Friday, August 5, 2016

No GIR That's Bad Helix - 1x01 Pilot

So, we open with whiteness, because that's not an overarching motif or anything, the whiteness that swallows everything. It's two days before The Event. And then we have some zombie horror staple, people in clean suits walking down a corridor while a computer says very loudly over the very loud machine humming, Contamination! Contamination! Yes, we get it, computer, we get it, shut up. This is why all alarms of this type should come with an Okay-We-All-Know-Noise-Off switch. This is intercut with flashes of Peter all black-bloodied up, I'm having fond memories of X-Files and the oil slick of doom. Different corridor! The flashbacks become more clear, Peter was running, dragged into this room, and now we have something that's going to become a staple of Helix as we know it, the juxtaposition of jaunty pleasant music and horror. We have a horrific scene playing out mute before our eyes, but when I say mute I mean very little sound is coming from the scene itself especially when compared to the machine humming and the loudass Glados knockoff a second or three ago, but rather the sounds are coming from the jaunty fun soundtrack playing over the background. I've got a pair of brand new roller-skates, do you know the way to San Jose, etc. Though only one of those will become a set of arc words. Well, I'm unnerved, as no doubt they meant me to be, how about you?

And the music is coming from inside the house an iPod or some other player device within the lab. A bio-lab. With monkey cages. That's not ominous at all. We have the requisite scene of gore and horror, science gone horrifically wrong as displayed by blood and other things. The aesthetic of the lab is about what you'd expect for a Hollywood lab, everything looks like it might have been clean and bare and there's not much in the way of extraneous furniture, when something went horrifically wrong. Man, would I love to have the budget some of these scientists have. Glowing blue computer RFID locks!  And of course, the two people in isolation suits moon-walking down the corridor. Moon-walking not in the Michael Jackson sense but in those exaggerated steps you have to take because you're in a giant hermetically sealed suit. Let's have a look at our dubiously titled protagonists! I'm not so much dubious because they're morally ambivalent, although they are, but because the screen time given later in the episode suggests these aren't the protagonists. Regardless, the fact that they're placed first paints either them or the situation as significant. The fact that they don't end up dead in this first scene, or otherwise incapacitated, weighs it heavily towards the person rather than the situation.

So. Hatake! Hiroshi Hatake is serene and scientific amidst horror, but also grave. He understands the seriousness of what's going on, but he detaches himself from it so he can work unobstructed and without distraction from feelings. He's also isolated, by the suit, an isolated observer. Note the deliberate way he moves towards Peter. His mercy is a distant thing, the abstract mercy of giving water from a plastic titration bottle, while still sealed in his suit. Abstract, albeit with some signs of satisfaction, note of progress being made. So he's capable of looking at a scene of bloodshed, trauma, and sickness, presumably with people he either works with or knows in some way through working in the same area, and calculating what happened and whether or not it progressed from their experiments or was an unrelated incident, etc. And he looks at a bloody, chaotic scene that clearly resulted in one person diseased, possibly injured, and in pain, and calls it progress. A very, very cold person in a lot of ways, and not a man with whom to fuck.

Contrast Hatake's opening with Alan's, which is clean and pristine but not in the least bit neat. He's in an office and the architecture is very open, very full of light, very clean. Well, except for the piles of papers and books everywhere. They are in neat piles though. Way neater than my office, I can tell you that much. He's also completely mentally out of it and scattered and disorganized, very emotionally intuitive but not very put together. He has to ask someone, clearly his minder (and because this is television his minder is a young conventionally attractive woman and no doubt there will be sex at some point in the future, look, I blog the bad as well as the good) and probably his assistant of some kind, protege? Probably, let's check off all the ticky boxes we can. She, of course, knows exactly where what he's looking for is, and what he's looking for turns out to be an old pump handle. That definitely looks out of place in the office.

Okay, now that we've had a brief scene with each of these men, let's take a look to examine the parallels and differences between the two. The first one's obvious: Hatake is introduced in darkness, filth and blood, and chaos. He is anonymous, not just because of the suit although that's not helping, but also because no one's said his name yet, he's had very little meaningful interaction with anyone, we have no sense of who he is other than a doctor in a clean suit. Whereas Alan's had a fair bit of dialogue to show that he's scatterbrained but attractive enough to win the tolerance and affection of this young woman. He's introduced in the light and the open air, in a clean if untidy environment, and even the ways it's untidy are safe. Banal. Paperwork everywhere, that's nothing, that's normal and shows he's busy and in demand. There's no suit and apparently no reluctance to talk and engage for Alan, he's willing to ask for help and willing to converse and be teased. He's also not in a hostile setting though, because let's all keep in mind that Hatake is introduced in an evnironment that, for all he knows, might kill him. That's a situation he might should be used to, from what we learn of him later.

