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A look back at the first season and the original story arc.

I'm finally getting around to doing something I intended to do years ago, watching the first season again with the original version of the story arc in mind. The original story arc was finally revealed in the 15th script book back in 2008, and while I did watch a few first season episodes, I never did get around to actually seeing it all, and what I saw in those episodes was very surprising in this new context.
I just got done watching The Gathering again, and there are a few interesting things to mention. I really wonder why Londo is narrating at the beginning. Is he supposed to be looking back at things, maybe telling someone the story of Babylon 5 and Babylon Prime? But he ends up sacrificing himself to let Sinclair and the rest save his world and atone for his many terrible decisions. Maybe we're not supposed to think about that too much.
As I'm sure everyone here already knows, Laurel Takashima was originally going to be the one with the Psi Corps sleeper persona hidden inside, and this other personality was the one that allowed the Minbari assassin to get on to the station without being noticed, as well as interfering with Sinclair's transport tube, making sure he wouldn't be able to meet Kosh, and that instead the assassin would poison Kosh. It would seem that the changeling net was to make sure that he would be able to approach Kosh and get close enough to poison him. Something strange about Takashima though is the fact that she's the one to call attention to the changeling net in the first place, telling Sinclair and Garibaldi to meet her in Varner's room and showing them the information. Wouldn't it have made more sense to destroy the evidence? I'm guessing that too many station personnel were involved, and someone else probably found the information in the first place, so she couldn't just destroy it.
The goal of the Narns and G'kar in this point of the show is stated in the original plan is to make sure everyone is at each other's throats, so that there could never be an alliance that can threaten the Narns again, and their other main goal is to eventually get revenge on the Centauri. We clearly see this in G'kar's attempt to make an alliance with the Minbari when he talks to Delenn, and his part in the assassination would be to make sure the Babylon Project failed, so that none of those potential threatening alliances could occur.
I really wonder just what would have come about with Dr. Kyle, since he was the one who saw Kosh. I especially am curious what might have been said at the end of the second season when Kosh shows himself to everyone, to save Sinclair who is falling from the core shuttle after being thrown out.
Something very interesting I noticed has to do with the Minbari assassin's behavior. In early notes and memos JMS wrote about the show, he makes it very clear that to the Minbari, integrity is paramount, and within the show we see the characters mention this as well, like that time in the second season when that those Minbari try to set up Sheridan, and one of them actually lies to ensure that he's framed for murdering an unarmed Minbari. JMS says that integrity is so important to a Minbari, that if someone were to say that they lied, the Minbari would actually try to kill the accuser. Of course, the Minbari are totally fine with half truths obviously. The thing is, the assassin flat out lies at certain points in The Gathering, claiming to be other people. He comes from a group of Minbari that left after they were ordered by the Grey Council to surrender, so maybe he just doesn't care, and thinks that the ends justify the means. Of course, even Delenn doesn't tell the whole truth, saying that "There is a hole in your mind" is a Minbari insult. Was she lying, or is it a half truth?

Of course, Takashima, Kyle and Lyta all went away after this, and only Lyta eventually reappeared, so quite a bit changed. Instead of Takashima shooting Garibaldi in the back at the end of the first season, it's Garibaldi's second in command. The truth about Takashima likely would have been uncovered either right after that, or possibly there would have been a build up in the second season, and halfway through we would have gotten something similar to what happened with Talia Winters. JMS stated in one of the books that he always intended Takashima to only be there for the first season, and so he kept that in mind with casting, and I have a feeling that this isn't an example of him exaggerating things like he has a tendency to.

Also, this might not be a very popular opinion amongst fans, but as I've gotten older, I've found myself more interested in Sinclair, and actually prefer him over Sheridan. A problem with Sheridan that I've seen pointed out, and that I've come to really agree with, is that he just doesn't seem to have enough flaws. He's just too good really. Sinclair seems more flawed, suffering through night terrors and feeling massive guilt for surviving the Battle of the Line, which leads him to charge in to dangerous situations constantly. I also quite like the spiritual side he shows.

I'm planning on watching more, but right now I'm wondering if I should rewatch the whole first season, or just the JMS episodes, since I'm looking for all the foreshadowing for what would have been instead.
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Comments

  • I also really like Sinclair, or Sinclair as he could have been. The "Sinclair" character is more interesting than the "Sheridan" character. But as they were portrayed, Sheridan ended up being the better character. Sadly that's not the fault of Michael O'Hare, but that's just how it happened.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    edited December 2016
    Do you mean you like the concept more than the execution? Unfortunately, Michael O'Hare was suffering from mental illness, so it obviously interfered. Personally, I think he did a fine job overall. I finally got around to watching the CNN interviews, and knowing what O'Hare was going through, I can see it in the interview, how it looks like he's having a hard time concentrating.
    I'll get to changes mentioned in the five year plan as I get to stuff in the show, like how I'll talk about B4 more once I get to Babylon Squared.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    edited December 2016
    I just finished watching Midnight on the Firing Line again. This is one of the few episodes that I had watched again after learning about the original plan (I guess it's been a while since I've watched this show), so it was all pretty familiar. The most interesting part is when Londo talks about his death in the future, which he says is twenty years from then. What's strange is this; the show, Babylon 5, was going to end with the warrior caste of the Minbari finally rising up and taking power from the Grey Council, forcing them into exile, and reopening hostilities with Earth. Part of this would have involved going after Babylon 5, because there are those in the warrior caste that know about Sinclair, and how Delenn was planning on having a child with him to fulfill prophecy, and this would have been unacceptable to them and their idea of racial purity. So at the end of the fifth year, in the final episode, the Minbari would attack Babylon 5 and destroy it, which is what we see in the Centauri seer Ladira's vision in Signs and Portents. And this was seriously going to be how the show ended.
    The thing is, JMS was hopeful that the show would be popular enough to warrant a second show, Babylon Prime. The show would begin right after the first show ended. JMS points out that Sinclair and Delenn would escape Babylon 5 with their newborn child, and in Babylon Prime, he states that their child is still an infant at the beginning. I'll get into more detail when I get to Babylon Squared, but what would have happened is that Sinclair the and rest would have travelled through time and pulled Babylon 4 forward, to serve as their new command center for the Shadow War, renaming it Babylon Prime.
    The thing is, in the plan he says "At one point, early in their travels, they run across Londo, who is puppet-leader of the Centauri Republic, linked to a creature that reports his every action to the Shadowmen. Under its supervision, he must turn them in... but rebels, at terrible personal cost, to help them escape. He deeply regrets all that has happened, and hopes in some way to make up for it."
    So if this is early in their travels, he must mean season one or possibly two of Babylon Prime, which means that this would have to take place in either 2263 or 2264, clearly not twenty years after the first season. Did he change his mind? Were Sinclair and the others supposed to have returned from their time traveling at a later date then they intended? Sinclair's aged appearance was in fact always supposed to be due to the time traveling it turns out, that it's wreaking havoc on their bodies, since no one was ever meant to do this, and it would also have caused his son to age quickly, though still with the mind of a child. This part is really strange to me, how Londo says twenty years later in the first episode, yet the plan seems to suggest something else.
    This all also brings up something that I think is pulled off better in the original plan, the fact that the Shadow War goes on for so long. Unfortunately, in the show as it is, the Shadow War really only lasts a little over a year, while in the original plan, combined with Londo's twenty year statement, it appears that the Shadow War would have lasted TWENTY years, feeling far more like an epic war of legend. While I absolutely think that the original plan had everything too stretched out, with it seeming like there might have been too much filler, I still quite like the idea of the long build up. Or could it perhaps have been that Babylon 5 might have had a time skip of a few years inbetween seasons?
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    edited December 2016
    Soul Hunter has some pretty interesting lines in it for the original story arc.

    "You would plan such a thing? You would do such a thing? Incredible."

    In the show as it is, we can easily see that he's referring to Delenn using the Chrysalis to become half human, but in the context of the original story, this line has much more meaning. Delenn's goal is to use the Chrysalis to become half human, and have a child with Sinclair, their prophesized savior. To quote JMS on Sinclair and what the Minbari want from him:

    "Sinclair's ship was taken aboard the Minbari cruiser he was attempting to ram. He was taken prisoner along with other Earth Alliance (EA) pilots. This was the main battle cruiser, on which were almost all of the ruling Grey Council. They had come to oversee the final stage of the war, and the coming occupation and rule of Earth...or its destruction, should Earth choose not to surrender.
    One member of the Grey Council had a revelation...that one of the captured pilots was more than he seemed, that an ancient prophecy concerning the every survival of the Minbari race was coming into fruition.
    The Minbari are a dying race. Their population is decreasing, their cities are crumbling; each generation their children are born weaker, more fragile, all as was prophesied. But one outsider was foretold as being able to save the Minbari, give it a new birth. At least, that is one interpretation of the prophecy. Another reading of the same text leads others to believe that this outsider could cause the destruction of the Minbari race.
    The Grey Council members insist that the "outsider" in question is Sinclair. He must be released and allowed to go on his way, to find his destiny. to do that, the Minbari must surrender, allowing Earth's future history to go on unimpeded."

    Also:

    "The "new birth" of the Minbari race -- and the "dawn of the Third Age of Mankind" -- turns out to be a very literal one: a melding of the human and Minbari races through a child conceived by Delenn and Sinclair. This will be facilitated by Delenn undergoing a series of genetic manipulations designed to make her more human, and able to mate with Sinclair. The Grey Council believes that their offspring will unify the human and Minbari races, and lead both into a new Golden Age."

    So what the Soul Hunter is ACTUALLY seeing in Delenn's soul is this plan. That she is going to modify herself and have a child of destiny with Sinclair, to save her race.

    "Don't you understand? They're using you. They're using you!"

    In the show as it is, it's more that the Minbari are watching Sinclair, but in the context of the original plan, he's absolutely right. The Minbari ARE using Sinclair, to be their savior, to have a child with Delenn.
    JMS said at the time that he planned for the Soul Hunters to return, and we don't really have any idea what this could have meant, though it certainly would have been something bigger and more important than what happened in the River of Souls TV movie. Only this one Soul Hunter actually sought out people to kill for their special soul, so it's doubtful that they would have come for Sinclair or his son. I really don't know what to make of JMS's statement on that.
    There's also that conversation between the Soul Hunter and Delenn, where she mentions how the Minbari are becoming weaker, saying it's the fault of Soul Hunters. Again, we see a Minbari half truth, because it seems that something else is going on. Aside from a little bit of talk at the beginning of the second season where Lennier says that Minbari souls are being reborn in humans, this story line seemed mostly dropped in the show. JMS said that in episodes like War Without End Part 1 we can see the buildings with a weak glow to them, signifying that the Minbari are dying, and I remember them talking about this some in To Dream in the City of Sorrows, which was written by Kathryn Drennan, JMS's wife at the time, so she would have more insight into this setting than anyone besides JMS himself. But really, in the show as it is, the whole "Minbari are a dying race" thing just seemed to disappear.
  • I watched Infection. Not much to say about this, since it obviously has to do with the Shadow War of a thousand years ago, which is still likely to have involved Valen. Andy Lane wrote in his book The Babylon File that it's possible the Vorlons were the ones who attacked Ikara, but JMS said in his script books that as the show went on, we'd look back at this episode and see that it's obviously the Shadows, so it's nice to have it totally confirmed. It's pretty hard to make out much detail about the armor, but there was a picture of it before it had the dark color applied in one of the script books, and it looks much more spidery there. Of course, the really obvious clue is the fact that it grows over Drake and takes him over, so he becomes a slave to the technology, like we see Shadow technology do later on like with Carolyn and Anna.
    Watching it again though, I just couldn't help but think this. If the power this thing is putting out is increasing as much as they say it is, then shouldn't it have totally obliterated Sinclair when he was hit? And how was it that it could shoot holes in the doors earlier, yet the wall Sinclair is using for cover at one point is totally fine? Must be some pretty good materials his flak jacket and that wall were made from!
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    edited July 11
    The Parliament of Dreams is a really good episode for this. First of all I'll talk about what Delenn says in the Minbari rebirth ceremony, which is worth repeating in full:

    "Will you follow me into fire? Into storm? Into darkness? Into death? And the nine said, 'Yes.'
    Then do this in testimony to the One who will follow. Who will bring death couched in the promise of new life and renewal disguised as defeat.
    From birth, through death and renewal. You must put aside old things, old fears, old lives.
    This is your death. The death of flesh, the death of pain. The death of yesterday. Taste of it and be not afraid. For I am with you to the end of time. Taste of it.
    And so, it begins."

    "Death couched in the promise of new life and renewal disguised as defeat." It's easy to see from this line that Valen (though now I realize that she doesn't actually mention Valen. Just when was his name first mentioned?) was talking about Sinclair. He brings death to the Minbari cruiser with the Grey Council onboard, and their defeat by surrender will then lead to their renewal and rebirth. Catherine Sakai mentions that the rebirth ceremony is also used as a marriage ceremony, and we can clearly see Delenn looking intently at Sinclair, and this is all of course because she is planning to have a child with him eventually to save her people and unite the two races. So Delenn could very well be viewing this as a marriage ceremony to Sinclair, and I could see this being brought up eventually in a later episode.
    This is the episode that introduces us to Catherine Sakai, one of Sinclair's old girlfriends, and shows them getting together again. There's a lot to say about her, so I'll just quote everything JMS said about her original planned destiny, and what was at first likely planned for Carolyn Sykes:

    "It is during this time, the third/fourth season bridge that Delenn and Sinclair begin to come together. He is nearly destroyed when his lover, Catherine (who we will introduce in season one), is mind-raped and all memory of their relationship is wiped out. The only way he can restore her memory is to do the same thing to her all over again, put her through what is essentially a mind-rape, and he can't bring himself to do that.
    "It's a very vulnerable time for him, and it's now when Delenn makes her move. They begin to come together. By the end of season four, they are lovers...and Delenn is pregnant with their child."

    So Catherine had a horrible fate, very similar to what happened to Anna Sheridan. As it turns out, the events in real life that lead to Michael O'Hare leaving the show was the best thing that could happen for the character of Catherine, since she made it out all right in the end. Watching it this time, every time I see her I think about the horrible fate that's in store for her. Unfortunately, there is no other mention of Catherine in the plan, so we don't know what happened to her. Was she a total Shadow slave? Did she only lose memories of Sinclair, or of just recent years? Whatever the case, Sinclair can't bring himself to torture her again so that she'll remember him. Talk about depressing.
    This was also the first time that I've ever noticed that you can actually see the gills on the side of G'kar's neck. The best time to view this is when he's on the floor being tortured by the Narn assassin. Is this consistent through the entire show? Maybe I'll have to look at some other episodes, like when G'kar is being tormented by Cartagia.
    The Centauri religious feast where Londo talks about the Centauri gods also brings something to mind, his reaction to seeing Kosh out of his suit. From the original plan:

    "At that moment, everyone else in the Garden sees something remarkable. And what each sees is different. To our eyes, and those of Sinclair, what rises from the garden to catch him looks like an angel. (Not a stereotypical angel, though; it must convey a genuine sense of alienness...eyes that are twice as large as they should be, higher up on the forehead than should be the case; bronze skin, wings that have a slightly menacing look to them.) But everyone else in the Garden doesn't see what we or Sinclair see. They see a different figure saving Sinclair. In each case, though, it is a religious figure from their own world, their own culture. (We will see each of these variations from their individual points of view.)
    "The place is abuzz thereafter. B5 becomes a mecca for pilgrims. Only a few know that it is Kosh who made this appearance; all anyone else knows is that the station had a Visitation by their own particular sub-diety. Only one person does not share this moment of sublime revelation: Londo. He sits at the bar, very much alone. Drink in hand, he shakes his head, "I saw nothing...I saw...nothing." He seems almost brokenhearted not to have seen what the others saw, felt what they felt."

    So we can see this as far back as this episode. Londo doesn't seem to revere the gods of his people, he's making jokes about them more, because he flat out doesn't believe in them, and likely never has.

    Going through this all, I have to say that I'm quite impressed with just how much foreshadowing there was in the first season. JMS said early on in the show that things introduced in the first season would be resolved in not just that season, but the second, third, fourth, and fifth. In the show as it is, there isn't really anything introduced in the first season that waited until the fifth to be resolved, but in the original plan, we're seeing things introduced as early as the first season that wouldn't be resolved until the possible second series. It's really quite impressive. We here are probably some of the least JMS Fanboy types of Babylon 5 fans, but the fact that he set all of this up, and that he actually managed to keep going after having to lose the most important character to his story is very impressive to me. If I was in his position, having come up with the story for Sinclair, then having to abandon that, I doubt I could have done it, I'd likely despair at the thought of such a gigantic change. The show isn't perfect, but he still managed to make all that foreshadowing from the first season pay off, with different meanings than was originally planned.
  • Another thing about this Minbari prophet who foresaw the decline of the Minbari and the alien savior, I just can't help but wonder who he was. Somehow he's able to see into the future, but what's interesting is that the only race we see with this ability would be the Centauri. Londo talks about his vision of his death, and Ladira sees Babylon 5's destruction. At the end of the season, Delenn uses the Chrysalis to become half human, which all leads me to ask, was Valen originally supposed to be a Centauri that used the Chrysalis to become a Minbari?
  • David of MacDavid of Mac Elite Ranger Ca
    I'm pretty sure the first time we hear the name "Valen" is in the late second season, when Delenn has Sheridan over for Minbari dinner.

    I had to check it out when I read the part about G'Kar's gills being a part of his regular makeup. I checked out a couple episodes where I remembered him strutting around in his bathrobe. You can't really see anything in "Signs and Portents," but they're there in "Soul Mates." I think they might only be on the left side of his neck. There were a bunch of wrinkles on the right side, but the distinctive gill shape was only visible on the left when he turned away from the camera at the end of the scene.

    So then I skipped further ahead. Say what you will (and I think we all have), but Legends of the Rangers is cleanest-looking B5 short of The Lost Tales. I can see them on G'Kar's neck there, too, but it's harder to say that they're not just supposed to be wrinkles with the clearer picture. They do seem to bulge out more than the ones on the right side of his neck, but without some HD transfers (ha!) or asking the makeup designer (slightly more likely), I don't think we can say conclusively. The other Narn on the cast also seemed to have similar wrinkles, but it's possible someone forgot or didn't know why they were the on G'Kar's makeup and just carried them over.

    That's not unheard of. I once heard a making-of piece on Doctor Who were the puppetmaker made a passive-aggressive comment about the CGI team not correctly modeling a Dalek mutant, and giving it just one big eye right in the middle, when it was actually to have an entire withered face which only had one *open* eye.
  • In that episode at least, I got a pretty decent look at Na'toth's neck, and I didn't seem to see anything there. That would be really cool if this was a little detail kept consistent about G'kar that almost no one would notice. I'll have to check out some other episodes some time.
  • There isn't too much to say about Mind War in the context of the original arc. It's still pretty much the same, showing how Psi Corps has gotten totally out of control and is now secretly running Earth society. The original plan barely mentions the Psi Corps itself, only saying this:

    "We discover, over the first few seasons, that the Psi Corps is not the benign organization it seemed at first; they are the ones who pull the strings that move the government. They know all the secrets, have much of the power, and they're trying to consolidate that."

    In his notes for the first season, JMS mentions that the "men in black", the Psi Cops, before he came up with that name, don't talk much because they don't have to, which we see in this episode. Unfortunately, for the most part that element went away as the show went on, with telepaths talking to eachother all the time, even Psi Cops, like in The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father in the fifth season. I always liked how in cScott's parody of that episode, he keeps bringing up how those two Psi Cop interns whisper to eachother, even though it make no sense, because if they want to talk secretly, with no one overhearing, they could just use telepathy!

    JMS doesn't mention the other First Ones at all in the original plan, though the Vorlons and Shadows are still supposed to be ancient alien races, and the Vorlons still have been manipulating the younger races for millions of years. It's hard to say if he already had the other First Ones in mind when he wrote the original five year plan (which was written some time between the completion of the pilot and the start of the first season) or if it's something he came up with afterwards.
  • I think the fact that telepaths were talking to each other is more of a media convenience....like when Minbari are alone and they talk in English.
  • Yeah, I know there's that, but it still seems like this part of telepaths kind of disappeared as the show went on.
  • And the Sky Full of Stars is pretty interesting. The original plan states that Sinclair and other EA pilots were taken on board, and it also mentions that the Grey Council was there to oversee the final stages of the war, to either occupy and rule over Earth, or to kill everyone if Earth didn't surrender. In the show as it is, especially in In the Beginning, it's stated that Earth tried to surrender, but the Minbari refused to stop, planning on killing the entire human race, and by the time this episode was made, I'm not sure which way JMS was thinking on that. It also says:

    "One member of the Grey Council had a revelation...that one of the captured pilots was more than he seemed, that an ancient prophecy concerning the very survival of the Minbari race coming into fruition."

    It doesn't state who this member was, but I have a feeling that eventually it would have been revealed to be Delenn herself. I suppose I'll just quote the rest of this involving Sinclair's missing time:

    "The Minbari are a dying race. Their population is decreasing, their cities are crumbling; each generation their children are born weaker, more fragile, all as was prophesied. But one outsider was foretold as being able to save the Minbari, give it a new birth. At least, that is one interpretation of the prophecy. Another reading of the same text leads others to believe that this outsider could cause the destruction of the Minbari race.
    "The Grey Council members insist that the 'outsider' in question is Sinclair. He must be released and allowed to go on his way, to find his destiny. To do that, the Minbari must surrender, allowing Earth's future history to go on unimpeded."

    The military leaders disagreed, and the leader of the military caste committed suicide rather than surrender (this would be Branmer, who they talk about in Legacies). A small but dedicated number of his followers deserted, and the Minbari assassin was one of them. This of course might seem a bit strange to read, since it's later stated that the Grey Council is made up of three members of each caste, but I'm not sure if this is actually stated until the second season, maybe in the episode when Delenn is thrown out of the council. Perhaps originally, the Grey Council was meant to only be made up of the Religious Caste. As part of the end of Babylon 5 it mentions that the Warrior Caste eventually takes control and "They order the exile of all Council members, the death of Sinclair and Delenn, and a resumption of hostilities against Earth." This directly leads to the destruction of Babylon 5, but I'll get into more detail about that when I get to Signs and Portents. Anyway, it really seems to make a distinction between the Grey Council and the Warrior Caste. I have a feeling that the Minbari in Delenn's room at the end of the episode is supposed to be a member of the Grey Council who might believe the interpretation of the prophecy that Sinclair will lead to the death of the Minbari, in contrast to Delenn, who is an absolute fanatical believer in the savior interpretation, plotting to alter her body and have a child with Sinclair to save both races.
    Also, I just have to say, why is that other Grey Council member even in Delenn's room? Where did he come from? Is he just hanging out on Babylon 5 all the time? Was he there by sheer coincidence to talk something over with Delenn, and why is he in his outfit? He doesn't want to travel secretly? Are we supposed to believe that Delenn contacted him after the event in the corridor with Sinclair, and the guy somehow got to the station super fast? It seems like an idea JMS thought was good for the story, but didn't think about the logic very much.

