"The decision is mine and mine alone. And it's made."
REVIEW: I'm not saying I'll remember more details about my original viewing after this, not at all, but I remember Messages from Earth as the episode I watched that hooked me into the series. It doesn't take long, watching it today, to figure out Michael Vejar is at the helm. G'Kar withdrawing into darkness, the various voice-overs superimposing dialog with action in a way that's both efficient and artistic, the furious hand-held action... Vejar is way ahead of the game compared to the show's other directors. And of course, it's a cool, action-oriented episode that sees Sheridan destroy a Shadow ship in some memorable visuals. It all starts when Marcus' "package" arrives right on schedule, a literal week since he mentioned it in the previous episode - an archaeologist who dug up a dormant Shadow vessel on Mars, which later escaped (confirming something Garibaldi experienced, but never talks about), all of which was covered up by Earth's fascist government. A second ship has been found on Ganymede, and of course, Earthforce is hoping to use it as a weapon, but the human pilot loses control and a battle ensues. It's not just eye candy. It's also one revelation behind another. The PsiCorps' involvement, the biological nature of the Shadow ship, its touch of death, and so on.
JMS raises the stakes by not making this about the war with the Shadows, but rather about the split between our heroes and Earth. Sheridan's decision to take the White Star into Earth-controlled space puts him in direct confrontation with the one ship he can't abstract as a faceless object, his former command, the Agamemnon. And he refuses to fire on it. The escape is the episode's one weak element, creating a jump gate in Jupiter's atmosphere much too easily for a maneuver never attempted before, ever. But even before then, Sheridan's technical treason weighs on him. The Sheridan-Delenn relationship has been on the back burner this season, but the scene in which he shares a story from his childhood with her, and she just naturally comforts him, is incredibly sweet. These guys have something pure going, a relationship that's pretty unique in television.
The secret war between Babylon 5 and Earthgov ignited here isn't just fought in space, but on the station itself. We feel it in Ivanova's annoyance with Marcus, who doesn't fit anywhere in the chain of command. By the end of the episode, she's warmed up to him (their sense of humor is so similar, how could they not?), but may also realize SHE doesn't really fit in the traditional chain of command anymore. Zack is, as usual, being squeezed by Nightwatch, pushed to betray Garibaldi, which he refuses to do. That's the real cost of Gestapo-style fascism, where the State becomes more important than individual friendships and family relationships. Zack personifies humanity's battle against itself. The episode also includes a worthy scene with G'Kar, still in a cell after his assault on Vir and Londo, completely at peace, and an amusing-ish teaser about how hard it is to get bacon and eggs on B5. Adds texture to the universe, but I got distracted wondering why this would be so. I mean, can't the future keep an egg fresh and intact during a hyperspace trip? Or how about importing some chickens? See?! Still distracted!
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Half a year earlier, the Defiant flew into a gas giant's atmosphere to even the odds against a Jem'Hadar ship.
REWATCHABILITY: High - A lot of action, interesting revelations, morally gray territory... That would get it to Medium-High, but the fancy direction takes it up an extra notch.