Talia is caught in a treacherous web of intrigue after she witnesses a murder.
Adrienne Barbeau as Amanda Carter.
Michael Beck as Abel Horn.
Jessica Walter as Senator Voudreau.
(Originally titled "A Trick of the Mind")
P5 Rating: 8.04
Production number: 206
Original air date: December 7, 1994
DVD release date: April 29, 2003
Written by Lawrence G. DiTillio
Directed by Kevin Cremins
- Sheridan's drink.
- San Diego.
- Shattering glass.
- Talia's first assignment was on Mars Colony, where she scanned several
members of the radical group Free Mars (cf.
"A Voice in the Wilderness.")
- Sheridan is a conspiracy buff; he collects information about all sorts
of black projects and secret organizations.
- After the last rebellion, the Mars Conglomerate, a powerful group of
business interests, nearly pulled out of Mars.
- In the 2230s, the Earth Alliance began experimenting with electronic
brain implants. The experiments were unsuccessful because the
machines couldn't operate in conjunction with conscious thought.
Later, after the project was officially closed down, a group within
the Earth Alliance began trying a different approach. They took people
who were nearly dead and, with telepathic deep scans by one or more
members of Psi Corps, fixated the subjects' minds on the moments of
their deaths, blocking out all other conscious thought. That allowed
the implants to operate as long as the subjects remained fixated.
- A secret group within the Earth government called Bureau 13 is
deeply involved in, if not responsible for, the continuation of the
experiments. Bureau 13 has at least one officially deceased PsiCop
in its employ, possibly even its head.
- Who is the Bureau 13 "Control" Officer on B5?
- If the cyber-experiments failed, what is Abbut, the "vicker" from
- Is "Abbey," Talia's mentor from her first year in Psi Corps, the
Bureau 13 PsiCop?
- The station's computer system has a secret override built in which
Bureau 13 has access to. What, if any, other subversions are in place
on Babylon 5?
- What role, if any, will the T'Kar play in the future, assuming they
decide to come to Babylon 5? What's so special about them?
- What did Sheridan learn when he was on the T'Kar ship?
- Since Talia scanned Free Mars members, it's reasonable to assume that
Psi-Corps is still doing so. Why, then, were they apparently caught
unawares by the rebellion in
"A Voice in the Wilderness?"
In that episode, the Psi-Corps representative expressed surprise at
the size and well-equipped nature of Free Mars, something that
presumably would have been discovered during the course of scans.
Either some within Psi-Corps are actively hiding such information
from the rest of the Corps (and from Earth) or Free Mars is run very
tightly and almost no members know enough to compromise the
organization as a whole.
- Sheridan's interest in secret organizations and conspiracies may
explain why he was so ready to believe in an assassination plot
against the President (cf.
Most other people seem to believe the accident cover story (cf. comic
"In Darkness Find Me.")
- What about Abbut, the "Vicker" or "VCR" from
"Deathwalker?" He was quite clearly
human, and also clearly carrying a brain implant. (Indeed, his
brain was exposed, surrounded and penetrated by what looked like
quite extensive implants. The exact quote by Garibaldi was, "Most of
the cyber experiments were a bust." Abbut could have been one of
those few that worked. In principle implants recording and
monitoring what Abbut experiences are fundimentally different from
an implanted AI that controls your actions.
- In a related but more tenuous vein, what about the Technomages?
Some aspects of their abilities (all based on technology, remember)
seem to imply non-vocal, non-manipulatory control over their gear.
The production of an orange blossom while walking, talking and
gesturing. Sleight of hand is one explanation, (sidestepping the
issue of how the orange blossom was produced,) but an alternative one
is that they have some kind of control device implanted someplace --
not necessarily their brains. This would also explain their
preternatural knowledge. Elric always seemed to know more than anyone
else, and some of that could have come from a built in data system or
an implanted link to one. Add to this Elric's ability to pull up
holograms literally in the palm of his hand, and the arguement seems
strong for such an implant. But again, it could be nothing but an
IO path, not an AI, and so again different from the cyber experiments'
- Sheridan said Earth's cyborg research took place in the
2230s. That places it just after the Dilgar war
Na'Toth recalled that the Dilgar were experimenting with brain
implants. Was Earth continuing the Dilgar research? Did they receive
research data after the war, the same way the allies obtained Nazi
advances in rocket technology after World War II?
