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Note: This is my OPINION only. And I was raised to believe that everyone's opinion is valid. I am not stating facts and setting forth some kind of "this is the way it is" rule. Again, this is my OPINION only. Thank you.

The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg: Thoughts and Musings
by Becky
Written November 14, 1999
Addendum #1 added June 20, 2000
Addendum #2 added June 24, 2000

Question: When is a cop not a cop?
Answer: When he's Blair Sandburg.

For me, this pretty much sums up my feelings about the idea of turning Blair into a cop after TSbyBS. It seems that the majority of the fandom has no problem with this and has embraced the notion wholeheartedly while the rest of us sit on the sidelines and protest weakly.

(See my Safe Haven page for a listing of post-TSbyBS stories where Blair is *not* a cop.)

No, I don't dispute the fact that Blair would make an excellent detective -- he's got the observation skills, the intelligence, the easygoing people-liking personality, and the desire to help. But then he does all that without needing to be a "real" cop.

But the gun...the badge...the Academy...these are the parts I don't like. These are the parts I don't want. I like the fact that Jim and Blair are so different, that they're not both cops. Traditionally, I don't watch cop shows, even buddy cop shows. And if I do, it's more often a show with a man and woman as partners (Hunter, Silk Stalkings) or there's some other focus like it's science fiction (Alien Nation). I don't watch things like NYPD Blue or NY Undercover or, heaven help me for admitting this, Starsky and Hutch. I just don't. 'Course, the first TV shows I remember watching were English-dubbed Japanese scifi shows (stuff like Space Giants, however, rather than Godzilla), so that might have something to do with it...

Yes, I know -- the show and the characters would be, for the most part, the same. Jim would still Jim, Simon would still be Simon, and Blair would still be Blair. I've told this to others and to myself. Blair won't stop being a teacher, a researcher, a student, and a scientist just because he's got a badge and a gun. But I think there's still would be changes. Changes I didn't like. I like Blair as a teacher and a student, even if we rarely saw that part of him on the show. It made things different and I would miss that.

Unfortunately (to me) both virtual seasons took the "turn Blair into a cop" route. While I know that this is probably the most logical thing to do, I had hoped that one of them would choose to take a different route. Alas, it wasn't to be. If I had enough time and energy, I'd probably try to pull together my own virtual season in which Blair is not turned into a cop -- which Danny and Paul said would happen on the show itself if a fifth season were to happen. That is, they would've got him back into academia somehow. As it is, I don't think I could deal with the wide variety of personalities needed to pull off a virtual season. And I've got enough to do anyway. ~grin~ I am finally getting around to doing something with this in my own writing. At the moment, it's just a series of drabbles and a few short character/aftermath pieces until I figure out just where I'm going.

I know there are folks who hated TSbyBS and how it portrayed the characters. However, for me, it fell in canon with the rest of the show. Jim panics and lashes out (usually at Blair) when his senses become an issue. Just look at Switchman, Flight, Warriors, Night Shift, Sentinel Too, and The Waiting Room. It's what he does. He's fine if they're in the background, ready for him to use when needed, but most of the time, I still don't think he wants them. While it would be nice if Jim had matured a little in the three years he'd known Blair, he still tends to fall back very quickly into set patterns. Get threatened -- push back and push back hard.

As for Blair...from the moment the series began it was inevitable that something like this could happen. And from the moment the two of them became friends and the project had gone beyond research, it was obvious (to me) that if his dissertation came out and Jim's abilities were revealed that Blair would have to say it was all false to save Jim. It was a great sacrifice on Blair's part and required a great deal of courage -- more courage than Jim had to stick with Blair instead of running.

No, I'm not falling into the "Saint Blair and Mean Jim" rut. But this is how it is. There are faults on both sides. Blair should've been more careful; he should've kept his laptop locked and passworded; he should've never put Jim's name in the dissertation to begin with; he should've told Jim what happened with Naomi and the publisher as soon as he knew; he should've made Jim sit down with him and talk about things before the dissertation ever became such an issue. Jim, for his part, shouldn't've reacted so violently to being "outed" as it were; he should've stopped, taken a breath, and listened to Blair, really listened; he should've gotten more information about the dissertation process and just what would happen; he should've made Blair sit down with him and talk about things before the dissertation ever became such an issue.

Personally, I think Jim and Blair had been at odds at least since S2. I don't think they ever refound their footing with each other after that. Alex disrupted their lives and kept disrupting them even after she was gone. A giant stone had been dropped and left waves upon waves of interference. They probably never really talked about any of it afterwards and just tried to push it all aside. 'Course S2p2 wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be anyway. I mean, mating instinct? Please...give me a break! I don't watch the show for the hormone-driven half-naked Jim making out with every woman he meets -- especially not one who'd killed his partner! I always wished the writers (overgrown teenage boys with hormone overload) would get a grip and start thinking with their brains instead of other things.

