Contents: Overview - Backplot - Questions - Analysis - Notes - JMS
Lyta Alexander, the station's first telepath, returns with a warning that one of Babylon 5's officers is an operative for a top-secret government organization. A long-held secret of another Babylon 5 officer is revealed. Patricia Tallman as Lyta Alexander.
Sub-genre: Mystery/Intrigue P5 Rating: 8.50 Production number: 220 Original air date: July 25, 1995 (UK) October 11, 1995 (US) Written by J. Michael Straczynski Directed by Jesus Trevino
However, it is unlikely that two different sleepers would respond to the same password, and the events in the "flashforward" scene in "Babylon Squared" would suggest that Garibaldi's loyalty is not in question.
At the start of the episode, it seems clear that they are just friends. Talia would not hesitate to impose on Ivanova's sleeping quarters if there were anything stronger.
During the episode, as Ivanova becomes more and more worried about revealing her (limited) telepathic ability, she relies on Talia during the expression of her feelings and doubts. There is an apparent emotional tension between them that might be interpreted as a "should I make the first move," or as Talia's giving support but hesitating to probe further, and Ivanova's "should I trust her, even though she's a telepath?"
When Talia wakes up in Ivanova's bed, finding her missing, it is tempting to jump to the "obvious" conclusion. However we know that Ivanova's quarters only has one cot (indicated in "The Long Dark" by Dr. Franklin.) Of course, Ivanova probably has a sofa/couch that might have been used.
When Ivanova has her final conversation with the dominated Talia, she indicates that it gave Talia the words that would get her close to all Ivanova knew. Just how much Talia knows about Ivanova is unclear, and we have no indication of just how close in addition to the emotional bond.
Had Ivanova and Talia had a physical relationship then Ivanova might have revealed her latent telepathy ("Do you know what its like when telepaths make love?" in "Mind War.") Since the alternate Talia didn't goad Ivanova about this, then either Ivanova maintained a block, or they didn't have a physical relationship.
We now have a clearer understanding of how Ivanova developed her strong feelings against PsiCorps, and what she must have overcome in order to establish her friendship with Talia. This change in Talia (and the AP claiming to have directed the growth of their friendship) may have far reaching effects in her ability to trust again.
Psi Corps was working with Minbari dissidents to kill a Vorlon. The comic has also established a connection between Psi Corps and the Shadows, although this has not yet been seen on screen. If the comic is to be believed, there is a link through Psi Corps between the Shadows and elements of the Minbari warrior caste. The effects of that link on the coming war may be quite unfortunate for one side or the other.
There's one great thing about The Shining, despite some other flaws in the film: they set up Scatman Cruthers (sp?) as the one guy who understands what's going on...he gets the Shining, he's a potentially heroic character, and when all hell breaks loose, he's the one to get into the snow plow, cross terrible weather, we're all sure he's going to get there and fight the menace... he overcomes weather and nonsense to get there... he blows through the front door, ready for action... and gets an axe in the middle of his chest and dies.
I *loved* that, and always kinda wanted to something of that nature, where you set someone up to be that kind of character, the future, whatever, then you yank it back and let the audience say, Oh, hell, NOW what?
Because stuff happens. Because rocketry was the hope of the German Luftwaffe to win the war. Didn't work out that way. Just because a character says it, doesn't mean that it's guaranteed to happen at all times. A parent can look at a child and say, "He's our hope for the future," and the next day the kid gets turfed by a semi-truck. Stuff happens. Nothing is guaranteed in the B5 universe; any character -- ANY character -- is vulnerable. That, for me, is part of what's exciting.
Generally speaking, about once a year, toward the end of the year, I kinda look around at the characters with a loaded gun in my hand, and say, "Hmmm...if I take out *that* person, what happens? Is there anyone here I can afford to lose? Would it be more dramatically interesting to have this person alive, or dead? What is the absolute bare minimum of characters I need to get to the end of the story and achieve what I have to achieve?"
It helps to really remember that this is a *novel*, and uses the structure of a novel. That means you have to have some real suprises as you go. Anyone is fair game. To the question "Why did you get rid of Sinclair? Why'd you get rid of [spoiler removed]? Why'd you get rid of Talia? Why'd you get rid of....oh, er, that hasn't happened yet...." there is only one answer: 'cause I felt like it, and 'cause I thought it'd make the story a lot more interesting.
The stories I like best are the ones that ratchet up the tension and the uncertainty inch by inch until you're screaming. This could apply to any of Stephen King's novels (and recall that a lot of my background is in horror writing). Mother Abigail in THE STAND was supposed to be their hope for the future. So in short order she's vulture-food, JUST when she's most needed. *Because that's interesting*. It makes you say, "Oh, hell, NOW what?" (Stephen actually does that a lot in his books, and it's a technique I've learned as well.) Boromir in LoTR was a capable, skilled fighter, deemed absolutely essential to the Company of the Ring...oops, there he is by the tree, full of Orc arrows.
Here's the best comparison to what my position is with this show: Harlan Ellison has, on occasion, done this routine where he'll go into a bookstore and write a story in full view of everyone. As each page is finished, it's taped to the wall unti it's done. This is considered a pretty nifty trick, sustained over maybe 15-20 pages.
That's pretty much what I'm doing here. It's an ongoing story. I can't go back, I can only go forward. As each page (episode) is finished, it's put up on the wall, and I have to go on to the next one. So far I've written 2,400 pages on that wall. Again, I can't go back and change anything, and if there's a bump caused by a real world incident, it simply has to be accommodated as best I can while still going where I have to go.
From time to time, there's going to be a misstroke on the keyboard, or there's going to be a typo that I'll miss. That's inevitable when you're out performing in front of a massive crowd on the high wire without a net. As long as the totality of it all hangs together, as long as the story is told, the trick finally done...then that's what fundamentally matters.
That this happens on occasion should be obvious; that it happens as rarely as it does is the point of wonderment, I think. Remember, it's all trial and error, because no one's ever done this before. And right about now I understand why. But we're making it work.
Yes, we used her 8 or 9 times in a given season; but by contract, we paid her for a full 13 episodes, whether she appeared in them or not. We were never under any obligation to give her *any* guarantee; we did so to make her feel comfortable taking on the job. For the first year he was on the show Jeff Conaway didn't have a guarantee of episodes; he was used as he was needed, and that grew with time. Andrea wanted time away from the show to do other projects; we accommodated where we could, as we do with all our cast members, but if a request comes in at the last moment, or conflicts with our schedule, we can't comply. We feel that if we're paying someone a great sum of money to be available to us, for episodes they may not even appear in, this is not unreasonable.
Finally, it was never Warner Bros. who hired her or pushed her on me. WB didn't care one way or another. I was the one who hired her, with Doug Netter. If I hadn't felt she was right for the role, I wouldn't have hired her. But I was also under no constraint to make the show into the Andrea Thompson Show. Andreas and Peter have often appeared as many times in a season as Andrea, and didn't even *have* a guarantee for the first two seasons. (Now they do.)
We did what we could to accommodate her without destroying the story arc. I regret that she has taken out her frustrations in this way. Either one is a team player, part of an ensemble, or one is not. We are very proud of the fact that the cast members as they stand now are all ensemble, team players.
And I don't recall that Control actually issued any death order; it was the Psi Corps/B13 in any event.
In very tense situations, some people feel compelled to somehow break the tension. Hence, that sequence. [Garibaldi's "gotcha"]
So it would be
BUREAU CONTROL ----------------------|--------------------- | | | Earthdome Control B5 Control Minipax Control
(That's a breakdown using artificial and not necessarily correct elements, just for illustration.)
It is, however, a confusing bit of terminology, so it's been amended subsequently.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
John Copeland and I then go in and work on the version of the episode edited by the director to do the producer's cut. We sit down with the editor, and go scene by scene. The usual construction is as follows: you get a wide master shot so we know the geography, where we are, and where everyone is in relation to that. Gradually you go closer, into threes or twos, then singles or closeups for dramatic emphasis, coming out into the master from time to time when someone has to move, or to break the sense of claustrophobia.
When you get in close, you have over-the-shoulder shots, meaning you're shothe same thing in reverse, so you see both sides of the conversation. You do these one at a time, for lighting purposes; you light one side of the room for the scenes looking left-right, then move the camera and the lighting around for the scenes when you're on the right side looking left (or, phrased differently, you light for Susan looking at Talia, then Talia looking at Susan). The actors then do the scene again, with the camera on the other side.
The actor has to be very careful to always repeat each movement exactly; if he picks up a teacup on th word "quibble," he has to make absolutely sure he picks up the cup on exactly that same word, every time, in every take, in the same way, in the correct hand. If the actor slips (and this sometimes happens), when you go to show tther side of the scene, you suddenly find you have a matching problem; in the shot over Talia's shoulder to Susan, the actor raised a hand; in the shot over Susan's shoulder to Talia, the actor (generic term that includes women) *didn't* raise a hand. So when you edit the two, you have a matching problem. You can sometimes avoid this by just staying on one side of the shot, but then you can't get the other character's on-face reaction to what's being said. And in that scene in particular, we *needed* to see both sides.
RE: alternate lifestyles...I said when stuff happened, we wouldn't make a big deal out of it, it'd just be there...and I said we'd address it in our own way, in our own time. We've done a bit here, we'll do a bit more down the road. I won't give you or anyone a timetable; I'll do stuff as the integrity of the story permits, not sooner, not later. I will not allow this to become a political football. If you do nothing, folks yell at you for ignoring it; if you do a little, they yell for not doing more; if you do more, they yell for not doing it sooner. Screw it. I do what the story calls for, as the story calls for it.
"Oh, well, I saw it, but was all that violence NECESSARY?" This is, frankly, a BS observation usually offered by someone with an agenda, who wishes to invalidate the notion of an artistic view and impose some kind of quota, or objective criterion to what is and isn't necessary for a movie or film. As far as I'm concerned, the first person to throw this into a discussion has, frankly, just lost the argument.
