One of the shows most influential to my development as a writer is Babylon 5. It came out in the early ’90s and was so different than other sci-fi shows of the time. It had morally gray characters, an epic storyline, and for the time great visual FX.
The characters were well written and believable. They grew throughout the shows run, none being the same when they started. The series pushed the envelope and due to some issues with the possibility of no fifth season had two seasons worth of material crammed into one to ensure most of the major and relevant plot points were wrapped up.
My two favorite characters would have go be G’kar and Londo Molari, the diplomats from the Narn Regime and the Centauri Republic, respectively. Both are scheming hustlers with a deep sense of patriotism to their homeworlds. G’kar is the ambitious and conniving Narn who seeks to expand his home’s sphere of influence. Londo is an old, washed up, drunkard remembering the bygone era of the Republic. When we first meet Londo he’s drinking, gambling and staring at the dancing girls, looking for what little pleasures he can still get.
Be Careful What you Wish For
Londo and G’kar, in my opinion, have the most character development of anyone else in the show. They, more than anyone else, change the most by the end of the show. Both seek great things for their people, wanting them to prosper and increase their hold on power. Ironically both get exactly what they want only to find that the cost of power can be damning.
A meeting with Mr. Morden sets things in motion. He asks Londo what he wants. Londo brushes him off but after enough pestering, he answers.
” All right. Fine! You really want to know what I want? You really want to know the truth? I want my people to reclaim their rightful place in the galaxy. I want to see the Centauri stretch forth their hand again, and command the stars! I-I want a rebirth of glory, a renaissance of power. I want to stop running through my life like a man late for an appointment, afraid to- to look back, or to look forward. I want us to be what we used to BE! I want…I want it all back, the way that it was! Does that answer your question? “
This satisfies Morden who now seeks to help Londo. Ultimately Londo gets everything he wants. The Centari Republic returns to power, becoming a lion of the galaxy. His status in the court rises. The Republic is no longer looked down upon as trinket sellers and the legacy of a bygone era.
By making such a Faustian bargain with Morden Londo learns the cost of power and it destroys him ultimately.
G’kar wants revenge for the occupation of his homeworld by the Centari. He wants to make them pay, to watch their planet burn, to have every Centari wiped out. He wants war to show the power of the mighty Narn war machine. Everything he hated about the Centari the Narn had become. Aggressive, power-hungry, and seeking more territory. He got his wish.
What G’kar didn’t realize was that the Centari had the backing of the Shadows. The great Narn fleet was destroyed and his beloved homeworld lay sieged and bombarded from orbit. His deepest fear happened. The Centari returned and enslaved his world again. The Centari also learned from their previous occupation. It was brutal and bloody.
G’kar over the course of the show learned that to be a leader is more than strength and a love of your cause. You have to be willing to sacrifice to win. He had to be humble, swallow your pride, and play the long game.
Once Narn was free he resisted the calls to invade the Centari Republic. He ignored the call for him to become the supreme leader. G’kar learned the hard way the cost of power.
Londo rose to the height of the Republic and became emperor. He learned that he had all the power but no ability to do anything. He was trapped in a gilded cage and forced to watch the results of his bargain, the destruction of his homeworld.
If you have never seen Babylon 5 it is streaming on Amazon. I’d give it a go. There are some fantastic episodes, some of the best writing, and epic stories. It is one of my all-time favorite shows and I still watch it every few years.
If you have watched Babylon 5 let me know your favorite character and what you love about the show.