"When you reduce a family tree to a family bush, you just can't hide as much beneath it."
REVIEW: After the big blow-out, everyone deserves a little rest, but not too much. Unfortunately, it appears we also need a truckload of exposition in case Into the Fire picked up lots of new viewers. There's no question an episode is over-written when it ends on a telepath actually TALKING for MINUTES to another telepath who is behind a wall. "I love you and hope we'll be together. Also, let me explain the plot." Other clunky moments include Garibaldi reciting his entire life story to someone who already knows it, Lyta expositing her feelings to Zack like he's a therapist, and Sheridan jumping to exactly the right conclusions about Lyta's role in the destruction of Z'ha'dum based on very little evidence indeed and making a speech about it. Zack has gotten an injection of personality and energy, but I don't like it. Is he training the troops, or doing stand-up? It's a bit over-the-top, and as with a lot of JMS-penned comedy, not particularly funny (cue line of Elvises at customs).
I suppose part of my problem is that smaller roles are being expanded, but the actors in those roles don't appear to be up to it. Lyta becomes a vapid reciter of lines, Zack a blaring class clown, and Damian London an unfunny, caricatured Centauri courtier/toad, sees his role expanded to that of regent and all his edicts have to do with interior decorating. I probably wouldn't mind so much if there wasn't the promise of seeing more of him. At the end of the episode, the dark servant we saw in control of Londo in War Without End attaches itself to the comedy regent, so we know it'll come up again. Compare all this bla bla bla to the brief exchange between Londo and G'Kar, which is to me the most memorable scene in the whole episode. Londo tries to avoid G'Kar, but thinks better of it, and is told he doesn't exist in G'Kar's reality anymore. He was only ever an obstacle or a tool to free Narn. Now that this is done, G'Kar has no use for Londo, and he would do well to remained "unnoticed". There's no real response to that because it's all in the acting. Of course, if we're still on track for War Without End, we know the relationship must grow from here (and G'Kar's eye NOT be repaired?), so this is far from over too.
Despite all the talking, a lot happens too. The even with the greatest impact on the show is Garibaldi's resignation, but as far as "epiphanies" go, it's an artificial one. He's been programmed to leave. Presumably. The scene in his bathroom where he draws a face on the foggy mirror is an eerie reminder of whatever's been implanted in his mind, and he doesn't erase/repress whatever truth is coming through until he gets the subliminal trigger that makes him take his decision. And yet, it could be genuine. What's the point of winning a war if you can't enjoy the spoils, in this case, your freedom? Z'ha'dum's destruction isn't just the tying up of a loose end, but a look to the future. We have dark agents flying off, the same agents referenced in War Without End, and Lyta's powers exposed as a lot more powerful than they used to be. There are promises made in each revelation. The action du jour comes via Bester's tip that President Clark plans to frame Babylon 5 for the destruction of loyal Starfuries, which sends Ivanova into the fray to set things right. Seems Bester sacrificed his own men for a shot at Z'ha'dum's technology (and his lover's cure), so the frame's really on Clark, but then, with the president's propaganda machine saying B5 is a nest of terrorists, he gets what he deserves. If enough of the military joins Sheridan's cause, we might have a full-blown civil war on our hands, and of course, we need something to tide us over for the rest of the season with the Shadows gone. Looks like there's plenty of enemies to around after all.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Over-written to an inch of its life, the episode nonetheless features a few good moments and resets the board for the next engagement.