Recap – Persons Unknown 1.09 “Static”

Did you miss last week’s Persons Unknown? Well, I have a helping of recap here for you.

This week’s episode begins with a naked and bald Joe lying in the middle of the town square surrounded by poor special effects….er…blowing leaves. Janet comes out of the hotel and ushers him inside. Joe is bewildered and cold, so Charlie gives him a blanket. McNair enters the hotel lobby from upstairs and demands answers. Janet takes the lead on asking the questions. “Where were you?” she asks. “Outside in the cold,” Joe sincerely responds. “Did the Program do this to you?” Janet inquires. “How do you know about the Program?!” Joe fires back. The Captives respond that Joe told them about the Program. Now freaking out a bit, Joe says that he doesn’t remember any of them, and leaves the lobby to put on some clothes. Later, he enters the Shanghai Palace, asking for #47, the Okra Special. When the waiter doesn’t respond, Joe marches into the kitchen, again asking for the special. He moves to the freezer and tries to enter a code on the thermostat, but nothing happens. The passage to the Observation Room is sealed. He asks the cooks where Tom is, but one oly gestures toward a small shrine built to the dead restaurant host. Picking up that his best friend is dead, Joe moves into the dining room and stands on a table, and stares directly into one of the security camera domes.

A rush of people monitoring video screens mills about. Each of their screens shows a different camera focused on the town. Above them is a large delta symbol (not the airline or faucet company, but the Greek letter denoting “change”). Liam Ulrich (played by Alan Smyth) stands above the scene, and demands to know where is the communication line to the Director for which he has been asking. Clearly, Ulrich is in charge of surveillance for the town. There, Erika checks in on Janet. Janet swears she’s fine, but that once she thinks she has a handle on their situation, everything changes. Erika assures her that she, Janet, is the strongest out of all of the Captives. This town is even starting to wear Erika down, but not Janet. That makes Janet dangerous to their captors. Maybe that’s why they brought Joe back, to mess with Janet, to break her. “They’re scared of you,” Erika notes.

Down in a dingy South American hotel room, Renbe and Kat take stock of their situation. They are down to 200 pesos, and Renbe wants a double-double cheeseburger. Kat searches the want ads for a job, thinking that she’ll earn a bit of money so they can actually fly home. There is a knock at the door. It is the hotel manager looking for Renbe. When Renbe comes to the door, two policemen push past the manager and grab Renbe, saying he is under arrest pursuant to a request by the City of San Francisco. Back in town, Moira sees Joe and offers to help him should he need anything; and by that, she means, when he’s ready to explain himself and the Program, she’ll be the first in line to hear. Moira departs, and the Night Manager enters. He tells Joe that if he needs anything, just to ring his bell. During this conversation, a buzzer coming form the Night Manager’s office is heard, so when Joe goes back upstairs, the Night Manager runs into his office to answer the buzzer. He enters a code on a phone and a computing station emerges from the desk. A video conference with Ulrich starts up. Ulrich tells the Night Manager that he is supposed to be watching Joe at all times. Before there is a response, Ulrich says to remain quiet until the Director can get online. She does and asks the Night Manager if he thinks Joe is “competent” to complete his mission. The Night Manager responds that he doesn’t know. The Director asks to speak to the ranking officer or someone there with a psychology background. The Night Manager reluctantly informs her that there is no officer in the town any longer, and no replacement has arrived yet. This does not please the Director in the least. She tells the Night Manager to continue watching Joe and signs off. The Director tells Ulrich that Joe is their most promising candidate for the Tenth Level in a long time, so Ulrich needs to get the situation under control immediately.

Renbe is bailed out of jail by Kat and Father Luis (who had given them the information about Father Joe last episode). They need to escape as soon as possible, so Father Luis orders them to get into the two coffins in the back of his truck. After hesitating, Renbe and Kat do as the Father says. In the Shanghai Palace, Charlie tells the Captives that he thinks Joe is good. McNair says that they should just leave him alone and avoid him. Moira disagrees, “We should use him, or eliminate him from the equation.” Joe enters for some food (“They only serve Chinese good here!”). Charlie tells him that they have a pretty good relationship. In fact, he took a bullet for Joe, and believes he’s deserves recompense. Joe says he’s sorry, but there’s nothing he can do. Janet tries to talk to Joe in the kitchen as he makes himself a sandwich. She tells him that they had a great relationship too, but Joe scoffs. “You’re not my type,” he spits. “What about your promise to get us all out of here?” she asks. Joe says that he can’t help. Janet reaches for him and touches his shoulder. Chuck…I mean…Joe, flashes, grabs Janet by the throat and throws her over a counter. He squares off with McNair who comes to Janet’s aid, but is able to run out of the restaurant.

