^ Thanks for that, Jan. This post will cover my reviews of episodes 21 and 22, some overall thoughts on S1, and my reviews of episodes 1 and 2 of Season 2.
The Quality of Mercy
On the surface, this episode seems to be a bit of a standalone episode unconnected to the larger arc, but its significance only becomes clear once we get into Season 2. I also liked the episode's focus on Franklin because the last episode to focus on him was Believers, which, as I mentioned, isn't really my cup of tea, so it is neat to see a focus episode for him that holds up. The subplot of Lennier and Londo interacting is also great, because it gives Lennier something to do outside of just being Delenn's aide, and because it tells us something about the Centauri that we didn't know but probably should've guessed.
The best season finales always wrap up what's happened over the course of the season, while also leaving you guessing and wondering what's going to happen next, and Chrysalis succeeds on both of these levels. We get some great stuff for every single one of the characters. The episode really doesn't have an 'a' and 'b' plot because everything that happens in it is so interconnected, but that's what you want in a season finale.
Now, my thoughts on S1 overall.
Overall thoughts on Season 1
In the commentary for Signs and Portents, JMS talks about how S1 was designed to achieve a balance between carrying out the 5-year arc and allowing viewers to come into the season and series at any given point, with episodes being split about 1/2 and 1/2 between standalone episodes and episodes that were important to the overall 5-year arc. Having viewed the season in its entirety, however, I have to say that I disagree with that assessment, and would submit that, of the season's 22 episodes, only Infection, TKO, and Believers are truly standalone. Everything else not only contributes to the larger arc of Season 1 and the series, but is also pretty 'essential' when it comes to how that larger S1 arc unfolds.
Now, my reviews of the first two episodes of Season 2.
Points of Departure
Although it's not labeled as such, Points of Departure could very easily be considered Part 2 of Chrysalis because, despite the week of in-universe time that passes, it pretty much directly continues the events of that episode while also serving as a transition into the new and larger story arc of S2. Captain Sheridan's introduction is incredibly well-handled and feels very seamless, giving us a glimpse into just how pivotal the events of the Earth-Minbari War truly were, particularly in terms of the way the war and its end are viewed by the Minbari themselves (or at least certain factions therein), which is of particular import when you take a look at that information in light of what Lennier tells Sheridan and Ivanova in this episode concerning the reason behind the Minbari's surrender at the Battle of the Line and in light of the events of S1 as a whole with regards to Sinclair and Delenn's story arc.
Revelations is really our first opportunity to get a good glimpse into just who John Sheridan is, and it succeeds on all fronts in painting a picture of this guy and what motivates him. His interactions with his sister really help show that there's more to him than the competent commander and warrior we're told about and get to see in Points of Departure. The subplot involving G'Kar's return and the information he provides concerning the Shadows dovetails with the exploration of Sheridan's character rather nicely, and we also get to see the return of the machine from TQoM, which, as I mentioned, immediately and automatically increases the significance of that episode ten-fold.
I'll be back later with reviews of S2 episodes 3 through 6.