The Long Night (Babylon 5)

The Long Night (Babylon 5)

Infobox Television episode
Title = The Long Night
Series = Babylon 5

"Emperor Cartagia"
Caption =
Season = 4
Episode = 5
Airdate = 27 January 1997
Production = 405
Writer = J. Michael Straczynski
Director = John LaFia
Guests = Bryan Cranston (Ericsson)
Wortham Krimmer (Emperor Cartagia)
Ron Campbell (Drazi ambassador)
Episode list = List of "Babylon 5" episodes
Prev = Falling Toward Apotheosis
Next = Into the Fire

"The Long Night" is an episode from the fourth season of the science-fiction television series "Babylon 5".


Londo and Vir plot the assassination of Emperor Cartagia. Meanwhile, Captain Sheridan sets into motion his plan to bring the conflict between the Vorlons and the Shadows to a resolution.

The episode begins with a view of the myriad ships gathered around Babylon 5.

Ivanova reports to Sheridan in C&C that the inevitable has happened. The Vorlons had been attacking Shadow outposts throughout space—now the Shadows are retaliating in kind. "It's like two giants fighting in a sandbox," she comments. "They don't care who's getting stepped on anymore." She shows him footage of the aftermath of one of the Shadow attacks, pointing out that within that death cloud (which can't be picked up by the sensors) "was" once a vibrant world of two million. Seeing this footage, she doesn't know who to fear more anymore—the Vorlons or the Shadows. Sheridan is forced to agree with Ivanova's earlier comment: "Giants in the playground…"

Meanwhile, Emperor Cartagia and his retinue (including Londo) have arrived on Narn to carry out the public execution of G'Kar. Londo secretly calls a meeting of the conspirators seeking Cartagia's assassination so as to discuss the final details of the plan.

Though some of the conspirators are against acting at this time, Vir points out that unless the Shadow vessels are removed from it, Centauri Prime will face the wrath of the Vorlons. And the Shadow vessels won't leave as long as Cartagia is alive. Thus why they're on Narn. Away from the homeworld, Cartagia is vulnerable; this is their chance to strike for the sake of Centauri Prime.

Back on Babylon 5, Ivanova walks into Sheridan's quarters to find the captain "far away again" in thought. She notes that no one has ever seen an armada so vast and so diverse, especially considering that many of the races had been fighting each other just months prior. It's like something out of a dream for Ivanova, and she knows this fleet will fight to the last. Sheridan then makes a request. He asks her (with help from Lorien) to seek out the First Ones so as to bring them into the fight against the Vorlons and Shadows. Ivanova protests rousingly, saying she does "not" want to be left out of the fight; it reminds her of when her mother committed suicide. She reluctantly agrees but extracts a promise from Sheridan to let her join the fight. Before she leaves, Sheridan haltingly gives his appreciation for the work she's done, and she's pleasantly surprised at the compliment.

The Centauri have built a replica of the royal palace on Narn, and Cartagia's court is thoroughly enjoying itself…except for Londo. Cartagia notices that and tries to get Londo to join in, the while forcing Londo to endure more of the emperor's deluded babble about his ascension to godhood, but Londo eventually leaves so as to make the necessary "arrangements". This gives Londo time to check in on G'Kar…and he is genuinely shocked to see the Narn minus an eye, though G'Kar claims it is no loss: "An empty eye sees through to an empty heart." But Londo is here on business; G'Kar would play a critical role in the emperor's assassination. Over G'Kar's insults, Londo explains that G'Kar is to raise a commotion in the throne room (thanks to weakened chains and bribed guards) and give Cartagia reason to follow Londo away…and to his death. As he walks back, Londo notices that the court jester (who had been mocking the emperor earlier) had been ordered shot by Cartagia.

Later, Vir (who had been sent due to his reputation for "not" being dangerous) arrives in Londo's quarters with the instrument of the assassination: a sophisticated poisoning needle designed to inject an undetectable neurotoxin and leave no obvious wounds—the death will look like a dual cardiac arrest. However, due to its sensitive nature, it must be delivered directly into the target's chest, between his two hearts. But when told it will work "almost" instantaneously, Londo wonders what "almost" means: potentially long enough for Cartagia to reveal the assassination before dying. Though he and Vir joke for a bit, they soon realize it is time to set the plan in motion.

As planned, G'Kar is paraded before the Narns prior to his arrival in the palace. When he stumbles, he tells the other Narns to show no fear. As G'Kar arrives, Londo's plan begins to unravel as Cartagia reveals that he had order G'Kar's weakened chains replaced. But to everyone's astonishment, G'Kar still manages to break free of his bonds, allowing Londo's plan to proceed anyway. As the fight ensues in the throne room, Londo beckons the emperor away for his safety. Though this phase succeeds in isolating the emperor, seeing G'Kar break free causes Cartagia to go into a tirade, in the process striking Londo and knocking away the poisoning needle. But at the last moment, as the emperor turns around, Vir succeeds in making the injection. The poison works quickly enough to prevent any revelation, and the savvy Londo quickly tells arriving guards that Cartagia had collapsed suddenly and to find a doctor.

A short time later, before the court, Londo delivers the grim news; Cartagia is dead. He uses this to convince the court that his death (along with the death of Emperor Turhan) is an omen that the Centauri should leave Narn. He then suggests that they make haste back to homeworld so as to correct the late emperor's "misjudgment" about the Shadows. Then, to his surprise, the court agrees to make Londo Prime Minister so as to maintain a strong leader during this period of crisis.

Back on Babylon 5, the war room receives some very alarming news from "White Star 14". It has encountered a world in the process of being destroyed by the Shadow death cloud; thousands of extreme-yield thermonuclear missiles burrow into the planet and detonate in unison, destroying the planetary core and tearing the planet apart from the inside out. The spectacle leaves everyone in shock and Garibaldi pointing out, "Anyone wanna tell me how the hell we're supposed to stop that?" Then, Lennier provides a key report. The Vorlons are massing in hyperspace, and their course leads to only one possible target: Coriana VI. Suddenly, Sheridan realizes that their time has run out. He asks Captain Ericsson to stand by while he asks Delenn to convene the League of Non-Aligned Worlds and show them the footage.

Back on Narn, Londo tries to summon Vir to the ship bound for the homeworld, only to find his aide significantly drunk. Vir is trying to drink away the nightmares of having killed Cartagia by his own hand and having sunk deeper than he had ever planned into Centauri politics, and Londo tries to console him as best as he can, pointing out that Vir had done a hard thing and that his continued remorse shows he still has his good heart…a heart that to this day fills Londo with envy.

Once the League convenes, Sheridan reveals that the time has come to begin fighting back. The league would provide distractions by conducting lightning raids on Vorlon outposts, dividing Vorlon forces while the main force gathers at the Coriana system. There are two reasons for this. First, they will need time to gather other First Ones to help in the fight. Second…Sheridan wants the Shadows at Coriana as well. He explains that ever since the shooting war started, neither side had sought a direct confrontation: opting instead to attack allied worlds and outposts. This is where Ericsson would come in. He is knowingly given a false report detailing the opening of an Army of Light base on Coriana VI at approximately the same time as the Vorlons' arrival. It is a suicide mission; he is to intrude into Shadow space and engage the Shadows as if on a real raid, so that when the Shadows destroyed his ship and discovered the file, they would be convinced the report is true and rush to Coriana. By forcing a direct confrontation, Sheridan believes he can finally get the Vorlons and Shadows into a position where he can resolve the war. Ericsson grimly accepts the mission and gives a final Anla'Shok salute to Delenn before signing off.

G'Kar stumbles into the remains of the replica Centauri palace on Narn even as other Narns celebrate their freedom by setting off fireworks and ransacking the palace. G'Kar is appalled by their behavior, especially at their desire to raise G'Kar to a position of leadership. G'Kar refuses vehemently, pointing out that he never wanted to depose the Centauri simply to take up power himself. He answers the Narns' cries for retaliation against the Centauri by claiming the Centauri are a lost race and need no help to be led to destruction and decay. At that, one Narn points out that they have suffered greatly during the occupation and demands to know how much G'Kar had suffered during the interim. G'Kar doesn't answer: instead leaving the palace laughing almost maniacally.

In his office, Sheridan replays the last transmissions of "White Star 14". The ruse had worked, and the Shadows will soon encounter the Vorlons at Coriana VI. There is nothing left to do but to take his own place in the coming battle.

Arc significance

* Vir assassinates Cartagia.
* Londo is the new Prime Minister of the Centauri Republic.
* Narn is liberated, through in no small part for G'kar.
* Sheridan is luring the Shadows and the Vorlons into a final confrontation.
* The Shadows launch their own planet killer, the Death Cloud. Unlike the Vorlon planetkiller, though, which completely obliterates a planet, the Shadow's weapon is more conservative and slow, akin to their nature of spreading chaos. Whilst the Vorlon weapon is seen as a sign of "divine retribution" that it both "swift and complete," the Shadows' planet killer first envelops a planet, thus preventing escape, then begin bombarding the planet with missiles that burrow deep into the planet, right into the core, and detonate, causing massive massive earthquakes and destruction of the planet's structure without actually destroying the planet. The Cloud then proceeds to "suck" the geothermal energy from the planet's core. By the time the Cloud is finished, a cold and lifeless world incapable of supporting life is left behind.

Production details

* The Death Cloud was the work of the creative mind of Harlan Ellison.
* The parading of G'kar bound to a large (and extremely heavy) wooden plank, his stumbling down, and his conversation to his fellow Narns is an obvious reference to the Way of the Cross, wherein Jesus Christ also endured the humiliation of being paraded across Jerusalem onto Golgotha. G'kar here also acts as the "savior" of all Narn when his deal with Mollari ensured that his homeworld will finally be liberated once Emperor Cartagia is killed.
* G'kar, who has been repeatedly beaten, starved, had his eye plucked out, and was forced to carry a heavy piece of wood across the city of G'khamazad was still strong enough to break his chains (made of the supposedly unbreakable solid kirilium) and knock out his guards. This highlights G'kar's (and the Narn's) strong and unbreakable will and desire to be free (both figuratively and literally).
* The Imperial palace built on Narn is an almost exact replica of the actual palace on Centauri Prime. So exact that Londo's room there is exactly the same as his room back on his homeworld. This is first referenced in the episode "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place" by Lord Antono Refa. The only noticeable difference is the red tint of the lights outside the palace, due to Narn's Mars-like atmosphere.


External links

* [ The Long Night] at "The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5"

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