B9: The Coming of Shadows
Airdates: 1 February 1995 (US), 4 April 1995 (UK)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Janet Greek
Cast: Ambassador Jeffrey Sinclair (Michael O’Hare), Centauri Emperor (Turhan Bey), Centauri Prime Minister (Malachi Throne), Lord Refa (William Forward), Security Aide Zack Allan (Jeff Conaway), Kha’Mak (Neil Bradley), Ambassador Kosh (Ardwight Chamberlain), Ranger (Fredric Lehne), Narn Pilot 1 (Kim Strauss), Narn Pilot 2 (Jonathan Chapman), Customs Guard (Bryan Michael McGuire)
Date: Mid-April 2259.
Plot: On Centauri Prime the Emperor of the Centauri Republic is preparing to depart on a state visit to Babylon 5. His Prime Minister objects due to the Emperor’s ill health, but the Emperor insists he must go, now, before it is too late. On Babylon 5 Ambassador G’Kar objects to Captain Sheridan in the strongest possible terms. The Emperor of the Centauri Republic being allowed to visit Babylon 5 is an insult against the Narn government. Sheridan points out that the current Emperor has actually gone out of his way to appease the Narn and is genuinely interested in peace. When Sheridan confirms that the Emperor will be allowed to visit Babylon 5, G’Kar storms out.
Lord Refa (from episode B3) arrives on Babylon 5 to consult with Londo. Refa tells him that the Emperor is sick, old and frightened. Without an heir, when he dies it will fall to the Centaurum to decide which nearest relative succeeds him. Refa wants Londo to make a speech to the Emperor outlining what has gone wrong recently with the Republic and predicting what will go wrong next. The meeting will be recorded. When the “predictions” come true, the Emperor will be seen as shortsighted, whilst Londo and Refa’s faction will appear to have their eye on the future. When the Emperor dies, they will determine who will follow him. Londo agrees to make the speech, although reluctantly. Vir disapproves strongly.
A human arrives on the station and immediately starts looking for Garibaldi. He finds him, but chooses to follow him rather than confront him directly.
G’Kar contacts Narn and is informed that the Kha’Ri has approved G’Kar’s plan to assassinate the Centauri Emperor. G’Kar records a last will and testament confirming that his government had no role in the attack and prepares to strike at the reception. He plans to leave his copy of The Book of G’Quan to Na’Toth in the hope of her future enlightenment.
The Centauri flagship arrives at Babylon 5 and the Emperor is welcomed on board. An official reception is organised and G’Kar turns up, unexpectedly. The Emperor is about to arrive when he suffers a massive heart attack and is rushed to Medlab. The Emperor is in a fragile state and might die at any time. He gives Franklin a message to deliver to G’Kar and the doctor agrees. Franklin tells G’Kar that the Emperor came to apologise to G’Kar for everything the Centauri did to the Narn during their occupation of the Narn homeworld and formulate a new peace treaty between their worlds. G’Kar is shocked and surprisingly moved.
Londo and Refa anxiously discuss what repercussions the Emperor’s premature death could have on their plans. Refa states they need to do something “spectacular” to assert their faction over the opposition and Londo recalls Morden’s promise to help him (B2). He tells Refa to have their allies in the Centauri Navy send a few ships to Quadrant 14, site of the largest civilian Narn colony. He then has Vir go and find Morden. Vir tells Londo not to do this, not to go down this path, but Londo’s mind is made up. Londo has a nightmare in which he sees his hand reaching out of the sun (as prophecised by Elric in B3) and images of dozens of huge, dark ships covering the sky of Centauri Prime. He sees himself as an old man, sitting on the throne of the Centauri Republic, dying with G’Kar’s hands wrapped around his throat (as previously related in episode A1). He wakes up, realising that he has just set himself unavoidably on the journey that will lead to his death. It is too late to change anything.
The Narn Regime’s largest civilian colony is located on a planet in Quadrant 14 with more than 250,000 inhabitants. A massive space station is in orbit, along with dozens of fighters and a heavy cruiser. Three Shadow warships appear and in their first salvo destroy the station and the warship. The fighters counter-attack, but lack the heavy weapons needed to damage the Shadow ships. They are annihilated and the Shadows bombard the colony from orbit before departing. On Centauri Prime agents of Refa murder the Prime Minister.
On Babylon 5 Garibaldi notices the man following him and has him arrested. The man agrees to tell him what he wants, but only if can speak to Garibaldi alone. Garibaldi agrees to talk to him later. Elsewhere, G’Kar meets with Londo and offers him a drink in salute to his honourable Emperor. A shaken Londo accepts the drink, realising that he unleashed the dogs of war at the moment a lasting peace could have been forged. At the same moment, a Centauri flotilla reaches Quadrant 14 and finds the colony in flames. As they begin to send down troops a Narn patrol arrives and opens fire on the Centauri ships, believing they carried out the attack.
Ambassador Kosh arrives to see the Emperor and answer his wish to see a Vorlon before he dies, although Kosh doesn’t reveal his true form. He tells the Emperor that the situation between the Narn and Centauri can now only end in fire. The Kha’Ri contact Babylon 5 and tell G’Kar about the attack. They send the news on an open frequency so that the B5 command crew overhear. G’Kar goes insane with rage and sets out to kill Londo, but Sheridan manages to stop him. Londo and Refa are summoned to Medlab to see the Emperor die. Just before he expires, he damns them both, but Londo lies and says that the Emperor has blessed the new Centauri military expansion.
Garibaldi’s prisoner delivers a data crystal to him and Garibaldi plays it. To his surprise, it contains a message from Sinclair, now on Minbar as the Earth Alliance Ambassador. Sinclair tells Garibaldi he has a greater purpose on Minbar than just representing Earth and tells him he is in charge of a group known as the Rangers, consisting of both humans and Minbari. Their job is to patrol the frontier, watching out for unusual signs. Sinclair tells him a great darkness is coming and that the Minbari have been waiting for it for a long time, but is not yet able to tell him everything. Garibaldi goes to Sheridan and tells him what he can, namely that the Centauri are in contact with the same alien race G’Kar was talking about a few months ago (B2). These aliens must have overwhelmed colony’s defences to allow the Centauri to slip in and conquer the planet. Sheridan realises they can use this information to their advantage.
A full meeting of the Babylon 5 Advisory Council is convened. Londo refuses to allow the Narn civilians who survived the attack to leave the planet, promising they will be “taken care of”. Sheridan tells him that Earth will send observers to make sure the Narn are well-treated. The observers’ will also determine what new weapon the Centauri used to take out the defences so quickly. Londo refuses to risk the bluff and agrees to let the Narn civilians return to the homeworld after all. However, this is not enough for the Narn. The Narn Regime declares war against the Centauri Republic, vowing not to let the Centauri overrun them again. Babylon 5’s mission has failed: the Centauri and Narn are now at war.
Refa leaves Babylon 5, telling Londo that the Emperor’s nephew has risen to the throne, a young man who feels as they do about the future. Vir is surprised that Londo has not asked for a reward like being named to the Royal Court himself, but Londo insists that he will work from behind the scenes only. It is much safer that way. The Ranger also leaves, promising to supply Garibaldi with the information he needs to keep track of the war. Meanwhile, Delenn also receives a message from Sinclair...
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