"Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova, Commander, daughter of Andrei and Sofie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance, and the boot that is gonna kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart. I am death incarnate and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."
REVIEW: The incredible second half of this episode made me forget all about the first half's many weaknesses, so I may struggle... As expected, Garibaldi is his old self enough to want to make things right by rescuing Sheridan. Of course, he's now Sheridan's infamous betrayer so it takes a telepath's seal of approval, impossible to get unless one has Vorlon-enhanced powers, which Lyta most definitely has. Thankfully, she's on Mars, and Doc Franklin, though ready to let Number One execute his old friend wants to be sure they're not making a mistake. From there, a rescue attempt which will hinge on security being rather more lax than we'd expect at the interrogation center, but some fun use of Lyta unleashing her powers on the guards (PAINNNNN!) and getting the codes from them. Lyta is otherwise problematic, however. I laughed out loud when she grabbed a machine gun and starting shooting in the air - it seemed completely ridiculous - but scratched my head at the "comedy" scene where she wants to sue whoever ever said she was a good liar. It dawned on me then that I really didn't know who Lyta was. A tool of the Vorlons, someone who keeps getting disrespected for no visible reason, and a character that might as well be JMS' own private deus ex machina, with powers useful for moving the plot along, or ignored when they would make things too easy. But I don't think the writer or the actress really know what makes her tick, and so these scenes come off as random, getting the wrong impression from the audience. Garibaldi gains redemption not because he acts to undo the damage he did, but because he manages to be cool doing it. He would hate to "go out" as a traitor, and talks circles around the nitwits guarding Sheridan's prison. Once again stabbed in the back, it's now a symbol of his penance for what he did to his former captain. As for Sheridan himself, I do wish they'd switched out interrogators again, and that the effects of torture - and drug-induced mind manipulation! - would have had a more lasting effect on him. He empties a magazine into a dead guard and that's catharsis enough that he can then get into the captain's chair again? I hold out hope for a sequel to his treatment, but at the rate things are going (JMS still thinks it's the last season), I'm not TOO hopeful.
Back on the station, Londo and G'Kar are meeting with the League of Non-Aligned Worlds and convincing them to join their ships to Sheridan's fleet. They even provide political cover for Delenn by excluding her so no one can say she was in a conflict of interest. Nothing sinister here. Rather, we're seeing how Sheridan's greater message, his preaching the power of alliance, has reached these various alien races. Babylon 5 HAS become our best hope for peace, and even its most warlike participants are now acting on this hope, not selfishly, but out of honor and reciprocity. Sheridan showed them the way with DEEDS, not just words, and they are repaying his service and sacrifice. With the aliens banding together, in part to deny Earth the possibility of isolating itself or one day lashing back (WWII Germany-style), and Sheridan getting rescued, we may indeed believe in hope. That's when JMS sandbags us with the opposite sentiment.
Now, I do find the Shadow-enhanced Earthforce battleships a little silly. I mean, it's the darkest battle ever with those black hulls, but the urchin quills don't seem to serve any purpose except to make us understand what's going on. But it's fine. The space battle is awesome and Ivanova gets to go for broke, willing to fight to the last man so this fleet loyal to Clark can't get away. At this point, Ivanova is looking haggard, even after Marcus tricks her into getting some sleep. That fatigue only accentuates her natural irritation, and from that irritation is born the most kickass speech this show has ever had (and I certainly wouldn't expect something like that from Star Trek!). She makes good on her divine promise, but can't avoid a large piece of debris hitting her ship. Now, my limited hindsight was working overtime. I knew Ivanova wasn't part of the 5th season, but I couldn't remember why. As the large piece of debris tumbled into view, it seemed to go in slow motion. I had time to play back in my mind how she'd just gotten this awesome moment, how she'd finally acknowledged Marcus' feeling for her, and her certain departure from the program. Ivanova was going to die. I was in tears. It's heart-wrenching that she survives this moment to essentially say her goodbyes to Sheridan, that she'll survive less than a week in some hospital bed. And like Londo and the NA League, her thoughts here, at the end, are for her friend, not for herself. She begs him not to add to his guilt, that her death is not on his head, and further gets a promise from him that he'll command the Agamemnon in the final battle - a place of psychological safety, surely. Unless the warning about traitors making believed they'd joined his cause are on that very ship... Like I said, at this point, I've lost track of whatever didn't work in the first half.
REWATCHABILITY: High - A powerful and touching end to one of the main cast. I'm more than willing to overlook the episode's weaknesses.