"G'Quan wrote, 'There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting, in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain.'"
REVIEW: Sheridan's wife is back, and she's Melissa Gilbert now (props for redoing the flashback scene and putting her in there), and she's a Shadow puppet. A rather obvious one. Luring Sheridan into a trap (ish, I think the Shadows are sincere in making an appeal first) isn't really contingent on his emotional connection with Anna, but on his wanting to go to Z'ha'dum regardless, for answers, for revenge and as he reveals in a message to Delenn, to perhaps prevent the dark future he witnessed in War Without End. But I wouldn't trust Sheridan to figure out my time travel puzzles. His logic is flawed. Was that future caused by his heeding future Delenn's (and Kosh's) warning not to go to Z'ha'dum? Or was it caused because he did go. The prophecy that he would "die" there (quotation marks mine) might have been his (false) clue - if he dies at Z'ha'dum, and future Delenn isn't surprised to see him alive, that means he didn't go, right? Except she wouldn't have warned him about Z'ha'dum if he HADN'T gone. Though everyone seems to act like the future mutable, some things really aren't. Sheridan was always going to Z'ha'dum, and I'm not sure it makes sense for all the seers to tell him he has a choice in the matter, except to create tension and expectation for the audience. So he does go (any other outcome would have been dramatically disappointing), but at least he isn't treated as an idiot and knows from the first that this isn't his Anna. He isn't, like so many television characters tend to be, blinded by love or some such nonsense. He goes in with eyes open. In fact, he's in love with Delenn, and says it for the first time in that message, even though it looked like Anna would split them up (if not as his "real love" coming back, then because of the breach of trust represented by Delenn not telling him her survival was possible).
On Z'ha'dum, the Shadows get to explain themselves, through a human called "Justin" (JMS' choice of names frequently seems off to me, but whatever), and according to them, we haven't been interpreting "light" and "dark" very well. This isn't a war between good and evil, but between order and chaos. Or if you will, this isn't Tolkien, it's Moorcock. In fact, Z'ha'dum is covered with black spires with glowing red runes reminiscent of Elric's soul-drinking sword Stormbringer. Chaos wants the strong to survive and sees it as its mission to cull the inferior races/cultures through cycles of war and strife. We've heard this philosophy before, in Acts of Sacrifice, where Ivanova had to endure arrogant aliens with just such a point of view (if more passively expressed). If the show has taught us anything, it's that only together can we prevail. It's karmic in the B5 universe. In other words, the Shadows' point of view has no real value. They can foster war and push for survival of the fittest if they want, but the capacity to make alliances IS an evolutionary adaptation. It's like saying humans are weaker than lions and pack/tribe/community behavior to take down that lion is cheating. Screw that. The Shadows' argument doesn't hold water, and I rather think they ARE evil, the way they try to achieve their goals is evil. Or else, why does the center of Z'ha'dum look like the very pit of hell as envisioned in the Divine Comedy?
I thought for sure they were going to make something more of that piece of Kosh inside Sheridan's mind, given the Shadows' fear of anything Vorlon touching the planet. Sheridan could have been a psychic suicide bomber. Perhaps he still can be. Who knows what happened when he fell down to the planet's core? And of course, the White Star crashing down into the dome (a mirror of the Shadow vessel bursting through one on Ganymede earlier) has Vorlon tech and the base IS destroyed (a base that somehow reminds me of so many 60s Star Trek sets). Not that Vorlon tech necessarily has anything to do with it, what with Sheridan having nukes aboard. Truth is, it's played as if Sheridan dies, but since he was told to jump by Kosh (a programmed message), we can expect him to survive. It's huge and epic and who knows where it goes from here, and that's more than enough to compensate for our knowing (today, at any rate) that he makes it. And he's not alone in cliffhanger mode: Garibaldi's Starfury has been captured(?) by a Shadow vessel, Ivanova finds herself holding the reigns of leadership, and Londo may be leaving B5 forever to assume a position at Court. What happens next? It's a wonder I haven't yet popped the next disc into the machine.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Sheridan getting help from Kosh isn't unlike Sisko getting help from the Prophets, especially when season finales roll around. In a reverse twist, B5's Big Bad is all about Chaos, while DS9's (the Dominion) is obsessed with Order.
REWATCHABILITY: High - Another huge episode. Babylon 5 isn't scared of change and of putting its characters through the wringer.