Earhart’s: “Soul Hunter” spoiler space

…mahn…tore…REY.

What did you think of “Soul Hunter” in the grand scheme of things? Do the early clues match up to the later revelations? If you leave your comment by Friday, we may respond to it when we record the podcast!

20 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “Soul Hunter” spoiler space”

  1. There is one moment in “Soul Hunter” that I never see discussed.
    It’s a look from Sinclair as Delenn is rescued from the Soul Hunter. She has just been rescued from the assault, and Sinclair looks right at her. I believe that at this moment, Sinclair, too, was able to “see into her soul,” just as the Soul Hunter had been doing. We got a sense of what the Soul Hunter saw, but what does Sinclair see? This seems somehow pivotal to me.
    I’ll admit there is the possibility that it is all in my own imagination. What does everyone else think?

    1. Honest and for true? I think of that as the beginning of what would have been (in the original plan) the Sinclair/Delenn ship. There are a number of bits that point in that direction, but of course when Michael O’Hare had to leave JMS had to rework it for Sheridan/Delenn.

      But I will admit a total bias in looking for such things and could be completely wrong.

      -S

      1. I don’t think you are wrong, though. There’s other evidence, especially the scene in The Parliament of Dreams, that points in that direction. And, personally, given that Sheridan was slotted into Sinclair’s role, I feel that the burden of proof falls in the other direction. It’s likely that all of the the major elements of Sheridan’s plotline would have featured Sinclair if that character had carried through.

        “We were right about you.” It’s an interesting line (for me), because it suggests that the Minbari’s, or probably just the religious caste’s, reaction to finding a Minbari soul in Sinclair’s body was initially meant to be less paranoid and more hopeful, an element that fell by the wayside with Sinclair’s departure. This fits with Delenn’s general attitude in S1. Warning: wild speculation in what follows may be hazardous for your health.

        Sinclair might have been (via “Valen”) a figure prophesied to take the lead in the Shadow War, and that finding his soul was taken as the indication that he might be this. This would add precision to the vague Minbari prophecy about the two sides of their soul needing to unite to defeat the Shadows. It would neatly accomplish the following.

        1) It would give a stronger reason for religious caste and warrior caste to be at odds at this particular point. The in-series reason for the civil war itself is solid, but it’s not as effective in explaining the timing. Sinclair would provide an elegant flashpoint.

        2) S2 sees Sheridan become a leading figure in the Shadow War hellishly fast. Some of this is simply because he has to be introduced and then moved into his role at top speed. But Delenn and Kosh’s behavior isn’t as well-motivated as it might be. The crisis with Morden explains why they have to tell him, but it doesn’t explain why he becomes so important so quickly. Also, while I’d have to rewatch the relevant episodes to be sure, the impression I retain is that what they were forced to do is accelerate the revelation of things that they were already planning to tell Sheridan at some point. But if the religious caste and the Vorlons are already suspecting that the Sinclair/Sheridan character will take the lead in the Shadow War (and if Delenn is creating the Rangers specifically for him to lead), this all proceeds more smoothly.

        1. I agree with a lot of those what-ifs. What I’m really curious about and hoping to pay attention to this time around (among many other things) is how the development of Sheridan’s character influenced the story as JMS continued to adjust for the nature of a TV show. For example, the basic summary that’s been shared somewhere–Chip read it to me, I don’t have the source at hand–had Sinclair and Delenn eventually separating/divorcing/drifting apart and the final scene was supposed to be Sinclair happily fishing at a river somewhere, enjoying his later years. That’s drastically different from what we ended up with in Sheridan and Delenn together for the rest of his shortened life and him continuing to work with the ISA. And the things you mention, like the relative speed in which the Minbari & Vorlons bring Sheridan in, may be examples where the adjustment shows a bit.

          1. Wow, that sounds like a really crappy storyline for Sinclair. Almost makes me glad they made him Valen.

            I would have really enjoyed seeing Michael O’Hare move forward in the show, but more along the Sheridan path. It would have made the Garibaldi storyline more meaningful and impactful.

          2. I remember JMS relating on the old rec.arts mail list that he explained the outline of the show and how it ended to a TV exec, and the exec looked at him like he’d sprouted a chicken head.

            I always took that to mean that the end of the show was a huge plot twist. My own theory is that the show was supposed to end with Sinclair leaving B5 as it is decommissioned and blown to bits, and then disappearing. We were to get a wrap up of the other characters followed by a, “And nobody knows what happened to Sinclair,” only to see him on the deck of B4 as Valen. (Essentially, making the end of War without End the original series closer.)

          3. Actually as I understand it the series would have ended with the destruction of Babylon 5 at the hands of the Minbari with both Delen and Sinclair, and their newborn child, on the run from both governments.

            A sequel series titled Babylon Prime would then have begun with taking babylon 4 forward, not back, and used as a base to finish the Shadow war, and that series would have been the one to end with Sinclair fishing on an uninhabited world, enjoying retirement after saving the galaxy.

            It’s hard to find info on, as it was part of JMS’s original outline proposal included only in the extremely rare Script Book 15. So to get the whole thing you either have to find that on Ebay at greatly inflated price, or find someone online who broke with JMS’s wishes and posted some of the info online (which is how I came to it, not being in a place financially to be able to order the script books at the time they were being made).

            Personally I think this dual series concept would have been interesting, but I am just as happy it did not go that way given the difficulty they had even getting the one series finished.

  2. For some reason I always think Martin Sheen is in the episode. I know he’s in the River of Souls movie that I haven’t actually seen, but the image of him with the Soul Hunter head always sticks in my mind. Anyway…

    I never really understood why Delenn says “We were right about you.” True he just saved her life, so maybe she was figuring a different commander wouldn’t have rescued her? That doesn’t really make sense, though. Any commander would want to rescue an ambassador that was being held hostage and about to be killed.

    Maybe she was falling into a little dashing hero worship? He did just race in, kill the dude that had kidnapped her, and saved her life. Could it be just that simple?

    He really didn’t do anything in this episode to merit a conclusion of “we made the right decision for the leader of this space station” or “we made the right decision to stop an entire war based on one man”. Unless killing a dude with his own torture/murder device is what qualifies you for those things.

  3. Soul Hunter reminds me of Steven Moffat’s best Doctor Who work.

    Like The Empty Child or Blink, The Soul Hunter is memorable because it is based on an very creepy and unsettling idea. The concept upsets you and you feel a real sense of dread without the story having to resort to any real violence.

    Really good stuff.

  4. I never liked Soul Hunter – I tried to go into this round (about the 5th) with an open mind, but it still didn’t sit right with me. I don’t know why, I always felt the suspense didn’t hit the right notes – I didn’t buy into it. I had to watch this episode in two parts because I dreaded finishing it. Really weird – but as a guy who holds up B5 as one of the best television series ever made – this might be leading my ‘least favourite’ episode.

    The only redeeming factor is Sinclair’s discovery at the end that Delenn is in the Grey Council. Should’ve just watched those last 5 minutes.

    Bring on Born the Purple to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.

  5. I just happened to be watching The Deconstruction of Falling Stars and noticed that Pres. Clark’s full name is William Morgan Clark.

    That’s a surprising coincidence if it is a coincidence, but on the other hand I can’t see much point to it if it isn’t a coincidence.

    Does anyone know? Perhaps JMS just liked the sound of the name.

  6. I know this won’t make the show (I only found you today!) but looking at whats for shadowed for the series, I see the role of the Soul Hunters and the Ventresi who we meet in season 3 as the “keepers of knowledge and wisdom of the galaxy” we know the shadows come out of the woodwork and kick every ant hill going every thousand years or so, they preserve the things that would otherwise be lost every time this happens, there are also hints of this with the Technomages. If we take this further in the B5 universe and dare i say it Legend of the Rangers we hear of a new darkness coming more evil and powerful than the shadows, could this be the darkness that is being referred to by these 3 groups and not the shadows? I know its open to debate but it does bare thinking about.

  7. In the podcast, you guys talk about how Delenn is an ambivelent character in this episode. I have to confess that I find her a highly ambivelent character over the entire series. She tends to lie and manipulate others, especially Sheridan, and keeps a lot of things to herself for what seems like no reason. I’ll post more specific examples of this as we go through the episodes.

    Personally, I actually do not like her, but find that she is more interesting this way. What fascinates me is the way that the text of the show (i.e., what Delenn actually says and does, and what that implies within the moral and ethical framework that the show sets up) seems to be at odds with the creator’s intentions (i.e., JMS clearly seems to think of Delenn as the heroine of the story).

    1. It’s a valid point – Delenn does manipulate, either on her own or with partners (looking at you Kosh), but I love her anyway. I wonder if rather than thinking of her as a heroine, could she be representing traditional religion in the metaphor of the show? There are SO many religious themes in this series, and I am sure that her character is designed to represent at least one, if not several religious ideals.

    2. I agree that Delenn is a manipulative character quite often. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that she and the Minbari are so close to the Vorlons, who are the epitome of manipulative and usually calling the shots in that relationship. I also think that it’s something of a cultural thing – if the Minbari have reached a point in their evolution where their greatest law is “Minbari don’t kill Minbari”, then I think a natural development would be a rise in manipulative behavior. If the society can’t try and establish control through threat of death, then control would have to be gained through other means.

