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In Season 3's "Point of No Return", Lady Morella gives this prophecy:

Lady Morella: [Turning to Londo] You will be emperor. That part of your destiny cannot be avoided.

Londo: I see.

Lady Morella: [Turning to Vir] You will also be emperor. [Vir bursts into laughter] Why are you laughing?

Vir: I thought you were joking.

Lady Morella: We do not joke in the face of prophecy, Vir

Londo: Lady Morella, please. We cannot both be emperor.

Lady Morella: Correct. One of you will become emperor after the other is dead. That is all we see and all we wish to see.

There seems to be ambiguity in her prophecy saying that "one will be emperor before the other," which suggests that there is a (rather unlikely) chance that Vir might become emperor before Londo.

After Cartagia's death in Season 4, Londo is declared to be the next emperor by the Centaurum. And they had a number of reasons to, given what he had done:

  • Served as the Centauri ambassador to Babylon 5
  • Helped the Centauri defeat the Narn (with the help of the Shadows)
  • Rid Centauri Prime of Shadow influence (and ostensibly from the Vorlon planetkiller)
  • After Emperor Cartagia's death, set the Centauri policy to leave Narn
  • Served as Prime Minister
  • Became one of the founding members of the newly formed Interstellar Alliance

Contrast this with Vir, whom the nobility seem to be vaguely aware of, since he was the ambassador to Minbar (which ended in disgrace). There's no indication that Vir was ever seriously considered to become emperor.

Since Lady Morella's prophecy was ambiguous about who would be emperor first, there was the possibility that Vir might have been emperor before Londo. How the heck might this have been a possibility? How could Vir have possibly become emperor before Londo?

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    Was Vir emperor before Londo? I didn't think he was. – Xantec Sep 27 '14 at 2:08
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    I was trying to think of something analogous to the ascension of Claudius in Robert Graves' I, Claudius. IIRC, in the Graves' book Claudius was put on the throne by the Praetorian Guard because they thought he was a simple fool who could be easily controlled. I can't quite get that to work because of Vir's "disgraceful" actions while ambassador to Minbar. I think too many members of the Centaurum are aware that Vir is more than he seems. – Joe L. Sep 27 '14 at 4:19
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    Heck, how the hell did he become Emperor at all seems a better question. – Valorum Sep 27 '14 at 5:34
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    @Richard: According to the post-series novels and other sources, Vir led the resistance movement against the Drakh. Somewhat coincidentally, this is exactly the sort of thing his underground work on Minbar and alongside Londo to kill Cartagia would have prepared him for. This made him the logical choice for the position of Emperor when the Centauri Resistance and the Interstellar Alliance kicked the Drakh off Centauri Prime. – James Sheridan Sep 27 '14 at 6:06
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    It is traditional, and more dramatic, for prophecies to be vague and ambiguous. The straightforward and logical interpretation of the prophecy is, "Londo becomes Emperor, Londo dies, then Vir becomes Emperor", and that is what eventually happens. But it sounds more mysterious the way she said it. Also, leaving open the possibility that Vir becomes Emperor while Londo is still alive will confuse both of them, which Morella (or the fate/destiny/whatever speaking through her) might have done just for its entertainment value. – Royal Canadian Bandit Oct 1 '14 at 10:50
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There was no requirement that the prophecy remain ambiguous by keeping Vir "in the running" up until the point that one of them became emperor. The prophecy simply was what it was and if additional information became available to affect its interpretation as time passed, that's fine.

Even when Morella made the prophesy it was fairly obvious, assuming you took the accuracy of the prophecy as a given, that Londo was by far the more likely to be emperor first and that Vir would likely gain prominence as a result of Londo's reign. Which seems to be exactly what happened.

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    +1 to this. Also, the whole point of the prophecy scene was to create a tension between them. If you take it at face value, Londo knows he'll be first which means that he has to die before Vir becomes Emperor. – Valorum Sep 27 '14 at 5:49
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    This. In The Long Night of Londo Mollari, the vision of Vir Londo has while in his coma even flatly states that "a prophecy is a guess that comes true. You could put a gun in your mouth tomorrow, and the prophecy [of Londo's death at G'Kar's hands] is just a metaphor." There was no particular reason for Morella's prophecy to remain ambiguous until it became true. By her own admission, there were several opportunities for Londo to escape his destiny; saving G'Kar's eye, for example. – James Sheridan Sep 27 '14 at 6:09
  • The only rational, logical progression from events shown to Vir becoming emperor seems, to me, to rely entirely on the fact that Vir is a close friend to Londo, and someone he knows can trust more than any of his court. That said, there's a quote from the Chronicles of Amber that I think is relevant: "I trusted him like I would a brother, which is to say, not at all." – user62707 Sep 27 '14 at 18:02
  • @user62707, I'd like to think an argument could be made that Vir's value is not solely his friendship with Londo but his moral compass - which remains true despite constantly being overruled by his boss, his culture, his environment. – gowenfawr Sep 28 '14 at 15:40
  • Perhaps she had visions of each as emperor but couldn't tell which came first, Vir or Londo. It's not like visions have timestamps on them. The line: "That is all we see and all we wish to see." would be quite accurate. – Emsley Wyatt Nov 18 '17 at 1:29
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The Canonical "Legions of Fire" Novels showed that Vir, with the help of some technomages, is able to organize a resistance group and break the Drakh Power Base on Centauri Prime.

In the wake of that, he's installed as Emperor.

  • 1
    Welcome to Sci-fi/Fantasy Stack Exchange! Unfortunately, this doesn't answer the question, which was why Morella's prophecy left open the possibility that Vir might become Emperor before Londo. Vir's Drakh resistance occurred well after Londo became Emperor. – Thunderforge Apr 23 '16 at 3:47

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