The phrase that describes “Journey to Xibalba” would be “Everything’s back where it started.” This crops up pretty often in the episode from several characters, mostly to Tom Mason, who returns mysteriously at the beginning of the episode. While his appearance (sailing down the river) might seem suspicious, no one seems to question it. They’re all happy to see him back, even Peralta, who jokingly offers him his old job back.
Tom is hardened by his experiences in Boston. He is convinced that he needs to exact vengeance on Karen for her role in the deaths of Anne and Lexi. Although his boys are stunned by yet another loss, he counsels them to take their pain and use that in seeking revenge. When one of them questions him, quoting something Tom said earlier about not allowing hate to take over, he says, “Hate’s all I have left.”
He immediately seeks out the war room and tries to explain how to approach the tower and Karen, but of course everyone is hesitant to let him back out, especially after such a loss. Before he can convince someone to let him come along, the walls explode around them and everyone is lost under the rubble. Lourdes, under the influence of an alien bug crawling in her insides, has planted a bomb and the Volm are wounded.
Cochise is hurt, but will regenerate given enough resting time. He tells Tom, “You can’t let loss break you. Hope is stronger than loss. The human spirit remains the most powerful weapon on this planet. That is a gift. If you do not allow it to be extinguished, it will carry you to victory.”
This sounds to me like Cochise is warning Tom against holding all the anger and hate inside. Hate is a corrosive energy, and Tom is the only person strong enough to work through it to the point where he is capable of leading. Without him in top form, the humans have little chance of winning a war. “Journey to Xibalba” shows Tom wavering between the weakness of hate and the strength of hope.
With Lourdes planting bombs, it’s not long before everyone is either trapped beneath rubble or digging into the rubble to save their friends. Hal and Maggie are trapped in a room full of ammunition, losing air as they try to find a way to escape. Tom is trapped with Lourdes, Cochise, Dr. Kadar, and Peralta. Ben and Matt are outside with Col. Weaver and Pope digging their way to Tom and Hal.
Although Dr. Kadar is able to rig an explosive that could break through to the outside world and fresh air, a crack in the wall above them causes concern and they must re-think. “Everything’s back to where it started,” bemoans a soldier. This leads Tom to rat out the mole, Lourdes, who said the line earlier to Tom in reference to Anne. Lourdes is restrained, even as she yells that Tom is at fault for everything, since he chose an alliance with the Volm.
This is the most terrifying part of “Journey to Xibalba”; Tom walks away, setting off the explosive, which opens up a wall so they can get out instead of bringing the whole thing down. “Low probability events do occur,” says Dr. Kadar, which leads me to believe that he’s talking about a miracle. They’ll need one if they are going to continue on with the Volms’ plans. All of the Volm are dead, excepting Cochise, who doesn’t know how to operate the machine beneath a pile of rubble. He admits to Tom that he does not know what to do next. “What’s the alternative?” asks Tom. There’s not exactly another option. “We bury our dead, and then we start digging like there’s no tomorrow.”
So, everything’s back where it started at the end of “Journey to Xibalba.” Tom deals with the loss of a spouse, the boys lose a mother figure, Karen’s still on the loose, and now the weapon they were going to use to defeat the Espheni is buried, and there aren’t engineers to program it. There are more people dead, or dying, and Tom isn’t the president anymore. This is the worst setback they’ve experienced yet, but despite this, they have an edge.
Tom Mason is still alive. Pope and Col. Weaver are ready to follow his orders. And Cochise is still willing to join them. They have experienced loss before. They have buried the dead before. They have been in precarious situations before. And they have survived. That knowledge of past experiences, plus the indomitable spirit they share, are not to be trifled with. The Espheni are so sure that they will succeed in destroying Earth, but I don’t think that’s what we’ll be seeing next week.