"You do not wish to know anything. You wish... only to speak."
REVIEW: Ok, so let me get this straight... A true series finale was filmed as part of Season 4, then B5 was picked up for some TV movies and a fifth season, so that finale (Sleeping in Light) was set aside to be aired at the end of Season 5. The slot was filled with this episode, made at the start of the S5 (note the absence of Ivanova), which nevertheless takes place wayyyyyy after any other events in the series. It's a clever out-of-order coda to the series (the chronology of which gets wonky from now on, with the next chapter being set years BEFORE the series), but not a particularly exciting one. From a million years in the future, an evolved human finds interesting clips to show at the Alliance's millionth anniversary, each time frame used to different effect, showing how the characters are seen by the media, by history, by themselves and by posterity. Ultimately though, the point is that what Sheridan and Delenn built endures well beyond the cycle of rebirth and destruction the Vorlons and Shadows maintained. Humanity has become a race of First Ones who can turn into energy, but Earth does not survive, its inhabitants moving to New Earth at this time to escape our sun going supernova. But getting to that point wasn't without obstacles.
In the first act, the archives are from the series' own time, with pundits arguing over this new Alliance, some for and some against. I can neither argue with the one who says things have already changed for the better with the liberation of Mars, nor with another throwing "at gunpoint!" in there. The way Delenn showed up in the previous episode would certainly have created this sentiment. 100 years later, an iUniversity round table is a good example of how History works, and how interpretative a discipline it is, it's just more talking heads. The sequence is used to tease some elements from Season 5 and beyond, though JMS has enough control over the material now that he knows he DOES have a fifth season, that the "spoilers" are of the order of G'Kar and Londo choking each other out, i.e. there's just enough missing information that we don't know just what's going to happen with the Telepath War, Garibaldi's possible death, and in T+20, the station's oft-prophesied destruction. It stops being an intellectual exercise when a wizened Delenn shows up to defend Sheridan's honor, and gets some emotion into the proceedings. I particularly like her death stare that shuts the skeptical academic up.
T+500 years is the best segment for me. It shows us an Earth once again divided and war-like, one ambitious faction wanting to leave the Alliance and looking to start the Vorlon/Shadow cycle all over again - killing civilians, amending history 1984-style, and so on. Part of their plan is to undermine the Alliance by creating holograms of our heroes who will act out retconned scenes from history, casting them as monsters. It's all a bit extreme, almost ridiculously so. The problem the technician has is that he's given his characters a close approximation of their true personalities and capacities, which puts them in a unique position to save people and the Alliance centuries after their deaths. Garibaldi gets a shining moment, acting as a computer program, betraying his "master", and keeping the legend alive. It's actually pretty cool. In T+1000, we find out the war was NOT averted, but the Alliance remained untainted and though the Earth has been plunged in a Dark Age, cut off from the larger universe, Sheridan and Babylon 5 became a great myth/religion. So did Sheridan and Delenn fail if Earth has fallen? No, because the Rangers, also a creation of "the One", are actively working toward a Renaissance, seeing a day when Earth can rejoin the Alliance and fulfill its destiny.
The way time is scaled is epic, and B5 works relatively well as a parable, the conclusions drawn here are coherent with the program's usual themes. But the title card at the very end thumbing its nose at the show's detractors who said it would never work or survive casts the whole exercise in a bad light. It becomes a case of "protesting too much" where the same strident tone that makes JMS the egotist say "look, see, we made it, ha ha" can be extended to the entire episode, there saying "look, see, my heroes are so awesome that they saved the universe for a million years, beat that every other SF hero ever, ha ha". There's a reason the opening sequence calls it the "dawn of the Third Age of Mankind", and I'm perfectly happy to have it work as a Camelot myth, but in the back of my mind, I can't help thinking they pushed it just a bit too far. Like Delenn, I find the train of thought that birthed this episode "immodest".
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Voyager stole T+500's idea that history could be recreated (and changed) with holograms in "Living Witness". Enterprise had a similar epilogue, with Riker looking back at the birth of the Federation on the holodeck.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - There's a difference between interesting and entertaining, and while Deconstruction has some good moments, it's mostly about the talking heads of people we don't know.