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And so it begins

The awesomeness of these episodes can be blinding.  But, I shall try to move past the blindness and pick out the commentary that catch my eye, as per usual.  Once again, all comments taken from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5.  Sound bytes are from the Down Below Sound Archive.



A Voice in the Wilderness:

"...Delenn has quite a few moments when she's laughing, and funny, but always in a dignified fashion; it's a strange but very appealing combination. (And there's one scene she's in that is played *absolutely* straight, but is fall-down funny.)"

Oh, Delenn.  Though, really, that's one of the reasons I love her character.  Delenn always has this graceful dignity that I'm quite envious of.  It makes her very beautiful, even without a lot of the normal human features of beauty.  Though, even that becomes moot in the second season.  XD

"It was always intended to be a two-parter, and was written that way. Background: the B5 2-hour pilot has done VERY well overseas in cassette form. Many of the prejudices in the american press that caused us problems don't exist overseas (it's done *extremely* well in Japan on laserdisk, in Germany, and England, among others). So they asked if we could do a two-parter that could be sold as a two-hour episode overseas. By all means, sez I. So I structured it accordingly.

Bit of B5 trivia: during the dead of winter last year, I got hit by the flu as badly as I've ever been hit. Temperature so high that I was near delerious at times, but refused to go to the hospital (I don't like doctors, and I was under deadline and couldn't afford the potential time away.) We're talking mondo sicko here. It was during this time that I wrote "The Quality of Mercy," a script which I have *no* memory of ever writing. I know it's here, and I know I wrote it on an intellectual level, but the process...gone in the fever.

It was also around this time -- either at the top or bottom of the flu, I can't remember now -- that I wrote the "Voice" two parter. And here's the trivia part...this isn't the original two-parter that I wrote. My brain already deteriorating, I wrote something that even I could see wasn't up to par. Wrote the entire two-hour script. Printed it up, and gave it to Doug and John. Before they could even respond, I looked at it and decided it had to go. So I trashed the entire script. By now we were getting very close to pre-production, and I was getting sicker and sicker...but I more or less locked myself in my office, swallowed down massive amounts of vitamins (as much as my stomach could handle), kept forcing down coffee, and wrote 12 hours a day for about six days, after which the original draft was finished. Turned it in; did some mild polishes thereafter, but what was filmed was essentially what I turned in in first-draft stage. In this case I do remember some of the process because the only way I could focus was to keep the stereo up full blast; in the writing of "Quality," it didn't help...I was beyond recall."

For some reason, it does not surprise me that B5 did much better overseas.  Americans don't appreciate it as much as they should, sadly.  All the more reason for him to move to the UK and write Doctor Who, right?  XD  No, I haven't given up on that yet.

Now I'm quite curious about the original two-parter.  I mean, I really liked Quality of Mercy.  It amuses me that he remembers none of it.  Voice is really one of the best episodes in the season though, so it's strange to think he was so sick while writing it.  It makes me want to give him snuggles.  XD

"I tried to develop a basic language structure for each of the races on B5. There are certain commonalities to the structure of names. I came up with some prefixes and suffixes, and assigned meanings to them, the same as real names. For instance, Rathenn (referred to by Delenn in "Voices") and Delenn have the same suffix, which has a specific meaning. You can break it down; Ner-oon (Legacies), Del-enn, Rath-enn, Der-onn, and so forth. The various parts do have specific meanings, but I generally keep that to myself, just for amusement."

What?  Now I want to knoooooooooooooooooow.  T_T  It sounds interesting.

"I try not to hype shows that I like unless I know beyond a doubt that it's absolutely kick-ass. I like "Voice" a lot; it is the point at which we really start cranking, speeding things up as we barrel toward "Chrysalis." I think the CGi is nothing less than terrific, Christopher Franke went balls-to-the-wall and did an *amazing* job with the music, the performances are good. I like it a lot. I haven't commented upon it a lot because it's kind of the weird child in the brood; when I write, I generally write tight and fast. By the third act, you're *moving*. In this case, you have to pace yourself out *very* differently, so part of my brain keeps doing this "c'mon, speed it up, speed it up" when I'm watching the first part because I'm used to a different one-hour kind of pacing.

Kathryn says I'm nuts. But then this is nothing new.

Anyway, I do think it's pretty cool, and does a lot with virtual sets and composite sets."

I don't think the pace suffered at all, but that's just me.  I'm entirely too partial to this episode.  I like that his wife said he's nuts though.  It's more fun that way anyway.

"Re: the elevator/transport tube gag...yes, we set this stuff up WAY in advance. The first time is in the tube where he tells Talia about his second favorite thing in the universe. The second time is in "Mind War" when he gives her the mental once-over and she belts him. And then we paid it off later with her line about him always being there.

One nice thing about the way we're doing this show is that we don't just have to set up gags within an episode; we can set them up *weeks* ahead of time, as long as the payoff is self-contained, but then when you see the earlier shows, now you get more out of it."

The transport tube gag was truly epic.  Oh, Mr. Garibaldi.  You do amuse us.  Even when you're stalking and trying to get in on that femslash.  XD

"A First Contact situation is one unlike any other: you don't want junior officers around to screw it up. Remember, the Earth/Minbari War began when a First Contact situation got screwed up. EA's policy is that it's better to risk two people than a full war, and those two people have got to be command-level personnel. Soldiers get killed; it happens. And yeah, you can leave a backup person at the shuttle ...but what if *he's* the one to make actual first contact? You're screwed. Ivanova and Sinclairhave been trained in this; in "Soul Hunter," Sinclair makes reference to the rules of First Contact Protocol. If you like, I'll elaborate on this in some future episode."

