Blair Sandburg

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Name: Blair Sandburg (middle name, if any, is unknown; "Jacob" is a popular fannish choice)
Occupation:
Title/Rank:
Location: 852 Prospect Ave., Apt. 307, Cascade, WA 98765, USA[1]
Status: alive
Relationships: Naomi Sandburg (mom), Blair's Father
Fandom:
Other: Also Known As: Chief (only to Jim, who also refers to him by off-the-cuff nicknames related to the situation at hand, notably "my little guppy" during a fishing trip[2])
Shoe Size:[3]
Favorite year in baseball history: 1961[4]
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Contents

from Missing Links #2, artist is KOZ

Blair Sandburg is a main character on the TV Show The Sentinel, played by Garett Maggart. An anthropology grad student doing research on "Sentinels," or tribal protectors with hyperactive senses, he is delighted to meet a modern-day Sentinel, Jim Ellison, who agrees to serve as the subject of his dissertation and submit to his sensory experimentation in exchange for help controlling his powers and fighting crime. They also live together. Much Jim/Blair slash has been written. Fanon often has Blair depicted as the more open-minded of the pair due to his background and experiences.

Background

Childhood

Blair was born in 1969[5] and raised by a single mother, Naomi Sandburg, an anti-establishment dreamer.[6] He is an only child. The identity of his father is unknown[7]; Blair suggests Timothy Leary as a possibility (Naomi apparently shacked up with him back in the day), and fanon has suggested options ranging from Jim himself (with or without time travel) to David Starsky of Starsky and Hutch.

Academic Studies

During the show, Blair is a PhD candidate at Rainier University in Cascade, Washington, studying anthropology. His specific field of research is of course the phenomenon of "Sentinels," tribal protectors with elevated senses; Jim Ellison becomes the subject of his dissertation.

In addition to his own studies, Blair is occasionally seen teaching undergraduate classes at Rainier as a teaching fellow.[8]

Blair's undergraduate and graduate studies have reportedly taken him to a number of exotic locales.

Law Enforcement Work

In order to study Jim's powers and to help him control them, Blair works closely with him on his cases. His official status is observer, but he frequently becomes involved in the investigation. It is an unpaid position. During interviews with witnesses and persons of interest, he is introduced at various times as an observer, a consultant, or more frequently simply as Jim's partner.

Romantic Life

Blair is known as a ladies' man and dates various women casually throughout the course of the series. Very few of his love interests last more than one episode. His infatuation with Maya Carasco, the daughter of a Chilean arms smuggler whom he gets to know as part of a case, is the most passionate depicted on the show.[9]

Personality

Blair Sandburg portrait. Original art by K9 (1998)

Blair is portrayed as clever, spontaneous, energetic, analytical, and outgoing. His MBTI personality type is most likely ENTP. He is knowledgeable about a wide range of topics, most particularly anything to do with the social sciences. He gets along with most people, and is enthusiastic about learning, new experiences and adventure. He loves working for police as it satisfies his thrill-seeking impulse. He has a casual demeanor and a tendency to babble in jargon interspersed liberally with the word "man." Jim describes him upon first meeting as a "neo-hippie witch doctor punk." [10]Through his continued work with Jim, he proved himself brave, intelligent, and loyal. Blair's ability to think fast under pressure, lie really plausibly, and talk his way out of situations[11] has reached legendary proportions. Many vids and fic center on Blair's ability to forgive Jim for a lot of transgressions.