    In this episode and later in Signs and Portents, we see Delenn with a grey triangle appear on her forehead, and the same happens with the Grey Council member in Delenn's room. This is something that totally disappears from the show after the first season, and it's so weird how that happens. It's not painted on as part of tradition when the Grey Council meets or anything, instead, it seems to be some sort of implant, because it appears on Delenn's forehead when she's talking to Morden, something that she can also feel, and warning her that the Shadows are near. So what's up with this? I also really wonder about the Triluminary glowing when it's brought before Sinclair. In the show as it is, it's apparently reacting to his genetics, since he's Valen, and the same happened to Delenn when she stood before it taking her vows when joining the Grey Council, since it's revealed that she's a descendant of Valen, so she shares his genetics. But originally, that's clearly not the case at all. Sinclair and this Minbari who made this ancient prophecy are totally different people and I have a personal theory that this Minbari might have been a Centauri who altered himself with the Chrysalis, did I explain this idea? I don't seem to see it in my earlier posts.
    Well, my idea is that since Delenn uses the Chrysalis to turn half human, that perhaps a Centauri had used the Chrysalis to turn either totally or mostly Minbari. The reason I think this could be is because the Centauri are shown a few times in the first season to have a unique ability, to see into the future. Londo says that all Centauri have a dream about their death, seeing how and sometimes knowing when they will die, and later we see Ladira seeing into the future as well. So it stands to reason that this Minbari, able to see the future, could very well have been a Centauri in truth. Just imagine how Minbari society would have been rocked if that had been revealed. Of course, this is all just a theory of mine, and there is nothing whatsoever stated by JMS to confirm it.
    Anyway, I'm pretty sure that the Triluminary glowing when brought before Sinclair is supposed to confirm to the Minbari that this human is indeed that outsider described in the prophecy. I just really wonder now about those triangles on the forehead, and what's going on with the Chrysalis. I suppose we'll never know for certain.
  • David of MacDavid of Mac Elite Ranger Ca
    I'm a little curious about how the Triluminary is supposed to work. In some cases, they seem fairly useful (Delenn gets one because she's going it alone, but it's ambiguous if it's because it's a powerful device, or if her friend knows exactly what she's planning and that it's the final necessary piece of the chrysalis machine), and in "Sky" and ITB, they use one to "scan" Sinclair. But in "Atonement," it sounds like it's mostly symbolic aside from being part of the chrysalis machine, and it's occasional glowing is just a fun bit of trivia for the genealogically minded. Plus, there's "Legacies," where Delenn uses it to knock out some guards.

    "Atonement" is the real problem here. You could just say it has some sort of psychic interface with whoever is holding it, and that's fine, but making the glow something very important muddles things. Consider how Delenn phrases it in ITB: "The human has a Minbari soul, and not just a Minbari soul, but the soul of Valen." She didn't know what the glow meant at the time, so it apparently reported the Valen connection, specifically, and in terms that would make it seem plausible that he was a spiritual reincarnation and not some kind of cross-species clone. "Atonement" makes it sound like "glow equals Valen," and the whole thing was as simple as that, which makes no sense as far as anything else goes.

    Plus there's the matter of the other human pilots mentioned in "Signs and Portents" who also were reborn Minbari. The Triluminary wouldn't have glowed for them (unless, I suppose, it was reacting to human DNA and not Sinclair specifically, but then the Minbari would believe they'd encountered the planet of the Valens). Part of me just wants to ignore the glowing-from-DNA thing from Atonement to make everything simpler. It feels like an attempt at a retcon or continuity patch that doesn't quite fix what it's trying to.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    edited December 2016
    In the show as it is, what seems to be going on is that after Sinclair used the Triluminary to become Valen, it was from then on tuned to his genetic code in some way. When it's brought before Delenn in Atonement, it glows and Dukhat knows that she is a child of Valen, one of his descendants. So when it's brought before Sinclair, it glows because he is Valen himself. Other pilots interrogated and tortured who might have had the Triluminary brought before them might not share enough in common with Sinclair genealogy to make it react, but what's really important is that Delenn got that message from Kosh, "The truth points to itself" and so when she saw Sinclair's Starfury coming at them, she knew it must be the sign, so it would seem that she managed to convince the other members to bring the Triluminary before that pilot, Sinclair, and it reacted, so maybe they only tried it with him.
    There's a huge problem with this however. In Chrysalis, Delenn shows the Triluminary to Sinclair, and I'm pretty sure it glows to him again. But factoring in Atonement, it should be glowing whenever Delenn is nearby as well! This is of course the biggest, most obvious sign that she was not at all meant to be genetically related to Sinclair in any way at first, though like I've been talking about here, Sinclair was not supposed to go back in time and become a Minbari hero at all originally.

    I'll wait to comment on that Minbari who gives Delenn the Triluminary until I get to Babylon Squared (the biggest, most important episode of all in regards to the original arc. I can't wait to get to this one, since pretty much everything said in that episode has a totally different meaning), but I think it's safe to assume that he also believes in the savior interpretation and wants Delenn to succeed.

    About the episode Legacies, I eventually noticed this or had it pointed out by someone online, and was very surprised to see the Triluminary used there. But does it really mean something? From the script of the episode itself:

    "FLASH SHOT #1

    Hazy and fogged at the edges. We see the draped coffin and two Minbari guards at attention. We see two grey-robed persons ENTER. One holds a small triangular device. The grey robe stretches the device out toward the guards. The TRIANGLE GLOWS. The two guards suddenly go rigid, staring straight ahead, caught in a stasis field."

    So it calls it a "triangle". This episode was written by D.C. Fontana, and I don't think she had any insight into what the Triluminary was. Of the writers on the show who weren't JMS, I'd say Larry DiTillio would be the only one to have any clue whatsoever what that thing was going to be used for, and I don't even know if HE did. Did they just use that prop because it was convenient? It sure seems like a strange choice, since this is a very important plot device. Did JMS get involved and decide it would be good to use it, to add something more to the Triluminary? It's so hard to say what the truth is.
    Another strange thing is the fact that Legacies aired BEFORE Babylon Squared, when Delenn gets the Triluminary. Looking at the production order, Legacies was also filmed before Babylon Squared, but after Chrysalis, which would be the episode the prop was made for.
  • David of MacDavid of Mac Elite Ranger Ca
    I figure it has to be intentional that the Legacies device is the Triluminary. One would think the more logical choice would be one of Delenn's magic rings from "The Gathering" if you needed to knock someone out (assuming you weren't going to use a Minbari raygun, since this was back when weapons were still supposed to be hard to come by on B5). Though I suppose the way the sequence was shot, it'd be nearly impossible to make the ring obvious to the audience, so it would just look like the Minbari was a Jedi.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    edited December 2016
    Signs and Portents is a very important episode in all of this, since it actually foreshadows the end of Babylon 5, with the station being destroyed. Ladira's lines are very important:

    "I see death... destruction... fire... Babylon will fall... this place will be destroyed... fire, death, and pain... fire death and pain..."

