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Old 06-14-2013, 12:52 PM   #91 (permalink)
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I should first like to offer my eternal gratitude to "ClassicDrama" (who I think is the BBC) for uploading the entire thing on YouTube. My downloaded copies refused to play for some reason, and though I bought the series long ago it was on VHS tape, and I never got it on DVD. Netflix only have the new version, the American one, so I'm indebted to the BBC for allowing the entire series to be uploaded.

Although there are no seasons, as such, House of Cards is three self-contained programmes of four episodes each, though elements from the first leak into the others, and characters follow through also. The main storyline concerns Francis Urquhart and his bid for, and success in obtaining, power as leader of the country, and what he does when in power. The three stories are separate, but linked to the main theme of the series.

Cast
Francis Urquhart, played by Sir Ian Richardson
I've already gone into the lead character in the introduction to this series, so I won't say anything more, other than that Urquhart is the focus of the series and one of the few characters that appears in all three chapters.

Mattie Storin, played by Susannah Harker

Mattie is a bright young reporter at one of the local newspapers, who is very interested in politics. Her determination, intelligence and fearlessless attract Urquhart to her like a shark to blood, and he begins to groom her as his confidant. However, he is not averse to her womanly charms either...

Henry Collingridge, played by David Lyon

One of the candidates for the vacant position of leader of the Conservative party after the departure of Thatcher, Collingridge wins the nomination, and the election, and becomes Prime Minister. But Urquhart is not having that, and sets out to destroy him.

Elizabeth Urquhart, played by Diane Fletcher
The cold and calculating power behind Urquhart, Elizabeth supports her husband in everything he does. It is she who in fact encourages him to stand for nomination and challenge for the leadership, and she is not concerned if intimidation, injury or even murder are the tools her husband uses to attain that power.

Roger O'Neill, played by Miles Anderson
Head of publicity for the party, O'Neill is a drunk and a cocaine addict, and the perfect pawn for Urquhart to use in order that his schemes be carried out but his own hands remain clean. He blackmails O'Neill with knowledge of his addiction, and the unfortunate publicist is forced to do anything Urquhart tells him to.

Patrick Woolton, played by Malcolm Tierney
Described by Urquhart (privately) as a bully, a thug, a racist, an anti-semite, a lout and other unflattering titles, Woolton becomes the front-runner for the leadership contest after Collingridge resigns. But Urquhart has his measure, too...

Tim Stamper, played by Colin Jeavons

One of the whips, his role in the first series is somewhat minor, a flunky of Urquhart and one who carries out some of his orders, but later he will become much more important and influential.

Episode One


We see Francis Urquhart, Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, sitting at his desk looking at a framed photograph of Margaret Thatcher. "Nothing lasts forever", he intones, with an air of anticipatory satisfaction. "Even the longest, most glittering reign must come to an end some day." He turns towards the camera with a predatory smile.

With Thatcher's resignation, the Tories are looking for a new leader, and Urquhart fancies it could be Patrick Woolton, but when it turns out to be the weak and ineffectual Henry Collingridge, he is not best pleased. But what can he do, as a mere Chief Whip? He has power of a sort, certainly, but only over his own colleagues. He does not make policy, he cannot challenge for the leadership. Being in the position he is, he knows that many of his colleagues hate and fear him, and few if any would support a bid for the top job from him. Some might, out of fear or the hope that they would be rewarded when, or if, he was successful, but those few would not be enough to enable Francis Urquhart, Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, to rise to the post of Prime Minister.

However, there is still the matter of the general election to be fought. Not a whole lot of point being the man in charge if you're not the man in charge of the whole country. In other words, who wants to be the leader of the party that got kicked out of government by the voters, that awful also-ran, runner-up word, the Opposition? And so Urquhart must do what he can to ensure victory at the polls. He has been promised a decent post in return for his support of Collingridge, and has high hopes. It turns out that the Conservatives do win the election, but with a reduced majority.

Urquhart is not at all convinced though that Collingridge is up to the task and so begins to lay plans for his removal and replacement. The first pawn to be moved on the board is Roger O'Neill, the party publicist. Turns out Collingridge has a black sheep in the family, his brother Charlie, who's something of an alcoholic and an embarrassment. Someone Urquhart can use to his advantage when the time comes. As Urquhart fumes about being passed over for promotion, and worse, all his suggestions for the cabinet reshuffle (which does not happen: everyone is left in their positions) ignored, his wife floats the suggestion that he should challenge for the leadership.

While he's mulling this bombshell over, he has a visit from Mattie Storin, a reporter who wants to get the scoop on him. Intrigued, Urquhart is actually quite suprised himself when he lets her into the house, but finds himself growing more and more impressed with the girl's intelligence. He also welcomes the opportunity to talk frankly about his dislike for the PM and his disagreement with his policies. Mattie seems to agree with him, and he sees in her a way to disseminate his views by proxy through her newspaper. He now uses her to plant the idea in her head that Lord Billsboro, the old advisor to Collingridge, is planning to take the leadership, not for himself, but for his young protoge Michael Samuels, so he can pull the strings from behind the curtain. Nothing is further from the truth, of course, but as we will see, the truth and Francis Urquhart are not only strange bedfellows, they rarely sleep together at all. Anything that will advance his cause, remove the obstacles to his bid for leadership and destroy his enemies, Urquhart will use without a moment's hesitation, or consideration of the consquences to those on the sidelines. They are pawns, nothing more, to be used and sacrificed as required, and with as little thought.

Speaking of pawns, just such a one is Roger O'Neill. Urquhart tells him he knows about his cocaine addiction, which is bad enough, but that he's been claiming expenses in order to buy his supply! He agrees to cover the scandal up but in return Roger must work for him. He demands his "total and unquestioning loyalty", but to him personally, not to the party. He sets about using him to engineer embarrassing questions for the Prime Minister, leaking important details of government policy to the opposition. When the PM demands answers, he claims there must be a leak in the cabinet, and promises to get to the bottom of it. He starts to sow doubt in Collingridge's head, giving him the idea that one of his party colleagues is out to smear him, perhaps even oust him.

Further revelations and awkward exchanges force the PM into an embarrassing U-turn, further weakening his position, while Urquhart continues to use Roger O'Neill behind the scenes. He has an accomodation address set up in the name of C. Collingridge, something which will become clearer later. When Urquhart receives, personally, a large donation to the party from one of his constituents, he sees a chance to "put more stick about", and disguised as a foreign businessman he opens an account at a local bank and asks them to buy some shares in a medical company, under the name of .... Collingridge. When new drugs are authorised for release from the company, the shares go right up and Urquhart asks his bank to sell them, close the account and mail the closing statement to the address he had set up for Collingridge. He then withdraws all his money from the bank, returning it to the party treasurer, where it was supposed to have gone in the first place.

The money was never stolen, of course: Urquhart simply borrowed it in order to facilitate his plan, then covered his tracks, or to be more precise, laid a false trail which led exactly where he wanted it to. As the final part of his plan he meets Matties and "leaks" to her the fact that the tabloids are about to go after the Prime Minister through his brother. He professes loyalty to, and defence of the integrity of the PM, but Mattie has little sympathy for the weak Collingridge, and like Elizabeth, believes there is a far better leader for the country standing beside her.


QUOTES
Urquhart, on the election of a new leader: "Who could replace her? (Thatcher) Plenty of contenders: old warriors, young pretenders. Lord Billsboro, say. Party chairman. Too old, too familiar: tainted by a thousand shabby deals. Michael Samuels? Too young, too clever. Patrick Woolton. Bit of a lout, bit of a bully-boy. Yes it could very well be Woolton. Henry Collingridge. The people's favourite. A well-meaning fool; no background and no bottom. What, me? Oh no no no: I'm the Chief Whip, merely a functionary. I keep the troops in line. I put a bit of stick about, make them jump. And I shall of course give my absolute loyalty to whoever emerges as my leader."

Elizabeth: "What was that dreadful woman on about?"
Urquhart: "She wanted the smack of firm government."
Elizabeth: "She wanted you to smack her bottom!"

Urquhart: "A man of state needs helpers. Little elves and sprites to do his bidding." (More darkly) "Even unwitting pawns, who don't know who they serve."

Urquhart: "Nothing! Not a damn thing! And then he had the gall to ask for my support! Said his fate was in my hands! Melodramatic twaddle!"
Elizabeth: "Is it?"
Urquhart: "What?"
Elizabeth: "Isn't his fate in your hands?"
Urquhart: "No, no! I'm in charge of discipline! But I can't deliver if my troops are disaffected."
Elizabeth: "But aren't they disaffected now? His weakness, his refusal to take responsibility for firm leadership, it's going to bring this government down, sooner or later."
Urquhart: "Yes. And sooner rather than later, in my view. Unless..."
Elizabeth: "Unless he were to relinquish the leadership."
Urquhart: "He won't do that."
Elizabeth: "Unless a better man were to take the leadership from him."

Mattie Storin: "Everybody knows threats from Francis Urquhart are not idle ones."

Urquart (about Roger's cocaine habit): "I know this sounds old-fashioned, but isn't it illegal?"

Best Scenes
There's a pretty funny scene just after the government have won the election and stayed in power, when Roger O'Neill takes a call at a hotel purporting to be from the Prime Minister, though it's actually his assistant, Penny, talking dirty to him from one of the hotel bedrooms. At one point she says "And then I'd like to lick it all off, slowly" and he says "That's wonderful, Prime Minister! May I tell them that?" whereupon he proceeds to congratulate everyone, on the PM's behalf, for putting on such a wonderful advertising campaign!

"I couldn't possibly comment".

