"The quiet ones are the ones that change the universe... The loud ones only take the credit."
REVIEW: This week on How I Met Your Mother... Cough. Cough. Yes, sorry. That's the reaction I had to this exercise in filling holes in history, tying old footage in with new, and actively showing what we only heard about before. And it IS an exercise far more than its own story. I can't help but think of In the Beginning as unnecessary. We've heard much of this before and it lived in our imaginations without our needing to see it. What's new sometimes strains credulity - coincidences ahoy! - or seems to contradict what we've been told (the circumstances of Sheridan's victory over the Black Star, and that he'd previously met G'Kar?!). The sense of déjà vu as much as the double length may contribute to the slow pacing of the telefilm, and not even maverick direction Michael Vejar can save it from its turgid first half.
Its saving grace is a certain thematic coherence. We already know that Delenn feels responsible for the Earth-Minbari War, but In the Beginning tries to spread that guilt around. It's Sheridan's fault for not agreeing to act as XO of the ship that made that disastrous first contact. G'Kar was selling weapons to Earth, which extended the war. Londo destroyed a Narn ship supporting a secret diplomatic mission that would have led to Earth's surrender. Doc Franklin refused to surrender his notes on the Minbari, indirectly bloodying his hands as human casulaties kept piling up. We even see a shot of the King Arthur character, the gunner who fired the first shot. On the macro-scale, we have leaders on both sides who refuse to listen to advice, a warrior caste seeking an easy victory, and Earth generals leaping to an extreme conclusion that the Minbari will kill civilians once all our warriors have been defeated (let's just say the ISN propaganda machine wasn't completely absent a decade ago). With Ivanova, the guilt is more personal, failing to save her brother's life with a good luck charm, which certainly contributed to her skeptical nihilism. And as for Garibaldi, he's the one main character who doesn't appear, which seems a rather gross omission. Then again, we might have been spared some improbable coincidence there. In any case, the point remains that everyone shares in the responsibility for our failures as much as our successes, which is a philosophy I happen to subscribe to. The Deconstruction of Falling Stars almost undid this argument, but it's been B5's overall theme since the (actual) beginning: Only by working together can we achieve great things. If the galaxy is one big community - admittedly one that's often divided - then responsibility is shared in all things.
There are a number of elements to recommend in the film: The use of faces we've seen before (like General Lefcourt, Coplann and Morann); Tricia O'Neil's touching performance as the Earth president; and the last big CG set piece, just beautiful, over which plays melancholy celtic music that brought back memories of Battlestar Galactica (never a bad thing). However, there are some rather confusing moments as well. The choreography involved in the Lexington captain's death, for example. Or what happened to Sheridan, Franklin and G'Kar after Delenn set them free. Or even who those kids Londo is telling the story to are supposed to be (they give their names, but because they don't wear Centauri hairstyles, you're left wondering if they're Sheridan's oft-mentioned son and never-mentioned daughter, but then they're not, they're just a device to get Londo talking on the eve of his death). Not major confusions, and because of the framing tale, any discrepancy could come down to Londo's embellishments, but we spend so much time on things we already knew, some of it could have been trimmed to fill in these plot holes.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: Floating blood looks pink in both universes.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - If watched as the first chapter, spoils reams of surprises. If watched in broadcast order, seems unnecessary and redundant. Pretty pictures and a coherent theme bring it up to a Medium.