This sounds like more Trek coming in and ruining realism.  Honestly, it makes sense?  I mean, Garibaldi is still there, if a huge major emergency comes up, but really, after nearly getting wiped out in the Earth/Minbari war, I would want to lean on the side of safety.  Two command-level personnel over a war?  Yeah, they knew what they were signing up for when they joined.  Risks with better odds.  Officers are replaceable.  The planet isn't.  ^_^;;;

"It's real simple. Ron Thornton showed me three variations on the Great Machine shot. Because you're looking at a composite shot, you have to shoot either sharply angled down, or dead across, and full-figured, since you have to put them into another piece. That meant either a horizontal shot, or a 3/4's vertical shot.

Two of the shots on the storyboards were horizontal; one showed our characters way off in the distance on a ribboned path lined by crystals. It'd be pretty, but it looked like another tunnel shot, and I wanted to show something that wasn't claustrophobic. Also, we'd be limited in the camera move, and our characters would look kinda like peanuts. Not terribly dramatic. The second shot just didn't work for me, I don't entirely recall the reason now. The third possibility seemed the most dramatic...it was a high angle shot, it had depth, it would let us start on our characters and do a camera move/pullback in post production, it worked on every level.

My second thought was, "Shit, somebody's going to gig us on the Forbidden Planet thing." Nonetheless, it was the right shot, for the right reasons, and we chose to go with it.
"

It was impressive to me?  Then again, I've never seen this Forbidden Planet they are talking about.  I think he was right though, about the different shots.  The wider angle was much better than a tunnel or what have you. 

"How does one come up with stuff like Londo's song? Easy, really; you start by putting yourself in the position of an alien trying to understand us. And if you step back for a second, we do some *very* weird stuff. What he says about the song is exactly right in terms of its meaning."

THE HOKEY POKEY.  That's what it's all about, yo. 

"Yeah...I love Londo's song, that whole scene. The director wanted to cut Ivanova's coda after her mantra, but I really felt we needed it, and it played perfectly with her Russian character, which tends to have this unusual relationship with higher forces (he said vaguely). I love character based humor, because it's very powerful once you know the characters, and it can really blind-side you if done right. Ivanova's reaction in the core area was about as real as would probably happen, but it's funny to hear her *say* it.

What, cut the coda?  Of course not.  That's the most amusing bit!  Really, the whole Babylon 5 Mantra is just epic.  I did this, and a quote from the first episode of the second season together to form a monologue in my theatre class once.  XD  It's probably one of the most quoted things in this household, aside from No boom today. 

"Londo and Garibaldi really are two sides of the same coin, in some ways. There's an odd friendship there, almost grudging; Londo had little to gain by cheering up Garibaldi, except a drink perhaps, but that's what friends do."

And this is why we love them.  Actually, I adore that scene to pieces, especially Londo saying "Whatever it is, it can't be that bad!" in that glorious accent of his.  Peter Jurasik really knows how to deliver Londo's lines to absolute perfection, you have to admit.  Plus, things like this.

"I love monologues. They are a legitimate part of any drama. The MTV generation has had its tastes so thoroughly bastardized by quick cuts, lowering the attention span further and further, that any bite of more than ten seconds and they start to wander, it becomes a block of words and they blur out.

Go rent Network by Paddy Chayefsky, watch nearly any of the TZs by Rod Serling, go see "The Lady's Not for Burning" by Christopher Fry...all chockablock with moments where you park for a moment and let fly with a chunk of dialogue that smashes your head against the wall. Not every single exchange has to be foreshortened so that you lose the *impact* of what's being said. Because people's attention spans have been greatly foreshortened, suddenly more than 3 lines at a time is somehow viewed as wrong. It ain't. Just that lots of folks are afraid to try it, afraid to rely on just the words and the actors. And sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But it's legitimate.

The monologue in particular, done right, isn't just to convey information, it's to create a mood, to paint pictures with words, to expand on the obvious. Yeah, I could've just written, "The narns hate us, we hate them, it's equal math." But that doesn't carry the same meaning, the same sense as "so here we are...victims of mathematics." The use of the word "victim" connotes, hey, it's not my fault. Yeah, the former is shorter, but you lose the rhythms, the imagery, and the *sense* of what is intended. You could say, "The narn hate us." But to say, "if the narns gathered together in one place, and hated, all at the same time, that hatred would fly across dozens of light years and reduce Centauri Prime to a ball of ash," draws a picture, lends power to the emotion.

Point being...I like 'em, there's nothing wrong with them, and they're staying."

That first sentence.  Yes, we realized.  XD

It's not just the MTV generation, sadly.  No one has patience for monologues any more.  But they're oh, so good!  That particular speech of Londo's is really effective too.  I dunno.  I'm with JMS on this one.  I like monologues, especially well delivered ones.  And let's face it: G'kar.  That's all that really needs to be said.  I'm actually particularly looking forward to Nar seeing The Long, Twilight Struggle, if just because his monologue in that episode sends chills down my spine... and that's just thinking about it.  It's breathtaking, really.  Monologues, ftw, totally.

It probably doesn't help that I definitely got a monologue gene.  Not that I give monologues a lot... I tend to be the person listening more than anything, really.  But I like writing monologues.  Just ask Cy.  XD  I have done a ridiculous number of them in the rp, though I try not to, since that sometimes makes it harder for the other person to respond.  But still.  I like them.  ^_^;;;

"Re: your suspenders of disbelief becoming unhitched....

You will learn how the alien knows English in the next part of the two parter. (Hint: after all, he's been there for a long while, in a high-tech machine...you'd think maybe he could monitor transmissions.)

I don't think the Sinclair or Ivanova did automatically believe him; but they also had no real reason *not* to believe him. And granted the place was going to hell, quakes and danger. He wasn't armed, he seems rather sick, had to be helped away, almost carried...they won't turn the station over to him, they'll keep him isolated on the station, but there was no reason *not* to try and help him.

