These responses were longer than most, but they made Paul laugh so hard that milk shot out his nose (which is quite a feat, considering he was drinking lemonade). As we have done in the past when we can't get off the fence about which responses to include, we decided to throw open the doors to the Ritalin Reading Room (suitable for those long, ponderous moments on the toilet). People with short attention spans may want to leave now.
Hotbranch™ shudders, as he feels the Dark Side wince from that loss...Then, he feels it.
"This is worse than a hangover. Not only did somebody just eat it™, I feel a strange presence. It is a presence stronger than I've ever felt before."
Suddenly, the temperature drops significantly. From the cold blast enters the most dangerous threat to the Dark Side™ of the Save the Grudge Foundation...The Griffon Master, Tristan Robert J. Pratt.
Then, with the flash that could only be the Rage™, Devin emerges from the carbon, blind as a bat and mad as a wet hen...
The Griffon Master pulls out his Mentos-saber, full of cold fusion energy. He spins it around impressively, however, it whacks off one of Princess Leia's cinnamon buns. The ice that forms on it causes a hungry marauder to mistake it for a real cinnamon bun and chokes on it.
Devin pulls out his weapon, a wet strait jacket twisted into a whip. Collateral Damage™ ensues, for he can't see anything.
"Hotbranch, you and the Dark Side™ have pushed me too far...", the Griffon Master shouts as he prepares for battle.
Hotbranch pulls out his Dark Side™ Double Sided™ Light Saber and spins it just as impressively as did the Griffon Master. And just as the Griffon Master did, he lops off one of Princess Leia's hair buns. Princess Leia, freed of the ballast, begins to float a la Mary Poppins, and is therefore spared a ray gun blast from the commander, who is still desparate for the Infinite Improbability Drive™.
Devin continues whipping the wet strait jacket around until he wraps it around a low-voltage electric line. The shock nearly stuns the Mental Hospital Escapee, but the electro-shock therapy gives him 20-20 vision. Unforturnately, the strait jacket is now burnt to a crisp.
7 of 9 proceeds to the main computer core and tries to "adapt" to B5's technology. As she tries to determine where the toxic gas release control is, she is nearly run over by Paul Golba as he runs to the battle between Hotbranch™ and the Griffon Master™. Borg, however, are used to collisions in crowded hallways, so she ignores it.
Darth Hotbranch and Emperor Paul-patine look over the Griffon Master, who is too cool for his own good sometimes and is entering hypothermia.
"Shall we finish him off now, my lord?"
"No, let him writh in agony..."
A hearty chuckle fills the hall, as does a blast of heat. "Famous last words, Paul-patine"
The heat of the RAGE™ reinvigorates the Griffon Master. Devin has entered the fight.
It's an epic battle. Meanwhile, the Princess helplessly floats above the fray until a stray light saber renders her the late princess of Alderaan. 7 of 9 and Ivanova try to fight each other, but they are enthralled by this epic battle.
Devin, propelled by the Rage, displays his extensive use of Kung Fu™ as he whacks Paul into another dimension. The Lord of the Dark Side is powerless against that much raw Rage™ being so skillfully used...
"I thought we had allied you against the Griffon Master™"
"You really think that I'm so stupid as to try to take on Devin The Mental Hospital Escapee?", Tristan responded...
The fight between Darth Hotbranch™ and Tristan would not die...Finally, the Griffon Master put down his Mentos-saber.
"If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can ever imagine..."
"What is this foolishness, Mr. Pratt", the Borg-babe asked...
"Don't ask me any questions, 7, you Borg know nothing of honor."
"You sound like a Klingon"
However, this distraction proved fatal for the over-analytical 7, as Ivanova made such a mess of her that only a Collective™ could clean it up...
Hotbranch prepared to finish the Griffon Master, pulling the Light Saber back, ready to strike... but was silenced forever by a Rage™ fireball in the chest from Devin.
"Devin, you messed up my plan. I was going to become a Legend™"
"No, Tristan, I haven't. You have a higher calling. You're going to be a Legend in your own time™"
"Well, weren't we always Legends in our own minds™?"
