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.
A Gypsy In the Fold
We start off this week where we left off last: Charlie and Gemma at the now empty reservoir. Figuring her for a loyal employee, he tells her he’s not a spy from another company, but on a mission from home office to monitor the goings on here. She tells him her department was looking to “move the water resources to where they can be better used,” or, as we might say here in Beta, “steal the water.” Having just seen millions of liters of water disappear, he tells her he’s seen 01 Boxer travel using water and suspects a connection.
As they drive back to Cape Town, they catch up a little, discussing their names. Charlie picked ‘Jade’ because it sounded cool, he likes the color, he really doesn’t remember. I imagine a last name is important to most C3s who rise to the level of C2, but it doesn’t signify for Charlie. Gemma’s does.
In a flashback to their youth, we see Gemma and Charlie watching the dancing figure from the holoprojector, dressed in gypsy scarves. Gitano is Spanish for gypsy. Her name honors where she came from, even if was the key to her future.
Julius Galt, distracted by thoughts of his magnificent and expensive new office, is barely able to concentrate on the serious matters that plague Vexcor in Beta. He offers Ren his current office, but Ren is more concerned about he drift affecting so many employees making them want to go native. Julius tells him to watch them, but Ren doesn’t have the manpower to follow ordinary executives when they start to slip.
Sitting on the beach, Gemma tells Charlie she hates Beta. She hates how they treat cancer, poisoning the victim just enough to try to kill off the cancer before they kill off the patient. Her ideal world is more orderly, more structured, and more controlled. Charlie says it must be hard for a scientist to see somthing like that and she tells him how she became an engineer. She falsified everything: name, rating, even education. She learned on the job, getting a few lucky breaks on the way.
In another flashback, Gemma tells Charlie she’s taking the place of an apprentice housekeeper. But she’s not going to clean out the house, she’s going to clean it. Sure a C1 will eventually recognize her inherent worth and talent and send her to school. “I’m gonna rise, Charlie. I’m gonna get myself a last name.”
Gemma asks Charlie where he’s living in Betaverse. It’s the first time he’s heard the term and is confused, but covers.
Boxer on the Ropes
There are some sharp cuts between Alpha and Beta tonight as we see Bryon Boxer’s condition worsening at the same time as 01 is regaining his strength. Starting off in Alpha where Essa finds Bryon Boxer in the boardroom. He complains he’s growing weaker every day as his “molecular integrity decays” and Essa promises when the link is online they’ll track down 01 and give him a transfusion.
In Beta, 01 calls Princess to come help him at the Glass Door.
Some time later, Essa finds Bryon collapsed on the boardroom floor. He tells her he needs an immediate transfusion.
We immediately cut back to Beta to find 01 out looking for Princess. He tracks her down outside a club with a pretty boy and takes her right off his arm. Guy, the guy, tells 01 it’s not a problem; he can have her. 01 then proceeds to beat the crap out of him. One quick headbutt to the nose puts Guy down, then he kicks and kicks and kicks. “That’s for Nathan.”
Bringing Princess back to the club, he quickly gets her back in his thrall. She tells him the police think he killed Jeanette and he tells her to front the club, but their fight and the fight with Guy was all just foreplay. He takes her on a liquor-stained tabletop.
Back in Alpha, Bryon tells Essa that anyone who’s been through the link will have the “molecules that are phasing in the correct dimension” to help him. They’ll just need to separate those out. So later, she brings in an accountant who’s been through the link 13 times.
Some more sharp cuts follow:
- Beta: Karl and Gemma talking. He wants to know why she’s in Beta and she tells him she works for Vexcor and does what she’s told. “Vexcor? They’re greedy, corporate monsters!”
- Alpha: Essa gives the accountant his limited options. In exchange for helping the company, the accountant’s wife will receive a promotion, and she and his daughter will be reclassified as C1s.
- Beta: Gemma tells Karl she belongs to Vexcor, it protects them. Karl says, “you sound like you were brainwashed.”
- Alpha: If the accountant doesn’t help, he’ll be fired, his wife will be fired, and they’ll spend the rest of their lives as C3s. He reluctantly agrees and signs the life insurance policy. Extracting those molecules is a complicated and ugly process.
When Essa finally gets the beaker of extract, she’s at her desk going through the dead man’s wallet. A photo of his family and a few ounces of white liquid are all that remain of him, the sum total of his worth to Vexcor.
Gemma will never truly betray Vexcor. It’s not in her makeup to betray the only mother and father she’s ever known. But she doesn’t believe Julius is acting in the company’s best interests and uses that to justify her actions. Along with her lingering guilt over abandoning Charlie as a child, her desire to help Vexcor leads to all her actions.
When she meets with Julius, he has finally read her report on water level fluctuation and changing pressures, but doesn’t believe it to be important. She tries to explain that the reservoir is empty, completely, but he isn’t listening. He thinks she’s overreacting. She wants the physics departent in Alpha contacted and Julius reminds her the link is down. Then she overplays. She tells him she’s heard 01 can travel without the link.
Gemma: “Mr. Galt, I’m not trying to go over your head. I’m”
Julius: “There is no one over my head! Here in Beta, I’m commander-in-chief, president, and king. Until the link is back up, you work for me.”
Gemma: “I work for Vexcor, sir.”
Her insubordination is too much for Julius and he exiles her to Botswana. As she’s leaving, he asks if she’s heard from Charlie. She lies.
Continuing to play on her loyalty to Vexcor, Charlie tells her if he can get back home, he can deliver her report. Therefore, he needs to find any records Vexcor has on 01. They head to see Karl to make their next move.
When Ren tells Julius that Gemma is missing, Julius tells him he ordered her to Botswana. She was raving about the reservoir being empty and has lost her mind, but Ren tells him he talked to their people at the site and the water is all gone. Noting the stacked coinncidences that all surround Charlie’s appearance and disappearance, Julius wonders if Charlie can travel like 01.
Using stolen ID sticks, Charlie sneaks into Vexcor. Gemma and Karl track him and talk him through. Spotting Ren, Charlie ducks into a restroom where he has a long vision of Jasmine showering. He calls out to her and she reacts, as if to a spectre. Charlie keeps watching as another man joins her, but the sight is too much for him. He loses it and becomes unresponsive.
Gemma talks him out of it. She tells him, “Charlie, do you remember? I left you. But you never left me. Not even once. Don’t leave me know.” Getting a grip on himself, he gets back up and leaves the restroom and Jasmine behind, telling himself it can’t be real. As he walks out, Jasmine seems to follow with her eyes.
Back in control, Charlie heads out and sneaks into the nearly completed office. He hacks into the computer using Julius’ ID stick but has some problems navigating. Gemma’s advice to treat it like any other home office computer is of no help, but he does start finding files. He can’t find anything linking 01 to the water seepage or travel, but he does find Elliot Krogg’s Memo 221 which he sends to Karl.
I think this was the first time Gemma’s eyes were truly opened to what Vexcor is when Karl tells her 01 killed Krogg.
Ren and some goons come in after the memo is sent and take Charlie captive.
Cabletied to a chair, Charlie is still antagonistic to Ren, challenging him at every turn. Charlie asks him if he learned his “tough guy talk at Vexcor security orientation” and mocks him for being prevented from killing him. Since Julius wants to know if Charlie can travel, Ren can’t just kill him. After Ren takes out his frustration by having his goons hit Charlie a few times, Charlie challenges him more directly: “Hey hero. Why don’t you tell your friends to hit the road and you and I can take a walk. You saw what I did to the last guy who had your job, didn’t you?”
Gemma calls and offers a trade. Her for Charlie. Her silence for Charlie. Then she continues the theme of the scene and questions Ren’s manhood: “Come on. You’re just a simple C2. How are you ever going to earn being in that boardroom if you can’t make a decision on your own?”
Ren’s only solace in the scene is mocking Charlie after accepting the deal. “How does it feel being rescued by a hydrologist? Hero.”
Gemma lies to Karl and says she always knew Charlie couldn’t be working for Vexcor. She also lies to herself and says she’ll be fine. She’s one of them; they won’t hurt her. That’s just how they do business.
I see trees of green, red roses too
Alone, Karl prints off Memo 221. With each sentence, each word, he grows more irate and concerned. More intercuts with Alpha, now with Essa examining the accountant’s wallet. Karl realizing the price Vexcor is willing to pay and Essa seeing that price up close.
The trade goes down and Charlie gets back to Karl’s. Gemma’s gone, and Ren will ensure her silence. Karl wants to confront him about the memo, but Charlie is too despondent.
A series of slow, graceful shots follow of the beauty of Cape Town: children playing, couples on the beach, Table Top mountain, the Atlantic crashing on the shore. A series of shots demonstrating the majesty of creation. At least this corner of creation.
Karl comes to Charlie’s apartment but he’s still upset and doesn’t want to listen. He’s almost in a fugue state as Karl shoves Krogg’s report in his face and tells him to read it. Then he just tells him what it says. If the link goes online and becomes permanent, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma will collapse on each other. In the middle, Beta will just disappear.
Theories on Bryon Boxer
Here a few theories about Bryon and his problems, please add your own in comments:
- Bryon is really from Gamma. He invented the link years and years ago and traveled with it to Alpha which he found ripe for the picking. With his vastly superior technical knowledge in a world primed for corporate control, he was able to found Vexcor and quickly rise to a position of near-dominance in short order. But, living so far from his home universe and without access to any particles vibrating with the correct frequencies, he grows sick. 01, or anyone who travels, picks up the rare particles he needs.
- Bryon used the link so much in his youth that his body became unstuck from his reality. Now he needs special particles that are generated through link usage to keep him balanced.
- The link has an addictive effect when used with the frequency and duration Bryon once used it.
- Bryon comes *from* Linkspace. He belongs to none of our universes, but is a creature of the space between. His essence is therefore out of sync in any of the three worlds and needs to be replenished by stealing the traces of link-vibrating particles others pick up when traveling between the worlds.
What did everyone else think?