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londovir- by iamsab

From fannish5:

Name the five scenes that make you melt in True Fannish Love. Every. Single. Time.

Five? Five?! I can't do that!

Look, I can break it down into two current fandoms, but even then, I don't think I can keep it to five. Let's see:

Farscape

I. The scene that pimped me into Farscape was in DNA Mad Scientist when theycutoffhisARMOMG! I remain uncertain as to what this says about me, but I have always had a fondness for shows that allow their purported heroes to do Very Bad Things (See also: DS9). In a similar vein, I've decided that I like that Aeryn and John were forced by their desperate circumstance to rape Stark, even though the scene in question makes me sparkle with a distinct moral indignation. Oh, and the fact that John gradually becomes a murderer is a point in the show's favor as well.

And argh! See, I've already mentioned TWO. And I'm not nearly finished yet!

II. The scene between Aeryn and Pilot in Family Ties, wherein they discuss naming Moya's child, is a definite gooey moment for me, as was the scene in the same episode wherein John, floating about in his space suit, convinces Moya to preserve her own life first before going after her kidnapped child. (Two more!) I can't quite put my finger on why I love these moments so much. There was just so much... regard for Moya's feelings that I truly felt her- and Pilot too, as her liason- as a living, sympathetic being. That honestly doesn't happen in an ordinary show.

III. In the next case, a picture is worth a thousand words:



IV. Farscape's character deaths are by far the most moving. Stark's reaction to Zhaan's death is so visceral, so biological and so utterly wrenching that I can't help but be affected by it every time. Talyn John's death, ditto. And Chiana's reaction to D'Argo's death? Ditto times two. And that's really three scenes, but I'm past the point of redemption already.

V. Humor! Specifically, Aeryn and John's under-fire wedding/childbirth, but honestly, so many other scenes come very close. The class warfare between Stark and Rygel in Green Eyed Monster leaps immediately to mind.

On a slightly related note, you might be interested to learn that I recently won a bet with my little brother soulonds9, the terms of which involved me forcing him to watch an episode of Farscape. (He did watch the mini with me, but I still don't have him completely sold on the series itself.) My time being limited to one hour, I couldn't show any of the wonderful multi-parters. I had to select a relative stand-alone that I felt was a solid reflection of what I like about Farscape. The episode I selected? ...Different Destinations (though I also entertained the idea of showing him Green Eyed Monster). FS was compared to jazz at Burbank, and DD is a good example- it took a popular sci-fi plot (time travel) and abandoned the usual conventions. It didn't fall for the usual conceit of one little change affecting The Whole Galaxy. And in the end, the damage could not be fixed- not completely. Plus, DD showed us a quieter, deeper, more subtle Stark. And it introduced us to the concept that the Peacekeepers came from an initially honored history, which opens the door for the revelations in the mini. The result? He seemed to like it. The mission to Scape my brother continues.

Babylon 5

aka The Londo, G'Kar and Vir Show

In rough chronological order, with rampant cheating:



I. Born to the Purple, which could've easily been titled "Londo in Love." "You make me alive, you fountain of passion!" Only Londo can say this and make me believe him. *g* I love this entire episode for its adorableness and its sadness and for everything it sets up for later. "We Centauri live our lives for appearances. But when I look beneath the mask I am forced to wear, I see only emptiness. Then I look at you and I say: To hell with appearances." *melt*

II. The garden scene with Vir in The War Prayer, which again features Londo's signature wistfulness: "It was something my father said. He was... old... very old at the time. I went into his room, and he was sitting alone, in the dark, crying. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, 'My shoes are too tight. But it doesn't matter, because I have forgotten how to dance.' My shoes are too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance." This scene also has the added bonus of foreshadowing what will become Vir's singular relationship with Londo.

III. "Mr. Garibaldi- whatever it is, it can't be that bad." "Try to kiss me, and I'll break your arm." Oh, Londo was so kind and so funny and so affectionate here, it makes me all wobbly now.

IV. "When I was a young and foolish Centauri, I swore that I would die on my feet doing something noble and brave and futile. Perhaps that was not so wild a dream as I thought. Or as foolish." *sobs* Stop making me love you! *pulls out hair*

V. The Coming of Shadows. The drink. OMGthedrink! And Vir! And G'Kar's breakdown! And Londo's dream! And... *incoherent muttering and whimpering* Hands down my favorite of the Hugo Award winners.

There, you see? I'm at five, and we're not even done with the second season yet!

VI. Vir's scene in There All the Honor Lies- the most underrated scene in the series. You really get a sense of Vir's strain here, not to mention a revealing glimpse at his family life.

VII. The Long, Twilight Struggle- the window. The destruction of Narn and Londo's nonverbal reaction. JMS kept using that shot for a reason.

VIII. The scene on the transport tube between Vir and G'Kar in Comes the Inquisitor. I remember reading an interview once in which Stephen Furst admitted the scene made him cry, it was so intense.

IX. Two enemies, stuck in an elevator, about to die. JMS checks off another box on his Slash Cliche Clipboard, and we get treated to some wicked dark humor, not to mention an insight into how far G'Kar is willing to go at this point to accomplish his vengeance.

X. The rape of Londo and G'Kar's epiphany- the heart and soul of Dust to Dust. We must never forget that G'Kar literally had to climb over Londo's broken body to find enlightenment. I love that. I love that more than words can express.

XI. Sic Transit Vir. What more can I say that I haven't said already, repeatedly? *g*

XII. If someone put a gun to my head and demanded that I pick Peter Jurasik's very best performance, I think it would be his performance in Interludes in Examinations as we watch Londo's emotional arc from breathless anticipation of his lover's arrival to broken despair upon the discovery of her death. And that final scene with Morden? Oh! I hear the lines in my head right now, and I can still feel the rage: "All I want now is revenge. They took from me the one thing that I have ever truly loved. And you will help me, Mr. Morden, to strike them down. Give me this, and the safety of my people, and let the rest of the galaxy burn. I don't care anymore."

XIII. Londo and G'Kar's death in War Without End. "Are you there, my old friend?" *wibble!* What was that Valen thing again? Old!Londo makes me cry just by breathing. His scenes in In the Beginning have a similar effect.

XIV. And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place is so wonderfully, so cleverly written and so rich in Centauri intrigue and angst that I can't resist it. The angst, of course, comes in because we the viewers see the plan play out from Vir's perspective as he is used for Londo's ends. Vir is the sympathetic focal point, the true victim, in all of this, and by the end, it's evident that he and Londo have reached a point of no return in their relationship.

XV. I suppose here I should just say "the Centauri arc in the first six episodes of fourth season." Because a novel can be written on these episodes alone. Every scene between Londo and G'Kar crackled with quiet intensity. We discover the extent of G'Kar's strength and bravery. We discover that Londo's capacity for compassion and his honor have not been lost. We see moments shared between Londo and Vir that are truly poignant, truly moving all on their own. And we see the lengths Londo will go to save his world.

XVI. The long scene between Londo and G'Kar in No Surrender, No Retreat- one of those scenes in which the score and the content all come together to create something truly wonderful. I cried, mysteriously, the first time I saw this scene. I am still awed by it now. "Because while I do not know who the enemy is any longer, I do know who my friends are, and that I have not done as well by them as I should. I hope to change that. I hope to do better. Before war broke out between our governments, you bought me a drink. I wish to return the favor. For the first time in a hundred years, we have something in common beyond hatred. I find that most extraordinary. And so, a drink to the humans. And to the bridge they created between us- in the hope for a better future for both our worlds."

XVII. The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari. For G'Kar, obviously. But also for Vir- for the way he presses his hand up against the window and pleads with Londo not to die. And for this: "You must let go of this, or you will die here, alone, now." "Perhaps that is for the best then." "No. Not for the best." "Why not?" "Because... I will miss you." "And, I suppose, that I would miss you." Vir is Londo's reason to be better.

XVIII. And last, but certainly not least, the Best. Scene. Ever. Londo and G'Kar in The Fall of Centauri Prime. JMS says Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas were genuinely moved while filming the scene- that all of the emotion you see is real. It's really not hard to see why. This is the reason why there needed to be a fifth season. Though Londo and G'Kar's arc chronologically ends with their fated deaths, it emotionally ends here in a moment of love and forgiveness.

Now you'll have to excuse me- I have to go cry now. *sob*

Comments

What would you have changed to further challenge the cliches?

And regarding Stark: Okay, plot device I'll grant. But comic relief? I didn't find any of his scenes in DD funny. He begins the episode still grieving over Zhaan. And then he's burdened with the deaths of trillions more- deaths we see him weep over. We see some mania, but it's linked to a reason. And we see him praying solemnly over the dead. Compared to, say, Meltdown, I think this is a wonderful portrayal of Stark.
It's not a laughing-with comic relief, it's a particularly cruel laughing-at comic relief, where his hysteria, his grief, and his insanity become parodic and cartoonish, save for one scene, which I think is the one with the little girl. DD was "wild n' crazy Stark" largely for the sake of having wild n' crazy Stark. It doesn't show his grief to have him imitate Zhaan's prayer there, it's just an excuse to get the crazy man to act crazy and use a silly voice. And his initial hysteria with the helmet - no given reason, just hysterical ol' Stark being cartoonishly hysterical to add a comic note to the back-in-time sequence. It came across as an insultingly stupid portrayal, instead of rounded one.

I thought Meltdown was a much better portrayal of Stark - he was doing some questionable things and acting "off" for a good part of the ep, but the things he did were in character, and he was never, from his point of view, as out of control as he appeared to others, which is the key to showing a respectful portrayal of a mental illness - the things he did were for reasons, and in his mind, good ones. Moreover, his actions weren't just superficially manic or hysterical, but revealed much deeper things about Stark, like a deep-seated need to feel trusted and a need to help, character traits that don't really come out elsewhere and show a great deal of the inner motivation for his behavior. Stark was never the butt of the writer's joke; he may have been the butt of his comrades' jokes, but the writer was justifying Stark's actions, not using them as local color.

I think that, if I were writing DD, I would condense what exists of the ep to the first fifteen minutes, and explore what happens after. Everyone's familiar with the "change the past, and, wow, the future's different" timetravel episode, and yet they focused the entire episode on exploring exactly that, and hoped that the "ooh, most eps would reset and we didn't" would save it at the end, and of course it doesn't, because that's an entirely different genre cliche, and not part of the time travel cliche at all. How does it affect someone to know they changed the past, and what do they do to make amends and make peace with themselves, in ways that don't involve fifteen seconds of holding Aeryn and throwing things? How does an entire planet and culture react to learning their past has been changed, do they try to recover the real past, or deny it, or teach both pasts in the schools? Does the past start to morph if people start believing something different happened than what actually did?
(Does it test or shatter the political agreements that sprung out of the changed action? How do the political factions try to use revelations of a different past? What does revisionist history mean when history was revised?)
I must say, I have an almost completely opposite impression of Stark in DD. Chronologically:

And his initial hysteria with the helmet - no given reason, just hysterical ol' Stark being cartoonishly hysterical to add a comic note to the back-in-time sequence.

I don't read that as hysteria at all. Fearful resistance, yes, but not hysteria. The hysteria didn't come until later, when they sought out the time tear again, pushed Jool through, and Stark felt for the first time the effects of the time line change. That was hysteria. But it was hysteria for a clearly identifiable, sympathetic reason, not Stark screaming his lungs out- and later babbling incoherently- for the hell of it. He had just felt trillions of people die.

It doesn't show his grief to have him imitate Zhaan's prayer there, it's just an excuse to get the crazy man to act crazy and use a silly voice.

You're right, but that was not the only time Zhaan was mentioned. In the very beginning of the episode, we saw Stark mourning for Zhaan. When John approached him, we saw him murmur that Zhaan's voice was "gone now." And that wasn't played up for laughs. John's sympathy was a signal from the writer that Stark's feelings were to be taken seriously.

Moving on: After Jool was returned to the future, we had the scene between Stark and the little girl. "Why were you crying?" she asked. "Because of all the pain." Stark's line was quiet, completely non-hysterical, deeply poignant and meant a whole hell of a lot, as did the tearful hug that finished the scene.

Then: Well, yes, when John was tied to the statue and threatened with the business end of a weapon, Stark did get a little manic there. Wouldn't you in his place, if you knew what he knew? That moment didn't seem silly or overblown to me- it seemed completely understandable.

And following that scene, we had the scene between Stark and the nurse among the freshly dug graves, with Stark solemnly praying over the dead. "Fear is good. Keep that. But travel light. Forget hate." That is such a good- such a famous line- and it was delivered by Stark in utter lucidity. Nothing to mock here.

Meltdown: I think my impressions of Stark in this episode may be influenced by the context somewhat, as I didn't like the episode overall, with the ridiculous Lava Boy and the bad porno music. Come on.

And regarding the aftermath of DD: Write it, she demands. *g*


The resistance to the helmet, with no exploration of Stark's reasoning, was comic relief, whether you call it hysterial or fear. It was an example of "Hey, Stark's panicky, so let's show him panicking, cuz that defines him as a character, right?" It was a superficial characterization, not a deep one.

Having Stark scream or get hysterical in reaction to trillions of people dying may be an event for the character you have sympathy for, but that doesn't make it a good characterization or sympathetic portrayal. It seemed perfunctory; "We have Stark in the scene, so we'd better have him react the way we already know Stark's supposed to react, or it'll look funny". We don't get any insights into the character - he's little more than an object, reacting predictably to stimulus. Put large-scale deaths in, get hysteria out - and, you know, now that I think about it, even LGM treated it with more delicacy than that, it was a far more nuanced set of reactions. I don't think that's the writers doing any favors for Stark. He's still two-dimensional there, his reaction is portrayed simplistically. That you sympathize with what he's going through and understand the reaction is a different matter.

It's similar for John's sympathy - because John sympathizes, or is making the effort to, it's not the same as the writer extending sympathy to Stark. Simply because an emotion is expressed doesn't make it the authorial intent - it may not even be more than superficial for John. Stark's feelings aren't taken seriously once in that episode, or none of it would have happened in the first place. The mask would never have been shoved on his face. As far as the Moya lot is concerned, Stark might as well not be there, save for the fact that he got them into this mess and he's the one who can find the rift to get them out.

The scene with the girl, I've already pointed to as the one I liked. :)

Okay, that good and famous line... I do actually have a problem with it. It's not terrible. There are things I like about it. But I find "Fortune Cookie Stark" mode a little painful. It's screams B-movie mystic, and you can look at any kung fu film to find the exact same delivery and the exact same "profound" sentiments, heck, even Yoda, to some extent. It's fun, it's bite-sized and entertaining. It's a nice serious moment that doesn't in any significant way diminish the character, and shows a serious, thoughtful side. It's not good characterization. So I have mixed feelings - I liked that moment, and it made me cringe at the same time.

The porno music was an audio joke, like most of Won't Get Fooled Again was a visual joke. It was supposed to be funny, and I think it worked. :) Lava Boy was... generic. No feelings either way.
Stark's feelings aren't taken seriously once in that episode, or none of it would have happened in the first place. The mask would never have been shoved on his face.

Disagree. John is trying to help, in his own way, but he's assuming he knows better than Stark does what will help, and he's showing more good will than good judgment. It's the entire episode in microcosm.
I adore "...Different Destinations," as I'm pretty sure you know. I think a lot of the reason why I adore it is that I grew up so thoroughly steeped in that particular "saving the future" cliche -- I could probably quote you large chunks of TOS's "City on the Edge of Forever" from memory -- that it was immensely refreshing and quite emotionally affecting to me to see it subverted in the end. The fact that they Make the Supreme Sacrifice and that, in the end, it doesn't fix things seems to me wonderfully bleak, wonderfully unusual, and wonderfully Farscape, as does the fact that, on a cosmic scale, what happens on the planet turns out not to matter at all, anyway. And, y'know, your suggestions for what to do differently would make for a damned interesting episode, but it would be a different sort of episode.

Anyway... About Stark.

his hysteria, his grief, and his insanity become parodic and cartoonish, save for one scene, which I think is the one with the little girl. DD was "wild n' crazy Stark" largely for the sake of having wild n' crazy Stark. It doesn't show his grief to have him imitate Zhaan's prayer there, it's just an excuse to get the crazy man to act crazy and use a silly voice. And his initial hysteria with the helmet - no given reason,

The scene with the little girl, though, is possibly one of my favorite Stark scenes. I also very much like the fact that he is seen praying over the dead. We very seldom get to see Stark act out what surely must be his social role among his own people.

The "hands over the head" scene, yes, is meant to be funny. It is a little OOT, but I admit to enjoying it just for Aeryn's line about her and D'Argo being the only ones who don't have voices in their heads. (And, oh, man, talk about things I wish had been explored more... Just how much do John and Stark have in common, huh?) It's also a tiny reminder of the fact that he does have pieces of Zhaan in his head now...

And there was a reason for him freaking out over the helmet. He saw, and apparently sensed, many, many deaths. On top of his own grief, it was just too damned much. I think there is both something funny and something painful in his reaction, and, as I've said repeatedly (and will again: look for my Why I Love Stark essay coming soon to an LJ community near you!), one of the things I find so very appealing about Stark in the first place is the way he simultaneously combines the tragic and the comic.

I agree with you 100% about "Meltdown," though. IMHO absolutely everything he does in that episode makes perfect sense if you look at it from Stark's POV. Not all of it displays terrific judgment, but it's all quite understandable.

Subverting Trek isn't the same as subverting the cliche; Trek is certainly not the only show (or book) to use the "changing the past and needing to save the present" cliche. Trek simply has a particularly strong reset ethic. And you know what? In the end, it does fix things, it just doesn't save the nurses. The sacrifice they made was bigger than they thought, but everything was fixed in the end. They didn't end up with a situation they couldn't fix and a decimated population or smoking wreck of a planet. (That might have subverted the cliche a little more, if they simply couldn't fix it, once done.) But just not being able to save the nurses... that's not failing to save the present, and, really, they had no reason to think, truly, that the nurses would be saved - that was terribly weak thinking, when everything in the past had been changing, and people who shouldn't have died had been getting killed already. So John's disappointed and disillusioned, and learns his confidence (or desparation) led him to make a mistake, but the cliche is untouched. They make minor changes in the past, and otherwise the universe essentially resets.

The scene with the girl is good, and, okay, good to see him doing his thing, but it didn't take this episode to do that, I think.

I don't think it's a good reminder that he has pieces of Zhaan, because they don't do anything with that, and that's not the impression most viewers are left with. That deserved a much better exploration, not a comic "ooh, funny voice!" scene. You could even get Aeryn's line, and a better exploration of her line, in a better treatment of the fragments-of-Zhaan concept. I think that scene did a disservice to the things you mention by making them annoying comic relief.

And I can't agree with you over the freaking out over the helmet - it's just not explored well enough to make it anything but "hey, freakout; hey, plot device!" Yes, there was a reason, but it wasn't used. It certainly wasn't used in any way that developed Stark as a character.
Well, subverting Trek by itself is IMHO worth doing, and I really do see DD as being very much a specific response to Trek's take on the subject (and to the "City" episode in particular).

And, in terms of dramatic narrative, there is a difference between one PK soldier being sacrificed (or Kirk's love interest being sacrificed) and this entire group of women and children being slaughtered. It's the difference between the Noble Tragedy of being willing to make one almost symbolic sacrifice in order to save everything, and fucking things up so that the very people you're trying to save end up dying pointlessly. For me, it very strongly highlights the difference between the tidiness of Trek and the messiness of Scape.

Okay, one more. I think part of what it comes down to is this:

In Meltdown, you learn things about Stark. You learn more about what a Stykera is, you learn about his needs and his feelings and his drives, you learn that what his friends perceive as insanity may in part be rooted in his very real perceptions of the world, and not all insanity at all. His actions illustrate that and are driven by that. The character is made greater and richer by that episode - there's more there, emotions, strengths, weaknesses.

In DD, you don't learn anything new about Stark, except that his mask can act as a plot device, and it's never mentioned again. His grief can't be shown better than it was when Zhaan died or when he cried in her room, and when it's shoehorned in, it's diminished by the anti-climax. Nothing new is learned. He reacts to the deaths of large numbers - we saw that in LGM, and with a serious, meaningful, "no give-backs" large-scale death - and when you know what he's reacting to is going to be over-written in the next iteration, there's no power to it, it's perfunctory, and almost does seem mocking - "Let's make Stark go nuts, and take it back! That'd be funny". Again, you learn nothing new about Stark; we've seen it done already, and more powerfully. All that DD adds to the character of Stark is the role of Unexplained Plot Device of the Week, and I don't think that's a good thing for the characterization.
It added something for me... As I've also said before, that first moment we see him in DD, where he's sitting by himself crying, is the exactly moment where I fell completely in love with the guy, because it just filled me with the overwhelming urge to step through my television set and comfort him.

Which, I admit, also makes me biased. :)
If that scene was in there, yeah, I think that's the one I mentioned as being one of the good representations we have of his grief, that make the planet stuff look anti-climatic and silly. It's a good scene. But it's unconnected to the plot of the episode; it's an intro/fade-in scene. It could go in front of almost any episode, and it'd be more powerful in front of something deeper than DD.
More on Meltdown: I don't disagree with your interpretation of Stark's actions in Meltdown and what they say about his character, but I'm not sure we are meant to see him as a sympathetic protagonist rather than as one more problem to deal with.
I think you've probably got a point there, actually. I get the same stuff out of that episode, but I rather suspect it's despite the writers' intent than because of it. (Fortunately, I don't think authorial intent particularly matters in this context, anyway...)
I don't think it's entirely despite the writer's intent - they went out of their way to illustrate Stark being totally on top of the situation while being dismissed as mad by Rygel, and they went out of their way to show the very positive character traits that made it important to him to protect and help Siesjna. They could have removed half the Stark/Siesjna scenes and still made him a problem to be dealt with. Heck, they could have removed almost all of them.

Now, that's not to say they didn't portray him as a problem to be dealt with - but Farscape is very good, almost conscientious, about giving the characters who are problems or threats very compelling and sympathetic reasons for their actions, and I think that's what they did here.