In episode 9, the winter finale of Emergence, Jo and her family fight to keep Piper out of the hands of the terrorist group that’s been bombing Auger Industries sites. In the process, they come to a mutual agreement about Piper’s standing in the family, Ed pursues a possible treatment for his cancer and a traitor in their midst is revealed.
Some huge events happened very quickly at the end of episode 8, including the death of Alan Wilkis at the hands of a new character, Helen, who accused him of taking something that didn’t belong to him, and Piper finding out the truth about what she is, but not succumbing to the fatal exception.
And Jo and Alex making out. Oh, darn it, that was still only in my head. They are definitely both thinking about it for real, though. Chemistry doesn’t lie. Stay away, new homewrecking FBI Agent Ryan Brooks, Jo’s taken.
Picking up where we left off last week, Helen finishes cleaning up the mess that was once Alan Wilkis, lets a phone friend know she’s finished, then leaves his cheap motel room to head to Long Island and Piper.
The whole family is still at Jo’s house recovering from watching Piper absorb the information in the disc. Piper and Mia are outside sitting on the back steps. Mia checks Piper’s eyes and the skin on her arm and says everything looks normal to her. Piper says that whatever happened didn’t hurt but it was kind of scary. She thinks everything will be different now. Mia takes her hand and says nothing has changed.
The adults are inside and in shock. Abby notes that she had a head CT scan. Alex asks about the disc. Jo tells him it’s an exabyte disc, but he says those don’t exist. Jo says it probably came from Emily and she thinks it was meant to kill Piper. She explains the fatal exception to Ed, Abby and Alex. The other 3 adults realize that Piper doesn’t have a family who will eventually be coming for her.
Mia comes inside and tells them to get their acts together and stop whispering. She and Piper are going to bed. Ed decides it’s time to clean up the party. Jo tells Alex that she doesn’t believe that Piper is just code either. People keep telling her that Piper isn’t real, but that’s how they all see her and they’re not wrong.
Piper washes up in the bathroom and stares at herself in the mirror. (Everyone looks strange in Jo’s bathroom mirror.) She tells Jo that she’s looking to see if it’s obvious that she’s different. She’s figured out that Jo knew, but didn’t tell her. Jo says she couldn’t reveal Piper’s secret.
Piper shares her other secret, the one about cutting out the little tracker from behind her ear using a knife, the first night she stayed with Jo. She shows Jo the scar. She doesn’t know what the object was, but it was telling her to leave Jo and she didn’t want to. Jo tries not to freak out and asks if anything else is talking to Piper in her head. Since Piper’s brain currently isn’t detecting any technological or telepathic messages, Jo makes a blanket “no knives” policy to try to cover her bases.
Piper goes to bed and Jo looks in the creepy mirror.
Why do I feel like eventually we’ll have an episode where the mirror turns into a portal or something equally sinister? Maybe the Mad Hatter from Alice Through the Looking Glass will turn up? Wait, that’s probably the guys from Splinter.
Benny has turned up at the police station with no knowledge of what happened to Alan. He didn’t wake up for hours after Alan hit him in the head. He tells Jo that Alan told him to kill Piper. Jo tells him that Emily tried the fatal exception, but it didn’t work.
Chris interrupts with the news that he thinks the people blowing up the Auger buildings are a cyber terrorist group called Splinter. He hands Jo printouts from a subreddit forum and says that he’s only found anecdotal evidence so far. Blowing up buildings would be new for them. Benny thinks they sound like an urban legend, but if they’re real, they’re going after Auger. Jo thinks they’re after Piper.
It could be that they want Piper and want to stop Auger from making anymore Pipers. And since when is Benny the one who doesn’t believe in conspiracy theories and shadow groups?
Daphne tells Jo that Agent Brooks is on the phone, but Jo says she’s too busy to talk. Benny cautions that she can’t ghost the FBI, but Jo figures she can have fun trying. Chris asks what they’ll do if Emily tells Brooks everything about Piper. Jo says she’s working on a plan.
Ed visits Abby at the hospital. She double checked Piper’s records and didn’t find anything abnormal. Piper’s design is completely convincing.
Ed asks what Abby knows about clinical trials. His oncologist called and suggested he might qualify for a gene therapy trial. He’s meeting the rep soon. Abby is thrilled that Ed is considering fighting his cancer and promises to look over the material on the trial.
