Recap – Persons Unknown 1.08 “Saved”

If you missed last week’s episode of Persons Unknown, read the recap here.

“Saved” opens with the town trashed and the winds a-blowin’. The images are blurry, as Joe walks out into the square. He sees Tom, and, as Tom is dead, Joe asks his old friend if he is dreaming, or worse, if they are both dead. Tom assures Joe that he is not dead; rather, Joe “has been saved.” Joe’s reaction is perfectly summed up by his reaction: a loud, long, bellowing “Noooooooooo!!!!!” Joe wakes up strapped to a surgery table with a shaved head, and a melange of wires, tubes and sensors attached to his body. A disembodied female voice says over a speaker that things have gotten off track with Joe. They need to “fix” him, and unfortunately, it’s going to hurt. In the hotel, Janet tears apart Joe’s room, searching for any clue that will lead to his whereabouts. Erika grabs a hold of Janet to stop her. Janet calms down, left with a question on her lips, “Where did they take you?” Back in the white room holding Joe, he stirs to the sounds of whispers (just free them from the Island, Joe!), and is then greeted by the speaker voice again. The voice explains that Joe has two options: 1) he can come back to the Program, or 2) his body won’t be able to withstand the “re-education” anymore, and will expire. The voice concludes, “Joe, you know that you can never leave the program.” With that, Joe falls back unconscious.

Joe is back in his blurry dream. He is with Tom, overseeing the arrival of the Captives. When he asks Tom about the number of people brought in, Tom says that seven is the number that “just works.” He shows Joe to his room. Upon seeing it, Joe comments that this is the room where he was reborn, but when he sees Janet being wheeled into her room, he starts hearing her voice. She begs him to come back. Joe wakes to the sound of the speaker voice. She asks if Janet is really worth it. Was there something that They mssed about her? Joe does not (cannot?) respond.

Meanwhile, during the Globe-Trotting Adventures of Renbe and Kat (I smell spinoff!!), the newspaper duo arrive in South America, searching for Dr. Angela Barrigan: the only person to escape the Program. They meet with the head of the hospital they were told to go to, but are met with surprising news. Angela is not a doctor there; she is a patient. Moreover, Angela has been deemed insane. They are told that Angela, convinced she was still in some faux reality, poisoned the town’s water supply, dangering a number of infant children. She was committed to the hospital, and is not allowed visitors. A few American dollars, however, gets Renbe and Kat into see her. The pair go to her cell, and are met by a straitjacketed Angela. She is reticent to speak with them, as she keeps glancing up at the security camera in her cell. Not that what she says makes much sense anyway. She goes on and on about churros she used to buy for the town’s children when she first arrived. In fact, she won’t speak about the Program until she gets one of those churros from the store located at 211 Avenida del Pilar. As unhelpful as she is, Renbe wants to keep questioning her, but Kat realizes that they won’t get any answers out of her until they get her the churro, so off they go in search of Latin cinnamon pastry sticks.

Bill enters Charlie’s room where the latter is tending to his bullet wound. “You dead yet?” Bill jokingly asks. He continues, saying that he has been thinking about what Joe said, that they were all chosen because of their potential. Charlie, never missing an opportunity to taunt his nemesis Bill, responds, “It’s not true. What potential do you have?” The chided Bill slinks form Charlie’s room, with Charlie continuing to fire taunts at Mr. Blackham. In her room, Moira fills more of her walls with notes; the most recent of which regard Joe’s disappearance. McNair enters, but Moira doesn’t respond to him. He asks the obvious, “It bothers you, what I did?” She concurs, leading him to tell her that she is the only person he trusts in the town. He could have lied to her, but he didn’t. He is ashamed of what he did, but he did do it. He has decided that he is not going to run away from his past anymore. With that declaration, he exits, leaving Moira crying in silence.

Janet is in Joe’s room. She scans the destructed room, unable to figure out how he disappeared. She pulls out his Bible, and retrieves the drawing Joe made of her. She stares at it and says, “I trusted you,” before crumbling it up, and throwing it into the pile of rubble before her. Cut to Joe splayed out on the table in the white room. The speaker voice says that the Program needs Joe. The world needs Joe. It continues, saying that “The only way out is the way through.” This sends Joe’s mind to Janet, who first told him this. He admits that he loves her. In response, however, Janet (in Joe’s dream) tells him, “You have to accept, Joe.” The dream disappears as shocks course through Joe’s body again. His body twitches until everything goes black.

Joe wakes again in the white room. The speaker voice begins to talk, but this time, it is no longer over the speaker. Instead, it is in the room. A nurse walks in. It’s Tori!! (Let me note, I did NOTsee this coming. Kudos to the writers. I should’ve recognized the voice though!) Joe asks her if she is alive, or is he just supposed to remember her. She responds that he knows that he can’t leave the Program. She administers some drugs, and Joe falls unconscious again. He flashes into a dream, where Tom tells him that he is about to meet the Director of the Program. When he enters the Director’s office, she greets him as Father Tucker (Father Tucker?!? OK, Persons Unknown, you’ve got me twice now!), but he says, “It’s just Joe now.” She smiles and tells him that she sees a lot of potential in him. Joe is the future of the Program.

Kat and Renber, meanwhile, head to 211 Avendia del Pilar, but find no churro shop. As Kat investigates the building, Renbe is distracted by a fence contianing pictures of a number of missing people. He hones in on a man with bushy hair, a beard, glasses and a clerical collar. This is the man in the picture of Tori, Janet and Joe. They take the picture to a nearby church, where the priest in residence confirms that the pictures of the missing man and Joe are indeed the same person. The man is Father Joe Tucker. Joe was the pastor at the church for five years before he disappeared. He was accused of aiding the country’s rebels, and was taken away by the government. The priest shows them a picture from the newspaper of Joe’s arrest, but it is not government agents leading him away. Rather, it’s the Men in Blue.

Sitting in the hotel bar, Bill gets his drink on. He lights up a cigarette as Erika enters. He asks her if she’d like to join him, but she says, purposely unconvincingly, that she can’t. She’s busy. Bill protests that he thought they had a kinship. Erika replies that they had a common enemy, but with Joe gone, Bill is just useless. “If you died,” Erika continues, “would anyone give a rat’s ass?” As she leaves, Bill mutters to himself, “Go to Hell.” Back in the white room, Joe asks Tori what she is doing for the Program. She answers that she is whatever They need her to be. Her father sending her to the Program was the best thing that could have happened to her. She has a purpose, a vocation. Joe fires back that he hada vocation, but it was taken away from him. Tori coolly replies, “How strong was your commitment to the church in the first place?” This question sends Joe back into another dream. Back in his priest clothing, collar, and long hair, Joe is in the hotel, pointing a gun at another man. The man pleads for his life, but Joe yells to the security camera, “Is this what you want? You want me to kill him?” Joe fires, not once, but four or five times into the man’s chest. He moves into the bathroom, and stares into the mirror. He removes his priest collar. Joe opens the medicine cabinet and sees a reflection of Tom in the mirror. Tom tells Joe that he is ready. As Joe asks, “Ready for what?” Tom tasers him and drags him away.

Back in South America, Renbe and Kat enter Angela’s cell. They show her the pictures of Joe, and explain to her that he, Tori and Janet have been abducted. Angela begins to fray,exclaiming that she was told that her abduction never happened. Angela freaks out, breaks her straitjacket and attacks Kat. Hospital employees bust in and subdue her, freeing Renbe and Kat. In town, Bill is in his room. He looks up to the black security dome and asks if They are awake. He wants to know what this is all about. “I’m here with misfits….I have no potential….I’m the donut hole,” he says. Bill continues, saying that he has no one at home, and he has no one there in town. It is a mistake that they took him because he is no one special. “I just want to go home,” he finally implores. McNair enters Moira’s room and finds her washing all of her notes off the walls. He asks her to stop, but she replies that the notes only meant something when McNair though it was important; when he thought shewas important. He assures her that they, and she, still do. McNair takes her face in his hands and kisses her, but Moira backs away, saying “I can’t do that,” and runs from the room.

In the white room, Joe begs Tori to leave him alone. She tells him that his love for Janet is going to kill him. As he is being shocked again and passing in an d out of consciousness, he replies, “I’m not giving her up,” which sends him into another dream. He and Janet are on the edge of the South American town. “We believe in you, Joe. Why don’t you believe in us?” Tori’s voice penetrates Joe’s dream. Joe flashes on the moments he and Janet have shared during their captivity. “We need you, Joe! We’re trying to help you,” Tori says. Finally passing out, Joe tells Janet that there has to be a way out. “There is no way out, Joe. The way out is the way through,” Janet tells him. “You would never say that,” Joe replies. “You can never leave the Program,” she replies and repeats.