Okay, we'll leave Hatake in his remote lab for a while and continue with Alan, who is lecturing on the history of epidemiology. Which makes sense, given that the title card told us this was the CDC! In Atlanta, I don't actually know if they have training camps there but it's a fucking huge facility, so why not. (I tried looking on their site but got a web of broken links. Clean it up, CDC, there are probably post-doctoral people who want to learn from your teachings.) Now, what he's saying about the cholera outbreak and the medicine at the time attributing it to bad air, this is true. It's a reasonably famous case, it is historically significant because of the study and the subsequent mapping and the discovery, and they did take off the pump handle to stop it. For extra bonus points that have nothing to do with anything, the physician's name was John Snow. One can presume that John-with-an-h Snow knew something after all. (Further reading: The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson). Alan is making a point here about careful observation and scientific study, also the point that they have to be meticulous in their progress because if they fuck up, thousands of people could die. He's going to make this point by tossing a vial of cholera at a student. Of course, that's not actually cholera as he says a moment later, and she's less a student and more of a ringer, still, that's a nerve-wracking way to make a point. He talks about the sacrifices they'll make, family and loved ones, heh. We'll get to that in a second. First he has to defuse the room by saying that's just scotch, give his booze back. Then the family and loved one comes into the room! Enjoy the last shot, by the way, of clean-shaven and cleanly presented Alan because I don't think he appears again for maybe the entire series.

The person coming in is not in a suit and while she's clearly clean and well presented, her color and texture choices are more field-work looking than office job. I know this because of my learnings and also because of doing icky-hot sweaty dig work. Not the same kind of science but similar principles, you want durable clothing that tends to come in drab colors, you're going to be striking the balance between covers everything that might get hurt or infected with keeps you at a reasonable temperature, not to mention the balance between professional chic and functional. In this case it's mostly the color and cut lines that suggest field clothes, as I'm sure it was meant to. Also to contrast with Alan given that he's in blues and blacks and she's in green-brown and red.

Okay, over to the office where a guy in military fatigues is introducing a possible retroviral outbreak in a remote Arctic outpost. Because that never ever goes poorly. Two people dead and one already infected and it's all so bright and shiny in here we might lose track that this is the scenario we were introduced to the show with. Serrrrgio! Sergio Ballaseros, a military guy who we might be forgiven for thinking he's going to buy it in the first three or four episodes, because a lot of the time that's what happens to give the scenario weight or to screw our heroes over even more by taking out the guy who's most resourceful or skilled. Anyway! So, he's theoretically Army, CoE and so on and he's escorting the rapid response team up to the Arctic, including Dr. Walker, who is the lady in field clothes. She doesn't look happy about any of this, though to be fair no one does because, you know, retroviral outbreak. The Army also is seizing jurisdiction despite the fact that that's technically not, you kno w, legal, as Alan's ringer points out, that area of the Arctic is international territory. What doesn't get underlined is that just because Arctic Biosystems is granting them access that does not mean they have jurisdiction to arrest or try anyone, that just means they get to investigate and then I believe the procedure is to present their findings to an international court? Do we have an international law student or practitioner in the house? Anyway. The US Army is sharing jurisdiction with the US CDC because this is Helix, a US show, and not Crossing Lines (a show about an international team that patrols the Eurozone, which would be more like the makeup of what I would expect to be investigating a base in international territory). In international waters jurisdiction is determined by the country of origin/alliance of the ship on which the crime takes place, presumably with Arctic Biosystems it would be the country of origin or head office of that company? Anyway. US show, US agencies so audiences don't get confused. And Alan would want to know why him, and so we find out that Walker requested him because the infected patient is his brother. The twist of it being a brother is good, that's not a usual choice. It gives us the emotional attachment without falling back on the usual tropes.

