22 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “The Long, Twilight Struggle” Spoiler Space”

  1. A thought sparked by my exchange with Lee in the non-spoiler section: given how devastating mass drivers appear to be (and should be, I think) – are the characters too impressed by the idea of “planet-killers” in S4?

    1. Where they? Everyone seemed shocked, though I do recall Sheridan smiling some. Put it down to the idea he was already fighting forces much bigger. Is that what you mean? Could you elaborate?

    2. The mass drivers can flatten the surface a bit, but the planet killers straight up destroy planets. To the point of no longer existing. As horrifying as mass drivers are, there’s still a planet when they’re done.

      1. Andy: It’s been a while since I saw S4, and it may be that I’m confusing the characters’ reactions to the planet-killer with how the show itself presents it as a big deal for the viewer. There are also other things to be taken into account – the sense of betrayal by the Vorlons (which in my memory is remarkably underplayed, perhaps a consequence of the compression of 2 seasons into 1), the fact that the Vorlons are apparently intending to do this over and over again, and so on.

        Gregg: that’s a fair point. The only reservation I’d have is that the Shadow weapon is presented (IIRC, obviously) as emotionally equivalent.

  2. Most everything by Katsulas, Jurasik and Forward is wonderful, out of the park. The second palace scene is breath taking, the last stand of Mollari’s morality, maybe. It seems by the end of the episode any reservations Londo had, have gone, and he’s come around to Refa’s way of thinking. The invasion bolts right out the door from the off with such pace that Jms confidence in his own tale needs no question.

    Kudos for focussing on the b-plot so much: it happens with such innocent meandering it emphasises the casual approach to war, as in I mean to say, how tragedy and shock ricochet into everyday. Yes, it arrives, to offer us some glue to fix the pieces but the sojourn to Epsilon 3 is the calm the storm knocks the wind out of. I love our John Schuck’s boisterous command, his consistent eccentricities. Such sheer OTT helped make sure this b-plot wasn’t written off against such a strong A-story.

    In the massacre at gorash 7, the sfx are exemplary, a great use of colour and shape, juxtaposed with g’jars prayers brings it home, as the shadows turn into stars.

    Also. Those centauri were blitzkrieg striking, their mass drivers came as fast as lightening, the shadow ships where a little bit frightening, the narn they were smiting, kick boxing centauri a little bit frightening.

    On Draal’s agency: loved these observations. It’s as if he ‘gets’ that the Vorlons are massive pricks, something we’ll see more of next in CtI (an episode that makes me v.uncomfortable, bonus fun welcome) So, Epsilon 3’s a listening station, communications centre and opens portals. It is the internet. Explains it’s seeming impotency. Anyhoo, no dictator, no invader…

    1. “Also. Those centauri were blitzkrieg striking, their mass drivers came as fast as lightening, the shadow ships where a little bit frightening, the narn they were smiting, kick boxing centauri a little bit frightening.”

      Oh, good God. Burn him! Burn him!

    2. “Also. Those centauri were blitzkrieg striking, their mass drivers came as fast as lightening, the shadow ships where a little bit frightening, the narn they were smiting, kick boxing centauri a little bit frightening.”

      You are a bad, bad person.

  3. Not *technically* a spoiler but just in case… I need to call out the music when the Shadow ships are destroying the Narn ships – that jarring section of high tension is just a masterpiece and its forever etched in my head due to being used later in the season 3 intro (also perhaps as I bought the S3 soundtrack CD and played it to death). Christopher Franke’s finest work IMO!

    1. The combination of that music with the “requiem for the line” for the season 3 intro is amazingly effective at evocing jsut how desperate thigns ahve become in Season 3.

      But I still give the title of best work to “Dying Station.” So much emotion tyed up into a single peice of music. Hope for the future combined with sadness and mourning in a way i’m not sure I’ve ever heard anywhere else.

  4. What a gem of an episode. We’re in some seriously good territory here. I’m not a squeeler, but I squeeed out loud (good thing I was in my car) when I heard that Comes the Inquisitor is next. My favorite episode of the entire series! The one I use when I teach social psychology! And then after that episode comes Fall of Night, when we get the world’s best non-apology and we all get to cheer as Keffer goes BOOM!

    I’m a happy camper.

  5. Having listened to the podcast:-

    (And this is also a response to Charles in the non-spoiler section, in a way.)

