Earhart’s: “The River of Souls” Spoiler Space

While this movie was created as mostly a stand-alone story for TNT, JMS did include a thing or three that tied into the rest of the B5 universe. Here is where you can talk about what is to come.

10 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “The River of Souls” Spoiler Space”

  1. Embarrassingly, I never picked up on Lochley’s comfort with hanging out in Down Below coming out of her time slumming it back on Earth.

    I’m pretty sure we actually see the probably-BBQ burger stall in Crusade, when Gideon completely misreads Lochley and takes her out for some exciting class tourism.

    1. I don’t think it’s just because she ran away from home, although that helps. Sheridan was the child of a mid to high ranking diplomat and talked about travelling all over the world; Delenn was religious and spent many years as aide to Dukhat. Lochley, like Sinclair or Garibaldi, spent more time with regular folk.

  2. Having listened to most of the podcast…

    I felt that there was a little assuming of facts not in evidence during the discussion of the uniforms question. We don’t actually know that B5 has not reverted to being an Earthforce station or that the IA is paying Zack and Corwin’s salaries, and not Earthforce.

    The show never addresses this point clearly , but I think the balance of evidence is the other way.

    1) In Severed Dreams, what Sheridan says is:

    “As of this moment, Babylon 5 is seceding from the Earth Alliance. We will remain an independent state till President Clark is removed from office.” [emphasis added]

    This for me is the strongest evidence, and I’d want actual onscreen statements that Sheridan’s intentions or the political situation changed (these things can happen in real life, of course) before I’d override it. It’s the only explicit statement on the point in the entire show.

    2) In Rising Star it’s explicitly a condition for the end of the civil war that Mars and Proxima III are to be independent from Earth. This implies that Babylon 5 isn’t.

    3) Nor would one expect Babylon 5 to continue to operate as an independent state. Babylon 5 isn’t a colony with aspirations to be its own state based on a sense of being “Babylon 5-ian,” and that wasn’t why it seceded. It’s a relatively small entity with a population that’s to a significant degree either transient or working for the station, and much of which consists of various species that explicitly in the show identify themselves not as “citizens of Babylon 5” but as citizens of their own home states and planets.

    4) Our hosts were forced to postulate a notional “Babylon 5 corporation,” but we have no evidence for the existence of this, or for how it is organized. While we do have quite a bit of evidence to suggest that Lochley as the station commander is in a position that is similar to that of Sinclair and Sheridan in S1-S2, except that the League of Non-Aligned Worlds has been replaced by the Interstellar Alliance, and she deals with its President instead of the Council directly.

    (There is the weirdness that Earth has no representation in the IA, but that’s weird no matter what. If one needs head canon, I think the easiest thing is to suppose that politics back on Earth have delayed the appointment of the Earth ambassador to the station.)

    4) The question of B5 Earthforce personnel is addressed in Rising Star, and it’s not that they become citizens of a new state of Babylon 5 or members of the IA military. It’s that they receive amnesty on condition that Sheridan, and only Sheridan, resigns from Earthforce. The idea is clearly that the others are free to continue their Earthforce careers.

    4) We know this for a fact in the case of Ivanova, who moves directly on to the command of an Earthforce destroyer. I think this certainly indicates that the “Earthforce wouldn’t want Corwin or Zack” argument doesn’t hold” – them continuing in their comparatively unimportant positions should be nothing as compared to giving this promotion to Sheridan’s second-in-command and chief propagandist during the civil war.

    5) Zack has an Earthforce uniform in Sleeping in Light. This suggests that by then he is definitely a member of Earthforce. But it’s strongly implied that he’s still in the same position of security chief. So did the independent state of Babylon 5 agree at some point to become part of Earth again? If so, why not in Rising Star, when it makes sense?

    5) The IA does have a military, but it’s the Rangers. It is implied by Delenn’s speech in Rising Star, and everything that Sheridan does with the Rangers in S5, that these are the only military forces at the IA’s disposal (as distinct from calling on member worlds’ militaries). Nothing suggests that Corwin or Zack, or the other former rebels, are now members of the Rangers.

    6) Learning Curve makes it clear that the security apparatus of the station is explicitly not under direct IA control. Zack heads that apparatus, but its more than that — the episode makes clear that there’s a question of sovereignty here. Delenn’s confrontation with Lochley turns on the fact that members of the IA have agreed by treaty to recognize the Rangers’ autonomy to operate in member territory. That implies that B5 is the sovereign territory of a “member” of the Alliance, and not part of the jurisdiction of the Alliance itself. The only entity that we know to be a member of the Alliance that fits is Earth.

    [Also, in the real world, B5 being a sovereign state would mess up blowing up the station in Sleeping in Light no end. For a look at a parallel issue, see:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/07/26/feature/this-is-what-happens-when-climate-change-forces-an-entire-country-to-seek-higher-ground/?utm_term=.964a5d774a13

    But I wouldn’t expect a TV show to take account of that sort of problem.]

    On the other side:

    A) The uniforms.

    B) Sheridan can give the telepaths asylum over Lochley’s protests.

    C) Sheridan appointed Lochley.

    Of those, I think only (C) counts as significant evidence that B5 has not reverted to being an Earthforce station and that its military personnel are not Earthforce personnel.

    The others are comparatively trivial. The uniforms reflect the fact that we are still in a post-civil-war period. (It’s been less than two years since Endgame at the time of The River of Souls, I believe.) It’s perfectly reasonable that Lochley (who fought on the other side!) decided not to make an issue of returning to regulation uniforms when the choice not to wear them symbolizes the belief of the former rebels that they chose the right side. Note that Zack’s uniform in Sleeping in Light implies that she (or some other B5 commander) does get around to it at some point.

