Contents: Overview - Backplot - Questions - Analysis - Notes - JMS
In Sheridan's final days, old friends gather to celebrate. Takes place in 2281, approximately twenty years after the end of the rest of the series.
P5 Rating: 9.34 Production number: 523 (see Notes) Original air date: November 25, 1998 (US) Written by J. Michael Straczynski Directed by J. Michael Straczynski
Nominated for 1999 Hugo Award for best dramatic presentation.
One possibility is that it became less and less convenient relative to other hubs as the Alliance equalized member races' technologies, causing, for instance, artificial gravity to become the norm. Better hyperspace navigation technology might have made it irrelevant as a waypoint and less necessary as a trading center.
Still, the argument about it being a hazard to navigation seems a bit odd; in the vastness of space, it's a tiny speck. Granted, it's possible to emerge out of control from the jumpgate and be on a collision course with the station ("Soul Hunter") but a slight change of orbital position would almost certainly eliminate that possibility.
CRYOGENIC SUSPENSION CHAMBER
SUBJECT: Marcus Cole
Comments: Indefinite Hold in the event of new resuscitation technology
REQUESTED BY: CMDR. S. IVANOVA
By the time the series has run its five-year course (Neilsen willing), there will only be ONE unanswered question left: "NOW what?"
For the most part, yeah...it's gotten a bit refined over time, the way it always does the closer you get to it...it's like seeing a mountain from a great distance, then closing in until you can make out the details. But basically, yeah.
No, I don't think so. The story for "Sleeping in Light," the last B5 episode, is such that it is completely moveable, and self-contained, and buttons down the arc in what I think is a very moving fashin. I think that when it's all said and done, the average reaction will be to sit back and say, "That was a good story." Obviously you can't please everyone, and you can't expect to. But basically, yeah, I think it's going to end well.
The one thing I would hate is for B5 to become any kind of so-called "franchise." Because as soon as that happens, you're prevented from making any changes, from doing anything that might startle people, cutting into the piggy-bank. Once that happens, you're dead.
I've also made no secret of my sense that, should B5 run its full five year course (and assuming the side-story doesn't go, which I would not exactly count on)...I plan to get out of TV. By that point, I would have said pretty much everything I want to say in TV, and it's time to get out, buy a small house somewhere outside London, and spend the rest of my years writing novels, which is kinda where this all began. (I've had 2 novels, 1 anthology, and a bunch of short stories published, as well as 500 or so articles.)
I never got into this to make a ***FRANCHISE***, and never really intended to become an executive producer. I just don't like being rewritten...so I climbed higher, until finally there was nobody over me messing with my scripts. Outside of the B5 reality, if someone came to e and offered me *staff writer* on a show -- the lowest position in the TV totem pole -- but with the guarantee that I wouldn't be rewritten, they wouldn't change the words...I'd take it in a hot second. I'm here, now, strictly out of self-defense.
Two valuable social skills are knowing when to enter a room, and when to leave a room. At some point, you have to get out or become something you don't want to become. I've never really been part of the Hollywood SYSTEM, and have no desire to do so.
In "The Velvet Alley," Rod Serling wrote of a young advertising writer who becomes a success at writing television. At one point, the character says (paraphrased from memory): "Here's the trap...in TV they pay you lots of money for what you do...then, slowly, your standard of living rises until you *need* that constant flow to stay at that level. Then...they threaten to take it away from you if you don't behave. And THAT'S when they've got you."
Barring that very distant possibility, at the end of the five year arc, I take a very, very, VERY long nap....
You have to understand...I never came in wanting to be a producer. I'm a *writer*, and I only got here because it was the only way to protect the words...create and run the damned show so nobody can mess with it. Once I've finished the Babylon story, assuming it runs its full length, (5 years alone, more if there is that doubtful spinoff), the story is over. Every story has a beginning, middle and end, and the story's over when it's over.
I've also made no bones about the fact that, should the Babylon story run its full term, I will have said just about everything I want to say in television, and plan to get out, go back to writing novels.
My philosophy: find what it is you want to say, walk in the room, say it, and get the hell out. (Second philosophy behind that one: when in doubt, roll in a grenade and come in firing.)
So barring anything truly exceptional -- like someone handing me an anthology series -- my plan at the moment is to retire from TV at the end of the five years and go back to writing novels and plays. At that point, I think I'll have said just about everything I want to say for TV.
If there is a season 5, 422 is yanked out of the mix and moved down to occupy 522's slot, and we shoot 501 and get it done in time to air in place of 422 in October.
422, or 522, depending on the breaks, takes place in 2281. So it plays just fine either way.
I'm sure some of that's bound to happen...but the reality of it is that if you add up all the people who are online and might get this information, you'd actually end up with only about 4% of the viewing audience...so it'll still have its desired impact.
Not really, no more so than seeing G'Kar and Londo strangling each other as early as year one...but we didn't know what that *meant* until later. And there's still a long, long way between that episode and where we leave off at 421. A lot happens there that nobody else knows, inclusive of the cast.
