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Old 01-20-2013, 06:09 PM   #21 (permalink)
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1.1 "Pilot"

Supernatural differs from many current US shows in that its episodes are always titled, and shown onscreen (Buffy, conversely, uses episode titles but never show them onscreen: what, as they say, is the deal with that?) however the first episode is not titled, being the pilot one. We're introduced to the two heroes, Sam and Dean Winchester, and given insight into what drives them, as the incident from their childhood is recounted, and will be usually before each subsequent episode. Twenty-two years on, Sam is now living with a girl whom he intends to marry, and studying for a law degree, when his brother comes calling in the dead of night (Sam hears him downstairs breaking in and takes him for a prowler, not unreasonably) to tell him that their father is missing. Dean uses the codewords "Dad's been hunting" so that his brother knows that their father has been trying, as he has been for the past two decades, to track down the demon that killed his wife, their mother. Sam has his own life but loves his father and agrees to help Dean find him.

Dean plays Sam a voicemail from their father, which appears to be some sort of recording with a ghostly voice on it that complains "I can never go home". He shows his brother newspaper clippings about men disappearing over the last twenty years at a place called Centennial Highway. The two go to investigate, as the scene shifts to a man driving down the highway. He picks up a female hitch-hiker, a woman in white who entices him back to her place, which appears deserted and abandoned. She tells him "I can never go home", then attacks and kills him. His car crashes through a bridge.

Dean is used to impersonating authority figures in the somewhat colourful life he has led, helping his father look for the demon, and as they come across the scene of the accident he uses the ID of a US Marshall to find out what's going on. Sam is less than impressed, as he has already been on Dean's case over using credit card scams to fund the hunting expeditions, but the cop at the scene tells them they did not recover a body from the accident. He gives them the guy's name and they go to visit his girlfriend. She tells them of an urban legend which holds that a woman in white is said to hitch-hike at night and kill anyone who stops to pick her up.

Dean has better experience with determining between what is a legend and what has its basis in nasty truth, and the two brothers begin researching the story, turning up an article about a woman, Constance Welch, who jumped from a bridge on Centennial Highway, committing suicide after her two children had drowned in mysterious circumstances, back in 1981. Dean and Sam visit the bridge where the suicide took place later that night, and see a ghostly form jump off the bridge. Next moment, Dean's car starts up of its own accord and tries to run him over, but he escapes by diving off the bridge.

The boys check into the hotel their dad stayed in while here, and see pictures on the wall that show them that their father has discovered Constance Welch to be a "woman in white", a spirit who lures others to their deaths out of revenge or remorse, and they decide to go talk to her husband. Turns out he was unfaithful to her, Constance found out and killed herself and her two children in despair. The brothers are on their way to the abandoned house to destroy her corpse when Constance suddenly appears in Sam's car and, taking control of it when Sam refuses her offer to take her home, drives it to the house. Dean distracts her though before she can kill Sam and the younger Winchester ploughs the car through the house, returning Constance to the spirits of her children, who take her down into the depths with them. This then is the reason she kept saying "I can never go home", not being able to face her children as she knows she is responsible for their deaths.

Having unearthed clues to where their father might now be, Dean decides to follow the trail but Sam wants to get back for his interview, and asks to be dropped home. Once there, however, he is devastated to see Jessica, his fiancee, pinned to the ceiling and explode into fire, just like their mother did, twenty-two years ago. Trapped in the suddenly-burning house, he is rescued by Dean who charges in, and though heartbroken over the loss of his girlfriend he agrees to go with his brother to find their father, new purpose in his heart. Now, it's not just their mother the two are seeking revenge for.

As they prepare to leave the house, Sam looks at Dean and says "We've got some work to do."

MUSIC
As mentioned in the intro, one of the great things about this show is its use of rock and classic rock music. Here I'll be listing all the songs used in each episode, as well as featuring, if there are any, YouTube videos of the songs.

The Living Daylights: "Gasoline"
Spoiler for Gasoline:

Classic: "What cha gonna do?" (Okay, not every song is rock!)
Spoiler for Whatcha gonna do:

Eagles of Death Metal: "Speaking in tongues"
Spoiler for Speaking in tongues:

Allman Brothers Band: "Ramblin' man"
Spoiler for Ramblin man:

AC/DC: "Back in black"
Spoiler for Back in black:

AC/DC: "Highway to Hell"
Spoiler for Highway to Hell:

Kid Gloves Music: "My cheatin' ways"
Spoiler for My cheatin ways:


QUESTIONS?
The obvious big one right from the start is, why does the demon want Sam? Allied to that, you have to ask where is the boys' father and what is he doing?

The "WTF?!!" moment
Supernatural is full of surprises, twists and turns, but most episodes have a point where you just go "WTF?" I think it's fair to say that moment in the pilot is when Sam returns home after dealing with the woman in white, relaxes on his bed and then notices blood falling on his face, looks up and see Jessica pinned to the ceiling, just moments before she bursts into flame and the whole episode from his babyhood is repeated with terrifying clarity and new horror.

POP CULTURE REFERENCES (PCRs)
Supernatural uses the fact that most of its fans are "tuned in" to other horror/fantasy/sc-fi shows to drop in witty, knowing and relevant pop culture references (which I'll be shortening to PCRs from now on) that "share a private joke" for those who know what they're talking about, and have the cognoscenti nodding knowingly. Where these are used in an episode I'll be mentioning them, and the context in which they're used. Many times, this context will be obvious, but just in case there are any hermits among my readership I'll explain them anyway.


Questioned by the cops as to his name, Dean says it's Ted Nugent. Ted Nugent is a rock star, famed for his excesses and also for his love of guns.

Impersonating Federal marshals, Dean and Sam catch sight of the real investigators coming up the road and leave. As they go, Dean quips "Agent Scully. Agent Mulder." This obviously refers to Mulder and Scully from "The X-Files", FBI agents who investigate weird or paranormal cases in Chris Carter's hit series.

When Sam tells Amy that the pentagram on her t-shirt, rather than being a sign of evil is meant to ward off evil, Dean nods "Thank you, "Unsolved Mysteries". Obviously referencing the show that seeks to, er, solve mysteries.

When arrested by the cops for impersonating US Marshals, Dean is told he's in a lot of trouble. He grins and asks "Misdemeanour type trouble? Or "squeal like a pig" trouble?" This references the classic cult movie "Deliverance". If you don't know what it means watch the movie, I ain't gonna spoil it for ya!

1.2 "Wendigo" (Officially it's 1.1, as the pilot is numbered 1.0. but hey...)

The first episode proper of the series sets the tone for much of the first season, where Supernatural will and can be seen as a monster-of-the-week show. Dean and Sam, trying to track down their dad, arrive at Blackwater Ridge, his last known whereabouts, and investigate the disappearance of young boys and men from camping sites, and discover that a Wendigo is responsible. A Wendigo is a creature who was once human but having turned to cannibalism is now nothing more than a monster that craves human flesh. Nice! Wendigos also turned up in the much-inferior but still all right "Charmed".

Essentially, this episode is pedestrian and unremarkable. It offers no clues to the location of John Winchester, there are no plot arc developments and it could really in fairness have cropped up in anything from "Grimm" to, indeed, "Charmed" or "Buffy". As a second episode --- and first real one --- it's a big disappointment and not really worth any sort of full review. The only thing it's really remarkable for at all, as below, is the music in the episode.

MUSIC
Foreigner: "Hot blooded"
Spoiler for Hot blooded:

Lynyrd Skynyrd: "Down south jukin'"
Spoiler for Down south jukin:

Rush: "Fly by night"
Spoiler for Fly by night:


QUESTIONS?
None.

The "WTF?!!" moment:

Not present.

PCRs
Just the one: at the start of the search Dean, ever the wiseass, turns to Roy the hunter and asks "Bambi or Yogi ever hunt you back?" Referring to Bambi, the lovable baby deer in the Disney movie, and Yogi Bear, creation of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons and a favourite with the kids of my age; Yogi was forever thwarting Ranger Smith and stealing the picnic baskets of visitors to Jellystone Park. The fact that one is a deer and one a bear, two of the most popular prey for hunters, speaks for itself.

1.3 "Dead in the water"

MUCH better. There have been a lot of unexplained drownings in Wisconsin, with no bodies ever being found. Dean and Sam investigate, and here the two share a difference of opinion: Sam thinks they should not be getting sidetracked, and should be concentrating all their energy on finding their father. Dean however remarks that while this is indeed their main objective, their quest if you will, there's nothing wrong with killing anything evil along the way, and Sam can't really argue with that. It's clear though that Dean, being the more experienced hunter, is more willing to go after these monsters than his little brother is.

They make contact with the sheriff of Lake Manitoc, and he confirms that the dam is leaking so perhaps that's why people are drowning, but that the town can't get a grant to repair it. He introduces them to his daughter and her son, the latter of whom is quiet and withdrawn. The sheriff will only say that he's "been through a lot". Later the brother of the most recent victim, a young girl called Sophie, is drowned himself in a sink! He thinks it's blocked but when he reaches in to unblock it something grabs him and holds his head under the water till he dies. Sam and Dean now know that they're dealing with something, er, supernatural, rather than a series of tragic accidents.

