Valen said, "Will you follow me into fire?" Will you?Garibaldi is woken up in the middle of the night by a call from William Edgars. He has another package arriving on B5 that he wants Garibaldi to get past customs and through to Io. Edgars doesn't trust anyone except Garibaldi, for now, to make it happen, and Garibaldi says he'll do it. He then asks when he'll be coming to Mars for the face-to-face Edgars promised and is simply told, "In the fullness of time".Sheridan is also having a restless night. Ever since fighting broke out on Minbar he's been worried about Delenn, who he hasn't been able to get in touch with.On Minbar, the crystal cities are burning, and Delenn walks among the wounded refugees. Lennier brings her an update. The Warrior Caste has them surrounded and delivered an ultimatum: surrender, or they will end the war by destroying the city and anyone in it.In the Zocalo, Lyta is being interviewed for a contract job, but the offer is rescinded when Lyta admits she's not in Psi Corps. Lyta tries to find a work-around, but the company rep shuts her down completely.Neroon comes to meet with Shai Alyt Shakiri. He congratulates Neroon for a successful mission and enabling them to end the war. Neroon is worried about the cost, but Shakiri assures him that, while regreattable, the cities can be rebuilt and the dead will be reborn into the next generation of Minbari. He feel they need to teach the Religious caste a lesson about what wars should truly be fought for, not holy wars or conflicts over ideals. Shakiri makes some observations about Delenn, that she values life, which will be her weakness, and prompt her to surrender. Neroon wonders if it is truly a weakness, is it not what they fight for? Shakiri responds that they fight because it is their nature.
- Shakiri: Life and death are simply two possible consequences, both equal, neither valued nor feared above the other. For a warrior, death is simply a release from out obligations.
- Garibaldi You know, Zack, if you got a problem maybe you should take a peek in the mirror and don't bother me, ok?
- Delenn: Excuse me.
Delenn: I said that we surrendered. I did not say that we gave up our sovereign rights to form a new government.
- Delenn: The leaders of each warring caste would step into the circle. The Starfire Wheel would open and its fire would begin to consume them. Those who did not deserve to rule, who would not sacrifice themselves as they asked others to do on their behalf, would escape the fire. The sacrifice of the one who remained, who believed so much in his caste that he would lay down his life for them, that would determine which caste would be dominant among us.
Shakiri: This is a violation of...
Delenn: It is the tradition of our people!
- Neroon: I was born Warrior Caste! But I see now the calling of my heart is religious! The war is over! Listen to her! LISTEN!
- Bester: Personal Log: Bester, Al. August 3rd, 2261. By provoking Mr. Garibaldi, I've put him even further at odds with his former associates, and further on the path I need him to follow. What I came here to get, I got...even her. Guess you could call it a bank shot. Yes, I've had a nice day.
- Delenn: You have forgotten the Worker Caste, haven't you? When our two sides fight, they are the ones caught in the middle, forgotten, until it is their time to serve, to build and to die. They build the temples we pray in, the ships you fight in. They looks to us to guide their hands. But prayer is fleeting and wars forgotten, but what is built endures.
- Sheridan: If they get in our way we'll knock 'em down. If they kill one of our ships, we'll kill three of theirs! And we keep going, we never slow down and we won't stop. No, we're going after the colonies, then Mars...and then Earth. God help anybody who gets in our way.
This episode contains examples of:
- Badass Boast: Sheridan declares if Earth destroys one of their ships, they'll destroy three in return.
- Batman Gambit: Bester arrives on the station and does everything he can to antagonize Garibaldi, hoping to alienate him and Lyta from the rest of the station staff. And how much you want to bet he's the one who tipped off Edgars about Lyta?
- Berserk Button: In this episode we see exactly what it takes to make John Sheridan and Susan Ivanova start a civil war. (Answer: Firing on unarmed civilian liners carrying wounded refugees with no provocation.)
- Cincinnatus: Delenn calls the Council together—an honor normally reserved for the One—but reserves the spot held by the One in memory of Neroon, giving up her spot among the Council to return to Babylon 5.
- Continuity Nod:
- Cosmic Plaything: Poor Lyta. She just can't get a break.
- Deal with the Devil: Lyta clearly regards Bester's offer as this.
- Dirty Coward: Shakiri is ultimately revealed to be this.
- Doomed Moral Victor: The Starfire Wheel is designed to invoke this. The leaders would enter to face the safe fate they had sent so many others to, and the one who jumped out first was declared unfit to lead. Any leaders who stayed until the wheel fully opened became this by default. Delenn almost lets it happen to herself, until Neroon takes her place.
- The Engineer: Delenn gives the Worker Caste a majority control of the Grey Council. As she points out, prayer is fleeting, and wars come to an end. But what is built, endures.
- Foreshadowing: Edgars doesn't want telepaths working for him, even indirectly...
- Heroic Sacrifice: Neroon sacrifices himself to prevent Delenn sacrificing herself. It's all very noble.
- Heroism Won't Pay the Bills: Lyta is finding this and Bester is able to work it to his advantage.
- Honor Before Reason: Delenn and Neroon invoke this on Shakiri, forcing him to choose between death or humiliation.
- Incendiary Exponent: The Minbari decided caste dominance in olden times by having the caste leaders step into the Starfire Wheel. This literally burns them to death if they remain inside for too long - which they're supposed to do, to prove their willingness to face danger themselves, not just force others into it. They who burn longest, win.
- Ironic Echo:
- As Delenn states, Valen asked the Minbari if they would "follow me into fire". Turns out, he wasn't speaking rhetorically.
- Neroon reminds Shakiri what he said about life and death being simply two possibilities to get him to join Delenn in the Starfire Wheel.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Bester rightly highlights the fact that Lyta put herself at great risk to help the others, and all of her problems lately are because she can't get paying work and the station staff aren't giving her financial support.
- Garibaldi, who's been an increasingly hostile Jerk Ass toward the crew, points out that seceding from Earth Alliance, taking their valuable space station and everything on it, was hardly legal.
- The Laws and Customs of War: Sheridan correctly points out that any military vessel who fires on a civilian transport without due cause is guilty of war crimes (massive ones, actually). This pisses him off enough to make him declare that the waiting is done and they fight now.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Shakiri says they can make sure Delenn's ship never arrives back at Babylon 5.
- Naval Blockade: Earth Force ships have a blockade going around the colony of Proxima III. One ship participating in it ruthlessly destroys two passenger liners attempting to escape, killing over ten thousand civilians, and provoking Sheridan into going on the offensive.
- No Points for Neutrality: Averted. The Worker Caste doesn't seem to have taken part in the fighting and Delenn gives them the majority on the new Grey Council. She reasons that they are the only ones without an agenda to push, and are mainly concerned with keeping the Minbari Federation operating. Also, they were the ones who had to clean up after every war the Warrior and Religious castes got them into.
- Orwellian Retcon: In the first airing of the episode, there wasn't supposed to be a close-up shot of the Omega-class destroyer that destroyed the civilian vessels. So they used the Agamemnon as the model. Turned out there *was* a close-up shot. Oops. Later airings showed the attacking vessel as the Pollux instead, in line with it being mentioned as one of the ships who fired on civilians.
- Out of Focus: Sheridan and Ivanova, in order to let the episode focus on Delenn and Neroon on the one plotline and Lyta and Bester in the other.
- The Pawns Go First: The ancient Minbari were well aware of this, and built the Starfire Wheel as a direct rebuttal of it. If caste leaders were going to throw the lives of their followers into battle, they would have to face it themselves.
- Pride: Shakiri's weakness, used against him when Delenn enters the wheel to prove her willingness to sacrifice her life for her people, and forcing him to do the same or be disgraced. His pride forces him into the wheel, his cowardice forces him out.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Lyta refuses Zack's request to scan Garibaldi without his knowledge on these grounds, though she does admit she might consider it if it were anyone else.
- Should Have Thought of That Before X: Shakiri's last-ditch effort to save his dignity is rebuffed with this.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Delenn shutting down Shakiri's attempts to get her to work with him.
- This Means War!: After learning that EarthForce is firing on unarmed civilian transports, Sheridan declares that they will put an end to it.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Turns out, Neroon and Delenn discussed this whole plan in the previous episode. Except she didn't tell Neroon about her intent to sacrifice herself as an example.
- We Can Rule Together: When Shakiri realizes he's going to lose the contest in the Starfire Wheel, he attempts to offer this to Delenn. She isn't having it.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Lyta is suffering from money trouble. Garibaldi hires her to work for him. Garibaldi's boss, Edgars, orders him to fire her because he refuses to employ telepaths, or to allow his employees to do so.
- You're Insane!: Lyta's reaction when Bester says he wants her body: "Are you out of your mind?"