Charlie Jade Recap: “Choosing Sides”

Well I may have killed a few people, I may have even enjoyed it. But you want to walk away from 10 billion people. And they’re all going to die without your help. Which one of us is a psychopath? – 01 Boxer

Remember a few weeks ago when Charlie and 01 got a minute or two together on screen and it sparkled? What do you think about an entire act of the two together?

I had a chance to interview Michael Filipowich a couple weeks back; we’ll be posting that Wednesday morning. In that interview I found out just how lucky we all are the writing chores changed hands. The first guys… well, here’s Filipowich:

They were always worried about putting Jeff and I together… I swear they said this – “we don’t want to blow our load too early.”

Yikes. Fortunately, tonight we got an episode designed to bring them together.

Except for Reena in her own little nightmare world, still not incorporated with the rest of the cast, every moment of tonight’s episode led to the end of Act 3 when Charlie took 01 away from the police station. Everyone played his part, working either with or against Charlie, and we get the best episode yet.

We also get a lot of questions that won’t be answered for another week.

Meet Blues Paddock

Rolanda Marais tells us all we need to know about Blues Paddock early on. Investigating the death of a Gemma Gitano lookalike and two others at a Vexcor facility, she walks her partner through what happened. He tells her she must be watching too much CSI, but we can see he’s impressed. Then he asks if she’d like to have some fun, because 01 has been seen hiding at his club. But Blues is having fun. Her job is who she is.

She’s a bit like Karl, in that she sees shadows and conspiracies and connections all around her. Also like Karl, she’s absolutely correct to see those things. While she’s not interested in picking up 01, she’s very interested in interrogating him. Two dead Vexcor executives alongside a hired gun, plus the strange events surrounding the link explosion, plus 01 Boxer’s apparent murder of one of his companions add up to too many coincidences for Beta’s Dana Scully.

She knows there’s more to the link explosion than Vexcor’s letting on, so she questions 01 about it. Wants to know why he was there, wants to know if he can identify anyone else filmed at the scene. She pops in a tape and we see both Reena and Charlie, but 01’s too busy barking like a dog and humming the Wicked Witch’s theme to answer her questions. Not that he’d answer if he weren’t otherwise occupied. Blues keeps pushing because she knows 01 knows something.

Her spidey sense is further stimulated when Charlie shows up to cart off 01. No fool, she sees right through his masquerade. Then again, who’s ever seen a Fed with Friday shadow and a suit that nice? The sunglasses and attitude were enough for Inspector Archer, but he was also the one who had to deal with all the paperwork. That bit of bureaucracy probably falls on his shoulders too often; he has the look of a man wearied by procedure.

Charlie Jade, Eff Bee Eye

Back at Karl’s apartment after seeing the Gemma lookalike plummet to her death – and shooting her killer and accomplice – Charlie tells him she was just another pawn in Vexcor’s three-dimensional chess game. It’s been a month since Gemma traded herself for Charlie’s freedom, but he can’t accept she’ gone; he keeps searching instead of doing anything proactive. And Karl’s grown tired of the narcissism and selfishness cheapening Gemma’s sacrifice.

Charlie’s here in Beta for a reason. Gemma sacrificed herself for a reason. And it’s not so Charlie can get back to Jasmine.

If Krogg was right, everyone in Beta is doomed. But Charlie isn’t listening. He’s still forlorn about Jasmine who, it appears, has stepped up her appointment schedule with johns and subs.

He leaves and Karl fumes.

Sometime later, Karl comes to Charlie’s to apologize. Sorta. “Mostly not.” While Charlie works on an exoskin, using one of Vexcor’s bugs for his own purposes, Karl tells him he thinks he knows a way for Charlie to get home. He’s reluctant to tell him, almost holding it back as a bargaining chip for Charlie to do something, anything, to help save his universe. But that’s not Karl’s nature.

Karl figures if 01 could take Katie Grayle (the poor, lost dead girl from the pilot) home with him, he can take Charlie.

Which makes the rewiring of the exoskin fortuitous as Charlie uses it to locate 01 at the Glass Door. The little bug scurries along the floor, dancing between hobnailed boots and stilletto heels in its search for 01. It finally finds him, hiding out in a VIP room enjoying himself with Princess. 01’s used to being spied on – growing up with Bryon Boxer he’d have to be – so it’s not a surprise he notices the bug and crushes it without it interrupting coitus.

Finished with his private party, 01 figures now might be a good time to take a powder. He heads toward the back door and meets Charlie, who’d like him to meet his little friend. 01 decides the better part of valor is getting the hell away from the man with the drawn gun, so he joins Archer’s party instead. 01’s a fan of bondage anyway, so the handcuffs are a welcome addition to his wardrobe.

Charlie and Karl formulate a plan to break 01 out of the police station, where Charlie will impersonate an FBI special agent with authority to take possession of 01. The writers get a little commentary on American politics with this, as Karl’s prepping Charlie for his role. He tells him to keep his sunglasses on and act superior. And he admits being shocked by how easy it was to convince Archer to hand over 01: “A phone call and a couple pieces of paper and he went for it. You say terrorist these days and eveyone shuts their brain off.”

Not everyone, however.

Blues picks up the scent off Charlie right away and tests him. First, she invites him into a room to pick his brain about procedure. It’s a self-locking interrogation room. She trips him up right off the bat with a question about “the Agency” but lets him continue for a moment before dropping the hammer on him: “It’s a Bureau, not an Agency. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Should have corrected me. They always do.”

