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The Essential Sentinel

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What is an "essential" episode? It's an episode that has contributed something so significant to the fandom that it ought to be required viewing. It's an episode that would be recommended to a new fans in order for them to understand why TS is so special, and why it generates such loyalty. It's an episode beloved by old fans—one that's worth seeing over again; either to laugh out loud, sniffle or roll our eyes. It's an episode that lasted only 40 minutes, but can be discussed for years.

So, how did we decide on these? Each episode will include many, and sometimes all, of these elements:
Ø It explains sentinels; either the senses or the mythology
Ø It's a great example of sentinel powers or pitfalls
Ø It provides backstory for the characters; it makes them three-dimensional
Ø It introduces memorable, influential villains or minor characters
Ø It advances the relationship between the major characters
Ø It provided memorable sound bytes
Ø It's the source of a lot of fanfic; in other words it's captured the imagination of our writers

We settled on 25 episodes. Considering there were only 64 made, that's a pretty good percentage of memorable, significant story-telling. We hope you enjoy this as much as we have.


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Most of the time, a show has to grab us right from the get-go, or else we're ready to flip to another channel.  Even in 1996 this was true; much more so for a mid-season replacement show airing on UPN, which was not one of the big network stations.  I was fortunate to see the pilot as my first episode, even though I'd been reading fanfic for a while.  I've got to say that the creators of the show hit a home run.  Because the pilot is longer than a regular episode and there's so much packed into it, I'll have to skip some details.  Watch the episode—it is awesomely good.



We start five years before present day, where the Army has discovered debris from a crashed helicopter in a remote Peruvian jungle.  A team of eight Rangers (an elite section of the Army) was in the 'copter, which disappeared 18 months before with everyone presumed dead.  The S&R team sent in to investigate has found seven graves.  They are quickly and efficiently surrounded by local tribesmen (the Chopec) and are greeted by a tall hunk of man dressed in camouflage gear with tribal markings on his muscular arms.  The man has noticed the Special Forces patch on one soldier's uniform and introduces himself as Captain James Ellison, the leader of the team.  He further informs them that he has continued the original mission for the entire time, using the Chopec to help him.  The soldiers look at him with some skepticism, since he seems a little intense.  He also seems to be exhibiting what is later described as hallucinatory behavior—hearing things that are not there as an example.  In any event, it's obvious that this mission is over.


Cut to present day Cascade (read Seattle), Washington.  In five short years, Ellison is now a senior detective in the Major Crime division of the Cascade Police Department.  He's also currently the lead investigator in a serial bombing case that is holding the city at bay.  Captain Simon Banks, Jim's boss, is briefing a task force about the situation.  The bomber has singled Jim out for taunting, through anonymous emails signed "The Switchman".  At this time we are also introduced to the head of the Technical Division, Carolyn Plummer.  We further learn that Jim runs his investigations "in his own way".  As a result, he's been staking out a likely location around the clock for a week. 


The next scene sets the tone for the show.  Jim, on stakeout, is alerted to the arrival of the perp.  He and the team go in and are almost trapped there, except for Jim's quick realization that a bomb is about to explode.  No loss of life, but there's a spectacular explosion and the entire warehouse disintegrates.  The perp, who was hiding in the cellar, leaves via motorcycle and Jim tries but fails to apprehend him.   Complicating things is the fact that Jim has been experiencing what could be described as hallucinatory behavior (sound familiar?) He hears, sees and smells things at the site that no one else does. 


Cut to Simon's office where Jim enters, looking like something the cat dragged in. He requests a leave of absence, which Simon objects to because he's under so much pressure to solve the case.  Jim tells Simon that he needs to see doctors to figure out what's wrong.  Simon doesn't like it but doesn't have a choice.  On a side note, out of all the scenes in the show, this one, with Jim sitting in a chair looking so defeated and lost, is one of the most poignant.  He's obviously a warrior who takes his job seriously and something is preventing him from doing it.  The weight of responsibility, as well as the fear from loss of control is evident.


Cut to a restaurant where Jim (cleaned up and looking dashing) is having dinner with Carolyn Plummer.  We learn they were once married and are now on equitable terms.  He quickly figures out that she's there at Simon's bidding to try to get him to return to work.  They fight and some of their issues get brought up.  Then he tastes his food and reacts as if he's been poisoned.  Carolyn eats some herself, with no ill effects, and advises him to get some help. 


Which he does.  In the next scene we're in a hospital examination room, where we get a great shot of Jim's naked chest right before he dons a shirt.  A squirrely-acting doctor walks in and explains that modern medicine can't help him, gives Jim a business card and leaves. Jim's annoyed and a little confused. Another doctor comes in and says they can't find anything wrong with Jim.  Guess where Jim is going next? 


To Rainier University, where the squirrely guy turns out to be Blair Sandburg, an anthropologist working on his PhD in none other than the study of people with heightened senses.  He believes that Jim is the personification of what he's hoping to find: someone with all five senses enhanced—something he terms a "sentinel".  (Catchy name for a show, eh?) He offers to help Jim figure the sentinel stuff out in exchange for writing his doctoral dissertation about Jim.  In his excitement and eagerness to sell himself, Blair only ends up confusing and then pissing Jim off.  In a scene universally beloved and oft-quoted, Jim grabs Blair by the shirt and shoves him back against a wall, calling him a "neo-hippy witch-doctor punk". Despite Blair giving Jim some pretty compelling information, Jim is still miffed at being played and leaves in a huff.  Blair is not intimidated and, in fact, follows Jim out to tell him about a theoretical Achilles' heel that sentinels have—the zone out.  Just in time, as Jim experiences one while he's in the middle of a street.  Blair tackles him down and flings them both under a truck that would have killed Jim, but instead rolls over them harmlessly.  Now Blair has Jim's attention, and thus begins a great relationship. 


From the start, Blair is more than willing to share everything he knows and much of what he's extrapolated from his studies.  He has some practical knowledge, having tested hundreds of people with one or two hyperactive senses.  But he also uses a fair amount of deductive reasoning as well as intuitive leaps to figure out what to do.  Although you can see the hero-worship in Blair's eyes, it's also clear that he cares about Jim as a person.  He's more interested in making sure that Jim can function than he is about getting Jim into a lab for tests.   Their first stop is a practical one—a farmer's market where Blair insists Jim can filter out one distinctive smell from all the others; in this case roses.  Just as Jim is getting the hang of it, Blair gets distracted by two women from Rainier who come up to him to talk flirt.  As the women move off, Blair immediately wants to use Jim's super powers to overhear their conversation.  Perhaps Jim is annoyed that Blair's not focusing on his sentinel, because he ends up giving Blair an uncharitable answer.  Altogether an adorable scene and a chance to see how well they are already bantering.


In the meantime, there's been another bombing at a train station, where we are introduced to another recurring character, Joel Taggart, captain of the Bomb Squad.  He explains that the bombs are becoming more deadly.  Simon asks Jim to come back to work.  The Switchman has upped the ante and promises a spectacular and deadly finale the next day.  Without much hope, Jim and Blair return to the demolished warehouse.  Blair assures Jim that once he's able to control his senses he can utilize them in extraordinary ways to detect and prevent crimes.  He calls Jim a "human crime lab". Sure enough, Jim 'super-sees' a bird making a nest with a strand of wool from a cap the perp was wearing.  He's able to detect a scent on the wool.  Blair ends up dragging an unwilling Jim through several fragrance shops until he's able to identify it. 


Fortunately the shop keeps a client list, and the person who ordered the fragrance is one Veronica Sarris.  It seems she does have a vendetta against Jim; her father was one of the men killed in the Peru mission.  She was an explosives expert in the Navy before getting a psychiatric discharge, giving her means and motive.  Simon doesn't think what Jim's smelled on a wool thread is enough for a warrant and, in fact, is thinking Jim has flipped his lid.  So Jim, who does things "in his own way", tracks Veronica down, bringing Blair along in his wake. It seems Veronica is a tour guide and is currently on assignment with a group at the top of a tower-like building that has an observation deck. 


Jim goes into the building looking for her, leaving Blair to watch the street.  Blair sees she's loading her group on a bus, with no Jim in sight.  Blair slips onto the bus and it takes off just as Jim gets outside. And just in time to see his car towed away.  Jim commandeers a taxi, drives like crazy to get ahead of the bus and waits on an overpass for it to drive by.  He decides to do something heroic and extremely dangerous by leaping onto the bus.


But before that happens, Veronica has pulled a gun on the bus driver, forcing him to go off course.  Blair, hunched down and using Jim's cell phone, tries to call 911 with the situation.  Veronica snatches it away and demands to talk to Jim, because she wants one last taunt.  Simon doesn't know where to find Jim, but we do—he comes crashing through the back window, gun drawn.  He disarms her by shooting his bullet right down the barrel of her gun (is that even possible?  I guess for a sentinel it is).  She accuses him of letting her father die.  You can see that, even in this crisis, Jim is affected by the statement.  Jim tells her that her father was his friend and that he tried to save them. 


She's beyond listening and is only waiting for the bomb she planted on the bus to go off, ending her misery as well as the lives of all these people.   In desperation he turns to Blair, who's been observing them and asks him to help Jim look for the bomb.  Blair, already proving his worth, tells Jim "Don't look—listen!"  Jim hands his gun to Blair to keep an eye on Sarris, and he starts listening for the telltale ticking.  Now another aside: the one second shot where they focus on Blair holding the gun and looking at Veronica is one of the best shots for showing his handsome face and those extraordinary blue eyes.  It's totally yummy.


Blair glances back to see how Jim is doing and Veronica gets the drop on him (she was trained in the military).  They struggle and eventually Blair decks her with one good punch.  Jim, in the meantime, is having a "directed zone" where he's tuned out everything except listening for the ticking.  He finds the bomb just in time to chuck it out the back window and save the day.


The final scene has Simon congratulating Jim, and Carolyn inviting him over for dinner.  In a spectacular reveal of his senses, he tells her that her missing watch is in her car.  Not enough for her to put two and two together, but certainly not discreet on his part.  Then he checks on Blair, who's had his hand bandaged by the EMTs (that must have been quite a punch) and is being questioned by Joel, who asks Jim if he knows Blair.  He says "Yeah.  My new partner", a statement he lives to regret.  It's a statement that excites the already excitable Blair, especially when Jim tells him that, because apparently a sentinel needs a partner, Blair should be his.  He also wrings a promise from Blair that will come back to haunt them both: he wants his sentinel abilities to stay secret.  Blair readily agrees; not truly understanding all the implications.  Instead he focuses on the shiny: will he be able to get a badge?  Jim yanks his chain by telling him he has to attend the police academy and Blair parries with another famous line: "I am not cutting my hair!"


As pilots go this is altogether satisfying.  The characters are introduced in a way that presents them, even this early on, as interesting and multi-dimensional.  We want to know more about them.  Jim Ellison is standard action hero in appearance and skills—he literally leaps off things and is totally dedicated to his job and ethics.  Yet he's also vulnerable, has a sense of humor, and more than a few faults.  But when he's not frightened or running on instinct, he is approachable and open to ideas. 


At face value (and it's a damn fine face), Blair seems to be the polar opposite.  Mostly an academic, although he has life experiences we learn about later, it wouldn't seem that he'd have much in common with Jim.  He dresses half-way between flower child and grunge, and has long hair and earrings; contrasting sharply with Jim's casual but conservative look.  He chatters when he's nervous, and there seems to be a bit of a snake-oil salesman about him.  And yet they click.  One could say that saving another man's life is a powerful bond—a show of faith more eloquent than a thousand words.  But, as the rest of the series unfolds, most fans believe that there is something beyond any surface explanation.   


For an interesting take on the subject, I refer you to the always enjoyable PatK who wrote this essay in 2005:  The Connection Between Jim and Blair or "What's Up With Us, Chief?"    She has an incredible talent for stripping away fanon and really focusing on canon, either facts or extrapolations.  It's highly enjoyable and makes you realize that fen have been discussing these characters for years. 


Essential Elements:

v  Backstory:  The mother lode!  Jim's time as an Army Ranger captain, part of an elite group of soldiers.  This already shows that he's several cuts above average, which could explain how he fast-tracked to become a respected detective in a major city's police department.   He's been married and divorced.  He has enough chops that he's allowed to use unusual methods to conduct his work.  He takes his job and responsibilities very seriously. Yet, he's also very human.  Underneath that competent shell is someone who is battling a few demons, and we witness a little of his vulnerability here.   We also learn a bit about Blair; that he's studied hundreds of people with hyperactive senses, though none with all five.  That he believes these mythic sentinels truly exist and he's actively searching for them.  That he's not above using questionable methods, since he gets Jim's medical records and impersonates a doctor to meet Jim.  He's also done some background investigation of Jim—he knows about Jim's time in Peru.  He correctly guesses that Jim suppressed his memories and abilities as a result of PTSD.  He's also incredibly quick to make connections, and almost immediately comes up with innovative ways to use and control Jim's senses. 

v  Sentinel mythology:  We learn that sentinelism (for lack of a better word) is genetically based.  They use a real life explorer, Richard Burton, to tell the myth that all tribal cultures had sentinels, that sentinels were prone to zone-outs and that sentinels had partners who watched their backs.  Of course, Burton never wrote any such thing, but using his name gives a sense of realism to the mystique. 

v  Use of sentinel abilities:  Again we have a mother lode here.  Seeing: the Ranger badge, the bomb timer in the warehouse, the weird visual on the motorcycle, the bird with the yarn, seeing Veronica from the top of the tower building, shooting the gun barrel.  Hearing: the flock of birds, the bubbling water, girls talking, bomb on the bus and Carolyn's watch.  Smell: gas at the warehouse, the roses at the farmer's market, the yarn at the warehouse, the fragrance store.  Taste: spicy food at the dinner with Carolyn.  Touch: the wood ashes and plastic ashes at the warehouse. 

v  Relationship building:  We're introduced to major and minor characters.  Jim and Blair of course, but also Simon, Carolyn and Joel.  Through the villain, Veronica Sarris, we discover that Jim had strong relationships while he was in the Army.  He refers to her father as "his friend".  The stage is set for a long-term relationship with Jim and Blair.  Ostensibly it's a simple contract:  Blair helps Jim with his senses and, in exchange, can write a dissertation about him and get his PhD (and creds for showing a myth really exists). But by the closing credits we can already see this is going to be more than a contractual arrangement.  They care and listen to each other, they are comfortable enough for banter and Jim has already teased Blair and found a couple of nicknames for him.  It is a testament to the actors, as much as the writing, that this happens so quickly.  Jim and Blair definitely have chemistry.

v  Memorable sound bytes:  "Neo-hippy witch-doctor punk." "I'm not going to cut my hair!" "Richard Burton, the explorer not the actor."  "You're a behavioral throwback to a pre-civilized breed of man." "The zone-out factor."  And, of course, Jim's first use of his favorite nickname "Chief".  He also shows a propensity for nicks by calling Blair "Darwin". 

v  Influence on fanfic: Although there's a fair number of missing scenes/epilogues written for Switchman, the gold mine is really all the canon mentioned in the other essential elements above.  Every story of Jim's time with the Chopec, or just before going on the mission or even any story of his time in the Army finds its beginnings here.  Every story of Blair focusing on finding a sentinel, his fascination with anthropology, or the Richard Burton monologue starts here.  Jim's tendency to work "in his own way" has given rise to a host of stories that depict him as a rigid 'lone wolf'.  Different meeting AUs that still have them ending up together because of Jim's senses and Blair's knowledge can give this episode a tip of the hat.  It's one of the most influential episodes in the entire series. 

episode-related fanfic




Chapter Text

We open in the garage of the Cascade Police Department, where Jim and Blair are strategizing about how to approach Simon and ask him to allow Blair to ride along with Jim as an observer.  Blair is confident that he can “thesis-speak” Simon into agreeing, but Jim isn’t so sure.  He also again tells Blair not to tell anyone about the senses.  As they leave the garage, Jim tells Blair that he smells blood.  Blair thinks it’s due to the fact that he cut himself that morning making breakfast, but we see that there are two dead policemen in the trunk of one of the cars, and two suspicious-looking guys wearing police uniforms.


Then we move to Simon’s office.  Blair is giving his spiel, telling Simon that he wants to shadow Jim because he’s studying how evidence-gathering affects the outcome of arrests, but Simon doesn’t seem to be buying it.  Blair then goes for his “thin blue line” idea, which Jim had specifically nixed in the garage.  Jim rolling his eyes isn’t really helping Blair’s case with Simon here.  Simon asks Blair to give them a moment, and he and Jim discuss it, and Jim tells Simon that this is a family thing (which is interesting given what we find out about Jim’s family later on).  After some persuasion by Jim, Simon reluctantly agrees to their proposal, provided that Blair can pass the security clearance. 


Before Jim leaves, we get a chance to meet Daryl, Simon’s son.  We learn that Simon and Daryl’s mother, Joan, have recently divorced, and Simon is taking Daryl on a fishing trip so the two of them can spend some time together.  But Simon has just found out that he has a lunch meeting, so he tells Daryl to stay in his office until he gets back.  Daryl doesn’t seem all that interested in the trip, but he’s 14 and giving off a typical adolescent I’m-not-interested-in-anything-and-my-parents-are-so-uncool vibe.  He does interact pretty positively with Jim, though.


Jim takes Blair down to Personnel to get started.  Blair is astonished that his mention of “thin blue line” didn’t have Simon convinced, and is dismayed that Jim went with the “cousin story”.  Jim lays out the parameters of their relationship in no uncertain terms: “From now on, when I tell you to do something, you do it; when I tell you to say something, you say it, the way I tell you to say it, okay?  Are we clear?”


Blair says they’re clear.  Note that he doesn’t say that he agrees or that he’ll obey.  :-)


There’s a brief interlude where Blair goes to use the bathroom and Jim goes back into the Major Crimes bullpen.  Joel Taggart comes to tell him that two of the Sunrise Patriots have gotten life sentences for a bombing.  Jim doesn’t seem very enthused by this news, and says that as long as Garrett Kincaid, their leader, is still at large, then the group is still active. 


In Personnel, Blair is given a pile of things to read and forms to fill out, as well as the obligatory drug test, and Jim demonstrates that he’s not very suave with the ladies.  And then he goes off to have lunch with his ex-wife.  They have some more expository conversation about the Sunrise Patriots and Garrett Kincaid; as they leave the PD garage we see someone in a van who identifies himself as “Kincaid” giving the go signal over a walkie-talkie.


The suspicious policemen we saw earlier have gotten into the main communications room, killing the staff there and broadcasting a message that sends most of the police force far away from the central PD office.  The van with Kincaid enters the PD garage and another group of men come out of that.  They sweep through the building, herding all the remaining people, including Daryl, into the Major Crimes bullpen.  Joel Taggart, who we met at the end of Switchman as well as earlier in this episode, gets shot in the leg in the process. 


Blair, who is in the bathroom with his drug test kit, hears the shot.  He looks out, sees Taggart hurt and Kincaid’s men rounding people up, and decides the wisest course of action is to hide in a stall.  He puts his feet up so that when one of Kincaid’s men comes in to check for stragglers, he doesn’t see Blair. 


Meanwhile, Jim and Carolyn are on their way to lunch, but Carolyn is concerned because she can’t get into her voicemail.  When she can’t reach 911 either, Jim knows something is wrong.  He makes a swift U-turn and they return to the station, where Jim uses his hearing to discover that the building has been taken over by Garrett Kincaid and the Sunrise Patriots.  Simon joins them, having been unable to raise anyone on the radio on the way to his meeting. 


Blair is still hiding in the bathroom stall, but when one of Kincaid’s men comes in to wash his hands, he slips and the toilet flushes.  The guy heads for the stall but Blair, thinking quickly, kicks the door out, knocking the guy unconscious.  Blair then runs out of the bathroom.


As Simon, Jim, and Carolyn are trying to figure out what to do, Kincaid calls Simon on his cell phone.  He issues his demands – he wants his men who were given life sentences to be released; they’ll be picked up from the roof of the jail by helicopter.  Simon, stalling, tells him he has to release some hostages.  Kincaid, showing a particularly grim sense of humor, agrees – and two of his men shoot out a window and dangle Daryl out of it, in full sight of Simon.  Simon, horrified, has no choice but to agree to relay Kincaid’s demands to the governor. 


Jim, Simon, and Carolyn set up a command center of sorts in the store across from the PD, as the Cascade Fire Department goes about evacuating the area.  Simon talks to the governor, who refuses to release the convicted men.  Both men are worried about what will happen to the hostages – including Blair, Joel, and Daryl – when Kincaid’s demands are not met.


Meanwhile, Blair is still at large in the PD.  He’s hiding behind a vending machine when one of Kincaid’s men comes in to get something to eat.  When the machine fails to give him what he wants, he gets angry and starts shooting at it.  Blair panics and shoves the machine, which topples onto Kincaid’s guy.  Blair runs out of the room.  


Jim comes up with a plan for getting into the building through the sewers.  He and Simon suit up in Kevlar (fortunately Simon’s got a small armory in the trunk of his car) and head out.  It takes Jim a while to adjust to the smell of the sewers and Simon gives him a funny look.  They can’t find the entrance they were originally looking for, but Jim smells gas, so they realize they’re right under the PD garage, and they find an exit.  Unfortunately, Jim is spotted on the security camera by one of Kincaid’s men.  Kincaid sends a guy to kill them, but Jim is able to hear him coming, and warn Simon.  Jim takes Kincaid’s guy down, but does take a bullet in the vest, and Simon is smart enough to respond on the dead guy’s radio, so Kincaid and the others think Jim has been killed. 


Meanwhile, Kincaid gets word from his helicopter pilot that their men have not been released from jail.  He retaliates by firing a TOW missile into the building next door.  At this point, it’s pretty clear to everyone watching that Kincaid is completely insane. 


Jim and Simon are doing their commando thing.  They go up to the lobby, only to find that the elevators aren’t working and the door to the stairs has been welded shut (something that Jim is able to tell with his enhanced sense of touch), so they go back to the garage to rig a police motorcycle to be a bomb and blow the door open.  While Jim is doing this, Simon is talking to the governor, who now is agreeing to release Kincaid’s men – the TOW missile convinced her.  Simon tells her he thinks they can stop Kincaid, and she gives her blessing, but says she’s still going to release the prisoners. 


Blair, meanwhile, is still evading Kincaid’s men, who are searching for him from floor to floor.  He hides in an office and, seeing a window-washer’s scaffolding on the side of the building, breaks the window and jumps down to it.  Unfortunately, though, the noise attracts the attention of one of Kincaid’s men on the roof, and Blair is captured. 


He’s brought to Kincaid, who is about to kill him for taking out his men.  But Blair runs a quick line of BS that he’s a narcotics cop sent in by Simon, and therefore has value as a hostage.  Joel backs him up on this, and Kincaid buys it, but then there’s an incredibly creepy and intense exchange where Kincaid grabs the front of Blair’s jacket, looks him up and down, and says “I could use a man like you.” 


Jim and Simon successfully blow the door open and head up the stairs.  The explosion has not gone unnoticed by Kincaid, however, who sends a guy to find and kill whoever’s responsible.  Jim gets the drop on the guy because he can smell his cologne through the door.  He also hears the chopper as it approaches, and tells Simon they have to get moving.


They get into the communications center and Simon gives the order for all units to return to the PD.  Jim, meanwhile, has heard that Kincaid is planning to escape on the helicopter, and has given the order to kill the remaining hostages (except for Blair, whom Kincaid is taking with him as insurance).  Jim and Simon bust in to the bullpen and surprise Kincaid’s men, and, with Joel and Daryl’s help, manage to take them down.  Simon has an emotional reunion with Daryl while Jim yells that he’s heading for the roof to get Kincaid.


The chopper has landed and Kincaid shoves Blair inside, despite Blair’s protests that he’s not really a cop, just an anthropologist.  They take off; Jim arrives on the roof just in time to make a flying leap for one of the helicopter’s struts.  At first the people in the chopper think it’s just a wind gust, but Kincaid soon realizes that Jim is hanging on to the chopper as it flies over the city.  He opens the door to shoot Jim, but a well-timed kick from Blair sends him falling, and he has to grab on to Jim’s leg to save himself.  Blair, meanwhile, has found a flare gun, and uses it – and some more bravado – to force the chopper pilot to land back on the PD roof, where Simon and the other police officers are waiting, having caught the rest of Kincaid’s men. 


Kincaid is captured and taken into custody.  The cops are about to arrest Blair, as well, but Simon stops them and tells them “he’s on our team”, which thrills Blair.  Carolyn shows up and is relieved that Jim is okay. 


Simon takes Jim off to the side and asks him what the hell is going on.  He hasn’t failed to notice that Jim’s senses were operating outside of normal range today.  Jim confesses the whole sentinel thing, including that the real reason Blair is asking for an observer pass is because he’s trying to figure out how to help Jim control his senses.  Simon is surprisingly accepting of this – or maybe he’s just too exhausted by the events of the day – and he tells Jim that he wants a full briefing in a couple of days when everything has calmed down, which Jim agrees to do.   The episode closes with a cute tag where Jim reassures Blair about telling Simon and Blair realizes that he’s in for an adrenaline-filled ride. 


Why this episode is essential:


Although the pilot introduced us to the main characters, this episode is essential for the way it extends and provides detail about them.  We see Jim continuing to use his senses actively to help him do his job – I think he uses all of them except taste in this ep.  We also see Jim using his Army Special Forces training in terms of the infiltration of the besieged PD.  And, finally, we see Jim in full action hero glory, racing across a rooftop to leap onto the departing helicopter to save his buddy… er, catch the bad guy.  I can’t help but hear “I Need A Hero” every time I watch this part of the ep. 


We knew that Blair was smart from the pilot, but we really get to see him shine in Siege, despite the fact that he and Jim are apart for most of the ep.  He’s verbally clever and resourceful, both in his attempts to convince Simon to let him ride along with Jim, as well as his attempts to save himself when in peril.  The “thin blue line” idea, as well as the “quality of evidence gathering” one has come up as an alternate dissertation topic for Blair in a lot of fic.  And he’s not just verbally resourceful – despite being outmatched as far as weapons, he finds a way to overcome two of Kincaid’s men and avoid being caught for a significant period of time.  He’s also brave, and he thinks on his feet. 


Simon, too, reveals hidden depths in this episode.  He’s clearly not the kind of guy who commands from behind a desk, but is both willing and able to go into the field when needed.  He and Jim work amazingly well together as they infiltrate the PD – he defers to Jim’s expertise as an Army Ranger, but also knows when to take the lead. 


We also get some really nice backstory on Simon in that we get to meet his son, Daryl.  We knew from the pilot that he was getting a divorce, but this ep fleshes that out more, and gives the siege a human element for Simon because Daryl is one of the hostages. 


Another essential element is the introduction of Garrett Kincaid, one of TS’s favorite villains.  His megalomania, his ruthlessness, and his penchant for terrorism make him a good foil for Jim’s selfless heroism and concern for others.  There’s also enough undercurrent in his interactions with Blair to make that something intriguing to explore. 


This is also the episode where Simon gets let in on the Sentinel secret.  In retrospect, this is something that had to happen.  Both Jim and Blair needed someone in the PD to know what was going on, to be able to run interference and support them if needed.  It would have been impractical, if not impossible, for Jim to have kept this from his boss for long.  But it’s interesting how this gets played out in the episode.  Jim hardly thinks twice about using his senses around Simon, despite having told Blair at least twice that he doesn’t want anyone to know about them.  He readily uses smell, touch, and hearing, and deals with Simon’s questions primarily by ignoring them, which may also be one of the reasons he needs Blair around – Blair is good at thinking up stories to explain Jim’s unusual abilities.  And at the end, he’s able to explain it to Simon in a clear and uncomplicated way, which Simon accepts, although, as we’ll see, he’s never very comfortable discussing the “Sentinel thing”.  This is all in contrast to how Jim deals with potentially “being out” for most of the series, especially towards the end. 


Finally, there’s a handful of fan favorite bits and information in this episode, including:

·         Jim’s brief mention of his mother and cousin (when, as we learn later, he’s actually quite estranged from his family)

·         Jim’s banter with Carolyn about lunching at Wonderburger

·         Joel’s heroism and strengthening of his role as a support to Jim, Simon, and Blair

episode-related fanfic

Chapter Text

The Debt is the fourth episode of the series.  As the episode opens, we see Blair in his home, a huge warehouse in an unsavory part of town, watching TV and talking to Larry, a Barbary ape.  Jim stops by with a videotape recorder he's borrowed from Carolyn's lab, so Blair can record Larry's reactions to watching TV violence.  Yes, they are paying Blair to conduct this study.  After a little banter, we see Jim sitting down on the couch watching TV and eating popcorn with Larry sitting in his lap.  Isn't that cute?



Meanwhile we discover that a drug manufacturing lab has been set up in the warehouse next door.  Some people who look like gang members are running the place and a couple of others show up.  Since they are all friends, the newcomers are allowed in… and immediately use automatic weapons to kill everyone.  They take drugs, money and set bombs around the place.  Next door, the television is pretty loud and on a crime drama, so Jim doesn't immediately hear that the bullets being fired are from next door.  But eventually he realizes it and shouts for Blair to get down just before everything explodes.


Of course this brings out the police and we see Jim consulting with Joel and Simon next door.  Jim, being very observant, notices that despite the fact that it's a drug lab, there's no finished drugs (or money) onsite.  Cue the guest characters, Lieutenant Williams of the Anti-Gang Unit and Earl Gaines, a cop in the unit.  Gaines is sullen for no apparent reason.  He immediately identifies the dead guys as members of the 357 gang.  Williams and Simon theorize that the Deuces, a rival gang, are the shooters, but Gaines disagrees, saying there's been a truce. 


Back to Blair's warehouse, where Blair is now homeless.  Jim is sympathetic and helps him pack.  In what is probably the first instance of Blair's "puppy dog eyes" (patent pending) he convinces Jim to give him and Larry a home for a week, so Blair can complete his violence study. 


The next day Jim brings in one of the Deuces named Hollins to interrogate, and Simon has asked Earl Gaines to observe.  Gaines tells Jim he made a mistake in strong-arming the Deuces, as they will clam up.  He's proven right and Jim has to let Hollins go.  On the street, Hollins and Earl talk and he tells Earl that the truce is about to fall apart.  He also reveals that a cop in involved in the drug operation.  Earl asks him to do what he can to keep the peace and they part.  Almost immediately a masked man shoots and kills Hollins.   At the station, Gaines shares the information that a cop is involved with Simon, Williams and Jim.  Simon and Williams are skeptical, and Simon decides to reassign Earl because he's personally involved.  Gaines angrily accuses Simon and Williams of turning their backs on their own race and leaves.  Williams is angry and Simon is a little uncomfortable.


Jim comes home to the loft in disarray.   He hears someone in his bedroom and assumes it's a burglar, but it's just Blair trying to locate Larry, who has escaped his cage and wreaked havoc.  Jim calls Animal Control and sends Blair out to warn the neighbors.  Cut to the next morning, where everything is back in order and Blair is making Jim a hearty breakfast, with eggs cooked "firm, just the way you like them".  Wow, it didn't take him long to find out what Jim likes.  Jim, still a bit cross, tells Blair that these "courtship rituals" will not keep him from kicking Blair out. Blair takes it with grace and is a bit more relaxed, since he found out he can get an extension on the Larry study.  Blair does seem a little laissez faire about Larry being missing.  Perhaps they didn't have as close a relationship as we assume.   Over breakfast, Blair offers his anthropological services to Jim, explaining the rituals of the modern-day street gang. 


Cut to a playground where Earl Gaines is coaching kids in order to keep them out of gangs.  Jim shows up and apologizes for his methods and asks for help.  Earl tells Jim about his background.  Cop bonding!  Earl seems a little less sullen. 


Back at the station Simon informs Jim that the weapons used at the drug lab came from the police evidence locker and it looks like Earl Gaines checked them out.   They go to Gaines' place, but he's not there.  That's because he's gone to see his grandmother, who is supposedly sick.  She's not—it was a ruse to get him to talk to the 357s, who threaten him and his grandmother unless he disappears.  Back at Earl's place, Jim, Simon and William are conferring when cops uncover drugs and a gun they found while searching.  Now Simon is convinced but Jim is not so sure.


Jim continues to work the case, meeting with the cooler heads of the various gangs, hoping to get them to back off long enough for him to solve things.  He threatens a gang member by telling him he smells marijuana in his trunk (in his trunk Jim?)  He's also trying to get Earl to surrender while they figure things out.  Earl wants to make sure his grandmother is safe first. 


So begins Blair's first official undercover assignment.  He brazens his way past gang members and explains to Earl's grandmother, Lila Lacroix, that he's going to help her leave.  She's is adamant about staying, so Blair calls Jim with the change of plans.  Of course Jim's unhappy, but can't really do anything about it.  Blair and Mrs. Lacroix come up with a plan to protect her.


Meanwhile Earl is doing some independent investigating, but he's totally failing.  In another part of town, Lieutenant Williams is meeting with a 357 member, dividing up money and drugs.  He ends up shooting the gang member and taking everything himself.   Were any of you surprised?  I wasn't.


At the hospital, Jim's investigating a gang member who should have recovered and instead is dead.    He recognizes the distinctive smell of the cigarettes that Williams uses.  Now Jim knows who the bad guy is too!  Gaines calls Jim and Jim insists on a meet.  Jim meets with Earl and shares his suspicions about Williams.  Earl says that the man is methodical and will probably end up killing all the loose ends, including Earl.


Back at Mrs. Lacroix' place, gang members enter, preparing to abduct her.  A neighborhood watch group surrounds and disarms them and sends them packing.  Blair did great!


Jim invites Simon to the loft, where he's hiding Gaines.  Jim shares what's he's found including phone records of Williams to several gang members.  He tells Simon that he suspects Williams will try to sell the drugs to an out-of-town supplier and, through his contacts, knows where and when the meet will happen.  They surround the baddies, Williams makes a run for it, and Jim and Earl take him down. 


Once more to Mrs. Lacroix' place, where she invites everyone for supper.  Jim tears Blair away because they've found Larry--he broke into the loft and trashed the place again.  They head back home, bantering all the way. 


Crime-wise this really wasn't much of an episode.  Earl and his granny were okay, but everyone else was pretty despicable and the crimes were predictable and boring.  Another down side was that Jim and Blair worked apart for much of it, so we didn't get to see a lot of their great interaction.  Positives were, of course, the setup to get Blair into the loft.  You can see that, despite the circumstances, it's really a good thing that they end up living together.  Apart from seeing things through slash-colored glasses, just having them in proximity so Blair can help Jim out and vice versa is a great thing.  On a purely selfish note, they both looked good here.  From Blair all bundled up with his fingerless gloves and professor glasses on to the neat sweater when he's up in the loft he, looked great.  All except that bizarre sports coat he wore undercover.  Jim is particularly striking in a dark blue shirt when he's in Simon's office.  No matter what he wears, he always seems to be eye candy.


Essential Elements

v  Relationship:  Big points here.  We see at Blair's place that they are already comfortable enough to hang out together watching a movie.  The episode starts with Jim doing Blair a personal favor by borrowing the video camera.  With very little hesitation, Jim takes Blair in when he's homeless.  Blair making breakfast is so domestic.  Jim may gripe about courtship rituals, but that doesn't stop him from immediately chowing down.   Despite Larry's destruction, Jim doesn't do anything more than threaten to kick them out.  Awwww!

v  The senses:  Hearing: the trouble going on in the drug lab.  Sight: Keeping an eye on Blair when he's talking with the gang members, sees the bad guys at the meet, shoots the gun out of Williams' hands.  Smell: Williams' cigarettes, the marijuana in the trunk and the gang member's nervousness.  Now here's the thing.  Didn't Jim tell Blair that he didn't want the bad guys to know about his senses because it would reveal he had an edge?  So WTF is he doing showing off for this gang member?  Doesn't he realize eventually the guy might wonder "how come that cop could smell my nervousness?"  Oh Jim.  That's why you have to have Blair around—to remind you to keep it a SECRET!

v  Memorable sound bytes:  "Only a week, I swear!"  "Courtship rituals."

v  Effect on fanfic:  This is another very influential episode.  Not only are there tons of epilogues and missing scenes, but the "only a week" phrase ends up in so much fic I can't count it.  Additionally this has given rise to "Blair with no money" fic by the cartload.  The immediate domesticity is probably the genesis for hundreds of "curtain fic".  It's definitely a favorite with writers and readers alike.

episode-related fanfic



Chapter Text

Jim and Blair are stuck in traffic leaving a Jags game – Jim is annoyed, feeling that they could have missed this had they left earlier, but Blair ignores him, excited over the win.  That all changes when Jim gets a radio call about a 911 call reporting a prowler.  He puts on the sirens and he and Blair head to the scene.



When they get to the address they’ve been given, they find the front door open.  Jim walks in cautiously, making sure Blair stays behind him.  The apartment seems deserted, but then Jim hears water dripping.  He follows the sound and finds a naked woman, dead, in the bathtub, with a yellow scarf around her neck.  Blair is unnerved by the sight and has to leave.


The next day, Simon, Jim, and Carolyn are discussing the murder.  Turns out the woman – Susan Frasier – was drowned, and there were items taken from the house.  Jim surmises the killer is taking trophies.  We also find out that she was dead for at least 12 hours before Jim got there, which raises the question of who it was that called 911.  It turns out that there have been two other people killed within the last three months with the same MO – it looks like Cascade has a serial killer.  Simon tells Jim and Carolyn that he wants a total media blackout on this for now to avoid mass panic.


That night, Blair has his girlfriend, Christine, over at the loft, and they’re getting pretty hot and heavy when Blair has a flashback to seeing Susan Frasier’s body.  Christine is pissed off at first, but when Blair explains himself, and his emotional reaction to seeing someone dead for the first time, she becomes more understanding. 


Unfortunately for Blair, Jim comes home at that point, and is not pleased to find a) the door to his own home chained against him, and b) his roomie getting it on on his couch.  Turns out Jim was supposed to be working tonight, and Blair thought he’d have the loft to himself.  Christine isn’t very thrilled by Jim’s sudden appearance, so she leaves.  Blair is upset at first, but then acknowledges to Jim that the murder rattled him.  Jim gives him his best combination Army ranger/cop speech about “separating yourself”, otherwise your emotions will get the best of you and you won’t be effective in the field.  And he does it all while leaning gorgeously against one of the loft pillars. 


Jim gets an unpleasant surprise the next day as he’s going into the station – the newspapers have gotten a hold of the story.  Carolyn plays him the 911 call and Susan Frasier’s answering machine message, and Jim (using his Sentinel hearing, presumably), can tell that they’re not the same person, which means that the 911 caller is probably the killer (and a woman).  Simon comes in with the newspaper and tells Jim to make sure that Blair knows that he’s not to talk to the media about the case. 


Jim and Blair go to Susan Frasier’s funeral, because, as Jim explains to Blair, serial killers often attend the funerals of their victims, as a means of taunting police.  He’s actually quite solicitous of Blair in this scene, asking him if he’ll be okay if there’s an open casket funeral.  Blair says he’ll be fine.  Jim goes up to the balcony so he can see all the people present, and focuses in on a woman with a heavy black veil holding a yellow scarf.  Blair has seen her too, and as she approaches the casket he motions to Jim, trying to get Jim to notice her.  Jim doesn’t see Blair, but the woman does, and she flees the church.  Jim goes after her, and a group of news reporters outside the church film her as she runs to a car, gets in, and drives off.  Jim gets in his car and gives chase (as Blair, blaming himself for tipping her off, sits disconsolately on the steps of the church).  They approach a bridge where the traffic is backed up, and the woman stops the car, gets out, runs on to the bridge, and then jumps into the water.  Jim is left with the yellow scarf.


The next day, Simon is tearing Jim a new one over losing what was probably the killer, and definitely their best lead.  Jim takes full responsibility for the screw-up, but Simon isn’t sure, and tells Jim that maybe he’d better have Blair stop riding with him.  It’s clear that Simon is worried that Blair is a liability in general, not being a cop, and maybe even the source of the media leak.  Jim, in a steady voice that warms the hearts of TS fans everywhere, disagrees with Simon and insists that not only does he trust Blair, he needs him. 


Simon is somewhat mollified, but then tells Jim that he’s brought in some help.  Jim protests that he can handle the case by himself (a theme we’ll see repeated throughout the show), but before Simon can respond, Dr. Anthony Bates, one of the FBI’s top forensic psychiatrists, walks in.  Simon introduces him to Jim, and Bates engages Jim in a discussion of the killer’s signature and how she may be choosing her victims.  Jim thinks the killer is just choosing victims at random, but Bates disagrees, saying, “…in cases like this, nothing is random.”


Later that evening, Jim and Blair are at the loft, about to watch the video that the news reporters shot of the woman in the black dress leaving the funeral today.  Turns out Jim has promised the reporter a “hot tip” in exchange for the video.  Before they start, though, Jim tells Blair that Simon thinks that he’s the leak.  Blair thinks Jim is still mad at him for alerting the suspect, and promises that he’ll never do anything like that again.


They watch the tape, and Jim notices that the woman looks an awful lot like the victim, Susan Frasier – same hairstyle, and she’s driving the same car.  He looks even more closely and realizes that she is a he – the “woman” has a prominent Adam’s apple.  With this new clue, Jim tells Blair that he is going to go check out a place called Club Doom, where one of the victims played in a band.  Blair laughs at this and tells Jim that he will clearly be made as a cop.  He offers to go, instead, but Jim firmly nixes this idea. 


Of course, the next thing we see is Blair and Christine outside Club Doom.  Blair tells Christine that he’s helping Jim investigate a murder, and that he needs to go into Club Doom to search for clues.  He makes Christine promise that she won’t tell anyone about it, which she does.


Later that night, Simon and Jim and Dr. Bates are all in Simon’s office, watching a news report about the fact that the suspected serial killer is a transvestite.  Simon is visibly upset that someone is clearly leaking very sensitive information about the case to the media, but before he can say more, Blair barges in, excited.  He had a very productive night at Club Doom, and found out that the killer took on the identity of his first victim, Adam Walker, and through that identity interacted with his second victim.  Even Jim’s annoyance that Blair went to Club Doom when he told him not to can’t dim Blair’s enthusiasm.  Dr. Bates introduces himself and congratulates Blair on his insight, and surmises that Blair is right, that the killer assumes the identity of his victims in a process of “psychic ingestion”.  Jim is frustrated by the discussion, though, because it’s not giving him any concrete facts to work with to find the killer.  The meeting is interrupted when a call comes in that a prowler has been spotted at the Maritime Museum. 


Jim goes to the museum, where the woman who called the police tells him that she saw a woman’s face at the window as she was locking up.  Jim is searching the building when he sees someone; he gives chase and catches the person, who turns out to be a man wearing woman’s clothing.


Back at the station, it turns out that the prowler is a career junkie who was paid by someone to dress up like a woman and lurk around the museum.  And to make matters worse, he’s got an airtight alibi for the night of Susan Frasier’s murder – he was in a detox tank.  But Jim has been doing some good old-fashioned detective work as well, and has run a set of fingerprints that were found in Susan Frasier’s car.  Turns out they belong to David Lash, a “serious head case” who escaped from a mental hospital in California three months ago.  Jim has subpoenaed his file.  It looks like a break in the case is imminent, and Dr. Bates congratulates Jim and Blair on their impressive work.


Meanwhile, Carolyn has been doing some detective work of her own.  She tells Jim that, based on the salinity of the water in Susan Frasier’s stomach, she wasn’t drowned in her own bathtub.  And the water matches across all the victims, meaning that they were all killed in the same place.  Also, blood analysis indicates that all three victims were drugged with just enough chloral hydrate to subdue them, but not to render them  unconscious. 


Jim heads back to Simon’s office and lets Dr. Bates know that the file on David Lash is coming through the fax.  Bates says he’ll be there in a minute and heads into the restroom.  Simon, Jim, and Blair are reading the file as it comes through – David Lash is a very sick individual, and Bates was dead right in his diagnosis.  But things get very confusing when Jim notices that Lash’s psychiatrist is Anthony Bates.  Has the psychiatrist been hiding something from them?  It all becomes clear when Jim pulls the last page from the fax and they see Lash’s picture – the man calling himself Anthony Bates is actually David Lash.


Simon seals the exits and Jim races to the restroom, but he’s too late.  There’s nothing left of David Lash besides a pile of clothes and “Who am I now?” written on the bathroom mirror in lipstick. 


Simon, Jim, Blair, and Carolyn sit in Simon’s office and watch the news on TV as the story of Lash’s masquerade leaks.  Police in California have found Anthony Bates’ body decomposing in a bathtub, and Jim and Simon realize that the source of their leak was Lash himself, pretending to be Bates. 


We next join Jim and Blair as they’re talking to Lash’s father.  Lash’s dad is incredibly creepy and tells them that “Davey” has always been a strange kid.  He tells them the story of how Lash killed a duck that his dad got for him for a pet and kept it in his room for days.  He also tells Jim and Blair that Davey’s little brother Jimmy died when he was five, and that Davey used to pretend that he was Jimmy after that.  He talks about Lash’s mom, how she was abusive to her son, and how yellow was her favorite color.  He then admits that he was always hoping that Lash’s mother would kill him, because “the boy was a devil.”


That night, Blair is at a lecture on campus with Christine.  Blair is bringing her up to date on the case.  He sheepishly admits that he was concerned that Christine might be the leak to the media, and Christine gets upset and calls a taxi.  Blair is unnerved to see his reflection in the window of the taxi, but when he turns, no one is there.


Back at the loft, Blair is nervous, but trying to convince himself that everything is okay.  He locks all the windows and pulls the shades, then pages Jim.  But before Jim can answer, the door to the loft is kicked in.


Jim is at the gym, working out.  As he’s changing back into his street clothes, he sees that Blair has paged him with “911”.  He races back to the loft, but it’s too late.  The door is wide open, the loft in a shambles, and Blair is nowhere to be found.


Frantic, Jim calls Carolyn, then goes to examine Susan Frasier’s apartment again.  He sees a down feather in the bathtub drain.  He convinces Carolyn to break the evidence seal on the water and smells it – it smells like bird waste.  Jim realizes that Lash must take his victims to a duck pond to kill them.


Meanwhile, we see Blair, chained and gagged, being carried by Lash down a short flight of stairs into a room full of lit candles and the trophies of his kills.  Lash dumps Blair into a dentist’s chair in the middle of the room and proceeds to go on a semi-psychotic rant about how all his victims were his “friends” and how easy they were to kill.


Jim, Carolyn, and Simon are looking at duck ponds in Cascade and manage to narrow the selection down to one that is isolated and near a bunch of old, abandoned warehouses.  Carolyn wants him to check out some other leads, but Jim knows that time is running out and they have to do something now.  In no time at all he’s suited up, all in black, and is heading off to reconnoiter.


In the warehouse, Lash is clearly planning to assume Blair’s identity – he’s wearing Blair’s clothes and a wig that resembles Blair’s hair.  He takes the gag off Blair so he can practice doing Blair’s voice.  Blair screams for help, but when he realizes that he’s on his own, he taunts Lash, telling him that he can’t do a good job of imitating him, asking him questions about his history that Lash doesn’t know the answers to in order to prove that Lash can’t be him. 


We see Jim, who’s arrived at the warehouse, hearing Blair talking to Lash and using his voice to hone in on where he is.  Meanwhile, Blair is using what he knows about Lash from the interview with his father to try and psych Lash out.  Lash gets enraged and tries to drug Blair with the chloral hydrate, but Jim bursts in at that point and yells, “Freeze!”  Unfortunately, Lash has rigged a trap, and as Jim starts down the stairs, one of the steps collapses underneath him and he tumbles to the ground.  Jim and Lash fight, at one point falling down to a lower floor of the old warehouse.  Jim loses his gun, then gets his spare from his ankle holster.  He loses that, though, when Lash attacks him with a piece of wood, then gets it back in time to shoot Lash five times.


The next day, all the Major Crimes staff are gathered around the TV, watching the report of Jim’s heroics, Blair’s rescue, and Lash’s death.  Many people congratulate Jim.  Jim, for his part, commends Blair for keeping his head in the face of what seemed like certain death.  Blair seems a bit bashful at all the attention, and makes a comment that the Chinese believe that if you save a man’s life, you become his Blessed Protector.  There’s some sweet teasing between Jim and Blair as they head out of the PD and the episode ends.


Why this episode is essential:


It’s safe to say that Cypher is one of the best-loved and most-frequently referenced episodes in TS fandom, for a number of reasons.  A significant one is the introduction of David Lash, another creepy, psychopathic killer.  But unlike Garrett Kincaid, Lash hides in plain sight, and is smart enough to outwit Jim, Blair, and Simon for quite a while.  He also has a backstory that, unlike most of the other TS villains, makes him somewhat sympathetic.  While Dennis Christopher does a great job bringing Lash to life, I have to say that the actor who played Lash’s father really brought his A-game, and almost out-creeped him.  In fact, this episode is notably darker than most other TS episodes, and the UPN executives told Danny and Paul they didn’t like it, which is too bad, because I think it’s one of the best episodes of the show. 


Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, this episode firmly establishes Blair in the role of “the hero’s girlfriend who gets put in peril and needs to be rescued.”  Fortunate in that this episode does a great job of showing the growing friendship between Jim and Blair.  We see them going to a Jags game together.  Jim clearly cares about Blair and balks at getting him into dangerous situations, even though he could use the help, and even though Blair is eager to help out.  He also tries to help Blair learn to distance himself from his emotions when he’s working a case. 


I say unfortunately only because the circumstances of Blair’s abduction may be one of the things that gives rise to a lot of fic in which Blair is weak, fearful, and fragile; often seen as a victim.  On the other hand, if you really watch the episode, you can see that that’s not true.  Instead, much like what happened in Siege, Blair’s bravery and resourcefulness really shines through.  Despite being completely immobilized and with no hope (he thinks) of aid, he manages to use his wits and his mouth to confront and unnerve Lash. 


This episode provides many slashy moments, as well.  From Jim’s defense of Blair to Simon, to him forbidding Blair to go to Club Doom, to Jim’s clear panic when Blair is abducted, to Jim’s telling Blair that he “did everything right” when he was being held by Lash, to Blair’s mention of “Blessed Protector” and his joking about having a nipple ring and getting a tattoo (which Jim forbids him to do), there’s a wealth of favorite lines and scenes in this ep for the slashily-inclined.  And rumor has it that the original script called for a “manly hug” between Jim and Blair after Lash was dead, but it was cut because the UPN officials were worried about sending the wrong message. 


So, to sum up, Cypher is one of the most important episodes in the TS canon, and you definitely don’t want to miss it.


episode-related fanfic

Chapter Text

Rogue is the seventh episode of the series. If you asked most fen about the influential episodes, this one would be high on their lists.  And yet it has terrible plot holes and no outstanding detective work to recommend it.  No, the biggest attraction here is the villain, Lee Brackett.  Arguably he's the fandom's favorite villain and we'll explore the reasons why. 



Unbeknownst to pretty much everyone, some vials of the Ebola virus are being stored at Rainier University on their way to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.  Brackett decides to steal the virus and attach it to a bomb, then threaten to explode it in order to blackmail Jim into stealing something that he really wants.  Why Jim?  Because, shockingly, Brackett knows all about Jim's sentinel abilities.  In addition he knows that Blair is helpful to Jim and wants both of them to cooperate.  In the end, good triumphs over evil with a lot of entertainment along the way. 


One of the most glaring plot holes is that the Ebola virus is not transmitted by air, but by bodily contact.  So, exploding it over Cascade probably wouldn't amount to anything like a disaster.  Bad research.   Throw in security guards who are easily distracted, a CDC doctor who doesn't follow her security protocol and is annoying besides, and you see why sensible people would watch and shake their heads in dismay.  But the episode keeps drawing us in—calling to us like a siren song.  Here's why.


First is the relationship between the guys.  It's progressing nicely since Blair moved in.  Didn't I tell you it would be convenient?  The first scene has Blair giving Jim a "pop quiz" for his senses by blindfolding him (although I don't know why since the test is for taste).  Jim passes with flying colors, mumbling to himself and calling Blair "the kid" (which shows up a lot in fanfic).  Then Blair is asked to provide a lecture for an Anthro 305 class, and asks Jim to speak about his time in Peru.  Jim says he'd rather have a root canal, but in the very next scene he's on campus, explaining to Simon on the phone that he's doing Blair a favor.  Who has who wrapped around his finger?  It's interesting that in The Switchman, Jim tells Blair he doesn't remember much about Peru.  My guess is that Blair helped him remember.  Or it's a continuity error.  No, it's definitely Blair. 


Now back to super-villain Brackett.  He blocks the door to the Anthro 305 lecture hall and sets off some smoke bombs to cause general confusion while he steals the virus.  The interesting thing is that he also sets up white noise generators, which prevent Jim from hearing the bomb timers. 


What does this mean?  He knows about Jim's senses, which is disturbing in and of itself. 

But how did he know Jim would be lecturing there that morning?  Why wouldn't he want to commit the theft on another day or even the other 23 hours of *that* day when Jim wouldn't be there, so he wouldn't have to go through elaborate Sentinel-thwarting?  Did he have the loft bugged so he could hear their plans that morning?  Did he just want to pique Jim's curiosity or unnerve him?  Or are these just more terrible plot holes?  Probably the former, because he also lets himself into the loft to wait for Jim and Blair when they come back from the station. 


Was there ever a villain so smug, so sure of himself as Brackett?  Not hardly.  At the loft, he readily admits he stole the virus in order to persuade Jim to do his bidding.  This is also where he drops the bombshell that he knows Jim's little secret.  He also calls Blair Jim's "guide".  As PatK has pointed out  in a terrific essay about the sentinel-guide connection, neither Jim nor Blair raise an eyebrow in confusion.  They might not use the term 'guide', but by now they recognize that Blair is more than a sentinel encyclopedia.   Jim may function on his own, but Blair makes him work better.  In any case, Brackett seems to think so and wants the package deal. 


Another intriguing thing about Brackett is that he seems quite happy to let Jim and Blair know how he knows about them.  As Jim rightly deduces, Brackett was formerly with the CIA but is now a rogue agent (hence the title), working for himself and his own agenda.  Brackett reveals that he was a CIA duty officer when Jim was retrieved from Peru and spoke to the Ranger who headed the retrieval.  The man reported seeing "hallucinatory behaviors" in Captain Ellison and, evidently, Brackett filed that away for future reference.  He also tells Blair that he read an undergraduate paper of his where Blair described primitive sentinels.  He kept an eye on Jim's career and was able to put two and two together. 


Brackett's revelations make Blair nervous and Jim pissed off, but there's not a lot to be done, since he's holding a gun on them.  They attempt to overcome him, but despite the fact that Blair is able to kill the light so Jim has the advantage, Brackett succeeds in escaping.


Enter Jack Kelso, an ex-CIA agent who wrote a tell-all book on the agency, and provides background info on Brackett to Jim and Blair.   Brackett was recruited right out of Yale, Kelso tells them, and given assignments that an intelligent and amoral operative would thrive on.  His specialty was creating elaborate game plans to confuse and thwart the enemy.  Eventually he went into business for himself and was caught in a sting that left an FBI agent dead.  Kelso, who's currently teaching at Rainier, pledges his full cooperation to bring Brackett down.


So now we know that this is Brackett's MO—elaborate game playing.  He has access to sophisticated devices, so he's able to prevent Major Crime from tracking Jim and Blair when they meet him.  And he's able to fool the rest of the PD by setting up a decoy house and bomb to distract them. 


A memorable scene, and one that's near and dear to slashers' hearts, is at a restaurant where he scans them using a device that detects transmitters.  Of course Jim and Blair are wearing several in the hope of his not finding them all.  He invites Jim to remove the one hidden in his pants "unless you want me to have Mr. Sandburg get it out for you", he smirks.  So Brackett was the first one to slash Jim and Blair!


But I digress.  Why Brackett needs Jim becomes abundantly clear.  They are breaking into a CIA secret operations site to grab a prototype jet, and the site has elaborate security systems.  Of course, a sentinel in your pocket gives you a great advantage.  Especially if you also have his guide, who lives up to his name by suggesting the best use of Jim's senses for each obstacle.  When they are finally through and Brackett's in the jet, Jim has had enough.  He sends Blair off to warn the guards and has a knock-down drag-out with Brackett, who finally succumbs.  Unfortunately, the remote control to turn off the Ebola bomb is broken, so they have to go back to Brackett's car and disarm it manually.  True to form, even the disarming is complicated; they do it with 1 second to spare.  Jim, apparently deciding on a little "street justice", gives Brackett one more round-house punch and he's down for the count. 


Of course, there's plenty  of things I've left out in order to focus on our villain.  I trust you are intrigued enough to watch the episode.  You'll be rewarded with action, suspense, and humor.  Jim tasting a toothpick that Brackett tracked in on his shoe (eww) is memorable, as is Blair's snafu when he asks Carolyn what trace elements were on that sliver of wood.   Heh.


But what keeps us discussing this episode, in the end, is Brackett's motivations.  Throughout, he calls Blair "Mr. Sandburg" but calls Jim by his first name.  Is he trying to establish camaraderie?  Does he hope that Jim will view him as he views himself; as an unappreciated patriot who's fighting a corrupt government? Is he testing the waters to see whether he could recruit Jim?  After all, we expect Jim had to do some pretty unsavory things during his Covert Ops days, and perhaps even during his time in Vice.  Or is it all just a head game he's playing with Jim? We just don't know.  But these unanswered questions, coupled with a villain who's a match for Jim's intelligence and skills, has made him a fan favorite for years.


Essential Elements:

v  Backstory:  Jim's time immediately after Peru.  He also tells the CDC doctor that he did CIA liaison work during his time in the Army.  We find out that Blair was studying sentinels in his undergraduate work. 

v  Relationship:  Great look at how they are getting along as they live together.  It was nice to see Blair in the classroom and also nice to see that Jim supports Blair's work when asked. 

v  Senses:  a mini-test for Jim and a mini-lesson in how to thwart a sentinel through white noise generators and diversionary tactics.  Also, Jim is not as susceptible to spikes as we might think.  He's able to function in the smoke-filled room and doesn't even wince when the fire alarm is pulled.  Hearing:  the heartbeats in the auditorium, the hissing gas, the timer on Brackett's fake bomb and the minefield.  Smell: finding the toothpick in the loft.  Taste:  the mini test, and the toothpick. Sight: able to fight Brackett in the dark.  Touch: the combination lock.

v  It provides a memorable, influential villain who's a great match for Jim.  It also introduces an intriguing minor character, Jack Kelso, who reappears in another essential episode, Secret. 

v  Fanfic:  Not only are there a good number of missing scenes and epilogues, but there are scads of stories with Lee Brackett in them.  Additionally, the concept that a government agency might be interested in Jim's abilities has its roots here.  Up until now, Jim just wanted to keep the local criminals in the dark.  But knowing that information on Jim is floating around covert government agencies whose purposes might be nefarious probably started the whole "MIB are after us" genre.  A hell of a plot bunny, don't you think?


episode-related fanfic




Chapter Text

We watch as a group of thieves, dressed all in black, break into a high-rise building by swinging down from the roof on a cable and breaking through the window (interestingly, Jim will do a very similar stunt in season two).  They use explosives to open a vault and steal what is probably millions of dollars in diamonds.

The next day, Jim and Blair are examining the crime scene.  In between some adorable bantering between the two of them and the two old guys who owned the diamonds, we find out that Jim is having an unusual sensory experience – he tells Blair that his senses seem sharper as he’s standing next to the blown safe.  What’s more, he’s felt this at the other robbery scenes (something he’s only relating to Blair now, of course).  Blair gets him to try some different techniques to try and figure out what it is, but Jim, typically, downplays the whole thing, eventually claiming that the strange sensations are gone.  As they bicker (again, adorably) about it on the way back to the truck, we see a man with dark hair and beard talking to someone on a (oddly small for the time period!) phone.  We can tell from the side of the conversation we can hear that he’s been sent there to scope things out and see if Jim is on the case.


Jim and Blair fill Simon in on the latest in what appears to be a string of jewelry thefts over the past few months.  The thieves are astonishingly good at getting around security systems, and Jim has been looking into potential suspects who have circus or gymnastic experience because of it.  Simon tells them to keep on working, and then there’s an adorable, completely non-verbal exchange between Jim and Blair (can you tell there’s a lot of adorableness in this ep?).  When Simon queries them, Blair says there’s something new going on with Jim’s senses, but since Jim doesn’t really want to talk about it, and Blair can’t completely explain it yet, Simon isn’t interested, and he shoos them out.   


Cut to evening, and Jim and Blair are out at a bar together (adorable!).  Jim’s a little uncomfortable with Blair’s moves in particular and the dating scene in general, but when a red-haired bombshell brushes past Jim, Blair urges him to check her out.  Jim does so, and the two of them – the woman introduces herself as “Laura” – hit it off famously.  So famously, in fact, that in pretty short order Jim is playing with her hair and listening rapturously as she tells him her life story.  They kiss, but then Laura seems to be getting cold feet, because she tells Jim they wouldn’t be a very good idea right now, and leaves.  Jim’s a little slow on the uptake, because by the time he gets it into his head to follow her, she’s gone, and he didn’t even get a license plate number.


We shift to the next day in the evidence locker at the PD.  Jim is in good spirits, despite the disappointing end to his date, and there’s some more adorable banter.  But then they get down to business – Blair has checked out some of the evidence from the other jewelry heists (learning to forge Jim’s signature in the process), and he wants to see if Jim has that unusual sensation again.  Jim handles the objects half-heartedly, but reports that he doesn’t feel any different. 


Late that night, there’s a party in progress at an exclusive club called Chatfields, with lots of glitterati getting out of limos and flashbulbs popping.  Against this backdrop, we see black-clad figures walking a tightrope high in the air above the street, making their way from the building where the party is being held to another building across the street.  The figures disappear, but after a while, we see that there’s a fire in the other building.  But no one at the party notices anything, until the windows of the other building blow outwards in a tremendous explosion.


A few minutes later, and Jim and Blair show up at the scene.  Joel explains to them that there’s been another robbery in the building across from the party; the thieves blew the safe, which started a fire, and the windows exploded due to the backdraft.  What no one can figure out is how the thieves got in.  There was a security guard present, but it looks like he was hit with something and killed before the fire started. 


Jim goes in to examine the safe, and tells Blair that he’s having that “feeling” again.  Blair encourages him to walk around the room and see if he can notice the sensation anywhere else.  Jim does so, and looks up to find the thieves’ entrance – an old skylight that wasn’t connected to the alarm system when the building was remodeled.  So now they know the thieves came in from the roof.


But how did they get to the roof?  Jim goes outside and finds the remnants of an explosive bolt on the ground, the residue still fresh.  He looks up at the roof of the other building and zooms in with his sight on another bolt, still attached.  He tells Blair that the thieves must have used a cable strung between the two buildings to cross from one roof to the other and back, then used the explosive bolts to release the cable and reel it in.  This means that it’s likely that the thieves are still in the other building.


Jim and Blair head across the street and crash the party.  Blair is doubtful that the thieves are still around, but Jim assures him that they are, because he’s having that unusual sensation again, just as strong as it was when he was standing next to the safe. 


The manager of Chatfields, Ted McCarthy, comes up and tries to get Jim to leave, but he’s got the law on his side, and McCarthy caves.  Simon arrives with a phalanx of cops, and Jim is working on filtering out all the different scents present, when he sees… Laura.  Egged on by Blair, he goes to her, almost completely ignoring Simon, and leaving Blair to try and explain what’s going on. 


Jim and Laura end up in a coat closet, doing some rather passionate necking, and Jim finds out that Laura used to be married to Bruce McCarthy, brother of the manager that Jim just had a run-in with. 


Meanwhile, things are getting a little ugly in the club – people are trying to leave – and Simon tells Blair to go find Jim.  Blair does so, coming upon Jim and Laura in flagrante delicto (you can decide for yourself whether he looks surprised, devastated, or titillated).  Awkward moment is awkward, and Jim, rather embarrassedly, leaves the charms of Laura’s embrace for his boss and his job. 


As Jim rejoins the action in the club, we see Laura sit down next to a familiar face – the guy who was watching Jim and Blair leave the crime scene at the beginning of the episode.  The two look at each other, and then back at the cops in the club.


Meanwhile, it turns out that the men who were trying to leave are petty pickpockets who have stolen a heap of watches and jewelry from the other guests at the party.  So they’re not our jewel thieves.  Jim is sure that their quarry is still present, but Simon balks at turning the place upside down on a “feeling” of Jim’s, and orders him to wrap things up.  At that moment, Laura and the man she’s with get into a loud argument that ends with Laura throwing a glass of wine in his face.  Jim, ever the knight in shining armor, goes to her rescue, while Simon and Blair look on.  Simon continues to be confused by Jim’s behavior, and Blair – even Blair is starting to wonder what the hell is going on with his normally level-headed roommate and friend.


There’s a brief cutaway scene where we see Ted, the manager, and the guy Laura just had the fight, who, we’ve learned, is Laura’s ex-husband and Ted’s brother, Bruce.  Ted and Bruce are examining a cache of diamonds and discussing the evening’s events.  They can’t understand how the police figured out they (because they are the jewel thieves, obviously) were in the club.  There’s some nefarious back-and-forth; Bruce still seems to have feelings for Laura, but Ted doesn’t trust her, especially now that she’s involved with a cop, and tells Bruce that he’s going to “do something about it”. 


Said cop is at Laura’s, getting jiggy with it, er, her.  Laura says something cryptic about “if things were different” and “maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime” but Jim is hardly paying attention at this point.


The next morning, Jim comes home to the loft, his shirt untucked and a big smile on his face.  He’s so relaxed and laid-back, he doesn’t even blink an eye when Blair tells him he’s reused the old grounds to make coffee because they ran out.  He apologizes to Blair for ditching him last night; Blair, for his part, looks kinda grim. 


We find out why when Blair comes upstairs to Jim’s room a little later, as Jim is changing clothes.  He’s been up all night, doing research and thinking, because the level of Jim’s attraction to Laura has got him a bit worried.  Plus, he’s pretty sure it’s related to the jewel thefts.  What he thinks is happening is that Laura is giving off pheromones, which he explains with the best line ever (“It’s kind of like when people say that you got chemistry with somebody.  Well, we really do have chemistry”).  Because of his enhanced sense of smell, Jim is more powerfully affected by Laura’s pheromones, to the point of acting a bit irrational at times. 


Jim is affronted, at first, at this excursion into his private life, but when Blair produces the glass that Laura drank from last night, and Jim has that “unusual feeling” again, he has to admit that Blair might be on to something.  He remembers what Laura said last night about “maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime” (he wasn’t as zoned out as we think!) and wonders if she was trying to confess.


Laura, for her part, is with Bruce, checking on the safety deposit box the three of them have at the hotel.  All their stolen goods are still there, so Ted hasn’t swindled them yet.  It turns out that Bruce was supposed to push Ted off the tightrope last night so that Laura and Bruce could make off with the diamonds.  Bruce protests that Ted was too fast – it seems that no one in this little triad of thieves trusts each other.  Laura and Bruce kiss – at this point, you’ve got to wonder who’s double-crossing who and with whom – and Bruce tells her that they’ll grab the gems and ditch Ted today, before the cops catch up with them. 


A short time later, Jim and Blair are driving down the street in the truck.  Jim is angsting about how a purely chemical reaction can have such a strong emotional component, and Blair is being sympathetic.  Jim sees Laura’s car and points it out to Blair.  There’s a woman in the front seat, and, as they watch, Bruce comes over and gets in on the driver’s side.  Then the car explodes in a huge fireball. 


At Major Crimes, Joel and Simon are discussing the explosion.  They tell Jim that Laura’s ID was found in the debris field.  Jim keeps a pretty stiff upper lip about it, and then Blair comes in with some information about Ted McCarthy.  Turns out that he and his brother were part of a performing circus group that did high-wire stuff, including crashing through a pane of glass.  After retiring from the circus, they picked Laura up and decided to make a career of heisting jewels.  Jim adds that Ted is probably the one who planted the bomb in Laura’s car, hoping to get rid of both her and his brother and take all the diamonds for himself. 


Jim and Blair head out to the hotel where Ted McCarthy is registered.  As they’re at the front desk, they see Ted come through the lobby.  He runs when he sees Jim; Jim gives chase and catches him on the roof, about to try and tightrope walk across a cable to the roof of another building. 


Then Jim gets the hotel manager to let him in to Laura’s room.  He sees packed suitcases on the floor and hears something from the bathroom.  He draws his gun, and is surprised when it’s Laura who comes out.  Seems that the woman in Laura’s car was really Cally, Bruce’s current girlfriend.  Bruce and Laura had given her Laura’s car to keep her quiet, but Ted had found out and rigged it with a bomb. 


Jim tries to arrest Laura, but she turns on the charm (and the pheromones) and begs Jim to let her go, because everyone thinks she’s dead.  At first Jim seems like he’s going to fall for her again, but then he cuffs her to the bedpost.


