11 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “The Exercise of Vital Powers” Spoiler Space”

  1. We’ve academically dissected Sheridan’s rebellion several times over in these comments and found plenty of flaws and dangers there. Contrary me, I like it. I like the mission of liberation, the pirate broadcasts. That’s why I heart B5. It’s an anthem equipping me to hope. In these times, of right-wing government with vile disregard for humane will, the people of the last of the Babylon stations are less wrong, more heroic than their travesties. The Trumps and the Mays and their enablers can go suck a diesel tailpipe, literally.

    We don’t get a lot of pomp in this (Sheridan-lite) episode. Edgars aside, it’s an episode of social stratification: Michael being groomed for the executive role and Stephen, expected to be doing more with less. Sheridan has delegated, but not facilitated, leaving him to consider the really obvious idea of employing Lyta. Oh, Lyta, over-educated and under-paid, my Marxist-Socialist alarm bells ringing. Her new assignment could easily have been commissioned by Sheridan, saving Franklin a lot of trouble. Instead, she had to be shown her place by the Corps before Franklin and chance considered her for this job. Anyone else feel similar cynicism to me?

    I suppose this is a good opportunity to look deeper into the teeps. They’re not the only metaphor for immigration within the Byron arc, as it’s applied to the Hyach too. Their condition here in tEoVP seems to be immigrant too, parallels with tales of refugee hospitals and prisons. Not just immigrant, also disabled. Franklin’s lab is equipped to monitor telepath biology, but mainly not for weapons. Adjustments and modifications are made, but the teeps are ‘other’, they are on a technical level, patients of inconvenience. Biggs shows off some formidable acting chops. I think he’s quite aware of Franklin’s problem as well as the other other-ing. For they’re ‘vulnerable adults’ too, dependent on his medical team to simply ‘exist’. “What are we?” Well, they’re the cast offs, the rejected, the abandoned. They’re in worse state than those of down-below. It’s easy to see why Lyta goes down the road she does. And then I got to thinking Sheridan’s a real ba5tard man.

    1. “The Trumps and the Mays and their enablers can go suck a diesel tailpipe, literally.”

      Wow. It is quite an exercise in compartmentalization to say that immediately after accusing the right of being inhumane. Tell me, does “enablers” also include the people who voted them into office? Exactly how many tens of millions of people do you want to commit suicide in the name of your ideology?

      1. Professor: Yeah, chalk it up to the rawness of nearly fourteen million “enablers” facilitating a Tory/DUP coalition last week. I compartmentalised to Londo degrees. Sorry about that, it’s not what I am. I’d like to withdraw my remark until a time when I can process this week and put it better.

        Playing the ball not the man, what about Vir’s blood-lust, his “warning to the next ten generations that some favours come at too high a price?” Is he justified for wishing Morden, Cartagia and their placed allies dead to try and put out the fuse which then and to come will lead to the burning of Centauri Prime? Let’s pick a number, say, fourteen. Fourteen deaths. To save his countrymen who have been put in concentration camps, or put to death, because they’ve been deemed un-patriotic. The families impoverished because of the Cartagia regime’s increased military spending, in cramped accommodations because the Shadows needed more bases. Or the young Centauri exchange student, unfortunate enough to get in the way of crazed Narns who had no families left for them to kill. Is that Centauri’s life equal to the person who pushed the Narn to kill at random? Could Vir’s wish and actions have stopped a Centauri civil war?

        1. I’m interested to know how X number sucking a tailpipe is transformed to X number committing suicide. Professor, as kind as I can be about your remarks above, they were a demonstration of one’s own betrayal of self within susceptibility to confident language.

          1. “I’m interested to know how X number sucking a tailpipe is transformed to X number committing suicide. ”

            Ah, so your true desire was that right-wing politicians and their tens of millions of enablers should suck on a tailpipe and develop a mild cough, not that they would die from carbon monoxide poisoning (which is what everyone else means when they say “suck on a tailpipe”)?

