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16 hours ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Babylon ... · 2 replies · +8 points

We’re around 20 episodes in and it took me until now to notice that Garibaldi is a lefty.

We learn that Susan Ivanova is Jewish. (And she’s also Russian, which I don’t think has been mentioned before.) I thought her Russian Jewish “uncle” looked familiar; he’s Worf’s Russian Jewish dad. I appreciated that Ivanona finally decided to come to terms with her loss through the Shivah, although I wasn’t particularly thrilled about the way her rabbi and her commander pushed her into it. I mean, she was in tears over the way Koslov went behind her back; if she wanted leave, she could make that decision herself. Whatever pain she was going through, I think she deserved more respect than that. Same goes for Sinclair denying her denial of proffered leave.

Ivanova’s father thought that humanity has no business in space until we learn to live in peace on Earth. We already know that Earth is still divided into nations and there is economic inequality between them. Does that mean wars still being fought there?

I don’t know what to make of Walker Smith’s story arc. On one hand it could be read as a story about breaking barriers and overcoming bigotry. On the other hand, it looked to me like it could be an arrogant colonizer demanding access to something that wasn’t his and was never meant to be his. We heard one alien complain that humans intruded on other worlds and made a mockery of their customs. But I don’t know if that’s true. Are humans really colonizing the worlds of alien races and flooding them with “ugly American" types? Or is that guy just his world's counterpart to the Home Guard, taking offense to the very existence of newcomers? I can’t tell if he’s a reliable narrator or just a bigot.

However, it seems to me Smith tried to crash a ritual that had great cultural significance to those who practiced it, because he was looking for purely personal gain. His sole concern was the celebrity of being the first human in that particular ring. And he achieved his goal not by earning his way, but by exploiting a convenient loophole that forced them to let him participate. He ultimately won their respect by going the distance with the champ (I see you, Rocky), but it seemed to me at the end of it he still had gained no particular understanding or respect for the ritual he’d just crashed. He just got to almost win a fight. So I wound up seeing him more as a colonizer than a barrier-breaker, even though I think the story wanted us to see the opposite when the Muta-do said humans were now allowed to participate.

I’m baffled; why are we watching this one out of order? I didn’t notice any spoilers for anything we’d seen between episodes 13 and 21.

21 hours ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Babylon ... · 4 replies · +3 points

I don't really see the analogy to New York instead of the UN. Ajaxbreaker is right; it's a diplomatic stationwith 100% control over who comes and goes. It's also apparently quite new, so there wouldn't be time for generations of immigrants to move in and have nowhere else to go.

I accept this is the future Straczynski wanted to set his stories in. I'm just not finding it a very plausible setting thus far.

1 day ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Babylon ... · 14 replies · +6 points

Apparently the Centauri don’t look nearly as human with their clothes off. For them, tentacle porn is just “porn.” That Centauri sex tentacle looked really similar to a Na'ka'leen feeder tentacle.

Leneer spent well over a hundred years in the temple, and apparently learned to fight among many other skills. And he still appears young, to the extent we can interpret Minbari ages. Even if a Minbari year is substantially shorter than a human year … they obviously have really long lifespans. And don’t deal with alcohol very well at all.

This future really sucks. Franklin has to break the rules to create an unauthorized clinic because so many people can’t afford medical treatment. I doubt I’ll ever let this one go. After two centuries the poor still die from treatable illnesses because they can’t afford health care. And doctors still become drug addicts because they are overworked. Okay, maybe utopia isn’t in the cards, but this show hypothesizes a future that doesn’t seem any better than today in any respect. I don’t find that even remotely plausible; things have gotten better on many fronts over the past 200 years. So to me, a future that's “just like today, but in space” doesn’t seem likely.

OF COURSE people will seek out illegal healers, when they are denied legal access to medical care. They lucked into a wizard this time around; healing by “life energy transfer” is another one of those things (like the Deathwalker immortality serum) that is more magic than science. Whatever it does, the station has it now. So that should preclude any future stories involving otherwise untreatable diseases or main characters suffering potentially fatal injuries.

