Recap / Babylon Five S 02 E 03 The Geometry Of Shadows

No, this isn't Dungeons & Dragons.

The Geometry of Shadows

Londo: Vir, do you believe in fate?
Vir: Well, actually, I believe there are currents in the Universe. Eddies and tides that pull us one way or the other. Some we have to fight, some we have to embrace. Unfortunately, the currents that we have to fight look exactly like the currents we have to embrace. The currents that we think are the one that's gonna make us stronger, they are the ones that are going to destroy us. And the ones that we think are going to destroy us, they are the ones that are going to make us stronger. Now, the other current...
Londo: Vir! Yes or no?
Vir: Yes! You know, somewhat, why?

Franklin is examining Garibaldi, despite his tendency to not admit he's still feeling pain. While there, the doctor asks when he's going to take his position back, but Garibaldi isn't sure he should, if he couldn't tell his own second was a traitor.

Londo is receiving a visitor, Lord Refa, who is very interested in finding out how Londo managed to solve the Quadrant 37 situation, but Londo's not talking. Refa drops the issue and turns to other matters. The Emperor's son died recently, leaving the line of succession open. He is planning on making a grab for it, and he wants Londo's help. With some persuasion, Londo agrees.

Later, after seeing Refa off, Londo notices an oddly-dressed trio of humans coming through security. He calls them Technomages, people who use technology to create the appearance of magic. They aren't usually seen and are considered by some to be an omen.

Meanwhile, Sheridan and a newly-promoted Commander Ivanova are watching as a fight between groups of Drazi wearing two different colored scarves is broken up. He tells her that he wants her to deal with the minor diplomatic situations as part of her new responsibilities, starting with the Drazi. She looks at the riotous Drazi on the screen and sighs.

Vir finds Londo in a bar, deep in thought. He recounts how the first emperor of the Republic received the blessing of three Technomages, and he has the idea to get an image of himself with one of them, something that would hold a lot of sway back home. He tells Vir to arrange a meeting, then leaves. Vir, not looking forward to meeting them, drinks the rest of Londo's drink, and falls right over.

Garibaldi is in his quarters playing with a gun, when Sheridan comes in. The two talk and the captain urges him to come retake his position, saying he knows the station better than anyone else, but says ultimately it's his decision.

Ivanova has gathered the Drazi in chambers to begin working out their problems, but first she just has to find out just what the problem is, which the Drazi don't make easy.

Purple Leader: Green!
Green Leader: Purple!

Confused, Ivanova presses for more information, becoming more and more exasperated as she finds that the selection of the two sides is completely random. To clarify, she moves a scarf from one Drazi and puts it on one from the other side, which promptly results in a riot. Ivanova finds herself buried under a dogpile of Drazi as she screams in pain.

In some dark corner of the station, Vir is cautiously making his way to where the Technomages are said to be staying. When he arrives he is confronted by a towering monster which advances on him threateningly. He stands his ground and repeats his statement until a voice calls from behind, ending the program, and the monster vanishes. The Technomage seems impressed by Vir standing his ground. Vir's reply: "I work for Ambassador Mollari. After a while nothing scares you anymore." The Technomage then asks what the ambassador wants, and Vir explains that Londo wishes an audience, but the Technomage refuses. Vir becomes insistent, but after a veiled threat, he simply asks for the man's name: "Elric." He is then warned not to return.

Ivanova is recovering from her injured foot in Medlab when Sheridan comes to see her. He was expecting her to fall on her face a couple time, though not quite so literally. She insists she can do it and heads off to chambers again.

Londo is not pleased with Vir's lack of results, but soon concludes that if an ambassador can't meet with them, he'll have to go to someone they can't ignore.

Garibaldi roams the station, when Officer Welch approaches him, asking when he's going to come back. Garibaldi still isn't sure, but Welch is called away by another Drazi fight.

Londo is speaking with someone the Technomages can't ignore, Captain Sheridan. He tell Sheridan that Technomages can be a lot of trouble if one doesn't know how to handle them, and offers his assistance to the captain. Sheridan accepts; Earthforce is also interested in what they are up to.

Ivanova is on her way to the negotiations when she receives a call; green Drazi on their homeworld have started killing purple. She races to the chamber only to find it littered with dead purple Drazi.

Elric has been summoned up to Sheridan's office, who wants information on why they're on the station and what their intentions are. Elric protests that they have the right to travel without harassment, but the two are interrupted as Londo comes in. He sets his drink down, discreetly setting a recording device beside it. Elric is not happy, and tells Sheridan that Londo has been trying to have an audience with him since he came on board. When Londo protests, Elric shows a holo-recording of Vir's first request. Londo calls recording a conversation a low thing to do, but offers forgiveness. Elric accepts with a warning not to use this for any other purpose. Londo says he won't... and moments later his recording device explodes. Elric grabs him by the collar and condemns him for his hypocrisy, saying from now on he will learn respect. Sheridan insists that Londo leave, before he has the attempted bugging reported. Londo beats a hasty retreat.

As Sheridan walks Elric back the two start talking about magic, and Elric takes the opportunity to explain what the Technomages are.

Elric: We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers. We study the mysteries of laser and circuit, crystal and scanner, holographic demons and invocations of equations. These are the tools we employ, and we know many things. Fourteen words to make someone fall in love with you forever, seven words to make them go without pain, how to say goodbye to a friend who is dying, how to be poor, how to be rich, how to rediscover dreams when the world has stolen them from you. That is why we are going away, to preserve that knowledge.

He then explains that they sense a storm, and that they intend to leave this sector of space. He cannot tell Sheridan where they are going, and asks that he trust them.

Ivanova goes to the green Drazi's quarters to talk to them. The green leader has an idea. He wants Ivanova to call the purple to an isolated sector of the station and seal them in then cut off their air. Ivanova is horrified and refuses but they tell her they have already sent the message in her name. When she tries to call security, she is grabbed and restrained. Garibaldi is still roaming when he passes by Welch, who tells him about the Drazi meeting Ivanova called. Garibaldi asks if he spoke to her directly, but it was just an uplink. Garibaldi asks where it came from, then hurries off. In the Drazi quarters, a bound Ivanova is trying to convince the pair guarding her to let her go before they get in even more trouble, when the door chimes. Garibaldi comes in giving a salesman line about the "Acme Handy-Dandy Micro Helper," and if anyone needs help, just say the word.

Ivanova kicks the Drazi watching her then screams, "Garibaldi!" He quickly overpowers the other one, then goes and frees her.

Londo is having trouble as a holodemon has possessed his computer, randomly buying shares of useless stocks, deleting files, messing with the lights and playing Narn opera. Vir suggests he try apologizing, but Londo balks at the idea. As the room goes completely dark, he begins to reconsider.

Ivanova and Garibaldi find the green Drazi in one of the corridors and tell them that the purple bought the ruse and are already locked in. Their thinking is to keep them there until the fight, which lasts a Drazi cycle, is over in a week. The amused Drazi tell them that a Drazi cycle is not a week, it's a year! There's no way they can keep them locked up that long. Ivanova starts going on a rant about how stupid the situation is, during which she pulls the green leader scarf off of his head, causing him and the other Drazi to come to attention. When Ivanova asks what they're doing he explains that she is now green leader. She's confused, but the rules make no mention of aliens, so she, as the new green leader, orders them down to the quartermaster's office to have their scarves dyed purple.

Londo now makes his way to the Technomages' lair. As roaring of the monster is heard, he struggles to say what he came here to say, "I'm sorry!" The growling abruptly stops. He calls out a few times, but when he gets no response he turns to leave... unaware of the three creatures clinging to his back.

A small party is celebrating Garibaldi's return to duty as he explains why he came back. First, he knows the place better than anyone else, and second, he doesn't trust anyone. Sheridan is soon called away.

Londo finds Elric in the departure area as he is about to leave. The creatures have apparently wreaked havoc on his quarters and he asks if he will have to spend his entire life paying for this mistake. Elric replies that he will spend his entire life paying for his mistakes, but not this one. Elric has removed the spell, but he senses a darkness in Londo. Before leaving he offers a word to prove that he has a grand destiny:

Elric: As I look at you, Ambassador Mollari, I see a great hand reaching out of the stars. The hand is your hand. And I hear sounds, the sounds of billions of people calling your name.
Londo: My followers?
Elric: Your victims.

Sheridan is on the command deck as the Technomages' ship is prepared to leave. He grants them clearance and watches as they jump out. He then muses that he doesn't think they've seen the last of them.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Aggressive Negotiations: With the Drazi, what else could they be?
  • Clarke's Third Law: Deliberately invoked by the Technomages.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Ivanova breaking her leg when the brawling Drazi pile on top of her, despite the fact that she's sympathetic and therefore doesn't qualify for the usual reasons. Perhaps it's her cynical outlook on life that makes it funny? In fact, the whole episode plays around with Comedic Sociopathy, really. Drazi die, but its overshadowed by the sheer humour of the conflict.
  • Continuity Nod: Mention is made of a Changeling Net.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Elric's punishment of Londo for attempting to exploit him for personal gain is quite creative. Making the power to his quarters fluctuate, blaring Narn opera through his speakers, and using equation spells to invest Londo's assets in useless companies.
  • Driven to Suicide: It's heavily implied that Garibaldi's near this point; when Sheridan visits him, he's popping the energy cap in and out of his PPG. When Garibaldi mentions that maybe it'd be easier if he didn't come back, Sheridan replies that life doesn't give points for taking the easy road.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The voiceover for this season is spoken by Bruce Boxleitner in-character as John Sheridan. However, when it was originally recorded, Boxleitner had nothing but the text to work from. When the footage was put together for the opening credits, Boxleitner asked to re-record the speech to better match the action on the screen, and to do it with more feeling. The improvement between the two takes in incredible.
  • Fantastic Racism: Played for Laughs, if you can believe that. Only it's not really racism, but something even more ridiculous. The source of conflict between the two Drazi sides isn't heritage, social class, caste, or anything like that - it's not even skin colour. It's between "green" and "purple", as decided by which color scarf a given Drazi pulls out of a barrel. Ivanova eventually has to dye one side's scarves the other color to keep them from fighting. If they're all purple, there's no feud.
  • Foreshadowing: Sheridan's line, "If you took this station back in time a thousand years..."
    • For that matter, not only will we see Technomages again, but the next person to talk to one (that we see, at least) will be Sheridan.
    • Elric's prophecy gives a fairly accurate prediction of the cost of Londo's ambition, and the fact that the cost will not be shouldered by him alone.
    • Lord Refa mentions that the emperor is sick. We find out just how sick in "The Coming of Shadows".
  • Hypocritical Humor: After Elric plays a recording of Vir delivering Londo's request for an audience with the Technomages, Londo indignantly complains, "Recording a conversation — a very low thing to do"... as the camera cuts to a view of Londo's own recording device.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: Londo subtly places one in Sheridan's office moments before greeting Elric. It's fairly small but it's still there in plain sight. Elric notices it and blows it up.
  • Loophole Abuse: Ivanova ends the fighting by taking Green Leader's sash, thereby becoming Green Leader. When she asks, she's told that the rules never mention aliens.
    Former Green Leader: Rules change caught up in committee, not come through yet.
  • Loud of War: Elric punishes Londo by blasting Narn Opera into his quarters.
  • Magic from Technology: The Technomages' Modus Operandi, as Londo explains to Vir.
  • The Prophecy: As a parting gift (of sorts), Elric tells Londo what he sees of his future:
    "As I look at you, Ambassador Mollari, I see a great hand reaching out of the stars. The hand is your hand. And I hear sounds — the sounds of billions of people calling your name."
  • On Second Thought: When Vir first proposes that Londo apologize to Elric, Londo scoffs at the suggestion. After the holodemon forces yet another investment in a useless company, Londo reconsiders.
  • Shout-Out: the Technomages are made of them - the one we meet is named Elric, and he paraphrases, among other things, The Lord of the Rings, Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
  • Silly Reason for War: From a human perspective, anyway.
  • Survival Mantra: As the Technomage's monster advances on him:
    Vir: My name is Vir Cotto, diplomatic attache to Ambassador Londo Mollari of the Centauri Republic...My name is Vir Cotto, diplomatic attache to Ambassador Londo Mollari of the Centauri Republic...MY NAME IS VIR COTTO...
  • Take Our Word for It: Apparently, the imps attached to the back of Londo's jacket after his apology did some damage to his quarters. We never actually see the damage, though.
  • Technopath: Technomages are able to control technology seemingly at will.
  • You Are in Command Now: Again, a humorous case; Ivanova accidentally becomes leader of the green Drazi by taking the leader's sash.