Point the second: one of the most consistent comments I get, in email and regular mail, is the spirituality conveyed in the show, that we have shown, and will continue to show, tolerance toward religion, even created sympathetic religious characters. "Thank you for your tolerance," they say...until we show somebody or some action THEY don't like...and at that point suddenly it's a lot of tsk-tsking and chest thumping and disapproval; so okay, how about I just stop all positive religious aspects of the show?
It seems to me, that if I do *all that* with religion, and with thje (the) simple act of showing maybe ONE PERSON in all the long history of TV science fiction across 40 years has a different view of life, that the show is somehow degraded, or downgraded, or dropped in opinion...this simply reinforces the notion, held by many, that a lot of folks in the religious right wish to make sure no other perspective or lifestyle is ever shown on television, at any time, unless in a negative fashion.
The thing of it is, while on the one hand I'm getting praise from religious folks for addressing spirituality in my series (speaking here as an atheist), I've gotten flack from others who think it has no place in a SCIENCE fiction series, and why the hell am I putting something in that goes right against my own beliefs? "Because," I tell them, "this show is not about reflecting my beliefs, or yours, or somebody else's, it's about telling this story, about these people, with as much honesty and integrity as I can summon up. That means conceding the fact that religious people are going to be around 260 years from now." Well, fact is, all kinds of people are going to be around 260 years from now. And what did the anti-religion folks say specifically about including spirituality in my series? "It's not *necessary*," they said.
Translation: they didn't like it. Well, tough. It was right for this story, and this show. And it seems to me rather hypocritical for some folks, who applaud the show for tolerance, for my standing up to those who want to exclude religion from TV, to then turn around and say the show is diminished because it showed that same tolerance...to another group or perspective. I guess tolerance is only okay as long as it's pointed one way.
You say that as a christian, you think any sex except that between a husband and a wife to be wrong. Well, as I recall, the bible also speaks against murder. We've depicted deaths by the hundreds of thousands. (And we're talking here about the *depicting* of the act, simply showing it, not the value judgements made after the fact.) Why does the one (which is so barely hinted at as to be almost invisible) cause the show to be diminished where the other does not?
My job is not to reinforce your personal political, social or religious beliefs. My job is not to reinforce MY personal political, social or religious beliefs. Then it isn't art or storytelling anymore, it's simply propaganda. My job is to tell this story, about these people, AS people, as mixed and varied as they are today. And there is no outside objective criteria as to what is, or isn't *necessary* in a story; that is the sole province of the author. You may or may not like it. You may or may not choose to watch it. Just as people who don't like to see religion and god discussed on TV may dislike it or choose not to watch it.
But you'll excuse me if I see complaints about this one little thing from the religious side, after all I've done to present religious characters and the religious life in a positive fashion, to be hypocritical and frankly somewhat ungrateful. It's as though all this means nothing because of one thing, one outside-imposed litmus test that disregards anything and everything else that has been done.
So straight up...if I should stop tolerating or showing viewpoints that are not my own (spoken as someone who is absolutely straight), then should I now stop showing religion as well? Because that's what this comes down to. Is that what you want? Because religion is included at my discretion as well as anything else on this show. You want me to be less tolerant? Just say the word.
As for "including controversy rather than skirting it," this is more or less the point. The goal here is to not have our characters or our show make *value judgments* about what our characters do, because then you're hitting the audience over the head with the MESSAGE. "Believers" is a good example of that; some came away using parts of that to argue pro and anti interference in medical situations; ditto for "Confessions" which hit squarely on BOTH sides of the issue (no, you can't blame morality for disease...but then, we had our characters openly requiring blood testing, which annoys many on the other side of the issue)....my sense is that our audience is smart enough to take the elements we present them with, and discuss them, and come to their own conclusions and draw their own meanings from them. It's the part of objecting to even *presenting* the situation that seems to me a marginal position at best.
You now have someone who's freshly hurt, who is going to be unwilling or slow to open up again, who's now experienced every kind of relationship and NONE of them have worked...in short, she's one exposed nerve ending, perfect for someone now to come in who may be right, but for whom she has little time, and is disposed not to get involved.
Sounds a lot like my own dating history...keep them razor blades and salt sprays a'comin.....
When I took Laurel off the board, elements of this were transferred to other characters. This is the kind of thing I mean when I say that even with changes here and there, the story continues to go where I want it to go. We don't necessarily remember *which* general put the briefcase with a bomb next to Hitler's chair in the bunker, only that it got done. Some chairs are moveable, some are not, as anyone who's ever written a novel from an outline can tell you...you start moving the chairs around, but you always keep going where you're going.
The position now being occupied by Corwin, Ivanova's second, is the position that Ivanova would've held (though more prominently) if Laurel had stayed on. (And no, Corwin doesn't now have that arc lurking in the background.)
See, it's easy to stick to an outline and never diverge if you're writing characters in a novel; in a TV show, with live actors, you have to be flexible, plan ahead, come up with contingency plans, and have threads that weave and interlock in ways to leave you maximum flexibility while still proceeding toward your destination.
At one point, Ivanova says to Talia, referencing Ivanova's mother, "You're as much of a victim as she was." To which Talia replies, "I don't feel like a victim." And, of course, that's exactly what she was, though she didn't know it yet. Ivanova's analysis was 100% correct.