20

In Season 3's "Point of No Return", Londo asks Lady Morella to "see" for him. He explains his request:

I need you to see for me. I believe that I have been touched. That I am meant for something greater. A greater darkness or a greater good I can no longer say. All I have ever wanted is to serve our people. I need to see what is before me, if I should escape it, or embrace it, if there is any longer a choice.

Later she reveals to him what she sees in his future:

You still have three opportunities to avoid the fire that waits for you at the end of your journey. You have already wasted two others.

You must save the eye that does not see.

You must not kill the one who is already dead.

And at the last, you must surrender yourself to your greatest fear, knowing that it will destroy you. Now, if you have failed all the others, that is your final chance for redemption.

... One more thing. You will be Emperor. That part of your destiny cannot be avoided.

Mollari's desire to consult with the Lady is at least partly driven by his earlier encounter with the Technomage, who told him:

I'm afraid you're going to have to spend the rest of your life paying for your mistakes. ... You are touched by darkness Ambassador. I see it as a blemish that will grow with time. I could warn you of course but you would not listen. ...

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?

Your victims.

This fate, having billions of victims, is therefore presumably what Londo wishes to avoid, and the Lady's five opportunities (two already wasted) can be presumed as chances to avoid this outcome.

To my recollection, this prophecy is never directly mentioned again in the series.

My question is:

  • What were the opportunities alluded to in this prophecy?
  • Was Londo able to seize any of them to escape "the fire that waits for him"?
  • 7
    I thought the one who is already dead was Sheridan. Note that it's his actions that prevented the all out attack of the Alliance on Centauri Prime – Valorum Apr 14 '15 at 7:26
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    With regards to the third prophecy, I'm reminded of a scene where Vorlon ships are hovering above centauri prime, as if preparing to annihilate the planet. Londo pleads for Vir to chop off Londo's head and put it on a stake for the Vorlons to see. The rationale being that the Vorlons are about to destroy Centauri prime due to Londo being tainted by the shadows. – Abulafia Apr 14 '15 at 8:20
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    The Eye does not see – Izkata Apr 14 '15 at 12:11
9

The prophecy is alluded to again in the closing novel to the Legions of Fire trilogy, Out of the Darkness, which covers most of the story of Centauri Prime after Londo took the throne. This is not admittedly in-the-show canon, but it's mostly canon as far as the creator Joe Stracynzski is concerned.

In the lead-up to the moments surrounding what was shown in War Without End and just after his storytelling moment from In The Beginning, Londo has a meeting with Vir and then G'kar. He's drunk out of his mind already, and after some final instructions to Vir, chats about the prophecy with a baffled G'kar over dinner and more drink. (I initially thought all of it referred to Londo directly, I was apparently mistaken).

"Everything. Babylon 5... The Shadow War... the fate of Centauri Prime... all about me."
"Very egocentric," G'kar observed.
"That does not make it wrong," Londo pointed out. He seemed to be enjoying the effect the alcohol was having on him. All his words were slurring, one into another, and it was with difficulty that G'kar was able to understand what he was saying. "It was in her predictions you know. The one about the man already dead... that was easy. That was Sheridan. She also told me that I have to save the eye that does not see. Until an hour ago, I thought that referred to you."
G'kar was completely lost, but he was not about to admit it. "But now you no longer think that."
"No. I think I misheard her. I think she referred, not to the 'eye' as in orb, but rather 'I' as in 'I, myself'. Because I had all the hints, all the warnings that I needed. It was all there, right in front of me. Morella tried to warn me... and the techno-mage... and Vir, Great Maker knows, over and over again. They all tried to make me see. But I did not...
Out of the Darkness ch 24, p 219

There's a bit of back and forth snark as Londo claims he had to save himself. He hasn't been in specific recent danger (unless the Drakh setting off some of their fusion bombs after all other plans have fallen apart counts), and it's been a while since he has. What he is likely referring to is enduring all this time under the Drakh's control. His first few weeks after bonding with the Keeper were filled with thoughts of suicide, until he finds a side-project he considers worth living for.

Not long after that reveal, he refers to G'kar as his greatest fear, knowing and accepting that his own vision is going to come true. Londo finally gets drunk enough to reveal the Keeper to G'kar. As Londo is the only pawn left that the Drakh have (it's been a bad day for them), he asks G'kar's help in denying the Drakh any further control over Centauri Prime. Moments later he is letting John and Delenn go, and fulfilling the final portion by letting G'kar kill him, and creating the vision he feared for so long.

Even though his intent in asking Lady Morella for her visions was to avoid this fate, he seems to believe now that he could only have redeemed himself - and the Centauri - by enduring it.

This is however, only his inebriated interpretation, but seeing as it's his prophecy, it may be the more important one. Other interpretations may still be valid; I like Vir's input mostly, that a prophecy is a metaphor that might come true.

(Lots of theories are out there, and JMS has occasionally added fuel to the fire by dropping lines like "G'kar's eye that could not see Cartagia's glory", but has never made anything canon that I know of. I think he likes the debate.)

  • 2
    I strongly doubt it being the "I" that cannot see because closed captioning for the episode says it as "eye". Besides, they are presumably speaking Centauri then and I doubt that there would be a homophone in that language that matches that of English. – Thunderforge Apr 15 '15 at 0:47
  • @Thunderforge - shrug Take it up with Londo. Or JMS. This is really the only in-story commentary I've found. – Radhil Apr 15 '15 at 3:46
  • Told by a drunk Londo? He has no idea what the signs are, and he has never been very good at navigating. – Erick Robertson Jul 17 '15 at 21:31
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    I'm going to be terribly amused if I went through the trouble to dig out that dusty old paperback and this answer slowly gets downvoted to the bottom simply because nobody likes what it says. – Radhil Jul 18 '15 at 13:19
  • +1 for research. But I don't like it. In addition to @Thunderforge's comment, I don't like the answer that Sheridan was the one who is already dead. When did Londo save him? The only time I know Londo saved Sheridan was just before his death. But the terrible fate Londo referred to was a separate prophecy by the Technomage: millions of Londo's "victims" crying his name. By the time Londo saved Sheridan, it was too late to stop that from happening. – wberry Aug 6 '15 at 23:03
4

According to "Asked & Answered Volume 5", JMS has made the following comments about Lady Morella's prophecy.

  • "You must save the eye that does not see."

JMS says:

There's another way to look at this...

I.

Eye.

We never actually saw how she spelled or meant this.

Given Londo's background, one could almost make the case that the discussion was about him. Not saying that's it, but it's a possibility and a subtext.

  • "You must not kill the one who is already dead."

  • "If you fail those, you have one last chance. You must surrender to your greatest fear, knowing that it will destroy you."

JMS says:

The goal was to redeem himself. Sparing Sheridan was part of that. Then he had to surrender himself to his greatest fear: his death at the hands of G'Kar.

Long before I read these words, it lined up with my impression of what JMS was saying within the context of the show itself - namely, that Londo DID manage to avoid the fate he begged Lady Morella to prophesy for him; he achieved his redemption at the end. While his final days may have been somewhat inglorious, he achieved a measure of satisfaction and self-mastery on his way beyond the Rim.

  • "We never actually saw how she spelled or meant this." Unless you watched the episode with closed captioning, and then you saw it as "eye". Make of that what you will. – Thunderforge May 31 '16 at 5:04
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    If you refer to Asked and Answered v5, I'm pretty sure JMS waves off the closed captioning version. – TML May 31 '16 at 8:12
  • Could you please add that quote where he mentions closed captioning? That would dispel the major criticism that I have about this answer. – Thunderforge May 31 '16 at 15:25
  • "I. Eye." So was Lady Morella speaking English? Or do those words just happen to sound the same in Centauri too? – colmde Nov 27 at 11:32
2

If we take this as a timeline of opportunities then in order.

  1. "You must save the eye that does not see." What eye does Londo have the opportunity to save?

Towards the end of G'kar's imprisonment Cartagia declares he doesn't like how G'kar looks at him. Keeping in the theme of the Long Night of Londo Molari, where one of the main points were that he could have said something, anything, even if it did nothing. But he didn't. He didn't when G'kar was tortured and he didn't when Cartagia was contemplating G'kar's look. At that point, a single clever word would have saved G'kar's eye. Later in the cell G'kar declares that he can see into people better now without the eye that with. It was an eye that did not see, and Londo was unable to save it.

  1. "You must not kill the one who is already dead."

This is pretty obviously Sheridan. During the flash forward in War Without End we see Londo contemplating Sheridan's life and whether to kill him. At this point he is the man who is already dead. Also, this will be a trial as he has the keeper to prevent this choice, but it is the one of only two choices we see Londo make post keeper.

