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Marcus snark is some of the best snark.

It's the kind of season that you really don't stop watching.  So yeah, we kinda watched half of a 22 episode season in one day.  It happens.  XD  Considering I've actually watched season three in one weekend before, that should tell you something.  It just gets good.  It also means I have a hell of a write up to do.  -_-;;;

All comments taken from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5.  Sound bytes are from the Down Below Sound Archive.

Matters of Honor:

"Actually, the lead guest character in the first episode of year three, one Mr. Endawi, is a Nigerian, and our new recurring character, Marcus Cole (a Ranger) is British, and played by Jason Carter. So you have two non-American accents occupying major parts of the first ep next year."

Someone was complaining about a lack of non-American, non-white parts in Hollywood.  It got me to thinking, mostly 'why doesn't Hollywood follow B5's example?' 

"New sets: yes, and we're creating situations in which we can see more of Earth, Mars, our other local planets, plus Narn, Centauri, Minbari and one other major world. As the Shadow War cranks into gear, you're going to need a place to meet in security and plan for it, so we're also building that. We'll see more of Draal's place on Epsilon 3. And there's one other major set that we'll see in the first episode, and quite a bit thereafter.

New characters: well, there's Marcus Cole, a Ranger assigned permanently to Babylon 5, played by British actor Jason Carter; we'll see Lyta Alexander more this year; and Theo...what can I say about Theo...well, perhaps better to let you see for yourself."

I adore the White Star's sets.  And everything else about the White Star.  It's such a pretty ship.  <3  Also, Theo.  Oh, Brother Theo.  You are one of my favorites.  So is Marcus, for that matter, but Marcus is a different kind of awesome.

"It's predictable that I'd put someone into the show with who's a guy with thick, long hair...since every time I look in the mirror I realize more and more that where I'm concerned, thick, long hair will always be an unattainable, science fiction concept...."

*snickers*  Aw...

"About the title sequence
"Why are starfuries firing on starfuries?"

Noticed that, eh?

Wait and see."

Because this shit is going down.  And that's what makes this season awesome.  XD

"What's with Ivanova's line? Isn't peace a more desirable goal than victory?
Peace can be a surrender as well as an achievement, especially when facing an enemy dedicated to something unpleasant. Chamberlin returned from a visit to Germany with a so-called agreement in his hands, and announced that by granting concessions to Hitler, he had achieved "peace in our time."

Peace is a byproduct of victory against those who do not want peace."

I find it odd that someone had to ask that, really.  One would assume that when peace fails, all you've got left is a hope for victory. And peace was obviously failing, if the build up to the Shadow War wasn't a big enough hint for that.  That's just me though.

"Are Morden and his "associates" equal partners?
Well, he may sometimes *think* of his associates as equals...and my cat thinks he actually owns this house...."

JMS, your cat does actually own the house.  You might want a different metaphor for that one.  XD

"Was that Bester in the senator's office?
No, it wasn't Bester at the Senator's office.

Any reason why it wasn't?

A very, very good reason.  XD  Nar hasn't gotten that far yet though.

"Where Delenn gets all those wardrobe changes is one of those questions that, in a real world, doesn't warrant close scrutiny.

And yes, her costumes tend to be emblematic of where the character is, and who she is. Consequently, there will be some year three additions to underscore her more assertive nature; there's a green costume in particular that shows up in the first episode that's just *killer*."

And yes, we all want her wardrobe.  Badly.  I want Minbari outfits.  T_T  Seriously, I would wear those suckers.  They're so pretty.

"The White Star was always in the plans for the series; it's an outgrowth of everything that has gone before. We've seen big warships, dreadnoughts, smaller ships, and personal fighters. This fits right in. If you're going to have a war over a long distance, you kinda need something to get in and out with."

AND IT'S PRETTY.  Don't knock the shiny, people.  XD

In short, it's an awesome way to start off the season.  Also, Ivanova and Sheridan banter.  Why can't we have more tv shows that feature this sort of non-romantic relationship between males and females?  Honestly, it's awesome.  It's got one of my favorite Garibaldi quotes in there too.  Not to mention TROLL KOSH.  "Good."  XD


"What's great is that this [the second] season, we haven't had one single episode on the level of War Prayer or Infection or Grail, some of our weaker first season eps. The worst we've done is pretty darned good. What we're now working for in year three is that they're all better than that at their baseline rating. And so far, they're killer...our second episode for year three, "Convictions," has a very different feel from anything we've done on the show to date, a very dark, scary and gritty feel, and probably one of the best character sequences in the series to date. We're also doing some major EFX blow-outs of a type other than "they go into space and shoot stuff." Very interesting, creative, offbeat stuff."

Yeah, I'd agree with that.  It starts getting so good, and there's only one real 'okay' episode that I can think of in the whole of season three. 

"Another scene with Londo and Lennier, btw, contains a small nod to the online fans of the show; we can't and won't use story ideas, but there's been so much humor, reams and reams of it, every imaginable kind of joke, that I dropped one of these jokes into an episode...one that's come up at a lot of conventions and on the nets endlessly. Just to acknowledge the fans in the only way I can."