    By the way, I'm quoting the script, in case it's slightly different in the episode. What she's seeing are the events on the final episode of Babylon 5, when the station is attacked and destroyed. While JMS says that the Warrior Caste of the Minbari does this in the original plan, there's something interesting in the script when she shows Sinclair her vision:

    "FLASH FORWARD - EXT. BABYLON 5

    We FEATURE the station, and can barely SEE several large beetle-shaped craft in far b.g. There's a growing RUMBLE.

    A small shuttle ZOOMS out of the docking bay as suddenly Babylon 5 explodes from within, sections erupting into fire in a rippling effect...as the Hindenberg went up in sections...before finally ERUPTING. As the shuttle arcs around and ZOOMS PAST CAMERA, we SHOCK CUT BACK INTO--"

    Then it continues with Sinclair reacting and all of that. "Large beetle-shaped craft" it says. After reading this, I examined the scene closely and found that they are not there at all (unless one of you want to check, maybe you'll see something I missed?), and what does that sound like? It was already established in Infection that Shadow technology resembles insects. However, I should note the description of the Shadow ships from their first appearance, which was actually in Chrysalis going by the order the episodes were made:

    "EXT. SPACE - NEAR OUTPOST

    There's not a jump point forming. Rather, first one, then another, then a total of four massive SHADOWMEN CRUISERS begin PHASING into view, as though moving from invisibility. They're deadly looking ships, huge, black, with highlights of crimson and purple."

    So they're not described as being beetle shaped, but I still think that this is very interesting. In the original plan, JMS clearly says that the Warrior Caste destroys the station, but with this description, it seems that he either changed his mind and decided that the Shadows would do it, or more interesting to me, that it's possible that the Warrior Caste may have actually allied with the Shadows, or at least, Shadow agents like Morden might have contacted some high ranking members of the Warrior Caste and found allies within.
    I'm planning on getting into the ending in much more detail once I get to Babylon Squared, where I'll be quoting a lot about the end of Babylon 5 and what information there is on Babylon Prime, but just to make it clear, what Ladira sees in this episode and shows to Sinclair is in fact what was supposed to be the final episode of Babylon 5, with Sinclair, Delenn, and their child on that ship, barely escaping. JMS hoped that the show would be popular enough that they'd be able to get another show, Babylon Prime, which continues the story from there.
    Also, there are some interesting things Ladira hears in one of her visions. We can hear what sounds like Garibaldi saying "Destruct!" and in Babylon Squared, he says that he's rigged the reactor to blow, I guess to take the enemy with them? This is also consistent with how the station is described in the script as blowing up from the inside. We also seem to hear Sinclair yelling about getting to the docking bays.
    I also figure this is a good excuse to address something else mentioned in the original plan. What do our characters want?

    "Londo misses the grand days of Empire that characterized the Centauri Republic. He'd give anything to restore that. He also sees the Narns as a real threat. He knows what his own people did to them at one time, and it's not hard to guess what they'd like to do to the Centauri in return...or any other group that got in their way. (And G'Kar's goal is to keep everyone at each others' throats; his worst case scenario is to see others getting together to form a power that could endanger his world again.)"

    "The Minbari want Sinclair where they can keep an eye on him. They also feel that this role will be conducive to his achieving his destiny. But there are still factors within the Minbari government who don't entirely agree about Sinclair's possible role. If the Grey Council are right, then yes, he could be the one who helps their race find renewal. But if they're wrong, he could be the one to cause their own personal Ragnarok.
    "For that reason they selected Delenn as ambassador to Babylon 5. His mission is to help Sinclair if he goes in one direction...to kill him if he goes in another direction."

    Yes, he still refers to Delenn as a male, even though this was written after the pilot was made, when they had to give up on that idea, so Delenn was female from the beginning. Most likely this is because JMS spent over five years thinking about this story, and Delenn was always going to be male at first in all that time. In the rest of the plan he refers to Delenn as female. Another difference is that this was likely written after Tamlyn Tomita and Johnny Sekka had to be replaced, so that's likely why there's no mention of Takashima having a Psi Corps sleeper in her and how she was going to shoot Garibaldi in the back at the end of the first season.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    edited January 3
    I watched both parts of A Voice in the Wilderness, and this is a pretty hard one to comment on in some ways. There is no mention of Epsilon 3 in the original plan, so it's not clear what exactly was planned with it, but I have a strong feeling that it was always meant to be connected to Babylon 4 being pulled through time.
    There was something pretty interesting concerning Londo I noticed:

    "As a young and foolish Centauri, I swore that I would die on my feet, doing something brave and noble and futile. Perhaps it was not so wild a dream as I thought. Or as foolish. It is better than waiting for the inevitable."

    I've never really thought about this, but Londo has already seen his death in a dream, with he and G'kar choking each other to death. Is Londo trying to defy this fate? When he says it's better than waiting for the inevitable, he's likely thinking of the death he saw in his dream.
    There's a lot of talk from Varn and Draal about how the place is needed for the future, so again, I'm guessing that this is all being set up for Babylon Prime. So this would mean that the mystery of the Great Machine wouldn't have been solved until after Babylon 5 ended, and early in Babylon Prime. It also seems that the Great Machine lets the caretaker see into the future:

    "It belongs to none of you. It belongs only to itself...and to the future."

    "It is a wonder. The machine will extend his life, as it did mine. He will see all the tomorrows, hear all the songs, touch the edge of the universe with his thoughts."

    Since it was already established that there is fate, with the Minbari prophecy about Sinclair, Londo's dream, and Ladira's vision, then this seems to indicate that the Great Machine can see into time as well in some way. We really have to wonder just how much Varn knew, and what Draal learned after taking over.
    I also really wonder if Draal would have come back again during the course of Babylon 5. Most likely he would have returned during Babylon Prime, assuming the Great Machine was still supposed to be involved. Was Zathras always meant to have come from there?
    So even though I know all the answers about where this show was supposed to go, this instead has become probably the biggest mystery about the show. Were there things being foreshadowed that I totally missed? Would Draal have defended the station while it was being destroyed in the final episode of the first show?
    I'm also wondering if Garibaldi and Sinclair were always meant to have seen that Shadow ship on Mars. Garibaldi mentions being lost in a Martian desert in Infection, then here he knows about the secret Psi Corps facility in Syria Planum. I'm guessing that this was always meant to be part of the backstory, and I can't remember if any of those behind the scenes notes in the script books mentions it.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    It's time for the biggest and most important episode in this examination of the original arc, Babylon Squared. I've been teasing at this for a while, only telling some parts of it, but before I begin, I figure I should just quote almost all of the information on what was actually planned for the end of this show, and how it would have led into the next. A few things first on the differences, Babylon 5 never declares independence, and there is also no Narn-Centauri war, instead, Londo calls on the Shadowmen and a huge fleet of their ships appear at the Narn homeworld, destroying the Narn fleet and decimating the planet. The Centauri forces move in after and do their own attack, but the battle was won before they even got there, they just "make the rubble bounce a little with their own attack, and then take over the place." G'kar is allowed safety on Babylon 5, but he can't get any support for his people because of all the trouble they've caused in the past. G'kar disappears for apparently an entire season. At the season three/four bride, Garibaldi would have become an alcoholic again, which would lead to him resigning (probably after he makes a huge and terrible mistake), for the rest of season three, he would work as a mercenary in the B5 bazaar, returning at the end when he is most needed. And then we get to this:

    "The Shadowmen are revealed physically in season four to be dark, demonic looking things...but once again, appearances may be deceiving. They have fought for millennia against the influence of the vorlons, fought to keep worlds free of their meddling. At least, that's their line, and we'll gradually discover that it's true, but only as far as it goes. They have their own agenda, one that includes ruling everything in sight. It's the line about those who would save us from communism also being quick to save us from democracy and for fascism.
    All of which comes to a head in season five, with the return of G'Kar, who reveals Londo's complicity and the Shadowmen intervention.
    At the same time, the Minbari military caste -- growing ever more worried about the way this is going -- stage a coup and take control from the Grey Council. They order the exile of all Council members, the death of Sinclair and Delenn, and a resumption of hostilities against Earth.
    Londo assumes control of Babylon 5's sector of space in the name of the Centauri Republic. Earth contests the claim, and we break off relations with the Centauri.
    Shortly thereafter, a Vorlon ship -- massive, hundreds of miles long, containing a large segment of their population -- is destroyed by the Shadowmen with Londo's help (though without his knowledge that it would result in the death of hundreds of thousands of innocents). Earth is blamed.
    Season Five ends with an assault on, and the destruction of Babylon 5 by the Minbari. Sinclair and Delenn manage to escape with their newborn child as the station explodes behind them. They are now wanted by everyone in the galaxy, it would seem; by Earth, which as been given information leading them to believe that he is a traitor; by the ruling Minbari warrior caste, who want tot eliminate what they believe is a threat to their race; to some extent by Londo and the Centauri, because Sinclair knows (or at least suspects) who was truly responsible for the hundreds of thousands of the Vorlon deaths; and by the Vorlons for presumably being one of those involved in the conspiracy.
    This ends the story of Babylon 5.
    Should the series prove successful, it would be followed by a spinoff series, BABYLON PRIME. In brief...
    Sinclair, Delenn, their infant, Garibaldi, and a Narn (a friend or relative of G'Kar's who has come to help them...after all, the Narn have no one else left to turn to, and Sinclair tried to do what he could in the past for them) make their way to a meeting with the Grey Council, now in exile. Sinclair et al have no place to go, no home, no resources...nothing.
    The Grey Council is infuriatingly unconcerned. All of this is in the prophecy, if you know where to look and how to interpret it. (Sinclair's line is that it would've been a lot easier if they'd known this beforehand...but like all scriptures, they can only be correctly interpreted AFTER it's all taken place.) What is required now is a base of operations, a beacon of hope. War is raging on all sides. This must be a place where those who want to create peace can come together.
    They are able to pull Babylon 4 forward in time, and this will be their base of operations, because B4 was different than B5 in one respect: it had the capacity for movement. It is also a starship. Sinclair and Delenn supervise the attempt. They manage to get onto Babylon 4 and sound an alert, hoping to get everyone off the station.
    Before everyone can evacuate, however, the time field, which is terribly unstable, rips them forward. They manage to stop the process briefly, long enough for the rest to get off the station. (We now see the original Babylon 4 appearance from the other side, as our present Sinclair tries to warn his past version of what is to come...again, without success.)
    There are other time distortions taking place; this is not something men were meant to do. Sinclair is aging, quickly, as is Delenn. They manage to counter most of the effects, though it has shaved years off their lives, and finally return to their own time, with Babylon 4 intact. (Now named Babylon Prime.)
    They take Babylon Prime on a journey to clear Sinclair's name, and provide a place for those trying to make peace in a warring galaxy. Constantly on the run from hunters and military assault teams, Babylon Prime is their refuge, their sanctuary, and when required, their warship.
    At one point, early in their travels, they run across Londo, who is puppet-leader of the Centauri Republic, linked to a creature that reports his every action to the Shadowmen. Under its supervision, he must turn them in...but rebels, at terrible personal cost, to help them escape. He deeply regrets all that has happened, and hopes in some way to make up for it.
    Along the way, they discover one other side-effect of their attempt to bring Babylon 4 into the present: the son of Delenn and Sinclair is aging quickly. They are gradually able to stop the aging process, but by then the son is nearly a grown man. They are able to cyberlink into him all of the information a man would need, but the emotion development is not there. He is as innocent as a child would be.
    Soon the son becomes a revered symbol, a religious symbol, to others...focus of the prophecy, the boy-man whose birth signals a time when various species would come together, making a new Golden Age. Consequently, the son is pretty to frequent assassination attempts. Along the line, the son continues to grow, and learn, and become something greater than human.
    The story of Babylon Prime ends with the formation of new alliances, and a final great war, in which Babylon 4 is a prime player. The Shadowmen are finally conquered. The Minbari are defeated by Earth, which clears Sinclair's name. Delenn takes her leave to rejoin the Grey Council, departing from Sinclair's side, possibly forever. Their son takes his place as head of a new alliance, promising peace for the first time. He is able to command political and religious leaders in a consortium of power.
    Sinclair at this stage of his life finally retires from the chase, from the long battle. His last scene, the last in the story of Babylon Prime, is as he is left, along (as he requested) on a green and quiet world, otherwise uninhabited. Sitting beside the shore, fishing."

    Hmmm. I hope I'm not breaking any sort of copyright law by quoting so much. Anyway, all of this totally changes pretty much everything talked about in Babylon Squared.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    By the way, this is in fact the first episode to mention Valen. Delenn and the rest of the Grey Council mention him several times. He's obviously the Minbari prophet from the past, and who I personally suspect may have been a Centauri that altered himself with the Chrysalis. The Grey Council wants Delenn to lead them, to replace Dukhat, but Delenn clearly believes and wants to be the one to save their people. It seems the rest would have planned to send another Minbari woman to alter herself and such instead... Maybe. They only seem to talk about observing humanity, not much more. The member who gives Delenn the Triluminary is clearly also a believer in the savior interpretation of the prophecy, and in the end decides to help her. I found it interesting that none of them have the grey triangle on their foreheads. Just what is up with that anyway?
    And just how much do any of them know just what Delenn is planning? It's really hard to say if Delenn is going with this plan to alter herself and have a child with Sinclair on her own, or if this idea is a general consensus by the savior prophecy believers. It also seems to be setting up that Delenn would be thrown out of the Grey Council in the original plan as well.
    One more thing about Delenn before I get to Babylon 4. It was pointed out by a fan I talked to online years ago that when Delenn is in her transport, you can see a ring on one of the fingers of her right hand. Was this supposed to be one of those rings from the pilot? Was JMS still planning on using them at this stage?

    Now for the Babylon 4 side of things. Zathras talks about a great war, and needing place to organize. If you watch this episode again, keeping the original plan in mind, I think it matches up much better. The One that keeps appearing (which clearly is a call back to the One Delenn talked about who would save the Minbari in The Parliament of Dreams) is of course supposed to be Sinclair all the way through. When Sinclair sees the One in the corridor, you can hear a masculine voice moaning, and this voice was removed in War Without End, when it was altered to be Delenn. The future Sinclair is clearly trying to warn his past self there, reaching out to him, and as he says at the end of the episode, he failed, and everything happened the way he remembered. We can see regret and pain on his face. The fact that Delenn is the one talking to him was meant to not be too clear it would seem, because in the script, she's called "Accented Woman". It also mentions the sad look on Sinclair's face in the script. Bad things happened in the show as it is up the point when War Without End happens of course, but knowing just how terrible everything was originally supposed to go, it makes much more sense why he looks so depressed about not being able to warn his past self.
    I've also been wondering about Zathras. Was he planned to be a regular cast member of Babylon Prime? He says that the time stabilizer of the One was damaged, so he had to give his to his Sinclair. He says that he will not survive the next jump into the future, so maybe he would have ended up dying? Or did Sinclair have some way to save Zathras? His reasoning of not being able to leave Babylon 4 because he's not of that time doesn't seem to work either, because all of these people on the station are from about four years ago, arriving in the present of 2258. Shouldn't they all die as well? Maybe Krantz was right about Zathras being able to survive being taken of the station after all...
    Zathras also says that the One is in pain, and by giving him the time stabilizer, Zathras is helping him. Is the pain Sinclair is in caused by his rapid aging?

