Episode Review of Babylon 5 Season 5: "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari"

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Episode Information

Title: "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari"
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Director: David Eagle
Rating (out of 4 stars): ***
Reviewed on: April 30, 2010

Synopsis from The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5


Londo's heart attack provokes a crisis of conscience.

Londo is arguing vehemently with Zack over importing some brevare when he collapses. After being rushed to MedLab, Franklin reports that one of his hearts is having a heart attack. The Centauri government are sending an artificial heart, but it won't arrive until the current crisis is over. In the mean time, Londo will have to survive on his own. Vir is beside himself with worry, of course.

While Londo is in MedLab, he begins dreaming, seemingly in the important or prophetic way that Centauri are supposed to have. In his dream, he wanders around to various places on the station, having encounters with different people he knows. First, he meets Delenn in the guise of a soothsayer. She draws a Tarot card for him that indicates he's going to die, a fact to which he is resigned. She says that he has a chance to live, if he wants to live and says the right thing. Londo denies knowing what that is.

Next, Londo walks through the empty Zocalo and runs into Sheridan. They have a rather bizarre conversation about what it's like to be dead (since Sheridan has experience with that, after all). Sheridan rather bluntly tells him he did a lot of bad things in his life, but if he wants to live, he need to turn around (and face G'Kar, who is behind him). Sheridan says if he doesn't do it, then he'll die. This scene also cleverly tracks Sheridan's history by what he's wearing - in the end he changes into a ball of light like Lorien did in "Into the Fire" last season. A hint of Sheridan's future?

As Londo is injected with more medicine in MedLab, he collapses in his dream, too. Vir shows up to goad Londo into making the right decision, telling Londo that he's dying because his hearts can no longer bear the burden of his conscience. Vir also urges Londo to turn around and face G'Kar, but Londo seemingly refuses.

Nonetheless, as Londo's body goes into another crises in MedLab, G'Kar confronts Londo in his dream. G'Kar scoffs that Londo doesn't deserve to be Emperor because Londo was complicit in the destruction of Narn - because he didn't do anything to stop it. Later, he did nothing to stop G'Kar's torture. Londo protests that it wouldn't have done any good, but G'Kar furiously says that doesn't matter. Since he witnessed the acts and did not speak out against them, he was wrong.

In a nice parallel, Londo suddenly appears bound to the column against which G'Kar was whipped last season in "The Summoning". Londo is whipped, while in MedLab Franklin is shocking Londo's heart to stabilize him. This whole scene is excellent, pulling back one of the most evocative events we saw happen to G'Kar and forcing Londo to live it; the fact that Franklin is shocking Londo at the same time gives the impression that Londo really is feeling great pain.

Londo collapses in pain and grief, but G'Kar still just scoffs at him. G'Kar doesn't believe he's truly sorry for what happened, but simply sorry for getting caught at it. G'Kar disappears from the dream, but Londo seems to take G'Kar's accusations to heart and realizes he's truly sorry. He wakes up in MedLab apologizing to G'Kar; somehow G'Kar has known to come to MedLab, and Londo apologizes to him directly. G'Kar leaves in satisfaction, and Vir is dumbfounded. Londo has gotten through his current physical crises, and will recover.

This plot is a pretty clever look at the guilt Londo has been feeling and how he's been wrestling with his conscience. We know he's been trying to make amends since he approached G'Kar last season in "No Surrender, No Retreat". G'Kar hasn't really wanted to give Londo the satisfaction, and I can't blame him. Clearly Londo's guilt has been eating him up inside. I'm not sure I think it's the cause of his heart attack, but it's a nice metaphor. Now that Londo has apologized to G'Kar, what will happen between them? Certainly the Narn and Centauri can't be on very friendly terms, even with both races being in the Interstellar Alliance. It's also a bit ironic for Londo to have finally cleaned his conscience here, when we know he's likely to go back to Centauri Prime and fall under the influence of former Shadow minions there, like the current Regent. They aren't likely to make him do nice things.

Seeing Delenn in Londo's dream as a soothsayer wasn't much of a stretch, since she's been everyone's spiritual and moral leader throughout the series, even if Londo didn't like her guidance. I thought it was interesting that Londo respects Sheridan enough (subconsciously at least) to have him appear as a "guide" in his dream. Interestingly, Londo knows that Sheridan will be present at his death - we saw this in season three in "War Without End, Part 2". Vir's appearance to tell Londo the right thing to do also was not surprising.

The secondary plot in this episode started out with Delenn finding out that Lennier has requested a transfer back the Minbari homeworld so that he can join the Rangers. Delenn is devastated and pleads to know why. Lennier gives a few lame excuses: she doesn't need him now that she has Sheridan, and he wants to do something to earn her respect. Delenn admits that she knows the real reason - as she well should. It seemed obvious last season in "Rising Star" at least that she knew Lennier's feelings; we've been privy to them since the third season when Lennier confessed to Marcus in "Ceremonies of Light and Dark".

I think Delenn had thought Lennier was satisfied with just being her aide, but despite Lennier's professions to Marcus of a "pure" love, he's no longer satisfied to wait around with it unrequited. And who can blame Lennier for falling in love with Delenn? She's compassionate, respectful of him, beautiful, smart, powerful, and she's accomplished a lot that he must be in awe of. In addition, he's accompanied her into some pretty bad situations (such as the dying Markab room in season two in "Confessions and Lamentations", Delenn getting kicked off the Grey Council in "All Alone in the Night", her near-death in the Starfire wheel last season in "Moments of Transition", and the Dreaming last season in "Atonement") which would created a bond between him - unfortunately for him, Delenn does not bond with him in the same way. Despite Delenn's respect for others, I think she has always perceived Lennier as an underling: worthy of respect, but not even in her consideration for a mate. Delenn later tells Sheridan about Lennier, and Sheridan admits he had guessed Lennier might have a problem. I think Sheridan is a little too inconsiderate of Delenn's feelings on the matter, but he does manage to stay out of the way until Lennier leaves. At his departure, Lennier pledges to return any time that Delenn needs him.

Lennier's departure as Delenn's aide is a good change for the show. Whether or not he was a third wheel in Delenn and Sheridan's relationship - because after all, she does need an aide in her work - he was becoming a superfluous character on the show. His change in status will catalyze changes for his character in the future. Does he know that Sheridan will die in fewer than 20 years? Perhaps he's biding his time. Although unfortunately for Lennier, I just don't think Delenn will ever see him in a romantic light. Lennier claims he wants to take Marcus's place on the Rangers, but I think Marcus might have warned Lennier against it, having joined the Rangers himself for the wrong reasons.

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