The Fall of Night
- Lennier: Sometimes, I get so close and... it seems I am shut off from the important things.
Vir: The useless feeling. The ambassador is definitely going through some changes, he even looks different.
Lennier: Indeed. And now with the military starting a stampede over everyone and everything...
Vir: ...people coming and going, and secret meetings...
Lennier: ...you never know what it's all about, until later, when its too late.
Vir: And they never listen to us.
Both: It makes me nervous.
Vir: Same time tomorrow?
Sheridan is outside training the station's fighter squadrons in alien combat techniques, specifically Centauri combat, when an urgent call comes for him. The Drazi and pak'ma'ra ambassadors are waiting to speak to him with dire news. The Centauri have invaded their space and appear to be preparing to attack other races as well. Far from being over, the war seems to be only spreading.
Sheridan calls Londo up to see him, who explains that the Centauri are trying to establish a presence in the area, and refuses to be dissuaded when Sheridan demands to see on the map where it ends. Garibaldi notes that Londo can't be reasoned with anymore; he's afraid of what's happening, and as long as he is, he won't listen to anyone.
Sheridan has made a full report to Earthdome, and they have sent Frederick Lantz from the Ministry of Peace to investigate.
As the pilots wind down from their training, one of them mentions to Keffer that some from the other squadrons have seen what he saw.
Sheridan meets with Lantz, who is accompanied by Mr. Welles, head of Nightwatch. They are about to make some important decisions and he is here to make sure they are the right ones.
Keffer finds one of the other witnesses, Mitch, and manages to convince him to talk about what he saw. Mitch doesn't want to get involved, but he is willing to share some readings he managed to get.
As Lantz conducts his investigation, a jump point opens on the far side of Epsilon III, where no one but the station can see them. A Narn heavy cruiser appears moments later. The commander, Star Leader Na'Kal, calls and requests sanctuary for his ship, the G'Dok, and his crew, and Sheridan agrees.
Ivanova is in her quarters when Welles comes to visit. He is impressed by her and offers to become a patron of sorts, helping her advance faster than she otherwise might if she helps to root out traitors and seditious elements, but Ivanova is worried about the Nightwatch and refuses.
Sheridan shows G'Kar the cruiser now taking shelter, who is encouraged by the news and the presence of Mr. Lantz, hoping that Earth will soon take action, a sentiment Sheridan shares.
As Welles trains members of Nightwatch on what kind of "seditious activity" to be alert for, Mitch gives Keffer a datacrystal with his readings, then washes his hands of the matter. Meanwhile, G'Kar tries to get an audience with Lantz who is strangely reluctant to meet with him, to Ivanova's obvious bafflement.
Sheridan is in C&C getting an update on repairs to the G'Dok, when Lantz shows up. He's found out that Sheridan's been training his pilots to fight Centauri and insists it be stopped. He then announces that he has been sent to sign a peace treaty with the Centauri, a full alliance to keep Earth safe and out of anyone else's wars. As Welles leaves C&C one of the techs comes up, saying there's something he should know.
Sheridan and Ivanova are in his office discussing the absurdity of a peace treaty when Londo appears on the comm screen demanding to know why a Narn ship is there. Sheridan shuts him off and the two race to C&C.
Sheridan calls Na'Kal and tells him the Centauri know they're there, and a Centauri battlecruiser jumps in right on top of them. They need to get them out now. He orders Zeta Wing to escort the G'Dok to the jumpgate. Lantz comes in and protests, but Sheridan orders him out.
The Centauri attempt to stp the cruiser and eventually open fire. When one of the station's cargo pylons is blown off, Sheridan orders a full out attack which severely damages the battlecruiser. Meanwhile, the G'Dok reaches the jumpgate and escapes, but the Centauri ship succumbs to its damage.
Later in Sheridan's office, Lantz is complaining that his actions have deeply upset the Centauri. Even though Sheridan was in the right, he is ordered directly from the president to apologize for his actions, or be removed if he refuses. Sheridan asks if the apology is being written for him; Welles replies, "No. As with everything else, it's the thought that counts."
