Earhart’s: “Points of Departure” Spoiler Space

“Please hold, a commanding officer will be able to assist you in a moment.” But it’s probably not the commanding officer you were expecting, if you were watching B5 without the benefit of the internet community that was anxiously awaiting/dreading this episode. A new season and a turning point begin in “Points of Departure.” If you’re reading this thread, you know where it led–so what do you think about how well this episode set up the future of Babylon 5?

21 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “Points of Departure” Spoiler Space”

  1. It may be a bit early to ask this – but why did Clark pick Sheridan to command B5? Purely because he was the Starkiller and was thus best placed to annoy the Minbari with their ‘veto the first 250 officers nominated in favour of a burnt-out fighter pilot’ policy? A new decisive step by a new President? Maybe. But we know it backfires on him, because Sheridan isn’t the raving xenophobe Clark may have assumed he was. But in light of Clark’s (and the PsiCorps’, and the Shadows’) big plans for the future, you’d have thought they’d have put someone more trustworthy (to them) in such a key position. Loony Scarface Colonel can’t have been the sole alien-hating overly-autocratic senior officer in Earthforce…

    1. AFAIK, it was purely that he was a the war hero and Clark thought he would just be a yes military man – and thats it.

      1. Between this and All Alone in the Night, I think it’s strongly implied (may in fact be stated in All Alone in the Night, but I’d have to check) that Hague maneuvered Sheridan into the position.

        Since it’s never suggested that Clark had any personal knowledge of Sheridan, he’s dependent on the information that flows up through the military bureaucracy, i.e., through Hague’s office. It wouldn’t be hard to highlight the stuff that would appeal to Clark. E.g. Sheridan is from Earth, not Mars, doesn’t let the law of war get in the way of killing aliens…

        This presupposes that Hague knows Clark well enough to do that, but that’s not that hard to believe, certainly not harder to believe than the remarkably rapid time in which Hague puts together his conspiracy. (Which can be explained, but doesn’t need to be. The great thing about mysterious offscreen conspiracies is that you don’t have to examine their workings too closely.)

        It also supposes that Clark’s Psi Corps allies haven’t been illicitly scanning normals in positions of power, but Babylon 5 basically doesn’t have a story at all if you allow that.

        One aspect of all this is that we actually know very little about Clark and his motivations from his perspective. It’s one of the most interesting aspects of B5 how much it keeps its main individual antagonist in the background. It’s one of those things that one might have thought would not work, but turns out to be tremendously effective in practice.

        1. That was something I was also going to being up at some point, butnot quite yet, so I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed: what is it Clark wants? Just to be In Charge Of The Whole Shebang By Any Means? It’s actually a potential failing in the show, that his motivations are never explained and he’s just an offscreen Big Bad. We get glimpses, through the policies his goons enforce, such as in Intersections In Real Time, but no more than glimpses…

  2. I like the initial paradox of Sheridan as stooge and Starkiller, man of orange blossoms and religious rice. It’s enticing to think that while Clark may have considered him quickly as a provocateur, Hague gave this posting a second thought, which is all it needs really. It’s certainly in keeping with what we learn about Hague’s development.

    In PoD his arc works alongside Ivanova’s. We get consistently in-yr-face Ivanova-isms, continuing over the next few eps. There were a few flashes of this in S1 but no front and center main cast as in PoD.

  3. The really interesting thing is that Sheridan says he was “the late President’s” first choice to replace Sinclair if something happened. Clark antagonizing the Minbari by picking a (seeming) yes-man war-hero is one thing, but people generally assume Santiago was less hostile to aliens. I’m not sure how much of that is by default. He did pick Clark as his running mate, and one of his campaign promises was to “preserve Earth culture in the face of alien influence” or something, which may or may not be an anti-alien dogwhistle.

    Or it could just be that Santiago figured that if something happened to Sinclair, things were going to hell in a hand basket and it’d be prudent to put in someone with a bit more of a reputation, both for diplomacy and warfare, even if it did upset the Minbari.

    On another topic, I was listening to the “Chrysalis” podcast and heard you guys talking about how disappointing the DVDs were and the fact that Babylon 5 is unlikely to get the TNG/TOS Blu-Ray treatment (heck, it sounds increasingly like DS9 and VOY won’t, either). I’ve been debating whether or not to pimp this out here, but over the past few years, I’ve worked on-and-off on redoing the effects for “Points of Departure” as a personal project. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on it, but I would like to finish it at some point and do at least a couple other episodes. You might be interested, just as a look at what might’ve been.

    1. These are amazing – but now I’m even more sad that this is extremely unlikely to ever actually officially happen.

      Thanks for sharing 😀

    1. Godzilla’s Revenge probalby just took a re-scan of a film print and maybe some dust removal.

      Babylon 5 would have to have every effects shot re-built from the ground up. As I understand it all the original animation data was lost, which is why they couldn’t go back and just re-render the effects in 16:9 and instead had to crop and scale the old 4:3 shots.

      I’m with our hosts though. Given the resulting visual quality it would have been better just to released the DVDs in 4:3.

  4. Every time I do a rewatch of B5, when I get to season 2 and see Keffer it’s a surprise because I forgot he exists . The character is, sadly, very forgettable

    1. I do forget about him as well the only things he has going for him is his hunt for the shadows and 1 really good (cliché) line but neither has happened yet.

    2. I kind of agree. I get why JMS wanted such a character in the mix: he needed someone else to notice and go chasing the Shadows besides G’Kar since he wasn’t planning to kill the ambassador. He wanted a face that the audience had grown used to as the first “official” victim of the Shadows. Pity he couldn’t have found (a) a way to work Keffer in during season 1 to avoid the jarring entry and (b) a better actor.

      1. IIRC (and I may not…), JMS has said that he added Keffer against his own preferences because the studio wanted a young male fighter pilot character for reasons of demographic appeal. I think this may be on an S2 commentary.

        If so, I think it may explain why Keffer is, aside from Gropos (which JMS didn’t write), a little underutilized. Which is fair enough, given what else S2 has to do – fitting in an extra main character was always going to be difficult, even without the fact that you’re also having to integrate a new character as the central character of the whole story.

        1. JMS has said multiple times that Keffer was forced upon him. I can’t find that quote online (I bet there is something in the B5 books series), but here are three interesting ones:

          5/23/1996 (on jmsnews.com) “Nor was Keffer’s character useless; through him, we got to see
          the Starfury pilots and learn more about them, we got our first close
          look at the shadows, we met the Gropos, and the primary incident that
          began to unravel the whole thing — Keffer’s gun camera footage — came
          about.”

          2/9/1996 “Okay, Keffer wasn’t all he could’ve been, but that was because
          that character was always doomed, and doomed to go fast, so I think I
          put a little distance between myself and him.”

          Jan wrote on 4/19/2006 in http://jmsnews.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1296
          : “JMS had intended to introduce a squadron leader named Idori (Dory) Shima but that character was vetoed by PTEN (not WB) as being too thoughtful and not dynamic enough. They wanted ‘B5’s Han Solo’, somebody who could bring in the female demographic. So, while JMS added Waren Keffer as requested, he intended to eliminate him at the earliest opportunity.”

          1. I found a quote in Volume 5 of the B5 Script books in the introduction to “The Fall of Night”: “I just never liked the nature of Keffer’s character, the specifics of which had been foisted upon me by the network when we were in a vulnerable, prerenewal position. … so after the pickup I’d resolved to kill him off at the very first opportunity.”

  5. Misunderstood Lennier.

    I think the females on the pannel are over romanticizing the feelings Lennier has for Delenn at this point. The love he will feel for her is so much more because it comes as a surprise.
    I think at this point, he is much more up shrouded in his religious duty. This episode displayed that. When the Captain tried to walk into the room, he blocks him not out of a threat to his loved one, but out of duty to her. He is from a high faction of the religious caste, has spent MANY years in tedious study ( in mathematics, languages, culture….) to get where he is.
    At this point she is Grey Council, and the answer to the prophesy that Valan himself foretold. He would lay down his life without a second thought.
    I think that at this point if he has feelings for her, it is a fantasy that even he could not believe. Which makes it all the more powerful when it sneaks up and dominates his world.

  6. Observation: The first thing that immediately struck me about Sheridan is he smiles a lot and he seems very approachable for a career senior officer. I would guess that they wanted to start off his character as “obviously different” than Sinclair, but not a ruthless war-mongering soldier.

  7. I hated the inclusion of Keffer the first time I watched B5, but as I sit here and think about the series more and more, especially in light of what other series (particularly Battlestar Galactica) have done since, my stance on him has softened somewhat.

    The main issue I have with his inclusion NOW is that the way he’s introduced is sloppy and unfocused, which is not something that usually happens with JMS’ writing. Even with the character’s inclusion having been forced upon him, he could’ve easily found a better and more organic way to introduce the character… and in fact, he did with the episode A Distant Star, making it unfortunate that the character had already been sloppily introduced in this episode.

    Introducing Keffer in A Distant Star would also have played better with the whole ‘slow-burn’ rollout of the Shadow War plot that was happening with the rest of the season’s early episodes.

    I do think it’s ultimately fruitless to try and compare and contrast Sheridan and Sinclair, though, given that the characters, by necessity, have to fill two different roles, and even though Sheridan wasn’t apparently in JMS’ original plans, I’d be so bold as to make the argument that he would’ve needed to have been added for the simple fact that Sinclair would not have worked as a central figure in the Shadow War and would’ve been rejected by audiences to an even greater degree than he was in Season 1, simply because the role that he would’ve needed to play in the Shadow War would’ve been incompatible with the way his character had been portrayed.

  8. Late to the party. Just watched B5 for the first time a couple of months ago. Found the B5 Audio Guide from known voices from the Incomparable family of podcasts, and decided to do a rewatch this quickly, following along with the Lurker’s guide. Thus far, I haven’t been disappointed. Babylon 5 is an amazing production, on the same level of Deep Space 9 in the Trek universe and Battlestar Galactica. In fact, I wonder sometimes if JMS and RDM were not separated at birth. 🙂

    You know, after Lennier talking to Delenn’s cocoon about the great enemy that is returning, and it taking both humans and Minbari to defeat the evil that is coming, and “if we are wrong, no one will survive our mistake,” her crysalis ripples, and fluid starts leaking out. I have to wonder, based on the nature of the of the soliloquy, if that fluid wasn’t meant to represent tears.

  9. I may have said this before, I may have said this before HERE, but anyway… Ivanova is a bit like Leverage’s Eliot Spencer: When they’re vexed, they are pure comedy gold.

    Oh, the comics. I bought those comics. I may or may not still have them. (Rather doubt it. I went through my remaining long boxes before the most recent move and don’t recall having seen them in there.) They were… a thing that happened.

    Similarly, the novels. The first few novels are genuinely atrocious, like episodes from an alternate universe where the characters share the same names but have utterly different personalities and nothing makes a lick of sense. I know that the one novel you mention (“To Dream…”) is stated as canon but man, I have every one of the novels and I’ve only held onto most of them out of a sense of completionist fanboy obligation.

    Well, the Bester books are pretty good. I’ll give them that.

    Oh right, the new guy. I actually watched Scarecrow & Mrs King back in the day (Mom liked the show, I was still a kid). Believe me, I had a serious “wait WHAT? HIM?” reaction to Sheridan showing up. But, as you say, this episode is nearly a masterclass in how to sell the change in leads without beating the viewer over the head (too much) or bobbling the job (too much).

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