15 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “Babylon Squared” Spoiler Space”

  1. Babylon Squared is an excellent episode that’s not actually all that good in the normal sense. The B4 A-plot is hardly a “plot” at all, and it dominates the episode.

    But I don’t think many people would think of the Delenn B-plot as the main appeal of the episode. Babylon Squared is pure mystery for the viewers – our usual main characters are pretty much incidental to to the episode. I’m extremely jealous of people who got to watch this fresh the first time, without knowing what on earth was going on. (I’d already seen World Without End by the time I caught S1.)

    Once you have seen WWE, BS (abbreviations problematic this week…) offers the entirely different pleasure of picking up how carefully it appears to plan for WWE. That’s a sleight of hand, though: it’s also interesting how much of the episode serves as insurance policy to allow for different alternatives in the mirror episode. Most elegant: the time-compressed pilot is in hindsight there to allow Sinclair to be either naturally or unnaturally aged as the demands of the later story dictate.

    Obviously, it’s ironic that the pair of stories which most successfully contrive to give the impression of having everything planned were also the stories that, at the time of the original broadcast of WWE, most reminded the audience that not everything could have been planned, since WWE wrote out the character who was originally the central character of the entire series.

    That makes the sad tone of the appearance of the aged Sinclair in Babylon Squared curiously appropriate. In Babylon Squared, he’s not just a visitor from another time – he’s a visitor from another story, that we never saw.

  2. OK, NOW we’re talking. This episode is the one that takes B5 to a whole other level. Having the “Voice in the Wilderness” two-parter just before undoubtedly helped (“that planet we’re parked alongside? It totally has this awesome huge device of unknown purpose!”) but it’s only with Babylon Squared that we truly begin to grasp the scope of what the show is trying to do.

    I’ve been wondering for a while on one point: is this the earliest example in mainstream media of the concept now known as the “Flash-Forward?” All the (televisual) examples cited on the Wikipedia page post-date Babylon 5. Certainly it was a revelation to me: a non-prophecy-based glimpse of what is going to happen! An old Sinclair apparently time-travelling! Garibaldi fighting off nameless no-nos that are coming through the walls! You were left wanting more, always a benchmark of good drama.

    No, for me, this was the point that B5 went from being this show that I was watching because.. I didn’t quite know why, maybe because in the pre-cable, pre-Satellite UK TV landscape, there wasn’t a lot of SF to watch (By coincidence, that same summer of 1994 the BBC had finally resumed showing new episodes of Star Trek TNG after a three-year break; who knows what might have happened if Channel 4 hadn’t got B5 on the air first?)… where was I? … to being this show that I simply had to watch.

  3. This is where the BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTER EVER APPEARS. Of course, I’m talking about Zathras.

    I may be biased, since I appropriated his name for Internet Relay Chat with other nerds and geeks in the late 90s (and it stuck). But his involvement in the story as a helper, a boffin, and an unassuming complainer really appealed to me. His first appearance was very mysterious. And had we gotten the original Sinclair arc, perhaps Zathras would have been a full-time cast member! But no such luck for Zathras. At least there is symmetry.

    And may Tim Choate rest in peace. His performance was just spot on (although I have a hard time imagining another portrayal in any case).

  4. In a way I think I like the minimal appearances from Zathras – it makes his on screen time more special and keeps him mysterious. I don’t *want* to know about Zathras, AND Zathras not to mention Zathras because tsk tsk he was the black sheep of all of the Zathras’. Perfect.

  5. As a completist, I find myself wishing that we got to see the other Babylon stations besides 4 and 5. (I *think* we got a glimpse of B1 during In The Beginning, but it’s been ages since I’ve seen it…)

  6. Flash-forward Lee? My first reaction was to recall Twin Peaks a few years before. Ceiling fans, Bob behind beds, Cooper’s glimpses into the Lodge before, you know…that thing…that happened.

    With Dickens using the device in A Christmas Carol, it’s certainly been on telly before now by adaption or archetype or homage: TV Tropes points to a 1984 adaption in an episode of Family Ties were Michael J Fox encounters himself as a fat, pot-bellied old man. I’d be quite surprised if ye olde Twilight Zone didn’t use it a few times.

  7. I’ve been meeting to comment on your podcast for a while but this episode got me to really say something. And that is not a good thing.

    You need to pull the podcast and re-record the synopsis. You broke the jump gate. We do not see Delenn at the end of the episode talking to Sinclair. We only hear someone that sounds like her talking to a much older Sinclair. It could have been Mira Furlen playing her own daughter given how old Sinclair looks.

    1. A little explanation about my comment.

      I have not listened to the whole podcast. I turned it off after the synopsis. I honestly don’t know if rerecording it will do any good because I don’t know if it is mentioned again later in the podcast.

      I have seen the whole series. I am watching this with someone who has not. We are listening to the podcast together and I turn it off at the jump gate.

      After we watched the episode but before we listened to the podcast she asked if that was Delenn. I purposely gave her an ambiguous answer. The episode synopsis rather ruined my ambiguous answer.

      1. Sorry you feel that way. We’re sort of following JMS’s lead on this, who answered one fan’s question this way soon after B^2 aired:

        I kinda *have* to play fair with the story; if you hear Delenn’s voice, then you can be sure it’s Delenn.

        In one form or another.

        So I don’t think he considered it a major spoiler, and neither do I. But note that we didn’t even hint at her transformation.

        — Chip

        1. Well, if JMS said it that’s good enough for me.

          I originally watched all of B5 in DVD order around 2002 or so. I just remember myself thinking then “was that Delenn or was that some relative of Delenn or ZOMG WHO WAS THE MYSTERIOUS WOMAN’S VOICE?!” and the person who sat me down to watch B5 refused to give it away so it actually was a special reveal to me come season 3.

  8. For some reason, until the guide, I’d never really thought about the people rescued from B4. It bothered a little how we didn’t hear from this crew compliment, who traveled through time, four years into the future?

    I love the phrase ‘head canon’!
    I guess the crew could have had their voices buried in the down-below classes of Clarke’s new world order or been locked in psych wards, stayed silent just happy to be home, or before Bester’s lot could put them through hoops, the Vorlons intervened again, using the Corps to block attempts to access those memories?

  9. L.M. Myers hit one of my buttons. Sinclair can’t give information about Z’ha’dum. Valen only has knowledge up until the point that B4 is pulled back.

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