Lyta Alexander

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Lyta Alexander
Babylon 5 character
First appearanceBabylon 5: The Gathering
Last appearanceObjects in Motion
Portrayed byPatricia Tallman
Home planetEarth
Affiliated withPsi Corps
Telepath Underground Railroad

Lyta Alexander is a character from the fictional universe of the science-fiction television series Babylon 5, played by Patricia Tallman.

Lyta was introduced in the pilot episode "The Gathering" as a telepath assigned to the Babylon 5 space station (then commanded by EarthForce Commander Jeffrey Sinclair) by the Psi Corps, a fictional organization providing support to telepaths and monitoring their activity. However, she did not appear in the remainder of Season One due to a dispute concerning Tallman's salary.[1] Lyta's role in the series was largely taken up by Andrea Thompson, who was cast as Talia Winters, a telepath who took over Lyta's responsibilities in the station. In the script it was implied that Lyta had to be replaced, as she had made telepathic contact with Kosh, the ambassador of the secretive Vorlon Empire. After Thompson left the series due to disagreements regarding the amount of screen time given to her character,[2] Lyta returned as a recurring character in Seasons Two and Three, after Capt. John Sheridan took over as station commander, and became a regular cast member from Season Four onward. Her character simply resumed the dramatic arc once intended for Thompson's.

Character history[edit]

Early life and career[edit]

Lyta Alexander was born on December 10, 2225. In the series' pilot, she is described as a sixth-generation telepath, although she points out that telepathy may have been running in her family undetected even earlier, since telepaths were not monitored before that generation. In the book Dark Genesis: The Birth of the Psi Corps,[3] it is established that her lineage can be traced from her great-great-great grandmother, Desa Alexander, through Brenna Alexander and Michele Alexander to Lyta's grandmother Natasha Alexander, who was an aide to Psi Corps's then director Kevin Vacit. It is also stated in the book that the matrilineal tradition amongst families of telepaths was that the mother's unmarried name was carried forward to the children, which explains why generations of female telepaths, such as Lyta Alexander and Talia Winters, all carry their surname down the generations.

In the series it is stated that Lyta was trained by the Psi Corps, and that she briefly interned with the Psi Cops division.[4] After an incident whilst accompanying Alfred Bester,[5] she transferred to commercial work. Originally, Alexander was a P5, or a telepath of average strength. In 2257, she was assigned as Babylon 5's first commercial telepath.[6] Soon after arriving at the station, she scanned Vorlon Ambassador Kosh, in violation of the wishes of the Vorlon government, in order to try to discover the identity of his attacker.

Season Two[edit]

Lyta's experience with the Vorlon ambassador permanently changed her. She was recalled from her assignment a few weeks later and questioned regarding her encounter with Kosh. Interrogated for months by the Psi Corps, she eventually escaped and joined the Mars Resistance. While underground, she uncovered information regarding a mole among the Babylon 5 command staff, and returned to the station in late 2259 where she revealed Talia Winters as an unwitting mole for secret forces in EarthGov and Psi Corps.[4]

Season Three[edit]

In late 2259 or early 2260, Lyta travelled to the Vorlon homeworld, one of the few known humans to do so and live. There, she was modified by the Vorlons, given gill-like implants to allow her to breathe in a Vorlon environment, the ability to "carry" a Vorlon consciousness, and tremendously increased telepathic and psychokinetic powers. Even she did not initially realize the full potency of her new abilities.

She returned to Babylon 5 as an aide to Ambassador Kosh.[7] She was away when he was killed by the Shadows, and resumed her duties under his successor Ulkesh. Although she did not have a piece of Kosh with her when he was killed, she was the first to realize that Sheridan did. Lyta also became the first telepath used to jam the core of a Shadow vessel, allowing its destruction by the Army of Light and producing the first victory in the Shadow War.[8]

Season Four[edit]

As their war with the Shadows heightened in intensity, the Vorlons became more and more aggressive, eventually adopting a strategy in which they destroyed any world that had been "touched by the Shadows" — essentially, any world that had harbored the Shadows or their technology in any form. They ceased to care about the other races. Only their goal of completely wiping out the Shadows' influence mattered to them. Recognizing that the new Vorlon ambassador had become a threat to the security of the station, Sheridan and the command staff resolved to remove him from Babylon 5 in order to protect themselves. Lyta assisted them in this plot, tricking Ulkesh into following her to an area of the station where he was forced into emerging from his encounter suit. The last fragment of Kosh then emerged from within Sheridan, at which point Kosh fought with his successor and eventually forced him out of the station.[9]

Lyta was key to eventual resolution of the Shadow War on Coriana 6, serving as the vessel through which Sheridan and Delenn confronted the elder races and forced them to leave the galaxy.[10] Immediately after the Shadow War, she was part of the expedition to the Shadows' homeworld of Z'ha'dum. Using unknown abilities and implanted instructions from the Vorlons, she triggered the destruction of the planet to spite Alfred Bester and to prevent Shadow technology from falling into the wrong hands.[11]