How do you know he's a good guy? You don't. But he wasn't exactly imprisoned in that thing; it was a support, more than anything else, a was shown by the fact that they were able to get him out fairly easily.

(And yes, your first guess was correct, it is a life support gizmo.)

Regards to your suspenders."

Okay, I just put that one in there because JMS's response amused me greatly.

Soooooooo, I was going to do two separate posts for Part One and Two, but he really doesn't say much for part two.  ^^;;;  To sum up the episode, it's just that awesome, really.  There are booms.  There is Londo talking to the landing thrusters.  There is Sinclair threatening to fire on EA ships if they continued to persist in putting the station in danger by going to the planet below.  There is the Third Principle of Sentient Life.  In short, pretty epic.  Good stuff.





Babylon Squared:

"The one I'm most looking forward to writing just now, though, is "Babylon Squared," in which we finally show what happened to Babylon 4, and in the process ask more questions than we answer (though at least we DO answer the questions we asked about the fate of that station in general...you'll know what happened to it, just not yet what it means). The end of this episode will cause more speculation and consternation and astonishment than anything you've seen on TV in a long, long, very long time."

Oh, the questions.  Of course, we now know the answers, but they were things much puzzled over at the time.  And now Nar gets to puzzle over them.  <3  Why was Older Sinclair stealing Babylon 4?  How was Older Sinclair stealing Babylon 4?  Who was Zathras?  Where was Babylon 4 going?  What do the flash forwards meeeeeeeeeeeeeean?  XD  Good stuff, all of it.

"What a weird day...filming "Babylon Squared," and one minute I'm standing in the anteroom/hallway of a Minbari cruiser that leads into the Great Hall and the chambers of the Grey Council...a few minutes later I'm standing in a section of Babylon 4, and the whole atmosphere of the crew is *very* different, the whole sensibility is strange... very strange.

"Babylon Squared" has a *very* different look to it, and a very eerie and foreboding feel about it, which I like a lot. Jim Johnston, who directed "Soul Hunter" and several others is doing it. Very moody."

That would actually be really awesome.  I've always liked how the inner chambers of the Grey Council looked, with the nine circles of light.  And Babylon 4 is both different and similar to Babylon 5, which I had characters being slightly disturbed about in my Torchwood ficlet.  So it apparently worked really well if I was picking up on it despite there being a long while in between my watching any B5 and me writing it.

"No, actually, B2 was structured for maximum jarring effect, thus the sudden cuts back and forth, the sickly green light in B4...makes the person watching feel unexplainably anxious, which was a subliminal but definite intent. So no, nothing much was cut. And yes, eventually we will see the flip-side of the B4 story."

Again, we are seeing your Pscyology major-ness come out with how you're messing with people.  We see what you're doing, JMS.  >.>

"B5 is smaller than B4 because they sunk most of their budget into B4; on B5 they had to get outside funding, and scrimped."

Aw...  Poor B5. 

"B1-B4 were located in roughly the same sector, with B4 using some of the materials from 1-3 leftover. B5 was constructed about 3 hours (traveling time in real-space) from the location of B4."

Hm, interesting.  One would think they'd try some place different for each of the stations, if just to avoid that sort of thing, but I can see why they'd want to use the extra materials from the other stations that were blown to bits.  And why you wouldn't want to make another one where B4 disappeared, because hey, stations don't just disappear over night in good parts of space.  XD

"Does the Grey Council live permanently on that ship?
They stay on the cruiser almost entirely during their tenure in the council, only leaving for personal family crisis/situations and the like."

This is why I would not like to be a member of the Grey Council.  It seems to me their rulers are very cut off from the rest of their society.  I think JMS does a fairly decent job of describing why this is not a good thing in later episodes.  XD

"Garibaldi's closing lines in Sinclair's flashforward are reminiscent of "Aliens."
When you're shooting a show, invariably you get to the stage and find that you have, for instance, three lines, one per character in the room...and you're trying to get them out the door, and it moves better if you give one line to one character and the other two to the other character. That sometimes happens. But rarely. In the Garibaldi's yell case, it was written as a quick shot, he yells and we're out. The director wanted to extend the shot a bit, visually. I wasn't in the studio at the time, so Jerry improvised a series of yells.

This sort of thing is *extremely* rare on the show; the actors and directors know they *cannot* change dialogue on the set without approval from me or Larry. On any given script, no more than about 3-6 lines get modified for staging purposes once we get to the set. And always with approval required. This is an absolute, hard and fast rule. The only reason the Garibaldi thing happened is that they figured it was just a yell, so nothing could get messed up story-wise (which is the primary reason this is so strict; change one word in a line and it could screw up plot points three episodes down the road) by having him yell a few specific lines. If I'd been there for that scene, I would've written him something a little less reminiscent of "Aliens.""

NO LINE CHANGING.  It is a rule.  Though, with JMS as the head writer, one can see why.  He does that, making certain lines important.  But sure, blame it all on Garibaldi.  XD

"The single most moving kind of story for me is the "last man on the bridge"...the last defender who has to hold the line while others get away, knowing he will probably not survive it. This has great power for me, and for many others, which is why it shows up again and again in films, literature, TV and other venues. The Garibaldi scene has NOTHING to do with Aliens, and everything to do with that figure.

Re: *why* it is that humans are special...has nothing to do with sacrifice, or dedication (well, that's not quite true, it has something to do with it), but that's not the totality of it. There's one more element you don't know about yet, that won't be revealed until season two, episode one, "Points of Departure." Once you see that episode, you'll fully understand that there is one very particular thing about humans that is very special indeed."

Lots of people do, I think.  That's why the story of the 300 Spartans is so endearing.  The battle of Thermopylae is the ultimate of tragedy and sacrifice, a lot of things that show the good of humanity.  I like moments like these too, to be honest. 

"I kinda *have* to play fair with the story; if you hear Delenn's voice, then you can be sure it's Delenn.

In one form or another."

In case Nar was still confused by voice recognition.   XD

""So who IS the One? Some of the evidence points to Sinclair, but other bits seem to indicate Delenn. Yet neither seems to fit all the facts above."

Exactly.

What you have here in your message are two pieces of the puzzle. You're confounded by the fact that somehow they don't quite seem to fit into one another. That's because there's one last piece missing in this part of the picture, which fits in between them. The intent is to put this piece into clear view in year three, probably between episodes 8 and 11 approximately. At that point, the question of the One will be fully answered."

The trolling Vorlon, JMS, strikes again.  Still.  We at least now know about the One.  <3

"Garibaldi's eyes glow for one frame in the flashforward scene.
(sigh) Our rotoscope EFX guy was waiting for a bunch of PPG EFX to finish rendering in that battle scene, and was bored, and like many such EFX types, filled in the eyes of Garibaldi with weird stuff while waiting around. When the other scene finished rendering, he got out, believing that he had not saved that one frame. Unknowingly, he had.

Nobody caught it until after broadcast.

We talked."

ROFL.  I never noticed that.  And it's hilarious.  I can totally imagine bored EFX guys doing things like this.  XD

"Which do you do first?
Fasten, button.

Levi's Jeans forever!"

*snickers*

"Does the triluminary have anything to do with the sculpture in Delenn's quarters?
Yes, the Triluminary does have a function in the device she's been making."

We did tell you, Nar, that the triangles had a purpose.  XD  JMS is apparently too.

Oh, this episode.  I do so love this episode.  First of all, the practical joke played on Ivanova is truly epic.  All around, you have to love that scene to pieces.  And then there are socks!  Socks are good.  And fastening then zipping.  And Zathras.  You have to love Zathras.  <3




Quality of Mercy:

"Of all the scripts I've written, the only one that I'm less than absolutely 100% thrilled with is "The Quality of Mercy," because I wrote it while absolutely sick with the flu, and have NO memory even of writing it. As it is, though, I'm about 90% happy with it, particularly the B-story with Londo and Lennier, which came out great."

...

Actually, the B-story with Londo and Lennier makes so much more sense now that I know it was written when he was half delirious and has no memory of it.  Because that's the sort of crack you come up with when you're that sick.

"Psi Corps telepaths are ****NOT**** allowed to scan defendants in any official way connected to a criminal act. It violates the right to due process. Even if requested, it's simply not allowed. You do NOT want to even open the door a *crack* in letting a government-regulated agency begin making determinations about who is and isn't guilty of a crime. That way lies dictatorship, Thought Police and Big Brother."

Granted, Bester wouldn't mind that at all, truth be told.  But.  That is later in the story.  XD  And yes, it's fairly important to have that law in place.

"How has your presence on the net affected the series?
The one major reason I decided to begin this interaction, despite CONSIDERABLE discourgement and disbelief from my peers, is that I think it may be of some use, and because I think that one should be willing to stand publicly with what you create, and because though many criticisms are issues of taste or subjective preference, sometimes (fairly often, actually), I learn something from the discussion, or I'm corrected in something, and that realignment is eventually reflected in the show. I'm giving some serious thought to either revamping n'grath or killing him off given the reaction (paired with my own). I won't be dictated to, but in some cases, as with n'grath, I may be uncertain, but willing to try and see if the experiment works. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, and the general perception here seems close to my own. In addition, I was initially going to gloss over some of the legal aspects of the Psi Corps in "The Quality of Mercy," but when so many people expressed interest in how that worked, and when I saw some measure of confusion about it, I took the time to indicate how the legal aspects work when it came time to complete that script, thus answering the questions."

So again, why don't more writers try this?  I can seriously think of a few that would benefit from this sort of feedback.  Granted, the online presence is much, much more massive than it was back then, but still.  It could be manageable, and obviously it did awesome things for B5.  It doesn't do to ignore your audience.  And look, Nar!  Other people didn't like N'Grath.  XD 

"We do tend to try and stay open to gender stuff; usuall there's a reason why someone is male or female, so it's cast that way. But as an example...in "Quality of Mercy," the role as originally written was for a father/daughter combination. In the process of casting, we thought, why not mother/daughter? So that's how it ended up. In "Points of Departure," we have one of your requests already taken care of...a part of a war cruiser commander who could've been male or female...cast female."

And this is why we love you, JMS. 

"Q: What are Londo's appendages called?
Tentisticularites?"

Oh, my.

"As for the tentacles...well, there's no rules about showing tentacles on TV. I think they didn't even want to deal with it. There are some moments when they pretend they didn't see it, and I pretend I didn't write it."

This amuses me far more than it has any right to. 

"Actually, Centauri have six. They extend out from the sides of the body, and "fold" in over the solar plexus when not in, er, use. (We actually saw one extended for other purposes in the first season, "The Quality of Mercy.") Female Centauri have six...er...slotted areas on either side of the spine, just above the hips, three on either side.

To go any further would probably bring in the FBI."

And this would be why Jack Harkness would love the Centauri Homeworld.  Yeah, I probably don't need to go into details on that one, though I've slipped it in to a few of Jack's thoughts in my Torchwood ficlets.  Cause really, between this and a Betazoid wedding, we know which kinds of crossovers Jack would prefer.  I'm almost curious to prompt this to a kink meme, just to see what would happen.  XD 

Actually, there's a part in this episode that I absolutely adore, when Londo is annoyed at his government, says something to the effect of 'bite me' to the screen after the link was cut, and then gestures to his torso in what one must assume is an offensive jesture.  It's the little things, but there are times when I really do like this show.  They create cultures, not just aliens. 

