Shadow Game

Among many other things, “Babylon 5” is show creator J. Michael Straczynski’s commentary on E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensmen Saga and its two overarching alien rivals — the good-guy Arisians and the bad-guy Eddorians. In B5 these become the Vorlons and Shadows, respectively — not so much good and evil as order and chaos, with the Vorlons preferable of the two but still problematic, and both seeing younger races — such as humanity — as children who need a firm hand… and who need to show which parent they love more.

The Vorlons are eventually shown to center on the question “Who are you?” but the Shadows’ question, “What do you want?”, appears first in the series, asked of the ambassadors at the station by their human representative, Mr. Morden — who turns out to also be close to Earth’s then-VP, who seizes power after he and Morden engineer the president’s death.

When I started writing this song, B5 was a much more recent thing, and it was the younger Bush whose West Wing I imagined Morden prowling. Now, alas, it seems we have someone much closer to Morgan Clark in office. (One of the other things B5 is, is a study in how democracies become fascist…)

“What do you want?” Ed Wasser as Mr. Morden in “Babylon 5.”

Words and music by Joseph Abbott
Inspired by “Babylon 5” created by J. Michael Straczynski

My cat starts complaining as I sit down to work
I know he’s been fed, just the same
He won’t let me pet him, and he doesn’t want to play
And so we begin the shadow game
“What do you want?”
I ask, “What do you want?”
“What do you want?”
And I never get an answer

It’s coming up dinner, or maybe a movie
All of our choices seem lame
I don’t have a preference, just a vague dissatisfaction
As we go round the shadow game
“What do you want?”
She asks, “What do you want?”
I ask, “What do you want?”
We can’t seem to find an answer

The smiling man stands in the halls of power
He tells them he’ll bring back the glory that was lost
They try to look strong in the fateful hour
They try not to think about the cost


We see the headlines and we know there’s something wrong
There has to be someone we can blame
Whatever they tell us, will we just go along?
Will we get played in the shadows’ game?
What do you want?
What do you want?
What do you want?
Do you even know the answer?

What do you want? (Who are you?)
What do you want? (Why are you here?)
What do you want? (Who do you serve, and who do you trust?)
Do you even know the answer?
Do we even know the answer?

This is the bio am I doing this right? Probably not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *