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.
While that Greek tragedy unfolded across three dimensions, Charlie came home to a harsh, brutal world he no longer recognized and where he no longer belonged. On returning, he caused grief for Sew Sew and Jasmine before they even saw him, but it was poor, sweet Papa Louie – who we haven’t seen since the pilot – who suffered the most from Charlie’s return.
Charlie’s not happy in Alpha. The man who once sarcastically told Karl that the sticky donuts in Alpha were far superior to those in Beta can barely eat the bitter gruel available in Alpha. Where Reena found the food in Beta wanting, to Charlie it is manna. And the air is clean and the corporations are partially checked and there is still some justice. It doesn’t take long before a drunken admission that in Beta, “everything tastes better, you can breathe,” and they need help.
He wants to meet with Papa Louie’s friends, who I presume are anti-corporatist terrorists, to get their help. That won’t happen of course, because an ectoskin in Papa Louie’s apartment picks up Charlie saying “Cape Town” and transmits it back to Vexcor. A tiger team extracts Papa Louie while Charlie’s out buying groceries and tortures, drugs, and colludes a confession out of her.
Charlie meets Sew Sew and they dance around each other a bit, a couple of old brawlers testing each other before committing to exchange blows. Sew Sew is happy with his life and doesn’t want to give it up, but he know he can’t hold Jasmine against her will. It’s not in his nature. If Charlie is truly back, it will be his choice whether he returns to Jasmine or not. But before that, Charlie needs Sew Sew’s help with Papa Louie.
Unfortunately, Papa Louie is in Vexcor’s most secure facility, where she awaits her public execution. After failing to get the information they wanted from her – namely Charlie – all that was left to do was drug Papa Louie, give her a confession to memorize, and execute her before a huge, world-wide audience. When Sew Sew finds out where she is, he tells Charlie there’s no way to save her. He can get him in, by having Charlie pose as the medical technician who ensures the victim stays alive during the full execution broadcast, but there’s no where to go from there.
Charlie gives Papa Louie the antidote and tells her everything. Just like in “Things Unseen”, the dialog has been stripped and replaced with FM Le Sieur‘s score. This really lets us see the skill of the actors in detail, as their reactions and subtle facial movements convey all the emotion and information necessary. Charlie also tells Papa Louie what he needs her to do.
He can’t save her; he only hopes she can save the six billion of us in Beta.
Papa Louie tells all in front of the world. She tells everyone of the existence of the parallel worlds, of Vexcor’s secret plans to exploit them, and how Vexcor has hidden this advance from everyone, the other five corporations included. Her fate remains a mystery, for we don’t know what happened after the “technical difficulties” cut short the broadcast. She might have been gunned down on the spot, or kept for more torture, or set free.
The cat out of the bag, Essa does what any good CEO would do: she spins. She spins the story so hard even Jasmine thinks it’s a good thing. Why, of course Vexcor was going to license this technology. Why of course Vexcor was going to spread the wealth with the good people of Alpha. Why of course Vexcor was not executing Papa Louie, but using the draw of the execution to tell the world about the remarkable parallel worlds.
While doing that damage control, she’s blissfully unaware of the corpse in her board room.
Bryon’s chosen method of suicide is death by son, but it’s impressive that he’s able to take everything away from 01 so quickly. For whatever reason, when Bryon heads to Gamma, 01 feels uneasy in Beta. He senses something is amiss and walks the streets of Cape Town seeking it out. When he gets back to the Glass Door, he sees his mother’s hat box and tentatively opens it. Gone are the mementos of his mother – a victim of Bryon Boxer’s cruelty, directly or indirectly – replaced by the necklace 01 had given his wife. He knows. He knows it’s too late but rushes to the shower and Gamma.
When he gets there, he sees the vicious trail left by his father. Wife, son, and daughter all dead at dad’s hand. Everything and everyone 01 cares about, gone. He burns his house as a way of closing that chapter of his life and to give his family the honor in death Bryon tried to take from them, then heads back to Alpha for revenge. With the Vexcor medallion Bryon left as a calling card, 01 confronts a rapidly fading Bryon and kills him.
He arranges the body above the Vexcor logo on the boardroom floor, arms spread wide in a classic cruxifiction pose, and leaves him with a signature of his own: a baby photo of himself that Bryon had been holding.
A lot happened tonight, even if much of it was mimed. Personally, I think that works really well on this show, where characters occasionally need to learn things we already know, but their reactions are going to have emotional resonance. It worked well when Charlie told Blues about the multiverse, and it worked beautifully with Papa Louie in front of that slaughterhouse slough. In his episode commentary, Bob Wertheimer could not stop raving about how much he loves this episode. I think he’s right. This episode, while missing the pyrotechnics of the Charlie/01 scenes, told a complete story and moved the arc forward.
It also leads into the final three episodes with a lot of interesting developments on the table:
- Bryon Boxer is dead. Who runs Vexcor? Is Essa named in the will, or 01?
- Alphaverse knows about the parallel worlds. What will the world-wide reaction be, and what does that mean for Beta and Gamma?
- Charlie is no longer at home in Alpha. Will he leave Jasmine behind and go back to Beta, or will he do something else entirely?
One last thing. If you normally fast-forward over the opening title sequence, I recommend you go back and watch again tonight. More importantly, *listen*. The score was cut from it and replaced with a foley sequence which I think really sets the mood well.
What did everyone else think?