Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari
Londo Mollari is a fictional character in the universe of the science fiction television series Babylon 5, played by Peter Jurasik.
Although Londo began as a supporting player in the early episodes, his actions and character development as the series progressed had immeasurable effect on how the show progressed making him one of the more significant characters in the entire series. He begins as an apparent stock character assigned to the role of a loud jovial comic relief. However, he is shown later in the series to be an embittered patriot of a dying empire eager to restore its primacy. In doing so, he becomes largely an unwitting pawn of the Shadows and the intrigues that he engages in are central to the show’s plot. However, Mollari is also a man of honor and the moral consequences of his plots weigh on him heavily. By the series’ end, he finally makes things right at the cost of his own life.
Londo Mollari is a member of one of the oldest Noble Houses of the Centauri Republic. He is a mercurial personality given to extreme manifestations of anger, sadness, or joviality, depending on the power of the catalyst provoking them. While he is an avid hedonist who is fond of drink and leisure, he is also a devout Centauri patriot and would gladly give his life without hesitation to protect the Republic. A staunch traditionalist, Londo has a profound sense of pride which is very heavily tied to the heritage of the Centauri imperial history, when the republic was a vast empire with tremendous influence across the known galaxy; Londo himself was once a military officer with several heroic accomplishments, which he relishes and often reminisces when intoxicated. But the decline of the expansionist tradition has weakened the prestige of the Centauri Republic in the eyes of the galactic community, particularly the emancipation of the Narn homeworld from Centauri colonial rule. These developments have wounded Londo’s pride in his people and self and he is extremely bitter about his people’s loss of face. He resents the Narn for their eventual success in establishing themselves as a viable independent power and for what he feels is their part in the increasingly unimportant and humiliating political positions he has held in the latter years of his life, most of which were diplomatic titles with little significance in the royal court. Londo’s greatest desire is to see the restoration of the Centauri Republic to the glory and influence it held in older times and it is this desperate longing that proves the undoing of himself and his people.
Despite his temperamental and stodgy nature, Londo himself is largely devoid of malice. His bigotry towards other races, particularly the Narns, is largely based on habituation and national identity rather than actual hatred; he is, in fact, rather fond of humans given the similarities in behavior between them and his own people. Londo is averse to actual violence and is often at odds with himself over his desire for military victory and the horror he feels at the suffering and death of others; when he is present at the Second Conquest of Narn, he is visibly sickened by the level of destruction and death he has semi-unwittingly caused and later challenges Lord Refa over his use of outlawed Mass Drivers in the planetary assault of Narn. He yearns for honor and respect, but is often uncomfortable with the cost and responsibilities that come with it.
Londo is very appreciative of his friends and reluctantly tolerant of insincerity; he often chooses the friendship of people with temperaments similar to his own, but with personalities suited towards brutal honesty (Michael Garibaldi), or sincere naivety (Lennier, Vir Cotto). Of the three wives he possesses, the only one he does not divorce is his abrasive wife Timov (who absolutely despises him and shows him not the slightest shred of respect) because her scathing honesty is preferable to the feigned friendliness and scheming of the other two. His greatest love, other than his people, is the romantic company of Lady Adira, a former slave and dancer whose benign and sincere nature pierced any and all practiced cynicism he built over the course of his life. One of Londos few real friends is Urza Jaddo whom Londo must kill in a duel because of the intrigues of Lord Refa.
Londo’s closest friend is his attache Vir Cotto. Initially, the two had a comically adversarial relationship: Vir was guileless, naive and extremely honest and empathetic making him completely inept at Centauri political process, which irked Londo to no end. Londo thoroughly enjoyed tormenting him with outrageous demands and workloads in an attempt to train him to be a more efficient Centauri, but over the course of The Shadow War, The Earth Civil War, and the rebuilding of Centauri Prime, Londo and Vir became almost inseparable. Though Londo never truly abandons his playful condescension towards Vir for his beneficence and even disagrees with his empathy at times, Londo admires and envies Vir’s innocence and respects his opinion and assistance throughout his career.
The onset of the wars that nearly consume the galaxy in the series – especially his own complicity in their occurrence – changes Londo from an embittered patriot longing for the old days to a more introspective and sympathetic man determined to rebuild not just his own society, but that of others; prior to his coronation as Emperor, he becomes a significant force in emancipating and restoring Narn and in assisting the Interstellar Alliance in bringing peace to the galaxy.
