15 thoughts on “Zocalo: Spoiler-free Discussion of “War Without End””

  1. With this pair of episodes, suddenly the distinction between spoiler and non-spoiler threads takes a substantial step towards not mattering as much.

    WWE is impressive for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that it gives the impression of being something that has been carefully and seamlessly planned from the beginning as part of the 5-year arc – despite the fact that this is perhaps the single story where we most know that JMS had to rip up large portions of his original plan and start again.

    When the possibility of a B5 movie was mooted a while back, there was discussion on JMS’s site that assumed that there would be both Sheridan and Sinclair. I was struck by this, because it seemed (and seems) likely to me that the absolute first thing you would do if remaking B5 in any form is collapse Sinclair and Sheridan back into one character. But WWE perhaps deserves a fair bit of the credit for making the existence of both seem indispensable.

    1. I hadn’t heard that about the movie plans (or rumors).

      I have spectacularly mixed feelings about a movie that would go back and hew to the original outline, pre-casting changes, etc. Whereas stuff like the Big Finish Lost Stories series of Doctor Who audios gives you the *option* to go ahead and say that The Nightmare Fair and Mission To Magnus and Earth Aid and Thin Ice actually happened instead of being coulda-beens that you read about in DWM that one time, such a movie with the inevitable attendant publicity focusing on “this is how the story was supposed to go!” would make it seem like you’re metaphorically overwriting some major, major sectors of the equally metaphorical B5 disk.

      Repeating for emphasis…spectacularly mixed feelings. Let’s just get Big Finish to do B5 Elseworlds or something along those lines, and do the original outline that way as a sidebar, and maybe take in stuff like “Midnight In The Sunken Cathedral” and “Demon On The Run” along the way. Actually, let’s not do that, because I can’t imagine handing any voice artist in the world the daunting task of “Hey, can you sound like Andreas Katsulas?”

      Never mind – bad idea on my part.

      1. The possibility of a film is not rumor, but it’s to the less concrete end of what counts as a “plan.”

        Essentially, JMS doesn’t have the rights to much about B5 except the movie rights – WB dows. So he can make an arrangement with a studio to make a film, but not a TV series. JMS’s very restricted rights to this piece of intellectual property mean that he can’t make a remotely attractive offer to a normal studio. So this theoretical right to make a film that he has is mostly just that, theoretical.

        (In theory, WB are the exception, but they’re not very interested in making use of this particular intellectual property of theirs, for what are – sadly – probably well-grounded business reasons.)

        But JMS founded his own studio (“Studio JMS”) a few years ago. (It’s a real legal entity: Sense8 is a Studio JMS production in partnership with other studios.) So JMS is in a position to do something that he wants to do for personal reasons. (And, although he hasn’t said this, I assume that there would be negotiations with WB to see if something can be worked out about ancillary rights, and those for obvious reasons would be a lot simpler if the main parties involved are JMS and WB.)

        But it’s not as if JMS has a spigot of money that he can just turn on to finance a film. JMS a while back said that he was trying to secure financing for Studio JMS to do a B5 film, but there hasn’t been much news since then. No way to tell where things stand, since notoriously these things can take years.

        There’s an obvious problem with all this, which is that it seems that the only reason why JMS (or anyone else) would think in terms of a film is legal. I can absolutely understand JMS’s desire to do more with something that he spent years of his life on and about which he obviously cares a great deal.

        But the sprawling B5 universe was never designed as the setting for a film, and I don’t think it’s suitable for that. And the appeal of B5 basically isn’t the setting.

        Not that much about the setting is all that distinctive, frankly: it’s built out of generic space opera tropes. This is not a criticism. Part of B5’s appeal is seeing how those tropes are varied in lots of subtle, small, little twists, and especially in how they are used to set up expectations that the variation on the trope then falsifies.. But the cumulative effect of many small variations over several years is not easily replicated in a film.

        To take one that is not spoilery at this point, consider the very place the viewer is with G’Kar in S3 than s/he was with G’Kar at the beginning of S1. This exploits the space opera convention of the Designated Adversary Species. Compressed into the timescale of a film, that sort of thing will be at best an effective face turn.

  2. I said in spoiler zone I should have said it here I think this is great version of two captains working together than Star Trek generations movie.
    I really enjoyed watching my two heroes working together I also loved that we saw Sinclair alone for long minutes w/out Sheridan it allowed us the Sinclair fans seeing him again and enjoying him.

