16 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “Messages from Earth” Spoiler Space”

  1. One of the low points, obviously, starting a sequence of episodes that one gets through only out of blood-minded competism.

    Well, no: we’re all going to be gushing for the next few weeks, aren’t we? So, two quick points:

    – I think the ending to Messages from Earth pulls off quite a difficult trick. When Clark declares martial law, that retrospectively renders a lot of the conspiratorial maneuverings of Sheridan and company back to S2 a bit pointless. But it doesn’t *feel* pointless – I think this is because their actions here spur on a major plot development, even if it’s not what they might have hoped for. Instead, Clark’s response underlines that Babylon 5 is only one part of a complex universe in which a lot of different things are happening in a lot of different places, and while our heroes have been conspiring in their small way, Clark has putting in place his own, more effective, secret plans to seize dictatorial power.

    – Has any show been so bold with its tie-in media as to have such a major development involve reference back to a comic?

    1. That should be “blood*y*-minded comp*l*etism.” “Blood-minded competism” sounds like a thing (involving gladiators? hunting The Most Dangerous Game?), but not what I meant.

    2. I never considered Garibaldi’s Mars story to be a reference to a comic, more like a part of the back story that’s always been there, one which happens to be told in more detail in the comics. In the very first produced episode, Infection, Garibaldi is talking about his relationship with Sinclair to the reporter, and says something about walking 50 miles to get out of the desert. It’s just a sentence without a context, but sounds very much like the end of the Mars story. People who know the story notice it, other people don’t pay attention.

      I like how B5 handled the tie-in media, once they figured out what they were actually doing. Instead of telling random stories that may even contradict the show itself, like also the first B5 novels did, why not use the canon timeline designed by JMS and tell stories that already exist in the universe, but can’t be told in detail in the show itself, which is exactly what later novels and comics did. They are not required for understanding the show, but flesh out the universe for us fans. So, when do we get that Telepath War?

      Comics are actually pretty easy to find in eBay. In my on-going project to consume everything that is usually considered canon I bought the full set of the original 11 issues for less than 50 euros just last year. The comics are definitely not essential but quite interesting. Issues #9 and #10 are David Gerrold’s Laser-Mirror-Starweb story that was originally planned as an episode but never happened, and all the rest are based on JMS’s premise (with the first issue written by JMS).

      By the way, I’m glad I finally got around to watch Blake’s 7 before Christmas. I’m also glad you were careful with Farscape, I’ve tried it twice but haven’t got past the first season. I should have learned from B5 not to be too harsh on the show based on its first episodes, though.

  2. This episode only struck two false notes with me:

    1. Garibaldi knew about a shadow ship getting dug up on Mars but never thought it worth mentioning to anyone?

    2. Really nitpicking here, but I find it grating when Boxleitner has to make a ship scene more dramatic by doing his “wait for it… wait for it… NOW!” schtick.

    1. Wait, make that three:
      3. It takes suspiciously few words of Mimbari to make the White Star play the sound of water hitting a skylight. Reminds me of how in Star Trek it takes exactly two button presses to make a shuttlecraft play a recording from HMS Pinafore.

  3. Having listened to the podcast:-

    – While Mein Kampf is going a bit far (just a little), it is interesting that the very features of G’Kar’s book that our host’s interlocutor seized upon are ones that the show itself will signal are problematic in a later episode.

    This is when we see G’Kar teaching his followers, one of whom quotes G’Kar’s own words about the Centauri back at him, to which all G’Kar can say is (more-or-less) “Look, I was in an angry place back then, OK?” I tend to feel that this teaching scene is significant for what it suggests about why G’Kar is ultimately a failure: the Narn proceed in S5 to recapitulate the mistakes that they were making in S1, reproducing the cycle of mutual retaliation with the Centauri, and rendering themselves just as much a doomed people as the Centauri.

    The teaching scene is the closest G’Kar ever gets to meeting Delenn’s challenge to him in S2, to acknowledge his own culpability in what happened to his people, and he doesn’t quite do it. This is the one (and only one!) way in which Londo is morally superior to G’Kar. So I think our host’s interlocutor’s observation about how the lingering traces of G’Kar 1.0 compromise the message of G’Kar 2.0 as that message is coming into being is an important one.

    – As far as the structure of the story goes, I think there’s a strong case to be made for seeing it as a quadrilogy (if one must use the word…) and that Ceremonies of Light and Dark is marked as its concluding episode.

    CoLaD features Nightwatch members as its main antagonist, which connects it to the preceding three episodes in a rather obvious way. It turns on an attempt on Delenn’s life which is explicitly the consequence of her intervention at the crucial moment in Severed Dreams, again making it an integral part of the overall plot.

    It also contains overt closural features. The funeral scene is one. As usual, human is played off against Minbari – the human military funeral is played off against the Minbari rebirth ceremony that dominates much of the episode. That rebirth ceremony is used to create a strong visual marker of closure in the climactic moment when Sheridan, Ivanova, Garibaldi, and Franklin appear in C-and-C in their new uniforms.

    Finally, there is a very explicit bit of dialogue in Sheridan’s concluding words “The crisis, for now, is over. Tell the ships that we’re open for business.” Note the callback to Sinclair’s concluding words in The Gathering: one could hardly ask for a clearer indication that this is the end of one story and that now we are into a new phase in the ongoing story of B5.

    1. Fair point on a quadrology, but I prefer to see CoLaD as an epilogue more than an equal part of the previous three–in part because it’s just not as successful an ep as its three predecessors.

      1. Oh, absolutely agreed that it’s the weakest episode of the four. But some episode has to be the weakest.

        Take the “Sparky” subplot out, though, and for me the quality of CoLaD goes up quite dramatically…

          1. Well “Quadrilogy” was good enough for the Alien movie boxed set, so it’s good enough for me, and I absolutely think Ceremonies of Light and Dark needs to stand with the others. It is, as you say Chip, an epiloge, but not just for this little trilogy of episodes, but for what Babylon 5 as a whole used to be.

            CoLaD represents the exact mid-point of the series as episode 55 out of 110, and as such i don’t think it being a major turning point in focus for the series is in any way an accident. The parellel use of the “Open for business” line is signaling not just a new phase of the show, but an almost entirely new show. The station is now Independant, truely neutral territory, rather than an earthgov station claiming neutrality. The primary ast has new uniforms, and the primary focus from here on through Into the Fire being the Shadow War, and then its various fallouts. We are no longer “setting things up” we are now resolving them.

          2. Great comments. I’ve thought quad too. Like many previous episodes, Earth is in the background, (the reveal of the Clark-Shadow pact, the human face in the Agamemmnon), and only comes front and centre in the martial law cliffhanger. If CoLaD is the epilogue, MfE is the prologue. Its a great episode but its not GREAT!!! although it is, so it is.

  4. I’m prepared to hear B5 spoilers in Spoiler Space, but Blake’s 7?! I’m only seven episodes in! When I heard Chip reference its finale I had to start humming loudly while lunging for my phone to skip past his comments.

    And to be at least a little on topic, this was a great episode.

  5. Here is something I have been searching the web for but have not found my answer: Somewhere Out There in a movie I have seen, there is a scene almost exactly like Sheridan’s story about his Dad making rain on the roof. It struck me as familiar as soon as I saw it but I don’t remember which movie it’s from, nor whether this movie came out before or after the Messages From Earth episode came out. It was not a sci-fi film. Does this ring a bell with anyone else out there? Really enjoying the podcast!

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