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[Meta] The Sentinel: A Gratuitously Detailed Episode Guide

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Character Info

Jim Facts

Full name: James J. Ellison (Concensus seems to be that the "J" stands for "Joseph," although I can't find a specific episode citation.)

Date of birth: September 14, 1957 (3x9 Red Ice; but there is contention about this. See timeline.)

Height: 183cm (6 feet even. See 3x9 Red Ice. Actor Richard Burgi's height according to IMDB is actually 187cm or 6'1 1/2".)

Weight: 90 kg (198 lb. 3x9 Red Ice.)

Eyes: Blue (Well, yes, it also says that on the form in 3x9 Red Ice. But it is possible to independently verify this.)

S.I.N.: 014-405-89 (3x9 Red Ice)

ATM PIN: 3840 (his parents' birthdates; 2x5 Payback)

Shoe Size: Unknown!!

Occupation: Detective, Cascade Police Department, Major Crimes department

Badge Number: 733 (3x4 Poachers)

Address: 852 Prospect Ave., Apt. 307, Cascade, WA 98765, USA (see 3x6 Vendetta for street address; several episodes show apartment number on the door), aka "the loft" (cf. all the time)

Phone Number: 555-4167 (3x18 Love Kills; not clear whether this is the loft line or the cell.)

Family: Raised by affluent workaholic single father, William Ellison, after his parents divorced. One younger brother, Stephen Ellison, who now owns companies? or something? (2x23 His Brother's Keeper). Other childhood parent figures include housekeeper Sally and late mentor Bud (3x17 Remembrance). Formerly married to Carolyn Plummer, CPD.

Place of origin: Grew up in big mansionlike estate in or near Cascade (3x17 Remembrance)

Living arrangement: Owns apartment listed above (paid for in lump sum from covert ops back pay, cf. 2x3 Deep Water). Possibly lived there with Carolyn when they were married (?). Lived there alone post-divorce until allowed Blair Sandburg to move in (1x4 The Debt).




Blair Facts

Full name: Blair Sandburg (Middle name nonexistent or not given. I choose to believe it is "Sunflower.")

Date of birth: 1969

Height: Not given in the show; actor Garett Maggart's height according to IMDB is 5'7" (171cm)

Weight: Not given. I'd say maybe like around 160 as a rule. He's weedier at the beginning of the series, understandably.

Eyes: Blue

S.I.N.: Unknown!!

Shoe Size: 8 1/2 (2x12 Blind Man's Bluff)

Occupation: Anthropology doctoral candidate, Rainier University (exact position changes; in 2x5 Payback, Blair tells Simon he is no longer a research assistant but now a teaching fellow); semi-unofficial (unpaid) observer, Cascade Police Department

Address: 852 Prospect Ave., Apt. 307, Cascade, WA 98765, USA (1x4 The Debt onwards)

Family: Raised by single mother, Naomi Sandburg. Father unknown (2x9 Spare Parts). Only child.

Place of origin: Certain evidence points to Texas (Jim implies his baseball team of choice is Texas in 2x5 Payback; Blair schools Jim in Texas accents in 3x6 Vendetta. It should be noted however that Blair says here that he has cousins Fort Worth, not that he used to live there. I picture Naomi's family coming from Texas, but Naomi and Blair moving around a lot when Blair was growing up.)

Living arrangement: Moved into bedroom under Jim's stairs for "one week" after basement warehouse apartment was destroyed by meth lab explosion next door in 1x4 The Debt. Never left. Never mentioned again. Does pay rent (confirmed in 4x1 Sentinel Too Part 2), but probably frequently late or incompletely.




Jim's Backstory Timeline Of Continuity Contradictions And Possible Time Travel

Event & Date Canon Support/Discussion

September 14, 1957 (3x9 Red Ice);
Circa 1962 (3x17 Remembrance)

The personal records Yuri hacks into in Red Ice give a definite D.O.B. for Jim. Later in this timeline we will see that it is late 1994 in show time when the story begins, giving him a starting age of 37.

This date, however, is difficult to reconcile with the events of Remembrance, in which Jim was supposed to have been ten in the early 70s, or "25 years ago". No matter how you reckon the actual dates, if Jim was ten 25 years ago, he would have to be exactly or close-enough to 35 at this point in season 3, when--according to the Red Ice date--he is supposed to be 40.

Personally, I prefer the '57 date. Jim makes a good 40. (Possibly because RB was actually born in '58.)

Finds a body

Circa 1973

SIMON: Yeah, I remember that cat [the strangler]. He had a three-year spree in the early '70s. (3x17 Remembrance)

The body that Jim found was the strangler's last victim. Simon's statement suggests that the strangler's spree ended in, say, '72 or '73. This jibes with the "25 years ago" said by several other characters, if we assume it's about 1997 during the episode. It's explicitly stated that Jim was ten, but according to the '57 birthdate, he would have been about fourteen.

We now have a number of options:

  • Assume that the '57 date is incorrect (a typo in the records or something), that Jim was actually 32 at the start of the series (sh'yeah), and he and Blair have only seven years between them instead of twelve, which doesn't seem to make sense given their dynamic. Also, it's less sexy, somehow?
  • Assume that the '57 date is correct, and that Jim is misremembering (and failing to recalculate) his actual age at the time (and that we are seeing Jim's false memories in flashbacks). This calls into question the reliability not only of those flashbacks, but all Jim flashbacks in other episodes (which makes sense given Jim's frequent memory problems and "repression"), and possibly the reliability of Jim as a central POV character at all. Can we trust the evidence of Jim's senses? Can we trust the evidence of our own???
  • Make our peace with lack of continuity in a cheesy action show. Obviously, this is a last resort.
Becomes motorcycle enthusiast

Early or mid 70s (during high school)

BLAIR: What do I mean. That thing with the bikes today, the Harleys. You're an expert.
JIM: I was into bikes in high school.
BLAIR: Why didn't you tell me?
JIM: You never asked. (2x5 Payback)
Goes to college (mentors Danny)

Late 70s/early 80s, presumably

SIMON: Danny lost his dad when he was a little kid. When Jim was in college, he became his big brother. They were real close. Jim was the one who helped Danny get into the academy. (1x3 Killers)

It should be noted that I have no real reason to believe Jim went to college right after high school; he might easily have gone to school during or as part of his time in the Army. (His father certainly had the money to send him right out of high school, but Jim seems the type not to want to be supported any longer than necessary.)

Strangely enough, though, Jim must have interested Danny in police work before he himself was an officer. The timeline gets pretty full closer to the present day; he can't have been in the force long enough to go to college during that period of his life. More likely he was an actual Big Brother-type big brother when Danny was a child, suggesting an earlyish time period (Danny is probably not more than 10 or 15 years younger than Jim). Do the Big Brothers even take right-out-of-high-school college students?

Joins army


JIM: He [Jim's father] had promised Stephen that he was going to take him on this trip if he kept his grades up. One day Steven comes home with a "B". A "B". The old man says "Stephen, sorry, the deal's off. Jimmy, pack your bags." [Story involving car vandalism follows]
BLAIR: So, he got to go on the trip?
JIM: Yeah, and I got to go on one of my own.
BLAIR: Right. Join the army, see the world. (2x23 His Brother's Keeper)

This seems to imply that Jim joined the army not long after high school, but it's so vague that it could be anything. Jim may actually already have been in college at this point. Hell, Stephen may have been in college at this point.

Gets involved in covert ops

At some point.

Jim's involvement in covert ops is revealed in 2x3 Deep Water and is the crux of the plot in 2x15 Secret. Jim also refers to being in "special ops" (is that the same thing?) in 4x4 Dead End on Blank Street.

Relationship with Veronica (competes with buddy Alan Archer)


JIM: After a couple of months [after finding out Veronica was with Alan], Veronica was transferred to Hawaii. We shipped out to the jungle. End of story. (4x4 Dead End on Blank Street)

In other words, the flashback events of Dead End happened just before Jim left for Peru. It's also stated that Alan followed Veronica to Honolulu and they married "nine years ago," or five years before the start of the series (Jim must have been in Peru).

Plane downed over Peru

March 14, 1988

ARMY GUY: It [the downed plane] was carrying a crew from Seventh Troop on an anti-insurgence op, commanded by Captain James Ellison. On March 14, '88, their Huey disappeared en route to the landing zone. (1x1 Switchman)
Rescued from Peru

September 1989?

JIM: We were ordered to contact the local tribes and organize a militia. These men and I have held the Chopec Pass for 18 months. And quite frankly, Captain, I'm kind of tired. (1x1 Switchman)
Goes to Bali for R&R (one week with Lila)

Conjectured Oct '89

JIM: Her name is Lila Hobson. I met her when I was in Bali seven years ago right after they pulled me out of Peru. I was on R&R. We stayed at he same hotel, got involved, end of story.
BLAIR: How involved? Not end of story.
JIM: We had one week together. One morning she just left. I tried to track her down, but I couldn't. (3x18 Love Kills)

He leaves the army right after this (see next item.) Are you allowed to take R&R at the end of your tour?

Enters police academy

Conjectured Nov '89

In Dead End on Blank Street he states that he has been with the police "eight years," which, since it's an early season four episode, means 4-5 years before the start of the show. It makes sense; he can't have waited long after he left the army, or he wouldn't have had time to train and rise up to detective before the start of the show.
Works in Vice

As early as March '90 until Feb/March '91 (see "Transferred to Major Crimes")

March '90 is about as early as he could have started his work in Vice, assuming he was in police academy for about six months, which I believe is standard; although, he might have advanced quickly due to his army training.
Mad at world

Conjectured Oct '90 until early '91

JIM: When I was a rookie, fresh out of the Academy, maybe six months, there was another rookie... [Story about how other rookie is shot in front of Jim follows] I spent the next few months so pissed off at the world-- angry, confrontational. I did some stupid, seriously stupid things because I kept thinking it was my fault. (1x8 Love and Guns)

If he's still in this period during the flashbacks of Deep Water, that could explain the moustache.

Transferred to Major Crimes

Early 1991

SIMON: Here's the bottom line, Jim-- I may be new to this department, but if you think I'm a pushover, you've got another think coming. You may have been a hotshot on Vice, but around here, you're just part of my dog team! Is that clear? (2x3 Deep Water)
Mentor dies (Jim sleeps with Emily)

March 19, 1991 (see next item)

JIM: Hey, check this out. This is Jack's datebook. Last entry was March 19.
BLAIR: Yeah. So?
JIM: So, that's the date Jack disappeared. (2x3 Deep Water)

The year is derived from the flashback-introducing title card "Four years ago", and the consideration that this episode takes place in early season 2 (which we're assuming is 1995--see "Show starts").

Jim's one-night thing with Emily, Jack's girlfriend, happened the same night. I mention this only because Jim's guilt begins and ends with sleeping with another man's girl, and not on cheating on any girl of his own, so he can't be with Carolyn at this point.

Buys loft

April 1991

JIM: The money was military back pay from when I was in Peru. It finally came through that April. The loft was for sale and I figured it was a better investment than throwing my money into some savings account. (2x3 Deep Water)

This is also the conversation during which we find out that he was involved in covert ops while he was in Peru.

Marries Carolyn

Totally unknown

Seriously, when did they even date?
Divorces Carolyn

1992, or early 1993

Jim: Carolyn and I have been divorced for nearly two years. (1x3 Killers)
Buys golf clubs!!


JIM (swinging club): I haven't used these since I bought them two years ago. (1x10 Vow of Silence)
Related to divorce??
Show starts

September 1994

Date derived from the date Jim was pulled from Peru + "5 Years Later" titlecard in 1x1 Switchman

Blair's Backstory Timeline Of Dubious Veracity

Event & Date Canon Support/Discussion


JIM: '69 was a very good year for me.
BLAIR: Yeah, yeah. I was born.
JIM: Except for that. (3x2 Three Point Shot)

We don't know when Blair's birthday is, but this gives him a starting age of 25, give or take a few months. (And if you want a birthday, GM's is May 24, 1969.)

Steals a microscope


BLAIR: Once when I was fourteen, I went to this store and I stole this microscope, right? (Yes, a microscope, Jim, I was a science nerd.) Anyway, um, the cops caught me and I swore up and down that I'd paid for the thing and I kept lying and getting in deeper and deeper. And finally I just couldn't take it anymore, and I had to come out and tell the truth. But by that time, nobody was listening. (2x23 His Brother's Keeper)
Starts taking college courses


BLAIR: Why stick him with me?
BUCKNER: Because you were taking college courses when you were 16. If you think back to what it was like, I am sure you can relate. (2x18 Smart Alec)

It is unclear from the wording whether he went to college early or was just taking classes simultaneous with high school. I think it likely that it's the latter, or it would have been easier to say "in college."

Drives a big rig cross-country

Summer ?

BLAIR: I spent a summer driving across country in my uncle's rig. I did half the driving. (2x9 Spare Parts)

I'm not sure when this was. For some reason I had the impression that it was during high school, but I guess he never says that. He must have been at least 16. I imagine this was no later than early undergrad, or he would have had other things to do with his summer.

Works at Conover (mental instition)

Some semester during undergrad

BLAIR: Okay. Um, when I was an undergraduate, I did a paper on the social structure in institutions to see if the same sort of pecking orders that exist in our society find their way into the microcosmic societies in prisons and mental institutions. Anyway, I spent a semester working nights at Conover. (3x14 Mirror Image)
Spends some time at St. Sebastian's monastery


BROTHER MARCUS: I remember you. The young man who promised to write to allow me to vicariously enjoy his exploits in the real world.
and later
BLAIR (to the abbot): Come on, you know me! (1x10 Vow of Silence)

That's the only evidence we have that Blair spent time at St. Sebastian's in the past; the episode sheds no light on why, when, or for how long. From the exchanges given it would be possible to read anything from "a week or two sometime during grad" to "most of his childhood."

Spends "three months living among the Kombai Tree people of Irian Jaya"


MAYA: So you spent three months living among the Kombai Tree people of Irian Jaya?
BLAIR: Oh, yeah. It was really, really wild. You see, I was the first westerner they had ever seen. They thought I was a lilejo-- an evil spirit disguised as a white man. [Story follows.] (1x8 Love and Guns)
Goes "up the Amazon in a canoe"


PAM: My teacher showed us a movie once where these people went all the way up the Amazon in a canoe. Did you do that too?
BLAIR: Uh-huh. And I almost got eaten by a crocodile.
PAM: No way.
BLAIR: Way. (2x2 Out of the Past)
Spends "a month with this tribe" in Malaysia


BLAIR: I was in Malaysia once, and I spent a month with this tribe that believed that sex was a religious ritual and had be to performed six times every, uh... (2x7 Iceman)
Possibly goes to Nepal


BLAIR: It happened to this anthropological student that I knew. He was out doing research in Nepal and an avalanche hit... [Story about overcoming fear follows]
JOEL: You, uh, still know this guy?
BLAIR: Yeah, it was me. (2x11 Black or White)

But later that same episode:
JOEL: Wait a minute. What about that bridge in Nepal you were talking about?
BLAIR: Uh, well, that was an embellishment on the truth.
JIM: You mean a lie, right? A lie.

Spends "a couple of months in an igloo"


BLAIR: Here. I got these [boots] up in Alaska. Might be a little big, but they should fit. The Dene Indians, they swear by these things.
MONIQUE: I heard it's beautiful up there in Alaska. I've never been anywhere. Well, Mexico. What's it like?
BLAIR: Oh, it's beautiful, it's beautiful. I spent a couple of months in an igloo. (3x8 Storm Warning)
Does "research on the Watumsa Indians"


SIMON: According to her report, the only place that fits the profile is an area east of Lake Quincy -- the Watumsa Basin.
BLAIR (correcting his pronunciation): Watumsa. Watumsa Basin, sir. Yeah, I did research on the Watumsa Indians a couple years back. (3x10 Dead Certain)
Spends some undefined amount of time in the jungle


JIM: I thought you were Mr. Outdoors. All that time spent out in the wilderness.
BLAIR: Yeah. Most of it was in the jungle. The jungle's hot, remember? The thing I don't understand--you're Mr. Heightened Senses; how come the cold isn't bothering you?
JIM: It's not that cold. (3x14 Light My Fire)

The interesting thing about this exchange is that it casts serious doubt on whether Blair actually went to Alaska.

Show starts

September 1994

Date derived from the date Jim was pulled from Peru + "5 Years Later" titlecard in 1x1 Switchman