|William Morgan Clark|
|Babylon 5 character|
Vice President Clark is sworn in as President on EarthForce Two
|Portrayed by||Gary McGurk|
|Affiliated with||President of Earth Alliance under martial law|
William Morgan Clark is a fictional character and a major antagonist from the universe of the science fiction television series Babylon 5, portrayed by Gary McGurk. His character rarely appeared on-screen, but is a major off-screen presence in the show.
Clark became president when EarthForce One, carrying President Luis Santiago, was destroyed in 2258. He was complicit with the assassination, in order to take office. He believed Earth to be in danger of being overrun by extraterrestrial races, and so the Nightwatch, a fascist, paramilitary organization, was formed to find out people suspected to be alien infiltrators or sympathizers.
EarthForce's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General William Hague, suspected that Clark was involved in the assassination, and began a low-level counter-conspiracy that included Captain John Sheridan. In 2260, John Sheridan and General Hague found evidence that Clark had arranged the assassination of Santiago. Hague managed to get the evidence introduced in the Senate, which caused an uproar.
At about the same time, it was revealed that Clark's forces had found a Shadow vessel buried on Ganymede. Clark was having the ship studied in order to learn its secrets. John Sheridan took White Star back to Ganymede, and destroyed the vessel. Clark soon issued a decree of martial law using the Ganymede incident as a pretext.
When martial law was declared, Hague began armed resistance against Clark's government. Hague was soon killed in a firefight between his ship, EAS Alexander and the heavy-cruiser EAS Clarkstown. Meanwhile, Mars rejected martial law, and Clark responded by bombing Mars.
Clark dissolved the Senate, and nationalized the media outlets. In response, Proxima III and Orion VII broke away from the Earth Alliance, setting themselves up as independent states. Babylon 5 soon followed these two colonies by breaking away ("Severed Dreams"), after Clark attempted and failed to seize the station and put it under command of the Nightwatch. Clark quickly turned the Earth Alliance into a dictatorship, making ISN into a propaganda machine. Considering Sheridan to be a threat, Clark targeted Babylon 5 and Sheridan specifically with a blockade and a propaganda war ("The Illusion of Truth").
In the fall of 2261, Clark put a policy in place of killing refugees trying to leave the colonies that he was taking military action against. When Sheridan learned that in one case 10,000 innocent civilians were killed by an Earth Alliance vessel, he realized that the time had come to remove Clark. After the Shadow War, Sheridan had built a powerful alliance of races and held command of the White Star Fleet, giving him the military muscle to fight Earth directly. Sheridan's forces began a systematic campaign against Clark's forces, including a televised message of their own dubbed the "Voice of the Resistance". Large numbers of Earth Force personnel defected, and Sheridan scored his first major victory against Clark by defeating his forces blockading Proxima III. Sheridan himself was eventually captured by his former chief of security Michael Garibaldi (who had been brainwashed by Alfred Bester) and tortured, but was rescued and returned to the fleet soon afterward, which by this time had grown to include a large number of Earth Force ships fighting alongside him.
Clark decided to trap Sheridan's forces with advanced model destroyers which had been fitted with Shadow technology. When Sheridan's second in command, Commander Susan Ivanova, learned of this, she engaged the destroyers with White Star ships, leaving the rest of the EarthForce vessels behind. Captain James of EAS Agamemnon opposed Ivanova's decision, but soon realized that Clark would have his destroyers target the Earth ships rather than the White Stars. While Ivanova managed to destroy all the vessels, her White Star was severely damaged by a collision with debris from one of the destroyed vessels and she was injured and left in a near-death state.
Suicide and aftermath
Eventually, Sheridan took the fleet directly to Earth, and sent a message saying that they had come home to fight against Clark's tyranny. Realizing that he would soon be captured, Clark committed suicide with a PPG. In one last vindictive act, he turned the planetary defense grid back on the Earth under a "scorched earth" policy – the parallels with Adolf Hitler's end and final policies at the end of World War II are notable. Sheridan and his forces, however, were able to destroy the defense platforms before they fired; Sheridan was prepared to ram the final platform (targeting North America's eastern seaboard) with his badly damaged ship, but EAS Apollo (previously fighting against Sheridan) appeared, then destroyed the platform and saved Sheridan's life ("Endgame").
His entire presidency, Clark accused others of being traitors to the Earth Alliance and humanity – even though he personally arranged the assassination of his predecessor President Santiago so he could assume office and turn Earth into a fascist police state. Further, he pursued a massive Orwellian propaganda smear campaign to present any who opposed him personally as traitors to humanity as a whole. Ultimately, he tried to kill everyone on Earth rather than let it fall to opposition forces. After Clark's suicide, footage of his body was shown on an ISN broadcast to confirm his death: someone had unceremoniously hung a taunting handwritten note around his corpse's neck, which read "Traitor to Earth" – ultimately, Clark had done more to undermine and destroy the Earth Alliance than the fictitious "alien conspiracy" he scapegoated to seize power.
After Clark's suicide, Senator Susanna Luchenko of the Russian Consortium was named president. President Luchenko announced that the Justice Department would prosecute those who had committed crimes during Clark's reign of terror and offered amnesty to those who had followed Sheridan. Sheridan would resign in the aftermath of the civil war, but to the chagrin to his former superiors who considered him politically inconvenient, he was immediately appointed President of the Interstellar Alliance.
- Apparently McGurk fluffed his lines and got his name the wrong way round or there was an inconsistency in the script, since his character declared to be Morgan William Clark rather than William Morgan.
- Vice President Clark's presidential swearing-in aboard EarthForce Two is an intentional homage to U.S. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson's own ceremony aboard a plane, televised to the nation, immediately after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. (See comparison image at right.) According to J. Michael Straczynski, it was coincidentally shot on the anniversary of Kennedy's death.
- "Chrysalis". The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5. November 12, 1998. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
Re: the staging of Morgan Clark taking the oath of office; I gave very particular instructions to re-create the staging of the photograph in which Lyndon Johnson takes over from JFK after the assassination. The same layout, posture, background, and so on. We even had a photo on set for reference. The creepy thing is that the day we shot the scene was the anniversary of the day it actually took place; very weird atmosphere on set that day.
- Straczynski, J. Michael. "Chrysalis" commentary, Babylon 5: Season 1, disc 6.