14 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “Rumors, Bargains, and Lies” Spoiler Space”

  1. Well, this was one of those episodes I’d forgotten the contents of, and the opening scenes really impressed me. Sheridan, now more aloof, internalised, thoughtful and unpredictable. Delenn, and wow does Mira knock it out of the park with her’beautiful city’ monologue. I found the Minbar stuff less interesting, but I hand it to JMS, he tried for a real sense of dischord with the parallel mutiny threads. And Lennier again giving a 5hit when it’s not his turn to give a 5hit.

    I did recall the Sheridan governance debate as I watched. I thought, here we’re seeing him combine that with the unspoken/under-stated Earth ambassador role. His Sector 38 machinations invert his frustrations dealing with these alien behaviour by embracing his own ‘other’, aka a wind up. He’s finding new ways to perform Earthling, fuelled by his decreased lifespan no doubt.

    Other than that, nothing else happened.

  2. It’s a bit of a head scratcher to me why Sheridan invented a fake invisible enemy to trick the League into uniting when the Drakh are out there–real, visible, and dangerous.

    Of course Sheridan’s invisible alien gambit worked in canon, but from an outside perspective it seems to be unnecessarily dangerous as Sheridan’s reputation would be completely destroyed if the League ever found out they had been tricked. Using the actual threat of the Drakh to unite the League, however, would have been much safer as the unity movement wouldn’t have been based on a lie that could explode at any moment.

    As for the Minbari plot, knowing how it ends, Delenn was almost certainly lying when she said the religious caste was not surrendering. How Delenn avoided being prosecuted by her own caste for treason I do not know.

    Judging by Delenn’s body language during her meeting with Neroon, she doesn’t seem too–shall I say–wedded to the concept of monogamy.

    1. That’s a good point about the Drakh – it would make radically more sense.

      I suspect that part of the answer is probably that JMS needs to wrap up the creation of the alliance by the end of season 4, and that the story has to flash forward at that point 20 years to the future scenes from War Without End. If you have Sheridan use the Drakh threat as the motivating factor for the existence of the alliance, then what the alliance has to do is focus on Drakh threat, since that’s what the alliance is for. It would be rather as if one formed NATO and then displayed no interest in the possibility of war with the Soviet Union.

      So JMS needs the alliance to come together against threats in general, but there to be no story-inconvenient actual specific threat that demands attention.

      Incidentally, this suggests that Lines of Communication was a mistake. Shadow allies fleeing Z’ha’dum might just be going anywhere, and planning to hide for another thousand years – one can see how that might not be felt to be a pressing threat. Lines of Communication reveals far too much about the Drakh’s capabilities and goals for the characters not to take them very seriously.

      1. Ah, but I digress too. Sheridans point is The League (#LeagueWatch) don’t act until the threats on top of them. He could make the argument that the Drakh are Shadow cousins or the like. Even link them to attacks on the Minbari, assuming a month or two isn’t old news. Or other worlds, if he can find the proof. (Or a fifth season) Uniting the League against the Drakh would be a very public thing, having them move against them, while he’s already fighting a war with Earth. And everybody else is rebuilding. You could argue this is part of the mistake with the Drazi and Centauri down the line.

    2. I’m not sure the Drahk could be considered a major threat at this point. Delenn wiped out thier mothership, and they don’t appear to be around much after that (granted that was just a couple episodes ago). At this point the galaxy at large does not realize they have settled on Centari Prime.

      Also, uniting them against a common, tangible threat just brings back the same problem. They focus on that threat, then when it is eliminated they begin to go thier separate ways.

      This, on the other hand, shakey and underhanded though it is, has a chance to bring them together long enough to form a proper aliance, because there is no real threat to eliminate. Then you hope to god that everyone begins to see the proper benefit of such an alliance and see it as a net positive before they find out you tricked them.

      1. Remember also that this is the same League who argued that the Shadows might not notice them if they stay away from direct confrontation, and later that one minor victory against the Shadows meant that the war was over. “Short-sighted” is pretty much their thing.

