Recap – Persons Unknown 1.06 “The Truth”

The most recent episode of Persons Unknown was way back on July 5th, so if you don’t remember where we are, read a recap here.

“The Truth” opens with Joe running around the town square. McNair sits in his window, watching. Moira asks McNair if he has noticed anything unusual about Joe. No, McNair replies, and that’s the problem. Joe is acting in such a routine fashion, he must know that he’s being watched. “So what do we do?” Moira asks. McNair responds, “Keep watching.” In San Francisco, Renbe receives a phone call. The caller warns him that not only is he in danger, but since he brought Kat into his investigation, she is in danger too. He runs to her apartment and finds Kat tied up. When he frees her, he asks Kat if she was tied up by Men in Blue (MIB). She says that she was. They move to leave, but two MIB bust through the door. They train their guns on Renbe, so Kat picks up something heavy and knocks one of the men out with it. When the other MIB turns, Renbe hits him with a chair. They run out of the apartment and down the stairs, with the MIB in hot pursuit. As Renbe and Kat wind down the stairs, the MIB play the part of every bad guy chasing the good guys down the stair, and shoot wildly, unable to hit them. A man with a gun blocks the bottom of the stairs. It’s Reddick. He points his gun toward them, but shoots the MIB above. He warns Renbe and Kat that the MIB usually travel in groups of three, so they should escape pronto. They jump in Reddick’s car and speed away. Reddick warns them that if they don’t leave San Francisco, they will be killed. Kat screams her head off about wanting to know what’s happening, that is until Reddick knocks her out with the butt of his gun. He tells Renbe that he picked up their passports, and booked them two flights to Rome. If they want to live, they need to be on that plane.

The Captives dine at the Shanghai Palace for breakfast. Bill asks McNair what the plan is for Erika, but is told that there is nothing to do about her. Erika pops out from the kitchen, with a large, American-style breakfast — it seems that the guys in the kitchen will cook anything one asks for. Bill salivates over her meal, but she refuses to share it with him. Instead, she sits next to Janet and shares it with her. Bill tries to reach over to grab some, but Erika stabs him in the hand with her fork. The meal is for Erika and “Bright Eyes,” Erika’s nickname for Janet. In the observation room, Tom comments that he’s seen a number of women’s prison movies, so he knows how Erika and Janet’s breakfast is likely to end. Joe is not amused. He asks Tom if he has heard anything from their bosses. Tom has, but it’s nothing Joe has to worry about. Janet and Erika leave the restaurant, with Janet heading toward one of the stores and Erika to the hotel for a bath (a luxury she didn’t have in prison). Erika pushes the button for the elevator, but despite the indication that the elevator is on the Lobby floor, the doors don’t open. She pushed the button again, but again, the doors do not open. She turns to go up the stairs, when the doors finally do open, and Joe steps out. They share a look, and each move on.

Out in the gazebo, Charlie approaches Bill, who is gazing out toward mountains. “What’s on your tiny mind, Mr. Blackham?” Charlie teases. Bill replies that there is no way they are ever getting out of the town alive; however, he is not going to take it anymore. Clearly, Bill has a plan to do…something. Meanwhile, Erika enters Janet’s room and tells her about her encounter with Joe. Even though he didn’t say anything, his expression, like that of someone who got caught doing something wrong, shouts out that he is a snitch — Joe has something to hide. Cut to Tori’s funeral in Rome. Her father, the Ambassador, is giving a eulogy to the gathered mourners, including Renbe and Kat. As he describes how much he loved his daughter, a man stands up and screams, “Liar!” The man, Stefano (although he was never named in the episode), approaches the Ambassador and pulls a gun on him. This creates a ridiculous Mexican Standoff, with approximately elevnty billion mourners pulling guns on each other. Fortunately, the Ambassador is able to calm the gunmen; Stefano and his men leave. Renbe, however, decides to follow Stefano, thinking that he might have some information on Janet and Tori’s disappearance. The Italians, however, aren’t too keen on two Americans following them, and they grab Renbe. Kat, who speaks fluent Italian (of courseshe does!), convinces the men that they are just reporters, and mean no harm. When the men release the Americans, Kat demands to go home, but Renbe convinces her to stay, noting that Stefano is their only lead.

