Sheridan continues putting the pieces in place for his final strike against the Shadows and the Vorlons, while Londo and Vir make the final preparations for assassinating Emperor Cartagia.
- Bruce Boxleitner as Captain John Sheridan
- Claudia Christian as Commander Susan Ivanova
- Jerry Doyle as Security Chief Michael Garibaldi
- Mira Furlan as Ambassador Delenn
- Richard Biggs as Dr. Stephen Franklin
- Stephen Furst as Vir Cotto
- Bill Mumy as Lennier
- Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar
- Peter Jurasik as Ambassador Londo Mollari
- Jeff Conaway as Zack Allan
- Jason Carter as Marcus Cole
- Patricia Tallman as Lyta Alexander
- Mark Bramhall as Centauri #2
- Ron Campbell as Drazi Ambassador
- Carl Reggiardo as Centauri #1
- Kim Strauss as G'Lorn
- Regular characters appearing in this episode are John Sheridan, Susan Ivanova, Michael Garibaldi, Delenn, Lennier, Vir Cotto, Londo Mollari and G'Kar.
- Last appearance of Cartagia, played by Wortham Krimmer.
Captain Sheridan records in his log that they're almost ready to begin his plan to end the Shadow War. Commander Ivanova reports to him in C&C with grim news. After several Vorlon attacks on Shadow outposts, the Shadows have now begun to retaliate: taking out Vorlon outposts with death weapons of their own. As Sheridan had predicted, the Younger Races are getting caught between "two giants fighting in a sandbox."
Meanwhile, on the Narn homeworld, Londo Mollari calls a secret meeting of his conspirators in the assassination plot against Emperor Cartagia. With Cartagia having allowed Shadow vessels to be berthed on Centauri Prime, Mollari realizes time is against them. They must take out the emperor now, away from the homeworld; otherwise, they won't be able to remove the Shadow vessels in time to stop the Vorlons' reckoning.
Ivanova walks in on Sheridan in his quarters, noting him to be "far away again" in thought. Sheridan then asks Ivanova for a huge favor. Last year, she had spend time seeking out other First Ones. Now he needs her expertise in locating them so as to recruit them (with help from Lorien) as trump cards in his plan against the Vorlons and Shadows. Ivanova protests since she wanted to be on the front lines when the big battle went down. She had bad memories of being sent away from the action since her mother committed suicide under similar circumstances, so she doesn't trust people to wait on her or come for her. Sheridan assures her he's not holding her back but sending her to gather the last pieces of his plan. As she leaves, Sheridan takes the time to thank her for what she's done, and she shows genuine appreciation.
In the replica throne room on Narn, a jester amuses the royal court. As Mollari rejoins them, Cartagia takes him aside and lets him know that he will be taking Mollari with him on his "grand ascension," seeing as he will need company once he becomes a god. The scene gets tense for a moment as Cartagia realizes the jester is mocking him, but he seems to let the moment pass. Mollari excuses himself so as to "make some arrangements."
These arrangements involve G'Kar, currently in a cell. Mollari is shocked to discover G'Kar minus an eye (the result of Cartagia disapproving of his glare). Despite G'Kar's bitter words, Mollari patiently explains his role in the upcoming plot. Mollari is arranging for his bonds to be weakened so he can break free and create a distraction so as to allow Mollari to take Cartagia someplace private where the actual assassination will take place. In return, Mollari promises the Centauri will abandon Narn. His only condition is that G'Kar not strike Cartagia directly, so as to not provide the Centauri any excuses.
As Mollari returns to the throne room, he hears gunshots and a yell. He soon sees the jester lifeless on the floor: executed on Cartagia's orders.
Some time later, Vir Cotto reports to Mollari in a secluded room. Mollari had sent Vir on his errand because he's considered too honest to do anything subversive. Cotto has obtained an elaborately-decorated poisoning needle designed for traceless assassination; for anyone not in the know, a successful injection will look like the emperor succumbed to a dual heart attack. But due to its delicate nature (to ensure its tracelessness), it has to be administered in an exacting way. It's supposed to act too quickly for the victim to call out, but Mollari is suspicious of this. He and Cotto each wonder how much Cartagia might get out but then realize the time is at hand. They leave to join the Emperor.
As planned, G'Kar is paraded around to humiliate him and his people. He is then brought before the throne room for his final judgment. To Mollari's chagrin, Cartagia reveals that he'd ordered G'Kar's bonds redone. Despite this, through, G'Kar proceeds to strain against his kirrilium chains, and to everyone's astonishment, breaks free anyway! A riot ensues in the throne room, allowing Mollari to draw Cartagia away as planned. Away from the chaos, Cartagia vents and fumes, in the process inadvertently striking Mollari and making him drop the needle, but as he condemns Mollari to burn with Centauri Prime, he turns...in time for Cotto to stab him with the needle! Cotto quickly hides the needle, and Mollari savvily alerts arriving guards to find a doctor.
