JMS: Year 5: To Arc or Not to Arc?

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Thu May 7 06:18:35 EDT 1998

From: Troy-Heagy at
Date: 5 May 1998 11:20:52 -0600
Lines: 17


Some heated arguments are floating around on the newsgroups about 
whether or not Season 5 was originally part of the Babylon 5 story.

Some believe that Season 5 is an additional story that you made up on 
the spur of the momemt, because TNT gave you an extra season to fill.  

Others believe that Season 5 was always part of the Babylon 5 story from 
the start.  In the words of Kosh: "Season 5 has always been there."

A word from you on either side would quell a lot of needless arguing.

Thank you,

From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Date: 6 May 1998 07:28:24 -0600
Lines: 55

This was always a five year story.  All I did was move 4 episodes out of season
5 into season 4 so we could close up the Earth Civil War story and provide
closure to that part of it if there wasn't a season 5, isolating what was to be
in 5 a bit.

Once we got the go ahead for S5, I knew that this might be my last chance to
experiment without anyone looking over my shoulder, in case Crusade didn't go
and I ended up back at one of the networks (where intrusion and formula is the
key).  I wanted to do off-format shows like The Long Night of Londo Mollari,
and The Corps is Mother, and A View from the Gallery.  

The ony way a writer learns is to try new things, and take the parts that work
and add them to his toolbox.  I saw here some opportunities to experiment, to
try new things, to mess with the change the show, and the show is
ABOUT change.  So I did so, and I'd do it again.

There's always ALWAYS been a lull between major arcs in the show.  Always.  You
need it in particular when you go to a daily strip syndication situation, for
pacing.  The problem is that on the one hand you have a lot of adrenaline
junkies who think that unless there's a whole lot of stuff blowing up nothing's
happening, and those who think that unless they know in advance that this is an
arc episode, it's not an arc episode...unless you telegraph it literally and
hugely they dismiss it.  

These are the same yahoos who were saying in year 1 that there was no arc at
all, kept saying it right up until Signs and Portents, when finally I whacked
them hard enough that even they could see it...and then, on the reruns on TNT,
are now saying that the pieces were all there from the very, very start, they
just didn't see them before.  

And they're falling for the same thing again.  

Without what's going on in the first half of the season, the major stuff that
happens in the second half of the season won't matter, wouldn't play as well,
and wouldn't have the same impact.  They are part and parcel.  This was what I
wanted to do with the fifth season, this is precisely what I worked out, and
once again it has to do with process, and change, and how one new set of events
rises out of the ashes of the last one.

So basically, my reply to the hysterics and the whiners is this: when this
season is over, and you see how it all lays out...then we'll talk.  To say it
ain't there before you know what's there, before you see the connections, is
just plain stupid, and if they can complain to me about no arc, I can complain
about their shortsightedness.

Frankly, the remaining episodes of this season represent some of the very best
work we've ever done, maybe even the best work we've done, but they wouldn't
have NEARLY the impact they will have if we hadn't done what was done in the
first half of this season.


(jmsatb5 at
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