Another solid episode, this installment further develops the "conspiracy" Sheridan shares with General Hague, while also following up on the link between Kosh and Sheridan first established in All Alone in the Night.
Station operations on Babylon 5 are turned upside-down when a special security team arrives with grave information. Dr. Everett Jacobs, President Clark's personal physician, has apparently turned traitor and absconded with some highly sensitive information. Jacobs is now wanted dead or alive, before he can pass along this information... and all evidence indicates that this fugitive is hiding somewhere on Babylon 5!
The situation becomes even more complicated when Sheridan receives a message from one of General Hague's associates. Dr. Jacobs is not a traitor. In fact, he is a good man in possession of evidence that could be very damning to Clark. As the new President's personal physician, he has files on a data crystal that can prove that Clark was in perfect health when he got off Earth Force One just prior to the "accident" that killed President Santiago. Now Sheridan is caught in a precarious position: he has to find Jacobs before station security does, and he has to keep both the doctor and his information safe.
As Sheridan delegates this task to Garibaldi (who in turn enlists Dr. Franklin), the captain finds himself coming into closer contact with the mysterious Ambassador Kosh, who promises to "teach him" - though exactly what lessons Kosh intends to impart remain, for the moment, a mystery.
In All Alone in the Night, we learned that Sheridan was not quite the naive innocent that he at first seemed. He is, in fact, well aware of suspicions regarding the death of President Santiago. And, as his conversation with President Clark in Revelations indicated, he is far from sanguine about the current administration.
This episode follows up on that revelation, as Sheridan finds himself having to walk a tightrope between the appearance of cooperation with Clark's men and the reality of working against them at the same time. It also follows up on Sheridan's choice to confide in Garibaldi, Ivanova, and Dr. Franklin - all of whom provide needed assistance to help him pull off his deception.
In fact, that may be one of the most important things about this episode's "A" plot. For the first time since the change of command, we see every member of the command staff working as a team. Sheridan comes up with a plan to distract Clark's men from Down Below; Ivanova helps sell the plan; and this gives Garibaldi and Franklin enough of a window to locate Dr. Jacobs themselves. We have seen Sheridan and Ivanova work together; we have seen Garibaldi and Sheridan work together; but for the first time, this episode sees all four of the key station personnel working together (something not even seen in Season One - though Sinclair, Garibaldi, and Ivanova worked well together, Franklin was decidedly outside of their "loop"). Given events still to come in the series, this new sense of team play is critical.
The revelations about Clark in this episode are a non-issue. What few viewers did not guess Clark was a bad guy immediately in Chrysalis were certainly clued in by his conversation with Sheridan in Revelations. Still, the plot involving Clark's men hunting Jacobs works well as a suspense story. We see enough of Jacobs to find him sympathetic and likable. Meanwhile, the very fact that Clark has decided it is now safe to turn his bloodhounds loose on this man demonstrates that the new President is feeling more secure in his power - which means that he's becoming increasingly dangerous.
More interesting than the Jacobs plot, however, is the "B" storyline, involving Ambassador Kosh's relationship with Sheridan. As Sheridan notes in their big scene together at the end of this episode, Kosh has been much more actively involved since his arrival. In Season One, Kosh only very rarely appeared at council meetings. Usually, if Sinclair wanted to talk to Kosh, he had to go directly to Kosh's quarters. However, we have seen Kosh taking the initiative to directly observe Sheridan, and even working to help Sheridan rescue himself in All Alone in the Night.
When Sheridan asks why, Kosh has no real answer for him. He simply indicates that Sheridan is "not ready," and asks his question - the Vorlon question - "Who are you?" When Sheridan asks if Kosh is interested in a cultural exchange - information about humans in exchange for information about Vorlons - Kosh appears disappointed at the banality of the suggestion, and seems ready to dismiss the new captain as not worth his time after all. But then a frustrated Sheridan demands of Kosh: "What do you want?"
Asked this question - Morden's question - Kosh turns back to rebuke Sheridan. He tells the captain to never ask that question. And it is then, after having heard Sheridan unwittingly speak this dangerous question, that Kosh seems to make the final decision to teach Sheridan. Not about Vorlons, but about himself.
Why does Sheridan's "What do you want?" have this effect? Perhaps the question shows that Sheridan - a man who has been placed in a position that makes him important to the Vorlons' agenda - is not yet entirely safe, that he could still fall under the Shadows' influence. Perhaps Kosh takes such an interest in Sheridan precisely because the captain is vulnerable in this way. Certainly, we will later see that the Shadows do have access to something that Sheridan really does want.
...or I could be overreading the scene. Regardless, it is by far the best scene in a good episode.
Like a lot of Season Two episodes, Hunter, Prey feels small, and largely free of any sense of jeopardy. The best Babylon 5 episodes are the ones where everything feels out of control, where you aren't quite certain that everything will turn out all right in the end. Here, as with most of Season Two's output, there is never that sense. I never doubted for a moment that Sheridan and Garibaldi would "win."
Also, the subplot with Max (Richard Moll), the Down Below gangster who is, effectively, a dumber and less-menacing version of Grail's Deuce, just didn't work for me. I understood why it was there. It provides a needed complication, and puts a timetable on Garibaldi's search for Jacobs. But Max was a complete caricature, and despite Richard Moll's imposing physical presence, he failed to convey any sense of menace. The ease with which (a wounded) Garibaldi defeats him at the end only underscores what a weak secondary villain Max is. At least he never makes a return appearance.
Nit-picks aside, this was a strong episode that kept me engaged throughout, while ratcheting up two important subplots: President Clark is becoming bolder, and more dangerous; and Kosh has made a promise to Sheridan, which should yield some interesting results in future episodes...