"No. We have to stay here and there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu and Einstein and Morobuto and Buddy Holly and Aristophanes... and all of this... all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars."
REVIEW: Dr. Franklin really is the most "Starfleet" of all the characters, isn't he? His secular humanism, previously seen as outspoken atheism, after the initial elation of discovery, here manifests as anti-corporate outrage that humanity would poach ideas and technology from other species instead of making the advances ourselves. He firmly believes in our capacity for growth, and can't stand that his old mentor would take shortcuts. That he would even have a mentor in the field of archaeology when he's a physician makes him the kind of Renaissance Man who would feel at home on a Starfleet ship. His rejection of racial purity (and is there irony in telling Sinclair this re: the Minbari mystery?) and embracing of differences smacks of Trek's IDIC philosophy, and is feels especially truthful coming from a deaf actor (not that you could tell). If there's a theme to this episode, it's an attempt to answer the question of why humanity should take part in the great interstellar adventure. There are selfish reasons (the guest stars') and there are noble reasons (Franklin's), but it's Sinclair's answer to the INN reporter (quoted above), pragmatic though it is in a cosmic kind of way, that's articulated the best.
Unfortunately, the plot is far less interesting. While the living tech angle is potable, especially given it's technology normally kept out of reach by the Minbari and Vorlons, it quickly devolves into an alien possession trope I've seen countless times before and since. Unscrupulous guy mishandles tech, gets turned into monster on a rampage... Look, I've just been through 50 years of Doctor Who in 2½ years. This is old hat. I suppose I could give JMS points for resolving the conflict in a non-violent way - after much violence, which the show does fairly well - but the whole bit about convincing a creature that is the last of its kind to give up because its world is dead has also fallen into cliché.
JMS does seem to know this kind of thing isn't what Babylon 5 is about, however. How else to explain the action climax happens with 8 minutes to spare? Determined to turn the focus back on characters and ideas, the episode feels completely unbalanced by no less than four introspective scenes in the epilogue. Franklin confronts his mentor. Garibaldi confronts Sinclair about his apparent death wish. Franklin and Ivanova are disappoint Earth would take the artifacts and potentially misuse them. And Sinclair has his interview with INN. It's an odd complaint, I know. I like each of these scenes and they feel entirely necessary, but the pace and structure are just so off... I guess I'd get rid of the action-driven middle, but it would be a short episode.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: While the plot is Trekkish, you know it's not Star Trek, because there are bathrooms aboard the station, and you really shouldn't use the stall reserved for methane breathers, if you know what I mean.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - My first disappointment. Nothing we haven't seen before and throwing four epilogues at us when we're already kind of bored isn't the best episode structure.