I just watched Disc Three of the Crusade series, written by J. Michael Straczynski (JMS). Luckily, I was apparently watching one of the early discs produced since it had his commentary on the episode Racing the Night. (All of his commentaries were removed from later discs at his request since Warner Bros. broke their contract with him by not including his full commentary, including criticisms of TNT.)
I just listened to the commentary and wanted to share the things that JMS said about the direction the show and its characters would take, had it run its course.
- The cure for the plague would have been found in the middle of the second season. (I had heard that elsewhere, but it was in the commentary so here it is.)
- In the process of finding the cure, the crew would have discovered that Earth was running its own secret program, continuing to use Shadow technology (which they weren’t supposed to have in the first place) for its gain.
- Gideon and the crew would have been “blacklisted” from Earth as a result of this discovery. It sounds like they would have been in a similar position to that of Babylon 5 when they seceded from Earth in the mid-third season of Babylon 5.
- The first season cliffhanger, which was one of two scripted but unproduced episodes, would have ended with Gideon being shot. He would have died. (But of course this is sci-fi; read on.)
- Somehow, Gideon’s conciousness would have been transferred to the Apocolypse Box. The implication in the commentary is that Gideon would have been resurrected, in a sense, later – I assume early in Season Two.(Though I’m sure it would have been handled differently, that’s another obvious parallel to B5.)
- At some point, Dureena would have disappeared for two episodes. When she returned, she would have carried a special sword of some kind, and begun a transformation into a technomage of sorts, though with a much darker bent than Galen appears to have. Her path would be led by a need for revenge. Galen and Dureena would have been set up to have some rather interesting conflicts. (Again, another parallel to B5: that sounds reminiscent of Londo and G’Kar.)
- There is a reference to the Biblical book of Job in the episode. JMS said he thought that was probably the single best story in literature, and this early tip was a foreshadowing of the arc of the entire series. If you know that book, you know, in broad strokes, what Crusade was about.
So there you have it.
I was fortunate enough to read the two aforementioned unproduced scripts, and I can say that it was obvious that there would have been a quantum shift in the tone and direction of the show come the season finale. I remember reading it and then sitting in front of the final page saying, “Whoa.” Shocked. The more I learn, the more disappointed I am that the show was cancelled before it even aired! I am SO disappointed in TNT.
As I’m sitting here typing I think I might have figured out at least one level of the Job parallel (I’m sure it would have worked on multiple levels). My guess is that Galen, whom Gideon completely trusts to save him, would have been the God analog, while Dureena, after slowly progressing down her darker path, would have been the Satan analog. Gideon would have, in a sense, been caught between the two and forced to choose his allegience.
In all likelihood, Gideon would also have been put in a similar situation politically – with EarthGov as the Satan analog and … I don’t know … Earth rebels, Mars, or the Interstellar Alliance, maybe … as the God analog.
Anyway… that’s conjecture. Cool stuff though. I wish it could have been produced to the end.
There is some hope to find out the truth, however. I recently read a note from JMS that when the Crusade script books are published, he will probably report what the whole story arc would have been! Can’t wait to buy those!
Some B5/JMS/Crusade related links:
- B5 Script books (limited editions, won’t be available forever)
- JMS News
- Lurker’s Guide to Babylon 5
- Free B5 episode downloads from AOL (IE-only)