Divided Loyalties

Background: in the inter-season break, the uk.media.tv.sf.babylon5 newsgroup has been running a weekly episode discussion; one person volunteers to post a synopsis and discussion of an episode, and the rest of the group comment, shoot down each other's theories, and so on. Hey, we have to do something while waiting for Season 4... This was my take on Divided Loyalties, posted on 26th June '97. It contains discussion of plot elements within Season 3, but not later than that.


Delenn and Sheridan meet as both are visiting the _Universe Today_ booth, to drop off yesterday's papers and collect their new personal copies. Delenn notes that the press does not exist as such on Minbar; people are told exactly what they need to know and no more, rather than encouraging them to pry into the affairs of others. She is asked if she will accept her copy of the paper despite the unavailability of the 'Eye on Minbari' section; she agrees and, seeing Sheridan's amused look, tells him that sometimes it is useful to know what the humans are saying about the Minbari. She finds it useful to hear things before she is told just what she needs to know.

Cut to Mars Colony. An injured man struggles along a sewer towards his contact -- a Ranger -- and hands over a data crystal. "Get it to Babylon 5." His contact escapes just ahead of pursuers; the injured man cannot carry on, and dies.


Sheridan and Garibaldi meet in the men's toilets and make small talk about trees until the area is clear. Garibaldi activates some kind of jamming device and the two discuss recruiting Talia Winters into their conspiracy. They decide that she would be a useful addition and Garibaldi says that he will arrange a meeting for a few days hence.

Meanwhile, Talia and Ivanova are having a meal together in the Zocalo. They're reminiscing about how long it has taken them to get to this point, each playfully accusing the other of having been the awkward one. Their banter is interrupted by Ivanova's link; it's Corwin asking her to come up to C&C. Ivanova stands up to leave, when Talia says that she's going to have to find somewhere to stay that evening; there's a problem with the air recycling in her quarters. Most of the accommodation on the station is, however, full; "I could try Brown Sector..." she ventures. Ivanova doesn't seem impressed by that idea, and invites Talia to come and stay in her quarters tonight. Talia is not especially hard to persuade, and Ivanova departs for C&C with a spring in her step.

The matter which Ivanova was summoned to deal with turns out to be a ship stationary outside B5; one lifeform aboard. Ivanova orders the ship to be brought in, and Garibaldi and Franklin go to the docking bay to see what's happening. Franklin's team bring the unconscious occupant out. Garibaldi glances down at the stretcher: "Wait, I know her - it's Lyta!"

Garibaldi has to explain who Lyta is to the rest of the command staff, none of whom were aboard when she was previously on Babylon 5. He describes how she had scanned Ambassador Kosh after he had been attacked (and we see a flashback to that scan), and discovered that Kosh had seen Commander Sinclair poison him. She and the doctor who operated on Kosh were both recalled to Earth; Garibaldi concludes, "After the scan, she was never quite the same again."

Lyta wakes up in Medlab, and Franklin tries to reassure her, but she is paranoid in the extreme; "I want to see everyone all together -- I don't want to be alone with any of you." Franklin, not unreasonably, asks why, and Lyta replies that someone on the station is a traitor, and that she can prove this accusation.

She's taken to Sheridan's office, and explains to Sheridan, Ivanova, Garibaldi & Franklin where she's been for the last two and a half years. The Psi Corps dragged her back to earth after her scan of the Vorlon, demanding to know what she'd seen in its mind; she tried to explain for two years but they would not believe that she'd seen very little, retaining only a feeling which she cannot describe. Six months ago she escaped the Corps and has been trying to get into Vorlon space ever since.

Lyta also tells them of a Psi Corps sleeper programme she heard about from the resistance movement on Mars, with whom she has become involved. The subjects of such a programme are taken in by the Corps and have an artificial personality constructed which sits at the back of their mind, watching and listening, and cannot be detected by ordinary scans. When a password is sent telepathically into the subject's mind, the artificial personality takes over and the original personality is completely destroyed. The personality is so deeply buried that the person carrying it won't even know that it's there. Lyta adds that several such sleepers have been planted in government agencies, including Babylon 5; the sleeper's code name is 'Control', and the resistance suspect that he or she may be on the command staff.

"I'm sorry, this is nuts," scoffs Ivanova.

Lyta says that she has the password for the Babylon 5 sleeper, and offers to send it to each member of the staff, one at a time. All she needs is a line of sight; they won't even have to know she's doing it. Sheridan tells her that they'll discuss it and let her know; he calls for two guards to take her to Holding. After her departure, Sheridan invites comments. "Does the phrase 'No way in hell' ring any bells?" snaps Ivanova.

Sheridan and Delenn meet in the garden, where Sheridan bemoans the way in which his day's going -- just when things had seemed to be going well, they have suddenly taken a turn for the worse. They discuss the etymology of the word 'butt', and Sheridan begins to seem more cheerful. Could it be because Delenn's hand is resting on his? Silence for a moment and then Sheridan is summoned back to C&C, while Delenn skips off.

In Sheridan's office, Garibaldi reports that he has been able to confirm most of Lyta's story, and he has a hunch that the remainder is true. Sheridan isn't completely convinced and reminds Garibaldi of his second-in-command, whom he also trusted, and who shot him in the back; perhaps he was the mole. Sheridan says that he wants to consider the situation overnight before making a decision; Garibaldi nods and asks if Ivanova has come around yet, and Sheridan tells him that she has not.

Ivanova is slamming doors in her compartment, obviously in a foul mood. Talia emerges from the bathroom and compliments Ivanova on her shower (she hasn't had a real water shower in several months; evidently the lesser classes of accommodation don't have them). While making them both some tea, Ivanova asks Talia if she knows a telepath called Lyta Alexander; Talia replies that she does, that they trained together for a time. Lyta interned with the Psi Corps, but decided that she didn't care for the work and transferred to become a commercial telepath. Ivanova asks if Talia feels that Lyta could be trusted, and Talia says that she believes she can. Ivanova sighs, and says that she doesn't know who she can trust any more. Talia tells Ivanova that she's the one person on the station that Talia trusts implicitly.

Garibaldi and Zack decide to transfer Lyta to a larger cell with a bed, so that she can get some sleep while the command staff discuss what should be done. 'Baldi notes that Zack is still wearing his Nightwatch armband. Zack just shrugs, it's easy money on top of his salary.

In Ivanova's quarters, Talia wakes up and reaches out ... where's Susan?

Lyta is dozing in the holding cell when the guards arrive to make the transfer. They walk down the corridor; suddenly, the lights go out and the emergency lights cut in. Someone -- a hand wearing a glove -- shoots at the guards, wounding both, and Lyta grabs a PPG to return fire before running off.

The unenviable task of reporting Lyta's disappearance falls to Garibaldi. Sheridan, who had been leaning towards believing Lyta to be wrong, is bemused - so few people knew Lyta was on the station that he cannot think who could have attacked her. Garibaldi notes that the sleeper personality might have been responsible. Sheridan says that he wants to let Lyta do the probes that she's asked for; Ivanova protests once again, but Sheridan points out that unless they know who can be trusted, they will not be able to work together.

Delenn is dictating a letter to the Lumati when a call comes in from Lyta, asking her for help. They arrange to meet in Brown sector in an hour's time.

Talia is waiting for Ivanova outside her quarters, explaining that she needs to pick up her things. She says that she woke up last night and Ivanova was gone; Ivanova replies that she needed some air. Talia asks if she wants to talk about what is bothering her, since something evidently is. Ivanova doesn't want to discuss what's the matter - she says that she's hidden things and that her secrets might soon come out. Talia reassures her that people will still care, but Ivanova remains unconvinced.

Delenn meets Sheridan in the Zocalo and tells him that she's heard from Lyta. The telepath is ready to return, but only if she can meet the entire staff together, to which Sheridan agrees.

