Above: Londo Mollari Watches the Orbital Bombardment of the Narn Homeworld
(THIRTY-FIRST IN A SERIES OF BLOG POSTS)
The Long, Twilight Struggle is a very dark episode with hopeful elements. Matters will deteriorate, but, if the forces of good persevere, good will triumph.
So let us begin with the bad news.
For the year previous to this episode forces (including Lord Refa and Ambassador Londo Mollari) within the Centauri Republic have been allied with the evil Shadows, who have awakened after a millennium of sleep. The Shadows have found in the Centauri Republic a useful pawn: a fading power living on past glories and seeking a revival of national glory. The Shadows will give this to the Centauri, but only for a fleeting moment and steep price.
The Centauri seek national glory through military conquest. One of their targets is the Narn Regime. Early in the 22nd Century C.E. (Earth calendar) the Centauri captured the Narn homeworld, then a verdant, lush planet. After a century of Centauri rule, however, the Narn planet was a barren wasteland. The Centauri occupation of Narn ended about a century after it began. This episode, set about 58 years after that Narn liberation, tells of the second Centauri conquest of Narn, at the end of a 6-months-long war the Centauri provoked.
The Shadows destroy most of the Narn batlle fleet for the Centauri, who proceed to the Narn homeworld and bombard it from orbit for days. The Centauri destroy the Narns’ infrastructure and force the Narn government to surrender unconditionally. Then the Centauri impose draconian terms, including concentration camps, slavery, war crimes trials for members of the Narn ruling body, the Kha’Ri. The verdicts are “guilty,” of course.
Above: Ambassador G’Kar of the Narn
The final act of the Narn government before surrendering is to order G’Kar, Ambassador to Babylon 5 and a member of the Kha’Ri, to ask Captain Sheridan for sanctuary. G’Kar is a passionate, proud, and dignified individual, so pleading for sanctuary is humiliating, but he does it. And Captain Sheridan, our hero, grants G’Kar sanctuary.
Ambassador Mollari returns to Babylon 5 after witnessing the bombardment of the Narn homeworld and addresses the Babylon 5 Advisory Council. He announces the surrender of the Narn government and the terms the Centauri Republic has imposed. Among them is turning G’Kar over to the Centauri government. Sheridan refuses, saying that he has granted G’Kar sanctuary and the neither he (Sheridan) nor the Earth government are bound by the Centauri terms.
Londo Mollari is not satisfied with this, but can do nothing about it. Yet he can (and does) insist that G’Kar is no longer a Narn representative or a member of the Babylon 5 Advisory Council. Londo forces G’Kar’s removal from the Council and the council chamber. Before G’Kar leaves, however, he delivers a moving speech:
No dictator… no invader… can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand. The Centauri learned this lesson once. We will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years, we will be free.
I do not know how anyone can watch that scene and not find G’Kar’s words powerful.
Now for the good news. (It is welcome after all that.)
Draal, the Minbari citizen who assumed custodianship of the great machine deep inside Epsilon 3, the planet very near Babylon 5, invites Ambassador Delenn and Captain Sheridan. He tells them that a “long, twilight struggle” is about to ensue, but that he is their ally in fighting and winning it. The valiant heroes aboard Babylon 5 are not alone.
After the Narn surrender, Delenn introduces Captain Sheridan to a group of Rangers, members of the Anla-shok. Security Chief Garibaldi has been cooperating with them for a few months, and Delenn has commanded the Rangers in the vicinity of Babylon 5. She transfers equal authority to Captain Sheridan.
The forces of light have their work cut out for them, but at least they have a possibility of winning. Victory will require great sacrifice from many, but it is possible.
After The Long, Twilight Struggle there are just two episodes remaining in the second season. Without giving away too much now I say this: The series grows darker with the end of the second season, as if it were not dark enough already. Season Three is darker still, and the beginning of Season Four is pitch black in tone. Yet the good guys win at the end of the fourth season. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is not an oncoming train.
Stay tuned and keep reading!
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JULY 13, 2010 COMMON ERA
All images are property of Warner Brothers, and I do not profit from said images.