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londovir- by iamsab

Deliberately bad fan fiction ideas and a deconstruction of "Deconstruction..."

After a day of waxing and plucking, I have once again confirmed for myself that beauty is painful. But anyway...

"How long do you figure they've been married?"
-Mack, on Londo and G'Kar, "A View from the Gallery"

I hate "A View from the Gallery" for reasons I will probably explain further at some point in the future, but I have to admit that this quip makes me giggle. I must confess that in the darkest, sickest corner of my mind, I have pondered the concept of Londo/G'Kar slash. I have even wondered how that would work mechanically. I mean, Londo has six, and apparently, you need to... erm... pleasure more than three for the experience to be even remotely interesting. G'Kar would certainly have his work cut out for him. Ahem.

But really, could you imagine:

"Now, Mollari, we settle the question of my sexual prowess once and for all."

Hee! You are now free to send the Narn bat squad after me.

Continuing on that silly vein, a recent entry from honorh has inspired me. I present to you my Babylon 5 Mary Sue. I think I have all the elements here- disregard for canon, multi-talented, insanely beautiful, interacts with all of my favorite characters in some way and reforms one of them, a tragedy in her past, etc.:

Name: Firella Kiro (Like many Suvians, I actually looked through a baby name site. This name is derived from an Italian name that means "little flower.")

Race: Centauri

Physical Description: Fathomless, crystal blue eyes that deepen when she is angry; bald, of course, save for a long pony tail of flaming red hair that cascades like a waterfall down her back; fair, smooth, flawless skin; petite, with delicate facial features.

Personality/History: Firella's small stature and seemingly fragile appearance are deceptive- she is much tougher than she looks. When she was a child, she snuck into her older brother's bed chamber and made off with his short sword, then taught herself how to wield the blade. She has a penetrating intellect, as was noted by her childhood tutors. Though usually sweet and pleasant, if a loved one or a personal principle is threatened, her passionate anger is unmatched. She has little use for the traditions of Centauri society. When her father arranged a marriage between her and a member of another noble house who was twice her age and decidedly unpleasant in both appearance and demeanor, she ran away to Babylon 5. She now makes her living as a singer and waitress in a club in Brown Sector. The House Kiro has disowned her and denies her existence, which is just fine with her.

Relationships: Had a brief, rebellious fling with Ambassador G'Kar when she arrived on Babylon 5 in 2258; will eventually meet and fall in love with Vir Cotto while sneaking supplies to Narn refugees in Down Below; will lecture Londo Mollari on the evil of the war with the Narns, which will cause Londo to become instantly contrite, turn from his tragic path, and become a well adjusted and happy person. (Canon? What's that?)

Speshul-ness: Firella is a prophetess, of course. When she was still a young woman, she had a vision in which she saw her older brother's death at the hands of a political rival, a vision that ultimately came true. Firella still feels tremendous guilt to this day because she could not prevent her brother's demise.

Wow. That was way more fun than it should have been.

Okay, enough nonsense. You are all here to read my review of "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars," yes? Well, here we go:



"The Deconstruction of Falling Stars"

Grade: F

A big disappointment.

"Perhaps it was something I said."
"Perhaps it was everything you say."


-Londo and G'Kar

That was the high point. And it was in the first scene. Oh dear.

I felt my first twinge of displeasure watching Sheridan and Delenn express their reluctance to join in the festivities. This rang very false for me. And there's nothing worse than false modesty.

I felt my second twinge of displeasure when the futuristic computer screen signaled to the viewer that we would be watching historical files on Sheridan and Delenn... with the others being nothing more than supporting characters. In fact, in this multi-era look at the influence and perception of the Alliance, some individuals who rightfully deserve a mention are absent entirely. I am thinking particularly of G'Kar, who sacrificed a great deal for the Army of Light and served as the Alliance's answer to Thomas Jefferson. Where was G'Kar the Reborn in the holy books?

Unfortunately, this episode is part of a general trend in the show's later years to canonize Captain Sheridan as a hero above all other heroes. I often snark that the beard sucked all of the distinctiveness out of the character, but there were signs of trouble dating back to his return from Z'Ha'Dum. In "The Summoning," his mere presence and a stirring speech calmed the dissident hoardes with a speed that defied belief. This is shown to be the weak scene that it is when you compare it to, say, Garibaldi's confrontation with Nightwatch, in which his passion and persuasiveness hit a massive brick wall. And let's not get into the comic-book ridiculousness of Sheridan shouting "Now get the hell out of our galaxy!" at a bunch of aliens who are a lot bigger and more powerful than him.

The references to the "Blessed Sheridan" in "Deconstruction..." were irritating enough, but the worst moments of this episode were in the first two acts, in which JMS erects a number of straw men that he then proceeds to "deconstruct."

Here is the essence of what was argued by the members of ISN's panel in the first act:

Speech Writer: Allow me to be as irritating and obnoxious as possible while I assert boldly that Sheridan is a power hungry, incompetent nimrod who can't possibly get these alien races to cooperate. The Alliance will implode from his mismanagement, and he will ultimately have to bring out the big guns to restore order.

The Others: That's not true you big meanie! You should give him a chance! You're just being all mean and stuff because you worked for that fascist hoser Clark.

I see. So Sheridan is clearly in the right here because all of his opponents are remnants of Clark's weasle squad looking to score political points. Got it.

Let's get real- Sheridan's supporters in this broadcast made no effort to argue the feasiblity of the Alliance, nor Sheridan's qualifications to lead such a body. And it's not as if they don't have supporting evidence they can use- Sheridan did in fact pull together a massive and diverse alliance to fight a major galactic war.

And the representative for the opposition was ludicrous. As hard as it may be for JMS to imagine, you don't have to be one of Clark's toadies to stake out a different position on this issue. A look through history shows that the universe is frequently unkind to political entities like the Alliance. It could be argued, intelligently and convincingly, that maintaining the peace often requires the occasional military conflict. It can even be argued that large scale political alliances may do more harm than good by forcing you to commit your resources to ventures that are not in your interest. Whether or not you agree with any of these positions doesn't matter- they are legitimate, and they deserve to be put in the mouths of serious characters.

Now on to act two, a hundred years later. If the author were not so focused on elevating Sheridan to semi-godhood, he might've used this scene to seriously examine two influential views of history. The first of these- and the one JMS seems to be proposing- is what I refer to as the great man theory. This is the view that major political movements are brought to life and defined by their leaders- the power of one, so to speak. Great man historians study George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and so on to get at the character of the American Revolution. The second view of history is what I refer to as the societal forces theory. One of my favorite American figures, John Adams, articulated an early version of this theory when he stated that the American Revolution evolved gradually in the hearts of all American settlers long before the events of 1776. The "force of history" embodied in the individual lives, decisions, passions and preferences of many people is what drives events according to this theory. I once took a class on the American colonial period that was taught in this social forces vein, and I can recall in particular an article I read about how the colonist's increasing desire for British goods and British identity helped fuel the anger toward England. It was much easier to communicate the message of revolution when you could do it in concrete terms, i.e, "They are unfairly taxing our tea!" instead of "The English government is over-stepping their legal bounds." For what it's worth, in my view, I don't see these two theories as opposite sides of a dichotomy- I believe social forces and the vision of individual leaders can influence and enhance each other.

At any rate, what we get instead of an examination of how the leadership of Captain Sheridan may have influenced and/or been influenced by larger historical forces is two more obnoxious straw men blathering about hero worship and PR campaigns, thus setting themselves up to be smacked down by an ancient, righteous Delenn. Puh-leaze!

Do not insult us by telling us that Sheridan is a "good, kind and decent man." Show us. Convince us of his heroism by his actions. And further, acknowledge that criticism of Sheridan's decisions can be advanced by credible individuals. Questioning his decision to allow Byron to bring his teeps to B5 is legitimate. Questioning the decision of advisory council (under Sheridan's command) to keep one of their members in the dark about their suspicions regarding his homeworld is legitimate. Allow these arguments to take place and trust in the intelligence of your audience.

And allow your hero flaws and vices. In the end, the list of Sheridan's "flaws" reads like the sort of stock, cheesy answers you might give in a job interview. "Sometimes I just care too much about my fellow man." Remember that heroism is very much about overcoming. Characters like G'Kar and Vir work as sympathetic, engaging heroes because of the obstacles- external and especially internal- they had to confront, whether it be timidity and low self confidence (as with Vir) or long standing racial hatred (as with G'Kar). A hero is defined by what he or she accomplishes despite frailty.

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"Now, Mollari, we settle the question of my sexual prowess once and for all."

Heh heh. Great line. Someone really should use that in a fic.

And the representative for the opposition was ludicrous. As hard as it may be for JMS to imagine, you don't have to be one of Clark's toadies to stake out a different position on this issue.

JMS has his way of turning anyone who disagrees with Sheridan into a sociopath or a lunatic. I *hated* that Garibaldi turned out to be mind-manipulated, when he was saying some not so unreasonable things. And Clark's 'Scorched Earth' order, which oh-so-conveniently justifies Sheridan's invasion beyond a shadow of doubt.

Me, I think it's because Sheridan himself *is* a Mary-sue. It can't be conincidence that his initials are JS. (And so are Sinclair's.)

two influential views of history.

And this is where my own biases get in the way. I'm a historian, and don't have much use for the Great Man theory personally. Not that there aren't great people, just that every great event took thousands of them (or more) in order to happen. I think JMS's writing is basically consistent with this - during the series he is able to show us how everyone on B5 was necessary for its ultimate success. He just goes wonky Sheridan-worshipping at the end of the fourth season.

JMS compared Sheridan to Aragorn, (and in terms of personality it's not a bad comparison) - but the difference is that LoTR isn't just about Aragorn - it's mostly about Frodo, and the Nine, and how even the littlest person can make a difference. When B5 forgets that it is at its weakest, I think.


"Now, Mollari, we settle the question of my sexual prowess once and for all."

Heh heh. Great line. Someone really should use that in a fic.


You know, you're the third person to tell me that. A couple of folks at GAFF remarked to me that they could totally hear G'Kar saying that. Which is disturbing.
(chopped in 2 responses because LJ thought it was too much to put in one comment)

an ancient, righteous Delenn. Puh-leaze!

Who was, um, age 140??? 100 years in the future? Making her in her early 20s when she started the Earth/Minbari war? And only in her late 30s during the B5 episodes? Whatever. This is the canon fact that I most ignore in my fanfic. (Or, let's say, rationalize away - if we're talking Minbari cycles instead of years, she could be in the equivalent of her 60's on B5 which seems much more reasonable for everything she's done and the stature she has.)

trust in the intelligence of your audience.

And that's the worst part - refusal to allow contradictory opinions feels really insulting. Especially after JMS has been so good about bringing in contradictory opinions on so much else.

In the end, the list of Sheridan's "flaws" reads like the sort of stock, cheesy answers you might give in a job interview. "Sometimes I just care too much about my fellow man."

Hahahaha!

Actually, Sheridan does have flaws - JMS just doesn't allow them to matter, and abuses characters who notice them. He tends to go in with guns blazing, whether or not it's the correct answer for the situation. He's overconfident, and takes a lot of risks with other people's lives. These only don't seem like flaws because, miraculously, his decisions always work out.

I was grumbling the other day about the end of 'Inquisitor'. On re-watch, it goes bad because of Sheridan. Lennier asks him to speak with Kosh, which would have been the sensible solution. Sheridan goes in with guns blazing instead. In order to somehow make this be the right answer, JMS has to cook up this 'would you die for him' thing, which is illogical, not a good test, and besides takes the focus off the 'who are you' question which is the interesting thing about the episode.

And, Sheridan is philosophically shallow. Which isn't a terrible thing, except that B5 is a very philosophical show. He was just the wrong person to have to figure out the answer to the Shadow/Vorlon conflict, and I can only make sense of it by saying that Delenn explained it to him the night before.

The only personality flaw that we really see having an impact - and you have to look for it really, really hard - is that he doesn't forgive easily. I think that's why Delenn can never tell him her history.

Characters like G'Kar and Vir work as sympathetic, engaging heroes because of the obstacles- external and especially internal- they had to confront, whether it be timidity and low self confidence (as with Vir) or long standing racial hatred (as with G'Kar). A hero is defined by what he or she accomplishes despite frailty.

Yes, exactly.
I must confess that in the darkest, sickest corner of my mind, I have pondered the concept of Londo/G'Kar slash. I have even wondered how that would work mechanically. I mean, Londo has six, and apparently, you need to... erm... pleasure more than three for the experience to be even remotely interesting. G'Kar would certainly have his work cut out for him. Ahem.

My thoughts precisely.*g* And hey, JMS himself slashed them in his fake script for The Exercise of Vital Powers with which he played a prank on Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas! (Which means the Great Maker apparently has every confidence in G'kar's...errr...abilities. So to speak.)

Loved your Mary Sue.

The Deconstruction of Falling Stars: I didn't hate it quite as much as you did but do agree about the canonization of Sheridan after his ressurection being in most worrying evidence here. Part of the problem is, as I told [Unknown LJ tag] in another context, that Sheridan's character development basically ends with his death. Up to this point, he's shown as torn (literally between his past as symbolized by Anna and his future as symbolized by Delenn, between his self understanding as a member of Earth Force and the dawning realization he will have to go against everything he's ever been taught as a military man, etc.). He has to make choices which aren't easy for him. He's shown as flawed, and other people can be right while in conflict with him (Garibaldi in In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum, for my money the best of the Sheridan-centric episodes).

However, once Sheridan has made the sacrifice of his life, his personal arc is over as far as character development is concerned. Of course he still goes on to lead a war and become President, but there are no more changes or growth. And there is for all the other characters.

This being said, I have to point out that JMS did allow later Sheridan at least one flaw and fatally wrong decision (or rather, a number of them, which is connected), and I'm not talking of the Byron thing here (though this was shown as a mistake as well, but in that case the narrative pleads "well-meaning but misguided" for Sheridan). It's his behaviour towards Lyta. From Epiphanies, where Sheridan threatens Lyta with handing her over to Psi Corps if she doesn't obey him (i.e. to an organization he despises and calls fascists), onwards, Lyta is shown to be treated shamefully by all command staff (except for Zack), and most of all Sheridan. And the show itself does point this out. See Lyta's own comments to Zack, or Bester's comments to her in Moments of Transfiguration. Lyta's complete alienation from everyone on B5 is largely Sheridan's fault, and JMS has said so in interviews - "there is no enemy like the friend you've mistreated and turned away" was the exact quote, I think.
And hey, JMS himself slashed them in his fake script for The Exercise of Vital Powers with which he played a prank on Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas! (Which means the Great Maker apparently has every confidence in G'kar's...errr...abilities. So to speak.)

Didn't that involve G'Kar undergoing a sex change, though?

I also heard a rumor that Peter and Andreas actually performed this script, complete with tongue kissing, live at a convention. Those wild actors! (Assuming the rumor is true.) *eg*

Honestly, I'm surprised no one in the fandom has slashed these two, given how popular slash is in the fan fiction universe, especially slash of the UST variety. As you say, G'Kar and Londo are totally married. You would think someone with a guttery mind would read things into that.

However, once Sheridan has made the sacrifice of his life, his personal arc is over as far as character development is concerned. Of course he still goes on to lead a war and become President, but there are no more changes or growth. And there is for all the other characters.

I think you've hit the nail on the head here. After "Z'Ha'Dum", there was a void.

As for Sheridan's treatment of Lyta, I will comment further in my next entry.

Lack of Londo/G'kar slash...

...supports my theory that sadly, most slashers go for the pretty over the interesting. If those same characters had been performed by good-looking youthful actors, even with only half the talent of AK and PJ, I'll bet anything Londo/G'kar would have exploded on the net as early as season 1.

There's no Londo/G'kar slash?

I'm *shocked*! I don't follow B5 fic much, and I had noticed that what little I have seen is either John/Delenn, Sheridan/Garibaldi or Ivanova/Winters, but I had assumed this was because most of the slash was in *hiding* due to fans' willingness to cooperate with JMS' desire not to see it.

I always thought there'd be hidden treasure troves of Londo/G'kar if I bothered to look. You mean there's not? That's *sad.*

No, there is not. There isn't any Londo and G'kar gen fic, either.

In all these years, do you know how many stories featuring these two as leads I found? One. Exactly one. A funny brief vignette by Ruth Owens, as I recall.

Which is why yours truly was driven to do something about this and wrote a Londo and G'kar tale. Can be read as subtexty if the reader wishes to.

The almost complete lack of fanfic centring on Londo, G'kar or Vir is something which continues to mystify me to this day. Now, if anyone could write each of these characters brilliantly, it would be you. Not that I'm trying to blackmail you or anything.

Yes, I read Ruth Owens' story

Goodness, that one had me rolling in the aisles. And if I recall correctly, it also could've been seen as subtexty, what with them discussing their sex lives while reluctantly sharing a bed on a freezing cold night. *eg*

Watching the fifth season again, I find myself seeing more and more subtext between those two characters- the jokes about marriage, Londo joking about giving G'Kar sexual pointers, the fact that they always seem to be hanging out together even before G'Kar became Londo's bodyguard, etc. It's leading me to think thoughts that are so very wrong. *eg*

Re: Yes, I read Ruth Owens' story

Heh. I not only read it, but immediately recognised my home town in her description of the Centauri capital. I dropped her an email, and sure enough, she only lived a few miles away...

Re: There's no Londo/G'kar slash?

There IS Londo/G'kar slash - Google a page called "Enemies and Allies". Also, I'm putting up a page of my Londo/G'kar slash as soon as I get the time. (ohhhhhh, time, where hast thou gone??? *g*)

But I know what you mean, Alara - there is precious little Londo/G'kar out there, and there should be, dammit! It's like those people who don't like Q fanfiction, from the ST:TNG universe...I mean, they are all just chameleons on mirrors if you ask me. *wink nudge wink* LOL

Yes, I remember. You ARE still writing Trek, no? ;-)

Pretty over interesting

You are so right about that. The prospect of writing about aliens with very different sexual anatomy might scare people off as well.
Oh, and thank you on the Mary Sue, by the way. I tried to make it as egregious as possible. *g*

Excuse me, you don't know me but...

I was quite unconnectedly thinking about the problems with B5 S4-5 from the point of view of political over-simplification, and your essay tied in so well with my thoughts that I linked to it from my LJ. Hope you don't mind.

Not at all

Thanks for the compliment, actually. It's nice to know my thoughts are actually being read. :)