However, after the conclusion of the Shadow War, she found herself unwelcome and had difficulty finding employment. As her salary was no longer being paid by the Vorlon government, Lyta had to find work elsewhere, but employers were reluctant to hire her because she was no longer a member of Psi Corps, a status she desperately wanted to keep. (When reminded of the Psi Corps motto "The Corps is mother, the Corps is father" by Bester, she pointedly remarked that she was an orphan.) She was eventually forced to make a deal with Bester to rejoin the Corps, her name placed on a list for "deep cover agents," on the condition that she would give her body to the Corps for examination after her death.[12] She would go on to play a decisive role in the end game of the Earth Civil War, triggering the Shadow-modified telepaths smuggled aboard Earth ships to disable the fleet at Mars.[13] Also, during this period, Security Chief Zack Allan began to fall in love with her, but nothing came of this save heartache, and a strong dislike for telepaths the following season, both on Zack's part. (Lyta was unaware of his feelings for her at the time.)

Season Five[edit]

In early 2262, Alexander became romantically involved with Byron, the leader of a colony of rogue telepaths offered sanctuary aboard Babylon 5. Her contact, and sexual relationship, with Byron revealed to the telepaths that they had been created by the Vorlons as weapons for their war with the Shadows. This revelation directly led to Byron's disastrous confrontation with the Interstellar Alliance.[14] Although Byron eventually committed suicide rather than be captured by the Psi Corps, Alexander was inspired by his cause to create a homeworld for telepaths, and became the leader of a movement sponsoring violent resistance against the Corps.

Lyta also began to more thoroughly explore the abilities the Vorlons had given her. Over the second half of Season 5, she was able to forcibly extract information from non-telepathic minds, control masses of individuals, destroy security cameras and force individuals to commit suicide. She also retained information implanted by the Vorlons regarding menaces such as the jumpgate into Thirdspace.[15] She once described herself as the telepathic equivalent of a doomsday weapon, hinting at even greater capabilities.

She was eventually arrested aboard Babylon 5 for supporting terrorism by John Sheridan (whose contact with Vorlons gave him immunity to her Vorlon-enhanced telepathic abilities) in late 2262.[16] Alexander then struck a deal with Michael Garibaldi: he would use his contacts, gained both when he was the Head of Covert Intelligence for the Interstellar Alliance, and those from his current position as the head of Edgars Industries, to help her avoid prosecution, as well as provide funding for her cause. In return, Lyta would remove a telepathic block placed in his mind by Alfred Bester. Former Narn Ambassador G'Kar was leaving Babylon 5 at the same time, and took her with him on a mission of exploration.[17]

After the series[edit]

Lyta does not appear in any of the canonical material released since the end of the series. It is strongly implied in Crusade and some of the canonical novels that her actions (both on Babylon 5 in 2262 and afterward) led to the Telepath War of the mid-2260s, in which she was killed.

She parted company with G'Kar sometime prior to 2265, when he arrived on Minbar to participate in a diplomatic mission. While G'Kar commented on the absence of his companion, he did not provide details. This event, as depicted in The Legend of the Rangers, took place after Lyta's death during the events of the Telepath War, as stated by J. Michael Straczynski in The Babylon 5 Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski TV Movies.

As the leader of the Telepath Rebellion, possessing funding from Garibaldi though Edgars Industries, Lyta launched a successful campaign against the Psi Corps. The Psi Corps split into two factions, one supporting Bester and the other sympathetic to Lyta. In an unspecified year, Lyta laid an ambush for Bester and his 200 most loyal telepath supporters. In a spectacular display of intuition, Bester escaped the ambush which killed all of his 200 supporters and Lyta.

The Telepath Rebellion succeeded in the end and Psi Corps was disbanded, giving way to the Metasensory Division. Many of the Psi Corps's command were imprisoned and the rest melded into the new Psi Corps. The saga ended with the capture of Bester and his final days in prison.

According to Straczynski,[18][19] Lyta was intended to appear in the Crusade episode "The Path of Sorrows" as part of a flashback, but Tallman's salary could not be negotiated. The scene as aired featured an unnamed telepath who died striking against the Psi Corps. Whether or not this was intended to be Lyta, Straczynski confirmed Lyta did die in such an attack. In the aforementioned script book, Straczynski wrote that both Lyta and Lennier were killed in the explosion of Psi Corps Headquarters in a major battle of the Telepath War. Hints about her death had also been stated by Straczynski in posts to the Babylon 5 newsgroup,[20] and in the final novel of the Psi Corps Trilogy by J. Gregory Keyes.[21]