The Centauri culture in the series is patterned on the conventions of the early imperial Rome (which still fancied itself a Republic despite having an Emperor at its head) and portrayed with a nod to the visualizations of the empire depicted in the Dune motion picture (with futuristic versions of 18th-century uniform and clothes as the choice for Centauri attire). The Centauri state is depicted in decline: it falls prey to decadence and internal politics even while it hungers to return to its days of glory. As such, Londo is depicted as a reflection of the society from which he comes. In the words of series creator J. Michael Straczynski, he is “overweight, prone to gambling constantly (null-pool is his favorite) and fond of women and drinks”. Considered something of a buffoon even among the Centauri, Londo has been assigned the post of Centauri Ambassador to Babylon 5 to keep him out of the way (according to Babylon 5: In the Beginning he used to be official Centauri Ambassador on Earth).
At the start of the series, Londo seems to be ineffective in his role as Ambassador. His drunken temper tantrums and posturing upon the glories of the ‘Great Centauri Past‘ make him appear as a buffoon. However, he climbs Centauri Prime’s political ladder through manipulating his people’s hatred of the Narn Regime (former slaves of the Centauri, who fought for and won their independence). Indeed, Londo has a hatred for the Narn Ambassador, G’Kar when the series begins. Gradually, however, this would soften as time passed. Towards the end of the series, Londo and G’Kar would put their differences aside and for the most part, would become friends of sorts. His cynical political ambition – and his sincere craving to regain the pre-eminence of Centauri Prime – lead him to be the perfect target for the dark and mysterious Morden, who is secretly representing the Shadows as they work to rebuild their strength. Morden asks each of the major Ambassadors one question –
” What do you want “?
– only Londo gives him the appropriate answer, as such, Morden and his ‘Allies’ repeatedly give Londo exactly what he asked for and through the course of the series, demonstrates that this is far from what Londo actually wants. As Narn fleets continue to be wiped out without any survivors to explain how, Londo takes credit and attracts a great deal of much-desired attention and power, never questioning the consequences of his alliance with the Shadows until it is far too late.
Eventually, after having proved the capability of his “associates” beyond any doubt, Morden begins to request favors from Londo. Londo, driven by his own pride as well as his fear that Morden may leave and turn elsewhere for help, gives in each time. Despite his conscience bothering him about the nature of these requests, he finds himself unable to sever his connection with Morden.
As the events of the Shadow War came to a height, Mollari was promoted to the position of advisor on planetary security, which required him to return to his home world. Mollari was angered by the promotion, understanding that it was not a reward for his service but a leash to keep him and his newfound power, under control. Upon his return to Centauri Prime, Mollari discovered that the young Emperor Cartagia, whose ascent to the throne he had personally endorsed, was insane and had allowed the Shadows to establish a base on Centauri Prime. At the same time, the Vorlons had begun a campaign to completely destroy any planet where the Shadows had influence. In his insanity, Cartagia believed the Shadows would elevate him to godhood and insisted they stay. Mollari realized that in order to deal with the Shadows and save his world from the Vorlons, Cartagia would have to be killed.
Mollari began a conspiracy to have Cartagia assassinated, with the help of Vir Cotto, a number of high-ranking Centauri and G’Kar, who was Cartagia’s prisoner at the time. They planned to lure Cartagia to Narn, where he would be away from the majority of his guards and vulnerable. There, G’Kar would be able to create a security threat by escaping and in the confusion Londo would kill Cartagia by injecting him with a poison that would cause both of his hearts to shut down. The plot was successful, although as it turned out, Cartagia attacked Londo and Vir was forced to inject the poison. After the Emperor was pronounced dead, Mollari fulfilled a promise to G’Kar, that in return for his help, Narn would be freed from Centauri rule (although the Narn believed that they had, once again, driven the Centauri away “through strength”).
With Cartagia dead and a Vorlon fleet en route to destroy Centauri Prime, Mollari was promoted to the position of Prime Minister, making him temporarily head of state until a new Emperor could be elected. With this new power, Mollari proceeded to blow up the Shadow base on Centauri Prime and then executing their agent, Morden – whom Londo discovered had Adira killed. Mollari believed that this would redeem Centauri Prime from being destroyed by the Vorlons, however Vir realized that Londo himself had been influenced and used by the Shadows and so the Vorlons would want him destroyed too. As the Vorlon fleet came into orbit around Centauri Prime, blotting out the sun, it became clear that the Vorlons would destroy the whole planet just to get Mollari. Londo implored Vir to kill him and show the Vorlons he had done it. However Londo was saved by the fact that at the same time in another part of the galaxy, a fleet led by John Sheridan was fighting their final battle against the Shadows and Vorlons at Corianna 6 and the Vorlons called in all their remaining ships to help. Thus Vir did not have to kill Londo and the planet was spared. However, in saving Centauri Prime during the Shadow War, Londo had unknowingly doomed his world to a different fate which would be almost as terrible.
Following the galactic war with the Shadows, Mollari eventually rose to become Emperor of the Centauri Republic, taking the title Emperor Mollari II, since another member of his family had been Emperor in the past. One of his first acts as the new Emperor was to name Vir Cotto as his replacement on Babylon 5, a job not highly prized because of the earlier Centauri conquest of Narn, though Londo knew that Vir would fulfill the job dutifully, even if some of the other ambassadors distrusted him.
Before Londo officially became Emperor Mollari II, he confided in his now ex-bodyguard, Ambassador G’Kar, that
” When we met, I had no power and all the choices I could ever want. Now I have all the power I could ever want and no choices at all. ”
At the end of the fifth season, it was revealed that the Drakh had manipulated the Interstellar Alliance into attacking the Centauri Homeworld. The Drakh decided they needed Londo to be Emperor. The Regent, Virini, died when his keeper was removed, and another keeper was attached to Londo. For the next 15 years, Londo reigned as Emperor. Londo soon learned that alcohol would put the Keeper to sleep, and would allow him a few minutes of freedom.
When the Drakh kidnapped David Sheridan – the son of John and Delenn – the couple came to Centauri Prime to free their son. Both Sheridan and Delenn were captured by the Centauri. Mollari tried to force the Drakh to leave, who responded by exploding fusion bombs they had planted on the surface of the planet. Mollari was told to execute Sheridan, and he was able to convince his Keeper that he was soon going to kill both Sheridan and Delenn. Mollari then ingested enough alcohol to put the Keeper to sleep and freed Sheridan, Delenn, and their son in exchange for their help in freeing the Centauri from the Drakh.
Mollari knew that his Keeper would soon wake up, and alert the other Drakh that he had set his friends free. He knew the Drakh would kill them, and would then kill him for his betrayal. G’Kar entered the throne room, and Mollari explained the situation. He begged G’Kar to kill him before the Keeper woke up, famously saying “I am as tired of my life as you are.” G’Kar began to crush Mollari’s throat, but did not finish before the Keeper awoke. The Keeper then seized control of Mollari and retaliated. Mollari and G’Kar finally died at each other’s hands, just as Londo had predicted for many years.
A few hours before his death, in the events of Babylon 5: In the Beginning, Mollari had a random encounter with two Centauri children (who turned out to be the nephew and niece of Urza Jaddo, while their governess, Senna, proved to be the daughter of Lord Refa). He granted them a favor by telling them the tale of the Earth-Minbari War. He also commented upon the terrible events that had befallen Centauri Prime, saying that while he had cared for each of his wives in his own way, he loved Centauri Prime the most, and that everything he had done had been “for her”.
Following Mollari’s death, Vir Cotto found Mollari’s and G’Kar’s lifeless bodies on the floor of the throne room. He managed to escape from the Centauri homeworld (avoiding the inevitable Drakh attempt to place a Keeper on him), and went to Minbar. In a conference with the surviving members of the Centauri houses, Cotto was named the next Emperor – thus fulfilling Lady Morella’s prophecy that both Londo and Vir would be Emperor, but one would be Emperor only after the other died. Emperor Cotto was able to finally free his homeworld from the clutches of the Drakh. To commemorate Londo and G’Kar, Vir ordered twin statues of them erected in front of the Centauri Royal Palace.
In 2281, John Sheridan was dying. Emperor Cotto went to Minbar for one last meal with Sheridan and his friends. When the time came to remember all who had died, Cotto raised his glass to the memory of Londo Mollari.