Londo Mollari - Ambassador of the Centauri Republic.
Aaaaah! Mr. Morden..."
By far the most complex character in Babylon-51 is Londo Mollari.
To simply dismiss him as a loser or a baddie does not do justice to the excellent portrayal by actor Peter Jurassic.
During season one Londo could be dismissed as a member of a rigid caste, located on the homeworld of Centauri Prime, whose sole purpose is to climb the social ladder and make sure that no one removes the rungs while he is on his way up. In a way he is quite a funny person and not to be taken too seriously. His sidekick, who is to become more and more important as the series progresses is Vir Cotto. He will become Londo's confidante as the years go by and the only person Londo will fully come to trust.
Londo's relevance to Babylon-5 starts to change during the second season. The interaction with the Narn G'Kar (played brilliantly by Andreas Katsulas) becomes much more complex, and Londo's own motivation becomes much more obscure than was apparent before. Here is a man who is caught between a rock and a hard place...or rather between Centauri Prime(a rock) and Babylon-5(a very hard place). To make matters worse he has a recurring vision of himself as Emperor over a Centauri Empire that has totally collapsed.
So on the one hand there is nothing he would rather be than the Emperor, but on the other hand he feels that this will be a catastrophe for his people and his world. This ambiguity is visible throughout seasons three, four and five in which he finally makes the ultimate sacrifice for his people.
Londo is of course greatly influenced by his Centauri-peers and his upbringing on the homeworld. On the other hand the influence of Babylon-5 itself, with all its lifeforms and non-Centauri social interactions and Philosophies, starts to change Londo and alienates him somewhat from his fellow-Centauri. This is of course essential for Londo as he is the ambassador to Babylon-5 and has to deal with a multitude of aliens, but it also frequently causes problems between him and the homeworld.
One must keep in mind that the Centauri Republic is in decline and extremely self-involved. As Londo sees more and more of "the big picture" his thoughts and ideas clash more and more with the powers that be on Centauri Prime.
As the Babylon-5 storyline continues to unfold, Londo becomes a more prominent/influential figure and is frequently asked for help. Most of the other major players in the game do not like asking Londo for anything but sometimes there is no other solution. They dislike asking for his help mainly because Londo may use the information gained for other purposes. This is a man for whom the word 'Intrigue' was invented. It does not mean that Londo is totally amoral and unethical, as many of his Babylon-5 contemporaries think. One has to see the figure of Londo through the eyes of a Centauri, not through those of a member of another race.
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. As it is the sole purpose in life for any Centauri to rise in the hierarchy of the homeworld, there is nothing wrong with Londo's behaviour. It is the other races who become annoyed because the Centauri-philosophy is not their own.
Seen from Londo's point of view however, he is in fact a man of great integrity.
Londo's problems really start when he accepts the help of Morden, the Shadows' representative. In order to help him to gain stature on Centauri Prime, the Shadows destroy a Narn-outpost(the Narn have been the Centauri's enemy for years). From this moment on Londo starts to realise he may have signed a pact with the devil.
Ultimately his liaison with the Shadows causes the complete devastation of Centauri Prime(as shown in the brilliant episode 'The Fall of Centauri Prime'). This episode is very memorable. Few Science Fiction-episodes end so dramatically. Londo finally makes it to the emperor's throne but, as can be seen in the final shot of the episode, he is utterly alone and his homeworld is in total shambles.
His nightmare has finally come true and he has no choice but to submit to a "Keeper", a parasite that is able to control Londo when its interests(or those of its allies) are threatened. If he refuses Centauri Prime and its population will be completely obliterated by the allies of the Shadows.
As Londo realises this he observes that : "It is ironic. 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".
Although the Centauri Republic has often been compared, by sources close to the Babylon-5 project, to the British Empire in decline, it might be better to draw a rough parallel with the decline of the Roman Empire. In the Roman Empire, Emperor Augustus came first. He was succeeded by Caligula(after the death of several official heirs as well as Tiberius), who was replaced by Claudius. Compare Turhan to Augustus, Cartagia to Caligula and Vir to Claudius and you may see the parallels(although not in the correct historical order).
Years after Londo has assumed the throne he finally sees the chance to escape from his fate by dying at the hands of his old enemy G'Kar. Londo's vision has finally become true as this is exactly what he has seen in his dream all those years.
It is ironic that the two men and long-time enemies understand each other better than anyone else in the world.
Recommended episodes :
Born to the Purple (season one)
Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?(season four)
The Summoning(season four)
Falling Toward Apotheosis(season four)
The Long Night(season four)
Into the Fire(season four)
The Fall of Centauri Prime(season five)
A Call to Arms(Movie)
Please note : all opinions are the authors and should be regarded as such.
Written by Towelmaster.
The series has gone on to be one of the most popular SF TV-series ever. The most important difference between Babylon 5 and other series is that it was written as one story that would span 5 years and 5 seasons of episodes. So from the start the outline was clear to the producers.
This has resulted in a very consistent series.
Unfortunately it also requires the viewer to watch at least three contiguous episodes. Three episodes is usually enough to follow one complete sub-storyarc.
A more detailed entry on Babylon 5 will follow shortly and will be referred to here.