  1. "If you fail those, you have one last chance. You must surrender to your greatest fear, knowing that it will destroy you."

This is the biggie, what is Londo's greatest fear? At first it is the vision of his own death. In season 1 it is what drives his conflict with G'kar personally and professionally. But there is a bigger one. What does Morden use to keep Londo in line and part of the Shadows plan? Fear of what someone else will do in his place. his biggest fear is letting go of control, letting someone else take up the burden. Every time he has done so he has paid the price, often loosing loved ones (Adira, Urza, Janno), or seeing Centauri Prime hurt (Reefa, Cartagia, Virini). The unknown of what will happen if he lets go is his greatest fear.

Without the final 2 there is no hope for Londo to avoid the fire he fears. And it is not his personal fire, but the destruction of all that he loves, Centauri Prime. Without the final 2 there is no way for him to push of the Drak and place Vir in place to take the Emperorship.

Bonus What were the 2 chances that he missed?

  1. I have read this as when Morden first contacts Londo, and Londo has the opportunity not to be their agent.

  2. This is obviously the Coming of Shadows when Londo "Just picks a target". Vir warns him this is a bad idea, and he has the greatest opportunity to prevent the destruction of Centauri Prime, and avoid being their tool.

  • The one who is already dead is Morden. He also died on Z'Ha'Dum when they made him into whatever he is. If it was Sheridan, then saving him would have redeemed him and he would not have needed to give in to his final fear at the end. Londo destroyed the Shadow ships on the ground so the Vorlons would not attack. Had he not done that, he could have made a deal with the Shadows instead. After warning them of the Vorlons, he might have set up a situation which he could co-opt later. – Erick Robertson Jul 17 '15 at 21:36
  • Except that whether or not he destroyed the Shadow base the Vorlons would have attacked. The Shadows knew the Vorlons were coming and were betting that they wouldn't attack because Centauri Prime was too populated. The only reason they didn't was Sheridan drew them off to the battle at Coriana 6. Sheridan is the only one who was already dead. Morden never died, he was listed as dead after the Icarus incident, but he never died. Even if he had decided not to go against his keeper and kill Sheridan, to save his people he would still have had to surrender to his greatest fear, giving up control. – Tyson of the Northwest Jul 17 '15 at 21:50
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    Lady Morella said, of "must surrender to your greatest fear": "If, at the end, you have failed with all the others, that is your final chance for redemption." I think it's clear the greatest fear is that he dies like he saw. So why did he have to go through with that if he didn't fail with all the others? If he did not kill the one who is already dead, then he has taken one of his "three chances to avoid the fire" and he need not suffer his final chance. So I think it's clear that he did kill the one that is already dead, since he had to die at G'Kar's hands. So it can't be Sheridan. – Erick Robertson Jul 22 '15 at 1:19
  • I think you're spot on with the first and third. I also think you're spot on with the two chances he missed. That's truly the bonus question here! – Erick Robertson Jul 22 '15 at 1:26
  • +1 for Bonus 2. The other missed chance, could be lots of things. But the fate Londo is trying to avoid is the one foretold by the Technomage: millions of Londo's "victims" crying his name - not Londo's own death. To me, this eliminates Sheridan from consideration as "the one who is already dead". As to G'Kar's eye, it's just not clear how doing otherwise would have helped the Republic. – wberry Aug 6 '15 at 23:10
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The one who is already dead is most likely John Sheridan. He died at Z'ha'dum. In the future when he and Delenn are Londo's prisoners Londo lets them go dispite his masters wanting them executed.

In season one Londo "saved" an Eye that does not see. Londo, with the help of the Shadows, recovered an ancient Centauri artifact called the Eye, but that happened before the prophesy.

  • Yes on the Sheridan, no on the Eye. From the long night of Londo Molari, he had the opportunity to save G'Kar's eye but he said nothing. And Later G'Kar explained that he see's into people better without it, it was an eye that did not see. – Tyson of the Northwest Jul 13 '15 at 23:06
  • How in your view did Londo have a realistic chance of saving Sheridan from going to Z'ha'dum and his death? And how would doing that, OR saving G'Kar's eye from being plucked out on the orders of Cartagia, have saved the Centauri Republic from destruction? – wberry Apr 23 '16 at 19:47
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The one who is already dead was Morden, not only was he believed dead by earth, but he was in the blast radius of the Nuke detonation at Z'hadum (and had his flesh burned away)

It wasn't Sheridan, because not killing Sheridan didn't get him out of having to die at G'Kar's hands, he still had to surrender himself to his greatest fear knowing it would destroy him.

