Security chief Michael Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) and Zack Allen (Jeff Conaway) discuss the quartering in the station of all the incoming refugees from Narn. In the Zocalo, Mr. Morden (Ed Wasser) meets with Vir Cotto (Stephen Furst) to make a delivery for Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik). Morden asks what Vir he wants. Vir says he would like to see Morden’s head on a pike.
Garibaldi meets with Captain John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleiter) to discuss the refugees. Sheridan is going through the personal effects of his late wife Anna, who died on the Icarus at Z’ha’dum. He notices a familiar face in the crew records: Mr. Morden. Garibaldi finds that Norden is still on the station. Sheridan orders him detained. Telepath Talia Winters (Andrea Thompson) is visited in her quarters by the Regional Director of the Ministry of Peace, Pierce Macabee (Alex Hyde-White). She agrees to attend his lectures. In Medlab, Doctor Franklin (Richard Biggs) is taking stims to get through the day and starts to drift off. Commander Ivanova (Claudia Christian) orders him to rest.
Mr. Morden tries to leave Babylon Five, but is detained by Zack Allen. Brought before Captain Sheridan, Morden points out that he cannot be detained unless arrested for something. Sheridan shows him a picture of Anna, but he denies ever knowing her. Sheridan shows him video of the Icarus, and Morden tells of being found by a passing ship, suffering from amnesia. Sheridan says he’s lying and will be detained, legally or not, until Sheridan gets to the bottom of the matter.
Ivanova forces Doctor Franklin to stop and eat. He tells her about all the Narns he is watching perish in front of him. They discuss religion—he’s a Foundationist. Sheridan keeps drilling Morden. The Ministry of Peace meeting is about the dangers of subversive thoughts and the creation of Nightwatch, a volunteer group that gathers information and rumors. Garibaldi understands Sheridan’s point of view, but he can’t allow him to hold Morden without cause. When Sheridan balks, Garibaldi quits, and Sheridan puts Zack Allen in charge of Security. Sheridan gets a message from Vir about Morden and orders Zack to find Talia Winters.
Sheridan meets with Vir and receives a request from Londo (Peter Jurasik) to release Morden, who has been granted diplomatic immunity by the Centaurum. Sheridan says Morden is in protective custody, though he’s not sure from what. Ivanova confronts Sheridan about Morden, accusing Sheridan of being irrational, and she will have to report his behavior if he doesn’t quit. Sheridan says nothing matters but getting to the bottom of the Icarus Incident.
Talia refuses to scan Morden. Sheridan says he’s officially dead, lost in the Icarus Incident, but that doesn’t work. He arranges to have her pass Morden in the hallway. She senses the darkness around him, hears the voices of the Shadows, and collapses in pain. Morden warns his Shadow companions not to reveal themselves. Sheridan walks in as Talia is recovering in Medlab and she slaps his face. But Sheridan is even more determined to discover what Morden is all about. Delenn (Mira Furlan) and Kosh (voice of Ardwight Chamberlain) also urge Sheridan to release Morden. They agree to give him the answers he wants but warn him that he will never sleep well again.
Delenn explains about the First Ones, millions of years before the Elders. Some have left the Galaxy, but some remain, waiting for the Shadows to return. The Shadows returned a thousand years ago, during the last Great War, and were defeated by the few remaining First Ones and the Minbari. The only First Ones now remaining are the Vorlons. Last year, she asked Kosh if the Shadows have returned to Z’ha’dum and he said yes. Kosh projects images into Sheridan’s mind. He sees the Icarus at Z’ha’dum awaken the Shadows, the crew choose either to serve the Shadows, like Morden, or die. Sheridan collapses.
Delenn insists Morden must be released because their only advantage is that the Shadows don’t know how much they know. The shadows are moving slowly this time because they moved too quickly last time and were defeated. She also warns that Morden is never alone. Sheridan talks to Zack, musing about Churchill and the Enigma Code secrets. Zack asks, “How many lives is a secret worth?” Hearing a sound, they adjust the monitor in Morden’s cell and just for a moment glimpse the Shadows. Sheridan lets Morden go. Sheridan returns Garibaldi’s link and PPG and apologizes. Garibaldi notices the Nightwatch band on Zack’s arm. Sheridan tells Kosh he let Morden go. He is determined to go to Z’ha’dum and Kosh warns he will die but will teach him what he needs to know.
And so, it begins. The Ministry of Peace is, of course, from George Orwell’s 1984. In the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf warns of the coming of Shadows to Mordor. The whole episode echoes with the voices of Tolkien and Lovecraft. Apparently, the widely believed sacrifice of Coventry story is not true. Churchill did not, in fact, know about the Nazi bombing ahead of time. When Talia slapped Sheridan, she really slapped him, and they only did two takes. Vir is magnificent, but we knew that. His is one of the best speeches in the series. On the subject of good and evil: If a power says he knows what’s best for you, so do what we say, is that Good? If a power says only through conflict and death can you grow stronger, so we will not save you, is that evil? That Morden, though demonstrably a bad guy, is afforded in this episode such liberal protection from illegal incarceration should make us sigh wistfully these days.