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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Episode 11: Behold, the Common Cold

FROM ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER KIMBERLY ROOTS: When we last left Olivia, she’d been hauled away by Robert Jones and his band of thugs—including turncoat FBI agent Mitchell Loeb. She’s still MIA at the beginning of this episode. Astrid brings news of the disappearance to Peter and Walter at the lab, while Phillip Broyles and Charlie have their entire division, as well as any other law enforcement teams they can commandeer, try to find her. Sanford Harris, the pal of Broyles’ that Olivia put away for sexual assault years before, calls his friend out of the blue to tell him he’ll be conducting a review of Broyles’ division. That can’t be good …
Cut to a nondescript, sterile facility where Olivia’s strapped to a gurney, flipped over, and given an involuntary spinal tap by men wearing rubber masks. While facing the floor, she notices one of the men is wearing tasseled loafers. When he leaves the room, we see that man is actually Loeb, which also can’t be good. When a junior staffer is the only one left watching Olivia, she meekly asks for water and to be unstrapped so she can drink it. He takes pity on her and gets the glass smashed into his face in return. She jumps off the table, fights him a bit, and runs off, grabbing some keys, a random cell phone, and a metal cylinder from the laboratory on her way out. Away from the building, she calls Broyles and asks for a team to meet her to storm the lab. While she’s waiting, she stops at a vacant lot and buries the cylinder for safekeeping. Good thinking, too—when the FBI agents find her, they shoot her with a tranquilizer dart, which knocks her out.
She wakes handcuffed to a bed in Boston Hospital, where Harris informs her that his sexual assault charges were overturned and he’s now a consultant who’s been tasked with looking into her division—“Which gives me the prerogative to question your sanity, your loyalty, your willingness to serve,” he tells her. “It seems to me the people you surround yourself with have failed those tests at every turn.” Though Harris seems like a big jerk, he does a nice thing for the audience by reviewing the basic setup of the show: what happened to John Scott, who the Bishops are, how they all came to work together, etc. He uncuffs her and leaves, and she scurries to the FBI, where Charlie tells her that the building she was held in is completely empty. No clues, no fingerprints, no nothing—same holds true for the phone and car she stole. She barely has time to absorb this not-so-great news when he adds that a woman named Rachel is waiting for her in the lobby. Olivia looks uneasy. “She’s my sister,” she says. But she pastes on a smile and meets Rachel and her daughter, Ella, who gives her aunt a Magic 8 ball. Everything’s all smiles and hugs and cheery fun times, and they make a plan to meet at Olivia’s apartment— where they’re staying—later. Olivia takes the Bishops to the site where she buried the cylinder, and Walter tests the test tubes inside right there on the spot. Yes, he tells Olivia, he knows what her captors were up to.
Meanwhile, a Boston College professor lectures his students on viruses. He takes a sip of water, looks a little green, and then starts choking. He collapses, his teaching assistant tries CPR, and there’s general bedlam as he dies. An all-out panic erupts when a giant slug pokes its head out of his mouth, slithers out of his body, and starts careening around the room. There’s much screaming and oozing.
The Bishops trap the giant slug at BC and take it to Harvard for examination as Olivia meets with the TA. They stroll on what is supposed to be the BC campus but what real Bostonians will recognize as Boston University. The TA confesses that she was having an affair with Prof. Kinberg and that he had just accepted an immunology post with the Centers For Disease Control. Prof. Simon, from another school, was hired too, Olivia learns. She posits that the people behind Kinberg’s death were responsible for taking her and that they’re probably gunning for Simon. Broyles gives her the unofficial OK to take Simon into protective custody. As she and Charlie leave to get Simon, Loeb tells her he’s taking charge of the investigation about her disappearance. Grrrrreat.
Simon’s in custody and being questioned when Peter calls: Walter deduced that one of the test tubes contained slug eggs, which need both stomach acid and water to be activated. Loeb picks that moment to deliver a glass of water to Simon, who takes a sip and begins having a slug attack moments later. He dies violently as Charlie re-enters the room; another giant slug pops out of his mouth, and a freaked-out Charlie shoots it. At Harvard, Walter finally identifies the slithering beasts: a virus called nasal pharyngitis. Peter seems grudgingly impressed. “They super-sized the common cold,” he says, noting the irony of using the virus to murder epidemiologists. But why did they want Olivia?
Olivia has a quick dinner with her family, during which we learn that Rachel and her husband, Greg, are having problems and that she’s staying with Olivia until she figures things out. The next day at work, Loeb tosses Ella’s Magic 8 ball, and it falls on the ground … where Olivia reaches down to get it and notices his tasseled loafers. Gotcha! For help, she goes to Charlie, who then turns to Peter for a little illegal wiretapping that Harris won’t notice. Peter happily helps, and they listen in on Loeb’s phone while Olivia goes to his house. She’s about to break in when his wife, Samantha, catches her. Suspicious, Samantha invites her in for tea, and when Olivia asks to use the bathroom, Samantha calls Loeb and tells him the jig is up. He has only one suggestion, which Peter and Charlie overhear: “You need to kill her. Right now.”
Olivia sneaks around Loeb’s study and finds pictures of the giant slug while Samantha retrieves a gun and goes on the hunt. But Olivia gets the jump on her. A girlfight ensues, ending when both women take a shot at each other; Samantha misses, Olivia hits her target right between the eyes.
In the meantime, Loeb has left the FBI with all of his things, and there’s no way to track him. The team texts him from Samantha’s phone and tells him to meet “her” at a phone booth. Unaware that she’s dead, he does, and is captured. But he refuses to say who he’s working for ... until Olivia shows him pictures of Samantha’s corpse and says she’s responsible for the woman’s death. “Did you kill them?” she asks, and he’s so angry that he admits to killing the professors. “Did you not understand the rules, who we’re up against? Who the two sides are? Tell me you at least know that!” he rages. “We didn’t kidnap you, idiot! We saved you.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: As Walter reminds us in his lab notes (regarding what he calls the "mammoth virus grown in the belly"): "How difficult it proves to separate myth from fact, and fact from myth!"