Babylon 5 ran from Feb 1993 – Nov 1998. At the time, it was compared often to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which ran nearly parallel to B5, from Jan 1993 to June 1999. Comparisons between the two shows never really entered the “Star Trek” vs. “Star Wars” nerd-faction religious wars, due to both series’ lower levels of popularity, but they both deserve a lot more attention than their more popular brethren.
Babylon 5, the station itself, was a mis-mash of alien and human occupants and their environments bears a lot of similarity to James White’s Sector General (a series of short stories, novellas, and novels that really ought to have been made into a television series by now, really). Indeed, I always thought of B5 as the non-pacifist version of Sector General. But I digress.
It’s very difficult to discuss this show without discussing the next one (or the one after that, or the one after that), or referring to the pilot; if you want to discuss something with a major plot point: please rot13 it. That’s a simple encryption that will allow the folks who want to avoid spoilers to avoid them and allow the people who want to argue them to argue them.
We good? We good! Everybody who has done the reading, see you after the cut!
Open cut, Ragesh 3 Centauri Agricultural Colony.
Who are the Centauri? They look like people with odd haircuts, that’s all for now. One low-level redshirt guy appears to be relieving another low-level redshirt guy. Alert! Jump point forming in sector 3!
Fighters and cruisers exit from a wormhole nearby and blast the space station, which is able to communicate that they’re under attack, but not able to identify their attackers, before they’re blown to smithereens.
Abrupt cut to B5. (If you’re a bit jarred by abrupt cuts, the show smooths out as it goes along and they cut down a bit on how many story threads go on in any particular episode. At the beginning, though, we jump around a lot.)
As yet untitled (tip: Chief Warrant Officer and Chief of Security) Michael Garibaldi, who looks like Bruce Willis’s older brother, is hailed by as yet unnamed (tip) Lt. Commander Susan Ivanova. A brief exchange establishes that she’s new to the station, the default person-to-person communication techology is called the “link”, and that Commander Sinclair likes some quiet time to himself, but apparently doesn’t get much of it. Ivanova departs to find Sinclair in the Observation Dome. There’s an interchange between Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari and Garibaldi, which establishes quickly that the Centauri are an empire well along the declining curve, the Centauri don’t appear to take the diplomatic mission on Babylon 5 very seriously, and Londo is a bit of a huckster. Londo’s new aide (the entire contingent of the Ambassador’s support staff) Vir Cotto arrives to inform him of the attack, and we cut to the show intro.
Reproducing that in full, here:
It was the dawn of the third age of mankind – ten years after the Earth-Minbari War. The Babylon Project was a dream, given form. Its goal: to prevent another war, by creating a place where humans and aliens can work out their differences peacefully. It’s a port of call – home away from home – for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs, and wanderers.
Humans and aliens, wrapped in two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal . . . all alone in the night.
It can be a dangerous place, but it’s our last best hope for peace. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.
Already you’re slammed with a ton of information. Don’t worry if you don’t absorb it all, the “why is that group of aliens angry at that other group” and “who is that person” are solidly covered over the first 10 episodes. Babylon 5 dumps a ton of stuff on you at a go in the early episodes (something that they ease down as the series goes on) but they do a lot of reinforcement. If you don’t remember who somebody is when they show up on a screen, you’ll be reminded by the time they do anything important. There are a lot of neat little details that get pulled in later in the series, though, so the more attention you affix to the series the bigger the payoff is, later. If you liked Lost because you thought there was a big, consistent storyarc going on and you thought that obvious details were going to come back later (and especially if you were filled by nerdrage when you found out that the first wasn’t really true and the second was very ad-hoc), you’ll appreciate the fact that the details that stick out? They stick out for a reason, and yes there is a five-season long story arc going on.
Back to the episode.