Then she drops the second hammer. She’s got photos of Charlie at the link explosion and wants to know who he is and what he wants with 01 Boxer.

Charlie plays it cool. Blues was clever and tricky and wanted Charlie to see that, but he’s not a fool. He spins it the best he can, but she’s not buying.

Blues steps out for a minute to get prints lifted off some of the papers Charlie’s handled and sees Archer handing 01 over to some cops. A second set of transfer papers have come through, this time to bring 01 to central booking. Knowing these are fake as well, she gets the head of the team to trip up and pulls her weapon. Archer and the rest of their colleagues surround the fake police and get them to put down their weapons. Blues heads back to Charlie to figure out how he knew the police station was so easily breached. (This, by the way, is a bit of sloppy writing. There’s no way Blues would step away until the standoff was completely resolved and the fakes in custody. But Charlie needs to be brought out of his locked room for the next bit to happen.)

The head of the extraction team – and let’s be real, we knew it was one of Ren Porter’s teams from the moment they walked in – pulls a cellphone from his back pocket, saying he’s going to make a call. He’s not tackled or otherwise subdued (also a bit unrealistic) and punches in a number. His team cover their ears. Charlie sees and yells for Blues to do the same, too late, as he covers his own. The cell phone is an audio grenade that takes the police out of commission.

Charlie grabs Blues’ gun and wings the team leader, then grabs 01. He gets 01 outside where Karl is waiting, as loyal and reliable as ever.

That’s Leadership for You

At Vexcor meanwhile, there’s a bit of tension in the air. First Julius browbeats a physicist who doesn’t share his concerns about Krogg’s report. Tossing in some more exposition in case anyone doesn’t remember its ramifications, Julius tells her if Krogg was right then bringing the link online may destablize the membrane and collapse Betaverse out of existence. The physicist is confident that won’t happen, but needs the link to come online so she can get more data to verify. Which of course would put the link online and risk destroying Beta. Julius tells her they’re holding the test.

Ren hovered in the background during the conversation, and afterward has a walk-and-talk with Julius. He asks why Julius suddenly believes Krogg’s memo, wondering out loud if Julius is keeping the link down to avoid dealing with home office. Julius counters by saying he could accuse Ren of letting Charlie go on purpose just to make him look incompetent and hands him pictures of the dead Gemma lookalike. How much Reena overhears of this conversation isn’t clear, though it’s obvious the CEO and head of security should keep these conversations out of hallways.

Regarding the dead executive, Ren says she was getting ready to run and was killed to send a message, but someone intercepted his team. He can’t stablize the workforce while the link is down, and the longer its stays down the more employee drift they’ll have to contend with. He doesn’t have the staff to keep everyone in check.

When Ren finds out 01’s in custody he puts a plan in place to extract him. They can’t kill him now, because they don’t know if 01 managed to get home to Alpha after being shot. Julius is holding Ren responsible for the failure, and when the link comes online he’ll hold him responsible for trying to kill 01. Ren’s stuck with few outs and he knows it, but he’s nothing if not a loyal Vexcor employee.

Cleanup Operations

In the aftermath at the police station, everyone’s recovering slowly. Bloody noses and bleeding ears all around and no one’s going back to active duty until they’re fully checked out. Blues goes to check the station’s surveillance cameras, but is informed that they malfunctioned for the duration of the incident. Except… the officer telling her this is Ajax, the cooly efficient blond from Vexcor security.

We’ve seen her before: she moved Gemma out of her apartment in “Identity” and cleaned up the mess at Kunjani back in “Betrayal”. If all of Ren’s people were as good as Ajax, he’d have a lot fewer problems.

In fact a little while later, Ajax gets rid of one more of Ren’s problems with a slashing strike and a bottle of acid.

The Big Finale

So here’s an interesting fact. Act 4 of this episode, the great warehouse interrogation, is actually episode 13, compressed. So if you liked upside-down bondage and tough talking, just wait until next week when that’s all you’ll see.

Because of that, I don’t want to say too much about what we saw in the warehouse tonight. We can go into much greater detail, and actually know what the 12 reasons for not shooting 01 are, if we wait a week. But I can’t pass up on at least a little commentary…

01 makes some subtle and not-too-subtle racist comments toward Karl before Charlie sends him to the car. Crafty as always, 01 wants to get Karl’s defenses up before trying to get between him and Charlie.

Do you know how many people you have to kill to get one of those renovations by the waterfront? Not to mention a high-class hooker to be your slave… I’m sorry, was I not supposed to mention the slave part?

After a long night of give and take, in which 01 makes Charlie question himself and his motivations, Charlie finally asks 01 why he shouldn’t kill him. 01’s got 12 reasons.

Karl’s shocked when 01 walks out under his own power, and he and 01 do a little dance. Charlie doesn’t trust him, but he believes him enough to be a reluctant ally. A reluctant ally for our reluctant hero.

Other Thoughts

I didn’t say much about Reena because, honestly, I don’t know what to say. She had a dream that told her to go back in time and not blow up the reactor, basically. What that means, and why she had it now, I don’t know. It was pretty to watch, though, the nightmare.

Also, I haven’t mentioned them before, but you should definitely be checking out the episode podcasts over at Charlie Jade Verse.

Beyond that, let’s just say a hearty welcome to Blues Paddock. We’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the coming weeks.

What did everyone else think?


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