    Another thing I think is worth noting is about Garibaldi. In the original plan, it states that Garibaldi is one of those to survive and continue with Sinclair in the series Babylon Prime, yet in this episode, it seems to suggest that Garibaldi was going to stay behind so that Sinclair and the rest could escapes. I really wonder if Garibaldi was supposed to live or die there.
    A couple interesting things about the flash forward from the script, one is that it mentions that Garibaldi is scared in this scene, but he's trying to hide it, and finally, at the end is this interesting part:

    "CLOSE ON GARIBALDI

    As he steps into the doorway. We HEAR the SOUNDS of battle, an insectoid sound as well. He raises the gun to his shoulder...and FIRES...burst after burst ...and as he gives a YELL of fury, we WHITE OUT and SHOCK CUT BACK TO --"

    So again, insectoid sounds. Everything seems to suggest that this involves the Shadows, but like I quoted above, JMS said that the Warrior Caste was going to destroy the station. Either he changed his mind, or there's some sort of an alliance going on here.

    What's weird is that a lot of this seems so strangely obvious in retrospect. We see Ladira's vision of Babylon 5 blowing up, with a shuttle escaping. We hear Garibaldi saying "Destruct!" and Sinclair yelling about getting to the dock in another of her visions. Garibaldi says he rigged the fusion reactors to blow, and we see the station under attack as Sinclair is dragged away. Zathras talks about a great war, and needing a place to gather and organize, with Sinclair shown at the end to be the one behind it. So obviously this all has to be related. A great war comes, Babylon 5 is attacked and destroyed, and Babylon 4 is pulled forward in time by Sinclair to use as their new base. Yet for some reason, in all the years of being a fan and talking to others online, no one ever seemed to come to this conclusion. EVERY version of speculation I saw from fans, including me, involved Sinclair at some point taking Babylon 4 BACK in time, with him becoming Valen, much like what we saw. Maybe the idea that the station this show was set on would be destroyed was just so preposterous and unthinkable that we never seemed to suspect it. Again, this is something I'm very impressed with JMS for. He was able to take the story he first thought up, with all this foreshadowing, and alter it and make it still work for the most part, and so much so that Sinclair becoming Valen was just assumed to always be the case by fans, with apparently no one having a clue about what was originally planned until the 15th script book was released.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    It's hard for me to really say which version of the story I think is better. I think the stuff about Sinclair's child becoming some holy symbol and a great leader of some super alliance is a bit much, but then again, practically the same thing happens to Sheridan, which itself is a bit much. I guess that this child of prophecy was supposed to be some prodigy or something.

    I forgot to mention this when talking about Babylon Squared, but I am again not entirely sure what the Grey Council was originally supposed to be. Are they all members of the Religious Caste? I don't think it's mentioned that there are three members of each caste until Delenn says this in the second season when she's replaced by Neroon. It also supports the idea of the Warrior Case exiling the Grey Council.
  • David of MacDavid of Mac Elite Ranger Ca
    I think it was more that nobody suspected JMS would be audacious enough to plan a ten-year arc, and then sell it as a five-year arc. The other issue is that Babylon 4 and Babylon 5 aren't really that different. Sure, B4 can move (though, despite being in this early outline, there isn't any sign of engines on the station, which made it seem like a retcon when it was brought up in the comic years later), but other than that, it's just different accent lighting and a coat of paint. Granted, they did it with the Defiant at the end of Deep Space Nine, but replacing your setting with another, nearly identical, setting seems kind of pointless.

    Another point regarding Ladira's vision. I've seen people argue that it was the true future: after all, the last time we see Babylon 5, a single shuttle launches and then it explodes. Chalk the differences up to advances in VFX and deceptive staging to hide the honor guard. I think that's bunk, especially considered that the shot is reused in WWE (though it's Sinclair's memory, so he could just be assuming it's the same future he saw on Babylon 4, and that's now being observed through the time portal).

    Also, I know it's sideways of the thread, but it's really wild looking at the alternate timeline seen in WWE and B^2 and trying to figure out how Ivanova (in a Minbari/Ranger uniform!), Garibaldi, and Sinclair were all on Babylon 5 in a timeline without Valen, or why there's even a Babylon 5 at all (since without Valen, the Minbari would've never surrendered, unless you ignore the Sinclair DNA retcon and believe he does, detectably, have a Minbari soul...). I've tried logicking it out, and it seems likely that virtually everything we didn't see directly in those two snippets would've been totally different from the Babylon 5 we knew. Sheridan might not even be there at all.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    edited January 5
    Yeah, I've seen people compare the shuttle leaving the exploding station to the final episode, but to me, it was always clear that it was supposed to be different. In WWE, Sinclair puts it together, and sees that the station blowing up is the same event as his time flash on B4 in 2258. The shuttle leaving the station in Sleeping in Light may very well have been meant to call back to that other event, showing us something similar, but under very different circumstances.
    Also, a major problem with the idea that she was seeing that scene in Sleeping in Light is the fact that she's talking about death and pain, and she hears a battle with people desperately trying to survive. This is nothing whatsoever like that scene in SiL.

    You're talking about the distress call in WWE? With the Shadows attacking the station, and how the foreshadowing of B5's destruction was altered into that? Yeah, it is kind of strange. I remember that there's some novel length fan fiction called A Dark Distorted Mirror or something that's all about that. Fans coming up with an alternate story where there was no Valen and everything. There are plenty of unanswered questions there. Did the Minbari go to war with Earth? Why did the Babylon Project go ahead, and why were there five of them? It seems that B5 had separated from Earth, and allied with the Minbari still, but we don't really know why. I think it would have been smarter if Ivanova was wearing a flak suit or something like Sinclair and Garibaldi, just to avoid that whole problem.
    Oh, and I'm almost certain Ivanova mentions Sheridan in her distress call, that he died in the attack.

    I totally agree about how Babylon 4/Babylon Prime would have used the same sets, and from a production and financial standpoint, that's very smart. Are you sure about the engines too? The station is way bigger than B5, and we don't get a good look at its back, so I think it totally makes sense. It's also more than big enough to have jump engines, so it probably would very much have been able to travel around in space. The station itself might not have originally had jump engines, but I could see Sinclair and the others installing them after they got it.
    I also see what you mean about how story wise and CG wise, we'd have a new station, while it would just use the same sets, but like much of this show, there's more to it than the sets. I think it's an awesome idea that B5 blows up and that they then use the superior B4 as their new base. Story wise, it would open all sorts of new options for the characters, and we very well could have gotten new rooms showing up since this place was so much bigger. The show had a pretty small budget, all things considered, and I think that it's very impressive what they managed to accomplish. Didn't Voyager have like ten times the budget of B5, but looked like it had half?
  • David of MacDavid of Mac Elite Ranger Ca
    I remember that fanfic. I don't think it's the WWE alternate timeline; IIRC, the divergent point is that Sinclair was killed at the Battle of the Line, and Earth was destroyed. There were no Babylon stations (though I think Babylon 4 did pass through from the canonical timeline, and Valen did exist; I never read it except for the teaser descriptions, so I don't know how they squared that).

    Ivanova's distress call says "the Captain" is dead, but doesn't refer to Sheridan by name, so the captain could've been anyone. For a minute, I thought Sinclair might've been promoted in that timeline, but Garibaldi called him "Commander" in his flash-forward, which also doesn't really make sense. The only kind of fanfic I was ever interested in writing myself was that sort of "fix fic" which was just assembling a bunch of contradictions and fanwank into a narrative, so maybe I'll do something with the no-Valen, triple-powered Shadows timeline at some point.

