Emergence Season 1 Episode 12: Killshot Pt. 1 Recap

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Episode 12 is part 1 of Emergence’s two part season (series?) finale, so it’s all about building the characters up for their big finish. Jo and Brooks go even more rogue than usual. Piper looks for an ally to help her save Benny. Helen wants what Piper has and will motivate Emily however she has to in order to get it. Chris monitors Benny in jail and does excellent police work.

I question how Brooks made it into the FBI and whether he’s secretly given Jo a lobotomy. Emily is a delight, as always. Someone give Maria Dizzia her own show.

Recap

Helen and Emily sit down for a meal and negotiations. An AI named Justin acts as their server, providing Emily with a huge, sharp knife that’s completely unnecessary for the meal. Helen prattles on about how she and Emily are both innovators, Mothers of the Evolution, who should work together and share resources rather than fight each other. Helen just wants Emily to give her Piper’s abilities, then she’ll share her considerable wealth with Emily and set her free.

Emily takes advantage of a pause in the conversation to slash Helen’s throat. Helen is barely phased. The wound heals within seconds and Helen tells Emily that the knife was a test, which she failed. Emily is amenable to working with Helen, now that she knows she can’t escape easily. Justin will be Emily’s guinea pig, since Helen knows she can’t be trusted.

Jo finds Ed and Mia trying to pull Piper’s bracelet off, working up to using a power saw. They agree to ask Alex for help, but he’s got a meeting, so he won’t be by the house this morning. And it’s making Piper’s mind feel a little fuzzy, which is disturbing. Piper thinks they should ask Benny for help, but Jo is never ever trusting him for anything again, no matter what. She explains to Piper that Benny is nothing like her, which is even more disturbing.

Piper is the only AI who Jo is willing to consider a person. Is Piper really still a person to her, or is she just Mia’s overgrown doll?

Jo calls Brooks repeatedly, but he doesn’t answer his phone. Eventually a strange agent answers and asks who she is. Jo hangs up and has Chris check into Brooks’ whereabouts. Chris has a contact at the NYPD drive by Brooks’ address, who discovers that the FBI is searching his house. Chris also finds out that Emily didn’t get back to her cell the night before.

Jo talks to Benny in his cell. He answers her questions as best he can, but he was only programmed to find out certain information and not ask other questions, so he didn’t.

Jo and Brooks are also going to avoid asking too many questions this episode. Instead, they will get hung up on irrelevant details.

She wants to know how many AIs there are, but he doesn’t know how many there are or why they were made and distributed. He was supposed to live his life and collect data in preparation for an upload, which will happen soon. He thinks there could be thousands of other AIs doing the same thing.

Helen needs a device that’s a power source, like a very powerful battery, to facilitate the upload. They stole it from the defense contractor the night Jo arrested him. Benny didn’t see it, but he knows it’s essential for the upload. The upload will drain the AI’s so that they’re nothing but black, empty shells. They’ll all be gone, including Piper. Helen is the only one who knows the whole plan.

Benny pleads with Jo to help them. He says that he didn’t have any control over the way he treated her. She accuses him of knowing exactly what he was doing. When he says that he’s not that person anymore, she says again that he’s not a person at all. He argues that he’s as much a person as Piper is, But she denies it again.

Benny’s arguments are exactly the same as Piper’s, but he’s a grown man instead of a child. As a human, you want to exonerate the child and punish the adult, because it seems like they should know better, but programming has nothing to do with perceived age. For whatever reason, probably having to do with both her unique hardware and code, Piper finds it easier to overcome her software, while the other AIs aren’t built the same way. So Benny does actually have a good excuse. Every single AI and scientist has agreed about that fact.

I’m not sure why Jo is so adamant about Benny not being a person though, other than out of spite. Piper is much more obviously an AI than the other AIs. Piper is simply built to play on adult sympathies by appearing to be a child.

Chris informs Jo that the FBI is raiding Brooks’ apartment and confiscating materials.

Jo gets a call from a woman with a British accent who tells her to go to the hospital, room 220. Abby is waiting for her and directs her to Brooks’ room. Someone dropped Brooks off anonymously as a John Doe last night. He was without his ID or phone. He was wearing body armor, so his wounds from being shot are minimal. When they see FBI agents down the hall asking about Brooks, Abby goes to stall them. Jo wakes him up, then she and Walter the huge orderly sneak him by everyone and into a stairwell.

Jo stealthily sneaks Brooks back to the station, someplace the FBI will never think to look. The FBI already has everything he left behind at the crime scene, including his car and phone. She loans him clothes and a gun and suggests they go on the run until they find Emily, as if she thinks the FBI will forgive everything else as long as Brooks brings Emily back.

She watches too much TV.

Brooks is only worried about implicating Jo and the fact that he should be dead. He vaguely remembers Helen stopping the other AIs and bringing him to the hospital. Benny finds the idea of Helen rescuing Brooks from a severe head injury unlikely.

Did I mention that Brooks is healed from his injuries except for a manly little scratch on his face? And that Helen told Emily that some other AIs have her quick healing power, but not all? Helen might not give any old FBI agent a lift to the hospital, but she might give the one who is her AI plant a lift to maintain his cover.

Benny figures out that Helen wants to Emily to write new code for her so that she can share Piper’s abilities. Jo vaguely promises that she might trust him to help stop Helen so that Benny will tell her how to take Piper’s bracelet off.

Emily has Justin hooked up to a computer so she can play with his code, but she confesses that she has no idea how to give him Piper’s powers. They arose from mistakes she made in the code that she’s not sure she can replicate. Emily tries, because it’s better than dying. She figures karma is a lie, because she made Piper, while all Jo did was find her near the plane wreckage, yet everyone credits Jo as the hero.

Justin thinks Jo sounds like an awful person. He hates Jo for Emily. Emily smiles at him and perks up a little.

FBI agents show up at the station looking for Brooks. Jo is ready to take him on the run again, but he decides to turn himself in. He kisses her before he goes out to the agents. She kisses him back, but tells him he’s being dramatic and that he’d better not disappear again.

Jo goes home and takes Piper’s bracelet off. Piper guesses that Benny told Jo how to remove it, and tries again to convince her that Benny has changed. Jo won’t even listen to Piper’s arguments.

A pair of FBI agents have Brooks in an interrogation room and are trying to get him to flip on Jo in order to save himself. A Department of Justice official enters and sends them packing after taking over his case. He tells Brooks, “I can’t believe we haven’t met before. You know, your bona fides should have put you on my radar years ago. I’ll find out who to fire for that.”

Brooks asks why the DoJ has gotten involved in such a low level case. The official tells him they’re involved in all the levels. Which is good news for Brooks, given how badly he and Jo screwed up. He gives Brooks a new badge, phone and car and tells him to sign out a new service weapon on his way home. He’s taken care of everything. He even thanks Brooks for his service.

That was totally normal.

Brooks thinks so, too, which is why he ditches his new stuff in the trash as soon as he’s outside the building. They all clearly had trackers, and probably lots of other fun surveillance devices. But then he goes straight to Jo’s house and tells her he’s being followed, because they’ll never think to look for him there.

Ed sees them and doesn’t recognize Brooks. Jo drags Brooks out to the garage so they can have a beer? Brooks tells her the FBI/DOJ have a very complete file on her.

It’s funny how the Feds can do that, huh? You’d think he wasn’t one of them.

Brooks isn’t sure what kind of deal he just made with the government, but they’re both determined to break it. He asks if she dumped a car in the ocean and she forgets for a minute that she did. They kiss to forget that no one should be able to forget that car, with all of the magnetic stuff floating inside it. Then Jo comes up with a plan.

Brooks drives to a parking garage and goes inside. Helen follows him in. Jo jumps out of the shadows and points a gun at Helen, telling her to freeze. Helen speaks with a British accent and tells them she’s Loretta, the person who made Helen. She pushes her hair off her cheek to show that she has a scar.

Brooks thinks they should use the exabyte disc to test if the woman is Helen or not. Loretta says that the exabyte disc is what she’s looking for. But she wants to know what’s on it. Jo tells her she has to explain everything to them first.

Loretta: “18 years ago we intercepted a transmission of unknown origin. The two top suspects were China or Russia.”

Brooks: “Who’s ‘we’? Who do you work for?”

Loretta: “Same government as you, Agent Brooks. We assumed that the information from the transmission was instructions on how to build a weapon. We were wrong.”

Jo: “It was instructions on how to build an AI.”

Loretta: “So we did. And it was considered a success. Up until the day it torched our lab, all the source code and murdered my entire team. All because we found out that it was building its own AI.”

Jo: “Helen was the first one.”

Loretta: “Until recently, she’s been a ghost. But you two have been remarkably successful in tracking her down. It’s why I’m here. With an offer.”

Loretta explains that she’s built a weapon that will kill Helen and she’s willing to exchange it for the exabyte disc. Jo points out that Helen Loretta doesn’t know what’s on it, but Loretta brushes her off, assuming it’s Piper’s source code.

Jo asks who Loretta really is, but Helen Loretta ignores that too, instead assuring them that she doesn’t want Piper. She just wants to exchange the source code for the dummy kill shot. She explains that she’s tried to kill Helen herself, but she hasn’t been able to. Jo refuses to take the deal.

This plan has Emily written all over it, but I suspect that Benny told Helen/Loretta about the disc. Also, exactly how is the being that destroyed everything in its path not a weapon??? And why do they always look like their creator? Is using one’s own DNA for the clone mandatory or just irresistible to mad geniuses?

Emily and Justin sit at a table while Justin unsuccessfully tries to use his new abilities to lift small metal objects. He’s in love with her now- the superpowers must have been on the “love me” code.

It’s the power of love.

She doesn’t respond to his advances and his powers don’t work, causing him to get angry. His anger disturbs the Darkforce, which is stored in the same room and is now golden. It comes alive, floats into the air and turns Chris’ phone back on, which also just happens to be in the room.

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Back in Southold, Benny and Piper both become unconscious and float into the air. Jo assumes the upload is starting. Piper wakes up and says, “It’s starting.” When Benny wakes up, he says that the upload got interrupted.

Chris gets pinged by his phone, which is on Plum Island. Jo asks Benny if that’s where Helen is. She reminds him that the first time they met, he told her the plane had taken off from Plum Island. Benny’s just had his programming tampered with, so who knows what’s going on in there. He says he doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but he’s totally up for going to the island right now.

Jo decides to take a more sensible approach and plans to face an uncertain number of superpowered AIs alone, cause that’s worked out so well for her in the past. She leaves her best officer, Chris, at the station, because he’s not allowed out anymore. Agent Idiot Brooks volunteers to come with and is for some reason the only person she trusts, because she’s known him for so long and everything goes so well when they’re together.

They make a quick stop along the way to trade Piper’s source code to a complete stranger in exchange for a syringe that could have anything in it. But Jo makes the stranger who looks like her enemy promise she won’t hurt Piper, so I’m sure that will be fine.

They don’t even shake hands over the deal, for heaven’s sake. Or question why the deadly poison isn’t in a dart gun.

Emily appears to be escaping with Justin, but it turns out they’ve been in virtual for some period of time. Emily is so good that she made the transitions seamless. She’s already escaped on her own without Helen or Justin noticing.

Gee, wonder where Helen was?

Helen pulls Justin out of virtual and is impressed with Emily’s work. Justin is sad, because he thought he and Emily were in love. Emily’s ability to create AI emotional connections is improving. Without warning, Helen jabs her tool up into Justin’s head and removes the chip from his frontal cortex. Another one bites the dust.

Chris finds an exabyte disc in an envelope on his desk. He hands it to Benny, who tells him it’s Piper’s code. Then Chris tells Benny the plan, because Benny, an AI, says that he’s in jail so he’s unable to do anything. Like communicate wirelessly, the way he was a few minutes ago when he was floating in the air, for example, OMG. Or use super strength to escape when he’s learned everything he needs to, because no AI could do that. Benny convinces Chris that Jo must not have handed over the disc.

Piper is convinced that Benny is harmless and they need his help. She convinces Alex to take her to the police station to get him so they can follow Jo to Plum Island and help her.

Piper was also floating in the air a few minutes ago, getting a software update. All bets are off.

Jo and Brooks make their way into Helen’s hideout on Plum Island. Helen removes a thick metal disc from the case she stole from Isodyne in episode 11. She turns it on, or opens it up, and the top reveals deep black spikes or waves. Helen looks pleased.

This is the battery Benny described.

Brooks points his gun at Helen and says hi, because you should always warn your enemies that you’re there. Jo tries to sneak up on her other side to give her the shot, but that was such an obviously stupid idea that I can’t even write it down. Helen mentally tosses them into the walls, so they waste ammunition on her. Helen bursts into a pile of gravel, then reconstitutes herself.

Can everyone who died by way of dusting and came back in a certain pair of Avengers movies do that now?

Jo and Brooks run down a hall and lock a door behind themselves. I’m sure Helen can’t turn to dust and slip under the door or through a crack to follow them, so it’ll be fine. They aren’t trapped or anything. Jo stole the magical disc that probably has something super poisonous to humans in it.