"Also, if you've neatly tied everything up, what does that really leave for season 5? Filler, non-arc stories? This has been my biggest fear. That season 5 will now be farmed out to other scriptwriters, who don't have the intimacy with the story that you have, and that the quality of stories will take a nose dive with filler material."
Without giving too much away, season 5 would be empire building. It wouldn't be filler at all, but a logical extension of what has gone before.
Basically...I often get messages from people worrying about what might be...then they see what *is* and it's, "Oh...okay, got it." Generally speaking, I think it's better to react to what is rather than what might never in fact be an issue. I ain't let you down yet....
Well, they know the show is really my vision, and they're curious what it would look like if it was also followed through behind the camera. And as our liaison with WB said, "We like it when our creative people spread their wings a little." They like the show, and it does well for them, and they're just generally supportive that way.
My main goal was not to embarrass myself overmuch. I think I came out okay. I've now seen an editor's assembly of the material, and it plays real nice. Now I get to go in and make the director's cut, which will to all intents and purposes also stand as the producer's cut.
The main thing is...this one is *exactly* the way I saw it in my head. It has a somewhat different feel than prior episodes, though hard to quantify. But I think it came out nicely.
I really don't know if I'd say that I *enjoyed* it...my main concern every day was somehow getting through it without embarrassing myself, or letting down the crew or the cast or, ultimately, the viewers. I wanted the direction to the the equal to the performances I knew were waiting to be unlocked. I haven't commented on it much for the same reason you rarely see me saying that a given script of mine is good...I'm too close to it and too critical of everydamnthing I do. But so far everyone of the crew who's seen it, and a few others, were very much moved and satisfied by it.
I don't know if I'll do it again or not...my gut says probably not. If I *were* to even try it again, it couldn't be anything other than a final episode of a season, given how much is involved in prep if you're going to have a chance to get it right.
Since it's customary for directors to bring in food on the last day of an episode shoot, I brought in food at the end of the day, and folks stayed around until late in the evening, just hanging around, chatting, eating, and the like. (I headed home around 7 mainly because I was just bushed.) We also took a big family picture that will go into the end credits of the episode, whenever it will finally air. A lot of our past directors, crew, actors and others showed up for the thing, and stayed for the party, knowing that either way, this was going to be the last episode of the series, whether it's 4 or 5 years.
Then everybody went away for a few days, and now we're back shooting movie #1, "Thirdspace."
In a way you're kind of asking the wrong person, as I'm inside the fishbowl and can't see the show the way anyone outside can see it. The only gauge I have is the reaction the script got around the stage when people on the crew and cast read it. (With a note attached explaining the possibility of airing it as 522 or 422, but that either way this would end up the story.)
Pretty much everybody cried. I came home to a message on my machine from Mira, who was almost unable to speak, and another from Claudia who said she was honored and proud to be a part of this, and the script had made her cry. Bruce, Richard, big beefy guys on the crew...all said the same thing. And there I have to concur; I lost is several times as I was writing it, due to the content; there's one scene in particular...you'll know it when you see it...that put me away for an hour when I finished writing it.
But here's the thing...*every single person* who cried at the script, ended it feeling that it was not a sad script in the end, or a down ending...that it left them feeling proud, and tall, and *positive*...that life goes on...that it was a reaffirmation of life itself, on its most primal level. They felt good about the ending. And that was a great relief for me, because I was trying something *very* difficult from a writing perspective, and at first blush it looks as if I've pulled it off. (Now I get to go in as director and *totally* screw it up.)
Only one fan has read the script...someone whose opinion I trust. Because I was curious about the reaction from that side of the screen. And the reaction was *exactly* the same.
So how do I think people will react?
I think a lot of people will cry.
But by the end of it, I think it will come around, and be all right...and mainly, that people will then look back at the whole story, through all these long years, and say, "It was a good story." And close the cover, and put it on the shelf with the other books that will be reread again down the years, and turn off the lights, and go to bed feeling that the time was well spent.
Which is the most any writer can ever ask for. To tell a tale worth telling To make people cry. To make people laugh. And even, once in a while, make them think about things, and see the world just a little differently than when they began.
And then they can centerpunch me on the freeway, or throw a plane at me, and I won't even mind. Because everything I set out to prove, I proved. Everything I set out to say, I said.
I've carried this story like a hermit crab carries its shell for five long years, counting the pilot. It's been an *awfully* long and difficult road, and no one will ever really know just how hard this show was to make. Nor should they, because it isn't the difficulty that makes the story, the *story* makes the story. But one way or another, aired as 522 or 422, when it airs the burden is off at last. Then it no longer belongs to me. It belongs to you. As should be.
And, in the end, I think you'll be pleased.
But strangest of all, the final credits sequence and what we did with them for SiL is also very deeply affecting...and I'm not entirely sure why, I think it's something operating at an almost subconscious level, about seeing certain images juxtaposed. Darndest thing....
It's interesting when that happens. There's a halo around Sheridan's head at one point when he's yelling at Delenn in the big room in "Z'ha'dum," and, just as a pointer to something you won't see for another year....