The trial rep is Helen, who murdered Alan Wilkis. She explains that there have been amazing advances made in the treatment of his cancer in the last 5 years. His 5 year prognosis with chemo would be 48%. With her company’s gene therapy treatment, his chances of surviving 5 years is 96% with no side effects.
Ed thinks it sounds too good to be true and asks if his insurance will cover it.
Mia works with Piper on geometry, but Piper brain doesn’t seem to be set up to compute angles and polygons.
Ed comes home and tells Jo and Alex about his meeting with Helen. She wants him to turn over Piper in exchange for the cure. Helen gave him a phone number, which Jo calls in for Chris to investigate. Helen told Ed that Jo’s house isn’t the right place Piper because they don’t know how to handle her.
So far, Jo seems to be the only one who does know how to handle her.
Jo calls Helen’s number and leaves a message saying that Helen made a big mistake and Jo is going to make her pay for it.
Agent Brooks knocks on Benny’s door to introduce himself to his new neighbor. He tells Benny that he’s read all of Benny’s stuff and doesn’t see how it all connects. Benny doesn’t enlighten him and doesn’t want to talk about what he’s writing now, either. Their conversation is interrupted when Brooks takes a call. Maybe it’s Jo telling him about Ed’s encounter with Helen.
Alex calls the number Helen gave Ed and arranges to find out more about the offer. He meets Helen at a bar, but he’s skeptical. He asks if they can really cure Ed and Helen says it’s real. He asks what will happen to Piper and she asks why he cares, then says that Piper will be where she belongs- with them.
He tells her that he doesn’t want her to end up someplace like the creepy neighborhood where Auger was keeping her, but Helen says they aren’t Auger and do things differently.
Helen: “She’s a one of a kind and she’ll be treated as such.”
Alex: “Yeah, she should.”
Helen: “You’ve grown fond of her. She is remarkable. A perfect construction in an imperfect world. Her design was stolen from us. I only want to provide her with a safe environment, surrounded by people more fit to handle her specific needs. So she doesn’t harm herself or someone else.”
Wow, that speech is both full of practically meaningless euphemisms and laden with code that means she wants to continue Auger’s work to turn Piper into both a tool for espionage and a weapon of mass destruction. She’s a little Black Widow waiting to happen.
Helen tells Alex that his next step is simple. He just needs to trade the life of a little girl to cure an old man’s cancer.
Brooks, who certainly gets around, visits Emily in the hospital. She is distraught over her recent loss, since she still thinks Piper is dead. (Brooks thinks she’s upset about Kindred’s death, but she doesn’t feel much over the loss of a father who never wanted a relationship with her.) Brooks is still hopelessly out of the loop as far as who cares about who, so he hasn’t figured out anyone’s motivations yet. But he has sensed that Kindred’s murder and the bombing of several his buildings might be linked.
I’m so proud of him for that giant investigative leap. 😢 His time at Quantico really paid off.
He has no idea how they might be linked though, so he’s turning to Emily for help. She confirms that the murder and the explosions are linked. She says that the terrorists want what she and her father wanted and what everyone else wants, too. When he asks what it is, she asks him how much Jo has told him about Piper.
I was assuming her answer was love, but it would make more sense for it to be power or control. Maybe it’s all three. Or maybe it’s just Piper, the embodiment of everyone’s issues.
I started comparing this show to Blade Runner as soon as we found out Piper is a manufactured human. If Piper can reproduce naturally, then the future of the new species she could represent is wrapped up in her and she equals power, control and love.
She would be the weapon Alan feared, who could cause the extinction of the human race, as he feared. but that’s the most negative way to look at it. Humans lived side by side with other species of hominids for hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of years. There’s no need for panic if a new human variation appears, unless your only frame of reference is a
patriarchal lens of violence and competition.
Meanwhile, Chris’ investigation of Helen comes up short, because the hospital’s surveillance cameras have all been wiped and the phone number is untraceable.
Jo is happy that Ed was willing to consider the clinical trial. He says that finding out the truth about Piper opened up his mind to the possibilities that might be out there.
Alex comes home and tells them that Helen believed his ruse. She’s going to text him about a time and place to hand over Piper. She also gave him an orange bracelet for Piper, but she didn’t tell him what it’s for.
Brooks calls and tells Jo that he had a chat with Emily. He’d like to show her his report before he files it and invites Jo to his office the next day. The “chat” takes place in an interrogation room, after her gun has been taken away from her. Jo refuses to sit down without a lawyer present.
Brooks says that he could arrest her for lying to a federal agent, since he knows that Benny and Alan were staying together at a hotel and that she had to know about it. But he’d rather not go in that direction. Jo says she’ll talk to him off the record.
He asks where Alan is. She tells him that she kept him in her own custody after Kindred was murdered in federal custody, but he escaped. She doesn’t know where he is now. Next Brooks wants to know why Wilkis is important.
He tries to answer his own question with the information Emily gave him. Jo stops him and admits that Piper is alive. She doesn’t answer the question of whether Piper is human or what else she might be, with the stipulation that Piper is the ultimate motivation for the bombings and murders.
Then Jo turns the tables on him, telling him that she knows he’s been holding back on her as well. The murderers and bombers are from the terrorist group Splinter, which the FBI has known about for 15 years. Agent Brooks has been chasing them for years. She explains that she knows about Splinter because they made contact with her family to make a trade for Piper. Jo offers to bring Brooks in on the trade off that night, as long as he leaves Piper alone after they catch Helen.
Ed prepares new listening devices for the op that evening, but pairing bluetooth devices isn’t for the faint of heart. He has the earpieces stuck in his ears while he’s working.
Piper finds him on the couch and tells him she overheard him saying that Splinter can heal him. He asks if she has super hearing, She says she has regular hearing, but I have to ask- how would she know? Her hearing is regular hearing for her, but probably super for everyone else.
She asks if he wants to take the trade so he can get better. He tells her that he wouldn’t mind being healthy, but not at the cost of trading her. It wasn’t even something he had to think about. Piper wonders if she can figure out how to cure him, and says she’ll get right on it. Ed humors her, but I think she just might be able to do it.
The trade off meeting is at the ferry landing, where there’s only one way in or out. Jo, Brooks and Chris will spread out and catch Helen before she can get near Alex. Chris gets Alex wired for sound. Alex thinks it’s gross that he has to use earpieces that have been in Ed’s ears.
The fact that Ed’s DNA is on those earpieces will come up eventually in an episode, mark my words.
Chris goes to wait in the car with Brooks and leaves Jo to finish connecting Alex. It’s her turn to be nervous. He holds her hands and reassures her.
Then Alex drives into place to wait for Helen to make contact. It’s pouring rain by now, which makes visibility and use of the listening devices more difficult. He sings a solo duet while he waits, but Helen has no sense of humor or style and cuts his song short.
She’s on or near a boat instead of at the agreed on spot, which will compromise the rest of the team’s view. Jo tells Alex to drive over, then the others will move closer.
Benny shows up at the house with take out, because it went so well the last time he was assigned to watch the family. Ed lets him in and they have a very quick talk about the time Benny was injured. Benny passes out the food.
When Piper comes over, she notices that Ed used to dislike Benny, but he’s changed his mind. Benny tells her that Ed loves his family very much.
Benny: “And I can tell that you love all of them.”
Piper: “I think I do. But maybe that’s not real.”
Benny: “Yes, it is. It’s as real as anyone else. In that way you aren’t any different.”
Reassured, Piper takes her food to the table. Since when is Benny a champion of Piper’s humanity?
Helen leaves Alex hanging for a few minutes, then tells him to get out of the car and leave the headlights on. Jo yells at him to drive away instead, since this is the perfect situation to shoot or kidnap Alex in. Alex gets out and Helen tells him to have Piper get out as well. He refuses to let Piper get out until Helen shows herself.
Suddenly a car moves on the other side of the water. Jo takes off after it and corners Helen on a bridge. Helen calmly gets out of her car and tells Jo that she seems like a good person, but Piper doesn’t belong with her. As she’s speaking, she fiddles with something in her clothing on her abdomen. Then she says she’s sorry, runs to the side of the bridge and dives off. She hits the water a long way out from the bridge.
Brooks has caught up and asks Jo where Piper is, then tells her to get her family someplace safe. Jo calls Benny and tells him to take them to the station. She only talks to Benny. She leaves to meet the family and asks Brooks to call in search and rescue to find Helen.
When Jo gets to the station, only Ed and Mia are there. Benny told them that he was bringing Piper to Jo in a separate car. Jo tries Benny’s phone, but the number is disconnected. He checked out of his hotel hours ago. Jo has Brooks put out an APB/BOLO on Benny and Piper. She tells Alex that they’ll get her back.
Benny takes Piper to a deserted gas station and tells her that they’re waiting for Jo to meet them. Helen arrives instead. Benny slips the orange bracelet that Helen gave to Alex onto Piper’s wrist as Helen comes into view. The bracelet mutes her powers. Benny says she only needs to wear it “for a moment” so she doesn’t accidentally hurt anyone.
Piper tries to run away. Helen says that she’s a friend. Piper asks to go home. Benny tells her that home isn’t what she thinks it is. He says that even though Jo has been very good to her, she’ll never understand Piper, because she’s not like her. Then he tells her not to be afraid and reaches out his hand to her.
It glows like Piper’s. Helen’s neck and face glow. They are the same as Piper.
Surprise! Piper does have some kind of family and they came for her. Or, at least, Benny and Helen are next in the long line of pretenders who want her for their own purposes. They will pretend to be her family in the hope that she’ll cooperate with them. They might be for real or they might have devices implanted under their skin to make them glow like her. We haven’t seen either use any powers or show any special knowledge. Piper doesn’t remember them and they needed a bracelet to subdue her. That suggests they’re in disguise to gain her confidence, but let’s go with the assumption that they’re really AIs for now.
I wonder if they turned Benny by saving April? Since Splinter must be the group that sent the assassins, I’m going to pretend they saved her even if they didn’t. She was basically an innocent bystander and a single mother that got fridged, which I hate, so we’ll all be happier if they brought her back.
I’m convinced that while he was at Jo’s house, Benny pocketed the earpieces that didn’t work, because they had Ed’s DNA on them and can be used to clone and replace/cure Ed. Meanwhile, Piper can use the DNA to work on her cure for the real Ed and also use her time as a hostage to find the real versions of the people Splinter is kidnapping and replacing, like Benny (if that’s what’s happening).
All season, we’ve had various references to mystery house and game situations, to hidden children and faked deaths- Alan’s house that self-destructed and had to be escaped in time, Piper reading The Westing Game, all of the times the crew has had to find their way out of a maze/game like building while possibly also being chased– the Auger site with the robodogs, the beach house when the assassin showed up, the Auger site from ep 8 where the body factory was housed, Piper’s journey through her mind maze to get to the museum room where she met Kindred/Emily, Piper busting her way out of the training facility and finding her way to Jo in the pilot– This show is full of puzzles and mazes. Wherever Helen and Benny are taking Piper, you can bet it will begin to feel like a puzzle she needs to solve in order to escape.
The same with unexpected and hidden people showing up– Alan was supposed to be dead; Piper was meeting with Kindred, but it was really Emily; Kindred hid Emily from the world; Jo kept Piper hidden and then kept her true identity hidden even from the people who know her; Helen and Benny both appeared in town without warning; Alan and Emily were kept hidden in protective custody by the police; Maria was held hostage and Chris had to sneak into her huge house to rescue her; Jo’s mother left them and is missing, but not dead, as far as we know. Now Piper is missing and will be kept hidden from her chosen family.
Yes, Emily lies in bed, totally devastated at the thought of Piper’s death, even though she is the one who tried to kill her. Emily is so much fun, evil one minute, then begging you to just please, please love her the next. Hopefully one of my Christmas gifts will be the return of the Emily and Chris- Will They or Won’t They? Show in January while she helps them find Piper.
As predicted, there are more manufactured humans than just Piper and we already know one of them. Benny may have been a Splinter plant from the beginning, when Jo found him on the beach, much as she’d found Piper a few hours before. But it could be that Splinter is cloning bodies and replacing people at will. Our Piper looks exactly the same as 10 year old Emily, which means they probably used Emily’s DNA to create her.
Maybe the Benny in this episode was newly created for the task of kidnapping Piper, and original Benny is being held hostage or dead. He could have been replaced after Alan abandoned him on the roadside. Benny did seem a bit quiet and serious in this episode, and he’s never been very warm to Piper in the past.
Since Helen/Splinter offered Ed gene therapy that was 100% effective, I’m guessing they can clone bodies and age them to look like the people they want to replace. Whether they can transfer consciousness’ or memories is another whole issue. Transferring consciousness, instead of just memories, is a pretty big deal.
I think it’s possible that Brooks is also an AI and that Emily is in a clone body. Ed could have been swapped out on his doctor’s visit, but then Piper should have noticed that his cancer is gone. And Chris could have been swapped out almost anytime or always have been whatever Benny is. He didn’t bat an eyelash when Jo told him that Piper is an AI. Alex could also have been swapped out, but I refuse to consider it.
Benny has always acted suspiciously. Chris and Brooks do at times. They do little things that slow Jo down. They are my two main suspects for other clone/AIs. Maybe also Maria Wilkis. She definitely knew more than she told Jo.
Kindred was probably in a manufactured body, given the way they dissolved him to get rid of all evidence. Alan Wilkis must have been a replacement, too, but an early, unstable model, and that’s why he needed the constant hydration of the showers. (And maybe the very humid ocean air? He went from living on the beach to sailing.)
So I guess my theory is that Alan and Kindred created a way to replace their bodies through cloning, then Alan created an AI as an artificial life to live in a manufactured body, made through a combination of cloning and genetic engineering. He developed his design using work he’d stolen from someone else. But he realized that the AIs can outthink humans and have bodies that can reproduce, so they are actually a new life form. Emily wanted to create a real child, but one that she could control. She took his work to another level and created something in Piper that no one understands yet.
But do Helen and Benny have the same powers that Piper has? Helen called Piper unique, but that could be a lie. Or it could be true that Emily made Piper and gave her qualities that no other manufactured human has. Emily is an unstable genius who doesn’t even realize the ramifications of what she’s doing half the time. She clearly didn’t expect Piper to be able to ignore her controls and then remove them.
Alan did foresee that his code would continuously learn and grow, creating work arounds for the shortcomings in its own early code, but he didn’t think it would do it fast enough to overcome the fatal exception. And he didn’t seem to recognize that Benny wasn’t (fully?) human. Benny seemed confused and thoughtful every time Alan talked about how dangerous Piper is. Was he having some of his own little fatal exception revelations about himself?
The search for Piper opens the door to bringing Emily back into the fold. She’s not fully evil and could be very useful, since she knows how to communicate with Piper secretly, using technology. Benny and Helen may be watching for Emily, but Piper might be able to get a quick message through, the way Alan Wilkis did when he reprogrammed Piper.
Clues to keep in mind: Emily’s mom mentioned her college roommate and Chris. Jo also took an extra long look at one of her Polaroids, which we weren’t shown. Jo now has 2 of Emily’s exabyte discs, which are both programmed with essence of Piper. Emily is able to connect to Piper’s mind and I suspect that Piper will be open to the connection again. Maria Wilkis and Ryan Brooks definitely haven’t shared all of their secrets with the class. There was that super magnetized van that Jo’s buddy sank into the ocean when she needed to hide it. Now might be a good time to bring it back up and search for the clues that Benny didn’t want her to find. She might also want to contact April’s daughter.
The plane was receiving a signal, which Piper decoded. They never figured out where the signal came from. It sent them to the base where Piper was being trained against her will.
We still know almost nothing about the plane crash, except that Piper, Benny and some fake NTSB (probably Splinter) agents all mysteriously appeared on the beach soon after, and all of them made contact with Jo or Chris. The fake NTSB/Splinter took control of the site and cleaned up the crash in record time, so that in the morning all that was left on the beach was Benny. Chris didn’t notice that the NTSB guys were fakes.
If Splinter is the group who sent the assassins, that means Benny helped kill April and Kindred, in addition to blowing up the Auger buildings. Was he front and center in the group of masked Splinter terrorists in episode 8?
During the hiatus, I recommend another show about an extraordinary child and his mother, Netflix’s Raising Dion. Dion’s dad dies during the year before the show starts, leaving his mom a single mother to her only son. Before long, Dion starts exhibiting super powers, which he can’t keep hidden from his mom forever. Together they try to figure out where Dione’s powers come from and how he can learn to control them. They have to dodge the interest of the shady corporation which used to employ his dad and a supernatural being which has magnified powers and weaknesses, as compared to Dion. Dion’s mom may be human, but she proves to be his biggest ally in the fight to save not just Dion, but his right to a childhood.
Images courtesy of ABC.