"Do you really want to know what I want? Do you really want to know the truth? I want my people to reclaim their rightful place in the galaxy. I want to see the Centauri stretch forth their hand again and command the stars. I want a rebirth of glory, a renaissance of power! I want to stop running through my life like a man late for an appointment, afraid to look back or look forward. I want us to be what we used to be! I want... I want it all back the way it was. Does that answer your question?"
REVIEW: This one has the same title they gave the season, so it's gotta be important, right? It is! And damn mystifying as well. The biggest mystery is the guy who shows up on the station and asks every alien ambassador what they want. Evidently, he's an agent of the Shadows, the creepy aliens who drive sea urchin-like ships and make their first appearance here, a dark hint of what's to come. What are their intentions? Why the insistent survey? Why isn't Earth included? Neither are the Vorlons, mind you, but the way Kosh warns him off, it raises just as many questions as to HIS species' hidden agenda. If Babylon 5 is "not for" the Shadows, what claim do the Vorlons have on it? Why help Londo retrieve the Eye, his culture's most important artifact, and what kind of favor might they ask of him later? It's all very enigmatic and interesting.
So what do we find out? Well, Londo and G'Kar are really mirrors of each other, and can't both get their wish. G'Kar want revenge (he would call it justice), that the Centauri Empire be ground to dust. Londo wants his Republic to be great again, just like it was before. In both cases, their deepest desires are essentially selfless. They are heroes and patriots to their people, even if we might judge their motivations morally dubious. The Shadows side with the Centauri, apparently, or is the return of the Eye somehow going to lead to the Republic's downfall? I wouldn't put it past JMS. Delenn never gets to state her wishes because of a tremor in the Force; she's apparently attuned to the Shadows and their return, even in another sector beyond a jump point, causes her to break out in hives (or perhaps more embarrassingly, makes her Grey Council tattoo appear). The Minbari still get some love, as Sinclair brings Garibaldi into his investigation of the mission 24 hours and the security chief uncovers that Sinclair was the only station commander they approved for this duty. Is he some kind of sleeper agent? He must be starting to think he is.
While that all plays out as subplots - until revealed as the more important story - the A-plot concerns Londo's recovery of the Eye, and his subsequent dealings with Lord Kiro, a man with his eye on the Emperor's throne. His aunt is a seer who has predicted he would die at the Shadows' hands (and this happens) and in a possible future, the destruction of Babylon 5 itself. As it turns out, Kiro has engineered a raid on the station using the same raiders we previously encountered, faking his own kidnapping to keep the Eye out of the Republic's more official hands. They double-cross the double-crosser, but the Shadows get the final laugh. Fortune keeps changing from minute to minute. Of course, this attack means we get to see some outer space action, and it's the longest sequence we've yet seen. Is it me, or is this episode less blurry than usual? Whatever the case may be, the effects are fluid and well choreographed, with lots of fighters fighting in 3D space (by which I mean these ships turn on a dime and don't always feel like jets) and using the station itself as an environment. The raiders' carrier is also a cool design, and we get a better sense of how "jumping" works. Good stuff.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Prophecy is also an important element in Deep Space Nine.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A good mix of politics, mystery and exciting action, I would give it a High except that it does tend to repeat certain points several times (the station's possible destruction, for example) where it might have given us something new.