"These are your sons and daughters, whose loyalty has never wavered, whose belief in the Alliance has forced us to take extraordinary means. For justice, for peace, for the future... we have come home."
REVIEW: It's ok if keeping Ivanova in the episode though comatose gives me some kind of hope she might not be dead after all. It makes me fight with my own soul as to whether or not I want the character saved or if her survival at this point would cheapen the best parts of Between the Darkness and the Light. Given Marcus those same hopes and digging out the old alien healing machine from season 1, well, that takes us way too close to getting her back and the side of me that used the word "cheapen" wins out. Ivanova is still off the show by Season 5, so either he fails and she does die, or he succeeds, perhaps dies himself, and she can't live with it and takes an extended leave of absence. Either way, I feel jerked around. It's well played and all, but you shouldn't try to cheat the cost of liberating Earth.
It's been a long time coming, this, and it doesn't disappoint. The Mars action features a lot of cool CG environments we're not used to seeing, and ties what's happening on the ground and in orbit very nicely. Sheridan's plan for the Shadow telepaths is to smuggle them aboard each destroyer and unleashing them on its systems, pulling the crazy Borg stuff I condemned way back when. Showing so little of it makes it work, actually, with a few sharply lit close-ups doing the most of the work. Plus, very cool in-atmosphere jumpgates, preceded by amusing banter from Garibaldi and Franklin. The resistance fighter who condemns Franklin for turning telepaths into weapons is played by a horrendously bad actress, and I can't see what her big hang-up is. Not JMS nor the casting director's best moment. But we quickly get behind this point and up in space. Mars falls, then it's Earth's turn, with a strong speech from Sheridan activating the good people of the planet against Clark's fascist regime. Clark commits suicide, shades of Hitler's bunker (Nazi Germany was always the model for Clark's Earth), and the crazy loon turns the planetary defense grid on the planet itself, with the East Coast coming very close to getting fragged. Ramming speed, last minute saves, the usual, but the usual is well done.
Sheridan's homologue in the loyalist forces is an old teacher of his, General Lefcourt, commanding the Apollo just as Sheridan is the Agamemnon (i.e. both have relieved its rightful captain). Unlike Sheridan, he is the amoral soldier. Not immoral, but completely loyal to the chain of command and for whom orders are neither right nor wrong. When Clark is alive, he fights Sheridan. When Clark is dead, he helps him. In no way does this guy redeem himself at the end; his motivation - shown to be "wrong" in the ethical context of the program - hasn't changed. We need more Sheridans and fewer Lefcourts. Surprisingly, the episode's poignant moment belongs to the ISN anchor, released from prison and broadcasting the truth for the first time in a year or more. Her tearful and hesitant words speaks for a planet overwhelmed by what it let happen and by the sudden lifting of fascist restrictions. It's rather moving, losing power as she finds a way to contain her emotion. It's the equivalent of all those Star Wars worlds throwing confetti when the Empire is beaten, but on an incredibly smaller scale, but much more effective and meaningful. We understand the evil of Clark's Earth from what its absence does to a single person.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: DS9 also features a big battle with weapons platforms.
REWATCHABILITY: High - Though I'm unsure of the Marcus/Ivanova subplot and hate that one sour note on Mars, it's a very satisfying ending to the Earth Civil War story, exciting and emotional.