        Here’s a free (and depressing) Social Psychology lesson: summarizing the research literature on the subject, the three most powerful and reliable motivators of human behaviour are fear, greed, and pride. The more high-minded considerations are way down the list. If Sheridan wants to create an Interstellar Alliance, he has three solid options (best approach is to combine them): 1-unite them against a sufficiently-scary common threat (sci fi NATO), 2-find a way for them to get rich by cooperating (sci fi capitalism), and 3-get them emotionally invested in the idea to the point that failure would be seen as a humiliation (sci fi Space Race… hang on, there’s something weird there, since it’s already in space…). People will sacrifice and risk for those things.

  3. Hi, I’m Darren from New Zealand and this is my Story with regard to Babylon 5. (Yeah, sorry, it got that long)

    I’m a first time poster as well. I have finally caught up on all the Podcasts up until this episode. I’ve been a fan of the show since it was first shown here back in the 90’s. I’ve been enjoying the podcasts immensely, but decided to wait until I had caught up before joining in on any discussions.

    I’m one of the lucky people who caught B5 right at the start, I remember watching the Gathering and the 1st episode of DS9 quite close together and liking the more realistic look of B5, but thinking that its a pity its not Star trek. (Idiot).

    In New Zealand, the Programme was being shown Saturday Afternoon, and so was difficult to catch consistently, It withdrew from my consciousness. Ironically my parents reintroduced me back to it by loaning me some of the recent episodes they had recorded. I don’t recall how many episodes I watched, but when I saw Chrysalis I knew this was a show I needed to follow. I grabbed the rest of the tapes and caught up .

    Season 2 had just started and so my week by week Saturday Afternoon B5 fix had began. I would watch the previous episode recorded from last week, before I would watch the new episode. This happened every week until the end of Season 3. We had no break here between Season 2 and 3.

    OMG, Sheridan is Dead? Where is Season 4?

    Had New Zealand caught up to the Broadcasts? Maybe, I had to wait like everyone else for season 4. I think it was at this point that I discovered the Lurkers Guide. Season 4 WAS underway and we were going to fall behind again. At his point in my life I learnt how to ignore things I wanted to read.

    Season 4 finally, Full tilt through the arc, episode 6, WTF, now what?, Oh yeah, Earth stuff, pause, Full tilt to the end of the season. Would we see Sleeping in Light? Noooo, we got Superman #400 (No wonder JMS ended up writing Comics)

    Calm down, there’s another season.

    Between Season 4 and 5, My girlfriend Sarah and I moved in together, She saw the first episode of season 5 and thought it was OK. This was not good enough ! We binge watched Season 1 through 4. She became a fan, I got to enjoy the show through the eyes of another. I had to not react to things that on 1st watching were inconsequential and on 2nd viewing was now a major arc hint. When we finished, Season 5 was just getting to the end of the Telepath revolt that was previewed in Deconstruction of Falling Stars (Superman #400). Perfect.

    I don’t need to go on too much more.

    Got Cats, Named them Ivanova and Lyta

    Kittens, Lennier, G’kar, Natoth, Londo, Talia

    Lyta (Cat) disappeared for a few years and then came back. (Another B5 prophecy?)

    New Girlfriend, another rewatch.

    New DVD’s , rewatch.

    You can download them online, rewatch

    I still cry at the same bits. Life matures you, you start crying at some new bits.

    Wow

    Babylon 5 was the best thing I ever watched on Television. The show may not get the quantity of love that it deserves, but with this Podcast, I can see that its starting to get the Quality.

    Thank you

    D

      1. Thanks Andy, I look forward to participating where I can. Now that I’ve caught up with the podcasts, I can probably start re-watching some episodes now 🙂

    1. Welcome welcome welcome, Darren. Binge-watching with my girlfriend (now wife) was a formative part of our relationship as well. It was a cycle of mutually-reinforcing geekdom: I introduced her to B5 and Doctor Who, she introduced me to the works of Joss Whedon. Nerd love is best love.

      1. Cheers Prof :), At the very least, binge-watching B5 could be considered a test of a relationship. Glad it worked out for you.

  4. OK, so if you’ve been paying attention to my previous comments…

    …Wait, why are you doing that? Seek professional help.

    But anyway, if you’ve been doing that, it will not stun you that this episode is one of the prime exhibits in my “politics of elites” reading.

    Because, as our hosts noted, the alien ambassadors are cartoonishly stupid in this episode. This is another instance of JMS doing what he does in Voices of Authority: shorthanding complicated political developments with a single scene, and attempting to use comedy to get the viewer past the plausibility problems. There, the cost is that the First Ones of Sigma 957 behave like children, and rather stupid children at that. What happens to the ambassadors here is similar.

    This time, the device works better for me in some ways, but worse in others. It’s better, because it forms an entire sequence in the episode which is played consistently as comedy, so there’s a lot less of that whiplash in which one sees something that you’ve been told by the show to take seriously treated as silliness. The viewer knows that this is meant as the light B-plot to balance the heaviness of the Minbari A-plot (and that tonal balance works very well in this episode).

    But it’s worse, because it’s material to the overall plot of Babylon 5 in a way that the earlier scene just isn’t. This is one of the critical moments in the formation of the Interstellar Alliance, which is presented as Sheridan’s crowning achievement. That it’s quite this dumb is a problem. Even in an actual ’90s sitcom (this was, of course, the era of Friends, Frazier, Seinfeld, etc.) idiot plotting on this scale wouldn’t pass muster.

    But one can move it beyond the characterization of the ambassadors themselves. What does this imply about the politics of their individual worlds? Do they have to refer any of this back to their governments? What is the balance of competing interests and views against which a major foreign-policy decision like this will be judged? Will public opinion start to become riled up when nothing comes of this “invisible enemy” and ask questions?

    This story only works if you assume that none of that exists: that if Sheridan can fool these particular individuals, that is equivalent to persuading their entire societies to change their position. In other words, there are a whole set of issues about political communication that are simply being eliminated from consideration, and these, notably, have to do with the fact that these ambassadors are presented as existing in a vacuum in which they don’t have to take into consideration how signing up for the alliance will viewed in their populations at large.

    And this is what I mean by “politics of elites” – it’s that Babylon 5 as a story tends to focus on why people in positions of power make the decisions that they do as the important thing, and that the rest go along with it is treated as unproblematic and not something that has to be the focus of attention in its own right on the part of political leaders. Note that there’s a difference between the story just not being about these things, but leaving room for them to be there, and a story like this episode, in which the plot depends on these things not being there at all.

    One other thing: I’m afraid that I wasn’t really convinced by our hosts’ case that this episode presents a “grey” Sheridan because he is manipulative. The thing is, I don’t think the episode presents manipulation as in any way morally compromising Sheridan. In part because it does play this as comedy: the ambassadors are stupid little children, and for Sheridan to fool them into doing something for their own good isn’t really presented as problematic. And comedy in general, going back to the ancient Greeks, tends to present trickery as not simply not morally a problem, but as actively admirable. And, of course, Sheridan has been defined from his introduction as someone who deserves to be admired for using deception to win. I’d find it more convincing if the episode incorporated any internal critique of this, but no-one objects.

    Basically, I don’t think JMS (in B5) is interested in exploring deception in a good cause in general or in this particular episode. Delenn and Neroon fooling the warrior caste leader is also not presented as problematic.

    Obvious contrast from around the same time: DS9 “In the Pale Moonlight.” It is clearly about the morality of deception in a way that Rumors, Bargains, and Lies just isn’t.

    1. Voord shuts down the A.M.D (Asteroids of Mass Destruction) debate.

      I love that plot thread, for its humour and cleverness but the League matters.

      “This story only works if you assume that none of that exists”

      That’s the nub of it I suppose. It parallels early child cognitive psychology: something ceases to exist because they’re no longer looking at it. We’re told the ambassadors have total autonomy. That’s a lot of short hand.

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