"The war is never completely won. There are always new battles to be fought against the darkness. Only the names change."
REVIEW: A belated changing of the guard from Sinclair to Sheridan (neatly, by way of Delenn) is only one of several reasons to watch this episode. Ultimately though, it is about interpretation, a theme that dogs the viewer's heels throughout, and perhaps some of the characters' too. Case in point, Sheridan's visit to the future. NOT a future undone like the 8-days-to-destruction scenario the crew is trying to prevent, but what appears to be, give or take, the actual future. It seems to be JMS' solution for at once keeping to "one season, on year" and yet paying off long-term destinies like Londo and G'Kar's mutual destruction. But because we're never given the full picture, what we think we know is simply one interpretation. So if initially, Emperor Londo seems antagonistic, he is later revealed to the be possessed by an evil entity that he can temporarily obliterate with alcohol. His vice becomes an advantage. And his death at G'Kar's hands is thus a mercy from a friend. The only reason G'Kar gets choked too - as per Londo's vision, which was all we had before - is that the entity regains control and attacks. In the end, as prophesied, Vir becomes emperor of a fallen Republic. This is all extremely clever. Not only does it give you what you want, but it subverts expectations as well. If we're flashing forward to the end, we can't exactly scream "spoilers!" because new mysteries are laid in - just how will we get to this point? This is part of the epic style, throwing us into the middle of things before going backwards, knowing more than we should, the joy in seeing it unfold. The show's mission statement is imbedded in this episode: You only THINK you know what will happen.
The big bombshell is, of course, that Delenn and Sheridan will have a son in the future. It's an element that gives the audience what it wants because we already expect the two of them to get together - Sheridan will have kissed her before she'll have kissed him, oh time travel! - but raises the stakes on it. And I think we somehow knew any relationship between them would eventually merge human and Minbari souls in some symbolic, next-step-for-the-universe way. Though the future seems set in stone (even if we keep being told it isn't), older Delenn still tries to warn Sheridan not to go to Z'ha'dum. Kosh has said he would die there, but given the place's connection to his wife, is she trying to prevent some other kind of pain? Interpretation is a bitch. Delenn's own flash-forward, as part of the same temporal distortions we saw in Babylon Squared, is more cryptic. She's in their shared quarters and someone surprising comes to the door? Another mystery laid in, and I no longer dare interpret what I'm seeing.
Meanwhile (if that term can apply), there's lots of running around on Babylon 4 so it can be sent to the far past. Interpretation is still a theme because in the last act, it starts showing us scenes we've experienced before, pulled right out of B-Squared. Except now we have a second point of view available, and know that behind the scenes, Ivanova, Marcus, etc. are causing all the mishaps. The old footage meshes well with the new, and it's even a little fun to hear the old B5 theme when the two stories cross into one another for the first time. The theme is also supported by the confusion with the blue spacesuit, with three characters wearing the thing before the end, and those three revealed to be "the One". Yes, it's a bit of a continuity implant to cover the fact Sinclair was replaced (but no worse than his getting older from time distortions so he can look at gray as he did in the B-Squared sequences), but aside from requiring lots of exposition, it works very well. Not only is this story about past, present and future, each idea represented by one of the three, but it connects to the show's central lesson that together we can achieve things no one person can. So B5 does not have one central figure who changes the universe, but a continuity of heroes working towards the same goal, each supported by people and events around them. The whole is stronger than its parts, and that whole is temporal as well as spatial.
Finally, Sinclair's circle is closed when he goes back in time and (REVEAL!) he becomes Valen, the founder of modern Minbari society. Not a great shock, because Ivanova and Marcus have a completely gratuitous conversation about the "Minbari not born of Minbari" earlier on. When you're in a time travel episode that's also a send-off for a major character, well, any viewer can do the math. I still wasn't expecting the return of the Triluminary device though, or Sinclair being physically turned into a Minbari. That this explains why human and Minbari souls started to merge into the same omni-soul 1000 years ago is wondrous. His was the first to connect our species' souls, and from them on, a door was open. I'm used to talking about B5 as an epic, but it's real a grand myth, isn't it? One that supports the ethos and beliefs of "foundationalism" as described by Doc Franklin. The prophecies are memories of the future set down, after all.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: It's as if The Trouble with Tribbles had been made as if it was always going to include, in the margins, the events of Trials and Tribble-ations (only a few months away from broadcast).
REWATCHABILITY: High - A roadmap to the show's past and future. This one's huge. HUGE!