Contents: Overview - Backplot - Questions - Analysis - Notes - JMS
Delenn is in danger when a soul hunter, an alien who captures the souls of the dying, arrives at the station. W. Morgan Sheppard as Soul Hunter #1. John Snyder as Soul Hunter #2.
Sub-genre: Suspense P5 Rating: 7.05 Production number: 102 Original air date: February 2, 1994 Written by J. Michael Straczynski Directed by Jim Johnston
[to Sinclair] "Minbari: jealous, selfish, private. We have saved only a few - very rare. The rarest of all, their leader Dukat, dying; your fault, your war; the pinnacle of Minbari evolution. We came, I, others. They made a wall of bodies to stop us! He died. And his dreams, his ideas - all that he was, all that he could ever be - gone... wasted... jealous..."Later he recognizes Delenn from the Grey Council, which was responsible for stopping him.
One person at a post production house we've used has indicated that he has "theological problems" with working on that episode; not because it's *against* what he believes -- he's worked on horror movies and stuff with devils and the like -- but because it takes a point of view he doesn't much like...in that he has to sit and defend the whole *context* of his ideas...meaning, it's making him think. He can just poo-poo the stuff against what he believes, support what he does believe in...but he isn't quite sure where this show comes down, or where it makes *him* come down. I've had any number of problems with people on a show before, but this is the first time I've run into a theological problem.
We present an issue. Here are the sides. Now...what do YOU think about it? I want this show to ask, "Who are you? Where are you going?" That's half the fun. Some of my favorites pastimes in college were sitting in the commons, or the library, arguing this stuff from every possible angle. You think I'm gonna tell you what to think? What it means? No. The goal is to provoke discussion. Preferably passionate discussion.
Otherwise I might as well just start renting billboards and putting up signs.
There was nowhere else to go with the machine.
There are certain benefits to a design-your-own-future universe....
Second, many commanders -- as recently as Vietnam and afterward -- did and continue to go out on missions and sorties because it is rather expected of them, and because it maintains the respect of the rest of the squadron(s).
Third, and possibly most important, Earthforce is the same as the contermporary Air Force in one important respect: promotion up the ranks is tied *directly* to combat experience and, in this case, combat flying. That's why women fighter pilots and helicopter pilots have been fighting so *vigorously* to be allowed to fly combat missions; they know that they can't be promoted fully up the line without that. Sinclair has no desire to be a commander all his life, he'd like to move on. Hence it behooves him to get in combat time whenever possible.
Your statement that it "doesn't wash" has nothing to do with how the military *actually* works, and everything to do with the skewed and inaccurate portrayal of the military that you get from Trek. This is absolutely legitimate, and the B5 mailbox these days is partly crammed with letters from vets thanking us for getting this part right.
I suppose I could mention this in passing in dialogue, but then it becomes a matter of sticking in dialogue not because it's important to an episode, but because some folks would like things explained to them. I don't think that's my responsibility.
I would submit to you that this is NOT the same as having one character do a zillion different jobs on the station. I think that you're reacting to something you've seen on Trek, and are assuming based on an example of one that we're doing it in B5 as well. We're not. Also, in "Purple," Garibaldi sends a different team out to handle the gunfire, so there are others who do things. Question becomes, how many new and recurring characters do you want to introduce? There are currently *14* regular and recurring characters on B5, and there are many folks who are saying that's too many. As it is, we do introduce an aide to Garibaldi who takes care of some stuff for him. Just as Sinclair delegates to Ivanova, and Ivanova delegates to the observation dome techs.
I just feel that you're leaping to a conclusion based on a paucity of evidence, built upon your experiences with another show. We're simply not doing this.
1) When did they move the jump gate (re: the time required to get from the gate by Kosh's ship, as opposed to the Hunter ship). They/we didn't. Once again, and I wish people could remember this, Kosh's ship BEGAN TO DECELERATE the instant it emerged from the gate, in order to dock with B5 without smashing into it. The Soul Hunter ship was out of control, careening in at full speed. (This was a widely discussed reason why the Vorlon fleet got to B5 so quickly as vs. Kosh's ship. They were moving fast to get into striking position.)
2) The Hunter's ship was on autopilot, set to come out of the first gate it came to.
3) There was still time for the station's defense grid to blow the ship. Yes, pieces would have continued onward, but a hell of a lot of its inertia would've been taken out by the incoming fire, and any remaining pieces would've either been taken out as well, or would have been so small as to not damage the hull (which is *very* thick at that point) given its blast-enforced deceleration.
4) Yes, Sinclair would've gone up with it. You pays your money, you takes your chances.
