Charlie Jade Recap: “Ouroboros”

Charlie told me once, everybody breaks. But he never did. Not once. – Karl Lubinsky

And so the story of Charlie Jade, a story one half-hour in the future, comes to a close. A bittersweet ending for sure – there was a lot of story left to tell – but a satisfying end to twenty hours of mystery and intrigue. But before we get started breaking it down, I’m going to suggest you go back and watch it again. Trust me when I tell you: even if you think you followed the episode, you didn’t. In fact, if you think you got it the first time through, you *really* didn’t. Go watch again. I’ll wait.

There you go. Now, you should be ready for this discussion. At least I hope it all made more sense the second time through. If not, you may want to try out the episode commentary at In particular, did you notice at the halfway mark that time was bent back on itself? Every moment with Charlie takes place after he’s entered linkspace, trying to remember what it is he is supposed to do. Scenes without Charlie occur before that, in the reference frame of the other players.

Let’s dig in.

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Charlie Jade Recap: “Flesh”

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. – Matthew 26:41

It’s all over, right? Charlie’s come back to Jasmine – and just as quickly realized he belongs in Beta – 01’s out of jail, and Essa’s in shackles. Everything is right with the verses. So why, I must ask, is that countdown clock still running? The Vexcor link countdown clock that 01 now controls.

He that troubleth his own house…

After what seems an eternity, 01’s finally left and Bryon’s body has been discovered. Essa wants Sew Sew to bring in 01, even though the video of the boardroom is blank. He agrees to have 01 arrested on her sayso. Some time later Essa is in the boardroom in her mourning whites while the board sits in remotely. A message from Bryon Boxer is wheeled in and played, informing the board that 01 is receiving Bryon’s controlling interest in Vexcor.

Essa…does not take the news well. Neither does 01. After 01 gets notice from the ProbateBot that Bryon’s shares are his – and he utters the classic line, “please hold; your death is important to us” – he goes into an alley and starts throwing and beating garbage cans. This is intercut with Essa’s breakdown in the boardroom as she tries to destroy the message cube. From beyond the grave, Bryon Boxer is still affecting those he “loves” best.

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Charlie Jade Recap: “Bedtime Story”

Forget it, Jade. It’s Cape City.

Remember what Charlie does for a living? In case it’s been so long that it’s slipped your mind, this week’s episode should refresh your memory.

Back in his own bed and his own universe, lying beside Jasmine, Charlie finds himself unable to sleep. He’s anxious and confused and guilty, wondering what to do to save Beta. The water doesn’t even taste right to him, but spirits do the trick. Both in his glass, and haunting his memory. Blues comes to him in the night and tells Charlie he can go back to being the man he was, but Charlie’s not so sure. So he tells her a story.

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Charlie Jade Recap: “Spin”

Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. – Nehemiah 9:2

Remember when we thought 01 Boxer was the epitome of evil?

Sure, 01 is a crazy bastard and has killed more than his share of people, but if we’ve learned one thing over the last two months it is this: 01 kills to save the multiverse. He kills to save billions. He kills to protect a way of life and peace and harmony with nature.

And while the sons bear the sins and wickedness of the father, we now definitely know where 01 gets his flexible morality. Bryon didn’t kill to save anyone. He killed to send his son a message that he his services were no longer needed. Recognizing his decay was happening too quickly to be reversed anymore, Bryon chose death at his son’s hands over the more painful alternative. What better way to achieve that than to take away he thing his son loved the most? He’d already caused 01’s mother’s death; now it was time to take away the rest of 01’s family.

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Charlie Jade Recap: “The Shortening of The Way”

How do you sneeze? You just let yourself. Maybe your head hurts because you don’t like seeing the invisible people. Like, it doesn’t ‘hurt to breathe, but f you hold your breath you’re going to get a headache and then you just have to breathe anyway. So just let it happen. – Jedi Jody

W00t! That’s right m’nerds. Charlie Jade can travel. Just like his brother in arms, 01 Boxer, you just add water and he and his sea monkeys go all fizzy and take off to parts unknown.

She scary? No. Shikari.

We open with Charlie lying in wait for Shikari, a genetically modified hunter-killer from Alphaverse. This is the first time we’ve ever seen Charlie scared of anyone, despite the decidedly un-scary appearance and behavior of the actress. She’s like Michael Keaton’s Batman, but even less so. Still, for the sake of the story we accept that she’s a badass.
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Charlie Jade Recap: “Things Unseen”

“You know how once in awhile you’re stuck in traffic and all of a sudden you remember a dream you’d forgotten, but for a moment you aren’t quite sure if it was a dream at all?” – Blues Paddock

In this slower moving, contemplative episode, it might not seem much really happened. After the fireworks of the last three weeks, this week is something of a pause, an interstitial between what we know and what’s coming. With a smooth, jazz-inflected soundtrack and many quiet moments between Charlie and Blues and between Sew Sew and Jasmine, this is the perfect chance to catch your breath and catch up.
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Charlie Jade Recap: “The Enemy of My Enemy”

But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. – Exodus 23:22

After last week’s S&M lovefest between Charlie and 01, it was time to bring together Charlie and Reena. Here we are in episode 14, and the only interaction these two have had is a few seconds during the link explosion and one foot chase through Cape Town way back in episode 2, “Sand”. Reena’s been off on her own, being poked, prodded, shocked, beaten, and abused by everyone in Betaverse, but she’s been doing it on her own. Tonight, a first attempt is made to bring her into the fold.
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Charlie Jade Recap: “Through A Mirror Darkly”

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
– 1 Corinthians 13:12

Alright. So last week was a bit of a feint. 01 didn’t give Charlie 12 reasons not to kill him. But he gave him one. One, excellent reason summed up by Karl: “01 Boxer, that sick bastard, has done more to hurt Vexcor than either one of us.”
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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.

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Charlie Jade Recap: “Thicker Than Water”

Blood. Blood’s thicker than water. But then blood’s just a synecdoche for family. And what is family?

The relationship between a father and son, certainly is family. So is that between lovers. Two orphans, watching each other’s backs and surviving on the streets through cunning. That’s family, too. In a world where six companies control everything, company is family as well.

Back in “Devotion” we saw some of Charlie’s training with the Vexcor security forces. At that time, they were welcomed into the fold by a behavioral specialist: “Vexcor is your future. Vexcor is your family. And you are its sons and daughters.” The familial relationship is cultivated within Vexcor to ensure its employees treat Mother Company with the respect and sense of duty required.

It’s with that in mind that Charlie tells Gemma he reports to Essa Rompkin. Gemma’s a company girl: loyal to Vexcor, even if she disobeys her superior. She doesn’t think Julius has the best interests of the company at heart so she goes along with Charlie’s plans. Only when they fall apart does she lie to Karl and tell him she always knew Charlie couldn’t belong to Vexcor. She believed him, but realizes Charlie needs to hear differently.

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Charlie Jade Recap: “Identity”

What makes you who you are?

Does your identity come from what you do? Where you come from? Something else? I met a girl one night, a friend of a friend of a friend, and asked her what she did. She told me she “tried to do one thing a day to bring her joy.” Now, the pragmatist in me wanted to kick her out of my car. But the guy looking to get lucky said, “that’s a beautiful answer.” Did she answer my question?

Tonight’s episode asks that question several times.

Is Jasmine a C3 or a C2? Is her identity so tightly coupled to Charlie’s that she now lives a shadow life, waiting for him to return like Penelope waiting for Ulysses? Or is she an independent agent, coping with life the best she can?

What of Gemma Gitano? Is she the little girl living on the streets with Charlie, or is she the Vexcor hydrologist with a manufactured past and a programmed future?

Finally, who is 01 Boxer? Is he the happy, loving husband and father in Gamma or the sociopath in Beta?

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Charlie Jade Recap: “Betrayal”

See, I told y’all stuff was gonna happen, right? Holy hellfire! While this episode has some very nice character moments slipped in, it’s really all about story. A lot gets pushed forward, some ideas that had been dropped for weeks get brought back to the forefront where they belong, and we say goodbye to at least one old friend. Despite all the spackle the new writers had to use to hide the gaps between the old way and the new, this episode crackles.

Before we jump in, don’t forget to check out our interview with head writer Alex Epstein.

Karl Breaks

We’re leading off with Karl because this episode is all him and Tyrone Benskin knocks it out of the park. Karl serves two important purposes on the show. He’s our proxy – the dumb character who needs to have things explained to him so they can be explained to us – and Charlie’s guide. Those are both thankless tasks. If you’re always laying pipe, it can be hard to get anything meaty to do.

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Charlie Jade Recap: “Devotion”

I have mixed feelings about this episode. It’s the best of the season so far, I think. A compelling case can be made for “And Not a Drop to Drink”, as it opens the kimono on inter-dimensional travel, 01’s unique abilities, and the importance of water to the scheme of things. But tonight…it’s something else.

Then again, this is also the last episode under Writing Regime #1 (WR#1). Things you’re starting to understand? Things that you’re figuring out? Some of that’s just going to change next week and beyond. And trust me when I say it will get a hundred times better and cooler. It takes a few episodes until the second team – Alex Epstein, Denis McGrath, and Sean Carley – really takes off, but even in next week’s episode, “Betrayal”, you can see marked improvement. That slowness that was evident early in the season goes away fast as things ramp up quickly.

But that ramping starts tonight, even if it still looks like Charlie Jade is spinning his wheels.

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Charlie Jade Recap: “Diamonds”

Surprise…Charlie Jade is not a force of nature. Neither is he a man with no name. He’s flesh and blood, and filled with contradictions. Like anyone, Charlie has a past that informs who and why he is and this week we get a peek into it.

Diamonds are Forever

Remember that gangster’s pinkie ring Charlie wears? The one he pawned to pay for his sweet ride? Charlie hits the shop, looking to retrieve it. Instead he finds the owner dead and the ring missing.

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Charlie Jade Recap: “Dirty Laundry”

In case anyone’s forgotten, Charlie works for Karl. He gets a couch and a hundred Rand a day to investigate Vex-Cor. But there’s a price to pay for being in Karl’s employ. This week, the price is getting his butt kicked by some white supremacists while following the trail of missing organizer and activist Themba Makandi.

Charlie Jade doesn’t take place in a vacuum. The geography of Cape Town – the ocean, Table Mountain, Robben Island – frequently come into play. The history of the city and South Africa also inform much of the show’s writing. The disappearance of Makandi is certainly more resonant in the South Africa of Beta than it would be in the North America of co-creators Chris Roland and Robert Wertheimer. The wounds of Apartheid are fresh and a source of much current pain.

So when the white guy, one step removed from a Lethal Weapon villain, says they must protect the Volkstadt and then has Charlie busted up, he seems the most likely culprit. But things are never so simple in a world with Vex-Cor.

Dumped on an empty street, Charlie gets a vision of Alpha. A truck bears down on him and barrels right through him to no effect. Because we now know water matters, I’ll point out that it’s raining in Alpha, but not in Beta. I love the way Jeffrey Pierce plays this whole scene. He’s not suicidal, but defiant in demanding the universe try its best to kill him. It seems as though he wants the truck to kill him in order to prove he’s actually alive.

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