In his quarters, Sheridan practices what he'll say:
- "I apologize. I'm... sorry. I'm sorry we had to defend ourselves against an unwarranted attack. I'm sorry that your crew was stupid enough to fire on a station filled with a quarter million civilians, including your own people. And I'm sorry I waited as long as I did before I blew them all straight to hell. ...'As with everything else, it's the thought that counts.'"
Keffer, meanwhile has detected the readings of a Shadow ship and follows them until he finds it. Before long the ship notices him, and Keffer has moments to eject his flight recorder before it attacks.
In the Zen garden the ambassadors are gathering, as Sheridan rides the core shuttle. After one Centauri leaves, Sheridan realizes that he'd planted a bomb on the tram. He orders the computer to open the door and jumps as the tram explodes behind him.
In the garden the ambassadors watch in astonishment as Sheridan falls, and Ivanova orders rescue jetpacks into action, but they won't get there in time.
Delenn turns to Kosh, pleading, "You know what is at stake. If you are going to do anything you must do it now!"
The encounter suit opens and an angelic being emerges, each race seeing a figure from their own traditions, Valeria for the Minbari, G'Lan for the Narn, and Droshalla for the Drazi. Sheridan sees him approach and as they land asks, "Kosh?" The figure nods and leaves him.
Later, in his quarters, Delenn comes in and they discuss what happened, and what it means, both in the past and the near future. The Shadows will be worried now, but Delenn does not think the Vorlons are ready to meet them yet, though as long as the Shadows think no one else knows of them, they will think they have the advantage.
Just then a call comes in. Zeta Squadron is back, but Keffer isn't with them.
In the Zocalo a Narn and Drazi are talking about what they saw as Londo listens. When asked what he saw, he says, "Nothing. I saw nothing."
- Ivanova: It was the end of the Earth year 2259, and the war was upon us. As anticipated, a few days after the Earth-Centauri treaty was announced, the Centauri widened their war to include many of the Non-Aligned Worlds. And there was another war brewing closer to home, a personal one whose cost would be higher than any of us could imagine. We came to this place because Babylon 5 was our last, best hope for peace. By the end of 2259, we knew that it had failed. But in so doing, it became something greater. As the war expanded, it became our last best hope... for victory. Because sometimes, peace is another word for surrender. And because secrets have a way of getting out.
Footage from Keffer's flight recorder is shown with the Shadow ship clearly visible against hyperspace.
- ISN: When our ship encountered a distress beacon attached to an EarthForce recording device, these images, released exclusively to ISN, were found on that recording. Strategic analysts in EarthDome have indicated they don't know who this new race might be... but promised to find out.
As the footage ends, the ship turns and fires its weapon, and the screen turns to static.
This episode contains examples of:
- Affably Evil / Punch-Clock Villain : Mr. Lantz is such a kindly grandpa, it's almost a shame he's stumping for an increasingly fascist Earth Alliance.
- Backhanded Apology: Dear Centauri: I'm sorry your people are idiots. I should have killed them when they first showed up.
- Battle Trophy: Ivanova has a fragment of the Minbari ship he destroyed dug up from an Earthforce storage facility to give to Sheridan.
- Berserk Button: After one of the cargo loading pylons gets blown off, Sheridan orders, "Hit 'em with everything we've got!" They do, and the Centauri find themselves short one capital ship.
- Big Brother Is Watching: One of the Nightwatch informs Welles that the station is sheltering a Narn warship. Shortly thereafter, the Centauri are also informed, sparking a confrontation. At the close of the episode, we see a shop owner being taken from his store, which is being closed pending allegations of sedition.
- Brick Joke: A not-at-all-funny version. The shop owner at the beginning of the episode who got in trouble with the Nightwatch for making "seditious" comments - complaining about new import regulations - is arrested for the same at the end.
- Lt. Keffer finds out he's not the only one who's seen the Shadow ships. One of the other witnesses gives him a means to detect if one is nearby. Now he's able to track one and film it, at the cost of his life.
- Sheridan refers to Kosh's claim that "everyone" would recognise him if he left his encounter suit after he does and they do. Sort of.