Erika, McNair, Charlie and Moira are gathered in the hotel lobby. Erika closes a folder, noting that there is nothing in Janet’s file that would suggest that she is part of the conspiracy. As Bill walks in, unnoticed, she continues, saying that Bill is a better candidate. “Yeah, Blackham’s too ‘nothing,'” Charlie notes. Hearing this, Bill backs out of the hotel. He sits on the edge of town and tries to light a cigarette. A strong wind blows, however, and knocks the matches out of his hand. Bill chases them as they blow away. He finally catches up with them, and realizes that he is beyond the pain fence. He turns and runs away from the town, but stops. He looks back, and asks, “Where am I going? Nowhere.” Bill turns around and walks back into the town!

Renbe and Kat meet again with the head of the hospital. He angrily tells them that Angela is no longer in her cell, that no one knows what happened to her, and that the Americans should leave the whole situation alone. Kat tells Renbe that she wants to go to the police, but Renbe wants to go home — Megan needs a father. Kat replies that Megan also needs a mother, and moreover, she needs the truth. Bill enters his room and addresses the security camera dome. “I didn’t go. That should prove something to you,” he says. His plea is answered with silence.

Back in the white room, Tori promises that They only have Joe’s best interests at heart. Joe, however, is in another dream. He remembers when Janet had him at gunpoint, but as opposed to what actually happened, this time, Janet shoots him. This causes Joe to crash. As doctors and nurses try to revive him, Joe’s consciousness views the proceedings. Tom appears, and Joe asks if he chooses the Program, will he live. Tom replies, “You don’t choose the Program — the Program chooses you.” Joe flashes into a dream where he sees Tom again. Tom tells Joe that the old friends are not going to see each other again. They hug. The scene flashes back to the white room. It, and the table Joe was on are empty. The door slams shut.

Commentary

For those Lost fans out there, I felt that “Saved” was akin to “Happily Ever After,” the Season Six episode that showed Desmond’s awakening, that started to explain waht the Sideways world meant, and that almost all viewers thought should have come earlier in the season. Like that episode, I felt that “Saved” should have come earlier in the season. This may seem a little silly to say about a 13-episode series, but the narrative that was told in this episode was excellent, and certainly filled me with a desire to find out what is going to happen next. All of the intrigue around Joe (He’s a priest! He killed a guy in the town! He can be reprogrammed!) was phenomenal. What led him to killing the man in the town when he was first abducted? Why did he want to become a part of the Program? What does he actually dofor the Program? These are all questions that arose, or were focused on, because of this episode. My fear is that there won’t be enough time to answer them fully. As far as the rest of the Captives, for the first time, I found Bill not annoying. Why would he turn around and go back to the town?!? Why is he so self-loathing? Why doesn’t Moira want to kiss McNair? Has Janet actually given up on Joe? These are all great questions that are giving the characters some depth, causing the audience to actually care about them. Now, if this was a regular series, it would be about this time (eighth episode) that the audience would start to care for characters. The problem with Persons Unknownis that everyone knows that the series will only be thirteen episodes. So, for me, it should have been imperative that this type of episode come earlier in the season (in some way. Obviously, this exact episode wouldn’t work earlier in the season) to create a strong audience-character relationship. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen.

Now, it wouldn’t be a week of this series if I didn’t complain about something. As great as I thought this episode was, I still had two problems. First, was the manner in which they showed Joe’s dreams. That blurry, kind of strobe effect where the audience sees every third frame of film so the image jumps around a bit was very distracting when used in longer scenes. More than thirty seconds of that effect was too much, as it made the scene become a “Look at how cool we made this scene look!” lesson. Secondly, was Jason Wiles’ acting as Joe. When I was at Comic-Con, one of the folks I met there absolutely loves Jason Wiles from his work on Third Watch. I will admit, I never watched that show, but from looking at his credits, it’s obvious he is a successful actor. I don’t know what it is about this role, but he is just not striking me as good. Most of his line readings fall flat and with an air of insincerity. Now, one could argue that Joe is conflicted about his role in the Program and wanting to subtly reveal the truth to Janet, but I think that is a level of nuance that just isn’t at play here. Even his bellowing in pain has been hackneyed and awful (remember when he was poisoned and was screaming, “Ow, Ow, OW!”?). I would need to see him in some other roles to make any kind of judgment as to his skill as an actor overall, but in this role, he just seems to be a weak link.

Alright, that’s what I have for this week. What did you think of the episode? Any theories as to where the show is going form here? What is Bill’s deal, and why did he return (really? He jsut doesn’t have anyone to go back to so he wants to stay?!?)? How long into the next episode will Janet “awaken” Joe after his reprogramming? Was Tori real? Please leave your questions and comments below, or in our Persons Unknown forum. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to get that boil on my ass lanced.

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