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.
Charlie doesn’t know if Reena is friend or foe, but as with 01, he’s willing to take the allies he can find in his fight against Vexcor. And she’s a pretty good ally with a great deal of access.
A Crisis of Faith
We haven’t gotten into any detail about the religious beliefs and practices in Alpha, but a reasonable guess would be to assume religion has little grip on the people. What little we know of Gamma seems to point toward the prevalence of new age practices, we certainly know traditional religions are strong here, and Alpha appears to be a world that has given up faith entirely. Faith in one’s fellow man and faith in the future have long since been abandoned in that dystopia; it’s likely faith in a higher power has as well.
But Charlie’s not in Alpha anymore. He’s eating sticky donuts in Cape Town now. He’s becoming a man willing to fight for 10 billion people. He’s becoming one of us.
In that process, nascent spirituality and guilt are gnawing at his soul.
Drawn to a church, Charlie debates a priest and himself, but walks away. This is the first time we see young Gemma haunting him, on the steps of the church. The girl Charlie couldn’t save is trying to save him.
While Charlie’s discussing the finer points of theological theory with the priest, Reena’s dropping off Norman Ord’s package of misdeeds at Karl’s door. If you remember, last week Reena got Norman to print all the records of Vexcor’s illegal dumping – activity he directed himself – by threatening to expose him to security, with a little game of Jekyll/Hyde and Go Boom to sweeten the pot. Tonight she slips those under Karl’s door, presumably because his reputation as a Vexcor muckraker is widespread.
The Eye of the Tiger
01’s getting back in shape, recovering from his gunshot. I’m writing this prior to the SciFi airing, so I don’t know if they’ve stuck with the heavy metal on the soundtrack or swapped it out, but I think it needed a good ’80s power ballad instead. That, or “Montage” from the Team America soundtrack.
Regardless, 01’s getting stronger while Princess watches. On the podcast for this episode over at Charlie Jade Verse Alex Epstein said that Bob Wertheimer was a big fan of the actress, Lisa-Marie Schneider, so the writers gave her more to do. She gets to be involved in one of the best gags this show ever did a bit later on, so I’m happy for that.
After his workout, 01 heads to the shower for a little transdimensional jaunt… only he can’t do it. Whatever hit 01 a few episodes back, when he returned too soon from Gamma, it’s still causing him problems. He is as stuck here as everyone else.
So, unable to head to Alpha to tattle on Julius to the home office, 01 puts Princess to work in pinstripes and a tight bun. A little video manipulation brought to us by magic Alpha technology lets 01 transform the image and voice of Princess into Essa Rompkin. And so we get a great bit that I actually think should have been played out longer. Schneider doing her best impersonation of the ice queen, and Michele Burgers doing a fabulous approximation of 01’s callow lover.
Ord on the Run
Looking through the documents, Charlie realizes Norman’s name is on each one. He tries to find him in the Vexcor computers, but the records have been imperfectly excised. Karl guesses that’s because Norman is looking to get out of town, so Charlie calls in a little help. And so we get the return of Blues Paddock, played by the lovely and talented Rolanda Marais. In a game of cat and cat, she and Charlie each try to get the upper hand. Blues finds a single, paper record of Norman – making the absence of any electronic footprint that much more intriguing to her – and stakes out Norman’s house. She’s given Charlie the address and just has to wait for him to show up.
But Charlie is one step ahead of Blues; he’s gotten to the house before her. Hiding out in the Ord’s backseat, he has Norman and his wife head to his loft.
There, Charlie and Karl learn Reena is working inside Vexcor and is the one who got them the information about the illegal dumping. Norman tells Charlie how to contact Reena – through a posted notice about a missing dog in the Vexcor gardens – in exchange for passage out of Cape Town. He and his wife flee to Johannesburg, their first stop before leaving the country. A friend of Karl’s – someone who worked in the apartheid-era underground railroad – will help the Ords escape Vexcor’s grip, finally.