    The only time you really see the back of B4 is during the time-travel sequence in WWE, but it's a really good look, and you can tell it's identical to the front, except with solar panels and without the large saucer above the main section. You could fanwank in some engines (and a reactor...) if you were going to do a new model of the station and no one would know the difference, but it seems like the sort of thing that would've been taken into account from the first descriptions of it to FI.

    I don't know, I'm always a little suspicious of that kind of retooling that simultaneously shakes things up in the world while conspicuously leaving the behind-the-scenes stuff the same. I feel the same way about the idea they had on TNG to kill of Riker, make Data the first officer, and have Frakes play Riker's hot-headed transporter-clone. It feels like trying to have your cake and eat it.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    I can understand what you're saying. In the show, they reused sets all the time, like how C&C was reused for the bridges of ships like the Agamemnon. It would probably be more interesting if the areas on B4 looked different, but at the same time, it only makes sense that they would look a lot the same. I mean, I think it's also comparable to how Kosh died, yet we get a replacement with the same guy inside the suit, and the same guy doing the voice, but the character is totally different. So while B5 blowing up and being replaced by Babylon 4 means they would use the same sets, story wise, it's not the same, and I think the idea was awesome.
    I'm thinking of watching War Without End again after I'm done with the first season, so I'll be taking a really good look at Babylon 4. I don't doubt that JMS wanted B4 to be able to move, but maybe it wasn't designed quite how it should have? We now know that this was always his intent, so it must be designed in that way, right? Or are you saying you doubt that this was always the plan? I'm not sure if I totally understand what you're saying. At the every least, if you rewatch the JMS episodes of the first season, you'll see what I mean. All the foreshadowing makes much more sense in the context of this original plan, though I think he did a fine job making it all match up with these different meanings. Like I said, in all the years I've been a fan and been online (since 1999), I've never once seen a "Sinclair still in command" theory that didn't include him becoming Valen eventually, even though it turns out that this was never the plan at first. This is something I'm very impressed with JMS about.
    And I've never heard that idea about The Next Generation. When were they planning on doing that?
  • David of MacDavid of Mac Elite Ranger Ca
    I'm not sure what I'm saying myself about the Babylon 4 design. I suppose I'd expect that if JMS expected it to be more important down the line, he would've given a heads-up to the VFX team to include a fairly major detail like visible engines. On the other hand, he's been known to play things close to the vest, so it might've ended up being a "cross that bridge when we come to it" sort of thing. Or, alternatively, the Babylon Prime idea may already have been evaporating by the time B^2 was produced, so the idea of a mobile space-station was no longer a major aspect of the concept behind Babylon 4. Do we know when the ten year arc became a five year arc?

    My main problem with the Babylon Prime concept is really that it feels like it would've been too big for what the show was trying to do. The idea of holding on to the sets and characters in a revamped show is a symptom of how overcomplicated I think the whole endeavour is. One of the behind-the-scenes anecdotes about B5 is that JMS had been musing on two sci-fi ideas, a Casablanca-in-space story, and an epic galactic war story, and the epiphany came when he realized that they could both be the same story. Babylon Prime feels almost like forcing his two premises back into separate works after they'd been merged. Five years of Casablanca in space, and then five years of galactic epic. There might also be an element of hindsight, knowing how hard it is for heavily-serialized shows to hold on for even five seasons, and that a ten year arc just seems excessive. The closest thing I can think of to the Babylon Prime concept in terms of scope is Stargate SG-1, and while they got ten seasons and a massive premise-shaking revamp, there were a couple of really shaky seasons in there.

    (This is also reminding me of how, when the 15th script book first came out and revealed all of this, a lot of people observed that JMS's initial, quickly-jotted-down one-page notes for Babylon 5 sounded a lot more like what we got that this more detailed outline written while the show was actually in production.)

    "Plan" is probably a strong word, but when the TNG writers were first breaking out the episode "Second Chances," where they find Riker's transporter duplicate who'd been stranded for years on an isolated planet, they thought about shaking things up in that way. They decided against it pretty quickly, apparently because they wanted to keep the familiar character arrangement when the show transitioned into movies.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    edited January 7
    JMS says that it was losing Micheal O'Hare, and so, Sinclair that really changed it all. I personally suspect that he may have realized that a ten year arc was too much, so he might have been planning on putting everything together. The strangest thing to me is that Londo says his death is in twenty years, while in his plan, it would be more like five years. I think it's possible that as production on the first season went on, B5 instead might have been destroyed at the end of the third season, then leading to Babylon Prime for the last two seasons.
    Whatever the case, condensing these two shows into one definitely helped overall I'd say. I'm kind of torn though, I think that each version of B5, the one we got, and the one planned, have their own advantages. A complaint I've come to have over the years is that it really did in the end rely too much on Sheridan the great hero, and the original plan wouldn't have been any better in that way, just with Sinclair instead. If I did a reboot, I'd probably not have it depend so much on a great leader, and make it more of a group effort. Not that characters like Ivanova and Delenn didn't do a lot, it's just that Sheridan ends up being too heroic and not really flawed enough. Like I said before, Sinclair's trauma from the war and his desire to go out in a blaze of glory are really interesting to me.
    I also love how manipulative Delenn is in this original plan. Is she supposed to ever actually fall in love with Sinclair, or is it all just for the prophecy and saving her people? It's really not made all that clear in it.
  • croxiscroxis I am the walrus
    I would wager that I prefer the Babylon 5 we got. My husband found the plot, the space opera wear epic, to be fairly "meh." He is an avid high fantasy reader and didn't watch B5 until the late 2000s when I tied him to the couch to watch it. The part that hooked him in was the characters and their interactions -- the casablanca.

    jms once said he initially envisioned B5 as a kind of documentary format, we get hints of this in the voice over in the gathering and homage was paid to that idea just before the end credits of sil. jms also had experience with living in an isolated cult commune when he was a teenager. I wonder if the "deityfication" of Sinclair's son/Sheridan and G'Kar is a reflection on how we focus on individuals in history, despite almost everything being an ensemble effort.
  • DarthCaligulaDarthCaligula Elite Ranger
    Well if that was the intent, I don't think it got across. Sheridan really does just look too good I think. I like that Garibaldi is criticizing this in the fourth season, but this is all undercut by the fact that he's been altered by the Psi Corps. Edgars also makes good points, but again, his plan is to basically enslave telepaths with a virus. JMS said that a big part of what went into G'kar becoming a religious icon was also because of how some fans seemed to worship JMS himself as the show went on, so that's why we have G'kar also fighting against that.
  • The Space Opera vs. Casablanca in Space is an interesting debate that I never really thought much of. During the original run, I was in grade school, and at that time, the epic Space Opera was where it was at. I didn't put a whole lot into what my favorite characters were, I just liked the story and the execution. It wasn't until around when TNT got a hold of the series and I rewatched Seasons 1-4 (while Season 5 was first airing) that I started getting deeper into the characters and having favorites. I was 11 at this time so I was starting to come of age right around then.

    I think the point where I found the right 'balance' between the two was when I finally got around to getting the S5 DVD, I was a senior in high school. There was a moment in the episode "Fall of Centauri Prime" that for some reason never really reached out to me, I had no recollection of that moment happening the other two times I saw it when I was younger. But that time, it hit me really hard; and it was a pure character moment. I think I almost started crying when I saw it. For not being the first time I saw that episode, it was an interesting "new" emotion to have.

    Slightly related note, I started watching the Expanse a few months ago, and I told myself "yeah, I'm mature, its all about the characters, the space opera setting/execution is secondary," but when that space battle happened in like the third or fourth episode with the Martian flagship, I was freaking out at its awesomeness and got super giddy. So yeah, its all about balance between the two, which is probably why Babylon 5 has endeared itself to me so well all these years.
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