Former War Master Jha'dur, the Dilgar equivalent of Mengele, comes aboard the station and is recognized by an enraged Na'Toth who tries to kill her in revenge for the atrocities perpetrated on her grandfather. The outrage spreads like wildfire as many governments demand to put her on trial for her war crimes, but Jha'dur has an ace up her sleeve: the promise of an immortality serum. After a skillful diplomatic tour-de-force, Sinclair manages to find a way to balance the requirements of politics, the orders from Earth Central and his own conscience, when the woman reveals the chilling truth: the serum's main ingredient must be obtained from a living creature, so that for one individual's immortality, another must die. Jha'dur has found a way to practice genocide by proxy, and only the deus-ex-machina intervention of the Vorlons avoids the future bloodbath.
This is one of those episodes that get better with repeated viewings, because above all it showcases Sinclair's talents in juggling his many hats, particularly in the handling of the thorny situation with the League of non-aligned Worlds. The beauty of his solution is that he manages to find a satisfactory middle ground that respects both his mandate as military commander and the moral question posed by the War Master's presence, without violating his convictions.
His confrontations with Jha'dur are very well played, and Michael O'Hare is quite successful in portraying the commander's frustration in the face of his unwanted guest's arrogance, and the feeling of impotent rage at having to follow orders that go against every instinct for decency.
The episode offers the opportunity for slipping in many informative details on the historical background for the show: we learn for example that thirty years previously Earth forces were quite active – and successful – in the galactic-scale war against the Dilgar aggression. It's easy to wonder if this success was at the core of the attitude that led to the Earth/Minbari war...
One of the characters that come to the fore is Lennier: Delenn's absence from the station gives him the opportunity to show his earnestness and his desire to help. It also puts him on the line of fire, so to speak, and deals the first blow to his precious innocence. When he learns than the war criminal had been sheltered for a long time by a faction of his own people, his shame is evident in the uncomfortable way he carries himself in the Council's chambers.
Yet this is very much a Kosh episode, and not only because his intervention cuts the Gordian knot created by Jha'dur's presence in a very definitive way. The Vorlons take the matter into their hands by blowing her ship before she enters the jumpgate headed for Earth, and Kosh's laconic comment "You are not ready for immortality" puts the ultimate lid on the subject. While re-watching the scene it came home to me that this might well be the first inkling about the Vorlons' god-like attitude.
There is another thread involving Kosh, though, that is shrouded in mystery and raises many questions, while shining some light on who and what the Vorlon might be. He hires Talia Winters for a meeting with a very peculiar person, but it's soon clear that the meeting is just a ruse to provoke some unusual responses in the telepath and record them for the Vorlon's future use. It's not difficult to imagine that the mental images Talia experiences might be related to the huge revelation that will occur at the end of Season Two, particularly in the use of mirrors and reflection. What is fascinating, however, is Kosh's bizarre way of expressing himself, through sentences that apparently have no meaning nor relation to the matters being discussed.
Vorlons always speak in riddles, and here we encounter a great deal of them:
Understanding is a three-edged sword.
Ah, you seek meaning? Then listen to the music, not the song.
A stroke of the brush does not guarantee art from the bristles.
From this moment on, the Vorlon mystery will acquire more details, and still leave us puzzled and wondering...