And we're flying up! I'm going to call that a helicopter even though I think it's some other kind of VTOL. That's a whole lot of featureless white which is very pretty and also very easy to get lost in, in case we didn't know from everyone saying Arctic all the time. Alan is giving out tasks and also names which is good because I can't keep calling Sarah his ringer for the rest of the series. That turns out to be her name, she's working with him on the autopsies, Julia Walker's on history of the illness, Doreen, the other woman we saw earlier, is on animal control, Doreen would like to know why Serrrgio's with them. Yes, I'm going to keep calling him Serrrgio because it amuses me. He is a systems engineer, to analyse the base's infrastructure to check for vectors. He is also a skilled hand at snark to snark combat, as he and Doreen will now show. Hot agent and BSL4 protocol (BioSafety Level Four) basically means treat this as though the air can kill you, which to be fair it possibly can! This is the kind of level on which most hemorrhagic fevers live, smallpox, the really scary shit. It involves full suits, multiple showers, pressure airlocks, UV rooms, etc. Walker objects on the grounds that this will take too much time, I and Alan would argue that getting sick and dying horribly would take even more time. Walker and Alan will now degenerate into bickering, so we can leave them and go on to Doreen explaining to Sarah and us that they used to be married, only Walker slept with Alan's brother. Who they're now going to rescue. This isn't going to be awkward at all! Especially not with Doreen poking Sarah in the soft bits by calling Walker better than her and bringing out her crush? Flirtation? and waving it around like that. I can't tell if Doreen is doing that to poke and be amused or if she's doing that because unspoken, un-pointed-out issues aren't going to do anyone any good in a speed exercise.

Once on the ground we're treated to a very blue light and an introduction to Dr. Hiroshi Hatake, head of research. I'm just going to stop right here and say that Hatake gave rise to a sort of a scale we now use at Murderboarding, a scale of how much a character is trying to keep secrets and they come out anyway, leaving that character saying "... I didn't mean for you to find out like this" or something along that lame excuse line. So that'll give you some idea of one of Hiroshi Hatake's roles in this show! Another is to smoulder, because Hiroyuki Sanada does that. Maybe that's just me. That's just me, isn't it. Moving on. Hiroshi is pessimistic about Peter's chances and he's been in and out of consciousness and by the way he hasn't locked down the base yet. Walker and Alan are understandably cranky about this, leading to the first Hatake moment of "wait let me explain why I have done this thing which to you seems stupid because there are Things I Know That You Do Not." Sometimes it is stupid! Sometimes it is not, and in this case he does have half a point in that the afflicted all work in the same lab and since contamination doesn't appear to have spread, it doesn't seem to be airborne. I and probably the other doctors (Doreen in particular is scornful of his 'pretty sure') would be happier if he outright said the infected area had been locked down immediately but okay. So far so not entirely unreasonable. And the VTOL's leaving for warmer climes that do not turn airplane fuel to jelly. A quick google search suggests that it turns to jelly about thirty degrees warmer than night-time here, which is -70, so yes. If I were the VTOL I'd take off too. Doreen is the voice of all of us, enjoying at least the reassurance of a potential quick escape. Sarah is the voice of reason, not directly but implicitly pointing out that if no one can get out of the base without freezing to death at least the thing is pretty much contained. Heh. That'll come in relevant later in all sorts of ways. Actually what she says is that they can't risk leaving before they achieve full containment. Oh you sweet summer child.

Speaking of things that will come in relevant later! As they go down in the elevator Daniel passes out the subcutaneous RFID chips which will give everyone unrestricted access to the base and which can't be taken off of them without removing a hand. So guess what's going to happen later. Also RFID chips will undoubtedly allow Daniel and Hiroshi at the very least to see where everyone's gone and where everyone's going, so that's not going to come in handy later at all either. We have a roll call of 106 scientists from 35 countries, 15 support staff (going by the people we see later either that's all security or there's more support staff or he said 50 and I have to stuff marbles in people's mouths again) and while that's a lot of potential patients, that's at least also not a big casualty count if everyone dies of unknown pathogen. Look, it's a worst case scenario, okay? (Obviously it won't happen, it's a TV series, but you have to allow for possibilities because the characters sure as hell are.) For reference or maybe perspective, there are almost 200 member states in the United Nations, so this represents maybe a sixth of that, and probably the most financially stable with the most emphasis on science. A lot of the Scandinavian countries, the big ones like Russia, Germany, France, Spain, China obviously Canada and the US, Japan is the easy guess by Hiroshi Hatake but he might be an immigrant to somewhere, so we can't say for certain. Somewhere in Africa although I'm not sure which countries are the big scientific researchers that would require this kind of remoteness. Another famously international show, Stargate, had everyone with their country patches on their arm, sadly we get no such bonus here. And there are a LOT of levels in this base, most of them apparently underground going by the outside height of the building.

