Mile Marker 14 is the 6th episode of Emergence’s 13 episode season, meaning we’re just shy of the halfway point. Fittingly, several more secrets are revealed in this episode. Most of Jo’s family discovers Piper’s secret this week, but some thrills are left for episode 7, the real tipping point in the season.
After watching Piper lift a truck in episode 5, Mia is a bit suspicious about what her new sister might be capable of doing on a regular basis. This week finds the girls practicing levitation on a plastic cupcake, but it’s about as motivating as you’d expect and Piper can’t get it off the ground. However, when she really, really concentrates, a whole pile of toys that were on the floor behind her float into the air without Piper or Mia noticing, until they’re startled by Jo’s voice and the toys come crashing to the floor.
Just like their hopes and dreams of becoming superheroes together are doomed to do. Someone needs to send the adults on this show who aren’t Jo a copy of the Netflix show Raising Dion, so they can figure out how to support a kid who’s coming into their power. And by kids I’m referring to both Piper and Mia here.
Mia gets a day off from school by claiming she has a stomach ache. Jo allows it because she figures everyone needs a mental health day sometimes. Ed considers telling the girls that his cancer has come back and he’s decided not to do chemo. Jo isn’t ready to accept that knowledge herself, so she’s against letting the girls know.
Ed doesn’t mention that Piper has already figured it out for herself.
The police station staff is ready to riot over Emily’s continued protective custody, since she’s not the most considerate house guest. When Jo arrives, Emily’s right out front in her bathrobe. Chris fills them both in on the details of Alan Wilkis’ death: He went sailing alone in September, 2015 on a day when stormy weather was predicted. His boat was found a week later, but his body was never recovered.
Classic example of a faked death.
Jo goes to the Widow Wilkis’ house to discuss Alan’s death. Maria Wilkis reveals that she thinks Alan’s death was a suicide. She doesn’t think Kindred would have murdered Alan because Alan was the brains of the operation and Kindred is a fraud when it comes to the technical side of the company. New product development, and thus continually increasing profits, were dependent on Alan.
Jo asks if Maria knew about the new contract Alan had negotiated before his death, which would have left Alan’s stock to her instead of Kindred. She didn’t. Jo doesn’t think the break in, which happened right after she arrested Kindred, is an accident. Maria thinks they must have been looking for Alan’s research, but he never kept anything at home.
Mia and Piper make plans to go bike riding. Before they leave, Piper pays a visit to Kindred in the mental art museum setting. Kindred is friendly and tries to convince Piper that he invites her to the space, but she only comes because she wants to. He doesn’t force her. Piper asks why Kindred chose the museum space. He explains that he always feels peaceful and calm there, like he can be himself. Piper says that the museum space isn’t real and turns it into a pier where Jo used to go fishing. Kindred asks why Piper likes Jo so much. Piper says that Jo feels like home. Kindred hopes that Piper will grow to feel that way about him.
Jo finds Emily painting her toenails on her desk. Emily admits she might be provoking Jo just a little. Jo tells Emily that they won’t force her to stay in protective custody if she doesn’t want to be there.
Emily tells Jo that she doesn’t think Wilkis would have killed himself. She reveals that Wilkis was the one who designed Piper’s AI. He worked on the design his whole life, then hated what he’d designed and tried to destroy it. Emily thinks Kindred threatened to kill Wilkis if he didn’t hand over the AI design, then killed him anyway when he did hand it over. This story plays right into Jo’s suspicions. Then Chris informs Jo that Alan Wilkis is alive.
It turns out that Alex is independently wealthy, so Kindred didn’t hurt him all that much by taking his job. He’s decided to enjoy the time off for now. Jo sends him over to the house to check on the girls, but it’s just a cover for trying to talk Ed into fighting his cancer.
Ed really doesn’t want to be pushed on this and turns the tables on Alex, pointing out that he didn’t get involved in Alex and Jo’s decision to split up. He brings up things he could have said about their split, but hasn’t, since it’s not his place. It ends up being a counterattack on Alex that might be meant to talk him into moving back home, probably because it would be easier for Ed to leave the family knowing that Alex was there to take his place.
Benny gets called into the station for the discussion of Alan Wilkis. Chris explains that he discovered Wilkis is alive by following the sale and storage of his boat, which he bought back and has been taking out about once a month. They got a positive ID of him from surveillance footage.
Jo asks Benny to send Wilkis a message, but Benny thinks he’d ignore it. Emily points out that they have bait now, but she doesn’t want to discuss the details, namely Piper, in front of Chris. Joe asks him to leave the room for a minute. Chris, who should be the insider on this investigation, is bewildered, but leaves.
Mia has figured out that Piper’s powers are based on manipulating metal with her mind, like Magneto, from the X-Men. They bring some metal objects to a park where Piper can practice in the open space. Piper is still nervous, but Mia convinces her that learning control would be good. Piper closes her eyes and when she concentrates, lifts a set of keys, a wrench and a can of paint a few feet off the ground. Mia films it with her phone. A vehicle horn startles Piper and she loses control of the floating objects, causing the keys to hit Mia in the arm. Piper wants to take Mia home, but Mia has a better idea.
Chris confronts Jo about why he’s being left out of the loop in the investigation, so she decides it’s time to tell him the truth about Piper and Auger Industries. He accepts the idea of a human-like AI without a second thought, because he’s a cool guy who’s not easily thrown or threatened. He does reserve the right to question the universe and his place in it at a later time.
Alan Wilkis responds to Benny’s message by sending a response to the police station, which has to be a first. He tells Benny to go to the Brookhaven Central Bus Terminal. Jo mets Benny at the bus station, where they find a note in a locker instructing them to leave their phones and weapons there.
Once they do, a text on a phone attached to a nearby chair sends them out to a car in the parking lot. The car has a map in the glove compartment which sends them north of NYC into the Hudson River valley to mile marker 14 on an undisclosed highway. They have 3 hours to get to the location. They’re worried about being out of touch, but Jo told Chris she’d contact him every half hour. When she doesn’t, she expects him to do some excellent police work to find them.
At mile marker 14, Jo and Benny are instructed to take a short hike down a dirt road. While they walk, Jo tells Benny that she wants Wilkis to answer her questions about Piper, like whether or not she can expect Piper to physically mature. Benny asks her why she and Alex split up, but she passes on that discussion. At the end of the walk, they’re blasted with noise from a sound cannon until they pass out. Then Alan Wilkis arrives in a truck to collect them.
Jo and Benny wake up in Alan’s underground lair. He’s taken the disk that holds Piper’s program and the gun from Jo’s secret ankle holster. The lair is comfortable and high tech. A photo of the view from the Wilkis’ beach house takes up one entire wall. Jo recognizes the view.
Alan enters the room and scolds Jo for making a bad first impression by bringing a weapon when he told her not to, but she’s not having any of it. He’s already made a bad first impression on her, so they’re even. She’s already told Benny that Alan wouldn’t go to all this trouble just to kill them, so she’s not afraid of him.
She asks for the disk back. Alan has it, but doesn’t recognize the technology, which is surprising. When told that Kindred designed it, he agrees with his wife that Dickie Kindred isn’t capable of that kind of design. When Jo tells him it’s the program for Piper, he tells her that Piper isn’t a child, she’s the end of the world, and he’s done everything in his power to stop something like her from happening. Jo informs him that someone took the life’s work that he thought he’d destroyed and used it to make this young girl.
Mia and Piper ride their bikes to Dr Abby’s house and ask her to look at Mia’s injured arm before they go home. To explain the injury, they make up a story about Mia falling and hitting her arm on a rock. Abby checks Mia’s arm over and decides it’s not broken, just a deep bruise. But she doesn’t believe their story and makes them stay at her house until Alex comes to pick them up.
Note to the girls- Dr Abby is a big help in a medical crisis, but also a narc.
The fact that Abby doesn’t give Mia an ice pack as soon as she walks in the door, or ever, for the entire time the girls are at Abby’s house, drives me crazy. It’s the most basic first aid there is. As a clumsy person who’s been bruised and sprained and otherwise injured many times, let me advise you to put the ice on the injury as soon as possible, not hours later.
Chris decides it’s been long enough since he’s heard from Jo and begins his excellent police investigation into her whereabouts. He enlists Emily to track Benny’s fitness tracker.
Alan plugs in the disk and examines Piper’s program. He finds her neural network’s ability to adapt extremely dangerous and reiterates that he gave up everything in his life to keep something like this from happening. She should be destroyed immediately, because her potential for destructiveness is untested.
Benny jumps on him for not having given up enough when he gave up “everything”, because faking his own death, giving up all of his relationships, destroying his work, and living in hiding and solitude isn’t enough penance for Benny, or something. He thinks Alan also has to pretend to be poor to prove he’s a real boy.
Alan made a huge sacrifice for the greater good. Having nice furniture doesn’t diminish that.
Benny thinks that Alan lacks follow through, but I’m not sure how it’s Alan’s fault that someone found a way to reconstruct his work. We haven’t been given any evidence that he purposefully left anything behind. It seems more likely that someone close to him had knowledge or copies he didn’t know about.
Jo and Benny also haven’t asked Alan why he chose the moment that he did to destroy his life’s work and disappear, since he’d already been feeding information to Benny that was presumably supposed to build up to a big story that would expose everything. Benny is angry that he lost his story but his source is still alive and he hasn’t looked past that yet to wonder what’s really going on. Did someone threaten Alan? Was Kindred about to move ahead on something and Alan couldn’t stop him any other way?
Jo suggests that Kindred is the real danger, not Piper. Alan dislikes him, so he decides to help her with that goal. Though it’s not clear anymore that Kindred is the root of the problem, he’s definitely a problem that needs to be solved.
Alan tells them that in 2011, Auger Industries did experimental human trials on nanotechnologies in gene therapy in a village in Malawi. They knew before the trials began that the experiments would be dangerous, even fatal, and didn’t inform the volunteers. 14 people died, but the Malawi government helped Auger cover it up. Alan gives Jo the evidence she needs to have Kindred arrested for the crimes involved. He’s prepared to be implicated as well.
A proximity alarm goes off and Alan tells them that there’s someone in the elevator. Alan says that Jo’s gun is 70 feet above them, still in his truck, so she breaks the glass on a display case to get to a prize bat. Meanwhile, he starts a self destruct sequence on his lair so that Kindred can’t retrieve anything from it.
They start to climb up the 7 flights of stairs to the surface, because Alan only has one elevator, which seems like a design flaw to me. Our favorite assassin pops out of the elevator and follows them up the stairs, which is also wrong on about 7 levels. He couldn’t take the stairs down, so they could take the elevator up?
Of course not, because we’re going to have an action sequence on the stairs. Jo uses her bat against the assassin and his goon team. Benny gets a couple of hits in. Alan uses a handheld sound cannon while Jo and Benny plug their ears, which seems ridiculous, but we’re moving on. They reach the top of the stairs just before the assassins and slam the stairwell door shut, just in time to see Alan drive away. Jo’s gun is still in his truck. Chris saves the day by arriving with backup just after Alan leaves.
When Alex picks up the girls, he and Abby exchange family information. Abby realizes that Alex plans to work his way back into Jo’s heart. He takes the girls straight home, where he grounds them for a week, collects Mia’s phone and doesn’t take any sass. Then he watches the video Mia recorded of Piper using her powers and his mind is blown.
The next day, the feds arrest Kindred on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which must have been the only crimes connected to the experiments that were committed in the US and weren’t past the statute of limitations. Jo is unhappy that they couldn’t pin him with more serious charges, but Benny points out that Kindred is facing 20 years in prison, effectively the rest of his life.
Alan Wilkis has disappeared again and is unlikely to be found, given his experience with disappearing and his wealth. Emily is done with protective custody and says a lame, ungrateful goodbye. Benny asks Jo out for a drink or several, but she has a lot on her mind and wants to get home.
Jo is ready to have a heart to heart with Ed. First, Ed thinks he might have been a bit harsh with Alex, but promises he’ll fix things with his former son in law. Then, Jo tells him that she’s worried that she’s taken advantage of him by depending on him too much for help with the kids and the house. She thinks it might be selfish of her, but she wants him to be with them for as long as possible.
Ed wants to be with them, too, for as long as he can, but he also wants to be himself and not a burden to them. Though he knows Jo would take care of him, he doesn’t want that.
Jo tells him about a memory of her mother fixing a hard to match button on Jo’s coat as part of her way of saying goodbye to Jo, just before she left forever. Jo knows that what’s happening with Ed isn’t the same, but in some ways it feels the same for her. Once again, she’s preparing to lose a parent who’s chosen to say goodbye earlier than necessary. Or at least it feels that way to her.
Alex comes over to show them Mia’s video and explain his theory that people are after Piper because she has special powers. While Ed and Alex are arguing over whether the video is real, Jo quietly deletes it. Alex realizes she’s known the truth about Piper all along.
Jo explains that she can’t tell them the whole truth because if Piper finds out it could be fatal for her. She doesn’t say it, but the implication is that one of them would make a mistake in convrsation that would help Piper would figure it out. She asks them to trust her.
Alex can’t believe she wants them to trust her when she didn’t trust them. He asks if she can guarantee that Mia won’t get hurt because of Piper. Since she can’t, he packs up Mia and takes her to live with him for now. Jo doesn’t fight him, though Mia keeps trying to explain that Piper didn’t mean to hurt her.
After they leave, Ed gives her an angry, disappointed look and walks away. This is from the guy who held back on sharing his cancer news for weeks. Plus, Ed actually knew about Piper’s powers, because she told him she knew about the cancer recurrence and how she knew. Piper also basically told Alex about her powers when she translated the radio transmission for him. They both just dismissed what they didn’t want to face. Mia and Jo figured it out faster because they didn’t dismiss what was right in front of them.
After Ed leaves, Piper runs up to her room in tears. She and her bed appear on the mental pier, where Kindred quickly also appears. He asks her what’s wrong and she tells him. Kindred tells her that people are scared of things they don’t understand, but she can always be herself with him. Piper doesn’t understand, because he’s not who he says he is. Kindred asks what she means, and she dissolves his facade to reveal that he’s really Emily, dressed in femme fatale red. She knows that Emily has been lying about who she is.
Emily says that it wasn’t really a lie. It was a test and Piper did very well. Now the fun can begin.
I mentioned Raising Dion earlier, which is on Netflix. That show and this one are my two favorite shows right now for showing what moms are really like- taking care of the family, going to work, squeezing in a little romance occasionally and ready to fight for whatever their super special babies need. Both moms are warriors who try other methods instead of resorting to violence first, but they’ll do whatever it takes to support their kids and keep them safe.
I love how Jo is quiet and understated, perfectly happy to let people underestimate her, especially powerful men. But she’s confident in her own abilities and doesn’t let anyone else’s ideas about who she should be slow her down. She shows that same confidence in the people who work for her, like Chris, making her a great boss, too.
I can’t blame Alex for being scared at first and taking Mia to live with him. It’s a natural reaction for a parent, but I hope it doesn’t last long. He’s normally so open-minded and easygoing that it seems like he’d become intrigued by her powers before long and want to help her learn to control them so that the whole family could be safe and happy.
Mia had the right idea for Piper’s practice- a safe space where there wasn’t much that could get damaged. She just didn’t realize how powerful Piper is and how fast she could make things move. Piper definitely needs practice, with adult supervision and safety gear for everyone involved, plus the metal she’s lifting should be wrapped in something soft. Basically, instead of keeping the girls apart, Alex needs to join the fun and build them a practice lab, since he just happens to be an engineer with money and time on his hands. I have faith that Mia will work on him until he sees the benefits to this plan.
Maria Wilkis is bitter about her marriage and Auger Industries and drinks like a fish during her conversation with Jo. She clearly hates Kindred and wasn’t on good terms with her husband before his “death”. I don’t think she lied to Jo, but she might be hiding something important. Maybe she’s also a scientist and played an important role in the development of the AI, then wasn’t given the credit she deserved. Having her work stolen would explain some of her bitterness and why Alan was signing everything over to her.
Now that Emily’s been revealed as the one who’s in Piper’s head, we have to question everything that’s happened. Much of what we think we know comes from her, including the idea that Piper will die if she finds out what she is. Piper knows she has powers and hasn’t died, so I have to question whether that’s true. It could be that Emily doesn’t want anyone to train Piper but herself, so she told Jo that lie to keep the family from getting too close until Emily had gotten rid of Kindred and could lure Piper away from Jo.
This explains why Emily was always looking for internet access. She also had access to Jo’s desk and computer, which means she probably knows everything about Jo’s life. It also makes me wonder if she’s the one who hired the assassins. They didn’t try very hard to get to her and they showed up at Alan’s bat cave right after she discovered where he was. Maybe she made it look like she was threatened so that she could stay close to Jo and Piper while she studied Jo and gained access to certain materials.
Or it could be that Maria Wilkis wants her husband to stay dead and certain information to stay buried. The whole story doesn’t quite add up yet and since we’re only halfway through the season some of what we think we know is bound to be proven wrong.
Images courtesy of ABC.