Commercial Telepath Psi-Corps Talia Winters
Talia Winters is a fictional character appearing on the science fiction television show Babylon 5 during its first and second seasons. She was portrayed by actress Andrea Thompson.
Ms. Winters was a licensed, commercial telepath from Earth and a member of the Psi Corps organization. She was assigned to the Earth space station Babylon 5 in the year 2258 to serve as its second resident commercial telepath. Like all Psi Corps members, Winters’ telepathic ability was numbered according to ability; Winters was classified as a P5, the level of most commercial telepaths. Typically, commercial telepaths were assigned to help two or more business parties broker deals, by monitoring their honesty during business negotiations.
Talia Winters’s telepathic abilities manifested at age five. As required by law, her parents immediately sent her to be raised, educated, and trained in her gifts by the Psi Corps. An advanced telepath named Abby eased the frightened girl’s transition during her first year. During this time Talia was also tested for telekinesis, but was disappointed to learn that she did not have enough to move even a penny. Over the years, Ms. Winters developed a strong loyalty to Psi Corps (in contrast to a possible grandparent, a rogue telepath named Jenny Winters, mentioned in the book Dark Genesis, by J. Gregory Keyes, as being captured by Psi Cops in 2189, but spared the ‘re-education’ camps by direct order of then Psi Corps Director Kevin Vacit, and enrolled in the Psi Corps Academy instead), and accepted an internship in the commercial telepath division. During this internship, she met and befriended Lyta Alexander, another P5 telepath who had transferred out of the Psi-Cop division.
Winters was involved in at least two romantic relationships during her years in the Psi Corps Academy. One was with Matthew Stoner, an advanced telepath who mentored her during her academic career. Winters and Stoner were quickly married after the Corps determined that the couple was likely to produce equally or more powerful telepathic offspring. Their union was annulled after Stoner left the Corps under mysterious circumstances; by this time Winters had learned for herself that they were not compatible. The other relationship was with Jason Ironheart, an instructor who later volunteered for genetic experimentation.
After completing her education, Winters entered the workforce as a commercial telepath. It was during this period that she met and befriended a businessman named Taro Isogi, who became a father-figure to her. She also took on occasional work in trial cases, scanning the minds of convicted criminals before their personalities were wiped and reprogrammed. The most terrifying experience of her life came when she had to scan a serial killer – the experience haunted her for years afterwards and made her reluctant to pursue criminal work despite the high demand for telepaths.
Sometime before being stationed on Babylon 5, Winters was modified by Psi Corps to carry a hidden personality (a vague picture in one of the Babylon 5 comic books alludes to this manipulation, apparently taking place at Psi Corps headquarters on Mars using Shadow technology). This personality was hidden so deeply that it couldn’t even show up on deep scans; Winters herself was unaware of its existence. The sleeper could only assert control over the original if it perceived a threat to its existence – however, Winters would not remember any defensive actions the personality had taken. The Psi Corps intended to use this hidden personality as a spy until a password was sent via telepathic link directly into Talia’s mind. Once this took place, her original personality would be destroyed and the sleeper would take permanent control.
In 2258, Talia Winters arrived on Babylon 5 as its second resident commercial telepath. Her work on the station repeatedly brought her into contact with the command staff. Both of the station’s commanding officers (Commander Jeffrey Sinclair and Captain John Sheridan) considered her a valuable ally despite her strong loyalty to Psi Corps. Security Chief Michael Garibaldi, who harbored a not-so-secret crush on Winters, was in frequent contact with her. Garibaldi would routinely flirt with her and show up in the stations’ transport tubes just when she was about to board them. Although annoyed by his unsubtle advances, Winters remained friendly with him and used her Psi Corps connections to help him contact his former lover, Lise Hampton, during the riots on the Mars colony.
Talia Winters’s most complicated relationship was with Susan Ivanova, the station’s second-in-command. Initially, Ivanova was hostile to Winters’ arrival and refused to acknowledge her presence. She quickly discovered that Ivanova’s mother was a telepath who, rather than joining the Corps and leaving her family, submitted to a decade’s worth of drug injections which dampened her spirit along with her abilities. Ivanova blamed Psi Corps for her mother’s suicide; her experience gave Talia her first opportunity to learn about the darker side of the Psi Corps.
Also in 2258, Jason Ironheart arrived on the station in secret while on the run from the Psi Corps. The experiments he had participated in had strengthened his abilities to the point where he could telekinetically manipulate matter at the subatomic level. Ironheart gave his lover two gifts as he transformed into a being of pure energy: her own minor telekinetic abilities, substantially less powerful (and therefore less dangerous) than Ironheart’s, and the ability to block the scans of P12 (the highest rated) telepaths. Winters put these new abilities to use the following year when Psi Cop Al Bester came to Babylon 5 to stop an underground railroad that Ironheart had set up for runaway telepaths. Her experience with the fugitive telepaths finally made her aware of how corrupt the Psi Corps had become. It was this epiphany that finally dissolved the tension between herself and Susan Ivanova; from that point on, the two women developed a mutual respect which later blossomed into a friendship.
In 2259, dissident telepath Lyta Alexander learned of the Psi Corps sleeper program while hiding out with members of the Mars rebellion. Although she knew one such sleeper had been sent to Babylon 5 to spy on its command staff, she did not know the identity of the spy. Lyta traveled to Babylon 5 with the password that would activate the hidden personality. With the permission of Captain John Sheridan, Lyta sent the password into the minds of individuals among and close to the command staff. When she sent the password into Winters’ mind, the hidden personality took full control of her psyche, effectively killing the Talia Winters that everyone had come to know.
Talia became hostile and returned to Earth after the hidden personality took over. There were concerns among the stations’ command staff over how much inside knowledge this new Ms. Winters could use against them. By that time, they had become convinced that then Vice President Clark had assassinated his predecessor with help from outsiders so he could assume the presidency, and they were clandestinely gathering evidence to that effect and making sure it got passed along to members of the military who felt the same, and who could discreetly get it to the right hands. The staff had just agreed to bring Talia in on the operation, and were on the verge of doing so when Lyta had arrived to inform them of the sleeper. Garibaldi himself had mused that if Lyta had come one week later, they’d all be standing in front of a summary court martial board, if not worse.
Psi Cop Bester hinted that she was dissected after arriving back on Earth:
“ We learned some interesting things about Ms Winters in the course of her debriefing and dissect– that is, examination. ”
Whether this was the truth or merely an attempt to anger her friends is left ambiguous.