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Byron and the Telepaths on B5 --- your comments?

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  • #31
    Upon recently rewatching the entire show with a friend, I've come to appreciate the Byron arc a lot more than before. I still see the same flaw - particularly the lack of humour - but there's a lot of great stuff there. This time around I was particularly fascinated by Byron's racism/nationalism. The way he speaks about "normals" is exactly the same way Bester does; in a way, Byron is still trapped within the same discourse. He's changed his morals, but he hasn't changed his worldview.

    You can draw many interesting parallels to people in our world who have suffered genuine oppression, but whose turn to nationalism leads them to a path that offers no solutions.
    Jonas Kyratzes | Lands of Dream

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    • #32
      To start with, I think the character was meant to be unsettling and untrustworthy. In order for that to work well, you need to see the character as an obstacle that the main characters overcome or grow from. All the issues from the last minute approval of season 5 and the departure of Claudia complicated the integration of the telepath arc, in my opinion. It never became relevant enough to make the "cult leader" figure interesting.
      "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

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      • #33
        Originally posted by WorkerCaste View Post
        To start with, I think the character was meant to be unsettling and untrustworthy.
        I think it's more complex than that. He's not an antagonist in the traditional sense. Like the telepaths themselves, he exists sort of... at an angle to the plot. Sheridan would prefer not to have to deal with him, and in a sense so do we. Byron is the jagged piece of debris from the Shadow Wars that doesn't comfortably fit into the new world. He is morally right (the Telepaths deserve better) but philosophically wrong (they're not superior to "normals").

        If only he had a few more jokes here and there! Robin Atkin Downes can project such likeability when he's smiling, but he so rarely gets to.
        Jonas Kyratzes | Lands of Dream

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Jonas View Post
          I think it's more complex than that. He's not an antagonist in the traditional sense. Like the telepaths themselves, he exists sort of... at an angle to the plot.
          And I think that was deliberate ... as was Byron's lack of likeability. The fact that he was right and yet we couldn't bring ourselves to root for him was important, as was the fact that they were peripheral to what was going on and had to take significant measures to make themselves important enough for the main characters to deal with.

          If they hadn't done that, they would have just been allowed by the President and Captain to sit in the corner keeping to themselves.
          The Optimist: The glass is half full
          The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
          The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

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          • #35
            My problem with the entire telepath arc is we never see the resolution. Without the PSI Corp War showing us the end point to the arc, it becomes a lost story. We do see some of that in Crusade, but all we know is there are new rules and even then the telepaths seem to have their own agenda, this time more personal. It would be like doing the Earth Civil War and never see them taking back Earth. The PSI Corp War was hinted at day one by Lyta and Garibaldi that normals don't trust teeps especially PSI Corp and vice versa. JMS should have found a way to end it within in the B5 framework.

            I do like the arc for the most part. Sheridan was almost a god like figure going into Season 5 with coming back from Z'ha'Dum, winning the Shadow War, surviving a brutal interrogation and even freeing Earth, he needed to be taken down a peg. Also to be fair to Sheridan, it was a disaster for everyone involved. Lochley should never have called in Bester without alerting Sheridan, the President shouldn't have let Bester be anywhere close to Byron who was his student, Bester underestimated what Byron could do and Garibaldi should have gone to Sheridan after finding out about the block and so on. It was the perfect storm of administrative error as well as people being so far out of their depth it wasn't funny, Byron included.

            If Ivanova was there, I am not sure if it would have made it better. Lyta would be one of the faceless telepaths at that point instead of being a focal character. Byron would have come off as a creepy boyfriend and I am not sure how Susan keeps her command after that. To me, there needed to be a better resolution or maybe just do the PSI Corp War at the end instead of having two episodes where people are just leaving the station or not do River of Souls which would have been fine by me.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by lotjx View Post
              My problem with the entire telepath arc is we never see the resolution. Without the PSI Corp War showing us the end point to the arc, it becomes a lost story.
              I don't think that's true. In the main series we see the Psi Corps holding ships in hyperspace ("The Corps Is Mother, The Corps Is Father"); we know the Psi Corps has the telepath virus ("The Face of the Enemy"); the financing of the other side of the war is put in place ("The Wheel of Fire"); and we see what Lyta has become in the same episode. One can put together a good picture of the war from that.

              Originally posted by lotjx View Post
              JMS should have found a way to end it within in the B5 framework.
              Part of the point of the show to me is that the battles never end. Yes you win this fight over here, but that doesn't stop another one that's worth fighting from coming up later (like in "Deconstruction" where we see the Alliance split 500 years in the future and the Great Burn). Even in the Sinclair version of the five-year arc that we have glimpsed the station would be destroyed, wars would still be raging, and the series would be over. If everything was resolved within the five-year arc of the show the point that one must keep fighting no matter what would be lost.
              Last edited by JoeD80; 02-01-2012, 11:58 AM. Reason: added some other thoughts

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              • #37
                I don't count River of Souls as part of the five year arc. Its also not like we were not going to get it either. The rumored B5 movie was going to be the PSI Corp War. So, it was going to be done, my argument is that River of Souls was a waste of time and you had two hours of TV that could filled that spot. Its one thing to see how the war was going to occur and even read in the PSI Corp books, another to see it. Supposedly Lyta was going to be the telepath that convinces Matheson to leave the Corp before she sent it to hell, but that got scrubbed. I would like to see the PSI Corp War, because of all the supposed death and final storylines that will be in it. It would also help with the telepath arc in that I feel it didn't do so well, because there was no payoff.
                Last edited by lotjx; 02-01-2012, 01:11 PM.

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                • #38
                  The Psi Corps movie was going to be a $40 mil budget feature movie, not a $3 mil budget TV movie like River of Souls. But the payoff of the telepath arc is still there in the show IMO, especially in the episode "Wheel of Fire." Yes it would have been awesome to see the whole war, especially the Lyta/Lennier death scene, but as I said above we already know from the show who's on what side of the war and who has what power. It's another story that's not part of the main arc of the Babylon 5 station - the next battle to be fought.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by JoeD80 View Post
                    I don't think that's true. In the main series we see the Psi Corps holding ships in hyperspace ("The Corps Is Mother, The Corps Is Father"); we know the Psi Corps has the telepath virus ("The Face of the Enemy"); the financing of the other side of the war is put in place ("The Wheel of Fire"); and we see what Lyta has become in the same episode. One can put together a good picture of the war from that.
                    I agree. To me, the way the show starts "fading out" at the end, giving us an idea of what's coming and reminding us that while this story is over, history goes on, is one of my favourite aspects of Babylon 5.
                    Jonas Kyratzes | Lands of Dream

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                    • #40
                      This really boils down to, B5 was a great story and we want more because we like it but do we either get more that may not be as good but will still be "more" or keep what we have as the quality is unsurpassed and be grateful for that. On the one hand the show was done so well I wouldn't mind seeing more mundane episodes like Lost Tales. But then if you take the opinion that "This was the story of the last of the Babylon stations..." then having a story about something else really is not part of that story. Even my much wished for Dilgar War movie, that will never exist. It really wouldn't be Babylon 5, would it. I could probably name lots of different things that would be great to see, Valen after he arrives with B4 and the rest of that Shadow war, G'quan and the remaining mindwalkers driving out the Shadows from Narn, just a contuation from the end of from the end of Ojects at Rest with Ta'lon, Vir, Zack, and Lochley still on B5, the final Drakh war when the Centauri fleet joins with the Interstellar Alliance to destroy them, and anything with Galen. But is quantity better than quality? (I know we want both)
                      Last edited by Marsden; 02-02-2012, 06:58 AM.
                      "And what kind of head of Security would I be if I let people like me know things that I'm not supposed to know? I mean, I know what I know because I have to know it. And if I don't have to know it, I don't tell me, and I don't let anyone else tell me either. " And I can give you reasonable assurances that the head of Security will not report you for doing so."
                      "Because you won't tell yourself about it?"

                      "I try never to get involved in my own life, too much trouble."

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                      • #41
                        If the Telepath colony could have been introduced in an earlier season, and then it comes to a boil in season 5, it would have worked much better. Instead I felt it was dropped in for 12 episodes as padding.
                        RIP Coach Larry Finch
                        Thank you Memphis Grizzlies for a great season.
                        Play like your fake girlfriend died today - new Notre Dame motivational sign

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                        • #42
                          I don't think it was padding but rather, was probably planned to be introduced in Season 4 but because of the expected cancellation, it was a thread there was no time for.

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

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Jan View Post
                            I don't think it was padding but rather, was probably planned to be introduced in Season 4 but because of the expected cancellation, it was a thread there was no time for.

                            Jan
                            I am pretty sure JMS actually said that the telepath arc was dropped from season 4 once they were told there was to be no season 5 ... no point starting up that sort of story thread without any way to even partly resolve it before the end. That then gave them some of the space needed to resolve the earth civil war thread several episodes earlier than originally planned.

                            It was also always stated that the series was a snapshot of the station, dropping in in 2257 and dropping out in 2262, stuff was already going on at the start of the series and other stuff was building up at the end. That's the way life is.
                            The Optimist: The glass is half full
                            The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
                            The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

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                            • #44
                              Byron comes across as unlikeable because JMS does not trust cults and thinks cult leaders are crooks. We are picking up this lack of trust. Also there are too many pretty girls around Byron - most people choose men as body guards. This is noticeable when Garibaldi goes to see Byron and keeps getting deflected by women. We accept Zack's warning even if Lyta does not.
                              Andrew Swallow

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                              • #45
                                I don't think it comes from a general sense of cults so much as what he experienced in the one he had joined in the 70s.

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