23 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “The Gathering” spoiler space”

  1. Well, I suppose I can start…

    Question: which element from The Gathering do you most regret not surviving into the actual series?

    For me, it’s Takashima, with Delenn’s androgyny a very close second. (Very close – ask me tomorrow, and I might flip those two around.)

    1. I have always had a problem with Tamlyn Tomita’s acting. The way she delivers her lines just does not sound real.

      1. A lot of the acting in The Gathering is quite wooden. Not sure if that was a directorial decision or what but ALL humans seem very flat. A real shame given that we saw Sinclair had a real quiet warmth to him later. On the flip side, The Gathering has some of the best acting in the whole first year from Londo, G’Kar and even Delenn but the humans all seem like they are on valium. 🙂

  2. As much as I love the character of Susan Ivanova, it would have been interesting to see more of Takashima.
    Although I do find it funny that after just after she’s told the doctor how she’s broken the rules to get fresh coffee, she tells him that she hasn’t broken the rules for a long time. Obviously has a very short memory. Or doesn’t consider convincing someone to grow coffee instead of more important crops breaking the rules. I’m with her on that!!

  3. OK Worst plot hole of pilot: Kosh is inside of his encounter suit, so how can the assassin shake Kosh’es BARE hand to put the poison patch on it?

    1. If I recall correctly someone (probably Sinclair or Garibaldi) points out the whole bare hand encounter suit thing some time during season 1.

      I can in no way recall the specifics, so hopefully someone can confirm and expand, or we can just wait until we get there.

    2. That always bugged me as well. I think they tried to pass it off with the whole “the telepaths see themselves experiencing the memory”, but it still doesn’t make much sense with the vision being all glowy.

  4. I would also like to have seen a bit more of Laurel Takeshima (if only because I love the way G’kar says it!). Especially given that I remember reading or hearing somewhere at the time that her original arc was that by the end of Season 1, it would have been Takeshima who shot Garibaldi and was involved with the Santiago assassination which in turn would have re-raised questions of her involvement in the attempted assassination of Kosh in The Gathering.

    One thing I don’t like about the new version of The Gathering is Kosh saying “Entil’zha Valen!” when he sees first sees Sinclair. I mean, I know that WE all knew that by the time the new version came out, but seriously guys, “spoilers!?!”

    1. [Spoilers for Battlestar Galactica in the third paragraph]

      The (err, um) Wikipedia page for “Laurel Takashima” is worth a look. According to that, not only was she (or rather the buried Control personality that was eventually given to Talia) going to be the one to shoot Garibaldi, but she was also going to have a romantic relationship with Ivanova, in this version on the station in a subordinate position to Takashima. (This relationship was, again, given to Talia instead).

      That second element of a relationship with Ivanova seems difficult to me, since it would presumably qualify as fraternization, and it doesn’t seem to be sourced on the Wikipedia page. I have my doubts.

      But the Control stuff alone is a real shame to have lost. One can see the impact that having the traitor be someone we actually cared about would have had from Battlestar Galactica’s use of the same twist.

      I have a speculative theory that when Garibaldi in S1 acquired the difficult past, the connection to Mars, and the personal tie with Sinclair that in The Gathering were ascribed to Takashima, this was intended to rescue the emotional power of Takashima’s storyline by reserving it for Garibaldi’s betrayal in S4. Obviously, Michael O’Hare’s departure prevented that from having the same impact that it would have had if Sinclair had been in Sheridan’s position in the narrative.

      By the same token, if Takashima had been retained, I doubt that Garibaldi could have been given what is almost exactly the same storyline. I wonder how similar to “our” Garibaldi that one would have been.

    2. I like that actress. Her voice never seems to be right for her body, which I kinda dig. It would have been interesting to see her again.

      The “entil’za Valen” seems like a really bad decision. Why even hint at that kind of a spoiler?

    3. I actually really like the Entil’Zha Valen line! It’s the kind of obscure line that a first-time viewer will never remember (at this point we’ve never heard the name Valen before, so it just sounds like a Vorlon greeting), but which rewards repeat viewings.

  5. I’ve noticed that in the original broadcast, during Londo’s VO at the beginning, he states that B5 is under the command of “its last commander”, as they flash a shot of Sinclair on-screen. That line was completely cut from the “new” version.

    1. Well, Commander SInclair was it’s last commander. Sheridan was a Captain. 🙂

      And remember that, as we discover later, Vorlon technology is organic and Kosh ‘interfaces’ with the suit organically. This is the first clue JMS drops about this.

      So, poison the suit, poison the Vorlon in the suit. 🙂

      And I agree about the Kosh Valen greeting, I wish he’d have left it out!

      Although I suspect that, in the run up to Season 5 when TNT approved the new edition of the pilot, JMS probably had finishing the show he didn’t know he’d be able to finish on his mind rather than the dim future of DVD sets and fresh eyes seeing this thing for the first time. 🙂

  6. Such an interesting start. I remember first seeing this episode and being interest right away. The stilted dialog kinda bounced off me at that time. Now it’s a bit more pronounced. Not terrible, but not as smooth as it would get.

    One of the things I always liked about B5 was the clothes. I know that might sound words, but I loved the uniforms. It instantly jumped out at me near the need when Jeff has his coat off in his quarters and his short has pockets! I thought “yes, these are real clothes a person would wear”. Pockets! The outfits on other space shows never had pockets. Where did they put stuff .

    The not so great thing was the Star Trek “everyone lean” maneuver at the end. Wow that whole scene was bad. Glad they didn’t try that kind of thing again. Also I’m glad they changed the guns to the ppg. So much better.

    1. *it might sound /words/? How about *weird*.

      also his SHIRT has pockets, not his short. Although they might have pockets too!

      Yikes, my typing.

      Also just a little picky thing: is there a style or layout that makes it a little easier to tell what is a reply to a previous post and what is an original post? Maybe it’s me but I can’t tell one from another. Are they all just replies?

      1. It is a bit hard to tell, but the replies are slightly — very slightly — off to the right of the post being replied to. If you look at Michael Perez’s as compared to my first post, you can see it.

      2. The shirts, indeed, were exactly the sort of shirts that we were wearing in the ’90s. I miss banded collars. For a tiny, cruel moment of time, it seemed that mens’ fashion was about to liberate itself from the tie.

  7. On the negative note: some of the performances – particularly from the minor parts – were terrible. It does occasionally plod and some of the aliens look pretty poor but overall that sowed enough seeds to make me want to watch the next episode.

    I can see the Blake’s 7 influences – Del Varna is a very Terry Nation character name for example – but in the not quite black & white grittiness.

    There are some great performances from Andreas Katsulas, Peter Jurasik, Mira Furlan and Michael O’Hare. I quite like Jerry Doyle, but can’t be the only person to think he has a Bruce Willis vibe about him.

    I think though its the potential depth of the world that I found most interesting.

    Overall I think you can see J. Michael Straczynski’s inexperience in one or two of the clunky scenes & lines. Yes, that line about coffee & aspirin is horrible.

    Definitely felt it was worth persevering with.

  8. This was the only B5 episode I’d never seen before… quite a strange watch after all these years and noticing the changes even in the haze of the years since my last watch of B5.

    Just one thing I’ll mention.. the “customs control” type area which I don’t think was used again was it? That stood out in comparison to the more frequently used arrival/departure gate area.

    It is an interesting plot to open the show with some of the Vorlon mystery that we see little of in the early episodes of the series proper.. but not a fan of “telescopic headstalk Kosh”!!

  9. Like my initial viewing of Babylon 5 itself, I’ve stumbled upon this podcast late in the game. However, unlike the lurker I was then, I am going to comment from time to time, when I have something to say.

    There’s always been an aspect of The Gathering that I felt was never really addressed, particularly in light of the “Entil’za Valen,” greeting that Kosh uses in the Special Edition. With this greeting, the Vorlons knew that Sinclair would be travelling back in time to become Valen.

    If that’s the case, were the Vorlons bluffing about destroying the station to take Sinclair back to their home world? Even if Kosh had been assassinated, and the Vorlons are very sensitive regarding the death of members of their own species, would they risk the damage that could result in Sinclair never going back in time to become Valen? (Consider “War Without End” where a possible future was shown as the result of Babylon 4 never having been taken back in time and the Shadows emerge much stronger.) For the sake of one member of their species, would the Vorlons have allowed the Shadows to be that much stronger?

    My thinking is that the Vorlons would have taken Sinclair to their home world and either kept him on ice (like Sebastien A.KA. Jack the Ripper), or trained him so that he would become the leader they needed (as Kosh did with Sheridan)… The Vorlons never would have killed Sinclair.

    By that same token, throughout the first season there were many times where Sinclair could have been killed. (“Infection” comes to mind here.) Would the Vorlons have stepped in to prevent his death, or did they already know that he wouldn’t die and therefore need not interfere. It’s a question of how much free will there is in the Babylon 5 universe. (With the premonitions that at least some Centauri have about their own deaths, I would think that there is only a limited amount of free will.)

    In any event with the Vorlons being a member of First Ones, species that are as far advanced above humans as humans are above ants (See “Mind War”), then wouldn’t their actions be akin to a human child with an ant-farm. Or at best and entomologist studying ant colonies. Just because the First Ones decide not to play with ants anymore, why should they go beyond the rim? Manipulating primitive life forms can’t be the only thing the First Ones have been doing for the past tens of thousands of years. (We have to move out of the galaxy because you kicked over an ant farm? I’m an artist, sculpting structures made out of dark matter that stretch three light years across and you expect me to leave now? Just call an exterminator and get rid of those pesky vermin.)

    Perhaps their moral perspective is also vastly more elevated than hours. Consider how our views toward slavery have changed over the past few hundred years… Still, I defer to the frame of reference I have. With a bad enough termite infestation, I might move to a new house, but the entire population of a city wouldn’t up and move because of that. (I can’t help but think of an old Sam Kinnison routine where he’s encouraging people from the middle east to move because they’re living in a desert. If living a desert can’t get people to leave their homes, a termite infestation wouldn’t drive it.)

    Anyway, I think I’ve beaten this particular horse enough. The Vorlons, being so far advanced beyond humanity wouldn’t have actually destroyed Babylon 5 in order to get at Sinclair. They may have assaulted the station in order to abduct him, but they wouldn’t have killed him.

    Enough for now though… Enjoy the show

  10. Quite late to the party and not much to add, but I am a little bit disappointed that nobody mentioned the standout character: The Ugliest Jacket in the Universe — dear god, where did they get that thing? 😉

  11. My husband watched B5 on TV and I would watch it with him, first for Captain Sheridan and then for the others. But I never saw the whole series. Recently I noticed that B5 was on Amazon Prime and decided to rewatch it with my teenage son who has never seen it. This episode is good for setting up the world and suggesting depths. All of the other lifeforms seemed mysterious and threatening, but I know they won’t always be. Yes, there was some clunking, but not enough to put either of us of. My son noticed the use of the word “alien” and thought it was insulting, and that goes along with the “zoo” feel of the alien quarters. I’m excited for the long story format, and I know my son and I will have great discussions. Thanks for the spoiler-free format…I’m fine with listening twice!

    (Moved to spoiler thread due to Sheridan reference. -Chip)

  12. Just started rewatching B5 ( almost 100% due to finding this podcast). I can agree about the general clunkiness of this pilot. I remember being absolutely amazed at the time. Now I can see the imperfections. 1 question I had that is very confusing/ unclear in the episode. After Garibaldi gets shot by the assassin, Sinclair goes after the assassin, then realizes that Garabaldi is gone. Does the assassin drag Garabaldi to the alien zone? I see where he rips Sinclairs mask off, so he could die from the alien atmosphere. Wouldn’t it have been easier to shoot him? Snap his neck? Or is it all “hand wavy” due to it being a pilot.?

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