That wasn’t a slow one at all, was it?
This is usually the point where those of us who are fans of this fantastic show can stop promising it’ll all be worth it if you just hang on a little longer. This is the point where the newbies become converts and start proselytizing right alongside us. This is also where we see the real crime of SciFi‘s quick hook.
Had the network stood by this show until this week’s episode, and had they been smart enough to then promote next week’s episode with a marathon of the first five episodes, they could have picked up a lot of new viewers. Because all of you remaining, those who’ve been patient through a month of slower, mysterious episodes, would have been telling all your friends to give Charlie Jade a second look. Oh well.
Instead, it’s just us: the ones who already knew, and the small band who trusted us this far. Good for us! Let’s dive in, shall we? Trust me. The water is fine.
01 Gets Off…
Finally acting like an actual PI, Charlie’s on a stakeout outside the Glass Door. He spots a mysterious man in a gray flannel suit and gives chase but the man seems to vanish into the ether. Charlie’s reminded of Jody’s Invisible People from back in episode 2, “Sand”. After losing the mysterious stranger, Charlie turns a corner and spies 01 having a little party in the alley behind the club. Because he’s a PI (and not because he’s a perv, or anything) he peeps.
As 01 gets close to climax, he pulls out a bottle of water and pours it over his head. At first he starts to fade out, then he finally disappears! Now, *that’s* an orgasm. N.B. this is one of many, Many, MANY scenes throughout the course of this series that make it clear why it should never have been broadcast at 8pm. Either the SciFi execs never watched, or they never intended it to remain on Fridays.
Charlie spots the dry footprints on the pavement and finally makes some sense of the footprints he’d seen back in the pilot.
Besides making things clearer for Charlie, this should start answering some of our questions:
- How does 01 travel?
- How did 01 appear out of the bathroom at the Glass Door back in “Sand”?
- How did 01 get into Elliot Krogg’s hotel room in “You Are Here”?
Of course, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We don’t know everything.
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
Charlie pawns his ring to buy a car, picking up a sweet Audi which can’t be too cheap. The pawnbroker must be right when he says, “this is a very unusual ring.” Charlie again spots the man in the gray flannel suit.
Charlie will espy the mysterious stranger twice more in the episode, finally taking his wallet at knife point. He doesn’t strike me as cut in the Vex-Cor mold, neither is he like Reena’s captors. Who he is, and who he works for will remain a mystery for now.
In Gamma, the local Vex-Cor chairman walks along the beach leading a delegation of what appear to be political representatives. They come upon 01 Boxer, who stands serenely in the surf as the waves caress his feet. Pointing to an island just off-shore, the chairman talks of the need for a “permanent home for fanatics, militants, revolutionaries.” 01 pictures the cells of Robben Island while the chairman speaks.
This 01 Boxer is not the petulant child of Alpha, nor the psychotic malcontent of Beta. His persona, in fact his entire physical bearing, changes from verse to verse. Michael Filipowich does a great job capturing the subtle and not-so-subtle changes 01 undergoes as he travels, but why does 01 change at all? Charlie certainly seems the same in Beta as in Alpha, so what makes the 01 who casually killed a man in Beta the same man who contemplates the horrors of Robben Island and says “it must never come to this” while in Gamma?
This man of contradictions is the only thing keeping the tenuous connection between the verses in place. As Essa’s courier, he keeps the lines of communication between the home office and the Beta and Gamma branches up. Using encrypted slates, the messages between the worlds are kept secure from prying eyes. Except obviously, 01 can hack the slates.
Watching Julius’s most recent message to Essa, 01 learns a temporary link will be reestablished in three weeks. He immediately heads for the shower and another verse.
Okay, I don’t know about the rest of you but of the tortures Reena endures throughout this episode, it is the music that hurts me the most. Maybe the electrodes to the skull hurt her more, I don’t know, but the music would make me lose it. Of course, that’s the point. This isn’t interrogation: it’s brainwashing. I don’t know who this group that captured Reena last week is – Vex-Cor, random terrorists, or something else entirely – but I can tell you what they’re doing. Breaking her down for some higher purpose.
On a side note, because I’m not going to talk much about Reena this week, on Saturday I finished “Y: The Last Man”. I’m not going to say much, other than I cried a couple of times which is pretty damn impressive for a comic. However, it struck me that for the film adaptation of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra‘s masterpiece, producers could do a hell of a lot worse than casting Patricia McKenzie as Agent 355. I’m just sayin’.
Jody and the Invisible People
At his favorite restaurant, Charlie tells Karl about 01’s disappearing act and flirts with Paula. Quick tangent: do you guys think he goes for the service, or the ceviche? Regardless, things are looking good for those kids, I tell ya. Which of course makes the cut to Alpha to see Jasmine and her plight that much more poignant. Charlie’s possessions are being taken by the state. Jasmine is a possession. Jasmine is of no use to the state.
Charlie heads back to the desert to get some answers. Jody’s mom is still a wacko with a gun, but the reasons start to make more sense. Jody recognizes a picture of 01 Boxer and her mother becomes more defensive. Charlie tells her it all has to do with water. Then she tells him about the water.
Before Jody was born, her parents lived in a town near the reactor where the groundwater became contaminated. People got sick, there were birth defects, it was bad. Charlie visits the town, now buried by the shifting sands of the desert, and finds another blue stone. He also finds a conveniently located faucet dripping water.
On investigating the town’s history, he learns a pharmacist, Aaron Bridger, was charged with dumping “outdated cough syrup down the toilet” and served 11 years. Obviously the contamination was from the Vex-Cor facility, but he was set up. Charlie has an address, so he and Karl go to investigate.
Bridger died three months earlier, but his wife Andrea agrees to talk to Charlie. She lost everything because of Vex-Cor – her child, her husband, her home – and came to Cape Town where she set herself up as a psychic. She can’t read people’s minds, but she does see a grim future of “poverty and filth, armed soldiers, violent confrontation everywhere.” But Charlie recognizes the world she sees is not the future. It is his home.
The reluctant hero does something finally and truly heroic. He buys Andrea Bridger passage to Patagonia and cuts the chip from her arm. Patagonia, because it has no value to Vex-Cor and he believes Andrea will be free of her visions at last.
This chip is almost certainly the same as the ID chips Vex-Cor uses in Alpha. Now we know they have the tracking ability in Beta, so expect to see more about the chips themselves in the weeks ahead. Andrea gets in a cab immediately and Charlie waits behind. Knowing Vex-Cor will be signaled once the chip is removed, he lies in wait. What we get is one of the best close quarter fights you’re likely to see this year.
I’ve heard great things about the bathroom fight in Eastern Promises, and Burn Notice has some of the best hand-to-hand on the air right now, helped greatly by star Jeffrey Donovan‘s black belt. Still the claustrophobia in this fight, the mix of grappling with striking, and the way water plays such a crucial element make it very intense. A couple of the punches are a bit roundhouse for my taste, but there are a lot of elbow strikes reminiscent of Krav Maga and other more practical styles. There’s never a doubt that Charlie will survive, but when his head was underwater, there was a moment I actually believed he might do so by shifting out of the verse.
Instead, he kills the Vex-Cor security agent.
Beaten, bloody, and limping. Charlie heads back to the desert. He fills his bottle from the leaking tap and pours it over his head. No screaming, no crying, just a silent drop to his knees when he doesn’t dematerialize. Nicely, quietly played by Jeffrey Pierce.
What did everyone else think?