Several of the characters face tests in the second season's penultimate episode.
With the end of the Narn/Centauri conflict, the Vorlons know that the next, even bigger wave of the battle against the darkness is coming. They must know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that they were right in choosing Delenn to face this darkness. To that end, Delenn is summoned by Kosh and informed that a visitor will be coming to the station: an inquisitor. She must submit to the inquisitor's examination or be judged unworthy.
The inquisitor arrives in a Vorlon ship. To the surprise of both Sheridan and Delenn, the man who steps off the ship is no encounter-suited Vorlon, but a human, wearing the clothes of a 19th Century Victorian gentleman. His name is Sebastian. As he walks through the station, observing the gambling and drinking and flirtations around him, he observes with disgust that "nothing changes." He is clearly a man of harsh judgments, and has no patience for any questions by Sheridan. He demands a private place to meet with Delenn, and insists they be left alone for the inquisition - an inquisition that may prove deadly to the Minbari Ambassador.
Meanwhile, G'Kar attempts to arrange a weapons drop to organize an underground resistance against the Centauri on the newly-conquered Narn Homeworld. He makes the needed arrangements, only to find himself faced with two tests before he is free to go ahead with his plan. The first is a test of character, the next a test of leadership. If G'Kar fails, he may lose valuable resources - or even the leadership of the free Narn on the station!
Comes the Inquisitor may not be as good an episode as Divided Loyalties or The Long, Twilight Struggle, but it is still a strong entry with several very memorable moments. As is frequently the case, Andreas Katsulas' G'Kar ends up walking away with the best of these moments.
The episode is an important one for G'Kar. In The Long, Twilight Struggle, G'Kar lost much that was dear to him. He lost his Homeworld, and he lost his position as Ambassador. Here, we see how he responds to these losses.
Much like a man going through the stages of grief, G'Kar's initial response appears to be denial. When we first see him, he is standing on the balcony above the Zocalo, much as he did several times during Season One, exhorting any and all who will listen that the Centauri are a threat to them all. He is in almost the exact position physically that he held when his speech nearly incited a riot back in The War Prayer. In that episode, he was wrong (well, he was right, but going about it the wrong way); in this episode, he is right... only now, no one will listen to him. He is Citizen G'Kar, not Ambassador G'Kar, and his words just don't carry the same weight. As one human notes, the conflict was between the Narn and the Centauri - the remaining races refuse to consider it their concern.
We also see G'Kar seething with anger in this episode. There is the scene where he threatens the weapons-dealer, bloodlust clear in his eyes and voice, promising a terrible fate if the man should attempt to cheat the Narn. There is also the scene in the elevator, where he refuses to accept Vir's apology, and appears to be physically stopping himself from perpetrating violence on Vir. Certainly, G'Kar goes through the bargaining phase, first with the weapons dealer and again with his own people, when they confront him with a test of his ability to lead. His position is no longer official, and his own people demand some proof of his ability to be a leader before they will agree to follow him.
Despite his problems, G'Kar retains his dignity. He is confronted with no less than four tests. First, there is a test of wrath, when he is confronted with a helpless Centauri target - Vir. He could hurt or kill Vir, and it is clear that he wants to. He restrains himself, and passes (he does fail to show forgiveness... but then, G'Kar is not and never has been a saint). Second is a test of honesty. Garibaldi confronts him with the weapons deal. When G'Kar refuses to lie about it, Garibaldi rewards him with a secure rendezvous for his smuggling operation. Third is the test of leadership, which his people give him when they demand that he bring messages back from the Homeworld. To pass this test, however, he must pass a fourth test - a test of pride, which he passes by going to Sheridan and Garibaldi, metaphorical hat in hand, to request their aid. Given that G'Kar's struggle is the "B" plot, the amount of structuring that goes into it is enormously impressive.
The episode is also an important one for Vir. Vir was totally absent from The Long, Twilight Struggle, and so we did not see his reaction to Londo's final deal with Lord Refa. Here, we are allowed to see how Vir reacts to this atrocity. It is appropriate that the one man who is genuinely listening to G'Kar's speech in the Zocalo is an audience the Narn would not much appreciate: a lone Centauri, filled with guilt over his inability to stop this nightmare from happening. Vir clearly feels responsibility for these events, though it is doubtful that he could have done much to stop them. Nevertheless, Vir feels that he is being tested, too. And it is G'Kar who ends up issuing him the challenge, in the episode's best scene (one of the best scenes of the entire season): the scene in the elevator.
Vir is quite afraid when he realizes that he is sharing the elevator with a murderously angry G'Kar. At first, he tries to move away from G'Kar, but he cannot keep himself from looking at the Narn. Finally, his inherent decency couples with his tremendous feelings of guilt, prompting him to stammer out an apology that he has to know will fall flat.
G'Kar's response to the apology is rooted in the Narn's own anger. He draws his dagger, cuts his own hand, and recites, "Dead, dead, dead" over the drops of Narn blood that spill onto the floor. He demands of Vir how he can apologize to the dead. When Vir is forced to admit that he can't, G'Kar observes that he cannot forgive. I suspect Vir's determination in Season Three to do something for the Narn - to find some way to apologize, if not to the dead than at least to their survivors - is rooted more than a little bit in this exchange.
The main story centers around Delenn, Sheridan, and the Inquisitor, Sebastian. Sebastian is well-played by Wayne Alexander, a frequent guest star in various types of alien make-up, here allowed to play "human" for (I believe) the only time in the series run. He seems to be having a fine time with his role, investing pomp and vigor and ruthless sadism. If the scenes between Sebastian and Delenn are not quite as memorable as those with G'Kar, the fault certainly does not lie with Alexander. Nor does it lie with the always excellent Mira Furlan, who convinces throughout Delenn's ordeal, playing defiance and pain and weariness and self-doubt, until finally showing her true strength. These scenes may not be quite as compelling as they would like to be, but they are never less than watchable, in large part because of the enormously strong acting going on throughout.
As with most of this batch of episodes, there really isn't much bad here. G'Kar's issues with his own people seem a little bit repetitive, given that it was only as recently as Acts of Sacrifice that he had a similar challenge to his leadership. Still, I have no real problem with recycling a subplot when it can be improved upon - and it is certainly better-executed here than it was in that episode. This time, G'Kar actually has to do something to prove his worth, as opposed to simply fighting hard enough to show that he is indeed the Alpha Male of the Narns.
The final revelation about Sebastian's true identity could be considered just a tad trite, I suppose. It just barely works for me, I confess, precisely because "Sebastian" is such a legend. This is a show that is all about legends - both embracing and rejecting old legends, and creating new ones. The Vorlons deal in myth and legend (as do the Shadows, in their way). So bringing in this particular historical figure, particularly to use him in such a way as he is used here, manages to sidestep triteness for me. Still, I can see how it might pose an issue for some viewers.
Finally, while there's nothing at all wrong with the Sebastian/Delenn scenes, this "A" plot just doesn't carry the same punch as the G'Kar subplot. When the "A" plot is noticeably weaker than the "B" plot, I can't help but deduct at least one point for that alone.
Still a strong episode - and might have rated a "9" in the midst of a weaker batch of episodes - but it's just not as good as the episodes surrounding it.