Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, “Crusade”: Episodes 3-4

You are in pain.

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

3: The Well of Forever

The crystal with coordinates built into it was an awesome idea. Galen shows it off, an artifact that can lead the Excalibur to the Well of Forever. Meanwhile, a telepath is coming aboard to do a deep scan of Lieutenant Matheson–himself a telepath–to check out his security clearance or… something.

The deep scan itself reveals to the telepath that the ship is on the way to the Well of Forever, and he reacts somewhat poorly to the news. As the Excalibur gets closer to the Well of Forever, it encounters some gigantic jellyfish looking creatures which Galen assures them are “barely sentient.” As they try to drift through, one of the creatures grabs the ship and begins, well, mating with it. It’s a moment of some levity during a rather tense situation.

Galen also has apparently taken control of the ship, and he’s unwilling to allow Gideon to turn around once they discover there’s nothing in the space where the Well should be. Ultimately, they do find it and it turns out to be a huge amount of valuable materials. But the Well is apparently a kind of Mausoleum for Technomages and others. And Galen’s insistence on going there was to say goodbye to his love.

Gideon then sets up the adversarial telepath to illegally probe Dureena. He then blackmails the telepath into not blocking Matheson’s promotion. It’s a pretty hardcore moment for Gideon.

The whole episode feels a bit strange to me. Apparently Galen was willing to hijack the Excalibur to say goodbye to his love, and Gideon’s conversation with Galen at the end is surprising. Gideon chooses not to put the offense on the record because he values Galen’s skills. But does that mean the whole trip is off the record? That’s a lot of data to expunge or cover up for a big crew.

4: The Path of Sorrows

Gideon and others find a kind of stasis sphere in some ancient archaeological site. After it appears to interact with Gideon, the Captain insists on bringing it aboard the Excalibur. I had a strong sense of foreboding about this, which was certainly reinforced by the music and lighting surrounding the object in the opening scenes.

This episode has quite a bit of character development, which is great. So far, they’d pretty much all seemed fairly thin characters. We especially got more about Gideon’s background, as we see that he witnessed the destruction of his ship. Then, as he floated in EVA, he watched the ships belonging to the technomages fly past and ignore his distress call… until one came back for him. That one was, of course, Galen.

Later, Gideon wins an “Apocalypse Box” while gambling. It’s a rather ominous scene, as the man he won it from immediately “frees” himself by stepping in front of an air car.

Matheson also gets some flashbacks, letting us see into the heart of the telepath’s compound as he is assigned to help control a rogue telepath, but in the process, he gets used as a dupe to destroy the Psi Corps base. Only this alien in the stasis capsule is able to tell him, and then mysteriously tell Matheson “I FORGIVE YOU.” Right as Matheson leaves, Galen approaches and ominously tells the creature that “I know you.”

Galen reveals that he has done research and believes the creature feeds of the emotions of others because it has none of its own. But the creatre responds to Galen’s accusation arguing that it exists on forgiveness, and then launches Galen into a flashback of his own. His flashback is of his love dying, and as hecomes out of it he says “Damn you” to the alien, then asks “You want me to forgive God?” He doesn’t believe whatsoever in a beyond or an afterlife. His rage leads him to almost kill the alien, but he’s interrupted by Matheson and Gideon.

The incident, however, convinces Gideon to send it back to where it was housed. A haunting shot of Galen riding alone through the Excalibur as Gideon’s voice over says “No way out… no way to go” is one of the best moments so far in the series. After they drop the alien back on its planet, another approaches, being told “YOU ARE IN PAIN” as the alien said to all the others. We’re left with a closing as Galen gets a message that seems to reflect his lover’s words that there is a beyond, and that she’ll send him a message to let him know she was right. But Galen throws the message to the floor before walking away.

This episode has me fired up. So far, I have to admit, I wasn’t fully sold on the series. But with this episode, we have the characterization and wonder that I’ve loved about Babylon 5. There’s depth here far beyond the previous 3 episodes, which were each fine. This episode, however, is something special.

(All Links to Amazon are Affiliates Links.)