Alan gives Hiroshi a list of demands, including any contacts within the last 48 hours and full access to all living and work environments and materials. This is not unreasonable, but of course Hiroshi's not going to comply in the slightest. And now Alan wants to see his brother. Hoo boy. For this they suit up with medical tape over the gloves and everything, and Julia attempts to defuse some of the tension by telling Alan how she hasn't spoken to Peter in a long time. Since that night, in fact. Alan thinks this relates to her having issues with impulse control, she doesn't answer this with either an affirmative or a negative. And she is, of course, worried for him. Them? Ambiguous. The interesting part of this scene though isn't so much the dialogue as the combination of dialogue with acting with the clear, sharp cuts in editing. Normally these cuts would be smoother and softer viewpoint shifts, but instead it's sharp, it's disorienting to how we normally view television. First they're sitting with their backs to each other and then, cut, they're sitting next to each other, cut, they're in a different position again. Contrast this with how smoothly their voices go over what we're seeing, and it gives a subtle nudge of uncertainty and unease. Me likey.

Not at all subtle unease: Walker and Alan in suits with full face masks and we only see their faces because Hollywood magic, cases lined in red fake-velvet with shiny surgical tools, monitors bleeping and flashing big 'critical' signs, Peter himself with bloody eyeballs (capillary damage I would think but possibly also detached retinas) (Do Not Google This) and blood vessels distended and probably breaking under the skin all over the place. Eyes darting around like either he's lost control of his optic muscles or his higher brain functions. Or both! Embrace the power of and when you're talking about unknown pathogens. We get the requisite spooky shots of people in white suits with independent air supplies walking around in a glass case of emotion of plague and doom and people outside the glass case watching from shadows and obscured by the reflections in the glass. This is stock, this is visual tropes from all the outbreak horror, but it's a trope because it works. Both to set the mood and as shorthand, the visual equivalent of This is Srs Business. Alan's trying to communicate with Peter, who is so not home right now. Along the lines of communication (nice juxtapose there) Sarah asks Daniel about uploading information to the CDC. They don't have a T1 but they have an optical network that uploads information to a satellite for an hour each day. So at least that's something, and more than they might otherwise have given the remote location. On the other hand that's also a single communications channel to the outside world, and that will be relevant later, too. Sarah comments on his knowledge, and it turns out he learned it from Hatake, who's his foster father, adopting him from an orphanage in Barrow. This will also be relevant later! But not in the way anyone expects. Alan is still trying to communicate with Peter, who can barely respond and not in any way that indicates for certain whether or not he understands what Alan is saying or what he's replying. He does say something about The White Room, though. I'm being oh so good you guys, I will not earworm you even though I am right now. Alan's trying to reach him wavers between professional and emotional. Which, at least he's not breaking containment protocols so he can wibble verbally all he wants, and Walker's clearly keeping an eye on him. And on the blood sample which, eh, I don't know if black is an in-character hyperbole here, or a descriptor we're meant to accept because that's not black so much as very, very dark red. (Look, I deal with dyes and other colored liquids on a regular basis, I know how very dark liquid interacts with light, and the very edges of the liquid at the bottom are red before the light is completely absorbed. But that could simply be because having a black liquid show up on camera is sometimes hard.) While Alan is distracted by the black blood Peter will attack him with way more energy than he maybe should have! Miraculously in the ensuing struggle, it doesn't look like anyone's suit gets ripped or anything, but this should definitely be a warning sign that of course no one will heed. Walker manages to get some sedatives into him that take effect quickly enough, so all we get is a very angry Peter shouting something about how everyone lies. And the funny part here is, Alan and Walker have no reason to assume that this means sabotage, hidden agendas, or anything on the part of Arctic Biosystems because of their history of infidelity before! Oh good.

