Movements of Fire and Shadow

"Movements of Fire and Shadow"
Babylon 5 episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 17
Directed by John C. Flinn, III
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Production code 518
Original air date 17 June 1998
Guest stars

Wayne Alexander (Drakh)
Josh Clark (Kulomani)
Joshua Cox (Lt. Corwin)
Damian London (Regent)
Thomas MacGreevy (Minister)
Bary McCarthy (Daro)
Robin Sachs (Na'Tok)

Episode chronology
← Previous
"And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder"
Next →
"The Fall of Centauri Prime"
List of Babylon 5 episodes

"Movements of Fire and Shadow" is an episode from the fifth season of the science fiction television series Babylon 5.



As the episode opens, several Drazi warships are shown engaging Centauri warships in a fierce battle; the Drazi appear to be losing. On Babylon 5, Captain Elizabeth Lochley, the station's commander, describes to her captain's log the problems facing the station since the beginning of the Centauri/Interstellar Alliance war. A number of Centauri civilians on the station have already been murdered by one of the many races they are at war with, and Lochley states that her only option may be to quarantine the Centauri into a restricted area of the station, so they can be protected. John Sheridan, President of the Interstellar Alliance, enters her quarters and tells her that he has approved allowing the Alliance's advanced White Star vessels to aid the Drazi and other Alliance ships fighting the Centauri. As such, Babylon 5's neutrality is over, and the station is now a target for the Centauri. The scene switches back to the Drazi/Centauri battle, where several White Star ships suddenly burst into the scene, firing at and destroying the victorious Centauri warships.

Vir Cotto, the acting Centauri Ambassador to Babylon 5, meets with Dr. Stephen Franklin, B5's medical chief, and Lyta, the station's resident telepath. He informs them that Centauri soldiers who have been killed in battle are not being returned by the Drazi, and he asks Franklin and Lyta to travel to the Drazi homeworld and investigate. Franklin readily agrees, but Lyta demands a very large fee, which she says will be used to help fellow telepaths trying to escape from PsiCorps on Earth. Vir agrees to pay the fee, and expresses his fears that the Drazi are torturing and/or experimenting on Centauri prisoners. Lyta and Dr. Franklin promise to discover the truth.

On the Drazi homeworld, Lyta and Dr. Franklin are nearly killed by Drazi assassins trying to stop them from uncovering a military secret, but escape when Lyta uses her Vorlon-enhanced telepathy to force one of the assassins to kill himself. They discover a Drazi laboratory where advanced alien technology, captured from Centauri vessels, is being tested and experimented upon. Lyta recognizes the technology as belonging to the ancient and deadly Shadows, and so informs President Sheridan. The device allows a Centauri warship to function without a crew, and to be operated by remote-control. Sheridan concludes that a small, covert group in the Centauri government used these devices to start the war without the knowledge of the Centauri military or public, and that they are continuing to use these vessels to attack the territory of other alien worlds, thus fueling their hatred of the Centauri, while allowing the Centauri to see themselves as the victims of an alien conspiracy.

On Babylon 5, President Sheridan meets with the leading generals of the Drazi, Narn, and Brakiri. They praise Sheridan for helping them to fight off Centauri attacks on their territories, but complain that Sheridan isn't taking the war into Centauri territory. They also describe the Centauri strategy as unusual - one part of their fleet is conducting offensive operations into enemy territory, while the remainder of their fleet is strictly defensive. However, the two Centauri fleets appear to have no communication with one another and may not even know of the other fleet's existence. It is this fact which later leads Sheridan to his conclusion about the war being started by a small, renegade part of the Centauri government, with the rest of the government being unaware of what was happening.

When a Centauri warship powered by one of the Shadow devices tries to destroy the jumpgate at Babylon 5 (and in fact damages it), the Drazi and Narn commanders decide to secretly combine their forces to launch an all-out attack on the Centauri homeworld itself. They agree to do this even though President Sheridan has forbidden it. When Sheridan learns of this, he is furious and leads a small fleet of White Star vessels to intercept the Narn/Drazi fleet before it can reach Centauri Prime. On Centauri Prime, Ambassador Londo Mollari and his Narn bodyguard, Ambassador G'Kar, remain in prison. One night Londo has a disturbing dream in which he and G'Kar are rendered unconscious and he is taken by sinister, strange aliens and given a medical examination. He manages to leave his cell when G'Kar deliberately throws up, thus giving Londo the excuse he needs to get out of the cell. He then meets with the Centauri Defense Minister and other government officials, but they tell him that they are only fighting a defensive war, have no knowledge of any Centauri warships raiding enemy territory, and are sure that the Interstellar Alliance has "framed" them. Londo finally meets with the Regent, who appears to have gone mad and mumbles strange warnings and statements about a "them" who is secretly telling him what to do, and who is responsible for the war. Finally, the Regent tells Londo that he has completed his final act for "them" - he has sent away all of the ships protecting Centauri Prime on a false emergency, and he has turned off the planet's defense network, thus rendering it defenseless against the Narn/Drazi fleet. Horrified, Londo races through the vast Royal Palace trying to find someone to help him turn the defense network back on, but it's too late. As he runs outside, he sees dozens of jump points opening in the skies above Centauri Prime, signalling the arrival of the Narn/Drazi fleet. In the final scene, the fleet opens fire and begins bombing the Centauri homeworld with powerful energy weapons.

In a secondary plotline, President Sheridan tells his wife Delenn that Earth Alliance President Luchenko has agreed to build a new, larger class of warship for the Interstellar Alliance, but will only do it if the Minbari agree to cooperate. Delenn takes a single White Star and travels to the Minbari homeworld with her aide Lennier to present Sheridan's proposal. In hyperspace, however, her ship encounters a force of Centauri warships and is attacked and heavily damaged. With most of the crew dead and the ship helpless, Delenn and Lennier wonder if they will become permanently lost in hyperspace.

Arc significance

  • The Centauri use Shadow technology instead of crews for their War Cruisers.
  • The secret behind the illogical Centauri attacks on the Alliance is finally revealed.
  • The Narn and the Drazi attack Centauri Prime despite Sheridan's orders.

Production details

After this episode aired, TNT aired the television movie Babylon 5: Thirdspace. That story, however, is set in the fourth season of the series, most likely occurring after "The Illusion of Truth" and before or during "Atonement".

External links

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