The death penalty still exists in this future world, but only for mutiny or treason. Otherwise, the government wipes your mind and create a new personality and a new set of memories. Which … makes no sense? Because that’s still the death penalty, but it’s in a society that lacks the honesty or courage to admit that’s what they are doing. But if the practice is to erase a person and recreate them as a manual laborer or something … why maintain an “official” death penalty for mutiny or treason? Of course, today’s world is filled with hypocrisy and ridiculous double-standards.

Okay, I get that telepathic evidence is inadmissible in court for privacy reasons … but why aren’t telepaths at trials for the same reason they are at contract negotiations: to verify witnesses are telling the truth? And to confirm that people who are convicted are actually guilty?

2 days ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Babylon ... · 6 replies · +11 points

I’m going to pat myself on the back for genre savvy here. First, as soon as the pilot reacted to the impossible thing he saw in the teaser, I guessed it was Babylon Four even before I knew the episode title. Second, when the One appeared in his spacesuit, I pegged him as Sinclair from the future. (Real future? Possible future? He was there stealing the station, so I’d assume real future.)

I wasn’t expecting an answer to the disappearing Babylon station this soon in the series, but I suppose they felt the need to address in the first season since they couldn’t have known for sure they would get more seasons. I was also a little surprised that Babylon 4 wasn’t built in orbit around Epsilon III. I assume the Babylon location was chosen for a reason, and the stations would be built near the same world, if not in identical orbits.

Since Zathras says he was working for the light, I assume the Shadows are on the other side of that conflict. So Babylon Four was taken to fight the Shadows. Which might mean it will show up again later in the series, as I expect the Shadows will continue to be a threat.

Krantz wanted to take Zathras with them, against his wishes, because he wanted proof of what happened. Krantz, you have a “skeleton crew” of over twelve hundred witnesses, plus all the people from Babylon 5 that came aboard for the rescue, plus any data recordings anyone took from the station during evacuation, plus all the readings collected by Babylon 5’s shuttles and fighter escorts. “Proof” of this event won’t exactly be in short supply when you get back to Earth.

Meanwhile, Delenn turned down leadership of the Minbari. The Gray Council called it lifting her burden, but being drafted into leading an interstellar civilization sounds like they want to stick her with the heaviest burden they’ve got. I don’t blame her for turning it down.

The Minbari abandoned their war on Earth because of a prophecy. So they think Sinclair has something to do the prophecy but they aren’t sure?

Humanity’s weakness is that we don’t recognize our own greatness? Somehow, I’d expect humans to have exactly the opposite problem.

World-building: this future still uses zippers.

“We are surrounded by signs and portents.” There’s that phrase again.

I would never prank Ivanova. That seems exceedingly dangerous.

3 days ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Babylon ... · 3 replies · +6 points

This was like the intelligent version of “Spock’s Brain.” The planetary computer needed a biological controller to keep functioning, so the dying guardian reached out for help and eventually found a replacement. At least they worked in a reason for the guardian speaking English; he’d been quietly monitoring things up there for years.

Now that everyone knows what is down on that planet, they have little choice but to ignore it. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if Epsilon III plays into future stories. After all, Drall is the guardian now, and might find reason to reach out to Delenn, or maybe to intervene in affairs above the world for her sake. There might also be more of the builders’ people out there; the ones who returned were violent exiles, but the guardian must be keeping that underground city intact for somebody.

Earth sending a battleship to try to grab all the new technology for Earth was just about the worst possible move they could have made. It ran completely against Babylon 5’s mission, and would have destroyed, probably irreversibly, any trust humanity had earned in the years leading up to Babylon 5. Captain Pierce was one of those unimaginative military types who reduced everything to “victory through superior firepower” and came very, very close to getting everyone killed. Absolutely the wrong person for this particular job.

Garibaldi technically shouldn’t have introduced that bigot’s forehead to the bar … but it was pretty damn satisfying to see him do it anyway.

Of course Garibaldi’s old flame had moved on. What did he expect after two years of silence?

Londo once had a dream of dying while doing something noble and brave. I thought he believed his destiny was to die strangling G’Kar?

4 days ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Babylon ... · 1 reply · +6 points

I just realized: Sinclair’s opening narration says Babylon 5 is “the last of the Babylon stations.” Does that mean Earth has already decide to bag the whole project if this one blows up or vanishes?

Why are they using “miles”? At the time Babylon 5 was made, every nation on Earth had at least begun metrification. It’s reasonable to expect than in two centuries, the whole world will have changed over.

I’d been wondering about that planet the station was orbiting. ("Epsilon III" ... NO! It needs a constellation name in there. Epsilon Draconis III, Epsilon Scorpii III, something like that.) So now we learn it hosts the remains of some super-advanced civilization beneath the surface, but nobody noticed until that guy who was trapped there made contact with them, and then the apparently automated defense system showed them the way in.

There’s a super-high-risk mission that will require flying a fighter into a hail of missiles under supporting fire that may or may not divert them, and then to take it into a deep cave with unknown dangers. That’s a definite redshirt mission. So of course Kirk does the job himself, and takes Spock with him, because the ship really doesn’t need its two most senior officers.

Earth still has nations, and inequality among nations. Disappointing that they haven't ironed that one out after two centuries. And Mars is now in revolt by a faction seeking independence. Earth really should have seen that coming, like back when the Martian colony was first established. It’s completely predictable that at some point, people will stop answering to a remote authority.

The communications blackout probably means that someone on Earth doesn’t want anyone else to see what they’re doing on Mars. So yeah, very worrisome. But if I were in Winters’s shoes, I wouldn’t have made the call for Garibaldi. It’s a purely personal matter, he can’t do a damned thing about it anyway, and he’s trying to find out about a woman who broke it off with him two years ago. He never called her and she never bothered calling him, so ... too bad, Garibaldi.

Londo, the Narn have ample reason to hate you guys. Also, an equal and opposite reaction to hate isn’t more hate; it’ll be forgiveness or something. In the case of the Centauri, I’d say “sincere penitence and meaningful reparations for past sins” would be the appropriate response, but there’s obviously a snowball’s chance in hell of that happening.

Anyone who ever has the arrogance to tell a stranger “whatever it is, it’s not that bad” deserves to hear “my son was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, asshole, now get the fuck away from me.” Or something like that, because who the hell are you to tell a stranger their mood isn’t valid? But hearing how Londo picked his wife, I’m not surprised his marriages were all disasters. He probably puts more effort into picking out clothes than figuring out marriage.

6 days ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Babylon ... · 0 replies · +4 points

More bad guys from Earth. This time, though, it’s an asshole from military intelligence pursuing a purely personal grudge under cover of an official investigation under cover of being a corporate stooge (not really sure why they even bothered with that pretense since they dropped it as soon as Garibaldi confronted them). And Bester is lurking behind the scenes pulling strings and looking for revenge. Once again, Sinclair proves to be a master of loopholes when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy. He also played it perfectly at the end; he goaded Ben Zayn into totally losing it during a recorded proceeding and in front of three witnesses. Even without Gray to confirm telepathically that Ben Zayn was lying, that outburst would have sunk Ben Zayn’s case.

I just loved Lennier’s enthusiasm over building Garibaldi’s motorcycle, although I understand Garibaldi’s disappointment at not building it himself after all the time he spent finding parts. The “antique” motorcycle was a brand new model when the show was produced. I wonder if there was some product placement going on here. (Looking at comments above, yes, but they weren't paid for it.)

Garibaldi won a manual for his motorcycle in a blackjack game. He couldn’t find one on the Internet (which we learn in this episode still exists, and is searchable)?

Seriously, where is Talia these days? Seems like we haven’t seen her in a while. She’d be a natural character to be front and center in an episode like this. But while they name-dropped her a few times, she never showed. (Per other comments, it was likely an actor-availability issue.)

Would anyone recognize an Abbott and Costello reference centuries from now?

1 week ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Babylon ... · 1 reply · +3 points

Yeah, but it seems to me a lot of dock work involves routine activities that could be automated with another century of developing mechanics and software, while "repairing battle damage" is something that would require human judgment in evaluating the specific damage -- by nature unpredictable -- and dealing with unexpected situations.