Alan is doing a field job of coping afterwards, which is to say he's coping exactly enough to get him through to the next task, and the next task, and the one after that, and not at all beyond that. I'm liking the blocking here, the women in warm red/pink clothes and Alan in, heh, black, and everything else beyond that in shadow. Julia up front, Sarah in back and more distant, Doreen is Ms Not Appearing In This Shot which isn't significant at all of course. (Given the series finale I'm laugh-sobbing even harder.) And then everything fades to white because that's what you do in the Arctic. It's only slightly more uplifting than a fade to black, and much more of a transition given that we're already pretty dark to begin with. It also thematically goes with the white room Peter mentioned, which is thematic although by now we've had so much info heaped upon our conscious and subconscious minds that it kind of slips right by there.

Okay! Over to less angsty things, mice! And what looks like a fucking zamboni crossing in front of the base, I don't even. Lots of wind power out here though, that's not entirely unreasonable if those turbines can handle the cold and we don't have to worry about bird death since, heh, what birds. Doreen is taking a history from Daniel: Peter's been assigned to that lab for six months ish, he doesn't know what Peter was working on, which isn't out of the realm of possibility given that he's ostensibly head of security. And given what he's already learned and expressed expertise in it's not out of the realm of possibility that he's guessed what Peter's working on, but he's also taciturn enough not to want to say that to strangers? Maybe. Doreen will now discover the lack of mouse/rat sex organs here, which, um. First of all, don't you want a broad spectrum of responses even across gender lines if you're testing things, don't you want your rats as natural as possible, the rats are already fairly isolated so I don't think breeding is going to be a problem oh never mind. I'm not entirely what purpose this line serves, except it does give an indication of how Arctic Biosystems is all oh yes here we'll take a perfectly good rat and give it anxiety fuck with it to make it BETTER. We don't need a problem to fix, look we made it better. And this is, in fact, the nutshell in which Helix lives. (A: "LOOK WHAT I HAVE DONE I HAVE MADE IMMORTALITY." " fucked up a perfectly good virus, look at it, it's got zombies.") And no, lab rats aren't more docile if you neuter them. Unless of course you neuter them after you fucked them up in other ways first. But I digress. Daniel also would like Doreen to believe they do not have monkeys, to which Doreen's disbelief is limited in its expression only by the show's airing on a basic cable channel. If I were her I would be starting at "the fuck you say." Daniel doubles down on his no monkeys! Literally. No, Daniel. No one believes you. I don't believe you, Doreen doesn't believe you, the surprised face in the jar which we will not pull out when we find the monkeys does not believe you.

Over to Peter and the other two victims, which have been liquified and are now pouring out of the bag. So it's a good thing they're in those nice clean suits isn't it! Perfect helmet for throwing up into and having it splash back on your face. Doubling down on the gross, though I can't say I blame her. The skulls also might have been scarred by whatever liquified the flesh into black goo, so that's fun. Is anyone else having X-Files flashbacks? Cut to Sarah washing herself up at the sink and promising that won't happen again, no, Sarah, you work for the CDC and if you're on a rapid response team that will totally happen again. Besides, you didn't contaminate anything or yourself, you're probably fine. Alan takes a moment to swing on the pendulum between what the absolute fuck and this is an unprecedented level of cool new virus. Liquification (google tells me this is actually liquefaction, I'm sorry) of organs is a stretch, what most hemorrhagic fevers do, which I believe are the most common type of disease that does this, is they disrupt the cellular integrity of a number of different organs, destroying them and destroying a number of blood vessel walls, creating uncontrolled bleeding and thus giving the impression of liquifying. It's pretty horrific even without the full-body liquefaction, which Alan rightly refers to as heretofore unseen levels of destruction. Sarah will get started on the samples, I think? Julia will talk to Hatake about what the researchers were working on, Alan will... do something else. That is not reconcile with his allegedly dying brother. Okay then.

Doreen will take off her suit way before anyone has any idea whether or not it's airborne, how long has that rat been exposed to air from the diseased rat? Not nearly fucking long enough. Yeah, I know, time compression for television, look, I get paranoid about this shit, okay? Doreen and Serrrgio make small talk about their respective careers, rats, the various lies being told around the base. I made that last one up but it's still true. And when Doreen finds monkey hair down the drain it's even more true! Yes, what are they hiding to do with these monkeys they said they didn't have.

