- Bruce Boxleitner as Captain John Sheridan
- Claudia Christian as Commander Susan Ivanova
- Jerry Doyle as Michael Garibaldi
- Mira Furlan as Ambassador Delenn
- Richard Biggs as Dr. Stephen Franklin
- Stephen Furst as Vir Cotto
- Bill Mumy as Lennier
- Andreas Katsulas as Ambassador G'Kar
- Peter Jurasik as Ambassador Londo Mollari
- Jeff Conaway as Security Chief Zack Allan
- Jason Carter as Marcus Cole
- Patricia Tallman as Lyta Alexander
- Roy Brocksmith as Brother Alwyn Macomber
- Alastair Duncan as Latimere
- Eric Pierpoint as Daniel
- Neil Roberts as Brother Michael
- Rob Elk as Henry Ellis
- Bennet Guillory as Leif Tanner
- Doug Hale as Derek Mitchell
- Kathleen Lloyd as Elizabeth Metarie
- David Anthony Smith as Man
- Joanne Takahashi as Dr. Barbara Tashaki
- Ken Taylor as Jim Bitterbane
- Nick Toth as Exeter
- Regular characters who appear in this episode are John Sheridan, Michael Garibaldi, Delenn, Stephen Franklin, Londo Mollari and G'Kar.
John Sheridan, President of the new Interstellar Alliance, returns to Babylon 5 together with his new wife, Delenn. As the two enter the station, they are greeted to loud applause and much jubilation. Sheridan takes Michael Garibaldi and Stephen Franklin to task for setting it up since they know he hates pomp and circumstance. However, Garibaldi counters it cannot be helped. Morgan Clark is dead, Earth is returned to its proper government, the ISA has been established, and now he and Delenn are married; there is more than enough reason to have "one hell of a party." Londo Mollari then enters with G'Kar and muses how Centauri celebrations contrast to those of humans. Centauri state weddings are somber affairs, whereas this level of celebration is reserved for state funerals. Indeed, Londo goes on to comment that his people consider it a bad omen for a wedding to be celebrated with such enthusiasm, which causes the others to walk away without reply, much to his puzzlement.
In private, Delenn herself has misgivings about all this celebration, but Sheridan assures her the excitement will pass soon. The big things is what they have done for the future of galaxy: a legacy that will endure for years to come, even if they personally are not remembered.
ISN cameras display footage of them passing as part of a newsfeed, but the feed suddenly breaks up. Strangely, the view reports the breakup the result of a "temporal distortion," revealing the footage to actually be the result of a time-based video recall system. A computer system resets to correct the error, and an unseen user resumes the current program, retrieving video records for the time period of 2262 to 3262.
Accessing Historical Database — Date of Record: 2 January 2262
The first record retrieved is an edition of ISN Nightside, a late-night newscast that explores topics in depth. The day's topic is the transition to the new Interstellar Alliance. News anchor Derek Mitchell recalls how swiftly events have occurred in the last few weeks and dedicates the newscast to taking time to "pause and consider" everything that has led up to the present day.
From Babylon 5, correspondent Jim Bitterbane goes into a brief history of John Sheridan, describing his origins as the son of diplomat David Sheridan and his generally modest upbringing before going into his early Earthforce career, which began shortly after the Dilgar War, noting his distinctions during the Earth-Minbari War and the Mars Food Riots. Bitterbane then goes on to recognize that the Interstellar Alliance will be his greatest challenge yet as he will face the challenge of cementing an alliance of such disparate and sometimes hostile races.
Returning to the studio, Mitchell convenes a panel of experts to debate the issue: Senator Elizabeth Metarie from Earthdome, Leif Tanner from Mars, and political commentator Henry Ellis. Ellis is critical of Sheridan, thinking the Alliance to be doomed from the start, while Tanner stands generally neutral and says to allow time to judge Sheridan and the Alliance. Meanwhile, Metarie notes that Ellis was once a supporter for the Clark regime, a position that may be biasing his perceptions. Going to the question of whether or not the Alliance will make a difference, Tanner immediately cites a difference being made with his homeworld. Metarie is more reserved, noting the Sheridan has a lot to handle but past experience indicates his willingness and capability to handle the challenge. Ellis then makes a final note, and this time he has a serious criticism: how will an "economic alliance" be able to defend itself without a show of force – a show of force that could actually antagonize the member worlds?
The video record ends and proceeds to another.
Accessing Historical Database — Date of Record: 2 January 2362
The second record retrieved is dated one hundred years later. It is an educational stellarcast, a discussion among three university faculty members delving into the history of the Interstellar Alliance a century after its founding. In particular, the discussion turns to the legacy of Sheridan and Delenn, as one of the panelists asks if their accomplishments are being overrated. One particular event is cited by one of the panelists, a decision by Sheridan to house a group of rogue telepaths on Babylon 5. This resulted in unrest that eventually turned violent. The discussion briefly cuts to footage from 2262, showing Medlab severely damaged and a hostage: Garibaldi. He pleads with his off-camera abductors to end the apparent crisis and try to negotiate. On a screen next to him, President Sheridan appears to announce that the ISA will not negotiate with hostage takers. Someone raises a PPG, but the footage cuts out just as the trigger is pulled.
Returning to the studio, the criticism of Sheridan continues, this time going into his mastery of public relations, of how he was able to make even his death a seeming spectacle to help cement support. The discussion pivots to Delenn, but there is a surprise as someone else enters the studio: Delenn herself, well over a century old. Frail but still able to challenge the panelists with choice words, states that perhaps they are the ones who are overrating themselves. The stellarcast host and his two panelists look away in shame.
The record ends with her last word, "Goodbye."
Accessing Historical Database — Date of Record: 2 January 2762
This record is from five hundred years in the future. The record is taking place in a holographic studio being used to recreate the conference room aboard Babylon 5 as it appeared in 2262.
A man, Daniel, enters the room and begins speaking and recording himself. He states that Earth is under the rule of a faction called Politdivision that feels overly burdened by the conditions imposed by the Interstellar Alliance. The purpose of the holographic session is to try to break Earth support for the IA by deconstructing the key figures of that Alliance. He creates holographic replicas of Sheridan, Delenn, Garibaldi, and Franklin as they appeared in 2262. Wanting to proceed with this deconstruction gradually, he begins by programming the holograms with personalities consistent with the time frame on display. They are then animated, and he begins to converse with them. Having established they are stable, he begins to gradually modify their behavior so as to facilitate their deconstruction. However, a problem emerges. The replica of Garibaldi is still programmed with his original personality, a very suspicious personality that cannot help but snoop. As it turns out, the replica has figured out that he and the others are holograms and are supposed to be manipulated so as to deconstruct the real historical figures. The other replicas hear this and piece things together from memories inserted into them through the program. The Earth Alliance is facing an internal struggle over resources, and the ISA is becoming a point of friction, dividing the population into two practically equal sides. While the regime opposes the ISA, just as many – particularly among the Earth colonies – support it.
The man resets scene to a nondescript outer corridor, with soldiers lined on either side. This time, he reprograms the Sheridan replica and makes it speak like a warmonger, and has it execute several cowering prisoners. Next, he recreates Medlab and reprograms the Franklin replica to act like he conducts genetic experimentation. At that moment, the Garibaldi replica starts acting on his own. He reveals that he knows Daniel's identity, and begins speaking with him in a confiding manner, until Daniel eventually admits that the propaganda program is just a prelude to a surprise attack. Garibaldi then reveals that his AI programming has just broken free of his programming and cannot be turned off, and that he has transmitted their entire conversation to the regime's adversaries. As a result, they have launched a preemptive counterattack against Politdivision's military facilities. As it so happens, the studio on which they stand is on a military installation. Daniel panics and flees, while Garibaldi bids his holographic friends to "rest easy."
A bright explosion fills the holographic reconstruction and the record ends.
Accessing Historical Database — Date of Record: 2 January 3262
This record, set one thousand years from when the search began begins with what appears to be a monk, Alwyn Macomber, adjusting a video camera. The room he is rustic, reflecting a decidedly less advanced level of technology. The monk begins recording, but then has to answer the door. In steps an acolyte, Brother Michael, who has some question for the monk. Michael appears to be having trouble because their monastery has not been accepted by Rome. This particular monastery has tasked itself with record keeping, as the Great Burn that resulted from the Second Earth Alliance Civil War destroyed most of the technological and historical record on Earth. Brother Michael has trouble accepting the words he is reading, words which apparently recount Sheridan and company in a manner similar to the Bible. This is particularly problematic for him as his task as a scribe is to copy these words. Most worrying for him is the prophecy that the Rangers will one day come to restore Earth's lost knowledge. Brother Alwyn tries to reassure Michael by pointing out that one needs both reason and faith to survive. Also, given that people distrust science because of the Great Burn, perhaps the Rangers are walking among them in secret, waiting for the day when the people can once again trust science. His faith restored, Brother Michael leaves.
Once alone, Brother Alwyn walks up to one of his hidden cameras and speaks to it – a Ranger walking among the people just as suggested. He makes a report on the current situation and briefly opens his wardrobe where he keeps his Ranger uniform. Ever since the Great Burn, the Rangers have been working to rehabilitate Earth civilization. It has been a very slow and tedious process intended to help re-acclimate those still on Earth to contact with space again, but it will happen only for those who have a more accepting mindset. He also notes to keep Brother Michael under watch with regards for potential recruitment. With a final Ranger salute, the record ends.
The computer reports that all records that could be retrieved for a period of one million years have been gathered and archived. The watcher instructs the computer to carry these records to New Earth, where he will also be proceeding shortly. The computer reminds him to hurry as the Sun will not remain stable for long. Before he leaves, the watcher comments on how Earth will end swallowed in fire but not in darkness, remarking about how the human race has managed to create the world they believe their ancestors would have wanted for their descendants, and now is about to leave their ancestral home forever, but will always remember it. As he finishes, he changes into an energy form and enters an encounter suit, revealing the human race has evolved to a non-corporeal form similar to the Vorlons. His ship, which bears the symbol of the Anla'shok, leaves the system as the Sun finally destabilizes and goes nova, consuming the humans' ancestral home in its flames.
The scene changes to Sheridan and Delenn's bedroom in 2262. A restless Sheridan muses about what kind of legacy they will leave behind. Will they be remembered in a hundred years? Or a thousand? Delenn replies that it does not matter. They did what they did because it was the right thing to do. History itself will be the ultimate judge.
"You do not wish to know anything. You wish... only to speak."
- – Delenn
"This is how the world ends: swallowed in fire, but not in darkness. You will live on: the voice of all our ancestors, the voice of our fathers and mothers to the last generation. We created the world we think you would've wished for us. And now we leave the cradle for the last time."
- – The human from the distant future
"Dedicated to all the people who predicted that the Babylon Project would fail in its mission. Faith manages."
- – Final words
- J. Michael Straczynski indicated that the premature nova of Earth's sun (the sun's explosion should occur much more than one million years in the future) was caused by an unknown race opening jump points within the sun to decrease its mass.
- According to Straczynski, humans and Minbari have reached a First One-like existence as beings of light a million years in the future. Narns and Centauri have not, but are not extinct. This would seem to contradict Kosh's statement in "Midnight on the Firing Line" that Narns and Centauri are "dying people" although to the Vorlons dying people could easily mean races who do not reach transcendence, whose members literally age and die, and do not advance to a higher form of being.
- Mankind's evolution to Vorlon-like creatures has been foreshadowed by Delenn as she described the human race's potential with the same words in Babylon Squared she would later use to describe the First Ones ("to walk among the stars like giants").
- Straczynski confirmed that "New Earth" is the Vorlon homeworld.
- Since the series finale had already been filmed as the original end of Season 4, this episode was the first production of Season 5.
- The scene in Medlab was written before the rest of season 5, which existed only as an outline when this episode was filmed, due to the need to produce the episode quickly in order to have it ready to play on PTEN in the finale spot.
|Babylon 5 Season 4 "No Surrender, No Retreat"|
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