Lucas, the son of the sheriff's daughter, has become a little more relaxed around Dean, and draws him a picture of an old house and then later a house near a church with a drawing of a boy with a red bike. When the brothers find this house and ask after the boy in the picture, who's called Peter, they're told he went missing 35 years ago, his body never found, and they begin to suspect that Billy, Will and Sophie's father, had something to do with it when they find a photograph of the two together. Meanwhile Billy is at the lake, seemingly talking to it, and nods that he knows now what he has to do.

When the boys return he is already on the lake in a boat, and as they call to him it explodes. Back in Lucas's house, his mother is taking a bath when suddenly something reaches up from the water and begins to drag her under. In the nick of time Dean and Sam arrive, and rescue her. The next morning, as they're going through some photo albums, they notice a picture of her father with Billy and Peter, and believe the sheriff may also be involved in the boy's death. Lucas suddenly leads them out to a plot of land where they discover Peter's bike buried, and then the sheriff arrives, forcing them back at gunpoint.

Dean accuses the sheriff of killing the boy with Billy, but he denies it until his daughter points out all the horrible things that have been happening due to his evil deed, and that she herself just yesterday became a target. He breaks down and confesses, and Dean and Sam tell him that in order to lay Peter's spirit to rest they need to burn the body. Problem: the corpse was dumped in the lake, hence all the drownings. Before they can think any further on the problem though, Lucas is pulled under the water, and seeing that everyone he loves or cares about may die because of what he did, the sheriff offers himself up to Peter's spirit. Dean dives in to save Lucas, but although he surfaces with the boy again it looks like he's too late.

The epilogue however shows us that Lucas not only survived, but is now talking for the first time in years, and seems a lot happier. Having solved the case, but come no closer to finding their father, Dean and Sam leave town.

MUSIC
Black Toast: "What a way to go"
Spoiler for What a way to go:

Ratt: "Round and round"
Spoiler for Round and round:

Billy Squier: "Too daze gone"
Spoiler for Too daze gone:

Bad Company: "Movin' on"
Spoiler for Movin on:



QUESTIONS?
None really; all mostly wrapped up in the episode.

The "WTF?!!" moment:
Meh, hard to say. Maybe it's at the end, when Sam says to Dean, "You can't save everyone", and you naturally expect this to relate to the fact that the didn't manage to save Lucas, and then he comes running up with sandwiches for them. Maybe. I think the real one though is the first time you see Will, the brother of Sophie, get pulled in and drowned in the sink...!

PCRs
Again, just the one. Once more impersonating government officials, Dean introduces Sam and himself as "Agent Ford, Agent Hammill". This is in reference to Harrison Ford and Mark Hammill, who played Han Solo and Luke Skywalker respectively in "Star Wars".
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:46 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Well, as far as episode reviews are concerned, I certainly won't be missing out a single one. I mean, if I covered "Infection" then surely I can't leave anything else out, can I? What I had originally intended to do was run a storyline and refer back to episodes, but that hasn't really worked out because B5 is such a complex story, so yeah, I'll be reviewing each episode. As you can see, due to the character max limit that leave me only getting through 2 or 3 episodes per post, which is going to take some time, but hey...

Ratings is a good idea, I may look at that.

As for Who, well the problem here is twofold. Classic Who has about twenty seasons, so even doing a few lines per episode would take me one hell of a long time. But more importantly, it was on when I was at school, so I remember very little about it other than the obvious, and though I could go back and rewatch the episodes (yeah...) I have so many other series to get through, not to mention my other two journals, that it would be time I couldn't afford.

So if I do Dr Who at all, it will be only the new versions, no BCE unfortunately. I don't even remember enough about classic Who to refer back. I mean, I have a rough remembrance of companions, doctors, K-9, a few stories, but it's all quite fragmented, and I really wouldn't be able to do a good job.

Tell you what: if you want to, you can do a section on Dr Who here yourself... once you get back from 1972 that is...

Thanks for the comments: keep em coming! Supernatural up next!
As much as I'd like to do something on Doctor Who, I just haven't got the time, but if you decide to do something on older Doctor Who then I could easily point you in the right direction on what stuff to watch etc.
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Old 01-22-2013, 12:56 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Season 1: "Three million years from Earth..."

Episode 3: "Balance of power"

Holly's joke at the opening: "In the 3 million years we've been away, it is my fond hope that mankind has abolished war, cured all disease, and gotten rid of those little western saloon doors you get in trendy clothes shops."

It's Saturday night (even though they're in deep space and the planet upon whose rotation the days are based is probably now dust) and Lister wants to have some fun. Rimmer's idea of fun --- ship's inventory --- is not what he has in mind! After arguing with his dead superior, Lister heads off to the ship's disco on his spacebike, where he sits alone, remembering all the good times he used to have there with his friends. He finally decides, after remembering a conversation centreing around Kristine Kochanski, his crush, that he wants to go on a date with her. Trouble is, she's dead.

No problem. All he has to do is get Rimmer to agree to be switched off for twenty-four hours, and he can take Kochanski's personality disc, replace Rimmer's in the hologram and hey presto! The love of his life will live again. Well, for a day anyway. Only problem is, Rimmer ain't having it. He knows Lister hates him, and fears that should his bunkmate get a chance with Kochanski he'll have no reason to return Rimmer to the hologram. Which is probably true. Plus Lister doesn't know where the hologram discs are kept, and Rimmer's unlikely to tell him.

The only solution to the problem Lister can see is to somehow become Rimmer's superior. The one thing Arnold worships above all else is authority, and even if it was Lister, were he a rank higher than Rimmer the hologram would have to obey him. So Lister decides to study and take the officers' exam, in order to become Rimmer's superior. Laughing at such a notion, Rimmer says he's not worried, as he knows the extent of Lister's dedication to study. Nevertheless he keeps a close eye on him.

He soon has other things to concern himself about though, when he wakes and finds that "somehow" his hologram disc has become corrupted, and one of his arms has been replaced with that of Olaf Petersen, one of Lister's laddish mates. The arm seems to have a life of its own, and attacks him. After being poked and punched by it, he apologises to Holly --- whom he had insulted earlier, thus leading to the "corruption" of the disc and the wayward arm --- and his own arm is reinitialised. Still smarting both physically and emotionally, he goes to see what Lister is up to.

Finding him in the teaching room, he ridicules Lister's preparedness and his lack of knowledge, until he realises that Dave is not sitting the flight navigation exam, but the chef's. Disbelievingly, he asks Lister does he really want to be a chef, which Lister admits he does not: he just wants to outrank Rimmer so he can get the disc he wants. In a final attempt to stop Lister taking --- and god forbid, passing! --- the exam, Rimmer gets Kochanski's disc and has Holly swap it with his, then goes to Lister telling him "she" never loved him, and so all his preparation and studying is for nothing, so he might as well give up. But Lister is suspicious, and sees through Rimmer's plan.

Rimmer needn't have worried though, because true to form, Lister couldn't pass an exam if he was given all the answers beforehand. But he pretends he does, just to get up Rimmer's nose.

Best lines/quotes/scenes

There's a lot in this episode that became cult quotable Red Dwarf but does not really relate directly to the episode. Here are some of the best ones.

Rimmer, in the exam room: "And Lister, what's this? Learning drugs? They're illegal, matey! I'm afraid you're in very serious, grave, deep trouble, Lister. Where did you get them? I want names. I want places. I want dates."
Lister: "Arnold Rimmer. His locker. This morning."

Arnie is attacked by Petersen's hologrammatic arm:
Rimmer: "And when are you going to give me my own arm back? I refuse to walk around all day with Petersen's arm. You know what he was like. God only knows where this arm's been!"

The arm suddenly slaps him in the face.

Rimmer: "Ahh! What's he doing?"
Holly: "Beats me, Arnie. Seems to have a mind of its own."

The arm sticks out two fingers and goes for Rimmer's eyes. He grabs it with his other hand and tries to stop it.

Rimmer: "Tell him to stop it!"
Cat: "What is this? Cabaret? Entertainment while you eat?"
Rimmer: "No, no, no!"
Cat: "Hey, can you place bets? My bet is on this arm! (pointing at Petersen's.)

The arm finally succeeds in jabbing Rimmer in the eyes.

Rimmer: "Aagh!" A bit late, he finally thinks of putting his hand over his eyes. The other arm continues trying to jab at them. "Holly, you're absolutely gorgeous and handsome and delicious, please tell him to stop it!"
Holly: "All right. Just give me a couple of seconds."

Petersen's arm gives up jabbing at Rimmer's other hand, trying to reach his eyes.

Rimmer: "Ah, look at that. I've outwitted him. He's given up. Look, he's given up."

The hand suddenly jabs Rimmer in the balls.

Rimmer: "OOOOOO!!!"
He doubles up in pain, and the arm takes the opportunity to punch him in the head.

Holly: "There. Done it. Just in time."
Cat: "Hey! That was good! You should have finished on a song, it would have been perfect!"
Rimmer: (Still doubled up on the floor) "I hate everything."

Rimmer has shown the Cat how to get his own meals from the dispenser, in return for giving him back Lister's cigarette stash, which the feisty feline had found earlier. He is sitting at one of the consoles, eating. He finishes the meal and goes over to the food dispenser for another.

CAT: "Mmm-mmm!"
DISPENSING MACHINE: "Hello. How can I help you?"
CAT: "Fish!"
DISPENSING MACHINE: "Today's fish is trout a la creme." (Produces a dish.)
"Enjoy your meal."
CAT: "Fish!"
DISPENSING MACHINE: "Today's fish is trout a la creme." (Produces a dish.)
"Enjoy your meal."
CAT: "Fish!"
DISPENSING MACHINE: "Today's fish is trout a la creme." (Produces a dish.)
"Enjoy your meal."
CAT: "Fish!"
DISPENSING MACHINE: "Today's fish is trout a la creme." (Produces a dish.)
"Enjoy your meal."
CAT: "Fish!"
DISPENSING MACHINE: "Today's fish is trout a la creme." (Produces a dish.)
"Enjoy your meal."
CAT: "Fish!"
DISPENSING MACHINE: "Today's fish is trout a la creme." (Produces a dish.)
"Enjoy your meal."
CAT: "I will!"

Rimmer wakes up late, leaps out of bed, and begins some jumping jacks. "Lister! Rise and shine, el slobbo! Come on, I've been awake for hours, Lister! Up, up, up! Come on! Exercise, Lister! Exercise, sonny boy!"
He finally notices that Lister's bunk is empty and looks at the clock.
"Quarter to two? I didn't set my motivator! I was supposed to be up at seven! Why didn't he wake me? He knows I'm a heavy sleeper. Have I got to remind him to do everything for me? He's so irresponsible!"

A "Black Card" situation...
Lister: "Look, what is it, man? Don't you trust me?"
Rimmer: (Mimes holding up an imaginary card) "Black card, Lister. I'm holding up a black card. Conversation over."
Lister: "I've always been crazy about her. I never did anything about it."
Rimmer: "Oh, Lister, you've forgotten the colour code. White. The white card is to continue the discussion, but this is a black card situation. Discussion over."
Lister: "Listen..."
Rimmer (singing): "Da da da, black card, black card, black card, da da da, black card..."
Lister: "I was talking about something else!"
Rimmer: "White card. Go on."
Lister: "Right, for a start, I want to stop all this black card and white card smeg, it's driving me crazy!"
Rimmer: "Black card!"

Rimmer: "I think I've gone video-blind. Is that painting yours? It's rubbish!"
Lister: "It's a mirror."

Lister is listening to his favourite, Rastabilly Skank. Rimmer is not impressed.
Rimmer: "Why don't you listen to something really classical, like Mozart, Mendelssohn, or Motorhead?"

The Cat checks his look:
" Aaaoooww! Ooh, babe! Hey Yeah! Jump back! Come back! Hep!" (Stops) "How'm I looking?" (Pulling out a little mirror) "I'm looking nice. My hair is nice. My face is nice. My suit is nice. I'm looking really nice! Aaaooowww! Jump back! Hoo! Ack! Hey!" (Stops again) "I wonder how I'm looking now?" (Pulling out the mirror) "Still looking nice. My hair's still nice. My face is still nice. My suit -- I'm just nice, period. Aaaoooww! Jump back! Get down! Hoo!"

At the disco, in the past...
Rimmer: "Ha ha ha. Lister, where's my revision timetable?"
Chen: "Sure, it's Saturday night!"
Lister: "Come on, no one works Saturday night!"
Rimmer: "You don't work any night. You don't work any day!
Lister: "Skive hard, play hard! That's our motto!"
Rimmer: "Look, I've got my engineering re-sit on Monday. I don't know anything. Where's my revision timetable?"
Lister: "Wait, is this the thing in all different colours, with all the subjects divided into study periods and rest periods and self testing time?"
Rimmer: "It took me seven weeks to make it. I've got to cram my whole revision into one night."
Lister: "Hang on, is this the thing with the note on it in red which said, "Vital. Valuable. Urgent. Do not touch on pain of death?"
Rimmer: "Yes!"
Lister: "I threw it away."

And prior to that, Rimmer's less-than-graceful entry into the disco (you really have to see this one...)
Rimmer: "Excuse me, please. Could you please excuse me? Some of us have more important things to do than wiggle our posteriors. Could you move please? Please? Thank you. Could you move? Excuse me, please. Excuse me. Excuse me, please. Excuse me!"

He runs into Kochanski, who drops her purse. Rimmer picks it up and
throws it away.

Rimmer: "If you want to dance, do it over there!"(Calling in the direction he threw the purse) "Sorry!"

Holly explains to Lister how he worked out who to bring back to keep him sane:
Lister: "Holly, why Rimmer's hologram? Why did you have to bring Rimmer's hologram back? He was the most unpopular man on board this ship. I mean, he even had to organise his own surprise birthday parties!"
Holly: "And who should I have brought back, then?"
Lister: "Anyone! Chen. Petersen. I mean, Hermann Goerring would have been more of a laugh than Rimmer! I mean, OK, he was a drug-crazed transvestite, but at least we could have gone dancing!"
Holly: "I brought Rimmer back because he's the best person to keep you sane.
Lister: "Oh, crap!"

(A panel on the wall swings around to reveal a toilet. A sign over the
toilet reads, "NOW IRRADIATE YOUR HANDS.")

Lister "Not you!"
Toilet: "I do apologise, I wasn't paying attention. See you later!"
Lister: "What about Kristine Kochanski? You could have brought Kristine back."
Holly: "In your entire life, your shared conversations with her totalled 173 words."
Lister: "So?"
Holly: "In terms of wordage, you actually had a better relationship with your rubber plant."
Lister: "I know, but Rimmer?!"
Holly: "He's the person you knew best. Over 14 million words in all."
Lister: "Holly, 7 million of those were me telling him to smeg off, and the other 7 million were him putting me on report for telling him to smeg off!"
Holly: "Jean Paul Sartre said Hell was being locked forever in a room with your friends."
Lister: "Holly, all his mates were French."

And finally... four thousand, six hundred and ninety-one irradiated haggis!

Rimmer is standing, Lister sitting with his feet up on a console. He's
checking things off on a clipboard as Rimmer lists them.

Rimmer: "140,000 rehydratable chickens."
Lister: (Extremely bored) "Check."
Rimmer: "72 tons of reconstituted sausage pate."
Lister: "Check."
Rimmer: "4,691 irradiated haggis."
Lister: "Oh, Rimmer, it's Saturday night! I've had enough."
Rimmer: "4,691 irradiated haggis."
Lister: "Rimmer, it's Saturday night! I want to boogie on down!"
Rimmer: "4,691 irradiated haggis."
Lister: "We've been doing this for four hours! Let's have a break!"
Rimmer: "4,691 irradiated hag-g-gis."
Lister: "Rimmer, will you stop saying 4,981 irradiated haggis and speak to
me!"
Rimmer: "4,691 irradiated haggis."
Lister: (Beginning to lose his temper) "Rimmer, I want to go for a
drink!"
Rimmer: "4,691 irradiated haggis!"
Lister: "I want to have some fun!"
Rimmer: "This is fun! Are you mad?"
Lister: "You read something out. I say check. Where's the fun?"
Rimmer: "All right. We'll put you in command for a few seconds, Capitaine. (Salutes.) What's the plan, sir? Come on, lickety split!"
Lister: "Go back to Earth."
Rimmer: "And in the meantime?"
Lister: "I don't know, generally slob around, have a few laughs."
Rimmer: "Excellent plan, Lister! Excellent plan! Brilliant plan! There was me thinking you hadn't thought about it, when clearly you have. Right, I'll just stand over here and laugh slobbily, shall I?"
Lister: "Rimmer, I'm going for a drink."
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:01 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Season One: "Signs and portents" (Part three)
Yeah it's definitely me: writing too much on each episode, so much so that when I tried to upload the next TWO episodes in the one post, I had already overrun the max character allowance. Dammit! So this is part three, in two parts, as it were, cos I don't want to just put up the one episode and besides, there's one here that's really crucial to the storyline...

1.7 "The war prayer"

Prejudice and hatred rear their ugly heads as a wave of attacks on Earth and Mars spreads to Babylon 5, where a Minbari poet, and friend of Delenn, is attacked and branded with a symbol recognised as that of Home Guard, a violent, militant pro-Earth group who are growing in power. Sinclair sets about rooting out their henchmen on the station. Meanwhile, an old associate of Ivanova's arrives onboard, and when it turns out that it is in fact he who is orchestrating the attacks --- of which more follow the one on Delenn's friend --- he decides the best way to combat them is to pretend to be interested in joining them. A man of his authority and power, a respected and dedicated officer who fought on the Battle of the Line and is known to have no special love for aliens, should easily convince the hatemongers that he is a recruit worth targeting.

The subplot concerns Londo and Vir, and two young Centauri who have run away from their arranged marriages to other people, in order to be together. It's an old story, and Londo is unimpressed by the two young lovers' disregard for centuries of tradition. Vir, however, who is related to the male Centuari, thinks tradition is overrated and love should be given a chance. Through the intercession of the Minbari poet, Londo eventually agrees, after the two have been attacked by the Home Guard, to allow the two lovers to be taken into a period of fosterage, by his second cousin, which not only will greatly enhance their two families' standing in the Republic, but is an old but seldom-practiced custom, and will appeal to the traditionalist values of both the parents of the young Centauri.