Hatake's office is surprisingly full of warm colors and plants for someone who works out in the middle of the fucking Arctic. Or maybe it's not surprising at all. It's also ridiculously clean and ordered. Hatake comes in (we hear the door hiss so he's not just coming into camera range) after a second while they contemplate the Arctic and attempts to bond with her via small talk about how pretty and timeless and they get more accomplished without the distraction of the outside world. Julia would like to know if by outside world he means regulatory agencies, which from what we've seen so far is not inaccurate! Hatake will now proceed to be disarmingly helpful about providing files and documentation, a bullet points summary of what Peter was working on: mutagens. I question Julia's use of the word dangerous, although she could be referring to the clearly dangerous effect whatever those mutagens were (assuming they were) had in the lab. Hatake responds with you wouldn't want to let your children play with them and from the vantage point of having seen the whole series, I have to go off into a corner and laugh hysterically for a second now. Okay. Much better. Hatake asks Julia if she has children, it's a smiling warm moment that gets slightly stalkery with the way he looks at her, but also serves as a facepalming moment of foreshadowing for later. Much more obvious at the time is the way he answers way too quickly in the negative to Julia's question about, can he think of any connection between these mutagens and the unknown pathogen. Way, way too quickly. At least take a five-count to pretend to think about it, Hatake. This is why you can't have nice things.

Alan is looking around Peter's room! It's the same sort of sparse and clinical clean that Hatake's lab was, although Hatake's lab was more ordered than Peter's, I think. There are a few things in stacks. There are very few personal items and absolutely no sign of any extraneous piles. Which at first seems sinister, and it probably is, but on taking time to think about it it's probably also a sign of how much effort it takes to get any large amount of material out there. Peter may not have been here long enough to accumulate personal items, or he might have more research materials that he wanted to bring out rather than personal goods. Or, again, it's meant to be sinister and imply how much of his life is empty and/or taken up by work. And to pull our focus to the One Personal Item that Alan takes hold of, a childhood photograph of the two of them! Aw. Fairly boilerplate shortcut to brotherly love amidst a sea of what looks like landscapes and dog, interrupted by Sarah with her lack of results. Alan quickly goes back to looking for information like he'd done something shameful. Oh look a flash drive. With video diaries on it? The entry he selects is 224, which may be a number in a series or may be February 24th, hard to say. He begins with a status report, sort of in the manner of someone who's keeping track of a few basic things for physical health purposes. Given the potential psychological effects of being that close to the pole I can't say he's wrong to keep track like that, let alone Factors We Do Not Know About At This Time. He's apparently seeing someone with all the tepid enthusiasm of a man attending a tax preparation seminar. Dude, break it off already. Alan pauses and rewinds over Peter saying he's glad about being up here and that he understands certain things now, because that's never ominous at all. He zooms in (I don't see a zoom button on that panel does anyone else? He's just touching the screen, and it zooms. If my computer did that I'd have to keep resizing and refocusing even more than I already do) on Peter's hand making a gesture, tapping his collarbone. Dialogue with Sarah clarifies this for us that it's a secret signal they used to have when they were kids, meaning run like hell. Not just run like hell but run from their authority figure, their father figure, which will also be semi-significant or at least thematic later. The way the dialogue between him and Sarah is structured also gives the whole exchange a suspense or horror movie quality, with the same cadence. Heh. In case we didn't know what kind of show we were watching. And because these conversations always end with something on the theme of "run like hell", in comes Julia to interrupt whatever might have been said next to tell him that he needs to come to isolation about Peter.

The first person to enter the next scene isn't Alan but Daniel, while the computer solemnly warns us about contamination. Why yes. Peter's gone. Somehow escaped by oh my, ripping a hole in the roof. We cut that scene off in mid "contamination" and move to Hatake and Alan arguing about whose fault that was. Guys. What about setting aside who fucked protocol and focusing on the fact that a plague vector is running around loose in the facility, hmm? Hey, remember those RFIDs everyone was injected with? That'd be a good thing to remember now! Julia also raises a good point which is how the hell did a man supposedly on the brink of death not only stand up on his bed (one hopes, otherwise he jumped and that's a hell of a thing to do) and tear open the ceiling, but also hoisted himself up and into the whatever ducts or space is between the ceiling and the next floor. That's an impressive feat for a person in their full health, never mind plague-vector Peter. Daniel has answers to at least the immediate and urgent parts of these questions! Which is that they've sealed the entire floor and deactivated Peter's chip, at least so far effectively trapping him, and they're going to flood the area with halothane gas. A quick look tells me that halothane is an inhalational anesthetic but also unstable in light, so, um? That may or may not be a problem if he's in the crawlspace or ducts, I guess. Define, unstable, though. Is everything going to go funny and then explode? 'cause I don't wanna explode. It's been around since the 50s, though, so presumably they have some idea of what the potential side effects would be (rarely dangerous but side effects have been noted) and how fast and far it'll spread. Alan would like to register his objection to... something? Oh, to Daniel talking about retrieving his body, because Alan wants his antibodies. Well, to be more accurate, Alan's protesting for Peter's life on the basis of antibodies and usefulness, which isn't a bad argument to make although I don't think antibodies immediately become inert after death. Then again I also don't think halothane gas is supposed to cause death. Then again Daniel might be planning for death less as a side effect of the halothane and more as a result of the interaction of halothane and the black bile plague. It's hard to say because everyone's upset and taking conversational shortcuts. At least they've stopped West Winging it. And Hatake brings up the most urgent relevant point, which is to contain the walking plague vector thank you. Release the hounds gas!