You know, that just made the bad joke actually funny.  XD  I never realized he got that from the fans.  Score one for JMS being awesome.  Again.

"Londo *does* have his moments when one almost likes him in spite of oneself; the second episode of year three has scenes in which you don't like him, and then you *do* like him enormously...then you don't again. He's caught in the scissors...and trying madly to find some way out of the situation he's in."

That's Cy's opinion of him, at least.  Myself, I've never been able to hate Londo. He's too caught up in the web and knows it.  Besides, how can you hate him when he says things like this?  I just love the way he talks.  <3

On why Brother Theo has that name:
"It was a mild Spring day, warm, clear, sunny, when Vincent Van Gogh picked up his easel, and some paints, and walked a mile and a half to an open field where he often painted landscapes. He set up his easel, sat under a tree for a while, ate part of an apple, composed a brief note to his brother Theo. Then he pulled out a derringer and shot himself in the chest.

After an hour, realizing that he was not going to die for a while yet, he picked himself up and staggered the mile and half back to Theo's house, where a few hours later that evening he passed away in Theo's arms.

Some say his sad ending came about because he felt he was a burden to his brother Theo, and the guilt did him in; others because he sold only one painting during his life, for 48 francs, and he felt he would never become a painter of any worth.

On reflection, perhaps it was the thought of people bidding for his ear that did it."

"I've always liked the name Theo, from Vincent's brother, so there was the sound of it; also the sense of it, in that Theo was a guide, a counselor, a confidante, which Theo might come to be in this; and, finally, Theodore means (I just lapsed on the actual definition) but either chosen (favored) of god or messenger of god (have to check my dictionary of names again), which is appropos."

He's named after Vincent Van Gogh's brother?  :o  I never knew this.  Brother Theo is such an awesome character.  You have to love him and the other monks.

"Re: "The Nine Billion Names of God," the whole purpose of that story had nothing to do with alien contact; it had to do with gettting all the earthbound names of God into a computer, so they could create the end of the world. The monks are on B5 in an attempt at studying the different religions out there for the purpose of better understanding...or more succinctly, comparative religious studies, which long predate Clarke by, oh, about 500 years."

Because that's how Christianity should be, rather than all the prejudice and hate a lot of them feel today.  Thank you, JMS, for showing the good bits in scifi.  You're probably one of the few scifi writers who has. 

As Cy stated many times, this episode is epic for the elevator scene.  Not only do we get G'kar singing again, but we get some truly epic G'kar and Londo snark. Oh, I do love those two. 

A Day in the Strife:

"Londo's comment, "It's nothing personal, Vir," was the same one the bomber echoed in "Convictions."
Yeah, "it's nothing personal" does echo the other theme; those who inflict great harm tend to shrug it off that way."

Oh, JMS.  I do love you lots for that.

"Why didn't they ask Delenn or Kosh for help with the questions?
Because Delenn doesn't know that information offhand, any more than you or I would have casual access to detailed scientific information from our own world just off the top of our heads; she'd still have to go to her own homeworld for the info, as our characters did. And it's not that we didn't have it, it was just collating it all. And given how Kosh answers questions, would you really want to use his responses in this thing?"

XD  Kosh, the troll of B5.  His response?  "Yes."

"My sense is that Delenn is not a godlike font of information; I don't think anyone, alien or human, at the station would just happen to know all the information required. How much would Delenn know about molecular biology, for instance? (And if you asked Kosh a question about the subject, he'd probably come back with "The heart does not sing with its parts." Not exactly useful.)

Anyone there would have to go back to their own world for experts in the various fields...so you're back where you started. Earth *has* the info, it's just getting it, and getting it fast. If you add the overlay of going through another government, you're going to run out of time that much faster.

Logically, a probe like this would be sent off looking for information on the very cusp of technology that could pose a threat. That's why it *didn't* go off when the probe presumed them to be a less developed civilization; it was looking for civilizations that *are* sufficiently advanced to pose a possible threat; Sheridan says exactly that as he walks across C&C.

Interesting aside on this, btw, in the "where do you get your ideas?" department. The US House Science Sub-Committee held a series of hearings into the question of extraterrestrial contact during the 1970s, to determine what we should do in the event of contact. The most likely scenario, the scientists agreed, was a probe coming into our solar system. So what do we do in response to a message asking if anybody's home?

Believe it or not, it was the consensus of the Subcommittee that we should not respond...in case it was a berserker, just as shown in the episode. That is our government's official policy on the subject."

First of all, I love Kosh's answer.  It's awesome.  Second, really House of Representatives?  Wow.  That's actually kind of cool.  Congress in the 70's was apparently much cooler than the one we have today.  Then again, the one we have today isn't hard to top...

"I just went through my stuff trying to find it...there was a formal report published by the Government Printing Agency in around 1978 or so. I think it was entitled something like "Prospects for Contact by Extra- Terrestrial Intelligence," and went into the whole CETI issue at great length. (Back then, it was CETI, for Contact With Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, changed shortly after the House hearing on the subject to SETI, Search For Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.) Any GPA office should have the report on file."

Huh.  So it came after the Brookings Report then.  Government, why you no do awesome stuff anymore?  I kind of want to look this up an read it, though I'm far from fluent in legalise. 

