The title of The Passage, season 1, episode 7 is a deceptive one. In the universe of The Passage, the metaphor You Are Like the Sun can mean that you are the life-giving center of my universe or that you are like a deadly poison. Since the sun itself is both life-giving and deadly, so it is also a metaphorical stand-in for the virus.
The focus in this episode is on the main characters’ important relationships and tragic backstories. Amy, in particular, needs to face her past so that Fanning can’t use it against her, the way he’s used their past against so many others. It’s also time for Brad, Lila and Clark to unravel their complicated history in regard to Eva’s death.
Fanning is focused on Elizabeth as the potential replacement 12th viral and someone he can win from Jonas, while Jonas is fighting the loss of his beloved wife with everything he’s got. Elizabeth needs to make the same choice we saw Carter make, between life as a viral in Fanning’s “family” or death as the person she’s always been. Though presented quietly, with dignity, her scenes in this episode are among the most powerful and moving of the series.
While most of the characters are busy with life, death and their relationships, Guilder is put in charge of Project NOAH. He chooses a new security consultant, Julio Martinez, whose name will be familiar to book readers. The two decide on sweeping security and personnel changes that will turn the compound into a prison for all of its residents.
Episode 7 opens on a flashback of Brad, looking every inch The Agent (TM Amy) and watching his daughter Eva play soccer. There’s no doubt she’s the center of his universe. When the game ends, she reminds him that they need to prepare for a team party this evening. Lila had a last minute surgery, so Brad is serving as the pinch hitter.
In the present, Brad and Lila are handcuffed with zip ties and stuffed into the trunk of one of the Project NOAH security team’s cars, under Deputy Guilder’s orders. They look for a sharp object to help them escape the cuffs. Brad wants to get back to Amy, his new daughter, as quickly as possible.
Sykes and Guilder meet with their boss, the Secretary of Defense, to discuss the future of the project. He’s peeved about all the ruckus caused by Winston’s escape and the fatalities caused by Winston snacking on the local populace. Sykes admits that she was wrong about the potential for Project NOAH. Now she realizes that the program was a huge mistake and wants to shut the whole thing down, before it gets any worse.
Guilder thinks they just need some procedural changes, and it will all be fine. After all, Amy appears to be exactly what they were looking for. The Secretary asks what Guilder needs to “make the place sustainable.” Guilder has his list memorized.
Guilder: “First, we’re going to reduce the feeding schedule of our patients by 75%. This will keep them subdued and compliant. I have 50 new security personnel incoming, and we’re going to increase their rotations so that nobody’s on 4B long enough to come under viral influence.”
Sykes: “There is no safe level of exposure. Everyone is mentally vulnerable to them.”
Guilder: “Okay, now here’s a bug that could work in our favor, Mr Secretary. The virals, they’re all connected. They have a sort of a hive mind, and they’re all linked to Fanning. You kill him, they all die.”
Mr Secretary: “Including the girl?”
Sykes: “Yes, she is linked to him, just like the rest. God forgive us.”
The Secretary puts Guilder in charge, orders him to implement his ideas, and leaves the decision of whether or not to fire Sykes and Lear up to him. Sykes gives Guilder a long look and walks out. The decision is everything the virals could have asked for.
Sykes runs into Clark in the corridor. She tells him about the new regime and that she’s probably about to get fired. She doesn’t know what will happen to him or anyone else.
Clark tells her that Brad and Lila haven’t returned from hunting Winston. He’s worried about them, since he’s finally noticed the blatant references to the Overlook Hotel that the show has been making since the beginning. He intends to go find them before another horror movie trope sucks them in.
Jonas sits with Elizabeth as she recovers from his attempt on
her Fanning’s life. She explains that the pain felt like something was inside her, scraping its way out. Jonas confesses that he tried to kill Tim. He looks like he’s still overwhelmed by the guilt. Jonas and Liz both assume that Tim is furious, which is his default state anyway.
Jonas asks how Elizabeth is feeling now. She describes intense flu-like symptoms. He shines a UV light in her eye as part of an examination, and she flinches in pain. The virus is beginning to mutate and cause her to transition. Jonas wants to continue to fight it.
Brad and Lila are still in the trunk, but he pulls something free from the car that they use to loosen the zip ties and slip them off. They chat a little to pass the time and remind us that they love each other and have great chemistry. But it’s boring in the trunk of a car, so they move on to a flashback.
Brad brings Eva from the soccer game to the hospital where Lila practices, where they transfer the trophies and decorating supplies for the party from her car to his. We can tell from their dynamics that they’re a close, happy family.
Back at the present day Overlook Hotel, Clark visits Amy to ask if she can use her telepathy to help find The Agent. Amy is suspicious of him, because she’s not stupid, but she also doesn’t have control of her powers yet, so she can’t help. Clark tries to reassure her that Brad is fine and Clark is going to bring him back, anyway. He tosses her a bag of BBQ potato chips as he leaves, I guess because he now realizes that he’s condemned an actual person to a lousy existence and probably death. By that I mean he’s figured out that he, Brad and Lila are probably going to die, but he is also thinking of Amy.
Once Clark’s gone, Carter appears. He wants to share the chips, but he’s not really there.
Carter is there to prepare Amy for what’s to come, so that she’s doesn’t make the same mistake he did. And to educate her about the structure of the new vampire family in her head. He tells her that she’ll change soon, and she’ll need to be able to take care of herself, even when it gets scary. Where she’s going, Brad can’t follow her. But first, Carter can show her where her book is.
Guilder meets with Julio Martinez, his new favorite staff member, who has created upgraded security protocols and is helping Guilder overhaul the entire Project NOAH power structure. Guilder fondly remembers his days working with Dick Cheney, who ignored seniority and the normal chain of command and moved staff around as he saw fit. Guilder thinks he should follow in Dick’s footsteps.
Cheney is famous for being the shadowy, corrupt power behind the throne. If there was any question about where Guilder’s character is headed, he just answered it. He’s looking for power, and a frontman to take the fall for him if things go south.
Martinez’s suggestions for the new security protocol have all been approved by Washington. Now he has suggestions for who should be on the short list of names who have the access codes.
He appears to be a quiet, professional, unassuming man, but Martinez ran that meeting. Guilder did everything he wanted, and didn’t have any ideas of his own. In actuality, Guilder is George Bush, not Dick Cheney.
In a flashback to Brad and Eva, the guy running the party room needs a deposit, so Brad sends Eva into the building with his entire wallet. Eva also notices that they forgot the markers for signing team photos, so Brad goes to the convenience store across the street to get some.
In the trunk of the car in the present day, Brad frees Lila’s hands, then goes over their escape plan.
Elizabeth’s mind wanders to old memories as she begins to let go of her life. Lear checks in with Sykes to see if she’s made any progress on new treatments, but nothing is working. He insists that they bombard Elizabeth’s system with antivirals in the hopes of eradicating all of the spots where the virus has stored itself within her body, in order to wipe it out all at once. Jonas is desperate to stop his wife from turning.
Shauna and Tim have a visit and chat. She’s worried about his obsession with Elizabeth and the way that he’s put all of their other plans on hold for it. If Elizabeth decides to die instead of becoming a viral, the viral team will lose their momentum. Fanning says that Elizabeth will bring them up to a group of twelve, his magic number that will give them the combined strength to enact his plan for escape and possibly world domination.
He refuses to leave without her. Shauna is confused, because Tim promised her she’d feel free, but instead she’s become attached to Clark, the way he’s still attached to Elizabeth.
Shauna: “Tell me this is just a humanity hangover.”
Tim: “I wish I could, Kiddo.”
Carter shows Amy where her book is on a shelf in a storage room. When she’s ready, she can go get it. He can tell that she’s thinking about her mom, and asks her to tell him about her. Amy doesn’t want to talk about a subject that upsets her so much, but Carter says that it’s important. He looks into her memories and pulls out some of the basic fats from the day her mother died. She still refuses to talk about it, but he tells her that he’s nothing compared to Fanning’s pure evil. She might think her memories are no one’s business, but the rest of the twelve can see inside her head as easiy as he can. They won’t be as nice adout it.
He keeps insisting that she tell him what happened to her mother, until she breaks down and admits that she feels like her mother’s death was her fault.
Not long before she died, Amy’s mom made them move, again, and then forgot to register her for school. Since she wasn’t registered, the school wouldn’t let Amy attend that day, so she went home, where she and her mom had a big fight. During the fight, Amy told her mom she hated her. Her mom took it to heart and started crying. Amy didn’t want to watch her mom cry, so she left, with her book in hand. By the time she came home, it was too late.
Just as Amy finishes telling the story and starts to cry, Guilder walks into her room to check on her and tell her that
he’s ordered Brad and Lila killed Agent Wolgast decided to go home. Amy doesn’t believe him. He tries to convince her that Brad is unreliable. Amy tells him that he has no idea what actually happens at the compound and he’s not actually in charge, either.
Guilder is too stupid to consider that she might be giving him valuable intel rather than simply throwing out angry insults. He tries to use it as another opportunity to exploit her.
Amy: “Screw you and your weird moustache.”
In flashback, Brad, Mr Reliable, tries to pay for the markers at the convenience store, but doesn’t have his wallet, because he gave it to Eva. He looks outside and sees that Eva is on her way across the street to bring it to him.
In the present day, Bad and Lila, still locked in the car trunk, put their cuffs back on as the car stops on a rocky cliff over some water. The goons pull Brad out first, and he starts a fight. He closes the trunk again on Lila to keep her safe. One goon falls in the water and Brad shoots the other one. He gets Lila out of the trunk. They decide to walk back to the pumping station and steal a humvee so they can get back to the Project NOAH complex, hopefully undetected.
Back at the convenience store, a man pulls out a gun as part of an attempted robbery. He’s already spotted that Brad is a cop, and is nervous, when Eva opens the door. The robber turns and shoots Eva before he even knows who it is.
In the next flashback, time has passed. It’s 2016 and Brad and Lila meet with a marriage counselor (or maybe a grief counselor?). Lila wants to try going back to work, saying that keeping busy and feeling useful to others has to be better than walking around an empty house all day.
Brad says that work sounds pointless, since it won’t bring back innocent people, like Eva. Lila doesn’t care that it won’t bring Eva back. She’s looking for a way to move forward. Helping people and helping each other would help her feel useful and needed. The therapist asks Brad what he wants. He doesn’t want to talk about it and finds an excuse to leave.
The flashback continues, with Richards bringing Brad the file on the man who killed Eva. Brad pretends that he didn’t recognize the guy in the line up. Clark can tell that Brad wants to kill the robber himself, and tries to talk him out of it. He tells Brad that he doesn’t want to lose his best friend and asks him to go home and try to start over instead.
In the present day, Clark has tracked Brad and Lila as far as the cliff. He tries to contact them using the Project NOAH walkies, and tells them he’s worried that someone is following them. Brad and Lila hear him, but think they’ve taken care of anyone who would trail them. Brad is obsessed with getting back to Amy.
Carter finds Amy in her room again and apologizes for the method he used before to get her talking. He explains that he’s trying to get her ready to face Fanning. He assures her that she didn’t do anything wrong or get her mother killed. She just had a fight with her mom. And her mom was an addict, so stuff happens sometimes.
Carter tells her that Fanning will isolate her and make her feel scared and alone. But she’s not alone, she has many people, including herself. Amy asks if that’s what Fanning did to Carter, and if he’s bad now. He says that he’s trying to be a better person. He has to leave now, before Fanning figures out that he’s there. Amy says that she doesn’t want to be alone.
Carter: “You don’t have to be. You are more powerful than you realize. You can go anywhere you want.”
Sykes informs Jonas that Elizabeth is failing. He tells her to give his wife every antiviral in the lab if that’s what it takes to keep her alive. Elizabeth asks him to sit down and hold her hand. He does, but Tim takes over the conversation.
Elizabeth startles, and Tim apologizes, saying he shouldn’t have taken Jonas’ place without warning. Elizabeth tells him that he shouldn’t have done anything to her without permission. Tim ignores that, and tells her she’s close. All she has to do is choose. She can have a new life and forget about this one. Elizabeth doesn’t want to forget her life. She was happy. Tim tries offering up vampirism as a second life, but she doesn’t want it.
This is a new twist for Fanning. He hasn’t turned anyone who had a happy, satisfying life before, who might not view vampirism as a way to escape or get revenge. He tries telling her scary things about death instead, which I don’t think he’s ever experienced, and telling her he loves her. He tries hard to keep it from becoming a conversation about what she wants, thinks and feels. Instead, he tells her what to want, think and feel.
Flashback to 2016, when Brad goes after Eva’s killer. He guns the man down in the street, then collapses behind a dumpster and can’t get himself to move again for a minute or two, a crucial amount of time when you’ve just committed public murder. A car speeds up to the curb, headlights blaring.
In 2019, Brad tells Lila again that he has to get back to Amy. Lila has had enough and gets angry, because Eva and Amy aren’t interchangeable and saving Amy won’t make up for Eva. Brad feels that they are related, because Amy gives him a do over. He should have been able to protect Eva, since he was right there, and he failed. It was his fault. He can’t fail Amy.
Lila stops him, and tells him it wasn’t his fault. She blames herself because she wasn’t there. She wonders what would have happened if she hadn’t taken the surgery, or hadn’t forgotten the markers. Or if she had been there to keep Eva away from the store.
Brad tells Lila it wasn’t her fault, not to blame herself. She says that it wasn’t his fault either. It was just a horrible thing. She needs him, and he’s not available as long as he’s caught up in his guilt. She begs him to let it go.
He holds her tight and says, “You don’t understand what I did.” She says to tell her, but they’re interrupted by the goon who fell off the cliff.
Sometimes these goons are as annoying as cockroaches. This guy couldn’t give them a few more minutes? Couldn’t he see they were in the middle of a breakthrough? Is he really in a huge rush to return to the vampires?
The car that interrupted Brad’s post-vigilante meltdown was Clark, who’s a great wingman when he’s got his head on straight. He’s got a clean up team with him, who spirit the body away. He talks Brad out of turning himself in, and offers him the job recruiting inmates for Project NOAH.
Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Clark said it wasn’t just a job, it was a mission that would change the world. He didn’t know how right he was. Also, is there anyone who’s involved with Project NOAH who’s not a killer?
2019 forest goon tells Lila and Brad to get on their knees, execution style. Before he can shoot them, Clark shoots him. He’s probably been following them for twenty minutes, waiting for Lila and Brad to work out their marriage before he interrupted. Because he has some class.
Clark tries to make things right with Brad, and admits that Project NOAH is a disaster. He wants to take them back to the compound to get Amy, then get them all out again.
Why do his plans always involve going back to the compound first? He couldn’t have brought Amy with him?
It’s back into the trunk of the car for Brad and Lila, so that Clark can sneak them into the compound. While they’re driving, Brad tells her how he ended up with Project NOAH.
Brad: “You wanted to know how we got here. After Eva died, they called me in to identify the guy who killed her. I pretended I didn’t recognize him. Then I tracked him down and I killed him.”
Lila: “Did it make you feel better?”
Brad: “No. It turned me into a monster. It was like a fuse was lit that day. I took the job at Project NOAH and then I got a dozen death row inmates across the country to sign a piece of paper so the government could turn them into monsters, too. I didn’t know exactly what was happening to them, but I knew if I asked, I wouldn’t like it. So that’s how we got here.”
Lila: “You have to stick by Amy, whatever happens.”
Brad: “No matter what.”
Guilder calls Martinez into the conference room where he’s going over plans. They go over the highlights of the security plan. More cameras and retinal scanners, a password randomizer which creates a new password every 12 hours, a two man rule so that it takes two keys on separate panels to open the cages. Martinez asks about Amy. Guilder says that he has high hopes that she’ll bring in good money, to make the rest of Project Noah worth it. Martinez gives Guilder a shrewd look.
The security on Amy hasn’t been improved at all, because Guilder is worried about all of the wrong things. Someone with telepathy, including mind control, can overcome every one of those upgrades without a second thought. And they’ll cause the humans to be even less vigilante.
Elizabeth is doing badly. Sykes tells Jonas that her organs will begin shuttng down soon. At this point they’re only prolonging her suffering her by continuing to treat her. Tim appears and assures Elizabeth that she’s almost ready to turn. Jonas holds her hand and looks heartbroken.
Elizabeth tells Jonas to turn off the machines. Sykes leaves them alone. Elizabeth asks him again, but he doesn’t want to, because he’ll never be okay with losing her. She chooses him, and her life with him, but it’s time. He unplugs her IV. Then he climbs into bed with her and holds her. She says she loves him, everyday, for the rest of his life, then she fades away. He keeps holding her and saying, “I love you,” as he cries.
Amy lies on her bed and tries out this whole mind travel thing. She goes to her mother’s kitchen, where her mama sees her crying and tells her , “Ain’t nothing so bad we can’t fix it.” They hug. Then they sit on the couch and talk through their argument. They both miss and love each other.
Amy: “Everyone says I’m special, but I’m afraid I’m a monster.”
Mama: “I know what kind of kid I raised. I know who you are. You’re like the sun.”
She gives Amy a book of matches.
Amy: “What is this for?”
Mama: “To light your way.”
Brad and Lila came into Amy’s room back at Project NOAH when Amy arrived in the kitchen. Amy and her mom hear a knock on the door. Brad knows that it’s Fanning.
Amy’s mama doesn’t want her to answer the door, but Amy says she has to. When she opens the front door, of course it’s Fanning waiting for her. He says, “Hello, Amy.”
No, Amy, don’t talk to Fanning!! He’s too evil!!! At least gather some of your favorite ghosts around you first!
Carter, Brad, Amy, Jonas, Lacey, Lila, and Clark, who are almost Amy’s entire team right now, have all unburdened their souls recently. That should help them resist the manipulations of the virals. I can’t decide whether Nicole is supposed to have unburdened hers or not. She’s been honest about the program and which side she’s on, and expressed some regrets. But I don’t think we’ve been told how she got there or what it means to her as an individual. We don’t have Clark’s whole story yet, either, and we know he’s vulnerable to Shauna, but his connections to Brad, Lila, Amy and Nicole might be enough to overcome Shauna’s control.
I do have a soft spot for this version of Babcock, though. Part of me wishes she could lock Fanning up somewhere and then rule as benign queen of the vampires, with a rule that they all drink Trueblood. But I don’t think that’s where this show is headed.
Did Brad sense that Fanning was with Amy? Please say yes. I want him to become her familiar SO BAD. Some of his intense need to get back to her may have come from the familiar bond developing.
Lacey, Elizabeth and Visions
Where is Lacey? She had her calling to protect Amy, and she knows Brad and Lila, plus probably Clark. And she has all of her carefully cultivated connections. She also knows that Project Noah is in Telluride. Brad, Amy and Lila have now all been kidnapped on her watch. What would be keeping her from finding all of the people who have been taken from her, and from starting her search in Telluride? We haven’t seen her since episode 5. Maybe she knew she should wait to arrive at the compound until Elizabeth passed? I think those two practical, no-nonsense, loving, generous women would have liked each other, so it’s too bad they didn’t meet.
The viral visions and flashbacks have a golden tone, while the present day Project Noah scenes are silvery. But when Fanning appears to Elizabeth for the first time in this episode, taking the place of Jonas holding her hand, the room stays dark and gray. Tim is not her fantasy and Jonas isn’t a choice she regrets. Elizabeth has told us that since the beginning of the series, when she told Jonas that Tim was a credit-stealing narcissist who he shouldn’t trust.
As Elizabeth gets weaker, the visions of Fanning turn gold anyway, and that may be part of why she tells Jonas to turn off the machines when she does. In addition to definitively choosing Jonas, she wants to die before Fanning has a chance to manipulate her into making the wrong choice out of exhaustion or fear, the way he did with Carter.
I’ll miss Elizabeth. She brought a calm, gentle presence to the compound with her realistic attitude and refusal to panic. Ironically, by giving Elizabeth the virus, Fanning gave Jonas and Elizabeth the chance to say goodbye that the Alzheimer’s and trip to Bolivia had stolen. He also gave himself the chance to say goodbye, but, as seems typical of him, he expected more than she could give, so he was unsatisfied with what he got. Now the world will have to deal with the consequences of his anger at being second best once again.
Elizabeth and Jonas might be my favorite Henry Ian Cusick couple ever. The chemistry, love and warmth between them was palpable. The issues keeping them together and driving them apart were both epic and mundane, but not selfish or criminal. I think their last few days together may have reset his moral compass, and I hope it helped with Nicole’s as well. Between Elizabeth and Amy, doing the right thing seems to be coming back into style at the compound.
Guilder, Martinez and the Overlook Hotel
I’m confused. I had Martinez listed as one of the names I could read from Brad’s list of the inmates he brought to Project NOAH. Is Martinez actually a projection into Guilder’s mind, rather than human?
Martinez and Guilder were alone in the room, both times we saw them meet. The guard outside the door didn’t react when Martinez entered the room. I think Guilder is actually sitting quietly at the table daydreaming while Martinez the viral inserts himself into Guilder’s mind. Later, Guilder will enact the new security protocols, with his own signatures. Martinez has control of his mind, the way Fanning did with Grey and Winston did with Pet.
As Amy said, Guilder has no idea what’s actually going on around there. Because he doesn’t really listen to anyone, he doesn’t know that lifelike viral projections are a possibility, no matter where you are in the compound. Martinez’s prison-like security methods will keep the jailers in as well as the inmates. Then the virals will find it easy to break out of the prison walls.
Guilder: “First, we’re going to reduce the feeding schedule of our patients by 75%. This will keep them subdued and compliant.”— What????? Since when are starving monsters compliant? Remember the time that Carter, the nicest, gentlest person in the building, turned into a vampire? Then the first thing he did was to grab the person closest to him and suck her dry. He seemed very subdued and compliant while that was happening, other than the part where he tried to murder anyone who came close to him.
After 6 episodes of visual and other references, someone finally came right out and called the compound’s main building, a repurposed resort, the Overlook Hotel, which is the hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining. It’s about time. But the Overlook only had ghosts and one homicidal maniac. Winston, by himself, was the equivalent of Jack Nicholson. Project NOAH is going to get much worse, with its own Death Row of vampires in the basement.
For Book Readers:
It’s Martinez!!!!! Another of the 12 makes themselves known. He’s cast so well, too. He looks just like I pictured him in the books and has a perfectly sadistic, slimey air about him. Having him work with Guilder makes sense, too. In the books, they were two of the most organized, cold-blooded killers, who both considered their actions justified.
Some Ways I’d Alter the Book for TV- Book Spoilers
If I were writing this TV series, I would have Brad become Amy’s viral-human familiar. Much as I loved the character of Greer, there was nothing about him that couldn’t have been incorporated into a long-lived viral-human Wolgast.
The books were very attached to the suffering of the female characters, particularly Amy and Alicia. If you take away the need to make Amy spend most of eternity alone, aimlessly and pointlessly wandering, this universe’s logic dictates that her instincts should have told her to make a familiar from the beginning, just as Fanning and the Twelve did.
There’s no question that Brad would be the one she turned. I also believe that Amy could have made Greer a viral familiar, but chose not to, because she was trying to be better than that. At 6 years old, with the only parent she had dying, she wouldn’t have cared so much. In the TV version, I think Brad would want her to make him like her, so that he could continue to protect her and help her fight.
Lear’s instinct to make Amy an army of her own Twelve was correct. If I were writing the series, I’d take the Twelve Monkeys/Altered Carbon route and only use the books for inspiration. Take the books’ best ideas, and run with them, because the good guys in the books made too many stupid mistakes that TV audiences will never accept, like Amy smashing the vials of serum.
If Lear is going to make the serum now, just as he did in the books, it could be used now, rather than in 100 years, or never. It could be used immediately on Brad, Lila, Clark, Nicole, Lacey and possibly Grey, though he needs to remain loyal to Fanning. Guilder could also get his hands on a vial. That leaves approximately 6 vials for Amy and her team to take with them when they leave the compound, to use on trusted allies when they find them, like Peter, Alicia, Michael, Sara, Alicia’s daredevil ancestors, who can be her contemporaries in this, etc.
With an older, more aware Amy, there’s no real need for the major time jumps, or to make Amy spend centuries alone.
Images courtesy of Netflix.