"When I had to learn English, one of the most difficult words for me was 'goodbye'. There is no corresponding word for 'goodbye' in Minbari. All our partings contain within them the possibility of meeting again: in other places, in other times, in other lives. So you will excuse me if I do not say 'goodbye'."
REVIEW: Essentially plotless for its first half, the season (if not series) finale is all about ensuring replacement cast for an imaginary 6th season, a point made clear when Sheridan and Delenn leave, with a surprisingly poignant ensemble shot where Lochley and Sheridan share a salute from across open space. In a way, I wish The River of Souls had (in addition to a good script) used this full group - Lochley, Dr. Hobbs, Ta'Lon, Vir, Number One and Zack - as it really were a preview of what would have been to come, would have never come. I further wish the episode had ended on this moment, as I'm not at all interested in the Lennier subplot and his promised "turn". As a betrayal, it's a timid one. He almost lets Sheridan die, then returns to save him, though of course the Action President has already gotten out of the jam alone. Delenn going on about how she suspected he had feelings for her when she actively KNOWS is irritating, and the diary device to explain it to everyone else is unnecessary and a seems out of character. They forgive him his trespass anyway, so who cares?
On goodbyes... Doc Franklin's goodbyes are practical and understated, which is a surprise because G'Kar says goodbye AGAIN, this time to Ta'Lon, naming him ambassador in a very strange sequence where the director makes the Narn appear like a ghost while Ta'Lon is watching him on a screen, presumably because the speech was a bit long and they needed to keep us interested. Unfortunately, it's still too long. Much better is Delenn's farewell (partly quoted above), which refuses to be final. Along with the salute, it's where this episode best lives. It's difficult for a final episode to avoid a certain amount of meta-text, and stories on film/video will forever be accessible. As such, this can't be goodbye, especially since already filmed material is still to come. Similarly, the lump in the actors' throats is their characters. Sheridan does not give a farewell speech at this point, but rather waits to get the final word at episode's end, through advice he records for his unborn son, coming full circle to the first advice his own father ever gave him. Here it gets a little TOO knowing, with the whole bit about "you have to fight for what you believe in" largely and obviously mirroring JMS' own struggle putting this atypical series on the air. Again, for me, the episode ended 20 minutes earlier.
On looking to the future... Londo shows up on Minbar for a surprise dinner, which at first made me bristle because I felt his chapter had been closed in The Fall of Centauri Prime. But this is looking ahead some 16 years hence, because Londo leaves Sheridan and Delenn's son a gift that is really a trap, a Boy's Own Keeper(TM). I imagined this being dealt with in Sleeping in Light, but research shows, it's a story for the novels. That's disappointing. In my innocence, I first saw the Imperial gift, usually given to the Emperor's heir, as a way for Londo to put the Alliance in eventual control of his world, thus defeating the Shadow agents. Certainly, he would have told them more if he'd been allowed to get drunk (it dulls the Keeper's senses), but alas, since alcohol is poisonous to the Minbari, it's a dry planet. The shot of Londo, overlooking Minbar as he once did Narn, is nice and ominous. And we go to Mars to see Garibaldi setting up a new board out of all the disgruntled whistle-blowers in his new company, a mirror of his own character. A nice touch - they wouldn't have been loyal to the old guard - even if it's unlikely to work in real world terms.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium with moments set to High - There are some moments here I wouldn't ever give up, but after I'm satisfied and teary, it keeps going and loses me.