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A Minbari war cruiser approaches the station carrying the body of Branmer, the military strategist who led the fleet during the Battle of the Line.  The purpose of honoring the deceased War Leader soon threatens to become the spark to ignite a new conflict when Branmer's body disappears from his casket.

Although suffering the weight of his war memories, Sinclair attempts to reconcile his diplomatic duties with Branmer's second in command, Alit Neroon, who seems hell-bent on getting retribution for the surrender he was forced to endure at the end of the war.

Meanwhile, the fate of a newly-blossomed telepathic talent hangs in the tug-of-war between Talia Winters, who wants to deliver her in the care of the Psi Corps, and Susan Ivanova, who searches for alternatives to offer the young girl.

Alissa, that's her name, will prove pivotal in solving the mystery of the corpse's disappearance and will ultimately accept to work with the Minbari to create better understanding with their Earth counterparts.

On hindsight, this episode offers more than it appears from the surface.

First, we learn more about the Minbari attitude toward the surrender enforced just on the eve of the final assault, one that would have seen the Minbari vanquish the Humans: not only is there widespread discontent, chiefly among the warrior caste, but there are also unresolved troubles between the warriors and the religious caste, the ones that ordered the surrender after Sinclair's examination – without offering any explanation.

Sinclair himself is not immune to similar feelings: his flashback to the Battle of the Line carries a huge weight of anger and guilt, and these feelings are clear under the thin diplomatic mask he's forced to wear under the circumstances and threaten to erupt in the face of Neroon's open scorn and the Minbari's own rage after the disappearance of the body.

John Vickery, as Neroon, offers a brilliant performance: while circumstances almost force him toward aggressiveness, it becomes soon clear that he is a man of honor (and we will learn how much in later seasons, where he will make a welcome return).  His best moment happens toward the end, when he's ordered by Delenn to apologize to Sinclair for his behavior: there is a quiet core of dignity to the man that must be the reason that compels Sinclair to offer his own hand (both figuratively and not) as a gesture of peace.  And to present the viewers with a sibylline sentence: "You speak like a Minbari, Commander".  It would be wise to remember that...

What also comes to the fore is Delenn's manipulative skills in playing both sides against the middle to muddy the waters and allow her to give Branmer the quiet funeral he would have wanted: this is one of those instances in which the Ambassador comes across as much more than the soft-spoken personality she usually project.  Especially in her final confrontation with Neroon she shows a strength and a decisiveness that belies her usual placid calm.

And once again we see her as she keeps building that strange crystal structure, a further detail added by the young telepath Alisa, when she claims she saw the word chrysalis in Delenn's mind.

Through Alisa, the relationship between Talia Winters and Ivanova acquires new facets: from the initial distrust and antagonism, the two are able to find some common ground for the good of the girl and to come to a sort of mutual understanding.

Alisa is indeed the only discordant note in whole episode: the actress' whiny voice grates on my nerves, spoiling some of the impact this story would otherwise have had.  But it's a very minor complaint. 

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-19 04:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] officersun524.livejournal.com
Oh a voice can make or break something for me.
I really need to get to watching this show. Darn Netflix took it off instant watch.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-19 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nymeria-55.livejournal.com
Darn Netflix indeed!! I *know* you would love the show, as I know we would have fun discussing it... :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-23 02:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] diarmi.livejournal.com
What I notice with this rewatch (and I have to admit I sped up through next two seasons in the meantime - I missed Sheridan :) - but that's okay cause since season 2 I have no problem with watching them all over again:)) is how annoyed I am with Minbari and their "holier than thou" attitude. There are only hints here and there for now but from Sheridan's arrival they make me want to throw things into my computer while watching. "We are so awesome for wanting to exterminate the whole species and shame on those who dared to oppose and fight us!" Grrr... (The whole reason for that war aside, it was complicated situation.)

Oh, some time ago I was rewatching final seasons of "Star Trek. Deep Space Nine" and at some point I thought - "Hmmm, that actor looks kind of like Neroon". He was completely in prostetics so in his face only eyes were "real". And there was still something in them them made me look online and it was "Neroon"! :) He has very distinctive personality and charisma.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-23 05:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nymeria-55.livejournal.com
You're right, the Minbari are far from the perfect image they love to project: only further on we will learn how even Delenn (though being one of the "good guys") is not exactly an innocent lily of the field...
By the same reasoning, not even their society is perfect: here we are given the first inklings of what will happen on Minbar on season 4 - on hindsight, that sneaky JMS must have been building that particular storyline from this very moment.
Despite the outward appearance of a united people, they are indeed at war with each other - in a very civilized, Minbari way, of course, but still at war: the religious caste brews their plans (and there are factions within them, too!!) while the warrior caste grinds their teeth in the background.
Ready for Ivanova's "BOOM!".... :-)

John Vickery (Neroon) is an extraordinary character actor, and I look forward to seeing him again in the next seasons.

Thanks for stopping by!


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