28 thoughts on “Zocalo: Spoiler-free Discussion of “Matters of Honor””

  1. I remember being utterly horrified by the scene at the end on Earth. Still have the same feeling when I watch this episode.

    Also, I am not sure how to describe it but the production quality seems higher than s2. Can’t put my finger on it, is it better lighting, or better CGI or something else? Dunno but it just seems a step above S2 visually. Can someone else help me out here with the terminology?

    1. Yes. Perhaps the palette? New credits, White Star lights, the big spacious war room, Earth in daytime… Marcus’ first two major scenes seem to have a lot more pink-red, green-purple lighting than usual.

  2. I must admit I’ve never responded to the scene with Morden and the Earth bigwigs with quite the “Wow!” that our hosts did. More a “Huh. Yes, that makes sense.”

    But I’m glad to find that I’m not the only one who prefers the S2 credits and version of the theme to their S3 counterparts. The S3 credits and theme are just so damn obsessed with saying “This is serious! Really, *really* serious! It’s epic, even. Epic *and* tragic.”

    1. The S3 theme seriously calls to headbang. I’m thrashing it out with the air guitar and there’s no long hair flopping about. I wish I was watching in 1998 when I had arm length locks dant dantdant dantdandan dananannanaanna

    2. I don’t know, I’ve always loved the Requiem for the Line, and for me it always fit season 3 and Ivonova’s monologue perfectly. And I absolutely love the rolling beauty pass across the station.

      1. I have an idiosyncratic allergic reaction to stuff in SFTV that takes itself a little too seriously. It’s why I could never completely sign on with the general adulation for the Battlestar Galactica reboot (despite recognizing its virtues) – it was a show whose driving impulse seemed to be “We may be making a series about fighting robots in space, but dammit, no-one is going to think that it’s silly *for even a second*!”

  3. The season three intro •music• is my favourite. And my favourite monologue. The turning heads in the jump gates, not so much.

    But it’s interesting you bring up headbanging, this fits for me metal is my main musical genre of choice 😉

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one! I’ve loved it since I first heard it way back when- I actually made it my ringtone 🙂

  4. What always confused me about the credits is how some of them turned and some didn’t. You would think when they filmed those shots that one person with a consistent vision would be behind it. I wonder if more than one person was in charge of getting the shots and someone didn’t get a memo.

  5. I’m curious about how new viewers react to the White Star, and previously the Shadow and Vorlon ships.

    While I will affectionally refer to it as “a plucked chicken with tailfins”, at the time I thought the White Star was another example of Babylon 5 being very original with its spaceship designs. Most of what we’d seen were reasonably conventional looking, but the Shadows and Vorlons seemed downright weird in the 1990s and then the heroes are going to fly around in this?

    But that’s what I thought in the 1990s. What do new viewers think of the designs today?

    1. It’s not unknown for Delenn to hide an ace from the viewer so the White Star fit the story comfortably and drive. They drive, glide, visually their polish and grace adds to the musical signature of the show, if you like. Bigger than the furies, swooping where the station can’t. They’re like another new cast member, but like a kind of distant cousin. Less like Scrappy-Doo, more like a Shadow vessel eating Scrappy-Doo.

      1. [Apologies to Hugh, but this is very much *not* from the new-viewer perspective that he asked for]

        The White Star is, for me, a fabulous bit of design. I regret that it gets a lot of stick from people, including JMS, because, for me, it epitomizes the show learning how to use its CGI effectively.

        On the one hand, the intricacy of the structure distracts the eye from the problem with the level of CGI available at the time, which is that surfaces don’t look at all right. The Defiant, as it happens, makes a nice contrast – much simpler in shape, but using a model (I believe) to present realistic surface detail.

        On the other hand, the overall shape of the White Star, especially the sharply pointed nose, is very well suited to show off what B5’s CGI could do better than anything that had been on SF TV up to that point, which is fluid and dynamic movement in three dimensions. Think of shots in which the White Star pivots and zooms forward.

          1. Actually, I think I should withdraw that. Poking around found people who say that he did, but they never cite a source, and it looks like something that might have originated in a tendentious reading of A View from the Gallery.

            Unless it’s in the scripts book, volume 6 (which I don’t own), but whose back cover material says something suggestive. That’s where I’d start looking if I wanted to nail it down further.

          2. IIRC JMS brings it up in a DVD commentary. And I know he brings it up in a script book, but mine are in storage so I can’t check which one.

            But he tells the story about how he thought the White Star looked like a plucked chicken, yet everyone around him said it was amazing so he thought it was a rare case of him being wrong and everyone else being right. But looking back he wishes he stuck to his guns and chose a different design.

  6. My “hey it’s that guy” moment from this episode was the big DownBelow thug. I’d recognize that shaved head combined with braided ponytail look anywhere. That character (who is listed in the credits as “Large Man”) was played by Nils Allen Stewart ( http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0829699/ ). Fans of Jim Carrey may know him as Orlando, one of the villain’s henchmen, in The Mask. He is a massively-active actor and stuntman, still working today, who typically gets cast in roles with names like “Tough Guy,” “Thug,” “Bald Man,” and “Fighter.”

  7. The structure of this episode is quite an episode 1 type jumping on point. Endawi’s visits take us to each of the major players, much as Morden’s visits in Signs and Portents.

  8. Re JMS and the white star design… Script book 5 page 24, hope it’s ok to quote it here, I have adjusted it slightly to avoid one particularly gnarly spoiler.

    “Rolling out the White Star was essential to that progression, but I must confess that I’ve never really been happy with the design of that particular ship. I wanted something sleek and fast and deadly, with a separate section that could peel away as a kind of scout ship.. .but when the first drawings came in, my first reaction was that it looked like a plucked chicken. Still feel that way, in fact. Everyone around me loved it. I mean looooooooved it. Now, I may be a bit bull-headed, but despite how that tends to be perceived the truth is that I work hard to stay open to the possibility that I may actually be wrong from time to time. Normally, whenever I’ve gone against what my instincts are saying, I’ve ended up regretting it…but the reaction of everyone else was so strong, so compelling, that I thought, Okay, well…maybe they’re right. Let it go.
    I’ve regretted it ever since.
    A plucked chicken. I swear. Just look at it.

    The interior design of the ship was not much better than its outside appearance. The layout of a ship is mandated by its shape and size on the outside, and since the outside was problematic, what we ended up building inside turned into a nightmare for directors. Some of our directors made it clear that they would sooner give up their first born children than have to shoot in the White Star.”

  9. More modern sci-fi tends to make spaceships feel smaller and more claustrophobic (see “The Expanse”. They probably do this at least partially for budgetary reasons, but if you think about it, having a hallway that is 6 meters tall just doesn’t make sense. Especially in a combat vessel.

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