The part about the eye was G'Kar's eye, he wasn't able to save G'Kar from losing his eye.

  • How in your view would not killing Morden (ordering his execution on Centauri Prime), OR saving G'Kar's eye from being plucked out on the orders of Cartagia, have saved the Centauri Republic from destruction? – wberry Apr 23 '16 at 19:45
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WARNING: One giant spoiler.

Summary and comparison of various interpretations:

Did Londo ultimately suffer the fate foreseen by the Lady and the Technomage?

It is plausible that he failed entirely to avoid this. At the time of his death (in 'War Without End'), we see the capital city of Centauri Prime literally on fire outside the palace window. And by that time he arguably had, at least, millions of victims over his lifetime. Billions of victims is plausible, as much of his time as Emperor is off camera. He killed many Centauri, Narns, humans, and other aliens, by his own hands, on his orders, or as a direct result of his schemes.

But still, had he not asked G'Kar to kill him, and the Drakh keeper along with him, a still worse fate may have awaited him.

What was "the eye that does not see"?

There are several noteworthy interpretations.

  • As noted by @TML, Straczynski the show's creator hints that the "eye" is actually a pun, a reference to "I, myself". The idea is that Mollari himself 'does not see' his own situation clearly until it is too late. As shared by @Radhil, Mollari himself comes to believe this is the correct interpretation.

While it does come from the show's creator, this idea also reeks. It is hard to swallow that, in universe, a Centauri prophecy should be interpreted according to English (an alien language to them) sound-alike phonics. Even though a semi-canon novel places the idea in Mollari's own words.

  • @Izkata A precious Centauri artifact from season 1 called "The Eye".

This is not plausible simply because the episode with this artifact happened before his consultation with Lady Morella, and never again becomes relevant to the plot. His chance to "save the eye that does not see" is clearly a future opportunity for him, not a past one.

This seems to be the best and most obvious idea but has its drawbacks. Had Londo intervened to save G'Kar's eye, or have him released, it would have changed the course of history within the Centauri court in unknowable ways, possibly arresting Londo's moral descent. Also, as shown by @Radhil, the show's creator has dropped hints at this interpretation.

But it is not clear that this qualifies as a solution. Physically, G'Kar could see just fine before his eye was taken. His process of philosophical enlightenment was already well underway by season 3, so it is not clear that G'Kar 'could not see' for lack of moral or spiritual clarity at that point in time. However, his ordeal did precipitate a new stage of his enlightenment.

It is also not clear whether saving his eye would have been better for G'Kar in the long run, or whether that even matters for purposes of Londo escaping his own darkness. G'Kar became open to the idea of genuine friendship between the Centauri and Narn races only after his ordeal, and therefore would likely not have become good friends with Londo.

Who was "the one who is already dead"?

  • One of the popular ideas here is Sheridan, since he dies a real death at Z'hadum at the end of season 3. For the rest of the series, Sheridan is "already dead". Londo arranges for Sheridan and Delenn to be freed, and in exchange, they will help to free the Centauri from the Drakh menace. Mollari even describes this arrangement as a "redemption" in their brief meeting.

There are two problems with this. The first is that Londo has the choice to kill Sheridan only at the very end of things, as Centauri Prime is already burning, as Londo's victims already number beyond count. It is too late to avoid this situation, which is already a nightmarish and unenviable end to Londo's life. At this point, it seems the "billions of victims" fate foretold by the Technomage has already happened.

The second problem is that the Sheridan who stands before Londo in War Without End is not, in fact, "already dead". That Sheridan has not yet been to Z'hadum. Delenn in fact tries to talk him out of it. While the Sheridan of that time is still around, it is not that Sheridan who faces Emperor Mollari in the throne room, but the 'un-stuck in time' Sheridan from years earlier.

  • This page states the opinion that "the one who is already dead" is Morden. Londo did in fact kill him (by order) in season 4. Morden was under the mind control of the Shadows, a form of death. Morden was officially declared dead by Earth years prior. Morden fits.

The major problem with this idea is that it's really hard to see having Morden killed as the wrong decision, especially given the circumstances under which it was done. Nor is it clear how not doing this would have allowed Londo to escape his fate.

  • I think "the one who is already dead" is more likely to have been Lord Refa, the craven courtier whom Londo blamed for the death of his true love Adira. Refa has been half-poisoned by Londo prior to the Lady's prophecy. Later, in seeking his revenge for Adira's death, Londo commits himself to the Shadows and corrupts the Centauri Republic.

Everyone around me dies, Mr. Morden, except the ones that most deserve it. That is about to change. You said that you would go away for as long as I wanted. I no longer want that. All I want now is revenge.

They took from me the one thing that I have, have ever truly loved. And you will help me, Mr. Morden, to strike them down! Give me this, and the safety of my people, and let the rest of the galaxy burn. I don't care any more.

Will you help me, Mr. Morden?

Resisting the temptation to assassinate Refa and humiliate his faction, with the help of Morden's 'associates', could plausibly have allowed Londo to escape his fate. Before he restarted his relationship with Morden, he had successfully broken the influence of the Shadows over the Republic. This indulgence in revenge was a critical failure and a fateful one.

The major weakness in this theory is that Refa may not qualify as "already dead". It may not be enough that he was half-poisoned; or it is possible that the poison was simply a bluff by Londo. As Refa was killed another way, and Londo never confesses to a bluff, there is no way to know for sure. But for what it's worth, it doesn't feel like a bluff, as there was no private talk with Vir where Londo brags to him about bluffing Refa. Even Morden was told about the poison and apparently believed it (Interludes and Examinations).

Also, while Refa is certainly an amoral Machiavellian of the highest order, that's no reason to believe a Centauri prophetess would consider his cravenness to be even a metaphorical form of 'death'.

  • "The one who is already dead" could even be Emperor Cartagia, who was certainly insane (his mind was "already dead"), and was assassinated by a conspiracy led by Londo. His assassination led directly to Mollari becoming Prime Minister, and later Emperor. This is another situation where it's difficult not to sympathize with Londo's decision though. And had Cartagia not been assassinated, would that have been better or worse for the Republic?

Did Londo "surrender himself to his greatest fear"?

It is not clear what his greatest fear was. In season 1 Londo had a prophetic, and accurate, vision of himself being strangled by G'Kar, which appeared to unsettle him greatly. But whether his greatest fear was death at the hands of a Narn is less clear.

He either never surrendered to his greatest fear, and suffered his foretold fate; or he avoided his fate without having to do this; or he narrowly escaped his fate by inviting G'kar to kill him. In the last case, that would make his greatest fear to be something along those lines (giving up control, death at the hands of a Narn, etc).

What were the two missed chances?

  • @Tyson_of_the_Northwest offered Morden's offer to Londo to "just pick a target". This is clearly a critical over-indulgence in the hunger for power by Londo, that leads him down the path to corruption and power.
  • Another key failure is when the Centauri ministers demand that Londo rely on Morden's "associates" to start open war between Centauri and Narn, and he does so, burning his relationship with Babylon 5 management in the process. This act cements Londo as an asset of the Shadows, whereas before the Shadows through Morden had been willing to play as Londo's asset.
  • Refa wasn't actually poisoned - it was a fake out if I recall correctly. They would never find the half of the binary poison cause... it didn't exist – Aibobot Nov 27 at 13:47
  • But Sheridan really was on Centauri Prime at the time of Londo's death (details here). If I remember correctly, B5 Sheridan jumps forward in time into his own future body (which is why it was not easy to convince Delenn when they talked in the cell). Londo does in fact have an opportunity to kill (not not kill) the one who is already dead. – Ian Thompson Nov 27 at 17:30
  • Also, while not killing Sheridan doesn't do much for Londo personally (since he dies soon afterwards), it does affect his fate. In return for his actions he asks Sheridan and Delenn to help free the Centauri from the Drakh. A fair statement is therefore: "Londo's fate was to bring about the liberation of his planet by his final actions." – Ian Thompson Nov 27 at 17:35
  • (not not kill) -> (or not kill)! – Ian Thompson Nov 27 at 19:11
  • @Aibobot If the poison was a bluff, I don't recall Londo ever copping to it. Was that in a novel or a later episode? – wberry Dec 3 at 5:04

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