Blair Sandburg: Anthropologist - And what else...?

When we first meet Blair Sandburg, we know he's an anthropolgist, a grad student working on his dissertation. Then in Siege, he manages to be allowed to follow along with Jim as an "observer". However, considering the different ways that Blair gets referred to in the series, not always consistently, I thought it might actually be worthwhile to investigate all of Blair's "hats" and titles. (Thanks to Becky's transcripts)


Originally Blair's status with the Cascade PD was as ride-along observer, and he is referred to as such in Siege (of course), in Killers ("I am here strictly as an observer") and in Cypher (in the news report). But he's also referred to as an observer later on, in Spare Parts (by Naomi, who could, of course, be misinformed), Second Chance (by Jim -- "you're not a cop, you're a civilian observer") Finkelman's Folly (by Finkleman, when she pulls his ride-along pass), Murder 101 (where it is mentioned that he isn't paid) and in The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg.

Special Consultant

However, there are quite a number of times when Blair is referred to as a "special consultant to the department". The first time was in Night Train, the second was in Out of The Past, the third was Reunion, but how did they actually come up with this?

References to him being a consultant, besides those already mentioned, are in Light My Fire, Vanishing Act, Fool Me Twice ("I'm a consultant and I'm also working on my doctorate") Storm Warning, Prisoner X, The Trance, Foreign Exchange (where Megan asks the question, cosultant on what?, which nobody answers) Sentinel Too, part 1 and The Real Deal. This seems to indicate the "consultant" references (12) outweigh the "observer" references (8), but we get no explanation of it. He's usually called a consultant when talking to those outside the department, and an observer/ride-along when talking internally (Jim, Simon, Finkelman), or with Naomi -- with the notable exception of Cypher:

  Hass: In a daring 11th-hour rescue, Detective Ellison saved the
  life of a police observer by gunning the killer down moments
  before he would have struck again.


Initially, Jim is on-again off-again about calling Blair his partner; in Switchman Jim calls Blair his "new partner", but in Siege, Blair says "Yeah, I know. I'm never to refer to us as partners." Though in Love and Guns, Blair says "Can't let my partner down, can I?" it's not said very seriously. Things seem to have progressed by Flight, where Blair twice seriously calls Jim his partner (to Jim) "Well, damn it, Jim, tell me what's going on. I'm your partner." and "Welcome home, partner." at the end.

In Payback, when Mike Hurley makes a comment about Jim having a partner, Jim just goes ahead and introduces Blair.

The first time Jim actually refers to Blair as his partner is in The Rig:

  Jim: Somebody killed Buchanan and it seems as if somebody's trying
  to kill my partner and me. So as of this moment, I'm ordering
      you to shut this rig down until further notice.

Things have definitely thawed by Black or White; this is the first time Jim actually introduces Blair as his partner. After this, Jim refers to Blair as his partner in Light My Fire, Secret and Dead Drop. Then in Warriors, Blair is the one referring to it as a partnership. Blair tells Iris in The Girl Next Door that Jim is a cop, and his partner. In Storm Warning Jim introduces Blair to his cousin, as his partner. In Breaking Ground Blair refers to himself as Jim's partner, and again in Finkelman's Folly. Jim refers to Blair as his partner in Foreign Exchange and Neighborhood Watch (where he emphatically tells Megan that she isn't his partner)

Then the blow in Sentinel Too "I've got to have a partner I can trust." But in Dead End on Blank Street, Jim's still referring to Blair as his partner. And of course, in The Sentinel By Blair Sandburg Jim says: "This self-deprecation don't suit you, you know. You might have been just an observer, but you were the best cop I've ever met and the best partner I could have ever asked for. You've been a great friend and you've pulled me through some pretty weird stuff."

References by other people:

  • In Cypher, Lash refers to Jim as Blair's partner.
  • In Night Train, Isabel refers to Blair as Jim's partner.
  • In Poachers the bad guy, Ng, found out from Rafferty who Our Heros were: "Elaine Walters of the US department of Fish and Wildlife. Detective James Ellison and his partner, Blair Sandburg, of the Cascade police."

Teaching Fellow

Yes, there is one reference to Blair being a Teaching Fellow! In Payback:

  Simon: So let me understand this. First, your research assistant is
         involved in a high speed chase, then you...
  Blair: Actually, uh, it's teaching fellow, Captain.


There really isn't much cannonical reference to Guiding a Sentinel. Brackett, in Rogue says to Blair "Well, you're his guide, so to speak, so I'll need you too."

The only other reference is when Blair refers to Incacha as "The shaman who guided you [Jim]" in Warrors, also the reference in the same episode to guiding Jim to his animal spirit. You might possibly also count the bit in Blind Man's Bluff where Jim asks Blair to guide him, but that's in reference to his blindness, not anything else.

When the subject originally came up, in Switchman, the person who helps a Sentinel was referred to as a "partner".


The only references to Shaman at all, or Blair being one, are in the episode Warrors. IMHO, the reference to Blair being the "Shaman of the Great City" was really made in jest.