A short time later, Londo and another noble return to the throne room with grim news: Cartagia is dead, apparently of a dual heart attack. Mollari continues, suggesting Cartagia's sudden death as an ill omen: the second time an emperor has died while involved with Narns. Perhaps it is best to leave and see to their own affairs. Another noble concurs, noting that the Narn homeworld is in ruins; they've suffered enough. Furthermore, Mollari points out, they need to get rid of the Shadow vessels on Centauri Prime before the Vorlons arrive. The royal court then springs a surprise; to help move things along, they have chosen Mollari to act as Prime Minister. Suddenly, for the present moment, Mollari is the most powerful Centauri alive.
In the War Room, Lennier fills in everyone on current events. So far, both the Vorlons and the Shadows are targeting outlying colonies and outpots in hit-and-run raids, refusing to commit to anything significant. Everyone figures both sides are trying to rattle the other and jockey for position. Just then, a transmission comes in from White Star 14 commanded by Anla'Shok Ericsson. They've arrived at a Vorlon-sided colony that has just been enveloped by the Shadows' planet killer: the Death Cloud. They are able to observe the Death Cloud in action: countless missiles within the cloud launch themselves into the planet, drilling down into the core and then detonating simultaneously, creating catastrophic tectonic upheaval that will doom all alive down there. Michael Garibaldi points out the obvious. How do you fight something like that? Lennier then provides a possibility. He's received word of the Vorlon fleet massing in hyperspace near Sector 70 by 12 by 5. Sheridan realizes that leaves only one possible target: Coriana VI, a world of six billion. He asks Ericsson to stand by, as he's about to ask a great deal of his ship.
Back on Narn, Mollari is looking for Cotto so they can leave for Centauri Prime. He eventually finds Cotto totally plastered. Cotto had never wanted to do anything of this caliber, and now here he stands having just assassinated the emperor. Mollari points out that there are times when one has to get dirty. Cotto had done the necessary thing and may well have saved the Centauri race. Cotto admits he never wanted to know the things he knows or do what he's done – only wanted a good job. Mollari tries to console him, saying he didn't want this for him, either, however, Cotto has a good heart. Mollari and Cotto leave to begin the journey home while fireworks light up the night sky as the Narns realize the Centauri are leaving and that the nightmare of their occupation and oppression is ending.
Sheridan convenes the League of Non-Aligned Worlds in the War Room. Having seen the footage of the Death Cloud, the mood is grim. Sheridan then appears and announces that with Coriana VI's innocent lives at stake, time has run out. The plan to end the Shadow War begins now. The League will be the first phase of the plan. They will conduct lightining raids on Vorlon positions in order to distract and delay them. It will serve three purposes. First, the rest of the fleet will have time to take strategic positions in the Coriana system. Second, it will also provide time for Ivanova to recruit First Ones and lead them into position as well. Finally, this will provide a chance for Sheridan to lure the Shadows to Coriana as well so as to force a decisive confrontation. This is where Ericsson comes in. Sheridan uploads to White Star 14 information on a secret base being established at Coriana VI. It's a false report, meant to be intercepted by the Shadows. Ericsson will lead a sortie into Shadow space and draw a battle with them in a one-way mission so that the Shadows will believe the report to be genuine and respond by going to Coriana VI. Fully aware what this means, Ericsson agrees to the mission and delivers a final Anla'shok salute before signing off.
As the celebration continues, Narns begin tearing down the replica palace. G'Kar happens upon the carnage and seethes. His rage builds further when he learns the Narns want to bestow leadership upon him, justifiably pointing out that he didn't remove one ruler so as to become another. He will resume his position in the Kha'ri once it's re-established and no more. G'Kar explains that the Narns didn't win their freedom back; rather, the Centauri had imploded on themselves. And when challenged to explain how his suffering compares to that of the rest of Narn, G'Kar finally realizes no one is listening; he leaves them, laughing all the while like a madman.
That night, Sheridan replays the last transmission of White Star 14. It had accomplished its mission, and the Shadows will by now be alerted to head to Coriana VI. At Delenn's prompting, he leaves to join the fleet. The final battle of the Shadow War will soon begin, with no guarantee he or anyone else will emerge alive.
"Humor is such a subjective thing, don't you think, Mollari?"
- – Emperor Cartagia
"I did not remove one dictator from the throne just to become a dictator myself."
- – G'Kar to G'Lorn
|Babylon 5 Season 4 "No Surrender, No Retreat"|
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