17 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “Moments of Transition” Spoiler Space”

  1. This episode contains one of JMS’s biggest Chekhov’s Gun successes *and* one of his biggest Chekhov’s Gun fails – and they’re close to being the same thing.

    The success is, obviously, Neroon’s “I see that the calling of my heart is religious” – which looks back all the way to Legacies, the episode that introduces him, and does a wonderful job of bringing his story full-circle. One of my absolute favorite bits of writing in the entire series.

    The fail is the convenient ancient Minbari custom that we’ve never heard about before that JMS yanks out of his hat as the way to shut down the civil war. Something that might have come across as inconveniently tidy even if it had been set up at some point – but, having not ever been set up, is basically the sociohistorical equivalent of a Star Trek technobabble resolution.

    With the added problem that it inevitably undercuts the sense that Delenn is as resourceful as Sheridan that the conclusion to this arc should give. The contrast with Endgame is glaring.

    1. I agree. The Starfire Wheel crosses into the hocus-pocus realm. Yes, it works very well as concept and is relatively easy to follow. The science of it is flimsy, as imagining a thing and as story piece, where it’s constructed as quick dip story experience. It’s made of paper.

      I thought the Warrior caste fella had some strong acting chops, what was his name? Shakiri Shakiri, that’s it.

    2. To an extent, I think JMS wrote himself into a corner with the Minbari. So much of the Minbari worldbuilding that was shown has been about the Minbari relationship with Earth, rather than about the Minbari themselves, that there’s no foundation upon which to build pure-Minbari plots. As a result, the civil war plot feels very forced because the rules of Minbari society are being pulled out of thin air as needed instead of being drawn from pre-established canon about Minbari civilization. Stories need known limitations to work and Minbari society just isn’t developed well enough to have limits.

      I don’t think there’s much JMS could have done differently at this point. The damage was done around season two, when he stopped doing Minbari worldbuilding that was unconnected to humanity.

      As for Delenn, she suffers from two problems here.

      The first problem is season 4 character rot, whereby the only way to make post-Z’ha’dum Sheridan look better is to make the other characters look worse. Making Delenn look even remotely as resourceful as Sheridan is not on the table because showing Delenn with skills would undermine Sheridan’s (alleged) genius.

      Delenn’s second problem is that, frankly, she’s never struck me as all that resourceful in the first place. Her greatest talent lies in getting the right people (Sinclair, Sheridan, and now Neroon) to the right place at the right time and inspiring them to do great things. Her own skills are a lot more limited than those of the men she’s inspired and I’m hard pressed to think of many things she’s done, personally, that haven’t ended catastrophically for her and those near her.

      Delenn arranging for the end of the Minbari civil war by inspiring Neroon to sacrifice his life for her is perfectly in keeping with her character.

      Production wise, I believe this is Delenn’s last hurrah. I’m not sure if she even gets another A plot after this, and, with perhaps one exception, all she does from now on is divide her time between being one leg of a love triangle and being Sheridan’s dutiful first lady. RIP. She was a good character while she lasted.

  2. Also, so cute, Lyta Zackalendar.

    Yes, JMS still writes Bester as eccentric as ever, and though one of the most written of B5’s characters, it’s the wandering ponderings that make him so attractive.
    He’s passionate about his work, enjoys talking about it. When he said, “we can’t alter P-5s” my head canon went into thinking they may not have uncovered Talia’s secret and she’s probably not sunny side up. I do agree with the speculation over whether Lyta really looked for a job. Fairly, her ‘Looking for Work’ book has been blank for ten episodes. Unfairly too, because our only seen-evidence is that Lyta was consciously shafted (repeatedly), whereas I feel JMS’s intent is that this came about through unconscious neglect. Speaking of being a hard-working unappreciated poor freedom fighter, as Bester was, my new novel just launched on Patreon. I know you’ll all love it. Linked through my ID.

    There’s interest for our big-man postulation there and also in the Garibaldi defence where he just comes out with it. “You think I’m not good enough to be working with the big guys?”

    So to our final scene. Earth’s now been allied with the Shadows, disappeared civilians in great numbers, blown the hell out of Mars and B5. We’ve had this front&centre, bar six episodes, for a year’s worth of story. I found this believable and he’s quite right you know.

    1. I always have liked Bester as a character. I once heard JMS use Bester to explain his rule of writing that “the monster never sees a monster in the mirror.” James’ connection to Magneto was perfect. Villainous characters are thoroughly uninteresting when they just twirl their moustaches and cackle about how evil they are. Bester, and Magneto (and Doctor Doom), when well written, genuinely believe that they are doing the right thing. They fit Aristotle’s description of the “vicious character,” who possesses rational and moral virtues but is mistaken about the good goal to pursue. We will see this again in Season Five (“The Corps is Mother The Corps is Father”).

      1. My first prolonged eXposure to the X-Men: 1986 maybe? Magneto had just taken over the Xavier School, legitimately, and it was not a popular decision among some students. The few lines of dialogue, undercurrent in the ongoing story, made it so much more full of energy. Bester doesn’t quite do the same thing, the Caroline arc is the best example for what you’re proposing. When he’s in the story, I’m fairly sure he’s mostly a scumbag, but every time he opens his mouth it’s a challenge to that. Until the time he closes it.

        1. Oh I completely agree that Bester is a horrible person. He has a severely contracted and simplistic moral circle. In his eyes, anyone who is not a teep is simply unworthy of moral consideration, and is a legitimate source of cruel amusement. He seems to genuinely care about telepaths, but wavers in his treatment of teeps who oppose the Corps. They’re either lost children or no better than mundanes, depending on the episode.

          What makes him an interesting character is the combination of his cruelty and narrowness with his intelligence, amiability (toward insiders), sense of humour, and belief that everything he does is genuinely for the best for his people.

          I was also an X fan in the 80s. There were some good stories in those days, and Magneto attempting to work with Xavier was one of the times when he was written well.

  3. Concerning “superfluous” episodes, you can’t count “Deconstruction of Falling Stars,” because that was produced as the first episode of season 5. “Sleeping in Light” was the last episode produced in season 4.

    So, while you could arguably debate on whether “Deconstruction” is superfluous, I dare anyone to argue that about “Sleeping in Light”!

    1. ‘Deconstruction’ was produced after the S5 decision came in, but as the final one in S4, making it the only series of Babylon 5 with 23 episodes made. [citation: i read it someplace]

      1. This really isn’t accurate. It was produced as the first episode of season 5 and moved to the season 4 airing run. The show had wrapped season 4 and wrapping the TV movies; Deconstruction is basically show 501, not 422. Sleeping in Light is 422 and “Objects at Rest” is the final episode shot.

        1. Sorry, sorry, I had ‘Decon’ and ‘Sleepin’ mixed up in my head. Thanks for clarifying.

          I am willing to argue about ‘decon’, but then I am an argumentative oul sod about so many things. More open to listen as I age, if my eyes/ears don’t fall off first!

          1. ‘Decon’ brings to mind a particularly awful part of a particularly awful Trek series — and that foul taste in one’s mind seems like a very apt thing to be related to the season 4 finale.

            Awful episode.

  4. Regarding the compression of the season and storylines – Intersections in Real Time was originally supposed to be the Season 4 closer had they known they would have had Season 5. So, there would have been some elements that we saw in the beginning of Season 5 and more breathing room for Season 4 elements.

    1. I’m not sure it would have come out with the same level of art to it. Then, as it is, it’s in the middle of a four or five hour action sequence and still manages. It feels like the episode of S4 most true to the pre-compression plans. Four lights? No, five!

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