Later, the Captives meet to discuss Joe. Erika wants to kill him, but Bill wants to take a nap. Charlie insists that Joe has value. Janet just says that they need to find Joe soon before he can hurt anyone else. Meanwhile, the Night Manager calls a Code Red to Ulrich because he can’t find Joe on any of his cameras. It turns out that Joe is on top of one of the buildings, watching as the Captives search for him. Down in South America, Father Luis stops at a border crossing, and after a couple tense moments with the guard, is allowed to pass through. He stops his truck later to let Renbe and Kat out. He tells them that in the past, in his village, there have been stories of “Los Azules,” the Blue Men (No, not these Blue Men) taking people. Just then, a bullet pierces Father Luis’ brain! The Men In Blue have been following Renbe and Kat, so they run off into the woods. Back in town, after another dressing down by Ulrich for calling the Code Red, the Night Manager packs his bags for escape. He opens his door to find Joe standing in the doorway. He asks Joe if he needs anything, and Joe responds that he wants the Okra Special. Joe continues, asking if he has had prior contact with the “participants” before. Yes, he has. What about Tom? He’s dead. Janet? Joe knows her very well, the Night Manager replies. He then makes the mistake of touching Joe’s shoulder. Joe flashes again and grabs the Night Manager. Joe drags him out into the hotel lobby, making sure to take every opportunity to throw him into things. He beats and kicks the Night Manager repeatedly, and finally throws him through the hotel lobby’s window. Joe rushes off, leaving the Night Manager for dead. Hearing the commotion, the Captives rush to the Night Manager and take him inside. That night, Janet muses that they are playing right into their captors’ hands. Moira says it is Janet’s fault because Joe loves her. She then has the idea that they should use that love to draw Joe out. Erika objects to using Janet as bait, but Janet agrees with Moira. She will try to find Joe, alone, or else he won’t come out.

The Director dresses down Ulrich, telling him that Joe’s actions are an error for which she holds Ulrich personally responsible. This type of error cannot happen again. Ulrich assures her that it won’t. Meanwhile, Renbe and Kat seem to have shaken the MIB. As they trudge through the woods, Kat complains about everything that has happened to them (and pretty much any and everything in the world), ending on whether Renbe is on this search for Megan’s sake, as he has asserted, or really for Janet. Renbe insists he’s doing this for Megan, and to make up for his selfishness since his daughter was born. Further, (in an absolutely painful scene) he swears that he has more love for Kat than he has had for anyone. This satisfies Kat, and they continue their trek.

Janet makes her way onto the roof of the hotel, and find Joe standing on the ledge. He begs her to stay away from him because if she gets too close, he’s likely to kill her. When Janet asks why, he replies that something has been done to his head, to him. Janet pleads with him to fight it then. “If you do this, they win!” she implores. Joe starts to fall back, so Janet grabs him. Joe flashes, jumps down, grabs Janet by the throat and dangles her over the ledge (cue second terrible special effect: awful green screen!). Janet begs Joe to look at her. “Come back to me,” she cries, “We can get through this together.” Joe’s brain flashes over and over. “Like you said, ‘The way out is the way through,'” Janet tells him. This gets through to him, as he pulls her back up to safety. The Director, having watched the whole scene (now they have a camera on the roof, but the Night Manager couldn’t find Joe earlier on the roof?), comments to Ulrich, “Interesting and unexpected. There is something out of the norm about her [Janet].” Ulrich needs to be on top of this situation, so she’s sending him into the town. They need a new Night Manager after all.

Janet comes downstairs with Joe and warns the others to leave him alone. Moira says that the group has decided that Joe is a danger. Erika moves to grab Joe, but Janet punches her in the face. “You have it your way, Bright Eyes,” Erika says. She continues, under her breath, “Sooner or later, that boy’s going to be the death of you.” Back in South America, Renbe and Kat find tire marks. Hoping that they are not from the MIB who are pursuing them, they follow the tracks. They round a corner, and are stopped dead. It’s the Captives’ town!

Commentary

I will fully admit that I might be a bit hard on this episode, having been very tired when I watched it after watching my niece and nephew all weekend. That said, I did not think this was a good episode of Persons Unknown. First, the strongest part of the series has been the production value. No matter the script, plot or acting deficiencies, the look of the show has always been fantastic. In this episode though, we had the awfully done blowing leaves at the beginning, and the so very obvious green screen toward the end. Blech, but I’m willing to give them a pass because the rest of the series has been so fantastic in that regard. Also, Renbe and Kat finding the town was so obvious that it held no real surprise for me. I mean, once they were wandering through the woods, being pursued by a brigade of MIB (who would be close to the town they are protecting), it was inevitable that they would find the town.

Now, how Renbe and Kat will interact with the town and what that means for the Captives (and Janet and Renbe’s first meeting), I find rather intriguing. I’m glad they found the town, if not the manner in which they did. Also, I was very happy to see a bit behind the curtain cloaking the conspirators. I wish a little bit more exposition was given as to what their goals are (World domination? Soul saving? Gambling enterprise?), but meeting Ulrich and the Director (for a more in depth introduction) was a good start. Granted, there are only four episodes left, so they should get moving, but I’ll take what I can get.

So, not my favorite episode, but there was enough good to bring me back next week. What did you think of “Static?” Any problems with the sub-par effects? What about Ulrich and the Director? Are you sad to see the Night Manager go? What effect do you think Renbe and Kat’s presence will have on the town. How will Janet react to Renbe? Please leave your questions, comments and theories below or in the Forums. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to downsize with extreme prejudice.

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