S4E1: The Hour of the Wolf

New opening credits. Not quite sure if I like them. Feels a bit overloaded with too many narrators and too many reused footage from previous seasons episodes. The music feels faster paced though, contrasting a bit with the more brooding gloom of the previous ones. I get the idea, but the execution seems a bit rough.

Garibaldi is still missing and Sherridan is presumed dead. The Shadows have been quiet for the last week and nobody knows what's going to happen next.

Ivanova's alarm goes off and informs her of a big pile of messages and appointments, but she's already up and looks like she never went to bed in the first place.

Ivanova, Delenn, and G'Kar are trying to convince the ambassadors that the war is not over yet and they can't withdraw their ships to their homeworlds. Instead they have to go on the offensive and invade Zahadum, now that Sherridan has shown they can be hit there. As with previous negotiations, the Gaim ambassadors drops some hard truth and says that Sherridan went to attack Zahadum and now he's dead. Mic drop, ambassadors exit stage left.

Londo is at the imperial palace and really isn't impressed. The young emperor Cartagia is a twit and the prime minister appears to be demented. The emperor has big plans for the empire and wants Londo to take charge of things.

Vir tells Ivanova that the Shadows have send a message to Londo's office on the station, which states that Sherridan made the White Star crash into their city on Zahadum causing a massive nuclear explosion and that he fell into a two mile deep chasm seconds before the explosion.

Londo goes to his rooms where he is greeted by Morden, who has been terribly burned and implies that he might not really have survived the explosion strictly speaking. But his masters are seeing to it that he continues performing his duties for them. Given the current state of things, the Shadows need new hiding places, and Emperor Cartagia has agreed to let them store some of their ships on Centauri Prime. Londo thinks that's a terrible idea and Cartagia is not reliable, but Morden tells him that he and Refa put Cartagia on the throne as their puppet and dealing with him is now Londo's problem. Londo doesn't want to be the Shadow's agent on Centauri Prime, but Morden is sure that he will do the job to the best of his abilities, because he's afraid who else might get the job if he refuses it.

Delenn tries talking to the Vorlon ambassador about help keeping their alliance against the Shadows together and trying to rescue Sherridan if he is still alive. But the Vorlon just doesn't care about any of that.

Zack finds G'Kar in Garibaldi's quarters. G'Kar tells him someone has to go searching for Garibaldi and he's looking around his rooms to prepare for the search. He also wonders if his poster of Duffy Duck is a religious icon of one of Garibaldi's household gods. Zack thinks about it for a moment and says it kind of is. If it's a god, it would be the god of frustration, which G'Kar finds very funny.

Londo is frustrated because he can't find his black coat. The prime minister says he's send it to be cleaned and the emperor demands his presence in the palace garden right now. So Londo grabs his old purple coat and follows him. They walk outside and find a small crowd staring at the sky, with a large fleet of Shadow ships flying overhead.
Londo goes to find the emperor in the throne room and wants to know what the Shadows have offered him for being allowed to have a base on Centauri Prime. Cartagia thinks the Shadows are the old gods of ancient myths and as emperor they will elevate him to a deity as well. The threat of Centauri Prime becoming a target for the Shadow's enemies is of no concern in light of that.
Londo walks out without a word and tells the prime minister that the emperor is made. He's told that it's not wise to say such things in public, as those who have done so before have disappeared, and it's said that the emperor is keeping their heads in a dark room where he goes to speak with them. (Which he does.)

Londo calls Vir and tells him he has to come to Centauri Prime immediately, as he needs people he can trust.

Lyta comes to Ivanova in the middle of the night and offers an idea that they take one of the other White Stars to Zahadum to go searching for Sherridan. Since she and Sherridan were both connected to Kosh, she thinks there's a chance she might be able to sense him from space if he is still alive. Ivanova is feeling so terrible right now that she says Sure, let's get Delenn and go.

They get to Zahadum and Lyta blocks the Shadow ships from noticing them. Ivanova tries to call Sherridan's com but gets no response. Delenn takesLyta's hand and tries to reach him telepathically. Lyta senses that the Shadows are seeing them, and Ivanova can feel something as well. They see the face of a Shadow and its talking to them, telling them to land on the planet. The ship turns around and goes into hyperspace, and Lennnier tells Ivanova that he programmed the autopilot to make an escape if he stops using the controls. Neither Lennier nor Lyta picked up anything from Sherridan.

Vir arrives in Londo's rooms and he tells him that the emperor is insane and spying on him. Vir wonders if anyone else know that the emperor is mad, and Londo tells him that everyone in the palace knows it. It's just nobody talking about it. Londo needs an ally he can trust not to betray him and who won't be putting himself over the good of Centauri Prime, and Vir is absolutely behind him. Londo tells him the only thing they can do is to kill the emperor.

In the caves of Zahadum, Sherridan is wandering around and meets and old alien man. He asks the alien why he is still alive, and the alien says that this is a very good question.

--

Season 2 and 3 both started somewhat weak after the strong endings of the previous seasons and I was expecting something similar here. But this is actually a really good episode for starting a new season.

It does not really have a strong plot. It does not give any answers and nothing is resolved. It also doesn't have any particularly notable scenes or dialog. But what it does is setting up the storylines for the new seasons, as well as refreshing everyone's memories about where the story had left of.

Morden being cryptic about his questionably alive status is quite fun. I think nothing really comes from it, but it's still neat. Though I think they might have made his introduction a bit early. We could have gone assuming he is dead for a good while up until the point where his involvement becomes relevant again, though I don't actually remember when that will be.

It's a bit silly, but I like that moment with Londo missing his new coat that has gone to the laundry so that he has to wear the old one once more for the moment when he looks up at the Shadow ships, matching the image from his vision in season 1. It's winking at the fourth wall, but in a very understated fashion.

I also actually really liked the performances for Ivanova this episode. She's mostly just sitting around by herself looking mopey. But making it look meaningful without being cringy requires serious acting talent. Now that I think of it, the acting for Ivanova is always the most impressive when she's really upset. The other great example I can think of is in S2E19: Divided Loyalties.
Pissed off or mildly annoyed Ivanova is fun, but seriously upset Ivanova is always impressive to watch.