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The Gathering, spoiler edition

So we actually watched this ep a couple weeks ago when I said we were, but then my lovely partner got really busy and the project got put on hold. I wrote up my thoughts at the time but had planned to wait in her post so I could comment a bit more on her reactions, however now it looks like she’ll just role those thoughts in with her thoughts on the next ep so I guess I’ll just post mine without.

A bit of introduction/background on me.

Hi, I’m jedi_of_urth and I’ve been in a lifelong relationship with my one true love, Babylon 5 since I was 11/12 years old. I’m 28 now, that’s more than half my life that this show has been the story against which all other TV shows are measured.

I don’t revisit my love as often as I should but it sits in my heart and has never been fully displaced by any other show. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just that I have loved it so long but whenever I do come back all the old feelings are still there. The effects may look more dated every time I come back, I may be a lot more willing to admit the shows flaws than I was as a kid, and it may always be a little weird to return to the beginning of the story, but I have never stopped loving it.

The point of that rant and awkwardly stretched metaphor? However much I may end up picking at the show I love it deeply, it taught me what it is to be a fan of something, through it I first got into fandom and it helped me discover and shaped many of the things I like best in storytelling. However much, particularly in the first and last seasons, I fuss about episodes, it’s because I know what this show is when it’s good; it’s great.

This time I invite you (and clockwork_sky) along for the ride that is B5. We’ll get started at the beginning (not ‘In the Beginning’ that would be weird).

1x00 ‘The Gathering’ or ‘And So it Begins’

The Gathering is not a great episode, we know this, it probably gets about 3/10 as far as B5 quality goes (1 being Grail and 10 being Coming of Shadows), the action is bad, the mystery is poorly executed and the politics are hit and miss. Very very flawed.

And yet, there was a decent chunk of it that I really found myself caught up in and that was the character moments: Londo’s scenes, Sinclair’s talk about the Line, even Laurel’s big confession scene and Caroline’s talk with Delenn were interesting. Trouble would come when we went back into the plot sure, but there were some really good bits in there.

Londo, Michael, Jeff, and mostly G’Kar are already pretty much themselves, if early models of themselves of course. Delenn is...not. Well known reasons behind the scenes reasons play a big role of course, but I kind of feel like JMS didn’t really have the Minbari culture ironed out. Well on hand he did write the assassin (amusingly in retrospect) fighting with a pseudo-pike but on the other Delenn is lying up a storm without always great reasons to it.

Also, I really feel he didn’t have the telepath angle worked out at this point. It’s hard to say if the Lyta we meet here is a logical precursor to the Lyta we know later, but there’s some definite problems with the way she talks about the Psi Corps given what we learn over the years. Also I was distracted this time by the fact that she was supposed to be hanging around “Varner” and never picked up on him being a minbari in a changeling net.

A few more quick comments
-I don’t really like Dr. Kyle. Or I’m indifferent on him but don’t so much like the way he works with the others.
-I do like Caroline and feel like we missed out on some story there. I do like Catherine though so it pretty much evens out.
-Oh Londo, oh G’Kar, you guys have no idea what’s ahead of you.
-Much as I love John, and will be ready for him to show up when he does I expect, when I’m watching the early stuff I think of some of the interesting possibilities we miss out on with Jeff. Like Sheridan never really thought of G’Kar as an enemy like Sinclair did so seeing Jeff deal with G’Kar’s growth would have been a different experience.
-Um, did Michael have a drink in front of him during that last scene between him and Londo? It’s not hard to claim it’s non-alcoholic but it definitely caught my eye.
-I really liked the Battle of the Line stuff this time around.

About the Entil’za Valen moment...I still don’t know if that was always scripted to be there. But I remember the first time I watched this I had to go look up whether that was even an add-in for the reedited version. I really did, and to some extent still do, feel like it *could* have always been there, for all the points where I wonder if JMS had things fleshed out in his mind here I *still* like the idea that he always had that end in mind. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but there aren’t a lot of writers I’d seriously entertain the idea of so kudos there.

As far as my dear partner goes, it sounds like she’s getting interested, if very aware of its pilot-ness. And I’m a little worried what the cast changes will do to her, both the immediate ones and ones down the road. Of course, that kind of thing is why I want to watch this with a newbie, I joined the show late enough that when I did get to watch the early eps it was seeing how it evolved into the show I knew and loved, watching it from the beginning must leave a different impression.


Babylon 5 Rewatch

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