G'Kar | Londo Mollari
Babylon 5 is an American science-fiction television series that originally aired in the 1990s and quickly became hugely popular. The plot involves Babylon 5 - the last space station - built in an attempt to ensure peace between space-faring races, and Londo Mollari is by far the most complex character in it. To dismiss him simply as a 'loser' or a 'baddie' does not do justice to the writers or to actor Peter Jurasik, whose brilliant performance adds even greater depth to the character.
All the Options
In the first season, Londo is a member of a rigid caste, located on his home world of Centauri Prime, whose sole purpose is to climb the social ladder and make sure no one removes the rungs on his way up. In a way he is quite a funny person and not to be taken too seriously. Vir Cotto (played by Stephen Furst) is the sidekick - and the only person whom Londo comes fully to trust.
Londo's relevance to Babylon 5 starts to change during the second season. The interaction with G'Kar (Londo's antithesis and representative of the reptilian Narn Regime, and played by Andreas Katsulas) rises in complexity, and Londo's own motivation becomes more arcane than before. Here is a man who is caught between a rock and a hard place... or rather between Centauri Prime - the rock - and Babylon 5 - the (very) hard place. Further complicating matters, he has a recurring vision of himself as emperor of a totally collapsed Centauri Prime.
Londo is, of course, greatly influenced by his Centauri peers and his upbringing, but the influence of Babylon 5 - with all its life-forms and non-Centauri social interactions and philosophies - begins to change him. This is, of course, essential, as he is the ambassador to Babylon 5 and has to deal with a multitude of races, but, as a result, Londo finds himself somewhat alienated from his fellow Centauri, and problems frequently arise between him and the home world.
As time goes by, Londo becomes a more prominent and influential figure from whom others frequently ask for help. Of course, they don't like asking him for anything, for fear that he'll use the information gained for less-than-savoury purposes (after all, this is a man for whom the word 'intrigue' was invented), but sometimes there is no other solution.
These occasionally amoral and unethical methods get Londo into quite a lot of trouble when they lead him to accept the help of Morden, the representative of the Shadows1. In order to help him gain stature on Centauri Prime, the Shadows obliterate a Narn outpost. It is at this moment Londo realises that he may well have signed a pact with the Devil.
The Nightmare Becomes Reality
Ultimately, Londo's liaison with the Shadows devastates Centauri Prime, triggering the bombardment of the capital and leaving thousands dead. In order to stop the Shadows' allies from obliterating what's left of his home world, Londo cooperates with them and submits to a Keeper (a parasite able to control its host when its interests - or those of its allies - are threatened).
Shortly thereafter, a solitary Londo assumes the emperor's throne - but his nightmare has in fact become reality and it is a broken world over which he'll preside. He notes the irony of the situation: 'When I was young I had no power and all the options. Now I finally have all the power, but I have no options at all.'
Many years later, Londo seizes an opportunity to escape the influence of the Keeper - he asks his old enemy G'Kar to kill him. G'Kar begins strangling Londo, but the Keeper awakens at the last moment and in turn strangles G'Kar. Their dying at each other's hands fulfils an old prophecy, and Vir replaces Londo as emperor.
Certainly, Londo is far from perfect. He schemes and wheels and deals to get his way, mostly for the benefit of Centauri Prime but sometimes just for his own well-being. However, as it is the sole purpose in life for any Centauri to rise in the hierarchy of the home world, there is nothing wrong with Londo's behaviour; seen from his point of view, he is in fact a man of great integrity. Other races only become annoyed because the Centauri philosophy is not their own.
- 'Born to the Purple'
- 'Whatever Happened to MrGaribaldi?'
- 'The Summoning'
- 'Falling Toward Apotheosis'
- 'The Long Night'
- 'Into the Fire'
- 'The Fall of Centauri Prime'
- A Call to Arms