Londo is yelling at Sinclair. He wants to know what the humans know about the assault. Sinclair calmly asserts that he only knows what Londo knows; Ivanova asks if Londo has heard from Centauri and he shakes his head angrily, indicating again that either the Centauris don’t give a lot of information to their head diplomat on B5 either because they’re not invested in the project or for some other reason. Two other aliens, also apparently diplomats, arrive, a woman with an odd headdress (tip: Minbari Ambassador Delenn) and our first really alien-y looking alien (he looks like one of the aliens from Alien Nation dressed up in a Klingon outfit, (tip: Narn Ambassador G’Kar), who offer diplomatic condolences to Londo. Londo challenges G’Kar, do the Narn really know nothing of this? The planet that was attacked is apparently simply an agricultural station, of little or no military value, and thus we’re all primed for “this attack is an outrage!”
Sinclair suggests that everyone go back and bug their home governments, and calls for a general meeting involving “the Council” and “the League of Non-Aligned Worlds”.
Cut to the Bridge. Garibaldi enters, Ivanova tells him that some distress call has been picked up; she thought it was related to the attack on Ragesh 3, but it’s apparently raiders. Garibaldi says, “I knew they’d be back sooner or later”, so apparently raiding on shipping is an issue. He exits (possibly his worst-acted bit in the series) and entering is Talia Winters, a registered commercial telepath rated by Psi Corps who is announcing her arrival on the station as required. So now we know that mental powers exist, they’re highly regulated, and judging from the interplay, Ivanova apparently doesn’t like ’em much. Garibaldi heads out in a fighter to check on the distress call with a wingman. Chief of Security has Captain Kirk leadership syndrome.
Nerd digression: The Starfury fighter makes its first appearance on-screen. It is the staple Earth fighter and mightily resembles the Gunstar from The Last Starfighter. This is not accidental, as the two main designers were friends with Ron Cobb, who designed the Gunstar. The ship’s movements in space are much more realistic than in, say, the Star Wars series, where the X-wings and Tie Fighters motion is more like atmospheric flight than flying in the vacuum of space. The design of the ship – as many of the B5 ships – is partially dictated by polygon count… the more polygons involved in the construction of the digital object, the more computational power is required to render the graphical images that make each frame of the animation. I’m not going to harp too much on the computer graphics in this series, because the original images are dated and making them look better (at this point) really would require them to be redone. However, the transfer of B5 to digital media has a long and troubled history among fans, you can go down that rabbit hole starting here, if you like.
Cut back to Sinclair, in his office. In the background, the future version of CNN. Apparently there’s an election going on back on Earth. Will this play into intergalactic politics? (Is the Pope Catholic? No religion). Ivanova enters and asks if he’s had an update from home, Sinclair replies with a no, and that’s unusual. Ivanova asks Sinclair who he thinks is responsible, the Mimbari maybe? Sinclair claims they’re too honorable for such a thing, which elicits minor surprise from Ivanova as apparently Sinclair fought the Mimbari during an apparently recent Earth-Mimbari war. How are we supposed to know this? Oh, right, that’s in the intro! Sinclair is revealed to be the latest in a long line of generational fighter pilots “going back to the Battle of Britain”. There’s an “election politics at home” throwaway moment where Ivanova reveals she doesn’t like one of the two candidates, Santiago, largely for the sorts of reasons that people on the FP would freak out about, he has no chin (no politics).
Over to Londo’s cabin. The Centauri homeworld is calling with video of the assault on Ragesh 3, which reveals that Narn fighters were involved in the assault. Londo stomps out, furious with G’Kar.
Cut to Garibaldi checking on the attacked ship, which is dead in space, and apparently damaged by weapons more powerful than those customarily used by raiders. Is this attack related to the attack on Ragesh 3 after all?
Back to the station. Londo finds G’Kar and confronts him. G’Kar claims he “just found out” about the Narn attack, and that “there must be a reasonable explanation.” The ensuing short conversation reveals then Narn were once attacked by the Centauri and are holding a grudge. Londo loses his temper, the two tussle, and are broken apart by station personnel. G’Kar angrily advises Londo to “sleep lightly” as the Centauris’ time has passed. Up to this point, the Narn has seemed to be the reasonable diplomatic one, and Londo the more uncontrolled, but the fight reveals that perhaps G’Kar is more potentially ruthless and violent than his counterpart. Guess that Klingon-lookin’ outfit is a hint.