"The awful thing is that the two women in props -- who were having FAR too much fun with this -- kept bringing me the tentacle to verify the shape, size, consistency, do we see veins or not....

I tell you here and now: our staff meetings are something else."

ROFL.  Oh, my.  Yes, I would be doing the same thing if I were working in props.  The very same thing.  Those are important details, after all.  Very important.

""What kind of birth control do the Centauri use?"

Conversation."

Again, adding that one just because I like JMS's reaction to that.  It's also sadly true.  XD

"Isn't brainwiping as bad as killing?
There are actually many issues to get into in all of this. Which is really the "person," the mind, the soul, or the body? If a person has an accident, getting amnesia, which wipes out his entire personality, is that person as good as dead? Is there no difference between amnesia and death? If not, why not just kill the amnesiac? But obviously there *is* a difference. So what is the person? What constitutes death?

We consider the actual death of the *brain* through the cessation of brain activity to be the test for death. But what if you simply rearrange those patterns?

There is also the question of *justice*. If the person is dead, then that person cannot do much to correct the ills he visited upon society. It is simply a waste of material. So why not take someone who, in any decent society, would be executed or forced to live in a 6x9 cage the rest of his life, and give the soul, and the body, a new chance by giving the person a new personality and letting him, as the Ombuds says, "serve the community harmed by his actions"?

Finally, if the person is dead, he's dead; let's say 5 years down the road somebody finds evidence that proves the person was innocent. There is at least the *chance* to reconstruct some of the original memories and personality profile.

All of this, again, has to be considered in light of the fact that we are talking about a *space station* with limited space and resources. You cannot warehouse every person who kill somebody in a station that small; you would run out of space almost immediately. (If you also include basic felons and near-killings.) So what *do* you do with them? As was noted, Earth doesn't want them and won't pay to have them shipped back...what's left?

That's the dilemma I wanted to pose in the episode...what *can* you do?"

Hey, I'm all for the moral dilemma.  It's such a chilling concept too.  To know that everything you are can be wiped away and then reconstructed to what someone else thinks will be 'good for society.'  It's terrifying, when you sit there and think about it.  It's sort of similar to the Cybermen, which is part of why I've always loved them.  Daleks just kill you.  Cybermen want to make you 'better'. 

"You will see the healing machine from "Quality" once more. Part of the reason for that story was to set up something within the B5 universe that will come in handy a long time later (but I'm *not* going to have it lying around indefinitely; it would cause lots of long-term complications).

(Some TV shows foreshadow/set-up stuff an act or two ahead of time; we do setups a full *year* ahead....)"

...

...

You bastard.

(And that's all I'm saying to that.  Because that's implying a lot more than the whole Garibaldi thing.)

"There are limits to what the healing device can do, for starters; it can't repair physical damage to the body, mainly it works with disease and basic low-energy stuff; also, bear in mind that it was a device used for *capital punishment*...meaning that to save one person's life, another must sacrifice his or her own, if it's that far along, so it's not really something you can trot out everytime somebody gets nailed."

Once again, the whole moral dilemma comes into play.  I love the fact that the show takes on such controversial subjects head on.  It's a lot more fun this way, especially since they usually don't so much as give you moral direction as take any moral direction away.

"A lot of our episodes are constructed to work as mirrors; you see what you put into it. "Believers" has been interpreted as pro- religion, anti- religion, and religion-neutral..."Quality" has been interpreted, as you note, as pro-capital punishment, and anti-capital punishment. We do, as you say, much prefer to leave the decision on what things mean to the viewer to hash out.

A good story should provoke discussion, debate, argument...and the occasional bar fight."

Point in case, reiterated.

"There's the sense that A, B and sometimes C stories in TV should intersect. My attitude: sometimes yes, sometimes no. Depends on if you look at this as a real place or not, as opposed to a thematic exercise. What I go through in the course of a day has nothing to do with what happens to Larry DiTillio across town, except and unless it involves our mutual work. Sometimes, as in "Quality," the stories feel like they resonate, and can be used to illustrate one another, and so they're linked. In others, what I'm striving for is a sense of a "day in thed (the) life" of Babylon 5. The one kind of story is neither better nor worse than the other, they're simply different. One may like one more than the other, but to say they're "better" plots is just silly. There's NO padding in this show, no stories put in to fill out time; just stories that we want to tell, period."

Which is actually one of the reasons B5 is such an awesome show.  They're so busy, just like the station is.  It's an overreaching arc story, yes, but it ain't just one arc.  There are like, five or six.  The Centauri/Narn War plot, the Mars plot, the Civil War plot, the Shadows plot, the Minbari political unrest plot, the Psi corps plot...  And I'm sure I'm missing some.  Because those are just the wars, really.  There's also the character plots and all sorts of other things going on.  Really, that's a lot of story to tell in five years.  Just another reason it's fantastic, all I'm saying.  Everyone should watch it.  XD

This is an episode I happen to like a lot.  It's strong, it's got Talia, and the sub-plot is hilarious.  It's one of the cases where I remember both the A and B plots, though not always together.  XD  Sometimes I forget one or the other, but this one you remember both for different reasons.  And really, this even technically has a C plot...  Which ties in closely to the A plot enough that you might put them together, but the episode is handling three different things and it manages fantastically.  It is a fact I both love and curse about Babylon 5.  Granted, the cursing mainly comes in the one time I've tried to write for it, but hey.  65k.  It should really not have been that long.  But nooooooooooo, I had to have plots, and subplots and more subplots...  >.>  Still, in the end that was really what made it so much fun to write.  I had the Jack and Ianto plot, Eirwen's plot with Ivanova, Eirwen's plot with G'kar and Londo, the whole doomsday plot for the station, the plot of Ianto and Eirwen trying to get back home, and so forth.  Sometimes they intersected, sometimes they didn't, but over all it honestly wasn't the hardest multiple plot things I've written.  It was just loooooooooooooooong.

