209: The Coming of Shadows

Written by
J. Michael Straczynski

Directed by
Janet Greek

First broadcast week of
30 January 1995

Londo and G'KarThe Centauri Emperor is coming to Babylon 5 - and G'Kar is already plotting his assassination.  Refa, Londo's power-hungry associate, wants Londo to deliver an address that will decry the Emperor's policies while Refa himself plots the Emperor's - and the Prime Minister's - death.  But before either party can make any move, the Emperor falls ill and entrusts Franklin to deliver a message of peace to G'Kar.  Refa panics, assuming a rival agent has struck first, and Londo offers to arrange an attack on a Narn colony in Quadrant 14 as a demonstration of their power (with a little help from Mr Morden and his "associates", of course).  After hearing the Emperor's message, G'Kar toasts to the future of their races with Londo, unaware of the fire that has been unleashed.

When Narn ships arrive in Quadrant 14 to investigate the disappearance of the colony, they are shot down by patrolling Centauri cruisers.  War is officially declared between the Centauri and the Narn.  The Emperor, wanting to finally meet a Vorlon, asks a question of Kosh; and when pressed for a comment on this new era of the Centauri race, he whispers a message to Londo.  Londo claims that he has given them a blessing - but in actual fact the Emperor said that he and Refa are both damned.

Meanwhile, Garibaldi and Delenn receive a message from Sinclair on Minbar, warning them of the coming of the Shadows, and telling them of the Rangers, of which he is now leader, a covert force for peace comprising mostly humans and some Minbari, that are watching, listening, waiting.  Unable to give full details to Sheridan, Garibaldi passes on the knowledge that there is a link between the Centauri and this new alien threat, and Sheridan uses this information to force Londo into agreeing to release Narn prisoners.

Notes:  Londo's dream during this episode features the destruction of the Narn colony on Ragesh 3 (Midnight on the Firing Line); a hand reaching out of the sun (a reference to Elric's prediction in The Geometry of Shadows); Shadow ships flying across a blue sky (Centauri Prime; see Matters of Honor and The Hour of the Wolf); himself crowned as Emperor (see Point of No Return, War Without End and In the Beginning); an ailing old version of himself, still as Emperor, seeing G'Kar minus his left eye (see War Without End, Part II, Falling Toward Apotheosis); and finally G'Kar strangling him to death (see Midnight on the Firing Line and War Without End, Part II).

Although the Emperor is not named in this episode, he is named Emperor Turhan (after the actor who played him, Turhan Bey) later in Point of No Return.  The Centauri Prime Minister is also later named (And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place) after the actor who played him (Malachai Throne).  In Point of No Return, Lady Morella (Emperor Turhan's wife) tells Londo he has already wasted two chances of avoiding his path into darkness - his activities in this episode (summoning the Shadows against Vir's insistences, lying about the Emperor's dying words) may have been part of that.

Sinclair was last seen in Chrysalis, and his posting to Minbar mentioned in Points of Departure.  Events of his appointment as Entil'zha, head of the Rangers (who were established by Valen as a unified force against the Shadows) are detailed in the novel To Dream in the City of Sorrows.

This episode won the 1995 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, defeating the films Apollo 13, Twelve Monkeys and Toy Story, and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode The Visitor.  The complete script of this story was included in J. Michael Straczynski's book, The Complete Book of Scriptwriting.  The soundtrack of this episode is available on CD.

Guest Stars: Michael O'Hare reappears as Jeffrey Sinclair, and William Forward as Lord Refa.  The Emperor was played by Turhan Bey, who originally auditioned for the role of Elric (The Geometry of Shadows), and also appears as Turval in Learning Curve.  The Prime Minister was played by Malachai Throne, who appeared in the original series Star Trek two-parter The Menagerie, and the Next Generation two-parter Unification (as the Romulan Senator Pardek).