Babylon 5: The Long, Twilight Struggle
August 17, 2018 7:05 PM - Season 2, Episode 20 - Subscribe

The Narn wanted freedom from the Centauri... They fail. "There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand. [...] We will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years, we will be free."

-Londo has become uneasy about asking Mr. Morden for help (both because he fears him, and because this isn't exactly a return to Centauri glory so much as a Shadow return to glory with Centauri help), but Refa impresses on him the need to win the war. Londo says this is the last! time! he'll do it. And indeed, he does. And they win. But before that...
-Even *before* this the Narn had lost every major conflict in recent times. Lost colonies. Lost fleets. G'kar's uncle, G'sten, brings him this bad news. (This naturally means G'sten dies by the end of the episode.) They decide to 'pull the goalie' and leave Narn Homeworld with only a skeletal defense force, committing everything to destroying the Centauri supply route in Gorash.
-Franklin figures out the Centauri are going to attack Narn homeworld based on an injured Narn's report of their interrogation at the hands of the Centauri. Franklin warns G'kar, G'kar tries to warn G'sten, G'sten ignores him.
-G'sten's warfleet is ambushed by the Shadows and destroyed.
-Meanwhile, the Centauri, in a fit of pique/evil, use mass drivers on the defenceless Narn homeworld. What are mass drivers, you ask? Well, it's theorized that an asteroid about 7.5 miles wide killed the dinosaurs. Mass drivers create asteroid-like impacts from smaller rocks by accelerating them. Because they are so pointlessly destructive, cheap, and world-killing, they are banned by space law. Refa don't care, but Londo looks distinctly... troubled as he sees Narn homeworld bombarded.
-Londo returns to B5 and lays out the demands. Basically: all that is Narn is now Centauri. The Kha'ri, of which G'kar is part, will be executed. No observers will be allowed on Narn territories. Oh yeah -- and if any Narn kills a Centauri, the punishment will be the execution of orders of magnitude more Narn.
-He also demands G'kar, as G'kar was a member of the Kha'ri. Sheridan tries to protect G'kar, but it's unknown how long this will last.
Draal (Voice in the Wilderness Parts 1 and 2, when Epsilon nearly blew up B5) invites Sheridan and Delenn down to the Secret Tech Tunnels of Epsilon. He pledges himself and the Epsilon technology to their service.
-Remember the message from Sinclair to Garibaldi about the Rangers? Delenn and Garibaldi finally reveal the Rangers to Sheridan, and Delenn makes Sheridan co-leader.
-It is revealed that Epsilon III is, among other things, a ginormous and undetectable monitoring station, so Draal knows exactly what side of the recent conspiracies Sheridan is on. That's handy.
posted by flibbertigibbet (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If anyone is wondering if my above-the-fold summary of this episode is a reference to a quote that hasn't happened yet and shouldn't be discussed: yup. Yup, it is.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:10 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thank you for doing these recaps. I fell off the bandwagon this spring with Life Stuff but I need to catch up and keep contributing. This show was so good, even with all its flaws...
posted by Alterscape at 6:43 AM on August 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

"Ink on a page"
posted by nubs at 5:18 PM on August 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

'Ink on a page' was almost the pullquote, before I decided that avoiding this particular spoiler (for a 20-year-old series), given what comes next and what came before, was a little pointless. The Narn were losing the entire time; the Narn lost; the consequences of the loss are more interesting than the loss itself. And it's not like I could easily phrase the upcoming episode summaries to completely avoid discussion of the creation of Manchukuo Centauri-occupied Narn.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:51 PM on August 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Once again, Londo and G’kar make the show.

“The last time I offered to shake someone’s hand...”
posted by corb at 9:32 PM on March 23, 2019

Agh this episode was SO GOOD. Watching it tonight, I ran into so many moments that had stayed with me since I last saw it, years ago. Hell, since I *first* saw it, decades ago.

Epic-level amazing acting from Jurasik and Katsulas in the council chamber scene. As actors, they continue to draw out the absolute best in each other. Through all that hair and all those prosthetics, they've created these believable, relatable, loveable characters. The fact that the viewer still has some sympathy for Londo despite the fact that the guy has just been a party to genocide tells you everything you need to know about Peter Jurasik as an actor. And yeah, as cjelli said above, the shot of Londo in the window being forced to watch the destruction, and seeing the reflection of his own face as he does so, is just incredible filmmaking/acting/storybuilding.

Meanwhile, Katsulas-- whose character started out as this one-note, violent, vengeful, hate-filled creature who appeared much less "human" than the bon-vivant buffoon who was his foil-- is delivering this shocking vulnerability, this tremendous loss, this quiet dignity which is the last thing he has left. It's as though Macbeth and Lear are facing each other on the same stage, hands dripping blood and clothes in rags.

And they're inches apart-- I'd forgotten how close the director had them get, Jurasik is right in Katsulas's face. Onstage I don't know if you could put those two characters at that distance-- probably not for long-- but I suppose the director wanted to get their faces in the same shot, and it is memorable.

God I'm emotionally overinvested in this raggedy ass 90s sci fi show. (In my defence, it's been a hell of a year.) Roll on season 3!
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:49 PM on April 16, 2021

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