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time, “Crusade”: Episodes 1-2

Space Archaeology: Even Cooler than Archaeology

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

1: War Zone

It’s always exciting starting a new TV series, and I was doubly excited going into this series as a newly minted Babylon 5 fan. Nothing like having more Babylon 5! It quickly becomes apparent in this first episode that special effects is being more heavily utilized. We see a bunch of different locales fairly swiftly, including one of my favorite sci-fi tropes, the future archaeological dig. I was also excited to apparently have a technomage on board from the beginning? They were one of the intriguing side adventures left largely unexplored after the end of Babylon 5’s run.

The stories in this episode seem to open into a bunch of potential paths. There’s the archaeological team of questionable legal status trying to figure out what to do about a crashed alien ship. I enjoyed this little plot. then, there’s Captain Matthew Gideon and his newly assembled crew, including Dureena Nafeel–a thief, Dr. Sarah Chambers, the science nerd (I think? we don’t get a great picture of her yet), and Lieutenant John Matheson, a telepath.

The ship they help crew, the Excalibur, is almost comically huge (more than a mile long, I believe they say). I always wonder about obscenely huge ships in science fiction like this. Where do the resources come from? What makes such huge ships worth the investment when they can’t cover nearly as much space as many smaller ships? It’s a complaint I have a lot, but I’ll bury it for now.

I thought the aliens on the planet where the archaeologists were at were a bit silly looking. Also, the acting seemed more forced than it did on the main Babylon 5 series.

Since watching this first episode I learned that the continuity is strange and the viewing order is all messed up. Oh well, I think I’ll just keep going in the order they have on DVD. I thought this was a decent series opener. I’m interested in watching more, for sure.

2: The Long Road

So there’s a dragon… in SPAAAAACE! I gotta say, I love the idea of a dragon in space. My first impression, though, was that this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever in the universe of Babylon 5. Anyway, the dragon appears to only be the, er, biggest of the problems on the planet. There’s any number of other prank-like efforts to thwart mining the planet. That’s a problem, because the planet has some mineral that potentially helps humans fight the Drakh plague.

Anyway, Galen, the technomage, is highly amused by Captain Gideon’s attempts to blend in with the local populace, who are apparently… somewhat displeased by the efforts to strip mine their planet as well. After a mob comes to tell them to get out of town, Alwyn, a local technomage (?) intercedes and saves them. Galen seems even more amused by this, which is interesting to me.

Alwyn is the cause of all the troubles for the mining operation, and he is extremely displeased by how the planet he is trying to serve is being destroyed by the need to be efficient and speedy. (As an aside, Alwyn is also unhappy with the “cowardice” of the technomages for leaving just as the Shadow War was breaking out.)

After the situation escalates into a hostage crisis, the technomages show up. They’re a tad put out. The Earthforce people who try to stop the situation beleive the technomages are only able to create “smoke and mirrors,” and after they fly straight through the Dragon, this seems to be true. But then Galen and Alwyn show up and wreak havoc with some holo-demons Alwyn designed which apparently can interact physically with people. But the situation continues to escalate, until Alwyn decides to take it upon himself to end it all. His preparation of a devastating spell prompts Captain Gideon to use his main gun to stop him. Alwyn appears dead, but he is alive–apparently using himself as a distraction to force Gideon to destroy the mining operation with the Excalibur. It’s a poignant moment when he talks to Galen after this. He sees the “glassed over monument” of the mining pit as a good reminder and warning.

I think this episode has me buying in to the series a lot more than the first episode did. The technomages are awesome. I actually thought about the show Firefly quite a bit during this episode. It felt like an episode of that show, with all the wheeling and dealing and balancing the interests of a big military power with the interests of the locals. It’s a fine episode of television.

(All Links to Amazon are Affiliates Links.)

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer seasons 3 and 4

It turns out that there are a lot of shows I’ve wanted to watch for a while but never got around to. I’ve been catching up, though! I recently finished my first-ever watch-through of Babylon 5 (check out my posts on the series) and I’m 4 seasons (well, at the beginning of season 5) in Buffy. This show is… phenomenal. My discussion of the seasons 3 and 4 follows, and will have SPOILERS for those seasons. Please do not spoil later seasons for me!