  2. I kept an eye out during the episode after remembering the silent role, and the telepath, Ms. Constance (Shelly Robertson) actually did get an end-titles credit. The first one, full-screen, listed as “co-starring.” Interesting, it was followed by one more screen, a pair of credits “Featuring Kenneth Cortland as Patient and Sandy Grinn as Patient #2.” “Patient” is the guy in Medlab with the beard, who we’ll see again soon wreaking havok in “Endgame,” so #2 is presumably the dying guy Edgars talks to.

    So I doubled back to “Conflicts of Interest,” and it looks like the daughter was credited there, too (I say “looks like” because I don’t have the scriptbooks and IMDB doesn’t have photos of them, so I’m making an educated guess that “Man #1” and “Young Woman” are the father and daughter Garibaldi reunites).

    I’m not sure if you can pay less for a scripted but non-speaking role (probably so, though Ms. Constance makes it seem more like a creative decision than the missing daughter did), but it definitely answers a question I’d had about this trick, since I’ve been told extras can’t be directed individually without being “promoted” to the credited cast. Especially for roles like these, that seems impossible or, at best, sketchy (“Now, I want everyone in the room except Jerry to wait two beats and then give one single nod”). It does make me wonder about people who are more towards the “extra” side of the line, like the guy in C’n’C who gave Corwin that take as Ivanova walked out last week, or the one who quit just before the battle in “Severed Dreams.”

    And it looks like neither of them are credited. All this is reminding me of Ron Moore talking on his BSG commentaries about how actors started to get resentful if their character if their recurring characters went too long without having names, a la Guy in Galaxy Quest, and how he specifically made sure to establish that Doctor Cottle had a first name in the series finale.

  3. My thought about this episode was how subtle yet complete Bester’s tampering with Garibaldi was. The telepath did not recognize “I’ve never trusted telepaths” as the lie it was. Garibaldi never trusted the black box called Psi-Corps that telepaths were shoved into, but he repeatedly displayed that he trusted the telepaths he knew. After all he was the one who proposed bringing Talia into the conspiracy prior to her hidden personality was revealed.

  4. Regarding Edgars as supervillian, but with moments of humanity:

    Remember that one of JMS’s rules of writing is “the monster never sees a monster in the mirror,” as well as our prior conversations about Bester as a villain. Some of the most interesting literary villains are the ones who genuinely believe that what they are doing is good, or at least necessary (Aristotle describes the “vicious” character as one who possesses the virtues, but is pursuing an evil goal). It is not necessary for a character to twirl his mustache while eating kittens to be a truly monstrous villain. You can have a character who is intelligent, courageous, self-controlled, amiable, and well-educated… who happens to believe that creating a just world requires the destruction of antiquities and works of art that represent counterrevolutionary bourgeois morality, and the imprisonment of thought criminals, as well as a few million dead Ukrainian peasants. Way back in the episode “Z’ha’dum,” Justin claims that the widespread death and suffering that results from the Shadows’ philosophy of evolution through perpetual war is regrettable, but worth it in the name of long-term flourishing. Edgars seems to genuinely believe that creating a chemical “leash” for telepaths is in the best interests of humanity. The suffering of the test subjects is regrettable, but necessary if humanity is to avoid the tyranny of a telepathic ruling class. This side of JMS’s villains is one of the reasons that I love this show (and another reason why the one-dimensional barking blockade Captain at Proxima 3 is a thoroughly uninteresting villain).

    This also shows another level to JMS’s awesome writing, because we are heading into a battle in which we are asked to believe that Sheridan using the wired-up telepaths as the moral equivalent of unwilling suicide bombers is… regrettable, but necessary in the name of freeing Earth from the tyranny of Clark. What makes Edgars a supervillain, and Sheridan a hero? Is it the number of telepaths that they kill? Is it that Edgars only gets the one scene in which he shows compassion, while Sheridan gets several “get to the lifepods” and “if there was any other way” moments? They both believe that they are acting for the good of humanity. So is it only that we judge one character’s vision of the good goal to be objectively immoral, while the other’s is objectively correct (ends justify the means)?

    1. My favorite moment of Edgars’ comes in the next episode, when he refers to “The Telepath Problem” and then immediately pauses. It seemed clear to me that he immediately got his own subconscious Holocaust reference. He knew exactly what he was doing. And I’m still not sure if that makes him less despicable, or even more so.

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