10 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari” Spoiler Space”

  1. This is the start of my wife’s least favorite part of Babylon 5. Lennier ways always one of her very favorite characters and she hates where his story takes him this season. Especially after his turn in “Objects at Rest” she darn near didn’t watch the series finale with me.

    1. I think our hosts summed it up best: the first time through the show, Lennier’s betrayal is sudden and seemingly out of nowhere. Or at least, totally out of proportion to the characterization we’ve seen before then.

      But the clues were all there. Lennier was ALWAYS just a tad too obsessed with Delenn. There were so many little steps that took him to that decisive moment, we just didn’t notice them the first time through.

      1. For me, there are a couple of important details that make it entirely convincing:

        The first is that when Lennier actually does it, it’s a spur-of-the-moment impulse in response to an unlikely and unexpected set of circumstances. Who’s to say whether Lennier would have done it on a different day? (One can compare the question of whether Londo might have just brushed Morden off and never been pushed to his fatal speech if Morden had caught him on a good day.)

        At any rate, while in retrospect it’s seems clear that Lennier must have fantasized about Sheridan dying, it also seems clear that he never could have anticipated being given this opportunity to realize that. Which brings up the second thing that makes this work really well for me: when Delenn talks after the fact about the private writings found in Lennier’s quarters.

        That’s a nicely executed use of the trick that at this point usually forces one to start talking about an unnamed Agatha Christie novel in terribly roundabout ways. The level of information that’s been provided to the viewer turns out not to have been (as the default assumption leads us to expect) everything relevant for the plot. Instead, we have been given the same level of information as the characters, especially Delenn. There turns out to have been this whole load of other stuff going on that was also relevant that we weren’t seeing. This is the sort of thing that if it’s done badly feels like cheating, but if it’s done well (compare And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place) is terribly effective.

        In other words, if you like Lennier, everything that you like about him is still there. (He does go back, after all – that’s the Lennier that you like.) But there’s this other stuff, too, that you haven’t been seeing. You’ve only ever really seen the public Lennier. This doesn’t take the good stuff away, but it means that the good stuff wasn’t the whole story.

        Which is, thematically, one of the main things that Babylon 5 has been about since S1. “No-one here is exactly what he appears.“ (Except Sheridan.)

        If one can cope with Londo being both monster and hero, then one should be able to cope with Lennier being both sidekick and villain. It’s telling the extent to which JMS juxtaposes Londo and Lennier at different points: in The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari, but also in The Quality of Mercy, and especially in the story that TVLNoLM recalls, Convictions. (Lennier saving Londo on impulse is of course the mirror of Lennier refusing to save Sheridan, also on impulse, as I believe our hosts pointed out when covering Convictions.)

        Other important mirrors of Lennier: Marcus (Lennier in S5 retrospectively highlights the potential creepiness about Marcus mooning over Ivanova, which might have jibed nicely with the Byron arc in its original conception); Vir (Vir killing Cartagia, one of Sheridan’s mirrors, on the spur of the moment is the morally-reversed equivalent of Lennier failing to save Sheridan.)

        1. And I can’t believe I forgot this one: Garibaldi! One of the things that for me works so well about the Lennier arc is the way in which it yanks the carpet out from under the viewer by taking away the excuses that protected the viewer’s affection for Garibaldi during his betrayal arc. Lennier’s betrayal is real human betrayal (well, not literally human, obviously), with no psychic powers involved, and while JMS uses Bester to contrive a way for Garibaldi to be a Judas who nonetheless remains one of the good guys, Lennier is cast into the outer darkness.

          And who of us can be *absolutely* certain that, if our lives took a dark turn, and we fell into the habit of indulging our darkest thoughts a litte too much, and then we were suddenly and unexpectedly confronted with the right (or more accurately, wrong) set of circumstances, we would not find ourselves in the outer darkness along with him?

          1. Thanks our hosts for taking time to talk about ‘the Lennier thing’. This episode does set it up, as Dan says. The Londo/Lennier parallels, the casual-ness of betrayals was something I hadn’t appreciated until now. The writings Delenn found in his quarters, does that come after his betrayal? Do they hint at a Sheridan death fantasy?

