Earhart’s: “Mind War” Spoiler Space

Give us your thoughts about this key introduction to the telepath arc! And tune in next week for our review and commentary on “Mind War” with special guest Andy Ihnatko from the Chicago Sun-Times, The Ihnatko Almanac and Macbreak Weekly.

13 thoughts on “Earhart’s: “Mind War” Spoiler Space”

  1. Such a great episode! This one is full of seeds being planted for future use:
    “No one here is exactly what he appears”
    “Who watches the watchers?”
    Telepaths in wars & PsyCorp power plays – future Telepath War (great place for a spin off IMO)
    First Ones
    Dramas within EarthGov

    AND BESTER – Walter Koenig is fantastic throughout B5 and plays the character with love and humour. Defiantly one of my favourite bit parts throughout the series.

    It should be a great podcast episode!!!

  2. Now this I think was the first B5 ep that really sold me on the show. But first the negatives, I NEVER bought the acting or lines from Jason.. especially the whole “I….Am……Becoming!!” ugh worst line ever!

    Moving past that – the base plot and story is superb and totally introduces the darker side of the Earth Alliance that we haven’t seen thus far.

    And of course Walter Keonig’s performance was amazing. I had previously been a huge trek fan (before discovering B5) and had the privilege of meeting him a trek convention – after seeing this ep Walter was no longer Chekov to me, he was Bester – in one episode we had seen a character with more depth than we had in an entire tv series and movies! So I was so glad when JMS brought Bester back into a pivotal role – and the Psi-Corp series of books by J. Gregory Keyes were my favourite non-tv B5 media (for anyone who doesn’t know this trilogy starts with the birth of Bester and follows his childhood – and the last book ends with Bester’s death) – if you read any of the B5 novels read these ones! They are based on outlines by JMS and I believe are considered cannon.

    Top rate ep!

    1. Oh my, I forgot to talk about the B-plot with G’Kar and Catherine! This little side plot is also one of my favourite side plots in the series, getting a glimpse at some First Ones and G’Kar’s speech about us being so insignificant to us always rang true to me – it has indeed become one of my favourite quotes from any show. Brilliant side story that helps lay foundations and also further shows G’Kar as being far more than just an angry warrior villain.

      1. As with The Parliament of Dreams, though, the change in the depiction of G’Kar’s character is admirably calibrated. This moves G’Kar a little past TPoD by having him do something that’s not self-interested, but only a little: he makes it clear that it was only because there wasn’t anything to gain by acting differently.

        On another note, Julia Nickson’s performance is much stronger this episode. This is a good thing, as the A-plot features some less than stellar moments (and not just from the actor playing Ironheart), and the B-plot provides some welcome relief . Of course, I don’t think that there was much Andrea Thompson could have done to save the scene where she has to talk about the details of telepaths’ intimate lives.

        “Jason Ironheart” also wins the prize for Worst Name in Nineties Television Drama. Is it justifiable as a reference to something that I don’t know about?

        From an arc point of view, Mind War is an odd one, as Ironheart’s gift to Talia would have been crucial to the rest of the series, and the episode sells it as a big deal. Of course, it essentially goes nowhere, because of the abrupt truncation of Talia’s story. The First Ones of Sigma-957 (whom G’Kar’s speech sells as very important) also turn out to be pretty marginal.

        One might not guess that the introduction of Bester will turn out actually to be the big thing here, since he could perfectly well have been a villain-of-the-week like Ben Zayn.

        1. As far as the name “Jason Ironheart”, the only thing I can think of is that Chip found out one of the more debatable lines in the script is a line from a Sioux prayer. Perhaps “Ironheart” is supposed to suggest a Native American character?

          But I agree with a lot of the points you made.

  3. The “B” plot is definitely the high point for me. G’Kar’s post-incident talk with Catherine (“They must walk there alone!”) is one of his best, and such a wonderful fore-shadowing (pun intended) of things to come in dealings with the Shadows and the First Ones!

    Oh, and Walter Koenig – does it get any better than that?

  4. This episode actually feeds into my personal theories around the in universe reasons for Talia having the hidden personality (beyond the out of universe reason of Andrea leaving the show). In this and Soul Mates we see Talia’s 2 conflicting sexual/romantic relationships, her first with Matt Stoner and her second with Jason Ironheart. Is Ironheart one of the “powerful men” that Matt says Talia surrounds herself with? Also, it is implied that there are factions and internecine conflicts within the Psi Corp in Soul Mates and Dust to Dust.

    My theory is that someone wanted to keep an eye on Matt and his faction, and he was so slimy even the whisper in Talia’s mind could not keep her with him. From then she hooked up with Ironheart who had enough power to protect her from Stoner and his faction. Then either Bester was telling the truth in Dust to Dust and the faction that suborned Talia was had been purged (I doubt it), or they had her replace Lyta Alexander with the hope Vorlon lightning would strike twice. Also with the coming of the Shadows (the Psi Corp were involved in tracking a Shadow Vessel back to Za’ha’dum while Garibaldi was on Mars) would make B5 a potential nexus in the coming conflict. On B5 we see Talia trying (and almost succeeding) to insert herself into the command staff, inserting herself into Mars Independence, and getting close to the ambassadors.

    Just some thoughts on the long range issues of Talia.

    1. That’s a really interesting way to put it all together.

      I’m not 100% sure that you’re suggesting that Talia’s other personality was influencing her when she had the relationship with Ironheart, but if you are, there’s a fun implication. The hidden personality ended up acting against the interests of Psi Corps, because by pushing Talia towards Ironheart, it set up the circumstances which led to Mr. Superpsi slipping from Psi Corps’ grasp. I can only suppose that Talia2 must have been very grumpy after the events of Mind War.

      And actually: is Legacies the next major Talia appearance? If so, one can add another after-the-fact rationalization. The Psi-Corps-loyalist Talia of Legacies might be the result of Dark Talia working extra hard to influence Surface Talia h in response to losing Ironheart for the Corps.

      1. You’re right, that could be part of the conflict between Surface and Dark Talia. Since she does have that seed of doubt it is surprising she still pushes the party line so hard.

        Also, at the end of Season 2, A Race Through Dark Places Bester pauses before leaving Talia for his ship, almost as if he heard something and she responds with raised eyebrows. Is that him noticing an oddness in her behavior/mind, or is it the Dark Talia giving him a datadump of what happened and informing him that she is now implicitly trusted by the railway when it inevitably moves back to B5? If that is the case then leaving her in place and leaving the station without comment would serve in his best interests.

  5. Just listened to the episode and they were talking about how they didn’t quite believe that Jason wouldn’t see it. Detecting the personality would require a deep scan, deeper even than the one Bester and the other Psicop performed (that is a question though, did they notice it and are in on the conspiracy that put it there?). He may have had the power to do that but to put Talia through it, someone he loved and trusted, would have required a level of paranoia I just didn’t see in Jason.

    I just don’t see him having the need or desire to do that to here, even after he ascends. Especially if he does not even know such a thing may exist.

  6. As for the scans Kosh got of Talia in Deathwalker. I doubt they were for use against Talia in the futurem but human telepaths generally. By then Kosh new that the Shadows and the Psi Corp had made contact. The Shadows weaponizing the telepaths against the Vorlons, which they kind of tried to do in Season 3 Ship of Tears, could pose a threat. It is not clear if they were to be used only in a purely defensive capacity, protecting the shadow vessels from telepathic shutdown, or if they intended to use them offensively some way against the Vorlons directly.

    Either way, the human telepaths seemed to be allying with the Shadows and having an understanding of a baseline human telepath psyche would be useful in countering them. And it was still not clear if Lyta Alexander would ever make it back to the Vorlons at that point.

  7. Like several of you, I remember liking this one more than I actually like it now. I think that must be the excitement of seeing Koenig playing someone other than Chekov coloring my whole experience. He’s great, and Bester’s a fascinating character, even from this episode. I am going to check out that Psi-Corps trilogy of novels Bed mentioned above – thanks for that tip!

    I also really like the end scene with the ant. I wondered if it was JMS nodding to H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”: “It never was a war,” one character tells the narrator, “any more than there’s war between men and ants.” (Or maybe Lee and Kirby were following Wells first!)

  8. Some very intelligent conversations about this one.
    Personally, I didn’t like the A-plot of this episode, despite what it’s setting up.
    But after listening to the podcast, I feel better about it.

    I was too young to notice the hairpiece and bad dye job when this first came out but I did notice Bester’s pancake makeup is a little thick.

    With the cockpit scene and Sinclair and Winters sitting in an otherwise awesome centerpoint tram scene, this marks their first foray into the “Eh, screw it” attitude when it came to showing life in zero-G. I know that budget and probably schedule had a lot to do with it, but still.

    I had never locked onto how prescient G’Kar was being with his comment about people at B5 and how they appear. I always thought it was just a foppishly friendly warning to someone about the political machinations of the station and how it might affect her personal life with Sinclair.

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