The series finale was IMO some of the best writing and some of the worst writing the show has produced. While it was excellently scripted and acted, I still wish Pet Fly had chosen a different way to end. But they wanted to end in a big way and that's what they did. The one really good thing I can say is that we almost ended with S2p1 -- and this is much more preferable. I couldn't believe it when Danny and Paul said in their SciFi chat that TSbyBS was written for the fans. I don't know who they've been talking to, but it obviously wasn't anyone I know. Maybe I missed the "Danny and Paul ask the fans what they should do" poll.

Admittedly, if Blair had actually chosen to be a cop, instead of being nearly forced into the role as a last resort, this might not bug me so much. It would still bother me, but it would probably be a tad more acceptable.

As a side note, I think in TSbyBS, Jim finally understands something -- Blair is his friend. And Blair would never betray him, no matter what. As Jim watches Blair at the press conference scene, you can see the knowledge dawn in his eyes. By then, it's too little too late for him to stop such a thing from happening, but it's like the wall finally slid back and he realized just how much Blair would give up, just how far he would go, to make things right. It was something Blair tried to get him to understand in the apology scene in S2p1 but that Jim just didn't get. I don't think he truly understood just how much Blair was giving up, but it was evident from the hospital scene later that he understood part of it. He knew enough to know that the dissertation had been Blair's life, that it wasn't just a book.

Jim also realizes here that he needs to do something, anything, to keep Blair as his partner. He knows that he needs him. He wants him to stay. He doesn't want to lose him after their lives have been torn apart. Which is why Simon does the only thing he can do -- gets Blair into the Academy. And as much as I hate the idea of Blair being a cop, I can understand that being the only thing left to them. Blair's reputation, his life, his everything as an academician is gone. Something I think the fans, many being students themselves, understand more than the show's writers. And something I have a feeling would be glossed over a great deal in a fifth season since Danny and Paul said in the SciFi chat they were planning to flunk Blair out of the Academy and get him back into academia. While this is a something I much prefer, I have to wonder how they would do it.

Jim is not a man of many words, regardless what we writers have him say in our fic. ~grin~ He says more with actions and looks. And those two looks Jim has -- during the press conference and in the hospital -- they just get me every time. I personally think after this that Jim would grow, would mature, would finally stop trying to push Blair away. Sad to say, if there is a fifth season, one that Blair does not become a cop in, Jim would still be repressed and Blair would find himself pushed away. The writers of the show don't understand the idea of maturing, at least not for Jim, but I can always dream.

-end-


Addendum #1

You know, sometimes as I read stories or comments from people about TSbyBS, I get the feeling that some folks see what Blair did (i.e., saying his diss was a fraud) was a choice he had to make between getting the recognition they felt he deserves (which he probably does) and saving his and Jim's friendship.

I don't feel that way. I don't think that Blair did all that to save their friendship. He did it to save Jim. There's a difference. At that point in time, Jim wasn't acting terribly "saveable". He was hurt and confused and trying to deal with unwanted attention. Being a private man with "issues" about trust, he reacted badly. But notice that he didn't try to get Blair to leave the loft, as he did in Sentinel Too. He didn't try to get Simon to pull Blair's credentials. Yes, he lashed out, but as I said above, that's what Jim does. It's hard on Blair and it can be painful to watch, but it's how he reacts.

If Jim had ended their friendship because of a few simple mistakes (not all on Blair's part) that admittedly had large consequences, then...well, their friendship didn't really have a firm grounding, now, did it? And I refuse to believe that.

Blair didn't do any of that on purpose. He never planned on releasing his diss with Jim's name in it. He never planned for his mother to send the diss (with good intentions) to her publisher friend. He never planned for Slimey Sid to send off portions to the media. He never planned for any of it to happen. There was no malicious intent.

And I think Jim...eventually...with time...would've been able to come to terms with that and forgive Blair and deal with it. But with Zeller around and on the loose and doing damage, I think Blair realized that time was one thing they didn't have. Everything was happening so fast and so hard. The media had already prevented Jim once from taking down Zeller, which led to Simon and Megan being shot. They needed the media to back off so Jim could do his job, get Zeller, and then they could work on getting their lives back on track.

Blair saw that with the media hounding them, Jim would never be able to function like he did before, regardless if their friendship was intact or not. He had to use the quickest method he could to set things right. He didn't have the option of waiting until things blew over. He didn't have the time to think for very long. He made the hard choice. And he made it quickly.

Simply put, Jim was in danger.

