Starfleet Engineer wrote:
First, it wasn't just another cliched shootout. Second, it was following a theme JMS had from the start. That despite the power and knowledge posessed by the Vorlons and the Shadows, they weren't gods, they didn't know and see all. And like humans, and reasonably, any sentient being, when taken from their comfort zone, they become insecure.
That's all acceptable to me. I had no particular desire to see the war end in a shootout. What was unsatisfying was the unbelievably weak way it was executed and, in addition, the very jarring effect of having spent over three seasons on this and then have the Vorlons and Shadows and the war disappear in an instant. Of course, maybe something in the future explains this and I'm just not there yet. I'm open to better undetstanding things as I continue to watch.
I felt similarly my first time through. But you know what the really surprising thing is?
The explanation you're seeking-----the justification for this particular development----it isn't ahead of you. It's behind. If you watch the show again, knowing this is coming, you'll pick up quite a number of clues which all point to this as pretty much the only possible ending.
It's very subtle foreshadowing....perhaps even too subtle, since so many people seem surprised when they get to this point. You have to look beyond what you expect in order to pick up on most of the clues.
These guys both wanted nothing more than to guide the younger races into improving themselves. After Sheridan rejected them, they tried to kill him. But after the rest of the fleet rejected them as well.....what recourse did they have? Destroy the entire fleet? They could have done that, but then none of those races would ever see either of them as anything but a threat. They would be unable to achieve their goals. This is the reason why Sheridan wanted the largest fleet in history; not for its military value, but for the large fraction of the sentient races it represented. Faced with that reality, and with Lorien----whom both sides respected a great deal----counseling withdrawal, was there really another option open to them besides leaving, that wouldn't have seemed petty and spiteful?
Sheridan's "Get the hell out of our galaxy!" line is the one that doesn't sit well with me, because it gives him too much credit. By that point in the confrontation the outcome was already decided, and his parting shot had nothing to do with the First Ones' decision. Everything he said before that, sure, important. But the last one? Just simple human anger, nothing more.