This question about two-part poisons got me to thinking if the poison described by Mollari could even be effective as form of persuasion. Mostly because the second part could be administered weeks or even years after the first part.

In the episode, Ceremonies of Light and Dark, Londo Mollari used a two-part poison to persuade Antono Refa to change his policies.

Refa: You walked away from the greatest power I have ever seen! And now you expect me to do the same? They are the key to my eventual rise to the throne! Why would I abandon them?

Londo: Because I have asked you. Because your loyalty to our people should be greater than your ambition. And because I have poisoned your drink.

[Lord Refa looks in astonishment at Londo.]

Londo: Yes…and it is very interesting poison. It comes in two parts. Both are harmless on their own. But when combined…quite lethal. The first settles into the bloodstream, and the intestinal walls. It stays there for years. Silent…dormant…waiting. When the other half of the poison enters your system the two meet, have a little party in your cardiovascular system … and suddenly, you are quite dead.

Refa: Why? Why did you do this?

Londo: To guarantee your cooperation! And because sooner or later, you would do it to me! As we are returning to the old ways, Refa, and poison was always the instrument of choice in the old Republic, being something of a sentimentalist, I got here first.

Refa: What do you want me to do?

Londo: You have encouraged that fool Cartagia to attack worlds that have no value to us. You will now encourage him otherwise. You will bolster our lines of defense around Centauri Prime. And you will have nothing more to do with Mr. Morden. If you do not comply, one of my agents in the royal palace will introduce you to the second half of the poison.

[Mollari raises his glass and grins.]

Londo: To your health, Lord Refa.

Surely the palace doctors back on Centauri Prime would know about all kinds of poisons since poison was the weapon of choice against political opponents in Centauri culture.

A high ranking official like Lord Refa would ask his doctor to check for any poisons. Londo described the behaviors of the poison, so Refa could pass that knowledge to the doctor. That might help the doctor identify the exact poison.

Why would Londo Mollari even assume a two-part poison would work? He would know that poison victims would just ask for medical help. (Unless the poison could not be removed, or unless he was just bluffing.)

I'm looking for an answer from the tv shows, movies, or novelizations that mentions anything related to this poison. I don't want answers from fanfic.

  • 3
    It never came up again, in any media that I'm aware of, because Londo got his revenge from a completely different direction. So I'm having trouble understanding how you'd get an answer. But you're also making some rather blanket assumptions that Refa could easily get cured, which isn't supported anywhere. Even if he could eventually deal with part 1, that's still plenty of time for Londo to hold him and distance him from Morden.
    – Radhil
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 18:05
  • @Radhil I am wondering if Refa could be cured of the poison easily, which is why I asked if anybody has information from other Babylon-5 stories related to his poison. If he can't be cured easily, then Londo owns him. If he can, Londo still owns him long enough to make him change his policies.
    – RichS
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 19:05
  • Allright, I can set that up as an answer then, although it's pretty much going to be a "there's nothing on this and we can only fill gaps with speculation" kind of answer.
    – Radhil
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 19:11
  • I've never seen the difference between a 2 part poison, one pary of which you've already administered and a 1 part poison
    – user20310
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 20:31
  • 1
    @user20310 - it's covered in the linked question, but effectively, the best defense against basic poisons is someone who tastes the food. They don't die, it's not poisoned. A two-part poison is an end-run around that, because it's still poisoned with half of a binary compound, but only the one you want to kill is going to die from it, because they're the only one with the other half in their system, no matter who tastes it.
    – Radhil
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 20:37

3 Answers 3


The two-part poison never comes up again.

The only outside references to Refa's poisoning are just a few episodes later in Interludes and Examinations when Morden confronts Londo over his loss of connections to Refa, and after some snooping for a weakness, arranges Adira's poisoning, letting Londo assume Refa is to blame and allowing him to get back in business with Londo. None of the novels or movies cover these events further in any detail, because the TV series covers the events pretty completely - Londo partially poisons Refa to control him, Adira is killed by poison and Refa blamed, then Refa dies on Narn by Londo's plot, with Londo finally learning the full truth later. The two-part poison details are never important enough to bring up again.

Setting aside that Refa would die soon anyway, its not likely he could fix this quickly.

Londo is, as he points out, a sentimentalist. He loves the old traditions as reminders of the Republic's glory days, as well as because he's ambitious. So he would have time and knowledge to both find an old binary poison and determine which one would be the most effective. The Centauri court has largely moved on from poison as a tool (we see knives in the dark mostly, as with Emperor Turhan's Prime Minister in Coming of Shadows), so knowledge about it's use and cures would be limited. Refa would have to work to find someone who could both identify and cure him of the first half (presuming it could be) and would actually do so (wasn't already bought out by Mollari, who is already ahead of him). Until he could manage that, having no effective defense against a 2nd-half poison that only he would die to, he would have to bow to Londo and do as he said to cut off Morden, or risk death. Refa would scheme to get out from under Londo, but there's no evidence he could have done so quickly or easily, and that's time that Londo would easily use to his advantage.

Londo could also just be bluffing.

Never underestimate a trick because it's simple. Sinclair played this same trick against G'kar, getting him to believe he swallowed a transmitter that was never there, to get him under a bit more control. Londo wouldn't know that, but this is the same game, with the same plays, and it's entirely possible he's doing the same thing. Refa would still be in the same situation, because it's all too possible, and without time to research it and discover what Londo could or couldn't do, he wouldn't have the confidence to call the bluff, which is still time Londo would use to good effect.

Either way, Refa is forced to play to Londo's game, at least for the moment, and Londo isn't trying to control Refa completely, just limit the overabundant war and distance the Centauri from the Shadows.

  • 1
    I came to the rock to hide my face, but the rock cried out: "no hiding place" ... Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 8:42
  • Also due to Londo's sentimentalism, he could have chosen to trick Refa into entering a room fuln of angry Narns because a fast-acting poison would have been too quick for a proper revenge of a bereaved lover.
    – HAEM
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 18:57

It's been a while and I don't have the references handy, so I can't cite specifics.

I believe Londo was bluffing. He knew Refa would get medical checks and they would find nothing. But Refa couldn't take the chance that Londo hadn't come up with some other poison they hadn't thought to check for. If Londo had actually poisoned Refa, there was always a chance that they'd identify it and counteract it.

I think Londo and Vir had a conversation about this, which is how I came to that conclusion. As I said, I don't have the episode number handy.


Knowing all different kinds of poison doesn't necessarily mean you know exactly what poison was used and what antidote to take. Take for example our current world: there are x amount of venom from x amount of types of snakes in the world, x amount of venom from x amount of types of spiders in the world, even x amount of poison secretions from x amount of certain exotic frogs. Our doctors are aware of each kind of poison/venom there are and knows which type of antidote/antivenom to use to counteract them, however, they still need to know exactly what poison was used in order to administer the right antidote. Some antidotes, if administered to the wrong type of poison, ends up being just as fatal than the original poison itself.

Now, extrapolate that to not only Earth's different type of venom and poisons, but now other world's type of poison. Londo said he poisoned the drink, but that doesn't mean he used a specific Centauri-originating poison: the returning of the old ways remark was that poison was the weapon-of-choice, but that doesn't preclude off-world poisons. In any event, given the Centauri's unique biology, there may be numerous types of two-part poisons that could cause the initial ingredient to lay dormant and then became fatal when introduced to the second ingredient.

This type of treatment to poison is canon to B5 as it has been dealt before during the Pilot/The Gathering, when Kosh was poisoned. Dr. Ben Kyle (at the 30:00 mark) states that Kosh was poisoned, but can't counteract it, at Sinclair's suggestion, as he doesn't know which poison it was. As such, since Refa didn't know the exact poison (and as Centauri Prime is a long way from B5), Centauri physicians would have just as a difficult time determine the kind of poison was used.

  • Hello there! Welcome to Sci-Fi & Fantasy on StackExchange. You can improve your answers (and likelihood of getting upvoted) by adding links to them and adding quotes from original sources. The best answers provide not just explanatory text but also build those explanations atop quotes from canon sources. :-) I already upvoted some of your other answers.
    – RichS
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 1:28

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