14 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “The War Prayer” Spoiler Space”

  1. A few thoughts I had while watching the episode:
    – Even before the opening titles with the growing xenophobia on earth & Home Guard starting to become more prominent.
    – It seems that LTCMDR Ivanova also inherited the coffee plants from LTCMDR Takashima.
    – Bad guys always have to have shifty eyes while coming through customs.
    – Vir’s hair still looks terrible
    – Londo’s speech about love and marriage, such a nice scene.A great intro for his wives’ later introduction.
    – What was Kosh studying? The Vorlons already knew that the humans were the key to the upcoming shadow war given the events of In The Beginning.
    – Coloured contact featuring coloured specs is still a thing. How sad……..
    – Ah the encounter suit bing camouflage – great hat tip to the future there.
    – Why are the security personal wearing breather masks?
    – Susan wants to be there when Sinclair takes down the Home Guard, just like she wanted to be with the fleet when Sheridan took back Earth.

    1. Re: Kosh. I think his investigations can be rationalized as indicating that the Vorlons know that humans will be significant, but they don’t know how they will be significant. So (being manipulative bastards) the Vorlons need more insight into human culture(s) to “guide” humans in the “right” direction. And they may have started to grasp that the Shadows, on their side, have already built up influence behind the scenes on Earth and that the Vorlons are starting from behind in the race to control humanity. It’s all very Cold War.

  2. This episode and its companion piece And The Sky Full of Stars crystallize for me why I think the departure of Sinclair the character damages the story so, but the replacement of Michael O’Hare with Bruce Boxleitner is, regrettably, a clear improvement. Obviously, given what we now know about O’Hare’s condition, his difficulties with communicating strong emotion convincingly should not be taken as a fair reflection of his abilities, but it does (at least for me) fail the story at critical moments.

    I’m thinking in particular of when Sinclair pretends to be an anti-alien bigot embittered by the Earth-Minbari War. It’s not very convincing. OK, he’s supposed to be faking it (even if it does make the Home Guard come across as remarkably gullible – but, hey, they’re supposed to be idiots). But in AtSFoS, we learn that Sinclair actually was filled with rage and hatred following the war (in another scene where it doesn’t seem quite real to me).

    It would, I think, have been much more effective if his emotions in TWP had seemed a little too real, and then we found out that he was drawing on a history of having felt these ugly sentiments in reality.

    It’s a shame, because the storytelling choice here is an interesting one. The obvious thing to do would have been to have Sinclair start as hostile to and suspicious of the Minbari, and slowly learn to respect them in a heart-warming message about the need for us all to get along.

    Instead, Sinclair starts as having (he thinks) already moved past all that, and already ( in The Gathering) a good friend of Delenn. Then the events of the first season reactivate his suspicions (again, this is all set up as early as The Gathering). This nicely underpins one of the themes of the Londo-G’Kar arc, of the ways in which the past imprisons us and isn’t as easy to move beyond as we make ourselves think, even when it’s absolutely necessary.

    It would, I think, have been tremendous to have been able to have traced Sinclair’s response to the S2 revelation about what happened the Battle of the Line, leading into a romance with Delenn, leading into *another* moment of betrayal and suspicion when he learned that Catherine Sakai had survived at Z’ha’dum (assuming that would have played out basically the same). I tend to feel that Sinclair (at least on paper) would seem more convincing as a person who’d had a transformative experience at Z’ha’dum, than Sheridan does in S4.

    Since I’ve criticized Michael O’Hare’s performance above, I do think he’d have done better with “Now get the hell out of our galaxy!” than Boxleitner does. That’s a line to underplay…

  3. First of all, WINNIE COOPER (from the Wonder Years) – even as a bald Centauri she was instantly recognisable, and this forgives the bad casting of Ivanova’s old Australian flame (though I always liked that they did cast a fellow Aussie here, on principle πŸ˜‰ )

    Agreed with the above comments on Sinclair’s poor performance with “the only good alien is a dead alien” – this stands out to me as maybe his worst.

    Overall both the A and B stories are solid enough and I enjoyed watching this. Londo’s line on “my shoes are too tight” are great – but maybe just because anything Londo or G’Kar say is great because those two guys could act their way to the moon (or I should rather say, beyond the rim).

  4. As others have mentioned, this wasn’t MOH’s finest performance, and Home Guard were pretty gullible/over-confident to believe it. But most of all I guess [boyfriend] really didn’t know Ivanova that well at all, as he never considered that she might not be on board?

    More great character points for Londo (and Vir) this week, and we get to see “famine, plague and pestilence” Londo’s lovely wives that keep him focused on staying on B5!

    I also think this is the most we’ve seen of Kosh so far (excluding the pilot which I’d not seen the first time through the show) and he was quite mysterious as we expect. But his viewscreen didn’t seem all that “efficient” or much of an improvement on what they have in C&C etc?! I guess the Vorlon’s were not too concerned with HDTV or thin bezels?!

    A bit clunky that they had to infodump the plot points of the pilot in here, in fact I can’t recall a show that had a pilot separate from the main run of the season but didn’t reincorporate the pilot’s plot elements into either the first episode proper or one soon after. Instead we get a verbal recap of what happened to Ben and Lyta, layered in with the undertones of them both being recalled to earth, which covers nicely for the re-casting (and works even better when Lyta returns later)

    Also I’ve caught up with the podcast, yay! I’ve also just plugged the only gaps in my DVD collection with the “lost tales” and “legend of the rangers” so I’m all set for when you eventually get beyond S5 and into the TV movies and spin-off’s! Keep up the great podcast work!!

    PS the graphics of the station etc in “the lost tales” show what was possible just a few years later.. the CGI on the DVD’s on my HD TV isn’t looking that great now, sadly.

    Mark

  5. It is funny, it was only 2 years ago I last watched these episodes. I was so much more impressed then then I am now. What changed?
    Well even though I have the same DVD sets, I got a big screen HD TV and well I notice more.
    And what I see that bothers me is not the effects, it is MOH acting. Before I was always one of those people that liked MOH and his character. But now a lot of what he does just makes me scratch my head. His body language and facial expressions in this episode are very distracting and if I were Robert Scorpio..opps I mean Malcolm Biggs , I would never for a minute believe Sinclair was on my side.
    My how your perceptions of things can change with time and repeated viewings.

  6. Really interesting points raised in the podcast, especially that DC Fontana had probably only had The Gathering to work from when writing this episode. So we effectively lose G’Kar’s character development, and Londo’s recent love and loss. And Ivanova gained a coffee plant! I wonder if it was written before Takashima became Ivanova?

  7. Chip mentions offhand that Londo refer’s to his wives as “Pestilence, Famine and Death” and that cast muse that Londo may be War. But I would argue that Adira is Londo’s “War”. With the death of Adira Londo throws himself into the Shadow’s plans. Before then he was willing to play their game only if it meant the destruction of the Narn threat. Even though the Centauri do expand their war, it is not until Adira dies that Londo throws his unbridled support in.

    Regardless, which wife is which? My guess is Daggair is famine, Timov pestilence, and Mariel death. The reasoning being:

    Daggair, his first wife, starved him of the affection he had with the dancer he was forced to divorce.
    Timov, the second, was a plague on his wits as she constantly harangued him.
    And Mariel, well we see in Londo's warning to the captain that she may have led to the death or destruction of more than one suitor.

  8. I do think that the Londo storyline would’ve worked so much better if the events of ‘Born to the Purple’ would’ve happened after this.

    Londo here appears to be someone who’s calcified into a rather traditional view of Centauri relationships. After the events of this, it looks like he’s ready to dance. This would’ve been an amazing set up for what happened with Adira.

    Coming immediately after that storyline, I was reminded of nothing so much as the traditional Star Trek approach to relationships, where whatever happened with the girl of the week last week has no bearing on whatever happens this week.

    I understand that some folks see Londo’s bitterness as being prompted by his experience with Adira, but personally, I just don’t see it that way. I see him as being someone with no expectations of love prior to that event and knowing that she’s out there and will return to him someday after that event.

    And yes, I have chosen to think about MOH’s clumsy and hammy attempts to act as Sinclair as a statement about Sinclair’s inability to act. For any complaints we might have about MOH’s performances from time to time, he is never so bad as when he is Jeffrey Sinclair ACTING! πŸ˜€

    All that being said, there are more than enough little moments in the show from Vir and from the delightful interaction of Delenn and her visiting friend to make episode worthwhile for me. πŸ™‚

    And although I had some problems with the writing, I remember at the time being so happy that JMS was bringing on ST:TOS alumni from both behind and on the camera to be on the show, letting us see these folks stretch to doing some slightly different things in the genre!

  9. Sorry if I missed it, but did you have any thoughts about (or do you know) the significance of the brand put on the poet? It looks like the combination of the astrological symbols for Venus and Mars, which seems odd for an “Earth first” group.

  10. The War Prayer is, quite honestly, the only episode of Babylon 5 that I believe should be watched entirely in a different place than where it was aired AND where JMS suggests that it be watched, because I feel lik its plot fits far more organically in one of two different places earlier on in : either between Soul Hunter and Born to the Purple or between Infection and The Parliament of Dreams.

    Placing it in either of these places does mean that Lennier and Na’Toth either are credited BEFORE they appear or when they DO NOT appear, but I feel like narrative consistency supersedes credit consistency in this particular instance.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I’ve not actually tried watching the episode in either of the two places I just mentioned, but that is only because I have not attempted to rewatch the series since coming to the realization – which I arrived at uring my first full rewatch of the series – that it fits more organically in either of those spots than where it aired/when JMS suggests it belongs.

    Even with its wonky air order/recommended placement dragging it down a bit, however, there are a number of things to like about the episode and the way that it expands the mythology of the Babylon5 universe, particularly with regards to the Centauri, since we learn some things about their culture and society that we don’t discover at any other time.

    It’s also nice to get a little peek into Delenn’s character through the lens of someone from her own race whom she calls a friend, since there are actually very few such individuals existing in the universe.

  11. I agree that Sinclair can’t lie his acting is bad, wooden but like Chip said that we only believe him when Sinclair was telling the truth:
    “I fought. My best friends died……and we won.
    Not because we out-fought them.
    Not because we were luckier, stronger or smarter.
    We won because the damn Minbari let us win.
    You know what that victory tasted like? Ashes.”

    I like Michael O’Hare as Sinclair. He was good actor even when he was struggling with illness and when he come back to do War Without End he was at his best in B5

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