Sunday, June 1, 2008

B5 S3 Ep5: Voices Of Authority

Welcome to the dancefloor! Stayin' Alive! Stayin' Alive! "Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk I'm a woman's man no time to talk!" These First Ones are stayin' alive and apparently they've been around alot longer than the 70s.

Code 7R” and the War Council is called alerted for yet another emergency session. Secrets seem to be hard to keep on Babylon 5. Zack is certainly curious about “Code 7R” and G’Kar has apparently caught wind of the Rangers when he corners Delenn and inquires with her about the ongoing closed-door meetings in yet another solid entry of Babylon 5 Season 3.

Babylon 5, Season Three, Episode 5, Voices Of Authority [or Bow Down Before Our Ancient Space Disco Ball], continues the natural rhythms of a show that clearly found its groove in Season Two.

Delenn: “Wars are won or lost before they’re fought through preparation added to strategy and the selection of proper allies.”

Delenn reminds the group of the last Great War one thousand years ago. It was believed the First Ones went away, beyond the galactic rim forever, where no human or Minbari has ever gone before [queue Star Trek theme-paying a little homage to William Shatner's narration there in my head]. Over the course of millions of years The Shadows have been fought to a standstill by the ancient races referred to as the First Ones. The Vorlons [one of them] remained. Though tired of warfare and perhaps ensconced Delenn believes some may still be here, near us and among the stars in our system.

We get a bit more on our man Marcus. Marcus was trained on Minbar. He has learned these races are old, powerful and dangerous. They do not want to be troubled. They are a bit like a grumpy old uncle, a kind of nasty Winter Warlock if you will.

The War Council believes an attempt to contact the First Ones is needed. Draal, from Epsilon 3, reappears within the council chambers to caution the group while also excited by the possibilities. I don’t know about you, but John Schuck who plays Draal [a role previously portrayed by Louis Turenne a.k.a. Brother Theo] is dreadfully annoying. I didn’t care for the actor the first time we met him in The Long Twilight Struggle. He’s just terrible. I know I’m being hard on him, but I cringe when I see him. Maybe he reminds me of someone loud and annoying. Anyway, Sheridan agrees to travel to Epsilon 3 to determine, with Draal, which race would be suitable for first contact.

To complicate matters, The Ministry Of Peace, Nightwatch division, has sent a liaison to the station under the authority of the Babylon 5 Senate Oversight Committee in the form of one beautiful blond bombshell Ms. Julie Musante [Shari Shattuck]. She is their new political officer. Sheridan is less than pleased about Earth’s latest envoy slash lackey. He must cancel his trip to Epsilon 3 thanks to his latest bureaucratic nightmare. She is indeed easy on the eyes, but damn, she’s hell on wheels! He assigns Ivanova to the Epsilon 3 mission. Ivanova asks if there is anything else he needs. His retort, "a glass of whiskey, a gun and two bullets."

Ms. Musante, escorted to her quarters, uses her assets to get Zack to keep her informed on anything Sheridan is unwilling to inform her on and reminds him he works for the Nightwatch.

Later, over a fine meal, Ms. Mussante continues to annoy while looking extremely hot. She can dish it out in intellect and sex appeal! She has an answer for every question Sheridan poses. She bats those eyelashes and tells Sheridan, “I think I could come to like you…quite a lot.” Okay. Maybe some protection with that whiskey, gun and two bullets would be good. Translation: "I would like to go to your room and boff your brains out!" as she literally throws herself at the Captain. I suppose we can overlook a few minor shortcomings given her other fine skills and abilities if you will. I know, I sound so sexist! I'm Terrible!
Such a beautiful face.
Meanwhile down on Epsilon 3, Ivanova steps into the Great Machine. “Whatever you do, do not stray from the path,” urges Draal. This is all quite strange, because apparently if she strays and cannot return to the path she can die. It’s kind of like a dream. Can you actually die in your dream? Apparently here you can. The machine points to Sigma 957. This was the planet G’Kar warned Catherine Sakai about back in Season One's Mind War. Remember those always poetic words of Straczynski as delivered by G'Kar here in Mind War.

By the way that Sakai is an attractive lady. Whatever happened to her? Is she with Sinclair down on Minbar?
Sigma 957 is an alleged First Ones stronghold. While inside the machine she witnesses images from the past including Earth Force One's explosion and a transmission by Clark speaking of his desire to murder Santiago. We also hear the voice of Morden who is clearly in cahoots and entrenched at the highest levels of power within the Earth government. All is not well for the Earthers and the government is clearly exhibiting signs of major infection by The Shadows. Ivanova is stunned by what she has seen and directs Draal to record the message and the images.
Hello luscious!
Back in Sheridan’s quarters, Ms. Mussante is annoying butt also… naked! Sweet! Ivanova appears in Sheridan’s quarters via Epsilon 3 hologram to alert him to her findings. Sheridan ducks into his room to speak with Ivanova leaving a naked Mussante in waiting for further intercourse from Sheridan. Eh hem! Ivanova leaves Sheridan with the naked truth, “good luck Captain, I think you’re about to go where everyone has gone before.” Tough life Captain but someone's gotta do it!