Fanon & Fannish Debates

from 852 Prospect #1, a Blair field-guide, artist is Peej
  • Blair is "The Guide," a formal role counterpart to "The Sentinel." Fanon partners a "Guide" with every Sentinel and gives him a whole series of roles, obligations, and even powers. The first story to flesh out this fanon was L. Bright's 1996 story Sanctuary, although the first story posted in the fandom, Sacrifice by Laura Schomberg, called Blair a "guide". The show is not specific about the exact nature of Blair's role, but its importance is suggested by several pieces of canon evidence.
    • Blair tells Jim that, according to his research, a Sentinel usually "had a partner along, someone to watch his back."[12]
    • Incacha, Jim's friend and "spiritual guide" from his time in Peru, verbally passes on "the way of the shaman" to Blair before he dies, instructing Blair to "guide [Jim] to his animal spirit."[13]
    • Blair eventually begins to be represented in Jim's mystical Sentinel visions with an animal spirit (the wolf, counterpart to Jim's panther), and begins to share the visions.[14]
    • Lee Brackett insists on taking Blair along with Jim, telling Blair he's "sort of [Jim's] guide." [15]
  • Blair is Jewish. While episodes have referred to Blair Sandburg's bar mitzvah and to his rabbi[16], as well as to his mother's biblical name of Naomi, there have been various debates in fandom about whether or not the character is actually Jewish. (This debate has arisen in many fandoms; for more on the questionable Jewishness of beloved characters, see Judaism and fandom.)
  • Blair is a pacifist. On the one hand, Blair is interested in social change, justice, harmonious forces in the universe, meditation, and other concepts frequently linked to pacifism. On the other, he has selected a fairly violent line of work (and he doesn't dislike his police work; in fact, he praises its excitement). He expresses discomfort at holding a gun in a few episodes, but his objections seem to be largely based on the fact that he does not know how to use it.[17]
  • Blair is a vegetarian. Fanon occasionally depicts Blair as vegetarian, but in canon, he has eaten pepperoni pizza and his favorite food (according to his mother) is beef tongue.[18]
  • Blair moved around a lot as a child. Canon shines little light on Blair's place of origin before he came to Rainier (or possibly another local school, but he was in Washington for undergrad). Certainly, Naomi doesn't seem like the type to settle anywhere in particular, and the always-moving hypothesis offers the enchanting possibility that Jim's loft is Blair's first real home. There is also certain evidence of a connection with Texas:
    • Jim implies Blair's baseball team of choice is Texas[19]
    • Blair teaches Jim a Texas accent (although he explains that he has cousins in Fort Worth, not that he used to live there)[20]
  • Blair completed his master's thesis on Sentinels - Canonically, there's no mention of what Blair got his master's degree in, much less what his thesis subject was. Lee Brackett says that he "read an early undergraduate piece [Blair] wrote on primitive sentinels."[21].
  • Blair is a shaman - In "Warriors", Incacha passes "the way of the shaman" to Blair and says that Blair must guide Jim to his animal spirit; this is the only canon reference other than perhaps a joking reference to Blair being "Shaman of the Great City." Fanon has expanded this to mean that Blair has shamanistic power, plans to study shamanism, or sees it as simply one more component to being Jim's guide.
  • Blair's lungs are compromised.
  • Blair's heartbeat conveys a lot of useful information to Jim.
  • Blair smells like a variety of earthy, hippy odors.
  • Who is Blair's father? It is a ripe topic for fannish investigation.

Blair's Hair

In canon, Blair is called "Hairboy" at least once, and he tells Simon and Jim in the last episode that if he attends the police academy, he is not cutting his hair.

In fanon, Blair's hair takes on even more a life of its own, something that causes many fans to turn the possiblility of Blair having to cut his hair into a full-fledged trope. Some fans feel so strongly about Blair retaining his long hair that they appreciate fanfic to have a warning if Blair's hair is in danger. Other fans take the opportunity to portray a short-haired Blair as a very attractive option.

From The More Things Change by Sue Pokorny: "You already are my partner, Sandburg. Nothing is going to change that. What I meant was you don't have to cut the hair." At Blair's look of surprise, Jim explained. "I managed to convince the commissioner to wave the requirements in your case. As long as you keep it neat and in a ponytail, the hair isn't a problem."

From Exposing the Nape by Bone: "He looks older, which isn't what I expected. I can see the bones in his face better; his eyes look bigger. He looks more solid somehow. More like a man, less like a kid. He looks like ... a teacher."

Post-Series Debates

Blair the detective?

References

  1. Jim's street address, where Blair also lives, was given on a form in season 3, episode 6, "Vendetta"; the apartment number can be seen on the door.
  2. Season 3, episode 4, "Poachers"
  3. Season 2, episode 12, "Blind Man's Bluff"
  4. Season 2, episode 6, "True Crime"
  5. The Sentinel, season 3, episode 2, "Three Point Shot"
  6. Naomi appears in: season 2, episode 9, "Spare Parts"; season 2, episode 19, "Private Eyes"; season 4, episode 8, "The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg".
  7. Season 2, episode 9, "Spare Parts"
  8. Season 2, episode 15, "Payback"
  9. Season 1, episode 8, "Love and Guns"
  10. Season 1, episode 1, "The Switchman"
  11. See Blair's obfuscation lines on the Fun Sentinel Sightings page of Sensory Overload.
  12. Season 1, episode 1, "The Switchman."
  13. Season 3, episode 1, "Warriors."
  14. Season 3, episode 23, and season 4, episode 1, "Sentinel Too" Parts 1 & 2.
  15. Season 1, episode 7 "Rogue".
  16. In season 1, episode 6, "Night Train," Blair describes a Swiss Army knife as having sentimental value because he got it for his bar mitzvah, but he may have been being facetious. In season 3, episode 14, "Mirror Image", Jim responds to Blair's "I got a bad feeling about this" with "Tell your rabbi." Coming from Jim, the comment is less informative about Blair's actual religious affiliation than Jim's perception of it, but one assumes he would know.
  17. See season 1, episode 1, "The Switchman"; season 1, episode 6, "Night Train"; and notably season 3, episode 8, "Storm Warning," in which, after a short lesson from Jim, Blair seems to take to firing an AK like a duck to water. Additionally, Blair shows no hesitation to use weapons, improvised or otherwise if it means he can rescue himself or others.
  18. Season 2, episode 9, "Spare Parts"
  19. Season 2, episode 5, "Payback"
  20. Season 3, episode 6, "Vendetta"
  21. Episode transcript for Rogue
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