"Prophecy is a guess that comes true. When it doesn't, it's a metaphor."
REVIEW: You know, I've always given director Michael Vejar his due, but I've been remiss in doing the same for David J. Eagle. Looking back at the episodes he directed, the list includes some of the most important, dynamic and emotional chapters of the saga, and this one is no exception. He sells the urgency of Londo's situation with a handheld camera and does some pretty interesting things with the surreal scenes taking place inside the Centauri ambassador's mind. The best shot, for me, is when, in the real world, Vir enters a lift and the camera starts to tilt, the lighting to change, and suddenly Londo stumbles in. Great in-camera transition. There are strange points of view, Vir appearing to float above Londo before the camera rights itself and them, and (as shown above) Londo and his conscience G'Kar looking like a two-headed idol. Eagle really knows what to do with a darkened space. And it's not all technical staging and trickery, because the actors get to reach out and touch you emotionally as well. This is as close to a tear-jerker as Babylon 5 has ever gotten.
The framing of Londo's heart attack is enigmatic - does the folk tale about a good soul rejecting a corrupt body/life really explain what's happening, and if so, was the Centauri booze spoiling in quarantine a metaphor for it? - but his near-death experience is necessary. Londo is chummy with everyone by this point, but the audience must feel like he's paid for his crimes. Everyone seems to have forgiven him, G'Kar included, but he must forgive himself. Redemption - gotten by ousting the Shadows and the mad emperor - isn't the same as forgiveness, and what's been eating at Londo isn't so much his actions as his inaction. It's a passive and more subtle evil, that of the man who says nothing and lets evil happen. And this he must confront in a surreal mindscape redolent with meaning, whether he's talking to an enshrouded Sheridan who turns into a Vorlon, beating at a giant heart under the floor - Cronenberg as much as Poe - or taking G'Kar's place in previously aired torture scenes. Londo comes out of it changed, having accepted that he can be forgiven, and that he MUST ask forgiveness of others and admit responsibility, and that he therefore deserves to live, if not for himself, then at least for others. When G'Kar shows up in Medlab, one might wonder if he's there to see his old enemy die, or if he's genuinely worried. Whatever the case, the Narn finds Londo's waking apology unbearable. No doubt it's something he thought he'd never hear. These two are always great together, of course, but I found Jurasik's performance particularly moving this time.
The subplot is no less touching. Lennier leaves Babylon 5 to become a Ranger, something Delenn must find out from a third party. It's fitting that Lennier seeks to replace Marcus, because both are/were trapped in an unrequited love scenario. Marcus could always hold out hope though, but Lennier has no such luck. He chooses to run from the situation, though he proclaims it's all still in service to Delenn. It's all very heartbreaking, and I completely empathize with his plight. You can see just how much her closeness hurts him. The goodbyes are awkward, but sincere, and Delenn can't reach out to him because her affection is at once what he wants most and dreads most. I'm very glad Lennier does get a goodbye scene with Vir. We never saw much of the relationship between the aides, but their scenes together have always been fun, and they really do have much in common (not forgetting Vir spent some time on Minbar). Here, we do get an affectionate goodbye, and it's quite sweet.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: This episode's set-up, exploring a character's guilt in a mindscape that closely resembles the station, is closest to DS9's Things Past from two years earlier.
REWATCHABILITY: High - Moving performances and wild direction make this a strong early Season 5 episode.