Season 3

“Anne” was a good episode to set up the rest of the season–seeing Buffy so distraught while watching her group of friends attempt to make up for her not being around was a solid thread. Having Angel return is a huge lead on the whole time, and I kinda wish I didn’t know a separate show for Angel exists. That made me fairly confident going in that he was going to leave. And of course he does pull what I call the “Spiderman.” The Spiderman is when someone decides they can’t be with the person they love for some allegedly honorable or noble reason but it’s really just annoying because their decision doesn’t resolve the alleged problem to begin with. Anyway, Angel gives Buffy the Spiderman, and a bit of it goes in the other direction. I am sure there’s all kinds of fan fic dedicated to having them end up together forever (and I guess it is theoretically possible they get back together in-universe at some later point–there’s a lot of the show to go).

There are other threads, of course. Willow’s own burgeoning power(s) is a fun one. Faith is an exciting character, and I didn’t really expect them to take her in the direction they did. It’s pretty awesome to see more of the Council and the interactions they have with Buffy.

At this point I’m totally into the show. I love its lore, I love the characters, and I think it has built an exceptional amount of story to build upon. I’m glad to see there are comics and novels that explore more of the series. If you have any (spoiler-free!) recommendations, please let me know!

Season 4

Season 4 started off a bit rough, in my opinion. The new setting, a group of new characters, and having a bunch of other characters get introduced and then killed off right away made it start feeling a bit like a monster-of-the-week scenario. But then the storylines that continued to draw threads through the season really got their feet under them and the season just became a series of high point after high point. Honestly, it’s my favorite season so far.

One obvious high point is the episode “Hush.” I don’t like horror movies. I just don’t like thinking about all the grossness that goes into the awful ways people devise to kill people in horror movies. Here, the established characters and extremely creepy makeup and music combined with eerie silence of everyone involved make it a haunting and amazing experience. It’s honestly one of the best episodes I’ve seen of anything.

Oz? Oz came back as a one-off!? What the heck? I honestly didn’t expect them to bring him back and then tie him off as a character all at once. It makes me wonder if something was happening behind the scenes because he was such a fun character, and I loved having werewolves around. I guess it did get tedious having to have episodes where he was stuck in werewolf prison off and on, but I also thought they could have taken him as leader of a werewolf pack around town and run with it. I wonder if we’ll see more of him someday.

Faith’s resolution (for now? who knows) is another great twist. She was a good villain, and the hints at the end of this season about the “darkness” inside Slayers is interesting.

“Superstar” was one of the most fun episodes of television… ever. It was surreal in a way that was never horrifying or frightening (looking at you, “Hush”), but delivered the goods on plot, fun, and character development. I hope Jonathan shows up again. Adam and all the secret agents I haven’t really discussed at all to this point, but I thought they did a fabulous job. Like I said–the threads that started early in this season truly give great payoffs later. It’s a delight all the way through. I can’t wait to watch more.

Links

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- “A Call to Arms”

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

A Call to Arms

The story of this movie is fairly straightforward: Sheridan is sent to stop a threat from the Drakh against Earth, even while he and others experience baffling visions to do so. Ultimately, they manage to stop the Drakh planet-killer only to have some Drakh escape and release a plague on Earth.

I think this is the most off-feeling of any of the major Babylon 5 things I’ve experienced so far. The movie just doesn’t feel like Babylon 5 as much as many of the others do. But even that might be a testament to good writing. As viewers, we are almost forced to question the narrative of the movie as we experience insights through what seem to be compromised narrative perspectives. do we trust Sheridan’s visions or are they misleading? What of the other characters who show up with similar visions? Are the Drakh really the primary threat, or is something bigger happening?

Ultimately, these questions are answered, but only after quite a bit of second-guessing on the part of the viewer. The conclusion of the movie also leaves the story very open-ended, leaving me to wonder what happens next. I think what I struggled with most, though, was the kind of off-feeling I had the whole time, as described above. It was hard to get fully invested in the film when I wasn’t entirely sure I trusted it.