The episode ends with a cute tag where Jim, Simon, and Blair are talking in Simon’s office.  Turns out that Laura was the one who had blown up the car – she’d wanted both Bruce and Ted dead and then she’d have all the jewels.  The three of them banter about pheromones and women, and then Jim shows off his dry sense of humor by yanking everyone’s chain. 


Why this episode is essential:


The primary reason this is an essential episode is because it provides more information and detail about Jim’s enhanced sense of smell and how this can be affected not just by negative stimuli (i.e., by bad smells), but also by positive things like pheromones.  Also here we see, again, a link between Jim’s senses and his emotions – he really does lose his good judgment for a while there due to his attraction to Laura, although he’s able to overcome it in the end.  Even though they don’t appear in the show again, Jim’s experiences with pheromones become quite the important piece of canon that many stories are based on (especially ones where Jim and Blair get together). 


Another reason this episode is essential is because it shows the deepening of the relationship between Jim and Blair.  Whether you read it as friendship or something more, this episode shows them doing non-work-related things together, specifically, dating.  And we also get to see Blair trying to be comforting and helpful to a confused Jim who doesn’t understand why simple chemicals are affecting his behavior so much.  This is more than Blair just being a scientist who explains things to a subject or a guide who helps Jim figure out how to use his senses; this is Blair being a friend who commiserates and sympathizes with Jim. 


And, finally, this appears to be the episode wherein Jim gets a reputation for falling for red-headed, long-legged, criminal/femme fatale types.  This is in spite of the fact that we couldn’t think of another episode where Jim falls for a redhead who turns out to be a criminal. 

episode-related fanfic

Chapter Text

Flight is the 11th episode in the series, and the first episode of Season Two.  It's a turning point episode, even among the "essential" ones.  It starts off innocently enough at the PD where we find out that Simon is about to leave for Lima, Peru for a police conference.  He's decided to take his son Daryl on the trip, hoping to reconnect with the teenager.  Blair excitedly gives him a list of "must sees", but Simon already has a big fishing trip planned for after the conference.  Everyone wishes them well.  That's the last normal thing that happens.


Cut to Simon and Daryl arguing over what makes a good vacation while their helicopter pilot messes around with a clogged fuel line.  They have a bonding moment down by a river. The pilot realizes men with weapons are surrounding the 'copter and he decides to take off.   Simon and Daryl are shocked to be abandoned, and even more so when the 'copter is shot down by a surface-to-air missile.  They are surrounded and quickly captured by the men.


At the loft, Blair gets a phone call from his mentor, Eli Stoddard, inviting him on an expedition to Borneo.  It's an incredible honor to be asked and an opportunity to advance his career.  Jim is all for it; until Blair tells him he would probably be gone at least a year.  Jim asks, "What about our project… the sentinel thing" in a voice that's a bit plaintive.  Blair is torn because it is such a big opportunity.  Jim immediately says he should go, but Blair can feel the anger/hurt vibes Jim is giving off.  Before they can discuss it further, Jim gets a phone call from Captain Sandoval in Peru: Simon and Daryl's helicopter is missing.  Jim shares the news with Blair.


In the next scene, Blair is packed and ready to accompany Jim to Peru, who vetoes the idea.  Blair insists that Jim will need his help and Jim reluctantly agrees.  Jim has a friend in the government who's given him the coordinates of a downed helicopter that they believe is Simon's.  They are flown in a plane over the area, but the pilot refuses to land because of the insurgents in the area.  Jim decides to parachute in and Blair, with only a little hesitation, agrees to follow.  In a silly scene, Blair tumbles out of the plane (screaming all the way down) and lands in the trees.  He makes it to the ground safely, but somehow manages to get a lizard in his jeans, right in the crotch area.  So, a little humor while Blair digs it out and Jim watches him with feigned disinterest—but he does watch!  Then Jim gets distracted by the sight of a panther.  He looks again, but it's gone.


In the meantime,  Simon and Daryl are guests of a lumber company group who are cutting down trees.  Daryl's sharp eyes and ears help him learn that this is really a front for a cocaine factory.  He informs Simon and they try to escape; Daryl makes it but Simon is recaptured. 


Back to Jim and Blair.  Inexplicably, Jim's senses are acting wonky.  Blair tries to analyze it, but Jim has no patience to try.  They settle for the night and Jim is having the first of what we call the "blue dreams", visionary dreams associated with his sentinel abilities and responsibilities.  He sees the panther and follows it.  At the same time he's looking around calling "Sandburg… Sandburg!"  So sweet that the first person he thinks of is Blair!  He wakes and sees Blair asleep. 

The next day they find a deserted village.  Jim scouts around and gets cold-cocked by a botanist, Kimberly Ashe, who'd been studying the village.  When he comes to, she explains that mercenaries took away all the adults and she's been taking care of the children.  A short while later Jim tells Blair that his sentinel abilities are entirely gone.  Blair pushes Jim for more information, and Jim explains about the visions and dream.  Blair says it could mean that the panther is Jim's animal spirit, or it could be his subconscious, but either way Jim's got to stop fighting it.  While they're discussing it, Daryl is found.  In a really touching moment, he sees Jim and runs straight into his arms, and Jim hugs him.  What is it about Jim that makes everyone feel so safe?  Daryl explains about the drug makers and the compound.  Jim decides to scout around a little while they try to figure out an action plan.


While scouting, Jim has another blue vision.  He follows the panther to a temple where it transforms into a Spirit Guide.  He explains that Jim has been brought back to the jungle on purpose to make a choice: accept the full mantle of responsibility of a sentinel or become an ordinary man. Jim chooses to become a sentinel and instantly he can hear all kinds of things—including screams from the village. In an incredible scene, he runs to the village and is morphed (including clothing and war paint) into a jungle warrior.  He gets back to find everyone gone.  Again, he calls out for Blair.  Awwwww!


The baddies are concerned that Blair, who has claimed to be an anthropologist studying the local natives, is from the same city as Simon.  They want to question him further, so they keep him tied up with Daryl. They put Kimberly and the children in the cocaine factory, where Simon is already working. 


In an amazing show of strength, we see Jim suspending himself from the undercarriage of a truck to get into the compound.  Gotta love those biceps!  He looks around and finds grenades and bricks of C-4 and grabs some of each.  He frees Blair and Daryl and sends them to steal a truck.  He then brings Simon, Kimberly and all the villagers out of the underground factory and blows it up.  All the obligatory TS explosions and gun battles ensue, with our guys winning in the end.  The look of primal satisfaction on Warrior!Jim's face when the main bad guy dies is classic.


Back at the loft, Blair listens to a message from Eli Stoddard's secretary, asking for his decision on the expedition.  He tells Jim he's decided not to go; that he realizes that the sentinel thing is more than a research project.  In an oft-quoted line, he says "It's about friendship—I just didn't get it before."  Jim gives him the first genuine smile since the whole mess started.  Blair talks about how awesome Jim was in the jungle and asks how Jim got his sentinel abilities back.  Jim says "They just came back."  Blair doesn't believe him, but doesn't press it when it's obvious Jim doesn't want to talk about it.  They clink their beer bottles together in a toast to friendship and we're done with another episode.


So, considering that at least a third of the time we were focused on Simon and Daryl's plight, there was an awful lot of meaty Jim and Blair stuff jam-packed into this episode.  First and foremost, all the sentinel mythology.  In an interview, the creators said there was a Sentinel story arc that included all the spiritual stories.  Usually they were the first episode of each new season, and this was the first of season two.  Up until this point sentinelism was described as enhanced senses—period.  But here, we see there's mysticism involved.  We know from previous episodes that Jim's sensory abilities are directly linked to his emotions, but this spiritual element is a new twist.  The Spirit Guide says, in effect, that Jim has to choose to be a sentinel, with the implication being that there's some responsibility attached.  The Guide also tells him that his return to the jungle was an important part of the ritual.  In the dream they are standing among stones; perhaps this foreshadows the Temple of Light we see in Sentinel Too.  In the vision, Jim must stand on the edge of a cliff; choosing to be a sentinel means walking off the cliff. Is it a leap of faith, or is it symbolic that his life as an ordinary man will die as surely as if he physically walks over the edge?  In any case, he makes the choice to accept the thing that he's considered a curse for the past few years. 


A controversial subplot is the offer to go to Borneo.  Many people wonder how Blair could consider walking away when he was calling Jim his "holy grail" just a year before.  Well, I think part of it is how Blair's academic life works.  Everything is finite and temporary.  Semesters, expeditions, studies (remember Larry?), grants, papers, etc.  Even getting a degree is a few years at most.  He's had jobs, but they were probably summer jobs to get some money to go back to school.  He has absolutely no long-term career experience.  Whereas Jim was hired as a cop.  Even with an eye toward promotion where he might move around through departments, he's probably expecting to be in this career for 20 years or more.  Most of his current friends are with the department, although he still seems to keep friends from his Army days.  Even that speaks to his stability.  Blair's life is all about instability. 


However, Borneo could be a big step toward a permanent career.  It's a chance to work with a foremost expert in his field of study, and a feather in his cap that would lead to other opportunities.  It's obvious he likes field work, and this is a doozy.   He has no reason to believe that his work with Jim is anything other than the original deal—he helps Jim get control of his senses and he gets his PhD and moves on.  Jim's initial enthusiasm surprises Blair, and probably unnerves him a little.  Does Jim see Blair as becoming surplus to requirements? Then, he's faced with Jim's definition of friendship;  a single-minded "full speed ahead" rescue mission of a friend and his son.  Despite how pissy he is for most of the trip, Jim stops long enough to tell him that he's glad Blair insisted on coming.  I think this was a turning point for Blair; and why he talks about the meaning of friendship at the end of the episode.


One thing about that last scene that bothers me is why Jim doesn't tell Blair how he got his senses back.  He flat-out lies ("they just came back"), and then avoids Blair's questions by saying he's too tired to talk.  Why?  Of course, at this point we haven't seen any backstory on Jim's, for lack of a better term, abandonment issues.  We don't know yet (nor does Blair) that his mother left, that his father was distant and demanding, and that Jim's estranged from him and his brother.  We don't know that Colonel Oliver betrayed him and caused the tragic loss of life of all of his men in Peru, or that the Army ignored his claims—another betrayal.   So, did he see Blair choosing Borneo over him to be an abandonment? Is that part of why he was so pissy?  He's happy at the end that Blair chose him, but has a seed of doubt about Blair's loyalty been irrevocably planted?  Could that explain why it's so easy for him to believe Blair could betray him in TSbyBS?  This episode leaves a lot of unanswered questions.


Did Jim not tell Blair about his "trial" in the blue jungle and the spirit guide as an unconscious punishment?  Or did Jim fear it would open up the floodgates of curiosity and enthusiasm that he's come to expect of Blair?  Or did he just not want to be viewed as different—the old "freak" label that he's never been able to get over?  I don't know, but the scene does niggle at me, and has always put a little damper on my enjoyment of an otherwise awesome episode.


Essential Elements:

v  Sentinel mythology:  This is all about the myth.  Sentinels are more than just a bundle of enhanced senses--they must consciously choose to be sentinels.  We also see the establishment of the panther as Jim's animal spirit, and blue as the world of sentinel visions. 

v  Senses:  Despite the fact that the mythology of sentinelism is strong, or perhaps because of it, we don't see that much actual use of the senses.  Some hearing, some seeing, but really it's all about Jim's inner warrior here.

v  Relationship: Wow, we run the gamut here of light banter to heavy "are you going to leave me" stuff, to "I'm your partner—you've got to tell me these things" to "I'm glad you came".  Obviously they are getting more intertwined than ever.  Plus great interaction between the guys and Simon and Daryl.

v  Good use of other characters.  This was a nice spotlight on Simon and Daryl as characters, as well as their relationship.  Daryl, despite being an "impossible 14" turns out to be inventive, resourceful and sensitive.  You see that, despite his teenage posturing, he really wants to know and like his dad.  He's interested in the world around him and is not afraid to speak up.  This is also the second time he's been held hostage—both times Blair was with him! 

v  Sound byte:  It's about friendship!

v  Fanfic: There are a fair number of epilogues and missing scenes, but the majority of related fic comes from the concepts.  Animal spirit stories, sentinels hard-wired as protectors, and Jungle!Jim/Warrior!Jim stories can all trace their origins to the canon in Flight. Stories about Blair's commitment to Jim—choosing Jim over his own interests—start here.  I think a lot of the "good Simon" fic, especially as a loving father, comes from here.  Also, one of the most fascinating developments is Eli Stoddard.  He's a character we never see or even hear, since it's his secretary on the phone; yet there's a fair amount of fic written about him.  Perhaps because we know so little about Blair, what type of mentor he'd have has fueled our imaginations.

episode-related fanfic



Chapter Text

It’s night, and we see an old-model car coming down a deserted road.  The car comes to a stop, and the driver lights up a cigarette.  We see he has a briefcase full of money.  Lights flash; there’s another car coming down the road towards the first car.  We hear a gunshot as the scene fades.



The scene shifts to day as a car – the car we just saw – is being pulled from the water.  We’re told it’s four years later.  Simon is telling Jim and Blair that, when a car went off the bridge a few hours ago, the divers found another car in the water as well.  Simon and Jim both seem to know who the car belongs to – a cop named Jack Pendergrast.  Jim is acting weird, and Blair is confused.  A woman arrives at the scene, who Simon identifies as Sheila Irwin; she used to be part of Major Crimes, but now she’s a cop with Internal Affairs. 


Jim smells something bad in the trunk of the car.  When they open it, they find a dead body.  It’s not Jack, though; Sheila identifies it as a guy named Philip Brackley.  Sheila and Jim have a testy exchange, and Blair realizes that Jack Pendergrast was Jim’s partner and Philip Brackley was a kidnapping victim.  Simon acknowledges this and tells Blair that Jack was supposed to deliver the ransom money – a million dollars – but, instead, he vanished and the ransom was never paid.  Everyone believes that Jack stole the money and probably killed the kidnappers and the victim. 


Everyone except Jim, that is.


That night, Jim’s sitting at his desk in the bullpen, thinking about the past.  Courtesy of his flashback, we get to see a very different Jim than the one we know now; a Jim when he first joined Major Crimes.  He’s seriously dressed-down – jeans, baseball cap, some kind of flannel-looking shirt with the arms cut off – and he’s sporting a major 70’s porn-star mustache as well as an earring in one ear.  Meet Vice!Jim. 


We learn that Vice!Jim has a bit of a problem with authority, as well as with being in control of his actions in the field.  A harassed and newly-in-charge Simon assigns him Jack Pendergrast as a partner, telling Jim that if “You screw up one more time, you’ll wish you were back on Vice.”  Jack calls Jim “Slick” and warns him to lose the attitude, which Jim proceeds to demonstrate in spades as he bumps into Sheila Irwin and causes her to spill coffee on herself.  Jack also tells Jim to dress more professionally, and “lose the earring” if he’s going to ride with him.  We start to get the feeling that Jack had a profound effect on Jim in the short time they were partners.


Simon, Jim, and Blair come down to the Forensics Department garage to take a look at Jack’s car.  Sheila is there, waiting for them, and tells them that Philip Brackley was killed by two shots to the head.  They found the gun wedged behind the spare tire.  Problem is, it’s registered to Jim.  Sheila advises Jim to get a lawyer and leaves.


Jim explains to Simon and Blair that he’d bought the gun and given it to Jack as a birthday present.  But Jack had disappeared two days later, before the registration could be changed.  So Jim reported it missing.  Simon and Jim have a testy exchange about Jack – Simon, despite respecting Jack as a cop, obviously thinks he was a little dirty and had a gambling problem.  Jim continues to insist that Jack is innocent, and eventually walks off.  Simon tells Blair to “keep an eye on him.”


In the truck, Jim grumps about how a worried Blair is giving him “concerned glances – like somebody’s lost puppy dog.”  In a combination of exposition and flashbacks, he tells Blair the facts of the case: Philip Brackley was the son of Warren Brackley, a lumber tycoon in Cascade.  When he was kidnapped, even his father thought it was a hoax, a ploy on Philip’s part to get money out of his father.  Monique, Warren’s wife, was the one who called the police.  We also meet in flashback Art Landis, one of Warren Brackley’s employees who has known Philip since he was a teenager.  We’re told that Philip liked to hang out in seedy dives and other dangerous places, although Art hasn’t had any luck finding him in the usual locations. 


Fast forward to current day, and Jim and Blair are interviewing Monique Brackley, now the head of the Brackley lumber conglomerate since her husband’s death.  We learn that Warren died about three months after Philip was kidnapped.  Clearly Monique and Art both believe that Jack was responsible for Philip’s death, and they’re not interested in helping Jim clear Jack’s name or figure out what happened.  As Jim and Blair leave Monique’s office, they bump into someone who Jim thinks looks familiar, although he can’t place him.


Jim decides that he needs to go through Jack’s belongings again, in the hopes that he’ll find something new.  A woman named Emily Carson has the key to Jack’s storage locker, and this prompts a series of flashbacks where we learn that Emily was Jack’s girlfriend – sort of.  We see Jim – slowly working towards that more professional dressing thing, but rid of the mustache at least – helping Jack move his stuff into Emily’s place.  Except that Emily is not at all on board with this plan.  She, in fact, tells Jack that it’s over between them.  Jack pleads for one more chance, but Emily stands firm and Jack drives off in a huff, leaving Jim there with his boxes.  Emily then comes on to Jim, who turns her down with an “Emily… he’s my partner.” 


Back to present day – Jim and Blair are at Emily’s house.  She answers the door, a young boy in tow.  She tells Jim that she’s married now and her husband doesn’t know about Jack, and she wants it to stay that way.  She gives Jim the key and wishes him good luck, although it seems like there’s maybe something more going on than that.


At the storage facility, Blair asks Jim about what went on between him and Emily, but Jim ignores him in favor of Jack’s appointment book.  There’s an entry for the day he disappeared that reads “Dent. – 9:30 am.”  Jim and Blair are discussing what this might mean when Jim hears someone lighting a match and setting a bunch of paper on fire.  He goes to the door of the storage locker, but it’s jammed (we see a mysterious gloved someone putting a piece of wood under the doorknob).  Fortunately, there’s a car engine hanging from the ceiling by chains, and Jim gets Blair to help him use it to break open the jammed door.  They rush out together through the smoke and fire. 


Next day, and Jim is testifying at an IA panel.  Sheila is questioning him, clearly doubting his story that he bought the gun to give to Jack.  She accuses Jim of setting the fire at the storage facility on purpose to destroy evidence that might incriminate him.  She goes on to describe how Jack was the one who was chosen to deliver the ransom to the kidnappers, because no one could get in touch with Jim, and tells Jim that Jack called him that night, just before he disappeared.  Jim denies talking with Jack that night, but Sheila clearly thinks that he and Jack were in cahoots and split the money.  As evidence, she brings up the fact that, shortly after Jack’s disappearance, Jim purchased the loft for $50,000 dollars.  She gives Jim an opening to explain where he got the money, but he doesn’t say anything. 


Later, Jim and Blair are called in to Simon’s office.  Simon has been ordered to take Jim off the Brackley case and put him on desk duty until the IA investigation is over.  Blair asks why Jim just doesn’t tell them where the 50 grand came from, but Jim explains that it was back pay from the military for the time he was in Peru and, since it was covert operations, there’s no record of the payment and no way for him to prove where he got the money from (I know, I know, don’t get me started on how big a plot hole this is). 


Jim is frustrated at not being able to investigate the case, since this is his career that’s at stake.  Simon asks him what his next move would be, and Jim says he wants to examine Jack’s car.  Simon then “accidentally” leaves his access card on his desk. 


Jim and Blair use the card to get into the garage.  Jim, using his sense of touch, determines that Jack was shot at close range with a shotgun.  They get Serena to look for unidentified dead bodies that were found around where Jack’s car was pulled from the river.  One of them, that has severe trauma to the face, has a missing little toe.  Jackpot – Jim and Simon identify this as Jack, who apparently was well-known for his vanity around his missing toe. 


But the information comes too late – IA has turned their case against Jim over to the District Attorney, who has demanded that Simon suspend Jim pending the outcome of their investigation.  Jim has to hand over his badge and gun. 


Simon still wants to help, though, and over pizza (although Jim doesn’t eat), he and Blair get Jim to reveal (with more flashbacks) that the reason he won’t tell anyone where he was the night Jack was killed is because he was having sex with Emily.  Emily is married, with a kid, and Jim refuses to drag her into this, even if it means he’s not able to prove his innocence.  Simon asks about the phone message Jack left, but Jim says he didn’t hear anything, and when he tried to listen to the message the next day, he somehow deleted it instead. 


Back at the loft, Jim is still worrying about the case, and Blair is still trying to get Jim to eat.  Jim can’t figure out why the kidnappers killed Jack… unless… he realizes that Jack must have known who they were.  Blair surmises that that might have been what Jack called to tell Jim that night, which Jim finds unhelpful, because they’ll never know what that message said.


Blair has an idea, though.  He believes that Jim had his enhanced senses at that time, even though he wasn’t actively using them, and that he can “reprocess” his memory of that night and use his sense of hearing to focus in on what the message said.  Jim is willing to try (for once!).  Blair gets him to relax and focus on that night – it’s hard, because of Jim’s guilt, but eventually he’s able to hear the message Jack left.  In the message, Jack says that he met with Sanford Dent that morning, and that he and Jim need to do some serious detective work once this is all over.


Jim tells Blair that Sanford Dent is the guy they saw at Monique’s office the other day – he’s the Brackley’s lawyer, and Blair surmises that Dent told Jack something about the kidnapping, something that caused Jack to get killed.  They go to Dent’s house to find him, but his wife says he just left.  Jim notices brake fluid on the ground where Dent’s car was parked; they hurry after him, but they’re too late – Dent’s car has crashed and Dent is dead. 


All is not lost, though: Jim finds a briefcase in Dent’s car with two versions of Warren Brackley’s will in it – one in which Philip inherits everything, and one, drawn up a few days after Philip’s disappearance, in which Monique inherits, provided Philip remains missing for seven years.  Simon and Jim realize that Jack had found this out, and had been shot by Monique, who had engineered Philip’s kidnapping. 


When Monique is confronted at her office, she initially denies it, but then implicates Art as her co-conspirator.  Art implicates her in turn, and tries to shoot Monique.  Jim goes after Art, after telling Blair to cuff Monique.  He chases Art through the lumber yard, with an exciting hand-to-hand combat sequence on logs floating in the water.  Art eventually falls in the water and Jim has him. 


We end at the cemetery, where Jack is getting a proper burial.  At first it doesn’t look like Jim is present, but then the camera pulls back and we see him and Emily on a hillside overlooking the grave.  Jim talks about how Jack would have hated all this ceremony, and expresses some guilt that he didn’t solve the case earlier.  Emily wonders out loud what might have happened if she and Jim hadn’t gotten together; if Jack had lived.  Jim says he wonders about it, too, sometimes. 


Why this episode is essential:


Backstory.  Backstory, backstory, backstory.  There’s a veritable goldmine of important backstory for Jim in this ep.  His time in Vice, his partnership with Jack and its effect on him, where he got the money to buy the loft, his early problems with authority, what Jim was like after he left the Army… the list goes on and on and on. 


We also get more insight into Jim’s character in this ep, particularly his capacity for guilt and how he deals with it.  Although his guilt doesn’t directly affect his senses, he clearly feels guilty about Jack’s death and that he didn’t work harder to clear his name when he disappeared.  He also clearly feels guilty about Emily and the potential role that he sees their relationship playing, albeit indirectly, in Jack’s death. 


This is the only episode to mention Jack Pendergrast, as well as Emily, unfortunately.  But both these characters have grabbed the attention of fandom, especially Jack, and there are a lot of good stories and meta that draw on them.  Jack’s role as Jim’s partner seems to have been especially important, given the change that we see in Jim, and there’s lots of speculation as to why, as well as just good old-fashioned interest in the relationship between them, whether you see it as friendship or slashy.


There’s some good use of the senses in this episode as well.  Jim’s use of touch to make out the impressions on Jack’s car left by the shotgun is nicely done, and Blair’s idea that Jim could go back and “reprocess” his memory of the message Jack left is a good one. 


And, finally, there’s a lot of touching between Jim and Blair.  The scene where Jim examines Jack’s car is a particularly good one, but there’s also a couple of other scenes – the one where they go after Dent, for example.  Blair’s clear concern and “mothering” of Jim is another indication, in this episode, that the relationship between the two of them is getting deeper and stronger. 

episode-related fanfic


Chapter Text

The Rig takes place mid-second season and is one of those episodes where you have to suspend your disbelief a lot and just hang on to the shiny.  I'll point out both along the way.


We open with a shot of an oil rig, owned by Cyclops Oil (which might sound familiar if you've seen Warriors).   Inside we see a man, who, after having a hasty phone conversation, goes into a decompression chamber, ostensibly to do some work.  Outside, someone closes the hatch  and jams it shut with a big wrench.  You can guess what happens next.  Yes, the pressure is on, well above what the body can tolerate, and he dies a horrible death.


Cut to the loft where Jim is having a hissy fit over Blair's sloppy ways.  Yes, Blair should be a little neater, considering his roomie is extra sensitive to the smell of moldering leftovers.   But being upset over a little messiness comes under the heading of anal, which Blair unwisely points out.  He's in the middle of reiterating Jim's (in Blair's opinion ridiculous) house rules when the phone rings.  Time to go to work!


Cut to the PD, where Simon is assigning the investigation of the rig guy's death to Jim.  Jim wonders whether this should be Coast Guard jurisdiction; Simon tells him with the upcoming storm they're short-handed.  But, really, it's because the Coast Guard captain is a buddy of Simon's.  Well, that at least explains why it didn't get shoved to Homicide, because this definitely doesn't look like a major crime.  So the guys are packed off to investigate.  So, here's Suspend Your Disbelief (SYD) #1:  Simon would send Jim to a place 40 miles offshore where a potential murder has happened with no back-up immediately available if things go south.  With a civilian police observer.  ::sighs::


Next shot our guys are passengers in a helicopter with Blair chatting away. Hey, isn't he scared of heights?  Perhaps that jump out of the airplane in Flight cured him.  The pilot reveals that she's a woman after some "man against the sea" remark and calls Blair "Lambchop" and Jim "Beefstick".  Shiny!  Cute, suggestive nicknames alert!  She also remarks on Blair's tight little butt, although how she could tell with the ugly orange jumpsuit on, I'm not sure.  But it makes Jim smile. They land on the rig, with Jim looking a bit peaked. 


Blair suggests they try to ease themselves into the rig's closed society, but Jim nixes it and goes for his tried and true "listen up, I'm a cop and I want some answers" technique.  He gets mixed reactions; everything from "I was asleep when it happened" to silence to hostility.  It's going well.  The biggest "I don't know" comes from the medic, who knows nothing other than the cause of death.  Jim goes to the tank.  He feels a tingle when he touches the hatch wheel; Blair, not surprisingly, feels nothing. Jim also notices that there are several ways the guy could have gotten out of the tank or controlled the pressure; since all of them failed he's suspecting foul play.  Finally, he finds the wrench we saw in the first shot and there's little marks where it was locked against the hatch wheel.  Now we've got a murder!


So, despite the fact that Jim is the lone police officer 40 miles from backup and surrounded by indifferent or hostile people, he announces in front of Maggie—the Blair-ass-admiring pilot—and  another guy that they are going to need a crime scene unit.  What happened to "everyone is a suspect" while you have an ongoing investigation, Jim?  Perhaps he thinks she must be trustworthy because he also thinks Blair's ass is cute.    So SYD #2, closed-mouthed Jim is not able to be discreet in hostile territory.  Well, he's out of luck anyway because a big storm is coming in fast.   Even worse, Jim confesses to Blair that he's got a deep water phobia; so his anxiety is heightened as much as his senses.  This doesn't stop Jim from making enemies on board and from the situation deteriorating. 


Someone starts a fire, perhaps to cover up evidence.  Jim runs into an ex-con whom he arrested and sent to jail who is now working on the rig (what are the odds, eh?)  Blair gets conked on the head by the radio antenna, which was sabotaged so they can't call out.  Jim leaves Blair in Maggie's tender hands (more bad luck there) and investigates on his own; always a bad idea.  There's another dead body and, just when Jim is trying to call Blair to back him up, someone shoves him in a vat of crude oil.  Gross and slippery.  At first, Blair tries to pull him up, forgetting their respective sizes and that Jim is COVERED IN OIL.  Blair finally uses a crane with a hook that Jim can latch on to and gets him out.


Because you had to go through a LOT of SYD here, it's time for a shiny.  Jim in the shower!  We don't actually see him showering, but we can imagine it just fine.  As he's toweling off (and we are secretly drooling), he lets Blair in on what he's detected.  Apparently there's a conspiracy going on that has to do with chemical weapons (the tingly feeling Jim felt on the hatch door, remember?).  The second dead body was covered in lesions and burns.  Jim suspects the divers found the stuff on a sunken ship and are planning to sell it to a third world nation for big bucks.  The guy with the lesions got accidentally exposed and the guy in the chamber probably wouldn't play ball with the rest.  And all this time, Jim is toweling himself off right in front of us.  Worth the price of admission!


So, finally, they stop jabbering and we see Jim come out wrapped only in a towel and looking gorgeous.  Maggie thinks so too, but not enough to prevent her from holding a gun on them.  Yes, Jim, she is one of the baddies.  She graciously fills in the missing pieces—that the sunken ship was heading to Viet Nam and they are all going to be rich once they get rid of the pesky cops.  So now she wants Jim to get dressed so they can take them away and shoot them.  But first, she wants him to drop the towel.  He obliges and hands it to Blair who, despite the gravity of the situation, smirks.  ::sighs::  They are adorable together.


Off they go to their doom, but someone turns off the lights and the tables are turned.  It's Brower, the ex-con, who turns out to be the good guy.  He wasn't in on the chemical weapons scheme and he was the one who called the Coast Guard anonymously about the original murder.  Everything looks great, for about 30 seconds, and then the rest of the baddies show up.  The tables are turned again.


Well, rather than shoot Jim and Blair, they handcuff them to some overhead pipes.  Blair tries to appeal to Maggie to go straight, but she regretfully refuses, saying he's cute, but not that cute.  She is so wrong.  Later, we learn that they set a bomb on the rig to get rid of our guys plus all the other workers who weren't in on the crime. 


So they've got 20 minutes left to live.  Blair, always thinking, notices some dripping oil nearby and remembers just how slippery it can be.  He uses it to lube the handcuffs and he's out in a flash. He oils Jim up (snerk) and Jim's loose too! They get up top and see that the baddies haven't taken off yet.  Jim, despite his phobia, decides to swim to the ship to stop them.  Blair suggests going into a controlled zone so Jim's focused on the task and not the water.  Blair takes off to see if he can get the radio fixed and call the cavalry.  Meanwhile, Jim makes it to the ship and  overhears the baddies talking about the bomb.  He finds the ship's communication room and radios Blair about the bomb; urging him to get off the rig.  Quick, Blair!  Jim doesn't want to lose you! 


But Blair, concerned about the rest of the innocent people on board, goes in search of the bomb.  Fortunately, it's not nearly as complicated to disarm as Brackett's Ebola bomb, so he just pulls out a wire with one second to spare.  Whew!


A few minutes later, the baddies realize the bomb didn't go off and get antsy.  Before they can come up with Plan B, Jim gets the jump on them.  The Coast Guard shows up, courtesy of Simon who finally put two and two together.  Jim apologizes to Brower for suspecting him.   Blair congratulates Jim on conquering his phobia.  Jim, who probably is worried sick inside at almost losing Blair, covers it with macho posturing.  He doesn't say he was worried, he doesn't say he's so happy Blair is alive (and, incidentally, a hero), he doesn't thank Blair for giving him the valuable focused zoning tip, and he razzes Blair with a new set of house rules.  They banter off into the sunset.


Essential Elements:

v  Relationship:  A nice little domestic scene at the beginning, despite the squabbling.  It doesn't stop Jim from going into a very volatile situation with no backup except for Blair.  Interestingly, most of the rescuing comes from Blair's side.  He's able to help Jim figure out his phobia and cope with it, he saves Jim from the oil and he disarms the bomb, all after he gets conked on the head with a huge antenna.  And how come he didn't get any credit from Simon or Jim?  Grrrr.  BTW, did you see them right after Blair gets the antenna smack-down?  Look at how Jim holds him—almost identical to the garage scene in  Blind Man's Bluff.  Just saying.

v  Senses:  Touch: the minute traces of chemicals.  Sight: finding the wrench and then the dings on it, and the lesions on the dead body.  Hearing: overhears the bad guys plotting, gets a spike from a machine whine.  Positive use of zone: focusing on sight to the exclusion of everything else to block out his nervousness.  Smell: the smoke from the fire.

v  Sound bytes:  Lambchop!  Beefstick! Color-coded leftovers!  Don't flush past 10!  Eye candy too, in the form of naked Jim, which fen and characters appreciated.

v  Fanfic:  There's actually quite a bit more fanfic related to the episode that I would have thought.  But the gold mine is in the essentials.  Sooo many stories that revolve around Blair's messiness, Jim's neatness and the house rules.  Beefstick and Lambchop actually became the title of a series of anthology slash print zines. 

episode-related fanfic


Chapter Text

We come upon Jim and Blair as they’re working on catching a car thief.  There’s bait – a black Ferrari – driven by a cop, and Jim is waiting for the trap to close to make the arrest.  Unfortunately for him, the thieves realize that it’s a trap when they catch the driver wearing a wire.  Two of the thieves escape in a BMW, but Jim manages to arrive in time to catch a third thief, who was driving a semi and couldn’t get away in time. 



Back at the PD, Jim and Blair are discussing the case with Simon.  Jim is frustrated because they didn’t catch the leaders of the car theft ring, but Blair and Simon offer reassurance that they’ll be able to get some information out of the driver, Tony DeLuca, as he has prior convictions and they can use the threat of the “three strike” law. 


The phone rings and Simon answers it, but it becomes clear it’s not for him, but for Blair.  He hands the phone over with an admonishment to Blair to not use his office phone for his dating attempts.  Blair protests mildly, and we find out why when he takes the phone from Simon – the woman on the line is his mom.  Jim looks alarmed.


A little later, Blair is trying to convince Jim to let his mom stay at the loft for a few days.  He explains that she’s just coming through Cascade on her way to LA for a spiritual retreat.  Jim is somewhat reluctant, but Blair assures him that his mom – Naomi – being there for a few days won’t cramp their style.  He explains that his mom is “one of the original hippies”, very open and accepting, and talks about how she used to live with Timothy Leary, whom he thought, at one time, might have been his father.  We learn that Naomi has had a number of short-term relationships, which Blair seems to regard as a good thing, as it apparently got him to a lot of sporting events. 


