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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. 



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