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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

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.

Subverting Trek is great, if a little limiting (if you play on their field, it's hard to hit the ball into a different ballpark, if you catch my drift). But I don't think this did enough to really do it.

And part of the problem was that, in fact, once the planet started disappearing in the future, the nurses became terribly secondary. Just as one PK to save twenty nurses is a Noble Tragedy and symbolic sacrifice, twenty nurses to save three billion people is the same. The scale changed so much that they easily fell into the category of that single Noble Tragedy to save the greater good. And as soon as the future started disappearing, the nurses weren't who they were trying to save anymore - they were trying to save the future. The nurses switched roles in that episode. It was a very tidy ending.
Hmm. This, I think, is where we just get into the realm of the utterly subjective, because it sure didn't feel tidy to me, and a lot of how effective an episode like this is depends on where and how and whether it affects you emotionally.
Well, let's do a small test for tidiness. Let's assume John doesn't put the viewing mask back on when they get back, because he's had enough of the damn thing, so we fail to get that tiny snippet of the new travelogue. What's left untidy? Everything is resolved, as it was when the ep began, and the change that exists hasn't made a difference. You still have the peace memorial, the agreements, the political development, the population... a bloody miracle reset, all in all. That bit of voiceover is the sting in the ending, but it doesn't unravel the results they demonstrably got. A few people we didn't expect to die, died. But that was true anyway, as soon as General Lion was killed. Heck, as soon as the PK Behind the Legendary Cook was killed. So nothing out of keeping with what was going on happened.

To be honest, I didn't really feel any sympathy for John's being so gutted there - he had no evidence at all, not the slightest reason, to think the nurses would be saved. It was terribly sloppy thinking that, oh, if soldiers aren't there, sure, nothing will happen. It read like he was placating the nurses more than he was convinced himself - he was trying to get out while the rift was still open and the future was back. He may have hated to see it, but you can't tell me he wouldn't have anticipated that, at least as a possibility.
It's emotionally untidy, is the thing. That last glimpse is upsetting. It turns a nice, neat, traditional happy ending into something distressing, something that feels much more like a failure, both to the characters and to the viewer (at least to this viewer). It snaps you out of the complacency of thinking that "putting the timelines right" makes everything OK and makes you realize that it's not, that there was a price, and not just the simple one, willingly paid one, either.

And, yeah, it was stupid on John's part. It was a serious fuck up. And John realizes it, which is the thing that I do sympathize with.

And I think John wanted to believe it was fine. He convinced himself that he'd done what needed to be done and that things were going to be OK. And you know why I think he was able to do that? Because he's watched too much Star Trek, that's why. :)
I found the concept that one could put the timelines right to be the more unbelievable one. That's the ending that snaps me out of my suspension of disbelief. It's what happens in Trekkish fiction, and even John, who's surely watched a lot of it, knows the difference between realistic unfolding of events and Trek. The ending was an unprecedented success, frankly, and I can't believe they didn't lose more. To have the characters sit around crying about their failure reinforces the expectation of happy endings in this universe, and that's part of what makes it fail to subvert the cliche for me. If they'd wiped the sweat from their brow, mourned a bit, and said, wow, it's amazing we accomplished this, I might have bought the cliche being subverted - because it was amazing, and maybe even improbable, and they treated it with realistic astonishment that they'd managed to recover so much of the future/present.

Yeah, I sympathize a little with realizing he fucked up and was running on a lot of wishful thinking. I can see him wanting to believe it. But the end didn't hang together well for me - John's pity-party seemed overdone, next to the almost silly plot through the episode. It was dealing with death, but the whole "How about now?"/"Uh, no, worse, try again" ramp... it was slapstick, the whole ep was very tragic slapstick, except for John getting serious there.

But now that I've said it, I think that may be the problem - the expectation of a happy ending for that situation broke my suspension of disbelief for the ep, and never let me forget I was watching Trek-style fiction. It was a really irritating, repetitive, Trekkish episode, and after the first couple of attempts, when it was clear they were running pretty much a standard "we have to save the future" plot, I was waiting for it to end. Tacking a serious ending onto that didn't redeem it for me, it just made it seem tacked-on.
Dude, "tragic slapstick" is a fairly good description of the series as a whole. I like that about it. :)

But, yeah, I can definitely see where that reaction comes from. Like I said, I really do think it comes down to subjective stuff like viewer expectations.
But not the good kind of tragic slapstick - it's Three Tragic Stooges instead of The Tragic Marx Brothers, and I ain't trading "there ain't no Sanity Clause" for "nyuck-nyuck-nyuck". They smacked that ep with the dumb stick. :)

It may well, yes, but that's part of why I think it doesn't do enough to overcome the cliches, because it comes down to how you interpret about sixty seconds of the episode.