"Get a room! Oh that's right I am in your room. Damn!"
G’Kar grabs Garibaldi’s attention and is frustrated at being kept in the dark concerning the secrets of Babylon 5 or as he calls it “a gathering of forces.” G'Kar clearly finds it difficult to come to terms with the fact he's no longer an ambassador who is on a need to know basis. He’s dying to know.

Ivanova moves to visit Sigma 957 via the White Star with Marcus [fluent in Minbari]. The ship is within Sheridan’s command, but is operated in large part thanks to a contingent of religious Minbari who are readily on hand. Who would have thought Starkiller and the Minbari would be engaged so closely to achieve the same goals, never mind his growing connection to half-Minbari Delenn.

A Nightwatch meeting convenes whereby Ms. Mussante is more than happy to strut her stuff and stomp all over due process to enforce the latest Earth restrictions. So it’s official. She’s a wacko, albeit with a very high sex drive.
Talking Heads but not Burning Down The White Star!
Positioned over Sigma 957, Ivanova makes contact with a giant flying disco ball. The ship is devastatingly cool with its discotheque effects. This thing has got to have some filthy rotten firepower to match The Shadows! I was completely humbled by the spectacle the effects team and designers came up with here. It is an original psychedelic creation. A giant stone head appears before her inside the White Star and doesn’t say all that much. The arrogance permeates the ship and it's a clear sign they've made contact with one of the First Ones. Ivanova attempts to communicate with it by informing the alien entity of the coming Shadows. At first, their reaction is one of indifference as they prepare to leave. Ivanova comes up with some good old fashioned human reverse psychology. She jumps into action informing the race of its parallels to the Vorlons, but also by telling them how much superior the Vorlons are. It is priceless.

This reminds me of sitting in one of those planetariums when they turned it into a Led Zeppelin light show.
Back on Babylon 5, Sheridan and Garibaldi review the Clark transmission. Sheridan will deliver it to General Hague. The communique has an official code buried within it that will legitimate its authenticity. The news reports the information is being analyzed, but by whom?

Greased Lighting! This was an unexpected exchange for me. I never saw it coming. Where’s Rizzo to smooth things out when you need her?

Sheridan: “No problem making first contact?”
Ivanova: “No problem at all. They’ll be there when we need them. That’s one down and what?several thousand more to go.”
Sheridan: “Yeah, if this war’s gonna be as bad as Delenn says we’ll need all the First Ones we can find.

Back on Earth Clark is calling the uncovered transmission an alien conspiracy. Santiago’s family is demanding an investigation. “It’s a mess, but the truth is out,” relays Sheridan to Ivanova.

Sgt. Zack Allan, what the hell are you thinking? You idiot! The last thing you should be doing is asking Ms. Mussante what a “Code 7R” is. Are you freakin’ nuts kid? Plant the seed with an unknown variable why dontchya, great job! What a pisser. It’s like near sabotage pal.
"I was hoping you were Ms. Mussante."
The final scene is in the late hours as Garibaldi attempts sleep. There is a visitor at his door. The whole thing sends us in yet another new direction. Stumbling to answer, the door opens. It is G’Kar.

G:Kar: “I told you I could help.” [He hands Garibaldi the Book of G’Quan] “Read it!”
Garibaldi: “I don’t read Narn.”
G’Kar: “Learn.”
Garibaldi: “He hates me. They all hate me. That’s why they’re doing this…to make me crazy.”

I’d really like a copy of the G’Quan myself. It looks like a fascinating read from all we’ve seen of it to date. It is an old guide filled to the hilt with wisdom and more importantly loads of great pictures and drawings. Very cool.

Voices Of Authority: B+


Anonymous said...

I’ve no problem with Draal (or Schuck); I think he’s just one of these characters (like Musante or several others) that are deliberately overdrawn somewhat. Not quite a caricature, but a bit of it. That’s one aspect of the show some people (though I don’t think you are among them) just don’t seem to get: there’s a definite theatrical and fantasy element in it, and while some characters are drawn to portray real persons, others (usually the secondary characters) are very close to archetypes, and others are a mixture of both. It’s like throwing real people into an environment that’s basically real but also includes some rather surreal elements, such as bizarre and quirky characters like Zathras, Musante, or Draal. It’s not unlike Star Wars in that respect. I think that people either get that mixture, or they don’t; there's really no way to explain it if they don't.

According to an interview with Jeff Conaway, we owe Zack’s complaints about the uniforms to a real life visit Jeff paid to JMS, complaining about the unfashionable uniforms. He got more careful with that sort of complaints later.

Loved the petty First Ones, and Marcus' idea that „the Vorlons must owe them money or something.“ And of course conversation in the restaurant, especially the part about „when we rewrote the dictionary“.


Anonymous said...

re: Sakai - her fate is revealed in one of the novels, "To Dream in the City of Sorrows" by Kathryn Drennan. 10 of the B5 novels were written according to outlines by JMS and edited by him; they are considered largely canon, it's this one and the three trilogies (Psi Corps, Centauri and Technomage trilogy).


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Draal is definitely droll. I just don't care for the actor playing him. He reminds me of a fellow at the meat market. I'm all for hamming it up a la Mussante or them! I'd really like to read that Technomage trilogy someday. Obviously I would have to find the time and find the books. Have you read many of the B5 novels? Cheers.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

By the way, with relation to your comments about the dialogue. I thought the Ivanova sequence was particularly great! Terrific performance with perfect dialogue delivered with great timing.

Anonymous said...

Most of the books are still available (though I wouldn't wait too long, they aren't being reprinted for all I know, and as paperbacks they're rather inexpensive as long as you don't have to find them second hand).

The Drennan book, the first two Centauri books, the first two Psi Corps books, and the third Technomage books are regularly available at Amazon or any other retailer. The others are only available second hand. The biggest problem is the 3rd book of the Centauri Trilogy by Peter David, followed by the first two Technomage books by Jean Cavelos (sp?). All of them have been out of print for a while. The third Psi Corps book, "The fate of Bester", is also out of print but is still available as remainders in some places; if you see it, I'd recommend you get a hold of it.

By now, I've read the Psi Corps books and the Drennan book. The first Psi Corps book is set in the 22nd century and explains the discovery of telepaths, the events around the formation of the Psi Corps, and the early history of the Corps. It's a bit tedious, mostly because it covers a lenghty time-span and introduces a complete cast of new characters every five chapters or so(the "Foundation" vol. 1 syndrome), but it's interesting. The second deals with Bester's life up to 2258, the third with his fate after 2262; again, I can't tell more without being spoilerish. The Drennan book is about Sinclair's fate on Minbar and other events I can't yet talk about for spoiler reasons. It ties up a lot of questions left due to O'Hare's departure and I think it's quite good. The Centauri trilogy tells what happens to the Centauri after the series ends; reviews are positive for the most part. The Technomage trilogy got some mixed reviews; the books are quite dark, I hear, not everyone likes Cavelos' rather scientific writing style, and there's a major role of a character named "Galen", a student of our Technomage Elric, who doesn't show in the B5 series proper but is introduced only in the short-lived spin-off series "Crusade". He also appears in "The Lost Tales" (very mysterious and interesting character, I think).


Anonymous said...

re: dialogue - Ivanova vs. Marcus is one example. Musante vs. Sheridan another (the restaurant conversation is simply brilliant). And just look at the first chapter, the distinction between Zack/Garibaldi, Delenn, and then Draal.


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Always thankful for your input. Great stuff. Also, the more I read about Straczynski the more I would say very little to him. He sounds quite ornery. The restaurant scene was excellent. I have to say I do love Ivanova's conversation to the First Ones. It's hysterical. "whatver." "And strong." She's a character!

Anonymous said...

If you're referring to Conaway's experience, IIRC he said he realised that whatever he did around JMS might end up in the character, so he got more careful. Pat Tallman had a similar experience in Season 5.


Anonymous said...

Hey, longtime lurker here. Just wanted to point out that novel "The Shadow Within" by Cavelos was also given a reprint and is generally considered about half-canonical. There were a series of books (referred to as the "number books") before the trilogies, and of about 12 of them only two (The Shadow Within and To Dream in the City of Sorrows) were considered canon and saved for another print run. TSW is mostly about the fate of the Icarus; it's got a lot of backstory on Anna Sheridan and Mr. Morden.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

By the way thank you M for your detailed input about the books. I went back to read your entry as well as all of the great inout from aris-tgd [I'll keep an eye on your site]. I had been wondering what the heck books to buy and like both of you mentioned, those first two Techno-Mages books are tough to get. I had the most interest in reading that trilogy but it looks like I'll have to settle on book 3 for now and try and get the first two when I can. So, based on your comments guys, I went ahead and bought The Shadow Within [second hand] because it sounded really good based on what you had to say aris-tgd. I also got To Dream In The City based on what you said M. I also got Book 1 & 2 of Legions. Book 3 seems impossibly expensive. I will read them when I'm done with the series if I can ever find the time. I also got Dark Genesis: The Birth Of Psi Corps but I'm not sure I should have bought that one. Thanks again for your spoiler free book input.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

By the way lurker aris-tgd, thanks for coming out of the Shadows... I know terrible.