      But manipulative or not, I do love Delenn and consider her a heroine of the series. Even as she manipulates, she’s trying to do her best for the good of the galaxy and, from what I remember, usually learns from her mistakes.

  8. Extremely late to the party here, as we just discovered this podcast pretty recently, but one thing that struck me in the re-watching is that, of all the characters’ religious or spiritual beliefs, Delenn knows she has evidence that her side is correct — that the soul of Valen went back into the great cosmic waiting room and was eventually reborn in Sinclair.

    Of course, she’s completely wrong: Sinclair has Valen’s soul because he’s going to become Valen, not because it was reborn into him.

    On an unrelated note, I can also see why it was so hard for Michael O’Hare to finish out the season. As someone whose mental illness manifested as paranoia and delusions, some of these scripts must have been really hard on him, playing a character who actually is the object of manipulation and multiple conspiracies.

  9. Loved the Star Fury matching velocity and rotation with the soul hunter’s ship. Very ambitious.
    This episode has some great parts but it marks the first of B5’s “I’m walking on set and talking a lot about myself” Alien of the week episodes. I always found those annoying.

    Of course, there are worse ones, and if anyone can find a way to handle adding a whole new alien culture plus catering to sub-plots A through 57 like JMS does without doing this…

  10. Sorry for necroing an old thread, but I just found this podcast, coincidentally right as I was about to re-watch the series myself. So I have been watching an episode, then listening to the corresponding podcast.

    However, something I found strange was the seemingly out of hand dismissal by the hosts of any real spirituality and comments that it “doesn’t fit” in the more realistic world of Babylon 5. I myself am not spiritual, but I see no reason why science and the supernatural cannot co-exist in fiction, even hard core science fiction *cough*Battlestar*cough*. Personally I think B5 makes it clear right off the bat that the supernatural does, in fact, exist in this universe with the Centari precognative ability. It’s just not terribly overt most of the time. We also see it again in this very episode. The Soul Hunter reacts to the impending death of the lurker before he is even wounded. Before, in fact, it is even discovered he is scamming his customers. This also shows some very definite pre-cognitive ability.

    Also interesting to note is that in all cases, with no exceptions I can think of, all Centari prophecies do, in fact, come true. The veracity of “time jumps” like those seen in Babylon Squared are of questionable veracity, but prophecies seem, in general, to be pretty accurate. The difference of course, as commented by our hosts themselves in the “Midnight on the Firing Line” episode is one of context.

    So given this obvious leaning towards the supernatural in the ability to see the future, why would the idea of souls feel out of place? I think part of the purpose of this episode, the second episode of the series and one still doing a great deal of world building, is to show that yes, in fact, souls DO exist. What else could that last scene be showing? This isn’t some random “monster of the week” episode, this is one written by JMS himself and I think it is making a statement. This also gives the possibility that souls may play a part later in the series, which in fact they do. Later in the series it is made very clear that the Minbari have been in decline. Each generation has fewer and fewer members and those that are born seem unequal to those that came before. Their religious cast’s theory on this is that the Minbari souls have been going to Humans. As far as I remember there really isn’t another explanation given for this phenomenon, but it is the core reasoning of why the Rangers begin accepting both Minbari and Human members, hence the “reuniting” of the two halves of the soul to fight the Shadows.

  11. New listener here.

    This is probably going to shock a lot of my fellow B5 fans, but I absolutely love “Soul Hunter”, not only because of what it sets up in terms of the larger overall narrative arc of the series as a whole, but because of what it is trying to say conceptually and metaphorically.

    I also like that we’re introduced to Franklin in this episode, as the nature of the storyline feels very much tailor-made for having him involved even though he’s actually very tangential to it on the whole, because the thematic elements of the story and the question of whether or not souls actually exist is very much in keeping with the way his character views the world and serves as a sort of ‘primer’ for the first episode in which we really get to see him focused on as a character, “Infection”, since that episode challenges his way of looking at the world through a strictly medical and scientific lens just as his brief involvement in this episode does.

    I also have to disagree with the notion that the concept of the Soul Hunter’s “soul vessels” is out-of-place within the context of Babylon 5 as a more ‘grounded’ Science Fiction property, largely because of the fact that the series was very heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings, to the point that JMS blatantly repurposes names and thematic concepts from Tolkien’s work and doesn’t even make an attempt to hide the fact that he’s doing it.

    When you look at B5 as being “The Lord of the Rings in Space”, things like the concept and existence of Soul Hunters, the episodes “Grail” and “A Late Delivery from Avalon”, and even the existence of the Technomages and Telepaths are very much within the realm of believability for it.

    I also really like the physical design of the Soul Hunters as an alien race, and wish we’d gotten to see more of them within the context of the series itself (setting aside the telefilms).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *