A compilation of notes made whilst watching each episode after I've already seen the whole Babylon 5 series - stuff that I didn't notice before, or that takes on a whole new meaning when you know the rest of the story. These are not reviews, and since any part of the series may be mentioned in a single episode's comments, reading of these by anybody who hasn't already seen the whole story is strongly contraindicated.
Most of the foreshadowing was fairly obviously foreshadowing at the time, though of course the details were missing. Mostly Lennier's comments to Delenn about the coming darkness.
Sheridan's delight in the availability of fruit after so long on the Rim without it, one of three threads (the other two being Ivanova's and Garibaldi's injuries) that lead to the diet joke a few episodes later.
A number of details that will become quite significant are introduced. Shadow ships, not that we know what they are at the time. The Book of G'Quan. Anna Sheridan. Pity they couldn't get the same actress to play her later.. after seeing Anna's return the visuals are a mite jarring.
Londo's facetious crack "Why don't you eliminate the Narn Homeworld while you're at it?" is answered by Morden's perfectly serious "All in good time." Chilling.
The life energy machine - what would happen if the doctor passed out while running it and it kept going? He doesn't know - but we will sort of find out (though Marcus doesn't pass out - he does it on purpose.)
Garibaldi wakes up with a "What's up, Doc?"
G'Kar can't think what could threaten the Vorlons. Oddly enough, we're going to find out.
Londo tells Morden about the Narn expedition to Z'ha'dum... One more step on the path...
More of the Sheridan/fruit motif, gaining weight.
Londo gets in deeper, with partial awareness at best of what he's wading into.
The Technomages arrive, and Londo is warned, but doesn't take it nearly seriously enough.
Vir's currents speech sounds a little silly, but he's dead on. "The currents we think will make us the strongest are the ones that will destroy us."
Vir shows courage and persistance, characteristics that will serve him well later.
And the doctor puts people on food plans, Ivanova and Garibaldi to promote healing of injuries, Sheridan, to lose a bit of weight from all that fruit (must've been a LOT - fruit usually isn't the problem...).
And the payoff - the dinner swap. Not all of the significant background details refer to the last couple of seasons after all.
More something out there foreshadowing.
Adventure - "sometimes it comes to you." (Capt Maynard to Sheridan) Which it certainly is going to for Sheridan, and not just later this episode!
Keffer's first encounter with a shadow ship.. the start of an obsession.
"I'm sure we'll find out one of these days." Ivanova about the strange thing out there. Oh you will, you will...
Cryo tanks are introduced. We'll see the more modern variety with the Shadow-modified telepaths.
Garibaldi. "You were about to accuse the Centauri Ambassador of being in league with the devil. Which might not be far from the truth." No kidding...
"A soldier of darkness." - a really different alien... Our first, but hardly last encounter with energy beings, semi- or in- visible.
Something deadly out of old ruins, another common theme.
Discussion between Sheridan and Ivanova about Talia - Sheridan:"I trust in individuals, not organizations." Ironic enough given what happens to Talia later. She's trustworthy.. but her insidekick isn't.
And with that we compare what happened to Abel Horn to Talia herself, also the mindwipe and replacement of the Black Rose killer.
And thence to one of the central questions of the series - "Who are you?"
Hmmm.... also the theme of nearly dying and being brought back by various weird means. Of course we've already seen that with Garibaldi.
Relationships, not exactly romantic. There's of a recurring theme of encounters with past mates and lovers, usually unpleasant and Talia's ex in this one is definitely unpleasant. We're also back to control (see the previous episode.)
In the background in a scene in Garibaldi's room is a picture of Daffy Duck. "The Egyptian God of Frustration", another recurring theme.
And there's Mariella's wry comment to G'Kar's warning. "If you were married to Londo Mollari we all would be concerned." All the more amusing when I recall the scene years later in "View from the Gallery" where Londo and G'Kar, now friends are bickering amiably as they pass and someone cracks "How long have they been married?"
A group of telepaths gathers on the station, something we'll see again.
"You are more than you think you are." to Talia. Alas, all too ironically true. Though it does allow for considerable speculation of what might've happened if Andrea Thompson had stayed with the show. Would Talia have filled the role Lyta took; would the affair with Susan have worked out (not all that likely I suppose, given the latter's track record but if it did the whole Marcus arc would've been different}, lotsa stuff.
Wheeeeee! While it was evident during the first showing of the episode, it's still worth mentioning just what a rollercoaster ride this episode was. Knowing what so much of it led to only enhances the feeling. The first of two episodes to win a Hugo award.
We meet the rangers for the first time. (Though they've been around in the background for awhile.)
The god/goddess statue with all the extra attributes.
"Time to seize that last, fragile moment..." The emperor's speech to Sheridan holds echoes of the "Tick/Tock" situation far later.
Londo makes the decisive mistake, only to learn it was unnecessary; something obvious in the episode, but even more so when you see his whole career.
And the Centauri/Narn war begins. That this was something the Shadows wanted becomes only more clear when you realize why.
And an echo of the first episode - now it's G'Kar seeking to kill Londo.
Mention of the Markab (fruit juice shared by Franklin with his dad.)
Installation of new defences - "able to take on a warship". Which it does - and when you consider whose warship gets taken on in a later season, most ironic, too.
Delenn's flier is somewhat reminiscent of the White Stars, which will appear later (and which of course makes sense).
Minbari and threes - this is the second of the three significant visits by Delenn to the Gray Council. The first to refuse to be kicked upstairs, the second to be tossed out, the third will be to break the council.
And since Sheridan wasn't here for season one, it's now HIS turn in the barrel.
Streib instruments, tech foreshadowing the shadow tech we'll see later.
The first obligation of a prisoner... which will be echoed eerily several seasons later between Sheridan and Lorien.
Sheridan's vision - for all the discussion this gave rise to, looking back what I see is Kosh attempting to make connection with the usual Vorlon question in reverse ("Who am I?" as opposed to "Who are you?") and Sheridan seeing the various messages or implications as different people - Ivanova as soldier/warrior, Garibaldi as peacekeeper, the veiled Ivanova as mystery, and finally Kosh, who has been presenting himself as all of these, in his most familiar form. All of which is later echoed by Kosh appearing in his dream as his father. As far as Vorlon telepathy is concerned, Sheridan appears to have a largely visual imagination, thus his receiption is visual. "The man in the middle is looking for you." thus is part of the message Kosh is sending in his usual ambiguous fashion. Rather like a Zen master, presenting the message obliquely so as not to obstruct the lesson by stating it so clearly that the student will learn nothing else.
G'Kar's statement that either the Narn will kill the Centauri or vice verse, of no middle ground - sorta like the attitudes of the Vorlons and the Shadows.
The Lumati on evolution... once again we have the Shadow motive waved under our noses more or less - at least the Lumati don't believe in interfering to push it along.
Londo, who expected power to help is beginning to feel even more lonely and isolated.. just wait.
And we watch Sheridan's attempts to converse with Kosh; funny how much more sense the discussion makes this time around. I can see why later arrivals to the series accused those of us who'd been watching from the beginning of sounding like Kosh. :)
Cloaks and daggers begin to litter the station... and it's going to get worse. Something that I suppose was evident at the time, but HOW MUCH worse was not.
If there were any doubts left about the assasination, Clark's ruthlessness destroys them here.
We're introduced to Garibaldi's noir detective streak. Not the last time we'll see Garibaldi and friends to the rescue, either.
"What do you want?" And now we know why Vorlons hate that line.
Hiding Dr. Jacobs... Kosh takes a hand. And Kosh's ship is a lifeform. Organic tech pops up again. Something else we'll see plenty of.
Not related so much to stuff IN B5, but Dr. Franklin's autopsy brings bits of CSI to mind. Come to think of it, the entire murder investigation thread is reminiscent of CSI and Law and Order. Wherever you are, and whatever tech you're using, when it comes to forensics some things remain the same.
Fortunately there are also other things, like the moment of perfect beauty. I've seen too many of Joe's comments on the subject to go into more detail, but it's lovely.
Vir comments, "I feel like I'm falling in a pit and there's no way to climb out." Leastwise it's figurative, wait a season and Sheridan will fall in a literal one. And Vir will get out - it's Londo who's free falling into his own pit, which he dug himself even if Morden did hand him the shovel.
"Attributes". An amusing reminder that the Centari may be psychologically human, but physiologically they aren't as humanoid as they look. Judging by his reaction they probably have also had some of the same problems between the sexes, and the reference to sexual organs as indicative of personal status. And, of course, that Joe has an ...interesting... sense of humor. :)
"Symbolically cast- in a bad light." This is nothing I wasn't already aware of first time around - I just love that line too much to leave it out.
Sheridan and the lawyer. This is not the last time Sheridan will cheerfully override someone sent to keep him out of trouble... and be right. Of course next time, it'll be much less innocent on either side.
Londo's strange combination of a nasty sense of humor and real compassion, in the practical joke he plays on Vir.
The teddy bear. Which will turn up elsewhere, though not in THIS series. It's things like this that make me so glad I was reading rastb5m from before the series began, and could thus be vicariously in on some of the backstage silliness. Why I'm enjoying the script books too, come to think of it.
Reporters on board... later there will be a far more hostile manifestation - but then are they ever really on "your" side? Should they be? We'll see this one later when things go blooie.
"Interplanetary Expeditions: Exploring the Past to Create a Better Future" Um.......
Weapons of mass destruction. Sigh.. years after the series end and this only gets ever more ironic.
Senator Quantrell and his ill-fitting suit - trying to show his constituents how frugal he is?
Hmm... one of the decorations on the wall behind Sheridan at the end looks remarkably like a toothbrush holder stood on end... :) Of course props are where you find them.
Refugees, something we see more of from time to time. Babylon 5 as waystation. Franklyn so busy he's running on stims. Again. We know where this leads, and so would Franklyn if he took the time to think about it. If he had the time to think about it.
Morden learns what Vir wants - and eventually Vir gets it, too... And a simple gesture takes on a world of meaning.
Morden was on the Icarus... the first clue that here, too, things are not quite what they seem. Including Sheridan - there's a volcano under that cheery surface. He's determined.
Enter the Night Watch. The words sound innocuous, but the whole thing feels fishy. Which, goodness knows, it is. Of course calling it the Ministry of Peace brings up 1984 in all its hoary glory...
Shine the light on Morden, and what you chiefly see is shadows... nice bit of staging.
God reflected in the eyes of the dying - compare with what we see later when a telepath is in contact with someone who is dying.
Zack joins the Night Watch - and ultmately becomes its downfall, on B5 at least. (A recent reading of the script pointed out something I didn't notice even on the second watching; Zack specifically says he doesn't know about the WW 2 era, and slept through history class. If he had paid more attention then, he might have had a better idea what he was getting into.)
Sheridan has to know if Anna is alive. Well... sorta..... Then again this is a bit like asking if Talia Winters is alive a few episodes later.
And Morden has a Shadow with him in the hall - much more easy to distinguish when you already know what they look like - first time I couldn't really make it out.
Kosh would be recognized... by everyone. Well, almost everyone. As I commented earlier, Kosh is so much more understandable the second time around.
And Morden in his cell with two Shadows. Never alone.
Three accurate prophecies - Two by Sheridan , one by Kosh: Sheridan will go to Z'ha'dum, he will die, and he will stop the Shadows.
Here goes Sheridan poking his nose into the unknown for no good reason. He will continue to do this, usually for better reasons though. Right now, he's just playing in the spook house. And finds the spook...
Sheridan carries an energy being around inside for awhile - reminiscent of how he'll have a bit of Kosh with him later. Or how Lyta will carry first Kosh and then Ulkesh around.
Londo's quarters reflect his social advances. The Brivari bottles he has around now are first class, and stored in the liquor safe.
Again, we are reminded by the duel that Londo has courage enough, even if his wisdom is suspect. Ultimately, Londo's fate is classic Greek hubristic tragedy. And has far more meaning because of his good qualities.
The red hangings' color reflected in the sword blades looks like blood even before any is shed.
Londo begins to wonder about the choices he has made, but considers the path irrevokable. As is said, despair is the only unforgivable sin... because it won't let you forgive yourself and get out of it. At least Vir is learning from the experience.
Sheridan and the Minbari seder-equivalent. And Sheridan must be careful to get it right lest it rebound on someone else, namely Lennier. Alas, the rest of this episode is anything but funny.
The Markab self-destruct, and it's only a matter of luck that they don't take everybody else with them.
A ritual meal, a metaphorical angel of all too real death... somehow the fact that I'm watching this two days before Passover seems most appropriate.
Plenty of courage displayed here - Delenn and Lennier going to be with the isolated Markab, Garibaldi helping the injured Markab, the Markab doctor doing the autopsy and using his own infection to help Franklin study the disease.
"Analyze the problem, choose whichever strategy makes the least sense, then do it." I do wish this were less true...
Again we see Franklin relying on stims to keep going.
Faith manages. Another line nobody is going to forget.
I find myself looking at the credits for some reason and noting the poses of the characters - there's Sheridan grinning cheerfully, Ivanova with a neutral expression, not being one for revealing more of herself than she must, Garibaldi serious and intent "on the job", Delenn ever the diplomat; pleasant, revealing nothing, Franklin serious and focused (and you begin to wonder - does nobody but Sheridan ever smile around here?) , OK, Talia is smiling in a reserved way - of course even she doesn't know all her own secrets as this episode will make clear. Vir is uncertain, Lennier concentrating and maybe just a touch more uncertain than he would like to believe (or have others believe). Here's Keffer - ah, another genuine smile - little does he know what's waiting for him. Na'Toth is alert, G'Kar serious - no evident uncertainties here. Londo is laughing with the capacity for fun which his own decisions will beat out of him soon enough. It's obvious - characters who smile are in deep trouble. Of course so are the ones who don't.
