"Take my advice and go back to the time you came from. The future isn't what it used to be."
REVIEW: A rare occurrence here at Babylon 5 Central, an episode with a single story thread. Not even a subplot thrown in. The season is still building to a war with the Shadows as a "soldier of darkness" makes its way to B5 on its way to the Rim. It's not a Shadow per se, but a sort of demonic ghost that drains people's life force or scoops out their organs at its leisure. If that's just a soldier... But it does mean some of the forces of darkness didn't go in hiding after all. This soldier was hunting on its own during the Earth-Minbari War, and killed Amis' (Schultz) whole platoon and kept him for torture snacks. And though not every species in the cosmos has heard of the Shadows, many at least have some passing knowledge of their soldiers. The League of Aliens freaks out at the thought of them, and G'Kar's grimoire pictures them as devils. Londo, of course, dismisses the whole thing, but then, he's the worm working WITH them, whether he realizes it or not. From Sheridan, I get the sense that while he recognizes the threat, he's at least as irritated by the fact this will mean more meetings.
When I say there's only one story thread, that's not exactly true, but they're all in the service of the same plot for once. The Copernicus, on which the creature has stowed away, also carried a sleeper from a hundred years ago, played by ubiquitous television guest actress Anne-Marie Johnson (as Mariah Cirrus). She went to sleep with her husband in the next tube and woke up having missed all of those great advances in space exploration, with her husband dead and organless. And as soon as she's out of bed, she's making moves on Doc Franklin! Written, or at least acted, like a femme fatale, you're hardwired not to trust her. Is the reason she can't cry because of the cryogenics, bad acting or that she's not sad about her dead hubby at all? This is an annoying red herring, as Mariah is just kind of frivolous. Not a great love interest, and like every girl Franklin gets interested in, she's never seen again. This one at least leaves on screen, in the kind of cliché scene we're used to seeing on other shows.
More engaging is Dwight Schultz's role as a veteran suffering from PTSD, slowly going mad from nightmares in the Down Below. Schultz has made a career of playing manic, flustered losers, and he's good here too. Garibaldi, a veteran as well, empathizes with him, though the plot line makes it seem like the Security Chief is a glorified bouncer, escorting lurkers who have somehow gotten to the Up Above. No checkpoints on Babylon 5? Not that I begrudge the homeless free movement, but on a military base with important VIPs, the security's once again too lax to believe. Unsurprisingly, Amis sacrifices his life to stop the monster that's been haunting him. Surprisingly, he survives the encounter. Never seen again, one hopes he got the help he needed and got his life in order. He deserved that, at least.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Dwight Schultz is a prominent Trek actor, of course, having played Reg Barclay on TNG. Cryogenic sleepers have of course been featured in a variety of episodes, from Space Seed (TOS) to The Neutral Zone (TNG) to Empok Nor (DS9) to The 37s (VOY).
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A solid guest-star, a threat that's a sign of things to come, and a plot that involves a large number of characters. Fine, but too many clichés.