Sinclair is almost pushed into a corner, meanwhile, when he goes to meet with Biggs, the leader of the Home Guard presence on B5, and is ordered to prove his allegiance by killing an alien. He demurs, and luckily the cavalry arrive in the shape of Garibaldi and his security force. Biggs and his men are arrested and deported from the station. Sinclair and his security chief however realise this is not something that will go away, and with anti-alien resentment being stirred up and driven by hate groups on Earth and elsewhere, things will only escalate and get a lot worse before they get better.

Important Plot Arc Points
Home Guard
Arc Level: Orange
Though essentially a neo-fascist organisation that uses distrust and dissatisfaction with the alien influx to Earth and its presence on Babylon 5, Home Guard will later be seen as "small potatoes", the springboard for a much larger, planetwide and well-funded and backed organisation that will take Earth into shadowy, dark places and bring a curtain of fear, suspicion and paranoia down over the home planet not seen since George Orwell's totalitarian society in "Nineteen eighty-four". The presence of Home Guard on Babylon 5 will also impact personally on Garibaldi. Literally.

The Centauri Republic
Arc Level: Orange
Here again we are allowed a peek into the workings of Centauri society, and we see they are a duty-bound, honourable people who cling to their traditions and their beliefs almost doggedly, desperate to retain something from their old glory days, and not fade away entirely. Someone once said "Our past defines us", and it is certainly true for the Centauri Republic. More about them will of course emerge as we progress. It's also interesting to see that Londo, though he puts up the front of a jaded, disinterested bureaucrat and seems to have no time for the "childish" notion of young love, is at heart an old romantic. Perhaps this is a carryover from his recent affair in "Born to the purple". If so, sad to say, events will soon conspire to disabuse him of this somewhat optimistic view of the world.

G'Kar
Arc Level: Red
Here we see too the bad side of G'Kar, whereas in the previous episode his beneficent side was on show, as he rescued Catherine Sakai and spoke philosophy about the universe. Here, he is a rabble-rouser, a stirrer-up of trouble, determined that the humans will not hurt his people and prepared to defend them by any means to hand. Even though, however, he takes this militant stance, it is perhaps in his character that he, as highest-ranking member of his people on the station, and charged therefore with their safety, takes this responsibilty very seriously. This love of his people and his leadership qualities will come more to the surface in later seasons, and we will see deeper into Ambassador G'Kar, peer past the mask of nationalism and pride, and hidden depths to this man will be revealed.

Best quotes:
The best lines in this episode, rather surprisingly, don't come from the main plot but from the backstory, although it is perhaps no surprise that they come from Londo Mollari. They also help to give us more of an insight into who he is as a person, and what his outlook on life is.

"Sometimes," says Londo, "these marriages call for sacrifice [he looks at the pictures of his own wives on his desk]. Great sacrifice. But we make this sacrifice because this is what it means to be Centauri!"

"Love, pah! Overrated!" Londo cries out. "[He points to the pictures of his wives.] These are my three wives - pestilence, famine, and death. Do you think I married them for their personalities? Their personalities could shatter worlds! Arranged marriages, every one. But they worked out; they inspired me. Knowing that they are waiting at home for me is what keeps me here, 75 light-years away!"

"'My shoes are too tight,'" says Londo, sadly. "Something my father said. He was old, very old at the time. I went into his room, and he was sitting alone in the dark, crying. So I asked him what was wrong, and he said, 'My shoes are too tight, but it doesn't matter, because I have forgotten how to dance.' I never understood what that meant until now. My shoes are too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance."

and following on from that...

When asked by the Centauri couple why he helped them, he responds happily "Because you are still children, and children should be allowed to dance."

Elsewhere, Garibaldi muses on why Home Guard are becoming so powerful back on Earth: ""The problem is, there are many who agree with them, and even more who just don't give a damn."

Sinclair, when trying to project himself as a candidate for recruitment to Home Guard, tells Malcolm Biggs of his feelings about the Battle of the Line: "The Minbari let us win. You know what that victory tasted like? Ashes."

Although he is using this as a means to an end, playing a part, it can't be denied that part of the commander does, or did, indeed feel that way, and even now he still retains a desire to know why the Minbari surrendered. It is this refusal to just accept it as one of life's never-to-be-solved mysteries that is crucial to the plot, and will lead him to his destiny. So there is some truth in what he says, and the question bothers him constantly, occupying every waking moment, as we'll see from the next episode, which is a crucial one, and one of the first real arc-centric ones.
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1.8 "And the sky full of stars"

Here we see the first real attempts to get to the truth behind the Battle of the Line, why the Minbari surrendered and what happened during that twenty-four hour gap in Sinclair's mind. Persons identified only by codenames (Knight One and Knight Two) arrive at the station and rent quarters in one of the more deserted, rundown sectors, setting up some elaborate machinery. With the help of one of Babylon 5's security personnel, who has got in over his head in debt, they set up a virtual reality cybernet matrix which allows them to create a nightmarish world in which Sinclair is held against his will. In effect, they enter his mind through the use of the machine they have installed, and to which Knight Two is now hooked up.

Using every sort of interrogation method they can, the two try to break Sinclair and make him tell them what they want to know. They're unaware, or refuse to believe, that the commander is as much in the dark about what happened when he "went dark" for twenty-four hours as they are, and that even if he wanted to tell them, he couldn't. But the two men are convinced he sold out Earth to the Minbari, was turned into an agent for the aliens and that's why the Minbari surrendered. Unable to defeat humanity, Knight Two says (blissfully ignoring the fact that the aliens had very much defeated Earth and were about to consolidate their victory) they decided to recruit a "fifth column", a band of traitors and inside men who would pass back information to them and help them move to the highest positions of authority on Earth. Defeat from within, sleeper agents helping to procure for the Minbari the victory they could not achieve through force of arms. Again...?

It's the first time we see a re-enactment of the Battle of the Line, though it won't be the last. The title of the episode comes from Sinclair's despairing description of their hopeless task: "And the sky was full of stars, and every star an exploding ship!" He knew then that the game was up, that Earth was defeated and determined to go out fighting he set his Starfury fighter on a collision course with one of the Minbari cruisers, but blacked out before it hit. When he woke, the war was over. Nothing the two Knights can force from him will change that story, as it is all he remembers. His mind is a total blank for that period.

However, the virtual reality cybernet does conjure up, whether from his mind or from somewhere else, an image he has not seen before. Or at least, does not remember seeing. Or does he? It does look familiar. He is surrounded by grey hooded and cloaked figures, beyond them it's dark and Sinclair cannot make out his surroundings. One of the figures shoots a beam of light at him and he collapses. Seizing upon this new information, Knight Two asks Sinclair what he's hiding, but Sinclair does not know; as far as he's aware, he isn't hiding anything. And yet...

Knight Two counters his hot retort that he did not betray Earth with a smart question as to how he could know that, if he can't remember what transpired during those twenty-four hours? Sinclair admits to himself he has no answer to that, but he does agree that something has been bothering him, something that has made him question just how much he actually blacked out, and what may have taken place during that time. It refers back to the pilot episode, where he confronted the Minbari who had been sent to kill Kosh. Just before he took his own life, the warrior told Sinclair "You have a hole in your mind", which is true, he does: there's a whole day he can't account for, and it worries him.

As they re-enter the virtual world at the behest of Knight Two, more details begin to coalesce, dragged, it would seem, from Sinclair's memory, and now he begins to remember. He sees his ship, on a collision course with a massive Minbari cruiser. He sees it loom large in his viewscreen, then be pulled in to the ship on some sort of tractor beam. He sees himself again surrounded by the grey figures. He is restrained to a large triangular structure. One of the figures approaches him and hold up a small grey metal triangular device before his face, and it glows. He somehow is free, and moves towards one of the figures, pulling back the hood and gasping as he realises he recognises the face underneath the cowl. But again he is shot, and collapses, and his memories dissolve.

Pushed to breaking point, Sinclair marshalls the strength to break free and the feedback knocks Knight Two out. Sinclair runs and punches Knight One, who has come into the room to check if all is okay, and Sinclair grabs a gun and runs out. The psychological torture has been such though that he no longer knows where he is, and believes himself back at the Battle of the Line. When Garibaldi, who has been searching for him, finds him he is ready to shoot, but Delenn approaches him. He however seems to recognise her as an enemy, but she convinces him otherwise and leads him out.

Later, as Knight Two is being taken back to Earth for trial, Sinclair speaks to him but the man's mind has been fried and he makes no sense. Garibaldi tells the commander that he believes the two --- the other of whom is dead --- were part of a covert, deep-cover Earthforce mission to try to either uncover traitors in its command structure or paint those individuals as such, and he doubts they'll hear much about the trial, or Knight Two, once he returns to Earth. Delenn later asks Sinclair if he remembers anything about the Battle of the Line, and he says no he does not.

But he does. The virtual reality cybernet has awoken in him memories that have been, it would seem, suppressed, and that twenty-four hour period is no longer dark or blank to him. However, the answer has raised even more questions, important, possibly crucial ones, and Sinclair is determined to get to the bottom of the matter.

Important Plot Arc Points
(This is, as I mentioned, the first proper "arc" episode, where all those little clues we've been getting, dropped like breadcrumbs along the path, tidbits of information, pointers and indications that something larger might be taking place, begin for the first time to fall into place. There's a long way to go before we know the whole story, certainly, but at least here we can start to fit one piece into the jigsaw, and Babylon 5 begins to be seen as something more than just an episodic sci-fi show.)

