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I just watched "A Spider In The Web" again and it's spawned tons of thoughts about the whole issue of "Control."

At the point of the writing and production of "Spider," was jms definitely planning on Talia being control? With "Spider" being so early in the season, would Andrea have told jms by then that she wanted out of the show that early? I was always under the impression that shifting the "Control" identity to Talia was something done solely because Andrea wanted out. However, I was reading some of the "jms speaks" section for "Divided Loyalties" on the Lurker's Guide and at one point jms said:

When Laurel went away, I took that one thread and passed it along to Talia, setting it up as early as the very first episode, when Talia and Ivanova first meet, and later reluctantly have a drink.

At one point, Ivanova says to Talia, referencing Ivanova's mother, "You're as much of a victim as she was." To which Talia replies, "I don't feel like a victim." And, of course, that's exactly what she was, though she didn't know it yet. Ivanova's analysis was 100% correct.

So, if Talia being "Control" was set up as something ever since "Midnight On The Firing Line," and at that point Talia was planned to be the permanent replacement for Lyta Alexander, was Talia originally going to survive having the "Control" subplanted personality?

If at the point of "A Spider In The Web," Talia wasn't going to be "Control," who was? We were told in "Divided Loyalties" that "Control" had a sense of self-preservation, however in "Spider" the PsiCop of Bureau 13 told "Control" to eliminate Talia. How exactly would "Control" have eliminated Talia yet preserved itself? It couldn't kill Talia without killing itself. Also, it couldn't use the telepathic password to assume complete control over Talia's body on itself as the password had to be delivered into the mind of the person that had "Control." What other methods are available that "Control" could have used to eliminate Talia yet preserve itself? Or is having been told by Bureau 13 to eliminate Talia something "Control" would do even at the expense of itself?

Another point I found interesting that I hadn't considered before I came across while reading the Lurker's Guide page for "Divided Loyalties" in the "Analysis" section:

Another possibility is that Talia wasn't destroyed, that Ironheart's gift allowed her to prevent Control from taking over, but she's playing along as a means of continuing her own investigation into what's going on with Psi-Corps (cf. "Spider in the Web.")

This would be a fairly interesting direction for Talia's character to go. What if she really is still in control of herself and "Control" didn't truly take over? It would seem feasible that after all Talia experienced over the PsiCorps in "Mind War," "A Spider In The Web," "A Race Through Dark Places," and "Divided Loyalties," that she would set herself up as a mole in order to learn more about PsiCorps's black projects and to work in resistance against the Corps. I personally would love for this to be the case because the loss of Talia is something that makes me sad because I know that there were plans for her character to go elsewhere in the story and that were cut short with Andrea's leaving.
JMS always kept his options open as long as he could, and generally had multiple possible uses for story elements and characters, because he knew that writing the show in "real time" and being unable to go back and edit already completed "chapters" made him vulnerable to real-world events like actors quitting, not working out, or even (Heaven forbid) becoming seriously ill or dying.

Thus he considered having Keffer or Garibaldi be the character to lose a wife or lover to the Shadows in S2 (before he decided to add a "Sheridan like" character to the mix for S2, and eventually use that character to replace Sinclair outright.) He kept "Control" ambiguous and ill-defined (was there only one "Control" or was there one "Control" on B5 and another on Earth?) even while he continually foreshadowed Talia's dual-personality throughout the first two seasons. (She was often photographed in close proximity to mirrors and given lines like the one at the top of this page about the things that "live inside us" for a reason.) But at the same time he left open the possibility that a) Control and Talia's hidden personality were not the same thing and b) someone else was Control whether "Control" meant both the order-giver and the artificial personality or not. (It wasn't until he actually pulled the trigger on the idea to get rid of Talia that all the possibilities collapsed into one reality and Control was revealed to be the artificial personality.)

Until he actually used the Artificial personality, JMS could keep it handy as a way to get rid of some other characters/actors if the need arose. If Jerry Doyle, rather than Andrea Thompson, had decided to quit early on, Garibaldi could have been revealed as Control or as having the AP or both.

In the event I think JMS intended to have Talia "turn" and put the Sheridan's conspiracy at risk, but ultimate be rescued not by Jason Ironheart's "gift" per se but by the recording of her thoughts that Kosh had had made in "The Parliament of Dreams" back in S1. Ironheart's alterations may have made it easier or even made it possible for Talia to be restored by this method, but I don't think they could have enabled Talia to overcome the emergence of the AP by herself. The act of restoration itself may be what would have set Talia up for relationship with Kosh that was necessary for S4 and the station teep's eventual role in S5 and beyond.

