Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 4: "The Hour of the Wolf"

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Episode Information

Title: "The Hour of the Wolf"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: David Eagle
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: November 9, 2009

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Sheridan's friends and allies must come to terms with his disappearance, while the Shadows move their base of operations to Centauri Prime.

This episode begins a week after the events of last season's "Z'ha'dum". Things are falling apart on the station. Ivanova is in despair and can't sleep, because she is afraid that Sheridan is dead. Delenn has not eaten or slept since Sheridan's disappearance, but supposedly she still believes he is alive. The alliance that Sheridan and Delenn worked so hard to build to fight the Shadows is falling apart, because the other races insist on using the pause in fighting to go home and heal themselves. They do not believe it is possible to press their advantage and take the fight to the Shadows at Z'ha'dum and defeat them. They believe Sheridan is dead.

The new Kosh has not been helpful in trying to keep the alliance together, so Delenn goes to confront him. The Vorlon acknowledges that Sheridan has "opened an unexpected door", but refuses to share the Vorlons' intent with Delenn or to help her now. Lyta is embarrassed and upset, but can't do anything about it at the moment.

Later, the new Kosh dismisses Lyta for a time. Lyta goes to Ivanova with a plan: they go to Z'ha'dum, where Ivanova will try to contact Sheridan conventionally while Lyta tries to contact him telepathically. Lyta believes she can hold off the Shadows for a short time. They gather up Delenn and Lennier and go to Z'ha'dum.

Sheridan does not respond to a signal to his link, nor can Lyta contact him telepathically. A Shadow ship or weapon of some kind approaches them and speaks to them telepathically, mesmerizing them. (This ship is the same one that Ivanova saw while using the Great Machine last season in "Voices of Authority".) Ivanova orders the White Star to land on Z'ha'dum, but fortunately Lennier had set up a fail-safe command, which jumps them away from Z'ha'dum before they are captured. Delenn and Ivanova remark that the Shadow ship spoke to them in the voices of their fathers.

Back on Z'ha'dum, we see some scenes of a figure shuffling around, and later, we see Sheridan sitting next to a small fire. There is no sign of the Shadows or their city, and Sheridan doesn't really seem to know who he is or why he's there. A strange alien approaches him to share his fire.

This plot is both satisfying and dissatisfying. It's satisfying because the events at the end of last season were so huge that they really shouldn't be tied up quickly, and there should be a lot of repercussions concerning both the war and Sheridan's disappearance. It's always an interesting thing to consider: how would the other characters react if their central figure disappeared? On the other hand, this plot is not very satisfying because not too much happens. The rescue mission is a bust, and we don't even learn anything more about how the Shadows are doing.

It is interesting to see Lyta's dissatisfaction with the new Kosh, when she had previously been so enthralled by the real Kosh. I think it must have taken a lot of courage for her to suggest the rescue mission to Ivanova, especially since she was putting herself into danger by going to Z'ha'dum personally. She didn't think twice about having to contact Sheridan and hold off the Shadows - just how strong is she now?

What are the Vorlons planning? One would think that with the Shadows seriously injured, the Vorlons would take advantage of that to deal a final blow, but we don't see any indications of that. The new Kosh seems to be quite dismissive of the efforts of Sheridan and the others. Did the Vorlons consider the alliance of Light to be just a front or a diversion, similar to how the Shadows used proxies to begin stirring up chaos?

By the end of the episode, Ivanova had resolved to move on and continue Sheridan's efforts in the war against the Shadows. This is just what Justin said the Shadows were afraid of happening in "Z'ha'dum", although I have my doubts about Ivanova's ability to be as effective as Sheridan.

How did Sheridan survive the nuclear blast and then his fall into the chasm? Presumably these questions will be answered in upcoming episodes. And who is the strange alien that finds him?

The second plot in the episode involves Londo returning to Centauri Prime to take up his new job advising the Emperor. Emperor Cartagia seems to be a bit of an airhead when we first meet him, concerned about fashion, although he does mention that someone specifically requested Londo for his new job.

Londo later finds out who this person is: Morden, who waits for Londo in his rooms. Morden isn't looking too good after his up close and personal look at the nuclear blast on Z'ha'dum: he is covered with peeling, scaly skin, and talks as if he is just a bit insane. I suppose what he experienced might do that to anyone. It's really unsettling to watch Morden peel off pieces of his skin while talking to Londo.

Morden says that because of the attack on Z'ha'dum, the Shadows realized they need to move at least some of their forces off-world so that all of their eggs are no longer in the same basket. Cartagia has agreed to give them some land on Centauri Prime and to assign Londo as the liaison to the Shadows. Londo is horrified that after all he's done to try to get Morden and his associates away from Centauri Prime and himself, now they are back in his lap. He refuses to cooperate, but Morden plays what has always been his trump card: he knows Londo will cooperate in the end, because he's afraid of what someone else might do in his place.

The next day, Londo is summoned outside of the palace, where he witnesses the scene from his dream in season two in "The Coming of Shadows": Shadow ships flying overhead as they travel to their new base on Centauri Prime. Londo panics a bit and confronts Cartagia more forcefully than he should, demanding to know what kind of deal Cartagia made with the Shadows. Cartagia reveals that the Shadows have promised to make him a god, and as a god, he will embody the Centauri people; even if the people die, the Centauri will go on within him. As Cartagia waxes on about his impending godhood, Londo realizes Cartagia is completely insane. (This is gruesomely confirmed when Cartagia closets himself with the heads of his former opponents in the royal court and tells them about his deeds of that day.)

Londo summons Vir to Centauri Prime immediately, saying that a conspiracy needs at least two people to work. He tells Vir that they are going to have to kill Cartagia in order to save the Centauri people and get rid of the Shadows. They begin planning.

This plot raises the stakes in the Shadow war, although no one in the forces of Light knows about the imminent danger to the Centauri. And poor Londo just can't get a break - he got rid of Refa so that Morden wouldn't have any associates in the royal court, but then the whole Shadow fleet shows up on Centauri Prime. Londo realizes that he's the only one with enough power and enough guts to try to remove Cartagia, and Morden's reminder that Londo and Refa put Cartagia on the throne in the first place is an additional spur. Londo and Refa probably thought the young man would be malleable and easy to control, not a complete lunatic. Ah, the joys of royal in-breeding.

There's a cruel irony here, although fortunately Londo doesn't realize it. As Sheridan said in his message to Delenn in "Z'ha'dum", he went to Z'ha'dum in part to try to prevent the downfall of Centauri Prime that he saw in his jump to the future last season in "War Without End, Part 2". Instead, his attack of Z'ha'dum was what force the Shadows to move their forces off Z'ha'dum to Centauri Prime.

There's an additional scene in the episode where G'Kar decides to search for Garibaldi, since he seems to have been forgotten in the concern for Sheridan. G'Kar's decision might be understandable, but it's also very risky. While he is away searching for Garibaldi, who is going to be in charge of the local Narns? Also, given G'Kar's ability to rally the other races (as in last season's episode "Walkabout"), shouldn't he stick around and help Delenn and Ivanova keep the alliance together? Finally, he is only safe from the Centauri while he is on the station, so he's at considerable personal risk. I personally wonder where he would start with such a search, since no one even seems to know that Garibaldi's Starfury was abducted by a Shadow ship - they just think he disappeared. Well, G'Kar seems to believe that the universe rewards good intentions, so we'll see.

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