My assumption is that futuristic robotics means there'd be a tiny human crew overseeing the largely automated dock operations, but there'd still be a much larger human maintenance crew kept on staff in case the station is attacked or sabotaged.

1 week ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Babylon ... · 1 reply · +8 points

Given the initial case we saw in front of Wellington – someone suing over a century-old abduction – I guess it isn’t completely unreasonable for a true believer to think an alien might have taken the holy grail from earth in the past. Assuming, of course, that you don’t embrace the dramatically more likely explanation that the grail is a myth. But then, if you embrace the destiny of a seeker, it’s probably better to spend the rest of your life seeking something you will never find. Consider it job security. Or destiny security. Something like that. I bet Thomas will get to see a lot of interesting places if he lives long enough.

Delenn implied Sinclair is a true seeker. Another clue about that missing day, I guess.

If I believed I was the curse that destroyed the first four Babylon stations, there is no way in hell I’d go anywhere near the fifth one. But Thomas went to build it, and then did the next best thing by his lights: he stayed to protect everyone as long as he could. I enjoyed the visible tension of the senior staff as Thomas left the station. No, we don't believe in the cure, it's ridiculous, but what if there's a curse? Also, a revelation: we already knew Babylon 4 vanished, but now we discover it didn't just go missing, it literally disappeared in front of witnesses.

The Minbari have two castes: warriors and religious. I’m baffled how a society like that is viable. I suppose within each caste there could be farmers, merchants, builders, and so forth. Or maybe Delenn meant that the warriors and priests are the only Minbari castes that hold leadership positions.

Why would anyone name a starship after the Marie Celeste? Even if you personally aren't superstitious, you're more or less guaranteeing that a certain percentage of potential passengers will choose another ship.

1 week ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Babylon ... · 4 replies · +4 points

Here is one of the few things I knew about Babylon 5 going in: there are bad guys called “shadows.” I don’t know what they are or how large a role they play in the story, but they are mentioned here and apparently appeared at the end.

Those raiders had a pretty good plan. Ransom the artifact, ransom Lord Kiro, and then blackmail him on an ongoing basis with evidence of his planned coup. (Everyone else was right; Kiro's coup was a Really Bad Idea. Nobody gets to be king without the support of the people in a position to kill the king, regardless of the theoretical legitimacy of your claim to power.) But then they were all taken out by a diabolus ex machina that I assume was a Shadow ship. And the artifact was delivered to Londo. There’s clearly more to this storyline ahead.

Morden asks every ambassador “what do you want” – except Kosh, who seems to know who or what he is, warned him off, and apparently got into a fight with him. I guess Morden is involved with the Shadows in some way. G’Kar wants the Centauri destroyed and Londo wants the Centauri empire back. Both of those things seem obvious, though. So what was Morden really after? Also, what’s with that triangle on Delenn’s forehead?

A vision that Babylon 5 might explode at some unspecified time in the future under unspecified circumstances is about as useless a prophecy as there could be. Someone with no precognitive ability whatsoever could say the same thing. What might be useful to know: was the point of view in that vision Larida’s? If so, that provides a useful warning; it means that when the station explodes, she will be on it and will escape seconds before it blows. That means if you make sure she never comes back, that future is averted. (Then again, her absence doesn’t mean the station won’t explode, just that she won’t be there to see it.)

Sinclair has recruited Garibaldi to look into his missing 24 hours, and he’s now learned that the Minbari selected him to command the station by rejecting every name higher on the list. That must have raised huge red flags among certain people on Earth. I’m guessing that’s what tipped off those guys that showed up in “And The Sky Full of Stars.” It makes their “Manchurian candidate” hypothesis a lot more reasonable.

World-building: it takes a larger ship to jump on its own; smaller ships need to use the jump gates. I now understand their FTL tech a bit better.

We learn that Babylon 5 had maintenance bots to take care of repairs. This is just one episode after a story about union problems that was essentially based on the absence of robots in this society. So which is it?