Zocalo: Spoiler-free Discussion of “The Long Night”

(Not “The Long Dark,” and not “The Long Twilight Struggle.” This is a completely different “long” episode.)

Alas, poor Cartagia. We knew him too well. So, whaddaya think of this episode? No spoilers, please.

9 thoughts on “Zocalo: Spoiler-free Discussion of “The Long Night””

  1. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet. I’m sure that our hosts talked about the following question, but I wanted to throw it out for discussion before my opinion (at least) was not influenced by what they said.

    OK: so one thing that we know about this episode is that Vir was not the person that JMS originally intended to kill Cartagia, and that he only made it Vir when he came to write the episode.

    So was it originally going to be Londo or G’Kar? I think it has to be one of the two (although I respect anyone who wants to make the case for Minister Virini :)).

    But I can’t decide which of the two I think is more likely. I can see strong arguments for Londo, and strong arguments for G’Kar.

    Thoughts?

    1. And I start listening to the podcast, and I get to the point at which Chip explains that it was going to be Londo, and I check the Lurker’s Guide – and, yes, it was going to be Londo.

      So that’s that, then. It’s interesting, because I remember from Usenet at the time JMS’s comment immediately before that, in which he leaves it vague who it was going to be. But I had no memory of the second part, even though it’s about my favorite character.

      1. ‘Or maybe he’ll start saying things backwards like,
        “Kill Londo!”‘
        Vir’s best worst line: my covered eyes, tears streaming, HIlarious.

        Great analysis team, esp the Vir/Londo retrospective. LOL @Narnia and so this makes G’Kar Aslan.

        I was surprised by the shadow space jellyfish.

    2. Ooooh if it was Minister Virini….that would have been very interesting to watch play out and the repercusions afterwards.

      That said, I think it is a hugely important moment for Vir’s character and in final analysis I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      1. Nor would I.

        For one thing, it doesn’t really affect Londo as a character that he’s not the person who kills Cartagia, because he’s still the person who masterminded the conspiracy. Being the actual killer doesn’t add much to that.

        But it makes an enormous difference to Vir as a character- it’s arguably the moment that most makes him the future Emperor. While he’s an important character in the series as a whole for Londo’s characterization, if you think about it, this is the only thing that Vir really *does* that is part of the overall plot of the series.

        And while giving Vir a critical role in the plot like this does matter, I think it’s just as important for setting up Vir’s guilt-ridden scene afterwards. Cartagia is pretty much the single character in the entire series whom one can imagine killing with the least amount of remorse. (Maybe Clark.) Vir’s “Kill him!” moment earlier on is not the least significant way that the show sets that up – behind the humor, the point is that if *even Vir* thinks Cartagia needs killing, then Cartagia needs killing. So it’s meaningful that JMS takes that away and has Vir wracked with guilt now. It’s Vir’s most saintly moment, and one of the things that’s most interesting about the character is that he belongs to the most morally compromised of the Big Four races, but is himself probably the most instinctively *good* person on the show.

        It’s also important for Londo (as all Vir scenes are), and here I’ll disagree with our hosts. Sort of. Their discussion of this episode assumes throughout that G’Kar’s accusation that Londo’s heart is empty must be accepted by the viewer as accurate. I think it’s questionable, and this scene shows that it is: Londo clearly cares about Vir, for one thing, and also the Centauri people.

        One of the things that’s fascinating about the scene is that the reasoning with which Londo tries to console Vir, that killing Cartagia was a necessary evil, seems hard to argue with on its face. As I said above, Cartagia is probably someone whose death most people would regard as necessary under the circumstances.

        But Londo’s reasoning is essentially the same as the one behind his series of disastrous choices from Signs and Portents on. It’s not all that different from when he told Vir that crushing the spirit of the Narns was necessary to protect the Centauri.

    3. G’Kar killing Cartagia would have fitted the standard “victim gets revenge” plot that so many shows have. It would have been emotionally satisfying for the character and viewers. But it would have been a political disaster, and both Londo and G’Kar know it.
      (Not sure if JMS ever explained this anywhere, apologies if I’m duplicating something he’d written.)
      As Londo told G’Kar, he couldn’t touch Cartagia. If a Narn killed the Centauri emperor, the successor – even someone opposed to the previous Centauri policies – would have had to avenge the killing. More dead Narn, and no end to the occupation.

      1. I think that would be fairly easy to write around, though. All that needs is for it to be deniable that G’Kar killed Cartagia, which is a matter of how JMS stages the assassination.

        I don’t think that it’s supposed to be public knowledge that Vir killed him in the actual story (I can’t remember exactly what Londo says when he announces the death to the court) or that it would have been public knowledge that Londo did in the original story.

  2. I’d always had that thought about the “You’re not a married man, are you?” line – that if Erickson had said “Yes,” I always had it in my mind’s eye that Sheridan would drop into a Pythonesque “Oh, we’ll send someone else, then,” and keep calling up the rest of the fleet until he finds someone suitable. SEEKING SINGLE RANGER FOR VERY, VERY SHORT TERM RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SHADOWS.

    There’s one shot right at the beginning of the giving-Erickson-his-last-orders sequence where the camera practically jumps up Boxleitner’s nose; for some reason, that shot always takes me right out of the story…why do that? Otherwise, almost flawlessly directed.

    Cartagia is effing terrifying. I have seldom been so stressed out watching a fictional character on TV. Funny thing is…television now is so full of capriciously cruel characters that there are some shows I just can’t get into – Walking Dead, The 4400, and yes, Mr. Cranston’s signature show, which I tried and tried to get into because one kept hearing how great the writing and plotting was, but I couldn’t stay with it. (I live in Arkansas. Meth is practically the official state rock. It’s hard to watch that as entertainment.) New Galactica nearly lost me because it got so dark that it was nearly impossible to see a shred of nobility anywhere in the cast of characters. But at the time, the sheer contrast between Cartagia and everyone else was incredibly stark.

    Such a great episode. Not a lot of FX going on, this is just the cast doing that voodoo they do so well, including guest players like Wortham Krimmer and Bryan Cranston bringing their “A” game.

    1. ‘Or maybe he’ll start saying things backwards like,
      “Kill Londo!”‘
      Vir’s best worst line: my covered eyes, tears streaming, HIlarious.

      Great analysis team, esp the Vir/Londo retrospective. LOL @Narnia and so this makes G’Kar Aslan.

      I was surprised by the shadow space jellyfish.

      “You’re not a married man, are you?” “No sir, but I am in an open polyamorous relationship with five significant others, each of us having sworn lifelong vows of devotion.”
      “Ah, right…”

      Breaking Bad may not be for you, Earl, being so close to it. I can’t watch The Fall myself, it seems to celebrate the worst aspects of Belfast. A friend enjoyed BB but refused Season 5, as it was getting too dark for her (and it is too darK) I love the comedy of it and the beautiful landscapes of the locations are wonderful. Who’ll be the first here to write Badger’s B5 episode submission?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *