In episode 3 of Emergence, Piper develops a mysterious illness which forces Jo to deepen her investigation into the mystery surrounding her foster daughter. She’s led to a tech corporation, Auger Industries, and its head, Richard Kindred, played by Lost’s Terry O’Quinn. Ed also has a follow up appointment with the oncologist, while Alex tries to sort out the airband radio frequency.
The episode begins in the early morning, with Jo listening to clicks and beeps on her computer that she tells Alex are sounds she recorded from the pirate airband radio frequency. He offers to use some pattern recognition software to help her figure out what the sounds mean.
They move on to discussing how long he’s going to stay at the house. He’s still worried that the family is in danger, but Jo is worried that Mia will get confused and start to think her parents are getting back together. When Mia comes downstairs and remarks on how nice it is that they’re all together, Alex sees Jo’s point and says he’ll leave today.
Jo goes upstairs to wake up Piper, who’s supposed to go to work with her, since Ed has an oncologist appointment. Just before she wakes up, Piper has a nightmare that the bedroom door knob disintegrates and she’s trapped in the room. Jo discovers that Piper has a fever and leaves to get the thermometer.
Ed is in the bathroom shaving when Jo pops in to get the thermometer. He’s feeling optimistic about his 6 month checkup with Dr Reed for his cancer. Jo wishes him luck.
She asks Alex to stay home with Piper, reminding him how good he is with sick days. He’s hesitant, because she just told him to leave and Piper isn’t his kid, but he gives in.
Next up is Benny, who brings donuts to Jo as she and Mia are about to get in the car. He’s hoping to interview Piper as a follow up to his article about her. Jo refuses, but she takes the donuts with her to the hospital, since she gets a text from Chris saying that the guy who broke into her house in episode 2 is awake.
Dr Abby and Walter the nurse? orderly? enjoy a donut and catching up on Jo’s life. Then she visits the prisoner, who she convinces to talk to her. His name is Ken Lerner and he was sent to her house to retrieve a piece of technology by Richard Kindred, the head of Auger Industries, a Fortune 500 tech company. Kindred told Lerner that that Piper is a problem that will take care of itself.
Piper’s fever isn’t responding to medication, but she asks to sit with Alex at the counter while he works. She asks him questions like what is his work- he’s a civil engineer; and aren’t he and Jo divorced- yes. Then he asks her to draw him a complicated picture while he listens to the audio file from the pirate radio frequency. Piper hears the sounds and lists off what each sound means, calling out a letter or a number for each beep or click: D-R-5-Z-B-Z-3-U.
Alex realizes what she’s doing and has her repeat what she said so he can write it down. Piper doesn’t know how she knows how to decipher the code or what the letters and numbers mean. She tells Alex that he can take credit for the discovery if he wants, so that he’ll look good with Jo.
It’s time for Piper to take more fever medicine, but they’re almost out, so Alex has her bundle up for a trip to the drug store.
Jo visits Benny to confront him because she’s discovered that he recently wrote a favorable article about Richard Kindred.
Benny: “I investigated Kindred for about a year. That little puff piece funded six months of that. It was my way in, but no one would give me access and no one would go on the record, so here I am on Long Island.”
Jo: “Doing what, exactly?”
Benny: “Why won’t you let me talk to the girl? She’s different, isn’t she? She can do things other people can’t do. Things that she shouldn’t be able to do. Auger Industries has started investing in very expensive medical research. And that’s what I’d started to hear about. Rumors that Kindred had begun a division using humans as test subjects.”
Jo: “What kind of tests?”
Benny: “Ones that might allow a young girl to miraculously survive a plane crash, a plane that I believe belonged to Kindred.”
Benny doesn’t have any proof and he didn’t want to say too much or put Jo in any more danger. Kindred is ruthless about protecting his own interests. Jo realizes that the metal card and the yellow storage disc inside it belong to Kindred and link him to Piper and the murders. Benny confirms this, but says that only Kindred can access the information in the disc. Jo begins to form a plan.
Jo catches Kindred as he’s entering his office building and calls out to him that she has something of his. She keeps talking until she gets his attention, then shows him the metal cards, closed so that they look like one card. She explains that it came from a car crash. Kindred says he doesn’t recognize it, but offers to investigate it for her, since his company is always developing new tech and prototypes. She hands the card off to him, pretending to be grateful for his help.
She barely gets out the door before he chases after her, demanding to know what she did with “it”. Jo notes that the card must actually belong to him and asks what was inside. He makes a veiled threat about what he’ll do to her if she doesn’t give “it” back. She tells him she’d love to hear all about his threats. She doesn’t say it, but he’s threatening a police officer as if he’s above the law.
She figures whatever was inside must be pretty important if he’s willing to threaten a police chief over it. An assistant named Emily whispers in Kindred’s ear and he walks away from Jo without another word. As he’s leaving, Emily stops to look at Jo as if she wishes she could tell her something, but Kindred calls her inside.
Piper hallucinates that the roof of the drug store is crumbling in and runs away from it, screaming as she goes. She passes out when she gets to the end of the aisle. Jo catches up to Alex and Piper at the hospital, where Alex tells her that Abby thinks Piper had a seizure brought on by the fever. After Alex says goodbye, Piper tells Jo that the dream felt like everything was disappearing. She’s afraid to let Jo leave the room in case Jo disappears.
Jo convinces her it will be okay, then talks with Abby, who’s mainly worried that the fever isn’t responding to medication and she doesn’t have any of Piper’s medical history to help her diagnose what’s wrong. While they’re talking, Jo gets a text from a strange number that says: 2 MG CU BID. Abby translates it as a prescription for 2mg of copper twice a day. Jo calls the number that sent the text, but no one answers. Jo tells Abby that Piper might have been a test subject, so they should try the prescription.
Meanwhile, Ken Lerner’s morphine drip speeds up on its own, giving him a fatal overdose. Someone hacked into his medical monitor using the machine’s bluetooth ability and caused the overdose. Chris will bring it to the computer crimes division.
The copper brings down Piper’s fever, so when Jo gets back to her room she’s sitting up having a snack with Mia and Ed. Mia skipped her volleyball game to be with Piper in the hospital. Ed says that he has a clean bill of health. Piper gives him a serious look and holds his hand. After Jo leaves again, he acknowledges her look, but doesn’t say anything.
Jo asks Benny to see if his contact at Auger Industries can find Kindred’s assistant, Emily. She’s the best guess for the person who helped them by sending the prescription for copper.
Abby doesn’t understand why the copper worked, so they try to do an MRI on Piper. As soon as the scan starts, she has another hallucination of everything disintegrating, including herself.
Just as they’re pulling Piper out of the scanner, Benny arrives to tell Jo that he’s found Emily. The latest hallucination has left everyone shaken up and worried that they won’t be able to save Piper. Jo calls Alex and asks him to sit with the girl, while she and Benny find Emily and ask for more help. Alex agrees without hesitation.
Jo and Benny approach Emily near her house, but Emily claims that she doesn’t know what they’re talking about. She gives Jo her phone so that Jo can look at her texts, to prove that she didn’t send the earlier message. It’s actually a way for her to give Jo a message. She’s typed, “They’re watching” on the phone.
Later, Emily sends an address for them to meet at. It’s a property that’s officially owned by a company called Deep Kinetic, but it’s really an off the books Auger site. Emily pulls up and immediately gets to work on electronically breaking into the building. She tells them it’s a fully automated building for Kindred’s special projects. She’s sending Jo and Benny in alone to get the cure from locker C-255. She’s initiating a software update, which means that every piece of equipment will be down for 5 minutes.
Jo tries to explain that she’s cop, so she can’t break into a building, but Emily says that Piper’s organs will begin to fail in two hours. In three hours she’ll stop speaking and hearing. Then she’ll stop breathing. Emily has seen it happen.
Jo and Benny make their way into the building. First, they have to go through a decon mist in a sealed chamber, then they’re allowed into the main floor. They split up to search. Jo quickly finds the locker and takes a metal briefcase out. Benny has gotten locked inside a room. Jo uses the briefcase to break a window and get him out, but that triggers an alarm. Automated robot guard dogs hunt for them while they hide, then make a run for it.
They make it into the decon chamber, but have to wait for the mist. The killer robot dogs break through, but Emily rescues them just in time.
Whew. It felt like The Walking Dead for a minute there.
They rush to the hospital, then Emily opens the briefcase and gets out a yellow disk that matches the one from the metal card. She puts it in a slot in the computer inside the briefcase. Jo asks what the disk is. Emily says it’s an exabyte disk, which Benny clarifies holds a billion gigs.
That’s an insane amount of data storage in such a small package.
Jo is upset because she thinks Emily mislead them. Emily loads information onto the disk then gives it to Jo and explains that the dock is on Piper’s wrist. The information will upload automatically. Jo is dumbfounded at the implication that Piper is a robot, but Emily urges her to go give Piper the cure immediately. She explains that the information on the disk is “her”, and she needs it right away.
Benny believes what Emily is saying, so now Jo is angry at both of them and thinks Emily tricked them into getting her a laptop. Emily leaves and tells them not to ever contact her again. Benny suggests that it wouldn’t hurt to try the disk on Piper.
Alex is reading out loud to Piper, who is still unconscious. When Jo gets to the room, he tells her that Piper is a really special kid and he just has a feeling that she’ll be fine. Jo asks him to get her a cup of coffee.
Jo closes the door so she and Piper are alone then picks up Piper’s hand. She gathers her strength, then puts the disk on Piper’s left wrist. It clicks into place like a magnet being drawn to the right spot. The disk lights up, then the usual lighted pattern moves up Piper’s arm. The transfer only takes a few seconds, then the disk goes dark again and Piper wakes up.
She asks if they can go home. Jo hesitates, because now she’s not sure exactly what she’s bringing home with her, but she says yes after a moment.
Everyone goes back to the house and settles in for movie night. Before he leaves, Alex gives Jo Piper’s translation from the airband radio frequency and reminds her that he said Piper is special.
From the promo for next week’s episode: “Piper wasn’t born. She was made.”
We’re going full Blade Runner here, kids.
I’m so excited. I’ve really wanted a TV show to take on the specific issues that Blade Runner brings up, the philosophical question of Where is the line between a manufactured human and a “real” human? using the indistinguishable androids they use in Blade Runner. Isn’t the manufactured human slave just another form of slavery, period?
Battlestar Galactica and Orphan Black both did manufactured humans, but they each had a different focus from Blade Runner, and they used clones, which is another whole issue.
In our own world, medical advances, designer babies and advanced medical devices that are the closest thing to AI in humans are all available only for the wealthy, for personal use. Inserting AI into human slaves would require a change in mentality, but if it would increase worker productivity and the parts could be made cheaply enough, it could become worth the investment.
That’s what it sounds like was done to Piper, based on what Benny told Jo. It sounds like she was a normal human infant or child who was experimented on. Or maybe she was a fetus grown in a lab with the artificial intelligence apparatus as part of her body. That’s similar to how all people are created in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which was written in the 1930s. He predicted many advances, and got a lot right about how cultures would doom themselves. He didn’t include artificial intelligence, but his workers are genetically engineered and manufactured on an assembly line.
Ed’s cancer must have reached a point where he’s stopped treatment and is okay for now, but will get worse eventually. I don’t think we’ve been told what kind of cancer it is.
Alex has got to be the best ex husband and dad in existence. I just want to smush him. He must have no life of his own, with the way he drops everything, every time. I feel terrible every time he leaves Jo’s house to go home, imagining that he’s going to some cold, empty apartment. He needs to be part of the family so much, and he and Jo are so cute together, but then I can also see Jo and Benny developing something eventually.
Piper is quite the little secret keeper, between what she’s known all along and kept quiet about, the secret she’s keeping for Ed, and the secrets she offers to keep for others. It makes you wonder just how much she actually knows. And how much more (or less) she knows after tonight’s reboot.
While Emily did save Piper, Jo is right. She also got a secure company laptop out of the deal. Was she able to program Piper from a distance to make her sick in order to create the entire sequence of events? She could be Benny’s contact, and they could have hatched this scheme together. The reboot might have given her new access to Piper.
I want to trust Benny, but he did conveniently show up the morning after the crash, just when the bad guys were sending out crews to look for evidence that needed to be cleaned up. He told Jo then that the plane had come from a government research facility on a nearby island and now he says it belonged to Kindred. Both can be true, but that needs to be explained.
Given how thorough the clean up after the plane crash has been, with even the people doing the clean up being killed, I’m guessing that they’re going to keep coming after Piper and anyone who knows about her.
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Images courtesy of ABC.
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