No announcement yet.

Episode 88 is missing - Warning: Falling stars under deconstruction

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Episode 88 is missing - Warning: Falling stars under deconstruction

    Hello everyone,

    As IÆm new here, I thought IÆd stir things up and make myself unpopular by getting something off my chest thatÆs been quitely bugging me for a long time:

    I really dislike the Deconstruction of Falling Stars.

    It seems to me as if jms has just gone down a bullet pointed list of future plot points and wrote a quick scene for a few of them. Anyone can plot out 5 years, 500 years or a thousand years of fictional history (well not ANYONE, but anyone with too much time on their hands). The skill, it seems to me, is in telling it in a well paced, consistent and compelling manner. Babylon 5 did this amazaingly, D. of Falling Starsà well really, why not just publish your rough plot notes? Yes, it tells us lots of cool stuff we didnÆt know and itÆs not that itÆs the worst episode û I just donÆt think it *is* an episode. Compared to Sleeping In Light û which makes my cry every time û this seems like a second rate æfinale substituteÆ completely lacking in any emotion or drama (except, I concede, for the Delen bit).

    This is not just a gripe (honest). IÆd love someone to persuade me of its brilliance, to make me see it in a new light. At the moment its an irritating little spot in my subconcious that I have to keep picking at. Please help!

  • #2
    I'm not sure anybody can persuade anybody else about a matter of taste. I liked Deconstruction a lot, but then I usually like the off-format episodes a lot. I *like* that JMS wasn't afraid to experiment with form and structure.

    What I think is so interesting is that it's so true to what we as a society do to the heroes of past days. Well, we don't know if someday some regime will 'deconstruct' our greatest leaders holographically but the sequences of the news analysts and the academics certainly rings true.

    Granted, it's not a 'Sleeping in Light', but then about 85 of the 92 scripts JMS wrote weren't. As for emotion, yes, there's the part with elderly Delenn visiting but I also liked the "Rest easy, friends" from Garibaldi.

    Looking at the fifth season, several episodes were experimental because this was going to be the last chance and because some of what JMS might ordinarily have done in seasons 3 or 4 couldn't be due to the uncertainty of the future.

    I doubt if this convinces you, but it may get you to look at if a little differently? Or not, and that's okay, too.

    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization we're seeing now.


    • #3
      The light in which I see Deconstruction is the light of its first airing, with the lenses of knowing the circumstances in which it was produced and why it was even shot.

      I still remember the UPN affiliate in Houston announcing it as "the broadcast finale of Babylon 5".
      If you didn't know what went on that would just have been odd, not a "series finale" not a "season finale", but I knew what they meant, that B5 would get its fifth season on cable, and that the true series finale, originally filmed as the fourth (and apparently last) season finale would not be shown for months.

      If for you Deconstruction is a crime against storytelling then I plead to attenuating circumstances: this was filmed as an epilogue for those that had followed the story of B5 but would not be able to see Season 5 on TNT, and as a reminder for those that would follow B5 to its new home that there were more stories to tell.

      If you didn't see it in that first light then maybe knowing the real world circumstances that made "Deconstruction" happen can help you see it in a new light.
      Or maybe it won't, but "Deconstruction" is really a historical document not only about the story of B5, but about the history of the production of B5, and I can't help but see it in that light of original broadcast through the lenses of knowing (from the Lurker's Guide and other internet resources) that if PTEN had not gone "boom" this episode would not have existed and S4 and S5 would have been different.

      And, like Jan, I also like the odd format episodes, so I actually enjoyed it.
      The homage to "A Canticle for St. Leibowitz" (unintended originally, JMS dixit), a great classic of Science Fiction, also makes me like this episode.
      Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
      James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)


      • #4
        It was a last minute replacement for Sleeping in Light, and given that it had to follow Rising Star I think JMS was in a corner story-wise and this was a neat way out.

        I do have a couple of gripes with the episode. It's an idea that might work in a novel but isn't really tailored for television drama, very static and very stagey, no action, almost no camera movement at all, just people sitting or standing and talking and picking over events we don't see. It stretches credibility a bit that all the recording dates happen to be nice round numbers and I don't like the idea that a hologram of Garibaldi initiates a war, or that there were sentient holograms in the B5 universe at all.

        And some of the things established here, especially the idea of a 'hundred years peace' from the beginning of 2262, really seem like a huge constraint for the B5 spin-offs and tie-ins (although they seem not to be counting the Drakh conflict).

        On the other hand..

        I do enjoy the performances from the guest cast in this episode, I think they do a great job of selling the whole thing. I like little touches, such as the future human addressing the archival computer as though it is a living being. And I think it is a *lot* better and more interesting than many other early S5 episodes. And of course it contains many important revelations which are great in concept even if the episode can't do them justice.


        • #5
          Perhaps the reason the episode MAYBE falls a little flat occasionally is the circumstances it was written under. Everyone thought Season 4 was it. So Sleeping in the Light was filmed, but then not aired when the Season 5 greenlight was given. SO a finale had to be hurriedly made to fill the gap. As Season 4 had kind-of already wrapped itself up a normal episode in this slot would have made no sense. So I think the episode's placement was perfect, even though only by coincidence.

          I must admit I like the episode. And during B5's original airings, which I didn't watch, this was one of the few I caught and watched all the way through without realizing any of the background etc. and it still made entertaining watching.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jan View Post
            As for emotion, yes, there's the part with elderly Delenn visiting but I also liked the "Rest easy, friends" from Garibaldi.
            I think that's one of the most heartbreaking lines I have ever heard, anywhere. The rest of the sequence is part sad (the mistakes humanity makes) and part hilarious (even just a hologram of Garibaldi is still someone you don't want to mess with), but that moment is breathtaking.