"Why don't we ever see worker-caste Minbari?
Worker caste tend to fade into the background; we've seen them here and there; pilots and traders (visible in "Strife") are worker caste, and others. They don't have as much a stylized manner of bone-carving as the other castes."

Their bones aren't as cool as the others, which is why they can't come out and play as much.  XD

Another fun episode, with Corwin getting a zinger in.

Passing Through Gethsemane:

"I'd rather not say anything at all about "Gethsemane," because a large part of the plot turns on something you need to discover mid-viewing, and anything I might say would only detract from it. It's a lovely, sad, very moving story; it's kind of my Twilight Zone story in the B5 universe, with some very strong emotional twists as we go along. It's not the kind of story I get to do within the B5 structure very often, and I'm extremely pleased with this one (and Adam Nimoy did a *bang-up* job directing it; he thinks it may be his best work ever)."

It really is a lovely episode.  It's one I've always liked, even for it being sad.  Plus, per usual with B5, it never takes the easy way out.  And this time?  It gets shoved down the character's throats as well.

"On another service, someone without considering what he was saying (not his fault, it just happened) said, in essence, "What if somebody on B5 found out that he had been mind-wiped, and used to be something awful previously?" Well, I'd had "Passing Through Gethsemane" on the wire at that time, but when I saw this, I had to scuttle the story. It lay there, untouched, for over a year, until I could finally meet the fellow and get a signed release indicating what'd happened. If that fan had not been fair and reasonable, that episode -- which many consider one of our best -- would never have been made."

I'd have been a very sad panda if this was never made.  I'm glad it was just moved to the next season, rather than completely forgotten.

"Carol: *exactly* the right point. In his earlier talk about Gethsemane, Edward mentioned that old JC had to go through all that to atone for the sins of others; when he sees Theo later, through the grate, he uses the same notion of atonement for the acts of another, in this case, *his* other. The logical parallel parses pretty closely."

*snickers*  Old JC?  But yay for religious parallels!  This was one of my favorites in the series, though Matheson's monologue on Pontius Pilate is still the best. 

"Mindwiping was presented too positively.
I'm not sure I presented it positively; I just presented it, didn't make a moral judgement about it. Some of those in the show did, but then we had Edward saying it *isn't* moral, that it's a monstrous thing to do. Like any form of punishment it can seem fair to those not facing it."

I did not get a too positive vibe from this, to be honest. Death of Personality is just creepy.  And subversive, in the case of My Little Ponies.  Yes, they apparently have it to.  And yes, I made Cy point this out in her fic of shame, which just means my work is done here.  XD

"Re: the use of Lyta to extract the info...this is the main reason why there's a Psi Corps, and there are exacting rules, otherwise it can easily become deus ex machina. We won't ever do this sort of thing trivially, and here it was definitely meant to be a little disturbing...it was a sheer matter of life or death, the guy was a creep, and somewhere Edward was bleeding to death. Even after so many viewings, and even having written the thing, I find that one scene vaguely scary."

Whee!  Telepaths.  And oh, things only get worse from here.  Definitely kind of a scary scene.  Lyta was never one of my favorite characters, to be honest.

"The absolution scene, based on what used to be called the rites of extreme unction, or last rights, is now called the "celebration" of passing, and I went to the Catholic church's information office, and got the actual text. I made a few adjustments here, condensing it a bit (on the logic that Edward didn't have a lot of time), and modifying a few small points here and there, on the second logical point that in 250 years, such might have taken place (as the current ritual has been adjusted a bit here and there over the years). So if it felt right, it was."

As a Catholic, it felt right to me.  Really that scene worked beautifully for me.  Oh, Brother Theo...

"One caveat here overall...it's been complimented and commented upon that I would expose a belief system in my show which I do not personally agree with (presenting the face of religion even though I'm an atheist). That I could be this tolerant is apparently praiseworthy.

I would just suggest that at some point, when and if I should offer a point of view from another perspective, which one watching might not personally agree with, the same tolerance is given, since the virtue of tolerating divergent attitudes has been deemed praiseworthy...and is something ever to strive for...."

YES.  That is very nicely put.  And one of the big reasons we like B5.  Guys, it shouldn't take an atheist to get this right.  Seriously. 

""The themes of faith and forgiveness were worthy of a theologian. Are you sure there isn't something you'd like to tell us?"

Never shoot pool at a place called Pop's. Never eat food at a place called Mom's. The difference between horses and humans is that they're too smart to be on what *we'll* do.

And I have lost people. Too many people. Lost them to chance, violence, brutality beyond belief; I've seen all the senseless, ignoble acts of "god's noblest creature." And I am incapable of forgiving. My feelings are with G'Kar, hand sliced open, saying of the drops of blood flowing from that open wound, "How do you apologize to them?" "I can't." "Then I cannot forgive."

As an atheist, I believe that all life is unspeakably precious, because it's only here for a brief moment, a flare against the dark, and then it's gone forever. No afterlives, no second chances, no backsies. So there can be nothing crueler than the abuse, destruction or wanton taking of a life. It is a crime no less than burning the Mona Lisa, for there is always just one of each.

