Who Are You? What Do You Want?

I miss Bablyon 5 and have been poking through the treasure trove on YouTube recently. I’m not a buy a series on DVD guy, but I think that might be a nice wedding anniversary present for Jennifer next month.

One of my favorite characters from the show was Vir Cotto, the assistant to ambassador Londo Molari. Vir was constantly appalled at the scheming Londo, and Londo annoyed at the proper ethics and peacefulness of Vir… which he saw as weakness.

Over the course of the show, the quite fat Vir, trimmed down a great deal and started gaining some personal strength along the way as well…

Eventually, he gets a very sharp edge and gets what he wants…

But at the end of the day, there never was anything nasty about Vir. He just got better, stronger and firmer. In the end, he made a path from being the sidekick to the diplomatic “joke position” on Babylon 5… all the way to Emperor of the Centauri Republic.

We don’t all get to be Emperor. But we can take a stand for ourselves. Figure out who you are. Decide what you want.

No one else can help you with that.



  1. JMS once commented that the Vorlons asked “Who are you” , the shadows asked “what do you want.”

    The “Who are you” might sound better at first, but resulted in its own set of straightjackets, even if it didn’t pander so easily to greed and solopsism

    BOTH were needed.

  2. BABYLON 5 oh baby! Vir was fun and cute and all but I’m all for Molari. He made the show for me.

    But, don’t forget Kosh, the ultimate aloof alpha.


    Oh, and you can watch the first two seasons for free at http://www.thewb.com/shows/babylon-5. The used to have all five seasons up but now just two.

  3. Athol said- “I miss Bablyon 5 and have been poking through the treasure trove on YouTube recently. I’m not a buy a series on DVD guy, but I think that might be a nice wedding anniversary present for Jennifer next month.”

    Oh my: Introducing The new UNbeta.

    (Good thing you are joking (I’m sure…))

  4. Ah, yes, one of my favorite scenes from B5 – the last video, that is.

  5. I miss that show. It was fantastic.

  6. I agree — one of the best Space Operas ever produced for TV (excepting the aborted Firefly, which could have blown B5 away . . . ojala. . . ) And Vir was one of my faves as well (he and Lennier, Billy Mumy’s character ). He started out as a torch-bearer and straight man, but the character development along the arc was wonderful.

    Vir’s is the story of most Betas. He has the best of intentions, but he’s working in a corrupt system that he only has the vaguest notion of how it works. He desperately wants to please, wants to do the right thing, and he quickly realizes that the ‘right thing” isn’t always the most altruistic thing. He gets hard. He gets tough. He stops arguing for his own limitations and takes action and damn the consequences. He uses the perception of his being weak and bumbling as a cover for more involved activities, and in the end of the show he slaps all seven of his dicks on the table in front of his enemies and triumphs. He becomes decisive, even aggressive, and he regrets his moral transgressions even as he acknowledges their necessity. Love me some Vir.

    In a way, Vir was forced to run his own MAP. And the very beginning of that process is the decision to take responsibility for yourself and what you do, first and foremost. As Athol sagely says, figure out what you want and then don’t let anything get in your way as you pursue it. Sometimes that may mean altering “your way” around an obstacle, but if you KNOW WHAT YOU WANT, then you will, eventually, find out how to get it. The difference between happiness and unhappiness is whether or not you give up on that pursuit.

    Great post, Athol. Short, sweet, and geeky as hell. You’re gonna end up making me do a Dungeons and Dragons post, you realize . . .

  7. Good timing. I’ve been thinking about this stuff recently, having just gotten out of my 9-year LTR and faced with that most confounding of choices: “what now?”

    I miss the companionship and the sex (when it happened; more often for a few months there after the MAP took effect and before everything went to hell pre-breakup, less often before and after), but there is something to be said for not being answerable to anyone but myself. Intimidating and scary as hell, but exhilarating.

  8. OK, I love scifi as much as the next guy, but you have got to be kidding about the gift to Jennifer… Hope she is as geeky as you!

  9. Changed Man says:


    I couldn’t agree with you more, brother. I’ll be moving into my own place in about a month, I’ve been asking the same question, and have been making a ‘what’s next’ list. I’ve been alone for less than a year out of the last thirty, that part is scary, but the prospect of ‘prioritizing’ me and being the soul master of my destiny is heady and exciting stuff.

  10. RedPillNewb says:

    Yeah, this question is pretty much why my MAP is stalled out.

  11. Cracks me up that anyone worries what I buy for Jennifer as a present.

  12. Always felt sorry for Lennier.

    He got so friendzoned by De’lenn. Sheridan was too Alpha. All of Lennier’s orbiting and slaving over De’lenns wishes could not win her heart.

    The friendzone was shattered in Season 5. Painfully.

  13. Who’s to say Jennifer doesn’t like Bab 5, you jackholes? ;)

  14. As Dukhat and Delenn, so Delenn and Lennier, or so Delenn thought. Lennier, obviously, didn’t see it that way. The example of Delenn’s old mentor just wasn’t enough to guide her with respect to the triangle with herself, her aide and Sheridan. At least Sheridan was the real deal as heroes go, and not a thug or a poser.

  15. Good point, RedPillWifey….

    And, if he’s getting laid like tile I suppose it doesn’t matter.

    Of course if she really wanted that Kitchenaid 5 quart mixer instead….

    And, Athol, I don’t care what you get for Jennifer….I’m sure it will be the right present and she will love it.

    Your proposal just sounded like something Andy Capp would do. But…..maybe you weren’t joking?

    Is Jennifer a fan?

    You know what they say about men with big foreheads….

  16. RedPillNewb says: “this question is pretty much why my MAP is stalled out.”

    Athol says “no one else can help you with that”

    True, but there are some useful general principles around

  17. I agree with Lorien….these are dangerous questions. And, as he notes, “there’s never a good answer”. I think they can be good in that way, though, if you’re really given to honest introspection. It requires diligence, though, but can really help you recognize/sort through the fact that the answers do change over time.

    As to Lennier….that really is a painful part of the series to witness. I think an argument could be made that she viewed Lennier’s efforts as him showing devotion to “the mission”, while Lennier viewed it more as showing devotion to HER. After the situation came to a head, Delenn even makes note of the fact that she more or less knew of his feelings for her (although she was ultimately surprised by their intensity). Sounds like something right out of real life in that regard.

  18. @RwGuy:

    Dangerous questions indeed. Just ask my ex: it was my asking these questions of myself, and finding that I actually had at least a few answers, that led to my leaving her.

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