Urquhart uses this phrase as a code, a way to agree with or confirm something without incriminating or implicating himself, and it becomes used more and more as the series progresses. The first instances are here, when he dupes Mattie into believing his story about Lord Billsboro. When she makes the connection, as she sees it, that Billsboro is making a bid for the leadership, he smiles "You might think that, I couldn't possibly comment". He says it three times in succession to each of her deductions, leaving her in no doubt that she is right while simultaeanously ensuring he does not say it himself, or even suggest it. It's a very clever comment, because it really does absolve him: should anyone say to Mattie, what did he actually say, his response could not be in any way construed as being in the affirmative, or at least, not proven satisfactorily. He may as well be saying that's your opinion, while leaving off the expected second part, that he does not share it.

Power behind the throne

Although he's an unscrupulous, morally bankrupt egotist, it's clear from the beginning that Francis Urquhart is nobody without his wife, Elizabeth. It is she who first floats the idea of his bidding for the leadership, and he looks surprised, as if he had never even considered it. She tells him he is twice the man Collingridge is, and he does not disagree. She encourages his relationship with Mattie Storin, knowing that a man like him can't restrict himself to one woman: not only for sex, but he requires a like mind, a sharp intellect, one he can mould and twist and form in his own image. He would never try this with his wife --- she is already too strong a personality --- but she is happy to indulge his appetites with Mattie, knowing that the relationship will bear fruit for them, politically. Urquhart is at his best when challenged, stimulated.

The Puppetmaster


Although there is one person in his life who controls him, even if he's unaware of it --- harking back to his comment about pawns who don't know who they serve --- Francis Urquhart is the master puppeteer, manipulating everyone he can and making them play a part in his machinations, either aiding him in his rise to glory or removing them from his path. Like Alan B'Stard, he is completely uncaring of who he hurts, wounds, kills even, the lives he destroys, the careers he wrecks and the innocents caught in the crossfire of his ambition. He sees everyone as something he can use, and he has no compunction about using them.

The Man who would be Prime Minister

When Collingridge wins the party nomination, much to his disgust, and then goes on to win the election, thus becoming the Prime Minister, Francis Urquhart is angry, particularly when it becomes quite clear that he will not be getting a cabinet position, but will be left as Chief Whip again. He is stewing about it when his wife suggests he challenge for the leadership. Once the decision has been made, he sets about implicating the PM in a scandal that is so carefully orchestrated that it can have only one outcome, while at the same time keeping any metaphorical blood off his hands. The puppet master has begun to make the marionettes dance to his tune, and it will be far from their only performance!

The user and the used

As Urquhart says himself, a man of state needs helpers, and he is always ready to draft in anyone he can to help move his plans forward. In this section I'll be detailing the people Urquhart uses in his bid for power, and how he uses them.

Henry Collingridge

His first target is his new leader, whom he publicly supports but privately despises. He does not believe Collingridge is up to the task of being PM, and said so, to us, before the election of the new leader. His wife has given him the idea of toppling him, but it will not be easy. He will, as he says himself, need little helpers, and the one who helps turn his plans into reality most here is Roger O'Neill. He has O'Neill by the balls: he has discovered the publicist's penchant for cocaine and the fact that he is charging the party for it, and in return for his silence has recruited O'Neill as a hapless footsoldier. Setting up the opposition member with information with which to embarrass the PM, organising the accomodation address in Collingridge's brother's name, helps to lay the trap and Urquhart himself completes it by buying the shares with party money. Finally, he sets it by passing the information to Mattie and waits for the prey to be caught. It will not be long.

Mattie Storin


While he is attracted to Mattie, both for her mind and her body, Urquhart will use her to make his voice anonymously known in the press. He will tell her things which she will repeat, though no possibility will ever exist of the quotes being traced back to him. He will, in effect, control her and make her say what he wants her to say. He will also use her obvious fascination with him to his advantage.

Roger O'Neill

As related above, Roger has a problem with cocaine, and Uruqhart knows this, even before he confronts him. Whether the expenses thing is made up or real, who is to say? But Roger believes it and is relieved when the Chief Whip hushes it up, preventing a scandal breaking. He is thereafter happy to do as he is told, like a good little soldier.
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Old 06-14-2013, 02:48 PM   #92 (permalink)
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House of Cards is amazing.

I bought the DVD of all 3 series a couple of years back. Ian Richardson is totally captivating in it. I love how he sucks you in and makes you want to route for this evil bastard.
It's almost as if you've become a part of his schemes just from watching it and it's like he reminds you of this through the show making you feel guilty by association.

Easily the best piece of acting I have ever seen on TV by anyone.
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Old 06-14-2013, 03:40 PM   #93 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urban Hat€monger ? View Post
House of Cards is amazing.

I bought the DVD of all 3 series a couple of years back. Ian Richardson is totally captivating in it. I love how he sucks you in and makes you want to route for this evil bastard.
It's almost as if you've become a part of his schemes just from watching it and it's like he reminds you of this through the show making you feel guilty by association.

Easily the best piece of acting I have ever seen on TV by anyone.
Absolutely a point I make later in the series, when he frowns at the camera and says something like "No point feeling guilty now. You knew what you were getting into." Stellar acting, excellent series. Such a terrible loss to the acting world. I haven't seen the US version but I can't think it'll be a patch on this classic. Just watching it again for the reviews makes it worth it, if nothing else did. One of the best political TV drama ever, with "A very British coup" and "GBH".
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Old 06-17-2013, 05:39 AM   #94 (permalink)
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1.4 "Waste not want not"

Alan meets Norman in an underground to discuss a serious problem. Some time ago they dumped nuclear waste (at the behest of, if Alan is to be believed, Argentinian General Galtieri!) in a lockup in Hull, and this is now due to be knocked down. If the extremely hazardous, not to mention criminally incriminating evidence is found, both of them can kiss freedom goodbye. Back at home Sarah informs him that her father has come to visit. Alan hates Roland Gidleigh-Park, but is beholden to him as B'Stard's seat in the Conservative Party is within his gift, so he has to stomach him. Roland hates B'Stard, and doesn't make any attempt to hide it, though you can see that at heart he and Alan are quite alike. Sarah's father reveals himself to be a racist and a bigot, so B'Stard is in good company.

After a thoroughly "enjoyable" dinner B'Stard repairs to his local pub, where Sidney Bliss, whom we met in the first episode, tells him abotu a closed coalmine in the area, and B'Stard's venomous brain starts to tick over. He's rather upset to find out that the owner of the mine is ... Sarah's father. Now he has to ingratitate himself with the old duffer. Roland is of course suspicious at his son-in-law's sudden change of tack, and seems reluctant to reveal the location of the mine, no matter how much Alan butters him up.

Norman finds it though and they move the radioactive sludge there. When it becomes obvious that there is a school nearby Norman refuses to help and walks off. B'Stard enlists Sidney as his new partner in crime, telling him that capital punishment may be on the way back. He promises him his old job back as a hangman when he is made Minister of Death. Of course he tells him that it's beer they're dumping, not nuclear waste. When they go into the mine though they discover the reason Roland didn't want the location getting out was that he was already storing mustard gas! Seems the two have a lot more in common than even they thought.

QUOTES
Roland: "I never touch anything French. The last thing French I touched was in 1940. Her name was Giselle. I was pissing glass for a month!"

B'Stard: "I buy British! I drive a Bentley! My suits and shirts are all handmade by British craftsmen! Albeit with Greek surnames!"

MACHINATIONS
It gets worse! Having already agreed to store nuclear waste for the Argentines, and having taken no precautions whatsoever about where it was stored --- a simple lockup --- B'Stard has absolutely no qualms about relocating it close to a children's school! He remarks that if British people want an independent nuclear deterrent --- a favourite phrase of Maggie Thatcher's in the eighties --- they should be proud to have British nuclear waste underneath their school! Of course, he conveniently forgets that it's not British but Argentinian, not that it should make a difference.

SIDEKICK
Interestingly, Piers is conspicuous by his absence in this episode. He's not in it once, not even to voice a strong opposition to Alan's plans. In fact, the entire episode takes place away from the Houses of Parliament, which may explain why he's not in it.

THE USER AND THE USED

SIDNEY BLISS
Alan is well aware of Sidney's weakness. As a hangman he enjoyed his job, perhaps too well, and he loathes the fact that capital punishment has been abolished in Britain. B'Stard uses this hankering for "the good old days" to trick Bliss into helping him relocate the nuclear waste. He tells him of a fictitous vote coming up which may reintroduce hanging, and should that happen, he promises the landlord his old job back. Crazy as this may seem, and without doubt a lie made up by B'Stard to suit his plans and manipulate Bliss, this will actually happen after season two, though it won't quite work out how either of them expect...

WHAT IS LOVE?

SARAH
Although we're now only four episodes in, Alan and Sarah have already given up the pretence of affection they evinced in episode one, and have moved beyond the mutual dislike of episode two; they now officially hate each other. However they have to put on a face for Sarah's father, she because she needs to keep spending Alan's money, he because he needs to keep his seat. Alan plays a trick on Sarah, cruelly telling her there is a present for her in the garden but he has bought her nothing. When she comes in, excitedly asking where the present is, he sneers there was none, it was a joke.

... AND ISN'T THAT...?
Like many comedies of its day, "The New Statesman" featured some guest stars, often in bit parts, who would grow to become quite famous in later years.

MARK WILLIAMS:
The bluff Yorkshireman who takes Alan to task about his non-representation of his constituents in Bliss's pub is none other than Mark Williams, who would go on to star in shows like "The Fast Show" and "Father Brown", play Olaf Petersen in "Red Dwarf" and Brian Williams in Doctor Who, as well as presenting his own shows on the History Channel. He would also have a successful career in film, appearing in movies such as "Stardust" and the "Harry Potter" franchise.

PETER SALLIS: Although we already met him in the pilot episode I hadn't thought of this section when I was writing that, so here we see a return for Sidney Bliss, ex-hangman and current landlord of "The Hangman's Knot Inn" pub, played by the man who now has two major roles forever enshrined in TV series, the first of which is as Clegg in the long-running comedy "The last of the summer wine" and the other persona he is now identified with is Wallace, from Nick Park's famous claymation duo, Wallace and Gromit.

