Well, I *finally* finished writing the two-parter, "War Without End,"
which is probably the toughest thing I've written for the series to
date. Given everything that has to fit in here, and the fact that
it's the other half of the B4 storyline (this ain't a spoiler,
that'll be common knowledge in ads and the like), it became a pretty
difficult job, moreso than when I'd originally thunk it up. It's
kinda like cramming 20 pounds of potatoes in a 10 pound bag...but I
*think* I got it all in, even though the initial drafts came out at
about 7 pages too long. As I commented to one person, "I'm
definitely dancing on the edge of my ability here." But I'm pretty
sure I pulled it all off...and I think folks are going to be quite
But *man* that was tough....
Now, having written 16 and 17, only 5 scripts remain to be written
for this season. And there's still an awful lot to fit in before the
big season ender, which I suspect will raise quite a few eyebrows.
- In my last general posting to rastb5, I mentioned that from time to
time, I'd try to post the occasional "letter to home" just to keep folks
up to date on matters Babylonian. Now that I can catch a breather, I
figured I'd take this opportunity to do so (though since it's 3:15 a.m.,
this'll likely be short).
"catching a breather" refers to the script situation. I've just
finished writing 316 and 317, the two parter, "War Without End,"
which was a very difficult task, given the amount of story and
logistics that had to be put into it. While writing "Babylon
Squared," to which this is the flip-side, I figured, "Oh, sure, yeah,
I can get this all in on the other side, no problem," but when it
came time to do it, it got awful tight, but finally I fit it *all*
in. (Well, all except one teeny, tiny sentence, about where Zathras
was first seen, and how, 'cause to do what I'd first had in mind
would've taken another 3 pages, and I didn't have that, so that one
element I'll have to just deal with later somehow. But that's it.)
Hopefully, one need never have seen B2 in order to watch and follow
WWE. (Which was one of the hard parts, since B2 may or may not be
aired prior to this, all the background information *had* to be in
the episodes, so that's a lot of background to include.)
This now leaves 5 episodes to be written for this season. At this
point, Lyta should factor strongly in one or two of these, there will be
some direct confrontations between our side and the shadows, then a
really nasty final episode for year three.
- "One would find it hard to believe that episodes like
"Severed Dreams", "I&E","A Late Delvery From Avalon" and of course,
WWE could be written by the same guy. The pace, dialog, everything
are adapted so well for each episode."
Suddenly I'm having an identity crisis....
I like to try different styles for different moods. I also like to vary
the tone of the show; one will be more comedic, as with Sic Transit Vir,
others much darker, like Ship of Tears. I enjoy trying new things,
risking a bit, failing on occasion, but learning in the process.
- As I wrote the episodes prior to WWE2, I kept leading up
to that first kiss, over and over, but deliberately never quite getting
there. I knew that when it came time to do it, I wanted to do it in
just the way you describe...it would and wouldn't be a first kiss,
both at exactly the same time. So there's the moment everyone's been
waiting for, but not in quite the way anyone had expected.
- I knew everyone would be waiting for that
first kiss, so I made sure it was different, that it was a first kiss
for one of them, but not the other, that it was natural and totally
unforced and surprising. So for Sheridan, his first kiss of Delenn was
actually his second (by a long ways), and his second, when it comes,
will be her first.
Just can't do anything the conventional way on this show....
- Did you write WWE at the same time as B2?
No, I didn't write them at the same time, but I
did a basic outline of what the follow-up (WWE) would be, so it'd all
match up when the time came to show that half of the story.
- It all has to hang together, or it's kinda useless.
It just required working out the details of what was, is, and will be.
Then I walked on water....
- Did Sinclair's departure from the show cause changes
in the B4 storyline? Was it originally meant to go into the
No, B4 was never intended to go forward in time. The aging was
done pretty much as intended. And the Soul Hunter meant they're using
him to create their old Leader. Still tracks. I'll have more to say
about all this after everyone's seen the episode.
- The curious thing...the interesting thing...is that in
just about everything I've ever written, yes, I generally follow where I
want to go, end up where I want to end up, but once I get *into* it,
once the characters come alive on the page, I inevitably find better
ways of doing things, stronger and more muscular paths to the story,
more interesting side roads.
Also, this original story was worked out in 1986/87; that's nearly ten
years ago. In those ten years, I've become -- or like to think I've
become -- a better writer, learned more, written more, picked up some
new tools I didn't have then. So you have a situation where the writer
in 1996 looks at the writer in 1986 and says, "No, listen...there's a
better way. Yes, we'll still get to Disneyland on time, you'll still
have plenty of time to ride the haunted mansion...but if we go *this*
way, we can stop off and also see Knotts Berry Farm, and the Winchester
Mystery Mansion, and maybe even Hearst Castle on the way."
The destination is still the same..but I've found a *lot* more
interesting ways of getting there. Which, after all, is what an outline
is for: a safe home base that allows you to wander off, knowing that you
can always return to it if you get lost.
- Foreshadowing is tough, because it implies the audience
is going to BE there x-years down the road to Get It, and you have to
risk the audience going "huh?" one time too many and wandering
away...but nothing good comes without risk.
- Why "War Without End?"
As Delenn says, the war is never entirely over...there are always new
battle to be fought. If it ain't the shadows, it's the shadows over
Earthdome of a more human nature.
- "When dealing with an ep with a lot of flashbacks or
reused footage (WWE, especially part 2), how much freedom does the
director have? Does he/she have to match the style of the previously
show footage (in terms of angles, close ups, pacing, etc), or is
there more room for the director's own style?"
In the case of WWE, you had to match lighting and composition
pretty closely. That's about the only time it's really become an
"(one more question: if someone other than you had written
"Babylon Squared", would they have to be paid royalties for the reuse
of parts of that episodes script and footage in "War Without End"?)"
Anyone who writes a scene which is reused gets residuals.
Doesn't matter if it's me or anybody else, as a Writers Guild member,
it's guaranteed and required. Also the actors, the director, and
others get re-use fees of varying amounts depending on how long the
- The Garibaldi scenes in part 2 were all from the first
- Zathras looked familiar. Was the character created
by the actor?
Well, Zathras appeared in Babylon Squared, so you might have
seen him there. Beyond that...no, the actor came to what was written
on the page and made it come to life, but didn't invent the character.
I just sorta thunk him up. It's what I do.
- Londo looks older, but Sheridan and Delenn
No, both Sheridan and Delenn *are* made up older. If you particularly
look at Delenn out in the light of later scenes in WWE2, you can
DEFINITELY see the difference. With Sheridan, it's a greying of the
hair, and some lining on the face. Londo, though, if you recall, is
much older than Sheridan to begin with.
- It was a good sendoff. (At one point, Bruce said to me
over lunch, with Michael sitting with us, "Hey, so how come HE gets to
go off and become the next best thing to God and I get the crap kicked
out of me?" I shrugged. "Seniority.")
- The scenes with Zathras pinned under the
strut were the same scenes from B2, we didn't reshoot that material.
The hardest shot was matching the lighting and composition in
the central corridor *exactly* for the Ivanova-on-the-link scene, and
the walk by seconds later by Garibaldi and Sinclair. That came out
- Why does Krantz have a leather strap on his uniform,
when there weren't leather straps in "The Gathering?"
The leather strip was also present when we shot the original,
Babylon Squared, in year one. I was kinda thinking at the time that
the change was gradually being introduced in various divisions of
Earthforce. Krantz is from the Marines division, I believe (note the
brown uniform), from that part which functions sort of like the Army
Corps of Engineers, overseeing the building of space stations and the
like. Since it takes time to introduce a uniform change across
divisions and light years, I figured some might have them earlier than
others, or to try them out. So I gave Krantz the leather strip.
- The B4 insignia looks like a 3.
Those aren't 3s, those are Bs in which there's a stylized 4.
- About the
"Babylon Squared" inconsistencies
Yes, the conference room thing is a glitch, in that I had the way
to do it, but it would've meant adding about 3 minutes to the episode,
and I just couldn't fit it in.
(It basically would've involved him being hidden in the room when
there's a timeflash.)
Ivanova et al *were* working actively to get the crew to evacuate,
using the fake reactor reading. If they hadn't really cared about it,
they would've let the station continue running through time to its
destination, or the present; they fought to stop it so they could let
the crew get off.
No, Delenn hadn't been appearing/disappearing before this, but
Sheridan *had*, so it's reasonable to assume he was seen. Also, we
don't know how much time passed between the sighting we notice, and
the alert to Krantz.
We couldn't match the clothing properly, so we dispensed with it.
- I know about the sleeve...and actually she didn't touch
him in WWE2. It was one of those days when it was a hideous production
schedule, and I wasn't on set, and it slipped by everybody else.
- The element I couldn't quite fit into War....
In B2, Krantz says they found Zathras when there was a flash,
and he appeared in a conference room.
Now, I sketched out that scene when it came time to actually
write the whole WWE two-parter. What happened, basically, was that
Zathras was passing by a room where he saw the one piece he still
needed to finish his repairs on the time stabalizer. He slips in, as
best he can, unnoticed...the meeting goes on as he goes under a table
to get the piece of equipment...he finishes just as there's another
time-flash...as it ends, momentarily disoriented, he's discovered, and
This would've matched what was in B2, as I'd intended.
Unfortunately, it added several minutes of screen time that I couldn't
afford. I would've had to cut something somewhere else, and that
script was so tight it screamed as it was. So I had to fudge how I did
that and let the small inconsistency go. The only other thing I
could've cut, the one moveable piece, was Sinclair trying to radio
Garibaldi at the end...and I didn't want to lose that.
- No, WWE couldn't have been 3 episodes. Yes, it had enough
story for it, and then some, but you can't take one storyline and
stretch it out that far. I wouldn't have done it even if I could.
I'd've had to introduce a B story just to break it up a little, because
3 hours of just a straight line one-story plot is murder. And that
defeats the purpose of expanding it.
- Will we see Garibaldi's reaction to finding out
about Sinclair being Valen?
I think it'd be hard to just drop in Garibaldi's attitudes
about Valen without it having something to do with an episode; if it
doesn't move that particular episode along, it shouldn't be there. So
that sort of thing is tough to pull off, making the show more
unfriendly to new viewers.
- Wasn't sending a message to Garibaldi a big
risk? And why didn't he tell Garibaldi before the shuttle
I think his message to Garibaldi was a momentary lapse, it
wasn't something he'd planned, his emotions momentarily got in the way
of his reason. To do so would be dangerous, so it wasn't done by him.
- Throughout the episode, whenever there's a tachyon burst,
pretty much everyone has a timeflash of one sort or another (as also
mentioned in Babylon Squared).
- Why did Delenn leave the White Star?
Mainly just a feeling she had, best to check everything out for
herself, make sure things were going properly, since they were getting
right down to the wire. Also, in case Ivanova got into trouble trying
to get into C&C, she wanted to be closer to the situation to help,
- When Delenn takes off her stabilizer and puts it on Sheridan,
taking on his suit for whatever small protection it might offer, at
that point he stabalized and she became lost/unstuck in time. So it
was she who appeared in the last sequence there. She took the risk to
ensure saving Sheridan.
- 1. Since you've stated that the Babylon squared time
would be the only one for the entire series, is there any way we might
get answers to some of the questions that seemed to be raised from the
In a sense.
2. How much will sinclair's knowledge of the future affect what is to
Sinclair has no further knowledge of the future; he knows only what he
saw up through and including the White Star.
3. The question I'm really dying for an answer to though, is this:
Hasn't this episode in a sense made a large part of the arc
anti-climactic? I mean, we now know that the forces of light are
victorious again, at least to some degree, we know of David (named for
sinclair?), we know what becomes of Londo etc. Whenever most of the
major characters are in a life threatening situation, we now know that
they survive it (it would seem).
We also "knew" that G'Kar would strangle Londo...what you didn't have
was context. As we saw in part two, context is everything, and getting
there is half the fun.
- It's a literary...I hate to say the word trick, but it's the
most descriptive. You show somebody the end right off the bat, as we
did with the Londo/G'Kar scene. But how do we get there? What
happens? Yes, the war is eventually won...but what *was* the price?
And what does it mean to everyone involved?
The best magic is when it's right there in your face, and you
can't see how it's being done.
- What happens with the future of Londo and G'Kar...is what
you see. Course, how they got there is the meat of the story.
- Showing the end of a story at or near the middle is a
literary device that's sometimes used by novelists that can be very
effective, if used properly. It shows you what happens, but leaves
open *how* you got there, and what it means.
- The storyline began millions of years ago.
We're coming in in the middle of the story.
But then, that can be said of all of us.
- Does this blow the mystery of whether Sheridan goes to
Who said there was a mystery about Sheridan going to Z'ha'dum?
Kosh seems to treat it as a fait accompli; so does Sheridan. It seems
fated that he will go...the question is when, why, and under what
circumstances, with what results?
See, sometimes the story works in the shadows (so to
speak)...and other times we're right out in the open, we hand you the
playbook and tell you we're coming right up the middle. And *that's*
when you've got to really worry.
- Sheridan wouldn't know anything of what happened after
he blipped out of that future situation.
As for David, remember that Sheridan's father is also David.
- Sheridan's stabilizer basically broke into two major pieces,
the front section which fell off in the White Star, and the back half
which was still clipped to his belt, and later came off as Zathras
- Is David the Third Age of Mankind?
Not as such.
- Will we see him?
Well, I wouldn't want to preclude anything at this point.
- Were the Minbari fighting amongst themselves before
There was certainly some division among Minbari; Valen
straightened a lot of that out.
- That divisiveness has been growing lately, culminating in
the breakup of the Grey Council which Valen formed. There's bound to
be some fallout....
- Did the Council know Sinclair was Valen when they
demanded he be B5's commander?
No, they didn't know at the time; most of them were still trying
to figure the whole damned thing out; some refused to accept it, and if
he was indeed bogus, wanted him killed to avoid becoming a false
prophet and undoing Minbari society; some *did* believe it was him.
This disagreement in a sense became the first loose thread in
unraveling parts of Minbari society.
- Did Delenn know?
She had suspicions starting from the Battle of the Line; we'll
have more on that later.
Yes, the Grey Council knows [now], but the general Minbari population
does not know.
- Where did the chrysalis machine come from?
The machine came up with Zathras from Epsilon 3. It
first appeared with Sinclair, then later got into Delenn's hands. So
she still has that version of it.
- Re: the Chrysalis device...it came from Epsilon 3. There
was one shot that should've been made more of, where we see a long box
with a silver triangle on one side being set up, and left.
the shot didn't make much of it (you can see Zathras putting it out
there), and a later shot we dropped showing it again because it wasn't
properly featured and you couldn't really tell what it was. There was
so much in this episode that had to be pulled off, in a short amount of
time, that sometimes things in the background don't get framed as they
might be. But that's where it came from: from Epsilon 3 to Sinclair to
Delenn, who still has it.
- It was on Epsilon 3, then taken into the past
with B4, held on Minbar until Delenn got it, and still has it.
- And the triluminary?
It originated on Epsilon 3.
- The Londo stuff is just incredibly powerful...very moving.
As for the voice...well, we'll just have to wait a bit, won't we?
- Re: G'Kar and Londo changing positions as Sinclair and
Sheridan have done, these two moving from certainty to uncertainty in
either direction, that ain't bad. That ain't bad at *all*. I like
symmetry, and both journeys are interesting explorations. What I've
been doing in complex terms, you explained in an astonishingly few
- I seem to recall, after that Londo/G'Kar
scene was shown the last time, posting somewhere that folks now knew
*what* has happened, but they don't yet know the *context*. Very few
picked up on that and thought to actually reverse what they *thought*
they were seeing to what they *might* be seeing.
- Will you see Londo and G'Kar together later this season?
Yes and no.
- Whose eye opened during the strangulation?
The eye was of the keeper on Londo's shoulder, you can see
G'Kar's fingers gripping a part of it. It woke up.
- About G'Kar's eye
One of his eyes had been plucked out some time before.
- Londo does not currently have a Keeper attached to him.
- You needn't concern yourself with the keeper...for a while
- Vir doesn't have a keeper. They would, of course, try to
take care of that detail afterward.
- It's not a shadow host, no, but one of the many things
that work for them.
- Will we see Kosh in the past?
Not exactly, not as you might think, but in a sense....
- Suffice to say that Kosh knew Valen from way, way back....
- If Kosh recognized Sinclair as Valen, why were the
Vorlons so anxious to extradite Sinclair in
He could only recognize him once he
actually saw him, and that didn't happen until he arrived at B5, after
which he wasn't in any condition to talk to anyone until after things
- But surely they must have known he was B5's
Bear in mind that there have been lots of folks named Sinclair
in the last 900 years; that we don't know how much Valen told anyone
about his prior life; that the Minbari had had little to no direct
contact with the Vorlons in well over a hundred years and likely would
not have told them what they found at the Battle of the Line until such
time as personal contact had been made again, which only happened at
Kosh's arrival...and there wasn't exactly time to make a report after
he rolled into B5 for the first time.
- How did they know to meet Babylon 4?
Well, the other obvious solution, since the Vorlons were then
out and running around and actively involved in the war of that time
period, he just sent out a signal, and they got there first.
- But they accepted the station right away.
Given that there's a massive war on, they just had
their major starbase destroyed, they were left without a platform from
which to stage the last part of the war...and here comes someone
offering a 6 mile long, perfectly empty and eminently useable base for
the last phase of the war, no charge...hell, I'd take him up on it too.
- Did B4 have more firepower than B5?
Yeah, B4 had more firepower, and it had one thing B5
doesn't...engines that can move it forward if necessary.
- Did the Minbari recognize the Vorlons?
They'd recognize them from legends of their own past, yes. But
bear in mind that the Minbari and Vorlons had already been working
together in the war effort.
- The Vorlons were called in after B4 arrived.
- When you see a LOT of vorlons together, that's when it's
time to run like hell.
- How long did Sinclair live after going back?
He lived close to a hundred years as a Minbari; they're a long
lived race, and they did all they could to maintain his health as one
of their truly great figures.
- Valen did not have any children. And there's some
difference of opinion over exactly what Valen's final fate was.
- There are some legends about Valen returning someday,
but so far they've been only legends, nothing more.
- The Valen aspect was set up in the first season, long
before anything was decided about Michael.
- I'd love to someday tell the story of Valen and
Zathras in the most recent shadow war. It's quite a tale, actually....
- Is this Zathras' exit from the series?
I'd love to see Zathras again somehow....
- I'm often tempted to create Zathras' brother, Mathras, or
somesuch, if only for the look of terror in their eyes when he says, of
Zathras, "Ah, yes...Zathras...was the quiet one in the family...."
Who knows, it might be something I might do someday....
- Is Zathras "the man in between" from Sheridan's dream
("All Alone in the Night?")
No, Zathras isn't the man in the middle. Someone else is. And
it isn't/wasn't Sinclair, either.
- Valen only knew what Sinclair would've known. Zathras
wasn't speaking from what Sinclair had told him, but on the basis of
things he'd figured out on his own.
- Sinclair went back because he would always go back and
always went back; the "alternate" timeline phrase isn't quite correct...
t's more like the moment when the two possible wave forms of
*possibilities* must collapse into one probability or certainty, both
tugging at the same time. For instance, you've got Shroedinger's cat,
put into a box, with a 50/50 chance of a poison gas capsule opening and
killing the cat. At the instant before you open the box, Shroedinger
said, the cat is neither dead nor alive, but *both*, until you open the
box and the two possibilities collapse into one. It isn't that the cat
had two alternate timelines, only that there were two possibilities
fighting it out to become the real one.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
- What happened to Babylon 4?
B4 survived the prior shadow war, but in very bad shape;
didn't last much longer after that.
- Does the future with the Shadow attack no longer
Yes. Up until that moment, the total forces available to the
shadows were an unknown to us...sort of like Shroedinger's Cat, is it
alive in the box or is it dead? It could be either one. If they
didn't go into the past, didn't affect the outcome, it would be one
reality; if they did, then it'd be another. As soon as they achieved
one or the other of those two, the two possible results collapsed into
the one, singular possibility.
- Will Delenn and Sheridan have to pay too high a price
for their victory and happiness?
Depends on how you define "too high" a price.
- What they were after from Delenn was info relevant to that
time, some of it related to their son.
- The reason Delenn dropped the globe will be gone into by
the end of the season; as for "when will (you) no longer be confused?"
that's rather outside my purview. Have you considered meditation?
- Was Delenn a passive observer in her flash?
She more just saw it as a passive recipient, whereas he was
- There's not much point to asking me "when are we going to
learn who Delenn saw in her flashforward." Or similar questions. I
will not throw away the impact of something happening in an episode by
blowing it out in a message. There have to be surprises along the way.
You'll see it when it happens.
- You'll have to wait and see who entered the room.
- Time travel isn't that easy, and at this juncture it will
never happen again in the B5 universe.
- Sheridan, by taking the actions he took to keep history on
track, has now pretty much assured that the events we see *will*
- Events will unfold as we saw them. Sheridan might try to
use his knowledge to change things...but who knows, that may just bring
- Of course there's free will. But if I pull a trigger, and
the bullet flies out hitting someone in the head, what happens between
the moment of the trigger, and the impact, has nothing to do with free
will. Sheridan made the choice -- free will -- to do what was done in
WWE. There were two probable results, depending on whether he did or
didn't do as asked. Once he did that, the two probabilities folded
into one actuality (a la Shroedinger's Cat).
Which doesn't mean to say he won't *try* to change things....
- What did Zathras mean when he said he was the oldest
living caretaker of the Machine?
Just that Zathras has worked on the machine, and survived
it, the longest of all the others.
- From George Johnsen, co-producer
The Zathras tool is not a speed loader, but a wrench of some sort.
There is this wonderful electronic surplus store down the street from
the stage, and the place is swarming with art directors from all over
the basin. Our folks also frequent this place, and came back one day
with a box marked "interesting shapes $10". At any other place in the
world, this would be a box of recyclables at best or a box of garbage at
worst. In Hollywood, however........ it is a box of tools for Zathras!