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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Episode 9: Beliefs That Kill & a Chill

FROM ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER KIMBERLY ROOTS: A disheveled man rushes into a corporate meeting, apologizes for being late, and launches into his presentation. It goes well, but after everyone else in the conference room leaves, he’s puzzled by a butterfly darting about the room. It lands on his finger for a moment, then makes a few quick passes that leave slashes on his neck and arms. The wings are like blades, he realizes, moments before a swarm of the sharp-edged insects flood out of the ventilation system. They swipe at him relentlessly until, faced with no other option, the man busts through a plate glass window and falls many floors to his death. The building he was in? Massive Dynamics headquarters, of course.
In Boston, Olivia’s getting ready for a friend’s surprise party when Phillip Broyles calls and orders her to round up the Bishops and meet him in New York. He ignores her desire to have a normal life for a few days: “Runway 14. The plane will be waiting.” At the crime scene, Walter looks at the dead man—whose name is Mark Young—and notices that the cuts didn’t come from the impact of his fall. But Olivia is distracted: She sees John in the crowd of onlookers, but he disappears when she blinks. Massive Dynamics diva Nina Sharp informs Olivia that Young was a rising star in the company but that sometimes the pressures of working at the cutting edge of science aren’t for everyone. And with that sales pitch, she once more presses Olivia about coming to work there. Olivia refuses again, instead heading to Young’s apartment. From clues around the place, she and Charlie infer that Young wasn’t suicidal. As she takes note of Young’s day planner, which has MONARCH handwritten on one of the days, the butterfly specimens hanging on the wall start flapping their wings—but Olivia’s apparently the only one to notice. She keeps this observation to herself. At Walter’s Harvard lab, he and Astrid note high levels of a synthetic compound in Young’s blood, while Peter takes a call from a worried-sounding woman who wants to see him.
Olivia does a cursory Web search of “monarch” at home before bed, then shuts down her laptop. But it reboots on its own moments later and calls up her email inbox. At the top of the queue is a new email from John. “1312 Labrador Ln.,” it reads. “Basement level.” Creepy. Throwing caution to the wind, Olivia goes to the address with only a flashlight and her gun. Inside, she finds crates of toads, which she has transported to Walter’s lab the next day. Charlie raises a suspicious eye but is sympathetic when she says she thinks she’s losing her mind due to the emotional fallout from John’s betrayal and death. She’s interrupted when Astrid calls: The toads secrete the same compound that was found in Young’s body. At the lab, Walter says the compound is psychosomatic in nature and can make people believe that horrible things are happening to them—like a swarm of razor-edge butterflies, perhaps?—and that belief can kill them. Olivia realizes that John’s memories are still banging around in her head from the mind-meld, and she wants them out. Back in the tank we go!
Meanwhile, Peter has a tension-fraught meeting with a woman named Tess, who apparently was his girlfriend or something before he fled town. She tells him to take off again because “they” will find him. When he grabs her wrists, she winces, and he confirms that she’s with someone named Michael and that he’s hurting her. Later, Peter confronts Michael, beats the stuffing out of him, and warns him not to touch Tess again. Throughout the interaction, an unseen person watches Peter from afar.
As Olivia gets into the tank, Astrid brings Walter the book he requested: a Bible. He reads from Ezekiel 36:26 which, depending on the version you’ve got, says: “A new heart also I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will take the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” Interesting. As Olivia floats and Walter’s voice is pumped into the tank, she recalls her first date with John, and when memory Olivia gets up to use the restroom, real Olivia sits down in her spot and start pouring out her heart to memory John, who Walter repeatedly says can’t hear her. But when real Olivia says, “Mark Young killed himself yesterday,” memory John’s eyes snap to her and lock on. Soon they’re in another of John’s recollections: Olivia watches him and three other men talk about an upcoming deal. One of the men is Mark Young, who leaves with a Latino-looking guy. John remains with the other man, who mentions something about an “Ashley” situation before John suddenly stabs him in the gut. Real Olivia is horrified and begs to be let out.
She and Astrid make a composite of the Latino guy, and Broyles tells her that Young was murdered for selling Massive Dynamics technology on the black market. Olivia and Charlie later capture the Latino guy, George Morales, in New York, after he gets hit by a car during their chase. After showing off insider knowledge of "the pattern," he says he’ll trade all he knows for legal immunity and protection. Olivia promises it, then leaves to taunt Nina. But in her absence, a peaked-looking John enters a frightened George’s hospital room and slits his throat. The shocked nurse that enters the room just then, though, only sees George’s throat opening of its own accord. The psychosomatic toad drugs strike again!
With their smoking gun dead, Olivia pleads with Walter to put her back in the tank. Proving he’s not quite as mad as he seems, Walter says it’s too dangerous and he’ll find another way to access John’s memories. But, um, maybe he should hurry up: That night, Olivia’s computer blinks on of its own accord and there’s another new missive from her dead (or is he?) ex-boyfriend. “I saw you,” it reads, proving that this show is at its best in the small, goosebump-inducing moments like these. “In the restaurant.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: Though Walter tells Olivia that he wants the Bible in order to pray for help should things go wrong during their experiment, the Old Testament verse he reads is Ezekiel’s prophecy of the new man, whose—pardon the lay interpretation—heart and spirit have been made new by God. Could this be a veiled reference to John, who may also be in the process of being made new (or re-made in cyberspace) by this show’s all-powerful entity, Massive Dynamics? Now we’re getting somewhere.