In last week’s preview of Charlie Jade, I focused a lot on generalities, like the cinematography and a cast overview. In a show so rooted in mystery, it’s important to let things play out slowly. Now that the premiere has aired, let’s explore the Jadeverse(s) and the clues we’ve been given so far.
The show opens with a Spanish guitar picking out a slow and mournful tune over barren, windswept dunes. Cutting away from the desert vista to a huge underground facility, the music moves to the background and is replaced by the sound of hundreds of sprinklers and Charlie Jade’s opening narration. Where there is water, there is life. There is also Vex-Cor.
It looks like water is required in order to open and maintain the link between Alphaverse and Gammaverse. Charlie also implies that Alphaverse is in short supply of the wet stuff and might be mining the idyllic verse to get some more. What’s not clear is how Betaverse – which appears to be our home – comes into play. There’s a sister facility in Beta, and Elliot Krogg, the former head of research for Vex-Cor, knows something bad is going to happen. But what?
Charlie’s a cynical and weary PI who specializes in “misper” cases. When first we meet him, he’s looking for a missing college kid. A couple of things of note happen during this sequence. Charlie is able to use a handheld device – let’s be really nerdy and call it a tricorder for now – to read the recorded data from a mobile video bug. He’s also able to follow the kid because his assistant is plugged into a monitoring grid that tracks everyone. Presumably, this grid reads signals from the same implanted chips that the residents of Cape City use for paying for purchases. It’s also possible these chips hold more personal information, such as their rating classifications.
Driving his car – a beautiful Aston Martin DBS6 – we see the first of Charlie’s many visions in this episode, a particularly jarring and realistic train hurtling toward, and then through him. He pops some pills to ward off the visions, but the drugs don’t seem to have much effect. In narration, he indicates he’s had the visions before as well. Later on in the desert, Charlie sees across the divide between the three verses, but what’s notable about this first vision is that it happens nowhere near the desert facility.
Back at his office, Charlie meets a frightened, lost girl from Cape Town. As she’s also the first girl with an actual South African accent, it’s pretty clear she’s from our world but trapped in Alpha. How she got there is a mystery, though it’s seems 01 Boxer made it happen. Since the link in the desert wasn’t online, is there a second link somewhere?
Similar to the New Caprica occupation on BSG, we are intended to sympathize with the terrorists. All they want to do – at least all we see in the pilot – is protect their home from being despoiled. Having seen Alpha, I’d say they’re right to be concerned. So they decide to blow up the Vex-Cor facility. The explosion sets off a massive chain reaction up the link through Beta and into Alpha.
Prior to the explosion, Charlie’s perspective shifts rapidly between the three verses. Whether that has to do with his proximity to the experiment, the curious blue stone he finds, or something else isn’t obvious. Immediately before the bomb goes off, Reena, played by Patricia McKenzie (Soul Food, Naked Josh) shows up in what appears to be Alpha. At least it looked like Alpha’s color scheme to me. After the explosion, we just see Charlie, unconscious in an arid desert similar to the one in the opening.
So what do you think? Did the premise pilot draw you in enough to come back next week?