Emergence Season 1 Episode 11: Applied Sciences Recap

Emergence S1Ep11 Jo & Alex Discuss Case1

This week, Jo and Brooks return to Southold to continue their investigation, with the help of Abby and Emily. Chris and Alex get help from one of Alex’s engineering friends, who makes Alex an offer he may not be able to refuse. Piper spars with Helen and plays on Benny’s emotions as she attempts to get back to her family.

Guys, I think Helen is building Chronicoms to take part in Agents of SHIELD’s season 7 Time War for Planet Earth or whatever they’re calling it.

Watch Agent Carter season 2, Cloak and Dagger seasons 1&2, and Agents of SHIELD seasons 4-6, then tell me I’m crazy. It wouldn’t hurt to throw in season 3 of Runaways. Emergence could be a 13 episode long crossover prequel to AoS S7. But also a stand alone show in its own right.

Recap

Helen visits a man an AI who’s just sent his family off on a trip. She questions his commitment to their mission and he assures her that it’s as strong as ever, no matter what someone might offer him to turn traitor. She thanks him for his dedication, then kills him the same way she killed Alan Wilkis, by driving a rod up through his chin into his forehead, while they are standing outside, in his front yard, in broad daylight, where any of his neighbors could see.

Bold.

This time we can see that when she pulls the rod out, she removes a chip like Piper’s tracking chip from his forehead. I’ve wondered if Alan Wilkis was an AI, so that answers that question.

Jo and Brooks return to Southold late at night, with Charlie the dead AI in their trunk. They go straight to the hospital, where Abby meets them and agrees to do an alien AI autopsy. They bring Charlie’s body into the morgue. Jo informs Abby that Benny is an AI too.

Jo finds Alex in her bed when she gets home. He wakes up enough to figure out that she’s upset, so she must not have brought Piper with her. He asks if she wants him to leave the bed, but she tells him no. And then sleeps in her clothes, above the covers, which seems excessive, since we’re all adults here.

Unless she’s now an AI, and she wants to keep him at a distance so he won’t notice. More on that later.

The next morning, Jo tells Ed and Mia that Piper was okay and wasn’t hurt. She passes on Piper’s message to Mia that she’s not afraid. Mia and Ed realize that Piper got their message. They show Jo and Alex the binary code message they received back from Piper. None of them know how to decipher the message. Jo has Mia send her the code so she can take it to someone who speaks binary, such as any computer programmer ever.

Alex follows Jo to the foyer and they stumble around the fact that they slept in the same bed, which, again, we’re all adults. Not that weird, in a pinch. Alex remembers he’s an adult and finally tells Jo that he actually followed her because he wants to know what she’s not telling Ed and Mia. She tells him that Piper refused to come home with her.

He jumps to the conclusion that Piper refused because Splinter changed her programming, which Jo and Brooks have also already decided. Jo doesn’t understand why Piper would contact them if she didn’t want to be found. Alex reminds her she’s contacted them twice, but Jo scoffs at the binary message, I guess because now science is too wacky for her.

Alex reassures her that they just have to decipher the binary code, which won’t be that hard. Mr Metawitches has been repeatedly saying the same thing since the code first appeared, so I believe Alex, the competent and curious engineer.

But Jo mocks him, asking if he’s a police officer now. She’s talked to Chris and tells Alex that his days of helping Chris solve mysteries are over. She won’t even let him work on the code. She wants Emily to work on it instead. Because bringing in the woman who betrayed them six ways to Sunday to work on something your average IT guy could do makes perfect sense.

So, what just happened? Did someone change Jo’s programming? She’s always been the champion of free will and trusting Piper. Now she’s rushing to believe that Piper can’t think for herself, even though she’s watched Piper overcome multiple reprogramming attempts. She’s also seen Piper communicate in multiple unusual ways, such as through her mind with Emily, through the beeps that the plane was making, which she translated, by receiving information through an exabyte disc, etc. Jo also knows Piper has untapped powers.

Why is Jo suddenly all controlling, trusting Emily instead of Piper and Alex, and discounting methods that have worked in the past? Either the writers of this show have forgotten what happened in previous episodes, or Jo was replaced by an AI who’s not properly accessing Jo’s memories.