Back to the case at hand.  Jim sweats Tony DeLuca, who tells him that Francine Barrett is the head of the local ring, and that Bill Petrie is her boss.  Jim has heard of Petrie, who has connections to the mob and is suspected of a series of race car thefts.  He goes to Simon and proposes a plan whereby DeLuca, who can’t drive due to his broken arm, introduces Jim to Francine as his cousin and proposes him as a replacement.  Jim will, therefore, be in the perfect position to not just stop Francine, but also catch Petrie.  Simon is a bit dubious about Jim’s skill level for this, but Jim assures him that he can drive a semi, and Simon tells him to set up the  meeting. 


Cut to the PD impound lot, where Jim is mangling the hell out of the gears of a semi, and Blair is laughing at him.  Turns out that Jim drove a semi just once, in high school, and it didn’t have a trailer attached.  Blair gives him some pointers, and tells Jim that he once spent a summer driving across the country in his uncle’s rig. 


This adorable conversation is cut short when Jim’s cell phone rings.  He answers it, then looks confused – turns out it’s Naomi.  He hands the phone over to Blair, but the conversation – mainly around rearranging Jim’s furniture in line with the next harmonic convergence – doesn’t make him feel confident.  He offers to pay for Naomi to go stay in a hotel, but Blair waves him off.


They go home to the loft, and Jim immediately starts sneezing.  Blair tells him that Naomi is burning sage to cleanse the loft of “bad vibes”; he didn’t tell Naomi that Jim’s sense of smell might be too sensitive for that sort of thing.  She’s also cooking Blair’s favorite dish, which is tongue.  Naomi and Jim get introduced, but Blair explains that they have to leave right away for some “cop stuff”.  Naomi asks if she can go along, but Blair and Jim both say no.  As they’re leaving the loft, Jim comments on how attractive Naomi is.  Blair is not amused. 


Jim and Blair meet DeLuca for the introduction, but things don’t go as planned.  Jim is driving the semi with DeLuca, while Francine gets in the truck with Blair, pulls a gun on him, and orders him to drive.  Unbeknownst to both Jim and Blair, Naomi is watching from a distance and sees Blair get abducted.  As they drive off, she goes to the phone and calls the police. 


Jim and DeLuca arrive at the warehouse some time behind Francine and Blair.  Gary, another one of the thieves, is also there.  Francine is unimpressed with Jim’s driving skills (he’s still grinding gears), but Jim, thinking quickly, tells her that Blair’s the driver she wants, and the two of them always work as a team.  After some negotiation, Francine agrees.


No one appears all that happy with this arrangement.  As Jim, Blair, and DeLuca drive back in Jim’s truck, both Blair and DeLuca raise objections, which Jim pushes aside.  At the warehouse, Gary tells Francine he doesn’t trust her choice of drivers.  And, back at the PD, Simon turns out to be on Blair’s side – he thinks it’s too risky for Blair to be the driver.  Blair is usually eager to help out, but he says he has a bad feeling about this job.  Jim reassures him, though, telling him he’ll have his back.  He also tells Blair that if they back out now, any chance to get Petrie or these guys will be lost. 


Blair remains unconvinced, until he goes into Simon’s office and sees Naomi there.  Naomi is furious about what Blair is doing, the danger he’s putting himself into, and demands that he stop his association with the PD.  But Blair, bolstered by Simon’s support, refuses and says it’s his choice.  Naomi leaves in a huff, with Blair calling after her to remember to “Detach with love.”  There’s a really cute scene where Blair tries to hug Simon in thanks for his support, but Simon will have none of it.


Blair is still having second thoughts the next day at the warehouse, though, and this isn’t helped when Jim reveals that they actually do have to steal a car, and they might be undercover for as long as a few months, given that they’re trying to get Petrie.  Jim does try to reassure Blair, though, in his own unique way.


Jim, Francine, and Gary start the job off by blocking a guy driving a Rolls-Royce.  Jim pulls a gun on the guy and Gary pulls him out of the car, then gets in and gets ready to drive the Rolls off.  But Jim has noticed that the driver is having distress, and tries to help the guy.  Gary orders him to get into the car, but Jim refuses.  Finally Gary drives off.  Francine, in the other car, is furious, but Jim refuses to listen to her, and calls 911 for help.  As he hears sirens approach, he gets into the car with Francine and they drive away. 


Back at the warehouse, after the job, Gary is upset and arguing with Francine.  He has a bad feeling about Jim, but he can’t put his finger on why.  Francine stands up for Jim, pointing out that, if the driver had died, they’d all be in a lot more trouble. 


Sometime later, Francine is talking to Petrie on the phone.  She’s arguing with him that she hasn’t been taking any unnecessary risks, but he doesn’t sound entirely convinced.  Jim, with Blair at his side, is listening in on the conversation with his enhanced hearing.  Petrie wants Francine to shut down operations, but she tempts him by telling him she’s found a Lamborghini, a car Petrie wants badly.  She assures him that she’ll make sure of everything and nothing will go wrong. 


Jim and Blair head back to the loft and Jim checks in with Simon, who is worried about the potential for things going wrong, such as if the driver of the Rolls died.  Jim reassures Simon that he knows what he’s doing (and mentions that he was a medic), and that nothing else will go wrong.  Simon agrees, but reiterates that if there’s any sign of things going bad, for Jim, Blair, or anyone, Jim has to get out and they’ll let the Feds take over. 


Meanwhile, Naomi has been meditating in the living room of the loft – apparently for quite some time.  When she comes out, she tells Blair that she’s been working on processing her feelings about his police work with Jim.  She apologizes for being so rigid, although she continues to express some concern for Blair.  They hug, and everything seems fine, when there’s a knock at the door.  Jim goes to answer it, and Gary and Francine barge in, guns drawn.


Gary is concerned that Jim has been watching them, which might means he’s a cop.  Jim and Blair keep the ruse going, and Jim disarms Gary.  But then he returns Gary’s gun in an apparent goodwill gesture.  Gary doesn’t buy it and leaves in a huff, but Francine seems convinced that Jim and Blair are still on her side.  Naomi seems to find it all pretty exciting.


The next day, Jim and Blair are back at the warehouse.  Jim suggests that Blair get to know Francine a little better, as a means of getting more information.  Blair goes in and talks to Francine as she eats lunch.  She tells Blair about how she got into car theft, and he talks about how his dad and grandfather smuggled liquor and other contraband.  She gets a call from Petrie during the conversation, and Blair overhears her say that the Lamborghini is set up for the next morning.  Petrie doesn’t have a buyer yet, which makes Francine nervous, but she agrees to do the job.  Blair also hears that Petrie will be arriving personally to oversee the job. 


Back at Simon’s office, Blair and Jim fill Simon in on what Blair heard.  Since Petrie doesn’t have a buyer, this is a perfect opportunity to get someone from Cascade PD to be that person and catch Petrie.  Simon asks who they could get to be the buyer, and Jim gives Blair a look.


Later that evening, Gary is walking along the street when Jim and Blair grab him from behind and shove him into the back of a van.  Naomi is back there, playing the part of a head of an import/export company.  She tells Gary that she wants the Lamborghini, and, with Jim and Blair’s help, convinces him to cut Francine out of the deal.


Gary goes to the warehouse and tells Petrie and Francine about the offer (omitting the part, of course, where he’s getting a better cut than Francine).  Petrie agrees, but tells Francine she has to shut the operation down afterwards – he’s clearly not confident in her ability to manage the ring. 


At the loft, Jim is making final arrangements with Simon on the phone.  Naomi, excited by her brush with undercover law enforcement, asks Blair if he thinks she should stay around, but he convinces her to go.  Jim leaves to go to the warehouse to stall Gary, after telling Blair to wait for Simon to call about the money.  Blair takes Naomi down to her car, but before they can get there, they’re accosted by Francine, who has a gun.


Meanwhile, Jim is at the warehouse, trying to reassure an antsy Gary, while worrying about where Blair is.  Finally, Gary has had enough, and he leaves in the semi to get the car.  Jim runs after him.  Francine, with Blair and Naomi in another semi, plans to grab the Lamborghini and leave before Petrie can stop her.  Blair begs her to let Naomi go, but she refuses.  Gary tells Petrie that they’ve been double-crossed, just as Petrie sees Francine approaching the car. 


Francine forces Naomi into the Lamborghini and takes off, Petrie giving chase in his limo.  Blair gets out of the semi and chases after the Lamborghini.  Jim uses his truck to make Gary stop and then disables Petrie’s limo by shooting the tires.  The Lamborghini pulls up just as cops come swarming in from all directions.  Blair gets Naomi out of the Lamborghini as Francine, Gary, and Petrie all get arrested.  He’s relieved to find that Naomi is okay.


Blair comes back to the loft later that evening to find candles lit in the loft and laughter coming from Jim’s room.  He goes up to find Naomi and Jim, drinking wine and eating tongue.  Naomi is showing Jim some of Blair’s baby pictures. 


Why this episode is essential:


If Deep Water gives us a lot of backstory about Jim, then it’s Spare Parts that gives us a lot of backstory about Blair.  We meet Naomi, his hippie mother, and learn that he spent his childhood not really knowing who his father was.  We also learn a lot about Naomi herself – that she’s a vegetarian, follows a “New Age” spirituality, doesn’t like to settle down in one place, and has definite strong negative beliefs about police and police work.  These attitudes are often attributed to Blair, as well, although there’s rarely direct canon for it and often direct canon that contradicts it – for example, in this very episode Blair talks about how much he likes tongue, so he’s clearly not a vegetarian.  There’s also a lot of speculation about who Blair’s father is, a question that is never answered in canon, except obliquely by the Timothy Leary reference.  We also learn that Blair knows how to drive a semi, and there’s some speculation on the truth of what he tells Francine – that his father and grandfather were smugglers (he might know this as family history, despite not knowing exactly who his father is). 


There’s also the introduction of a potential attraction between Jim and Naomi, although most fans feel that there’s really more of a mother-in-law vibe between the two of them, and Jim is just milking this to annoy and tease Blair.  It’s certain that there are several adorable interactions between Jim and Blair about this. 


This is also the first episode where Blair starts to get some appreciation for what he’s doing for the PD.  Simon is (relatively) quick to come to Blair’s defense when they’re in his office with Naomi, and Blair is very appreciative of the support (perhaps potentially too appreciative for Simon’s liking). 


As far as Jim and Blair go, this is an interesting episode because it’s one in which Blair isn’t actually all that eager to help, in contrast to earlier episodes.  He doesn’t really want to go undercover, and Jim has to do quite a bit of work to convince him. 

episode-related fanfic

In addition to the stories linked above, you can find more stories about Naomi through the Naomi Sandburg tag at Sentinelficfind.  Be warned, these might not all be Good!Naomi stories… for reasons that will become clearer at the end of these essential episodes, Naomi is not always held in high esteem by some within the fandom. 


You can also check out TS All Stars, a LJ community specifically for fic and art around folks in the TS universe besides Jim and Blair.  There’s an index of stories here.


And, finally, here’s the Naomi Sandburg stories index on Magician's LJ.


Chapter Text

Blind Man's Bluff takes place about mid-way through the second season.  The first scene has the guys eating hot dogs in the park, obviously on a lunch break.  A cute aside: A dog comes up begging for food and it's actually Richard Burgi's dog (the actor who plays Jim).  Jim says "Whose dog is this?" before feeding him a bit of food.



Jim is talking about wanting to go out with a friend of Blair's named Margaret.  He hasn't seen her but likes her voice.  Actually that's pretty cool that he's not worried about whether she's a fox before going out.  Blair is not happy with the idea, thinking it will be awkward for him if they don't hit it off because he's friends with both.  He also intimates that she's not particularly attractive.   The pleasantries don't last long as Jim gets a call to respond to a possible jumper at the dam (yes, Cascade has a dam, doesn't every big city?).  It's a teenage girl who's obviously high on a hallucinogen, because everything is "so pretty".  Jim talks to her tenderly and tries to get her to come down.  Instead she jumps and he catches her by her jacket.  While others rush to help him, she unzips her jacket and falls. 


Later at the PD we learn her name was Lisa, she was 16 and the drug she was on is called Golden, because people claim to see everything with a golden glow around it.  It's currently a small operation, but the makers want a chance for wider distribution.  Jim decides on a sting, with him as the front man for a fictitious drug king pin.  But first he needs info on how to find these mugs.  So he makes arrangements to meet with one of his snitches, called "Sneaks".  Blair guesses it's because he sneaks around, but in reality he has a jones for high-class sneakers.  Jim, wisely, is wearing normal shoes, but Sneaks immediately starts salivating over Blair's cool shoes.  Sneaks comes up with the info on the Golden guys and Blair and his shoes are soon parted.  He has a few choice words for Jim.


So, they go to the amateur drag racing location where the drug guys are supposed to be.  Jim uses his usual bravado style to bamboozle them into thinking he's the front man for Cyrus, a fictitious drug lord.  They give him a little baggie of Golden "on account" and Jim (stupidly) fiddles with the baggie.  Blair warns him not to, but it's too late.  Sentinel sensitivities being what they are, that's enough for Jim to start hallucinating; he keels over, then loses his sight.  When a doctor examines him, he tells Jim that it's not blindness in the traditional sense, because he can see light instead of darkness and his eyes are reacting just fine to external stimuli.  He believes Jim will get better, but no guarantees.  Yikes!


Jim being Jim, he decides to hoodwink Simon by pretending to be sighted.  Blair, ever faithful, tries to help him out as Jim does a dog and pony show.  Eventually Simon catches on and wants to take Jim off active duty altogether.  In the famous Ellison "I'm personally responsible for everything mode", Jim explains that he can still see the girl at the dam.  And besides, he's already set things up with the bad guys.  They'd get suspicious if someone else tries to fill in.  Simon, used to losing when these two gang up on him, capitulates.  As a capper, Margaret shows up at the office and Jim makes a date.


At the loft, Blair explains that Jim might be able to use his other senses to compensate.  He teaches him echolocation, a technique bats use (now "blind as a bat" has some meaning).  Jim, for the first time, wonders what he will do if his sight is permanently gone.  Blair theorizes that the drug gave his sight a power surge and that Jim needs to re-make the connections, but how to actually do it is a little fuzzy. 


The bad guys call, wanting to set up a meet.  Jim has a suitcase full of money and Blair has binoculars and a radio transmitter/receiver.  Blair guides him to the site, describing everything.  The exchange goes well, until an "enforcer" type shows up and discovers Jim is wired for sound.  Blair uses a nifty laser pointer to scare them into thinking he's a sniper and Jim is able to brazen his way out of the situation.  Back at the loft, his sight isn't any better.  A knock at the door and—surprise!—Margaret has brought a bottle of wine.  Jim pretends he has a migraine, but that doesn't dissuade her.  Jim asks Blair to be alone with Margaret, explaining that if he's going to be blind permanently, he has to start learning to cope.  Poignant moment!  Blair leaves.


Cut to a diner where Jim is explaining how sensual a buttermilk donut smells and Blair wants to know how the date with Margaret went.  The bad guys call to set up another swap and everyone gathers for the big bust.  Just as it's about to happen, someone starts shooting at the group and the bad guys scatter.  In another Suspend Your Disbelief moment, Jim asks Blair to identify where the shooter is and goes after him.  Jim and the shooter literally fall on each other.  We discover the guy is Lisa's (from the dam) father, who thought Jim was a corrupt cop who was responsible for distributing Golden and, consequently, killing his daughter.  Lisa's dad is remorseful and apologetic for screwing up. But the milk is spilt and the bad guys have figured out that Jim is a cop.  They plan to dump the Golden they have for half-price on the streets to raise capital to get out of town.  And they also decide on a little revenge on the cops.


So, here's a HUGE Suspend Your Disbelief.  The bad guys decide to send pizzas to Major Crimes, as a "gift" to the hard working cops.  All well and good.  So, the pizza delivery guy comes in with about eight boxes, nice and gooey.  So, how did they get the golden on the pizzas?  Well, never let it be said that we won't ignore a plot hole if the result is a chance for an affectionate moment.  And we've got a doozy here. 


Blair accepts delivery of the pizzas and eats a slice.  Next scene is Jim and Simon coming out of Simon's office.  Jim smells the Golden and Simon sees a piece of pizza is missing.  Jim immediately assumes it was Blair and also immediately looks in his desk for his backup gun.  (Isn't that normally in his ankle holster?  Okay, another small plot hole.)  Suddenly there's a ruckus and they go to the parking garage to find Blair tripping out and waving Jim's gun around. It's a REALLY bad trip, because Blair sees fire people and he wants to shoot them.  Jim talks him down with some weird cross between echolocation and clapping your hands like in Peter Pan.  A touching scene that can be either slashed or smarmed has Jim cradling Blair in his arms while they wait for the EMTs.


In the hospital, Blair is in a coma.   Jim and Simon talk about who might have access to both the rare chemicals needed to create the Golden and to government files that identify Jim as a cop.  They zero in on Bio Helix, a company that lost its government contracts when it cooked the books.  The owners are the scientist who created Golden and the head guy Jim had been dealing with.  The police find their current location and surround the place.  Simon tells Jim to sit tight, since he's still legally blind.  Of course, Jim finds a way to justify driving Simon's car and cutting off the bad guy.  Of course Jim has to capture the guy himself—he tried to kill Blair!


In the end, Jim and Blair both recover with only a residual golden tint coloring their sight.  The episode ends with Margaret showing up at the door, looking very nice to Jim since she's surrounded by a golden glow. 


Essential Elements:

v  The senses:  Although we don't get a very good explanation, we definitely see that Jim's  senses are hyper-sensitive to everything, including what amounted to barely touching the drug.  This makes a lot of sense (no pun intended), because in reality the hyper-active senses have to be the result of his brain.  After all, his eyes, ears, skin, taste buds and odor receptors are all normal size.  So the difference is in how his brain processes the input.  Since the drug was a hallucinogen, the normal effect on the brain would be out of proportion for Jim.  In any case, sight is pretty much sidelined for the episode, and he relies primarily on hearing to get him through most things.  He smells the Golden on the pizza, and his almost orgasmic reaction to smelling a buttermilk donut is amusing. 

v  Relationship:  This has one of the most endearing "aw" moments in the show—Jim's cradling/comforting Blair as Blair is hallucinating in the parking garage.  There's some poignant moments as Jim ponders what life might be like if he were blind, and we have stalwart Blair supporting him through thick and thin as Jim tries to cope.  I really don't know where the Margaret subplot was going.  It never really gelled for me.

v  Fanfic: There's a boatload of missing scenes/epilogues for this episode.  Something definitely struck a chord with the writers and readers.  Additionally, the affectionate ways Jim and Blair have, and the "cuddling" parking garage scene, have given rise to countless smarm and slash stories.  It's definitely a favorite fen scene.

episode-related fanfic



Chapter Text

We join the boys in the loft as they are getting their gear together to go fishing.  It’s very early in the morning, and Jim has the news on.  We hear a story about an undercover DEA agent, Ben Chavez, who has disappeared under what look like suspicious circumstances.  Jim is listening, but then gets distracted by Blair, who has an authentic Native American fishing tool he wants to bring along.  Jim teases him about it, even coining a new nickname: Hiawatha. 



As they’re carrying the gear to the door, Jim complains about his shoulder.  Seems he hurt it working out and it isn’t getting any better.  He tells Blair that nothing seems to make the pain go away.  Blair is concerned, and upset that Jim didn’t mention this before.  Knowing that painkillers won’t work on Jim would be an important thing to find out.  Jim, as per usual with the Sentinel stuff, blows him off.


Jim gets a call from a guy who was in his Army Rangers unit, Sam Holland.  He tells Jim he needs to talk to him, and that it’s about “the colonel.”  They agree to meet in a parking garage in Cascade.  We cut to two guys in suits who are listening to the conversation between Jim and Holland, and are clearly up to no good.  Back at the loft, Jim tells Blair that he’s going to talk to his Army buddy.  Blair reminds him that they’re leaving at 3 am, and Jim assures him this won’t take long.


Jim goes to meet Holland, who tells him that he’s involved with something “deep.”  He tells Jim that he called him because he knows Jim is with the police, and he thought he could help.  But before he can elaborate, Jim hears something.  Two vans come up the ramp and onto the floor of the garage.  Jim is hit with a dart and loses consciousness.  Holland panics and jumps into his car, but he’s shot and his car drives off the edge of the garage.  Three guys get out of the vans.  One says that “the colonel” wanted Holland alive.  Another, named Crisp, searches Jim’s pockets and finds his wallet, with his driver’s license and his badge.  The leader tells him and another guy, named Harley, to go to Jim’s address and search it.


Back at the loft, Blair is pacing anxiously, wondering where Jim is.  Next we see Simon and Joel, wrapping up a late night at work.  Simon’s phone rings; it’s Blair, and he’s worried about Jim.  It’s been hours, apparently, since he went to meet Holland.  Simon doesn’t take Blair’s concerns seriously at first.  Then Blair thinks he hears Jim at the door, but it’s Harley and Crisp from the garage.  They fire at Blair, who runs into his room and out the fire escape door.  Simon and Joel, hearing the shots, grab their coats as Simon sends all available backup to the loft. 


On the street, Blair is hiding in between two buildings.  He sneaks out carefully to a phone booth, but the receiver cord is broken.  Just then Blair sees a van, with Harley and Crisp inside, coming slowly down the street, shining a spotlight between the buildings.  Cleverly, he hides in the bakery, then comes out after the van has passed and runs across the street to catch a bus.  Unfortunately, he’s left the house without ID or much money.  He argues with the driver about the fare, telling him that this is a police emergency.  The driver isn’t very sympathetic, although he lets Blair on, but when Blair tries to get someone on the bus to loan him a cell phone, the driver calls in and reports Blair as a “disruptive passenger.” 


Meanwhile, Simon and Joel show up at the loft, only to find the place trashed and Blair nowhere in sight.  Simon puts out an APB for Blair. 


Back on the bus, Blair is alarmed to see Harley and Crisp board.  Fortunately, two transit officers also board, and the driver points Blair out to them.  Blair sees his chance and mouths off to the officers, guaranteeing his arrest.  But when he tries to get the officers to arrest Harley and Crisp as well, he finds they’ve vanished. 


Simon signs Blair out of the holding cell, and Joel informs them that the police have found Jim’s truck in the garage, as well as a crushed sedan with a dead body.  To all three’s relief, the body is not Jim.  But the question remains – where the hell is Jim?


Jim, we find out, is waking up in a windowless room with a concrete floor.  He’s tied hand and foot.  At one end is a chain-link door, and behind that is a woman, looking somewhat worse for wear.  Her name is Tanya, but she doesn’t have any more information than Jim does about what is going on. 


Blair and Simon are back at Major Crimes.  Blair is, understandably, unnerved by the night’s events, and Simon is trying to figure out what to do.  Joel comes in and tells them that they still haven’t ID’d the guy in the crushed sedan, but he had a distinctive tattoo, which they hope will help identify him.  Blair offers to help, but Simon tells him that he is a protected witness, which means he’s going back to the loft with Joel assigned to watch over him. 


As Joel and Blair are cleaning up Jim’s bedroom and trying to figure out who these guys are and what they were looking for, Blair finds a picture of Jim’s Army ranger unit, and notices that one of the guys has the tattoo that was found on the dead guy.  Blair calls Simon with the news, but Simon already knows – thanks to the FBI fingerprint database, the dead guy has been identified as Sam Holland, former Army ranger and current employee of Graf Technologies in Florida. 


Just then, a man who identifies himself as Special Agent Tom Cameron comes into Simon’s office and tells him to turn over Holland’s body and all his effects.  Simon tries to get some information out of Agent Cameron, but to no avail.  Irritated, he snaps at Blair when he calls back and tells him that the Feds are taking the body, then hangs up.  Blair, suspicious, calls Jack Kelso.


Jim, meanwhile, is trying to figure out who’s captured him and why.  He asks Tanya if she knows Holland or an army colonel named Norman Oliver, but she’s pretty unhelpful until he implies that he can get the two of them out of this. 


As Joel is digging into a third bowl of Blair’s ostrich chili, Jack Kelso calls and tells Blair he’s got some information about Jim’s disappearance.  He tells Blair to meet him in a half an hour outside the student union at Rainier.  When Joel asks for some bi-carb to mitigate the effects of his chili indulgence, Blair points him towards the bathroom, then seizes his chance and his coat and leaves the loft to meet Jack. 


At Rainier, Jack tells Blair that Graf Technologies is a CIA front, run by Norman Oliver, a CIA sniper and the one responsible for the intelligence on Jim’s failed mission in Peru.  Jim faults Oliver for the failure of the mission, and Oliver, in turn, hates Jim.  Jack tells Blair he’s got some information to show him on his computer, and both men head for his office. 


Unbeknownst to both men, Harley and Crisp are monitoring Kelso from a nearby van.  They call in when Blair shows up, and then Harley shoots Kelso with a sniper rifle.  They drive away as Blair calls for help.


At the hospital, Simon tells Joel and Blair that Kelso will be okay, but he’s pretty angry at Blair for slipping his protective detail.  Before Blair can tell them about Oliver, though, Special Agent Cameron shows up, again insisting that Kelso be turned over to the Feds for protective custody.  This time Simon doesn’t buy it, and tells Cameron he’ll have to get an order.  Seems Simon is beginning to buy Blair’s conspiracy theory. 


Meanwhile, Jim is trying to find a way out of this predicament for him and Tanya.  He manages to undo the combination lock on the door that separates him from Tanya by using his hearing.  Tanya, in turn, uses Jim’s belt to break the glass casing on an overhead light, giving Jim a means to cut his bonds.  Tanya also reveals that she was Holland’s secretary at Graf Technologies, but denies being an agent.  She tells Jim that Holland suspected Colonel Oliver of turning in Ben Chavez, the DEA agent who’s currently missing (that we heard about on the news at the start of the episode).  Then she was taken, and a few days later, Jim arrived.  Jim tells her that he knew Holland and Oliver in the service, but otherwise he’s not sure yet what’s going on. 


Simon and Blair enter Jack’s office, intending to get the information he was planning to show Blair.  When they get on the computer, they find that someone is already deleting all the files via modem.  Blair pulls out the phone line and finds the files, but as he’s trying to save them some kind of virus is activated and the files start disappearing.  With no way to know whether they have the relevant information or not, Blair and Simon go in search of a computer expert to help them. 


As they’re heading back to the PD, Simon sees that they have a tail.  He sets up an ambush, which catches Crisp.  However, Crisp fires on them and Simon is forced to shoot him. 


Jim and Tanya have returned to their respective cells, waiting for someone to come in and check on them.  When Harley does, bringing food, Jim punches him and takes his keys.  He and Tanya head down the hallway, but when Jim tries to find the right key on the ring he stole from Harley, Tanya hits him, driving him to his knees, and takes the keys back.  Although he’s stunned, Jim takes the opportunity of being on the floor to palm a nail.  Harley, Tanya, and another guy drag Jim back to where he was being held and cuff him to a pipe along the wall.  Jim trades barbs with the unnamed guy, and, when they leave him, starts to pick the cuffs with the nail he palmed. 


Back at the PD, Simon and Blair have turned the infected disk over to Serena, hoping that she can get some information off of it.  Simon is being pretty intense, but Blair tries a kinder, more positive approach.  Serena says she’ll do what she can but she’s not hopeful.  Blair and Simon leave the forensics lab and have a cute exchange about how to properly motivate your staff.  The mood is subdued, though, by their concern for Jim.  They meet up with Joel, who shows them a map Forensics found in Crisp’s wallet.  It’s a map of downtown Cascade, with the markings “Olympia 3300, Chavez 714, Federal Building” written on the side.  The three of them run through some hypotheses as to what this means, with Blair suggesting that it could have to do with Ben Chavez; maybe a flight time?  Joel goes to check it out.  Simon and Blair decide to go see Federal Agent Cameron.


At the Federal Building, Simon insists on seeing Agent Cameron, who turns out – surprise! – NOT to be the blond guy that took Holland’s body and tried to put Kelso in protective custody. 


Stymied, Simon and Blair head back to the PD, only to find that Serena has managed to get some of the data off the infected disk.  It’s a roster with pictures; one of them is Simon’s blond Fed.  Only the roster identifies him as Colonel Norman Oliver. 


Simon gets a call that Jack Kelso has regained consciousness, and he and Blair head off for the hospital.


Jim, for his part, is still working on getting the cuffs off when Tanya interrupts him.  They exchange barbs, then Oliver comes in.  He demands that Jim tell him what Holland said, but Jim tells him that Holland never got a chance to tell him anything before Oliver’s goons offed him. 


At the hospital, Kelso confirms that it was Oliver’s picture he wanted Blair to see.  Blair mentions Chavez, and Kelso theorizes that Chavez may know dirt about a group of rogue CIA agents, including Oliver, who are working for the Cali drug cartel.  Blair guesses that Chavez is coming in, and Kelso puts two and two together and surmises that Oliver is planning to shoot Chavez when he’s being brought back from the airport. 


Next scene, Oliver pretty much confirms this as he’s injecting Jim with some sedative.  In classic bad guy fashion, he tells Jim that he’s planning to leave his dead body by the rifle, making it look like Jim was responsible for shooting Chavez.  Jim pushes the nail he found earlier into his thumb to try and negate the effects of the sedative through pain.  However, it doesn’t seem to work and he loses consciousness.


There’s a brief cutaway where we see Chavez leaving the airport, surrounded by Feds.  They get into a car and drive away.  Then we see Oliver giving orders to one of his men to bring Jim up in five minutes.  Meanwhile, Joel calls Simon and Blair to let them know that “Olympia 3300” refers to the Olympia Building, 3300 Bancroft Street.  Simon realizes this is a good place for a sniper, and heads there, calling for backup as they go. 


Oliver is up on the roof, assembling his sniper rifle, as Tanya and Harley wait below by a van in the alley.  Oliver’s other man wheels Jim into the elevator, as instructed, but Jim has been faking unconsciousness, and he leaps up and takes the guy out.  He heads up to the roof and aims at Oliver just as Oliver is aiming at Chavez’ car.  Jim’s vision is still a little fuzzy, but he calls to Oliver to drop the rifle.  Oliver doesn’t obey, of course, and Jim fires at him.  Oliver fires back.  Jim, using his sight, hits Oliver in the shoulder and he goes over the edge of the roof, landing on the front of the van.  Tanya and Harley try to get away in the van, but Simon and backup arrive and stop them.  Simon demands that Tanya tell him where Jim is, but before she can say anything, Blair shouts at Simon and points up at the roof, where Jim is standing, looking just like the picture of the tribal Sentinel in Burton’s book. 


The next day, Jim, Simon, and Blair are in the bullpen, making some small talk.  Joel comes over and tells Jim that Agent Cameron (the real one) wants him to make another statement.  He also tells Jim that Simon and Blair made a great team.  Blair makes a comment about Simon’s lack of finesse, though, and the conversation degenerates (humorously) into the two of them sniping at each other and Jim looking on in amusement. 


Why this episode is essential:


One of the main reasons this is an essential episode is that it provides important backstory for Jim, particularly relating to the crash in Peru.  We find out that Oliver was essentially behind that; he fed Jim and his team bad information in an effort to protect his drug pipeline from the rebels.  More to the point, Jim (who only suspected this previously) gets confirmation of this in this ep, and you could surmise that this puts to rest some of his angst about the loss of his team.  We also get to see Jim respond to Holland’s call, furthering the idea that Jim will go to great lengths to help people he cares about, even when he hasn’t seen them in some time. 


Another reason is that this ep provides us with some important information about the senses, specifically Jim’s atypical response to pain meds.  Although this never really gets picked up again or used much in the show, it’s an important aspect of Jim’s senses that shouldn’t be overlooked. 


Although Jim and Blair are apart for much of the episode, meaning that there’s little opportunity for Jim and Blair interaction, this ep has some great examples of Simon and Blair working together, and really furthers their relationship.  Even when Simon is annoyed at Blair, they’re cute, and there’s no denying that they make a good team, the bickering at the end of the ep notwithstanding.  Also, Blair is so cute when he’s worried about Jim.  I just love the scene where he’s picking up the mess Crisp and Harley made of Jim’s bedroom.


Blair’s also shown to be pretty resourceful and cagey in this ep.  The ostrich chili gambit, in particular, is something that has made it into or been referenced in a lot of fic, as well as contributing to Blair’s reputation as a good chef and a healthy eater.  His skill and fast thinking when he’s being pursued by Harley and Crisp is another good example of brave and resourceful Blair.  And for once he’s not the guy who gets kidnapped!

episode-related fanfic


Chapter Text

We open with Jim and Blair chatting as they enter the PD.  Sounds like Blair has scared off a girlfriend by being incredibly open and honest about his past relationships, which Jim is good-naturedly ribbing him for (an interesting switch from Killers, when Blair is the one clueing Jim in on the habits of exes).  Jim tells Blair “your love life is criminal,” which is a statement that shows up in a lot of fic. 



Simon calls Jim into his office and asks him to help out with the convoy moving a criminal named Dawson Quinn.  At first Jim is silent, then he reluctantly agrees.  We sense there is history here.  Simon recognizes his discomfort and agrees to ride in the transport vehicle with Quinn if Jim will bring up the rear.  He suggests that Jim can bring Blair along to keep him company. 


We cut to the convoy traveling along a thickly forested road.  There’s a police car up front; the transport vehicle in the middle, and Jim and Blair last.  Jim tells Blair that Quinn killed Gil Brody, the son of a fellow cop.  Brody’s dad had looked out for Jim as he was starting out, and he’d wanted to do the same for Brody (never mind that this makes it sound like Jim has been with the Cascade PD for a hell of a lot longer than six years).  Brody and Jim were on the hostage negotiation team when Quinn broke into the Federal Reserve.  Jim was supposed to go in as an exchange hostage, but Brody convinced Jim to let him go in instead, to impress his father.  Quinn, however, had never planned on going through with the exchange.  He escaped through a storm drain in the back of the building, taking Brody with him; Brody’s body was found three hours later.  Jim had to tell Brody’s dad, and Quinn and his gang disappeared with five million dollars.  Quinn was finally arrested, but the money was never found, and Jim hasn’t forgotten. 


In the transport vehicle, Quinn tells Simon that he’s sorry about killing Brody, and Simon tells him to shut up.  Just then, the convoy is attacked by people in the woods with automatic weapons.  The police car is hit in the engine and crashes.  The transport vehicle goes into a skid and eventually halts; the people inside are shaken up and Simon is dazed.  Jim brings his car to a stop near the police car and calls for backup.


A man and a woman come out of the woods and get the van open, as a helicopter lands on the road in front of them.  The woman, named Lisa, unlocks Quinn’s chains and tells him to come with her.  Simon, who is still a little dazed, pulls a gun on Quinn but Quinn takes it away from him and looks like he’s about to shoot Simon.  But the man, still outside the transport, sees Jim, in his truck, start coming towards them and shouts to Quinn to leave.


Jim brings the truck to a stop and yells at Blair to stay down.  Quinn, with Simon as a hostage in front of him, exits the transport and heads for the helicopter, his two companions in tow.  He taunts Jim as Simon urges Jim to shoot Quinn.  Jim doesn’t shoot, probably in part because of Quinn’s threats to kill Simon if he does.  Quinn taunts Jim by saying “All you need’s a cape, Ellison” as he gets into the helicopter, Simon still his hostage. 


Just then, the driver of the transport, who wasn’t killed, but only injured, shoots and wounds Quinn’s male confederate.  The guy grabs on to the helicopter strut; at first Quinn is urging him to hang on, but when it becomes clear that he’s a liability, Quinn stomps on his hand and leaves him behind.  Jim runs up to cuff the guy, and sees that there’s fuel leaking out of the helicopter. 


We jump ahead an hour or so.  The helicopter has crashed and the pilot is dead.  Quinn, Lisa, and Simon have headed into the woods, probably to get the money Quinn originally stole and then hid.  Jim crosses swords with the local sheriff about which direction Quinn and company went in; the sheriff says east, Jim says north.  The sheriff tells him he’s on his own, which doesn’t bother Jim a bit.  He tries to get Blair to go back to Cascade, but Blair, ever-loyal sidekick, will have none of it.  As they head north, Jim tells him he can smell Simon’s cigars, and that’s how he knows they were north. 


Meanwhile, Lisa is scoping out a cabin in the woods while Quinn and Simon wait in the trees.  Simon taunts Quinn about how his plan is falling apart, and we see that Quinn has a temper problem.  Lisa intervenes, though, telling Quinn he has to keep Simon alive.  She tells Quinn that the cabin is well-stocked, and Quinn says they will grab a hot meal and some other provisions there, including some rope to tie Simon up with.


However, it turns out that the presence of that well-stocked cabin wasn’t a coincidence.  The cabin is owned by two guys, Wade and Dell, who are pretty pissed that someone has broken in and stolen their food and supplies.  They didn’t take the TV, though, on which Wade and Dell hear about the manhunt for Quinn – and that he is suspected of stealing five million dollars.  Wade figures that will be just about enough to make up for his stolen property, and he and Dell get their guns and go to intercept Quinn. 



Back to Jim and Blair, who are standing at the top of a high cliff overlooking a river.  Jim, who can see the tracks below, tells Blair that Quinn and company crossed the river.  They start to look for a way down, but before they can, shots ring out.  Wade and Dell have found them, and Wade is determined that no one will get in the way of him getting his money.  Jim and Blair take cover behind a fallen log.  Jim knows they’re outgunned, so he convinces Blair to jump off the cliff and into the river with him.  Wade and Dell figure they are dead and move on.


Amazingly, Jim and Blair emerge from the river, not dead!  But they’ve lost all their gear, and Jim’s only got one bullet left in his gun. 


Off in the forest, Quinn and Lisa hear the gunfire.  Simon taunts Quinn some more and gets yanked around for his pains. 


Jump ahead to night.  Jim is running through the forest and Blair is following, but he calls a time out.  His head hurts and he’s still wet from the river.  Jim agrees they can stop here, but tells Blair he’s going to scout ahead and see if he can pick up Quinn’s trail again.  He says he’ll double back for Blair, who gratefully accepts the offer. 


Back at Quinn’s camp, Lisa offers Simon some hot soup.  Simon tries to convince her that going along with Quinn is a dumb move, but Quinn hears and interrupts the conversation.  He mouths off to Simon, who throws the soup in his face, then attacks Quinn, going for his gun.  They roll around, fighting, and the gun goes off.  Simon pins Quinn, but Lisa draws her gun on him and tells Simon to let Quinn go.  He does, having little choice in the matter.  Quinn kicks Simon a few times, but stops when Lisa reminds him they need Simon alive. 


We head back to Blair, who has fallen asleep while waiting for Jim.  He hears movement and wakes up, but can’t see a thing.  He lights the lighter in his pocket to try and get a better look, but before he can scope anything out, he’s hit in the head with a rifle and knocked out. 


Jim, meanwhile, heard the shot.  He finds Quinn’s camp, with Simon’s discarded mug of soup, which is still warm.  He knows that Quinn and Simon can’t be far away. 


Blair wakes to sun and Wade and Dell watching him.  He tells them that Jim died in the jump into the river.  Wade makes as if to shoot Blair, but Dell intervenes.  They struggle as Blair gets up and runs away.  The gun goes off; turns out Wade has accidentally killed Dell.  He seems very remorseful, but not enough to give up his quest for the cash.  Blair, frightened, runs straight into Jim, literally, and we get a nice “Awww” moment as Jim checks the spot where Blair was struck and tries to reassure him.


Back to Quinn, Lisa, and Simon, still trekking through the forest, although Quinn says they are “close” to wherever it is they’re going (presumably where the money is hidden).  Simon complains and gets yanked around some more.  He falls to the ground, and his cigar case falls out of his pocket.  Quinn finds it, to his delight, and takes the cigars, but leaves the case on the ground.  Simon is furious, because the case was a gift from Daryl.  Quinn just laughs, but does tell Simon that if he helps him out, he’ll let Simon live (as if we or Simon believe him). 


The place Quinn has been heading for is revealed to be an old mine, long abandoned.  Quinn tells Lisa that his father used to work here, and he used to go down the mine shaft, which he realized is a perfect place to hide money.  We see that Wade and Jim and Blair are still following Quinn’s trail; Jim tells Blair that he knows they’re close because of the strong scent of cigar.  Jim also finds Simon’s cigar case. 


Quinn has lowered Simon down the mine equipment shaft and is giving him instructions on how to find the place where he hid the money.  Simon finds it, and gets the bag out, with some trouble.  Quinn and Lisa start to pull him up; they run into some trouble, but eventually Simon is close to the mouth of the shaft.  He’s in a standoff with Quinn though; he wants Quinn to help him out of the shaft before he hands him the money, fearing (with good reason) that Quinn will just drop him in the shaft once he has the cash.  Quinn insists he wants the money first.  Fortunately for Simon, Jim and Blair show up, and Jim, armed, is able to force Quinn to pull Simon out of the shaft. 


Unfortunately for everyone, Wade shows up at that point and starts shooting at them from the trees.  Blair is hit in the leg and falls; Jim and Simon grab him and haul him (and the bag of money) into the main opening of the mine.  Quinn and Lisa take cover behind some mine equipment. 


Inside the mine, Jim tends to Blair’s leg and fills Simon in on how they got there.  He also tells Simon that he’s only got one bullet.  Simon, for his part, still has the money. 


Outside, Wade and Quinn shoot at each other for a while, but after some discussion agree to a deal: Quinn will split the money with Wade if Wade helps him take the other three out.  They shake on the deal and Jim, hearing all this from the mine interior, realizes that the three of them are in trouble.


Quinn and Wade start heading into the mine entrance.  Jim and Simon help Blair to move further back into the mine and behind some cover.  Jim, thinking fast, lights a wad of the money on fire and throws it out at Quinn and Wade, threatening to burn more of it if they don’t back off.  Quinn and Wade comply, but Jim knows this is only a temporary reprieve.  He proposes that they find a back exit from the mine; he can feel a fresh air current and knows there must be another way out.  But with Blair injured, it’s too difficult for them all to go.  Simon tells Jim to go on, and he’ll stay with Blair.  Jim, reluctantly, agrees and heads deeper into the mine.


Meanwhile, Quinn and Wade have started a fire at the mouth of the mine entrance, and smoke starts billowing into the mine.  Simon is trying to keep Blair awake and his spirits up when he smells the smoke.  He pulls Blair down to the floor, where the air will hopefully be clear enough for them to breathe, at least until Jim finds a way out. 


Jim has found the exit, but it’s some ways away from the group at the mine entrance.  But Simon and Blair can’t take much more of the smoke, and they surrender, making their way slowly out of the mine.  As Quinn and Wade wait for them to show up, Quinn shoots and kills Wade. 


Jim arrives back at the mine just as Simon and Blair exit.  He can clearly see that Quinn intends to shoot Simon and Blair, despite the fact that they’re unarmed and surrendering.  He uses his sight to see into one of the sheds and finds that it’s full of explosives.  He uses his last bullet to shoot the shed and ignite the dynamite, causing a huge explosion.  Everyone is knocked down, and Quinn and Lisa lose their guns. 


Simon grabs Lisa and prevents her from getting her gun.  Blair, although injured, has the presence of mind to grab Wade’s gun and cover the group.  Jim grabs Quinn and they fight; he subdues Quinn and then hangs him over the mine equipment shaft Simon went down earlier.  Quinn begs for his life, and Jim pulls him back up. 


Another jump to a few hours later.  Quinn has been arrested and returned to custody.  Blair is being strapped into an airlift basket and is flirting with one of the Federal agents we met earlier, Mara.  Jim returns Simon’s cigar case and muses that, if Simon hadn’t been there, he might have killed Quinn.  Simon refuses to believe that, though.  Jim goes over to Blair and teases him about making a date with Mara.  Then Jim and Simon watch as Blair is airlifted out of the woods. 


Why this episode is essential:


Like Reunion and Flight, this is an ep where Jim and Blair not only catch criminals, but also rescue Simon.  It’s a nice change that Blair is not the one being kidnapped for once, and it provides some good opportunity for Simon to interact with Jim and Blair in a place other than his office at Major Crimes.  It also gives Simon a chance to be involved in some action, instead of always being the desk-bound paper-pusher.  Even though Simon is being held by Quinn for most of the ep, there are a few good moments of interaction between the three of them.  The conversation in the mine where Blair asks Simon about coping with being shot and the conversation between Jim and Simon about Quinn at the end are two that spring to mind.  TS often gets portrayed as a buddy-cop show between Jim and Blair, but really it’s a three-way, because Simon is often an important element in the episodes, even when he’s not in the field or in danger (and I bear no responsibility for any naughty places people’s minds went during that last sentence). 


We also get yet more backstory on Jim in this ep.  Although it’s not as rich as some of the backstory about his family or his time in Peru, it provides some depth to his interactions with Quinn by casting a familiar frame: Jim’s guilt at losing someone he cared about and his determination to make the person that killed them pay.  Although in terms of figuring out a timeline for Jim on the Cascade police force, it just muddies the waters (seriously, how in the hell did he ever have the time to do all the things he’s supposed to have done?  To say nothing of his army history…). 


Talk of backstory brings us to Quinn, who I think is one of TS’s most underrated villains.  I’m really surprised he doesn’t show up more in fic.  He’s charismatic, snarky, brutal, amoral, and has a great antagonistic vibe going with Jim.  His jibe about “All you need’s a cape, Ellison” is cruel and yet exactly on the mark when it comes to Jim feeling responsible for helping the people in his life. 


There’s also some lovely Jim and Blair interaction in this ep.  Blair’s determination to follow Jim and help Simon, through thick and thin, echoes his actions in Flight.  Although here he ups the ante by following Jim over a cliff and into a river – very reminiscent of Butch and Sundance.  If you haven’t ever seen the bloopers, the footage after the cliff jump is not to be missed.  Although many fen despair of the fact that Jim abandons his little buddy at night in a dark forest, the plot device does provide for some cute moments later when Blair literally runs into Jim’s arms.  And Jim does seem suitably (for Jim, that is) concerned about Blair’s being knocked out, and, later, his being shot. 


Speaking of, this is the ep where Blair actually gets shot.  He’s been in danger through much of the show so far, but this is one in which he actually gets significantly injured.  Although his getting airlifted out is played as a sort of amusing coda to the main meat of the ep, and the ramifications of that are never really dealt with in the show itself.  Fortunately, a lot of fanfic fills in the blanks, either directly or indirectly, by covering some of the things that go on during Blair’s recuperation. 


We also see Blair’s erratic fear of heights in this ep, first at the cliff, then later at the airlift.  It seems the writers like to bring this out whenever they need it, but ignore it when they don’t.  Or maybe Blair’s just usually pretty good at dealing with it, but having a bullet hole in his leg makes that hard. 

episode-related fanfic


Chapter Text

The episode starts, not uncommonly for TS, with a crime.  This one takes place at night on the grounds of Lastings Park, Cascade’s race track.  A guy in a pickup pulls up and takes some papers out of a big metal box.  He heads back to his truck, but before he can get there, he’s shot.  We can’t see who did the shooting, but whoever it is drags the body away, takes the box of papers, and drives away in the victim’s truck. 



Jump to sometime later, day.  We’re still at Lastings Park.  Simon is showing his horse, Little Stogie, to a pair of old men, Ben and Herman.  They’re not very impressed with Little Stogie, and Simon tells them that his uncle, who was a trainer, died and left him the horse.  He was going to sell him, but his cigar club thought it would be fun to sponsor a horse.  Herman, who’s a trainer, feels sorry for Simon and agrees to train Little Stogie. 


Jim and Blair show up, amid some bantering about the care of race horses.  Simon introduces them to Ben and Herman, and tells them that Ben, who owns Lasting Park, is allowing the Policemen’s Benevolent Association Benefit to use the park for their yearly benefit that night.  Simon also tells Jim that the mayor has specifically requested that Jim be on the security detail.  Jim complains, but then gets distracted by a strange crackling sound. 


Next we’re at the benefit.  Rafe, Joel, and Brown are talking to Ben about how bad Little Stogie is.  Blair is chatting up a lovely woman in a black dress, who turns out to be Pat Reynolds, vice-president of the corporation that does maintenance and track operations for Lastings Park.  All the guys are in tuxes and looking smooth. 


Jim (also in a tux, of course!) interrupts Blair’s moves and informs him and Simon that the mayor doesn’t know anything about a special security detail.  Simon and Blair both gleefully acknowledge that they got Jim here under false pretenses (although Blair insists that he didn’t lie to Jim), but before Jim can find out why, the mayor announces that he’s won the Officer of the Year Award.  Jim threatens to get everyone back and Simon and Blair high-five each other.  It’s all just too cute. 


As Jim is accepting congratulations from everyone, we see Ben out on the balcony, taking some kind of pill.  Then someone comes up behind him and covers his mouth with their hand.  There’s a struggle, which Jim hears.  As Jim goes to the window to see what’s going on, Ben’s body falls past. 


Simon calls for the police to come investigate.  Jim tells Simon that he heard sounds of a struggle, and he thinks someone pushed Ben off the balcony.  As he and Simon discuss this, Jim notices a man standing with Pat Reynolds.  The man hails Jim, and Jim seems to know him; he calls him Steven and they exchange a few words.  We find out that Steven works for Pat’s company.  Jim and Blair leave the scene, and Jim tells Blair that Steven is his brother.


The next day, Jim and Blair are in forensics with Serena, going over the security footage.  Unfortunately there’s not a direct view of the balcony, just of the door to it, but Jim is hopeful that they might at least get a reflection of the person who came out on the balcony after Ben.  Jim notices a shadow on the glass of the balcony door with his sight and asks Serena to enhance it. 


They go back to Lastings Park, where Simon tells them that Ben had apparently just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  The top theory now is that Ben committed suicide, although Herman doesn’t believe it.  Neither does Jim, but Simon shuts down his attempts to ask Herman questions. 


Little Stogie is running in the next race, and Blair rushes to make a bet, although not on Little Stogie.  Jim gets a call from Serena, who says she’s refined the image enough to possibly make a positive ID.  Jim asks her to modem it to his laptop and goes to his car to boot it up.  Meanwhile Blair joins the other MC guys in the stand for Stogie’s race. They rib him about betting on another horse.  Unfortunately for them, Little Stogie loses and Blair’s horse wins.  At the same time, Jim views the downloaded image Serena sent to see… his brother Steven.  Dun Dun DUN!


Jim questions Steven, of course.  Steven says that he went up on the balcony to talk to Ben because Ben was going to sue Steven’s company.  But when he got up there, Ben was gone.  He believes that Ben committed suicide, and he’s outraged that Jim would accuse him of murder.  The two of them are clearly not getting along at all. 


Down in the grandstand, Blair is collecting his winnings when Jim joins him.  Simon and the other MC guys approach him.  Blair thinks they’re probably mad at him for not betting on Little Stogie, and he takes refuge behind Jim.  But it turns out the MC guys just want some handicapping tips.  As they’re placing their bets, Blair notices that Jim looks preoccupied.  He tells Blair he’s still hearing the crackling noise.  He zooms in with his sight in the direction the noise is coming from, and sees one of the pillars cracking.  As Jim is running towards the pillar, shouting for people to get out of the way, the pillar cracks open, revealing a dead body inside.


Steven and Pat tell Simon and Jim that the dead man is Pete Winslow, a construction foreman for some renovations they did a few months ago.  Pat says they’ll get all the information the company has on him.  Jim notes that Pete was dead before he was put in the pillar, as evidenced by two shots to the back of his head.  There’s more steely tension between Jim and Steven.


Pat finds Steven in her office.  He tells her he’s gathering the information on Winslow, but she tells him that she can do that.  Furthermore, she tells him, she wants his resignation on her desk by the end of the day.  He was the supervisor on the renovations, and someone’s going to have to take the fall for this.  Steven leaves angrily, and Pat calls someone on the phone. 


At Major Crimes, Simon, Jim, and Blair are talking over the two deaths.  Jim tells Simon that the coroner found bruises on Ben’s body that were inconsistent with falling from the balcony, suggesting that he was beaten before he died.  Simon is unconvinced, but then Jim tells him that Steven is the suspect.  Simon is amazed that Jim would turn in his brother, and we find out that Jim hasn’t spoken to Steven for 15 years.  They leave it with Jim agreeing to go home and get some rest, and they’ll revisit things in the morning. 


There’s a brief cutaway to Pat, who is meeting with a guy named Grant.  She tells him she wants him to get rid of Steven.


Back at the loft, Blair tries to get Jim to talk about Steven and why they’re so estranged.  Jim is resistant at first, but then tells Blair that their father was always pitting him and Steven against each other, figuring that competition would toughen them for the real world.  An example of this was a time when their dad was taking a business trip to Japan and was planning to take Steven along.  But Steven got a B in a class, so their dad changed his mind and told them he’d take Jim instead.  Steven was mad, so he took a crowbar to their dad’s favorite car, a ’65 Cobra.  Their dad thought Jim had done it, so he threw Jim off the Japan trip and Steven was back on, despite Jim’s insistence that he hadn’t damaged the car.  Blair agrees that that’s a pretty fucked up story, but still holds out the hope that people can change.  He tells Jim that he thought that Steven was pretty glad to see him the other night, and that maybe he wants to make amends. 


Just then Steven calls.  He tells Jim that he’s at the track, and he’s just found a stack of documents that implicates him in Ben’s murder.  He asks Jim to meet him in the parking area under the grandstand, and Jim agrees.  As Jim heads for the park, we see that Herman is also there, feeding Little Stogie, and there’s also an unidentified person with a gun following Steven. 


Jim arrives at the parking deck.  He’s calling out for Steven when the headlights of a car go on in front of him.  Someone fires at him, and he fires back at the car, taking out the front lights and the windshield.  He runs over to the car, only to find Steven, bound and dazed, with a cut on his forehead, in the front seat.  Jim calls for an ambulance, then sees someone with a gun in the shadows.  He gives chase; the guy (Grant) runs away, bumping into Herman in the process, then steals Herman’s car and drives away, leaving Jim and Herman behind.


Next day at Major Crimes.  Jim brings Steven in and tells him to spill what he knows.  Steven says that he found a resignation letter from Pete Winslow in Pat’s papers, dated the day after he disappeared, which is also the day the pillar was poured.  He’s also found out that Pat was using his access number to change purchase orders and skim money off the top of the renovations.  He tells Jim that their company is about to merge with a big European conglomerate, which could potentially net Pat millions in stock options.  Ben’s legal action could have held this merger up for a long time, which gives Pat motive to have him killed. 


Steven leaves, and Jim and Simon talk things over.  Jim is beginning to trust Steven more; he knows that Steven wouldn’t have tried to kill him.  Blair comes in, he’s been with Herman and Brown looking at mug shots.  Herman has identified Grant as the guy who tried to kill them last night.  Jim, Blair, and Simon concoct a plan to use Herman as bait to get Grant at the next race, and then get Grant to roll over on Pat. 


The next race comes, and everyone is at Lastings Park.  Everything goes as planned and Jim is subduing Grant when Pat shows up and shoots at both of them.  Grant gets away.  As the cops are looking for the second shooter, Pat meets up with Grant and kills him.  Jim and the others burst in the room only to find Grant barely alive.  Jim is frustrated that the plan didn’t work, but Blair tells him to use his sense of smell to track Pat – they know she didn’t get rid of the gun, so she must still smell like gunpowder. 


Jim goes out into the grandstand and tries to find the smell of the gun.  He’s a little distracted by more of the crackling noise, and tells Simon to evacuate the grandstand.  The smell is fading, but Jim spots Pat in the evacuating crowd and goes after her.  She drops her purse (with the gun) in a trash can, then runs on to the track and pulls a jockey off a horse.  She mounts and rides away, and Jim jumps on to Little Stogie and gives chase.  He catches up to her and jumps on to her horse, pulling her off and to the ground. 


We jump ahead to the night of the Officer of the Year Award.  Jim, Simon, Blair, and all the other MC guys are back, along with Herman, all in tuxes.  They’re pinning the award to Little Stogie’s bridle.  It’s revealed that Jim “grew up with horses” and they all tease him about this.  Jim goes over to where Steven is looking out over the park and thanks him for coming to the awards dinner.  The two of them reconcile and head off the join the others. 


Why this episode is essential:


More Jim backstory!  We get a load of it in this episode: we find out about his brother, Steven; information about their life growing up; the fact that Jim’s mother left/died when he was young (he just says “gone”); and the backstory behind Jim’s conflict with Steven and with their father (who we’ll meet in Remembrance).  Also, this ep gives us a good demonstration of Jim’s ability to hold a grudge for a really, really long time.  Parallel to his capacity for guilt and taking  responsibility for others, this capacity Jim has to push away/keep away and distrust those who he believes have hurt or wronged him is one of the defining aspects of his character.  One of the things that amazes me about the implication that Jim hasn’t spoken to Steven or his father in 15 years is that that means that he didn’t talk to them after he was rescued in Peru.  Think about that.  Steven and Jim’s dad thought that he was dead for 18 months.  Then he was miraculously rescued – a story that we know was widely reported in the news – and STILL Jim didn’t talk to them.  Now that’s holding a grudge. 


And, of course, we get to meet Steven.  Unfortunately, this is the only time we get to see him (except for some flashbacks of him as a boy in Remembrance), but he shows up way more frequently in fic, which is a good thing. 


We also get some Blair backstory, specifically, his talent for gambling.  This will get alluded to later.  In addition, we learn that Blair had a little trouble as a young man; getting in trouble for stealing a microscope.  Or so he says.  It could all be obfuscation, you know. 


The incident of Jim winning Officer of the Year is another essential feature of this episode.  This gets brought up a lot in fic (and sometimes Jim has won it multiple years in a row).  Also, the guys all look yummy in tuxes, and the interplay between Blair and Simon, who have clearly been planning all this and keeping it secret from Jim, is really cute.  Equally cute is the banter between Jim and Blair once he finds out.  All in all, this is just a section to make you ded from cute and gorgeous, here. 


In the realm of the senses, this ep has Blair suggesting that Jim use smell to follow Pat, through her recently-discharged gun, which is a novel use for that sense.  Jim also becomes aware of the structural problems at the racetrack through hearing the concrete cracking.  It’s good to see that, even late in second season, the writers were coming up with new and interesting ways for Jim to use his enhanced senses. 

episode-related fanfic


Chapter Text

Warriors is another of the pivotal episodes that shows up at the beginning of each new season, full of sentinel myth and mysticism. It also has one of the biggest Suspend Your Disbelief(SYD) plots to date, so I'll get it out of the way early and not dwell on it throughout this essay.


Remember that during Jim's last Army mission, his helicopter crash-landed in Peru and he was taken in and became part of the Chopec tribe, somewhere in the La Montaña region. The Chopec are a fictitious tribe, but the region is real and located on the eastern border of Peru, nowhere near the Pacific Ocean. The opening scene has Chopec warriors watching as men in bulldozers destroy the land they are using. One Chopec is ready to shoot an arrow at them, when a man on the 'dozer shoots, killing him. We see another warrior, who we'll become more familiar with later, look at the company logo on the equipment—Cyclops Oil. You might remember them from the episode The Rig.

So here's the giant SYD. The Chopec decide to capture the president of Cyclops Oil and bring him back to Peru for trial. Five of them travel from the jungles of Eastern Peru to Cascade (about 5000 miles), getting to the Pacific coast and then stowing away on a freighter. They are dressed in traditional clothing that bears a resemblance to kilts and sandals, and are covered with body and face paint. They carry bows and arrows and dart blow guns. When they get to Cascade, they manage to avoid anyone noticing their unusual attire, and they are able to find shelter and enough food to survive. Finally, they find and meet Jim to get him to help them. Now, NONE of how they got there and how they planned to get back and all the other stuff (except meeting Jim) is in any way explained in the episode.
Of course, we fen have come up with some theories, but I'm just saying this is a heck of a SYD that the creators wanted us to just "go" with. So, let's go!

Back in Cascade, Jim is in crisis. While foiling a department store robbery, he makes a mistake using his enhanced sight and shoots a store security guard. The guy was wearing a Kevlar vest, so he's okay, but Jim is not. Blair tries to have a rational discussion about it with Jim, but to no avail. Predictably, Jim blames his senses—if it hadn't been for his super-sight he wouldn't have seen or shot the guard.

That night, Jim has a "blue" dream where he shoots the panther. Not good. The next day as they are getting ready (with gratuitous Jim naked chest on display), Jim realizes that his enhanced senses are gone. As they go to the PD, Blair is explaining how Jim's senses are closely related to his emotional state, and the trauma with the guard is probably to blame. Jim doesn't seem to care about losing the senses. Blair tries to be reassuring, but Jim thinks it might be better to not bother. Blair is flabbergasted. Before it can go further, they get a call from Simon for a dead body and he specifically asks for Blair to come with Jim.

At the crime site, the victim (who was walking his dog) has apparently been killed by a poison-tipped dart with… wait for it… Chopec markings. The vic is Bud Torin, VP of… wait for it… Cyclops Oil. The other discovery is that he was carrying a gun that's been fired once and his hand had powder residue on it. Blair wants Jim to "go over" the crime scene but Jim refuses. Blair is frustrated. Their investigation takes them to Cyclops, where everyone is understandably upset and no one seems to have a clue why Torin would have been targeted.

But of course, we can guess and we'd be right. Pretty much everyone in the upper echelons of Cyclops knows they've been screwing around in Peru, digging for oil on protected land. What's more, the top guys have a scheme where they are funneling money into a dummy corporation. Total sleazebags. Someone who isn't a sleazebag and who works for Cyclops is an old friend of Blair's, Janet Myers. Blair and Janet apparently used to attend protest rallies together to save the environment. She believes Cyclops is a good corporate citizen, but after Blair's request to keep her eyes open, she discovers the nefarious plot. As Jim and Blair leave Cyclops, Janet gives Blair a hug; prompting Jim to make the infamous "table leg" remark about Blair's love life.

Back at the PD, Jim continues to do his job without the senses; unconcerned even when Simon asks about his health and well-being. Simon lets the matter drop, but sends a pointed "fix this" glance at Blair. Blair wants Jim to drop the guilt and get his senses back. Jim says if they lead to one fatal error they aren't worth having. Let's consider this for a moment. We've seen that Jim has an inner sense of what's right and wrong. He treads into grey areas all the time if he thinks the ends justify the means. If he thought about it, he would realize that without his senses, he would have made a lot more mistakes that could have been fatal. His resentment at the burden the senses put on him is coming to the fore, I think. Despite the fact that he "chose" to accept them in Peru, he still sees them as more curse than blessing.

That night at the loft, Jim confesses to Blair that the markings on the dart were Incacha's, the shaman who guided him when he was in Peru. So, Jim has remembered more about Peru and shared it with Blair over the years. How sweet! Just as they wonder about this situation, the man himself appears on the street in front of their building. Despite the red face paint, Incacha has a very gentle sweet face and a beautiful smile which he shares with them. How did he find Jim? I can only imagine it was a shamanic skill.

Incacha explains what happened in Peru, why they came, and their plans. He has a newspaper article about the president of Cyclops (Spalding), who they will hold responsible for the damage. They thought Torin would lead them to Spalding but Torin pulled the gun and shot one of the men; Incacha then killed him. Jim knows his duty as a cop is to arrest Incacha and let the justice system handle it, but he can't do it in his heart of hearts. See? He really has no problem at all with grey areas, so why he takes such a hard-line stance on his senses is baffling.

In any case, Incacha looks around and approves of the place and, apparently, of their relationship; asking if Blair is going to be Jim's spiritual guide. Pretty savvy considering he just met Blair. Then Incacha gets down to business: He's invoking Jim's allegiance to the tribe, saying Jim must help them capture Spalding and bring him to Chopec justice (most likely a death sentence). Jim counters, saying he will make sure Cyclops doesn't do any more damage to the Chopec, but he won't help capture him. Jim has been translating for Blair (who only understands a little) all of this time. At Jim's refusal, Incacha looks on in disbelief. We hear him say something that ends with "Chopec sentinel". Jim's translation is that Incacha can't believe Jim is refusing the tribe. This is fascinating, because apparently, as we learned in Flight, a sentinel is more than his senses—he's a protector. Jim tells Incacha he's lost his powers. Incacha delivers his most famous line: "A sentinel will always be a sentinel; if he chooses to be."

The phone rings and it's Janet, totally upset over the massive fraud Cyclops pulled on her and everyone. They agree to meet her but when Blair gets off the phone, Incacha has vanished. Jim tries to find him, but without his sentinel abilities, he really has no chance. In typical Ellison fashion, Jim asks whether Blair is upset because now he can't study Jim any more for his dissertation. In another famous line, Blair tells him that he's got enough material for ten dissertations and that he's been stalling. Jim seems genuinely shocked at the idea that Blair wants to continue to be with him when he doesn't have to. Blair gives us another memorable quote; that returning to academia would be like jumping off a roller coaster and going back to a merry-go-round. But when you look and listen to him, this seems to be a cover story—this relationship is important to Blair, but he's not quite sure whether he should reveal it to Jim, who doesn't seem to be on the same wavelength.

Blair is increasingly nervous about being late to meet Janet. Quite rightly, because they arrive at her car and she's dead, with a Chopec arrow in her back. Blair is devastated and angry. Even though we learn that the arrow is really a misdirection and she was actually stabbed, he feels guilty that he got her involved. Later at the station, a package arrives for Blair, which is the material Janet got on the bad guys. With this overwhelming evidence, Jim can arrest them.

Before that can happen, the Chopec confront Spalding and Jaeger, a Cyclops VP who's in on the scheme and also killed Janet. In the fight, Jaeger shoots Incacha. Incacha urges his men to take Spalding and leave him. He somehow makes his way back to the loft, where Blair calls 911 and Jim. Jim gets back just in time to find out what happened and that the Chopec are planning to take Spalding that night to a ship. Incacha wants Jim to become a sentinel to save the tribe; Blair concurs. Apparently this confirms that they are kindred spirits, because Incacha grabs Blair's arm, leaving a bloody handprint, and passes the way of the shaman to Blair, who's understandably upset.

But no more so than Jim, who is about to go on a rampage when the forensic people arrive, ready to do their usual thing. Jim wants the proper rituals to be carried out for his dear friend. Blair assures Jim that he will make sure protocols are followed and he also shouts Jim down, telling him that they have to follow Incacha's last directive: that he become a sentinel to save the tribe. This is an awesome scene. The forensics people probably know Jim, so I expect it was both uncomfortable and startling to witness these two men yelling over each other. Especially when Blair ends up victorious and pushes Jim out the door and up to the roof.

He uses music and imagery to guide Jim to confronting his animal spirit. Once again Jim is tasked to accept the responsibilities that go with his sensory gifts. Jim agrees; he's back online and it's time for some justice! He and the Chopec work together to defeat the baddies, but he insists Spalding must be left to American justice. The Chopec agree, and inform Jim he's not their sentinel anymore, but instead is the Sentinel of the Great City. Blair speculates that now he's the Shaman of the Great City. Jim doesn't have an answer.

It doesn't take a Detective of the Year to see why this episode is so essential. Not only do we get great insight into Jim's relationship with the Chopec and Incacha particularly, but we also see that Blair is fulfilling some of the same functions, probably unconsciously. Jim's bipolar attitude toward his senses comes to the fore, and the potential of suppressing the senses permanently brings up issues and insecurities for Blair and Jim. What makes it so hard for Jim to accept his gifts that he has to constantly be reminded that they are a gift? We'll discover that in another essential episode. In any event, it seems that about once a year he has a crisis where he must confront and renew his vows as protector.

