"And yet, you're as much of a victim as my mother."
"I don't feel like a victim."
"No. And so far I cannot tell if that is good or bad."
- – Susan Ivanova to Talia Winters, 2258
Talia Winters was born in Vienna on Earth in 2233. Her telepathic abilities manifested at age five, and the law required that she be taken in by the Psi Corps to be raised and trained by them. She was tested for telekinesis, but her test results were negative. Upon her arrival, she had a difficult time adjusting to her new environment. She was assigned an older woman named Abby who served as a "big sister" to her, which greatly helped her adjust in that first year. As with most members, she became extremely loyal to the Psi Corps, unaware of its darker aspects. While training, she met and befriended Lyta Alexander. Their association lasted for about six months.
Later, at the Psi Corps Academy, Winters had a relationship with Jason Ironheart, one of her instructors. The two would share a deep bond for many years. Despite their connection, the Psi Corps placed her into an arranged marriage with Matthew Stoner, as they were a match likely to produce more powerful telepathic offspring. The marriage occurred quickly and she soon discovered she did not care for Stoner. Inexplicably, Stoner managed to find a way to leave the Corps. Once he did so, he disappeared and the marriage was annulled.
After leaving the Academy, she briefly worked with convicted criminals that were to have their minds and personalities wiped. She left that work after she had to scan a serial killer, something which haunted her for quite some time. She also worked briefly on Mars, where her duties included (among other things) scanning several Free Mars terrorists. She would later claim that all those she scanned were "violent fanatics."
In March 2253, while still on Mars, Winters became involved in an incident out on Syria Planum when she and others were used as test subjects in series of experiments conducted by Department Sigma following IPX's excavation of a Shadow Vessel beneath the permafrost. Though the encampment was all but destroyed, Winters survived and was later recovered by Sigma personnel before the scene was scrubbed of all evidence of their presence. After Syria Planum, Winters' memory was wiped and she was transferred to the sleeper program. After a series of deep scans and drug treatment, a new personality—one utterly loyal to the Corps—was created in her mind and submerged so deeply in her subconscious that not even a deep scan would detect it. There the personality—called "Control"—was to remain, silently watching, listening, spying and waiting.
In January 2258, in the wake of Laurel Takashima's reassignment, Winters was assigned to Babylon 5 as a replacement for Lyta Alexander as the station's resident commercial telepath, the station being without once since her predecessor having been recalled to Earth six weeks after she scanned the Vorlon ambassador Kosh Naranek.
In February 2258 Winters attempted three times to check in with the newly arrived Lt. Commander Ivanova, per Psi Corps regulations. Being unsuccessful, she went to find Ivanova at C'n'C, where Ivanova quickly dismissed her. Winters asked Michael Garibaldi for advice in approaching Ivanova. Garibaldi suggested meeting Ivanova at the casino after her shift, and invited Winters to his quarters to see his second favorite thing in the universe. Winters met Ivanova at the casino, where Ivanova apologized for her behavior and related the story of her mother's experiences as an unregistered telepath.
Winters acted as a mediator for the station as well as strictly commercially. She was part of the negotiations between the Narn Regime and the Centauri Republic as they finalized the Euphrates Treaty.
A Gift From Jason
Her former lover, Jason Ironheart, arrived on the station later in 2258. Affected by experiments done on him by the Psi Corps, he quickly became unstable and began to transform into a higher form of life. Winters helped him evade a pair of Psi Cops, Alfred Bester and Ms. Kelsey, long enough for his transformation to be completed. After his transformation, he secretly gave Winters the gift of telekinesis. Thanks to Sinclair, Winters was not reprimanded by Bester for her involvement.
In mid 2258, Winters was approached by Ambassador Kosh of the Vorlon Empire to mediate a series of talks with a strange being named Mr. Abbut. Upon discussing the offer with Kosh, Winters said she would assist but that there were a number of clearances to be obtained first, as well as the matter of Winters' fee for services. In response to her concerns, Kosh answered that all the details had already been arranged, including a generous payment. However, Winters was surprised when she realized Abbut's mind was completely blank. The talks confused her all the more, as Kosh and Abbut merely spoke in a series of riddles. During their final talk, she began to have flashbacks to a scan she had performed on the mind of a serial killer, a terrifying experience. Abbut removed a data crystal from his own brain and handed it to Kosh. The Vorlon cryptically responded to Winters' question regarding its contents. She sought out Garibaldi and Sinclair to ask them about it. Garibaldi explained that Abbut is a Vicker, a cyborg capable of recording thoughts, and that Kosh set her up to record the memories—but the reason for doing so was anyone's guess.
The Corps Takes Care Of Its Own
Later in the year, Winters met Alisa Beldon, an orphaned teenager living on her own on the station, when Alisa's latent telepathy suddenly emerged. Winters correctly guessed Alisa was a P10 and assumed it would be a simple matter for her to be sent back to Earth and the Psi Corps. Susan Ivanova made it clear that she had no intention of sending Alisa to the Corps, leading to more friction between the two. Alisa eventually left the station to become an envoy for the Minbari Federation with the hope she could help foster relations between humans and Minbari. Winters, while not agreeing with the decision, found she could respect it.
