"No one here is exactly as he appears."
REVIEW: Now here's a plot very much out of Star Trek - its roots are, in fact, in Trek's second pilot - about a man who expands his mind to the point where he becomes a giant New Age CG effect. Sure, the theme of the series is, in a sense, this episode's, i.e. "becoming", but what salvages the too-familiar plot is the introduction of certain villains and the deepening of the Babylon 5 universe they represent. The obvious one is Bester (named after a certain SF author? we learn later he's called Alfred just like The Stars My Destination's writer) played by Walter Koenig as a cold and slimy Psi Cop. This is a big name guest star (for the genre anyway) who makes enough of an impression that you're glad he survived the encounter. We do have a vested interest in seeing more Psi Corps action because Talia is in the cast, of course, but also because Ivanova has a bitter past with the organization. I'm also curious as to whether they'll keep up the Prisoner references ("be seeing you" with the eyeful salute) or of it was a one-off wink to fans of paranoid thrillers.
We learn a lot about telepaths, some of it through massive amounts of exposition, some through character moments. That there are levels of ability. That some very few also have telekinetic ability (and what does this gift mean for Talia's future?). What it feels like to hear thoughts around you all the time. What love between telepaths means. And through Ironheart's rapture, perhaps we discover what awaits mankind in the Fourth Age, I don't know. There's certainly something portentous to his farewell to Sinclair: "See you in a million years." This is all quite informative and/or intriguing, so it's unfortunate the plot reminds one so much of Infection which, only a couple episodes back, also put one of the cast in a difficult situation with a mentor and someone turning into something not human that puts the entire station in danger (and which Earth Forces would like to have in their arsenal).
The subplot involves Sinclair's girlfriend Catherine taking a job G'Kar thinks is ill-advised, to a remote sector where ships tend not to come back. While she's out there, she encounters what fans of the show know as the First Ones, an ancient power with creepy, creepy ships that will become important to the program. Just a fleeting glimpse, but a promise as well. G'Kar says we are ants compared to these mysterious and unknowable aliens. And he makes another promise to the viewer: That no one on this show is what he or she seems. That goes with the theme of becoming, certainly, but also hints at something darker. How many of these characters are lying to us? Or perhaps the question should be, how much is JMS lying to us? He is playing with our expectations, certainly, and a reptilian alien like G'Kar should, by convention, be the villain of the piece. He isn't, though he might have saved Catherine simply to advance his own agenda with Sinclair. We already know other characters have secrets, could his be... virtue?
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Without a doubt the most high-profile Trek actor to ever appear on Babylon 5, Walter Koenig effectively made a whole generation forget all about Chekov for a few years.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - While the episode introduces a couple of key villains, I don't think it says all that much about them we won't get in future appearances. The shadow of Star Trek's stock plots still looms large.