When I was directing "Sleeping in Light," there's a scene with Sheridan and a mirror. (That's all I'll say about it, so there's no spoiler info there.) As John Flinn lit the shot, and angled the mirror...I froze at what I was seeing on the monitor. I called John over, and pointed to it. "Do you see what I see?" It took him a moment, but then his eyes went wide, and by his own reckoning, "the skin on my arms crawled." He turned to the guys dressing the set and said, in a very loud, clear voice, "NOBODY TOUCHES THAT MIRROR! YOU HEAR ME!? NOBODY!"
It's not a big...but it's a pretty cool unintended illusion (though once we saw it, we kept it).
People often ask if there's anything they can do in return for B5, something I'd like and I do have some ideas, here at the end, regarding SiL.
I think it would be a wonderful thing if more folks than usual got together for viewing parties on this one. Not newcomers, not folks who haven't seen the show, just the "family," if you will. If B5 has helped to create communities, then I think this last episode should be for that community.
I also think you'll find some interesting tie-offs in this show...something about Minbari beliefs about souls born in the hearts of suns, and a pay-off to why the narrations of this series have always been in the past tense, and a gift to the crew of this show...to which end I *strongly* suggest that even if you don't normally tape this series, that you do tape *this* episode so you can go back and check some stuff at the end.
"Sleeping in Light" airs in just a little over two months, and every time I look at it, it has the sense of something very special coming to its conclusion. It's so damned hard watching it...and yet there's something about it that is massively uplifting at the same time.
Anyway, I was just thinking that often viewing parties are used to bring in new folks to B5, but this one, I think, should be for the family. Maybe local fan groups want to get together, find someone with a good-sized TV, and watch. It's one of those Moments, I think, that will be remembered a long time thereafter.
And I've got TNT's promise not to run a voice-over or squish the credits at the end.
The Drak and Centari Prime?
Vir is Emperor now. Londo asked Sheridan to free his people; we can assume he did this...but we will also be showing this in the Centauri Prime trilogy of books in more detail.
We saw Londo's fate in War Without End Part 2.
The telepath crisis and events surrounding it will provide a lot of the background to Crusade.
Bester and the Psi Corps?
We saw his fate in WWE2 also.
Garibaldi and Bester?
This will be covered in the Psi Corps trilogy, of which volume 1 is out now, and volume 2 is in my hands for editing.
B5's seemingly needless and useless destruction?
Neither needless nor useless. It was built cheapest of all the stations, and it takes a lot of money to maintain it. With trade routes now going around it, there isn't enough income to support it. So do you leave it intact, for others to occupy or raid for weapons systems and other systems too difficult to yank out? Or take it out, the same way we implode buildings now?
Sheridan's son - we guess he survived the Drak and their intended keeper?
This will also be covered in the Centauri Prime trilogy...but if you sit back you can do some of the work to figure out a large part of this. As Londo states, his situation in WWE2 (Sheridan and Delenn captured on Centauri Prime) takes place 18 years after the events in 2260, which would put it at 2278. The urn, given to Sheridan in 2262, is supposed to be given to the heir at the occasion of his/her 16th birthday, by Centauri tradition.
That would put the urn presentation at...ding!...2278.
In 2278, Sheridan and Delenn have been drawn to Centauri Prime. We know their son is involved, because Delenn says "David is safe." So they were somehow able to save him, because we know that in 2281, David is alive and well and serving in the Rangers (SiL).
You can see the shape of the events there...once again the clues are more or less in plain sight...but again, this will be drawn out in the books in more detail.
I just wanted to say that I think the way you ended THE LORD OF THE RINGS was crap. You didn't provide any closure. Instead of spending time with the hobbits clearing out the shire (come on, urban renwal in LoTR? give me a break) and lots of goodbyes, you SHOULD have shown me what happened to Tom Bombadil, he was an important part of the story, and you just left his story thread there unresolved.
You made a big deal out of the elves going to the west, but we never SAW it! We never found out what was there, or what Bilbo found when he got there, or what happened to the dwarves, or what happened to Merry and Pippin....
You betrayed your audience by not resolving every single plot thread you introduced in your book, and as a result, it is never going to be of value to anyone, ever, and will never go past its first printing.
Had Zack been there, then yeah, maybe he would've named Lyta (or not, given what happens with her later). THAT would have been appropriate. But it would NOT have been appropriate to have her named just because somebody wants to hear her name called.
The persons named were ones to whom they had an emotional attachment... Vir to Londo, Garibaldi to G'Kar, Ivanova to Marcus, Sheridan to Londo, Delenn to Lennier. Lyta did not have that connection to anyone at that table that would be on an equal footing.
Why not send it into Epsilon 3's atmosphere?
I don't see how sending a 5 mile long station plummeting into the atmosphere of Epsilon 3 is any more or less real than blowing it up in space, where salvage crews can come in and take the metal. We already *saw* bits of the debris burning up in the atmospher in the second shot... and as for sending the whole thing hurtling down, well, I think Draal might have a thing or two to say about that....