THE B'STARD BODYCOUNT

Never a man afraid to make, and dispose of, his enemies in his climb up the greasy pole of success and power, B'Stard has, by the end of the series, left a considerable pile of bodies behind him. Some of these are not literal --- people whose careers he has destroyed, or whose lives he has ruined but who still survive --- but some are, and he has caused more than one bodybag to be filled in his quest for power and wealth. In this section I'll be detailing, and updating, both the number and the individuals sacrificed to the Tory's lust for power. In the case of any driven to suicide by him, I will count those as Non-Lethal, even if they did die. Only ones in which he has a direct hand will I consider Lethal, but believe me, there are more than enough of them to go around.

Note: Though it's quite highly likely that some people die or have their lives ruined as an indirect result of his machinations --- the workers at Ocelot, the kids in the school under which he buries the nuclear waste --- these will not be counted, as they can't be categorically attributed to him, and for all we know, their deaths may not have occurred, or may have, but for reasons unconnected to B'Stard.

Non-Lethal
William Richard Aslon, Labour candidate in Haltemprice by-election. Judicious severing of the brakes of his car caused it to crash into B'Stard's other opponent, removing both from the race.

Martin Cyril Roper, SDP candidate. As above.

Sir Malachy Jericho, ex-Chief Constable of Police. His innate insanity was brought to the fore by B'Stard, who convinced him that the Bishop of Haltemprice was the Antichrist. Jericho was then removed from the force and, it is assumed, sectioned or imprisoned for pulling a gun on the bishop.

Non-Lethal Bodycount: 3
Lethal Bodycount: 0
Total Bodycount: 3
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:02 PM   #95 (permalink)
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1.18 "Something wicked"

Monsters under the bed? Creepy figures at the window? For one young girl in Fitchburg, Wisconsin it's all too true, as we see a horrible hooded figure with long spindly fingers approach her in her bedroom...

Sam and Dean arrive to investigate, having been given the co-ordinates by their father, but can find nothing out of the ordinary, until Dean realises that it's a sunny day, school is out and yet there are no kids playing in the park, or in the street. A woman on a bench informs them that there is a worry about some bug or contagion going around; some kids have caught it already and the parents of the others fear it's catching, so keep their kids isolated. The brothers decide to check out the hospital, and there they happen to pass the room of an old creepy woman who keeps an inverted cross on her wall.

The doctor tells them (after they've introduced themselves as representatives of the CDC --- Centre for Disease Control) that whatever the illness is, it's like pneumonia but does not respond to the usual treatment for that ailment. And it only appears to affect the children in the family, though it seems to go through all the children. The father of the girl who got sick first is there, and he blames himself for leaving the window open, though he's sure he had closed it. An idea forming in his mind now, Dean suggests that they go to the house of the latest victim --- her parents will be tied up in the hospital for some time and it's unlikely they'll be disturbed --- and there they find a strange handprint, whcih appears to be seared or indeed rotted into the wood of the sill. Dean recognises it with horror.

He tells Sam that he and their father came up against this creature before; it attacked Sam when he was young and their father left Dean watching over his brother while he pursued the creature. It was in Wisconsin too, but apparently John Winchester was unable to kill it, for the thing, called a Shtriga, is surely behind these sicknesses. A form of witch from Albania, the creature is said to feed on the life essence of children, and to be vulnerable at the moment of consumption to consecrated iron. Dean returns to the hospital, to the room of the woman with the inverted cross. Turns out it's not an inverted cross, just a badly-hung one which has fallen on its end. The woman, too, whom Dean suspected to be the witch, turns out to be nothing more than a batty old lady, completely innocent.

Back at the motel they're staying at, one of the kids begins to get sick, and the brothers know that the Shtriga is after him. The mother rushes the child to hospital while the boys research the witch, and are aghast to turn up a picture of the doctor from the hospital --- from 1890! The penny drops and it's obvious now that the doctor is their witch. And what a position to be in to enable him to feed, where children at their weakest are entrusted to his care by their parents, and where they're expected to be safest. Dean is in the hospital with the doctor when Sam gives him the news on the phone, and wants to kill the witch but knows he must wait until it's feeding to have any chance of success.

He thinks back to when he was watching over Sam, as his father had charged him to do. After a few days he was bored and left the room, and when he came back the Shtriga was leaning over Sam! He raised his gun but hesitated. In that moment John Winchester burst into the room and shot the thing, but did not manage to kill it. It got away, and Dean's father was furious at him. It's clear now that destroying this witch is not only necessary and the only way to save all these kids, but also a mission of personal redemption for Dean. He tells Sam they must use Michael, the older brother of the latest child to get sick, the one at the motel, as bait, otherwise they can never catch the witch feeding. Sam is reluctant but agrees there is no other way.

When they put the plan to Michael he is scared and doesn't want to do it, but when he realises that doing so may save his younger brother, he agrees to help. With his gun now loaded with bullets made from the iron of the crucifix, Dean bursts in once the creature starts to feed on Michael and shoots it. It goes down, but in true monster-rising fashion gets back up again and goes after Sam. However Dean shoots it again and it dissolves, rotting away.

With the death of the Shtriga, Michael's brother begins to make a "miraculous recovery", as do all the other kids in town. Their job done, and Dean's personal ghost (or one of them, at least) laid to rest, the brothers leave town.

MUSIC
UFO: "Rock bottom"
Spoiler for Rock bottom:

Ozzy Osbourne: "Road to nowhere"
Spoiler for Road to nowhere:


QUESTIONS?
Although obviously the Shtriga had to be destroyed, did their father send them there more to allow Dean his chance for revenge and redemption? Or, indeed, was it his own revenge he was exacting on the thing that dared attack his son?

Did the witch recognise Sam as "the one that got away", and was that why it attacked him, the only adult it seems to have gone after? Or was it just defending itself, and turning on whoever was closest? Did it remember, and mean to make Dean pay for shooting it by finishing the job of killing his brother?

How is it that, within one episode, John Winchester is again in contact with his boys? The last episode they were working solo, from the website, now he's sending them co-ordinates. Is that not a bit too soon? Or was the fact that the Shtriga had resurfaced just too important, and seeing the chance to destroy it he had decided to break cover early?

The "WTF??!" moment
Has to be when Sam comes across the picture of Doctor Heydecker, dated 1890, and realises he is the Shtriga.

PCRs
A really clever one is thrown in when Sam rings Dean from the library, where he has been researching the path of the Shtriga. He says "Before that there was Ogdenville, before that North Haverbrook and Brockway". All three locations are mentioned by monorail salesman/shyster Lyle Langley in the Simpsons' episode "Marge vs the monorail", when he enthuses "Well sir I've sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook, and by gum it put them on the map!" Bravo.

BROTHERS
We see more of the backstory of the brothers in this episode, and indeed are allowed a glimpse into Dean's past, where we learn just why he is so protective of his brother, and also why he slavishly obeys his father's orders. The one time he didn't, the one time he let his guard down, Sam was almost killed by this witch. Not only does that weigh heavily on his heart, but the fact that he let his father down, who was depending on him and expected him to keep his younger brother safe, hurts like an old wound. Add to that the knowledge that in letting the creature get away the first time he has inadvertently put all these kids in danger from the Shtriga, and Dean is carrying a whole lot of unresolved guilt. Seeing the loathsome creature hunting again opens up that wound, and this time Dean is prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure it never has a chance to kill again. He is obviously also driven by a desire to redeem himself, both in his father's eyes and in his own.

When Michael asks him, just prior to agreeing to help them trap the witch, if he would do anything for his brother, Dean answers yes, but it must hurt to know that when he was supposed to be protecting him he let the creature slip past him. One moment, that was all it took, and it could have ended in disaster. Dean is determined nothing like that will ever happen again, and he will exchange his life for Sam's if it comes to it.

There's a nice little piece shown in the flashback to their younger lives, which serves to illustrate the bond that was, even then, between the two brothers. Sam wants Lucky Charms, but there is only enough for one, and Dean wants them. After some sulking by his younger brother Dean gives him his own share, whereupon Sam offers him the toy in the box. Fair brings a tear to a glass eye!

The ARC of the matter
Essentially there isn't really any "arc stuff" in this episode, but it does bear a somewhat closer examination. Given what we already know about Sam, was the witch aware how important he is? Was it going up against the demon, taking it on and risking its wrath by consuming a mortal deemed somehow important to it? Or was it just a "crime of opportunity", and there was no real significance attached to the fact that it was Sam who got singled out? Had Sam been killed, would the demon have then exacted revenge on the Shtriga, or does the witch even know of its existence?

All of this is interesting, as it does paint Sam as a mortal who seems to be of great importance to the darker elements of the forces of evil, and yet Dean, also a child at the time, was not attacked. Could there be a reason why that is?

Note: This episode, as I had hoped, is a huge improvement on "Hell house". Yes, it's monster-of-the-week in a way but it's tied into the arc, the brothers' history and goes beyond the mere creature feature of the previous episode. It also offers us a red herring in the inverted cross, though anyone who's been watching the series up to now will know that things are rarely as they seem, and the simplest solution is seldom the one that you would expect.

1.19 "Provenance"

A picture paints a thousand words. Or, in this case, causes a thousand deaths. Well, maybe not a thousand, but a cursed painting is killing everyone who has ever owned it. Its latest owners are killed when we see the painting of a family, with the father seeming to move, whereupon the husband and wife who have just bought it are killed in their bedroom. When the brothers read the article and collate it with similar entries in their father's journal, they head to New York. The house has been cleaned out after the murder, and they are unable to tie down what the origin of the spirit activity they detect is. It could be a cursed object, but the house is empty now.

