Babylon 5: Signs and Portents   First Watch 
February 25, 2018 6:01 PM - Season 1, Episode 13 - Subscribe

[major arc; the season's titular episode] Mr. Morden asks a question, repeatedly. A Centauri delegation arrives, and cannot prevent the thing which they know will happen (as they deny their fate). "What do you want? [...] And then what?"

-Centauri telepaths can see the future. All Centauri can allegedly foresee their own death, as alluded to in the pilot (Londo believes he will be strangled by G'Kar).
-Lady Ladira's power of prophecy is stronger than most. Her major predictions: (1) her nephew, Lord Kiro, will be killed by 'shadows' ("doesn't exactly make sense, does it?") (2) Babylon 5 will end in flame, with only a single shuttle escaping ("I see death. Destruction. Flame. Babylon will fall. Fire. Death. Pain.")--but this can be prevented. "But the vision, Commander. The vision is still there. [...] The future is always changing. We create the future, with our words, our deeds, and our beliefs. This is a possible future, Commander, and it is my hope that you may yet avoid it."
-Sinclair asks Garibaldi for help discovering the missing 24 hours from The Battle of the Line (re: "And the Sky Full of Stars"). It turns out the reason he's the commanding officer of B5 is because the Minbari, who extensively helped pay for B5, used their veto power to veto every other candidate...
-Pirate attacks have gotten worse. It turns out they have a ship capable of creating its own jump gates, which explains why the pirates can strike so quickly and get out before Babylon 5 can respond.
-Mr. Morden asks every major ambassador what they want, often prompting them with "And then what?"
-G'Kar's answer: "I want Justice ... I want to suck the marrow from [Centauri] bones and grind their skulls to powder; to tear down their cities, blacken their sky, sow their ground with salt... to completely utterly erase them. [...] I don’t know. As long as my homeworld's safety is guaranteed, I don’t know that it matters.”
-Londo's answer: “I want my people to reclaim their rightful place in the galaxy. I want to see the Centauri stretch forth their hand again and command the stars. I want a rebirth of glory, a renaissance of power. I want to stop running through my life like a man late for an appointment, afraid to look back or to look forward. I want us to be what we used to be. I want it all back the way that it was."
-Delenn's answer is to gasp, turn away (to cover a grey triangle which appeared on her forehead), and ask Mr. Morden to leave.
-Kosh's answer: "They are not for you." He commands Morden to leave, and the hallway darkens. Later, we learn that Kosh requires new suit parts, as his encounter suit was damaged in the pirate attack at the climax of the episode...
-Londo receives a Centauri artifact, The Eye, which dates to the Old Empire, and intends to use it as political leverage. He sends it on his way with Lord Kiro... but Kiro doublecrossed him with the pirates (who attack the station to allow the doublecross to happen). When the pirates then doublecross Kiro, kidnapping him and intending to sell the Eye for profit, a mysterious, dark, spider-like ship appears. It fires on the pirate ship, and as Ladira feels the destruction remotely, the pirate ship--and everything and everyone on board--is destroyed...
-...except for the Eye, which Mr. Morden retrieves for Londo. This action has singlehandedly saved Londo's career. "A gift, from friends you don't know you have." Morden then leaves. "When will I ever find you to thank you?" "We will find you, ambassador. We will find you."
posted by flibbertigibbet (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Suffice it to say, as the series continued, I spent a lot of time thinking about this episode, and everyone's reactions to the question "What do you want?"

Morden is casually wicked while being absolutely polite. Ladira seems insane and frail, but has strength that comes from conviction. Love thisepisode.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 6:58 PM on February 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

One of the small things I like about this one is how ending the raiders is both a big deal and also small potatoes. The raiders were set up as a recurring threat — perhaps the season finale would be the main showdown between B5's forces and the raiders. But, no. They're taken out decisively and the stakes are raised. Sinclair and his staff are happy to have dealt damage to the fighters; they consider that a big win. But in comparison to Morden's actions, the raiders barely register.
posted by Banknote of the year at 10:11 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Mr. Morden asks every major ambassador what they want, often prompting them with "And then what?"

With the exception of the Humans.

At any rate, Ed Wasser does a great job with the role of Morden...he's creepy, but unfailingly polite. And the answers he gets are interesting.

This is the arc episode of S1; it sets things in motion, while at the same time wrapping up what appeared to be an arc - the raiders - in a way that makes it clear to the audience that a real threat has just appeared, while the main characters think a big threat has disappeared. So there's tension for the audience, even as it seems that everyone has pretty much gotten what they wanted.
posted by nubs at 7:52 AM on February 26, 2018

What, no mention of what Vir said? (text here)

(yeah, I said this in both threads, I'm not ashamed, it's awesome.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:58 PM on February 27, 2018

It's an awesome scene, but it's from season 3. We have a ways to go before we get there.
posted by Banknote of the year at 7:10 PM on February 27, 2018

The Vir quote is from s2's "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum", sadly.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 9:48 AM on February 28, 2018

Also, uh, if you're a first-watcher: don't google that Vir quote, or frankly much related to anything anyone says to Morden, until you finish s4.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:56 AM on March 1, 2018

As a first watcher who is partway (c1/3) through season 4.. will I get spoiled on events in the remaining part if I read the non-first-watch threads?

Just so happens Mr Nat and I started a full watch several months ago, and I just found these fanfares today. I’d very much like to join in but don’t want spoilers on the 1.7 seasons I haven’t seen yet..
posted by nat at 1:26 AM on March 12, 2018

For the most part people are trying not to note any spoilers, but the may note some things as *important* that first-watchers might otherwise not have noticed, and which can imply things.

(The explicit spoiler-threads are, I assume, full of spoilers. I'm not reading them as I'm a first-watcher.)
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:32 AM on March 12, 2018

« Older Book: A Stitch in Time...   |  Babylon 5: Signs and Portents... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments