I don't regret hitting the fast forward button, though; after all, that decision has allowed me to get to Londo's fitting end that much sooner. And speaking of which --
Although this episode doesn't rise to the tier one level, it still communicates the tension and sorrow surrounding the Centauri crisis quite marvelously.
The Lurker's Guide has a summary here.
The highlights section below would be a hell of a lot longer if 1) I had more time these days to devote to transcription and 2) I knew how to create video clips, as there are a number of great scenes here that really need to be seen to be appreciated. On my mind in particular is that moment in the council room in which Londo sees Lennier's video recording for the first time; Peter Jurasik's facial expression there is absolutely superb. There's also that scene in which Vir is threatened by a mob of pissed off Brakiri; all I can say is, it's a good thing Dr. Franklin is there to drive off said mob, as Vir probably would not have been able to defend himself if he were alone (the poor thing).
But let us unpack this episode on a character-by-character basis so we can begin to appreciate just how good it is:
- Garibaldi. JMS has been dropping hints all along that Garibaldi's fall off the wagon will play a role in the unfolding Centauri crisis -- and here, it all comes to a head as Garibaldi picks a most inopportune time to go on a bender and thus fails to prevent the start of a shooting war between the Centauri and the Alliance. Remember what I said in the last post regarding Garibaldi's body count? This is what I was referring to. And do I think it's believable? Yes, actually. As I suggested before, the desire for revenge is an extremely destructive emotion; I absolutely think it would drive a recovering alcoholic back to the bottle. Oh, and by the way, that scene in which Zack confronts Garibaldi about his drinking - which I didn't have time to transcribe, unfortunately - is remarkably realistic. Addicts do lash out and attack you personally if you try to intervene.
- Sheridan and Delenn. It makes perfect sense for Our Heroes to balk when it becomes apparent that their idealism will have to give way to cold, hard reality. But I think Sheridan and Delenn hesitate to declare war on the Centauri for yet another reason: They know that something's not right here. If Londo - the most powerful Centauri in the universe save the Regent - has been locked out of his own government's machinations, they reason, then there is definitely something afoot that we are all missing.
- Vir. The full extent of Vir's awesomeness will become more apparent in the next episode, but you can still see glimpses of it here. For example, when Londo decides to return to Centauri Prime, I love how Vir, ever loyal, insists on going with him. I also love that Vir, after absorbing all the evidence presented in the council room, is willing to entertain the possibility that his government is responsible for the attacks on the shipping lanes. If Vir is nothing else, he is an unfailingly honest patriot.
- Londo and G'Kar. Alsdkjfladkfjlaskdjlkasdjf. THESE TWO. In case you haven't noticed this by now, shipping Londo and G'Kar is one of my guilty pleasures. I mean, really: They spend this entire episode competing to see who can sacrifice the most for the other. And even though everything is currently going to crap, they still manage to bring the funny with their banter. Londo/G'Kar forever!
In the end? Just about everything - from Londo's early confrontation with Zack to Delenn's mournful speech at the close - contributes to the overall feeling that "we are so screwed." And that's why this is a borderline feature.
There is little in this script that is unnecessary -- and as I stated above, the story is quite compelling.
The performances just miss the feature mark, but there are many scenes here that are close to outstanding in quality.
The tragedy of war is especially well conveyed.
LONDO: Hello, G'Kar.
LONDO: Have you come here to drop off your evidence as well? On your way to tell them all the things you saw and heard while you were pretending to be my bodyguard on Centauri Prime?
G'KAR: I was not pretending. I went to Centauri Prime as your guest -- your protector -- perhaps even your conscience. But not as anyone's eyes and ears. So no -- I will not be testifying before the council. (Awwww.)
DELENN: G'Kar. Lennier told me you wanted to speak with me.
G'KAR: Please. (He offers Delenn a seat.) I wanted you to know that when Mollari leaves Babylon 5, I will be going with him to the Centauri homeworld.
DELENN: What? Why?
G'KAR: You said he needed a bodyguard the last time he went home, and you were right. If our assumption is correct, and he truly does not know that his government is behind these attacks -- if they have deliberately kept him out of it --
DELENN: They have. They must have. Londo would never approve of random attacks on civilian targets.
G'KAR: Which is why he may be in even greater danger once he returns home. Say what you want about him - and I can say quite a bit - but he is relentless. Sooner or later, he will found what's going on, and I believe he will try to stop it. In the long run, he may be our only hope of ending this. He must be protected at all costs.
DELENN: Have you told him this yet?
G'KAR: No. I was thinking of making it a surprise. I even booked the seat right next to his. It will give me someone to talk to during the flight.
DELENN: Londo once told me he hates it when people talk to him on long flights. He prefers to sleep.
G'KAR: (starting to laugh) I know! (Then he stands.) Well, I should pack. Thank you for coming, Delenn.
DELENN: G'Kar -- you realize that if this does come to war, you will be alone on the Centauri homeworld. There is nothing we can do to help you if things go badly.
G'KAR: (solemn) I know. (He hands Delenn a sheaf of papers.) These are the latest chapters of my book. I tried to set right some of the things at the beginning of the book written when I was a much angrier person than I am now. If things should, as you say, go badly, will you see to it that these reach Narn?
DELENN: I will.
G'KAR: Thank you. Goodbye, Delenn.
DELENN: G'Kar -- have I ever told you that you are one of the finest writers I have ever met -- and that it has been an honor to work beside you in the Alliance?
G'KAR: Not in words. But the thing about losing one eye is that it makes you look deeply into the eyes of another. I've found in yours all the thanks I will ever require in this life or in any other. (Awwwwwwwwwwww. G'Kar wuvs Londo, doesn't he? Plus, this is a nice "goodbye" scene.)
MINISTER: Ah, Prime Minister, welcome back. I was hoping you'd return home -- get out of the line of fire.
LONDO: Thank you, but I'd rather there wasn't a line of fire.
MINISTER: Is that why you brought it - (meaning G'Kar) - along? To hear our terms?
LONDO: No, he is still here as my bodyguard, that's all. Where I go, he goes.
MINISTER: (to Londo) My condolences.
G'KAR: Thank you. It's a burden, but I've come to accept it. (Heh.)
LONDO: Minister, I would like to see the Regent as soon as possible.
MINISTER: I'm afraid the Regent is otherwise engaged and will be for some time.
LONDO: Minister, you cannot deny me access --
MINISTER: (interrupting) No one is denying you anything, Prime Minister, but there is a time and a place and a way of doing things. When the time is right, you will see the Regent. Meanwhile, I suggest you retire to your quarters. It's late. I'm sure you'd like to freshen up -- both of you. (He shoots a disgusted glance at G'Kar.)
G'KAR: It's a natural musk. I rather enjoy it. (Heh again.)
LONDO: I was noticing there are a few more guards around here than normal.
MINISTER: Yes, we have increased security throughout the palace for obvious reasons. So while we are willing to tolerate the presence of your -- companion for your sake, understand that if he is seen walking around in the palace by himself, he will be shot on sight.
LONDO: Be careful, Minister. We don't want my companion to get the wrong idea. We don't normally treat our guests so badly.
G'KAR: Yes, you do.
LONDO: (hissing) Shut up!
G'KAR: Just trying to help. (Heh for the third time. I believe that's what we call a "heht trick.")
DRAZI AMBASSADOR: Did you hear? Did you hear what they did to us?
DELENN: Yes, we heard.
BRAKIRI AMBASSADOR: Then where is the White Star Fleet? You said you would support our actions. You said you would aid in fighting the Centauri. But the White Star fleet is just sitting there refusing to engage!
DELENN: We have not yet ordered them to do so.
DRAZI AMBASSADOR: (advancing on Delenn) Then give the order!
LENNIER: Back away, Ambassador.
DRAZI AMBASSADOR: Get out of my way.
BRAKIRI AMBASSADOR: He's right! Where's the fleet?
ZACK: All right, everybody, just back off!
(Then it all dissolves into unintelligible shouting.)
SHERIDAN: (quietly at first) That's enough. (Then he screams at the top of his lungs.) I SAID THAT'S ENOUGH! (The yelling stops. Everyone turns to look at Sheridan.) Now we gave you a promise, and we are bound by that promise. And damn you for asking for it! And damn me for agreeing to it! AND DAMN ALL OF US TO HELL BECAUSE THAT'S EXACTLY WHERE WE'RE GOING! We talked about peace. You didn't want peace! We talked about cooperation. You didn't want cooperation! YOU WANT WAR! Is that it? You want a war? WELL, YOU'VE GOT A WAR! (Oh, crap.)
LONDO: Yes? What is this?
MINISTER: The Regent has sent me to tell you that fighting has broken out between our forces and the Interstellar Alliance. I am also told that they have followed our declaration of hostilities with one of their own. We are now officially at war with the Alliance.
LONDO: No. No, this can still be stopped. I will call them.
MINISTER: All communication with Babylon 5 has been cut off for reasons of security. For similar reasons, I'm afraid we must place your companion under arrest. You may have resigned, but he is still a member of the advisory board for the Alliance. His presence represents a threat to our ability to conduct the war freely without having our plans compromised.
LONDO: No. This is most inappropriate!
MINISTER: He will be placed in one of our better cells until the war is over -- however long that may take. Guards!
LONDO: I said no! He is here as my guest!
MINISTER: These orders come directly from the Regent. To refuse a direct order carries with it the penalty of death.
G'KAR: It's all right, Mollari. I have already seen the inside of your cells. I doubt that I will see anything now that I haven't seen before.
LONDO: (to G'Kar) You are not going anywhere. (Then, to the minister:) I told you before -- where I go, he goes, and where he goes, I go.
G'KAR: Mollari --
LONDO: Don't worry. Even one as arrogant as this would not take it upon himself to imprison his own prime minister.
(Cut to: the cell door closing behind Londo.)
LONDO: (to G'Kar) Shut up!
G'KAR: I didn't say anything. (LOL! And also: awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. How cute is it that Londo refuses to let G'Kar be jailed alone? As I said, these two are seriously in love.)
DELENN: Not in the sense you mean it, but yes.
SHERIDAN: You mind if I join you?
(Sheridan sits down on the mat beside Delenn.)
SHERIDAN: What does the candle represent?
SHERIDAN: Whose life?
DELENN: All life. Every life. We are all born as molecules in the hearts of a billion stars. Molecules that do not understand politics or policies or differences. Over a billion years, we foolish molecules forget who we are and where we came from. In desperate acts of ego, we give ourselves names, fight over lines on maps, and pretend that our light is better than everyone else's. The flame reminds us of the piece of those stars that lives on inside us -- the spark that tells us, 'You should know better.' The flame also reminds us that life is precious, as each flame is unique. When it goes out, it's gone forever. There will never be another quite like it. (A pause.) So many candles will go out tonight. I wonder sometimes if we can see anything at all.