Tuesday, May 5, 2009

B5 S5 Ep2: The Very Long Night Of Londo Mollari

I've always enjoyed the blue and reddish hues in Babylon 5.

Baseball is killing me on any free time I thought I might have. I've heard good things about this particular installment of the final season. I suspect J. Michael Straczynski will look to this final season to experiment a little, tie up some loose ends and continue to weave the multi-layered intricacies of his intended story.
We've all had a few long nights in our day let's see where Londo's night takes him in Babylon 5, Season Five, Episode 2, The Very Long Night Of Londo Mollari. It begins with a call from Minbar. A Minbari informs Delenn of a message received on the homeworld of Lennier's intended return home- for good. It is surprising news that is delivered to Delenn.

Londo Mollari is outraged to learn all incoming food shipments are to be quarantined for health inspections for three days due to infestations. Vir makes an attempt to smooth things over with Zack while Londo takes a swig of the 'very delicate' Brevari, a special Centauri cocktail. He is overcome by toxins falls to the floor while medlab is contacted for help. Londo/ Peter Jurasik is extremely funny here and delivers one of his many note perfect scenes.

Delenn visits Lennier. "Why?," she asks. I suspect working for the wife of Sheridan must be heartbreaking for Lennier to some extent at this point. He definitely does not feel needed or his services required. A union between a man and a woman kind of puts a damper on those things. Lennier will be joining the Rangers. It is "the calling of my heart" [a concept covered extensively in Babylon 5, Season Four, Episode 9, Atonement]. I do believe his previous combat experience makes him a terrific candidate. We have seen some impressive moves by Lennier over the years from his protection of Londo in Season One to his confrontation with Marcus later. I now suspect the calling of his heart is his love for Delenn despite her heart being with another. Nevertheless he must squash and crush those feelings in order to move forward. It's a pretty touching moment between them. Still, is he truly following his calling by leaving? No, but he is saving face as they say on Minbar.

Ah, the ol' fully redundant heart system compliments of the Centauri. You gotta love that.
Clearly Lennier is moving on because he must. It is for the good of his heart. Speaking of hearts, Garibaldi reports to Vir that Londo is in critical condition. He has had a heart attack, just one though, "the left one." You'll recall Londo has the "bi-pulmonary" system. The right heart is the easiest to repair of the two. The right is the big muscle. The left is finer and more complex. Centauri Prime is sending an artificial heart system but it will arrive at Babylon 5 in three days, two days too late. It could be a very long night indeed or a permanant night's rest to be precise.

Delenn and Sheridan look over Londo and recall how he has made them laugh, made them feel angry and annoyed, but never sorry for him until this time. They would miss him if he was to depart. As Delenn leaves she wishes him "good luck."

The camera zooms into Londo's mind where he searches for Delenn. Perhaps this is one of those Straczynski experiments, an effort to try something a little different. He finds her as they sit together at a table to look to his past. She tells Londo he is dying, but he knows this. He seems resigned to his fate. She asks him "do you want to live?" He wonders if it matters, but he tells her "Yes, I want to live." "That is not enough," she returns. She tells him there is a "word," but she will not give him the answer. He walks to a metal grate where a heart pulses. He touches the beating heart, but does not understand. We see G'Kar in the Shadows before returning to the reality of his medlab bedside. The Sci-Fi Fanatic has a confession. I get all freaked out by hearts, beating hearts whatever. The sound of a heart beating will have me grabbing my chest and feeling all mortal. Yeah, I don't like talking about hearts especially when life is on the line. At night, when I am resting, and beginning to slip into a relaxed mode of sleep, The One To Be Pitied will sometimes torture me by simply saying things like "monkey heart" or "heart surgery." That will get me all wound up and she does this to me on purpose with great pleasure.

Lennier visits old friend Vir. This is obviously very cute and sweet as these two friends lick their proverbial wounds together.

I cannot recall which episode it was these two characters sat together at the bar, but I was reminded of that moment they spent together last. I got off my lazy buttocks and checked it out. It was Season Two, Episode 22, The Fall Of Night. Still there may have been another moment along the way.

Some cool camera work.
I loved the funky Londo cam. That's always brilliant. Londo visits one of his favorite watering holes in the Zocalo as he clearly grapples with the possibility of dying. He visits Sheridan there as they discuss the reality of death. "We're all dying Londo, 20 years, 50 years, 100 years, doesn't matter, what matters is what we do while we're waiting around, how we live out the seconds in between." Such a wonderful truth and one of the many Straczynski seems to have such a sharp eye for capturing in his series. Londo acknowledges he has not done well in that regard. Sheridan asks Londo to turn around. G'Kar is behind him, but Londo cannot turn. Sheridan tells him he will die then. Londo must force himself outside of his paralysis. He must free himself or he will be doomed.

"I don't want to die. Please great maker. I don't want to die. Not like this," cries Londo. Vir tells him, "then don't die." Vir tells him he must turnaround to face his conscience. He must come to terms with what he has done to G'Kar. But Londo is stubborn and refuses to turn. Vir warns that he is out of time. G'Kar stands behind his willingness to face his mistakes. Vir tells him he must let go of the pain. Vir tells him his dying would not be for the best and that he would indeed be missed. It's kind of like a dark, science fiction version of It's A Wonderful Life. Seriously, how hard is it for us as individuals to face our fears, to stand and right wrongs or face the truth. It is a difficult thing and I imagine even more arduous when you have done as much damage as Londo.

G'Kar visits Londo. "Now Mollari, now we end this." G'Kar and Londo visit Centauri Prime, the site of the infamous death he has dreamed so many times of his destiny. G'Kar revisits those fateful days of Centauri's attack on the Narn homeworld by Lord Refa and friends detailed in Babylon 5, Season Two, Episode 20, The Long, Twilight Struggle [another long night as you've noted]. Londo wanted no part of it and to some extent that is true, but as G'Kar points out "You said nothing." Straczynski makes a great point here about the guilty and those who would stand by and do nothing remaining silent as people die. How often do you see people refuse to get involved out of fear of something. It happens everyday. People have disconnected and Straczynski's argument is a classic. It is also brilliant how Straczynski goes back to G'Kar's torture to turn the tables and offer us another perspective.

G'Kar takes Londo back to the place where G'Kar was badly whipped in Babylon 5, Season Four, Episode 3, The Summoning. He tells Londo "You were there and you said nothing." Ouch. I thought it was great to see Straczynski revisit this and the depth of pain that was forced upon G'Kar. It was good to see Londo's character have to face up to these atrocities because it was the one area I had a hard time with getting past. It seemed a little too tidy just a tad too quick in the interest of time for Season Four, but here we see it manifesting itself in the festering within Londo's character. This was important. G'Kar tells Londo, "one word was all that was required of you." Delenn had mentioned this earlier. What word is it? "Sorry," "Enough" or "Stop?" Londo tells G'Kar it wouldn't have mattered. I have gone on long enough. Londo nearly relents. You must witness this crucial exchange.

The scene of that fateful electro-whipping is inverted and Londo is now chained to the pillar as G'Kar requests "one word- I want to hear it." As Londo goes into cardiac arrest they pull back his clothes so we can see his infamous sex organs.....wicked cool! Thirty-nine whips later and Londo screams. He is still hanging on. "I don't want to die." G'Kar is clearly Londo's conscience in this battle for life. G'Kar tells him "just a word Mollari that's all it takes." The lightbulb clicks on and Londo realizes, "I've never apologized for anything in my life." Grovelling Londo pleads "I'm sorry." If there is one thing about Londo, when he says something he is sincere in his words. I think more than just a word, it is also the sincerity with which those words are spoke. I hear alot of words from our elected leaders and not much sincerity inside them.

This is the moment the entire entry builds too. I literally choked up at this point and I had been fairly detached from the proceedings until this very moment. G'Kar is standing near him and is overcome by emotion himself in witnessing Londo's catharsis.

Londo is back and in good humor. Vir and Londo discuss an old Centauri tale about a struggle of the spirit between good and evil. Vir implies Londo had undergone such a struggle unintentionally. Londo was never told of the tale as a child like Vir was told. What I did think was interesting was Vir's ability to go back to answering Londo's question in that scene. After fumbling for words, as only Vir can at times, he was able to refocus, compose himself and answer the question. There was real strength there for him. Once again, courage and facing up shines for our man Vir. Both are very different men and we see how such trials face us all big and small.

And so with a heavy heart Lennier says farewell to Delenn.

It's very hard to say goodbye. His heart is broken. Is hers? Lennier is a truly sad little fellow.

So we have a real turning point here for Londo. With his ability to turn the corner and change and his willingness to apologize and forgive himself has he in fact changed the course of his future? One would assume he has done precisely that. I thought there were some tremendous moments in this one that made for a fairly emotional entry. Let's face it, if there's hope for Londo there is hope for all of us.

The Very Long Night Of Londo Mollari: B


Havremunken said...


Of all the excellent things to say about this one, the one that comes to mind (I'm at the office while writing this, not the most Babylon 5 oriented place) is the nice little metaphors jms throws in during Londo's dream sequences. They talk about the one with the empty bottles of course. Another thing is Londo's (many centauri, apparently) ability to see the future. And he's not always aware that this is going on. Cross-reference this episode (the part where he talks to the different "versions" of Sheridan) with what is being said about about him 100 years in the future in the last episode of S4.

jms some times pays a sick amount of attention to details. ;)

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

So true my friend. Far too many details for these aging eyes to catch. I like your grumpy old codger picture.

Havremunken said...

Jack Elam is king - I didn't even know he had a whole western thing going on, I just loved him in the Cannonball Run movies. :)


The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

I loved The Apple Dumpling Gang and he was in that! : )