OK, on with the episode. The multi-species restroom. First time around I was so focused on the conversation I didn't even notice where they were having it. Pakmara use only Do Not Enter!! Leaves one to wonder about the Pakmara facilities... I like all those multispecies signs.
A rare sight - Susan Ivanova happy. Susan and Talia and, alas, yet another relationship that's going to be blown up before it gets very far. Ivanova's punctured lovelife.
Lyta, headed for Vorlon space - she's right, they will let her in.
And the irony of Susan vetting Lyta by asking Talia about her. Another of the questions that pervades the whole episode - Who can you trust?
Delenn sending the Lumati regrets about a trade agreement. Remembering what they're like you can make a few guesses as to why.
Garibaldi's regrettable sense of humor - of course later he WILL be the one under a geas he knows nothing about until too late.
And Lyta loves Kosh. At least they'll get more time than some other such relationships do herein.
What is it with JMS and doomed romances, anyway?
Lord Refa is all too obviously fond of that throne. You won't get it, Refa, and I suspect you wouldn't want it if you knew what it was going to cost Londo. Of course considering what your own fate will be...
Poor Sheridan. Ever notice how interruptions always know when you're in the shower? Especially in this case; Draal must have known. "Humble" my eye. :)
Yes indeed, G'Kar's work will be more important than a fleet of ships in the long run, though neither he nor his uncle has any idea how it will work out.
Again, interesting to watch the shadows on Londo's and Refa's faces.
G'Kar places his hand to his forehead in a gesture of mourning, in the process covering his eye which has eerie overtones looked at later.
Londo, watching the bombardment, looking aghast. But, alas, not quite shocked enough to veer from his course. This is the scene on which I based the operatic duet Don't Look Back.
Finally, we come to G'Kar's freedom speech. "If it takes a thousand years, we will be free." Wow. Fortunately it takes far less than a thousand years, and nobody in the room would believe you if you told them how it would happen.
Another of those episodes where things just pop out at you.
An ironic twist on "What do you want?", G'Kar's supplier with "What I have is what you want."
G'Kar's comment "Should your body be found it could never be identified from what's left," brings Lord Refa's fate to mind, though of course in his case his killers made sure he could be identified.
It's spooky how well Sebastian ties into the Vorlon outlook, once you become more familiar with their motivation. Also, the whole attempt to find out the answer to "Who are you" with stress is reminiscent of the less physically hazardous testing of Talia by Kosh with the help of the Vicar. The Vorlons are nothing so simple as "The Good Guys." While now that I think of it, Sebastian evokes echos of Cartagia wanting his scream.
Once again things come in threes; Sinclair's interogation in "And the Sky Full of Stars", Delenn here (with Sheridan, briefly), and finally Sheridan in "Intersections in Real Time." Though perhaps his experience with Lorien might be a better parallel.
G'Kar and Vir communicating across an unbreachable wall of tragedy. Ouch! (And just wait until it's G'Kar and Londo...)
G'Kar and the other Narns seeking a word from home, the way earlier Garibaldi was seeking one from Mars. As then, the message comes through unusual sources; this time the Rangers.
Not that much new except for my comments on Vorlon visibility. But there were a number of items I found just as interesting this time around as when I first saw them.
Vir and Lennier in the bar - the sidekicks confer. Lovely bit.
Our suspicions about the Nightwatch are confirmed, while Earthdome insists on reminding us of the days before World War II. Mr. Lantz, the Earthdome representative actually uses the phrase "Peace in our time", with a straight face, and no apparent conscience of irony. Santayana's famous quote remains as apt as ever.
Sheridan rehearses his "apology". It's the thought that counts.
Kosh to the rescue! And everybody sees him in a different manner. Except Londo who doesn't see him at all. Did the Vorlons "program" Centauri not to see them at all? If so, why? I doubt it's that they knew who would work with the Shadows - given Vorlon ruthlessness there was a very simple if nasty solution to THAT one. If it's just that the Vorlons never got to the Centauri in their pre-history, to give them a preprogrammed vision, why doesn't Londo see the "light squid" we see later? Is the latter any more the true appearance of the Vorlons? Are they actually invisible like the Shadows?
Ivanova lights the Hannukah candles - a hope of light in the darkness.