Things are starting to get real at Project NOAH. The fourth episode of The Passage, Whose Blood Is That?, shows us the transition from human to viral vampire, as Carter flips to his new form. It also shows the insidiousness, and brilliance, of the virals’ psychological invasion of the humans stationed at the Project NOAH facility.
The humans are scientists and members of the military, who don’t believe that dreams can hurt them or that vampires are real. It’s important that they each appear to be in control of themselves to their colleagues. Scientific and military cultures dictate that they maintain those facades until the very end, no matter what’s actually going on inside them. They are the perfect group of people on which to use internal psychological warfare.
We often think of murderers as rough, violent thugs, but the reality is that many appear to be normal people in their day to day lives. Serial killers, in particular, can be narcissistic chameleons with a talent for manipulation, which they use to lure in their victims. Eleven of the thirteen recipients of Fanning’s blood are the perpetrators of multiple murders, predators in their human lives. Prior to developing their viral predatory instincts, they’d already developed the human version of those instincts and learned the ways of their prey, us.
Now, they have moved beyond being merely narcissistic, ruthless psychopaths, to become ruthless, efficient predators of humans and mammals. They are a telepathic tribe of killers who are bent on revenge and domination and who crave the blood of their prey and enemies. They are led by an evil genius with an axe to grind, and they can convert people to their cause through dreams and visions, without ever speaking directly to them.
The end of the world as we know it is almost upon us.
In this episode, Carter struggles with the final stages of the process the serum has created within him. As he’s overcome by his illness, he relives the important moments of his life. Fanning is able to interfere with the process, pushing Carter toward accepting that he must become a viral or die. Wolgast and Amy continue to use their spy skills to learn about Project NOAH and look for opportunities to escape. Amy begins receiving telepathic visitors. And discipline begins to crumble, as the virals’ telepathic influence is felt by all levels of the Project NOAH staff.
Whose Blood Is That Begins with Carter dreaming about his girlfriend, Rachel Wilson, while the Tom Rhodes song Streetlights plays. First they are in bed together, then she’s drowned in a pool. Fanning interrupts and tells Carter that it’s time. He’s going to have to make a choice. Carter wakes up and discovers the sun streaming in the windows, which irritates his skin and eyes. He shrinks away from it and uses a remote to close the blinds.
Carter glances over at the sign on his wall which lists viral symptoms to watch for: Fever, vomiting, sensitivity to sunlight, disorientation, and seizure. Next door, Amy can tell that Carter had a rough night. She has the same sign with the list of symptoms that he does, but hers includes the symptom of lack of appetite.
She begins to panic a little, worrying that Carter is showing symptoms and that she will soon, as well. Brad stops her, reminding her that they agreed not to panic. Instead he’s going to get them out of there. He tells their guard that he needs to see Lear, because he has all of the symptoms on the sign.
Lear is busy analyzing the virals’ most recent brain scans and explaining how things work to Dr Pet. He tells Pet that he thinks they’re witnessing an evolution, and they need to understand it, so they can defend themselves from attack. Pet mocks him, scoffing at the idea that anyone would need to defend themselves from bad dreams. He says that Jonas is like his mom, who thinks that cell phones cause brain cancer. Jonas tells him that cell phones do cause brain cancer.
Jonas shows him that the brain activity peaks overnight, at the same time that the nightmares do. He doesn’t think it can be a coincidence. Pet notices that the intensity of the EM field on Fanning’s scan is exponentially higher than the others.
Lear is called out to speak to Wolgast, along with Sykes. He tells them that Amy is becoming anxious and he thinks she needs to get outside so that she has a diversion. They agree, as long as there’s a security detail assigned to him.
Shauna appears in Richards head, to thank him for stopping the execution and to warn him that one of his men is about to lose it. Richards doesn’t believe her, so she says he’ll just have to wait and see, then vanishes. As soon as she’s gone, he’s notified that there’s an issue with one of the men, Paulson.
Richards finds Paulson in front of viral David Winston. Paulson tells Richards Winston’s story: He drove trucks long distance for 20 years. One time, he raped a girl, then strapped her underneath his rig and finished his route from Seattle to Bozeman. That was the beginning of a five year killing spree.
Richards stops Paulson, telling him he doesn’t have to learn the virals’ crime stories. Paulson says that he didn’t have a choice, just like when Babcock told Richards her story. Winston even tells Paulson he loves him. The virals can do whatever they want, and no one can stop them. Paulson says that Richards is the only one who could stop them, but Babcock won’t let him.
Richards has heard enough, and lectures Paulson that they’ve been together for three tours of duty now. He brought Paulson with him on this assignment because he trusts Paulson, but he needs to wake up. He orders Paulson to the medic for a full psych eval.
Paulson tells him that Babcock is playing him. Richards says that their job is to protect the lab rats in the facility until they get the cure they’re looking for. They’ve just been cooped up there too long, and it’s getting to them.
Paulson: “How do you know that we’re not the lab rats?”
Amy and Carter pass notes under the door, with Amy asking questions about Carter’s progress, like how fast he can run and when it gets scary. He tries to keep his answers vague and cheerful, for her sake, but she doesn’t buy it. She knows there’s scary stuff happening.
The trip outside includes having the security detail build Amy a treehouse, while she sits on a blanket and draws. Brad is extremely enthusiastic about the treehouse. Amy is afraid of heights. Once he coaxes her up the ladder, he explains that now they have a bird’s eye view of the compound, and, for the first time, they can see what’s beyond the Project NOAH gates. Once Amy realizes the treehouse is actually a spy mission, she’s much more enthusiastic about it.
Lear examines Carter and finds his physical readings all look good. Carter complains to Lear about his nightmares and asks who Fanning is. All Lear will tell him is that Tim Fanning was the most brilliant man he ever knew and the most manipulative. He won’t tell Carter what happened to Fanning, which seems a bit unfair.
Carter tells Lear that Fanning is coming for him and wants him to make a choice. Lear asks what kind of choice, but Carter doesn’t know yet. Still, Lear thinks that Carter has a good chance of coming through the trial without any “side effects”, because he’s young, strong, and hasn’t tried to convince Lear that he’s innocent.
Lear has read Carter’s case file, and he knows that Carter’s lawyer fell asleep during the trial, and that Project Innocence offered to take his case, but he refused. Lear doesn’t know what happened to the victim, Rachel Wilson, but he thinks that her death is clearly a burden on Carter.
Sykes pulls Richards aside to share some good news. They’ve gotten tater tots back in the kitchen! She asks him to meet her in the cafeteria later. She’ll be the one with the ketchup.
I haven’t seen anyone get this excited about tater tots since season 1 of Glee.
Richards doesn’t want to talk about work during their tater date, so Sykes asks him her question now- Why did he change his mind about executing Babcock? He says that he called the DoD at the last minute, to let them know that they were going to use deadly force on one of the virals. The DoD overruled him and told him to stand down. He assumes it’s because they’ve got $36 million invested in each viral, and they don’t want to waste the money.
Carter is losing his appetite, in addition to being sensitive to sunlight. He goes into a dream state, remembering his life. When he met Rachel Wilson, he had just finished refurbishing a home and was trying to flip it. She was a realtor who came to his open house. She had a lot of tips for him to improve his presentation, including that he should open his heart to love and ask her out.
Suddenly, Fanning is in the middle of his memory, telling him he did a great job asking Rachel out, because she was a catch. Anthony startles back to full consciousness. Amy sends a note under the door, asking if he’s ok. He goes to pick it up, and as he does, blood splatters out of his mouth. He’s losing his first tooth, in order to make room for his fangs to come in.
Amy and Brad spend another session in the treehouse, while the security detail finishes the shelter part of it. When they’re done, Amy talks one of them into letting her borrow her binoculars for a while. She stands up and starts calling out everything she sees. Brad tells her she can call him Brad, instead of The Agent, but she thinks of him as The Agent, and that’s that.
Sierra Thompson, the TV news journalist, has finished her in depth report on the twelve missing death row inmates and gives Lacey and Lila a sneak peek at the story. She intends to air her report the next day at 5:00 PM and tells them to be careful. Lacey is Lila’s security.
Sykes calls the DoD to check in about the overruled execution order, and discovers that the phone call Richards described never happened.
Lear and Fanning notice that Fanning’s EM surge is 400% higher than it was the day before.
Carter is curled up in a ball on the floor, whimpering. When a nurse and his guards find him, the nurse orders them to move him down to the science levels, immediately. Whatever Fanning is using all of that extra energy for, it has something to do with Carter.
Amy uses the guard’s binoculars to point out helpful scenery, like birds and trees, until she spots a guy on the roof with a big gun. Roof snipers must not be a normal part of the scenery, because Brad pulls her onto the treehouse floor, just as the sniper starts firing.
Carter has a high fever and the shivers, but Lear still assures him that they won’t lose him to the virus. For those of you keeping count, Carter now has every symptom listed on the signs, other than seizures. (I’m counting the blood from his mouth as vomit.) Some of the shivering might be supposed to be brief seizures. He’s also lost quite a few teeth.
Poor guy. He had a nice smile.
Sykes is examining test results on the monitors and calls Lear over. She shows him a snapshot of Carter’s viral genome from a few days ago, and then one from today. Every time they attenuate the formula, it eventually mutates back. Lear suggests they synthesize a new serum by excising the bad nucleotides. It shouldn’t take long.
They hear gunshots outside, signaling that Paulson has started firing. Richards and his men are already in place. Paulson demands a helicopter to get him out of the compound, and he threatens to take out the power for the entire compound if he doesn’t get it. He has a clear shot at the electric substation, where the backups are also housed.
Who thought it was a good idea to put the backups next to the main power supply?
Amy and Brad are hiding behind a large tree, but Paulson’s still shooting up the place. Richards sees them, and makes hand signals to Brad to tell him the plan to get them to safety. Brad tells Amy they’re going to run over to Richards on the count of three. Richards’ men provide cover fire to keep Paulson busy. As they’re running, Amy easily sprints ahead of Brad. The serum is kicking in and giving her powers. Both Brad and Amy make it safely to Richards.
Paulson shoots out the substation, so the compound loses power. Sykes can’t send in a repair team until Paulson stops shooting, and Carter’s serum can’t be processed until the power is back on. Brad offers to talk to Paulson, since he’s a hostage negotiator. Richards and Sykes decide to send Brad in, while sending Amy back inside.
Carter is quickly getting worse, despite being in an ice bath in a big, metal tub. He returns to his memories of Rachel Wilson. On the night of their 3 month anniversary, she took him to an abandoned house and told him that she wanted them to fix it up together, then sell it. He thought it was too much for just the two of them, since he was just starting out and didn’t have established crews and suppliers. Rachel was upset that he wasn’t as enthusiastic as she was, because she’d already bought the house to surprise him. He gave in, and said he’d figure it out. She was ecstatic when he said yes.
In real life, Carter’s fever rises to 106. Lear figures out that Fanning is drawing energy from the other virals and using it to make Carter become a viral faster. In the fever dream, Carter becomes feverish, and doesn’t understand what’s happening. Fanning appears, and Rachel disappears.
Shouldn’t they try something like gassing the other virals into unconsciousness? Or hitting them over the head? Feeding them blood laced with a knockout drug?
Richards leads Brad up to Paulson, but refuses to give him any information about Paulson to work with. Brad tells Paulson that there’s a medical emergency, so he needs to let them restore the power systems. Paulson refuses, and says that he smuggled a vial of Fanning’s blood out of the compound as an insurance policy. They won’t be able to find it without his help.
Sierra Thompson is murdered and her exposé of Project Noah doesn’t air. Lacey and Lila go back on the run, figuring that they’re the next targets.
In Carter’s next memory, the house is finished being remodeled, and he’s living there. Rachel comes over, with bruises on her face. It’s clear that someone hit her. Carter wants to know what happened. She tells him she’s married. Carter is angry that she lied to him, but not at all violent.
Amy sends notes under Carter’s door, but he doesn’t answer, since he’s not there. Instead, Babcock appears in her room. She tells Amy that Carter isn’t gone forever. Amy asks who Babcock is. Babcock tells Amy to concentrate and figure it out. Amy does, and Shauna’s name comes into her mind. Shauna already knows all about Amy.
Amy asks where Shauna’s body is. Shauna says she’s down in the basement, locked up. Then Amy asks to see what Shauna really looks like. Shauna hesitates, because she doesn’t want to scare Amy. Amy insists she can take it. Shauna gives in, but says she’ll only show Amy for a moment. She shows Amy her teeth, veins and eyes, but doesn’t show how dead-eyed she normally looks. Maybe the virals will be more lively once they’re out of their cells.
Amy says that she’s nothing like Shauna. Shauna points out that Amy is, and Shauna knows that Amy can feel herself changing. She tells Amy that after she changes, she won’t need anyone to protect her, and she’ll finally have a family who’ll watch out for her. She just has to give in to it. Fighting only makes it worse.
Amy turns Shauna down. She has The Agent to be her family. Shauna says that Brad will have a hard time with all of this. She wants Amy to make sure she keeps thinking for herself, because Amy knows what’s best. Amy tells her to leave. To her credit, Shauna does.
Back in the pilot, Amy questioned why Agents Wolgast and Doyle came to pick her up from the foster home without a woman being with them, because agencies always send a woman. Now, the virals have sent a woman to manipulate her into joining them. Maybe Amy trusted Brad because she knew he wasn’t a woman sent to put her at ease.
Richards tells Brad that he’s having the vials in the blood locker checked to figure out if one is missing. If so, he needs Brad to get the location of the missing vial. Brad tells both Paulson and Richards that if the blood sample gets out to the public, it’s a disaster. Paulson says that they should listen to him, then.
Brad notices that Paulson is standing up and in the line of fire, so he makes hand signals to tell Paulson to crouch down again. He tries to convince Paulson that they’re on the same side. He’s been on Level 4B, where they keep the virals, and he’s had Fanning get into his head. He admits to Paulson that they weren’t prepared for what this turned out to be, and they won’t accept that it’s gone wrong. Paulson says that they don’t have much more time. Brad offers to work together.
Richards has been listening the whole time. Now, he sneaks up behind Brad, as Paulson is sharing vital information that might implicate him and his involvement with Babcock.
Paulson: “Two’s not enough to stop them… Winston told me everything. The virals aren’t going to break out. We’re gonna let them out.”
Brad: “They can’t control us. Not to do something like that.”
Paulson: “Ask Richards. Ask him about Babcock. He saved her life, and you wanna know why? Because Fanning needs all of them alive. And when he gets one more, that’s when-”
Richards shoots Paulson in the forehead, killing him instantly.
Brad yells at Richards, because he was successfully talking Paulson down. He wants to know who the “one more” is, and what will happen. Richards radios down to his men to send the repair teams into the power substation. He tells Brad that the negotiation took too long.
Brad starts asking questions about the things Paulson said about Richards, and about the vial of blood. Richards says that Paulson was a lunatic and the blood is all accounted for. He turns the arguments away from himself and asks when Brad was down on 4B, since they just had a security incident.
Brad says it was a bluff. They shouldn’t be at each other’s throats when there’s trouble coming. Richards tells him that if trouble comes, he’ll handle it. Guards take Brad away.
Lear tells Carter to push Fanning out of his mind. The power comes back, so Lear and Sykes finish the new serum. Carter’s memories continue to unwind. Sometime during this sequence, he’s given the new serum.
He and Rachel sit by the pool at the new house, drinking wine. She takes some pills. Her husband calls and Carter tells him that Rachel will call him back when she’s ready. She tells Carter that she thought she could end her marriage and he would never know about it. Carter says that he loves her, but he needs time to think.
Later on, both Carter and Rachel are in bed, but he won’t let her touch him. When he wakes up in the morning, she’s drowned herself in the pool. He pulls her out and tries to revive her, but it’s too late.
Fanning walks up to Carter as he’s giving Rachel CPR, and says that he can understand how this incident ended with Carter on death row. Her rich husband hated both Rachel and Carter, so he claimed that Carter was the one who hit Rachel and that he drowned her on purpose.
Fanning tells Carter that he’s dying. he’s been replaying these memories on a loop every day for two years, and it always ends the same way, with him getting framed for Rachel’s murder. So why didn’t he put up a better defense in court?
Carter is distraught. He cries that he should have helped her or just said he forgave her. Fanning laughs. He tells Carter that Rachel was a mentally ill, selfish, drug addict. Carter tries to disagree, but Fanning has been inside Carter’s mind since he got to Project Noah. He knows the truth.
Carter says that he doesn’t want to die. Fanning tells him that he doesn’t have to. He can choose to be part of Fanning’s family, instead. Wanting human connection is understandable, but in the end it just brings pain. He was poor and black, so his love for Rachel got him blamed for Rachel’s death. That should make him angry.
Fanning: “I’m offering you a new life. One without pain, one without suffering. Power is what you’ve been missing. Love without power is misery. Choose, Carter. Do it. Now. You can curl up and die or you can be at the top of the food chain. You can cash in or you can run the table. You can be the victim, or you can be the perpetrator. Either way, you’re heart is going to stop beating in eight seconds. What’s it gonna be?”
During this speech, Brad returns to Amy. They hug and comfort each other. Richards watches as Paulson’s body is removed from the roof. It hits him that he’s murdered a friend to protect the virals and himself. He doubles over with the emotion of the realization. Shauna comforts him.
Carter’s eyes turn orange, he rips out his IV and stands up, roaring like a lion. Blood pours out of his mouth as the rest of his fanged teeth come in. He leaps out of the metal tub and pounces on the nearest unnamed extra, dragging her to the floor and biting her neck.
Everyone else in the room screams and runs away, except Lear, who runs toward him. The veins have darkened and become prominent on Carter’s face. His transformation is complete. When Lear gets to him, Carter grabs at his face, pulling his mask off while pushing him away. Pet and Sykes drag Lear into the airlock and safety.
Carter sucks the blood from the med tech while Lear, Sykes and Pet watch. Sykes notices that Lear has lost his mask, and has blood streaked down his face, including in the corner of his left eye and on his lip. She asks, “Whose blood is that?”
It looks to me like the blood on Jonas’ face belongs to the med tech, for the most part. The IV was in Carter’s left arm and he bit the med tech on the right side of her neck, which he was holding with his right arm. Carter grabbed Lear’s mask with his right hand. He was also bleeding from his mouth, so while it’s possible some of that blood is Carter’s own, most or all of it should be from the med tech’s neck.
Lear should be rushed into a decon shower, after having his face wiped very carefully with alcohol.
If Lear was exposed, he might need to start working on another form of cure, either using Amy’s blood, or the final one given to Carter, without the bad nucleotides. And maybe try to get far enough away from Fanning to avoid his telepathic control.
Apparently killing the obviously evil, murderous virals, before things get any further out of control, isn’t an option. I would say this is unrealistic, but I’ve watched too many people in real life deny ridiculously obvious danger and mental illness, or be sure that they could handle it. Unfortunately, it’s very realistic for the doctors and military to ignore the danger and tell anyone who takes it seriously that they’re overreacting.
Will the show ever answer the important question of whose bright idea it was to test the viral vampire serum on death row murderers? My guess goes to Richards, but it could have come from higher up the food chain or from Dr Pet, who’s always full of idiotic ideas.
Paulson was the guard who helped with Shauna’s execution last episode. Did Shauna slip something extra into his head, to help Winston push him over the edge? Of the Twelve, she seems to have the strongest telepathic abilities with humans.
Did Paulson actually steal Fanning’s blood, and did Richards actually check to see if any was missing? As far as we know, everything Paulson said was the truth, so we have no reason to doubt that he stole some blood for insurance. The virals would want their blood to get out and infect more people, so they’d help him with distractions.
On the other hand, Richards is telling frequent lies these days, and he wouldn’t want anyone to know that there might be blood missing, after his other issues lately. It would be like him to gamble that the missing blood is somewhere safe and will never surface, or that he’ll be able to find it before it causes trouble. So there’s probably a vial of Fanning’s blood in the wind, somewhere.
The virals aren’t just telepathic, they also have a hypnotic ability, that’s the equivalent of a vampire’s glamour. They’re able to make their targets see things the way they want them to look, whether that’s literally or figuratively. Paulson and Richards both almost seemed to have had spells cast on them, that they then briefly came out of. Fanning has the strongest glamour, since he’s the alpha and can draw power from the others. Anyone who’s seen a vision or had a nightmare is vulnerable.
Between what Paulson and Grey have said, and what we’ve seen with Shauna and Richards, it looks like the virals are making their version of thralls, what the books call familiars. A vampire’s thrall is bound to the vampire, usually with a blood bond, and is a servant who is basically a fervently devoted slave. The familiars in the books have a psychological and sometimes a viral bond with one of the 12 death row inmates (known as the Twelve). The familiars act as assistants and liaisons between the Twelve (and Fanning) and humans.
As Richards succumbs to Babcock’s influence, he’s becoming more like the ruthless character Richards was in the book. They’ve already changed his story arc and character, and I have a feeling he’ll end up as a composite character, if the show lasts long enough.
(For book readers: I’m thinking Richards will be combined with Horace Guilder and/or Jude Cripp, if the show lasts a few seasons and gets past Year Zero, to the point of setting up new communities.)
Images courtesy of FOX.