15 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “Deathwalker” Spoiler Space”

  1. Yeah, this episode does introduce the idea of apotheosis for the minor races,and that the humans and others aren’t ready for it.

    Thinking about it–this is an early indication of the paternalism of the Vorlons, isn’t it?

  2. I enjoyed this one more than I expected / remembered. Kosh started to mess with Talia is great – and the line “understanding is a three-edged sword” will come right back to the Vorlons in “Into the Fire” (although Sheridan says “you Vorlons have a saying…” are there any other instances where they say this and he hears it? One to look out for!)

    And yeah – I think this is the first time the Vorlons have actually *done* anything – and the whole thing should have set MUCH more uneasy to everyone – a start reminder that the Vorlons will do whatever they want at any time.

    I wonder if the immortality serum worked in the same way as the life transfer machine that later goes on to save Ivanova with – as in both cases life get preserved by taking it from another. I’m not sure we hear about the serum itself again though?

  3. DeathWalker Notes
    Who doesn’t just love Kosh? “The hour of scampering/longing,” “Understanding is a three edged sword.”
    I am still confused as to why senators and not a cabinet member or flag officer give Sinclair orders.
    The Wind Swords are mentioned and we start to see the fractures in Mimbari society and there are more links to the hole in Sinclair’s mind.
    It is also great to see Lennier getting some further development.
    Just what is the difference between an order and a priority order?
    Some terrible soap drama level acting between Sinclair and Garibaldi during their disagreement in Sinclair’s office.
    So many beautiful ironies behind Death Walker’s discovery.
    Its nice to see Londo be funny, it isn’t long before he become so dark.
    Poor Susan gets a lot of crummy jobs.
    Talia’s reflections/recordings could have been interesting with Kosh had she survived until the Shadow War.

  4. Deathwalker starts the series of four episodes (Deathwalker, Believers, Survivors, By Any Means Necessary) that (from today’s perspective) add up to the difficult middle child of S1 B5.

    One often hears that people tell new viewers thinks like “Just get through the first season. It’ll be a slog at times, but you have to do it to appreciate what comes later,” and I don’t think that’s entirely fair to S1. But it’s probably fairest here. Up to this point , S1 gradually builds momentum, culminating in And the Sky Full of Stars – and then this sequence of episodes kills that momentum stone-dead.

    But that’s actually, I think, a commentary on how television has changed. S1 is designed pretty much solely for broadcast, spread out over 2/3 of a year with a lot of repeats that kill momentum no matter what you do, and on the assumption that some viewers are going to tune in midway to see what this Babylon 5 show is all about.

    On Deathwalker specifically, one thing that’s always struck me as odd is the whole “Ja’Dur (or however you spell it) is the last of her species” thing. The backstory required to explain how that managed to happen is more than a little contrived, and since (if I’m remembering correctly) it’s not actually explained in the episode, it’s not clear that the Earth Alliance has not committed genocide.

    It obviously adds something to this particular story, but I don’t think it’s necessary to it. JMS was also obviously not planning to use the Dilgar again, and may have feared that they would complicate the Shadow War. But I think there would be other ways to neutralize them as a story element, and to have other Dilgar out there might actually have been an interesting red herring to keep the viewer guessing.

    If the planned B5 film does get off the ground, this is the sort of thing that I’d like to see revised and used as the basis for new plot elements.

    1. The last of the Dilgar died when their sun went nova. So while the Earth Alliance didn’t deliver the final blow, it’s pretty heavily implied that they wiped out a lot of that population. On the other hand, there is also the implication that the Dilgar were generally one of the nastier races around — something JMS spells out more clearly in his discussions from rec.arts.tv.sf.b5. Earth’s foray into that war to throw their weight around turned into a moral imperative pretty quickly.

      But I sort of agree with your assessment about momentum, mainly because “Believers” is an episode that I only watched once before and am having difficulty bringing myself to watch again, even for the podcast.

      1. The orthodox defence of Believers that I’ve encountered is: it’s meant to be one of those “Issue of the Week” TNG episodes, but one which doesn’t end with everything being neatly and smugly resolved by the oh-so-complacent wisdom of Starfleet.

        Which I do personally find makes the ending of the episode more tolerable. But it doesn’t (for me) justify the fact that it makes me sit through the rest of the episode first…

        My comment about momentum isn’t meant to be a criticism of the quality of these episodes. I like both Survivors and Deathwalker, and By Any Means Necessary is only let down for me by the resolution of the plot. It’s about the effects – for Today’s Sophisticated Binge-Watching Viewer – of going off into four standalones at this midway point in the season, right after And the Sky Full of Stars has put something important on the table with which none of these episodes deal. (Mention?)

  5. Yeah, the details of the Dilgar war only get filled in in the miniatures combat game Babylon 5 Wars of all places. Which JMS said was canon, for what it’s worth. The short form is:

    1) The Dilgar realize that their home star is going to go nova.

    2) They go to war with all their minor neighbors, looking for a new world to inhabit. As they do so, they start genociding the people they conquer to make space for their own population.

    3) Along the way, the Narn and Centauri both cut deals with the Dilgar to stay at peace with them, the Minbari ignore the whole thing and no one’s dumb enough to get near the Vorlons.

    4) Eventually, the Dilgar enter Markab (the race that gets wiped out by the plague next season) space, including one system only a jump away from EA space. The EA figures that they’re next on the menu and decide if they have to fight, it’s better to be on the attack than on the defense and launch a major surprise attack against the Dilgar. The Dilgar, who were already badly over-extended, fall back.

    5) The EA joins with the League of Non-Aligned Worlds and drive the Dilgar all the way back to their home system. Given the choice to surrender to the League or remain in their home system and die, the Dilgar (or their leadership…the common people didn’t get a vote) choose to die with their star instead of surrendering.

    6) Somewhere in there, Deathwalker hits the road and finds sanctuary with the Minbari.

    1. Right: this is what I mean by the backstory being horribly contrived: there are several steps here, many of them individually a little implausible, which all have to go the right way to produce the result.

      And others: it requires the League to be patrolling the jumpgate to make sure that not a single Dilgar flees the impending supernova. This raises the question (which I don’t has been answered): did the Dilgars’ opponents know about the supernova in advance as the Dilgar did?

      If not, why did the Dilgar conceal that information? But if Earth and the other species did know, then, yes, they effectively did commit genocide against an entire sentient species, and we’d expect more soul-searching in the aftermath, no matter how Always Chaotic Evil the Dilgar are.

      So it’s better to suppose that they didn’t know. But even genocide by accident would normally prompt more self-questioning, I think. And there remains the question of why they didn’t know.

      One can tell that JMS rethought a similar situation, incidentally, from In The Beginning, where he inserts stuff to indicate that the Minbari would not, in practice, have wiped out all humans, because space is, well, big. Something similar applies here: didn’t a single Dilgar desert during the war? In the kind of universe that B5 depicts, in which Franklin could spend years of his life hitchhiking among all sorts of different alien races, one would expect that there would be a few Dilgar eking out an existence here and there.

      You can get round all of the above by saying “That’s just how alien the Dilgar are.” But Deathwalker herself doesn’t seem all that alien: she’s basically a Nazi dressed up as a cat.

  6. Looks like I like this episode more than most.Was real fond of Sarah Douglas thanks to the Superman movies so a bit biased perhaps.
    The stuff between Kosh and Talia may not be as unimportant as it seems. I seem to remember the Vorlans were the ones that ‘introduced’ PSI abilities into the various races as groundwork for the next war with the Shadows. Perhaps Kosh was just evaluating how well that was progressing?
    Whatever Kosh’s motivations,this is the first example of the “Vorlans know best” philosophy that will be a key part of what is to come.

  7. As far as Kosh and the Viker B plot goes there are 3 things to keep in mind. At this point in the series Clark was rising with the assistance of the Psi Corp . Morden shows up 2 episodes from now and never approaches Sinclair about “what do you want” indicating that he may already have gotten an answer from elsewhere in EarthDome (Clark?). And we know the Shadows will be involved in the President’s assassination in 12 episodes.

    I believe that what Kosh wanted from Talia was not insurance against her, but against human telepaths in general in the case the Shadows began using them in the the forthcoming war. At this time they had the groundwork and connections in place to gain access to “unwanted” human telepaths. In season 3 we do see a shipment of telepath “Weapons Components” en route to the Shadows.

    We know from Lyta that the Vorlons created telepaths to be used against the Shadows. Because Shadow vessels need a sentient being to act as CPU for the ship, a telepath could “jam” or disrupt that being’s mind and thus disrupt the ship. But a telepath would be immune to such jamming, so the Vorlons needed another tool, some way to disrupt a telepath CPU. And that is what he got from Talia, “Reflection, surprise, terror. For the future.” He got what would be needed to disrupt telepath laden Shadow Vessels. It probably wouldn’t have helped the Alliance, but it would have been another weapon for the Vorlon fleet.

    1. Remember that discussion threads for the actual podcasts should also remain spoiler-free for future episodes. Anything referencing what’s coming should be in the spoiler thread for that episode. Thanks!

  8. A few years ago I watched B5, sfter skipping season 1. This is the 1st time I’ve seen these season 1 episodes. I really liked the overall story, but in many instances I hated the execution. I hated Kosh/ the Vorlons and the Psi core by the time the series ended. This is making it difficult to give Kosh a chance now. The possible stories set up with Thalia, knowing that they amount to nothing in the end, just left me annoyed.

  9. It’s interesting that the lights flashing that you see for a fraction of a second for Talia, is the same one that reappears later when Sheridan starts hunting the secret “13” group, which also appears elsewhere.

    I can’t remember if it was the same imagery around Garibaldi’s reprogramming…

    Be seeing you.

    1. Good point about the lights in the flashbacks.

      I always thought that (in retrospect to Talia’s trap door exit), this could be seen as Kosh routing out the existence of the implanted personality. And the we viewing audience get to see it as flashes of the psychic torture the Psi Corps used to create said personality.

      And Kosh doesn’t report it to Sinclair because “Vorlons know better” and like to sit on info like Smaug over his gold.

      The Vorlons certainly didn’t need access to a human psychics as they have access to Lyta. And we know from 5th season hijinks that they have a lot more working knowledge with human psychics than the 1st season suggests. So the scenario I pointed out actually makes more sense.

      In my mind at least.

  10. This episode has some good in it — especially the heavy Kosh content — but I think it feels (as so many of these early ones do) very “stagey” because so much is told rather than shown. I can’t be too hard on the episode because, as Trek TNG shows, that was pretty much the mode of sci-fi TV at the time; but it would’ve been stronger if we’d had flashbacks to Deathwalker’s war crimes; or maybe if we’d had clues dropped for us that the serum’s “secret ingredient” had to be derived by killing people (we didn’t have clues, did we?). It is a very sudden, out-of-the-blue revelation that should punch us in the gut more than it does.

    Maybe if it weren’t an immortality serum, but some vaccine that could instantly cure a deadly plague somewhere, and we saw some victims of the plague suffering and dying. Then it could have been a more thoughtful morality play, analagous to controversies over stem cell research or something… As it is, Deathwalker ends up as a little bit of a cartoon, over-the-top villain: “*That* will be my monument! Bwahahahaha…” I think “Star Trek: Voyager” had an episode like that, where a war criminal was trying to redeem himself with some wonderful new invention that carried its own unacceptable (or were they?) moral cost.

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