Throughout this whole movie, the music is overwhelming. The music is full of major drum beats, repetitions, and a volume that sometimes threatens to drown out the dialogue. It was the first time in watching anything from Babylon 5 that I thought the music was too much. It’s not bad–though it verges on silly at times–it’s just a combination of factors that starts to make it a distraction from the on-screen action.

The end is clearly a setup for the follow-up series, “Crusade.” As a whole, the movie is worth watching for more Babylon 5 but has an open-ended feel I wasn’t expecting. It does at least provide a direction for an answer to what happens with the Drakh, the infamous allies of the Shadows. I’m curious to dive into Crusade, now, and see what happens next.

(All Links to Amazon are Affiliates Links.)

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- “The River of Souls”

Anyone else get major Star Trek: Insurrection vibes from this poster?

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

The River of Souls

The Soul Hunters are back! I briefly mentioned them in my Season 1 overview and I always hoped they’d show up again in the series. Now we basically get a whole movie dedicated to learning more about the work they do and, more importantly, what mistakes they might make.

The movie has so much going for it that I love. We’ve got sci-fi archaeology. Archaeology is cool enough as it is, but somehow it’s even cooler when we’re in the future, digging up ancient things. And, of course, there’s a kind of cursed object storyline going on, but then it gets tied into the Soul Hunters, one of the more mysterious groups we’ve run into on the whole series. Compound that with some serious twists–a billion angry aliens, for example–and some humor based around a plot regarding a holographic brothel, and this is a recipe for success.

The revelation of the Soul Hunters making a mistake is probably the most important in the whole movie. It’s a major point and theme of the movie, so far as I can tell. At one point, the Martin Sheen Soul Hunter tells Lochley that “We do not make mistakes…” but Captain Lochley was just told that the people of the planet were not dying, “We were evolving!” This is a hugely subversive look at all the plot of the movie that had come before, and it’s a twist that, frankly, is amazing. It’s a horrifying revelation that also penetrates the mystique of the Soul Hunters to the point where they become more believable as a group.

The tension continues to ratchet up, and the holo-brothel somehow looms large in the main part of the plot instead of staying as a kind of comedy generator. After many Soul Hunters show up and demand B5 returns the stolen orb (which is not even in their possession), the aliens get serious about taking revenge upon those who unwittingly imprisoned them for thousands of years. The Martin Sheen Soul Hunter offers himself as a way to prove to the other Soul Hunters–and the aliens–that it was a genuine mistake and that they need to work together to undo it. The move seems to be a success, though we’re left knowing the solution is being worked on rather than being completed. Honestly, this is a good move, because it means the resolution isn’t cheaply gotten.

The River of Souls” is a great Babylon 5 movie. It has the look and feel of the show, with extensions that make sense. Though it doesn’t answer any of my major looming questions from the end of the series, I didn’t mind so much because the plot was so good. It has humor, intensity, the cast nails their roles, and it brings a wonderful conclusion to tie it all together while not putting too neat a bow on it. I loved this movie.

(All Links to Amazon are Affiliates Links.)

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Watching Babylon 5 for the First Time- “Thirdspace”

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

Thirdspace

Here we go! Time to delve the first Babylon 5 movie that takes place after the series! Wait… no it doesn’t. I was all excited to finally get to a movie that might answer some of my unanswered questions, but was somewhat disappointed to find that Thirdspace, instead, took place during the series. I am starting to wonder if any of the movies might answer my post-series questions or if I’ll have to just wait for some of the novels to do that.

Anyway, because of my initial disappointment with the timeline of the movie, I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as I probably should have. The movie does answer some questions about the Vorlons, which makes it worth watching. The Vorlons made a gate to try to “contact the gods” in a way, getting to Thirdspace. But it turns out that those aliens in Thirdspace are not, shall we say, benevolent.

It turns out the Thirdspace aliens have come before and the Vorlon had to desperately fight them or risk the destruction of all life in the known universe or something. The Thirdspace aliens use telepathy to take control of a bunch of people and aliens and start a massive battle before Sheridan blows them back to where they came from with a nuke.