So I cannot forgive. Which makes the notion of writing a character who CAN forgive momentarily attractive...because it allows me to explore in great detail something of which I am utterly incapable. I cannot fly, so I would write of birds and starships and kites; I cannot play an instrument, so I would write of composers and dancers; and I cannot forgive, so I would write of priests and monks and minbari...."

That is actually an extremely interesting statement.  To be incapable of forgiveness sounds terrifying to me, though I'd agree with life being unspeakably precious. 

Over all, I really like this episode.  Not only do you have a lovely view of religion and a good portrayal of the Last Rites, but the 'moral' of the story isn't an easy one.  It's about forgiveness, sure, but can you really say it's forgiveness when one person is forgivable but another isn't?  And that gets rammed right down Sheridan's throat in the end, instead of having a nice ending where the killer gets punished off screen and all is happy.  Also, there is this snark.

Voices of Authority:

"Ivanova wanted to get in the face of the First Ones, to say, "Look, you can blow me away, but damn it, listen to me." If she'd said that "more reverently," as your friend noted, it would've worked against the logic of the scene and the resolution."

ZOG.  And who doesn't like Ivanova throwing a bitch fest at them?  It was awesome.

"Well, this isn't a *literal* translation, because some words don't translate, but the *sense* of the sentence would be "the vorlons can kiss my ____.""

Heh heh.  Sometimes I do love JMS just screwing around with the fans.  It's amusing.

"What's fun, for me, about the Minipax lady, is that she *clearly* knows that this is a game on one level, her comment about just rewriting the dictionary...she knows the problems aren't *really* gone, they just defined them away. But when she's in front of a crowd of folks predisposed to her message, she goes full-tilt. Showmanship....."

And she's a snarky little creepy person too.  You can't hate her, because of snark and the fact that she knows what's hypocritical for her to say.  But that doesn't change the fact that what she's doing?  Creepy as all fuck. 

"Parallels between Nightwatch and the Gestapo?
While yes, there are some intentional WW II parallels here, do bear in mind that you don't have to go all the way back to the Gestapo to find this kind of mentality...Sen. McCarthy would've been quite at home in Nightwatch."

And that's why we love you, JMS.  You take it right back to the US and say, hey, it happened here too.  Though as the Lurker's Guide notes point out, there's a lot of parallels between the Nightwatch and Soviet Russia too.

"The political officer: improbable dialogue? Most of it was taken direct from political statements, public ones, made by Goebbels, Hitler, Joseph McCarthy, Stalin, and other fanatics. The kind of Big Lie dialogue people continue to fall for today. Go to a Pat Buchanan rally sometime and tell me it's unlikely dialogue."

And that's what makes it frightening.  Also extremely well researched.  But mostly extremely frightening.

"DLyulkin...exactly. You don't just take something and transplant it wholecloth...you change and modify it. Nightwatch was never meant to be on a one-to-one corrolation to the SS, or Stasi, or McCarthy...the whole POINT is that this kind of mentality crops up in new forms from time to time, in different names, different approaches, but at its heartmeat core the same thing. By saying it's "That over there," we can relax, since that specific incident can't recur...making us vulnerable to the next version."

>.>  You're using that psychology on us again.  Good point, but still.  Then again, Nightwatch has always been legit creepy to me.  This is just making it more so.

"My sense was that basically Ivanova jumped onto the wrong path as she fled...the shadows were in proximity, and she ended up briefly on their path, which took her to the interception of the transmission.

The one comment that I find most interesting, repeated here a few times, is that they didn't buy the Nightwitch (as some have dubbed her) because in her address to the Nightwatch, she was not exactly what you might call subtle, and thus nobody'd believe her, and see her for what she was.

I find it interesting because we always think we're smarter than that, when history proves *exactly* the opposite. The Big Lie, spoken not just openly, but loudly, firmly and with conviction, has been one of the most successful tactics in history. When Hitler and Goebbels stood before a crowd and blamed jews for destroying society, circulated pamphlets with ugly cariacatures, indicated that they weren't *really* human (this in actual newsreels provided to the medical profession members charged with eliminating "mental defectives and jews")...when Joseph McCarthy stood up in front of the nation waving a list of names of commies in the state department, the military, congress, showbiz, and the sciences...the public didn't suddenly wake up, hear the voice of the fanatic, and say, "Hey, this guy's nuts!"

They bought it. Because they were primed to believe it. Because they wanted to believe it. Because they were afraid *not* to believe it. No, she wasn't subtle. Because there's a time for subtlety, and there's a time to perform grandly for your hand-picked audience and go for the Big Lie. If she were addressing a larger audience, she might softpedal her message. To the Nightwatch, she's got to hammer them, just as the Hitler Youth were hammered, as the Anti-Communist Youth meetings were hammered about the Red Peril, as Croatian or Serbian soldiers were hammered about the need to rape women of the other "race" to make the resultant babies more ethnically pure...which happened.

Most of her dialogue was paraphrased from actual speeches given over the decades, or longer, by fanatical leaders to their followers. There's bits of Hitler, of Goerring, of Goebbels...bits of McCarthy, bits of Stalin, bits of Pat Buchanan and Rep. Dornan.

Because people fell for it. It did work.

It does work.

