In the eighteenth episode of the fifth season of Babylon 5, it hurts. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watch Babylon 5.Â
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent
Well, I got THAT wrong. For what itâ€™s worth, I understand why I assumed that the Drakhâ€™s focus was on Sheridan and the Alliance. He was the one responsible for the destruction of Zâ€™haâ€™dum, and these attacks seemed to be intended to break up Sheridanâ€™s Alliance. But my focus was wrong; Sheridan isnâ€™t the main character in this conflict. Itâ€™s Londo Mollari, and this one episode is perhaps one of the most important for his five year character arc. Lady Morellaâ€™s prophecies are pretty much true, now, and we are almost to the events we saw in â€œWar Without End.â€ But thereâ€™s a particularly devastating line in this episode that sums up Londoâ€™s journey: he began this show as one with little power and all the choices in the world. In a tragic bout of irony, heâ€™s now ascended to the most powerful position in his world, and what choices does he have?
I donâ€™t think he has zero. I think he has the least heâ€™s ever had, but he makes a choice in this episode that demonstrates that he is still willing to protect his people, even if it means hurting people he loves. Itâ€™s a tragic situation, no doubt about that. Londo has grown so much over the course of this show, and I donâ€™t know if the Londo of four seasons ago would have made the same decisions as he does here. When faced with the reality of the Drakhs, the Keepers, and the ramifications of his actions, Londo does not run away from them; he doesnâ€™t blame them on anyone else; and he ultimately chooses to protect his own people, at least in the interim. And while heâ€™s doing this, heâ€™s also pushing away those he cares about. I saw that as an act of protection, too. He doesnâ€™t want Vir to get mixed up with the Drakh, just as much as he doesnâ€™t want Gâ€™Kar, Sheridan, or Delenn to. Those are choices he made that I believe he was not forced or compelled to by the Keeper.Â
Even then… lord, this was such a disturbing episode, and it made Londo feel like a character out of a Shakespearian tragedy. The whole reveal of the Drakh and the Keeper to Londo was brilliant acted by both Peter Jurasik and Damian London, and I have to YELL about the writing, too. Again, the sadness of the whole affair is overflowing from Londonâ€™s portrayal of a man full of regret, but eager for the relief of death. Itâ€™s a dark turn of events, and I appreciated that the show did not shy away from that. The Regentâ€”whose name we never actually learned!â€”did nots peak up when he should have, and so thereâ€™s this sense of resignation as he dies once the Keeper leaves his body. He saw himself as deserving of this fate. Did the Centauri people deserve this fate, too? Maybe not, and maybe thereâ€™s a tiny part of the Regent that felt comfortable passing along this nightmare to someone like Mollari, who found his own ways to resist the crushing obedience of Centauri culture. Perhaps he knew that Mollari might be able to stage his own rebellion.
But all of that is subtext at best. (Such fun subtext to consider, though!) JMS wavers between tragedy and body horror in these scenes, yâ€™all. I loved SO MUCH that the Keepers are actually SCALES FROM THE BODIES OF THE DRAKH. Thereâ€™s something so deeply sinister and gross about that! Thereâ€™s another angle to the Drakh that I never thought about until this episode: this feels like the first time that theyâ€™re not subservient to someone else. The Drakh we meet spoke so highly of the Shadows and their â€œlovingâ€ relationship with them. However, I got the sense that they loved serving the Shadows. Here, they are in control; there are no masters to serve, and the dynamic is finally flipped with the Centauri. But these are not loud and public oppressors like the Centauri were with the Narn. They want everything to happen in secret and in private. Which is fascinating! They want this home for themselves on Centauri Prime, but do they eventually want to take it over? Do they enjoy controlling the Centauri with Keepers (I assume there are more Keepers out there), and thus will â€œtake overâ€ Centauri Prime while the Centauri still live there?
I donâ€™t actually know. But itâ€™s so unnerving to think about, yâ€™all. BECAUSE I DONâ€™T KNOW WHERE THIS SHOW IS GOING NOW. We still have a few established events to reach, but some of them are far in the future! How much time will pass in these remaining four episodes??? We also donâ€™t have the fulfillment of the prediction for Lennier, that heâ€™ll betray the Rangers. He certainly doesnâ€™t here. (Though he awkwardly confesses his love to Delenn when he believes theyâ€™re going to die. Wow, that was uncomfortable.) And while the Alliance now knows that Shadow technology was used to control the Centauri ships, NO ONE BUT LONDO KNOWS ABOUT THE DRAKH. Will they ever find out?
This episode is gonna haunt me for a while. That image of Londo walking post-inauguration while completely alone just HURTS. He is utterly alone on this journey, with no allies or friends. Heâ€™s pushed them all away. And I get why! But… lord, what is gonna happen? How is there more of this show? WHAT HAVE Yâ€™ALL DONE TO ME.Â
The video for â€œThe Fall of Centauri Primeâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– The paperback edition of my debut, ANGER IS A GIFT, is now up for pre-order! It comes out on May 7, 2019.Â If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.