I have to say, I didn’t particularly enjoy the attempts at horror-like elements in the movie. It’s hard to take seriously a threat that could destroy all life in the universe when we basically know it’s not actually a threat, given the series continued. That makes this story not work as well as it should, and the sense of impending doom that was attempted didn’t have the right feel to it. Maybe if I watched it all as it came out, I would have felt differently.

“Thirdspace” is a fine movie, and I enjoyed getting more background on the Vorlon, especially. It was worth the watch, but still doesn’t quite do enough to satiate my appetite for more Babylon 5.

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Reading the Babylon 5 Novels: “Voices” by John Vornholt

Having finally watched Babylon 5 for the first time (check out my posts for that series at my Babylon 5 Hub), I decided to dive into the novels. I’ll be reading them largely in publication order and reviewing them individually as we go along. Please do not spoil later books for me. There will be SPOILERS for the book reviewed going forward.

Voices by John Vornholt

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure initially if I would be buying all the Babylon 5 novels or if I’d just try to read the ones that are officially considered “canon.” I figured I may as well get them all, because I loved the series so much. Voices is part of the first batch of Babylon 5 novels that was released, and only a few of these first 9 novels are considered “canon.” Voices is not one of those novels. I’m not one who gets all tied up in insisting upon only canon matters (I enjoyed the hell out of a lot of the now-“Legends” Star Wars novels and reviewed… a lot of them). But I want the in-universe books to make sense and be fun.

Voices did each of those… at times. The core of the plot is that some bomb goes off as Alfred Bester, the awful telepath we know and love to hate from the series, is planning a convention on Mars. Instead, because of this bombing, the convention of telepaths gets moved at the last second to Babylon 5, much to the chagrin of Girabaldi and Ivanova in particular. This is set in the time when Talia Winters was still on station, so she gets caught up in the mess, especially when another bomb goes off–this time on B5.

The first half of the novel is honestly great. It reads just like another episode of Babylon 5 set within that time period. You can truly see the characters on screen doing everything described, and it makes sense. I especially loved Girabaldi being flustered at having the whole Psi Corps convention dumped into his lap for security. It was spot-on for the handling of him as a character.

The second half of the novel is, however, not great. Suddenly, characters go off in ways that are totally different from what you’d expect from their established personas. Talia Winters, in particular, loses much of her mystique and calm characterization. Girabaldi becomes much more whiney and less decisive than it seems he should be. Even the Psi Corps people seem to lose their way, acting strangely complacent towards station security at times, and going absolutely wild at other points. The plot goes a bit off the rails as well, as we get several larger threats introduced and dismissed seemingly with ease.

What I was left with, then, was a feeling of disappointment. The promising beginning of the book didn’t get the expected payoff. I did enjoy spending more time with the characters I’d come to know and love, but then they started to act in unbelievable ways. There’s also a few gaffes, such as saying the surface of Mars is 200-300 degrees when the temperature on Mars rarely even approaches 0 from below. It’s not a huge deal–Babylon 5 is space opera and not hard science fiction–but it was enough of a blip that it distracted me. Thanks to The Babylon File (volume 1), I read that Vornholt said that the novel “could have benefited from a few more days of research” (383). It probably could have also benefited from a bit more editing to jettison several unnecessary threats and focus on the main plot.

Voices is an okay work of tie-in fiction, but it violates one of the cardinal rulse of such fiction: it loses the feel of the on-screen characters readers have come to love. I’d be curious to know what other Babylon 5 fans thought of the book.

(All Links to Amazon are Affiliates.)

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Watching Babylon 5 For the First Time: “In the Beginning” – the TV movie

Hello Darkness, my old friend.

I am very late to the Babylon 5 party. As it came out, I was a bit young for the show and the few times we tried to watch as a family, it was clear we had no idea what was going on. After several people bugged me, telling me it was the show I needed to watch, I grabbed the whole series around Christmas last year on a great sale. I’ve been watching it since, sneaking it in between the many things going on in my life. It quickly became apparent that I’d want to discuss the episodes with others, so I began this series of posts. Now I’ve finished the series, but am working my way through the movies, related works, comics, and books. Please don’t spoil anything from other works here! 