The Battle of the Line
Arc Level: Red
Finally we see the famous battle; we hear Sinclair in his position as squad leader advise his men, lead them and then quickly see a trap is being sprung, but finds himself unable to stop his men being slaughtered by the Minbari. Angry, vengeful and with no real hope of survival anyway, he resolves to take down one of the enemy cruisers and sets his ship on a collision course with it. Up to now, that's as much as we have known. Sinclair blacked out, came to twenty-four hours later and the war was over.

Now, more details are beginning to emerge, details that start to fill in that missing blank period in his life, the "hole in his mind" that the Minbari assassin spoke of. We see that he was taken onboard the cruiser, seemingly tortured, examined and probed by what appear to be members of the Grey Council, the shadowy rulers of the Minbari. He also sees that he recognised one of the members, and now sees the face of Ambassador Delenn behind the cowl he pulled back. What was she doing on that cruiser? This also plays into her warning to Lennier, on his arrival, not to call her by her title "Satai", so that no-one will know she is a member of the Grey Council. Clearly, the Minbari blanked Sinclair's memory, but why? What did they not want him to remember? And why does Delenn want her membership of the Grey Council kept from everyone?

Sinclair's partially-returning memories of the Battle of the Line are of course the main arc plot point in this episode, but there are also foreshadowings of a change in the power structure back home, with dark elements within the government getting stronger and coming a little more out of the shadows, as if they are no longer afraid to be discovered. We've already seen Home Guard, and of course the Psi Corps flexing their muscle. Before long, we will see pretty cataclysmic changes in the balance of power, which will impact on the series right up and into the fourth season.

The Grey Council
Arc Level: Red
Who are the Grey Council? Nothing is known of them, save that they are a shadowy conclave who speak for, make policy for and direct the Minbari people. Like a ruling body of high priests, their word seems to be law and their edicts unchallenged. Delenn is a member, so what does that mean for Babylon 5, and for Sinclair in particular, who must assume now, with his memories partially regained, that she was complicit in, and may even have taken an active role in, his abduction and torture?


Some additional notes:
Although not a part of the main arc, per se, we do see into the soul of Dr. Franklin here, when he is asked by Delenn what he did during the war? He replies that toward the end of the war, all xenobiologists were asked by Earth Force to turn over their notes on Minbari physiology so that effective genetic and biological weapons could be created. Delenn asks him if he did, indeed, hand over his notes. "I took an oath that all life is sacred. I destroyed my notes rather than have them used for killing," he answers.

This tells us more about the man than a hundred action scenes could. We will find, as the series goes on, that the good doctor certainly knows how to handle himself. He may kill, if it is unavoidable, but at heart he is a man of peace, a healer who is just as likely to run to the aid of a fallen enemy as a comrade. He does not generally differentiate between the wounded on either side: to him, a patient is a patient, even if an hour ago that patient was trying to blow the doctor's head off. He has taken the hippocratic oath, and nothing is more sacred to him. This will later put him in a very tough position, when he has to reconcile that belief with carrying out acts he would never have thought himself capable of, for the greater good.

"Oh dear, JMS...!"

Although there is some great dialogue in this episode, one line stands out to me as just terrible. JMS is a great writer, of that there is no doubt, and even a genius can have an off-day, so we can forgive him the odd slip. However, this quote made me think that maybe he was tired when writing this, or just wanted to finish something and so didn't give it too much thought. It's only one line really, so nothing to make a big fuss over, but its banality and lack of originality disappointed me. Sinclair speaks about the truth to Garibaldi. ""Everyone lies, Michael. The innocent lie because they don't want to be blamed for something they didn't do, and the guilty lie because they don't have any other choice."

Even ignoring the terrible lines, the concept is flawed. The innocent do NOT lie: they almost always tell the truth, and the guilty CAN lie, but it's not like they have no choice, as Sinclair asserts. If anything, in fact, the guilty are more likely to lie than the innocent, as the former have something to hide while those who do not have no real reason, normally, to lie. So the whole thing is a really badly-thought-out and badly-written line. It's only a few words, but perhaps because of how good some of the other dialogue is, it tends to stand out to me, and annoys me.

Quotes
Knight Two speaks in a very grand, pompous voice, but he has some excellent lines as he speaks to Sinclair (the only person he does talk to, other than his partner in crime).

"Maybe you're asleep. Maybe you're insane. Maybe you're dead. Maybe you're in Hell. Not that it matters much, Commander Sinclair, because wherever you are, wherever you go, you're mine!"

"It's shadow-play, without form or substance".

"We'll walk together across the bridge of synapses and neurons, into the very heart of your memories, to find the truth about what happened at the Battle of the Line!"

"They took you aboard, fixed you some milk and cookies. Asked you to work for them. Nobody wants to die, Commander, especially in the cold of space. You agreed."

And Commander Sinclair waxes tragic about the Battle:
"They were my friends. I watched them die, one by one. For years afterwards, whenever I saw a Minbari, I had to fight the urge to strangle them with my bare hands.... We never had a chance.... When I looked at those ships, I didn't just see my death. I saw the death of the whole damn human race."

Most interestingly, when Sinclair is taken aboard the Minbari cruiser and the grey figures silently circle him, he shouts at them "What do you want?" The significance of this, whether intentional or not (and one always has to assume the former with Straczynski!) will become clearer soon, and certainly as season two gets going.

Sinclair's vow, as the episode fades to credits, is also telling, and a marker for the future: "Personal Log. I remember. I was taken inside a Minbari cruiser, interrogated, tortured. Was that the Grey Council? Maybe. Maybe. Before they surrendered, they must have blanked my memory and let me go. And Delenn--what was she doing there? What is it they don't want me to remember? I have to find out. I have to!"
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1.04 "Phantom traveller"

Tapping into the fear of flying many people have, this episode sees a man named George boarding an airliner --- who is himself uneasy about taking a plane --- be possessed by a strange, black mist-like creature, and under its influence while in flight, he opens the emergency door and the plane goes down. Only seven survive, and Dean and Sam are called in by the airport manager, who says that their father once helped him with a ghost he had in his house, and as he can't contact John he has turned to the two sons. They ask for all relevant information on the crash, and listen to a strange sound on the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder): a low moaning, whistling sound. The investigators have taken that to indicate some sort of technical problem on the aircraft, leading to its downing, but Jerry, the airport guy, is not convinced.

Listening to the CVR recording the brothers make out the words "No survivors" and are convinced there was some otherworldly explanation for the crash. They go to see one of the survivors, in fact the guy who last saw George as he opened the emergency exit. He has checked himself into a psychiatric hospital, as he believes he has gone mad: there is two tons of pressure behind the emergency release --- how could one man have opened in midflight? He also tells Dean and Sam that George had weird black eyes. The boys visit George's widow, but can find out nothing interesting about him: he was just an ordinary guy, a dentist on his way to a conference.

They next pose as Homeland Security in order to get access to the plane's wreckage. They find some sort of odd residue on the emergency exit and take it back with them for analysis. Meanwhile, the pilot of the downed plane, who is one of the survivors, is about to take command of his next flight. As he does, the weird black entity seeps into his eyes. He quickly loses control of the small aircraft and crashes into a field. The brothers meanwhile have identified the substance on the door as sulphur, clear evidence of demonic possession.

Travelling to the scene of the second accident, they again find sulphur traces in the wreckage, and conclude that the demon, which is obviously taking possession of people, is going after all of the survivors of the original crash, to ensure nobody escapes. With this information in hand, the brothers contact all of the remaining survivors to see if any intend flying that day. Only one does, the stewardess from the original flight, and unable to stop her the boys have to board the plane themselves, in order to exorcise the demon and save everyone on board. One small problem: big bad Dean has a fear of flying!

Onboard the plane the boys think it may be the stewardess, Amanda, who the demon has possessed but their test --- pronouncing God's name in latin backwards --- does not support that hypothesis. After checking most of the passengers they come to believe it's the co-pilot. Trying to explain the situation to Amanda at thirty thousand feet is not easy, but she believes them --- partially at least --- as she says on the original flight she thought she noticed something weird about George's eyes, but had just shrugged it off. She helps the boys lure the co-pilot out and after some trouble with air turbulence they perform the exorcism that forces the demon to exit the man's body. As it does, it screams at Sam that it knows what happened to his fiancee, but Sam finishes the ritual after Dean drops the book they have been reading the verses from, and the demon vanishes, an electrical charge buzzing around the plane before it rights itself.

Back on the ground, Dean is interested as to how Jerry got his number, and he says he got it from their dad's voicemail. The brothers are surprised at this, since last time they checked their father's voicemail was not working. They call it and do indeed get the voicemail, with the additional message that if someone is in trouble they can call Dean. This is a big relief to them, as it means their father is still alive and out there somewhere. Still, why hasn't he then contacted them directly?

MUSIC
Black Sabbath: "Paranoid"
Spoiler for Paranoid:

Rush: "Working man"
Spoiler for Working man:

Nichion Sounds Library: "Load rage"
Spoiler for Load rage:


QUESTIONS?
Was the demon just playing on Sam's fears when it said it knew about his fiancee, or does it really know what happened to her? And what did happen to her? We saw her explode into flames: what else can there be?

Is John Winchester alive, and if so, why has he not contacted his sons? Is he trying to prevent attention being drawn to them? Is he unable to get in touch? Is there another reason?

The "WTF?!!" moment
Sort of not really one here, but the climax of the story with the turbulence and Dean dropping the prayer book is pretty stunning: the whole exorcism scene on the plane is pretty breathtaking.

PCRs
As Dean Sam and Jerry discuss the poltergeist their father helped Jerry out with some years back, a passing employee remarks "Poltergeist? Man, I love that movie!" Referencing the eponymous horror flick that had most of us checking under our beds back in the eighties.

As the boys "suit up" to look more respectable if posing as members of the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Bureau --- don't you ever watch "Air crash investigations"? --- they investigate any aircraft disasters, crashes, downed aircraft etc) Dean mumbles "Man, I look like one of the Blues Brothers!" A reference to the cult 80s film of the same name, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

When Dean is trying to get Amanda the stewardess not to board the plane the possessed co-pilot is flying, he calls her and tells her there has been an emergency with her sister. He pretends to be a doctor, and uses the name James Headfield. This is far too close to James Hetfield, lead vocalist with Metallica, to be coincidence, especially given the fact that the band were namechecked by Sam as he perused Sam's "dubious" choice of music in the car in the pilot episode. (Just to back this up, later on the plane as Dean tries to remain calm he is humming, and Sam asks him if it is Metallica he's humming. It is.)

As Deam tries to explain to Amanda about the spirit possessing the co-pilot, he remarks "I don't have time for the whole "The truth is out there" speech right now". Another reference to the X-Files, of course.

1.05 "Bloody Mary"

Investigating the death of a man whose eyes appear to have liquefied, Sam and Dean speak to the dead man's daughters, one of whom blames his death on her sister, saying that on a dare she faced the mirror in the bathroom and spoke the words "Bloody Mary" three times. There is a legend about a vengeful spirit who will come for anyone who does that, but the older sister does not believe such stories. Later two of the other girls are messing about, talking on the phone, and one, Charley, listens as the other, Jill, making light of the legend says the name three times while standing in front of a mirror. She screams, and Charley screams back, but then she laughs as it was all a joke. When Jill hangs up the phone though, she sees her eyes begin to bleed. She is found dead the next day.

Gaining access to Jill's room the boys shine a blacklight on the mirror and reveal on the back the name "Gary Bryman" carved on it. There is also what looks like a handprint. Turns out he was an eight-year old who was killed in a hit and run, and Jill the one driving the car. Back in the house where the original death took place, they reveal another name: "Linda Shoemaker". This is the wife of Stephen, the man whose death brought the boys here, and they're told she died of an overdose, though they wonder if the father killed the mother? There is another handprint to accompany the name.

The brothers are forming something of a working hypothesis now. As both victims of "Bloody Mary" were involved in fatal acts that may have gone unpunished or even unknown, she must be wreaking revenge on those sort of people. This would lead to the conclusion that she too was murdered and her killer never brought to justice. They turn up the name Mary Worthington, and find that indeed she was killed: her eyes were removed with almost surgical precision, but no-one was ever charged with her murder. She did apparently manage to scrawl three letters on a mirror --- "tre" --- which could refer to a surgeon whose name is Trevor Sampson. This also fits in with the fact that she was having an affair with a man whom she referred to in her journal only as "T", and that she had intended to tell his wife.

Donna Shoemaker is angry with her friend Charley for having stirred up trouble and bringing the boys in on the case, thus reopening the old wound of her mother's "tragic" death. She snaps "Bloody Mary" three times in a mirror in front of Charley. Nothing happens but it scares Charley, and a few moments later she starts to see the apparition in every reflective surface: mirrors, windows, glasses ... and her eyes begin to bleed. Sam and Dean meanwhile have tracked down the mirror on which Mary Worthington wrote, but just then they get a call from Charley, who is hysterical, and they have to take her to their hotel.

They cover all reflective surfaces so that the ghost has no medium through which to travel and wreak her vengeance, and Charley admits that her boyfriend committed suicide over her, something the harpie may blame her for. Dean and Sam leave her in the hotel and go to find the original mirror. Luckily it was sold to a shop in the town, so they break in and smash every mirror while calling her name three times, forcing her eventually into the only mirror left, the one she wrote on. When Dean smashes this --- as Sam's eyes begin to bleed and he drops to the floor --- he thinks he has saved the day, but Bloody Mary comes out of the mirror in person, so to speak. Dean grabs one more mirror and reflects her own image back at her, finally destroying her.

MUSIC
The Rolling Stones: "Laugh? I nearly died."
Spoiler for Laugh? I nearly died:

Def Leppard: "Rock of ages"
Spoiler for Rock of ages:

Fall Out Boy: "Sugar, we're going down"
Spoiler for Sugar we're going down:


QUESTIONS?
What is it Sam is hiding from Dean about Jessica's death. When he faces Bloody Mary in the mirror, she taunts him by saying "You never told her the truth—who you really were. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? Those nightmares you’ve been having of Jessica dying, screaming, burning—You had them for days before she died. Didn’t you!?! You were so desperate to ignore them, to believe they were just dreams. How could you ignore them like that? How could you leave her alone to die!?! You dreamt it would happen!!!"
Can that be true? Could Sam have had foreknowledge of what was about to happen, and if so, why didn't he warn Jessica, move, do something?

Although it's not totally integral to the plot, the murder of Mary Worthington seems to have sparked the malevolent spirit that drew her into the mirror. So was she killed by the surgeon? Was it Trevor Sampson? We're never told, but if it wasn't then perhaps her quest for vengeance has been misplaced. Although she was killed and her murderer never brought to justice, so perhaps in the long run it doesn't really matter who killed her, just that her death went unavenged, spurring her to a supernatural killing spree. Still, the facts do seem to stack up.

The "WTF?!!" moment
When Dean smashes the mirror at the end, and Bloody Mary lunges OUT of it at him!

PCRs
None

Note: This is a dark episode, light on laughs and very bleak. It opens on a girls' slumber party, truth-or-dare but it quickly turns chillingly horrific and as the secrets come out and the story unfolds, it's pretty clear this is a serious one. That's probably borne out in the fact that there are no PCRs at all in this, and the only moment of light relief that comes in the whole thing is when Dean rushes outside, as they ransack the shop near the end, and claims to be the owner's kid. A disbelieving cop squints: "You're Mr. Yamashiro's kid?"

There's even a dark subtext in the story, as if the main plot wasn't bleak enough, hinting that Sam may have known about Jessica's impending death, as he follows through on the guilt that must be eating him up inside by trying to sacrifice himself to Bloody Mary, or at least being the decoy. As the episode ends, it looks as if he sees Jessica standing on the road, but as she disappears we're no wiser as to whether she was really there, or if his tortured brain is just playing tricks on him.
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Season One: "Signs and portents" (Part Four)

Same problem persists: twenty thousand characters might seem like a lot, but when you're a motormouth with a pen/keyboard like me, it's not even close. So, once again, splitting this next post up into two parts, otherwise I'd just have the one episode to post, which is not how I want to approach this. Apologies, mods!

1.9 "Deathwalker"

The arrival of an alien at the station causes controversy when it's rumoured that she is an infamous war criminal, Warmaster Jha'Dur of the Dilgar, whose name is whispered in hatred and anger as Deathwalker. She is responsible for countless atrocities, among them war crimes against G'Kar's people, as the Dilgar fought against both the Narn and Earth in the past. That war, however, ended over thirty years ago and all remaining Dilgar died when their sun went nova, so Sinclair and Garibaldi, and Franklin, who examines the woman purported to be Deathwalker after Na'Toth, who has sworn a blood oath against her, attacks her at the docking bay, are all skeptical that this could be the same person.

However, after a search of her ship reveals a Dilgar uniform with insignia on it which seems to confirm the patient as Jha'dur, the infamous Deathwalker, and a strange chemical is also recovered, there seems little doubt, strange and unlikely as it may be, that this is the same person who led the Dilgar invasion of 2230. Sinclair gets a communication from Earth, where a senator there tells him he is to make arrangements to send the mystery woman to Earth as soon as she is fit to travel. Sinclair's protestations that they believe her to be Deathwalker, and thus a war criminal more deserving of imprisonment and trial than free passage to Earth, fall on deaf ears, and he is ordered to carry out the senator's directions.

Meanwhile, G'Kar, who has taken the arrested Na'Toth into his custody, explains that although he understands and agrees with his aide's blood oath, Deathwalker has discovered something that could help the Narn in their quest to become stronger and take their place among the superpowers of the galaxy, and that this once, she must put her revenge on hold. Like Sinclair, he has orders too to convey the Warmaster to his home planet.

Summoned to medlab as the patient regains consciousness, Sinclair is told by her that she is indeed the war criminal, and that she has been sheltered and protected by a Minbari warrior clan, which is why when she arrived at the station she was onboard a Minbari vessel. She tells the commander that she has developed an anti-ageing drug, which she calls an anti-agapic, and is prepared to bring it to Earth so it may be further refined and then distributed to all. Sinclair is stunned: Deathwalker has in effect discovered the fountain of youth, the secret of immortality. She herself is living proof that it works, and she knows the value and importance of her discovery.

