Morden (Babylon 5)
||This television-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
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|Babylon 5 character|
|Portrayed by||Ed Wasser|
Morden serves as the spokesman on behalf of the Shadows, an ancient and incredibly powerful alien race whom he refers to as his "associates." Although outwardly polite and gracious, he represents a dangerous hidden agenda. Any conversation is overheard by two or three cloaked Shadows, who accompany him at all times and work through him as seen both in the television series and in the novel: Babylon 5: The Passing of the Techno-Mages - Invoking Darkness. Indoctrinated by the Shadows after his capture during an expedition to Z'ha'dum, the Shadows' homeworld, he has accepted to serve because of the Shadows' manipulation of his guilt of the death of his wife and child and because they promise to save his family whom he believed were trapped in hyperspace. When pushed, Morden drops any pretense of friendliness, openly threatening anyone who presents any difficulty to his associates. He is arguably the face of the primary villains of the series during its first four seasons, as he often manipulates the series' other characters for the Shadows sinister purposes.
Morden was a member of the Earth expedition ship, the Icarus, which was dispatched on a research mission to Z'ha'dum late in 2256. While there, the expedition, which also included John Sheridan's wife Anna, re-awakened the Shadows, whereupon all members of the expedition were killed or made to serve the Shadows. Unlike Anna, who refused to serve and was placed inside a Shadow vessel, Morden seems to have signed on with the Shadows willingly to save his family, but was also controlled by them, to the point that he served as their emissary. Morden did this because the Shadows promised to release Morden's family, who were supposedly trapped in hyperspace when their ship was destroyed in a jumpgate bombing; fearing for their lives, Morden (whose first name has never been revealed) pledged to serve the Shadows in any way they asked. It is unknown whether the Shadows made good on their promise to save Morden's family, or even if the situation as represented to him was even genuine. In all his appearances he wears a jewel on a chain around his neck; according to the trilogy of novels The Passing of the Techno-Mages, carved on the side of the stone against his chest is an ancient alien love oath, representing his continued devotion to his deceased wife.
After his return to Babylon 5 Morden was always accompanied by two Shadows which were prepared to kill anyone who threatened him and are responsible for controlling him. They were normally cloaked in invisibility; however, their high-pitched voices (which Morden could understand because of Shadow modifications on him) could sometimes be heard by other races, and their images could sometimes be captured fleetingly by security cameras sensitive to infrared or ultraviolet wavelengths. They were eventually killed by two Centauri guards who obeyed Londo Mollari's command to shoot at what appeared to be thin air on either side of Morden.
In his first appearance as Morden (Wasser made his first appearance on Babylon 5 as Guerra, a member of the Babylon 5 bridge crew during the pilot episode "Babylon 5: The Gathering"), Morden visits Ambassador G'Kar of the Narn, Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari, and Ambassador Londo Mollari of the Centauri, asking each of them the Shadow Question, "What do you want?"E1-13 G'Kar answers that he would like revenge upon the Centauri, but his lack of vision beyond that goal isn't the answer Morden is looking for.E1-13 From Delenn, he receives no answer, as she detects the darkness about him and tells him to leave her quarters.E1-13.
Morden also seeks out the humans through Commander Sinclair.E1-13 Apparently he is deterred from doing so by Ambassador Kosh, who tells him (or more likely his "associates") that "they are not for you."E1-13 The two Shadows fight with Kosh and damage his encounter suit as a result. However this does not stop Morden and his "associates" from seeking alliances from other humans, such as Morgan Clark, as well as other high ranking Earth Alliance personnel. Morden may also have a hand in the assassination of President Luis Santiago, which allows Clark to become President of the Earth Alliance.
However, Londo gives an answer Morden and his "associates" approve of: To restore the glory and power of the great Centauri Republic.E1-13 Shortly afterward, the Shadows attack the ship of raiders which has stolen the Centauri Eye, a priceless imperial artifact, from Londo. When next we see Morden, he returns the Eye to a stunned Londo who was resigned to the fact that he was ruined with its loss, and offers the assistance of his associates: if he should ever need anything done, all he has to do is ask.
The Narn-Centauri Conflict
Initially, Londo resists the idea of consulting with Morden. However, in a situation with a Narn outpost late in 2258, Londo recognizes an opportunity to strike at the Narns using the Shadows' help, while increasing his prestige and revenging an earlier action by the Narns. Londo's assistant, Vir Cotto, sees through Morden's duplicitous disguise and urges Londo to reconsider, but is ignored. Londo turns to Morden for assistance, and three Shadow ships descend upon a Narn outpost, utterly devastating it and leaving no survivors to account for what happened, making it easy for Londo to take all of the credit for himself.
From this point on, Londo becomes trapped by his association with Morden and his newfound prestige with the Centauri government, and Morden becomes less friendly and more manipulative, especially after he is confronted by Londo's aide, Vir Cotto. When Morden asks Vir, somewhat mockingly, "What do you want?", he receives this answer from Vir: "I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up into your lifeless eyes and wave, like this [smiles and waves his fingers at Morden]. Can you and your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Morden?"E2-16 (In line with, or perhaps as an in-joke referring to, the latent Centauri prescience regarding their future and death, this exact scene would come to pass eventually.)
However, the Shadows continue to provide Londo assistance. This assistance culminates in their protection of Centauri supply lines during an assault by the Narn, enabling the Centauri to directly attack the Narn homeworld in a devastating assault using mass drivers (a method deemed appalling by most other races due to its use causing indiscriminate civilian casualties and severe damage to a planet's biosphere), leading to the surrender of the Narn soon thereafter.
Questioned by John Sheridan
When Capt. John Sheridan is sorting through his wife's stored items, Security Chief Michael Garibaldi recognizes the face of a member of the Icarus crew, Morden, as someone who has been seen on the station recently.E2-16
Enraged, Sheridan demands that Morden be seized and questioned, even though he has not broken any laws.E2-16 After butting heads with his staff and friends over this abuse of power, Delenn and Kosh reveal the existence of the Shadows and the true final fate of the Icarus to Sheridan.E2-16 Grief-stricken at the fate of his wife, Sheridan nonetheless relents and lets Morden go.E2-16
The Shadow War
After this action, Londo attempts to free himself and the Centauri from association with the Shadows, even at one point carving up the galaxy with Morden in an effort to be rid of him. However, Morden simply moves on to assisting Londo's confederate Lord Refa, until a concerned Londo slips Refa one agent of a binary poison in an effort to stop him from dealing with Morden. Morden, at this stage, becomes openly hostile and aggressive in his dealings with Londo, to little effect on Londo. However shortly after, Morden discovers Londo's love, Adira, who comes to the station, and has her poisoned, convincing Londo it was Refa's doing. Londo, unaware of Morden's deceptive and murderous manipulations, has Refa eliminated and agrees to work with Morden once again, now saying he cares for nothing in the universe other than revenge.
Capt. Sheridan tries to convince Ambassador Kosh to get the Vorlons more involved in the Shadow War. Kosh refuses at first but finally relents. Kosh's primary reason for not getting involved was the knowledge that doing so would bring grim repercussions. Morden escorts his "associates" to Kosh's quarters soon after the Vorlons attack a Shadow vessel, and the two Shadows kill Kosh.
Following Capt. Sheridan's trip to Z'ha'dum, during which time Anna and Morden fruitlessly tried to convince Sheridan to join the Shadows and Sheridan detonated his Whitestar containing thermonuclear weapons above the Shadow city, the Shadows were temporarily thrown into disarray. Londo is recalled home to Centauri Prime, ostensibly to serve as a security minister, where he meets a disfigured Morden (he was near Sheridan's nuclear blasts, but was saved by the Shadows). At this meeting, Morden informs Londo that Emperor Cartagia has granted the Shadows an island to serve as a hiding place, and as security minister, Londo would be Morden's liaison with the Centauri. However, with the Vorlons now rampaging through the galaxy, destroying anything with the taint of the Shadows, Londo must remove the Shadows from Centauri Prime and kill Cartagia, or watch his homeworld destroyed.
Londo chooses the former, and, after Cartagia is eliminated, Londo, now temporarily the Prime Minister and head of the Centauri, is informed that Morden was actually behind the death of Adira—information that Emperor Cartagia had ordered withheld from Londo. Enraged, Londo finally decides to confront Morden. After eliminating his Shadow protectors, Londo explains to Morden the situation with the Vorlons, and demands that the Shadows leave. Morden refuses, mockingly pointing out that the only way the Shadow vessels could be dealt with was to blow up the island. Londo proceeds to do just that, destroying the island the Shadows were given and where much of their fleet is parked as a horrified Morden looks on. Finally, Londo finishes with Morden by granting Vir's wish that he be beheaded.
As he's dragged away to await his fate, the enraged Morden gives Londo a final prophetic declaration that even if the Shadows were to be defeated, their allies will ensure Centauri Prime pays the price for what he did. In later episodes, this comes to pass as the Drakh plant Keepers in successive Centauri rulers to control the Centauri government and manipulate its actions to the detriment of the Centauri Republic.
Death and legacy
Morden was killed and beheaded by Londo in 2261, during the efforts to expunge the Shadow influence from Centauri Prime. His head was placed upon a pike on the Centauri royal grounds, a gift from Londo to his aide, Vir Cotto, who mocks him in the exact manner he said he would, back when Morden had asked Vir what the latter wanted.
He did, however, make a final appearance during the Brakiri holy day, the Day of the Dead, in 2262, in which the living are able to consult with apparitions of the dead. During this night, Morden appeared to Lennier, Delenn's aide and close friend. Lennier, recognizing Morden, is unwilling to accept counsel from him, unable to see Morden as anything more than the Shadows' emissary. Lennier proceeds to enter meditation, wasting his opportunity to learn from the experience. Morden spends the rest of the night reading a newspaper. Just before he leaves at the coming of the morning, he delivers one of the most important messages of the night: Lennier will betray the Rangers.
All the characters who answered the Shadow Question got exactly what they asked for, although Vir was the only one who was satisfied with the results.
- Londo did become a respected man of incredible importance (an Emperor in fact) and his people did have a "renaissance of power," but this renaissance faded, and he was left as the mind-controlled ruler of a scorched wasteland.
- G'Kar did see the Centauri humbled and his homeworld made safe, but by that time he had outgrown his anger and was disgusted by the resulting slaughter, and though Narn was safe and free, his people were left confused and directionless when the object of their hate was reduced to a state worthy only of pity.
- Vir Cotto, in contrast, simply wished that he would live long enough to see Morden beheaded and his associates go away and never come back — which is, of course, exactly what happened. Seeing Morden's head on a pike in the royal courtyard, he even waved at it, as he said he would.
- ^E1-13 "Signs and Portents". Babylon 5. Season 1. Episode 13. 1994-05-18.
- ^E2-16 "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum". Babylon 5. Season 2. Episode 16. 1995-05-10.