Babylon 5 Season 2, Episode 20. Written by J. Michael Straczynski, directed by John Flinn. Originally aired on October 18, 1995.

Primary Plot: The Narn Regime surrenders after the Centauri begin to use mass drivers to bomb their homeworld, ending the Narn-Centauri War.

Secondary Plot: Draal offers the assistance of the Great Machine to Sheridan for the coming war.

Commentary: A very powerful, sad episode. One the one hand you have Londo realizing just how dangerous the people he's been working with (Lord Refa, Mr. Morden) just might can see this all just by reading Londo's face while he watches the bombardment of the Narn homeworld, and it is again a testament to Peter Jurasik's acting abilities that he manages to convey such a wide range of subtle emotions in only a brief moment. But on the other hand, you have Londo still going along with everything and acting just as ruthless to everyone else. The scene in the Council chambers when he callously reads off the terms of surrender still gives me chills.

Londo's failure to stop the mass driver bombardment of the Narn homeworld is most likely his second failed chance for redemption, as prophecized by Lady Morella in Point of No Return.

And then you have G'Kar...beaten, powerless, desperate, devastated. A far cry from the proud warrior who we saw for much of the first two seasons. It continues to amaze me how much G'Kar and Londo changed over the course of the series, and how believeable the changes were due to the proficiency of the actors portraying them.

Note that Draal is played by a different actor here than in A Voice in the Wilderness, Part I and A Voice in the Wilderness, Part II. The original actor was Louis Turenne, the actor here (and for the remainder of the series) is John Schuck. I honestly never noticed the difference until it was pointed out to me by a fellow fan. They explain it away by saying that the Great Machine restored Draal to "his appearance of thirty years past". That, as well as the extensive makeup that playing a Minbari character requires, was enough for me never to have an inkling it was a different actor. I just figured they had changed the makeup around.

"Now the trumpet summons us again: not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need;
not as a call to battle, though in battle we are; but as a call to bear the burdens of a long,
twilight struggle
--year in and year out, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation--a
struggle against the common enemies of man--tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."

--John F. Kennedy

Return to the Babylon 5 Episode Guide.

At the risk of GTKY I simply feel too strongly about something in this episode to let it go unmentioned.

One of the most powerful scenes I have ever witnessed in any form of filmed entertainment occurs in this episode of Babylon 5:

A large fleet of Centauri warships approaches the Narn homeworld, and begin to hurl asteroids at its surface in a final blow that effectively ends the war between these two species. During this horrific scene, we get a slow zoom shot. The camera, out in space, slowly pushes in on one of the battleships. We see Londo Mollari staring out a window, the reflection of white-hot asteroids illuminating his face from time to time. As the camera gets closer, Londo is slowly and utterly eclipsed by the shadow of a nearby ship, until we finally can see little else but the look of shock, horror, and deep regret on his face. The scene then fades out.

The incredible symbolism in this shot is nigh overwhelming, reducing the viewer to a mass of quivering nerve endings. It is a fantastic payoff for someone who has invested time in the series. Londo is the most tragic figure in the show, and this one shot demonstrates his realization that he is truly and irrevocably damned. It was Mollari that brought his people to this place, this time. Mollari, who in a moment of weakness allied himself with an evil power and ended any hope of peace. Without uttering a word, actor Peter Jurasik lets his face do all the acting, and it is a masterful piece of work.

Everything about this one scene is simply perfect. The special effects, the music, the direction, and the actor combine to present one of the most incredible scenes ever televised. It is a shining example of drama and of tragedy, and one that I will never forget.

Fanboy mode off.

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