- "Confessions" isn't per se a wham episode, for instance, but it does
have some very sharp turns, and it's an extremely intense episode on a
par with "Believers." It makes no compromises and takes no prisoners,
and I imagine it'll stir up about as much debate as did "Believers," if
not more. When we did playback after doing the audio mix a few days
ago, there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
- I would also point out that, upon returning from the Moon, Apollo
astronauts were quarantined routinely in case any virus might have been
encountered; also, Mars probes today are carefully sterilized prior to
launch to prevent any virus from our ecosystem interacting with anything
that might be there. Further, there have been numerous hearings within
NASA, and in at least one case in the Senate Science Subcommittee, in
which biologists and scientists have expressed concern about the
possibility of viral contamination from new species. So anyone who says
this isn't possible simply isn't reading the literature.
- Tom, we *do* have a medical/biological advisor, whose primary
comment on the notion that a virus couldn't pass between one species
and another..."We have yet to contact one other alien life form to make
an analysis. We do not know for a fact that their biology will be
radically different than our own. Until we actually make contact, it's
as likely as not." A biologist works from what's known; unless you've
got a specimen of alien life somewhere and aren't showing it to anyone,
or you're simply making a guess, which is neither more nor less correct
until we have something testable in our hands.
- I will not defend the notion that
the episode stated that all Americans felt that AIDS was a penalty from
god because it never said that. Ever. In any way, manner, shape or
form. The problem is that some people are so caught up in the current
situation that they lose all sense of perspective. Fact is, most
people DID think that the Black Death was a punishment from God, or the
work of the devil, as Franklin says. The Markabs had a similar belief.
Nowhere was that applied in dialogue to humans or the AIDS situation.
The whole point of the episode is NOT political; it says that if you
make a disease political on either side, you're gonna die. You have to
set aside all that crap and just Deal With The Problem. The only "side"
this episode took was in advocating compassion for those afflicted.
I have enough just dealing with what's actually *in* my series; don't
compound the problem by adding things that you saw only in your own
head, and which exist nowhere in dialogue or in the story. You are
adding the template of your own beliefs as an overlay, and seeing this
story through it. That ain't my problem. If you see this disease as
political, that's your lookout. This show says that ANY attempt to
politicize a disease is species-dangerous thinking. Period.
- On one level, this does indicate that we really *are* crazy over here at
B5. Here we developed this race for nearly two years. Developed their
culture. Mentioned them prominently just last episode. Had them speak
before the full Council (in "Long Dark"). Spent substantial amounts of
money making them the biggest single alien group we've got (some of the
group shots had 40-50 or more Markabs, all in full prosthetics and full
costume)...and now, never to be seen again.
It couldn't be a race we've never seen before, not if it was to have the
impact I wanted. It had to be a group that's been with us from the
In Council scenes for the balance of the season, the Markab seat remains
- "No disease in human history is 100% fatal."
Not correct. The Black Death was fatal to everyone infected by it. It
was not, as Drafa, 100% contagious, but it *was* about 90% contagious.
The Black Death wiped out *three-quarters of the entire European
population*. (Editor's note: not quite true; three-quarters of
the population in some areas was wiped out, but the total toll was
closer to one quarter -- still pretty devastating. The mortality
rate was high, but some people survived and were immune thereafter.
It also hit Africa and Asia.)
Roll that around for a while. Three-quarters.
The only thing that saved areas of Europe was that there wasn't as much
travel then as today between countries; it was reserved for those with
enough money to afford it, which were very few. There were also fewer
means of entry; a river and a bridge closed to refugees was often enough
to keep people out. There is now MUCH freer travel. Had there been
freer travel in the 14th century, it's entirely possible that the
entire European population might have been completely eradicated, with
those few who might've been immune dying from associated diseases,
hunger and other problems caused by the presence of the disease.
One person I spoke with at the CDC (Center for Disease Control) said
that, hypothetically speaking, the sudden eruption of a disease like
this is possible. How likely depends on various circumstances. There
are, for instance, regions in the Amazon and South America where certain
kinds of plant and animal life can only be found; and those specific
lifeforms can transfer diseases to humans...diseases that literally
melt the flesh off your body, or in another case, cause worm-like
infestations to burst through the skin covering the entire body. (Let
me tell you, researching this was just a whole lotta laughs.) They are
*highly* contagious. The only thing that has (so far) prevented a
massive outbreak is the fact that by the time you can generally get
OUT of these remote areas...you're dead.
A particularly aggressive disease could perform very much like what is
described in the episode.
- Any time there's a big disease,
we get Stupid. The same exact thing happened with the Black Plague, as
was mentioned in the episode...instead of blaming gays, the leaders of
the time blamed jews and lepers. The whole *point* is to drop politics
and scapegoating whichEVER disease it happens to be next...and there is
always a next...and focus on the problem: the disease.
- There would've been a very few on deep space patrols, or on
isolated worlds that would've survived, yes, as was indicated in the
narration at the close of the episode, but you're talking about very,
very small numbers. The race is still effectively dead.
- What Colin misses, obviously, is that not *all* of the markabs are
"mindless religious fanatics," in that Dr. Lazarenn was not one, but
that was mainly because he had long been exposed to human/outsider
ideas, which most of his reclusive people are not.
Second, y'know, I get asked a lot, "Give us ALIEN aliens." So I do. And
then I get gigged because they don't act like we'd expect humans to act.
Sometimes I just throw up my hands....
- You have to listen a little closer. The dormancy period is several days
to several weeks, as Franklin says; once the disease *comes out of
dormancy*, then it kills within about a day.
- I don't think his behavior was boorish at all. After a very long day,
in which (he stated) he hadn't eaten a thing, he sits down in a cross
legged position for (if you track the time in the story) 3-5 *hours*,
alternately eating and meditating in a small, quiet room...who
*wouldn't* fall asleep?
- The fighters aren't *inexpensive*, but not hideously costly either.
Also, the pilots like to spend as much time out on patrol as possible,
to garner more flight pay. Keffer's squad was already out earlier (as
noted by Sheridan); Keffer chose to stay out a little longer doing a bit
of reconnaisance. Most of the hassle is in prepping the ship for
launch, maintainance and so on; once it's out, it's just a matter of a
bit more fuel. If he left *strictly* for this purpose, then yeah,
they'd nail his butt to the flight deck. But since he was out anyway,
it's not as big an issue.
- (Delenn's childhood experience)
Well, it's about TIME somebody noticed that
little exchange in "Confessions and Lamentations." Sometimes I stick
stuff so obviously in the foreground that I'm afraid it's going to be
too blatant, and then nobody seems to notice it, looking instead at
the tiny stuff in the background.
Unfortunately, all I can say for now is that it is significant to
Delenn's character and growth, and her sense of being special, and
called into the religious caste.
- We joked a few times about having a mass burial for the Markab
prosthetics and costumes behind the stage....
- A man is shot by a gun. Now, you can either do a story about the guy
and his life up to the moment he was shot and killed, or you can do a
story about the people who are affected by his death. The former
story ends kinda fast. But both are perfectly valid. The main thrust
is how this story AFFECTS our main characters. Would they have been
more affected if it were the Drazi rather than the Markabs? No. It
would've been just the same. My job is not to sit here and say, "Hmm
... do I think audience members like the Drazi or the Markabs more?"
and thus base my decision based on that. I write my stories based on
what's right for the story, period. In this case, I knew it had to
be one of the League races, and in particular, those prosthetics
capable of expressing broad ranges of emotion, potentially sympathetic
characters. The instantly cut out the pak'ma'ra as primary characters.
I considered the Drazi, but my sense was that the prosthetics couldn't
convey the depth of emotion I needed. Finally, that led me to the
Enough terrible things happened, and continue to happen, to our major
races; best to give them a break and see how they react when it's
- Delenn and Lennier's exchange after Sheridan leaves
Isn't it more fun to leave the piece untranslated? Shouldn't some
things be left to the imagination?
- Plague stories are trendy these days.
Next time I will try and locate every other producer in town and
see what they plan to produce, so I can plan accordingly. When I
wrote the episode, Outbreak hadn't been promoted yet or known about,
Voyager hadn't aired, ER hadn't told me what they were going to do
...if I'd known there would be such a glut...well, I probably
would've done so anyway, because this isn't so much about the plague
and saying its' dangerous, but about our attitudes when we are
confronted by this, which really hasn't been dealt with that much in
SF. (And I'm sorry, but don't even *try* to bring the Voyager story
into this; the ship is threatened by a cheese contamination? I almost
fell off my chair.)
- What you also have to do is step back for a moment and remember that
the dinner began prior to Keffer and the rest leaving B5; and was
ending about the time they got back. Add up the time indicated, and
you've got a ritual that has gone on for at LEAST 3-4 hours now,
probably closer to 5-6; seated in a small room, legs crossed, after
what was almost certainly a busy day. Show me somebody who WOULDN'T
doze off after a while.
- The alien with a breathing apparatus a "Sandman" reference?
It's mainly an extrapolation on an alien breather based on WW II
style gas masks.
- Franklin's use of stims here and in
"Z'ha'dum;" their disastrous consequences for Dr. Rosen in QoM
Ah, about time; I was wondering when someone would get around to
remembering "Quality of Mercy" in this....
- The use of markabs was definitely NOT a reference to Scientology in
any way, manner, shape or form.
- There is absolutely, positively, NO scientology link or
reference in the name markabs. I find the organization generally
- I had no idea that scientologists used an alien group
called Markab, and frankly would've changed it if I had known.
- Marcabs had warships, though not a lot of them.