Talia's old Psi Corps instructor, the victim of a secret experiment, is the
target of a manhunt involving the Psi-Cops. Catherine wants to survey a
promising planet for possible mining, but G'Kar warns her to stay away.
Walter Koenig as Bester.
Felicity Waterman as Kelsey.
William Allen Young as Jason Ironheart.
P5 Rating: 8.44
Production number: 110
Original air date: March 2, 1994
DVD release date: November 5, 2002
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
- Jason Ironheart was Talia's instructor and lover
at the Psi Corps Training Academy. After she graduated and went
into commercial telepathy, they kept in touch by letter - until a
year ago when his letters stopped. As Ironheart recounts, he
volunteered to undergo genetic and biochemical modification he
thought was intended to make him a stronger telepath. The
experiment turned out to be an attempt to make him
a stable telekinetic, and it after many months
and hundreds of injections it worked - stunningly! Ironheart
became able to see through any mind like glass, and manipulate
matter and energy both. He discovered then that those in charge
were after offensive military applications for TK, like secret
assassination. So, he killed the head researcher (the only person
who could duplicate the work) and fled to Babylon 5, still
undergoing changes to his mind and body.
- What is it like to be a telepath?
Talia: "It's like staying in a hotel room where you can just
hear the people talking next door. You can try and shut it out,
but it's always there. The key is not to eavesdrop unless you're
invited... casual thoughts are very easy to block, but strong
emotions have a way of slipping through."
"Do you know what it's like when telepaths make love, commander?
You drop every defense, and it's all mirrors, reflecting each
others' feelings, deeper and deeper, until somewhere along the line
your souls mix, and it's a feeling so profound it makes you hurt.
It's the only moment in a telepath's life when you no longer hear
- Ironheart: "We all thought Psi Corps was
controlled by the government, but that's changing. The Corps is
starting to pull the strings behind the scenes; they're more
powerful than you could begin to imagine. Telepaths make the
"The Psi Corps is dedicated to one thing: control. Control over
telepaths, the economy, the courts, over matter, over thought
of Ironheart's meeting with Sinclair is available.
- How much of what Ironheart said was true? He
was mentally unstable, to say the least. He was also very
motivated to gather fast allies.
- G'Kar (to Catherine): "Let me pass on to
you the one thing I've learned about this place. No-one here is
exactly what he appears. Not Mollari, not Delenn, not Sinclair.
And not me." What does G'Kar know that we don't?
(cf "And The Sky Full Of Stars" [Delenn,
Sinclair], "By Any Means Necessary" [G'Kar])
- Just before he departs, Ironheart says to
Talia: "In memory of love, I give you a gift, the only gift I
have left to give." The gift, as she soon discovers, was
at least the beginnings of telekinesis. What manner of telepath
has she become?
- What did Ironheart mean by his final words to
Sinclair? "Good-bye commander. I will see you again, in a
- If Ironheart's figures are true, and if there
are 20 billion human beings in existence, then there should be a
thousand people who are (or will become) stable telekinetics. If
the Psi Corps' pursuit of a stable TK justified the extreme
measures they attempted with Ironheart, then something about
naturally occurring TK's must make them unusable. It could be that
use of TK invariably drives one insane, or perhaps natural TK is
insufficiently fine-controlled enough for their purposes.
- Whatever it was that the Psi Corps scientists did to
Ironheart, it wasn't more than physical alterations to his
brain and body. Yet those alterations started a process that led
to his essentially becoming a demigod. This could represent a
latent potential in humanity as a whole, of which iceberg telepathy
is merely the tip. Or perhaps not - "This is a power that we were
never meant to have," Ironheart tells Sinclair, "we're not ready
- Ivanova hates the Psi Corps with a passion
(understandably - cf "Midnight on the Firing
Line") "Good ol' Psi Corps. You never cease to amaze me - all
the moral fiber of Jack the Ripper. What do you do in your spare
time, juggle babies over a fire pit? Oops, there goes another
- In spite of this, Ivanova gives Talia a glass of
water after she comes through the ordeal of being scanned by
Bester and Kelsey. Ivanova's hatred is tempered with compassion
for individuals. (see "jms speaks")
- By threatening to hold him accountable for
endangering the station and causing the death of his partner,
Sinclair strong-arms Bester into omitting from his report mention of
Ironheart's real fate and Talia's willful collaboration. However,
this can only be an agreement about what gets made
official. Just as folks on Babylon 5 know full well that
Something happened to Ironheart (with the willing help of both
Talia and Sinclair) the right folks in the Psi Corps should know
the same through Bester's unofficial report.
- Sinclair mentions to Catherine in the morning
that he's got a budget meeting with the construction guild that
day, in which he'll have to make some cuts to which he's not
looking forward. ("By Any Means
- Universal Terraform: a mega-corporation that
explores and prepares new worlds for colonization or exploitation.
- The procedure for evaluating a newly discovered
planet: first, an unmanned sensor probe launched by the
exploring ship assesses gross features and composition. If that's
promising, a manned survey is undertaken to determine its value for
various purposes. Finally, if the corporation wants to continue,
a life sciences probe is sent out to determine the legality of
exploitation. (If there are sentient species present then the
planet is off-limits.) (see "jms speaks")
- Due to an EA shortage of the material
"Quantium-40," jumpgate construction is backed up 6 months.
Catherine's survey mission to Sigma 957 is largely to determine
whether this material is present on the planet.
- The being that appeared at Sigma 957 appeared to
enter and leave through its own jumpgate. It may have been there
for the Q-40.
- Just as the Narn fighters match up with
Catherine's ship, part of it sloughs off as it burns up in the
atmosphere. The fighters are unaffected; presumably they are
- Rent for a spartan studio on Babylon 5 is 500
credits per week.
- Psi corps ratings:
P5 - level of commercial telepaths. Can easily detect
deception and other surface thoughts at close range. Deeper
probing is possible but difficult.
P10 - level of Psi Corps trainers. Can observe the mental
actions of other telepaths, block some scans, cut through some
blocks, perform long-range scans, and may have some fringe skills.
P12 - level of Psi Cops. Can communicate smoothly with
normals via telepathy. Two Psi Cops can invasively probe a P5.
- Stronger telepaths have a harder time
shutting out "the voices".
- Upon graduation from the Academy all telepaths
take a telekinesis test - it's a much sought-after skill. .1% of
human beings have some level of telepathic ability, and only .01%
of them have TK, half of whom are clinically insane. (see
- Most telepaths have fewer human rights
than normals. They're forbidden to possess psi abilities unless
they're in the Psi Corps or in prison
("Midnight on the Firing Line").
They're required to submit to scans by Psi Cops, and aren't even
allowed to have fleeting bodily contact with normals, since that
would raise the chance in inadvertent scans.
(see "jms speaks")
- Psi Cops are afforded greater latitude than
other telepaths, "in the interest of efficiency." For example,
they can perform at least surface scans on normals without
- As he leaves, Bester gives Sinclair an odd
salute - a circle of thumb and forefinger at the forehead - and
says, "Be seeing you, commander." This is tribute paid to one of
jms's favorite shows, "The Prisoner," in which the line was
identical but the hand-motion framed the eye instead. An
appropriate twist for a telepath salute!
- Continuity glitch: After Ironheart arrives in his quarters,
he pours some water into a cup. When the cup is knocked over by his
mindquake a few seconds later, it's empty.
- In a tip of the cap to an SF writer, the Koenig
character in "Mind War" is named Bester.
- The direction and intent and background of the Psi Corps is *very*
different from Bester's "The Demolished Man." What may cause some of
the confusion is that when I decided to name the Psi Cop we'll be
seeing, knowing of Alfie's work in the genre in general, and knowing
that he was a close friend of Harlan's, I decided it would be a nice
testimony to the man to name the Psi Cop Bester. There's nothing
- Re: my favorite thing about this episode...it's
that when all is said and done, *nobody knows anything*. Bester
doesn't know what Ironheart is turning into; Sinclair doesn't know
if Ironheart was really telling the truth or not; nobody knows
where Ironheart went; nobody knows what the alien ship is/who they
were...the closest I can come to is to compare it to writing a
mystery novel, without revealing the killer, but *without*
frustrating anyone in the process, because there's *closure*.
- ...it was my intent to imply in the scene with
the guard and Bester ("nothing, just a drill") that he DID scan the
guard's mind. He found out what he was hiding (which is how he
managed to show up to try and cut Ironheart off from his escape),
exchanged a glance with Kelsey, and headed away quickly.
- Bester wasn't killed because a) it took a *lot*
out of Ironheart to take out Kelsey, and b) Bester *shot him* prior
to being taken down, and the pain and trauma of being shot has a
tendency to have an adverse effect on one; it took all his strength
just to knock Bester down before collapsing to the floor, his
energy (as you can see in the film) fading away....
- We'll definitely see Bester again, probably
twice next season, in one capacity or another. (And we'll *hear*
about him once more this season.)
- Nope, Jason Ironheart will not be seen again,
insofar as I know. I don't like beings with that much power
running around the plotline....