And it will *continue* to work...for as long as people think that THEY would NEVER fall for such a thing...."

Same as his previous points, but still.  Damn.  I'll probably be hypersensitive to her dialogue next time I watch it.  Creep factor.

"Never said they're all convinced of it. Just as all Germans weren't convined of the views advanced by Hitler.

You don't need all of them. You just need *enough* of them.

Preferably, enough of them with guns.

Remember, too, that we just came out of the Earth/Minbari War about ten years ago, when we stood at the edge of extinction. The threat of a new alien race makes a good device."

Enough of them with guns indeed.  Or enough people who are afraid.  I think that's part of why B5 was so effective, was that a lot of what happens is fairly well plausible.

"Why aren't Sheridan and company going public with this information?
With Clark removing all the evidence, and others giving orders to drop it, and knowing Clark would stop any kind of investigation, what is there for them to do officially? They had to begin working covertly to prove it, which is what they've been doing ever since "Hunter, Prey." If you're a military officer, and you're given a direct order from your commander in chief or the Senate Oversight Committee to drop something, and you violate those orders, you're up on charges or fired."

Oh, military command.  Sometimes I wonder why people actually ask him these questions.  Then again, I suppose what's obvious to me doesn't seem obvious to everyone.  But I'd have thought the reason they were being secretive was a given. 

"Why didn't Sheridan just get rid of her?
This is the difference between TV logic and Real logic. In TV logic, yeah, she should've tossed her outta there...but we try to be rigorously real about the B5 universe. She was sent by the Senate Oversight Committee, as is their province, with the backing of several governmental offices, in an area over which Sheridan doesn't have jusrisdiction: the political arena back home. In the real world, you can't just toss somebody out the door because you don't like them...not if you're a career military officer who answers to a civilian authority or government."

Another one that seemed obvious to me?  I mean, when someone's sent by the higher ups, you really just can't say 'Go away now, please.'

"Did I imagine Marcus's line about the French?
You didn't imagine it....

Part of what appeals to me is the idea that the English/French animosity you often see (though clearly not in all cases) would continue not only into the future, but outside Earth. Realistically, if you go into Europe, you find people holding grudges 500 years old, or more. Seemed appropriate to carry this small one forward as well."

YES.  Plus, it was hilarious.  Oh, Marcus and your snark.

This the episode where things start up.  It's where things start moving.  And trust me, you're in for a hell of a ride... plus, a few 'surprises' along the way.  XD

Dust to Dust:

"Why didn't we do the music change in the end credits at the very start of the season, you ask? Why, what a silly question, it was all planned, all intentional, it means...er...it means....

It means we *forgot*. More correctly, *I* forgot. We were all so busy getting the new main titles done, we just kinda forgot about it until the first mix...and then we sorta looked around and said, "....oops.""

ROFL.  Oh, the joys of making television shows.  I suppose everyone makes mistakes from time to time.  XD

""Dust to Dust" is what I call one of my "pretty box" episodes. I set down the pretty box in front of you, and you think you know what it is. Then something else entirely jumps out of it at your face. There's more coming here and there. I like pretty boxes...."

Yes, we all like pretty boxes.  Especially when they're shiny.  Really, I do like this episode lots.  As seen by Mem stealing the whole Mcguffin for a DW plot.  Though it's amusing the things I wrote in that fic that I didn't realize I was remembering.  Namely the black eyes thing.  I thought I was stealing it from a part later on in the series (which does still happen), but it's also a side affect of the dust.  You do have to love it when something's turned on its head though. 

"It's about time we had some heavy arc episodes!
I get this at the start of every season. Let me repeat what I've said, oh, about two dozen times already before.

At the start of every season, we have new people sampling the show. Do you want the show to continue? If you do, then you have to continue to add new viewers. If viewers tune in and they're lost in the overall arc, they're going to tune out again. So you give them some stand-alone episodes in the beginning, shows that are a little more accessible, but introduce them to the characters, the situations and the universe so that when the arc begins to move again, they know enough to get into what's going on.

Sure, I could've just kept going right with the strong arc episodes. Which the new viewers, 90% of whom sample shows in the first few weeks of a new season and not thereafter, wouldn't have been able to follow well. And they would've tuned out. And it would've been a very big nail in the cancellation coffin. You can bring in new viewers, or you can get canceled and never tell the whole story. Pick one.

Second, you cannot -- CANNOT -- sustain the kind of intensity you have in the final four over the course of a season. You need to have some lighter moments as contrast or people are going to start sticking their heads in ovens all across the country. So at the start of a season, I try to do some lighter stuff, to bring people back up a little, bracing for the next drop in the roller coaster. You need peaks and valleys to develop any kind of rhythm, or to appreciate the other side of it.

I got the same thing in season one, and season two..."Why these light episodes? What's happened to this arc?" Then by season's end, the chorus usually turns to "That was a GREAT season!" So my response is, Unless you think I've suddenly turned stupid, or I've decided to betray the series I've now worked 10 years of my life to produce...will you for chrissakes *trust* me once in a while? Show a little patience. When I introduced Vir, everybody on the planet jumped funky all over me. "He's just a comic character! It's Flounder! He's dumbing down the show! Space him! He stinks! Joe's losing it!" And now, of course, we see what Vir is, and in many surveys he's now one of the most popular characters.

You know what the #1 comment from the pilot was, on the nets and elsewhere? "LOSE the guy with the funny hair! He's just ridiculous." Londo. Every time I've done something a little different in the show, I've usually been jumped on, because they're not willing to trust that I know what I'm doing...until they've seen it for a while, then they Get It, and it's "Oh, now I see it." Great, thanks, now that you've been beating on my head for six months. Next time show a little patience. (And btw, ALL of the comments related above are real ones, many of them right here on Compuserve, from people still around here.)

Every story can't be an arc story at this point; you've got to see the characters outside the arc, in the way they live their lives, in other things that happen to them, or else you won't CARE what happens to them in the arc. No, the Purple/Green Drazi story didn't move the arc ahead, but it showed you a lot about Ivanova, didn't it? So now if and when something should happen to her in the arc, you care about her. It's the difference between just being chess pieces, and being *people*.

Okay, here's the breakdown. Season 3. You had arc episodes only a bit in the first batch. "Honor," "Voices" and now a little in "Dust." You've got one more stand-alone next week, "Exogenesis." That's the last one for a LONG time. Episodes 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21 and 22 are ALL arc stories, most of them heavy, none less than moderate.

I said, from the start, that each season would have stand-alones and arc stories. About 20% in year one, 35% in year two, 50% in year three, 70% in year four, and 100% in year five. And the stand-alones tend to get pushed toward the beginning of a season for the reasons stated. Is nobody paying attention when I say these things? Because if so, then why do I get gigged each season at the start by people saying "HEY! HOW COME THESE AREN'T ARC EPISODES?" (And as it looks now, year 3 has closer to 13-14 arc episodes, so we're ahead a bit.)

Before people start making sweeping generalizations about the season, it might behoove you to see the season first. If anything, my concern in looking at what's been done for year 3 is that we're too GRIM for the larger portion of it, and maybe a bit complex...so I'm working to clarify a few things here and there as I do these last few."

Considering the fact I've been turned off by a few stories that are nothing but arc stories... Yeah, I can see where that's coming from.  Personally, some of the stand alone episodes are some of my favorites.  Yes, the overall story line is awesome.  Brilliant, even.  But a good stand alone isn't actually a 'filler' episode.  Bleach, while it was still interesting and not doing complete filler arcs, had some brilliant stand alone episodes.  People complained about them, sure, but that episode with Kon as a Sailor Senshi?  I just about died laughing.  Slayers was actually better during the standalone episodes than the regular ones sometimes, but that's partially because Slayer parodies are at Muppet levels of epic sometimes.  Slayers was always at its best when you were rolling on the floor laughing. 

I dunno.  I've always thought that a good balance is the best way to go.  That's what makes sense to me, because all one thing all the time?  That gets boring.  Code Geass?  I stopped watching after I realized it had to have a SHOCKING REVELATION PLOT TWIST, GASP! OMG! at the end of every episode.  It's like, you've got to give people a chance to breathe, or at least a chance to get over the shock.  Because after a while?  You just stop being shocked.  When it becomes A Thing, that usually means I get bored with the writing.  Now, I know people who swear by Code Geass and how amazing it is, but to me it was just kind of shallow story writing. 

It just seems silly to me when someone like JMS writes something to automatically jump on it as bad.  Sure, with some writers it would be.  But I think by now you would know if JMS' writing style is for you or not.  And he's got a habit of making things work in the long run, and by this point taking things on faith that it's going to get exciting should just be a given.  It's perfectly valid not to like this style of writing, but to love it and constantly jump on him for this and that?  That's just ridiculous. 


I do find it interesting that he thought the third season was getting too dark.  Because it does, a little.  It happens when the story really gets going, because it has to get worse before it can get better.  IF YOU GO TO Z'HA'DUM, YOU WILL DIE.  But hey, I like it that way.  XD

"You'll see Walter again this season after "Dust," and I'm trying to work in one more before the end of the season, but it's tough, given what's been going on in the latter half of 2260."

<3 <3 <3 <3

"BTW, here's something to notice when you watch DTD again. The montage scene with Londo and G'Kar lasts, I think, 10 maybe 12 seconds. But that one piece took John and me *hours* to put together. Go through frame by frame, and you'll see some of those bits are only 3 or 4 frames long (one second is 24 frames). We were nearly blind by the time we were done, but it was worth it."

:o  Now I'm curious...

"RE: Bester...thanks. I'd decided a while ago that the next time we saw him, he either had to win, or he had to be right. If he lost again, it'd cut his credibility out. This gave me a chance to do some interesting things with him. He's a fascinating guy...a creep, and I wouldn't trust him for a second, but fascinating nonetheless...."

And this is why we love you.  And why you would write an amazing Master.  Because think about that... a Master who occasionally wins/is right?  The Master's ineffectiveness is almost epic by this point.  How awesome would that be have that flipped? 

"Re: the coat of welcoming...here's a little tidbit...we had to make up an entire alphabet for most of our major races (and I've been gradually building up a dictionary here and there for languages). So they came and asked if they could embroider something in Minbari on the shirt Vir's wearing when he comes back. I said sure. Did I have anything in mind? No, not really.