Blair remedied that. And protected him. And saved him.

He didn't ask Jim. He didn't tell Jim. He didn't do it as a means of saying "if I do this, will you be my friend?" He didn't do it to gain points for "friendship" or "trust."

He simply did it to save Jim. And then...moved on.

The scene in the hospital and Jim's words to Blair of "It was your life" and his "best partner" speech...all of that spoke to me of forgiveness and understanding and renewal -- on both sides. It may've just been a bandaid. But sometimes, that's all you need. Just cover the wound, protect it, and let it heal for awhile before you uncover it again to deal with it when you've got the time.

Lastly...in the end, this all seemed rather fitting. The series started with Blair saving Jim from being smashed by a garbage truck in Switchman. It ended in TSbyBS with Blair saving Jim from the overwhelming crush of life under a looking glass. Maybe we've had the idea of just who really was the Blessed Protector in this series wrong from the beginning.

-end-


Addendum #2

An TSbyBS issue that I neglected to touch upon earlier is the guilt issue. It's one of the more...volatile and controversial topics that gets discussed on the lists in regards to this episode and S2 at times. And since it's one of my "burdens", I figured I'd better remedy this and it to this page. ~grin~

In reading fanfic and reading various list discussions, I've come to believe there are two basic thoughts in regards to this episode (with some people residing in the middle as well). There are those that believe that Jim should feel totally guilty and be "making things up" to Blair for the way he acted for, well, the rest of his life. Then there are those who believe that Blair is more at fault and is lucky that Jim still calls him friend. However, this latter viewpoint isn't anywhere as popular as the first. In any case, I'll be concentrating more of the first...mainly because I disagree with it. Completely. Totally. And whole-heartedly. And, no, neither do I agree with the second opinion.

I'm one of those strange folks in the middle who finds mistakes on both sides. But then that might be because I don't have a favorite character as most fans do.

To me, guilt isn't something you should hold on to, do things because of, or live your life around. Yes, guilt is something you should feel and deal with, but no one should have to be weighed down by it for time immortal. I've tried to express my feelings about this topic in one of my post-TSbyBS stories (Penance), but I somehow get the idea I wasn't blunt enough. ~grin~ So here it is...bluntly...

Jim shouldn't feel guilty. Blair shouldn't feel guilty. Nobody should feel guilty, except maybe Slimey Sid and perhaps Chancellor Edwards.

Yes, there was guilt to be had on all sides. But at the same time, I think there is forgiveness and moving on. I've read post-TSbyBS stories where all Jim does is feel bad about "what he made Blair do", "what he made Blair give up", "how he acted", etc., etc. And while I agree that Jim would feel a little sad about these things, I also have to take the opinion that Blair made all those choices by himself. Jim didn't make him do anything. Blair had a few limited choices and he made one. By himself. Without Jim's advice or anything else. And why? Because he's an adult. And made some adult decisions.

I can understand Jim feeling guilty for a little while, even after mutual apologies had come and gone, even maybe a few weeks after those events as he and Blair get their lives back on track and figure out just what they're gonna do. But not for months and years down the line. That much guilt would only lead to resentment and eventually to hate. On both sides.

Therefore, my stance is still that the hospital scene in TSbyBS was an apology and forgiveness scene. And a scene that dealt with the guilt that had to be there at that time. You just have to understand Jim-speak and Blair-speak. My analysis...

Between the "It was your life" line and the "look" (which someone beautifully described to me as "worshipful"), I see apology and sorrow from Jim. Blair trying to wave it all away was his apology and regret for everything that happened. Jim's declaration of Blair being the best cop and best partner was an acceptance of that apology and an affirmation of Blair, no matter what happened in the past or what would happen for them as partners and friends in the future which at that point was unknown. Blair's little "thanks" was his acceptance of Jim's apology and that affirmation.

And Jim's final "ready to get busy" line meant to me that Jim was hoping that their present was still intact enough for them work together and find their way back into synch and face whatever life -- and the media -- had waiting for them. And with those words, Blair fell into step next to Jim and two of them affixed a bandage, if only temporary, over the wound caused by errors in judgment and harsh words.

By the time they reached the station, their banter and familiarity with each other was back in place. Perhaps in between, in those private friendship moments we weren't allowed to witness, a few more words were exchanged to seal that wound, to heal the hurt. I choose to believe so.

In the end, I didn't see Jim offering Blair a badge and wanting him as a permanent partner as a way to "make up" for what had happened and caused by guilt, but rather as one way to maintain their partnership. And perhaps even as a symbol of what he's meant to Major Crimes in the years he'd worked there. And as a way to move on, to let go, and to live, no matter the path he chose.

-end-