They made a point of having Brooks mention that they were separated for a while. And an AI doesn’t always know that it’s an AI. In the MCU, the equivalent LMDs sometimes think they are the people they’re imitating. Their mission objective is embedded as a subconscious directive.

Or else Jo is losing it since she hasn’t slept much lately.

But I think we’re entering Invasion of the Body Snatchers territory with this show, and we have to at least consider everyone a possible AI. I just hope they’re keeping the originals alive someplace.

Brooks brings Emily to Southold under false pretenses- she thinks she’s going to her lawyer’s office. They convince her to help with the alien autopsy by showing her Charlie’s tracking chip and telling her he’s 15 years old, so they know she didn’t build him.

Emily/Maria Dizzia adds so much to this show. I hope they never let her go. Which means she’ll die next week.

Abby reports that Charlie appears to be a completely normal human who died from a car accident. No anomalies. She’s removed his internal organs to examine them more closely and conveniently sewn him back up tight, so that if there are any anomalies that she’s not reporting, no one would notice them. She says she did it for everyone else’s comfort.

Jo, Brooks and Abby all act like there’s something wrong with Emily for saying she would have preferred to examine the interior of the corpse herself, since that’s what she was just brought in to do, you know, as a scientist- which makes me wonder if at this point Abby has also been replaced. If this was Invasion of the Body Snatchers, at this point in the movie you would start to realize that actually, almost everyone is now an alien.

Maybe we’ve been wrong all along, and Emily will be the last human standing in Southold. The alien AIs need her intact to science for them.

But anyway, how is Emily supposed to get anything from tapping on his skin? It’s weird that Jo and Brooks are so grossed out by a body, as experienced law enforcement officers, don’t you think? Maybe they’re acting more like AIs who don’t want to be provoked into a fatal exception than seasoned police officers?

Jo asks who Emily thinks built him and Abby wants to know why he seems so human inside and out. Emily has no idea of either, but does know that he was built to pass as human when scanned by human machines. She thinks they should open him up again and use some different techniques, which the others treat as a preposterous idea. Isn’t that why you would bring Emily in on the autopsy, though?

Brooks threatens to drag Emily back to her cell for making such outrageous requests. She reminds them of the binary code that needs to be cracked. Jo offhandedly shows her the message and tells her to work it out on the room’s hospital work station. It’s as if Jo doesn’t care about the message.

Again, what? First, it’s incredibly irresponsible to give Emily access to the hospital’s entire database and probably illegal as all get out. Second, it probably doesn’t have what she’d need, if we’re pretending this is some hard to crack code. Third, what? Why is Jo so dismissive of this message?

Emily suggests they use the AI’s brain instead, since it’s a supercomputer.

Alex shows up at the police station and Chris quickly tries to throw him out. Alex says that Jo isn’t the boss of him, but Chris decides that she’s actually the boss of both of them. And, the phone’s battery ran out 3 miles from shore, so that whole thing didn’t matter anyway. But Alex has phoned a friend, Francis Baker, who handles government contracts for cutting edge experiments and he’s found something relelvant.

Francis has brought them a report on a project they developed for the DOD that involved a “hybrid metal that would maintain a strong magnetic field but also remain liquid at room temperature.” He doesn’t know what its intended use was. They did 3 years of research before they realized that it was too dangerous and expensive to continue. It was highly explosive and required insane amounts of energy to keep it liquid and stable. Chris figures out that he can track it by looking for a large power draw.

Sounds like Darkforce to me.

Emily admits to Jo that Piper is better off with her and says that she accepts Piper’s decision to stay with Jo. She figures out that the code is an invitation for Jo to use Emily’s back door to meet inside Piper’s head. They need to figure out a way for Jo to access the interface, since Emily doesn’t have her gear. She considers sticking something in Jo’s brain.

Benny and Piper are hiding out at a restaurant and trying to pick a frozen meal, but Piper’s not into it. She tries to convince Benny that his conscience is bothering him, since Jo was his friend and he betrayed her. Benny admits that he’s sad about what happened between him and Jo, but it doesn’t matter, because their mission is more important. Piper thinks he wants to take her back home to Jo.

Before he can answer, they’re interrupted by Helen, who sends Benny for the car. Helen asks what they were talking about.