So I'm on the set that day, and I see the embroidered shirt, and I ask what these five letters spell, since I don't offhand read Minbari yet. He looked up at me and smiled. "It spells out ALOHA."

We have a very demented crew."

ROFL.  Oh, my God, that's hilarious.  An extremely demented crew, but that's why we love you. 

"Kosh would rather sacrifice all the Narn through manipulation than take direct action?
Exactly. I mean, in three years, what the heck have the Vorlons actually *done* to help "our side?" Let the others do it."

Another reason we love you.  For the supposed good guys?  Interesting characterization there.  XD

"Actually, I tend to agree with that assessment. They've guided and instructed and pointed, yes...and manipulated...but they still haven't had to step up to the plate in other areas.

And I don't think the Narns have sacrificed nearly enough yet. You can always sacrifice more."

That last sentence.  You break us with that last sentence.  Oh, season 4.

"A person can be sincere and still manipulative, in Kosh's case. If he believes he's right, perhaps he's willing to manipulate anyone toward that goal, if it's worth it."

"Oh, the Vorlons can be *very* invasive, when they want to be, if it suits their purposes. There's no Vorlon prime directive...it's manipulation, whether small or large."

Oh, Troll Kosh.  Screw the Prime Directive!  Let's just mess with everyone's heads and answer "GOOD" to everything! <3

"Why didn't G'Kar embrace his father?
Logically, G'Kar knows that his father is dead. He saw him die. So whoever this was, wasn't his father, even though he was appearing that way. Or was a spirit, and either way, he would've been sufficiently apprehensive about it not to go blithely around embracing something he didn't understand. I sure as hell wouldn't."

Because G'kar is a suspicious bastard and we don't blame him for it, lol.  Scew emotional responses!  I don't trust you!  XD

"G'Kar really beat Londo up.
Implying more than one sees is something that you kinda have to learn over time. It can be very effective, as here.

You just have to kinda put yourself out on a limb, as a writer or as an actor.

This scene *should* be very affecting. It goes to Joe's Theory of Violence on TV. To wit...that we need more of it, but it has to be realistic violence. It has to show consequences. You glorify or desensitize violence when you shoot somebody, and they just go down, no yelling in pain, no sobbing as their guts fall out onto the street. It's just gunfire, loud noises, excitement and fun. If you're going to show violence, then show it for what it *is*, and show it the way people would react to it. Make the audience understand that this is a *person*, not one in a series of body counts."

Which is just kind of a lovely perspective.  Not glorifying the violence, but showing its effects, and that was a very effective scene.  It does it's job well.  Not that I don't like pretty booms, because Lord knows I do, but still.

In short... this is an episode with a great Mcguffin that I totally stole for fic purposes.  It's a very good episode, and quite a heavy arc episode.  But oh, they are just getting started.  XD

I'll get the next five episodes in another post, since I doubt they'll all fit in one.  Ah, well.  Still, Season 3.  It's when it all starts to go to hell.  <3


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 30th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
part 1
New sets: yes, and we're creating situations in which we can see more of Earth, Mars, our other local planets, plus Narn, Centauri, Minbari and one other major world.

New sets! New sets! I'm excited for new sets!

"Was that Bester in the senator's office?
No, it wasn't Bester at the Senator's office.
Any reason why it wasn't?

A very, very good reason. XD Nar hasn't gotten that far yet though.

I thought we agreed that it was Mr. Morden in the senator's office, Mem.

The White Star was always in the plans for the series

I remember when we were watching an earlier episode and the name came up at the loading dock or something, and I caught it before you did. XD SNEAKY JMS IS SNEAKY.

Just to acknowledge the fans in the only way I can.

Aw, I like it when writers give small nods to their fans in the series. :)

Wow, I had no idea he named Theo after Van Gogh's brother! That's actually super cool.

Congress in the 1970s probably had the right idea about first contact, I think. I mean, as INCREDIBLY EXCITING as it would be to learn there's aliens out there, we'd also have to be cautious.

Lyta was never one of my favorite characters, to be honest.

She's...not really one of mine, either? I watch her character and I feel like I'm watching a wall; I have a hard time getting a sense of her motivations, personality, etc.

I can probably say that Gesthemane is one of my favorites, too, pretty much for all the reasons you've pointed out. And his commentary in general for that episode is really interesting; JMS in philosopher mode is neat to read.

JMS seems to have a morbid fascination with McCarthyism.

"I set down the pretty box in front of you, and you think you know what it is. Then something else entirely jumps out of it at your face. There's more coming here and there. I like pretty boxes...."

JMS, you're scaring me. Stop that.

You need to have some lighter moments as contrast or people are going to start sticking their heads in ovens all across the country.

YES. The rule of catharsis. I always like cathartic techniques.

I still can't believe there were people who didn't like Vir. How could you NOT like Vir?!
Aug. 30th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC)
part 2 -- apparently I talk/quote too much
I stopped watching after I realized it had to have a SHOCKING REVELATION PLOT TWIST, GASP! OMG! at the end of every episode. It's like, you've got to give people a chance to breathe, or at least a chance to get over the shock. Because after a while? You just stop being shocked.

Probably off-topic, but I think this is actually one of Moffat's weak points, too. The man lives and breathes cliffhangers; don't get me wrong, they can be very good and very exciting cliffhangers, but if we're inundated with cliffhangers, it starts to get old. It's like...okay, metaphor ahoy:

Imagine that you and your boyfriend went to a store so you could pick out a ring. You never see him buy it (because he'll go back for it later), and you know somewhere down the road he's got a scheme to propose in a really awesome way. You wait patiently. One night he takes you out to a really fancy restaurant and you think "oh gosh, will it be today? It is, isn't it?" But no, he doesn't propose; instead, he said he just really wanted to treat you to something special for no reason because he's that sweet. You think he's sweet. And so you wait some more. Another month goes by, and suddenly he wants to take you to this gorgeous park with a 5-mile hike to the most inspiring waterfall ever. You hike the hike, tired but excited, and get to the waterfall. It is the most beautiful waterfall. You think, "This is the most beautiful place to be proposed to, what a thoughtful boyfriend." Except he doesn't propose. You're starting to get miffed, wondering what kind of mind game your boyfriend is trying to play on your emotions. You just want to be affianced already, gosh darn it! But you wait. The third time you think he's going to propose, you're at the cafe where you met and talked about sci fi shows offhand because he noticed the dalek you have on your laptop. You wait for it. And you wait for it. He doesn't propose. You go home, disappointed, try to slip your feet into your slippers, but there's something impeding your feet. You look inside. It's the ring box! With a small note that says "in case you get cold feet." "I wanted it to be something you wouldn't expect," says your boyfriend. You throw your slippers at him.

It's sort of like that. For god's sake, Moffat, I know you have some devious master plan in mind, but there's a difference between being clever and being obnoxious about being clever.*

*Disclaimer: Still want to state that just because I sometimes have issues with Moffat doesn't mean I dislike him. I do like him. But he does have flaws I have issues with.

Thank goodness JMS is clever without being obnoxious about it.

**lols at ALOHA** Well done, crew. Well done.

Joe's Theory of Violence on TV. To wit...that we need more of it, but it has to be realistic violence. It has to show consequences. You glorify or desensitize violence when you shoot somebody, and they just go down, no yelling in pain, no sobbing as their guts fall out onto the street. It's just gunfire, loud noises, excitement and fun. If you're going to show violence, then show it for what it *is*, and show it the way people would react to it. Make the audience understand that this is a *person*, not one in a series of body counts."

That is exactly how violence should be treated in media. It might certainly cut down on kids/teens/impressionable individuals getting the idea that violence is "cool." I really like Joe's Theory of Violence on TV.
Aug. 30th, 2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
Re: part 2 -- apparently I talk/quote too much
Oh, look! Someone else needs two comments. XD

Moffat, I think, has more of a problem with solving things in a timely manner. That's what JMS does right in this case. There are many shocking revelations in B5, but when he introduces a question, he solves it a few episodes later. Only to be introduced with even more questions, granted, but you get some sense of completion over the mystery. Which Moffat kind of fails at.

He does a bit of the shocking surprise overkill too though. No where near as bad as Code Geass though.

I think Aloha has been added to my favorite random back stage trivia bits of the show. The teddy bear and Londo's way of getting in character are also part of it. XD

Joe's Theory of Violence is indeed awesome. More people need to adhere to it.
Aug. 30th, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
Re: part 2 -- apparently I talk/quote too much
Moffat, I think, has more of a problem with solving things in a timely manner.

A thousand times yes. A thousand.
Aug. 30th, 2012 11:14 pm (UTC)
Re: part 2 -- apparently I talk/quote too much
JMS talks about that very topic in one of the first season episodes. I think it was the one where we find out about THE HOLE IN YOUR MIND.
Aug. 30th, 2012 09:52 pm (UTC)
Re: part 1
I thought we agreed that it was Mr. Morden in the senator's office, Mem.

It was, but there was also a different Psicop with him. One that wasn't Bester. XD

Lyta is... I dunno. She gets a bit more personality later, but then the whole fifth season happens. And her part of it is pretty much the part most all the fans hated, myself included. In some ways, I'm almost glad Claudia Christian left when she did, because that would have been her character arc if she hadn't. I don't hate her, but I also never liked her very much. *shrugs* Talia was a lot better.

McCarthyism is terrifying. And it happened to the US, which is something a lot of people don't think about or is whitewashed away. I am totally okay with him pushing the McCarthyism angle. XD

Catharsis is awesome. <3

I don't know. I love Vir and Londo. XD
Aug. 30th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
Re: part 1
there was also a different Psicop with him

IT IS THE RETURN OF TALIA 2.0!!! (Either that, or that one Psicorp guy that showed up awhile back that actually wasn't all that bad a dude.)

Yeah, the American history program has this unfortunate thing about never making it to the Cold War, so I guess McCarthyism can get kinda swept under the rug. >_>
Aug. 30th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
Re: part 1
Actually, it was just some random psicop. The main point being, it wasn't Bester who was in on the whole thing.

That pretty much sums it up. >.>
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )