This episode is largely a bottle episode that turns out to be mostly filler. We do learn more about the traveler mythology though, and gain a little insight into the characters.
The episode starts with a family of four careening through a parking garage in the family car. Dad’s driving is out of control, but it wasn’t clear to me if he was attempting a murder-suicide, or if he was having a medical issue of some kind. The daughter in the back seat is screaming and flailing, begging her dad to stop. At the last second before he drives off the roof, he swerves to the side and hits the brakes. Three of the four family members are now travelers. The little girl was a misfire, as McLaren’s team tells the family when they greet the newly arrived travelers. From the sound of it, because she was moving so much, the director couldn’t get a stable lock on her and the transfer failed. The traveler who would have entered her body is dead, if I understood correctly. It’s a one way trip that fails a significant percentage of the time. In the early days, the failure rate was 30% or more. McLaren will take the little girl to stay with a relative, while rest of her team prepares for their mission.
As they drive away, Philip, Carly, Marcy, and Trevor discuss the high rate of misfires. Trevor seems to have firsthand knowledge of the first wave of transfers. This is the second hint we’ve had that Trevor is very old, even though he’s in a young body. In the episode Hall, when Rick Hall questioned letting a kid repair the damaged device, one of the team members told him that the “kid” was older than everyone in the room combined. There were several people in the room at the time.
Just as Carly is saying that she felt she’ d have no other choice than to volunteer, even with a 30+% misfire rate, their car is blindsided by a tractor-trailer. They wake up hours later, coms removed, strapped to wheel chairs, with IV drips and catheters inserted. They are side by side in separate cages. One by one they are wheeled out to be questioned by a flashing TV screen. The questioners know, or at least suspect, they are travelers, asking them questions like “When are you from?” “Who have you told?” and “What is your mission?” When none of the team gives in, the kidnappers resort to mild forms of mental and physical torture. Philip is injected with a drug that affects his brain because he was modified to be a historian. It forces his memories to flood to the surface too quickly, overloading his system. Carly is shown a fake video of her baby being held hostage. She tells us the baby is with his father. Marly sees a fake video of Philip being shot and has another absence seizure. It leaves her unconscious for several more hours. Trevor proves to handle the crisis best, staying calm and aware. He tries to distract the man who takes them to and from questioning, and is unruffled by the TV questions. It doesn’t matter in the end though, there’s no escape, and no indication of who the kidnappers are.
After a few days of being held, Carly’s had enough. She grabs the guard’s wrist in her teeth, and bites down hard. She keeps biting and chewing until he bleeds to death, falling to the ground and taking her wheelchair with him. She’s knocked unconscious on the way down. No more questions or torture, but no escape either. Carly is a hardcore warrior goddess, it’s sad there wasn’t more of a reward for that act of bravery.
McLaren apparently doesn’t notice when the coms go quiet for a day and a half. David does notice when Marcy doesn’t show up for dinner or to sleep. This would be why she’s been staying at his house. David takes McLaren’s card and goes to find out if he knows where Marcy is. McLaren rudely gives David the brush off when he realizes his team has been missing and he didn’t notice. Way to be grateful to the guy who just saved your ass and possibly your team’s lives. Also not the way the FBI actually treats family members of kidnapping victims, which, legally, is about what David is.
McLaren uses every FBI and traveler resource he can to find the team, but with no results. He breaks Protocol 6 again and goes to see traveler Officer Boyd. She tells him that it’s most likely the mission is cancelled, his team has been terminated, and he’s next on the list. This director person/entity sure is fickle. One minute micromanaging, the next incommunicative and making everyone guess what they want. If there are factions within the future people, the director might be involved with an evil faction. (Hydra goes all the way to the top.) Or, the director might be incompetent and prone to plot holes. It’s a tough call until we get further into the season.
After Carly kills the guard, the team’s location pops up on the traveler deep web chat room page that McLaren has spent the night staring at. He and Officer Boyd go rescue the team. It’s been 3 days. Carly asks if he completed the mission. When McLaren says “No,” she replies, “What if that was the test?”
I can’t help but agree this was a test. When the girl from the second team didn’t make it, the director decided to test the flaws of McLaren’s team. McLaren’s perseverance and loyalty were tested. Carly’s emotional resilience in the face of her host’s family being threatened was tested, to see if she was getting too attached. Philip’s ability to follow protocol and withstand questioning on heroin and when he needed a hit was tested. Marcy’s general health. I’m not sure what they were testing with Trevor, perhaps his ability to withstand being ignored, but I suspect he passed. Marcy is the only one I’m concerned about. She had a seizure, but she didn’t reveal any information, either.
Clues and observations:
-Philip is given the correct dose of heroine, plus a dose of another drug that causes memory floods in those modified to be historians. Whoever kidnapped the team has detailed inside knowledge. Trevor was disturbingly untouched, if we’re looking for an inside man.
-Philip talks about the helios tidal wave causing large floods. Helios was the event the woman who accepted the tech in Hall said was coming.
-Marcy is shown a surveillance video of David inside his apartment. The hidden camera is in a spot that Jeff could have reached without David noticing.
-Philip remembers the taste of metal in the air, the taste of water that’s been recycled so many times it’ll never be pure again, and the stink of 20k souls crammed into a shelter designed for half that number. The world is crowded and polluted in the future. It sounds like the people might be living someplace enclosed, like underground.
-Carly is shown photos of Rick Hall, Luka, and abusive, police officer, baby daddy Jeff on her TV. Baby Jeff Jr is supposed to be with baby daddy Jeff, but appears to be in the arms of the guard in a video. I can’t help but notice that either one of those things is not like the others in the group of three photos Carly was shown, or Jeff has a traveler inside him.
-Philip gives a number instead of a name for his mother (2144). Does everyone get a number, no name, or is she a traveler too?
-Philip says the Reveille bell rang at the exact moment the dome collapsed in Shelter 41, exactly at 0600, almost like cause and effect (it could have been, if it was a real bell). The bell rang, and woke everyone up a split second before they died. He remembers thinking as a boy that it was so unfair. (Meaning it happened sometime in the past in the travelers time.) ETA: Reveille is usually associated with military organizations and prisons. Is future society militaristic and oppressive, or was Shelter 41 used to house prisoners or the military?
Protocol 1: The mission comes first.
Protocol 2: Leave the future in the past. Don’t jeopardize your cover.
Protocol 3: Don’t take a life. Don’t save a life. Unless otherwise directed.
Protocol 4: Do not reproduce.
Protocol 5: In the absence of direction, resume your host’s life.
Protocol 6: Traveler teams should stay apart unless instructed otherwise.