And with that, the two Grudgesters got onto a space ready Winnebago, bought with loot from bets on the Ewok-Gremlins match, and fly off...
- Tristan "The Griffon Master" Pratt (the Devin is my ally, and a powerful ally it is)
a) Media hype
b) Blind, lemming-like fan loyalty, or
c) Jeri Ryan's breasts
but rather by
d) The actual merits of the respective combatants
I know, I know, I'm a nut, a crazy dreamer, such a miracle could never take place in the real world; still, it's my fantasy, so please indulge me.
And with your indulgence, in my fantasy the ballot count will reflect the true worthiness of these three combatants, resulting in the overwhelming victory of … Commander Susan Ivanova.
"What?" cry the overly-hormonal fanboys. "Ivanova? How could a character from a cult program ever overcome Roddenberry's Monster™, let alone The Soulless Lucas Juggernaut™ (all primary and subsidiary rights reserved, resistance is futile you will be assimilated, have a plastic Burger King glass)? Impossible!"
Impossible? To the unwashed masses, perhaps. But this is my fantasy, wherein the proud ranks of Grudge Matchers may be enlightened. Step this way…
Really, I shouldn't have to go any further than this one. The ground often determines the victor, and no place is this truer than on Babylon 5. B5 is Susan's home ground; she knows every corridor, every shortcut, where all the systems are and exactly how to operate them. Leia and Seven are fish out of water here; Seven will use up every spare byte of processing space trying to figure out why the central computer's voice doesn't sound like Majel Barrett, while Leia will be transfixed wondering how, on a measly Warner Bros. stipend, this place manages to make the aliens look so darned good. Zaphod, meanwhile, is equally distracted, as G'Kar explains his evolving philosophy to one head, while Londo engages in a drinking contest with the other. Susan will have that Infinite Improbability Drive without so much as raising a hand.
Most importantly, this fight is taking place in the Babylon 5 universe! That means that suddenly Seven and Leia are, for the first time in their lives, going to have to bow to some of the laws of science. For Seven, this means no transporters to whisk her out of danger; there are no Heisenberg Compensators in this part o' town, l'il missy! (As an aside, there's a great book called "The Physics Of Star Trek" which explains what futuristic gizmos could exist and which couldn't, based on what we know now. Give it a read.) It also means no "solid hologram" doctors to blink in and patch up the multiple PPG holes she'll sustain. And for Miz Organa, this means that the Force is just one more load of pseudomystical L. Ron Hubbard-type bullshit; on B5, if you wanna float things, you gotta deal with the PsiCorps. And lest anyone doubt that B5 breeds tougher folks than either of the other settings, compare Walter Koenig's stiff and colorless Chekov - who was tortured by Ricardo Montalban for Chrissakes - with his coolly dangerous and cheerfully malevolent Bester; be honest, which is more dangerous? Riiight! Same actor, different worlds. In the Babylon 5 universe, you take care of yourself or you get dead; there's no "set phasers to stun". Only one of these three women is tough enough to make it in this environment, and that woman is Commander Susan Ivanova.
2) Individual Prowess
But let's say they actually do fight. Susan Ivanova is career military, from the ranks on up. She's had more combat experience than your average squad of SEALs, and winds up intimidating, threatening, or beating the stuffing out of smugglers, aliens, PsiCops, terrorists, and assassins just about every other episode. Heck, she once stopped a genocidal Drazi civil war single-handedly! When did Leia last smash a guard unconscious with a backfist?
"But her experience," cry the fanboys. "Leia ran with the Rebels for years!" True, but what did she, herself, actually accomplish as a fighter? Let's check the records:
· Captured by Vader; had to be rescued by Mark Hamill
· Failed to defend Hoth base; had to be rescued by Harrison Ford (well, she might have done that on purpose)
· Captured by Vader; had to be rescued by Billy Dee Williams
· Tried to warn Luke of Vader's trap; failed.
· Tried to rescue Han from Boba Fett; failed
· Tried to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt; failed
· Captured by Jabba the Hutt; had to wear skimpy outfit
· Strangled a giant worm with a chain
· Captured by tribe of teddy bears; no one bothered to rescue
Not exactly Xena: Warrior Princess, is she?
"But Seven Of Nine!" drool the fanboys. "What about her enhanced strength and speed?" Well, she might have posed a minor threat if she were still fully Borgified. But I'm afraid that a little metal thingie glued over the eyebrow does not a gladiator make. And no one can kick butt properly while teetering on four-inch heels, enhanced strength or not; when was the last time you saw Christy Turlington beat the crap out of somebody?
Seven's real problem is that she thinks in terms of Vulcanlike logic. Susan, however, has been tempered in B5's refining fire; she's been through so many crises and found so many unorthodox ways of resolving them that she literally cannot be predicted. When logic meets unpredictability, logic loses every time; see The Coyote vs. The Road Runner for examples ad nauseam.
3) Strategic & Tactical Skill
"Okay, so let's not make it hand-to-hand!" respond the fanboys. "Let's give 'em each a ship and let them go at it!" All right. Heck, I'll even allow Leia & Seven to import a ship from their own universe; let's say "Voyager" with a competent but unexceptional skeleton crew for Seven, and a good old X-Wing for Leia.
They're both dead meat.
Susan, at the helm of a Whitestar ship, has more firepower than six X-Wings. The X-Wing, as review of the movies will show, has no appreciable armor and maneuvers surprisingly poorly for a light fighter. The X-Wing survives on the fact that they usually fight the Empire, all of whose gunners are apparently blinded at birth like Saxon skalds. Against a Minbari crew who know how to aim their weapons, Leia is spacedust inside of ten seconds. As for Voyager, her size and slow impulse speed will allow the Whitestar to dance around her merrily, all the while carving her hull like a Christmas turkey. The Whitestar is too small and too fast to be locked onto by Voyager's weapons. And since this is Voyager, where the cry "Shields down to 20%!" is heard every time someone uses the microwave, I don't expect their so-called defensive systems to present much of a problem.
Also recall that of the three, only Susan has any experience captaining a ship in combat. In a crisis in space, Seven usually rattles of a stream of technobabble and starts rooting around behind the instrument panels (in all fairness, so does every other Star Trek character). Leia's response is to make smart remarks to Han while he and Chewie frantically try to fix everything. Susan, however, delivers her patented Death Incarnate Ultimatum™, and proceeds to kick the holy hell out of every enemy in sight, regardless of their greater numbers or technical superiority. In space, only Ivanova can hear you scream, because she doesn't lose. Ever.
4) Allies & Support
At this point, both Leia and Seven should be booking passage on the next transport out, while Ivanova allows Zaphod to run up a bar tab so he'll stop pointing at the bald Centauri women. Should either of them actually try something, remember that they're both trapped in a strange universe, utterly cut off from rescue or reinforcement. Susan, meanwhile, is in her place of power, with all kinds of backup at her beck and call.
If this fight were to take place on the station, Ivanova need not raise her hand in anger. She need only raise it to her hand and say, "Security!" Within seconds, Zack Allan and two full squads of station security (who, unlike redshirts or stormtroopers, actually know how to fight!), alongside the infamous Narn Bat Squad™ ("Our Motto: WHAMWHAMWHAMWHAMWHAMWHAM!!!"), will have Leia and Seven pinned, cuffed, and carted off to the brig, to be released at Susan's pleasure. While she's at it, she can have Zaphod arrested for trading without a station license and confiscate the Infinite Imporbability Drive to boot!
But let's have mercy on poor Seven and hapless Leia and say that they can call on some support from their home settings.
Seven has "Voyager", which as illustrated above, can be easily overcome by a single Whitestar. Against something packing more punch, like a Minbari Cruiser or - heaven forbid - even the smallest of Vorlon ships…well, close your eyes if you're squeamish.
"Leia can call on the full force of the Rebel Alliance!" chime in the fanboys.
Oh, yes, be still my heart. As stated above, this ragtag group of misfits did very well against the shockingly incompetent Empire. And even so, they were nearly decimated in "Jedi" when they wandered blithely into an ambush so obvious my own grandmother was yelling "don't go in there!" at the screen. Against foes who can actually aim their weapons, even the Millenium Falcon will be scrap metal in short order.
The fact is, Susan has all the big guns on her side. Delenn once said "Only one human captain has ever survived battle with the Minbari Fleet." That's true, and he ain't flying with the Rebels. Add in the combined might of the Narn, Centauri, Humans, Drazi, Bakiri, Vree, and Pak Mara, not to mention the awesomely powerful Vorlons and the other First Ones, and … well, does the word "bloodbath" mean anything to you?
Besides, any group which allies itself with spear-waving stuffed animals is asking for it.
5) The Babe Factor
For all true fanboys, this is the big one. This is the reason why Sable gets paid so much money. Guys, you'll be glad to know that Susan wins here, too. Attend:
Leia: Played by Carrie Fisher. Carrie is an attractive woman, and a damn fine screenwriter. However, skimpy attire or not, she lacks that sultry fire which distinguishes the True Babe™. Also, she used to be married to Paul Simon, and I still haven't forgiven him for "The Capeman".
Seven: Played by Jeri Ryan. Jeri is very beautiful, and very sexy, and would seem to have this category locked up … until you remember she's a divorcee with kids. Nothing takes the fun out of your romantic notions like a brace of squalling rugrats. Close, but no cigar (and stow the Clinton jokes!).
Susan: Played by Claudia Christian. Claudia definitely has the physical beauty; she's also literate, intelligent, and a wildly funny person. You might not think she's more lovely than Jeri, but I point to two factors: Ivanova's same-sex dalliance with Talia Winters (we all know that heterosexual guys really dig beautiful lesbian porn), and the amazing (and amazingly revealing!) dress Claudia wore in the movie "The Hidden". Rent it and see if you don't believe me! Woo-hoo!
The Uberbabe™ award goes to Susan.
6) The Rage™
If there were any lingering doubts, they will be dispelled here. We all know that it takes The Rage™ to win a Grudge Match, so let's take a look at our three fighting females at their angriest:
Seven: Having recently regained her individuality, she has no discernable emotions. Discounting the psychotic seizures she seems to have every other episode, states such as happiness, sorrow, lust (too bad!), and anger are foreign to her. As such, she is incapable of Rage™.
Leia: Once got mad enough to call Han a "Nurf-Herder" (I don't know what that is, and if anyone out there does know, don't tell me!). Not exactly Mike Tyson.
Susan: Once slaughtered an entire fleet of earth loyalist ships, despite those ships' superior technology and despite being vastly outnumbered; this was also the occasion of the Death Incarnate Ultimatum™ referenced in No. 3 above. Not enough? Just whisper in her ear "Marcus died for your sins" and she'll fly into an Apocalyptic Berserker Rage™ which would make her ancient Russian steppes ancestors proud!
To sum this all up, I quote the Commander herself:
"Trust Ivanova. Trust yourself. Anyone else, shoot 'em!"
Words to live by, my friends. Words to live by.
- Peloquin ("Everything I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned From Ivanova")
"That suspicion expresses a logical possibility," acknowledges Seven to Zaphod. "Further, you would be wise to note that mis-evaluating me to be an 'easy mark' would produce remarkably negative consequences."
Zaphod is taken aback with one face but shows a Cheshire-cat smile on the second. "You're on, babies, get ready for the surprises of your life-spans!" He fiddles with the Heart-of-Gold's console.
As a female voice issues from the device speaking, "Probability two to the power of five-thousand against," the cargo bay door hisses open to admit Kosh. "Do as the man says. Fight each other, and the victor may claim the prize and the technological advances."
Knowing the unlikelihood of Kosh giving advice that a) encourages conflict as a means of people developing and getting what they want and b) is comprehensible, Ivanova is readily convinced. Slapping her comm, she calls, "Security to Cargo Bay, Level Magenta 53." Correctly assessing Ivanova as the most serious threat, Seven-of-Nine grabs a hefty-sized copy of "Fellowship of the Ring" and heaves it with cybernetically-enhanced strength at the commander's right side, fracturing both the PPG in its holster and the hip.
Grimacing, Ivanova ducks behind yet another stack of crates containing leftover props from "Captain Power." A half-dozen expendable security-guys burst into the room, led by Gary Baldy, right into the face of a hailstorm of hardback novels. Barely dodging a Lovecraft 800-pager, Baldy squints through the propelled, recycled literature to identify the source of the attacks: some woman with what look like Shadow-implants, throwing a mean fast-ball with entire boxes of JMS' source-material archives. Apparently, the security chief deduces, another one of Sheridan's frozen telepaths has broken out of cold-storage and is doing a number on the station. Not caring much for "teeps" to begin with, Baldy instructs his team to return fire.
The security officers comply, with the exception of one member unconscious from taking a copy of "King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table as Interpreted by Dwight Eisenhower" to the forehead. PPG bursts cut through the flurry of media, igniting dozens of incoming "The Prisoner Videotape Collector's Set"s.
"Wait! Stop! I order you to hold your fire and leave the premises immediately. This fight is part of a planned exercise and was consented to by all participants," orders the match's spectator.
Gary Baldy gives him a look. "Oh, really. And just who might you be?"
"Why, I'm Zaphod Beeblebrox, President of the Imperial Galactic Government," he explains, as the Improbability Drive kicks up again.
"Oh, say no more. I trust authority figures implicitly. 'Sorry to disturb you," Baldy apologizes, as the Heart-of-Gold states, "Probability two to the power of eight-thousand against."
With the other station personnel out of the room, Ivanova staggers out of hiding. Stumbling over the flaming ancient-Babylonian texts that litter the floor, she crosses the room to determine the fate of her assailant.
Susan's mouth drops. As if the commander needed any more proof of the Infinite Improbability Drive's authenticity, she watches as Seven breathes her last. Yes, a "Star Trek" character has died for the purpose of advancing the storyline, not just because the actor wanted to leave the series! Zaphod's device chimes, "Probability two to the power of thirty-seven thousand against."
Ivanova approaches the President, who is wrapped in the arms of some brunette with what must be the most ridiculous hairstyle in the quadrant. "Say, Zaphod," Susan hears the window-dressing ask, "before we go any further, I just have to make sure. Call me crazy, but..."
Laughing at her patron's attempt at wit, Leia continues, "...you're not, by chance, my long-lost brother, or father, or uncle, or grandmother, or droid's former-owner, or anything else, are you?"
"No, my sweet, we are two individuals with no previous connection whatsoever, biological or otherwise," Pres. Beeblebrox states emphatically. "Likewise," adds his other head over the Heart-of-Gold's report, "Probability two to the power of eighty against."
"Ah, yes, I still have to take care of you," Ivanova recalls to the twirp.
"No, I've already decided who I'm giving the Heart-of-Gold to," declares Zaphod. "While you, your honchos, and the hot dame in the cat-suit were making this joint look like that abandoned library Sean Connery discovered in 'Zardoz,' the lovely princess was telling me all about her life-story. Did you know she once befriended a tribe of teddy-bears, or explored the innards of a giant space-slug? Far-out!"
As the new couple hauls their starship component out of the cargo bay, Ivanova grumbles to herself, "So, while I was risking my neck against Ms. Logic, that pipsqueak sneaks around the fight and turns on the charm, using her years of diplomatic experience and probably even employing that extra-sensory what's-it of hers. 'Figures. I remember the Douglas Adams books now, and Zaphod Beeblebrox never could resist a cute-chick-in-need."
Cursing, she cries out to the cosmos, "And what's the lesson from this one, God? Come on, there has to be some far-reaching philosophical statement you're trying to make here!"
"Actually," JMS words carefully as he emerges with his script from behind a vast carton of "Masters of the Universe" action-figures, "I just wrote this for some low-brow entertainment, like in 'Xena.' There is nothing the slightest bit profound or pretentious in this episode."
A muted, recorded-sounding voice from the corridor intones, "Probability two to the power of twelve-thousand against."
- Matt Bricker
Return to EPISODE VI: Ivanova vs. Seven of Nine vs. Princess Leia
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