"Captain's personal log, September 2nd, 2261—Enough is enough."
REVIEW: If there's a word to describe Michael Vejar's direction in this episode, it's "urgency". His camera, always mobile and interesting, has a hard time keeping up with the characters, often lagging behind and trying to follow people who have more on their minds than letting themselves be filmed. Instead of the excruciatingly slow ramp-up to the Shadow War, we have a jam-packed, exciting half-an-episode getting us to the same point with Fascist Earth. Awesome. With Vejar in charge, the picture-making doesn't stop with the CG sequences, but these are also great, including a cool reveal of the White Star's new paint job, and a spectacular suicide run on the Pollux. Have we not seen Earthforce destroyers in action much before? Because they've never felt so much like GUNS to me before. Throw in a soundtrack full of urgent military marches and motivational speeches, and you have an episode that deserves to have its title be the Season's as well.
Worthy of note, Sheridan doesn't nuke anyone. Instead, we have potable strategies, both tactical and political, and that's true of the other side as well. Sheridan's fight is moral, and he demonstrates this by using words first, and keeping alien forces out of it (well, so long as you don't consider the White Stars Minbari), which will go some way proving to humans that he ISN'T under some alien influence (don't worry, propaganda fans, ISN can spin anything into anything). Finding out who the loyalists are and concentrating attacks on them (and rhetoric on the others) is paramount, but Clark's forces employ a buddy system to keep non-loyalists in check which counters this nicely. But Clark's weakness is exposed: He needs the corrupt few to keep the moral majority in check, so will always be outnumbered. One needs only motivate good people to do the right thing. We see two examples of this, mirrors of each other, when the crew of the Vesta fails to rally behind the loyalist plant, and the Herakles' stops following its corrupt captain's orders. The first instance could be misconstrued as the an effect of the same cult of personality that makes Sheridan's people support him, but the second reveals a greater truth about military ethics in Earthforce.
Vir's guilty conscience and Garibaldi's departure from Babylon 5 aside, the rest of the episode is dedicated to Londo and G'Kar, and whatever post-war relationship they might have. I love Londo here, on the one hand seeking redemption for his poor choices and doing right by his "friends", and on the other, unable to shake his selfish entitlement and need for acknowledgement. He's the one who goes to G'Kar with an open hand, with a diplomatic idea that would unite Centauri Prime, Narn and Sheridan's forces in a common purpose, but G'Kar gives him not an inch. Not gratitude, not respect, not even receipt of Londo's own thanks and respect. It's really rather poignant. Londo talks a good game, but his self-entitlement will always keep G'Kar at arm's length. In the end, G'Kar does make a concession, but out of loyalty for Sheridan and Babylon 5 (and perhaps to spite Clark's Earth Alliance, which abandoned his people early on), not to build any kind of bridge with Londo. As with the big space battle story, good people can be trusted to do the right thing in the right circumstances, but will only do so in their own time and on their own terms. Sheridan's victory (which comes at some cost, and we're reminded of the innocent nameless crew members who died at his hands) seems more decisive than Londo's, but both should be seen as a baby step in the overall scheme of things.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: In DS9's "Paradise Lost", victory against corrupt Earth forces were also contingent on "turning" an opposing Starfleet captain.
REWATCHABILITY: High - The season's big center piece. Great action, visuals, dialog, acting and moral dilemmas.