They go to an auction where the possessions are being sold off, and try to check the provenance --- history and ownership --- of the items, but are kicked out. Sam though has made an impression on the auctioneer's daughter, Sarah, and Dean wants him to use that to find out all he can about the articles. Sam is reluctant to use the girl that way, but agrees they have no other option. On a date with her he manages to get the provenances and later he and Dean discover that there is a painting in the collection that according to their father's journals has resulted in every owner's death. They believe they have tracked down the culprit, and set about breaking into the auction house where they steal and burn the painting. Job done right? Well, no, because when they're gone it regenerates after having been burned!

When Dean realises the next morning that he dropped his wallet while they were stealing the painting, they have to go back for it and are aghast to see the painting they had thought destroyed whole again. Sam is similairly peeved when he realises Deam had his wallet on him all along, and this was just a ploy of his to engineer another meeting for his brother with Sarah. Sam asks Sarah not to sell the painting, that they will be back, and he and Dean discuss how they should proceed. Researching the family in the painting they find out they were called the Merchants, and that the father, Isaiah, killed the rest of them in 1912. All the family were cremated, leaving the boys to wonder how the spirit of the father could still be haunting the painting? They check the original against a picture of it they find in their research, and note that the figure of the father is not in the same place in both. It appears he's moving.

When Sam calls Sarah to tell her they might be interested in buying the painting, he is shocked and horrified to find that it has been sold; her father sold it, despite her asking him not to. They race to the address of the new owner, with Sarah joining them there, but are too late: the woman has been killed, her throat slit. With no alternative the boys have to come clean and explain to Sarah their theory, and though she thinks they're crazy she comes to believe them, and then to a decision to help them destroy the thing. Sam does not want her in danger but she will not be denied.

Looking more closely at the painting they see in the background another painting, which depicts a mausoleum in which presumably the Merchants were interred, as it has their name on it. When they eventually find the right one and break in, they find that though the ashes of the family, including an adopted daugher, and toys and dolls are there, Isaiah's are not. Dean goes to check and finds that the father was not in fact cremated: due to his scandalous actions he was buried in a pauper's grave. They find it, dig up his bones and burn them. For safety's sake they decide to burn the painting too, and go to get it, but the door of the house slams shut on Sam and Sarah, trapping them inside while Dean tries to open the door from outside. Sam shouts that he has noticed that there is another figure missing from the painting: a little girl whom the family adopted. He believes it may in fact be her who is doing the killings.

As Dean tries to force the door, Sam is proven correct as the spirit of the little girl appears and attacks them with a razor. Sam hits her with an iron from the fire, and she is driven back but not destroyed. Sam shouts to Dean to return to the crypt and burn the doll they saw there, as the chances are it's made out of her hair, and may contain her spirit. At the crypt Dean has some trouble smashing the glass case containing the doll but he gets it in the nick of time, burning it and taking the evil spirit with it.

Later their research turns up the fact that the adopted girl had killed her original family and then murdered her adopted one. Seems the father wasn't carrying out the murders, but trying somehow to stop his daughter, or at least warn her victims. Sarah tells the workmen crating up the painting to burn it, and bids goodbye to Sam with a kiss at the door. Dean smirks and leaves them to it.

MUSIC
Grand Funk Railroad: "Bad time"
Spoiler for Bad time:

Steve Carlson band: "Night life"
Spoiler for Night life:


QUESTIONS?
When Sam is trapped behind the press in Evelyn's house, with Sarah in danger why can he not use his telekinetic powers, discovered in "Nightmare", to shift the thing? He has to physically force it away from him. Is this power he has just recently discovered arbitrary, something that just happens, that he can't control? But in that episode he moved the shelf out of the way when he realised Dean could die if he didn't get there in time. Is the power linked to his fear for/protection of his brother?

The "WTF??!" moment
Probably when the boys burn the painting and then we see it, unbeknownst to them, reassemble itself in the auction house. That, or the sudden realisation that it is the little girl who was the killer.

PCRs
Dean says "You think that Daddy dearest is trapped in the painting and is handing out Columbian neckties?" Reference to the mooted practice among the gangland drug cartels of Columbia for despatching their enemies by slitting their throats, pulling out their tongue through the gap and tying it like, well, a necktie. Ugh.

Sam: "What, like a Da Vinci Code deal?" Reference to the novel and movie of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code". Interestingly, this must in fact be before the movie is released, as Dean looks blankly at the reference and it's clear he hasn't read the book, as he mutters he's waiting for the movie.

Sam says "I'm not talking about a broken heart and a tub of Haagen Das." One of the most famous and loved makers of ice cream

BROTHERS
Once again Sam is attracted to a woman, but apart from the memory of Jessica still raw in his mind and heart, he is beginning to see that, like Spiderman, anyone he gets close to can and usually does end up getting hurt, so he is prepared to forego any romantic attachments in order to save the people he cares about from repercussions from the dark forces they are pursuing (or is it the other way around? Sometimes it's hard to tell...) Dean of course just eggs Sam on, knowing that his brother needs someone in his life to give him a little love, and also perhaps hoping to paper over the wound of losing his fiancee in such horrible circumstances. Dean realises that Sam blames himself for Jessica's death, and hopes that loosening the lock on his heart might help lift a little of that self-imposed guilt from his little brother.

There's also a sort of veiled warning about how families don't always stick together, kind of looking back again to "Nightmare", as we see that the Merchant family, having adopted a daughter out of, you would presume, the kindness of their hearts, were paid back not only by being murdered, but having the blame placed on the father, who for almost a century lay in unconsecrated ground, shunned by the spirits of his dead family. Sometimes family is not the binding force it should be, and this episode will probably strengthen and increase the bonds between Sam and Dean.
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Old 06-21-2013, 08:28 AM   #96 (permalink)
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RIP Tony Soprano


The Couch Potato would like to send our condolences to the family of actor James Gandolfini, best known for his role as leader of the Soprano family in the Emmy award-winning TV series. Aged only 51, James died on Wednesday in Rome of a sudden heart attack. His death has shocked the world of showbusiness, and he will be a huge loss to the television community and to the world at large. May he rest in peace.

James Gandolfini, 1961-2013
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Old 06-26-2013, 04:36 AM   #97 (permalink)
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1.1 "The good son"

Having left behind his life in Boston, along with a failed marriage and a son he hardly gets to see, Frasier Crane moves to Seattle to try to start afresh. Unwillling to replicate his old pattern though he resists setting up in private practice in the new city and instead opts to be the "phone-in" psychiatrist on a radio station. The series opens with his relating the circumstances which led to his move. He then meets his brother Niles for coffee. Niles, if this is possible, makes Frasier seem almost bearable. He's superior and condescending, and yet we will grow to love him as the series progresses. He's also quite fastidious, almost to the point of being neurotic about cleanliness. Here we see him dusting down a chair with his handkerchief before he will deign to sit in it.

Niles has come to meet Frasier to tell him about thier father, a retired cop who he worries should not be living on his own. He has had another fall, and Niles has made arrangements for him to be moved into a convalescent home. Frasier of course will not hear of it and so is manipulated into allowing him to move into his new apartment. There's a great scene just before the father arrives where Frasier is playing his piano. He hears the doorbell, stops playing, closes the lid of the piano, trudges to the door like a boy dragging his feet, takes one last, despairing look back at his apartment, knowing it will never be the same for him again, and opens the door.

Things don't exactly go swimmingly. Though Frasier pretends he wants his father there Martin knows he is not welcome, and is embarrassed that it has been decided that he cannot be trusted to be left alone. He brightens up however when his favourite chair, which he has had brought over from his apartment, arrives. Frasier is aghast: the thing is a nasty, split-pea green monstrosity that clashes with everything he owns. Martin however counters this argument by reminding his son that he has just this moment been talking about the "eclectic" nature of his own furnishings, none of which match each other, so he can't complain about Martin's favourite recliner.

But worse is to come. As Niles makes a hasty exit he throws out a bombshell, asking his father if he has mentioned Eddie yet? Frasier almost collapses. Not Eddie! Dear god no, not Eddie! Please! Turns out Eddie is Martin's little Jack Russell, this being the final straw for Frasier, who meets Niles a week later and tells him it is not working out. They're going to have to go with Plan B, and organise a place for their father in that nursing home Niles was talking about. They're still not happy about it though, and Niles suggests a compromise, hiring a homecare worker.

Again, things do not go well. Martin is not happy with any of the applicants, until finally Daphne Moon, an English girl, comes to the apartment and he instantly warms to her, mostly it would seem due to her cheeky disrespect of Frasier and his furniture. She also takes a liking to Eddie, and Martin hires her on the spot. However there is a problem. She seems to have misunderstood the job; she thinks it's a live-in position whereas Frasier points out it's only part-time. Martin says he'd be happy for her to move in but Frasier isn't having it. This leads to a knock-down row as Frasier goes on about how much he's given up and sacrificed in taking his father in, while Martin is annoyed to see that he's being considered a burden, a responsibility. Frasier stalks out, and Martin goes to feed Eddie. The atmosphere is thick with resentment.

Later, Martin unexpectedly phones in to the radio show, saying he has a problem with his son. In a roundabout way he manages to apologise while also making Frasier realise that he too needs to cut his dad some slack.

QUOTES
Yes, almost every line in Frasier is quotable, but here I'll try to restrict myself to those that are really funny, or which reveal something about the character of those who speak them, or those they are spoken about.

Frasier: "I miss Frederick like the dickens of course. You know he's quite the little sportsman: plays goalie in the pee-wee soccer team. Chip off the old block."
Niles: "You hated sports."
Frasier: "So does he!"

Niles: "We would be willing to help you pay for a homecare worker."
Frasier: "A what?"
Niles: "You know: someone who cooks and cleans, and can help dad with his therapy."
Frasier: "These angels exist?"

THE DRY WIT OF ROZ
If one person keeps Frasier grounded, then three do, but at work it's Roz Doyle, the straight-talking, no-nonsense producer who sees him as an overbearing, pretentious windbag (turns out she has good instincts) and who misses no opportunity to deflate him with a cutting remark. Here I'll be looking at some of these.

Frasier (in full flight as he gives advice to a caller): "Well I think we lost him."
ROz: "No, we cut to news thirty seconds ago!"

Frasier: "How did I do?"
Roz: "Well let's see. You dropped two commercials, left twenty eight seconds of dead air, scrambled the station's call letters, you spilled yoghurt on the control board, and kept referring to Jerry, who had the identity crisis, as Jeff!"

Lupe Valez: To cheer Frasier up, Roz tells him the story of Lupe Valez, a movie star in the thirties who was determined to go out on a high. Her career having hit the slide, she decided to kill herself and leave a beautiful corpse. Unfortunately she failed in her initial attempt, vomited up the pills, slipped and hit her head on the toilet, killing herself and being found the next day with her head down the pan.

AND ISN'T THAT...?
Right from its beginnings, probably because of the popularity of "Cheers" and the producers' deseperation to make this show as famous and loved, famous guest stars were invited on to the show. A few appeared in person, particularly in later seasons, but because of the nature of the programme it was easier to have famous people voice the various callers who would ring Frasier with their problems. Made it so that stars could record their part and send it on rather than have to turn up at the studio for the show. Here I'll be noting any people who crop up whom we should know.

Claire is voiced by Linda Hamilton, of "Terminator" fame
Russell is voiced by Griffin Dunne


New character!
Bob "Bulldog" Brisco, played by Dan Butler, presents the Gonzo Sports Show on KACL, the station Frasier works for. He is affectionately (!) known as Bulldog and is everything Frasier is not. He's loud, brash, chauvinistic, full of himself and considers himself an ordinary guy, looking down on the "college boys" like Frasier. He thinks he's god's gift and is about as cultured as a homeless tramp. He takes great delight in laughing at Frasier's sensitivity and is in fact the epitome of the jock taunting the nerd (wanna guess who the nerd is?)

He has this habit of misplacing something and then immediately declaring that someone has stolen it before he very quickly finds it. The joke runs along these lines: "Where is my [insert object here]? Somebody stole my [insert object here]! This stinks! This is total BS! This --- oh there it is!" It's a recurring joke throughout the series, never really gets old.

Daphne has moved in and Martin is making changes. Whereas Frasier normally has a sparse, healthy breakfast now he's being served a greasy fry-up. His coffee has been "spiced up" and --- dear god say it isn't true! --- someone has read his newspaper before him! He makes a little speech advising Daphne and Martin that he needs his morning routine, but he is ignored with Martin's now-characteristic bluff "get used to it" and Daphne's kind but unwavering "we'll all soon get along". At the station he is in a black mood, and confesses to Roz that he needs to find solitude, somewhere to just sit and read his book.

When he returns home he is amazed but delighted to find the apartment empty, and settles down with his book. However, he has not even started before Martin, Daphne and Eddie return. Driven out of his home again he ends up in Cafe Nervosa, where he runs into Niles. His brother suggests he should try engaging with Martin, try to find some common ground, make an effort to get to know him instead of just tolerating him. Unfortunately it's a little stilted and doesn't go very well: you can't force these things. Martin reminds him that to forge that kind of relationship takes more than a few days, it could take years. Horrified, but realising he's right, Frasier decides to give the thing a chance.

QUOTES
Frasier: "Ah yes, the Crane family specialty: Fried eggs swimming in fat, served in a delightfully hollowed-out piece of white bread. I can almost hear my left ventricle slamming shut!"

Frasier: "Dad! Dad! I can't read my morning paper: Eddie's staring at me!"
Martin: "Just ignore him."
Frasier: "I'm trying to!"
Martin: "I was talking to the dog!"

ROZ THE RAVER
Another thing we learn about Roz this episode is that she has, shall we say, loose morals? She is what would have been called in previous centuries something of a harlot. She sleeps with as many men as she can and has no qualms talking about it, nor does she see anything wrong in it. Over the course of the series naturally this behaviour will change, as she begins to realise that you can't be a slut all your life: at some point you want more than sex. Nevertheless, her sexual exploits will form quite a part of the comedy, especially Frasier's distaste of her stories and, later, his genuine concern for her as she becomes less a producer and more a friend.

AND ISN'T THAT...?
Leonard is voiced by the late Christopher Reeve, Superman himself

1.3 "Dinner at eight"

Niles comes around and meets Daphne. To his amazement it's love at first sight, for him at any rate. The boys consider how their father can be so unlike both of them: he's not interested in opera or classical music, fine food or sartorial elegance, and they decide to take him to dinner. Unfortunately there's a SNAFU and the reservations are lost, so under great duress they agree to go to Martin's choice, the Timber Mill --- "You get a steak this thick for eight ninety-five!" --- but are somewhat condescending and mocking about the lowbrow restaurant.

Martin has finally had enough and berates his children in front of everyone in the restaurant. This is the first of many times when he makes the two grown men feel like kids, and both the doctors feel suitably abashed, ashamed of their behaviour.


QUOTES
Frasier: "You do not antagonise a man whose bumper sticker reads If you're close enough to read this I'll kill you!"

Niles: "The food is to die for!"
Martin: "Niles, your country and your family is to die for. Food is to eat."

Niles: "One of my patients had an amusing freudian slip the other day. He was having dinner with his wife and he meant to say Pass the salt but what he actually said was You've ruined my life, you bloodsucking shrew!"

Niles: "I'd like a petite filet mingnon, very lean, not so lean that it lacks flavour but not so fat that it leaves drippings on the plate. And I don't want it cooked but just lightly seared on each side, pink in the middle but not true pink. Not mauve either, something in between; bearing in mind the slightest error either way and it's ruined."

FAMILY
NILES
Here we see the depths of Niles' obsession with having things just so, as he reels off a complicated manner in which his steak must be cooked, as above. We don't see it, but no doubt he wipes the seat at his table in the Timber Mill down a few more times before sitting down. He also complains of "things haven fallen into" his baked potato, which Martin tells him are bacon bits. He doesn't like bacon bits, because of the nitrates. We will later learn that though Frasier's brother is a fussy eater, he in some ways has reason to be, as he is allergic to a wide variety of things.

It's also funny that he expresses a specific number of olives that must be in his drink: two only. Frasier conspiratorially tells the waitress if she brings it with three, or with four, he will send it back, then promptly orders the same for himself, showing that critical and mocking as he may be of his brother's tastes, he is just as guilty of being picky.

MARTIN
This is the first time Martin speaks at any length about his wife, Frasier and Niles' mother. It's clear he had a deep, abiding love for her and that he misses her greatly. It's also clear that she had vastly different tastes to his, but that he accepted her for what she was and she enjoyed many of the things he did, probably just to please him. He tells the two brothers, as they mock the restaurant he has chosen, that she would be ashamed of them.

AND ISN'T THAT...?
Pam is voiced by Patti LuPone (yeah, I don't know her...)

1.4 "I hate Frasier Crane"

Martin is looking at an old case he has yet to solve, a murder which took place twenty years ago. Niles calls around for dinner and lets his brother know that a local columnist has written an unflattering piece about him entitled "I hate Frasier Crane". When he gets the chance Frasier hits back at Derek Mann, who wrote the piece, through his radio show. However his saracastic comments don't go down well with Mann, who elaborates in his next column with a point-by-point critique of the show. Determining not to respond, Frasier does exactly the opposite. He rails against Mann, who challenges him to a fist fight.

Unable to back down as the challenge was made on air, Frasier worries that he may not be able to take the guy. Martin however is delighted that Frasier is actually standing up to the bully, but less happy when Frasier tells him he's not going to go through with it. His father reminds him of an incident from his childhood where he backed away from a schoolyard fight, and Martin sees this fight as a matter of honour. The day of the fight dawns, and there's a big crowd. Frasier has decided to go ahead and keep his promise. Niles points out to him the hulking figure of Derek Mann, and Frasier's confidence begins to desert him. Nevertheless he has to go through with it, but as he walks out and the fight begins it is suddenly broken up by the police. Turns out Martin has called in a favour to save his son's honour. And hide.

QUOTES
Frasier (looking down at Eddie the dog from the dinner table): "Oh will you stop staring?"
Niles (who has been looking surreptitiously at Daphne): "I wasn't staring!"

Roz: "Dr. Crane, on line 5 we have Stuart, who's having a problem with delayed gratification."
Frasier: "Well he's just gonna have to wait!"

Niles (filing his nails): "What is it that makes us Crane boys such targets?"

FAMILY HISTORY
As the show goes on we learn more about the characters and about the backstory of both the Crane family and those of the other associated characters. These help us build up a more solid picture of both Frasier and his contemporaries, and on occasion give us an insight into why he is like he is.

FRASIER
Billy Creezle: Here we are shown that Frasier was a nerd in school (surprise, surprise!) and like all nerds had his bully who made his life miserable. Frasier's was Billy Creezle, with whom he was supposed to have a fight after school. But Frasier ducked out of the meeting, crying off to take a clarinet lesson. The shame has stayed with his father ever since, and he lets his grown-up son know that this also permeated down into his working life. Billy's father was also a cop, in the same precinct, and whenever Martin was unable to meet for a beer they would laugh and say "Oh have you a clarinet lesson to go to?"

He's obviously delighted when Frasier finally stands up to the new Billy Creezle, in the shape of Derek Mann, erasing for once and for all that stain of dishonour that Martin has seen as remaining upon the Crane name. He knows however that no matter how much he loves and supports his son, he can't be expected to take on a brute of a man like Derek Mann, so discretely arranges for the fight to be broken up. When he smiles to the cop in an aside that "the Crane boys don't take clarinet lessons anymore" he is met by a blank look, until he realises this cop did not operate out of his precinct.