    The asylum thing can easily be the same sort of thing as in Learning Curve: member states agree to concede the power to give asylum to the IA. This would have seemed way less likely to be controversial in 1998 than it does in 2018.

    But (C) is definitely a problem, and demands contorted, if doable, head-canon to explain. Essentially, one has to suppose that Sheridan requested that as part of his deal in Rising Star. Probably a one-time special exception, that Sheridan demanded on the grounds that, if he was going to step aside, he had to be sure that he would not be succeeded as station commander by someone who would take revenge on the former rebels who had now been granted amnesty and would be under the new station commander’s command.

    But, still, definitely a problem. However, not enough for me to override all the evidence for the other side. Especially (1). If a show explicitly says that X is going to happen if Y happens, and Y happens, I think it’s reasonable to suppose that X happens unless it’s explicitly made clear as part of the story that Z happens instead.

      1. Hey, this is what S5 *should* have been about. Interstellar law.

        Do you realize that there is not one point in the entirety of the season in which someone cites the treaty governing membership of the Interstellar Alliance *properly*? It’s disgustingly sloppy work.

        1. And there’s story gold here. Because the question is: since the rebel Earthforce personnel are being allowed to continue their military careers as members of Earthforce in good standing, are they entitled to their back pay?

          Presumably Sheridan was paying them something, but did he have the resources to pay their full Earthforce salaries? So can they now claim the difference from Earthforce? What about pension contributions? These things matter.

    1. In “No Compromises,” Lochley mentions that Babylon 5 is remaining independent until the IA formally buys it from Earth. Presumably this happens off-screen sometime soon after, because when Sheridan lands on the station in “Sleeping in Light,” the commander mentions that after Babylon 5 had been the victim of new hyperspace trade routes and rendered redundant, the ISA sold (or gifted) it back to Earth a few years earlier. Well, I suppose the references are ambiguous enough that it could be that B5 remained independent until a couple years before SIL (maybe once it could no longer support its own operating costs), I think “purchase by the ISA” is the more likely answer.

      As for old!Zack, he’s wearing a gray warrant officer’s uniform, like Garibaldi used to, so he’s not a commissioned Earthforce officer, but only hired on specifically to perform whatever job he had on the station (probably security chief, but they don’t say, nor do they say when Zack took the job, except it was recently enough Sheridan still had his old contact information for Earth). Likewise, we don’t see a security chief in The Lost Tales, so for all we know, it’s still Zack, still in his black uniform, as he was in “A Call to Arms.” The security guards we do see are still wearing the post-independence leather vest uniforms.

      Assuming that Babylon 5 was property of the ISA circa 2262-ish to 2278-ish and not independent, I’d imagine that it was administered under some sort of NATO-style combined-forces thing, with personnel drawn from all Alliance members. Zack, Corwin, Franklin, and anyone else who didn’t re-up with Earth (immediately) after the war would probably be regarded as employees of your “Babylon 5 Corporation,” which we do know existed as some sort of semi-private, semi-military entity in the first two and a half seasons (somebody was collecting the docking fees and signing the checks for the gray-jacket security officers and other nonmilitary station employees, and Sheridan and Sinclair both demonstrated the authority to unilaterally reallocate funds out of Babylon 5’s external defense budget to other priorities, which I don’t think C/Os are allowed to do on a regular military base). Sinclair used the Rush Act to do it, but Sheridan acted on his own authority to fill in the shortfall that was pushing the Oversight committee to decide they could make some extra money putting up Sheridan and Ivanova’s quarters for rent.

      I imagine Babylon 5’s original Table of Organization specified that the command/operations staff was Earthforce military and employees of the station weren’t supposed to get any higher than deputy security chief, or maybe some of the Medlab doctors, but paperwork gets weird when you have a revolution.

      Speaking of, judging by the plaque he was sitting behind in Advisory Council scenes in season 5, Sheridan was, in fact, the representative from Earth to the Alliance. I agree at first glance that doesn’t make sense (especially since he never seemed to prioritize Earth’s interests but, then, what else is new?), but on the other hand, if he wasn’t would he even have standing to be president? Perhaps the president is elected by the ISA council from among the ISA council, and Luchenko just didn’t notice the fine print that the ISA’s initial representative from each world when it incorperated would be their most recent ambassador to Babylon 5, or expected to be able to replace Sheridan immediately.

      1. I don’t think one can really argue from the commanding officer’s budget authority, seeing as Sinclair and Sheridan have a broader role than contemporary commanding officers in general. “Military governor,” if US history is a guide, implies broad executive powers.

        But if there are explicit statements in No Compromises and Sleeping in Light, that settles the question.

        I don’t think one can really make Sheridan being Earth’s representative plausible. Luchenko not noticing the fine print doesn’t really work, I think — doesn’t Earth have a foreign affairs ministry staffed by professionals whose job it is to be experts on treaties and to read them carefully? And one can hardly say that “How are we going to be represented?” is the sort of question that one would ignore. It’s probably among the first two or three things that one would ask.

        But it perhaps works symbolically. Sheridan has always been portrayed as representing humanity on a literary level (in JMS’s more idealized conception of it), as the ambassadors are portrayed as standing in for their entire species. So making him the Earth ambassador to the IA keeps that going.

  3. A hypothetical back pay dispute could be (another) reason for a delay in staff returning to EF uniforms. If they’re judged to have left and thus be not eligible to back pay, then would they be ruled hon/dishon discharges? What about pensions, and penalties – to either side – for breach of enlistment contracts? And if they all rejoin, would there be re-up bonuses?

    Stuff Crusade, THIS should have been the spinoff. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *