"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.")
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"
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.