenn tells him not to go to Z’ha’dum because he did and even Londo concurred that because he came back from the abyss and won the Shadow war Centauri Prime got the mess that was left over. His infallible logic should have made the connection. If the Centauri destruction occurred because he went to Z’ha’dum and he supposedly cares about Centauri Prime, then shazam – DON’T GO you idiot! We will never know what might have happened with a negative response to Anna. He knew the truth with the medical evidence of Shadow implants, but he was willing to cut off his nose to spite his face. If he had been thinking like an Eisenhower he would have seized the initiative from his recent success to launch an offensive against Z’ha’dum with all his coalition forces instead of acting like a Lone Ranger. Delenn’s counsel in WWE sounds more like wisdom all the time, but Sheridan ignoring good advice gives the story its tragic edge.

If he wouldn't of attacked Z’ha’dum they probably would of lost the war. Remember, the shadows were preparing to do something about him.... If he had not gone to Z’ha’dum they probably would of just taken him out along with B5.

I think it would of been funny if he just her when she showed up though...
Sheridan assumes his knowledge about Anna is infallible.

I think it's more that his trust in Delenn has been damaged upon finding out that Anna's alive and that Delenn knew it was very much possible that she was. It was that recent wound that caused Sheridan to not look at Anna's reappearance exactly objectively, after all Anna was his wife.

His infallible logic should have made the connection.

I don't recall a single instance where Sheridan ever claimed to be infallible.

If the Centauri destruction occurred because he went to Z’ha’dum and he supposedly cares about Centauri Prime, then shazam – DON’T GO you idiot!

Let's see your wife come back from the dead and see how well you're capable of thinking things through.

If he had been thinking like an Eisenhower he would have seized the initiative from his recent success to launch an offensive against Z’ha’dum with all his coalition forces instead of acting like a Lone Ranger.

Or perhaps had he flung his entire fleet at Z'ha'dum, the Shadows would have flung most of their fleet, which would be fastly more centralized around their home planet than it was in a far off sector of space were Sheridan had barely won his victory before, right back at them and obliterate Sheridan's forces.

The single ship being with a feigned duping of Sheridan would allow Sheridan to get far closer to Z'ha'dum than charging in with the whole fleet ever would have. I see it much like Frodo in The Lord Of The Rings. I've read many, many people who've made comments to the effect of why didn't the giant eagles just fly the Ring to Mount Doom. But had they tried, they would have been easily noticed. It was the small, insignificant hobbit that had the best shot of getting there and succeed thanks to his seeming insignificance. I see the same thing here with Sheridan going to Z'ha'dum.
Neither the Vorlons nor the Shadows were expecting Sheridan to blow up the Eye. This was the act that showed the 1,000,000 year old war was in its endgame.

Sheridan had noticed that Anna had been changed which told him that he was walking into a trap.
This is how I understood Sheridan's motivation in "Z'Ha'Dum."

Sheridan knows from Kosh, famously, that "if he goes to Z'ha'dum, he will die." He also knows from the time-flash that in one possible future he is alive, and Delenn, realizing that he hasn't yet made his choice, has told him not to go to Z'ha'dum.

So Sheridan thinks to himself, "If I am certain to die on Z'ha'dum, yet I'm alive in a future in which Centauri Prime is ruined because of an incomplete victory, then if I die in a blaze of glory at Z'ha'dum, doing as much damage to the Shadows as possible, maybe I can prevent that future and win a complete victory." After all, accepting Anna's invitation is a perfect opportunity to get hidden weapons to Z'ha'dum, and we know full well that hidden nuclear devices are Sheridan's favorite weapon.

Sheridan goes to Z'ha'dum assuming that he will die, and that this will prevent the future he saw at Centauri Prime because he won't be there. He also feels that this is a brilliant chance to strike a serious, perhaps lethal blow to the Shadows.

I don't think he's arrogant in this episode at all.
Actually, RW, I myself have thought he turned into a bit of an "administration type" in season 5. Lockley (sp?) is definitely right when she mentions that he allowed teeps to stay on B5 but then doesn't really concern himself over just how this is going to be accomplished or what should be done in the long run.

Sorry, but I think the argument that he acts a bit arrogant is quite valid. And that's part of what makes B5 such a rich collection of characters: none of them are flawless. The closest would be G'kar and he began as one of the most shallow and despicable characters in the series.

You have to give JMS credit: he knows how to make his characters (for lack of a better word) human. :cool:
Oh, I definitely agree that Sheridan does have a fairly strong current of arrogance to him. The way he treats Lyta, for example, really gets my apple burning.
Precisely. Sheridan has a fairly substantial dose of arrogance -- however justified -- after he returns from Z'ha'dum. But before that, when he's making the decision to go there, he's acting out of compassion.
I think he had a little bit of the arrogance before he went too. Take how he reacts in "In The Shadow Of Z'ha'dum" when he finds out about Morden being alive and having been on the Icarus. He pushes to the point that Garibaldi resigns and Ivanova tells him she's getting pretty damned close to having to report him.
Sheridan *can* certainly be arrogant (anyone who absolutely cannot faces severe difficulties in life)... but in this situation... I cannot backtrace actions to anything of excessive (or even notable) arrogance.

What I do notice:

-- Delenn was not entirely honest (what a surprise, given that she's an experienced politician) but Sheridan would like to trust her. Surely he is somewhat disappointed, especially given the emotional weight from his perspective -- stopping to love whom he loved. Love is an emotion which demands high standards of honesty... and Delenn appears to regret having withheld the info... but back then, neither of them held an equal level of confidence in the other.

-- Meanwhile, he probably understands... that Delenn was quite correct. Visiting the homeworld of Shadows... tends to leave untouched... only those with minds, weapons and transport to match them. Anna Sheridan was nowhere near that. While individuals might differ, their civilization is quite agressive, and non-interference is a big stretch to expect.

-- It probably bothers John to admit that Delenn was not far off in predicting his possible actions. His previous knowledge of Anna influences him to hope for the best, and might have influenced him to search for her.

Even if provided fullest available information about the conditions around Z'ha'dum... he might have gone, died there... but before death, revealed to Shadows who advised him. When Delenn denied him that knowledge... she might have still afforded to lose him. Just another human, even if close ally, opting for a pointless death... but she could hardly afford a Shadow picking apart Sheridan's mind and discovering who told him.

-- Directly attacking Z'ha'dum would be quite pointless... clearly a move of ill consequence. Uninvited guests cannot easily surprise them. Their manytime willingness to *leave* their homeworld indicates it's not an asset in their book. They can afford to retreat... or employ unexpected forms of defense. Z'ha'dum is not a "homeworld" in strict sense. Just an old gathering place of some sentimental value.

-- By this logic, an invited and expected guest surprising them... is the avenue most likely to actually harm them. So, from tactical viewpoint, Sheridan was exploiting the most efficient avenue. Loss would be minimum (one human, one ship, some warheads). Gain could be notable (one Shadow city, multiple Shadow individuals, numerous of their allies, notable unsettlement of their systems).

-- Involvement of future... is a tricky thing. All depends on how one perceives time travel... and nobody introduced us to which theories Sheridan subscribes to.

-- We know that Delenn advised Sheridan to *not* visit Z'ha'dum. We cannot know which additional advise she gave, and whether Sheridan remembered enough to understand that he *had* gone.

-- Limitation of risk to a known (even if bad) state... might also play a part. When facing the possibility of losing everything... of total war between capable opponents destroying all between them... Sheridan might actually *prefer* a "known bad future". A known bad future... is better then no future.

-- Finally, while it was natural for Sheridan to become unsettled by such close intertwinement between his political choices and personal life... he also possessed objective motivation to appear vulnerable to manipulation, and dangerously close to erring.