Sheridan returns to his apartment, where Ivanova is waiting for him -- she knows his lock code. She reiterates that she cannot let Lyta or any other telepath into her mind. "I understand," starts Sheridan, but Ivanova cuts him off, as it's not true. She can shield herself from telepaths, and reveals that when she was younger and her mother was still alive, sometimes it was Ivanova who touched her mother's mind rather than vice versa -- Susan Ivanova is a latent telepath.

Sheridan asks why she didn't tell him before. Ivanova has spent her whole life hiding this, she explains, and notes that it's hard enough telling him now. She tells him of a childhood spent one step ahead of the Psi Corps, changing schools and moving; "My mother drilled three words into my head: Tell No One." She's probably not even a P1, she says, but that's enough for the Corps.

Sheridan tries to convince Ivanova that Lyta is no longer involved with the Corps; he believes Garibaldi, who rarely trusts anyone. Ivanova calms down slightly. "It's all this nonsense lately. Some days I don't even know who I am any more."

Flashback to Sheridan's dream from _All Alone In The Night_. Ivanova with a raven on her shoulder, a finger to her lips. "Do you know who I am?"

The command staff is assembled in Sheridan's office, and Delenn brings Lyta in. Sheridan says that the probes will start with him, as he can't expect anyone else to submit to the test if he has not; Lyta sends the password into his mind, and pronounces him clean. Franklin is the next to go, and is also untainted. Garibaldi hands his PPG over before submitting to the scan -- and reacts to it, covering his face and hunching over, before peeking out, completely normal. Sheridan threatens him with unspecified but dire consequences if he pulls that sort of stunt again. Lastly, Lyta looks at Ivanova, but Sheridan stops her and says that they're going to hold off on probing her for now; there are plenty of other people to see.

The parade of Babylon 5 staff through Sheridan's office begins, with Sheridan's excuses for wishing to see them becoming flimsier and flimsier (from a fairly pathetic start) and eventually petering out completely. Corwin and Zack are scanned and are clean, as is everyone else...

Everyone is tired and irritable, especially Lyta, who points out that the traitor is less and less likely to be found the further they go down the chain of command. She stares at Ivanova, and wonders what she's hiding. "I guess this isn't the best time to suggest we all join hands and sing 'Kum Ba Yah'?" suggests Garibaldi, to glares from all sides. Ivanova eventually agrees to submit to the probe and, after initially bouncing off Ivanova's shield, Lyta pronounces her clean. She tries to apologise to Ivanova, but the Commander is having none of it.

Talia arrives in Sheridan's office to ask him a question. Lyta takes the initiative and probes her mind, sending the password; Talia sags momentarily then grabs Garibaldi's gun, before Garibaldi holds her and disarms her. Guards drag her away to house arrest, as she screams "You blew my cover! You're dead! Do you hear me? You're dead! The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father! You're dead, Lyta Alexander! We'll find you! The Corps will find you!".

The command staff, rather shaken, discuss what Talia knows. Obviously she knows about the underground railroad of telepaths, and she would have known more had they taken her into their confidence. However, the Babylon 5 staff also know about the sleeper program, which the Psi Corps want to keep secret. Sheridan wonders if there is any way they can find out more? Garibaldi flashes back to Talia's work for Kosh in _Deathwalker_ and says that there may be ... he'll check.

Ivanova goes to see Talia, attempting to reach the old Talia if she is still hiding in new Talia's mind; Talia just laughs unpleasantly and states that the old Talia is completely gone. She describes what it was like as an implanted personality, lurking in the shadows of old Talia's mind; only able to come out at night, feeding her the words that would let her get closer to Ivanova, who believed everything. "You should see the look on your face ... my good and dear friend Susan." "You're right," Ivanova agrees. "The Talia I knew is dead." She leaves, deeply hurt.

Lyta visits Kosh's quarters before leaving the station. She tells him that she has kept the memory of him in a secret corner of her mind, only bringing it out late at night when she was quite alone -- that she never told the Corps anything. "I want to see you again," she says, "just one last time before I go." Kosh's encounter suit opens ... is that a halo? Is that the flapping of wings?