- The above mentioned Battle Trophy is debris from the Black Star.
- Can't Stop the Signal: A transport finds Keffer's recording of the Shadow warship he found, and the footage gets broadcast to the galaxy on Inter Stellar News. Unfortunately, the heroes were trying to keep a lid on things, because the Shadows didn't know the heroes were aware of their resurgence.
- Continuity Nod: One of the pilots in another squadron mentions how Zeta Squadron's Furies were delivered by the president.
- Did I Mention It's Christmas?: The episode takes place during the last week or so of the year, but the heroes are too busy dealing with hiding a crippled Narn warship and dealing with rising tensions with the Centauri Republic to concern themselves too much with it. Commander Ivanova does present Sheridan with a Christmas gift, a piece of the Black Star, a nigh-invincible Minbari warship he famously destroyed during the Earth-Minbari War.
- The Empire: The Centauri are now definitely this; after conquering the Narn Regime, they've now expanded their reach further by invading the Drazi Freehold and pak'ma'ra space.
- Fake Static: Sheridan cuts off Londo's call, telling him the signal's breaking up (when it obviously isn't) and running a diagnostic so Londo can't call back.
- Foreshadowing: Keffer's film.
- Head-in-the-Sand Management: Frederick Lantz (quite obviously so).
- Heel Realization: Zack begins to realize what Nightwatch is all about.
- Incredibly Obvious Bomb: A very obvious example. A Centauri assassin plants one on the carriage that Sheridan is travelling in, hiding it behind his body until he gets off — and deliberately making eye contact with Sheridan to distract him until it's too late to escape. He doesn't reckon with Sheridan's split-second calculation that almost certain death trumps certain death... and no one expects Kosh to rescue the falling Captain.
- Not only is it incredibly obvious it's a bomb, it's an incredibly obvious Centauri bomb, done in purple and gold and even including a shape like a Centauri hair fan!
- Ironic Echo: When Sheridan is ordered to apologize for destroying the Centauri ship, he asks if the apology is being written for him. Welles replies, "No. As with everything else, it's the thought that counts." Later, Sheridan is seen practicing an epic Backhanded Apology in front of a mirror, capping it off with Welles's words.
- Killed Off for Real: Keffer. The higher-ups who ordered him into the show didn't care. JMS felt sorry for the actor. Still did it.
- Minion with an F in Evil: Zack is a terrible Nightwatch mook.
- Not Hyperbole: General Franklin promised that the new defense grid could fight off a warship. He wasn't kidding. Now if only someone had told the Centauri.
- Obviously Evil: Nightwatch, a group of people who wear black armbands, and work for an agency that self-identifies as MiniPax.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Londo suddenly appears on Sheridan's com screen demanding to know why a Narn heavy cruiser is in the local space. Sheridan immediately cuts him off and scrambles to get them out of there before the Centauri send their forces.
- He gets another one when he sees the bomb on the center tram.
- Ordered Apology: Sheridan is forced to apologize to the Centauri for destroying their ship. He comes up with a creative one.
- Out of the Frying Pan: Escaping the tram takes Sheridan out of immediate danger (of being blown up), but puts him in danger of colliding with the station's outer wall, which is moving around 60 MPH. So, he moves from one lethal situation straight into another.
- Realpolitik: Though expressing reservations toward his government in private, Londo zealously defends the actions of the Centauri Republic when they begin to aggressively raid neighboring worlds, claiming they require a "buffer zone".
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Ivanova shuts down Mr. Welles' attempts to bribe her with career advancements in exchange for being The Mole.
- Shout-Out: The Ministry of Peace. MiniPax for short.
- Smug Snake: Mr. Welles, of Nightwatch.
- Those Two Guys: Vir and Lennier have their moment in the conversation at the top of the page.
- Unfortunate Implications: In-universe. The phrase "peace in our time" doesn't exactly inspire confidence...note
- Wham Episode: Earth decides to appease the Centauri, Kosh finally reveals himself to the others, and things on Earth are starting to take an increasingly fascist tone.