"All love is unrequited, Stephen. All of it."
REVIEW: JMS certainly thought this was a series finale (with the next episode serving as an epilogue/coda), and running out of time at the end, he really rushes things. But the most mystifying this about this episode for me is the fate of Ivanova. Marcus dies in her place, more or less off-stage, without much fanfare, and she survives, though traumatized by this event. As a viewer, I do feel cheated that after the perfect, crushing finality of her "death" in Between the Darkness and the Light, she's given a reprieve here. Certainly, the circumstances of it do bug me, because I don't think Marcus' romantic arc was worth trumping Ivanova's heroic one. Especially if she's just going to be shuffled off the show anyway, with a freaking ISN report replacing any kind of goodbye scene for the character. So we've lost two people instead of just one, and neither really gets to shine in their last episode. I do like Ivanova's bleak Russian point of view; there's something heart-breaking about her contention that all love in unrequited. Later, Delenn tells Lennier this isn't true "of course", acknowledging for the first time that she knows of his love for her and reciprocating the platonic he's always offered, yet at the same time proving Ivanova correct.
Ivanova isn't the only one shorted by ISN. The long-awaited wedding of Sheridan and Delenn ALSO takes place off-screen. So what DO we get instead? A lot of time devoted to Sheridan's political future and the new Alliance getting birthed, and that means the longest press conference you've ever seen in TV fiction. It felt a little like one of those ISN shows we've gotten before, sticking to news events at the expense of character moments, AND featuring yet more of Delenn's tone-deafness about public relations. I mean, who starts a new era of peace with a huge show of force that feels like an invasion? (Well, the Minbari do, that's been proven.) It seemed so ill-advised, it took me right out of the experience. Beata Pozniak as President Susanna Luchenko gets a huge showcase, but if I were a member of the electorate, I'm not sure I'd want an interim president to make all these momentous decisions. How about holding an election before we throw in with the aliens we've been taught to fear?
There are some good moments here, don't get me wrong. Sheridan going straight to the window and daring Bester to have a sniper get him, for example. Playing the government to make sure it wouldn't prosecute the people under him. His reunion with his father. His cocksure smile when a general has to escort him out of a room after he's named Alliance president. Martian gangsters realizing they made a horrible mistake when Garibaldi sends them an exploding cartoon box (will Bester ever get an exploding cigar?)... But whatever it manages, the ending undoes a lot of good will. As this isn't the true finale, Delenn dribbling out everything that's to happen in the next season is rather anticlimactic and spoilery. If it HAD been the true finale, then we'd have to accept the last scene is one where G'Kar uses his artificial eye in an act of voyeurism on Sheridan and Delenn's marital bed. Ick.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: The principles of the new Alliance are remarkably similar to Star Trek's IDIC concept.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - In the rush to finish his story, JMS takes the wrong shortcuts. Still good, but not as good as it might have been on the planned schedule.