I can't think of any other reason for that damned data crystal to have existed, and since it was mentioned only once and then quietly dropped after Andrea left I think it likely that it was part of a plotline that only made sense with Talia and which could not apply more broadly to the telepath situation.


Thus he considered having Keffer or Garibaldi be the character to lose a wife or lover to the Shadows in S2....

I was never aware that that was a character direction he thought of. It would have had considerably interesting ramifications if it had gone in that direction. I had always assumed that it would have been Caroline/Catherine that would have been lost to the Shadows before the Sheridan-like character was dreamed up in order to tie Sinclair to that plotline. That he left himself many such directions he could take the story truly intrigues me as it takes much skill to write compellingly and epically yet leave plenty of wiggle-room, in my opinion.

...but by the recording of her thoughts that Kosh had had made in "The Parliament of Dreams" back in S1.

I have always assumed that the data crystal that Abbut made of Talia for Kosh would be the way that Control could be purged and Talia restored, espcially since the making of the crystal involved Kosh and was kept by Kosh and Talia was going to become close to the Vorlons since Lyta's character wasn't there to do so. However, in Jane Killick's episode guide, for "Deathwalker" there is a point that says:

The whole matter of the data crystal is dispensed with in Season Two's "Divided Loyalties," when Talia is revealed to be a spy. Garibaldi says it may be useful to protect them from Talia's uncovered personality, but it does little more than tie up loose ends. It may have something to do with Joe Straczynski's dislike of the Talia Winters subplot in "Deathwalker." "That one was a Larry construct that I really wasn't that happy with," he says. "I didn't care for the Vicker. I wasn't sure I wanted that technology in my universe, and after it was put in, I thought, 'I'm never going to see this ever again' -- they all died!"

At first reading of this, I thought jms might have just not been pleased with the execution of the VCR character, but then he brings up the pure existance of technology like the VCR being in the universe he was creating which makes it seem as if he disliked the whole idea of Abbut being able to record Talia's mind. So, is his comment about never going to see this again strictly dealing with not really wanting the VCRs to have a place in the B5 universe or was it a comment about the whole situation including the crystal? I assume the former, but in order to bring the crystal back into play in order to use it to restore Talia from the ruination of "Control" and keep the theorectical episode in which it would happen a self-sufficient story, wouldn't mentioning the VCR again be required?

Ironheart's alterations may have made it easier or even made it possible for Talia to be restored by this method, but I don't think they could have enabled Talia to overcome the emergence of the AP by herself.

With little P5 Talia being able to keep Bester from pscanning her after the stunt that she and the other telepaths pulled on him in "A Race Through Dark Places," I think it might be feasible for Talia to have been able to fend off "Control" completely by herself thanks to the upgrade Ironheart gave her. I could see it as being explained that way, if it had happened, and not being illogical or unreasonable. I could also see it being that Talia being able to fend off "Control" independently as something that would seriously catch Kosh's attention allowing for Talia and the Vorlons to come together. But I could also see Kosh using the data crystal to restore Talia after her demise from "Control" as being workable too.

I think I personally enjoy the thought of Talia being able to fend off "Control" herself and setting herself up as a mole within PsiCorps a lot because I enjoy Andrea's performances and the director's execution of Talia scenes in "Mind War," "A Spider In The Web," and "A Race Through Dark Places" a great deal. I used to love Lyta and not like Talia much at all, but with the advent of the seasons on DVD, I've come to enjoy Talia a lot more while simultaneously loving Lyta too.
It appears likely... that compared to Talia, the artificial personality might not immediately have equal command of Ironheart's gift.

I suspect this because while hidden, the artificial personality must have remained less active than Talia's real personality. It seems probable that it would have received less opportunity to learn.

Moreover, if Ironheart's gift had any feature producing the effect of access restriction... the artificial personality might not be capable of successfully using the gift.

While I cannot answer the hypothetical question of whether a human mind might *very theoretically* support internal encryption... there might be a possibility that memories relevant to using the gift might be readable only for Talia, and gibberish to anyone else.