- B5's computer system is compromised. At the very least, communications
are insecure and under the control of the Bureau 13 AI, including both
local and interstellar channels. This is supported by the way the
public computer console is quickly taken over by the AI, and the
quickness with which it handled the exchange between the Bureau 13
Psicop in San Diego and the control officer on site at B5. The extent
of the problem isn't known, but the AI isn't omnipresent. It doesn't
prevent Captain Sheridan from modifying the environmental sensors, for
- Is Bureau 13 set up in a cell structure, like an organized underground
or revolutionary movement? We know of two Bureau 13 members, and we
saw them interacting via the Bureau 13 computer. They never saw each
other, and never refered to one another by name. This hints that Bureau
13 is indeed set up this way, which points to an an explanation for
the episode title. The cell structure of an underground, with its
singular links between cells, is indeed a web. And at the center of
such a web would be a central directing authority -- A Spider in the
- The title shown onscreen is "Spider in the Web," but all previous
references to the episode by JMS and others have called it
"A Spider in the Web," so that's the title listed here. The
longer title was also listed on the title page before the
original satellite uplink.
- The name "Bureau 13" may be a role-playing game reference; it is the
name of the US paranormal investigations branch in the game
"Stalking the Night Fantastic." (Of course, that could just be a
coincidence; another theory is that it refers to P13-level telepaths.)
- The ship that fired on Abel Horn was the Earth Forces Cruiser
Pournelle, according to the computer readout on his history.
- Sheridan orders a Jovian Sunspot; the only other time that drink has
been referenced is in
which also involved Talia and a cyborg of sorts. Probably just
- According to Isogi, Ms. Carter's great-grandfather John
piloted the first colony ship to Mars. "John Carter of
Mars" is a classic SF story by Edgar Rice Burroughs; the
character also appears in other Burroughs stories such as
"Princess of Mars."
- The animation of the destruction of Abel Horn's ship by an EarthForce
cruiser over Phobos is quite detailed. When his ship is hit, the
window Abel Horn was looking through shatters, and the air
rushes out carrying odd bits and debris with it.
- Having lived in San Diego from 1974-81, it's just my way of giving
a wink to the old home town. Though there are some important things
going on underground, in areas no one goes...the choice of SD is just
a bit of fun.
- San Diego was nuked by terrorists some time earlier; but if you dig
deep enough, you could probably build something with enough money; and
who knows how bad it *really* is.
- How big was the San Diego Nuke? Big enough, and dirty
enough, to make the area officially uninhabitable for a long time.
- The San Diego wastelands was a physical model, yes.
- Local in-house joke: Abby's last name...Normal.
- If you're a telepath, Psi Corps IS your family. (And no, that wasn't
Abby, too young; also not a case of programming/rebuilding...the
DECEASED is a cover to get her out.)
- Actually, the age on Abby is fairly straightforward...Talia came to the
Psi Corps as a young child; she was assigned to an adult Psi Corps
member to help her adjust. So Abby would be anywhere from 15-20 years
older than Talia. Or more.
- No, the Bureau 13 rpg precedes our show; we weren't aware of it at
the time we did the episode.
- We hadn't heard of the Bureau 13 game when we did the
episode, it was just something we came up with 'cause it sounded neat.
Later, we found out there was a game by that name. At which point I
decided that it wouldn't be appropriate to use that name again, and had
a good conversation with some folks at the game company about it. There
was no problem, I just didn't want to walk on their turf intentionally
or otherwise. Logically, any secret group is going to change its name
from time to time *anyway* (it's not like they're in the yellow pages
or anything), so the organization would remain under varying names.
- The security guard didn't trigger the detonation; he picked up some
energy buildup on his scanner the moment Horn's heart stopped.
- Basically, Garibaldi's third favorite thing...is whatever the member
of the opposite sex is having....
Originally compiled by Dave Zimmerman