‘Charlie Jade’ recap: “Flesh”

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. – Matthew 26:41

It’s all over, right? Charlie’s come back to Jasmine – and just as quickly realized he belongs in Beta – 01’s out of jail, and Essa’s in shackles. Everything is right with the verses. So why, I must ask, is that countdown clock still running? The Vexcor link countdown clock that 01 now controls.

He that troubleth his own house…

After what seems an eternity, 01’s finally left and Bryon’s body has been discovered. Essa wants Sew Sew to bring in 01, even though the video of the boardroom is blank. He agrees to have 01 arrested on her sayso. Some time later Essa is in the boardroom in her mourning whites while the board sits in remotely. A message from Bryon Boxer is wheeled in and played, informing the board that 01 is receiving Bryon’s controlling interest in Vexcor.

Essa…does not take the news well. Neither does 01. After 01 gets notice from the ProbateBot that Bryon’s shares are his – and he utters the classic line, “please hold; your death is important to us” – he goes into an alley and starts throwing and beating garbage cans. This is intercut with Essa’s breakdown in the boardroom as she tries to destroy the message cube. From beyond the grave, Bryon Boxer is still effecting those he “loves” best.

An exoskin spots 01 and shoots him with a tranquilizer.

Please note the time on the countdown clock: 47h80m00s, 47h79m89s, and counting. 90-second minutes, and I assume 90-minute hours. Whether the hours are as long in Alpha as they are here, or there are more hours in a day, I could not guess.

Charlie isn’t happy in Alpha. The apartment – identical to when he left – feels different, the food tastes foul, and the water is even bad. He asks Jasmine about Sew Sew and it escalates into a fight. But it’s not a fight about Sew Sew, it’s a fight about Charlie not being there and he responds by leaving her. Again.

He meets Sew Sew and asks about Jasmine. Then he tells him about Beta and that the activation of the link will destroy it. Sew Sew suggest that the death of Bryon Boxer might have created enough chaos to delay the link and tells Charlie 01 is the prime suspect. Charlie needs to see 01.

01, crazy as ever, chats with Charlie.
“Vexlink open?”
“Then how’d you get here?”
“The link’s not open and I’d like to see it stay that way. How about you?”
“Does he know?”
“I think I made myself pretty clear on how I feel about the link.”

In order to stop the link, 01 needs to get out of jail and needs Essa out of his way. That’s when Sew Sew pulls out his trump card, recorded back in “The Shortening of the Way”, Leonard De Beers saying all the executives who’d gone through the link were being killed. Charlie realizes there must have been a labtech and the hunt begins.

While Charlie and Sew Sew hunt for the tech, Bram Larkin, Essa pays 01 a little visit. In case anyone had any residual doubt who the true face of evil is in Alpha, she burns the items 01 had retrieved from his father. Items belonging to his mother. Helplessly, he watches through the cell wall.

Carl and The Girls of Betaverse

In Beta, the newly integrated Reena/Killer comes to Carl’s apartment to crash. When Blues stops by later to tell Carl about radioactive corpses – not the new speed metal band, but actual radioactive corpses – she sees Reena and pulls her gun. Carl talks her down, convincing her that Reena isn’t a terrorist but a Vexcor scapegoat. N.B. Reena *did* blow up the link, killing several hundred people across three verses. I mean, I support her actions and all, but that pretty clearly fits the textbook definition of “terrorist”.

Blues agrees and brings Carl and Reena to the morgue to see the bodies, bodies of Reena’s captors whom she blew up. An assistant coroner became ill when the bodies were opened, exposing high levels of radiation from within. Their bodies also, quite oddly contain a high concentration of lead, so the three of them are safe being close. Reena doesn’t say anything about having killed them – probably for the best, as I imagine Blues’ trigger finger is still a bit itchy – but does ask if any unrecognized technology had been retrieved with them.

A Lover’s Sacrifice

Charlie tracks Larkin to The Graves, an off-the-grid slum and tech bazaar. Charlie spots his prey and takes off. For a tech, the hooded figure runs fast and gives Charlie quite a workout. When Charlie finally catches up to him, he’s dead.

Back in the morgue, they examine the body. First, the coroner – a wonderfully creepy fellow who reminded me of Renfield – discovers some fake skin, under which is Larkin’s implant. All well and good, but this isn’t Larkin. Someone traded chips with Larkin to give him a head start. A death sentence. Now Sew Sew and Charlie need to figure out the identity of the body on the slab in order to track Larkin, so when Charlie finds a second bit of fake skin, covering a tattoo, he follows the lead.

The corpse turns out to have been a bouncer at the Lunge Klub, which Charlie discovers by bullying a scrawny bouncer who tries “to be intellectually intimidating.” Astute viewers will recognize our funny, scrawny bouncer as an Alphaverse doppelganger of Terry Schachter, the dumb kid who’d gotten hold of Vexcor ID sticks back in “Identity”. Sadly the actor, Brett Goldin, a popular young actor-writer-comedian in South Africa was senselessly and brutally murdered in 2006.

Once Charlie’s got a name, tracking Larkin’s easy enough. He goes to the dead bouncer’s apartment and disables the lock, hiding around the corner in wait. Larkin runs. Charlie chases him out of the building and into an alley. He tells Larkin his lover’s dead and tells him to come with him. It’s too late. An exoskin scans Larkin’s chip and sends a signal to a hovercraft. Larkin’s burned on the spot, probably fried with microwaves.

Once more to the morgue and Charlie sees Larkin has his lover’s chip. But he’s got a second chip. Leonard De Beers’. Not only does it record the dismantling of De Beers’ body but it has a hidden message from Larkin confessing to De Beers’ death and fingering Essa.

Tough Choices Ahead

That’s it. Sew Sew goes to the boardroom and informs the board. Then he arrests Essa. Her laugh is brilliant and soul-curdling and chilling.

01 appears before the board and vows to serve well. His shares vest and he’s appointed chair.

This is all followed in quick succession by…

  • Charlie back at his apartment, pouring himself a victory drink.
  • Julius getting a slate in Beta telling him the hunter’s contract has been redirected from Charlie to him.
  • Charlie and Jasmine discussing her future. For the first time in her life, someone lets her – no, forces her – to make a choice. She chooses Sew Sew.
  • Charlie chooses Beta. Charlie chooses Blues.

As Charlie shows up at Blues’ apartment, we intercut with Jasmine calling Sew Sew and telling him to come home. In these two scenes, only three words are uttered. And volumes are spoken in a four-way acting clinic.

Back in Alpha, 01 tries to get a grip on Vexcor as he sees it spinning out of control. The company had grown to big and too unwieldy and won’t survive without the infusion of raw materials from Gammaverse. No longer the profligate wild child, Chairman 01 must make some tough choices in the hours ahead.

Reena too.

She gets the cube working and sees its message meant for her. She is destined to save Gamma after all. By destroying Alpha.

There’s just one week left. Is everyone else as excited and sad as I am to see this great show come to an end?