Alan wants to go up with Daniel. Daniel doesn't want Alan to go up with Daniel. Alan isn't giving good reasons either, but that's only because he doesn't have any. Hatake just agrees, and we cut to the next scene without finding out if they're taking appropriate protocols to deal with the plague vector. Serrrgio and Doreen walking down a hall! Power-walking down a hall. The kind of walk people with Authoritah do, only because of the interplay of light and shadow both in the hallway construction and in the hallway lighting the whole thing has a definite ominous feel to it. Doreen is in lab coat white, Serrrgio is in his fatigues and talking about how they should just go ask about the monkeys and they have unrestricted access anyway, while Doreen is talking about how this way is more fun and waving her wrist at the door lock. Three times, take a shot. What was that you were saying about unrestricted access, Serrrgio? This also suggests she's right about not getting a straight answer from Hatake. Serrrgio will atone for his momentary naivete by finding away around the lock with liquid nitrogen. I honestly don't see why they needed to explain what liquid nitrogen does when your average science-fiction movie goer knows that adding liquid nitrogen to an object makes it freeze and shatter. Especially since according to all the science nitpicking I've read that extraneous line of dialogue was wrong, it rearranges the molecular strength. Anyway. Freeze and shatter. Etc. They're in!

We have three (take another drink!) repetitions of people clearing sectors before Daniel pokes Alan about check in dumbass. Alan is not so sure Peter's in there, Daniel is sure because Daniel is running on a lot of assumptions about what Peter can and can't do, the speeds he can move at, his strength, etc. Since it's time for spooky things, very little of this is actually lit by anything other than ambient TV lighting and flashlights. We intercut Alan crawling through the vent with Doreen and Serrrgio finding evidence of monkeys. Cages, fur, debris, smell. Busted cage doors from rage monkey escapes. None of this is very good. Oh look, Peter has black mucus. How the hell can you even tell that's black and not just dark blood oh well, never mind. The smears indicate something dark green-brown to black, so no, probably not blood. Certainly not normal blood. Good job, Alan, because Peter was so coherent last time he'll come right when you call him. Doreen and Serrrgio continue to inspect the cage area and track down a "way too smart" rat as the music in the background ramps up our nervousness in a Jaws-ian fashion, and something goes skittering behind Alan's legs down a cross duct! Alan hears it, and I'm not so sure that was a good thing. DOREEN WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING. Why are you going after the potentially diseased rat with oh god that's not a rat. Still, why are you going after it with nothing but your bare hands and a flashlight? Predictably, it attacks her with a jump scare, only to get clocked on the head by Serrrrrgio. He gets some extra r's for that one. Doreen would like him to be sure when he checks her for skin breaks etc, and I'm just going to say that they're eliding for time on this one because a full-on inspection would take more time than TV pacing allows. No, she's clean. Meanwhile Alan has found not-Peter, by the glassy stare he's found a dead body stripped of its uniform and lying in blood. Oh goodie. Too dead, though, to be what skittered behind him, so Peter's still in there somewhere and evidently the halothene gas didn't affect him in the slightest.

In the next scene the body is lowered down while Daniel reads off just enough of his CV that more sensitive viewers might empathize and be sad that he's dead. We also get a concluding shot as the body is lowered of the stump where his hand used to be. Remember what I was saying about Demolition Man, RFIDs in hands ripped off, etc? Yeah. Peter saw that movie too. Alan did not see that movie. Alan if you had seen that movie you would know exactly why he cut off his hand. The plan about everyone stays in their room or travels with a partner isn't a bad one though. As is the question about how the virus made him stronger instead of weaker (Alan says why but it's the same question, by what mechanism).