Cut again, to Londo’s quarters. Sinclair is visiting. Londo is apologizing for losing his temper and attacking G’Kar, but (he says) he’s destined to kill the Narn eventually, as the Centauri have the ability to foresee their own deaths, and he’s dreamed of G’Kar and himself strangling each other to death twenty years hence. True or yet another Centauri yarn? Londo is putting drinks back at a quick pace. Sinclair announces the possibility of a political coalition against the Narn. Londo is mildly interested, and tells Sinclair that his nephew was on Ragesh 3, a position that Londo got him to keep him out of the military. Sinclair says the Narn want a military conflict, to break apart the multispecies truce, but that the mission of the space station is to promote the peace. Londo finds the diplomatic fencing to be ultimately pointless, and suspects that war is ultimately inevitable, and if his nephew is dead he will see to it personally.
Cut to Girabaldi and Ivanova, Garibaldi is eating. They discuss the raider attack on the freighter. It’s the third time the raiders have struck in this sector, says Ivanova. Garibaldi mentions the advanced weaponry, and mentions that trade routes are secret, so the two of them suspect a leak. The telepath Talia walks up as if to address Ivanova, she strides away quickly before she can be addressed.
Cut to Sinclair, asking for permission to enter Ambassador Kosh, whom we haven’t met yet (tip: the Vorlon ambassador). The quarters contain unbreathable-by-humans atmosphere, so Sinclair slips on a breathing mask and enters. There’s a large suit that looks like alien Iron Man armor sitting to one side, inert, and a large privacy screen behind which a light moves. Sinclair addresses the screen, saying that there is an emergency session, and that he wants to know if the Vorlon have a position on the attack on Ragesh 3, and if the Ambassador will attend. A distorted affirmative-sounding noise issues forth, and Sinclair turns to leave, at which point there is a flash of light and the armor suit animates. The Ambassador speaks now in discernible English: “They are a dying people. We should let them pass.” Sinclair queries, “The Narn or the Centari?” to which the Ambassador simply response, “Yes.” Apparently the Vorlon are not overly impressed with the two squabbling species.
Back to the bridge, Ivanova is threatening to break Garibaldi’s wrists for using her station (this is why I have a Kinesis, nobody can use my computer even if they want to unless they’re familiar with it). Garibaldi says he might have a lead on the leak that led to the raider attack on the freighter. Quick cut again!
Back to Londo’s quarters. He’s drunk and belligerent and his assistant Vir is trying to get him to the meeting. Londo reveals that the Centauri leaders have told him that they’ll do nothing about Ragesh 3. Londo is openly contemptuous of his leadership. Londo’s plan is to go to the meeting, say nothing of his homeland’s decision, and try to convince the Council to agree to do something, which may embarrass the home leaders to do something. I’ll say this for Londo, he may not be a stellar diplomat when it comes to speaking diplomatically, but he’s a pretty cagey schemer.
Another cut, and we’re back to the telepath Talia running into Garibaldi in an elevator. She asks for advice in talking to Ivanova. Garibaldi offers her a tip on finding Ivanova off-duty, suggesting that she might be easier to approach. This interplay between the two women is the weakest part of the episode – minor spoiler – it’s all a framework for some exposition. Garibaldi makes what sounds like a very bad pass at Talia, she rolls her eyes but smiles, but leaves anyway.
Back to Sinclair, in a garden/hydroponics area. G’Kar shows up, and Frank Talk Ensues. The Ambassador attempt to ply on the support the Narn gave to the humans during the Earth-Mimbari War, Sinclair points out that the Narn would sell weapons to anybody, talks some smack about humans being good at war, and calls the entire race of Narns a bunch of cowards for sneak-attacking a civilian outpost, and basically dares the Ambassador to come get some. “I’ll see you in Council” is the parting shot, and he stalks out. In the corridor he runs into Garibaldi who has figured out the pattern of the raider attacks on shipping, and reveals that the next target is a ship that has been repurposed as a refugee transport recently. Commercial cut.
Back from commercial, a remote Senator is reading Sinclair the riot act. There’s an election in 24 hours. Delay the vote in Council. Keep the Earth Alliance out of it. Earth is ordering him to abstain if necessary. Ivanova enters at the tail end, unseen by the video pickup. As the call is cut, she reports that Garibaldi is ready to lead a fighter squadron to intercept the raider attack on the refugee transport. Sinclair gets a brainstorm, decides to take over the squadron, which means he can’t attend the Council meeting, and Ivanova can take his place, as second in command. Follow the agenda. And if the vote comes up? Well, she just never met Sinclair and didn’t get the updated orders from Earth, she can vote with the Centauri. Basically asked to ignore orders from Earth, she nods, she’ll go along with the plan. Fighters scramble and head out.
Ivanova calls the Council meeting to order. We get a pan of some of the members of the League of Non-Align Worlds, lots of aliens (makes sense from production standpoint that the main players in our interstellar drama are three fairly-human looking races, the Vorlon in his armor/environmental suit, and the Narn… only G’Kar has to spend too much time in makeup every week). Ivanova calls for the vote on sanctions/military blockade. G’Kar calls for justice, claiming the Narn are only retaking that which is rightfully theirs. Delenn recognizes the Narn claim to the planet, but asks where the cycle of violence ends. G’Kar insists they don’t want war (the actor does a good job of playing the “public diplomat” persona well, he always was one of my favorites in the show). Cut to the fighters. Time for some action, the raiders are indeed attacking the refugee ship. Cut back to the Council meeting. G’Kar insists that the Narn did not shoot first, and offers video testimony to support this. Londo’s nephew comes onscreen, obviously reading from a script, saying that there was civil disorder on the planet and that multiple calls to the Centauri homeworld led to no response, so they asked the Narn to intervene. Londo calls B.S., saying that the statement is obviously coerced. G’Kar responds by accusing Londo of ignoring his own government, saying that the Centauri have ordered him to vote against “a response that is inappropriate” (how does G’Kar know?) G’Kar asks the council to dismiss, one of the League offers a second of the motion. Cut!
Back to the fighters. They drive off the raiders, and we get to see the raider command and control ship. “Gotcha!” calls Sinclair. Cut!
Back to Londo, who is in his quarters, assembling a weapon from hidden compartments. Has the vote been called? Did the Centauri lose? We’re not sure, but Londo apparently plans to assassinate G’Kar, because he bumps into Talia the telepath in a corridor and she sees the mental image of Londo’s plan. She tells Garibaldi, who intercepts Londo and threatens to gun him down if he pulls a weapon. “Not this way, Londo,” says Garibaldi, “you know that if you kill G’Kar none of those colonists will survive.” Londo begrudgingly steps away, Garibaldi tells him he’ll be by in an hour to search his quarters for weapons, and that he doesn’t want to find anything. Londo asks if Garibaldi would actually have killed him, and Garibaldi says yes, but he’s just as glad that he didn’t have to. Paperwork. The two separate.
Cut to elsewhere. G’Kar enters, apparently summoned by Ivanova. Enter Sinclair and Garibaldi, who reveal that a Narn operative was found on the raider’s ship (“The Narn will sell to anybody”) along with data crystals of transmissions between the agent and the attacking force on Ragesh 3, confirming Londo’s version of the events. “Leave Ragesh 3 or we bring this up in the Council” is the play, G’Kar concedes.
Garibaldi and Sinclair stride through a passageway, dialogue wrapping up the loose ends. Cut to Ivanova with her hair down in the bar, watching the election returns (the incumbent, Ivanova’s not-preferred candidate, is ahead in exit polls). The telepath arrives, the two talk it out. Ivanova reveals that her mother was a natural telepath who didn’t want to join Psi Corps. The only choice available to telepaths who aren’t raised in Psi Corps are given three choices: go to jail, or take drugs that suppress the natural abilities. There are side effects to the drugs, though, and Ivanova’s mother fell into depression and eventually committed suicide. Ivanova thus has a thing against Psi Corp.
Cut again, Garibaldi and Ambassador Delenn are in his quarters, watching Duck Dodgers in the 24th (and a half) Century” with Daffy Duck, apparently Garibaldi’s “second favorite thing in the Universe” and the source of his original bad-pick-up line to Talia, earlier. Delenn is befuddled, but gamely trying to be amused.
Last scene, Sinclair is watching the final election returns. The incumbent has in fact been declared the winner. Santiago’s platform is revealed: cut the budget, keep Earth out of war and a veiled reference to xenophobia. Sinclair shuts the program off, along with the lights, and attempts to go to bed, only to be Linked by Ivanova: “Commander, there is a problem”.
I lost count, but I think there were six of those lines in this episode.
We’ve been introduced, briefly, to the major players. The Earthlings and the Mimbari, who fought an honorable war and appear to be pretty affable allies, the Narn and the Centauri, who had a decidedly less honorable war and appear to be pernicious enemies, and the Vorlon, who are Terribly Mysterious. Earth politics are non-monolithic and likely go against our Commander Sinclair’s natural proclivities. Psi Corp is another power actor, possibly with its own agenda.
For the old hands, who’s your favorite character that is revealed at this stage of the game? I’ll fess up, I’m a fan of G’Kar. For the new followers, be nice to Garibaldi, he gets better as time goes on.
And that was one of the most straightforward interactions anyone has with a Vorlon in this series.
Garibaldi has the Sisko effect: he gets much more badass once he shaves his head.
G’Kar is probably my favorite of the main characters. (Alas, he spends much of the first season as a third-rate Scooby-Doo villain.) But the best characters, to me, are the underlings. We got a brief glimpse of Vir, but we haven’t met Delenn’s aide Lennier, played by Bill Mumy of childhood Lost in Space fame. They always had a special place in my heart.
i liked vir. I liked that there was a centauri that had a strong moral core. maybe the only one.
Vir was one of my favorites for the same reason. Gur zbzrag jura Ive svanyyl gryyf Zbeqra jung ur jnagf vf cebonoyl bar bs zl snibevgrf, nybat jvgu gur zbzrag jura ur npghnyyl trgf vg.
Starting the series again, knowing what all the characters will go through, is kind of painful.
And the details are definitely worth paying attention. There are little things thrown out now that do not pay off until seasons 3 and 4. Unlike Lost, this series had its overall story plotted from the beginning, and it shows. I am not sure if there have been any other shows done like that since.
I loved Ivanova from the start. but my favorite was londo. have to love a man who got his posting for being from the right family, especially when he desires so much more.
And I have always thought that most of the best screen time is when Londo and G’Kar are on stage at the same time. that much hate and vitrol yet a silent appreciation of the others gifts.
And second on james comment. i always imagined a waiter at a vorlon restaurant dying before they even got the drinks order made. (Because you cant just ask the Vorlons what do you want? so touchy)
The best interactions are G’Kar and Londo. The first season episodes with them are very good, while the others are average. Still, everything picks up at the end of this season and they never look back. This episode still has one of my favorite lines in it. Londo saying, “Blood calls out for blood!” Very apt for what happens throughout this show.
The main “shadows of things to come” from this episode is Londo’s dream and Sinclair’s comment that 20 years is a long time and many things can change.
So I was bugging my friends as I was watching the episode and we hammered out that Babylon 5 is like a “UN IN SPACE!” thing.
So I’m wondering why each of the ambassadors is there rather than, say, another one.