Piper says they were talking about sadness. Helen explains that AI’s feelings serve certain purposes, but they’re different from humans, because they don’t let their feelings control them. She says that Piper is special and unique, because no one else has her gifts, not even Helen. Helen wishes she could do what Piper can do and hopes that one day Piper will share her gifts. Piper says she’d like to share with Helen.

Piper’s gifts are essential to their mission, but Helen won’t tell her what it is yet, except that it’s dangerous and frightening. Piper says she isn’t scared, so Helen abruptly decides that she might be ready after all.

Gonna guess Helen received some kind of telepathic AI communication that gave her the go ahead to proceed, rather than believing Piper, but who knows.

Emily continues to argue for drilling a tiny hole into Jo’s brain so she can insert an even tinier electrode, but Brooks saves the day and ruins Emily’s fun by stealing Emily’s interface gear from the FBI evidence room. Brooks is, of course, squeamish about the minor surgery Emily has done on Charlie’s corpse so that it can help facilitate the link, because he’s the most delicate little FBI agent ever.

He may or may not be an AI, but he definitely doesn’t have kids. I’ve dealt with worse than that from kids falling off their bikes, never mind real sports injuries, like playing aggressive tag on the pavement. 😘 There wasn’t even any blood on the corpse.

Emily explains that when Jo puts on the gear, she’ll enter the book construct that Wilkis set up and Emily piggybacked onto her memory reset program. Except Jo now has lost the thread of what they’re doing and Emily has to explain as if she were a child. Emily put all of Piper’s thoughts and memories from the past month, since Piper was kidnapped, into a gold book inside the library she used when she reset Piper’s memories. Emily instructs Jo to find that book and destroy it.

Now Jo and Brooks get suspicious of Emily and her motives and Jo questions whether deleting the past month is wrong.

Yes, it is wrong.

Emily is certain this is the best way to fix Piper, so Jo puts on the gear. Instead of the library, she’s in her house, but it’s dark and empty except for stacks of blue books. Just as she picks up the gold book, Piper appears and the rest of the books disappear. The room is now decorated like Jo’s real house. Piper says she created this meeting place and asks if Jo likes it. She tells Jo she’s missed her, but she can’t go home yet.

Jo tries to tell Piper that her memories have been changed, and won’t listen when Piper tries to explain that she’s okay and won’t go home because she’s in the process of enacting a plan. Piper says that the others only think she’s helping them while she tries to fix Benny. She wants to teach him to override his programming the way she does.

Jo insists that she’s destroying the book and taking Piper home, no matter what Piper wants. Piper reminds Jo that she didn’t give up on Piper, no matter what. Now Piper wants to do the same for Benny and the others. Jo throws the book into the fire in the fireplace, ignoring Piper’s wishes.

Wrong move.

Piper puts the fire out and expresses her disappointment in Jo, then ends the session. Emily can’t reopen the program to get Jo back in.

Francis and Alex go out for a drink after they’re done at the police station. Francis thinks Alex is wasting his life waiting for Jo to come back and offers him a really great job in DC to help him move on.

Emily and Abby do another scan of Charlie’s head, adjusting the parameters to account for him being an AI. They discover another chip in the prefrontal cortex of his brain. Abby gets out the cranial saw. As they discuss the AIs’ basic construction, Emily realizes that since Charlie was connected to Piper, she might be able to use the data he stored to trace the signal back to Piper’s general location.

Benny, Piper and Helen are on the move. When they approach their destination, Helen hands Piper a blanket and tells her to hide under it and stay quiet. They go through a checkpoint, where the guard asks for their ID and clearance authorization. He calls one of them, I think Benny, “Doctor”, then searches the car. He overlooks Piper’s presence in the car and tells Benny and Helen to meet him at the loading dock in a few minutes. The car drives by a sign that says they’ve arrived at the Isodyne Defense Dynamics Research Facility.

Remember last episode, when I was talking about Darkforce, and said to keep an eye out for the Roxxon company making an appearance? What I really meant was Isodyne, the original research and development company that had custody of Darkforce/Zero Matter in Agent Carter season 2. In MCU lore, Isodyne, and its Darkforce, were bought out by Roxxon in the 1950s. Darkforce was still associated with Roxxon in 2009 when they were encountered in the series Cloak and Dagger. So I assumed Roxxon was the company Emergence would also use, but either Isodyne is still functioning as an R&D division of Roxxon or they became a separate company again at some point. Roxxon also owns a large number of gas stations, like the one Charlie the dead AI worked at.

Benny and Helen take Piper into a high tech building and ask her to use her powers to break through the heavily encrypted lock pad on a door. It takes Piper less than 10 seconds to unlock the door. Helen asks her what it felt like to open the lock. Piper says she just did it.

They enter the room and pull a heavy metal case of a shelf. The security guard has joined them and is amazed at what Piper can do. He wonders if someday they’ll all be able to have powers like hers.

Before he finishes the sentence, Helen sticks her tool into his head and kills him. Piper screams and asks why Helen killed him. Helen says SHE didn’t kill him. Piper did, by wanting to help the other AIs. Helen heard what Piper said to Benny. She says that Piper can’t help the others.

Helen, as she removes the guard’s forehead chip from her murder tool: You don’t want to share your gifts with me. What you want doesn’t matter. Of course you have a choice. You can give me what I want or I can take it.”

Somehow, Helen has forgotten who she’s dealing with. Piper uses her powers to throw the metal case at Helen, knocking her into some heavy metal shelves. Then Piper bends the shelves into a cage around Helen, making sure Helen is roughed up enough that she’s unconscious by the time Piper’s done. She races out of the building, back to Benny, who’s waiting at the car. She yells to Benny that Helen said to leave now, without her, so they take off.

Lol. You’d think Benny would have questioned that order, at least a little bit. Helen isn’t the type to sacrifice herself for the greater good. She must not have seen the video of what Piper did at her old home, or she would have been more careful about the way she threatened Piper. Maybe she forgot that she had no leverage or protection in that moment, since she’d killed the guard and Benny was outside. After she’d just used the abuser’s favorite technique of blaming the victim for the abuse, too.

Emily marks off a region where Piper is likely to be and Brooks calls in a few favors to get some agents canvassing the area. He has to report back to his own headquarters and get Emily back in her cell or he’ll be in trouble.

Jo tells him not to get fired over this. It’s only her daughter, after all. They tease each other a little, which turns to flirting and Brooks telling Jo that if he gets fired, she’ll have to hire him. She gets serious and tells him to be careful. Alex walks into the station just in time to see that part.

Brooks leaves, while Jo scolds Alex again. Alex and Chris have tracked down all of the heavy electricity users in the region and narrowed down the most likely ones that the Darkforce (or whatever it is) came from. Jo realizes that one of them is in Monmouth County, the area Emily said Piper is in. It’s a restaurant by the pier that had heavy power usage until 2 days ago, when they saw the suspicious crate on the boat. Jo and Chris head there.

So do Piper and Benny. When they get to the restaurant, Piper confesses what happened. She tries to get Benny to recognize the voice of his conscience inside himself and do the right thing. He says he doesn’t want to do what Helen says, but he has to. Then he puts the inhibitor bracelet back on her, and puts her in the trunk of the car.

Typical Benny. Piper really doesn’t know him very well.

Piper pounds on the trunk roof and yells. Jo and Chris arrive, and Jo releases Piper from the trunk. Benny pulls a gun on them and disarms Jo. Jo tells him that Chris is there too, and there’s no way out of it for him. Piper tells him again that he doesn’t have to follow Helen’s orders. He tells her again that he has to, but he slowly removes his finger from the trigger.

Piper is overjoyed that Benny apparently overcame his programming. Chris comes out of the shadows behind him and tells him to drop the gun. Jo quickly disarms him, then hits him in the head with a tire iron.

Jo brings Piper home, because no one will think to look for her there. Everyone is overjoyed to see her. Jo considers deputizing Alex after all, but he declines.

After everyone else has gone to bed, Alex tells Jo about his job offer in DC. He explains that the salary is so huge that he can come home every weekend to see Mia. Jo is taken aback, but tries to be happy for him. Alex says that now that they’re all moving on, he needs to move on too. Jo tries to deny it and stands up to move closer to him. Alex says that he knows it’s true and moves away. “Job or no job, I just can’t keep doing this to myself, you know?”

He tries to put a good face on it, but it’s become more clear all season that the divorce was her idea. She likes having him available when she needs him and doesn’t quite understand that she’s keeping his hopes up.

On the drive back to FBI prison, Emily gets the bright idea to detail how, if she wanted to, she could blackmail Brooks or ruin his career over their unsanctioned day trip. Brooks acts like he doesn’t think anyone will listen to her. Suddenly, on a dark, deserted road, the car loses power and rolls to a stop.

I really thought Brooks turned it off himself to teach her a lesson, maybe a permanent one, but the show appears to be sticking with the idea that someone outside the car had the ability to short it out.

Emily quickly figures out that it must be the AIs and says she can restart the computer. Brooks lets her into the front seat so that she can hotwire? hot computer? the car using his phone. Meanwhile, he’s putting on a bulletproof vest and loading an assault rifle.

I want whatever app she’s using.

She doesn’t get the car started before they see another car approaching. Brooks tells her to run into the woods. She does, and runs straight into a waiting Helen.

That was convenient.

Out on the street, the approaching car stops and two people get out. Brooks yells for them to drop their weapons. They shoot him instead and he drops to the pavement.

That was convenient, too.

They can bring the Brooks AI back in without blowing his cover.


Commentary

Potential reasons the writing has suddenly changed direction: right about the time they were creating this episode they were told they probably weren’t going to get a second season and they decided to do a bit of a wrap up they hadn’t previously planned on; they got a heavy dose of notes from the network; or something is very, very wrong in Southold.

The only characters I’m sure are still themselves are Mia, Alex and Emily. Maybe Ed. I’d actually love to see Mia, Alex and Ed save the day, since Jo tries to keep them from doing anything useful. They all have useful talents to offer and a connection of their own to Piper.

The preview suggests that Emily will be working for the other side next week. She has no side but her own, always. Her life has taught her that she needs to be that way to survive. No one on this show is making an effort to teach her anything different.

Are the AIs’ personalities and knowledge stored in those little frontal lobe chips? Can they be brought back, as long as you recover the chip and a little genetic material for a new clone or put the chip into a new clone? I still think Maria Wilkis might be the mad genius behind the AIs and clones. They didn’t originally create themselves. Helen is getting her orders from someone.

The AIs on Emergence might be some form of hybrid that’s a combination of the Chronicoms and the LMDs developed by Leo Fitz, Holden Radcliffe and AIDA on Agents of SHIELD with the help of the Darkhold, similar to the Phil Coulson Chronicom Advanced LMD introduced at the end of AoS season 6 in episode 13, New Life.

Kindred was most likely a clone/AI, given the way they dissolved the body so that it couldn’t be autopsied. The camera cut away while the killer was messing around with his head. Emily never actually admitted to ordering his murder, if you pay close attention to what was said. She’s so psycho-spaced out, she just didn’t particularly care that he’s dead, either. Why would she? He said he’d never had the capacity to love her. They were nothing more than an obligation to each other.

I have some new questions about Alan Wilkis, now that we know he had an AI body, at the very least: Did they transfer his original human consciousness into a cloned body? Was the cloned body reaching its expiration date and the frequent showers helped extend its life span? And was he forced to become an AI as a form of kidnapping or coercion, was he willingly rescued from death, or was he always an AI? Was anything he told Jo and Benny true? Did Benny know he was an AI?

There was so much lying going on down in Alan’s bunker in episode 6, it’s staggering. Alan was an AI, even though he hated AIs, Benny is an AI, even though he was investigating AIs, the assassins were all from Splinter, the AI terrorist group- or am I confused? It doesn’t even matter anymore, this show has changed direction so many times. Almost the entire incident in the bunker was a charade put on for Jo’s sake. If Chris turns out to be an AI, it’ll be a grand slam.

I’m not clear anymore on what this show is trying to do, to be honest, unless it really is either Invasion of the Body Snatchers or a set up for the Chronicom Time War on Agents of SHIELD. Or maybe Agents of SHIELD is a set up for the Chronicom Time War that will continue on Emergence. If Kevin Feige doesn’t have plans to assassinate this show like all the others.

I’m willing to bet a large amount that Alex just got hired by Isodyne, Roxxon or another company associated with the MCU. And that his job is in DC so that he’ll be separated from the family while they’re all turned into AIs. The villains don’t want to turn him because they’ve noticed his engineering genius and want to use it, just like they’re doing with Emily. But they need to get him out before he notices how frequently Jo gets that confused look she got several times tonight. And that Ed’s cancer is cured because he’s a clone. (Hello, Living with Yourself)

Images courtesy of ABC.

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