I DIDN’T LEARN ABOUT THIS IN DRIVING SCHOOL
Stop says the red light, go says the green
Wait says the yellow light, twinkling in between.
KNEEL, SAYS THE DEMON LIGHT
WITH ITS EYE OF COAL
SAURON KNOWS YOUR LICENSE PLATE
AND STARES INTO YOUR SOUL
THIS IS ALWAYS FUCKING FUNNY
This excellent post got me thinking about Vorlons and Shadows and parallels, and it reminded me of one of the reasons I adore Season 5 so much (and there are many): the parallel between the Ancients/Vorlons/Shadows and the main cast in Season Five.
This might seem a bit odd, since our guys are, you know, the good guys and they don’t muck about making trouble for lots of people. Well, Londo does. But as the last season shows, they’ve become the Giants in the Playground - how Sheridan refers to the Shadows and Vorlons. Let’s look at our cast of players at the end of Season 4:
Sheridan - resurrected Interstellar President. Delenn - Human/Minbari hybrid who broke the damn Grey Council. Susan - GOD SENT ME. Garibaldi - Psi-Corp’s number one enemy. Franklin - medical genius who cured a plague (too late but whatever). Lyta - human atom bomb. Londo - tragic hero. G’Kar - religious icon. They’ve become figures of legend, just like the Shadows and the Vorlons in their own way.
The first four seasons show them grow into these heroic (and anti-heroic) figures, but as Season 5 shows, they have to move on and let the younger generation take up where they left off. Their war is over. They don’t fit here anymore, and their struggle is to move on when their time comes. For some, this is a greater struggle than others. Garibaldi has a particularly hard time letting go of the conflict, given what it cost him. He still can’t bring himself to leave the station, and he interferes with Lochley, who represents change, and undermines Zack, who represents the passing of the torch to a new generation. Does this behavior sound familiar? G’Kar, on the other hand, is especially cognizant of the power his new influence brings, and he actively seeks to avoid using it. He doesn’t want to be a legend, but once he realizes he is one, he leaves to let his followers grow and become their own people. You’ll note that Lyta crosses the Line of No Return once she begins to manipulate others to fight her battles, and that’s why she has to leave the station as well.
The younger generation (Vir, Zack, Lochley, Corwin, Ta’Lon, Minbari Minbarrington*, Dr. Hobbes and Number One) will have to learn to function in a world where the “Giants” have left the playground. I think that all of them - especially Vir and Zack - are heroes in their own right; however, they are very much the Everymen of the series - the audience stand-ins. They’re not grandly tragic or heroic figures, at least not yet. You get the sense that their chapter is just starting once everyone else leaves the station.
What Season 5 gives us (among other things) is a bookend to the Vorlon/Shadow War, in which our heroes do their best to break the cycle. The crime the Vorlons and Shadows commit is reliving their past conflict and inflicting it upon the future. They manipulate the younger races to achieve a sense of victory. Here, the greatest victory is learning when to move on and let go of past glories. The giants can’t stay in the playground, as much as they might want to.
Has this ever been mentioned before? I had one of those I-really-need-to-be-going-to-bed-now thoughts the other day about the quirky conflict between the Drazi, the infamous purple-green conflict in “Geometry of Shadows”.
But here’s what I wondered. Was the whole episode a comedic foreshadowing of the Vorlon-Shadow War to come? The Shadow vessels fire purple particle beams. The Vorlon ships fire green-colored lightning.
Just as the fight between the Drazi feels arbitrary because it is arbitrary…they pulled sashes out of a barrel…the leaders of this conflict were leaders because a special sash said so. While there is a reason behind the conflict, the reason is hardly satisfactory. It ultimately feels like such a silly way to determine leadership.
The Vorlons and Shadows are arbitrary sides in a conflict. Whose side you ended up on was more an accident of birth than anything done purposefully. The leaders were leaders because they declared themselves so. When the nature of the conflict is finally revealed, it ultimately feels like such a silly way to promote growth and evolution.
The Green leader was the one who proposed the plan to space the purple Drazi to bring peace to the station. The horror of this caused Susan Ivanova to come up with a novel solution to the problem.
The Vorlons were the ones who escalated the conflict by destroying whole worlds associated with the Shadows. The horror of this caused John Sheridan to come up with a novel solution to the problem.
There are certainly other parallels I’m thinking (I’d offer more but I’m posting while tired…I don’t recommend that when attempting quality speculation). Lorien is probably involved in at least one of them. And here I (not gonna speak for the fandom) have gone all these years without putting that particular two and two together…
This is hip. Errol Flynn on a custom scooter. Timeless.
Dear Babylon 5 Tumblr fandom,
So Babylon 5 was what got me into Tumblr. I heard good things, lurked a bit, and got sucked in. I saw Tumblr as this wonderful place of .gif sets and meta and sweet, enthusiastic people, because that was what I got in the B5 fandom. More recently I’ve stuck my…
AND ALL VALEN’S CHILDREN SAID “AMEN.”