Really though, I love the plot of capital punishment and how they handle it.  It's both chilling and practical.  Then the plot with Londo and Lennier is just hilarious, plus manages to set something up a little down the line in the second season, regarding the Minbari.





Chrysalis:

"And so it begins."

"I'm in the strange position of writing the season end episode now, to shoot #12, since it's going to require a lot of post production work, and it definitely puts one in a very strange state of mind. I have to be careful to refer to things that've happened in the past episodes, from the perspective of the last episode of the season, but which haven't yet been written or filmed in real-time. So I'm writing the second half of some stories before having written the first half (though I obviously know where they're all going)...which really bends your brain around after a while.

This episode is going to be highly classified; we're going to limit distribution of scripts, and parts of scripts, put canary traps in all of the scripts that *are* distributed, and otherwise keep this one quiet. All I can say is that we're going to kick over every table we've got. In any season finale, there are maybe 4-5 things you know when you sit down to watch the show that they'll NEVER ever do. So we're doing all of them. If this one doesn't keep you glued to your seats, you've lost your chair."

I'm pretty sure I can't write like that.  ^_^;;;  I really have to do a straight progression of things, or it throws me off.  I can work on two separate things at once, but not the ending first.  Though I can think of one or two fics that might have been better for it.

As for the reasons why things were kept so quiet...  Holy dramatic writing, Batman!  This episode has brilliant tension, starting from the scene with Garibaldi in the Docking Bay (that is one of the few moments on the show without music) and leading up to the assassination.  He's really not bragging when he says it will keep you glued to your seats.  It's pretty damn fantastic. 

"I have just seen the director's cut of "Chrysalis," which will be the last episode of this season...and I think it has just displaced "Sky" as the most heavy-weight episode of the season. Even knowing what was coming, I just sat here, stunned, at the end of it. Seeing dailies, bits and pieces, doesn't really prepare you for the whole thing. What I like most about it are two things: one, by about halfway in, you really begin to understand that anything can happen, to anyone, and the rules that normally carry you through a television episode no longer apply. It's a very dangerous, dislocating feeling. Two: you get the very real feeling that, after this episode, nothing is the same anymore. The show has taken a very profound and *irrevocable* turn that will have lasting effects on all of our characters. Of all the episodes so far, this one has the most feeling of being the chapter end in a novel. The really hard part will not avoiding the temptation to show this to people...because it really can't be allowed to get out prior to airing. There are too many twists and turns and revelations that spin one off into another. One other thing's certain: after you've seen "Chrysalis," you're going to want to go back and check out three prior episodes...because something that you will have read/interpreted one way, without question or hesitation accepting it as what it obviously appears to be, will suddenly be turned on its head, and a brand new interpretation will emerge. And it's *real* creepy...."

Hence the reason why you don't read crappy episode summaries, Nar.  >.>  WB, that was a really douche-y thing to do, just to let you know.  Hire better summary writers.  Point Two is definitely relevant too.  It's frightening to contemplate.  It also gives you a very, very good picture of how the United States must have felt after Kennedy's death, or any assassination, really.  It's a stunning feeling to be so completely powerless, and I think this episode conveyed that really well.

"Someone complains about the characters not staying the same

Losing the characters she's come to enjoy? No. But the characters are changing. That's the point, and that's been the intent from day one. But what's the alternative? I've heard ST fans complain loudly and bitterly that after 7 years of TNG being on the air, nobody's really changed, nobody's been promoted into different ships or major changes in responsibilities...they've had Riker as XO for seven years, which in the real military would mean his career is *over*.

Change is the only other option.

The goal, from the start, was to create an overall story, but which would also require arcs for every single major character. They're all going somewhere. In many cases, that "somewhere" plays into the larger arc; in some cases, not. If a woman is single, then gets married, then gives birth, and she's your friend, have you "lost her" just because she's gone through these changes? Of course not. She has changed, in good or bad ways, but she's still the same person."

*raises eyebrow at unnamed person*  Really?  Have you never heard of dynamic characters?  I'll take dynamic characters over static ones any day.  There's a reason why I say Londo and G'kar are half the point of watching B5.  Their transformation as characters are so completely remarkable, tragic, heartbreaking, heart warming, and satisfying.  They changed the most out of anyone in the show.  I wouldn't have traded that change for the world, even when things get dark.  Now Garibaldi, we have different issues with his changes.  But.  Beside the point.  It eventually worked out for him, I suppose.

"I just showed "Chrysalis" to a couple of people today, who didn't know what was in it. And there's one thing that they had seen over and over in prior episodes of the series which they never thought twice about, which they just sorta accepted...only to suddenly have this understanding totally turned on its head.

The look on their faces was *priceless*.

This is probably the longest and most extensive setup/payoff in SF television history. And afterward, once you discover what that is, if you go back suddenly there's a LOT of different meaning in prior episodes."

Politics.  This is why you pay attention to them, even in a Scifi show.  Especially in a military/political drama.

"Re: the staging of Morgan Clark taking the oath of office; I gave very particular instructions to re-create the staging of the photograph in which Lyndon Johnson takes over from JFK after the assassination. The same layout, posture, background, and so on. We even had a photo on set for reference. The creepy thing is that the day we shot the scene was the anniversary of the day it actually took place; very weird atmosphere on set that day."

Okay, that is kind of creepy.  Really creepy, actually.  Makes sense, but still.