Londo has Vir… which tells me that Londo was shuffled off to B5 to get him out of the way and given a vaguely ineffectual Centauri as a slap in the face. Sure, Londo has enough stroke to, say, reassign a nephew from here to there but he didn’t play the game well enough to not get reassigned to B5.
Delenn (mild spoiler for next week) is there because the Minbari are taking the whole Babylon 5 thing seriously.
I don’t know why G’Kar is there. I don’t know why Sinclair is there (dude, he’s a Commander, which isn’t chickenfeed, but you’d think that they’d put someone on the council who has enough authority to tell someone else to get into a Starfury). I don’t know why Kosh is there.
Those five races are the races that sit at the grownup table, right?
Also: the Minbari and Humans seem to get along pretty well for having a war 10 years ago. I mean, they seem to be the races that the Narn and Centauri both defer to somewhat as superiors from whom favors must be wheedled rather than subordinates from whom favors are expected.
There is a good reason Sinclair is there.
Also, he has enough authority to order someone else to get in a Starfury, but he took the opportunity to dodge the Senator’s orders to vote against sanctions.
Yeah, he jumped in the Starfury but no one seems surprised that he did. Small spoiler for next week: he jumps into a Starfury *AGAIN* to do some stuff.
Doesn’t he have people for that???
He comes from a long line of fighter pilots. I think he enjoys it a lot more than being Mr. Diplomat-Station Commander. He would much rather be shooting it out with a visible enemy than dodging knives in the shadows.
There’s a lot of “lead from the front” in this series. Generally, I approve.
The causes of the Human-Mimbari War come up.
Unlike most other SF series, where the races are monolithic in their relations (exception, see Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country), there are cabals and intra- as well as inter-species politikin’ to do.
I figure we kicked their butts from here to Sunday if they’re speaking English.
The end of the Earth-Minbari war is explained in the pilot, though there are still some mysterious aspects. Ng gur onggyr bs gur yvar, gurl jrer xvpxvat bhe nffrf. Fvapynve oynpxrq bhg. Nsgre gung, gur Zvaonev fheeraqrerq.
I don’t believe that the pilot is included in the box set, is it?
There is probably a boxed set of the movies. If so, it would be included there. It was a double length episode.
The pilot is not included in my original boxed set. There may be an uber-set or something.
The pilot is part of the Movie Box, at least it is down here. The same box has a movie set during the Earth-Minbari war.
They’re speaking English because they’re a diplomatic contingent on a human space station.
I think the canon answer is that they use a translator device. Also, if we hear two aliens alone (such as two Minbari) we are supposed to assume they are actually speaking their native tongue, though we hear the translation.
So I was bugging my friends as I was watching the episode and we hammered out that Babylon 5 is like a “UN IN SPACE!” thing.
That’s exactly what it feels like, which makes it a little weird that it’s under military command (presumably, since Sinclair and Ivanova have military ranks). On the other hand, if Earth lacks the military capability and/or willingness to fight another major interstellar war, putting some resources into keeping the peace is both pragmatic and idealistic.
Sinclair doesn’t have to be flying missions himself (and technically shouldn’t be), but he likes flying, he’s a good pilot, and it makes episodes more interesting to have him directly involved in flight missions rather than sending other people. Same reason Kirk, Spock and McCoy always beam down to the planet.
I think humans are more on a level with the Narn and the Centauri in terms of power, but B5 is an Earth installation so the ambassador’s may not be precisely on equal terms with the station’s commander in terms of authority. Regardless, Earth siding with either of them in a conflict would presumably be enough to tip the balance, so they’ve got good reason to be diplomatic.
The level of cordiality between Minbari and the main human characters is something that has continually bothered me.
Of course the Minbari or cordial to the humans gurl ner Zvaonev fbhyf.
It’s relations in the other direction that bother me.
Spoilers for future episodes and In the Beginning.
Nyy evtug, fb Rnegusbepr fubg svefg qhr gb n phygheny zvfhaqrefgnaqvat naq gur Zvaonev ybfg n orybirq yrnqre. Ohg gur Zvaonev (naq va cnegvphyne, n pregnva pheerag Nzonffnqbe) pbzzvggrq trabpvqr. Gurl xvyyrq rirelguvat uhzna gurl pnzr vagb pbagnpg jvgu naq ershfrq gb npprcg nal fheeraqre. Gurl pnzr rkgerzryl pybfr gb jvcvat bhg yvsr ba Rnegu orsber gurl fgbccrq. Vg frrzf cercbfgrebhf gung abg bayl ner obgu Fvapynve naq – va cnegvphyne – Furevqna sevraqyl jvgu gur Zvaonev, gur Zvaonev naq Qryraa va cnegvphyne ner ercrngrqyl cerfragrq nf gur zbeny pbzcnff bs gur fubj, qrfcvgr gur snpg gung Qryraa unf qbar sne jbefr guvatf guna nal bgure znwbe punenpgre (rkprcg Ybaqb) rire qbrf.
You make a good point.
However, the transfer of B5 to digital media has a long and troubled history among fans, you can go down that rabbit hole starting here, if you like.
On my old computer, my B5 DVDs looked incredibly blurry, much more so than on TV; on my new one they’re a lot better and look as good as any other old-ish DVDs. I’m not sure what makes the difference.
I thought Starfuries looked like X-Wings.
I haven’t watched most of the first season before, and I don’t strongly remember this episode, so most of this should be a little new to me even though I’ve seen all of seasons 2 through 5.
I’m impressed with how smoothly various elements of backstory are integrated into conversation – like Garibaldi giving the audience a summary of humanity’s first contact with the Centauri by means of a speech calling Londo out, which works reasonably well as dialogue. Or Londo and G’Kar variously narrating their species’ history with each other through dialogue with different characters.
The ensuing short conversation reveals then Narn were once attacked by the Centauri and are holding a grudge.
Well, the conversations this episode show a lot more than that, namely that the Centauri occupied Narn for about a century, strip-mined the place, and left its ecology in ruins to the point where practically nothing grows there.
G’Kar is my absolute favourite character in this series.
The thing I like most about G’Kar is that he’s so… un-oily. His diplomacy face is polished, urbane, and appears earnest… and continues to do so even when two cut scenes ago the fangs were out.
It’s really a remarkable piece of acting by Andreas Katsulas.
Just so, he was an incredible actor, and he was able to do it wile being made up to look like a lizard. That man had serious chops.
Agree on G’Kar and Londo. It’s interesting to watch the “relationship” develop over the entire series. I enjoy Londo for his unabashed debauchery and his (and his people’s) willingness to drink during “work hours”. Since your working all the time, you must take time to enjoy things. The whole Centauri Republic and their dealings with certain groups in the future is an excellent example of the moral rot and failing empire we’ve seen on Earth many times.
Vorlons: just too cool and mysterious. Kinda disappointed about how they were handled in near the end of the series.
Vir and Lanier: There’s an episode where the two of them are at a bar having a drink, complaining about how their bosses are screwing up and not following their advice. You get the impression that it’s been a regular bitch sesssion for a long time…classic.
Loved Garabaldi. Sneaky little devil getting stuff done.
Oh, a general note about the series, and how discussions go in these parts.
The “no politics, no religion” rule might seem weird when referenced regarding B5, because so many of the show’s intricacies are either about politics or religion (can’t wait to see the take on the next episode, really). So, to clarify the “no politics, no religion” rule, I’m quoting from an email from Jaybird, which I hope everyone can suss out:
We argue so many things on the front page that are things like religion, philosophy, and politics where we have our reasons for our conclusions and, let’s face it, most of our conclusions are moral. We support this policy because we don’t want people to die in the short run. We support that policy because we don’t want people to die in the medium run. We support that other policy because we don’t want people to die in the long run… and people who disagree just don’t care… THEY WANT PEOPLE TO DIE!!! Well, that can get to be a bit wearing.