G'Kar, meanwhile, has made a very generous offer to Jha'dur to try to get her to take her drug to Narn instead of Earth, and she agrees to consider it, providing she's given Na'Toth's head on a platter! Angry, G'Kar leaves, and stirs up trouble by making it known to the other alien representatives that the Earthers are trying to "smuggle" Deathwalker off the station. Deathwalker is a horror figure in many of their histories, and most have encountered tales of her cruelty and barbarism, and they are loath to let her leave. They demand a full session of the council be convened, to instigate a trial of the war criminal. Faced with a fullscale riot and the very real possibility of the deaths of many, Sinclair has no choice but to accept their terms.

The session does not go well. Although Londo votes against the trial --- as he has nothing to gain from it, and Deathwalker never attacked his people --- G'Kar unsurprisingly votes yes, but with a caveat: the trial must take place on his home planet. When that idea is shouted down, he changes his vote to no. Although Sinclair had expected the Minbari to vote yes, they do not, as they have a dirty secret they need to keep about Deathwalker. With only Earth and the League of Non-Aligned Worlds voting yes, and Kosh as ever abstaining, the vote is defeated and the trial cannot take place.

Angered at how the vote turned out, some of the races call in ships from their forces to blockade Babylon 5, demanding Deathwalker not be allowed leave the station. Placing Babylon 5's defences on full alert, Ivanova warns the ships off but the situation is deteriorating. Sinclair sees he has no choice but to call another session of the council and reveal the truth about Jha'dur's amazing discovery. They all agree it is a huge opportunity for all races to benefit, and agree it should be developed, but want Deathwalker tried afterwards. Sinclair agrees that once they have synthesised the serum and can make it without her assistance, the Warmaster will be turned over to the League. The compromise is accepted, and a ship made ready to take Jha'dur to Earth.

Before she leaves though, Deathwalker can't resist telling Sinclair the truth behind the anti-agapic: its main ingredient must be taken from living beings, so people will have to die, probably in the millions or even billions, for others to live. She is very pleased with the dark symmetry of the situation, but Sinclair snarls at her to get off his station.

As the ship departs, the jumpgate opens and a Vorlon ship comes through. Without hesitation it destroys the ship carrying Deathwalker, to the surprised cheers of all watching. Kosh, who has come out to witness the attack, tells Sinclair humanity is not ready for immortality.

Great as this episode is, there's a really stupid, pointless subplot where Kosh engages Talia Winters to mediate in negotitations he is having with a weird alien being called Abutt. The two speak in riddles, and it seems Abbut is a "Vicar", or VCR --- a human recording device. But the story goes and went nowhere, and whether it was part of JMS's original plan or not to use it, I don't know but it now stands as a completely unrelated and loose thread that was never tied into the massive tapesty of Babylon 5. It's a loose end, and there are seldom any of those in this story, which is why I think it annoys me so much.

Important Plot Arc Points:
Kosh/Vorlons
Arc Level: Red
To be fair, there aren't really any important arc elements here. It's interesting though to see that Kosh, the Vorlon ambassador, finally takes an active role in events, as his people decide the younger races are not ready for the tremendous power that living forever brings, and take steps to make sure they do not get the chance. Kosh will now again retreat into the shadows, and we won't really hear from him again for a few more episodes, though he will always be around, waiting, listening, observing, perhaps planning.

The Wind Swords/Hole in your mind
Arc Level: Green
It's clear from what Jha'dur says that the Minbari war clan The Wind Swords sheltered her, and in truth it turns out that they did more than that, because Lenier later tells Sinclair that during the war against Earth they came to the Grey Council with weapons of mass destruction which they had obtained from Deathwalker. The Council had been at the time unaware of their involvement with the Dilgar Warmaster, and being an honourable people were and are embarrassed by the revelation. This is why they voted against the trial, because in such a proceeding, surely this most damaging skeleton would have been dragged from its closet, tarnishing their reputation and perhaps making them complicit in the Dilgar's warcrimes?

Also, Deathwalker mentions that the Wind Swords have spoken often about Sinclair, and that they say, yes you guessed it, he has a hole in his mind.

Quotes
Unsurprisingly, Warmaster Jha'dur gets the lion's share of the best quotes from this episode, and Sarah Douglas, in the role of Deathwalker, delivers these lines with the chilling contempt of a serial killer who knows she will never be brought to justice for her crimes, for she has in her possession something far more valuable to any living being than revenge.

Deathwalker to G'Kar, on his offer to have her come to Narn: "I will consider it, Ambassador, if in addition I may have just one thing: the head of the animal who attacked me in the landing bay!"

Deathwalker to Sinclair: "You know the way of command. Yes, the Wind Swords are right to fear you.... they have sheltered me for many years, in return for certain services. They speak of you often, Sinclair. They say you have a hole in your mind."

Deathwalker to G'Kar: "You're very well informed, G'Kar. Our reports always said you were a clever one--and a good resistance leader, too. If Earth Alliance hadn't taken a hand in our invasion, we might have helped your kind wipe the Centauri out completely."

Garibaldi on Deathwalker's intentions: "She wiped out entire races, destroyed whole planets, experimented on living beings. Now she wants to make everybody immortal?"

Garibaldi to Sinclair, on his plan to get Jha'dur off the station and back to Earth, as ordered: "Better pray to that God of yours you're right, Jeff, because if any of the League ambassadors find out about this 'deal,' they'll tear Babylon 5 to pieces."

Deathwalker, on the effect her drug will have on the galaxy: "Delicious irony ... that those who cursed us will have to thank us for the rest of time."

Deathwalker's last words to Sinclair: "You and the rest of your kind take blind confidence in the belief that we are monsters--that you could never do what we did. The key ingredient in the serum cannot be synthesized; it must be taken from living beings. For one to live forever, another one must die. You will fall upon one another like wolves. It'll make what we did pale by comparison. The billions who live forever will be a testimony to my work, and the billions who are murdered to buy that immortality will be the continuance of my work. Not like us? You will become us. That's my monument, Commander."

Kosh (after the Vorlon ship has destroyed Deathwalker's vessel) to Sinclair: "You are not ready for immortality".
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:35 PM   #28 (permalink)
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1.10 "Believers"

This was the point when I sat back in shock and realised once and for all that Babylon 5 was going to be nothing like Star Trek, or at least, the Star Trek I had seen up to this point, where when a major or even minor character is due to die, they always find some way to save him/her/it at the last moment, in some cases actually bringing them back from the dead. In at least the early seasons of Star Trek the Next Generation, and of course the original Trek, and before Deep Space Nine rewrote Roddenberry's "everything will work out by the closing credits" playbook, you knew that no matter what danger they faced, the crew of the USS "Enterprise" were going to make it through. Sure, Captain Kirk or Data or Crusher might SEEM to be in a hopeless situation, near death, or impossible to rescue, but you knew that they'd find a way. The good guys always won, and the innocent were protected.

Yeah.

But Babylon 5, and particularly this episode, changed all that. Surprisingly for its pivotal nature, it's one of the very few episodes not written by JMS, penned instead by science-fiction author David Gerrold, (though the main plot and idea wre from the mind of the series creator) and it's a total gem. Essentially this episode lays out the fundamental challenges in dealing with a race (read, religious group) who have strong views against surgery, to the point where they will refuse to allow a procedure that may save their lives, or that of their loved one, if it goes against their beliefs. This is the situation Dr. Franklin finds himself in, when Shon, a young boy suffering from a respiratory condition fatal if not treated, comes onboard the station with his parents, aliens who call themselves The People of the Egg, and about whom little is known.

The condition is easily treatable, Franklin tells the parents, but when they learn there is surgery involved they refuse to give their consent, for their people believe the soul is housed within the body --- literally --- and will escape if the body is cut open. Franklin can't believe anyone would give such superstitious nonsense credence, but is bound by his office to respect the wishes of the parents. Unfortunately, this conflicts directly with the oath he took as a doctor, and he petitions Sinclair to allow him --- and when he will not, to order him --- to operate on the boy. Sinclair says he must be the parents' advocate, as there is no-one else on the station to whom they can turn, and Franklin testily reminds him of the commander's instruction to his predecessor to operate on Ambassador Kosh, against the Vorlon government's express wishes. Sinclair demurs, saying it's not the same thing.

Franklin advises the parents there is another, less reliable procedure he can try on Shon, which does not involve surgery, and though he and his assistant doctor know this is a faint hope and only putting off the inevitable, they use it to play for time. When it's clear the alternative method is not working, he feels, the parents will cave and ask him to save their son, as you would expect any mother and father to when their child is in danger. He has reckoned though without the aliens' unshakeable faith and their belief that their son will lose his soul if cut, and they again refuse to allow the procedure, even though it looks like the only other option is to allow their son to die.

Franklin then forces Sinclair's hand by making a formal request for the commander to intervene and order him to operate on the boy. Sinclair says he will consider his options, and the parents, believing the commander will vote against them and with his CMO, seek the help of the ambassadors on the station. However, for various and different reasons, each decline to get involved. No-one wants to pick up this particular hot potato. And even Earth Central, whom Sinclair has contacted for orders and/or guidance, pass the buck back to him, telling him it's his decision and nothing to do with Earth. Babylon 5 is a neutral station, and so Earthforce can't apply their own rules and regulations to visitors. Of course, they do so when it suits them: this is just a handy way out for the authorities back home.

Sinclair eventually tells Franklin he has decided to support the parents' decision, after much agonising, and Franklin, furious that the child will die --- even though Shon himself has confirmed he does not want the surgery if it would "cost him his soul" --- goes against his CO's orders and performs the operation. It's a success, and Shon is saved, but when the parents realise what Franklin has done they are aghast, and take the child away with them. Franklin, congratulating himself for having stood up to the commander and done "the right thing", is idly researching what little information they have on the People of the Egg when his blood freezes. Tearing out of medlab and towards the visitors' quarters, he arrives too late, to see that the parents have killed their son, whom they considered to be only a empty husk, devoid of its soul after Franklin's procedure.

Stunned, Franklin can do nothing. It is already too late; the child is dead and the parents are leaving the station. He is inconsolable as he talks to Sinclair in the garden, but the commander, who says he should really ask for the doctor's resignation, admits that it was a hard decision, especially involving a child, and agrees to let the matter rest. Franklin has, after all, his own personal hell to deal with now, as he mulls over whether he was right to discount a people's beliefs and go against the parents' wishes. Now, they have not only lost their son, but believe him to be an evil spirit, and can never feel about him as they once did. In trying to save Shon, he has damned him, and the boy's family, for eternity.

This episode, apart from being a total shock ending, gives us our first real insight into the mind and heart of Dr. Stephen Franklin. On the surface he's a competent, even brilliant surgeon with an almost pathological desire to do right by his patients --- witness his destruction of his xenobiological files, rather than let them be used to create weapons --- but underlying all this is a deep arrogance that as a doctor he knows better than most, if not all. In many ways, and he says it himself in this episode, Franklin plays God, although he does not actually believe in God. This incident will however shake his previously rock solid belief in his own judgement, and will make him question if the right thing to do is always the best thing.

Important Plot Arc Points
None, really. The episode is pretty self-contained, and even the subplot in which Ivanova chases Raiders who are attacking freighters is pretty nondescript and not important to the overall story.

Quotes
Sinclair to Franklin, as he informs the doctor of his decision not to allow him perform the lifesaving operation: "Who should I believe? You, because we share the same beliefs? Or do we? ... What makes a religion false? If any religion is right, then maybe they all have to be right. Maybe God doesn't care how you say your prayers, just as long as you say them ... What we hold sacred gives our lives meaning. What are we taking away from this child? ... I have to refuse to sign the order. I can't allow you to perform the operation."

Kosh, when asked to intervene by the parents, is typically cryptic and no help at all: "The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."

Sinclair, furious at Franklin for going against his explicit orders, and ignoring the express wishes of the parents: "Who asked you to play God?"
Franklin: "Every damn patient who comes through that door! They want me to make it go away, or make it better, or make it not so. Well, if I have to accept the responsibility then I claim the credit too! I did good!" (Rather worryingly, here the doctor is comparing himself to God, and quite believes it, within this restricted frame of reference admittedly)

Sinclair, after the tragedy: "What makes us human is that we care - and because we care, we never stop trying."
Franklin: "No, what makes us human is that we have so many different ways to hurt." (Personally, though this is an important line, I'm still not quite sure if he means we have so many different ways to hurt each other or ourselves, or if he means we hurt in so many different ways by the choices we make).

Mother alien: "My husband cannot forgive you for what you have done, Doctor. I am not allowed to forgive either, but if it was in my power, I would."
(Whether this represents a cultural shift beginning with the mother, in which she realises that sometimes their rigid faith should not always be adhered to in every situation, or whether she is just recognising the fact that Franklin tried to save her son, at the expense of possibly his own job, is unclear.)

The different reasons/excuses proferred by the various ambassadors for turning down the parents' request are interesting, not only in how different they are and what a slant they put on the situation as seen through alien eyes (other than those of the People of the Egg, I mean) but in that they are all, to one extent or another, right and understandable. Why should an alien government interfere in what is basically none of their business, and more, go essentially up against Earthforce and the command structure of the station on which they all depend to conduct their business in a neutral environment? Nevertheless, the replies and responses are interesting to list:

The Narn view:

G'Kar: "I'd never even heard of your world until two days ago, when my research staff acknowledged your arrival. Interesting little place, but it has really nothing to offer the Narn Regime. You see, alliances are built on mutual advantage."
Mother alien: "We're not asking you to negotiate a treaty: we're asking you to help save our child."
G'Kar: "But you're asking me to exercise my authority on your behalf. What were you thinking when you petitioned us?"
Father alien: "We thought your dislike of the Earthers would be enough."
G'Kar: "Enough for us. Not for you. We do not casually entangle ourselves in the affairs of other species."

Centauri policy:
Londo: "Ah, I sympathise entirely, my dear. This is a difficult and distressing situation."
Father alien: "Will you help us?"
Londo: "Well, I would have to go to the Council, and request injunctive relief. The Council could have Commander Sinclair's decision set aside once he makes it, but I would have to get approval from my world. And I am certain that they would want me to justify the cost, yes?"
Father alien: "Cost?"
Londo: "Research. Committee hearings. All the necessary paperwork involved. Unfortunately, we are on a budget here. We cannot justify such expenses for non-Centauri. Just how much justice can you afford?"

The Minbari position:
Delenn: "I understand your frustration. It must be difficult for you to feel so powerless."
Mother alien: "You cannot imagine. We cannot eat, we cannot sleep. We can no longer focus our thoughts on our daily meditations. We are consumed by this. And no-one listens, no-one hears."
Delenn: "I cannot tell you how much all this troubles me."
Father alien: "Then you will help?"
Delenn: "We Minbari have our own relationship with the lengerdemains of the Universe. Matters of the soul are very private, very personal to us. We have suffered the interference of others in this area, and are thus ourselves forbidden to intervene in matters such as this."
Mother alien: "You're refusing because of your beliefs?"
Father alien: "We thought the Minbari were the most intelligent of the races."
Mother alien: "We are only trying to save our child".
Delenn: "That is also what Dr. Franklin believes he is doing. Whose belief is correct, and how do we prove it? No. On this issue, the Minbari cannot take sides."

In the case of the Narn, G'Kar is only interested in building alliances, making allies and strengthening his people's position in the Council, and indeed in the galaxy. Interestingly, he is led in this direction anyway --- not that this is not the standpoint he would have spoken from anyway --- by the way in which the aliens approach him, commenting on the strength of the Narn and asking for their protection: asylum, of a sort. Kosh of course is not worth noting. The Vorlons could care less about the affairs of other races than they do about ants, and unless they are seen as important or connected to their plans, they may as well not be there. However, the mother's question put to Kosh is telling, as she asks him what if it were he that the doctor wanted to operate on, without his permission? This is of course exactly what happened in the pilot, albeit in different circumstances.

Londo can always be counted on to want to see the bottom line. The Centauri are all about profit and loss, and do little if anything that does not benefit them in one way or another. As the ambassador to Babylon 5, Londo tells the aliens he only has a modest budget, and like any bureaucrat must justify any expenses he incurs. His closing remarks could be taken out of the mouth of any high-priced lawyer here on Earth. And when Delenn speaks of interference from others in the spiritual matters of the Minbari, she is obviously referring to the soul hunters, who collected the souls of so many of their great leaders, preventing them reaching whatever afterlife awaits them. It is somewhat hypocritical of the mother to castigate Delenn though for using her beliefs as a reason not to help: is she not trying to do the same thing, in reverse? So as always with religion and faith, it's fine for us to do it but not for you.
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:10 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I've actually watched quite a bit of the first season of Babylon 5 again (I've seen the first 16 episodes now) and here are some thoughts to add on my previous post. Michael O'Hare who I dismissed as a cardboard type character and actor has grown on me hugely, I now find that I'm very fond of him and he's very good in the role. Talia Winters what can I say But the most intriguing is the relationship between Londo and G'Kar. My preference and allegiance has constantly shifted between the two and they're great characters in their own right and I can never decide who's right and who's wrong. I think the writers have done a great job here in leaving this in the first season as an open-ended question. The worst actor in the series though has to be Jerry Doyle, but even then I really like his character.
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Old 02-04-2013, 06:32 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Oh there's no question Londo and G'Kar were the stars of the show, almost a comedy act, and as you say one was never sure who was the straight man and who the comic. The scene at the lift in "Signs and portents", a very heavy episode with just the one bit of comic relief, is incredibly well-written, especially when you know what happens later. And yes it's hard to decide who is in the right and who is in the wrong; the balance shifts all the time, just like the various races are shown alternately as good and then bad, if such simple concepts can be applied to a show as complex as Babylon 5.

Jerry Doyle will surprise you as season three and four get going, believe me. He may seem a little stilted but he really comes into his own. Talia I never liked: she always sounded like she was going to burst into tears, and paradoxically looked at everyone with rather an icy stare, as if they were insects. Bleh. You DO know what happens later, yes? If not I won't spoil it for you...

And yes, once you see the role he was required to play, and compare it to the more action-hero role of Bruce Boxleitner in later seasons, you can see that it's all a question of style. I've often likened them to an old grizzled veteran and his hothead son, and the roles each play are perfect for the men they are.

Thanks for the comments: how far are you into the season now?
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