18 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “And Now for a Word” Spoiler Space”

  1. As this is (at least on the face of it) an ISN-report episode, how do people feel that the change in both the content and the intentions of ISN reporting over the course of the series?

    In Season 1: there were ISN reports giving information such as political commentary, and in Infection an ISN reporter comes on to the station basically to ask what is the point of the place?

    In this episode, we again have an ISN reporter on the station. Is this person merely reporting on the Narn-Centauri war and how it impacts the station or are there other motiations? Is Clark, even now trying to discredit the station? ISN at this stage are still free to report the news as they see fit but she asked some very harsh questions of Delenn. Was she responding to public opinion or was there more to her question?

    Then jump forward two more years and we have the Clark propaganda machine working overtime to fabricate a story in The Illusion of Truth. Is there any connection to what happens here and that damning report in Season Four?

    How would you compare tihs episode to that one? They both use the documentary’news broadcast format.

    What do you think of the role of ISN in the B5 universe?

    1. It’s not one of my favorite aspects of the series, because it’s not that important. But it is one of my favorite minor aspects to the series.

      One thing that’s great about And Now for a Word is that it doesn’t really matter if this particular journalist is consciously part of Clark’s agenda: Torqueman and her producers are going to shape this material into what they see as the “story”, ask the “tough questions,” and end on a barrage of carefully edited responses for the viewers to “think about.” ll that’s going to serve Clark’s agenda anyway. At least as I see it. Because it’s part of a scripted drama, the episode does an excellent job of showing how Torqueman is producing a scripted drama herself.

      The Illusion of Truth is less effective, because Sheridan is ridiculously naive and, apparently, very bad at thinking about what he’s going to say first, and even worse at remembering what he’s said.

  2. Such a fun episode that shows the sinister events going on in the background, oft mentioned but given a dark forbidding here. I loved the subliminal message and Psycorp ad. I felt that ISN was already moving towards being a propaganda unit here but only incrementally.

  3. I’ve never liked the storytelling of the ISN episodes. Personally, I tend to dislike 24 hour news stations because they are very superficial and have little journalism. This has probably negatively coloured my view of this episodes and they feel like I’m being hit over the head with a hammer. Whatever the goal of the episode , the story could have been told better if a different format was used.

    1. That’s fascinating. I completely share your attitude to this sort of television news in real life, but it’s why I like And Now for a Word. It really captures for me that combination of superficiality with self-importance.

  4. Having listened to the podcast (and specifically re: the part about In the Beginning):

    I don’t think In the Beginning can have been planned at this stage, because I’m fairly certain that it was TNT’s idea, not JMS’s.

    But the relevant events appeared onscreen before that, in S4’s Atonement. So I think it’s not at all unlikely that they were part of Delenn’s planned character arc at this point. Actually, I think they may have been intended from the beginning: Soul Hunter seems like it may have been written with this in mind, and the whole Earth-Minbari War is obviously a very The Gathering/S1 thing.

    1. AAGH! I accidentally put that in the wrong section. It contains a spoiler! If any of our hosts catch this, can they please move or delete it.

    2. If we just look at what Sinclair is able to uncover of his missing time after the line we know that Delenn was a member of the Grey Council, that she was involved in the decision to surrender, and probably involved in the decision to attack. I would guess that Delenn’s involvement as the deciding factor in the war would have been a part of her character history from the beginning.

      The Soul Hunter reaction may have been to her plan for Chrysalis. Possibly for how the Minbari were planning on harnessing/controlling Valen’s soul in Sinclair.

      1. Without giving too much away (yes, I know this is a spoiler section) Delenn’s actions in the war are fully explained in the TV movie ‘In the Beginning’ and there are is an episode in Season 4 which also looks at Delenn’s back story. JMS will have written this into Delenn’s character even if the audience aren’t aware of these events at this stage.

        I do not think Delenn knows the truth about Sinclar at this stage, she only knows that he has valen’s soul. I think it is the letter that Sinclar sends her that lays it all out.

        As for the soul hunters, I don’t see how Delenn has any plans for them. Her reaction on seing a soul hunter on the station was to reach for the nearest PPG, and then she tried to insist that he be killed. This does not sound like a race she would want to ally with.

        1. I think what our friend from the Nortwest* meant was the Soul Hunter’s reaction to Delenn, not Delenn’s reaction to the Soul Hunter. (Specifically, “You would do such a thing?”)

          More generally, I personally do think that this particular plot element probably was there from the beginning. (To clarify, the significance of Soul Hunter here for me – the episode, not the particular Soul Hunter – is that it lays down a marker that the death of Dukhat is important, as one would do with a story element to which one was planning to return.)

          But (again, personally – YMMV) I’m wary of supposing that JMS had quite as much planned out as he suggested at the time, given what we now know about “Babylon Prime” and so on. Even at the time JMS said that he made some quite big changes because it was how things seemed best to him when he came to the point of writing that particular part of the story: accelerating the death of Kosh, making Vir the person who kills Cartagia.

          In particular, the whole issue of “trapdoors” (JMS’ contingency plans for what to do if an actor left the series) means that on some points JMS probably had a fairly flexible idea of how he might get to where he wanted to go. It seems likely that the ambassadors’ aides were meant to replace the ambassadors if the actors left the series.

          What if Mira Furlan had left? Lennier steps into her role? Much as I’d like to believe that JMS would have gotten away with Sheridan having a same-sex romance, I don’t think that he would have gotten away with it, and I doubt he planned to try.

  5. Another great podcast – thanks team.

    I think it captures an essence of the 24 hour news stations. This was a bit before they became an obsession (at least in Australia) so it’s interesting to see how right B5 got it. By far my favorite scene is Lennier “heading” as in soccer or “headbutting” as in fighting the hovering camera. Never sure which he is doing.

  6. With respect to the next time no B5AG: I’ve a funny story about Knives.

    While I started watching B5 towards the end of Season 1, I never saw Knives until it was aired in syndication on SPACE years later.

    Sadly, I set my VCR and went out for the night, only to discover the next day that my cable company had swapped the channel lineup.

    Instead of having a shiny episode of Babylon 5 sitting on my tape, there was an hour of Country Music Television!

    To this day, I still dislike country music!

  7. Even in the ‘chortle chortle, beauty and the beast chortle’, we see how ISN is pro-alien and anti-alien in coverage. There’s a bit in Lurkers Guide about their asking hard questions of Clarkgov. Not very hard questions, but they’re no total puppet either, esp as S3 shows. Senator Quantrell though, sounds like he’s gearing up for war, threatening Minbari. What do we think, a Shadow agent or just a dick?

    There’s loads goin on in this double-sized episode and I prefer it to it’s sequels. I’d forgot all about the ISN presence early in S1. Can anyone remember if the station shows up in S5?

  8. This is close to the bottom of Delenn’s power/strength. Soon she will both literally and metaphorically descend to the underworld in Confessions and Lamentations. And until she survives Come the Inquisitor she doesn’t start rebuilding. And rebuild she does, after that she becomes the forged steel that we will know her from. No longer does her power come from her position, her relationship with Dukhat, her religious authority. It is purely her own power of will. We see this when she breaks the Grey Council, when she faces down the Earthforce ships, in the Starfire Wheel, and even in the Deconstruction of Falling Stars where she can silence someone with just a look.

    1. Beautifully put Tyson. She’s one of the great females of SF&F fix isn’t she? At the risk of sounding obsequious, I really enjoy reading the thoughtful comments from this wee community.

  9. These aren’t super spoilery, but a couple observations. When they interview Sheridan the screen clearly says “John J. Sheridan”, but isn’t that a typo? I thought his middle name was David.

    While it’s true that the reporter antagonizes Delenn in the interview, we find out at some point that Minbari don’t have media as the same way as Humans. The Grey Council (supposedly) tells them everything they “need” to know. It makes me think that Delenn, coming from a culture without anything comprable to ISN & journalists, is not aware of how to be careful/guarded about what to say/how to act when dealing with the media.

  10. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks of this is “the M*A*S*H episode.” Mom fed us a steady diet of ST:TOS and that Korean War dramady, so boy howdy did this one hit me where I live.

    Then, some time after this first aired, I went into broadcasting. Hah!

    I like that the “ISN arc” is a thing. It’s not really big, but it’s there and is one interesting thread in the tapestry. Especially the transition from “there’s things we haven’t been able to tell you” to “welp, we’re back, everything’s hunky dory now!” Chilling, and more real than it should be.

    And why I’m here in spoilerspace: Max Eilerson shout-out! Yes! (Don’t look at me like that. I liked Crusade and wish it hadn’t gotten such shoddy treatment from TNT.)

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