Essential Elements:

v The sentinel myth: Once again, we see that a sentinel is more than his senses. It's a responsibility that also has definite mysticism surrounding it, including spirit animals and confronting one's fears. Incacha, probably much more familiar with the ways of sentinelism, immediately looks to Blair to make sure that Jim is taken care of—that he will have a spiritual guide. He passes the torch to Blair, who's a little freaked but eventually seems to accept it. Sadly, the creators never did anything else to develop this storyline. Probably it interfered with the car chases. Fortunately, our fen treat Blair better.

v The senses: Again, we see how tied in the senses are with emotions. Jim suppresses them completely through guilt and anger at himself. He regains them again through desperation and a sense of responsibility to his tribe. I think he used every sense except taste in this episode, even if some of them were the reverse; such as him not smelling the burning bread in the toaster.

v Backstory: Indirectly, we get a glimpse into Jim's life among the Chopec. Not only how he was accepted into the tribe, but also how resourceful and skilled these men are. Little wonder he was able to successfully defend the Chopec Pass with them. We also learn more of Blair's background. He was a tree-hugger and went to anti-nuke rallies with Janet. He also tells Simon he's taken psychology courses. Simon calls on him as an expert when they find Torin dead with a blow dart in his neck. He knows a little Quechua (we're assuming that's what Incacha is speaking) and he knows the death rituals of the Chopec.

v Sound bytes: Table leg. A sentinel is a sentinel if he chooses to be. Sentinel of the Great City. Shaman of the Great City. Rollercoaster vs merry-go-round. Enough material for ten dissertations. Passing the Way of the Shaman.

v Relationship: Although not spelled out, the past close relationship between Incacha and Jim is evident. They speak to each other with an ease and tenderness that we don't see often between men. It's obvious also that they are brothers-in-arms; despite the fact that Jim won't do what Incacha wants, he also will not betray him to the authorities. They are loyal to each other. The relationship between Blair and Jim is showing the first signs of stress fractures. Up until now, Jim has been a reluctant but willing participant in "this sentinel thing", deferring to Blair as the expert in figuring it out. When he inadvertently suppresses his senses, for the first time he feels a burden lifted from him. He's indifferent to Blair's increasing anxiety over the situation and Blair's natural feelings of insecurity show themselves here. Blair admits he has enough material to finish his diss many times over, yet he hasn't, and this surprises Jim. What has kept Blair at Jim's side, when about every third outing has him getting a heavy dose of hurt without a lot of comfort? He tries to test the waters, but is unable to tell whether Jim's feelings for him are reciprocated. Because of the danger to the tribe, Jim again assumes the mantle of sentinel, so the issue never gets explored or resolved. Blair's remark about being the "shaman of the great city" seems to indicate how desperately he wants to be part of Jim's world. Jim's non-committal response doesn't give Blair any indication of whether Jim wants him in that role or not.  

v  Fanfic:  Overall, a totally glorious episode for fic.  Not only are there a lot of epilogues and missing scenes, but there's a lot of stories about Incacha.  The table leg remark appears quite frequently, but even more so the Sentinel and Shaman of the Great City.  Every story of Blair wanting to study—or refusing to study—shamanism owes its genesis to Warriors.   It is a gold mine of canon tidbits.


episode-related fanfic



Chapter Text

We join Jim and Blair at Cascade Arena.  Jim’s got a new truck – a classic 1969 Ford.  Seems he’s totaled too many cars and his premium for a newer model would be too high.  As Jim and Blair banter, we learn Blair was born in 1969.  We learn that Jim and Blair are at Cascade Arena to watch the Jags, who are in the playoffs, practice.  Simon set it up for them, because he knows Arthur Dell, the owner of the Jags. 



They enter the arena and meet Dell, as well as Ray Krause, the head of security.  Ray was going to be a pro basketball player, but he screwed his knee up during finals.  Krause tries to introduce them to Dwight Roshman, petulant bad boy of the Jags, but he blows them off.  But Orvelle Wallace, long-time player, comes over and greets them, apologizing for Roshman’s behavior.  Turns out Blair is a bit of a fan of Orvelle’s. 


Jim and Blair watch the team practice.  Roshman is acting like a jerk, and Jim mentions the rumors that he’s asking to be traded.  Blair chimes in that if that happens, Dell might sell the team and they might leave Cascade.  As they’re talking, a fight erupts between Roshman and another Jag player.  Orvelle intervenes and gets dragged into the argument.  The coach calms everybody down, but practice is closed, and Jim and Blair leave.


Afterwards, Roshman gets his assistant, Jerome, to be his decoy and draw the reporters away from the locker room exit.  He gives Jerome his keys and his jacket.  Unfortunately for Jerome, he gets shot going to get Roshman’s car from the garage. 


Next day, in the garage.  Roshman’s car is missing.  Simon tells Jim about the ruse, and they theorize that maybe it’s a disgruntled psycho fan out to get Roshman.  Roshman’s been getting death threats.  Jim asks Krause about it, but he suggests they talk to Roshman. 


Jim and Blair go to Roshman’s house to question him.  Shelley, Roshman’s girlfriend, tells them he’s out on the court.  Roshman is playing on his personal court and doesn’t want to talk to them.  He says he threw away the death threats and won’t give them any specifics.  Blair suggests they play a pick-up game;  him and Jim against Roshman.  Roshman agrees.  They play, but Jim and Blair aren’t doing too well, and Blair urges Jim to use his “special skills”.  Jim does, and is starting to make some shots, but then Jim hears a creaking sound and sees that the backboard is about to fall.  He pushes Roshman out of the way just before it crashes to the ground. 


After a brief examination, Jim says that the backboard was rigged to fall.  Roshman accuses Orvelle, whom he says was shooting baskets on the court earlier that morning.  Turns out Orvelle is Shelley’s uncle, and Roshman tells Jim and Blair that Orvelle hates him because of his playing skill and because he doesn’t like that he’s with Shelley.  He accuses Orvelle of attacking him and threatening his life.


Jim and Blair meet with Orvelle at the arena, where he’s getting treatment for his back.  Orvelle admits that he doesn’t like how Roshman treats Shelley, but denies trying to kill him.  He also admits that he was at Roshman’s house earlier that morning; he wanted to apologize, but Roshman wouldn’t see him.  He agrees to come in to the PD for a formal statement. 


As they’re waiting for Orvelle to dress, Blair is insistent that Orvelle can’t be the murderer.  Jim is not as convinced.  They decide to have Orvelle ride in Blair’s car with the two of them, because he’s still having back spasms.  As they’re heading to his car, Blair notices a bracelet that Orvelle has; recognizes it as Tanzanian.  Orvelle tells him he got it there when he went to Africa. 


They squeeze Orvelle into the backseat of the Volvo.  As they’re heading to the PD, Jim gets a call on his cell phone.  Roshman’s car as been sighted, and Jim tells Blair to intercept it.  They pursue Roshman’s car, much to both Blair’s and Orvelle’s dismay.  But once it comes to a halt, the occupants turn out to be two kids.


Later, Jim is in Simon’s office.  He tells Simon that the kids just found the car and aren’t involved in the carjacking and murder.  They discuss the fact that Orvelle is the most likely suspect, due to Roshman’s history of domestic disputes, but Jim has another thought.  He thinks Dell, the Jags’ owner, might have hired someone to kill Roshman, netting him a big insurance payoff.  Simon doesn’t like this; he’s friends with Dell.  But Jim makes some good points, so Simon tells him to look into it – discreetly.  To facilitate this, he gives Jim tickets to the playoff night reception (albeit somewhat reluctantly). 


While this is going on, Blair and Orvelle are talking.  Blair has fond memories of Orvelle signing his basketball card when he was in high school.  They talk about the rumors that Dell will move the team to keep Roshman happy.  Orvelle tells Blair that he had a deal with management to be an assistant coach once he retires next year, but if the team is sold, that deal is no good. 


Jim and Blair go to the party, all spiffed up in suits (not quite as good as tuxes, but oh well).  We find out that Blair’s cousin Robert is a bookie.  Blair asks about Dell or Krause being a suspect.  Jim says that Dell is checking out so far, and says he’ll look into Krause.  Orvelle comes over to say hi to them and, as he’s talking to them, Shelley comes up and tells Orvelle that she and Roshman are engaged.  Orvelle’s congratulations are lukewarm, at best, and Roshman and Orvelle argue.  Orvelle accuses him of telling everyone that Orvelle’s trying to kill him.  They start pushing at each other, and Orvelle’s bracelet breaks.  Orvelle leaves.


We see a janitor finding Roshman’s body in a shower sometime later. 


Jim and Blair are at the scene.  Jim finds something on the floor of the shower, and Blair asks to see it.  Back at the PD, Simon tells Jim that he’s under pressure from Dell and the Chief of police to solve Roshman's murder.  In the break room, Jim and Blair discuss the case.  Dell only gets insurance money from a player’s accidental death, so he doesn’t seem to have any motive.  Krause is clean.  There doesn’t seem to have been any recent conflict between Shelley and Roshman recently.  Unfortunately, Orvelle still looks like the most likely suspect. 


Blair apprehensively tells Jim that he knows that the thing Jim found in the shower is a piece of rhino horn from Orvelle’s bracelet.  Jim yells at him for withholding evidence, then goes to see Simon to get a search warrant for Orvelle’s house. 


Blair calls his cousin and asks him for a favor.  Later we see him meeting with someone named Mr. Glimmerman.


Jim tells Simon that a search found a pair of gloves with gunpowder and Roshman’s blood on them in the trash behind Orvelle's house.  Simon says that they have to arrest Orvelle, and Jim says that Blair will take it hard.  They commiserate on how hard it is to deal with your heroes having feet of clay.  But Blair is learning some interesting things about Krause from Mr. Glimmerman; namely that Krause is in deep on some gambling debts, and that he doesn’t hesitate to get physical when needed.


At the arena, the game is underway.  Orvelle is playing great.  When he comes to the bench to take a rest, he gets a phone call from Krause.  He admits to Orvelle that he killed both Jerome and Roshman.  Then he tells Orvelle to throw the game or he’ll kill Shelley. 


We’re close to the end of the fourth quarter, and the Jags are losing, but not by much.  Jim and Simon argue with Dell whether to arrest Orvelle now or wait until the end of the game.  Blair comes up and tells Simon and Jim what he learned about Krause.  They don’t believe him at first, but then Jim overhears a conversation between Krause and Orvelle.  He spots Krause in the rafters, with Shelley bound and gagged, and goes after him.  Blair fills Simon in. 


Jim gets Shelley away from Krause, but Krause gets away.  Jim goes after him as Simon calls for backup.  Blair lets Orvelle know that Shelley is safe, and Orvelle, filled with relief and renewed energy, begs his coach to let him back in the game. 


Up in the rafters, Jim catches up with Krause.  They fight.  A couple of the cables that hold up the center scoreboard snap.  Orvelle scores the winning goal as the scoreboard starts to fall.  Jim grabs on to a cable and Krause grabs on to Jim. 


Why this episode is essential:


This episode gives us a lot of important backstory about Blair, including his birth year and that he went to junior high school in Cascade.  Also that he was all-city point guard (if that wasn’t an obfuscation).  We find out about his cousin, Robert, the bookie. 


This is also an episode where Blair shows some independence from Jim and Simon.  He firmly believes that Orvelle is not guilty, even when the evidence appears pretty strong, and he sticks to that opinion.  He hides evidence, and endures Jim’s tirade at him about it.  He makes a contact on his own that gets him information about Krause, which is crucial to figuring things out at the arena.  In a lot of ways, Blair is starting to act a lot more like Jim’s partner instead of just an observer.  This episode comes early in the third season, so maybe this reflects Blair’s increasing confidence in his role after the events of Warriors. 


From the erudite to the shallow: this ep is totally worth it for the few minutes we get of watching Jim and Blair get sweaty playing basketball against Roshman. 


This is also the episode where we see Jim’s new truck.  The Ford F-150 was totaled at the end of Warriors, and the 1969 blue-and-white Ford Jim replaced it with has a special place in fen’s hearts.  We learn in a later episode that Jim has named it “Sweetheart”, and it frequently shows up in fic, much more than the newer (but with much less personality) F-150. 

episode-related fanfic


Chapter Text

If only for the first scene, this is a great episode. There’s nothing as much fun as watching these guys at play. We see Jim and Simon teaching Blair the fine art of fly-fishing. Look at how cute the dialogue is:

~Forest river. Day. Jim, Blair, and Simon all in fishing gear as they splash through the shallow water.~
Jim: Now, watch your step. These rocks are tricky.
Blair: Don't worry. I won't slip.
Jim: Slip all you want. I just don't want anybody to kick the fish. 


That last line delivered in classic Jim smirk. It’s obvious he’s enjoying sharing this with Blair. To show how much, Jim christens Blair with a brand new and endearing nickname: “All right my little Guppy, are you ready for your first fly-casting lesson?” So sweet! And they all look great in waders and funny hats. They are having a wonderful time, until they investigate gunshots and find a dead poacher. Washington State must have an “I discover a crime so I get to investigate it” kind of policing, because Jim and Simon decide to take on this case that’s obviously out of their jurisdiction. Major Crime must be slow in Cascade.

Cut to a totally creepy scene of a lot of animal bones–obviously these poachers have been working the area for a while. Cute little exchange during the stake-out: Blair looks through binoculars and hands them to Jim. Jim looks at them and casually says “I’ve got it covered”. He’s a sentinel, Blair! Anyway, they catch the poacher in a deal with a man and woman and bust them all. The woman is pretty upset at Jim, who takes it in stride with some more of his patented good humor. Unfortunately, they find out that the man and woman are United States Fish and Wildlife game wardens, Elaine Walters and Frank Rafferty–oops! They were working undercover and Jim’s bust has spoiled their hopes of nailing Ho Ng. Ng is an Asian mafia kingpin who has an obsession for traditional Chinese remedies that require rare animal parts. Of course there’s a bit of a pissing contest between Jim and Elaine. Simon solves the problem by having them work together.

Neither Jim nor Elaine is happy with the arrangement. They decide to work separately and pool their findings. J&B check out the poacher’s cabin and end up in a gunfight. The perp ran a Chinese herbal store, which is likely a front for the poached stuff. They inform Simon, running into their "teammates" at the station. They invite Elaine and Frank to the loft.

(I’ve got to stop the blow-by-blow long enough to say that Jim looks great in a form-fitting blue shirt and shoulder holster. Blair also looks tasty with a tucked-in green shirt and jeans that show off his butt nicely. I’m shallow; I admit it.)

Jim calls the bad guys, pretending to be a supplier of narwhal tusk (very rare and magical). So, the plan is the wardens will contribute the contraband and Jim will flush out the bad guys. Elaine doesn’t think much of the plan but we know it will work. Blair and Jim have a nice tête-à-tête over the stove, with Jim wearing a flowered apron without a bit of self-consciousness. Blair also finds out that Frank was once a poacher before becoming a Fed. Before Jim can finish cooking his famous spaghetti sauce, they get a call and a meet is set up. Jim and Elaine go to the meet; Frank and Blair follow. Blair’s a little nervous, not wanting to lose them. Frank brags that they have an undetectable tracer secreted on Elaine (echoes of Rogue), but of course the baddies jam the airwaves. Blair is pissed.

Jim and Elaine meet Tommy Wu, a smuggler who spouts philosophy and works with Ho Ng. He takes a shine to Jim (looking nice in a casual suit) and agrees to think about doing business. Later, Wu and Ng argue about trusting Jim and Elaine. Wu decides to sets up another meet with Jim and Elaine; this time to buy merchandise. He invites them on his boat and takes off to international waters, leaving Blair and Frank behind. The plan is for Blair and Frank to meet them and bring the goods. We get a great example of In-charge!Blair, talking Simon into letting him continue the case and piloting the boat. But then a surprise! Frank decides to go back to his poaching roots and take all the contraband for himself. Quick-thinking Blair swerves the boat, disarms Frank and strands him on a tiny island to wait for authorities. He then drives on through the night to meet Jim. Go Blair!

In the meantime, Jim and Elaine share a very small stateroom, due to Elaine’s telling Wu that she and Jim are married. They are talking when Jim smells smoke. He’s able to save the engineer, gaining Wu’s gratitude. The next morning, Blair shows up, and so does Ho Ng. Ng reveals that he found Frank on the island and now knows that Jim, Blair and Elaine are cops. He plans to kill them all, then pin the murders on Wu. Wu objects, so Ng ties them all up in the boat and plans to blow it up. They all work together to thwart Ng–Elaine holds her own in a fight, Blair leads the rest of the crew, brandishing a gun for the second time in the episode, and Jim chases the bad guy down with a jet ski. Tommy Wu makes an escape to parts unknown just as the cavalry arrives.

Wrap up with Blair asking Simon to borrow the narwhal tusk for some experimentation (it’s purported to be an aphrodisiac) and Elaine inviting Jim on a camping/fishing trip.

All in all, this is a good episode. Great bonding scenes, both guys looked yummy throughout and they were highly competent working together or apart. Jim’s casual use of his abilities throughout is another plus; it’s so funny that they don’t even try to explain it to the curious Elaine. They just ignore her questions. Thumbs down to the writers who once again tried to get a romantic angle going between Jim and Elaine, instead of making them just skilled rivals.

Essential Elements:

v Relationship building. Great, great interaction between Jim, Blair and Simon in the opening scenes and wonderful interplay and banter between the guys. They are so obviously in synch here—especially when they have to deal with the game wardens and the baddies. The kitchen scene, complete with Jim in apron, is just so adorably domestic.

v Use of the senses. Everything from Jim's casual reminder of the fact that he doesn't need binoculars, to overhearing Ng and Wu talk, to smelling smoke in the boat—Jim's really using his senses naturally and not particularly worried about who notices. Jim also shows some evidence of allergies to the poached stuff; Blair tries to figure out whether it's sentinel-related.




v  Fanfic:  In and of itself, there's not a lot of episode-related fic.  However this episode, along with Crossroads and Secret, provide the basis for a ton of fishing/camping stories that include Jim, Blair, and Simon. It might also be the genesis of the dozens of stories where Jim and Blair always find trouble when they go camping/on vacation.  And, of course, fen have taken to their hearts Jim's endearing nick of "guppy" for Blair.  This episode is also used by fen to refute the contention that Blair would never carry or use a gun. 

episode-related fanfic


Chapter Text

Jim and Blair are at home watching football.  Jim gets a visitor, Kelly, who tells him that her husband and Jim’s friend, Matt, was shot trying to escape from Starkville Prison.  Both Jim and Kelly seem shocked by this, as we’re told that Matt only had three months left on his sentence. 


At Major Crimes, Jim tells Blair that Matt is one of his best friends from high school who was busted for selling pot (he was trying to pay off gambling debts).  They meet with Simon and Maggie Chandler, who is with the State Board of Corrections.  Jim tells her about Matt’s death.  We also find out that Cascade PD did their own autopsy on Matt’s body.  Matt was shot, but the PD coroner stated that he died from a massive beating, before he was shot.  Chandler admits that there has been a high incidence of injuries and deaths at Starkville.  She says that she was contacted by the prison doctor, Dr. Spenser, who was going to bring her some files, but he died in a car accident on the way to their meeting.  The Board of Corrections sent in an undercover detective as a guard, but he was stabbed by a prisoner. 


Jim tells Simon he wants to go in undercover, but not as a guard – as a prisoner.  Simon thinks this is a bad idea, but Chandler says they can transfer out anyone who would recognize Jim and limit the number of people who know about it.  Between Chandler’s suggestions and Jim’s insistence, Simon is convinced. 


Blair also thinks it’s a bad idea.  He offers to go in and back Jim up, but Jim expressly forbids him to.  He tells Blair there’s a new recruit from Detroit who is going to be his contact – the guy is going to pose as a creative writing teacher whose class Prisoner!Jim will take.  Since he’s from Detroit, no one will know him.  Blair isn’t sure – what if something happens with Jim’s senses; this guy won’t know how to handle that, but Jim isn’t hearing it. 


We see Jim get admitted into Starkville, with all the typical harassment and brutality towards new inmates that one would expect in a prison.  He meets Dr. Wilder, who’s Dr. Spenser’s replacement.  He gets attitude from Turner, his cellmate.  That night, he listens to the prisoners talk.  He hears the guards drag a prisoner, Frazer, out of his cell.  They tell Frazer that he’s “on the list.”  Frazer begs the guards not to take him, to no avail. 


Next day, Jim is working in the metal shop.  He hears Turner and Camacho, another inmate, talking about how Frazer hanged himself in his cell last night.  Jim says he heard different but he’s told to shut up.  As he’s going back to work, he sees someone putting a work order up on a board.  He zooms in with his sight and sees the name the order is for: Orangewood Hardware. 


Jim goes to lift weights and runs afoul of Vinson, another prisoner.  Later that night, when they’re in their cell, Turner warns him to stay clear of Vinson.  Jim asks Turner about his offense, and Turner tells him that he killed a man while he was holding up a liquor store.  Again, Jim listens and hears the distant sounds of yelling and cheering.  He zooms in on the sound but all he can see are the backs of people, watching something and yelling.  He asks Turner what “the list” is, but Turner tells him to leave it alone. 



The next day, Jim and Turner are talking in the main yard on a work break.  Jim asks Turner if he knew Matt, but Turner won’t answer.  As they’re going back inside, Jim sees people loading sides of meat into a van.  And while he’s working in the metal shop, he overhears the warden, Hanlon, telling one of the guards to increase the markup on some metal fabrication.  Another inmate comes to one of the guards to ask for metal rods, and Jim manages to see the security code that the guard taps in on the lock to the door to the storage room.  He also notices that there’s a tag fluttering in the storage room, suggesting that there’s a vent to the outside in there. 


Vinson hassles another inmate, Liotta, for working slowly, and Jim intervenes.  Things look like they’re going to get ugly between Jim and Vinson, but one of the guards intervenes.  Liotta leaves, but Jim follows him and asks him what’s going on.  Liotta tells Jim that Vinson is after him because he refused to cut him in for what he was making selling overstock pills to dealers outside the prison.  He says he couldn’t cut Vinson in because it wasn’t his scam; he was just a cog in the wheel.  But he won’t tell Jim who he was working for.


Later that day, we see Blair coming in as the creative writing teacher for the prisoners.  After class Jim lags behind to talk to him.  He’s angry at first, but Blair tells him that the guy from Detroit had an emergency appendectomy, so he volunteered for the job.  Jim still isn’t pleased about it, but he tells Blair that he will leave messages in his laundry bag, which will be from “B” block and marked with his undercover name, “Curtis”. 


We see Jim write a quick note and put it in his laundry.  Meanwhile, Blair introduces himself to Dr. Wilder and asks if she wants to go get coffee sometime.  But she turns him down when she sees a guard listening to their conversation.  So Blair goes and gets Jim’s note.  Once outside the prison, he calls Simon and tells him that Jim thinks there’s some black market dealing going on.  He offers to check things out, but Simon tells him not to.  Blair follows one of the meat trucks anyway, and sees the meat get sold to a restaurant in town.  Then he sees Dr. Wilder going into the restaurant.  He goes in and asks if he can have dinner with her.  At first she’s very nervous and vague, but finally she opens up and tells Blair she’s concerned about the kinds of injuries she’s seeing in the prisoners.  Blair gives her his cell phone number and tells her to call him if she wants to. 


Back at Starkville, Jim overhears Camacho telling Turner he’s (Camacho) on “the list”.  Jim asks Turner about it, but Turner stonewalls him.  Vinson goes after Liotta; Jim tries to help Liotta, but he’s too late.  Unfortunately, there’s another inmate there, named Miller, and he knows that Jim’s a cop, because Jim busted his kid brother.  He tells Jim to help him get out or he’ll reveal Jim’s secret.  Jim agrees.  We see Vinson get hassled by the guards for killing Liotta.  Turner still won’t tell Jim anything, but he warns him to “be smart… play the game.” 


Wilder meets with Blair outside the prison and tells him that an inmate was killed.  She gives Blair some files, but tells him that a lot of the ones having to do with the serious injuries she treated are missing.  Blair asks if she has seen Dr. Spenser’s files, and she says she’ll look for them. 


Jim hears Camacho as the guards approach him that night.  He gets a shaving mirror and watches the guards drag Camacho out.  Meanwhile, Blair is sleeping in his car in front of the prison.  He’s woken by his cell phone ringing; it’s Simon.  He fills Simon in on what Dr. Wilder has told him. 


Meanwhile, Jim uses his vision to zoom in on what’s happening to Camacho.  He sees the prison guards push Camacho into a makeshift ring with Vinson.  Warden Hanlon is there as well.  Vinson and Camacho fight, and Vinson kills Camacho.  Jim is shocked. 


Wilder looks through Spenser’s files and finds a report on his death.  She takes it, but as she’s leaving the office, a guard stops her in the hallway. 


Next morning.  Jim writes a note that he’s been ID’d and needs to be pulled out.  But Miller sees him put the note in his laundry bag; he takes it out and writes another one that says he’s fine.  After Miller leaves, Blair goes into the laundry room and finds the fake note. 


Out in the yard, Jim confronts Turner again.  Turner asks if he’s a cop, and offers to help Jim in exchange for a good word with the parole board.  Jim accepts. 


Blair and Simon meet in a parking lot in town.  Blair’s class has been cancelled, which bothers both of them.  They’re worried, but based on the positive note from Jim they decide to wait and see what happens.


Jim, for his part, is waiting to get pulled out and wondering what’s taking Simon so long.  Vinson starts to make trouble for Jim, but Turner and some of his friends step in to protect him.  Turner explains the situation about “the list” – people from the community pay lots of money to watch inmates fight.  Vinson killed Matt because Matt was going to rat on the setup.  Jim tells Turner he has to get out.  He mentions the vent in the storage room, and Turner tells him that that goes to the steam plant, and from the steam plant there are pipes that go to the river. 


Later that night, Miller gets up with Jim when he’s getting ready to go and makes Jim take him with him.  They go through the storage room and out the vent, and then into the steam tunnels.  But they’re caught by the guards, and Miller is killed.  Jim is put into solitary and, later, Turner is brought in, too. 


Blair tells Simon his class has been cancelled permanently, and so he hasn’t been able to make contact with Jim, either in person or by retrieving his note.  He also hasn’t been able to get a hold of Dr. Wilder.  Simon calls in the cavalry.


Jim fights Vinson and wins, despite Vinson using pepper spray on him.  Then Turner is put in the ring, but Jim refuses to fight him.  Fortunately Simon and the SWAT team come in and arrest everyone.  Jim promises to do his best for Turner.  He’s clearly rattled by his experience, and tells Simon that it was really hard to endure all the hatred and violence he experienced.  The episode ends on a somewhat ambivalent note as Jim walks off alone.


Why this episode is essential:


Prisoner X is a much darker episode than is usual for TS, but (as with Cypher) many fen feel that it’s one of the best because of that.  We see Jim in real danger, experiencing the world that he sends people to, and gaining an appreciation for the emotional and physical stresses it presents and what enduring that can do to people.  Implied but never spoken is what this experience might do to Jim’s attitude towards his job.  Does he still think that putting criminals away is the right thing to do?  Or is he cynical, now, as to whether it’s going to do any good?


This episode is an excellent character study of Jim.  For most of it, Jim’s undercover without any help, and relying primarily on his wits and his ability to figure things out (and his ability to form relationships with a few inmates).  There’s also a hint that he’s not really able to control his senses, or block them out, and so has to endure hearing the pain and misery of the other inmates, both the ones involved in the fighting ring as well as the regular ones. 


As in Secret, even though Blair and Jim are separated for most of the ep, it’s really heartwarming how worried Blair is about Jim and how much he wants to help Jim even when it’s dangerous or Jim says no.  Regardless of whether you see them as friends or romantic partners, the ambivalent ending sort of tears at your heart; you really want Blair to go to Jim and comfort him, but it’s clear that he’s not sure that that’s what Jim needs right now. 


Rumor has it that Prisoner X was shot using strange angles and unusual, stark lighting to enhance the effect of Jim’s being in another world, being out of his element, being in danger.  If that’s true, then the Director of Photography did a masterful job, because it is quite an unsettling episode. 


This episode is a fan favorite in terms of generating epilogues and tags with hurt/comfort themes (both slash and gen).  I think since it doesn’t end with a nice, wrapping-things-up tag, and because of the depth of Jim’s ordeal, there’s a real pull to find a happy or at least comforting ending.  I think this ep also influences the high number of “Jim is a prisoner” (or “Jim and Blair are prisoners”) fics in the fandom, by providing a good base to start from. 

episode-related fanfic


Chapter Text

Sweet Science is the 50th episode of the show. It takes place about two-thirds into the third season, right before Remembrance. This is a great episode. A wonderful combination of case solving and relationships old and new. One thing I especially like is that we get to see a bit more of Blair’s world. The action starts in a boxing ring, with Blair and Jim in the audience. Blair is excited and analyzing the fight, and Jim’s a little surprised that Blair is into boxing.


In the dressing room we see "Sweet" Roy Williams, the winning boxer, talking to his manager when Blair and Jim come in.  We learn that Roy gave Blair the tickets to the fight. We also learn that Blair and Roy met while Roy was being assaulted by a bunch of guys. Blair comes up with an innovative way to even the odds: breaking a store window to set off an alarm and bring the police. It works and they have been friends since. The story reminds Roy that he owes Blair $200 for his share of the broken window. He pays with two $100 bills and invites them to a post-fight party.

Cut to the shindig where Roy and his manager are toasting with Roy’s brother Jamie and  Sharita, Jamie's girlfriend. Everyone is happy except Jamie, who gives Sharita a dirty look. Our boys saunter in and get greeted by Roy.  Blair approaches Jamie like “remember me?” and Jamie does, but not fondly. He refers to Blair as “that rich white dude who went slumming around with my brother”. Blair doesn't take it to heart, though.  Meanwhile, as Jim wanders around the party, he makes some interesting observations. One, Roy is trying to talk to Sharita, who declines. Then a Don King-type promoter tries to get Roy signed up with him, but Roy blows him off because of previous bad blood.

The next day, we're back at the PD.  Blair arrives just as Jim gets a call to investigate a dead body.  Shockingly, Jim and Blair find out that the victim is Sweet Roy. Blair is devastated.  Cut to Jamie’s house where Jim and Blair are questioning him. Jamie thinks Billy Atlas (the Don King act-alike) is a likely suspect. Not a bad guess, as we learn that Roy died from blunt force trauma to the head. Slivers of ivory were found in the wound, and Billy carries an ivory-handled walking stick.

Back at the station Simon extends his sympathies to Blair.  Blair wants Atlas arrested immediately but Simon and Jim insist on exploring all the avenues.  Blair’s getting more pissed and Simon banishes him to the bullpen.  Jim promises to keep Blair in line. Simon says if Jim can’t he might have to pull Blair’s credentials.  Obviously, Simon and Jim conveniently forget that Blair is grieving for a good friend.   

Apparently Jim does listen to Blair, because in the next scene he’s questioning Billy Atlas. Blair gets upset when Billy fingers Jamie as a suspect, intimating that Roy was stepping out with Sharita.  Once again, Jim gives a “check your emotions” speech and Blair agrees to try.  They leave to question Jamie at the gym.  Jamie admits he thought Sharita was cheating on him with Roy.   Jim asks to inspect Jamie’s car. In the trunk, Jim’s incredible sight picks up a tiny speck of something, which turns out to be Roy’s blood. Jim has to break the news to Blair, who’s been meditating at home. Blair leaves to clear his head.

Well the next scene is just adorable. Jim has fallen asleep on the couch, obviously trying to wait up for Blair. He’s woken by the phone–Blair’s been arrested! By the Feds! For passing counterfeit bills! The next scene is almost as adorable for its implications. We’re in Simon’s office and the Fed is apologizing for detaining Blair, telling Simon he didn’t know that Blair was one of “his men”. And Simon doesn’t correct him!  The Feds are on alert because these bills are printed on the cotton-rag paper used to make  real money, and they are interested in where Blair got the bill. Blair does a little tap dance and the Fed leaves. But Jim knows, and tells Simon (quite proudly), that the bill was one of the two Blair got from Roy. So now they’ve got a head start on the Feds in investigating a counterfeiting ring, and Jim is investigating the counterfeiting as well as Roy’s death.  Counterfeiting being a federal crime doesn't seem to faze Jim or Simon, and I think Blair is still so surprised by the unexpected support that he just goes along. 

Back to the gym and our guys confront Jamie, who isn’t very cooperative. They also talk to Rock, Roy’s manager, who is also stone-walling. Cut to Jim and Blair buying hot dogs from a street vendor and Jim letting Blair know Jamie’s heart rate went up while they were questioning him.  Blair wants Jim to keep an open mind; Jim tells Blair to do the same. Before they can chow down, Simon calls about an extremely coincidental explosion behind the gym. Jim doesn’t need super-sight to notice Rock hanging around but does zoom in on a bit of scorched something that “feels like money”. I guess Blair was right in Switchman–with a little practice Jim can differentiate between one type of ash and another!

Switch to Jamie,  who's on a mission to find his brother's killer.  He confronts Rock, who denies it and tells Jamie to lay low. Meanwhile Jim and Blair are convincing Simon that Rock is probably knee-deep in the counterfeit ring. They go back to the gym once more to bring him in. Instead they find Jamie, who runs. Jim smells blood (shades of Siege!) and they find Rock dead.

Now comes my favorite scene! Jim and Simon are discussing Jamie’s guilt. Blair is pacing and trying to get them to listen to how illogical they are sounding–first they think Jamie killed Roy, then they think Jamie killed Rock because Jamie thought he killed Roy. The more Blair talks, the more eye-rolling between Jim and Simon. Blair in frustration cries out, “Why doesn’t anyone listen to me?” With one more eye-roll Jim leaves when Simon asks Blair to stay. We expect a dressing down. Instead Simon gives a heartfelt speech, saying how much he appreciates Blair’s contributions.

Touched, Blair leaves to join Jim in tailing Sharita, hoping she'll lead them to Jamie. She does and she tells Jamie that Roy was not hitting on her and, in fact, was going to buy Jamie a house.  Jamie is upset that he suspected his brother and, with their excellent timing, Jim and Blair show up to arrest Jamie (who is still a suspect). Jamie pulls a gun. Blair volunteers to go with him outside for protection. Jim thinks that’s a really bad idea! Jamie bolts and gets shot, but it’s just a flesh wound. At the hospital, Jamie confesses that he was part of the counterfeit ring and Rock was blackmailing him to keep quiet. He still thinks Rock killed Roy. But who killed Rock?

Jim has a hunch which he presents to Simon. Rock’s partner, a slimy guy named Collins who was also Roy’s promoter, was once rich but has money problems. Not at all coincidentally. he’s the son-in-law of the guy who owns the company that makes that cotton rag paper for the government. He had Roy killed after Roy confronted Rock about the phony money and Rock was killed so he couldn’t turn state’s evidence. Simon is impressed and with a “go get him, Tiger” he sends Jim and Blair to round up the suspect. Rafe gets a tiny appearance talking with Jim as they tail the suspect. There’s the obligatory car chase and shoot-out, where both bad guys and cops are extraordinarily bad shots. The bad guys abscond with a tractor truck.  Jim pursues and tries to ram the guys off the road, but only succeeds in banging up his truck.  The bad guys shoot up the front of Jim's truck, puncturing the radiator and stalling it.  They decide to t-bone Jim's truck with the guys in it.  Fortunately Jim gets the truck started just in time to get out of the way and the bad guys go over a cliff to their doom. 

Wrap-up: Jim tells Simon a night foreman was the guy at the paper company who was stealing the special paper to print the phony bills. We never see the Feds again.  The missing ivory head cane showed up at Collins’ house–he were planning on framing Billy for Roy's murder, but never got around to it. Simon puts in a good word for Jamie and he gets probation. Blair tells Jim he was right because Jamie wasn’t guilty of murder. Jim claims he was right because Jamie was part of the counterfeit ring. The tag has them sparring in the elevator and arguing over who is going to pay for dinner. 