5) There was no "the Earth is going to explode" story here; you have a ship colliding with the station, that has to be stopped. It has to be stopped within the period between when it emerges from the gate, and the time it would collide. You want to know how much time you have to work in. Maybe it's a dramatic device, but it's also exactly what you would do. What would you prefer? "Lieutenant Commander, how much longer until impact?" "Uh...I dunno...can you hang on a second?"
6) Re: the "funny forehead" comment...it was not what I've understood the FF syndrome to mean...a regular head with a little treatment on the front. This was a whole-head prosthetic, covering the entire back of the head. So wrong on that one. And re: n'grath having 6 legs rather than 4...who're you to say that? Ever seen a praying mantis? Do all insects all over the galaxy have to have six legs to qualify? You don't like minimal makeup, you don't like full-body prosthetics ...you understand that this comes out as "nothing will please me except a real alien." You tell me where to find one in Central Casting, and I'll hire him.
7) Okay, here's my biggest gripe: the note that the soul aspect was Trek and "katra." Let me be clear on this: I don't give a damn what Trek has or has not done now, long ago, or will do in the future. We can't be constantly looking over our shoulder, limiting our universe because of another show. If your only frame of reference when it comes to discussing the soul is Star Trek, then that's profoundly disappointing, but it's got nothing to do with me. The basic concept goes back to the beginnings of civilization (that your soul can be captured somehow). Further, there were no soul hunters in ST, it was placement of one's spirit in another body. I'm getting real tired of the notion that if Trek did something, nobody else ever can do it. Like the person who said that Trek invented nanotechnology, and thus when we used it in the pilot episode in the nanotech machine G'Kar swallows, we were just copying Trek's nanites.
I refuse to surrender creative control of this series to the ghost of Star Trek's used notions. From time to time, we'll cross into areas they have also touched. We'll touch it differently. Deal with it. But please don't put a Star Trek (tm) tag on the soul, and the history of the soul.
8) You say a guard's gun was taken *twice* in this episode. Where is #2 (if #1 is the medlab guard)? I see a guard being attacked from behind, but not his gun being taken.
9) Re: the second soul hunter's makeup being "inferior" to the first: they were essentially exactly the same...same material, same design, minus the stone, which varied...I'm sorry, but they were made, applied and used in exactly the same way.
10) Why drain her of blood? Why the hell not? In some countries, that was used as a means of execution. Bleeding was also used (in theory) to heal. Okay, let's say he used poison. "Why use poison?" you probably would've asked. "Oh, it was the old poison gag, and they find a convenient antidote." There's no difference.
11) How did the hunter relate his sense of death to a wall map? I ask again...why not? If you can buy it happens at all, why not? How is that any different than walking through a hall, or being drawn to a planet? This is strictly a straw-man example, as is much of what you cite.
This, frankly, is what I find so offensive in your note. You take things that as a matter of opinion you might have done differently, and then try to hold it up as a fault. You set up straw man arguments that could be just as easily turned around on anything, mischaracterizing something in order to take a cheap shot.
12) Why didn't Sinclair link in when he found the hunter? Because he only "found" the hunter when he was being SHOT AT. And at that point you don't want to raise your voice because you'll be shot at again.
13) You complain that the soul globes seemed to wait until the moment Sinclair freed them to act (as though it were the bag that had been holding them in). Sure, they could've emerged...and floated. A lot of good that would've done them. What they needed was someone who could stop him, and that was Sinclair's task. They were able to distract the hunter long enough for that to happen. Minus Sinclair, what were they supposed to do, bedazzle him to death?
14) Re: shining things into the camera = NBC Mystery Movie. See point 11a above. I'm not responsible for your cultural reference points.
I don't mean to yell, but thing is, I don't mind genuine criticism, if we specifically do something that is objectively *wrong*. If you don't like something, that's also fine. But I'm tired of people who confuse opinion with fact, and that if it isn't done their way, then it isn't somehow *right*...and the notion that Star Trek has invented, patented and qualified for sole claim on whole aspects of our history, literature, culture, theology and language, and that anybody who touches on these areas is just doing Trek stuff.
As far as I'm concerned, the Trek-soul-katra thing treated the soul as little more than a misplaced pair of sunglasses. Here we tried to get into the issues *behind* the soul...where does it come from, where does it go, does it survive the death of the body, or does it go on ...to give some mystery and beauty to the notion. To have it dismissed as just another riff on katra is offensive and insulting and narrow. And all of those issues just seemed to flit by without comment.
I don't mean to get angry, but this is one I'm very proud of, and to see it sideswiped and mischaracterized and straw-man'd to death in this fashion is just something that I had to respond to.
You clearly think that if something appeared in ST, then ST must have invented it, and that if it appears anywhere else, it must've been influenced by ST. Wrong on both counts. I would suggest that you have been watching too much ST, and not nearly enough of the Discovery Channel.