    I loved that smile Sinclair gave when he saw Sheridan and Delenn holding hands.

  3. “Zathras is used to being beast of burden to others’ needs. Very sad life. Probably have very sad death. But at least there is symmetry.”
    I ❤️ Zathras

    “I’ll be in the car.”
    I ❤️ Ivanova

  4. Obviously there’s a massive disparity between the way Zathras was described as being discovered on B4 in B Squared, and how we see him discovered in WWE. Did this get covered in the BSq podcast? I can’t remember. I struggle to see how it could be down to budget requirements, the whole lead-up to the scene where he is found rootling through the supply bins makes that unlikely.

    So it makes me wonder how else this ep varied from how it turned out – back when it would have been just Sinclair and Delenn going to steal B4. Or would even that have been different?

    1. JMS actually addressed that at the time: http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/countries/us/guide/061.html

      According to that, there would have been a timeflash in the conference room creating the impression that Zathras had appeared there in a flash, as narrated (but not seen onscreen) in Babylon Squared. But it would have added three minutes to the episode, so ended up not being thought worth it.

      I’m not sure that I would call it a “massive” discrepancy myself, since it was something that was said, not seen, and two years earlier at that – easy to overlook in an era in which most viewers would not have been able to rewatch the episode since then (except for the kind of devoted fan who would keep watching anyway).

      For other reasons, though, I think that the original plan for the follow-up episode was probably very different at the time when Babylon Squared was written.

      Some of these reasons are spoilery, so I won’t say them here. But one is obvious from War Without End itself: it was repurposed to write Sinclair out of the series in a manner that will satisfy the viewer who has been watching since S1. It’s one of JMS’s best bits of writing, at least for me, that War Without End makes that feel so natural, as if everything from The Gathering on has been leading up to the moment when Sinclair is revealed as Valen now.

      1. I agree that it is impressive. Considering the original arc and what B-Squared was originally leading to, the way JMS picked up the pieces and re-purposed them in a way that feels like it was the plan all along is nothing short of outstanding.

  5. Also there was Delenn dress issue, the color of her clothes when she touches Sinclair shoulder in the end of Babylon squared is red and in the episode WWE its green.

  6. I just listened to the podcast ,can you please tell me what episode of Star Trek voyager you meant? I saw the show for the 1st time few years ago and I don’t remember the episode w/the time paradox you meant.

    1. I think this is a reference to the “Captain Braxton” episodes, where the captain of a future Starfleet ship – a timeship, not just a starship – ends up stranded on Earth and losing his mind living among “primitive” 20th century Earthlings, and tries to screw up Voyager’s timeline because it turns out that Janeway’s well-meaning interference is what marooned him on 20th century Earth in the first place; therefore, Janeway’s interference was always going to have happened, because it was part of the original event.

      I think. Wibbly wobbly timey wimey?

  7. Different science fiction franchises have different understanding of time travel, and there’s a few different ways that time travel could work. I disagree with your reading of time travel (which given that this is the only scenario where time travel occurs in the B5, is ambigious)

    Most science fiction assumes that the time stream is malleable, that it can be changed. The time traveller kills an insect, which changes the future to which they return to. The classic grandfather paradox is addressed by the grandfather-killing time traveller returning to a world in which she had never been born “It’s a wonderful life” – style.

    Some time travel stories assumes that the time stream is fixed. That attempts to go back in time to change the past just create the present that they came from and go back to. You could go back and try to kill Hitler, but the attempt would fail and potentially cause Hitler to become Hitler. The grandfather-killing time traveller returns to an unchanged world, where his grandmother confesses how the person she thought was “grandfather” was a different person.

    My reading of the time travel in this episode is towards the second of this spectrum of options. The established past was created by the future, the established past requires B4 to go back in time right here and right now, and Delenn knows this. Their only challenge is ensuring that this past was created, as opposed to an alternative past where Shadows won the earlier war. That alternative past would change the present.

  8. In the script book for these episodes, JMS said that the first episode cliffhanger was originally going to be Londo’s threat to Sheridan – “Welcome back from the abyss, Sheridan. Just in time to die. Your timing, as always, is quite exceptional.”

    JMS thought this was a bit abrupt and so moved up some material from Part 2 to end Part 1. So, the thoughts about the cliffhanger were on target.

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