Julia and Sarah are in the lab! They are not finding any current viral structures. I don't have enough virology experience to nitpick the science here, but I do have enough general knowledge to hmm at Sarah suggesting it's not a current virus. For the reasons she goes on to explain, science teams have discovered viruses in the ice cores, there seems to be some debate in the real world currently as to whether or not it could be a threat to current human populations. I believe the last known science was, assume potential threat until proven otherwise. In this context, it's as good a potential source as any. Julia will respond to this perfectly good theory by making a personal remark. I feel like I'm going to be talking in Demolition Man voices for at least the rest of the episode (maniac has responded with a scornful remark!) which at least is less than six minutes away. Yeah, Sarah, you can deny it all you want because it hasn't been actualized yet but you know damn well what Julia is thinking because you know that other people are thinking it, too. Because, among other things, you can't be a woman in a STEM field and not be sexually harassed or have sexual assumptions made about you, apparently. Julia, stop pushing. You have work to do, stoppit. I mean, I can imagine why she's pushing, everything about the situation stings, but stoppit. The tiny squiggling... virus? Prion? Thing in the microscope screen will distract her at least, so they've found something. Julia turns it over to Sarah to finish while she goes to look for Alan to get his attention on the thing and what the everloving fuck is Serrrgio doing. We're going to have to take some of those r's away from you buddy. He's assembling something out of what looks like a hidden or sealed compartment in a pack. It's a satellite! That attaches to a coded handheld device by which he's sending a message. The coded handheld device tells him to feed it a stray cat do something as yet undetermined, and off he goes back into the blurry white from whence he came at least at the moment.. Ah but that's not the end of the scene! Which woudl have been good symmetry for entrance and exit. As he turns to go back he turns around again as though he realizes what he's just walked through and HOLY SHIT IT'S A FIELD OF TERRIFIED FROZEN MONKEYS. Oh that's not creepy or anything. There's anywhere from fifty to a hundred monkeys there, I supposed I could probably count and estimate but I don't feel like it. Nyah.

Back in the lab Hatake is watching Sarah, Julia, and Alan from a darkened observation room. Because that's not creepy either. Sarah talks about how they weren't sure what they were looking for until they started looking for prehistoric crap, something about a paraspherical? See also my insufficient knowledge base for this kind of thing, although I believe what they're referring to is the shape of the virus which impacts how it behaves and the effects it has and how it binds to the human body. I think. She shows them the zoomed thing, we focus back on Hatake and Serrrgio's coming up to talk to him. Whatever he was doing out in the snow, Hatake knew about it, although it's unclear whether that's because Serrrgio told him or because he is a spying spymaster. Hatake is the visual focus of this scene, too, until Serrrgio starts talking about failure to adapt. Whatever that means Hatake interprets it for the threat it clearly is, telling him that the delivery will be on schedule. Sergio the Traitor says that the schedule changed when the CDC shows up, so we've taken our first step from the zombie outbreak genre to the conspiracy genre. Though they're obviously not mutually exclusive. Hatake claims to have had nothing to do with the CDC and Serrrgio reads from the stock book of Now I Have To Clean Up Your Mess. Eh.

Meanwhile Sarah has found a minimal but statistically relevant mutation that, through no scientific mechanism given (lack of consultants available to properly fake up the science? The scene doesn't require it at least), implies the virus is changing or mutating Peter. This is, to some extent, actually something that can happen; a retrovirus will occupy a cell and insert a copy of its own DNA into the cell in order to replicate itself using an enzyme unique? to retroviruses called reverse transcriptase. There are current research projects involving the use of retrovirus for genetic therapy even in the real world, at least I suspect they're current, the most recent article I found on a cursory search was from 2011. Anyway. The underpinnings of it imply that it's possible, albeit obviously not to the scale depicted in the tv show as far as we know. Yet. That's why it's television and not news.

And we conclude with very clearly infected and kind of gross looking Peter walking down a hall to the jaunty tune of Do You Know The Way To San Jose? which clearly, given this show, means something fucked up is about to happen. Because that's how this show rolls! We don't see what the fucked up thing is, thank god. Just that he goes into a room, there's screaming, and black bile spatters on the window. Yum. Who's hungry. Blood pudding, anyone?

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