Questions, thoughts, and such:

How did Lyta get the password for Babylon 5's mole? Either the resistance have someone well-placed within Psi Corps or Lyta knows more than she is letting on -- after all, she did intern with the Corps.

We know now what Lyta saw when Kosh opened his suit to her, after _The Fall Of Night_. Presumably she saw Kosh in his humanoid form, just as Sheridan does. She seems to see a halo, however, which Sheridan does not.

Lyta has been permanently changed by her contact with Kosh in _The Gathering_ -- and we'll see her changed more when she returns from Vorlon space in the third season. Will her adoration for Kosh change the way she deals with humans?

How did Talia know that Lyta was on the station? It seems likely that her sleeper personality picked it up from Ivanova's mind, while Ivanova slept. As for how Talia knew that Lyta was being transferred at the relevant time, this is more difficult, since we never see that Ivanova knows of the transfer. Of course, we also don't know that the shots were actually fired by Talia. During _A Spider In The Web_ we find out that Bureau 13 -- who may or may not be behind Control -- have broken the security on Babylon 5, so Talia's sleeper personality may just have used that knowledge to find out what she could, and seized the opportunity.

Talia does, of course, have another side to her personality already; she has the mental gift that Jason Ironheart gave her in _Mind War_. Whether that gift survived the destruction of Talia's personality is a question as yet unanswered.

Talia was shipped off the station as soon as possible, and Bester alleges in _Dust to Dust_ that she was 'dissected'. Whether this is true or mere hyperbole to annoy the B5 staff, it does not seem likely that Talia will reappear. So what, if anything, will Garibaldi do with Kosh's data crystal?

Talia struck me as trying too hard to impress Ivanova. This could be a consequence of the rushing along of their relationship, or it could be the sleeper personality being a touch heavy-handed in its seduction.

We could really have done with a bit more of a build up of Talia and Ivanova's relationship, but I presume this was precipitated by Andrea Thompson's decision to leave the series; compare this with the to-ing and fro-ing that has been going on between Ivanova and Marcus, and yet they've still not got anywhere near as far as she and Talia.

Ivanova has had to reveal her status as a latent telepath, which meant breaking down barriers that had been built over many years. It might, therefore, be easier to tell the next person who needs to know. And 'needs to know' is right; keeping that sort of secret from one's commanding officer is hardly appropriate, though probably necessary in the light of the way in which the Psi Corps operate. If Ivanova's status were to be revealed, she'd lose all that she'd worked for in her military career, and have to start over in the Corps. Since she's not a strong telepath (she believes), she'd be unlikely to rise very high in the Corps, leaving aside any political considerations such as the way in which she'd hidden her talent for so long.

Ivanova was obviously deeply affected by Talia's betrayal, although it was not really Talia's fault. When asked to confess a secret, in _Ceremonies of Light and Dark_, she tells Delenn that she thinks she loved Talia. Poor ol' Susan is not having much luck with her lovelife; first her ex-boyfriend turned out to be involved with the Home Guard in _The War Prayer_, and now her girlfriend is exposed as a traitor. Some years you just can't win.

Sheridan and Delenn are becoming closer (and if I never have to see Delenn skipping away like a schoolgirl again, I'll be happy). He's turning to her for support -- to be fair, who else would he turn to? His relationship with Ivanova is as fellow officers and friends only, and he has no emotional attachments on station. Delenn's reasons for turning to Sheridan are broadly similar; she's no longer a member of the Grey Council, hence feeling isolated, and she doesn't have anyone else to turn to on the station except possibly Lennier.

This episode certainly increased the paranoia level of the command staff; they came so close to giving themselves away to the Psi Corps. Sheridan tried to persuade Ivanova to be probed by pointing out that they needed to be able to trust one another, but they've not really achieved that; all they're sure of now is that none of the Earthforce people on station respond to that particular password. Still, it's a start.

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