In the Beginning

The first scene opens, and we see an older Mollari! This instantly makes me hopeful that this movie may answer some of my left over questions from the series. In particular, I want to know about the Shadow ally and whether Mollari ever escapes it. And he tells a story to two young Centauri children, which of course features a younger… Mollari! Time to sit back and enjoy this ride! 

What a ride it is! We get an enormous amount of backstory for the whole series. I was thrilled to see that we might be getting insight into the Earth-Minbari War. We see Mollari chastising the humans for their audacity to confront the Minbari. We witness Delenn’s discussion with the Gray Council. The outbreak of the Earth-Minbari War is a major part of the movie. And it gives us a lot of background into what our favorite characters were doing way back when. Including Ivanova! And G’Kar! Seeing G’Kar as an arms dealer is excellent. He’s doing it to help his people, of course, as it seems he’s done everything. And Dr. Franklin, already an expert on alien biology, apparently, gets arrested for refusing to use his knowledge to help kill Minbari. 

One of the best scenes is when Mollari is voicing over the near-end of the war: “In the end, they didn’t run out of courage–they ran out of time.” The scenes going past during this voice over are well-done and beautiful at times. Most of the rest of the scenes are things we already know with a bit of expansion. 

Mollari intersperses comments throughout. At one point,  we witness his condemnation of the arrogance of humans, then we see him blaming himself for the war. But the format made me worry that I wouldn’t be getting any answers to my most pressing question after all: what happens to Mollari after the series!?

The end gives us a quick peek at an earlier point in the series, in which we saw old Mollari confronting our heroes–Delenn and Sheridan. Mollari toasts them as he apparently gets into a drunken stupor to placate the Shadow Keeper. And that’s the end! we don’t find out more here! But it’s a tantalizing look. I wonder if I’ll have to wait to go through the books before I find the main answer I’m looking for. 

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

Babylon 5 Retrospective After Finishing the Series- I have questions

I already miss this crew.

I finished watching the main Babylon 5 series, and reviewed the whole series along the way. I adored it. It has grown into my favorite TV show of all time. But, having finished the finale, I have some questions to ask before diving into the offshoots, movies, comics, and novels. There will be SPOILERS for the whole main series in this post, but please don’t spoil ANY offshoot series, movies, comics, or novels here.

Vorlon are Angels? Wha-?

Remember that episode where we found out the Vorlon are literally angels? Remember how basically nothing happened with that after we saw the angelic Vorlon save Sheridan’s life? I’d love to know more about the Vorlon. So many fans seem to love them, but to me, they are opportunists who manipulated the history of other species for hundreds or thousands of years just for their own ends. What makes them such fan favorites? Is it the enigmatic nature of them? Is it just that we don’t know about them, and that makes them fascinating? 

Mollari- What the hell?

Okay, I honestly have to say this is the one that upsets me the most about the whole series. What the heck happens to Mollari and the Centauri between the second to last episode and the finale (and beyond)? We see Mollari sneak a Keeper into Sheridan and Delenn’s possession, and then we just lose that plot thread? Please tell me it gets resolved somewhere! I do recall that in one of the episodes Mollari seems to be drinking to drive off some inner demons–perhaps that’s to stop the Keeper from intervening at a certain point? I don’t know.

G’Kar?

Speaking of future Mollari–wasn’t G’Kar with him in that time traveling scene? And if so, what does that mean for where G’Kar ends up? Where does he go with Lyta? What do they discover, and how does that inform his life going forward? Does he continue to be a religious icon for his people? 

Girabaldi and Lyta- what next?

Will there be war against the Psi Corps? And if so, how will that play out? If anyone can do it, I would think Lyta and Girabaldi would be the ones able to do so. Remember–Lyta was apparently turned into a kind of nuclear telepath option by the Vorlon, which makes her extremely powerful and dangerous to any of her enemies. Her experience with Byron changed her, as well, but she’s clearly not following his pacifistic path. At a guess, I would say the Psi Corps trilogy of books that I got will probably deal with this. 

