"I did not remove one dictator from the throne just to become a dictator myself."
REVIEW: Given the title, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised at the episode's longueurs. The idea is to play on the build-up before a battle, spend time with the troops as anxiety rises. But as a viewer who has been told the Big Battle(TM) will soon happen for half a dozen episodes now, Sheridan still playing chess moves against two god-like opponents, and all of the action played as reports coming in, leaves me a little unsatisfied. There are moments that work, like Ivanova asking Sheridan to promise her she will be placed in danger when the time comes, which is full of apprehension. I can't believe he's still sending her on boring quests to find the First Ones though. Her story about her mother's suicide is long but worthy; I do wish it connected to the other stories a bit better. My takeaway is that it's about what memories we take with us to heaven, or alternately, about promises unfulfilled, but that hardly describes the rest of the episode. I'm just expecting more at this point. The various shots of First One planetary weapons digesting planets also raises tension, but there sure are a lot of them. And then there are moments that don't seem so great. The comedy of Lennier having crucial information, but being consistently interrupted must surely be an example of what Cartagia calls the subjectivity of humor. There's something a bit cheesy about all the aliens' embarrassment that Bryan Cranston's Ranger is given a suicide mission. Character comes out of nowhere, immediately ordered to die? Why should we care?
I wish I could feel more catharsis from Cartagia's death, but it's been planned for so long and in such detail that it doesn't come off as a surprise. The attempt at a twist, with him turning the tables on Londo, soon returns to predictability when Vir has to do the deed himself. Well, obviously. And I won't miss Cartagia who's pretty much been played out. Bookending the event are two scenes between Londo and Vir which each go on too long. The first features some Centauri black comedy, and the second shows the toll already being paid by Vir, with yet another moment of Londo showing his love for his aide. It's well shot and well enough acted, but feels like padding. The Narn sequences are largely saved by G'Kar who, like Londo, finds no joy in their new freedom. G'Kar is saddened by his people's immediate wish for revenge, and can't even feel gratitude towards Londo. Where this character goes now, I have no idea (or memory), but his admonishment that the Narns have learned the wrong lessons from their captivity is gripping stuff.
So where DOES the show go from here? Londo becomes Prime Minister, filling the power vacuum left by his assassination, but he can't spare a smile so long as the Shadows are still roosting on his world. More court intrigue to come even if he manages to expel them, and the future we've seen doesn't exactly give us that assurance. For the giant allied fleet, it's war with little hope of return (FINAL LOG ENTRY ALERT!), and the camera even stays behind a touch too long in an empty room. Perhaps this IS the end of history. If we're seeing so little space action, it may be to boost the budget on the next one. Please tell me the big fight is finally next! I've grown impatient! All the powers are being funneled to the same system, so it NEEDS to be a doozy.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Sheridan listening to a doomed ship's audio evokes a similar scene in Star Trek: First Contact, released just a couple months earlier.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I get what they're trying to do, and there are important events and good moments here, but the pacing is too slow and tedious.