Monday, 20 April 2009

Diminishing Returns

It has always been my considered opinion that the Byron storyline in the fifth season of Babylon 5 is under appreciated by many fans ("under appreciated" is not to be mistaken for actually "particularly good", naturally). Probably my favourite Byron moment (for which I can't find a clip) involves him responding to a man's aggressive behaviour by demanding he punch him in the face. He then insists on another hit, and then a third. Standing as tall and still as he can with blood trickling from his face he asks whether the man had gotten what he wanted. Whether those three punches had solved whatever problem the man had assumed would be sorted by beating up a telepath. And if not, why would he assume that punches four to six would succeed where punches one through three had failed?

The point is two-fold. Firstly, a lot of the time, you can't repeat the same action and expect different results (remember the definition of madness?). Second, a scapegoat for your anger and frustration will remain a scapegoat no matter how much damage you do to them.

Byron's beating was the very first thing that came to mind when I read this. What did the interrogators expect to be revealed by waterboarding session one hundred and eighty three that had not been revealed by sessions one through one hundred and eighty two?


(less) Morose Midget said...

You know, it's not often you see someone doing so much as exhaling in defence of the Byron storyline, let alone pointing out how a part of it (no matter how small) is true sci-fi in the sense that it acts as a lense to bring the "real" world into sharper focus.

But that's probably because he's got bad hair (Byron that is, not the illustrious squid). It's interresting that you choose this to illustrate you point though, to see that in this post-Galactica world, B5 remains just as sharp and valid.

This comment is absolutely not solely so I can point out that I'm adoring fan number 1000. But do I win a prize? (

SpaceSquid said...

My hair isn't too good either, but at least I had the common courtesy to start losing it, thus rendering it powerless.

In a more general sense, I actually quite liked a lot Byron arc in concept, I always thought it was the execution that hobbled it.

No 1000, eh? Good work. And I'm into quadruple digits, too! Go team!

I shall consider your prize, though considering the way my mind works it's entirely possible you really won't want whatever I come up with.