            The sleight-of-hand is written into the characters. Lennier, humble, modest, innocent and submissive; Delenn, iconic, kind, strong and regally beautiful. They’re chalk and cheese at the source, yet Furlan and Mumy have a compelling chemistry that takes us far beyond . We’re trained to watch her admiringly and expect grand surprises, and to accept Lennier as loyal and surprise with ninja sorry Ranger like quietness. The roles are subverted only on scrutiny. Delenn deals with Lennier’s hurts with graceful charity on first watch, but with hindsight in a way that is, frankly callous, selfish and ill-thought out. Lennier soldiers on, determined, to be uncomfortable behind a mask of diligence. As an author myself, I can see JMS probably assembled a hundred pages of character notes where the plans for this lay. All the same, I think we all have difficulties with the level of exposition and me particularly, in seeing Lennier’s betrayal as premeditated. It’s deus ex machina and like those on the station, we the audience are left complaining at a crane. The crane is broken.

          2. This is a reply to Trebitsch Lincoln, but I’m out of replies.

            The writings aren’t said to hint at a Sheridan death fantasy, but I think it would be an overoptimistic view of “human” nature not to infer that Lennier would have entertained such thoughts occasionally from what the text does say.

            Aside from the general impression of unhealthy obsession on Lennier’s part that Delenn gives, the critical detail is when she reports that Lennier’s writings say that he was convinced that the Sheridan-Delenn marriage was a mistake.

            That’s new information that we haven’t been given before, and it contradicts what Lennier said the last (and only) time that he gave anyone clear information about his feelings, when he told Marcus about them. Then he says that he “knows that [Delenn] is destined for another [=Sheridan, presumably].” As long as we the viewer are left with that statement as the last word on Lennier’s feelings, we are free to entertain the idea that he is romantically obsessed, but accepts that it’s not ever going to go anywhere. We can regard him, as it were, as the equivalent of a Catholic priest with a genuine vocation who falls in love – he accepts that he has a superior duty.

            But the moment that we learn that Lennier thinks that the Sheridan-Delenn relationship is something that should not be there at all, well…

  2. “we’re interviewing Peter David”


    I hope you can get a word from him on how it was to follow JMS in closing the Babylon 5 story proper.

    Have any of you noticed some similarities between PAD’s Star Trek New Frontier and Discovery ?

  3. Hi, just dropping in to say hi to Erika, Shannon and Chip. My wife and I just finished re-watching the whole series, and I’m just getting through your season 4 podcasts. Looking forward to hearing all your thoughts on season 5. I love what you guys do and am very grateful to listen to an intelligent discussion by people who actually care.
    My main impression this time around (my fourth, counting the original airings) is that season 5 is not a bad season, in fact the stories being told are critical pieces of the timeline, and it was very important to see the final chapters of the arcs of our dear friends. But s5 suffers from the relentless tragedy that continually plagues just about everyone. There is very little in the way of bright spots, rousing adventures or edge of your seat thrillers, and worst of all everyone’s sense of humor seems to have been blunted. A lot of stress, conflict and suffering. Maybe the feeling was enhanced by having watched it before, but actually many details had slipped my mind and I was really surprised at the unrelenting gloomy, almost mournful tone. And then to cap it all off, they break our damn hearts. In a million damn pieces. Sigh. Anyway it has provoked me to finally read Peter David’s Centauri trilogy, so looking forward to that. Cheers from Maryland, thanks again!

  4. Voord 99 (also out of replies),

    The possibility that Lennier may have fantasized just a bit about Sheridan dying had also occurred to me. Lennier could be seen as playing a long game (horrible way to put it, but I’ll use it unless I can think of a better term). Sheridan only has 20 years left to him, and Minbari have much longer lifespans than humans anyway. Add that to the fact that Sheridan is an action hero who tends to get himself into dangerous situations, and somewhere in a corner of Lennier’s mind may have been the thought that, several years in the future when John’s dead and Lennier’s a veteran action hero Ranger, Lennier might have a chance after all.

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