B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at shekel.mcl.cs.columbia.edu
Mon May 26 06:08:17 EDT 1997

From: Moira Russell <nous at ix.netcom.com>
Date: 24 May 1997 17:00:11 -0400
Lines: 97

There aren't any plot details here;  I don't have 'em;  I wouldn't post
'em if I did.  There is one detail about the episode I want to spoil
because the 1st time I saw it it was a big surprise to me.

About the last ep, "Sleeping in Light," or whatever the latest title
is:  1)  jms has recently said here that the action of B5 takes place in
226-.  The last ep takes place in 228-.   First of all, this is not
going to spoil any immediate storylines, since it takes place IN THE
FUTURE and I think jms is a better writer than to have people standing
around gabbing: 

 "Oh, so you remember Garibaldi?"  "Oh, heck, I remember Garibaldi. 
Whatever happened to him, anyway?"  "Well, you  were there, remember?" 
"Yeah, but...Tell me again, just for old time's sake!  Spell it out!"  I
dont think so.

So I don't think this is the last episode of a show in the usual sense
-- then again, could it be anything else, with jms?  It's probably going
to wrap everything up and set the final seal on things IN A WAY THAT
WON'T HARM THE FIFTH SEASON IF IT APPEARS.  I've been surprised at the
real lack of trust shown jms.  Come on.  It's his show.  It's his
story.  He's been amazing us all for years.  I really don't think he'll
blow the final ep!  I mean, come on!!  He's dealt with trapdoors
before.  Sinclair LEFT, remember?  And that didn't really harm the plot,
did it?  In fact, it strengthened the character & the plotline to a
certain extent -- made it all more tight & tense.  That was pretty
traumatic when it happened, but the point is....jms has shown himself to
be flexible & inventive in these situations.  Let's not insult him by
assuming he's going to blow it.  

The 2nd point is:  -- and this is what got me angry at times during the
discussion -- say you're reading a murder mystery.  You're less than
halfway done and you flip to the end to see who did it.  You might
actually find out who did it (although I question the intelligence of
any muystery writer who'll give that out on the last page) but will it
make _any sense_?  Because of the flshback in WWEII we all knew: 
Sheridan survives the war, Delenn survives the war, they have a kid, THE
GOOD GUYS WON.  Theoretically, if what all these people who are so
concerned abou the last ep airing is true, we should have all gone home,
right?  No one should have watched the show again, right?

Well, it's going to be hammering it in to say it, but I'll say it
again:  WRONG.  Everyone was, if possible, MORE fevered.  WHO was this
kid?  HOW had we won?  WHY did Sheridan go to Z'ha'dum, etc.?  jms had
not spoilered everything....he'd racheted up the tension to an EXTREME
degree.  And, if I recall, that was the beginning of the big Z'ha'dum
arc in _Sheridan's_ story.  Oh yeah.  Real dull.  And I predicted that
one all along the way.  Sure.

There's a principle of literature (which this show is):  it ain't WHAT
happens;  it's HOW you tell it.  If, when you knew the end, the story
was spoiled -- by that logic no one should ever RE-read a book again. 
Instead, "Oedipus Rex" goes on being translated and filmed and performed
and read and studied and written about.  I'd respectfully submit that
once you know the big secret in "Oedipus Rex," what you want to do is go
back and RE-read the play, searching for hints, seeking for clues,
seeing all kinds of foreshadowing and points you hadn't seen before.  
"Oh, yeah, Oedipus Rex, I know what happens in that play, let's go see
something else."  Bull.  

We all knew the Good Guys were going to win the Shadow War.  What jms
did was twist us and torture us (with our gleeful submission) wondering

Show a little more confidence in the man.

Moira Russell

From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: 25 May 1997 12:48:59 -0400
Lines: 42

Moira: excellent points all around, and let me add a codicil to that (I
hope I spelled that right, but it's 3:05 a.m. and I'm whacked):

There is a certain kind of literature I've come across which I've always
enjoyed, in which they tell you the ending right at the beginning...then,
even when you already know where it's all going to end up, they then tell
you the beginning of the story, and if anything, it makes it more intense
because you know what's going to happen, that these Really Awful Things
are going to happen to these characters, and now it's a matter of waiting
to see when they're going to happen and how; it's waiting for the other
shoe to drop.

Similarly, Hitchcock had the notion that it's a wonderful/terrible thing
to do to an audience to show them a bomb ticking beneath a coffee table,
above which the characters are having tea, and sandwiches, and chatting
merrily along utterly oblivious to what the audience knows it ticking
right beneath their plates.

It's basically a staple of Greek drama, particulary tragedy: you make sure
that the audience has information, sometimes advance information, that the
characters do NOT have.  Oedipus, which you cite, is a terrific example of
this, in that you have the Greek chorus which basically tells you up front
that This Is Going To End Badly.  That is, in general, the *purpose* of
the Greek Chorus, in part to relay backstory, but in larger measure to
feed the audience information of what's coming and what it means and what
the characters don't know so that they will, as result, suffer not just at
the moment of revelation, but at all the elements leading up to it.  So
you get a double-hit, more bang for your dramatic buck.

(As it happens, btw, I saw Oedipus for the first time when I was in early
junior high school, on a class trip...a very vivid and powerful production
in a staging very similar to the original setting.  Had a very profound
effect on me, and my sense of structure.  That and Marlowe's version of
Dr. Faustus.)


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