Back in town, Bill decides that he has had about enough of his situation. He comes down into the lobby with a sledgehammer (I assume he got that from the Wal-Mart that seems to be in the town), and starts taking it to the furniture in the hotel. When questioned on his actions, he responds that there are two types of people: “A People” are ready to fight. “B, for ‘ People” are satisfied with their condition. Bill is an A person. He is going to fight to take back control of his life because “Control is power, and power feels pretty damn good.” Later, Erika follows Joe into the elevator. As it ascends, Erika hits the Stop button, bringing the elevator to a screeching halt. She asks Joe, “Who are you?” When he responds that he’s “just a guy,” Erika tells him that he doesn’t have her fooled. Further, she warns him, “Stay away from Janet….I got dibs.” In Rome, Renbe and Kat walk through the streets, wondering what their next move should be. As before, Renbe wants to pursue Stefano, and Kat wants to go home. The argument doesn’t get very far before they notice that they are being followed. They start to run, but are cornered by Stefano’s head stooge, Blonde Italian Guy, and thrown into a car.

Janet and Joe walk through the town square. Seeing that Joe’s thinking about something, Janet asks if he is OK. He, in turn, asks if Erika has asked Janet about him. He tells Janet that Erika cornered him in the elevator, and doesn’t trust her motives. Janet replies that Erika said the same thing about Joe. He pauses, then tells Janet that if it will help her trust him, he will tell her anything she wants to know. Janet mulls this over, and asks a simple question, “Where are we?” (not on a tropical island with a polar bear, right Mr. Pace?). Joe moves to answer, but is immediately struck by an intense pain in his stomach. He bellows and vomits. Janet wants to help, asking if he had too much to drink, but he replies that he doesn’t drink alcohol. She asks if he wants her to help him to his room, but he refuses the assistance. Instead, he makes his way through the hotel lobby, past the other Captives, and into the elevator. The doors close and he presses the sequence of buttons that should lead him down to the observation room, but the elevator is silent. He presses the sequence again, but again, the elevator does not respond. The Captives hold their breath as they see that the elevator is not moving to a higher floor, just as Moira described and to which Erika was witness. Joe pleads to Tom (via the elevator’s security camera) to help him, but nothing happens. Finally, the elevator stirs, but it moves up, and not down. As the floor indicator ticks upward in the lobby, Janet, most of all, releases a sigh of relief.

In Rome, Renbe and Kat have been brought to Stefano’s hideout. Stefano doesn’t believe that they are journalists as they write for a trashy tabloid. Renbe insists that they are: they areinvestigating the link between the disappearances of Tori and Janet. When Stefano still doesn’t believe him, Renbe asks about the MIB. Does Stefano remember Tori being taken away by MIB? Janet was as well, and they have the video to prove it, Kat offers. They show Stefano the videos of both abductions. After viewing them, Stefano explains that he and Tori were in love, and planning to elope. The night before they were to run away, Tori disappeared. He had done his own investigation, and also had seen the MIB. He figured the kidnappers were somehow linked to the Ambassador. Kat offers that Stefano clearly can’t get into the embassy to investigate, so perhaps she and Renbe should go on a “fishing expedition” to the embassy instead.

Upstairs in his room, Joe is suffering, alone, in bed. A wall in his room moves and reveals Tom. Joe pleads for help, but Tom explains that both of them have committed their lives to the Program, so he knows that has to let the situation play out as it is. They are doing it for “the greater good,” Tom explains. Joe just sinks back into his bed, and Tom leaves. Later, the Captives gather around Joe. Moira believes that Joe has been poisoned. She thinks that there might be some sort of antidote around town somewhere, so they should all go look for whatever they can find. Joe begins to shake, and Janet coos to him, “Please hang on.” As they leave, Erika checks in with Janet, wanting to know if she’s OK; she wants to protect Janet, especially form Joe. Janet responds that she doesn’t need protection — not from Erika, not from anybody.

Renbe and Kat enter the embassy dressed as a priest and nun (what the WHAT?!?!) to attend either Tori’s wake, or some other party. They scan the room, find the Ambassador, but also notice the high level of security. Most notably, there is a secure door that leads back to the embassy’s offices. Not knowing how they will get through the door without the required key card, Kat creates a diversion by pretending to faint and knocking over an ice sculpture. The Ambassador runs to her aid, and as he lifts her up, she pickpockets his key card. She hands it to Renbe who slinks away toward the door. Once through, he makes his way to the Ambassador’s office. He searches the room, and seeing a bookcase, waves the key card across it. He hears a click, and pulls on a book to reveal a hidden space. In the space is a file containing a number of photos, including one of Tori, Janet and Joe in the town. Renbe quickl;y takes pictures of the photo with his camera phone (which I am surprised was not used as an opportunity for BPP — Blatant Product Placement), and after hiding form a security officer, returns to the party.

The Captives have gathered what they believe are two possible antidotes. Not knowing exactly what poison is afflicting Joe, either one of the could kill him. Erika arrives with a large glass of vodka. She explains that when she was in prison, one of the other inmates exhibited the same symptoms: those of antifreeze poisoning. The vodka will neutralize the antifreeze immediately. She moves to give him the drink, but before she does, she wants to know the truth. Janet just wants Erika to give him the vodka, but the others know the value of what Erika is doing. Taunting Joe with his salvation, Erika asks him, “Are you one of them?” Joe pauses, but eventually nods, “Yes.” Erika fees him the vodka. He drinks, and sputters, clearing the poison from his system. He lays back down, spent, but alive. Bill, unbelieving that they would let Joe live, jumps on Joe and tries to choke him to death, but he is pulled off by McNair. What are they going to do with Joe, Charlie wonders. McNair offers that Joe is good for information. “Or a bargaining chip,” Moira adds.

Waiting in the back of a cab, Renbe shows Kat the picture he took in the Ambassador’s office. The driver says he has to run inside a store for a minute, leaving his passengers to discuss what to do next. Seeing the outline of Shanghai Palace in the picture, Renbe offers that they could search for every Chinese food place between San Francisco and Rome. Kat suggests that they just go home. To be honest, she’s tired of looking for Renbe’s ex-wife, and as she goes into another mini-tirade, Renbe cups her face and kisses her. As they kiss, hwoever, the car doors lock and a beeping commences. Figuring what is about to happen, Renbe kicks open the door, pulls Kat out, and runs up the street, jsut as the taxi explodes in a massive fireball behind them. Clearly, someone wants them dead.

Back in his room, Joe wakes to find Janet watching over him. He wonders what happened to him. Janet asks if he remembers what he told them the night before. He does. He apologizes to Janet, telling her that he wanted to tell her desperately, but he wanted to protect her. Janet responds by punching him in the face and leaving. The shot switches to the security camera feed, and then a shot of Tom watching from the observation room. “What are we going to do with you, Joe?” Tom wonders. But then, something catches his attention on another screen. It’s Erika, dumping a large can of antifreeze out into her sink. “Here’s to us, Bright Eyes,” she says with glee as the contents drain down the sink. With a twinkle in her eye, she looks up at the security camera, leaving Tom stunned and perplexed.

Commentary

To be honest, I don’t really know what to think about this episode. On one hand, I liked the story of Joe being discovered as a member of the Captors’ conspiracy. This revelation is going to lead to some great stuff between Janet & Joe, Joe & Tom, and really Joe & Everybody. Further, this was some of the best acting Jason Wiles has done on the show, albeit, most of it was just writhing in agony (and the “Ow, ow, ow!” when he first got sick was a bit laughable). All in all, however, this development is giving the story some forward momentum, which I appreciate. Secondly, I, for the first time, kind of dug the Renbe story, although it was simply for the reason that it actually did something to move the story forward. And explosions are always cool. Last, I like Erika. I don’t completely understand her motives, which, so far, is a good thing. I like that she’s tough, and can see through everyone. Further, I like that she’s a rival to Joe for Janet — not in a sexual way (although, I guess that’s there too), but rather Janet will eventually have to choose sides, which is a good story device.

On the other hand, there was a lot of just plain ridiculousness going on in this episode. First, if Joe was poisoned by ingesting antifreeze, I don’t think it would just hit him in a split second as he was walking down the street. Second, that showdown at Tori’s funeral was a little much. I understand that the Ambassador’s guards would have guns, but they would have shot Stefano dead immediately if he came at the Ambassador with a gun drawn, especially after the Ambassador’s daughter was just found dead. Then all of Stefano’s goons pulled guns? John Woo was somewhere, shaking his head in disgust. Third, why in God’s name were Renbe and Kat dressed like a priest and nun? Seriously? Seriously?!? I literally laughed out loud when I saw that. There is no way those disguises wouldn’t have made them more suspicious entering the embassy. I mean, I know it’s Rome and there’s a lot of Catholics around, but come on. Fourth, the idea of “Hey, let’s go find antidotes!” was even too implausible for this show. Like any of these people would know where to find an antidote to poison. Not to mention, like it would be in the town somewhere. I forgot, this is the kidnapping town where sledgehammers, rain ponchos, rifles and pick-axes are readily available. Last, not enough Alan Ruck.

So, “The Truth” was pretty much like every other episode of Persons Unknown: some of it was ridiculous, but there was enough good material that I will be coming back next week. Speaking of next week, my recap will probably be up on Monday again because I will be attending the San Diego Comic Con, and won’t be coming home until Sunday night. But I think Monday recaps for the remainder of the series work well, right? We’re all trying to enjoy the weekend, so perhaps getting the recap up on Monday mornings works for everyone. How does that sound? What did you all think of the episode? Were you happier with the Renbe storyline (disguises aside), as I was? How do you think Joe’s revelation will play amongst the Captives? How long into the next episode before Janet and Joe reconcile? Please leave your comments, thoughts and questions below or in the Discussion Boards. I’ll be back Monday with another recap. Until then, I’m off to dream about bacon.

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