There's also a funny scene which shows that it was not only Frasier who was bullied by Creezle. When Niles asks him why he is fighting Frasier says "It's Billy Creezle", to which a suddenly scared Niles gasps "Where?" and looks around in terror, as if expecting the bully to appear before him.

FAMILY
Although the initial stages of Martin's moving in with his son have been fraught with tension and ill-feeling, this is the first episode where we begin to see a thawing of the relationship between the two. Initially delighted that Frasier has stood up to Mann, then bitter that he is going to break his word and finally ecstatic when his son decides to honour that word, Martin shows that though he has had occasions when perhaps he could have wished for more manly sons (or even a daughter!) he still loves Frasier and Niles, and is proud of them.

AND ISN'T THAT...?
Derek Mann is voiced by Joe Mantegna, of "Criminal Minds" fame
Lorraine is voiced by Judith Ivey (Yeah, don't know her either...)
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Old 07-02-2013, 08:19 AM   #98 (permalink)
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Season One: "Signs and portents" (Part Nine)
1.19: "Babylon squared"

Strange readings in Sector 14 turn out to be the re-emergence, against all possibility, of Babylon 4, predecessor to Babylon 5, which is known to have disappeared twenty-four hours after going online. Nobody ever knew where it went, or why, and now here it is, back in its old orbit! Without question this merits an investigation, especially when a Starfury sent out to do just that comes back with the pilot dead --- from old age! When a distress call is received, purporting to be from Babylon 4 itself, Garibaldi and Sinclair lead a team and head out to Sector 14. Checking the datestamp on the distress call it appears to be four years out of date, which would tie in with the inexplicable fact of this actually being Babylon 4 returning from the past. Meanwhile Delenn leaves the station, on a mysterious mission of her own. We see she has gone to one of the huge Minbari cruisers that float through space, and meets the rest of the mysterious Grey Council.

She is told that she has been selected to be the new leader, and that she must leave Babylon 5, but she is reluctant, protesting about a prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled, and something important seems to be on her mind which her fellow members do not appear to see. Sinclair and Garibaldi breach the tachyon field surrounding Babylon 4, going in to check if it is safe for the fighters to approach. Believing that the station may be abandoned, given that the distress communication was four years old, they are surprised to find the original crew onboard, led by a Major Krantz, who tells them, once he realises what year it is, that they have to get off the station before...

Right then there's a flash, and Sinclair has a vision of the future, in which he sees the station, his station, Babylon 5, under attack and hopelessly outnumbered. Something is cutting through the bulkheads, and Garibaldi is telling him to go, that he'll hold them off. Krantz tells him that this effect is different for everyone: Babylon 4 has become unstuck in time, and the normal laws of temporal mechanics do not apply here. Meanwhile, Delenn turns down the greatest honour she can be given, and declares that she must return to Babylon 5. She reconvenes the Grey Council to advise them of her decision.

Krantz leads Sinclair and Garibaldi to an alien they have said just appeared on the station. He rises at sight of the commander and looks as if he recognises him, but then shakes his head and says, to himself as much as to anyone else, "Not the one." He does however tell Sinclair that Babylon 4 is needed, to help in a massive war that is coming, and that it has been pulled back through time to achieve this. He makes more references to "The One", saying "The One is hurt" and "Must find The One", but none of it makes any sense. Just then another crew member comes in and says to the Major "It's back!" They race after him and see an apparition, a man in a spacesuit kneeling on the ground, looking like he is in trouble. Zathras tells them that this is The One, and that he is suffering like this, caught in time, because he ordered the pausing of the retrieval of Babylon 4 back through time, to allow the crew to get off here, closest as they can get to their own era.

Sinclair goes forward, intending to help him, but there is another flash and he is knocked halfway across the deck. In the confusion, Zathras rushes forward and hands something to The One, saying he has fixed it. The figure takes what he is given and vanishes. Zathras says there is no more time, and everyone must leave.

Delenn talks eloquently about her experience with humans, and while her fellow Minbari afford them little respect, she has a completely different view. She tells them that she cannot accept the leadership of the Grey Council, and she is told that if she turns away from the honour they wish to bestow upon her she may become an exile, cast out of the Council. Zathras tells Sinclair and Krantz that the device he gave to The One is a temporal stabilisation device, which allows the wearer to remain static in time while everything is in flux around them, anchoring them here in this time. Zathras gave his to The One, and is now unable to leave the station. He believes he will die here, but is philosophical about his fate, knowing that he has played his part.

The evacuation of Babylon 4 is almost complete when Garibaldi too has a vision, where he sees a woman he loved arguing with him about leaving Mars to follow Sinclair to Babylon 5 and leaving her behind. It shakes him, but it quickly ends and he is back in the present. As they try to take Zathras with them a pipe falls on him and he is trapped. Sinclair tries to help him but Zathras tells the commander he has a great destiny, and must leave. As he reluctantly does, we see the spacesuited figure appear and crouch over Zathras, who smiles, saying he trusts The One. The figure removes its helmet and reveals itself to be a much older version of Commander Sinclair. He talks to another figure offscreen, and bemoans the fact that he could not warn them. A female voice sympathises with him, but says they must go.

Delenn leaves the Grey Council, having been presented with a triangular metal object called a triluminary; she is told that if she is right, she will need it more than they. Sinclair and Garibaldi make it out just before Babylon 4 shimmers and disappears, to where nobody knows, but if Zathras is right, it may just be on its way to the greatest war the galaxy has ever seen.

IMPORTANT PLOT ARC POINTS
Babylon 4
Arc level: Red
At the beginning of the series we were told that there were four stations built before Babylon 5, adn that the first three were sabotaged, with the fourth mysteriously disappearing. Now it has re-emerged, and we're given hints that the disappearance may not have been accidental; it would appear the predecessor to Babylon 5 is required somewhere, somewhen, as a staging base in a major war. The end of this story will take two more seasons to full play itself out, when there will be a revelation so massive it will blow your mind.

Delenn and the Grey Council
Arc Level: Red
Delenn's refusal to take up the leadership of her people is a huge gamble, but she believes she knows where she is supposed to be, and it is not at the head of the Grey Council. She risks ostracisiation, knowing that it is a great disgrace to turn down this offer, but her own faith in the prophecy she is following will not allow her to be dissuaded from her chosen path, even at the expense of alienating her people. Indeed, later she will push this further, testing to the limits the patience and forebearance of her fellow Minbari, and in particular the Grey Council.

Zathras
Arc Level: Green
Zathras will turn up again, though not quite as we might expect him, in a later season. Indeed, his influence on the current time will have to be re-evaluated when we meet him again.

Visions
Arc Level: Orange
Once before Commander Sinclair had a vision --- or rather, shared the Lady Ladira's premonition --- where he saw Babylon 5 under attack and destroyed. He has now seen something very similar in the vision he had while on Babylon 4. Are they tied in together, and could they in fact come true? There's no doubt that whatever is attacking the station, Garibaldi does not think they have a chance, and is prepared to sacrifice his life --- and rig the station to explode --- in order to give Sinclair and the others a chance to escape.

The One
Arc Level: Red
Zathras refers to The One a few times during this episode. He seems to hold The One in extremely high regard, saying he --- and others --- would die for him. When we see The One revealed near the end of the episode it is shown to be Commander Sinclair, though a lot older. What does this mean? Is Jeffrey Sinclair The One, and if so, why then did Zathras on first meeting him think he was, and then decide he was not?

QUESTIONS?

Some fairly obvious ones leap out at you:

Where has Babylon 4 been taken, and to what purpose? Zathras mentioned a war, but where, or when? And between whom? And how can one Earthforce space station help?

Who is The One? We've seen he appears to be Sinclair, but how did this come about? And what does it mean? The One what? Why is Zathras --- and apparently, others --- so willing to die for him?

Who is it speaking to Sinclair at the end, who tells him they have to go?

What is it Sinclair, as The One, wanted to warn them about?

What do the visions mean? Are they real, imagined, or things that might be? Garibaldi's certainly seems a memory of a real event, Sinclair's more a presentiment of the future, or a future.

Why does Delenn turn down the great honour of leading the Grey Council? What is so important on Babylon 5 that it demands her personal attention above all else?

Personal notes: When I was first watching this series I used to tape it off the TV, because I would be at work when it was showing. The evening I got home to this episode for some reason it had started earlier than usual, or my tape was faulty, or something, because I remember seeing only from the point they meet Major Krantz and he tells them Babylon 4 is unstuck in time. Luckily I hadn't missed too much, but it was still a shock to have that front and centre without any preamble, and I remember the next chance I had to catch the episode --- probably on VHS: no plus one channels back then! --- I appreciated it a whole lot more when I saw the backstory.

As you have probably worked out by now, this is where the arc takes a big upswing, and apart from the next episode it's foot-on-the-gas to the end of the season. Well, there are only two episodes left. Though thinking about it, the next episode does fit into the later arc in a particular way...

Finally, this is the first time we hear the words "signs and portents" used. Even in the episode of the same name nobody said it, but here as Delenn is leaving, after refusing to lead the Grey Council, one of the Minbari says "I have seen signs and portents..." Nice touch.


Small niggle: When the Starfury with the dead pilot makes it back to Babylon 5 on autopilot, they see that he has scratched "B4" into his beltbuckle before dying. Now first, it's unlikely anyone would do this but even given that, Ivanova immediately equates it with Babylon 4. Considering they don't even know of the station's reappearance in Sector 14, they don't know (at this point) that this is the very sector where the station was when it disappeared, it seems an unlikely leap of logic. If I saw B4 I woudl think "before? Before what?" But Ivanova right away gets it, and I just think that's asking a little too much of the viewer. If Babylon 4 had been mentioned at some point prior to this, okay, but up to then it has not even come up, and I just think in some ways JMS could not contain his excitement at the twist he knew the story was taking, and perhaps just wanted to telegraph the idea a few moments too soon. Had she said something like "B4? B4? Why is that familiar?" and then it clicked when they heard about the reappearance of the station, but not on her own, without any clue or inkling. Just not likely.

