Babylon 5 - Episodics (#516)
"Darkness Ascending"

Written by J. Michael Straczynski, directed by Janet Greek

After Garibaldi awakens from a disturbing dream about the destruction of B5, he's surprised by the unexpected arrival of Lise Hampton-Edgars, who discovers he's been drinking again. Lise is dubious, but agrees to stay. Londo is dealing with problems of his own, as Vir tells him that all his appointments have been mysteriously canceled. Meanwhile, Lennier is sent on a covert mission to discover the source of attacks on Alliance ships, and Lyta offers G'Kar a deal: in exchange for money and a ship for her people, she'll give him access to telepath DNA. Lennier finally tracks down the raiders; a fleet of Centauri war cruisers that ruthlessly destroys civilian ships. Having recorded the evidence, Lennier tries to return home, even as his life support systems begin to run down. Back on Babylon 5, Delenn receives news of Lennier's rescue. Overcome with emotion, she runs into Londo and realizes that their relationship may never be the same. The evidence is handed over to Sheridan, who calls a meeting for the next day, inviting everybody but Londo. Garibaldi tells Lise to leave the station immediately; by tomorrow, they'll be at war with the Centauri . . .

As the title indicates, darkness would ascend on several characters in this episode, notably former security chief Michael Garibaldi who continues his downward spiral into alcoholism; and Londo, whose ascent to emperor of the Centauri Republic would eventually come at a very high price. One of the highlights of 'Darkness Ascending' is a sequence in which Lyta Alexander offers to make a deal with G'Kar for telepath DNA, resolving a conversation from the original series pilot five years earlier. Actors Pat Tallman and Andreas Katsulas had rehearsed the scene without obvious sexual connotations, but the final result is still charged with sexual energy - to the delight of many long-time viewers. The episode turned out to be an uncomfortable one for Bill (Lennier) Mumy, who literally had to be bolted into his Minbari fighter cockpit. Between the claustrophobic set and stifling heat, Mumy had no trouble acting as though his character's oxygen was rapidly running out. Making a return appearance was Denise Gentile, who played Garibaldi's long-time love, Lise Hampton-Edgars. The characters would eventually find happiness together by the end of Babylon 5's fifth season, but not until the period of darkness finally ended . . .

Joe Nazzaro

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