    Regarding the possible inconsistency between Londo’s attitude to mass drivers in And Now for a Word and here. I think that this captures the ambivalence in Londo’s character nicely.

    First, the Londo who reacts with horror here is the same Londo that instinctively responded to Morden with “But you killed 10,000 Narns” in Chrysalis. Left to his own best impulses, Londo is not a person who thinks that Narn life is worthless. That Londo would be more than OK with the Centauri having mass drivers – he’d probably think that it would be stupid not to have the capability, and, more importantly, unworthy of a great power like the Centauri Empire not to be the equal of any other in destructive capacity.

    But that doesn’t mean that he’s instinctively OK with using them without remorse or without regret for the horrific civilian casualties that result.

    That’s one Londo. The other Londo is the one we’re going to see when he tries to persuade Vir that the horrors of the Centauri occupation are “necessary” to ensure that the Narn can never again be the threat to the Centauri that they were in S1. Londo is someone who can too easily persuade himself that a price is worth paying.

    This is one of the things that’s so powerful about the juxtaposition of the famous shot of Londo in shock at what he’s done with the council chamber scene in which Jurasik plays him so utterly differently.

    In a sense, the Londo in the council chamber is only doing his job: as an ambassador, he has to represent his government’s position whatever his private misgivings. But by giving no hint whatsoever of those private misgivings – even though the previous scene indicates that they have to be in Londo somewhere – Jurasik indicates how seductively easy it is for Londo to bury his own immediate moral response when he’s convinced himself that the good of the Centauri people demands it.

    It’s not that Londo is better than he appears, for me – it’s that he’s worse because he’s capable of being so much better.

    1. So very well put, Voord.

      And of course, it’s an addictive personality. What are a few more deaths to increase the empire, the empire, the empire! Can we say Refa it’s also an addict? Unlike Londo he seems to revel in bloodshed, narn death equals empire expansion. 🙁

  6. Not having done much if any reading into the wider B5 universe, given Londo’s comments about the Shadows are we meant to think that they have given the Republic help on more than the two occasions then we have seen on the show?

    1. I’d say that the Shadows have only acted at Londo’s request up to this point. He’s their chosen instrument, so they’d want to increase his influence and power by making it clear that only he can get things done.

    2. Seems more than twice?, certainly count signs and portents for three. Londo has done dealings with them on more than CoS and TLDTS. He’s already passed on info to Morden, blocked Earth and Narn investigations, and it’s suggested there’s more of that than we’ve seen. I really hate Londo the Judas.

  7. I have a suggestion for the next show. It may seem a bit mean, but I’m hoping it can be done in a funny way.

    We B5 fans are an elitist lot. We like the complexities, the foreshadowing, the callbacks. If we wanted straightforward explanations for everything, we’d be watching Star Trek 🙂

    The podcast hosts have been very patient with Erika’s husband for obvious personal reasons. But even after nearly two seasons the “Divided Loyalties” podcast was full of “Stephen was confused by…” and “Stephen had forgotten that…” So my suggestion is that for the next show you have to tell him, gently but firmly, that he’s not good enough to be a B5 fan and won’t be brought back for the third season.

    Again, I’m not really serious, I just think his reaction would be very entertaining.

      1. On the other hand, the man does have every single Doctor Who production code memorized, so it may simply be a matter of priorities…

        More seriously, I think that Babylon 5 was made at a time when it was assumed that it would be OK if you didn’t remember all the details (unlike in our binge-watching, box-setted, present). One was used to missing episodes of a show for one reason or another, and picking up shows midway and having to figure things out as one went along was normal.* In other words, a certain level of confusion didn’t feel like confusion.

        B5 can actually seem very clunky by today’s standards in its use of black-and-white flashbacks to remind viewers where JMS does consider recalling some detail to be essential, but it’s worth noting how rare such B&W flashbacks are – all the other little nods are close to being Easter eggs.

        *It’s a bit more complex than that, because discussions on Usenet and things like the Lurker’s Guide were already serving as resources to bring some viewers up to speed. I was one of them – lurking on rasftvb5m and discovering that people cared about this person called “Sinclair” is a central part of my memory of how I began watching in S2. But I’m fairly certain that this would be a minority of the viewers who enjoyed the show as it was broadcast.

        1. Also we need to remember that (I’m assuming) we’ve all watched this show numerous times. I know I got way more out of it the second time and third times as I picked up the small thing I’d missed or was confused by.

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