Essential Elements: 

v  Backstory:  Blair's history with Sweet Roy and his brother; another example of Blair's love of sports

v  Use of sentinel senses: Jim sees the blood fleck, feels the paper ash, smells Rock's blood, and listens to Jamie's heartbeat to recognize he's hiding something.

v  Relationship building: We see how much Jim cares for Blair in the scene where he's waiting up for Blair, and also how upset he is that Blair offers himself as a shield for Jamie.   He listens to Blair's reasoning and advice, even if he doesn't show it to Blair.  It also illustrates Simon and Blair's relationship.  In Simon's eyes, Blair has evolved from necessary evil to huge asset. Blair is touched by Simon's speech. There's also a lot of interaction between the three; they've become comfortable with each other.  Lots of nice banter.

v  Influence on fan fiction:  There's a fair bit of fanfic directly based on the episode.  However, I think this also influenced how writers saw Simon and Blair's relationship.  Stories where Simon is exasperated but paternal, or upset when Blair takes chances yet recognizes his competence even though "he's not a cop" can find canon origins here.

episode-related fanfic



Chapter Text

The episode opens on someone’s first-person POV, running through the forest.  We can hear panting.  The person looks upwards at a huge tree; there’s a crashing sound and we see a young boy’s face. 



Dissolve into a crime scene.  Jim and Blair are there, and we instantly know that something bad has happened because Blair is irate and saying, “I’m sick and tired of this happening here.  This shouldn’t happen at a school”.  We learn that there’s a murder victim who was strangled with piano wire and stabbed in the chest.  His wallet was emptied, but not taken, and there’s a picture of a young boy inside.


It turns out Blair knows the deceased; he was Robert McCain, a psych professor.  Simon,  Dan Wolf (the PD coroner), Blair, and Jim debate whether this might be a ritual killing, and then Jim realizes that the picture of the young boy is him.


Jim denies any knowledge of the dead man.  Blair finds out that McCain was doing research on serial killers, and that the MO is the same as a serial killer from the 70’s called the Country Club Strangler.  It turns out that Jim was responsible for finding the killer’s last victim, a guy named Karl Heydash.  Jim was 10 years old at the time. 


Turns out Jim didn’t remember any of the past case until Blair mentioned it.  Jim acts like that’s no big deal, but the look on Blair’s face is pure concern.


Simon assumes they have a copycat killer, but Jim indicates that he caught a distinctive odor on the body they found, which he now remembers he also detected on the body he found when he was 10.  Problem is, someone was arrested for the Country Club Strangler murders, and he killed himself while in jail, so how can this be the same guy?


Blair, predictably, glosses over the crime aspect and jumps immediately to the conclusion that Jim had his senses when he was a young child.  Jim says nothing, and Simon is more concerned with catching a current killer than discussing Sentinel abilities, so the discussion goes nowhere.


At the autopsy, Jim is asking Dan about McCain’s clothes and such, and gets a flashback.  So now we know that these shots of a kid running through the woods are Jim’s memories.  The kid sees something awful, but we don’t get to see what it is.


Back to the loft, evening.  Jim is playing with his football and stoically trying to pretend that nothing is bothering him.  Blair jokes around with him a bit, but eventually settles down and has Friendship Conversation #4987 with Jim where he again encourages/pushes Jim to share what’s on his mind with Blair, his friend.


Jim is, understandably, weirded out that he can’t remember what appears to be a very significant event in his life.  Blair talks about trauma and suppressing the senses and how this is very similar to Peru, and encourages Jim to use that distinctive odor to trigger his memory.


At which point we get a memory of young Jim throwing a football with a man he calls Bud, who is clearly not Jim’s father, since we pretty quickly get young Jim mentioning, with disappointment, that his father probably won’t be present for the big game.  Bud is sympathetic, and they talk about football, and then Bud tells young Jim, “Sometimes you hold back.  It’s as though you’re afraid to trust yourself”.


We see young Jim using his senses (hearing, smell).  It’s interesting how he uses them so naturally here, and doesn’t really make a big effort to hide it from Bud or make up an elaborate story – when Bud asks how he knows Stevie is coming, Jimmy says, “I just do.” 


The flashback ends, and we come back to present day and the loft.  Blair tries to explore things a little further, and suggests that Jim could go over to his dad’s house to see if there are any old photos.  Jim shuts him down quickly. 


Despite Jim’s assertions that he’s done remembering, we see him later that night (with adorable bed hair!) continuing to remember things from his childhood.  This time we get a memory of Jim using his hearing to overhear a conversation between his dad and “Grace” in which he wants her to take care of Jimmy and Stevie while he goes to a conference.  Jimmy, being the good big brother, distracts Stevie with a time-honored conundrum (“Who do you think would win in a fight – Spiderman or The Hulk?) and they run off. 


Next day, the case and Jim’s connection to it have been leaked.  It’s nice to see that Simon doesn’t automatically suspect Blair of being the source of the leak anymore.


Jim is contacted by the killer and gets a tip.  New body, same MO, more stuff planted about Jim.  Jim says that it’s connected to the body he found and Blair looks really concerned.  There’s a lovely snarky conversation between Jim and Blair about Jim needing to talk to his father, where Blair makes it clear that he’s not as interested in solving the crime as he is in helping Jim with his baggage.


Jim finally agrees to go see his father.  As he approaches the house, he has another memory.  It’s the morning of the big game, and William – Jim’s father – is telling Jimmy that he’d better come home with the trophy.  Sally, their housekeeper, attempts to instill some perspective, but is countered by William. 


Jim goes through his stuff.  William reminisces and Jim shoots him down.  Jim leaves and William looks sad.


Next day, Simon is threatening to take Jim off the case, although I think Jim’s got a good argument in that the killer is going to keep contacting him whether he’s on or off.  Blair looks exhausted in this scene; I wonder whether Jim has told him anything about his meeting with his dad and if that led to a late-night talk or something.


Jim and Blair head to a tape-dubbing company that McCain was connected with.  The place has been vandalized; all the tapes erased.  But Jim smells something, and as he pursues a shadowy figure he has another memory flashback in which he realizes that the body he found in the woods was Bud. 


Back at the loft, we get what I think might be the first canonical use of frozen peas as an ice pack.  Jim has another flashback about how he saved the big game by tackling his nemesis, who then boots Jim’s hard-earned game ball into the woods.  (Astute watchers will realize, now, that this is why Jimmy is in the woods when he finds Bud.  He’s looking for his ball).


There’s a big chunk of exposition where Simon, Jim, and Blair solve the case, but to be honest, I’m too distracted by Jim in a yummy dark blue turtleneck and a black leather jacket to really follow it.  But Jim does realize that he did see the killer – the real killer – when he found Bud’s body as a kid.


Jim goes back to his dad’s house to try and figure out who this guy is.  William tries to apologize for not being around much while Jim was growing up, but Jim doesn’t want to hear it (man, can that guy hold a grudge!).  William mentions Bud and Jim remembers that he told the cops about seeing Bud’s killer, but that his dad wouldn’t back him up. 


And then we get the infamous “freak” conversation: Jim gets upset, realizing that his dad encouraged him to doubt himself and not believe his senses.  And William reveals that he knew, at the time, that Jim was telling the truth about his senses, but that he was worried about what would happen if other people knew.  And then he says he wishes he could change it all. 


Reeling from the revelations, Jim goes into the living room, and finds the scrapbook of his life that his dad has been keeping.  After looking through it, ever facile at dealing with his feelings, Jim leaves, telling his dad he’s got to work.  The irony of this is not lost on William.


More exposition and, predictably, the bad guy kidnaps William.  But this does mean we get to see all of Jim’s reserve and resentment of his dad disappear in a flash as his protective impulses surge to the fore.  He gets the bad guy and has a sweet reconciliation scene with his dad in the process.  And there’s some cute banter between Blair and Simon in the tag.


Why this episode is essential:


It’s essential because it’s a gold mine of backstory information about Jim in general, as well as about how Jim dealt with his senses as a kid.  We learn a great deal about Jim and William and their relationship when Jim and Steven were growing up, as well as the source of the estrangement between them.  We get some hints about Jim’s mother and what that situation was all about.  We see some nice interaction between big brother Jim and little brother Steven.  We see Jim using his senses naturally, maybe not even being aware that he’s doing something unusual.  We also get another incidence – this time at an early, impressionable age for Jim – of someone leaving/abandoning him.  In fact, if you include both Bud and William, there’s actually a lot of loss going on in this episode for Jim. 


And this episode really lays the foundation for why it seems to be that Jim is so afraid of revealing his senses.  Early on in the series he makes it sound more like he doesn’t want people (criminals, really) to know he has an advantage.  But in this episode, it becomes clear that there’s something more going on.  William’s attitude that people will think Jim is a freak if they know about the enhanced senses is clearly something that Jim internalizes and, at some level, agrees with, despite his brave talk to his dad in this episode (Jim’s feelings of being a freak will become oh-so-important a little later on down the line, trust me).  


This episode also introduces William, and, in my opinion, does an excellent job contrasting the man William was with the man he is now, particularly with respect to his current regret and sadness about losing touch with Jim.  Personally, I find it really difficult to swallow evil!William stories, because he’s clearly so remorseful about how he treated Jim as a child, and clearly wants things to be different.  He also, as the scrapbook scene makes evident, genuinely cares about Jim and has followed his career, despite not having talked to him for more than fifteen years.


Just as an aside, think about that.  Jim hasn’t talked to his dad in fifteen years.  That means (since he’s only been in Cascade five years post-Peru) that he joined the Army, was lost in the jungle, presumed dead, found after 18 months, was interviewed about it, left the Army… and STILL DIDN’T TALK TO HIS FATHER OR HIS BROTHER.  One of the reasons this episode is essential is because it shows just how long and how hard Jim can hold a grudge. 


On a lighter note, another reason this episode is essential is because it highlights two major canon controversies that are often debated in Sentinel fandom.  It’s mentioned several times during the episode that the Country Club Strangler was active 25 years ago.  If Jim was 10 when he found the body, that would make him 35 now, which puts his birth year at 1962, which is at odds with the information provided in an earlier episode (which says Jim was born in 1957).  Cue canon controversy #1: What year was Jim born?


Sara_merry has an excellent analysis and discussion of Jim’s backstory timeline here.


Jim finding out about the scrapbook his father has been keeping all these years is the cue for canon controversy #2: Are props canon?


You can see scans of the pictures and the articles in the scrapbook here.  A lot of the newspaper clippings just have a headline with one sentence or paragraph, then it’s mostly “lorum ipsum” text as filler, but Ms. Fish has thoughtfully indicated which episode (if applicable) the article is referring to.  The pics are a potential goldmine of information – anyone want to take a shot at decoding the medals Jim is wearing? – but many people are reluctant to accept props which may or may not have been created or vetted by the writers or producers as sources of canon. 


One of the biggest controversies revolves around Jim’s wedding picture, in which it identifies Jim as the son of William Elliot Ellison and Margaret Mary McDonald.  So is Jim’s mom Grace or is she Margaret Mary?  Some folks have ID’d Grace as William’s second wife (which might explain her reluctance to take Jimmy and Stevie).  Personally, I just prefer to believe that Grace is a nickname and that Jim’s mother’s given name was Mary Margaret. 

episode-related fanfic

In addition to the stories posted above, there’s a tag on Sentinel ficfind for William Ellison.  Beware, these might not all be Good!William stories.  There’s also a tag for Grace Ellison.

And, if you’re not aware of it, there’s an LJ community that’s specifically focused on stories about the other members of the TS universe, ts_allstars.  Here’s the index of stories.



Chapter Text

The episode opens with Simon, Jim and Blair at the airport, waiting for Australian Police Inspector Megan Connor to come through Customs. While they're waiting, they're admiring Simon's brand new car and Jim is grousing about having to meet the foreign exchange officer. While they are poking fun at the Aussies, Connor shows up with a sharp comeback. After introductions, she asks some questions about what Blair does for the department, which go unanswered. Almost immediately, Jim's super sight finds an armored car heist in progress. Jim takes Simon's car and Connor commandeers a taxi (shades of The Switchman!), telling Blair, whom she calls "Sandy", to get in with her. A car chase ensues with predictable results: Jim ruins Simon's car and Connor ends up driving on the wrong side of the road. However, they do get the bad guys. Megan is a bit miffed that Simon doesn't give her full credit for the capture.


Back at the station Simon reads her the riot act for not waiting until she's certified to work in Cascade. She doesn't see that she had any choice, but accepts his reprimand. Simon also assigns Jim to be her supervisor and help get her up to speed. She accepts but grumbles about it afterwards with the guys, and decides to take a taxi to her hotel. Blair worriedly tells Jim they'll have to be careful to hide his abilities with Megan around.

Later we see her dressed in a much sexier manner, using a fake Southern accent as she talks to a bartender in an Indian restaurant. She's looking for a specific man. The bartender says he looks familiar and agrees to call her if he sees the guy.

The next day, Megan meets the guys at a local hot dog stand for food and bonding. Again, Jim sees something out of place, noticing a guy he suspects of criminal activity several blocks away. Megan wants to know how he sees the guy; they ignore her question. Jim reports the man's suspicious behavior to Simon, who orders surveillance. They end up tailing the guy to an Indian restaurant (coincidence?) where he's meeting with several other people. Jim is, of course, doing his "special" surveillance and can hear what the men are saying, but Megan is getting antsy and suggests going in for a closer look. Jim nixes the idea. She says she's going to the ladies room but instead goes into the restaurant. Blair sees her, but it's too late.

One of the men sees her too—and recognizes her. They start shooting at each other and, when Jim joins in, the guy flees. Later, Simon arrives and asks Blair where Jim and Megan are—they are actually hard to miss, since they are arguing at the top of their lungs in the restaurant. Simon summons them to the PD. Megan leaves and Jim places a call to Australia.

Back at the PD, Simon again tells Megan she has to follow Jim's lead. She fabricates a story about what happened in the restaurant, and Jim counters by revealing what he learned from his phone call. The man who shot at Megan is a notorious criminal from Australia, Scott Bruenell. Megan was the lead investigator on a terrible case involving him. She confesses that when he was able to evade justice, she followed him on her own time and learned he was coming to Cascade. She volunteered for the exchange program to get him. Simon is pissed and suspends her from the force; she leaves his office in a huff. Blair tries to get Jim and Simon to see reason; observing that what she did is not a lot different than what Jim would do. Blair argues that, because of her knowledge of Bruenell, she could be very valuable. Jim agrees but Simon still wants to think about it, so Jim and Blair drop her at the hotel.

She again reiterates how dangerous Bruenell is, and thanks Blair for his words of support. He asks her not to call him Sandy; she then calls him "Chief". Oh noes! Jim suspects she will not stay at the hotel. He drives around to the back and, indeed, she comes out. However, Bruenell is waiting to ambush her; fortunately Jim thwarts him. Megan thanks Jim and they agree to a truce.

Simon is still pissed but recognizes her achievements, and agrees she'll be an asset to the case. In the meantime we finally find out what the bad guys are planning. They set a timer to turn off the power grid for part of the city, at the center of which is the mint (yes, of course they have a mint in Cascade; doesn't every big city?). Bruenell has told his minions that it's to steal 20 million dollars, but he's really going after some money printing plates of several denominations of bills. While Megan is taking the guys out to dinner, the power goes off. Because they are all incredibly intelligent, they are able to figure it out and get the guys at the mint. Bruenell takes off from the roof in a hang glider that gets him to the shore where a boat is waiting. Of course, Jim hears all of this; Megan is perplexed but they work together to get to the boat in time. Megan confronts Bruenell and they have a knock-down drag-out fight, with her being victorious. Jim admires her technique and congratulates her.

The next day, Jim and Blair show up at Megan's gym to deliver paperwork asking her to continue in the exchange program. She agrees to stay, and they have a silly tag as usual.

Although TS made great strides in casting characters with an eye to diversity, for the most part they fell down when it came to women. Oh, sure, many of the women were professionals, highly successful and intelligent. But, most of the time, their strength was diminished (IMO) by being cast as the love interest of one of the leads. Foreign Exchange was different. For the first time, Major Crime had a full-fledged equal in their ranks in the form of Megan Connor.

Not only is she equal in rank, but Megan and Jim share similar qualities: competent, confident, driven to succeed, a bit of a maverick when the rules don't suit, and just as tough on crime and criminals. Jim may wince when Blair observes that her methods mirror his, but he can't deny it, and he ends up with a grudging respect for her. Perhaps it's because Megan's not a damsel in distress, a perp, or a bed mate. So the pressure is off for him to do anything for her. She can be a true colleague. Now, if she'd only stop asking Jim how he knows things he's not supposed to know!

Essential Elements

v Introduces a minor character with a lot of potential. Actually, the actress is named in the opening credits, so it shows that the creators wanted to keep her around.

v Relationships: I think an anthropologist would have a field day observing this episode. At first Jim and Blair kind of close ranks against Megan—making fun of her clothes, accent and methods. Then Blair kind of pushes at Jim and Simon to give her a chance, which opens the door to their little closed society. Megan proves her worth to be included and also does a little fence-mending. By the end, they consider her one of them. Fascinating.

v New nicknames: "Sandy" for Blair and "Jimbo" for Jim. She also introduces some cute Aussie phrases.

v Senses: Sight: armored car heist at the airport, the bad guy down the street, bad guys at the curry house, shoots the bad guys. Hearing: listening to the bad guys at the curry house, the portable generator, hears Bruenell on the roof, Bruenell's walkie-talkie, motor boat.

v Fanfic: There's very little episode-related fic. However, Megan is a very popular character. Although she's occasionally portrayed badly, the majority of the time she's written sympathetically, often becoming a confidante of Blair's.

episode-related fanfic



Chapter Text

We watch a young kid (Johnny Macado) break into a car parked in an alley, but before he can get it started up three men come out of one of the buildings.  From the conversation it seems that one of the men (Kaplan) is reassuring the other (Miller) about something having to do with a jury and legal issues.  The third guy (Smallwood) is just standing in back.  Kaplan hands Miller an envelope of money, but then Smallwood starts to strangle Miller.  Johnny chooses this moment to start the car; the lights come on and he can see all three men clearly.  Smallwood shoots at him, and he panics and drives off.  Gabe, a homeless man, sees the whole thing.



Jim and Rafe are bringing in a speed dealer and his van when Johnny drives his stolen car into the front of Cascade PD.  Jim cuffs Johnny as well, then turns the speed dealer over to Brown.  We find out from their conversation that most of the city services – office services, sanitation, road repair – are on strike.  He and Simon question Johnny, but Johnny won’t talk, and Simon sends Jim and Blair back out to help Megan with a homicide.


We shift to Jim and Blair in the truck.  Blair is using the cab light to work on his diss, which annoys Jim, because it’s draining the truck battery.  It also annoys Jim because he wants to read it, but Blair won’t let him.  In what seems like fairly uncharacteristic behavior for Blair, he teases Jim about what’s in it. 


Megan’s homicide is Miller, the man Johnny saw killed at the start of the episode.  Initially Jim’s presence at the scene goes okay with Megan, but in short order they’re arguing over their version of events – Jim think this was a mob killing, while Megan thinks it was a simple mugging.  Jim zooms in with his sight and sees a paint smear on the nearby dumpster, which he gets one of the officers to take a sample of.  They go to leave, but the truck won’t start and Jim is mad at Blair.  That’s when Gabe comes out to talk to Jim and Blair.  He’s not making a lot of sense; he says he’s an angel, come to “bear witness”.  Blair thinks he witnessed the murder and pulls Jim aside to tell him.  Gabe closes the hood and Jim’s truck mysteriously starts.


Back to Major Crimes.  Jim and Blair have brought Gabe there to make a statement, but the PD is filled with homeless people because social services is now on strike.  Jim and Megan present their competing theories to Simon and snark at each other.  Simon tells Jim that he wants him to run point on the case; Megan protests, but Simon points out that she hasn’t been fully trained in the departmental procedures.  He also says her past cases have been a little “improvised” (which seems an unfair critique given Jim’s record in that department).  Megan is miffed and storms out. 


Megan goes down to the garage to ask Rafe and Brown – who are unloading the speed dealer's van – about Jim and Blair’s witness.  As they’re taking stuff out, they find a live crocodile in the back of the van.  They jump back, alarmed, and the crocodile crawls into one of the ventilation shafts.  They try to get it out, but it growls at them and just retreats further.


Later that night, Smallwood meets Kaplan at a bar.  He’s been doing some research, and he’s found out that Johnny is being held at the PD.  Kaplan is worried, but Smallwood reassures him that Johnny has bigger problems than ratting on them right now (like a busted PD front window).  He assures Kaplan that he’ll take care of the kid (and he doesn’t mean in the h/c kind of way). 


Meanwhile, back at the PD, Simon and Jim are discussing Johnny, who they think is working for a chop shop.  They run across Megan and Brown, who are still looking for the crocodile.  Megan makes an offhand comment about how she used to go “croc spotting”, and that’s that: Simon puts her in charge of finding the crocodile.  As Jim and Simon are walking off, Simon tells Jim that the car Johnny stole belongs to Charles Kaplan, a notoriously annoying and slimy defense attorney. 


We cut to inside one of the interrogation rooms, where Jim is sweating Johnny.  Johnny stays firm, though, despite all Jim’s persuasive talent, and refuses to say who he’s lifting cars for. 


Over in Simon’s office, Blair comes in to show Gabe’s witness statement to Simon.  Apparently it’s written in Aramaic, an ancient Biblical language that no one has spoken for over 1,500 years.  In the face of Simon’s disbelief, Blair admits that possession can be used as a coping mechanism for modern street people.  Simon gives him a form to take to missing persons to do a search and see if someone meeting Gabe’s description has been reported missing.  Blair leaves to do just that.  As if Simon didn’t have enough trouble, Brown calls him to report that a news crew has shown up at the station, and they already know about the lost crocodile. 


But all the disasters that have happened so far in this ep pale in comparison to what happens next.  Jim is sitting at his desk, looking over at Blair’s dissertation.  He looks around; seeing that Blair is nowhere in sight, he takes Blair’s dissertation to the bathroom to read it.  A few minutes later, we see Blair come into the bullpen and paw frantically around his desk and Jim’s desk, looking for his manuscript. 


Since we’re in need of some comic relief at this point, there’s an amusing scene where Megan, Rafe, and Brown use a robot to snare the croc, with disastrous results (read: the robot gets eaten by the croc).  Oh, and did I mention it’s all caught on film by the news crew?  We also see Jim coming out of the bathroom, looking like thunder as he tosses Blair’s dissertation in a drawer of his desk. 


Blair comes to Jim and asks him if he’s seen his dissertation.  Jim silently pulls open the drawer and hands it to him.  Blair is too ecstatic to notice that Jim is giving him the cold shoulder.  Just then Kaplan walks into the bullpen.  He’s come to get his car and tell Jim and Simon that he’s Johnny’s defense attorney, claiming that Johnny called him.  Simon is doubtful, but Kaplan has the proper paperwork, so they can’t prevent him from meeting with his client. 


Kaplan meets with Johnny in the interrogation room.  Johnny tells him that he can identify him, and tells Kaplan he’d better get him off, and get him $75,000 in the bargain.  Kaplan agrees.  He goes to Simon and tells him  Johnny can't be put in the regular lockup, since he’s only 15 years old.  Simon agrees to leave Johnny in the interrogation room for the night. 


Jim has a strong feeling that Kaplan is lying about something, so he goes down to Evidence to look over the car.  Meanwhile Kaplan meets up with Smallwood and tells him where Johnny will be.  Smallwood sees the news story about the croc and gets an idea. 


Meanwhile, Jim is examining the car.  He asks one of the officers to take a sample of the car’s paint; he thinks it matches the scrape on the dumpster at the murder scene.  Blair has accompanied him, but Jim’s still giving him the cold shoulder and Blair finally catches on.  He asks Jim what’s wrong; Jim replies by quoting part of Blair’s dissertation back at him.  He’s angry at the things that Blair said about him, feels that it’s a betrayal of their friendship.  Blair doesn’t back down from what he wrote, and is upset that Jim read the chapter.  They trade angry words, and then Jim storms off. 


We see Smallwood come up to the animal control guy that’s been sent to catch the crocodile and knock him out.


Up on the seventh floor, Blair is trying to continue the argument with Jim when he’s waylaid by Simon, who tells Blair that they ID’d Gabe through his fingerprints as an ancient history professor from Chicago named Harold Blake who went missing two years ago. 


Jim sweats Johnny again.  This time he takes a more menacing route, threatening him with murder charges, telling him what prison will be like for him.  Then Jim leaves, probably to let Johnny stew about what he’s said.  We see Smallwood, dressed in animal control guy’s uniform, enter the PD. 


Back to Simon’s office.  Jim tells Simon and Megan that a bullet taken from Kaplan’s car was fired from the same gun that killed Miller.  Simon wonders why Kaplan would kill Miller, and Jim says that there’s some kind of investigation of jury tampering going on, but no one will confirm that Kaplan is the target.  Megan suggests going through the PD database for a connection between Kaplan and Miller.  Simone says to bring Kaplan in for questioning.


Blair brings food over to Gabe and tries to get him to talk about Harold Blake, but he gets mostly Scripture in return. 


Jim and Simon question Kaplan about his car being at the scene of Miller’s murder.  Kaplan offers to tell the DA about confidential discussions he’s had with Johnny.  Simon has Kaplan hauled off to booking.  He gets Johnny’s file from Social Services and tells Jim he’s got to find something to get Johnny to cooperate with them and turn on Kaplan.  Jim thinks that maybe the way to the kid’s heart is through his stomach.


Over in the break room, Blair is helping hand out sandwiches to the hordes of homeless people still thronging the PD.  Jim comes in to get a sandwich for Johnny, and acknowledges to Blair that he might have overreacted a bit to the diss--although he’s still hurt.  Blair seems somewhat mollified, and has some wise things to say about fear and choices that Jim probably doesn’t hear.  He tells Jim that he’d rather be friends than researcher and subject, and offers to destroy his notes.  Then he leaves.  Jim is left standing there, and Gabe delivers the best line ever: “What good does it do a man to have ears that will hear a thousand miles if he cannot listen to the whispers of his own heart?”  Jim stares at him, a little dumb-founded.


Jim’s sandwich ploy works and Johnny agrees to turn on Kaplan.  It also helps that he’s found out that Johnny’s mother is a patient with AIDS in the hospital.  He promises Johnny he’ll try to work things out for him.  Kaplan is arrested.  He tries to snitch on Smallwood, but Simon will hear none of it and Jim takes him to booking.


Speaking of the devil, we see Smallwood in the basement, placing some C-4 at the base of one of the elevators.


However, it’s Megan who puts all the pieces together and links Miller to a case of Kaplan’s – coincidentally, the defendant in that case was Smallwood.  Jim recognizes Smallwood as the animal control guy he saw earlier.  They figure out the ruse, and Jim realizes that Smallwood is here to kill Johnny.  Simon puts the word out, but Smallwood’s bomb goes off, creating panic. 


Meanwhile, Blair is looking for Gabe in the chaos.  Smallwood gets into the interrogation room and is about to kill Johnny, but Johnny gets away and runs into a hallway.  Smallwood fires at Johnny, but Gabe takes the bullet.  Jim pursues Smallwood; Smallwood is startled by the croc and Jim is able to subdue him. 


Everyone is in front of the PD as the day dawns.  Jim apologizes to Blair again – sorta.  The croc is caught.  They find out that Harold Blake actually died last winter.  And Gabe vanished on the way to the hospital. 


Why this episode is essential:


Although the actual final episode of this season is Sentinel, Too, many fen feel that the problems that are highlighted in that ep, as well as eventually highlighted in the final episode, The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg, first show themselves in this ep.  Although the diss has been a source of some tension since Warriors, in this ep it comes front and center as a major source of conflict between Jim and Blair.  Whereas Jim was grumpy and snarky about the dissertation before, in this ep he actually does something that Blair tells him not to do – he steals and reads the diss.  His distrust of Blair is a theme we will see echoed in both SenToo and TSbyBS, as well as his feelings about being a research subject.  Don’t think his apologies, as honest as they seemed, are putting the matter to rest.  For me, the whole Johnny-Kaplan plot line and the whole croc thing are just distractions from what the real heart of this episode is: Jim’s fears about Blair’s dissertation and the implications it (and finishing it) has for their relationship. 


This ep has one of my all-time favorite characters: Gabe.  If you ever have a chance, you really should actually see this ep.  Just reading Gabe’s lines doesn’t do justice to the wonderful job that Alex Zahara does playing him.  He takes a character that could easily be overdone or ridiculous and makes him magical.  Plus, Gabe gets to say what is probably my favorite line in the entire series of TS (points up). 


We see some interesting takes on Jim as an interrogator in this ep.  We see him as both good cop and bad cop, and as frankly menacing and slightly creepy cop.  It’s a bit of a different view of the guy we’re generally disposed to think of as the hero (although there are times that Jim is definitely not heroic in this ep), and some food for thought.  This may be what has given rise to some of the dark!Jim fic that’s around.  You get the sense that Jim could easily be using his powers for evil, given the right set of circumstances. 

episode-related fanfic

Chapter Text

Sentinel, Too, P1, is the last episode of the third season, and almost the last episode ever—UPN unexpectedly cancelled the show.  But through an extraordinary effort on the part of fans everywhere, the show came back for an abbreviated fourth season.  S2P1 was also a cliff-hanger—one of the main characters dies.  In an interview with the creators, they emphatically stated that the character would not have remained dead (to quote Miracle Max from The Princess Bride, "he was mostly dead") and that they were caught by surprise as much as the fans by the network's decision to cancel.  So, a big "brava" to all the fen whose efforts allow me to tell you about both parts of this essential episode.


The crime is not particularly interesting and, for those who've watched all the episodes, it might feel a bit déjà vu.  Rainier is once again storing something it's got no business storing: this time it's nerve gas.  A really talented thief steals first some information from a computer, then a super-duper laser cutter, then the nerve gas.  Of course, Major Crime and Jim are on the case trying to figure out what's going on.  Eventually, the nerve gas is going south to Mexico, where it will be sold to a crime boss in Sierra Verde, somewhere on the Yucatan peninsula.  What saves this from being one more (yawn) major crime in The Most Dangerous City in America is that the thief has… five enhanced senses.


She turns out to be one Alex Barnes, aka Alicia Bannister.  And rather than having her senses come "online" by four days on a stakeout, they popped up while she was in solitary confinement in a California prison.  She comes to the attention of Blair when she's being interviewed by Megan after crashing her car into a telephone pole and then trying to disrobe in public, claiming that her clothes were too itchy.  Blair, who always has sentinels on his mind, suspects she is one and invites her to his office for a consult.  She's wary but soon realizes this guy knows exactly what's going on, and quickly puts on a grateful persona designed to mislead him.  Blair is acting in good faith but is also anxious to get more practical data on sentinels, since it's hard to extrapolate theories based on one subject.  He also makes a decision not to tell either Jim or Alex about the other. This might be good science, but it gives Alex an advantage; she's a smart cookie and realizes that Blair knows so much because he's dealt with other sentinels.  For an experienced cat burglar, rifling through Blair's stuff to find out about Jim is child's play.


In the meantime, Jim is having a terrible time, mysticism-wise.  He starts hearing and seeing a spotted jaguar.  He has weird blue dreams where he's his Jungle!Jim persona, pursuing and killing a wolf with an arrow; only to see it morph into a naked Blair.  He stops by Blair's office while Alex is inside waiting, and sees her morph into—you guessed it—a spotted jaguar.  He starts getting anxious and territorial, yelling at his co-workers to leave his stuff alone and packing up all of Blair's belongings and telling him to get out of the loft.  Because each is so caught up in his own stuff, neither puts two and two together, until Jim finally starts explaining his dreams to Blair.  Blair mentions that Alex is having the same vision dreams and now the light bulb turns on.  Blair, who knew there was another sentinel, now knows she's a criminal.  Jim, who was behaving so bizarrely, recognizes his visions are a result of her proximity to him.  Jim asks Blair, "what are the chances two sentinels show up in Cascade and both fall in with you?".  It's not made clear whether it was Blair who they were drawn to, if it was Jim that Alex was drawn to through Blair, or if–since in years past sentinels were pretty common–meeting each other was statistically likely to happen.  But no one is thinking clearly enough to analyze it, and anyway Alex is getting away with the nerve gas. 


And, according to Simon, heading to Bogota, Colombia.  But not really.  Alex, recognizing that Jim is a threat, decides to bait him and finish him off.  She almost succeeds but Megan shows up, besting Alex in hand-to-hand combat and then helping Jim before he's crushed under a freight elevator.  Alex gets away and Jim, with another precognitive vision, knows she's going after Blair next.  They can't be more than ten minutes behind but still find Blair face-down in a fountain on campus, lifeless.  In a wrenching scene, Jim and Simon do CPR, then the EMTs do CPR, with no success.  They pronounce Blair dead at the scene, and thus ends the episode and Season Three. 


Part Two picks up immediately after, with everyone still standing around Blair's lifeless body.  A distraught Jim gets another vision; his Chopec shaman Incacha (in spirit form) tells him he can bring Blair back, using the power of his animal spirit.  In the iconic moment captured in our hearts and dozens of fanvids, the two animal spirits, panther and wolf, head toward each other and merge, becoming a bright light.  Jim hears the beloved heartbeat; Blair is resuscitated. 


In the hospital, Blair talks about his experience and describes the exact vision of the merge; Jim admits that he had the same vision.  Blair seems to take it all with equanimity (I guess dying will do that to you) but Jim is still freaked out enough that he doesn't want to go any further than bringing Blair back from the dead.  But he does want to capture Alex, so off he goes with Simon to Mexico.  He probably should have stayed with his guide and let the local authorities capture her, because in Sierra Verde things get messy.


Even while still in Cascade, part of Jim's vision has him meeting Alex on a beach and kissing her passionately.  While having sex with a lovely criminal isn't outside of Jim's skill set, this is Blair's murderer.   WTF, Jim?  To be fair, he was having the beach dreams before Alex killed Blair, but he probably should have taken a little time in the hospital to tell Blair everything and do some brainstorming.  But Jim is a forge-ahead kind of guy, as well as an "if I ignore the pesky vision it can't hurt me" kind of guy.  And, in the end, he's a "protect my tribe" kind of guy, so he goes after Alex with intent to arrest.  Instead he ends up with her on the beach of his visions and both of them seem overwhelmed; kind of like Jim was in Attraction.  Something is compelling them both to be together against all logic.  Blair shows up just in time to break up the mating dance and Alex runs away.  Jim continues to be swayed by a sentinel siren song—not only failing to stop her escape there, but warning her when she runs into a trap set by the crime lord. Obviously this is more than simple pheromones.  Jim wants as much info as possible, so he can resist the compulsion; Blair can't give him clarity, since he knows only vague stories of long ago legends.