            As for the rest of the episode, I really don't see the problem. Every single one of the scenes works perfectly for me. Seeing the three talking heads debate the future of the Alliance is realistic, gives the universe more dimension, and utterly infuriates me. (Much like real TV.) It drives home the point that not everyone will be bowing at Sheridan's feet, and that a lot of the people who supported President Clark will still be there. Plus, it's very good and convincing writing.

            The next segment, with the academics, is even more infuriating - and also completely realistic. I speak from personal experience: this is very much the postmodern creed of relativizing history and the people who make it, and turning every person who tried to make a difference into a megalomaniac who was just doing it for personal reasons or for other political gains (Abraham Lincoln is a popular target). Not that this is not sometimes true - a lot of leaders need deflating - but when it becomes a systematic approach, it becomes a way of denying the possibility of change and of maintaining the status quo. On top of that, most of these academics use terribly ahistorical and illogical approaches to their deconstruction, relying more on verbal games or imprecise analogies than on hard data.

            The end of that segment, with Delenn, is something that shakes you to the bones. It is, again, heartbreaking. All that these people have accomplished, all that they have sacrificed... it wasn't for nothing, obviously the world they created is much better, but that people talk about them in this way, that their deeds have been (perhaps intentionally) forgotten... it stings.

            The bit in the monastery after the war is also extremely touching. Well, above all it's really hilarious, bittersweet and fantastically acted, but in the end, when we realize that the Rangers are still there, that even centuries later they have not forgotten, that Sheridan's and Delenn's legacy lives on - well, if that isn't touching, I don't know what is.

            The storyline that ties all these together, of humanity's exodus from Earth, is also highly important to the overall story arc and - sorry for repeating myself, but that's just how I see this episode - extremely touching. The future human's last speech just floors me every time. And it's terribly important to see that humanity can achieve progress, that we do have a future - even beyond the mortal Earth - and that perhaps we will learn from our mistakes and not become like the Vorlons and the Shadows.

            Finally, we come back to Sheridan and Delenn in bed, pondering whether or not they will be remembered. This is a very poignant scene, but it's also one which makes us think about the consequences of our actions, and whether we will be remembered, and whether it matters (think of "Comes the Inquisitor" - to truly achieve something you must be willing to do it in the dark, where no-one will ever know, simply because it's the right thing to do; and Sheridan and Delenn do what they do because it's right, even though some day it may be forgotten).

            All in all - one of my favourite episodes of Babylon 5.
            Jonas Kyratzes | Lands of Dream


            • #7
              Originally posted by RMcD View Post
              I don't like the idea that a hologram of Garibaldi initiates a war, or that there were sentient holograms in the B5 universe at all.
              The war was already going on. Garibaldi just interfered. I don't think it was a sentient hologram in the sense of Data being a sentient android on Star Trek, but why not have technology advance to where personalities can be recreated. The short story "Space, Time, and the Incurable Romantic" has technology involving personality storage and reproduction and that happens only 300 years after B5. The hologram bit happens 500 years later.


              • #8
                (First post. Hello everyone.)

                I completely agree with what most of the others said. This episode has always been my favorite for the sheer scope of it, if nothing else. It reminds me a lot of a book, the title of which escapes me, which follows the 10'000 some odd years of history of a human galactic empire. From the beginning of space travel right down to when the last human destroys himself rather than be taken alive by an enemy.

                I had actually always wondered if the episode had originally been intended to be the Series Finale. I honestly wouldn't have had a problem with that. I personally prefer when shows leave questions and don't leave everything wrapped in a pretty bow at the end. It would have been (and still is for some of the things mentioned) wonderfully infuriating not knowing what happened to Sharidan and Delenn's son.

                Plus, the "goodbye" endings always make me sad. I would rather have gone out of the show with that vision of the future ending with the heroes happy and together.

                Not to disparage the actual ending of the series. I just think this one would have been equally ... awesome. heh.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Praetorian View Post
                  I had actually always wondered if the episode had originally been intended to be the Series Finale....
                  "Sleeping In Light" was always to be the final episode of the show, which is why SIL was filmed as the last episode of season four. Only when the show got a season five from TNT did SIL get pulled to be used as the final episode of season five, causing a new last episode of season four to be needed, thus the first episode filmed in season five's production schedule was "The Deconstruction Of Falling Stars" to replace SIL at the end of season four.

                  ...It would have been (and still is for some of the things mentioned) wonderfully infuriating not knowing what happened to Sharidan and Delenn's son.
                  Well, we more or less do know what happened.

                  The Keeper in the urn that Londo gave Sheridan attached itself to David and caused David to go to Centauri Prime, prompting Sheridan and Delenn to go after him, which is when Sheridan and Delenn are captured, as seen in "War Without End".

                  (Highlight the above for spoilers for the third book of the Centauri novel trilogy.)


                  • #10
                    You watch the other SciFi shows, at the time, and the human race is so noble and technologically advanced it really drives me nuts. In B5 were in the middle or towards the back of the pack technologically and not noble at all. One of the things that sets B5 apart is that it portrays humans behaving like humans. A lot of that gets ugly and Deconstruction amplifies that a lot. But one of the themes of the series and that show are that even though we're scum and make mistakes there is hope. Even if our sun gets blown up early we'll still survive.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by byong View Post
                      ...and not noble at all. One of the things that sets B5 apart is that it portrays humans behaving like humans....
                      Well, Londo certainly thought there was some "stubborn nobility" in humanity, as he so says in his story to the kids in "In The Beginning" when he's describing how badly the war was going for Earth, so I'd say there's a lot of nobility in humans in <i>Babylon 5</i>, it's just more realistically depicted. But yeah, I get your point.
                      Last edited by vacantlook; 03-28-2008, 04:35 PM.