QUOTES
Garibaldi: "Mind if I ask you a question? It's morning, you're getting ready for work. You pull on your pants. Do you fasten and then zip or zip and then fasten?"
Sinclair: "What kind of question is that?"
Garibaldi: "Well look, we got two hours to kill..."
Sinclair: "Forget it. Why do you want to know anyway?"
Garibaldi: "Why do I want to know? Because I think of these things sometimes. I was getting dressed this morning and for a second I couldn't remember which way I did it. Then I started thinking about it: does everyone do it the same? Is it a left-handed, right-handed thing?"
Sinclair: "You think about this a lot?"
Garibaldi: "Yeah. Look, okay, sorry I asked. You're always so serious all the time. Not every conversation has to be the end of the world."
Sinclair: "I didn't mean to..."
Garibaldi: "Never mind, it's okay. I'll just ... watch my console."
Sinclair (sighs): "Fasten then zip. You?"
Garibaldi: "Fasten, zip."
Sinclair: "How much longer?"
Garibaldi: "One hour, fifty-seven minutes." (Pause) "You wanna talk socks?"
Sinclair: "No!"
Garibaldi: "Just a question."
Sinclair: "I'm not having this conversation."

Sinclair: "Why do you need Babylon 4?"
Zathras: "Zathras tells, you let Zathras go? Finish what he came for?"
Garibaldi: "Zathras tells, maybe we don't break Zathras's scrawny little neck!"

Zathras: "We live for The One. We would die for The One."

Zathras: "Zathras die. But Zathras die for cause. Maybe stop great war; maybe Zathras great hero. Maybe they build statue to Zathras, and others come. Remember Zathras."
Krantz: "What if we take you with us? Put you on trial?"
Zathras: "Zathras not of this time. You take, Zathras die. You leave, Zathras die. Either way, it is bad for Zathras."
Sinclair: "You're willing to let yourself die to steal a space station?"
Zathras: "Zathras does not want to die. But if it is the ony way, then Zathras dies. It is life."

Sinclair: "It's like watching a great old ship go down for the last time!"
Garibaldi: "Yeah, well you're not the captain of the ship and I'm not about to let us go down with it!"
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Old 07-02-2013, 08:34 AM   #99 (permalink)
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1.20 "The quality of mercy"

Londo is bored, and decides to take Lennier under his wing, to further his education and bring him out of his shell. Meanwhile a murderer is sentenced to "the death of personality", the highest penalty that can be handed out for crimes, where the brain is completely wiped and a new personality inserted. A rehabilitation of the most literal kind; replace one mind with another. It's a controversial punishment, not without its critics, but the only other alternative is "spacing" --- death by expulsion from an airlock into space --- and that is reserved for military-style high crimes like mutiny and treason. In order for the sentence to be carried out, the judge needs Talia Winters to scan the criminal's mind, before it is wiped. Garibaldi is convinced the guy has killed before, and wants the telepath to look while she is inside his mind to see if there is any evidence of such, but the judge tells him harshly this will not be sanctioned.

Talia is not looking forward to the job. She says she was inside a murderer's mind before, and it was not a pleasant experience, as you would probably guess. Meanwhile Franklin, running a free clinic in Downbelow, sees his patients slacken off and goes looking to see what has happened. He comes upon a woman who seems to be healing people with an alien device she has in her possession, and accepting only voluntary contributions from her patients. The doctor is concerned that the woman, Laura Rosen, does not know what the alien artifact is or what it's meant for, though she does think it was used for punishment. In effect, it allows her to transfer a little of her life force to another person, thus healing that person but taking upon herself a huge burden. She is dying anyway, stricken with Lake's Syndrome, and has only a few years to live. Therefore she tells him she has nothing to lose, but he is still not happy.

Londo brings Lennier to one of his favourite bars, pulling the old "I-forgot-my-wallet" trick, and mesmerising the Minbari attache with sights he has never seen before. He is delighted when Lennier reveals he has a real talent for guessing odds, which of course Londo can use to great effect in his gambling enterprises. Talia prepares for her dark journey into the killer's mind. It's jsut as terrifying as she expected, and she finds that Garibaldi was indeed right: Karl Mueller has killed many, many times before. On the way to his "reprogramming" however he escapes and, wounded by a shot from Garibaldi, he makes it to Downbelow where he staggers into Laura Rosen's medical bay and takes her and her daughter hostage.

Meanwhile, back at the poker game, Londo is found to have been cheating, by using, shall we say, a certain part of his anatomy to palm cards, and a fight breaks out in classic western saloon style. Lennier has to employ all his fighting skills as a Minbari to get them out of trouble. When Franklin hears about Mueller's escape, he reasons that the killer must have gone to have his wound treated, and as he has not shown up in his own free clinic in Downbelow he must have gone to Laura. He gets there to find that the murderer is holding a gun to the daughter's head while he forces Laura to use her machine to heal him. But when she realises that he is going to kill them all anyway, she turns the alien machine to full power and transfers the entireity of her Lake's Syndrome to him, killing him in great pain.

No charges are brought against her, as it was seen as self-defence, and the doctor is a witness. But the alien artifact must be turned over to the station. Laura is completely well now, her Lake's Syndrome gone, but she is troubled by the fact that she, a doctor, has killed in order to save her and her loved ones. The machine is turned over to Franklin, who will study it, try to see if he can determine if it's safe to use.

IMPORTANT PLOT ARC POINTS

THE ALIEN MACHINE

Arc level: Red
This may seem to be a somewhat throwaway plot device, and in ways it is: more a way to exact justice on someone who deserves its harsh repercussions more than most. But file its existence away for later, as this machine will play a rather huge part in a section of one of the later seasons.

THE DEATH OF PERSONALITY

Arc Level: White
I sort of really wasn't going to place this in this section, so have made up a "white" level to address points that are not in any real way important to the arc, but do come back later in some form. The idea of wiping someone's mind and replacing it with a new personality as a form of justice or punishment is something that will be seen again in season three, when its full negative connotations and consequences will be seen.

Another small niggle: Sorry but there are the odd mistakes in Babylon 5, few though they may be. Here we see one, when Laura refers to the alien device as a method of corporal punishment. She means capital punishment obviously: corporal punishment is the likes of spanking, caning etc --- physical punishment --- whereas capital punishment is punishment meted out by the state; effectively, the death penalty. Straczynski's views on same will, as I say, be revisited in season three, where we will see if his proposal of the mindwipe is as clean and simple a method as it appears.

Additional notes: There are things said here too which will feed in to the arc later. When Talia meets Garibaldi in the stone garden and talks about her experiences inside Mueller's mind, she shivers and says "The things inside us: terrible." Make a note, and watch at the end of season two to see just how prophetic this remark will be. Also, Lennier's willingness to take the blame in order to save face for Londo will be a critical component in one of the early season two episodes. As in most things he does, or at least writes, very little JMS shows us in this series is inconsequential or trivial. Similarly, when Ivanova discovers Franklin's free clinic she does not report him, saying she has broken the rules on a few occasions herself. We remember her unauthorised used of the Gold Channel earlier in the season to enable her to talk to her dying father.

Another thing this episode does is brings us head-on with Dr. Franklin's views, the last time we were party to such was in "Believers". Here we see him initially happy to spend his own spare time helping to minister to those who can't afford to come "topside"; he is first and foremost a healer, and will rush to anyone's aid, friend or foe, rich or poor. We said this about him already. Mind you, he has little time for charlatans or quacks, as he believes Laura Rosen to be, but when he discovers that the machine is actually working, and why it is working, he becomes more concerned for her as a person than as a rival, genuine or not. He agrees to allow her use the machine without interference as long as she visits medlab for checkups, as he knows Lake's Syndrome is a deadly and extremely painful condition. Finally, we also see one of what will be not many, but more than one conquest, as he hooks up with Laura's daughter, the sly old dog!



QUOTES

Franklin (looking away): "You can start by removing your clothes."
Ivanova: "Not without dinner and flowers!"

Franklin (about Mueller's upcoming brainwipe): "I'll have to check the equipment later, make sure the process is painless."
Garibaldi: "Do me a favour, don't check too close. If there's a little pain I won't mind."

Londo to Lennier: "Here you will see the very heart and soul of Babylon 5. Also its spleen, its kidneys: a veritable parade of internal organs!"

Mueller (to Talia): "So, you're going to walk around inside my head, are you? I'd think twice if I were you. Something might just jump out of the shadows and bite you!"

Mueller, again to Talia though this time while she is scanning him and sees the multitude of his victims in his mind: "How many? How many worlds are there? How many flowers waiting to be harvested? How many new voices waiting to be recruited into my choir? I have to keep adding voices, until the choir is large enough to sing me into Heaven when I die. It's necessary. The overture is just beginning, Miss Winters."

Talia: "In the past five years I have scanned minds that were so alien, so different that at times I was afraid I would never find my way out again. But at least those minds held more humanity than what I saw a few hours ago. The things that live inside us, Mister Garibaldi: terrible things. You said earlier that you woudl bet good money that he had killed before. You would not have lost."

Janice Rosen: "You did the right thing, mother."
Laura: "I did the necessary thing. That is not always the same as the right thing."

Sinclair: "I'm still waiting for an explanation, gentlemen."
Londo: "And I am prepared to give you one, Commander. Just as soon as the room stops spinning."
Sinclair: "This station creates gravity by rotation, Ambassador. It never stops spinning."
Londo: "You see my problem then."