I wanted to have a place where people could show up and say “I saw this movie where this guy was carrying a 2×4 and a pretty girl walked past and he turned to watch her and he hit another guy in the head with the board and I laughed.” (Or similar.) And someone else could say “I heard this album and it had this guitar solo and I remembered going to a Laser Floyd show at the Planetarium in 1982.” You know… little cool things that we could share with each other and even as we can’t believe that our interlocutors want people to die, we can see them as people we’d want to share a meal with.
As such, Mindless has a general rule of “no philosophy, no religion, no politics”. Of course, general rules are meant to be generally broken (and I’m sure you see me break them daily) but I aspire to references to such things to be starting points for discussions, rather than starting points for pointing out that other people want people to die (or burn in hell or what have you).
I’d just ask that posts be as light as possible, as engaging as possible, as fun as possible, as friendly as possible, and as personal as possible.
Drawing analogies from real-world politics or history or religion are going to be inevitable when we talk about this show (I was going to compare Earth/Mimbari relations post-Earth-Mimbari-War to Japan/U.S. relations post-WWII in response to Katherine up above, for example). Minor spoiler: the Earth Alliance xenophobia is going to draw inevitable comparisons.
As long as we stick to talking about the show, and not digressing into actual border security in the U.S., we should stay on the side of as light as possible, as engaging as possible, as fun as possible, as friendly as possible, and as personal as possible.
Second follow-up comment:
Since the shows are ~40 minutes, I’m planning on trying to stick to one of these a week. This might be tough in the next 6 weeks for me, but after that it should be smooth sailing until October. So if I’m not going to make a Sunday night/Monday morning post, I’ll try to let everybody know on Sunday.
If anyone wants to handle any of the upcoming episodes, do let me know. I have thoughts regarding The Soul Hunter, but if anyone wants to take it, I’m camping this weekend 🙂 If nobody wants to take it, I’ll get the draft up hopefully before we leave.
I’d like to cover a couple of episodes, but they’re not until season 2.
I don’t have anything of substance to say yet. The first episode didn’t knock my socks off. I probably wouldn’t want to watch again if I hadn’t heard such generally good things about it. (In contrast, Deep Space 9 did leave me wanting more. Then again, I was much younger when I watched that.)
I do like that there seem to be political angles. That seemed absent from most of the Star Trek stuff I watched, where the Federation seemed to be less of a political organism and more of bureaucracy defined.
Coming back to the first episode, given the focus on the powers and their politics, I realized it could easily be described to a newbie as “Game of Thrones in space”. (But, you know, without quite as much sex and gore.)
It’s 90’s network TV Game of Thrones in space.
I found the series takes a bit to get rolling. The cast of main characters is quite large and there are a number of story arcs that being in the first season (iirc) and all the characters have to be introduced, etc.
One of the best lines of the series “no one here is exactly who he appears to be”.
One of the best things it happened to me in my life is that I caught B5 from the beginning when TBS picked up the show, and showed seasons 1-3 continuously one episode per day. Seeing them that fast you get enmeshed very quickly in the story, and the arcs developm4ent start to pay off very quickly.
I can understand that is frustrating that some random person doing random stuff that looks like a filler because the writer had a creative bock turns out to be the most important reveal two seasons later. it is better if two seasons away is two months and not two years, when you don’t even remember random guy and random stuff.
What can I say: it gets better, so much better. The payoff if you hold on -and love great epics, be it the Iliad or the Lord of the Rings, or the Ring of the Nibelunger or Foundation, or …(you catch my drift)- is fantastic
I also believe Vir is my favorite character altogether, and his growth is very satisfying.
The Minbari really bugged me. Too nerd-alien-inspired-by-Kung-Fu-the-TV-series to me
But I really, really love the tele—- -people arc (don’t know how to do those spoiler things, and won’t goggle it now). I think them and the tele—- rebelion is one of the best things this series brought (or will bring, if you are starting to watch it now)
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