Contents: Overview - Backplot - Questions - Analysis - Notes - JMS
G'Kar tries to avoid capture by the Centauri while continuing his search. Delenn urges the Rangers to strike against the Shadows. Wayne Alexander as Lorien. Wortham Krimmer as Emperor Cartagia. Lenny Citrano as Isaac. Anthony DeLongis as Harry.
P5 Rating: 8.98 Production number: 402 Original air week: November 11, 1996 Written by J. Michael Straczynski Directed by Kevin Dobson
An episodic soundtrack is available.
Alternately, perhaps they're making sure he doesn't remember what happened to him because they've done something to him and wiped his memory of the event. That would explain the conclusion of the interrogation scene; they gassed him to transport him elsewhere once they were satisfied that their memory wipe was solid.
Did the Shadows and the Vorlons get those questions from Lorien? Lorien claims to have met Kosh (who, oddly, he knew by name, which would seem to contradict the new Kosh's statement that "we are all Kosh") so presumably he has also met the Shadows. Perhaps each race latched onto one of the two questions, adopting it as its own.
Vir made a similar comment to G'Kar in "Comes the Inquisitor:" "I wish... there was something that I could do. I tried telling them, but they wouldn't listen. They never listen..."
This will probably get me in trouble, but...on the one hand, I am always delighted and impressed with the breadth and depth of analyses and thought of the larger group of SF fans, and the insightfulness with which they apply those perceptions.
On the flip side of this discussion...for a certain percentage of them, that breadth and depth is only or primarily within SF and mainstream fantasy. The wellspring of material from which to draw when making comparisons is not often as broad as it should be in classical literature, mythology, medieval studies, and so on. They see a drop into a chasm, they think "Oh, Gandalf." Not understanding that the root of this goes back way, way, way further...to Orpheus and his kindred spirits.
I was copied a note from someone on another newsgroup who insisted that everything in the show had an elvish/Tolkein base, including and *especially* the names of everyone, citing the Agamemnon as meaning something or other in LoTR elvish. The symbol is RIGHT THERE, in the name, Agamemnon, and the whole unfortunate history of that character and his wife, and the Cassandra character (which is at the center of G'Kar's character)...and yet she says, "No, no, it's all a clue, it means this thing over here."
My background is as an SF fan myself, so I offer the above without stereotype or pejorative intent. But as well as reading SF, I spent most of my early adult life reading from classical sources. Goethe's FAUST informs Londo in many ways, as well as the history of early Rome, and Hegelian notions on the role of conflict, and the divine role of the emperor. You're talking to someone who read Plotinus' The Aenneads just for kicks, and whose favorite character was Zeno and his paradoxes. You want to talk Plato's perfect forms? The Socratic method of teaching? Greek tragic structure as embodied in Oedipus? The overall work of Sophocles? The Bible? I've read that one cover to cover twice...anyone else in the room who's done that, raise your hands and tell me you didn't fall asleep halfway through Numbers and Deuteronomy, the two most boring books in the whole darned thing.
There was a period in my life -- from around 1976 through 1981 -- when I devoured everything I could in these areas. Mythology. Existentialism. Zen. 18th century literature. I took part time jobs in libraries so I could get access to the widest possible range of books, especially new ones in areas that interested me. A lot of the details have washed away over the years, but the cumulative *sense* of that remains. I can still remember how excited I was when a brand new translation of the Inferno, the Purgatario and the Paradisio came out (from Penguin, I think), putting it all back into the proper lyric form, and I devoured them, one day each, then read them all again using the footnotes and marginalia.
All that time, I never knew I was preparing myself to write this show, because it could *only* be done with a generalist background, knowing a little about a lot of areas...just enough to get into trouble, ususally, but still the grounding is there.
Funny thing...about two, three weeks ago, I got an email from a woman who is a professor of medieval studies at a major university, who said she'd been nudged into watching the show by her graduate students, and is now a big fan of the show. She said that as she watched, she "clicked" constantly on the sources from medieval and classical literature, mythology, and other deep well sources, and was pleased to see them being used in a contermporary or futuristic venue.
Anyway, it's what I've always said about this show...you see the paradigm with which you are most familiar. Sometimes that's great, and sometimes it's a curse.
Slang and idiom have been with us forever, and always will be. Now, on the other hand, I don't go full-tilt bozo with it, by peppering the dialogue with lots of techtalk and futureslang because I think it becomes intrusive. So we try to find a balance. Some people don't like it, and like their SF to all sound the same. That's fine. Tastes vary.
Also, I use some dialogue styles that lean toward the theatrical, what you'd see on the stage, or hear in a radio drama. Other times I'm right in the gutter. You use different tools for different jobs. My influences are from Rod Serling and Charles Beaumont and Norman Corwin and Ray Bradbury, so you're going to hear those colors from time to time, and because you don't hear a lot of that particular style in TV these days, some people think it's bad...no, it's just a different approach to dialogue.
Look at Harold Pinter, then look at Christopher Fry, then look at Joe Orton. Between just those three you've got three very stylized, consistent approaches to dialogue, not like the other two at all, and between them more diversity than in a hundred TV shows. In theater, which is where I cut my teeth, it's *okay* to have dialogue that's somewhat stylized, or a bit more formal, a bit more literate, or whatever. In TeeVee it's all gotta be the same. To which I say...why?
(I've also made the mental assumption of a return to a new formality in 2260, since styles go in and out of fashion. People use the word Mr. and Ms. more often, there's a more formal stance with people you often get when a culture comes out of a major war, as we did after WW2.)
But dialogue tastes are utterly individual; what works for one may not and likely will not work for someone else. And that's okay. That's as it should be. As long as the totality works.
This is kind of embarrassing, but...see, I don't watch much TV anymore. I don't have time. I think I've seen maybe two episodes of Homicide, total. So we were in with the editor to do our producer's cut of 402, and I was trying to describe what I wanted...jarring, disorienting cuts, don't worry if it matches, use conflicting takes or overlaps of takes...and finally the editor said, "Oh, you mean the Homicide look." And it'd been so long that I asked them to explain to me what that meant, and John got into it, me with him, and ended up with what we've got. I've got to start watching TV again, beyond X-Files, 60 Minutes and Simpsons. (Well, I've added Millennium, so that helps.)
It's a lovely episode.
Originally, the script read, "It's now 14 days since Captain Sheridan left for Z'ha'dum and was presumed killed. Nine days since Mr. Garibaldi disappeared while on patrol."
I went to edit the first sentence to make it active rather than passive syntax. In handwriting on the page (after the first draft, the typists take revisions and implement them), I meant to write, "It is now 9 days since Captain Sheridan was presumed killed at Z'ha'dum." I either missed changing the days, or the typist didn't put it in (it happens), and that draft of the script is long gone. But without knowing which, I'll just take the rap for it.
Y'know, if I were to read this group as an outsider, I'd think that this jms person was incapable of coming up with a single line on his own.
NO, it wasn't a Zork reference, for chrissakes. Can we possibly get any more obscure here? I don't even know what this REFERS to. Marcus came from a mining colony. The shadows struck, and killed everyone there. Hence, the line above.
There was some goofing around with SF references early on in the show; this got out of hand, and it stopped. I don't sit here, thinking, "Oh, goody, I can make a reference to The Day The Earth Stood Still here," or some other show. I write what is appropriate for the character to say. Period.
I'm sorry if I'm a bit cranky in answering this, but jesus christ, people, give it a rest and stop looking for references that don't exist. There are only so many permutations in the english language, and something has got to echo somewhere for everyone...but that ain't the source. "Oh, look, he use the word THE in this episode, he must be nodding at "The Ipcriss Files" or "THEM" just leaving off the M to throw us off."
Your point of reference is your point of reference, it's nothing to do with me. It's like a Rorscharch test, you see what you're familiar with.
As a writer, you work your brains out trying to come up with something, and you try your damndest to make it original, and fresh, and interesting...do you have any idea how infuriating, how maddening, how bottomlin *insulting* it is to have 10,000 people parsing every sentence and saying, "Oh, here, did you take this from that? Is this a reference to this over here?"
NO, IT'S NOT.
I allowed a little of that in the first season or so, often in scripts by other people, on a couple of occasions by myself, but that's the end of it, because everyone decided that the show was one big easter egg hunt. Fanfic is full of this stuff, which is perhaps why everyone keeps looking for it here.
If it's an absolutely blantant, and extremely recognizeable line, like the Tolkein reference in year two's "Geometry," then yeah...but some of this is getting so obscure and ridiculous that it's starting to make me crazy.
Can we *please* declare a moratorium on this for a while?
It's *exactly* the same footage, frame for frame. Only your perspective has changed.
Sort of like Shroedinger's TV show.
One occasion where I *did* do this recently...in the scene where Londo explains to Cartagia why he shouldn't be killed for being late, the director had Londo playing that scene submissive and nervous in rehearsals, didn't understand that the whole point of the exercise was Londo standing up to Cartagia, but doing so in a very sly way, not giving him any room to maneuver. Cartagia likes Londo because there's intelligence and steel, in a very manipulative fashion..."you think the same way I do," Cartagia says. So before we shot the scene, I pulled Peter aside and gave him the correction, and that's how we shot it.
But, again, those incidents are fairly rare.
Yup. Got it in one....
There's a fourth question coming, though.