Soon afterwards, Mars became the site of a series of deadly riots. Winters was approached by Garibaldi, who was looking for a favor. At first she tried to rebuff him, annoyed at his almost uncanny ability to always be aboard the particular transport tube she needs to board, but he convinced her that his request for help was genuine. He explained that his ex-girlfriend, Lise Hampton, still lived on Mars. He had not spoken to her since he arrived on Babylon 5 and was worried about her safety. He surprised Winters when he explained he knew of the location of a secret Psi Corps facility on the planet. He asked her if she could find out via the facility whether Hampton was alive. Winters reluctantly agreed to help him. She privately contacted the location, but they refused to concede to her request for fear of exposing themselves. Winters was able to obtain independently a list of injured persons (Hampton was not named) and shared this information with Garibaldi.
Winters was ordered by Ombuds Wellington to perform a mindwipe on Karl Mueller. She only reluctantly agreed, as her experience at Mars Colony gave her pause. Sitting down for the pre-scan, she accidentally confirmed he had killed many times before. He was killed before the procedure.
On New Year's Eve, 2258, Garibaldi was shot in the back. He remained in critical condition for over three weeks but was eventually brought out of a coma. Hoping Winters could jog his memory, he asked her to scan him to try and determine who shot him. She does so, though she assured him that any result would be admissible. Winters was able to focus Garibaldi's memories and help him realize it was Jack, his own second-in-command who shot him.
A Mission From Thirteen
Soon thereafter, an old friend of Winters', Taro Isogi, comes aboard to conduct negotiations with Amanda Carter, a member of the Mars Provisional Government. Isogi, CEO of FutureCorp, has a plan to help Mars become both self-sustaining and politically independent of Earth. He hires Winters to moderate the negotiations. They start off well, despite doubts Winters herself voices to Isogi during a break. Unfortunately, Taro was brutally murdered by an assassin during the recess. Winters scanned the assassin, but detected no emotion or feeling at all—only a single memory which she had a hard time sorting out at first. She was placed under protective security, which finally gives Garibaldi a real excuse to spend time with her. Despite pained over Isogi's death, she does bond with Michael.
The assassin attacked her the following day, but after killing her guard, he stopped short when she scanned him and he wandered off. Again, she saw only the one memory, but this time she sensed that what she saw was the assassin's death. Her influence made the assassin's submerged personality begin to resist his cyborg programming. She managed to pull some hair off him during the incident, enough for security to confirm the assassin's identity as Abel Horn—whom Earthforce confirmed had been dead almost a year. Horn was able to lure Winters to him by having Amanda Carter invite Winters over. Once there, Abel begged Winters to explain what had happened to him. She scanned him again, again seeing his death, but also saw a different memory—Abel was "rebuilt" as a type of "cyber zombie," and a Psi Cop was involved in the process. Security stormed the room, rescuing Winters and Carter, but Horn explodes, destroying all evidence. Winters chose not to tell Captain Sheridan or Garibaldi about seeing the Psi Cop. Pulling up Psi Corps records privately, she sees that the woman in question is supposedly dead.
Soon afterwards, Winters received an unexpected (and unwelcome) surprise when her ex-husband, Matthew Stoner, arrived on the station. Stoner met with Winters, offering her a way to leave the Psi Corps. He explained that a way had been discovered to remove a person's telepathy permanently. Winters decided to accept and leave with him. She explained the situation to Garibaldi after he tried to warn Stoner away from her, explaining that she was tired of being a telepath and part of the Corps. Michael appealed to her to help him reveal a secret about Stoner—they trick him into revealing that he is in fact an empath, someone capable of influencing others to do what he wants. The Psi Corps stepped in and assumed jurisdiction once the station tried to file charges against him (for attempted escape). Captain Sheridan speculated that Stoner was sent to bring her back in the hopes that she would conceive another empath the Corps could use. Stoner made one last appeal for her to come back with him, but she turned him down flat.
"I'm tired of learning things about people I don't want to know. I'm tired of having them shrink away because of what I might find out. And I'm tired of being part of an organization that scares the hell out of me!"
- – Talia Winters
In March 2259, Psi Cop Bester returned to Babylon 5. He had become aware of an underground railroad operating through the station and came to shut it down. While meeting with Winters in the Zocalo, several rogue telepaths attack them, trying to kill Bester. Winters flees but is seized by some of the rogues. They take her into Downbelow, to the hiding place of the rogues moving through the station. At first she tries to talk them all into rejoining the Corps, but they patiently deny this as an option. One by one, they explained the horrors inflicted upon them by the Corps (one was raped, impregnated, and had the child stolen at birth; another had his brother murdered for speaking out against the Corps). One of them, a leader of sorts, explained that he endured the same experimentation that Jason Ironheart went through (though while his abilities were increased, to level P12 or above, they were still far below Ironheart's). The Lurker was aware of the "gift" Jason gave her, a gift that has only been growing with him.
Winters was swayed and agreed to help them. She meets the unofficial "conductor" of the railroad, none other than Dr. Stephen Franklin, and the two of them approach Captain Sheridan and explain what has happened. Sheridan agrees to turn a blind eye, allowing the rogues to escape, provided that the railroad shut down on the station. They agreed, but still had to deal with Bester. He found Winters with the rogues in Downbelow, and collectively the rogue telepaths were able to create a complex false memory in Bester (he saw Winters betray the rogues and the two of them shot all of them). The telepath lurker warned Winters that Bester could scan her and learn the truth, but Winters was confident that her growing powers were enough to block his casual scans. It worked, and Bester left the station without suspecting her.
In late 2259, Lyta Alexander learned of the Psi Corps sleeper program while hiding out with members of the Martian resistance. She found out that one of these sleepers was on Babylon 5, though she was unsure who it may have been. She discovered the password required to unlock this hidden personality and traveled to Babylon 5. Winters learned of her arrival on the station and, under the influence of the underlying personality, tried to kill her, but instead, killed one of her guards and severely wounded another. By chance, Winters later came to Sheridan's office where Alexander was trying her password out on all the command staff, unable to discover who the agent may have been. Winters walked into the room and Alexander probed her mind, unlocking the hidden personality.
With the hidden personality completely unlocked from the subconscious, Talia Winters was effectively dead. Control was then removed from B5 by station security, kept under house arrest, and then finally shipped back to Earth. Alfred Bester suggested later she had been studied and dissected, though this may have been a ruse to provoke Garibaldi.
Susan Ivanova was initially distrustful of Winters, much of her dislike was due to the constant reminder of the Psi Corps and what they had done to her mother, Sofie Ivanov. Ivanova blamed Psi Corps for her mother's suicide; her experience gave Winters her first opportunity to learn about the darker side of the Psi Corps. When she began helping telepaths on the underground railroad, Susan Ivanova began to develop a respect for her which, shortly before Winters' personality was wiped, became a romantic relationship. Before leaving Babylon 5, Control taunted Ivanova, claiming to have influenced Winters to get close to Ivanova and her secrets. Ivanova later admitted she thought she had loved Winters.
Within the Psi Corps, Winters had a passionate romance with Jason Ironheart as well as a failed marriage with Matthew Stoner.
Michael Garibaldi had a crush on Winters, despite considering her to be out of his league, and Winters rejected his advances.
- The recording of Winters' mind, or at least her greatest fears, made in the first-season episode "Deathwalker" was briefly referenced in her final episode. It was intended as a plot hook to enable the character of Talia Winters to return; however, for on- and off-screen reasons, this never occurred.
- The episodes "The Quality of Mercy" and "Passing Through Gethsemane" feature the notion of destroying a personality entirely, leaving the body intact. This is used in the Earth Alliance as a replacement for the death penalty for capital crimes; in this case the memories are also wiped and the process is carried out by a machine. The concept also sees use in "Z'ha'dum", where it is revealed that Anna Sheridan's personality has been destroyed and remade by the time she spent as the core of a Shadow Vessel, and in "The Face of the Enemy", which explicitly references the sleeper program. In the lattermost case, the Psi Corps specially modified the programming on Michael Garibaldi to avoid destroying the original personality.
- "Divided Loyalties" marks the culmination (and conclusion) of the Ivanova/Winters arc. JMS has said that the romantic undertones of their relationship (especially a moment when Winters rolls over in Ivanova's bed and is surprised to find her not there) were intentional.
- The reveal of Talia Winters as "Control" in "Divided Loyalties" poses a slight problem with continuity. Control, presumably the Control on Babylon 5 station, was first mentioned in "A Spider in the Web" as someone who was giving advice to Thirteen on whether Talia Winters poses a threat to the reprogrammed Abel Horn. Control suggested that Talia was to be eliminated not to jeopardise the main mission. It is unlikely that Control would suggest eliminating their own body that they shared with Talia Winters implying that originally Talia and Control were designed to be different characters. It also seems unlikely that Jason Ironheart that gave Talia a goodbye gift missed the presence of Control in her body.
- Andrea Thomson who portrayed Winters, was married to Jerry Doyle who portrayed Garibaldi from 1995 to 1997. They had one child.
- Across Time and Space: The Chronologies of Babylon 5
- Mind War
- A Spider in the Web
- Divided Loyalties
- Soul Mates
- Silent Enemies
- The Gathering
- Midnight on the Firing Line
- Born to the Purple
- A Voice in the Wilderness, Part I
- The Quality of Mercy
- A Race Through Dark Places
- Dust to Dust
|Main Characters (Babylon 5)|
|Commander Jeffrey Sinclair • Captain/President John Sheridan • Lt. Commander/Commander Susan Ivanova • Security Chief Michael Garibaldi • Ambassador Delenn • Dr. Stephen Franklin • Talia Winters • Lennier • Marcus Cole • Captain Elizabeth Lochley • Vir Cotto • Lieutenant Warren Keffer • Na'Toth • Security Chief Zack Allan • Lyta Alexander • Ambassador/Citizen G'Kar • Ambassador Londo Mollari|