Zocalo: Spoiler-free Discussion of “And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place”

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21 thoughts on “Zocalo: Spoiler-free Discussion of “And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place””

  1. Not enough cash round here
    Not enough cash round here
    Well I went to the script to get my lines
    But the script cries out “don’t talk, just mime”
    No speaking part for you

    Felt kinda bad for the non-Judeo-Christian representatives that weren’t even allowed to sing 🙂

  2. I’m not opposed to the idea of a song, but the peppiness felt more dissonant than ironic or triumphant. Schlocky, even. My wife (first time watcher) looked over at me and said, “Really?!” Looking forward to hearing a report of how Steven reacted.

    1. I’ve always loved the song and its use in this scene.

      I think part of the effect for me has always been the interaction between what’s happening to Refa and what the song’s about. It combines at least two biblical references.

      (Probably more than that, as Professor Headbutt or Chip may be able to tell us. The Bible says a lot about rocks. I suppose that, if you live in Israel, rocks are in plentiful supply.)

      The two references are very different. One is Revelations 6.15, in which the kings of the earth (etc.) try to hide in the dens and rocks of the mountains. I picked up on the first viewing that the song is about the powerful being brought low, wrath of God (etc.), and how that applies to Refa. An interesting thing about pursuing this strand is that this is cast in the first person singular: the singer is one of the people seeking to flee from divine justice. In other words, this evokes a viewing of the scene from Refa’s point of view, involving a certain sympathy for Refa.

      The other reference that I can detect is Luke 19.40, where the Pharisees ask Jesus if he can tell his disciples to shut up and stop praising God, and he tells the Pharisees that if he did that, the stones would cry out. This is something that I didn’t spot when I first watched the episode – it’s not as obvious as the wrath of God stuff from the words of the song itself. This is a very different much more optimistic, reference, that has to do with what the singer is doing in singing the song itself.

      One point that follows from this is that there is a basic (and very Protestant) tension in the song between pessimism and optimism, between the singer’s awareness of his/her own sinfulness and his/her faith in God as the sole key to his salvation. This parallels the direction of the scene, cutting as it does between the congregation and the killing of Refa.

      There’s a lot more to unpack here: none of what I have said touches on the not unimportant detail that the song is a product of African-American culture.

      1. The song is definitely a reference to Revelation 6:15-17 –

        ‘Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slaved and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”’

        It was Refa’s turn to face Judgment Day. I agree that the African American context is important. The scriptural text itself is in the context of the high and mighty having oppressed and murdered those who follow God. A loving God must be enraged at the injustices that we inflict upon each other. He is patient and merciful, giving ample opportunity for everyone to repent and accept his forgiveness, but justice will not be put off forever. Eventually the oppressors and murderers have an unpleasant reckoning coming to them. Understandably, these themes found a receptive audience among the African American community, along with the Old Testament themes of the exodus and the exile. (We could go off at length on African American themes in JMS’s handling of certain aspects of the Narns, but I will leave that to those better qualified than I. )

        And the “peppiness” of the song? That’s straight from the song itself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh1_n1X0nz0
        For those who have suffered under the heel of evil, Judgment Day is a day of rejoicing, a day of chains being struck off. http://biblehub.com/esv/isaiah/61.htm

    1. He would have helped the person place or thing which needed hiding, but said hider couldn’t smellllllllllll what he was cookin’!

  3. Seems to me that Londo took quite a risk with those guards. How did he know which guards Refa would borrow, or even that Refa would not bring his own?

    Or suppose one of the guards had thought “Hey wait a minute, Refa won the war with the Narn for us, why am I letting him be killed?”

    1. Londo’s risk is the question this episode is fuelled on, ie. if the plan failed, would he have been content with the cost, the death of G’Kar and tens, or thousands more Narns?

      The back-door deal Londo and G’Kar struck here is a sounding-out exercise in trust between the two. Where do first-time watchers think that might go from there?

      Londo made a great act of compassion for the Narns previously, (STV), to protect Vir, a defensive move. Here it’s done for revenge, and on initiative. Can we spot an incident in a previous episode where the Narns’ plight has gotten to Londo?

      1. Apart from the Long, Twilight Struggle with that marvellous scene of Londo watching the Narn planet being bombarded? To me that’s where he changes.

        1. I think there are two moments that apply. There’s the “But you killed 10,000 Narns!” moment in Chrysalis, and there’s the moment to which Hugh refers in The Long Twilight Struggle.

          Both qualified by Londo finding it easy to suppress his reaction, of course.

    2. Well, that entire aspect of the story is a contrivance. A really, really well-done contrivance.

      There are, if you think about it, lots of problems with the twist. The big one for me is that it’s not very plausible, given G’Kar and Londo’s relationship at this point, for G’Kar to trust Londo, or vice versa, enough for the plan to work. (Try and script the scenes in which the deal is struck in your head.)

      But you know what? This doesn’t matter, because the episode is excellently arranged so that the viewer doesn’t think about that in the moment. There are three ingredients. One, the negotiations between G’Kar and Londo happen entirely offscreen and are only revealed in retrospect. Two, JMS exploits viewer knowledge that G’Kar and Londo don’t have. We’ve seen WWE – we know that they are going to be friends. We’re expecting them to take steps in that direction. Three, the twist is immediately followed by the death of Refa, which – for obvious reasons – is going to grab the viewer’s attention.

      A few weeks ago, we had an episode in connection with which JMS offered a weak defense of coincidence, that it happens in “real life.” That doesn’t work, because a work of art isn’t real life. But this also applies in reverse: there’s a problem here if we apply real-life standards, but this isn’t real life, and as long as the story does a good job of occluding the implausibility, there’s no problem.

  4. This episode needs to be honored just because it thought me the word “crotchety” .

    I loved the way Delenn made Sheridan go to the dinner, she reminds me of my mom how she plays my dad to do things he doesn’t want to do, that’s love. Lol

  5. It always amuses me to see Erick Avari, a fantastic Indian actor of Zoroastrian descent play Jewish characters. For some reason, it seems to happen a *lot*

    ( and really, my only nitpick about his character is that I don’t think most rabbis would know the words and the tune to the song that they were singing at the end. )

  6. Just finiehd listening to the audio guide podcast on this ep (brilliant as always) and one thing that is left oout is that Londo is not doing this just for political power, but for revenge. In Interludes Londo blames Lord Refa for the death of Lady Adira.
    ‘You have taken from me that which I loved, Refa’

    A great episode

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