- Telepaths are the ultimate minority, and when
it comes to the use of their talents, and the protection of the
rights of the hysterical majority, their rights don't mean a whole
hell of a lot.
- Thanks for noticing that. Yes, it *was* very
important (to me, at least, whether or not anyone noticed it), that
Ivanova was the one who handed Talia the water, and had that brief
moment with her. For those who understand their relationship, it
adds a tiny layer; for those who don't, because the dialogue keeps
on going over it, it's not obtrusive.
- The episode of "Mind War" broadcast henceforth
will be the one with slight alteration.
- In the pursuit in the teaser, you could see one of the binary stars
THROUGH Ironheart's ship; we deleted that shot and replaced it.
- We discovered, when we went to put in the revised CGI, that the
international versions had already been made and transferred, and it
would be nearly impossible to recall that part of the process...so it
was left alone rather than have multiple versions of the same episode
- Funny incident today, though, also at lunch.
Walter Koenig joined some of the cast members at their table for
lunch, and as he came to the table, they all stood up at attention.
When asked why, they explained that it's protocol for junior
officers to stand when a senior officer comes to the table. It was
kind of a nice moment.
- Today, Walter Koenig's 2nd day working in the B5 universe, as a Psi
Cop in "Mind War." He's doing well, taking part in some very
difficult scenes (fight scenes and the ilke), and it's a very
powerful performance, not at ALL what people have seen before. He's
a terrific performer when given a role with some meat to it. And
the dailies look great. I think this episode will wake up a lot of
people who have never seen Walter as anything other than Chekov.
- Walter decided that an interesting character trait for Bester would
be if this skilled psi cop had a useless left hand.
- It's a funny thought, but knowing Walter as I do, I can say without
fear of contradiction that he was *not* doing Shatner. Given the
chance here to do something *utterly* outside ST, which was his hope,
and our pleasure to provide, he wouldn't do this, and having spoken
with him at some length about his character and his performance, know
that he *didn't* do this.
- Chekov is just one character, which was created by another, and played
by Walter. Agreed, too many people have seen him as just this one person;
but there's a talented actor with a great range behind that character, able
to do *many* other things. I'm glad we've been able to let him show that
range a little.
- "JMS is on an anti-typecasting crusade."
That's actually true, in a lot of ways. My sense is that here
we have many actors who created enduring works because they were good
at what they did; they're *good actors*. But because they were so good
at it, they got typecast as only able to play that. How many people
snickered, wrongly, when they heard Walter was going to be Bester?
"Chekhov in the Psi Corps," was the usual lament.
Until they *saw* him. And saw what he could do.
To work against the typecasting is simply payment on a debt to
those who created enduring characters. And I'll continue to do it
wherever and whenever I can. (Look for Robert Englund in an
playing a very different sort of character than he's played
- We'd initially offered Walter the role of Knight Two in "Sky," but
when his health prohibited using him, we went to Patrick McGoohan,
who loved the script, wanted to do it, but was going to be out of
the country at the time of shooting. We then shifted Walter to
- "Commander" wasn't dubbed onto Walter. That was Ironheart speaking
with his back to us.
- We'll see more on Talia's additional talents in year two.
- Ironheart was created, as one of many reasons, to exemplify a problem
that is growing within Psi Corps. There will be other symptoms, though
not as grand as that one.
- The Psi Corps doesn't exist just to help telepaths avoid infringing
on the privacy of others. They service the business community, the
military, some other governmental agencies...it's important that they
control, regulate, and profit from telepaths. You can't just leave
- "Mind War" is important to the arc because Psi Corps, and certain
aspects of it, is important to the arc.
- Some of the events in "Mind War" are significant indeed.
- The ant was paid strictly according to SAG rules (Screen Ants Guild).
- But for the other stuff...no, there's no in-joke in Sigma 957, but
***CONGRATULATIONS!*** You are the FIRST person to pick up on the
Native American line that Ironheart quotes when he goes up against
Kelsey. (And yes, I believe it is ojibwe in origin.) I've always
considered it a very powerful line (a prayer of protection against
one's enemies), and wanted to use it. That seemed the perfect
opportunity to do so.
- "Who watches the watchmen" is an old Latin phrase, sometimes
translated as "who guards the guards?" Given sufficient time I could
probably dig up the origin of the phrase; it's fairly common.
- My source on this was the original, classical quotation.
- Congratulations. I was wondering when anyone was going to hit on the
CSICOP reference. I was looking for a good name for the pit bulls of
the Psi Corps, and thought it made for a great play on words, and a
very obscure almost-pun, to name them Psi-Cops.
- Talia's stress during Psi Cop scan
It's because they dig *deep*. And to another telepath, who is
sensitive to begin with...it hurts bigtime.
- A Psi-rating comes through training and examination of a person's
skills over time. Ivanova's mother never went through the full
sequence to get rated. (Although they generally don't bother with
P1s through P2s, so she was at least a P3 or above, in terms of raw
ability.) A psi rating isn't hereditary.
- Talia is a P5, as Lyta was in the pilot.
- The number of psi's in each category, from 1-12, gets rarer as you
get higher. Lots of folks have a minimal tendency, very few have any
- Yes, the abilities are often discrete; a TK may not be able to
scan anyone's thoughts.
- You don't have to read another book to "get it" re: psi's making
love. Perhaps her problem was more with the making love part than
the psi part. Haven't read Julian May's book. It's just the obvious
answer to what happens if and when telepaths make love: if they truly
open up, then you're going to get a mirror effect. Have your lady
friend stand between two mirrors and look at the effect. This ain't
- Scanning only hurts if it's a deep scan, trying to dredge out lost
or buried thoughts, or if the other person is resisting. It can be
anything from a headache to a migraine in intensity in general..
- There will be no more Ironhearts, and that character will not return.
- The vaporized Starfuries *weren't* from B5, they were a separate wing
not attached to this station. Black Omega is a special forces unit.
- Ironheart blew out the Omega starfuries.
- No, this [the alien] isn't the mysterious sixth race.
- And in the case of Sigma 957, one can put in a gate, start to explore
that sector of space...and discover to your chagrin that there is one
planet where you don't dare go near. It's not like they *knew* that
there was a problem on Sigma 957 before they (the Narns) put the gate
in; that was discovered only afterward. Sort of like buying a house
and then discovering that one room is haunted; you seal off the room
and tell the kids not to go near it.
- You don't leave one gate and fly light years to another; you use the
same gate for going in and going out. Explorer Ship A comes out of
hyperspace; looks around; decides that there are planets in this area
that are worth possible colonizing, exploitation, that sort of thing;
it's a very quick overview. (Or they go to systems that have been
already selected.) They construct a gate, finish the job, and move
on. Other ships can now use this gate for entering and leaving this
system. Is this clearer?
- The gate was set up in what was believed to be a reasonably fertile
and useful sector of space; the explorer craft can't take too long in
any one area. They find likely areas for exploitation, take a fast
look around, drop a gate, and move on. This allows other ships to
come in and scope out the place in detail. That's when they ran into
whatever's walking around Sigma 957. (And it's not there all the
time, only from time to time.)
- An Explorer-class vessel looks for areas that look like likely
prospects for exploitation, or which are good for logistical or other
reasons, do a fast survey, drop a gate and move on. Nobody *knew*
about the problems in Sigma 957 until well after the gate was in place.
Generally, the race that builds the gate, owns it.
- Re: the difference as to why Sinclair reacted the way he did...they
SPOKE to him in his head, the same way they did to the guard in
customs. This is different than just "listening" to someone's
thoughts, so to speak.
- The one thing that to me always typified SF was the sense of *wonder*.
Of something mysterious out there. And that is the one thing that I
feel is so missing from much of TV SF; not to pick on ST, but the
reality is that going from world to world seems like going from 7-11
to 7-11. It's all established, there's not much mystery. (Not in all
cases, I'm sure that one or two could be found, but in general.)
There should be *differences*, and things we don't understand and will
*never* fully understand. (For me, one of the best episodes in this
regard is "Mind War," specifically the tag of the episode, which still
gives me a shiver even though I've now seen it over a dozen times.)
- Actually, no...Catherine Sakai is based more closely on another
woman of my acquaintance, with whom I was involved for quite some
time. And that's all you'll get out of me on the subject.
- Incidentally..."Mind War" has come out so well that it looks like
we're going to move it up in the schedule a bit. It was originally
slated to run about episode 10 or so, but the studio is so hot on it
that it'll probably run #6, right after "Parliament." And Walter
has agreed to be the voice-over and on-camera narrator for the
Behind the Scenes/Making of Babylon 5 documentary.
- Re: moving "Mind War" up...no, doesn't affect continuity at all. If
it did, it wouldn't have gotten moved. It's what's called in the biz
a "moveable piece," able to go *almost* anywhere in the schedule, as
long as it's after episode 3 and before episode 15, since stuff in
the first few set it up, and 15 pays off part of it.
Originally compiled by Matthew Ryan firstname.lastname@example.org