When we first met O’Neill, we were exposed to the idea of his having a tragedy in his past – and his doing things that made us root for the character – long before we found out he was supposed to destroy the mission if things went south. We were exposed to the heroic side of the character before we encountered the villainous side – and he promptly redeemed himself. He did some dumb things later on – like shooting the humaniform Replicator – but only after we’d already gotten to like him.
The most important scene in the first episode of Babylon 5 was when Garibaldi points out to Londo that the Centauri first claimed Earth was a lost colony of theirs, and Londo sarcastically asks if he wants blood and tells him to open his wrists. “Centauri don’t have major arteries in their wrists.” “Of course not! Do you think I’m stupid?”
The most important two scenes in the opening episodes of Firefly were when Wash was playing with his dinosaurs, and Mal kicked the thug into the engine intake. “Curse your sudden yet inevitable betrayal!”
Long stories tend to start with a few characters that we are meant to like – they make us smile, or laugh, or do something awesome that induces us to clear brainspace to keep track of them and their circumstances. They’re the hooks that draw us into the story. Once we care about one character, it becomes easier to care about the others.
What were the most important scenes from the first six episodes of SGU? The ones that made us like the characters before we were exposed to their unlikeable flaws?