I got the 5th season Babylon 5 DVDs last Sunday. I'd been reluctant to do so, partly because there's this awkward issue with a dodgy disc in the region 2 set whereby the pre-credit sequence for the Fall of Centauri Prime is missing... More importantly though is my mixed memories of season 5 when it was first shown. I recalled being rather disappointed by comparison with the first 4 seasons, a sense of anti-climax and padding out, caused by all the renewal uncertainty meaning storylines were crammed into season 4. As a result, it was with a certain sense of trepidation that I started watching the DVDs.
Heh. I've been watching them non-stop since, bar sessions on City of Heroes and going fencing!
The 5th season is essentially about the aftermath of victory, both of the Shadow War and the Earth Alliance Civil War, and building the new Interstellar Alliance and showing that the events of the past 4 seasons were possibly the most momentous periods of the main characters' lives but still only a part. One by one, they depart and move on to other things. All this makes the later episodes rather moving - shivers down the spine, lumps in throat, the full works. It's full of poignant moments, like Sheridan narrating a message to his unborn child because he knows he will die before his child comes of age and, as for Sleeping In Light, the final episode, God help me, it actually brought tears to my eyes (on at least 3 occasions during the course of the episode), watching Sheridan saying his final goodbyes to his wife and friends (even B5 itself) and remember departed ones ("To absent friends, in memory still bright"), 20 years on. How's that for a sad confession?
I suppose back then, I was expecting more of what had come before, rather than a wrap-up to the story of B5. Coming to it again, an awful lot older and seeing it in the context of the full story, I guess I can appreciate it that much more. The only comparable thing I can think of is China Beach's 4th and final season which kept jumping between the characters' days in Vietnam and various points in their lives afterwards. Again, reminding us that the characters have lives beyond the events in the programme and, again, I didn't fully appreciate it the first time round but do now. Hell, even the annoying hanging plot elements left at the end (Straczynski pointed out that it's as with real life, there is no definitive ending or happily ever after) have been largely resolved by the likes of Crusade and the later novel trilogies.
Watching it all again is like remembering or saying goodbye to a dear, old friend. Yet again, B5 is confimed as still my all-time favourite fandom - it was just so rich with ideas to think about, discuss and debate in a way nothing else has ever matched although, it must be said, Battlestar Galactica is proving to be similarly promising so far.
"Goodbye, old friend"
- Sinclair, War Without End (part 1)
Well, Jackie, I guess this means you can grab the discs now!