For her part, Alex is also compelled to get together with Jim.  She blow-darts him and gets him to the place of their visions—the Temple of Light.  She mixes up a vision cocktail, getting the recipe from the temple walls, and submerges them both in side-by-side pools.  Jim's visions are precognitive and dark; full of death and destruction.  Again, Incacha appears to tell him he can overcome the darkness, using the light that is within.  It's no coincidence that Jim sees Blair's face; a friendly and loving oasis in the desert.  He hangs onto that and is able to overcome the drugs.  Alex's visions, while ecstatic at first, drive her over the edge into insanity and, finally,  catatonia.  Perhaps because she had no inner light to save her.  Jim, despite what she has done, is devastated that he's unable to save her from herself.  She is carted away to the funny farm, the nerve gas is recovered, and the bad guys vanquished.   


These two episodes are chock full of sentinel mythos, but in the end they leave more questions than answers.  In the pilot, Blair tells Jim that by having all five senses enhanced, he could be "the real thing"; a sentinel.  But he also implies, and in Flight and Warriors it seems to be confirmed, that a sentinel is also a guardian; someone who watches over the well-being of the tribe.  Then Alex arrives and everything is thrown into doubt.  Having no other "full" sentinel to observe, but having interviewed hundreds of people with one or two enhanced senses, Blair makes some assumptions that were obviously wrong.  These people were ordinary folk; using their gifts in industries like coffee tasting and perfume creation.  But were they a true representation?  Did he also interview people in psychiatric hospitals complaining about hearing voices?  Did he interview criminals who might have used their enhanced sense of touch to crack safes, or overhear insider trading information?  Doubtful, since that's not the thrust of his study.  He seems to be looking for remnants of the mythic tribal guardians of old.  Where would the genetic descendants show themselves in today's society?  Stoic, heroic Jim fits the myth perfectly.  Little wonder that Alex, looking every bit like an Amazon and telling her smooth lies, seemed to be just another confused sentinel-to-be, waiting to be shown how to use her gifts for the Good. 


And Alex does use them.  She embraces the senses and the visions and the power; much more readily than Jim ever does.  She's quick to recognize the advantages, and amoral enough to use them for her own selfish ends.  She unashamedly rifles through Blair's files (Blair: buy a padlock!) to learn about Jim, she overhears her crime partner making a side-deal and kills him, then sells off nerve gas, not caring who it might kill.  The only atypical thing she does is give in to the compulsion to be with Jim.  Up until then, she hasn't let feelings (or sexual attraction) interfere with her goals.   She knows Jim is a cop and an enemy.  She still gives in to the urge to be with him, perhaps in a "rulers of the universe" kind of way.  It also doesn't stop her from wanting him by her side after he prevents her from shooting Blair on the beach, even though she sees it as a betrayal.


And why does she kill Blair in Part One?  She tells Carl it's so Blair can't blab about her; but she already knows by the time Jim and Blair come to her apartment that he's told Jim.  Does she do it to weaken Jim at the time when they are opponents; knowing that Blair has helped Jim enormously?  Is she jealous because Jim has a guide and she doesn't, or that she knows that Blair will no longer help her?  Or is it what's intimated at the beach—that a live Blair will interfere with whatever link the two sentinels have, preventing Jim from following her to the dark side? 


And, while we're speculating, why did Alex drown Blair?  She had a perfectly serviceable gun and they were alone in his office in the middle of the night.  She could have dispatched him in a moment—in fact he closes his eyes, expecting to be shot.  But she takes him through the campus grounds where they could have been seen, and drowns him in the fountain.    Alex is being driven by visions and instinct.  Is it possible she was following a ritual that decreed that Blair must die in this way?  Water plays an important part in ceremonies—it's used for cleansing and purification.  We see it in the Temple of Light; the sentinels must submerge in a pool while getting their visions.  Is water the vehicle that must be used to separate Blair from Jim; to cleanse Jim so that he is ready to accept Alex?  So much speculation, so little time!  In any case, because Jim and Blair do have a bond that goes beyond what Jim has with any other person, Alex's plan to separate them is thwarted. 


Alex as a character is enormously influential, not only on the sentinel mythos of the show, but for fanfic ever after.  Would there have been any "sentinels are known" stories if not for Alex?  If there were, would any of the sentinels have been evil?  Possibly not.  Alex accepted the whole sentinel package much more easily than Jim.  When we read stories where Jim is more accepting, or more twisted, or less heroic—is that Alex's influence?  She's a strong character where too many villains are caricatures; and a strong female character in a show where too many intelligent, educated women were relegated to simple love interests.  She's a powerful opponent that Jim continually underestimates; she outwits and almost kills Jim by using her scant knowledge of sentinelism against him. 


Sadly, her amorality and consummate evil make Alex less than sympathetic, although some authors supply a backstory to try to explain her.  Also, apparently, Blair's theory that sentinels are tribal protectors seems to hold up.   When Alex went through the gauntlet at the Temple seeking power, she was, for all intents and purposes, soundly rejected.


Essential Elements:

v  Sentinel mythos:  Everything discussed here and more.  This is the meat of the two episodes—what comes part and parcel with the senses?  Is being a sentinel a pledge to be on the side of Right?  One thing that didn't happen to Alex is her spirit animal never morphed into her and asked her to make a choice.  Perhaps by then she was too far gone down the wrong path.  The merge: is part of the reward for being a sentinel that you can defy the laws of nature and call back your guide from the dead?  Was this a one-shot because of the crisis with Alex, or would Jim be able to do it again with Blair?  The Temple of Light: what did it really do?  Jim had been doing just fine as a sentinel; was visiting the Temple a necessity or a way to enhance?

v  The senses:  Of course, this was chock full of sensory examples.  We saw that Alex was prone to sensory spikes, as Jim is, but we never saw her zone.  We also saw that even a moderate use of her senses gave her a headache, which Blair tried to explain but we never see whether there's a resolution to this.  Did he come up with some type of coping technique?  When she's overhearing Carl's conversation, she doesn't seem to be getting a headache, so perhaps he did.

v  Relationship: What could be more stunning than bringing someone back from the dead through a mystical connection?  And why is Blair's animal spirit a wolf?  There's a rollercoaster of ups and downs here; from Jim's accusation (and Blair's capitulation) that not telling him about Alex was a betrayal of trust, to Blair's miraculous recovery that allows him to join Jim in Mexico with no ill effects.  From Blair appearing in Jim's visions as a source of light, to Jim sucking face with Blair's killer, albeit against his will.  Can their relationship survive?  Blair is still encouraging at the end; telling Jim he avoided Alex's fate by choosing the right path.  Megan joins the inner circle of people who know about Jim's abilities after finding Blair's book and putting it all together.  This certainly turns out to be an asset, because she knows how to keep a secret and she's supportive. Even before that, though, she's consulting Blair about Jim's bizarre behavior and she and Blair travel to Mexico together.  Simon plays a more active role in dealing with Jim's sentinel issues, primarily because Jim and Blair are on the outs.  When Jim tells Blair to find another subject for his diss, Simon asks Jim "Do you think you can handle this sentinel thing on your own?"  It sounds like he's doubtful.  He listens to the increasingly (to him) weird stuff that Blair and Jim are telling him and, bless his heart, he doesn't turn a blind eye here.

v  Influence on fanfic:  Because of the hiatus between the cliffhanger when Blair is dead and the fourth season, there's a lot of fic written in between that speculated on what happened.  There's also a fair number of stories that cover those missing scenes of the trip back from Sierra Verde, as well as what ultimately happens to Alex.  Alex remains a popular character and, as I've mentioned, her influence by providing a sentinel who is in such contrast to Jim is incalculable.  These episodes provide good source material for the "Megan as a confidante of Blair" fic, and perhaps for some of the "Megan as guide to Alex" stories.  The women do make quite an interesting pair.


episode-related fanfic



Chapter Text

We see a young man and a young woman break into a house and start to steal something off a computer.  The owner of the house comes back and catches them and the man (whom the woman calls Brad) shoots and kills the owner.  The woman is horrified, but Brad convinces her it’s for the best.  The two finish their job and leave.


Skip ahead a bit: Jim, Joel, and Serena are gathering evidence at the scene.  Serena’s got fingerprints and a blond hair.  Jim zooms in with his sight and spots another blond hair at the point of entry. 


Then we cut to Rainier.  Blair is teaching when Brad and the woman who broke into the house come into his class.  The woman apologizes for being late.  Brad doesn’t; instead, he’s inappropriately touchy with another woman in the class, who seems repelled by him.  She moves away from him, but leaves a manila envelope on her desk, which Brad picks up. 


Back to the crime scene.  Jim and Joel are still gathering evidence.  Jim surmises that the owner – Dennis Chung – came home and interrupted a robbery in progress.  Dennis Chung was a cyber-detective, and Jim theorizes that whatever the robbers stole, it was computer-related, because he can feel the electromagnetic charge in the study.  Everything in the room has been magnetized.


Meanwhile, back at Rainier, Blair’s class is ending.  Brad turns in a paper; Blair sees that it has a note clipped to it that suggests it was written by someone else.  Brad and the woman from the robbery argue outside the department; she’s upset because he was paying attention to the other woman in the class.  Before they can resolve this, though, Blair comes up.  He confronts Brad about the plagiarized paper, but Brad just gives him attitude and walks away. 


Jim and Joel go interview the victim’s girlfriend, Jennifer Olsen.  Jim particularly wants to know if she knows who “Connie Roberts” is – a client or a friend?  He picked the name up from a pad of paper at the scene, which confounds Joel.  Unfortunately, Jennifer can’t give them much information.


Blair confronts Rick, the grad student he thinks wrote Brad’s paper.  Rick admits he wrote the paper to get Brad to leave his girlfriend Jill alone (who is the woman that was repulsed by Brad in Blair’s class).  Brad raped Jill, but she won’t go to the police, because she’s afraid of him.  Apparently Brad’s family has serious money.  Blair goes to Sidney, the head of the Anthropology Department, but Sidney tells him to drop it because Brad’s father is rich and well-connected.  Blair is pretty pissed off at this. 


Blair goes to the PD to try and get information about Brad and the rape.  He tells Jim what he found out.  Jim is less than helpful, claiming that he can’t do anything in a situation where there’s no charges, and besides he has a murder investigation to run.  Blair is angry at him.  Jim quotes one of Blair’s own aphorisms back at him: “Don’t let your anger take you out of the game”. 


Simon comes in as Blair storms out and tells Jim that Connie Roberts currently works for Questscape, and was previously a computer programmer for the Pentagon.  Jim and Joel go question Connie Roberts about Dennis Chung.  She denies knowing him, but Jim uses his hearing (her pulse quickens) to tell that she’s lying.  Joel guessed this, too, though, based on his astute detective skills. 


Blair talks to Jill, and asks her why she changed her original statement about the rape.  She tells him that her dad got fired when she first filed a police report – he worked for a company that Brad’s girlfriend Suzanne (the woman at the break-in)’s dad owns.  When she retracted her statement, her dad was rehired.  Brad watches Blair talk to Jill.


Blair gets attacked on his way back to the loft by two guys hired by Brad.  Jim is walking back from grocery shopping and rescues him.  He advises Blair to back off, assuming that the fight is over a woman.  Blair gets angry at his hypocritical advice.  Jim gets a call – it’s Jennifer Olsen (the victim’s girlfriend).  He and Blair go to talk to her.  She gives them a camera that had belonged to Dennis, telling them that sometimes he takes photographs of his cases. 


Blair, Jim, Simon, and Joel look at the pictures.  The woman is Connie Roberts.  There’s a guy in the picture that no one knows, but Blair ID’s him as Brad Ventriss.   


Brad is brought in for questioning – and brings his lawyer along.  Jim brings out all his best interrogation techniques, but to no avail.  Brad won’t crack and the lawyer says they’re leaving unless the police can charge Brad with something (which they can’t).  Brad sees Blair in the hallway and they have a brief stare down. 


We next see Brad typing on a computer.  It seems he’s arranging for Connie Roberts to leave the country, so she can’t be questioned.  Suzanne is worried, but Brad tells her not to, his father gets away with this sort of thing all the time. 


Jim, Simon, and Blair find out that Connie Roberts has left the country.  Jim and Blair go to question Brad’s father, who tells them he hired Dennis Chung to snoop out a leak in his company’s computer security.  He denies giving Connie Roberts clearance to use the company jet, although he acknowledges that someone could make it appear that he did.  Jim suggests that Mr. Ventriss’ son is involved in the security leak, but Ventriss doesn’t believe it, and he accuses Blair of having a vendetta against Brad. 


Next, our guys go to talk to Suzanne’s father.  He’d hired Dennis before, although not recently.  They don’t get much useful information from him. 


Back at the PD, Simon, Jim, Blair, and Joel speculate that Brad and Suzanne are conspiring to rip off both their families by stealing software and selling it on the open market.  Simon warns Jim and Blair to go easy, which outrages Blair. 


Simon’s warning seems prophetic, because Blair is called to a meeting with Chancellor Edwards.  Brad and his father are there, and they allege that Blair is a poor teacher, in part because he’s absent so often due to his liaison with the PD.  Blair gets fired. 


Jim and Simon strategize about how to bring Brad and Suzanne in.  Blair comes in and tells them that’s he’s been fired, thanks to Brad and his father.  Jim and Simon try to enlist the help of the kids’ fathers.  They seem cooperative, but then Jim overhears them talking to their kids about the murder.  The fathers have arranged for Brad and Suzanne to be flown out of the country by helicopter. 


Simon gets a police chopper.  Blair’s sometime fear of heights surfaces as he mutters about being scared to go in the chopper.  A long and somewhat boring chopper chase ensues.  Brad and Suzanne jump out of the chopper and into a boat.  Jim jumps into the boat and throws Brad into the water.  Blair jumps into the water and grabs Brad. 


There’s a cute tag between Jim and Blair at the end where they banter as Wally and the Beav. 


Why this episode is essential:


This is the first time we’ve had an ep focused on Blair’s life at Rainier and as a professor.  It raises some good issues about money and the silence that might buy from university officials, as well as the issues involved in plagiarism.  Also we see Blair begin to be disillusioned with the university, which may contribute to his decision in TSbyBS. 


A lot of fen get really annoyed at the way Jim treats Blair in this ep.  I’ll admit that there’s a fair amount of hypocrisy in Simon and Jim not listening to Blair about Brad until there’s evidence that he’s involved in their murder case.  They tend to not take Blair’s concerns seriously; for example, Jim initially thinks his beef with Brad is about Blair’s love life.  A lot of people feel that Jim is not suitably comforting or concerned when he rescues Blair from getting beat up by Brad’s buddies. 


On the other hand, Jim is repeating to Blair a lot of the things that Blair has told Jim over the years, such as not letting his anger get the better of him.  And Jim does have a point; he really can’t do anything about Brad until there’s an actual complaint or charge or link to a crime.  Of course, that doesn’t usually stop Jim, so Blair definitely has some grounds for his charge that Jim is being a hypocrite.  Seeing Jim as mean versus reasonable is a bone of fan contention. 


Also, a lot of fen feel that the relationship between Jim and Blair seems fraught with tension and simmering anger in this ep.  This is the first episode following part two of SenToo, and it doesn’t seem like the two have made any attempt (at least not that we’ve seen) to talk about what happened during that time.  While we could lay that at the feet of the writers and directors, who were not exactly trying to write a massive plot arc, there’s no doubt that the possibility that the events and revelations of SenToo have gone undiscussed provides a lot of angsty fodder for the writers’ pens. 

episode-related fanfic


Chapter Text

As did many others, I learned about The Sentinel first through fanfic.  There were many, many post-series stories, most of them falling in one of these categories:

        ·         Blair becomes a cop

        ·         Blair doesn't become a cop

        ·         Blair (or someone else) finds a way to fix everything

        ·         Blair leaves (at least for a while)

And then there were the authors who wanted to obliterate this episode; they wrote AUs where TSbBS never happened.  You can probably imagine how apprehensive I was to actually watch it.  I dragged my feet as much as possible, until a few years ago when I joined the TS Chat group.  We would watch episodes together and then discuss them, so I could no longer avoid it.  This last essential episode, also the show's finale, was really painful to watch. 


I've watched it once or twice since then, and dusted it off to be able to do this essay.  I must say that I see it now with a different eye than that first time.  So, on with the description.


Blair, at long last, is finishing his dissertation and we see him type "the end", so know he's got at least the rough draft done.  Surprise! Naomi has come to visit, just in time to find out about the diss, which makes her happy and proud of Blair.  She, of course would like to read it.  Instead of saying something sensible (and true), such as "no, because there's confidential information in it that I'm not allowed to reveal", he gives the weak excuse that he wants it to be 'perfect' before she reads it.  


Blair's first mistake: he should have found a way to hide his paper really well from everyone, including Naomi (or someone like Brackett or Alex).  Because Naomi has a bright idea: she'll send it to a publisher friend who can give it a look-over and provide Blair with some good solid feedback.  What could be better than having a professional give you advice?


While this is brewing, the MC gang are helping protect an obnoxious union leader named Bartley whose life has been threatened by an old nemesis: Klaus Zeller, aka the Iceman.  Wasn't he in jail?  Yes, but apparently Germany has at least one crooked judge who got Zeller sprung.  Zeller has been hired by the shipping industries to assassinate Bartley in order to prevent him from uniting the workers.  As an ominous aside, Zeller has a history of killing any law enforcement person who's tried to stop him.  Of course, that means Jim.  At a rally, Jim spots Zeller and shoots out the scope of his rifle (why the hell he didn't just wound or kill the guy is beyond me).  So Zeller is thwarted for a while and Bartley goes to a safe house.


Blair gets a call from Naomi's publisher friend, Sid Graham.  Instead of giving Blair writing tips, Graham wants to publish the diss as a non-fiction bestseller, thinking that "The Sentinel" has pizzazz.  He offers Blair $100,000 in advance for the rights.  Blair, totally flabbergasted, tells Graham that the paper isn't for publication and Naomi acted without his permission in sending it to Graham.  His second mistake is not coming up with a better threat.  He says, "And if you want to keep your friendship with my mother, I suggest you destroy the copy that you have."  You can almost see Sid weighing the scales in his mind: "friendship with Naomi… millions of dollars, hmm… well, I can always get new friends".  What Blair should have said was, "and if you and your publishing company don't want me to sue your asses, you will be sure to destroy the copy that you have, since you now know that you've obtained it without my consent. "  Well, hindsight is 20/20.  Next, Blair wants to confront Naomi and ask her WTF. 


Blair's third mistake was not clueing Jim in immediately.  I fully understand why he didn't—Jim’s reaction to bad news invariably sucks.  But being blind-sided should things go south is much worse.  And things go totally south in a hurry. It's unclear what his motives were, but Graham releases excerpts of the diss to the media and it's circus time!  Reporters mob Jim and Blair asking all kinds of questions, and this is the way Jim finds out Blair's diss is out of the bag.  His worst nightmare is realized; people treat him like a freak of nature—not only the press but his fellow workers.  Even a robber who Jim and Megan arrest wants Jim to sign his tattoo, so he can tell his fellow jailbirds that he was captured by "The Sentinel".  The constant press harassment interferes with Jim’s job; at another rally Zeller is in close proximity, but Jim can't see him because of the paparazzi.  Jim is angry and frustrated. 


Once again, Jim's gifts become the brunt of his focus.  He wishes for the days before he came online, bemoaning the fact that he was a good, but anonymous, cop.  Delusional Jim!  Blair, of course, takes it as a personal affront:  attack the senses and he feels attacked because it's the primary reason he's with Jim… isn't it?  Jim, although bitter, advises Blair to take Graham's offer—which has ballooned to three million dollars—and start his new life.  In a ridiculous fact-checking fail, reporters tells Blair he's being nominated for a Nobel Prize in science (there isn't such a category).  And the icing on a very bad cake is that Chancellor Edwards and the university are happy with the prestige this is bringing to the U—did they even read the excerpts to tell whether it was a valid dissertation?  It sounds like they're ready to award him his doctorate on the spot, and perhaps even crown him king.


Back to the crime du jour.  A decoy arranged by the police has made Zeller believe that he killed Bartley.  So Zeller decides it's time for revenge against Jim.  He shoots into the PD with a  titanium bullet; hitting both Simon and Megan, but not the target: Jim!  Perhaps Zeller needs glasses; he keeps missing his mark. 


The good news from the hospital is that Simon and Megan will both survive.  Blair tries to get Jim to accept his senses and use them to get Zeller.  Jim thinks that Zeller targeted him because he's a sentinel.  So if it wasn't for him, his friends wouldn't have been shot.  Sheesh, Jim, lay off the guilt already!  Jim leaves and Blair ponders what to do to help things.   Later, Zeller learns that he's been played and that Bartley is still alive.  Bad news for his reputation as a great assassin. He goes to Plan B, or perhaps it's Plan C by now because he's really screwed up this job.


At the loft, Naomi is begging forgiveness for her interference.  Blair tells her that one thing that came out of it is the validation that his work is important and worthy of notice; that everything he hoped to get out of it—the brass ring—has happened.  He now knows what to do to make things right with his real brass ring, Jim.  He gathers the press for an announcement on live TV.  Eloquent and poignant, in seven sentences Blair destroys his academic career.  He refutes the information in his thesis, saying that the claim that Jim has hyperactive senses is fraudulent, citing his desire to impress his peers and the world as his reason for making everything up.  At the PD, Jim catches the press conference and is totally gobsmacked. 


But no time for reflection; Bartley thinks that Zeller has died in an explosion and is antsy to come out of hiding.  Since Jim can't persuade him to stop (he didn't try particularly hard), he goes to the hospital to check on Simon and Megan.  Blair is there and they finally get a chance for a "moment".  Jim doesn't know what to say. Blair leads the way with a couple of lines.   He makes some self-deprecating statements to the effect that the diss was "just a book" and he had no business running around like he was a cop or something.  Jim acknowledges that the diss was Blair’s life.  And, in a statement heard 'round the world, Jim tells Blair that he was a great partner, a great friend and a great cop (in All But Name). He then invites Blair to help him finish up the case.


Bartley is getting ready for his own press conference, and is using Simon's office as his command center.  Zeller, who's still alive but nursing his wounded pride, decides to complete the hit on Bartley with some bonus kills—he plans to take out all of Major Crime.  Zeller gets into the building, with guns and everything, showing that the PD has pretty shoddy security.  He goes a little crazy totally psycho, shooting up everything and hitting a couple of people.  He flees to the roof with Jim right behind him, taunting that he still missed Bartley.  Zeller hits Jim in the leg and then rappels down the building.  Blair, helping Jim to the edge, looks down and makes a great statement: "Do we pull him up or knock him off?"  Hmm, perhaps Blair's tough day has translated to a loss of compassion for poor crazy Zeller.  Or perhaps he remembers that Zeller shot him point blank in a previous episode.  Zeller takes the decision out of their hands by shooting up at them.  He might not be able to hit Bartley, but he makes a money shot; slicing his own rope, he falls and dies. 


A few days later, Blair is looking around Simon's office, telling Joel that he's cleaned out his office at Rainier and is doing the same at the PD, because he's sure no one will want a fraud around.  Well, he's dead wrong, because Simon (who's a pretty quick healer), Jim, Megan, Naomi and the rest of the gang gather around to tell Blair they want him to join them as a real detective; after attending the academy.  We cut away as Jim is nuzzling and Blair is negotiating: "I'm still not cutting my hair".


Whew!  So much good stuff.  All I can say is thank goodness for the fan initiative that brought back TS for this last season.  Instead of a dead Blair, we've got a bumpy set of episodes with a finale that I'm not sure I would want to be any different.   Although it's one of the most wrenching episodes, it's also one of the most complex and touching.  I hate the plot but I love these characters, because of who they are and how they've evolved.


 I'll start with Simon, who got pulled into the "sentinel thing" against his will; averting his eyes and showing his "talk to the hand" gesture more times than I can count.  Yet, he stands stalwartly by his friend Jim, and he does so even before Jim goes to Peru to rescue him and Daryl.  He viewed Blair as a necessary evil; a bee buzzing around him—annoying but necessary to produce the honey.  Yet over time he recognizes Blair's contributions; even asks him to be a point man in the investigation of Spaulding's death in Warriors.  Although I think if you made him choose between them, he would still back Jim, he's an honest enough friend to question whether Jim can continue without Blair.  In the end, he respects Blair enough to offer him a place in Major Crime.  Simon is a good friend, but he's not crazy and he takes his career very seriously.  He recognizes the huge sacrifice Blair made for Jim (and for Simon, who now doesn't have to explain things to the DA or the commissioner).  But, despite that, If he didn't think Blair could do the work, he would have tried to do something else to help him.   He believes, as Jim does, that Blair has the makings of a good detective and would be an asset.  What a turn-around from that first impression where he thought Blair was "a neo-hippy flower child with time on his hands now that the Dead are broken up."


Megan, although only introduced at the end of the third season, is the counter-balance to Simon in the character dynamics.  At first adversarial, she comes to respect Jim as a colleague, and she's as tough and driven as he is.  But she also comes from a culture where the mystical is more accepted than in the U.S. She's intrigued by the unknown and she has a lot of respect for Blair and his work.  She also doesn't come between Jim and Blair or try to denigrate Blair's contributions, which was Cassie's mistake.  She's the one who accompanies Blair to Sierra Verde, and she's able to draw conclusions and keep her mouth shut.  When Jim and Blair are at odds in this episode, it's Megan who brings the voice of reason, telling Jim that Blair didn't hurt him intentionally and praising Blair's accomplishment, even while acknowledging his dilemma.  She's the one Blair talks to when Jim shuts him out—telling her that publishing his work is his biggest dream; and his worst nightmare. 


What can I say about poor Naomi?  Of all the characters, I'd have to say she suffered most from the Jessica Rabbit syndrome: "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way".  The actress who played Naomi  admitted as much years later; that the writers rewrote her for whatever they needed.  In this episode, they needed her to be the heavy, but saved from being truly bad by being ditzy.  "I promised Blair I wouldn't read it, but you can"—puleeze!  But she does her job here, and she did her job as a loving and protective mother in Spare Parts to the point where we and the guys can give her the benefit of the doubt.  Blair believes her and we love and trust Blair; ergo we believe her.  Some of us, anyway!


Of all the characters, Blair has changed the most from beginning to end.  It isn't simply that he no longer wears multi-colored vests and earrings.  He made a fundamental change in his life's goals.  I think the problem was that he was kind of stuck in a mental groove, viewing himself as that same anthropologist/post-grad student he was when he first met Jim.  Perhaps the "roller-coaster ride" in the end wasn't just exciting, it was all-consuming.  With every escalating case he had less and less time to recognize that it wasn't academia he was turning away from, it was Jim he was turning towards.  The first wake-up call was in "Flight", where he turns down a possible career-making expedition because "it's about friendship".  That certainly should have set off alarms if he was still thinking as an anthropologist or a scientist.  He’s way too close to his subject and has a dissertation that would have his committee asking "Where's the beef?"  By "Warriors", he admitted to Jim that he was stalling; that he had enough material to finish his thesis and get his PhD long before.  It's also interesting that he hadn't previously revealed this tidbit to Jim; perhaps he was concerned that when he finished the diss, Jim would want him to leave.


 By the fourth season, after the horrific traumas of Sentinel Too, he's changed even more.  He still admires Jim as a person, even though sometimes Jim totally pisses him off.  He's still fascinated by Jim's sentinel capabilities, which continue to evolve, as well as the elusive mystical elements that are part of the gift.  But he's also heavily into being Jim's partner, and Jim seems to take it for granted that Blair is his partner.  When Blair shows up late to the rally in this episode, Jim's comment "Nice of you to join us" shows a definite expectation that Blair should be by his side.  Blair's apology shows he feels the same way. 


He's becoming more and more disenchanted with University politics, especially after Murder 101.  But he continues to work on his sentinel dissertation, even though it's a cause of friction between Jim and Blair.  If these two men had just once sat down and reviewed their original agreement; what had changed and how they had changed, how different might the outcome have been?  If they talked about what Blair could do to get his doctorate and stay with Jim (switch to forensic anthropology, perhaps?), not only would Naomi have had nothing to send to Sid, but the pervasive tension brought on by the diss situation could have been resolved.  I sometimes wonder whether Jim wasn't the only one with fear-based responses.


Ah, spilled milk, eh?  Jim, Blair and even Simon continued happily on the roller coaster, never noticing that their labels for each other—'Jim's boss',' Lone Wolf Ellison', 'flaky but helpful Observer Sandburg'—were totally outmoded.  For all intents and purposes, Blair and Jim were work partners and Simon was their boss.  And they had become friends—caring about each other's well-being.  This is what I mean about getting stuck in a groove and not recognizing it.   They had wake-up calls along the way, like when Finkelman revokes Blair's pass, or Brackett and Alex find Blair's research, or Blair is fired from the Uni.  But they blithely ignore them. Why did they have to be such clueless men.


And on that segue let's get to Jim.  Many fen vilify him for his reactions in this episode; feeling he should have known that Blair would never betray him for money and fame.  But does he truly believe that?  Jim is a man of action and often his words are hasty and don't truly represent his feelings.  Most of the time he comes out ahead by following his instincts, but his knee-jerk reactions to emotional turmoil rarely start out well.  The first hint that his secret is out is when he's confronted by reporters, all eager to interview "the sentinel".  His first assumption is that Blair is to blame, and he's right—it was Blair's actions and inactions that got them from here to there.    Of course, this brings back a lot of fears he's never really dealt with; fear of betrayal, fear of abandonment, fear of being viewed as a freak and fear that the bad guys will know he's got an edge.  The ridiculous reaction by his coworkers, Blair's attempts to prevent Jim from finding out what Naomi has done, and Zeller taking advantage of the situation do nothing to assuage these fears. 


When he finally learns all the facts, he's still angry at Blair, but it's a justified anger.  He asks what Blair's plan was to guarantee his anonymity, and he questions Blair's security measures.  Those are absolutely things that were Blair's responsibility to control.  But, even before Blair's press conference, I don't think that Jim truly believed that Blair did it on purpose, or perceived it as a betrayal.  If he did, I think he would have immediately thrown Blair out of his life.  Jim doesn't do that, nor does he throw Naomi out.   In the middle of all the chaos, he makes a decision to let everything outside of his control go, while he tries to pick up the pieces and make a life for himself of his choosing.  Of course, it's very pie-in-the-sky to think he can go back to the way things were before the senses, but Jim's always been pretty good at denial.  Still, his decision shows that he's already going to put it behind him and to try to fix what he can on his own.  Very Jim-like.  So, his reaction of shock when he sees the press conference is total.  I think he expected Blair to be sorry and to try to mitigate the situation, perhaps through some tap-dancing and misdirection.  And although Jim has risked his life many times for friends, and even strangers he's sworn to protect, I don't think he ever had someone make such a monumental sacrifice for him.


When Blair said in Warriors, "It's about friendship, I just didn't get it before", he was having an epiphany about what friendship means to Jim.  The press conference in TSbBS provided Jim's epiphany.  Up until then, I don't think he truly believed that Blair's definition of friendship was as deep as his own.  I think he always felt there was a limit to Blair's commitment; perhaps because Blair continued to work on the sentinel dissertation despite the fact that Jim really didn't want him to complete it.  Perhaps, because Jim tends to compartmentalize things, he put Blair in a "good backup to have but he's only here temporarily" box and never changed the label, despite everything they went through together.  And I think, in the end, that is what Jim's ashamed of; not that he thought Blair betrayed him, but that he didn't give Blair's depth of feelings for Jim the credit that they were due.  And, perhaps if he had, they might have talked out the situation and come to a different solution than Blair's self-immolation of his career.  Of course, I'm not really sure Blair fully understood what he was willing to do for Jim up until the time he took that irrevocable step, so perhaps they both learned something.


Of course, when Jim is upset, he tends to clam up (when he's not blowing up) and then overcompensates to make up for it.  So, his simple invitation at the hospital for Blair to come back to his side and his statement that Blair was "the best cop I've ever met" is pretty Jim-like behavior.  But his statement that Blair was "a good friend and pulled me through some pretty weird stuff" couldn't have been truer. 


Fen have long been divided about whether Blair would have accepted the badge and, if he did, whether he would have succeeded.  For myself, good stories have persuaded me of different possibilities.  But I can really see him accepting the badge and doing well, and here's why.  From the beginning, he had no real hesitation to spontaneously do what was necessary to get the job done and stop the bad guys.  He could have waited for Jim to come down from the tower in Switchman, headed off the tow truck long enough for Jim to make it to the car and they could have followed the bus.  His instinct was to "do" something to help Jim be successful.  He had no hesitation at holding a gun on Veronica, and in the last scene he asks Jim "Do I get a badge?"  He wants to be on the inside; something he probably doesn't even understand prevents him from keeping professional distance right from the start. 


Throughout the show there's examples of that need driving him to do more than simply watch Jim's back.  He's obviously not suicidal, so he does actually stay behind Jim in dangerous situations.  But in a fire fight, he's a go-to guy—that's where Jim's admiring statement in the hospital comes from.  He's earned that praise. I can only imagine formal training will make him better.  Blair progressively participates more and more as a detective, and less as a casual observer.  He's gone native.   And, finally, at the end of this episode, when he looks at the badge and says "really?", there's hope in his eyes that it's a bona fide offer.  That's why I think he would take a badge and do a great job—because he was already on that path.


Essential Elements:

v  The senses:  Jim still uses them well and often.  The shot where he takes out Zeller's scope is reminiscent of his shooting down Veronica's barrel in Switchman.  In fact, his ambivalence about the senses also brings it back full circle.  Despite the fact that three times he's affirmed that he accepts the mantel of a sentinel, he remains a man uneasy with this gift that he so often perceives as a double-edged sword.

v   Relationships:  I'm not sure I can add much more to the analysis above.  The crime was actually the most boring aspect of the episode and Zeller, in the end, turned out to be a deadly but clownish villain.  The other crime, exposing Jim and threatening his relationship, was the main thrust here; it served to bring up all the unresolved stuff these men and women had been pushing aside for the sake of crime-fighting.  But sometimes you just can't push it aside any longer, and this episode showed that in spades.

v  Sound bytes: Fraud, best cop I've ever worked with, I'm not cutting my hair.

v  Influence on fanfic:  Do I even have to say anything?  I don't think there's an author who hasn't done either a post-TSbBS story or a "fix-it" to the episode.  Some have written dozens.  All the speculation, all the future fic that follows the canon timeline starts here.

episode-related fanfic