"It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind… the year the Great War came upon us all. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2259. The name of the place is Babylon 5."
REVIEW: Because Chrysalis wasn't really a cliffhanger, Points of Departure isn't all about resolving things hanging off cliffs. Garibaldi is still in intensive care and Delenn hasn't come out of her cocoon. Only 8 days after the previous episode which took place on January 31st - it's one year a season, folks - things are going to hell in a hand basket, partly because Sinclair's been quietly shuffled off the station. I suppose if you were into the behind the scenes material, this wasn't a shock, but watching straight through, it's strange as hell. Sinclair as ambassador to the Minbari makes some sort of sense, but not seeing it happen is extremely clunky, and the show goes out of its way to make us feel comfortable with the new guy. Bruce Boxleitner has a youthful vigor O'Hare didn't, and is immediately sympathetic. His John Sheridan certainly has the credentials. But more than that, he's already on friendly terms with Ivanova (they served together before) and he was the former president's choice to replace Sinclair, so it's not a Home Guard conspiracy, honest! His relationship to the Minbari is a little more complicated than Sinclair's, however, and they know him as Starkiller, the only human to score a victory over them during the war. Sheridan makes a good first showing, with room to breathe thanks to key characters being out of commission, letting himself be overwhelmed by events just as Sinclair did (an important element of the show), but his reactions are far less dour. He starts off fresher.
One of the things Sinclair misses out on by being off the show is the revelation that when he was captured by the Minbari, they discovered their greatest souls were being reborn as humans. Sinclair's certainly, but tests on other prisoners confirmed it. To preven harming their own oversoul, the Minbari stopped the war. An epic pronouncement, given context by the Soul Hunter episode early in Season 1. What Lennier doesn't tell Sheridan is that Valen's prophecy on the subject would have the two species who now share the same oversoul to join forces to defeat the Shadows. If the Earth-Minbari War was a holy one, the war with the Shadows would seem to go beyond that, into the metaphysical, Soul vs. (literal) Shadow. But this joining is complicated by Sheridan's tense relationship with the Minbari, and especially the warrior caste which was never told about the oversoul situation. Well, maybe it's time? Of course, the rogue warship plot is less about killing Sheridan (or Delenn, as the "traitor" who voted to end the war), and more about committing suicide by Starkiller. Here are people who devoted their lives to something and who have become highly irrelevant. Better to go out in a blaze of glory, especially if that blaze could incite another war. That it doesn't work probably makes Sheridan even more of a sore point.
The other new character introduced in the episode is Warren Keffer, who'll be able to give us the front line soldier perspective. He's a Starfury pilot, and in a sense, a grunt (the letters from home scene, etc.), and is a more sensible audience identification figure to have in space battles than Sinclair or Ivanova who really should have been in C&C when the laser blasts started flying. Sheridan presumably doesn't have Sinclair's death wish, so they've basically split the original character into two. There's a space battle in the episode, but Keffer doesn't really get to do much. What's really odd here is that he's already part of the inner circle, getting drinks with Ivanova and Franklin by the end of the episode without really having interacted with them. He didn't just arrive, of course, only just inherited the leadership of the never previously mentioned Zeta Squadron, so they might have known him from before and we never saw it. That's clunky too. Speaking of clunky, while I appreciate Sheridan wanting to give his lucky speech before his self-imposed 24-hour limit came up, who actually believes the C&C would EVER be empty like that? Doesn't seem to me like it would ever be closed, even for the sake of JMS' joke.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - The saga continues with cool revelations and action, and Sheridan is immediately likeable, but the necessary mechanics to introduce new characters needed a little more oil to work properly.