Zocalo: Spoiler-free discussion of “Survivors”

Confronted by ghosts, a character hits bottom but bounces: What did you think about “Survivors”? Please share your thoughts and, if you’re new to the show, speculations! (Spoilers for future episodes? They’re in Earhart’s next door.)

9 thoughts on “Zocalo: Spoiler-free discussion of “Survivors””

  1. I quite like this episode but the major seems a bit too young for her rank or the timeline. Other than that good fun with nice bit themes about the home guard and a few insights into Londo.

    1. I agree with that – I think it’s one of the reasons she flings her authority around so hard, because she’s young and female and yet in such a key position (although JMS has been really good about presenting the genders on pretty equal footing overall). It doesn’t help that before we see her we have Garibaldi’s description of “sweet kid”.

      But yes, quite a bit of fun to be found in the story.

      1. I really like the performance of the actor who plays Major Kemmer. She’s definitely remarkably young for the position, but (for me at least) the actor’s choice to play her as incredibly tightly-wound was really smart. It suggests someone who’s where she is at this age because she’s driven, super-disciplined and cannot stand the thought of ever allowing herself to make a mistake.

        I have a theory (which is compatible with the text but goes well beyond it) that the reason why she chose a career in Garibaldi’s exact specialism is all about “proving” that what happened to her father was his fault and that she would never have made Garibaldi’s mistakes in his position.

  2. I thought I might try throwing out another question for discussion, directed especially at first-time viewers. Actually, it’s pretty much the same question as before: what’s it like to watch B5 now as distinct from when it aired? I touch on some politically controversial material below at one point, but I don’t think it’s necessary to take a side on that to address the question that I’m asking.

    It’s pretty obvious that Survivors is partly about the Kennedy assassination. It centers on an attempt to kill the President. It’s basically a “lone hunted protagonist” conspiracy thriller, and anything to do with conspiracy inevitably conjures up the spectre of 1963.

    There’s a case to be made that these resonances don’t have the same power in the American imagination now that they did in 1994. The sheer passage of time is part of it. The Kennedy assassination is now closer to the outbreak of the First World War than it is to us. 9/11 has intervened and I think has probably to some extent displaced the murder of Kennedy as the totemic failure of national security in popular culture.

    On the other side, there were positive reasons in the early ’90s for the Kennedy assassination to be especially salient. The Clinton Administration made a lot of the idea of itself as a sort of successor to the Kennedy Administration. Conspiracy theories were generally in the air. At the same as B5, The X-Files was enjoying (what I remember as being) great success, and this was the same era that treated us to the spectacle of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives shooting a watermelon in his back yard in an attempt to demonstrate that the President of the United States had had one of his aides murdered.

    So how much difference does the changed cultural context (if you buy the idea that it has changed) make here? Thoughts?

    1. wow – I *never* linked that. Maybe being an Aussie put me further away from the Kennedy assassination growing up (we certainly learnt about it in school) – or that when I first watched B5 I was only around 18 years old or so wasn’t watching the show with any such considerations…..

    2. Add me to the list of those who never even thought about the Kennedy assassination as a specific parallel. There are enough examples of leaders being attacked or killed for all kinds of reasons that I don’t think my mind at the time did any more than decide it was generic political intrigue.

      Now TODAY I can find a lot of parallels, given the split that has been set up so far between the “outreach” and “isolationist” factions that seem to be constantly butting heads back on Earth.

    1. Also passed me by… must be the Aussie thing possibly because we haven’t spent quite so much time considering all aspects of it. Liked this episode and agree with all that’s been said about the Major.Interesting watching a show from the late 1990s from the sensibilities of 2014.

  3. Especially during that third fight scene, I felt like I was watching an episode of the Adam West Batman. All it needed was the *BIFF!* *POW!* *WHAM!* graphics…

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