Londo, after Lennier has taken the blame: "Why?"
Lennier: "In Minbari culture, we are taught that it is an honour to help another save face."
Londo: "But Delenn ---"
Lennier: "Will know better, but will not enquire, out of respect."
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Old 07-02-2013, 08:49 AM   #100 (permalink)
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1.21: "Chrysalis"

The everpresent threat of war between the Narn and the Centauri is hovering even closer as the two races send forays into each other's territory, the one testing, goading the other, as if in an attempt to provoke war. Sinclair's attempts at mediation fall on deaf ears. It's almost New Year's Eve, 2258, and as the station prepares to celebrate its first year in operation, the president is due to visit as part of his goodwill tour. One of Garibaldi's operatives arrives from Downbelow, badly wounded: dying in fact. He collapses on the dock and tells Garibaldi that he has to stop them; they're going to kill him. But he doesn't mean him, he's talking about someone else. He passes out before Garibaldi can find out who though.

Sinclair proposes to Catherine, while an old "friend" calls on Londo. Delenn has sent Lennier to Kosh, with a question, to which the attache has brought back the answer: yes. She looks terrified. Garibaldi meanwhile goes looking for information on what might have happened to his informant, and turns up the name Deveraux. He meets him at the casino, but doesn't seem too worried when Garibaldi takes him in for questioning. It's now New Year's Eve. Morden meets Londo and tells him that he and his "associates" can "fix his problem" in Quadrant 37. Londo laughs: a heavily-armed Narn military outpost on the borders of Centauri space, an embarrassment and danger to his people, and Morden and his friends are going to fix it? Morden just smiles that knowing smile of his, and tells Londo to advise his government that he personally will take care of the Quadrant 37 problem, then leave it to him. When asked what he wants in return, Morden says that at some point in the future, he may ask Londo for something in return, favour for favour.

Delenn goes to see Kosh personally. She says she has grave doubts, and must see for herself. He opens his encounter suit, and she smiles, satisfied. She bids him farewell. Meanwhile Deveraux disappears from custody, and Garibaldi says he knew there was something weird about him. His PPG sidearm had no serial number, and that usually means Earthforce Special Security, but the guy is not on their files. And now he's missing. Out in Quadrant 37 one of those weird spiderlike ships suddenly appears and attacks the outpost, totally destroying it.

Garibaldi is investigating some cargo which was left behind, out of the shipment Deveraux had the lurkers in Downbelow load. That ship had engine problems, so the freight is still here. He finds out that they're components for transmitters, but are rigged to broadcast nothing but static. He figures out that the location the transmitters are supposed to be, sand it's the transfer point off Io, from where the president is due to give his New Year's Day speech, which is said to announce further relaxation of alien immigration policy. Checking further, he finds that the transmitters are tuned to the frequency for Earth Force One, the president's ship. A horrible realisation dawns on him and he calls Sinclair, telling his second to guard the cargo.

But as he leaves he runs into Deveraux, and is then shot in the back by his own second. Delenn goes to see Sinclair, reawakening his memories of his capture and torture on the Minbari cruiser at the Battle of the Line. She tells him if he comes to her quarters later she will tell him all she can, but warns him not to delay, as she has little time. Garibaldi crawls to an elevator and gets to where he can get help but he is losing blood fast, and finally collapses just as he makes it into the elevator. He is taken to medlab but it does not look good. Na'Toth goes to G'Kar with the news about the obliteration of the outpost at Quadrant 37. She says everything is gone: it's like some great hand reached down from space. G'Kar now realises there are other forces, bigger and mightier than even his implacable enemy the Centauri, involved.

Delenn is building something in her quarters. It looks like a pyramid, about her own height or a little higher. Lennier asks her is there no other way and she says she must do this. She places the triluminary on top and something begins to form in the corner of the room. It's sort of like wool or gauze forming. She hopes Sinclair comes soon, as she will be unable to talk to him in a very short while. Garibaldi gains enough consciousness to warn Sinclair that he believes the president's life is in danger.

But it's already too late.

Earth Force One explodes in a shower of fire and smoke just off the transfer point at Io. If this was an assassination attempt it has been successful. President Santiago is dead. Unwittingly, Sinclair leaves Jack, the man who shot Garibaldi, standing guard over him at Medlab. Morden meets Londo in the garden, and the ambassador is genuinely shocked at the lengths he and his "associates" have gone to to remove the problem. He did not expect this, he says, and Morden shrugs: Londo had a problem, they solved it. What does it matter how many died? He tells Londo that his name has been mentioned at court and they are very impressed. Mollari still finds the price hard to swallow. Perhaps he's beginning to realise that he's made a pact with the devil.

Following the death of the president, Vice President Morgan Clark is sworn in; he was not on board Earth Force One when it exploded, having cried off with flu. He immediately confirms that Earthgov will begin to concentrate more on the needs of humans than aliens. Jack kills his co-conspirators, Deveraux and his henchmen, removing any trace of conspiracy, while Franklin gets to work trying to save Garibaldi's life. Kosh visits Sinclair, reminding him he has an appointment to keep, but by the time the commander gets to Delenn's quarters she is already encased in some sort of cocoon, and cannot speak to him. In fact, she seems in great pain. Lennier is standing watch over her.

Na'Toth gets to G'Kar's quarters to find he has gone back to homeworld; he says he has suspicions as to what happened at Quadrant 37. He will be in touch. We see Morden sitting in his quarters, and surrounded by weird, half-glimpsed shapes that look like insects. He looks pleased.

IMPORTANT PLOT ARC POINTS

This is where it all comes together for the grand finale of season one. A lot of things begin to make sense, some terrible sense, and of course, more questions are raised.

THE SPIDER SHIPS

Arc Level: Red
What happened at Quadrant 37? We've seen one of these ships destroy the raider vessel that was stealing The Eye, but one ship not only took out three Narn heavy cruisers, but completely annihilated the entire outpost by itself? What are these ships, and who is sending them? And why? As season two develops, we'll begin to find out.

DEATH OF A PRESIDENT
Arc level: Red
Was it an assassination of the Earth president that took place on New Year's Day? And if so, who orchestrated it? Santiago was rumoured to have been about to give a speech detailing his plans to foster further integration of humans and aliens on Earth, and people like Homeguard would not have liked this. Were they involved? Have they the clout and financial backing to pull this off by themselves? And what about the vice president, now president? Why was he really not on the ship? Was that just coincidence? Things are about to take a serious turn for the worse. The fact that he has already essentially repealed his predecessor's alien-friendly agenda is a warning of things to come.

TRAITORS
Arc level: Orange
Why did Jack shoot Garibaldi? Obviously he was working with whoever was behind the assassination plot, but he knows Garibaldi did not die, as intended, and if or when he regains consciousness his guilt could be established if Garibaldi remembers who shot him. Then again, his back was to the traitor when he was shot. Will Jack decide to try to finish the job? And is he the only traitor on the station, or had he help? One of the other guards, when they find Deveraux and his men dead, and Jack says he fired in self-defence, notes that the dead man's PPG is cold. If it were fired it should be warm. But he lets it slide. Is he in on it too? Or just afraid of Jack?

MORDEN
Arc level: Red
What is Morden's role in all of this? He seems to have some very strange "associates", but they would appear to be very powerful too. But why did they help Mollari? Obviously they are making sure he owes them, but what possible favour can he do them in return? It must be a very important one, for them to just wipe out ten thousand beings like that. As the series develops into season two we will find out a lot about Mr. Morden.

DELENN
Arc Level: Orange
What is the odd cocoon that Delenn has gone into, or that has grown around her? What is its purpose? It's obviously painful for her, so not something she does lightly. And how is it related to her promise to Kosh? And what did she see when Kosh opened his encounter suit, that so quelled her doubts and strengthened her resolve?

QUOTES
G'Kar: "Our patrols are necessary for Narn planetary security."
Londo: "Keep this up, G'Kar, and soon you won't have a planet to protect!" (Remember that warning...)

Londo: "Vir, how many gods are there in our pantheon? I've lost count since the last emperor was elevated to godhood."
Vir: "Er, 48 -- no, 49! Well, 50 if you count Zoot, but I never thought he should ---"
Londo: "All right! Let's say 50. Out of those fifty, how many of those gods do you think I must have offended, to have ended up with G'Kar's teeth buried so deeply in my throat that I can barely breathe?"
Vir: "Er, all of them?"
Londo: "Sounds about right. This is like being nibbled to death by, eh, what do you call those Earth creatures? Feathers, long bill, webbed feet, go quack?"
Vir: "Cats."
Londo: "Cats! Like being nibbled to death by cats!"

Morden, to Londo: "My associates believe that you're a person of great potential, trapped in a position where your skills are unseen and unappreciated. They'd like to change that." (Another one to take note of.)

Delenn to Kosh: "I will keep the promise now. Goodbye. You will not see me again as I am now." (A very important one. This is almost literally what will happen.)

Sinclair: "G'Kar, you once told me that before the Centauri Narn was a peaceful world, an agrarian society, but in order to be free you had to learn how to fight. Nobody questions that. But you've overcompensated: you're like abused children who've grown big enough to do the same thing to someone else, as if that will somehow balance the scales. If you let your anger cloud your judgement it will destroy you."
G'Kar: "We know what we're doing. Anything else, Commander?"
Sinclair: "Just that I've had this feeling lately that we're standing at a crossroads, and I don't like where we're going. But there's still time to choose another path. You can be part of that process, G'Kar. Choose wisely. Not just for the Centauri but for the good of your own people as well. "
G'Kar: "We all do what we have to do."

Sinclair: "We need you to do a job for us."
Garibaldi: "No problem. Give me the guy's name and I'll lean on him."
Sinclair: "Not that kind of job! I think the official title is Best Man."

Londo: "But you killed ten thousand Narns!"
Morden: "I didn't know you cared. Ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a million: what's the differencer? They're Narns, Ambassador. Your sworn enemy."

Kosh: "And so it begins."

Morden: "No, he suspects nothing. When the time is right, Ambassador Mollari will do exactly as we wish. Destiny is on our side."

G'Kar: "Tell the Commander he was right: we were at a crossroads, and there is no turning back now."

Sinclair: "Nothing's the same anymore."
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