Byron (Babylon 5)
|Babylon 5 character|
|First appearance||No Compromises|
|Last appearance||Phoenix Rising|
|Portrayed by||Robin Atkin Downes|
|Affiliated with||Rogue telepath|
Byron Gordon is introduced to Babylon 5 in the season 5 episode "No Compromises" as a strong telepath (P12 rating). Byron is shown arriving on the Babylon 5 station with a large contingent of rogue telepaths early in the year 2262. At this stage Byron is portrayed as a Gandhi-like figure; a leader of telepaths who seeks freedom from the Psi Corps and from mundanes, but that will only do so through passive resistance/physically non-violent means, though he does show himself to be mentally violent, using intimidation and blackmail against members of the alliance. In "The Paragon of Animals", Byron helps the new Interstellar Alliance by revealing treachery by the Drazi against the Enphili. John Sheridan offers Byron and his telepaths political asylum at Babylon 5. They are allowed to establish a small colony in Brown 3.
In his early appearances in Season 5, Byron is shown as trying to maintain distance from conflict between his telepaths and the aggressive mundanes from "Down Below", the Psi Corps, and from being used as tools by the Interstellar Alliance. Key disputes come between Byron and Michael Garibaldi over his wish to employ Byron's telepaths as spies ("The Paragon of Animals" (episode 3)), and between the telepaths and the Earth Force/Psi Corps over their rogue status ("Strange Relations" (episode 6)). Ultimately, Byron agrees for two of his people to serve the Alliance, and Elizabeth Lochley negotiates for the telepaths to remain temporarily on the station.
It is later revealed in "Secrets of the Soul" (episode 7) that Byron had trained with the Psi Corps. In fact, he had interned with the Psi Cops and was the protégé of the famous/infamous Alfred Bester. This later episode also revealed that he was part of Bester's elite Black Omega squadron, and had deserted after receiving orders to fire upon defenseless mundanes (non-telepaths).
The Psi Corps Trilogy books by Gregory Keyes expand on this apparent crisis of conscience a little. Byron and his ship appear to have crashed or been lost around Venus, but this turns out to be a ruse to effect his desertion without raising suspicions.
A second major shift in Byron's outlook occurs in as the result of a romantic relationship with telepath Lyta Alexander that evolves over several episodes of the television series. Lyta and Byron find comfort and acceptance in each other, however intimate moments ("Secrets of the Soul" (episode 7)) eventually unlock secrets of the Vorlons hidden deep within Lyta's mind. It is revealed to Byron that the Vorlons had generated telepaths as weapons in their war against the Shadows. Byron is shown as angered by this. As the Vorlons are no longer around to be blamed, he decides that the remaining races who had been "saved" by telepaths owe him and his people a new homeland. Furthermore, from comments of his in "The Paragon of Animals" and other episodes, it is clear that in his own way, he despises mundanes just as much as Bester does.
In "In the Kingdom of the Blind" (episode 9), Byron threatens the members of the Interstellar Alliance with the revelation of their deepest secrets. The aim of this exercise is increased leverage to further his and his followers' goal of a new telepath homeworld. However, Byron's mental intimidation merely caused conflicts to rapidly escalate, and the Psi Corps is called in to arrest Byron and his followers. While many remained with Byron in a starvation protest sealed in their colony, a group of renegades take a more aggressive stance attacking station personnel and seizing hostages. Amongst the hostages are Garibaldi and Dr Franklin.
In a story arc carried over several episodes ("A Tragedy of Telepaths" (episode 10)-"Phoenix Rising" (episode 11)) Byron is portrayed as distraught over killing in his name; this is not how he wanted the battle to be fought. With the aid of Lyta Alexander, he is able to free the hostages and kill the leader of the renegade telepaths. He surrenders under the condition that those who did not take part in the violence would be freed; the renegades and himself would turn themselves in to station security. While these terms are agreed to by Sheridan, the appearance of Alfred Bester during the surrender precipitates a shooting battle, during which many telepaths and security members are killed. Byron, not wanting to return to Psi Corps, fires into a chemical leak, causing an explosion and turning himself and the other renegades into martyrs.
The actions of Byron's more aggressive followers along with Alfred Bester's own violence against them arguably form the opening moves of the Telepath War.