Resolving the Questions

The good news is that I still have several movies to watch, as well as the single season of the offshoot show “Crusade” to help ansqer these questions. I’ll also be reading the books, several of which were written after the series concluded. Presumably, some of these will answer the questions that remain. I certainly hope they will, anyway, because some of these questions are burning to get answered. If not, I honestly think I’ll probably go looking for some fanfic somewhere to help wrap up some of the plots in my head. I’ve not read a lot of fanfiction, but I did read some to help wrap up the Star Wars expanded universe, for example. 

Anyway, I look forward to exploring these questions with you going forward!

Links

Babylon 5 Hub– Find all my Babylon 5-related posts and content here.

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

I started watching “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”… so here are thoughts after two seasons

It turns out that there are a lot of shows I’ve wanted to watch for a while but never got around to. I’ve been catching up, though! I recently finished my first-ever watch-through of Babylon 5 (check out my posts on the series) and now I’m already 2 seasons deep into Buffy. This show is… phenomenal. My discussion of the first two seasons follows, and will have SPOILERS for those seasons. Please do not spoil later seasons for me!

Look, no small amount of my love for this show comes from straight-up nostalgia about the 90s. That’s there in oodles. It’s even better because it’s absolutely unintentional. If you grew up in the 90s or have any interest in that decade, you’re going to adore the show just because of that. The “high schoolers” (played by 20+ year olds, of course) wear the most 90s jeans, the most 90s hair, and the most 90s makeup all the time. The slang, the concerns, the social commentary–it’s all there, and it is so much fun.

But nostalgia would only take me so far. The show is genuinely fun to watch. Every single episode has great one-liners, fun characters, and new threats for Buffy to face. Every character gets genuine development throughout, moving from some one-dimensional characters to people you’re involved with, even as you often wish they’d make much better choices. So far, I think my favorite is the hapless librarian, Rupert Giles. He has such a winsome manner while also being there when you need him. I like him a lot. Obviously, Buffy is another favorite.

Season 1’s plot centered around a generically evil baddy trying to unleash hell on their small town (with an exceptionally high murder rate due to vampires–they should probably talk to Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote about this). It’s a fine story, and it gives us a chance to flesh out the main characters while not having to worry too much about intricacies of plot. Of course, there are some great standout episodes that pad that plot. The silliness of Teacher’s Pet, an episode in which the baddie turns out to be a giant preying mantis cannot be overstated–yet it works. It works phenomenally well because they embrace the campiness, and it becomes a recurring joke in later episodes. Speaking of that–the series has continuity of plot that actually builds on itself over time. That doesn’t sound like a big deal in our era of huge epic plots that continue throughout whole series, but shows like Buffy (and Babylon 5, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) had to build that basis. These aren’t a bunch of one-off episodes. Things placed in seemingly random fashion in one episode turn out to be bigger deals than initially thought–like Amy the witch from episode 3, who turns up big in season 2!

So yeah, there are some great moments throughout, and no small amount of nostalgia involved. It’s just an extraordinarily fun show to watch all the way through. Season 2 ramps up the intensity with a cast of antagonists (and huge development of Angel–good or evil?) who are far more three-dimensional than the generically evil “Master.” I gotta admit, some of the developments with Spike in particular caught me off guard. He and Drusilla are quite dynamic as “baddies,” and that is a credit to the writers and their acting. Drusilla has that kind of offhand glee for evil that makes her much more interesting than she’d otherwise have been.

Also, Buffy’s mom is just… not good. The finale of season 2 really brings that out. Maybe she turns into a more dynamic and kind character later, but she’s basically done nothing but blame Buffy or anyone but herself for everything that goes wrong the entire time. And then her reaction to finally finding out that Buffy is the Slayer is… to kick her from the house? What an idiot!

I’d be remiss to not mention Jenny Calendar, a “techno-pagan” who steals the show in multiple episodes. She becomes a fascinating character through season 2, and then she’s ripped away from us–and Giles!–in devastating fashion by Angel. I don’t know how, but I am hoping they’ll find a way to resurrect her at some point.

Anyway, we couldn’t leave the show alone after the ending that left Buffy distraught about killing (banishing?) Angel. On to season 3!

Links

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.