It sort of depends on how deeply intertwined one imagines the two personalities to be. Which is nice for speculation... but answering would require much better knowledge of human mind... and existence of telepathy like in B5. :)


Regarding usefulness for defense... the relevance of Ironheart's gift is unclear. Much would depend on whether it was limited to affecting matter... or whether it included new abilities of manipulating information.

If it was a physical enhancement to the brain, allowing thought to affect matter... I suspect that in combating another personality occupying the same brain... it would be close to useless.
I always interpreted Ironheart's gift to be one of more internal self-awareness than pure strength. That is, I saw it as allowing Talia to better understand herself and access more of her abilities, rather than simply an "amplifier" added on to the end of her abilities.

In part, I was considering that this gift was given by one who knew her well, and one who could also "see into" people to an unprecedented degree.

If that were the case, I could easily see JMS in this "alternate universe" showing that her self-awareness tipped Talia off to the existance of the "sleeper personality" and thus taking measures to ensur that it lacked the ability to take her over. In other words, much like VL, I saw the Ironheart-induced abilities as key, and the personality recording had some other meaning (if any meaning at all) in JMS's plan for the resolution of this crisis. Just a guess, though. There is s much involved in the various possible plotlines that even JMS had to find it difficult to keep them all straight, especially those that went unneeded as time passed.
When you mentioned "intertwined personalities" it got me thinking...

Maybe the reason that Talia was able to accept Ironheart's gift is because they had been lovers in the past - and THIER personalities were somehow intertwined. Since Ironheart's relationship was with the real Talia and not the artificial personality (which I assume was created after Talia's affair with Ironheart) then the artificial personality may not have access to the memories or to that part of Talia's soul that Ironheart touched years before. It may have been because there was some of Jason in Talia that she was able to receive and use his gift at all - and that part of her mind may well be restricted to the artificial personality.
Memory itself... I believe could be read. At least, I cannot figure out a convenient excuse (aside from data being erased) for memories and experiences to be unredable for the Corps -- either via the artificial personality or another telepath.

However, from my viewpoint... there appears to exist another aspect -- making sense of what you read. Lacking any notable theoretic knowledge about human mind... I cannot present a biological example. I would instead construct an example to clarify my point... on computer viruses.


Of computer viruses, the most carefully written are polymorphic and self-encrypting. By capturing a copy from permanent storage, one can easily obtain the encrypted form of the virus. However, one cannot easily see inside.

For that, the virus must be allowed to run step-by-step in a virtual machine. Unless it detects that it is being debugged... it will decrypt itself and run, revealing to an observer how it works.

Of course... encryption applied to oneself inside a biological brain... is probably plain impossible. Much easier for computers. Even if we could mess with the thoughts of another human... making sense of our own thoughts would probably be *much* tougher.

While I would imagine that a Vorlon or Shadow could play most imaginable games with their own mind... I rather doubt a Human, regardless of telepathy, could.

At which point, enter the Ironheart factor. To change onself in directed fashion, without shattering apart... one must perceive onself. Perhaps in addition to seeing through others, Ironheart managed to make sense of his own thoughts?

Telekinetics already existed. Perhaps mostly insane... but nothing new. Perhaps telekinesis was *not* the ability he gave Talia... but merely a side effect? In that case, one cannot exclude Talia being able to understand things which the artificial personality would make no sense of.

If indeed, the artificial personality overtook control... there might be possible a situation where to gain the information, the Corps would have to restart the program called "Talia". Because an external telepath, or the program called "Control"... might be incapable of decrypting Talia to extract the desired skill.


Virus analysis is usually done in a virtual machine, over which the observer has full control. For Psi-Corps, that may be the stumbling block... because I doubt they could build a virtual machine compatible with human mind.

In the world of B5... only several centuries later ("Deconstruction of Falling Stars") does a computing environment capable of this appear in Human possession. And even then, it is not secure. A certain program called "Garibaldi" finds a security hole, using the real machine to achieve what he deems useful.

In case of Talia... a similar situation might arise. The program called "Talia" might have to run... probably in her own computer. Once awake... if she would possess the relevant abilities... she migth also have the option of using them for defense.
I always interpreted Ironheart's gift to be one of more internal self-awareness than pure strength.

I disagree, especially looking at Talia's story as it was developing in light of what we know about Lyta's journey. The station telepath's role is the only character substitution where there really is something close to a one-to-one correspodence between the different people who filled that function in the story. I don't see some kind of "insight" producing either Talia's incipient telekinesis or her ability (in concert with the rogue teeps) to plant a false memory in Bester's mind - much less the sort of "thermo-teep" activity we see from Lyta in S5. (Nor, honestly, do I see anything in "Mind War" that explicitly supports such an idea and much that supports the notion that the idea that of Ironhearts having made a physical change in Talia, an event that could take the place of Lyta's "mind meld" with Kosh in her arc.)


See I was under the impression that Jason unlocked/enhanced something in Talia, basically kicked her psionic powers into high gear - made her more powerful than a P12 , and after hearing the rumors about the Lyta arc being passed to her and then back again I totally believe that it was JMS' method to help Talia on the way to becoming a 'weapon' the way that Lyta was eventually modified.
...much that supports the notion that the idea that of Ironhearts having made a physical change in Talia...

I actually never put much thought into how Ironheart brought about the change in Talia until you said this. But thinking about it, it makes sense that he used his abilites to change the way Talia's brain actually worked considering his problem with what the PsiCorps wanted to develop a stable telekinetic was that they wanted someone capable of manipulating the small biological constructs within a person.

It's idea that jms must like because he had a character in Rising Stars that possessed the ability to telekinetically manipulate the small things who was known for being an assassin.
See I was under the impression that Jason unlocked/enhanced something in Talia, basically kicked her psionic powers into high gear - made her more powerful than a P12...

I think Ironheart started a process that would gradually get Talia to the point you describe - just as the Vorlons started a process with Lyta that would still leave her learning about and developing her powers well into S5. But I don't think he threw some kind of switch and instantly turned Talia into a P-15 or whatever.

I think with Lyta the sequence went 1) probe Kosh which established bond and/or triggered latent powers in and of itself 2) Become aide to Kosh 3) Get physically modified to breathe methane and to carry Vorlon conciousness 4) Get programmed as Vorlon superweapon and/or get physically modified to be one depending on whether or not "first contact" with Kosh was supposed to have started the process.

With Talia JMS needed to do two things - enhance her powers and get her hooked up with the Vorlons. But there was no compelling reason for the Vorlons to take an interest in Talia - she just happened to be the commercial teep assigned to the station and no more or less important or potentially useful than any other Human teep. (Albeit from an important teep bloodline, although that can be see as something added "after the fact" in the Psi Corps books.) So with her I would guess the sequence went 1) Ironheart "plants the seed" of her increased powers, which start to develop 2) Kosh somehow pics up on this, makes VCR recording and starts monitoring her 3) "Control" is triggered and nearly destroys Sheridan's conspiracy 4) Kosh uses recording to restore the "original" Talia. 5) Talia now goes to work for Kosh, who modifies her a la Lyta and programs her in the same way. It is an open question whether her eventual powers would be purely the result of Ironheart's "gift" or further Vorlon manipulation.

I suspect that in both cases an outside force activates a latent power the Vorlons planted in all teeps, and which has been concentrated in the Alexander and Winters bloodlines, and which nobody (including the Vorlons) knew how to "switch on" deliberately, and that nobody knew was quite "ready". In Lyta's case it was the mind-to-mind contact with the drugged (and vulnerable) Kosh, in Talia's it is Ironheart's attempt to enhance Talia's abilities and give her a touch of telekinesis - which touches off a chain-reaction of escalating power that he himself probably never intended.

The reason I think the idea of an initial trigger is important is that if the Vorlons did all the modifications to both telepaths, there was no need to even have Jason Ironheart in the story. (Except as an illustration of how far TP and TK could be pushed.) There were other ways to get the Vorlons interested in Talia, and then they could have modified her as they did Lyta, and hired her as Kosh's aide. The fact that Talia required a special non-Vorlon trigger for her future powers suggests that they wouldn't be provided/explained by what the Vorlons did later - which also suggests that Lyta's powers were meant to originate before her journey to the Vorlon homeworld. Her scan of Kosh in The Gathering is the only event that is unique to Lyta's character and could not (plausibly) be grafted onto Talia that fits the bill.


I realize it isn't canon, but in the book Voices (I think it was Voices) there was actually a cool part where Kosh continues his "playing" with Talia as an extension of Deathwalker.

<minor spoilers>

Where he had Talia scan Abbut and find nothing, Kosh had Talia (while in a jail cell, IIRC) scan nothing, and sense SOMETHING.

A cool little part of an otherwise horrid book.


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