"Actually, I was born in 54, so we're about the same age. Oddly, I don't remember the day of the shooting; what I *do* remember is watching JFK's funeral, and not entirely understanding the depth of the event, but fully grasping the emotions around me. That will linger forever."

And here I thought that was one of those things that everyone remembers if they were alive at the time, the moment they heard that the president was shot.  Guess not.  The emotions are what linger though.  I think the closest my generation has to it is 9/11, and I remember that day with a lot of clarity.

"Re: being fooled into thinking the crystal construct in Delenn's quarters was nothing more than a meditation thing...in general, it helps to remember that I subscribe to Anton Chekov's First Rule of Playwriting: "If there's a gun on the wall in act one, scene one, you must fire the gun by act three, scene two. If you fire a gun in act three, scene two, you must see the gun on the wall in act one, scene one."

Waste nothing."

Yyyup, that sounds about right.  The one time I've written anything near long enough to warrant that sort of thing, I did the same. :XD  Even if I had to go back and add things to the beginning to make it work.  Which is really why I never post anything without finishing it first, even my chapter fics.  That, and I don't like leaving people with something unfinished.

"About the marriage ceremony in "Parliament"

The marriage was a red-herring, a bit of misdirection. The key for any magician is to get the audience to look at your hand so they don't see the elephant being wheeled onto the stage in full view. The line in "Parliament" is, "It's a rebirth ceremony all right, and sometimes doubles for a marriage ceremony." When I wrote that, I knew instantly that everyone would focus in on the second half (misdirection) and miss the first half. (Note that Delenn's "And so it begins" is echoed by Kosh in the last episode.) I put out something that I figured everybody would latch onto, ignoring the other meaning which is stated twice.
"

Sneaky Straczynski is sneaky. 

"Actually, the first Triluminary was found by the Minbari, not made by them, in a vessel they ran into about a thousand years ago."

Sometimes I wonder if he just likes saying things like this to mess with our heads.  Really, JMS?  You're going to go there?

"Correct; Garibaldi's aide has *always* been a plant. I seeded him in from the beginning, specifically for that purpose. It was the aide who got Sinclair out of his quarters in "Sky," was the liaison who got Benson on line (also in security, you'll remember), and helped dispose of the body. If you watch his reaction in "Sky," he's the one who brings info to Garibaldi looking to clear Benson; and when Garibaldi sees through it, you can see his aide move off looking very worried.

Originally, it was Laurel Takashima who would have betrayed those around her, as this character did. When Laurel was transferred, I had a choice: keep that arc for her replacement (Ivanova), or give this part of it to someone else. Now, knowing how the folks here on the nets and elsewhere think, and knowing that they knew about the Laurel- possible-traitor thread, I figured that everyone would assume that Ivanova would get that part. (And, sure enough, a lot of people did.) This became a wonderfully convenient blind behind which to build the *real* plant.

And thus far, *nobody's* seen it coming. He was right there in clear view, we used him many times (also in "By Any Means Necessary," for instance), and nobody ever paid him the slightest attention.

It is, in a way, the classic magician's trick of misdirection: you try to get everyone to look at your hand so they won't look at the huge elephant being wheeled up onto the stage in plain sight."

:o  So that's where the Takashima arc was headed?  Wow.  I think I don't like Takashima's character much any more.  I'm very glad they didn't give it to Ivanova.  Ivanova was way too good to be wasted on something like this. 

""I *liked* Laurel!"

Well, yes, that's rather the point; tragedy is only tragedy if it happens to someone you care about and like."

Touché, JMS.

"No, after the thread with Laurel was revealed, lots of people *assumed* that that thread had been passed along to Ivanova. It had never in fact been intended for her, but when it was broached, I simply didn't reply, on the theory that if I said it *wasn't* her, it'd narrow it down to who it *was*."

And that is exactly why you don't let the psychologist write TV shows.  XD

""If the Shadows are active on Earth, we need to ask why Psi-Corps haven't picked them up."

Yep."

Again, we see what you're doing, JMS. 

"Since I mentioned it over on Internet (but not where it belongs), I give y'all a little gift...Kosh's very last line of the season, in "Chrysalis."

"You have...forgotten something."

It's not nearly as straightforward as it looks, and that one line will carry with it *major* repercussions. (And no, it doesn't refer to the 24 hours.)"

Sometimes I really hate it when he does that.  >.>  With all the love I can must, naturally, but the hate is still there.

"Sometimes it gets wonky. We filmed "Chrysalis" twelfth in shooting order, to air twenty-second. Part of the setup to "Chrysalis" is "Signs and Portents," which shot 4 episodes later. Meaning the actors had to act familiar with elements they hadn't performed yet, and hadn't seen yet in script form. So in that case, I had to sit down and explain what the various aspects of "Chrysalis" meant, and where we were going, for it all to play. Later, when "Signs" was published in-house, they got to see in more detail how the setup fit in with the payoff.

If asked, I would probably try to refrain from telling any of the actors the full story. Let me rephrase: I simply wouldn't do it. If they would ask where their individual character is going -- and some have -- what I do is give them the general arc, but leave out a lot of specifics. For instance, Peter knows *in general* that his character is going in a darker direction, but not how he's going to get there or what it means to the overall story. And that, I think, is as it should be."

You just like having all the answers and not telling anyone, don't you?  Something tells me I would hate to be on the set with this man, but at the same time, it would be so awesome.

"Every so often, a screwup takes place that is so breathtakingly stupid that it defies all logic and reason. I just learned of one this evening, and I'm still reeling a bit from it. Consequently, this is address to anyone who watched the satellite uplink of "Chrysalis" or has seen it in the US in the last day or so.

Once we deliver an episode, it goes to two places: Modern Video and CVC. CVC checks an episode of any series prior to uplink to make sure it's okay. Though they've had it for four months, they only got around to checking it the day before uplink. During this, they found a couple of small audio pops. The kind of thing that could be fixed in about five minutes. But since it was the evening, Modern Video decided to fix it for us...by *rebuilding the entire episode*.

Without calling us, notifying us, or checking with us, when we could've easily had someone on-hand there to supervise at a moment's notice.

Well, when they rebuilt the episode...they didn't use all the correct footage. Some of what was used was RAW FOOTAGE. Example: when Londo goes to meet someone in the Garden, there's supposed to be a great composite shot there of the interior of the Garden area, and a hedge maze. (The UK saw this version of it last month.) But when the episode was rebuilt, they used the raw footage segment showing Londo and a partial hedge IN THE SOUNDSTAGE, where you can see the stage wall, and the pipes, and the EXIT sign. No composite. Nada.

We don't yet know what else has been included incorrectly, because we won't see a copy until morning. Suffice to say that this is being taken care of *our* way overnight, and a correct version will be sent out via satellite in time for the Wednesday first airings in most markets, and the reruns in those markets where it's already aired.

At this moment, I am preternaturally calm about all this, having passed beyond anger earlier this evening into a kind of zen state of consciousness, utterly unable to wrap my brain around the absolute stupidity of something like this for more than two minutes at a time.

By morning, this will have worn off.

I'm looking forward to it immensely."

Wow.  I think I'd have been pissed too.  I was nine, so my memory of first watching this one isn't too clear.  But still.  That would have really ticked me off.  Come to think of it, I probably watched it on a tape of a rerun.  I wasn't allowed to stay up late enough to watch it until the second season.  XD

"Londo is a fascinating character to write; there's layers upon layers, and every time I sit down to write him, he surprises me with something else. And it's certainly more interesting to watch someone you like falling into something terrible than to set up a bad guy from day one; no complexity or sympathy there. It's kind of like watching an accident in slow motion. But in the final analysis, all is not dark for Londo."

Oh, Londo.  Remember what I said earlier about Londo being one of the show's most dynamic characters?  Yes, this a bit of why.  There is one single moment that is far more heartbreaking than any other in this show (and this show has a lot of heartbreak to it, even character deaths), and he's at the heart of it.  I look forward to Nar seeing it.  <3

This episode.  There is so much to say about it.  So much that happens in it.  It's the pay off for pretty much the whole season.  And it's so, very, very good.

So have some sound bytes.  "Nibbled to death by cats" and Londo's thoughts on the fusion reactor are two of my favorites, though this one is fairly awesome too.





Two down, one left to go!  As always, people are welcome to join us.  Just let me know and I'll update you when we decide to start watching. Also, Nar is now through the end of season one.  This makes me happy.  :XD

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
narwhale_callin
Mar. 25th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
I'm sort of amused by the fact that you frequently reference me with the tone of a doting parent watching their child learning to eat solid foods. :P "I can't wait until she sees y, z, w!"

"I love monologues. They are a legitimate part of any drama. The MTV generation has had its tastes so thoroughly bastardized by quick cuts, lowering the attention span further and further, that any bite of more than ten seconds and they start to wander, it becomes a block of words and they blur out."

I forget where I read it--maybe from you or elsewhere--but somewhere I read that the average scene in a 1950s movie was something like 3 minutes, and the average scene in a 2005 movie was 20 seconds. Something like that, approximately. This generation is being trained to have short attention spans, essentially. I say bring back long scenes, and correct this phenomenon while we still can! (Pft, not like I have any power over that, though.)

Also: I love monologues. I love writing monologues. I don't like speaking them, but I love listening and writing to them.

And now Nar gets to puzzle over them. <3 Why was Older Sinclair stealing Babylon 4? How was Older Sinclair stealing Babylon 4? Who was Zathras? Where was Babylon 4 going? What do the flash forwards meeeeeeeeeeeeeean?

Actually, I wasn't puzzling over any of that? By now, I've started to learn to just accept it as part of the storytelling. XD

In case Nar was still confused by voice recognition.

Well, not anymore. XD Not my fault I've had ear problems since birth.

I never noticed the glowy eyes! :O

We do tend to try and stay open to gender stuff; usuall there's a reason why someone is male or female, so it's cast that way. But as an example...in "Quality of Mercy," the role as originally written was for a father/daughter combination. In the process of casting, we thought, why not mother/daughter? So that's how it ended up.

I love that he does this!

Tentacles: still TERRIFYING.

""What kind of birth control do the Centauri use?"
Conversation."


AHAHAHAHAHAHA

Hence the reason why you don't read crappy episode summaries, Nar. >.> WB, that was a really douche-y thing to do, just to let you know. Hire better summary writers.

Not my fault they're on the same page as the video playing. But those ep summaries are terrible. XD Well, we won't have to worry for S2, eh?

Dynamic characters, all the way!

That whole thing about the Laurel / aide guy arc was pretty fascinating! I never even noticed that guy until he was a betrayer! Also, really glad that didn't get handed to Ivanova.
dragonofmemory
Mar. 26th, 2012 12:21 am (UTC)
Well, you're so new to the series. XD So much to look forward to.

We really do need to retrain the current generation to appreciate longer scenes. It's so not cool that monologues are out of style.

Aw... but puzzling is fun!

Ain't nothing wrong with a tentacle or two. XD

I wasn't blaming you, no fear. Mostly WB. At least there is no worries for that, no.

Yeah, he's been in there quite a few times. Him and Lou are the two major security characters we've seen beyond Garibaldi so far. We're about to get Zack though. XD I'm glad Ivanova stayed rather than Laurel. I think I'd have been too betrayed by her. >.> And I like my female role models, dang it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )