Bester pursues a murderous telepath, using the pursuit to train two rookie
Psi Cops in the finer points of their new jobs.
Walter Koenig as Bester.
P5 Rating: 8.42
Production number: 514
Original air date: April 15, 1998
DVD release date: April 13, 2004
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Directed by Stephen Furst
- Very high on the Corps' list of priorities is that
mundanes believe that nothing ever goes wrong within the Corps. To
that end, and because they justifiably don't believe mundane security
forces would be of much use in capturing rogue telepaths, they use
the Psi Cops to track down rogues with a minimum of publicity.
- The Psi Corps maintains a fleet of large transport ships
in hyperspace, where they're used to ferry shuttles back and forth
between jump points. Eventually they'll be used for some other
unspecified purpose. Nobody outside the Corps is supposed to know
the ships exist.
- Psi Corps field operatives must be able to maintain a
mental block against a telepathic probe for at least one hour to
ensure that they're safe against attack by untrained rogues. Even the
most powerful rogues, according to Bester, can't sustain a psi attack
for more than 30 or 40 minutes.
- Bester's parents were killed in an accident when he was
barely a month old. The Corps found him thanks to a random DNA
screening, and raised him from childhood.
- The Corps is training some of its members in offensive
skills known as "mind shredding." A P10-rated shredder is a danger
even to a P12-rated telepath, and a P12-rated shredder can kill a
mundane telepathically in a matter of seconds.
- If a telepath has multiple personalities, each of the
personalities can exhibit different levels of psi ability. The
Corps' screening program doesn't detect multiple personalities.
- Even new Corps trainees are willing to act as judge, jury,
and executioner for mundanes who kill telepaths.
- What are the Corps motherships for, aside from ferrying
- What were the circumstances of Bester's parents' deaths?
- What is a Pak'ma'ra's hump?
- According to the Corps propaganda film, 42.5% of
telepaths who leave the Corps commit suicide within nine months of
leaving the Corps. How many of those
"suicides" are thanks to the Psi Cops? Even if the Cops don't
kill a significant number of rogues directly, the very fact that a
rogue is being relentlessly pursued might make suicide or an accident
And of course, Gordon only said that the suicides were committed by
people who'd left the Corps, not rogues; how many of the suicides were
telepaths forced to take sleeper drugs like Ivanova's mother?
- Why didn't anyone in the Corps communicate
telepathically within their own walls? As Bester told Sinclair
telepathic communication saves time. It's perhaps understandable that
the Corps would want its members to speak to each other verbally while
in public, to avoid appearing needlessly strange to mundanes, but that
consideration wouldn't apply within the walls of a Corps training
academy. Perhaps telepathic communication requires more effort than
- Bester believes that to be a telepath is to be something
special, and that telepaths have to stick together and protect one
another, even more so than mundanes. That's very similar to Byron's
("The Paragon of Animals.")
- What was Bester doing with the mirror just before his
departure for Babylon 5? Since he didn't glean any useful information
from his vision of Harris, it was most likely just an exercise in
intuition, a moment of deep concentration to try to figure out some
reason why Harris might have committed the murder.
- The Corps motherships are perhaps not as well-kept a
secret as Bester would like to think. There are probably lots of
rogue telepaths who learned of them before leaving the Corps. For
example, Byron would almost certainly have known about them (he had
gone out on missions with Bester) and thus it's plausible that some
or all of the other members of his group know as well. Since they
have no particular stake in keeping the ships' existence secret,
information about them might well have already leaked out.
- When Lauren mentioned to Bester that she wished there
were a way to record thoughts, he said, "Give us time." Is the Corps
working on such a capability? Does that imply that they've discovered
a technological means for reading other people's thoughts? If so, the
implications could be far-reaching, not least the possibility that
mundanes could be equipped with simulated telepathy.
Abbut's recording of Talia's thoughts
indicates that the process is possible, though perhaps not without
the involvement of a living brain.
- The Corps' inability to detect multiple personalities
is consistent with Talia's hidden personality
Talia was in close contact, even linked briefly, with a group of
("A Race Through Dark Places")
who failed to detect her alternate personality.
- If different personalities can have different psi
abilities, the Corps might not have gotten anything useful out of
their examination of Talia after she returned to them
("Dust to Dust.")
Her Ironheart-enhanced psi abilities
might have been destroyed along with her original personality.
- Lauren's visualization of the attack/block exercise had
a subtext she probably didn't recognize: the attacker was probing with
spikes not dissimilar to the spines on a Shadow vessel, while the
attacker was encased in what looked like shards of ice, not unlike the
ice surrounding Sheridan's vision of the Vorlon in
"Into the Fire."
Vorlons created human telepaths and the Shadows wanted to destroy or
undermine them, which is consistent with that imagery.
- The love of Bester's life is Carolyn Sanderson, who is
most likely still in stasis awaiting removal of her Shadow implants
("Ship of Tears.")
Whether or not she's still on Babylon 5 isn't clear; Sheridan mentioned
transferring her to Earth for further medical study
but that might not have happened yet.
- "Prisoner"esque signs on the walls at the Corps academy
(not a complete list yet):
- The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father
- Protect the Family.
- Trust the Corps
- Maternis, Paternis (this also appears on the Psi Corps logo
during the training film)
- Babylon 5 uses its sword and shield logo even on its
commercial sales literature.
- Text of the cover of the Babcom brochure:
Stay in touch with
family and business
alike with state of the
art communications and
delivery services. Let
us be your new partner.
- One of Harris' documents,
visible when Bester examines
them, is dated 2264, even though the episode takes place in 2262. (See
- Bester's childhood was recounted differently in comic
"The Psi Corps and You."
The official Corps propaganda about Bester is that he entered its
ranks at age 10.
- Bester keeps his disabled hand gloved even when he's
home by himself.
- The rogue's name was Jonathan Harris. That name might
be familiar to some fans; another
played Dr. Smith on the original "Lost in Space" TV series, which
also starred Bill Mumy (Lennier) as Will Robinson. However, that's
not the reference here. By coincidence, Jonathan Harris was the name
of the winner of a raffle run by the B5 Fan Club at a convention (the
1997 Worldcon in San Antonio.) The raffle's grand prize was the
winner's name appearing in an episode.
- One of the interns, Chen Hikaru, shares a name with
Hikaru Sulu of the original "Star Trek." Sulu was a colleague and
friend of Chekov, played by Walter Koenig (Bester.)
- This is the third episode directed by Stephen Furst, who
also plays Vir. All three of his episodes (this one,
"The Illusion of Truth,"
"The Deconstruction of Falling Stars")
are told from the points of view of people other than the series' main
- The title sequence was changed for this episode: instead
of the "Babylon 5" title, a Psi Corps logo with the words "Trust the
Corps" was substituted. The B5 logo was moved to the back of the
station in the closing FX shot, and JMS's name was displayed as a
- About TNT's decision to postpone the episodes
the ones following this one until the fall of 1998
Re: the schedule...it was brought to our attention that the NBA
coverage would lead to episodes being shunted around and pre-empted for
a number of weeks. Obviously this concerned us, and would concern
viewers, so we discussed it with TNT, and they came back to us with the
notion that we would continue new episodes until hitting #100, break
for the NBA games, then come back (starting with another possible
half-hour special) afterward at the same time to finish the season.
It was either this, or get shuffled around the schedule due to
the NBA, and the former is infinitely preferable.
- Bester is NOT a nice guy...but not everyone sees him in
that light, which is why I did one episode from inside the Psi Corps
this season, to show how others in the PC see him....
Even Hitler painted roses.
- Shouldn't the other Psi Cops have been afraid of
I don't consider it a mistake at all...you never heard much of
other Psi Cops talking about Bester, and they would have more knowledge
of him than anyone else. As with Dirty Harry, some of the other
officers above and below him liked him...and he scared the crap out of
others. Same here.
- What is a Pak'ma'ra's hump?
I was thinking that the hump is where their mates are...they're
symbiotically bonded, and the female is much smaller than the male,
reflecting similar disparities in the insect kingdom.
- About the oddly-dated
One of his personalities was a Time Lord.
- And let us also remember, about this guy getting the date wrong on
what he was writing....
HE WAS A NUT.