The Barber of Seville
I’m guessing a few of you have been looking forward to tonight’s episode to see 01 Boxer‘s little surprise for Julius. I hope it made you all laugh as much as it gets me *every* time I see it. 01 has his counterfeit slate to deliver, and he wants to make him as uncomfortable as possible in the process. Danny Keogh‘s a pro to just keep going no matter what Michael Filipowich throws at him.
Julius tries to lay blame on the attack squarely on Ren Porter. 01 isn’t buying, but goes along for now. He’s hoping his phony message from Essa will take care of his problems with Julius.
It doesn’t. Julius shows up at the Glass Door with the slate in hand and confronts 01. He knows it’s a fake slate. He knows 01 hasn’t been to Alpha or wasn’t able to get Essa to listen to him. But he knows 01 and he share a common goal – to keep the link down. Ren’s pushing hard for the link to be restored and Julius wants to keep that from happening. He makes 01 an offer he can’t refuse.
The Corpse and Stimpy Show
Charlie lurks outside an abandoned building, stalking Reena inside. She’s not alone. Porter and one of his goons tailed Reena from the gardens and are preparing to kill her. Some really nice time jumps are utilized in these scenes to make the action really pop.
- Reena breaks the goon’s neck with a swift kick to his head as he lies on the floor.
- Porter and the goon following.
- Reena with her foot on the goon’s neck: “we’re surrounded by dead people.”
- Porter and the goon looking for Reena.
- Reena quickly disarming Porter and grasping his neck. A Mexican stand-off ensues until the goon lays down his weapon. Reena quickly kills Ren and then takes down the goon.
All of this, intercut with Julius and 01 drinking and scheming about Porter’s death.
Charlie tracks down Reena before she escapes. They have a scene together where we learn Reena knows 01. We should, in fact, conclude that 01 provided the explosives Reena used on the Gammaverse link site. They talk and realize each other is stranded from elsewhere. But there’s a small problem.
The Reena who killed Porter and the goon is her programmed personality. When reminded too strongly about what she did, the programming takes back over and disarms Charlie before running away. Charlie’s hopes for a new ally have to be delayed.
A bit later, 01 tracks Porter’s chip and finds him dead. With his usual reverence for all things living and dead, 01 relieves himself on the body while ringing up Julius to deliver the good news.
The Gray Suits
One of the men in gray shows up in Charlie’s loft, giving additional weight to 01’s confessions of last week. He’s mysterious and a bit off-putting, but claims to be there to help. As Charlie is about to ask him about Krogg’s memo, he disappears. On the episode commentary, Alex Epstein says that the men in gray come from yet another universe even farther gone than Alpha. They wanted to save Beta from destruction, but might have had nefarious reasons to do so. Listen to the commentary podcasts, people!
The same man shows up once more. Charlie goes to talk with the priest again, sitting in the confessional asking for his advice:
I met this person, this woman and she needs help. Probably more than i do. If that’s possible. She’s lost. Doesn’t even know it.
But the priest’s advice is very utilitarian. He tells Charlie to solve his own problems first, before trying to solve anyone else’s. Reminds him of the stricture on a plane, to put your own oxygen mask on before helping anyone else.
Charlie leaves upset, surprised by the selfish and self-serving advice. Then the man in the gray suit exits the second confessional booth.
Jasmine and Sew Sew
The aftermath of Jasmine’s fatal attack last week is short and sweet. Short, in that Sew Sew makes sure there is no crime in the computers. Sweet, in that Sew Sew makes sure Jasmine knows he wants love, not sex. For the first time since Charlie’s disappeared, Jasmine sees a glimmer of hope for her future. It’s small, and requires her loving Sew Sew, but it’s real. And Sew Sew isn’t a bad man; he’s the last and only good cop in Cape City.
That’s a sliding scale.
Another very fine episode where we got to mix characters together and have some fun with the results. Charlie and Reena need more opportunity to play off each other, and Charlie and 01 should still be getting together more, but this was still a good one. It was especially nice to see 01 and Julius together. Michael Filipowich and Danny Keogh really work together well.
What did everyone else think?