Protocol 5: In the absence of a mission, resume your host’s life.
I’ve wondered before if any of what we’ve seen so far has been hallucinations, especially in Room 101. The characters definitely hallucinate in this episode. But, thankfully, no one puts their best sniper in the body of a frail old woman, then tells her to aim at the ground, before letting her and the chief engineer of their crucial mission die before the mission is completed. This is a much better episode than Helios 685, as long as you don’t mind character-driven episodes. I love character development and interaction, so I’m good.
The main characters aren’t so good. Their hosts’ lives feel mundane after working several exciting missions since their arrival. Marley is flat-out bored. Original Marcy didn’t have a very exciting life. Traveler Marcy is a doctor, so the obvious solution to her boredom is to do minor surgery on herself to remove her com, turn it into a Vagus Nerve Stimulator to help her seizure disorder, and then reinsert it under the skin in her chest. While bleeding all over David’s apartment. David is understandably disturbed when he gets home and finds Marcy looking like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. They have a long talk about their relationship and Marcy’s mental health, which somehow ends in David doing a spinal tap on Marcy. That guy is really in love, if an invasive medical procedure felt like a sane compromise in that situation.
Marcy realizes at some point that the injections everyone took in Helios 685 to protect them from toxic gasses are having side effects that include hallucinations. The rest of the team gradually realizes this as well over the course of their strange day. By the end of the episode the effects of the injection have worn off. In the meantime, we get some interesting insights. For one, Marcy sees copious amounts of blood as normal, and is used to doing medical procedures on herself (and others) in conditions that aren’t sterile, or even a medical facility. More evidence of how terrible future conditions are.
Philip is also bored and searching for any heroin he might have lost or forgotten. He can’t find any, and ends up licking the residue off of old baggies. He meets his dealer and buys a new supply. Later, Ray sees Philip walking down the sidewalk stoned out of his of his mind. Ray takes care of Philip. He buys Philip a hot dog and french fries for lunch. Philip hallucinates that it’s the gruel he used to eat in the future, and says he swore he’d never it eat again. Ray talks to Philip about having more of a life than just drugs, and taking better care of himself. He buys Philip a pet turtle, Poppy, to give Philip something else to focus on. Philip looks smitten with his pet. It is a pretty cute turtle.
Next Ray takes Philip to an Addicts Anonymous meeting. Philip thinks he hears Ray asking for the director’s help and guidance. He realizes that “the director doesn’t know,” but we aren’t told what. I’m assuming the director doesn’t know what the team is doing, for the first time in their lives and/or doesn’t know how the timeline has changed yet, because it hasn’t had time to settle. The addicts group refers to Ray as traveler 7294. Philip hallucinates what he would say to the group if he could be honest. He’s been in this time for 5 weeks and he’s tired. He’s tired and just wants to get high. He was selected and trained to remember everything. He’s memorized many things, and remembers everything, but he can’t remember own face. The face that he was born with hundreds of years from now in the future. But that’s okay. He needs to get used to who he is now. Phillip snaps out of the hallucination and introduces himself to the group, with Ray’s encouragement. “My name is Philip, and I’m a heroin addict.” You get the feeling that Ray may have saved his life. Philip has been very alone in this time period, spiraling from more than his accidental heroin addiction. Without Marcy and Trevor around on a daily basis to tether him to reality, he very quickly loses himself.
Carly is considering a panic attack. She gradually becomes more and more paranoid as the day goes on. Her TV flashes the same questions that were asked on the TV in Room 101, which begs the question: Was any of what she saw then a hallucination? Is what she’s seeing now a hallucination, or are the kidnappers taking advantage of her current state? Her TV also shows her living room as seen by a camera in the ceiling. A Child Protective Services case worker shows up to investigate a complaint made by police officer/baby daddy Jeff. Carly is paranoid and hostile with the CPS worker, then throws her out.
McLaren is a bitter insomniac. When he gets to work, Forbes wants his help with a dangerous situation. It turns out Forbes and Kat are throwing McLaren a surprise party to celebrate his 15 years with the FBI. His hallucinations are at their height during the party. Between what McLaren gives away with his strange behavior, and what she figures out from talking to Forbes, Kat confirms her suspicions that he’s cheating. He is, but he was on missions most of the times that he wasn’t where he was supposed to be.
At the party, McLaren hallucinates stories and visions from his memories of people he left behind in the future. One agent talks about evacuating a shelter in an emergency, with alarms going off and people screaming. Shelters seems to fail frequently in the future. The people he sees all have similar torn, roughly-made sweaters, shaved heads, and look sick. McLaren laments that he’ll never see them again when he makes his speech to the party. After the speech, Kat drives him home. She accuses McLaren of cheating on her, but he tells her he’s always been in love with her. They kiss, and make love, but McLaren is seeing her as a blonde woman from his past in the future, not herself. The woman has traveler number 3465* tattooed on the left side of her neck, just under the hairline, behind her ear. Afterwards, Kat texts her mother to confirm that McLaren is definitely cheating.
Trevor tries, but fails, to meditate. He’s more trapped in his host’s life than anyone else, except for possibly Philip, at the moment, since he’s a minor who can’t make decisions for himself. He and his girlfriend, Rene, go shopping. She and another friend, Nick, try to lure Trevor into a shoplifting scheme that they’ve pulled off before. Trevor is disgusted with them and original Trevor, and refuses. He pays the shop bill for the stolen items, then discovers that Nick also stole Trevor’s mother’s medication because original Trevor wanted him to. Traveler Trevor has a major uphill battle to fight to get past original Trevor’s many issues. Rene tells Trevor that she never really liked all of the rebellious stuff that they used to do, and that she likes him for himself. They have a real conversation for the first time.
When Trevor gets back home, his parents accuse him of stealing his mother’s medication. Trevor gives the medication back, and explains that Nick stole it because he thought Trevor wanted him to. Gary and Patricia don’t believe Trevor and continue to blame him. Traveler Trevor continues to be frustrated with the issues original Trevor left him to deal with.
Philip sets up Poppy’s terrarium. Trevor shows up at the garage to hang out. When Philip reminds him of protocol 5, Trevor says, “Can’t Trevor and Philip be friends?” Philip points out that traveler Trevor is at least 100 years older than traveler Philip, and Trevor admits he needs a couch to crash on after his argument with his parents. They discuss the side effects of the anti-toxin. Philip says he has those things happen all the time anyway. A notification bell rings on the computer, alerting Philip that they’ve gotten a new mission. It’s time to get the band back together.
The cold open in the beginning of the episode had the team celebrating the success of the Helios 685 mission. Trevor breaks out the champagne, while Phillip says that 91, 462,000 more people will live because they succeeded in diverting the asteroid. McLaren is the Debbie Downer of the group, pointing out how many people died in the attempt. The Russians and Chinese will know they set off an antimatter explosion, which could lead to the same arms race that caused the apocalyptic future they come from. Philip tells him to take the win, for now. It’s good advice.
McLaren and I think alike, though. Solve one disaster, potentially cause another. That could explain why the team didn’t cease to exist after Helios was diverted. It would make for a much more interesting show, as well.
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.
*Possible spoiler: It’s Carly’s number. (Not really surprising, I know. I’m a little ahead in the episodes I’ve viewed, and I can’t remember if we know everyone’s numbers at this point, so, this is just to be on the safe side for people who are super spoiler-free. I think Carly’s already given her number at some point though?)