Alfred Bester (real name: Stephen Kevin Dexter) is a frequently recurring anti-villain on Babylon 5. Bester is a senior Psi Corp officer and high level telepath, possessing dangerous mind reading and controlling capablities. Bester's priorities, while frequently putting him in opposition with the Babylon 5 crew, very rarely directly involve the station, its purpose or its methods. Bester views telepaths and telekinetics as being genetically superior to other humans and seeks to advance the role of Psi Corp in both Earth and Galactic control.
Bester was portrayed in the series by Walter Koenig and is named after science fiction author Alfred Bester, who was known for using psychic characters in many of his stories and novels.
Bester was born Stephen Kevin Dexter, son of Matthew and Fiona Dexter, two telepathic leaders in the early resistance against Psi Corp. Both of Bester's parents were killed in systematic purges lead by Psi Corp director, Kevin Vacit, who was also Fiona's father and Bester's grandfather. He was found by Psi Corp and renamed by his grandfather, who didn't want him to know of his parentage. Raised within the Corps, Bester was told that his parents had been murdered by the resistance and were highly regarded members of the Corps.
Growing to a P-12 psychic state (The highest human psychic level), Bester joined the metasensory police and began tracking down resistance members and Psi Corp runaways. Among those he tracked down was resistance leader Stephen Walters, who was a close personal friend to both his parents. When the two met and Walters revealed the truth to Bester, Bester unloaded his PPG into the man, killing him. The event left Bester psychologically traumatized, and, as a result, left his left hand (which had fired the gun) clenched in a permanent fist and completely non-functional.
Over the course of his career, Bester developed a ruthlessness and severity to his work that frightened even his co-workers. He became known for breaking procedures and commiting deep, illegal mind scans on mundanes that could be both dangerous to the subject and the telepath.
Bester also began volunteering to perform deathbed scans, where a telepath would scan a dying person's mind right up to the point of death. Lyta Alexander noted that someone dying while a telepath was in their minds was a traumatic experience, and that it had badly affected telepaths she knew that had only done it a couple times. Bester on the other hand had completed eight such scans. During these scans, he followed his subject to the void and had near-death experiences where he experienced a complete emptiness and it is implied this is experienced because he is personally empty. Alexander felt that Bester had experienced something that humans were not meant to experience until after death.
During his career, Bester also asassinated the mundane director of Psi Corp to retake the organization for the psychics.
During the Series
Bester would make several arrivals to Babylon 5 during the course of the show, typically in pursuit of an escaping or rebellious psychic. The first one he tracked to B5 was Jason Ironheart, a psychic whose power had been raised by Psi Corp through illegal experimentation. He managed to escape Bester after deconstructing his physical form.
Every time Bester arrived at B5 it was clear that he was unable to get along with any of the staff (despite his best efforts) due largely to their distrust of Psi Corp and his condescension to mundanes. After several antagonistic trips to B5, Bester ended up forming an alliance with Commander Sheridan and the command staff during the Shadow War, particularly after it became clear the shadows were kidnapping psychics and had taken someone close to him.
However, after Chief of Security, Michael Garibaldi was taken during an attack by the Shadows, Bester intercepted him. Using this opportunity, Bester subtly reprogrammed Garibaldi into helping him stop an anti-psychic conspiracy taking place on Mars. Bester heightened his natural paranoia and distrust of authority into separating himself from Babylon 5 and going to work for industrialist William Edgars, who was behind the conspiracy. The plan had worked, and Bester was able to use this in to take the conspiracy down, but, as a result, Garibaldi was also forced to betray Sheridan and turn him over to the Earth government. Bester said he considered that to be a bonus before taking Garibaldi out of his partial trance. Bester considered killing Garibaldi, but found it better to leave him alive, forced to deal with the fact that he had betrayed everyone he'd ever been close to.
Garibaldi would later try and kill Bester out of revenge, only to learn that Bester had placed an 'Asimov' or latent command in Garibaldi's head, keeping Garibaldi from harming him in anyway.
After the Series
Years later, following the Telepath War (which remains undocumented in any of the B5 series or novels) Alfred Bester is on the run, wanted for war crimes he had committed. Bester eventually ended up in Paris, France, where he met and fell in love with a local businesswoman, Louise. Bester lived there for a while before eventually being caught by Michael Garibaldi, who brought him in to face the war tribunal. He was sentenced to life in prison and was frequently drugged to keep him from using his psychic powers. Bester died in prison ten years later, finally accepting his parentage in his last few moments, causing his left hand to reopen.
After his death, Garibaldi visited his grave and, as a symbolic measure, drove a wooden stake into the ground above his coffin.
Bester is shown throughout the series to value the lives of all telepaths, regardless of their actions, beliefs, or background, while condemning "mundanes" with the same tenacity. He is shown to mourn the deaths of several telepaths who opposed him (the loss of Byron and Byron's followers hit him especially hard) while showing no remorse at the loss of any non-telepath life, even those who side with or ally themselves with him. Despite this, Bester tries to remain pleasant and charismatic with all people he comes across, even the staff of Babylon 5. While he is never above trading insults with the more aggressive members of the crew (particularly Garibaldi and Zack Allen, the two security chiefs) he is always polite in his manner and never shows frustration with them (except a few rare occasions). This seems to be something Bester is aware of and notes that "people like to talk" to him.
Bester is also shown to be a highly intelligent and well-read person. He utilizes a wide vocabulary and makes constant references and quotes from classic authors (such as Poe and Dickens).
Despite this, he does not appear to have much taste for military strategy or tactics. He is heavily reliant on his charm and powers, and tends to have no recourse when either are taken from him (however, he is very adept at espionage). He is also very egotistical and prideful, which tends to lead to him underestimating his opponents. However, he is very intuitive and very good at reading people (both with and without his powers).