Today, incidentally, I finished the outline for "Chrysalis," which
will be the last episode of this season, though we'll be shooting it
much earlier, about 2/3rds through the run. It's a real corker in
which we absolutely kick over the table and all hell breaks loose
*bigtime*. This one I'm *really* looking forward to writing.
I'm in the strange position of writing the season end episode now,
to shoot #12, since it's going to require a lot of post production
work, and it definitely puts one in a very strange state of mind.
I have to be careful to refer to things that've happened in the past
episodes, from the perspective of the last episode of the season, but
which haven't yet been written or filmed in real-time. So I'm
writing the second half of some stories before having written the
first half (though I obviously know where they're all going)...which
really bends your brain around after a while.
This episode is going to be highly classified; we're going to limit
distribution of scripts, and parts of scripts, put canary traps in
all of the scripts that *are* distributed, and otherwise keep this
one quiet. All I can say is that we're going to kick over every
table we've got. In any season finale, there are maybe 4-5 things
you know when you sit down to watch the show that they'll NEVER ever
do. So we're doing all of them. If this one doesn't keep you glued
to your seats, you've lost your chair.
But I'd say that our two *best* so far are still "And the Sky Full of
Stars" and "Chrysalis." I just watched a cut of "Chrysalis" today
which finally had all the CGI in it, and had to scrape my brain off
the opposing wall, it's *that* good.
I have just seen the director's cut of "Chrysalis," which will be the
last episode of this season...and I think it has just displaced "Sky"
as the most heavy-weight episode of the season. Even knowing what was
coming, I just sat here, stunned, at the end of it. Seeing dailies,
bits and pieces, doesn't really prepare you for the whole thing.
What I like most about it are two things: one, by about halfway in,
you really begin to understand that anything can happen, to anyone,
and the rules that normally carry you through a television episode no
longer apply. It's a very dangerous, dislocating feeling. Two: you
get the very real feeling that, after this episode, nothing is the
same anymore. The show has taken a very profound and *irrevocable*
turn that will have lasting effects on all of our characters. Of all
the episodes so far, this one has the most feeling of being the
chapter end in a novel.
The really hard part will not avoiding the temptation to show this to
people...because it really can't be allowed to get out prior to
airing. There are too many twists and turns and revelations that spin
one off into another.
One other thing's certain: after you've seen "Chrysalis," you're going
to want to go back and check out three prior episodes...because
something that you will have read/interpreted one way, without question
or hesitation accepting it as what it obviously appears to be, will
suddenly be turned on its head, and a brand new interpretation will
emerge. And it's *real* creepy....
"Chrysalis" makes "Mind War" look like a still-life painting by
We finally delivered "Chrysalis" to Warner/PTEN, and heard back: our
liaison over there was stunned, describes it as the best season-ending
cliffhanger he's ever seen, unlike anything done before. Suffice to
say we're pleased.
We have a New Year's celebration in one episode later
this season, and at some point will probably show other
stuff next year.
What I like most about it are two things: one, by about halfway in, you
really begin to understand that anything can happen, to anyone, and the rules
that normally carry you through a television episode no longer apply. It's a
very dangerous, dislocating feeling. Two, you get the very real feeling that,
after this episode, nothing is the same anymore. The show has taken a very
profound and *irrevocable* turn that will have lasting effects on all of our
characters. Of all the episodes so far, this one has the most feeling of
being the chapter end in a novel.
Someone complains about the characters not staying the same
Losing the characters she's come to enjoy? No. But the characters
are changing. That's the point, and that's been the intent from day
one. But what's the alternative? I've heard ST fans complain loudly
and bitterly that after 7 years of TNG being on the air, nobody's
really changed, nobody's been promoted into different ships or major
changes in responsibilities...they've had Riker as XO for seven years,
which in the real military would mean his career is *over*.
Change is the only other option.
The goal, from the start, was to create an overall story, but which
would also require arcs for every single major character. They're all
going somewhere. In many cases, that "somewhere" plays into the larger
arc; in some cases, not. If a woman is single, then gets married, then
gives birth, and she's your friend, have you "lost her" just because
she's gone through these changes? Of course not. She has changed, in
good or bad ways, but she's still the same person.
I just showed "Chrysalis" to a couple of people today, who
didn't know what was in it. And there's one thing that they had
seen over and over in prior episodes of the series which they never
thought twice about, which they just sorta accepted...only to
suddenly have this understanding totally turned on its head.
The look on their faces was *priceless*.
This is probably the longest and most extensive setup/payoff
in SF television history. And afterward, once you discover what
that is, if you go back suddenly there's a LOT of different meaning
in prior episodes.
"Chrysalis," a cliffhanger of sorts, leads right into "Points
of Departure," which picks up some of the tables kicked over by
"Chrysalis," the balance of which are picked up in the second episode,
"Revelations." By the end of the second new episode, pretty much
everything is now in place for the rest of the second season...though
not everything is in quite the same position as it originally was.
Except, of course, that where everyone goes is important to the rest
of the story, and that the purpose of the episode is to introduce
massive change into the story overall; when Sinclair says "Nothing's
the same anymore," he's deadly serious, and so are we. The changes
won't just be transitory or for a season-end hook; these are permanent
and substantial changes in the arc.
Now that you've seen this much, now you can begin putting together
the other level of the metaphor that is B5...consider: a war that did not
end satisfactorily for us, not winning or losing, a sort of peace with
honor....the death of a president...the rise of intelligence agencies
and military power...start to sound familiar? Now what we begin to do
is to start moving around the pieces, shifting the mirror of the story
to reveal different aspects of ourselves, as well as tell the other
separate story of B5 itself. Again, the idea is for this story to
function on *many* different levels: future-history, myth, adventure
story, mystery and a metaphor.
Re: the staging of Morgan Clark taking the oath of office; I gave
very particular instructions to re-create the staging of the photograph
in which Lyndon Johnson takes over from JFK after the assassination. The
same layout, posture, background, and so on. We even had a photo on set
for reference. The creepy thing is that the day we shot the scene was the
anniversary of the day it actually took place; very weird atmosphere on
set that day.
Actually, I was born in 54, so we're about the same age. Oddly, I
don't remember the day of the shooting; what I *do* remember is
watching JFK's funeral, and not entirely understanding the depth of
the event, but fully grasping the emotions around me. That will
President Santiago is dead as a doorknob.
Re: being fooled into thinking the crystal construct in Delenn's
quarters was nothing more than a meditation thing...in general, it helps
to remember that I subscribe to Anton Chekov's First Rule of Playwriting:
"If there's a gun on the wall in act one, scene one, you must fire the
gun by act three, scene two. If you fire a gun in act three, scene two,
you must see the gun on the wall in act one, scene one."
- About the marriage ceremony in "Parliament"
The marriage was a red-herring, a bit of misdirection. The key for
any magician is to get the audience to look at your hand so they don't see
the elephant being wheeled onto the stage in full view. The line in
"Parliament" is, "It's a rebirth ceremony all right, and sometimes doubles
for a marriage ceremony." When I wrote that, I knew instantly that
everyone would focus in on the second half (misdirection) and miss the
first half. (Note that Delenn's "And so it begins" is echoed by Kosh in
the last episode.) I put out something that I figured everybody would
latch onto, ignoring the other meaning which is stated twice.
- Why did they turn Garibaldi onto his back, where the wound was?
I was told by our medical technology consultant that after you take
care of the basic external wound, you always turn the body over and go
after the internal damage from the *front*. I was told why three times,
but still can't retain it. I think it involves easier access without
cutting around the spine, and makes breathing less laborious.
The teaser of that episode [Chrysalis] is very
much just the sort of thing we've seen before; designed to lull you into
a sense of, "Yeah, yeah, we've seen this." Right down to the tired look
on Sinclair's face. Been there, done that. Then you yank the viewer's
blanket. And structurally, it was designed to somewhat mirror the events
in the first episode; the balance is shifting, things are going in the
reverse of what we saw before.
I don't like loose threads hanging around, so all this will get tied
up. In some cases, we'll see flashbacks to stuff that happened "around the
corner," so to speak, and in others we'll have dialogue explanations. We
get the scoop on what question Delenn asked Kosh (via Lennier) before
[season 2] is out.
If the Shadows are visible, how did they get onto the station?
In "Chrysalis," they are distortions visible in the air when they
wish to be...and not when they don't.
"There is good reason to believe the Minbari Triluminary device
is an artifact not created by the Minbari."
- Actually, the first Triluminary was found by the Minbari, not
made by them, in a vessel they ran into about a thousand years ago.
About Walker's lines in "TKO"
Re: "Watch your back," and "You never did know how to watch your
back," yep, that was a bit of deliberate foreshadowing for "Chrysalis." When the episode aired,
I mentioned at the time that there was something in that episode that
would later be seen to be ironic or ominous, but didn't seem so at
first. One or two caught it, but most didn't. This show is layered
very, VERY carefully.
Correct; Garibaldi's aide has *always* been a plant. I seeded him
in from the beginning, specifically for that purpose. It was the aide
who got Sinclair out of his quarters in "Sky," was the liaison who got
Benson on line (also in security, you'll remember), and helped dispose
of the body. If you watch his reaction in "Sky," he's the one who
brings info to Garibaldi looking to clear Benson; and when Garibaldi
sees through it, you can see his aide move off looking very worried.
Originally, it was Laurel Takashima who would have betrayed those
around her, as this character did. When Laurel was transferred, I had
a choice: keep that arc for her replacement (Ivanova), or give this
part of it to someone else. Now, knowing how the folks here on the
nets and elsewhere think, and knowing that they knew about the Laurel-
possible-traitor thread, I figured that everyone would assume that
Ivanova would get that part. (And, sure enough, a lot of people did.)
This became a wonderfully convenient blind behind which to build the
And thus far, *nobody's* seen it coming. He was right there in clear
view, we used him many times (also in "By Any Means Necessary," for
instance), and nobody ever paid him the slightest attention.
It is, in a way, the classic magician's trick of misdirection: you
try to get everyone to look at your hand so they won't look at the
huge elephant being wheeled up onto the stage in plain sight.
No, the shooting of Garibaldi was always a very strong
part of the story for the end of first season; that line goes
all the way back to the pilot, and Laurel Takashima.
No, after the thread with Laurel was revealed, lots of
people *assumed* that that thread had been passed along to
Ivanova. It had never in fact been intended for her, but
when it was broached, I simply didn't reply, on the theory
that if I said it *wasn't* her, it'd narrow it down to who it
"I *liked* Laurel!"
Well, yes, that's rather the point; tragedy is only
tragedy if it happens to someone you care about and like.
The Shadowmen stuff was all CGI, no models. Spiffy stuff. And yes,
we'll find out in time what Delenn asked Kosh.
"If the Shadows are active on Earth, we need to ask why Psi-Corps
haven't picked them up."
The chrysalis is virtually all prop, with some roto work to enhance
the glow in "Chrysalis."
Was it credible that President and Vice President would travel on
the same flight? Their twentieth-century American counterparts don't
fly together on Air Force One.
You're forgetting several elements.
1) It would be in the VP's best interests to go along on the trip,
to help defuse any suspicion ("Boy, was I lucky.").
2) Going a few hours out of the country is one thing; you're not
looking at the aspect that traveling in normal space takes a lot of
time and expense...a ship as massive as EF1 is hideously expensive;
two would be a major waste of government money, and they'd both be
traveling side by side, further wasting money. Also, whereas Air
Force 1 travels nominally alone, EF1 has a full escort of fighters,
with a minimum of four in the "air" at any one time, plus another
Going between planets is a much different process than going between
here and London; and if both parties are required at the other end,
the only sensible way is to have them go together.
Remember when I said there are things you learn midway into a series
that you can learn no other way? Yikes...
As I've mentioned before, in our season ender, "Chrysalis," we tip
over every table we've got. I'm talking here *major* stuff, that
profoundly and permanently affects many of our primary characters.
Well, you build that as a two parter, and even *try* to resolve all of
that in the second part. It doesn't work, because the repercussions
are so substantial. (What it is, really, is something that'll be felt
throughout the entire second season.)
You can try to pack all the loose thread-tying into part two, but it's
like trying to pack 10 pounds of potatos into a 5 pound bag. One
other option is making it a six parter, but *that's* really silly. So
what I'm doing, I've decided, is to take the major elements and play
them out over the first five or so episodes. This will give me time
to give each of the threads the necessary time to play out effectively,
rather than rushing things.
So Chrysalis stands alone as a season ender, and a prelude to the Big
Stuff in season two. Episode 1 of year two, therefore, won't be
"Chrysalis, Part Two," but have its own title, allowing me to spread
the stuff over the next few episodes. (Probable title: "Points of
I showed "Chrysalis" to some people the other day, and the reaction
was across the board astonishment. Just stunned. Which was pretty
much the desired result. It's an absolute left-turn for the series.
Since I mentioned it over on Internet (but not where it belongs), I
give y'all a little gift...Kosh's very last line of the season, in
"You have...forgotten something."
It's not nearly as straightforward as it looks, and that one line will
carry with it *major* repercussions. (And no, it doesn't refer to the
Only two Shadowman vessels hit the Narn base at Quadrant 37, not
Sometimes it gets wonky. We filmed "Chrysalis" twelfth in shooting
order, to air twenty-second. Part of the setup to "Chrysalis" is
"Signs and Portents," which shot 4 episodes later. Meaning the
actors had to act familiar with elements they hadn't performed yet,
and hadn't seen yet in script form. So in that case, I had to sit
down and explain what the various aspects of "Chrysalis" meant, and
where we were going, for it all to play. Later, when "Signs" was
published in-house, they got to see in more detail how the setup fit
in with the payoff.
If asked, I would probably try to refrain from telling any of the
actors the full story. Let me rephrase: I simply wouldn't do it. If
they would ask where their individual character is going -- and some
have -- what I do is give them the general arc, but leave out a lot
of specifics. For instance, Peter knows *in general* that his
character is going in a darker direction, but not how he's going to
get there or what it means to the overall story. And that, I think,
is as it should be.
Every so often, a screwup takes place that is so breathtakingly stupid
that it defies all logic and reason. I just learned of one this
evening, and I'm still reeling a bit from it. Consequently, this is
address to anyone who watched the satellite uplink of "Chrysalis" or
has seen it in the US in the last day or so.
Once we deliver an episode, it goes to two places: Modern Video and CVC.
CVC checks an episode of any series prior to uplink to make sure it's
okay. Though they've had it for four months, they only got around to
checking it the day before uplink. During this, they found a couple of
small audio pops. The kind of thing that could be fixed in about five
minutes. But since it was the evening, Modern Video decided to fix it
for us...by *rebuilding the entire episode*.
Without calling us, notifying us, or checking with us, when we could've
easily had someone on-hand there to supervise at a moment's notice.
Well, when they rebuilt the episode...they didn't use all the correct
footage. Some of what was used was RAW FOOTAGE. Example: when Londo
goes to meet someone in the Garden, there's supposed to be a great
composite shot there of the interior of the Garden area, and a hedge
maze. (The UK saw this version of it last month.) But when the
episode was rebuilt, they used the raw footage segment showing Londo
and a partial hedge IN THE SOUNDSTAGE, where you can see the stage
wall, and the pipes, and the EXIT sign. No composite. Nada.
We don't yet know what else has been included incorrectly, because we
won't see a copy until morning. Suffice to say that this is being
taken care of *our* way overnight, and a correct version will be sent
out via satellite in time for the Wednesday first airings in most
markets, and the reruns in those markets where it's already aired.
At this moment, I am preternaturally calm about all this, having passed
beyond anger earlier this evening into a kind of zen state of
consciousness, utterly unable to wrap my brain around the absolute
stupidity of something like this for more than two minutes at a time.
By morning, this will have worn off.
I'm looking forward to it immensely.
As it turns out, we discovered that there were TWO comp shots missing
(including one in DownBelow), and that's how the "to be continued" got
added in at the end. We rousted our people out of bed and had them at
the Modern Video facility at 2:30 a.m. fixing other people's mistakes,
rebuilding the entire episode so it could be birded out this afternoon.
If you saw TBC at the end of the episode, it was NOT the correct
Well, we tracked down more on the screw-up, and that's how the "To be
continued" got in, and there's a second composite shot missing (from
the DownBelow area). We rousted our post production people out of bed
last night, and at 3:30 a.m. had them correcting the mistakes made by
others, reassembling the entire episode. The correct version is going
out on the bird today, tomorrow, and tomorrow night. It will also be
hand-delivered to KCOP here in town to make sure they get it.
I encourage anyone who saw "Chrysalis" over the last day or so to look
at it again on the rerun; I think you'll find parts of it much better.
This has been a complete and utter meltdown, and we're all out for
blood at the moment.
Yeah, it can make you crazy. Y'know that game, where you have a mallet
and your job is to whack the gophers as they stick their head up out of
the ground? That's as good a description of my job as I've ever seen.
And there are always new gophers....
KCOP Channel 13 replaced the *good* version of Chrysalis with the
I know...I know....
Hand me my chainsaw, I'm going shopping for dinner.
The mistake wasn't made by us. It was broadcast correctly overseas,
in the UK, perfectly. This was done by the video house that supplied
the satellite feed.
Here is Londo's arc through the five year storyline:
Funny and light; then funny and dark; then dark and tragic; then
tragic and light.
Yeah, there's hope for Londo...but not in the way I think anybody
will expect, and not in the way Londo would like.
Londo is a fascinating character to write; there's layers upon
layers, and every time I sit down to write him, he surprises me with
something else. And it's certainly more interesting to watch someone
you like falling into something terrible than to set up a bad guy
from day one; no complexity or sympathy there. It's kind of like
watching an accident in slow motion. But in the final analysis, all
is not dark for Londo.
- What's the story on the god Vir doesn't consider part of
the Centauri pantheon?
Ah, yes...that one wasn't an emperor, that was Zoog, which was really just
a household god, primarily associated with one noble family, that somewhat
imposed Zoog where possible, forced the religious establishment to
recognize the temple they'd built to Zoog...it was strictly an act of
vanity on their part, to create a god, and elevate a household god, which
never really carries much weight, to something greater, adding to the
No, alas, Tech #1, Marianne Robertson has decided that she would
like to travel next year with her husband Dick Robertson, and has
some other personal plans in mind, and thus won't be back next season.
Just FYI...Marianne Robertson, Tech #1, was Swedish, not Russian.
"JMS has specifically told us that one MAIN character will die in
Chrysalis or Points of Departure (I don't remember which)."
No I haven't.
Never said it.
Sometimes, what happens is that people guess about what's going to
happen in the story...and gradually that becomes the assumption on
the part of some people that this WILL happen...which in time
metamorphoses into "JMS said this would happen."
This is yet another of those. Never said it.
While I understand how this happens (and it happens a lot), the only
real complication that I get from it is that suddenly I'm being held
to promises I never made...and if it doesn't happen as I supposedly
said, then it's somehow my fault.
The Douglas Adams "homage." Nope. Eric Sevareid once wrote that
"working in television is like being nibbled to death by ducks." I
think it was in his book "Not So Wild A Dream," itself a line
borrowed from a poem by Norman Corwin. It's also a fairly common
Scenes you should look at differently after "Chrysalis"...one that
comes to mind offhand is "Sky," in the various Garibaldi scenes
(can't be more specific than that right now).
- Have we learned the fate of Garibaldi's friend Lianna
Kemmer, from "Survivors?" Was she on Santiago's ship?
No, we haven't established what happened to her, but we
will in time.
If we go into what happened, and where she is, it
kinda behooves us to show her.
As with her arrival at B5, she would've
been handling the advance work on Io prior to Santiago's