He must have considered whether those who sent Anna... might be observing her progress. He might consider it beneficial to try offering them mild assurance that it *might* be useful to talk with him (as opposed to changing their mind, and destroying his ship).
I always thought Sheridan was arrogant because of the fact that he had 20 years to shape an alliance which would last for the next million years, and this needed to be approached with focus and determination.

Remember Delenn on DOFS who spoke of a very different Sheridan .

A decent man.

There might be gaps here...

...because how can you tell... how long the Alliance actually lasted? The story does indicate that something, presumably the Rangers... lasted until far future.

But the Alliance political structure... might not have lasted so long. The probability of it lasting a few more centuries without significant adaptation... already appears low.

Thus arises the question... of whether Sheridan needed anything beyond the focus and determination of a careful human... to assemble his portion of the beginning of this puzzle... and try assembling it so that others would desire to continue it.

He probably never intended for his legacy to last a million years. His contribution was surely great... but not beyond comparison with the contributions of others, of whom many could have (by inaction or opposing action) annulled the effort.

As for arrogance... occasionally Sheridan is depicted as arrogant (or perhaps other adjectives would be better)... but I cannot observe this property crossing all his actions, only some.
Actually, I have thought that Sheridan sometimes seemed to have that "holier-than-thou" additude. That's the only thing that I don't like about him.
Actually, I don't think Sheridan was arrogant, which means to exaggerate his own worth or importance in an over bearing manner. He was determined, and generally self confident, but he was in charge, it was his duty to lead, and he was not abusive to his subordinates. I can see where he might seem arrogant at times, but I don't think he really was.
I agree that Sheridan became quite arrogant during and after the Shadow war. Was it a concequence of dying at Zahadum? Maybe. Maybe it's all the power he aquired. Regardless, if he had NOT gone to Zahadum he would never have met Lorien who was instrumental in ending the Shadow war as well as in recruiting the last of the Ancients.
I would just like to remind everyone that had Sheridan not have gone to Z'Ha Dum, Babylon 5 would have been destroyed.

The decision to go was, in the end, a purely strategic one. After he sorted through his feelings for fake-Anna and Delenn, he, like any honest war leader would, jumped at the chance to strike the enemy at the heart of their power. Imagine if Hitler had invited Churchill to Berlin to try to convince of the value of the Third Reich, and Churchill could figure out a way to bring along some nukes.

And as for arrogance, given the responsibility thrust on him, nothing he did was arrogant. Yes, after Lorien extended his life, he used his personality as a tool to win the war. This isn't arrogant, this is smart. And then as president of the alliance, he fell under the same trap many successful military leaders do: becoming a politician. De Gaulle, Powell, et al.
And as for arrogance, given the responsibility thrust on him, nothing he did was arrogant.
Nothing in the Z'ha'dum affair... with that I possibly agree.

But if you meant "nothing ever"... I must disagree. In certain later decisions, Sheridan exhibited far worse properties, to describe which "arrogance" would be quite a mild expression.

(For example, the affair with the modified telepaths. It remains my opinion that if one has access to overwhelming weapons, and capability to place armed opponents before the choice they deserve... one should not circumvent such an *opportunity*. Especially not by employing sick/wounded people as cannon fodder.

But then again, it depends on which weight a particular person attributes to the well-being of an armed and willing enemy, as opposed to the well-being of an unfortunate victim of a different enemy, with uncertain chances of healing.)
I think I'm with Gkar's eye on this one. I liked his post.

Sheridan had to go to Z'ha'dum. It was his chance to hurt the shadows, and badly. The chance to walk into the capital of the Shadows and nuke it? Too good to turn down, if you are willing to sacrifice your life for it.
I was always under the impression that Sheridan was intentionally characterized to be arrogant.

Wasn't it the list of top Sci-Fi characters that described Sheridan as "Babylon 5's perfectly-flawed hero" when it listed him?

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