There’s a gravelly sound, some bangs and the lights flicker. Brooks is shocked that Helen is following them.

I’m rooting for Helen now. She’s earned the win. She’s definitely the superior being. She just needs to feel the power of love, and it will all be fine.


Commentary

Please will someone kill Brooks for me? Jo was plucky and intelligent until he came along. Now she’s not allowed to outshine him, so her IQ has plummeted 50 points.

When this show is cancelled, I will blame the casting of Agent Idiot. Did they really need to add a superfluous white male lead so the Neanderthals could follow along with the storyline and to dumb down the female lead so she won’t threaten anyone’s fragile masculinity? I know some men hate Jo, but making her incompetent isn’t making them like her more. Bowing to misogyny isn’t the answer, because it will never be enough for them, until we are back in the 19th century. So stop, please. Instead, make the show so good they enjoy it despite themselves. Or accept that you appeal to a different audience. Stop being so misogynist yourselves, ABC.

Are Helen and Loretta actually two separate people? I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure if you can turn yourself to dust and then reconstitute your body, faking an accent and a scar are child’s play. But I don’t think it matters that much, to be honest. I think we heard Helen’s origin story and she has all the powers she needs. If the writers want to kill her in the next episode, they’ll come up with a way, whether it’s the killshot or another silly macguffin.

Helen’s story is honestly too rushed and stupid for me to care much. I’m not clear on what mystery it is we’re trying to solve anymore, if any, and the characters have almost all been either turned stupid or stupidly evil, marginalized or killed, so that I don’t want to bother with caring about their fates. I thought this was about Piper and Jo or Jo’s family or at least the townspeople.

Instead now I’m watching the Jo and Brooks and Helen show and Jo has become unlikeable and mean to her family. Brooks has no personality at all. Helen doesn’t particularly either, beyond basic evil villain, though Rowena King is giving it her all. Enver Gjokaj thinks all he has to do is show up and make eyes at Jo. Like most white men.

This show had such good writing in the beginning and such great characters. It’s sad to see them ruin it, when it’s probably going to get cancelled either way. They could have at least let it die as a decent show, instead of spiraling into incomprehensibility. Thanks to Maria Dizzia, Emily is the only decent character left with some complexity and consistency. Alex and Chris have also remained consistent, but they’ve been marginalized, especially Alex. I can’t forgive this show for that. I love those two so much. SO MUCH.

Sorry, Jo/Brooks shippers. I HATE them together. I don’t feel any chemistry. It feels forced and interrupts the flow of the story. They have good chemstry as friends and coworkers, but the show has been awful since they started making eyes at each other. Her chemistry with Alex is so, so much more natural.

Both sides are being ridiculous in the Jo/Piper Benny argument. It stands to reason that Piper might have a sixth sense about the other AIs, but on the other hand, she can’t automatically recognize them anymore than a human can. And they can be reprogrammed whenever they overcome their programming, so it’s wise to always be cautious. But Jo trusts Piper, so she should at least consider learning more about Benny. He could still be an asset, even if she doesn’t trust him completely.

Jo tends to do this thing where she meets someone and trusts them right away, no questions asked, until they burn her, then she hates them and refuses to work with them at all, even if she could benefit from it. It’s weird and immature behavior for a police chief, who needs to work with unscrupulous people.


 

When Chris inexplicably finds an exabyte disc on his desk, Benny holds the disc in his hand while he reads what’s on it, instead of pressing it against his wrist. It doesn’t light up while he reads it, either. This probably proves my point that Jo and Brooks’ exabyte test on each other was pointless. But this whole situation is also clearly a set up, so who knows whether Benny even actually read the disc or just said what he was told to say.

The point still stands that none of the supposed humans understands the disc well enough to use it for anything. And there’s a mole in the police station who placed that disc on the desk, maybe even Chris himself, whose memory would have then been wiped. It’s doubtful that it’s the same disc that Jo gave to Helen/Loretta. Or maybe it is. Maybe Loretta is just a badly written and inserted deus ex machina savior character. Who didn’t actually tell Jo much of anything. She let Jo and Brooks answer most of the important questions for themselves, then talked around the details.

Loretta said she works for the same government as Brooks. Well, I’m not sure who Brooks is working for, but it’s a sketchy shadow organization, at the very least, not the US government. Maybe Splinter, but we don’t know who Splinter really is. Alien? Mineral? Vegetable? Loretta also didn’t really say that the initial transmission was from Russia or China; she didn’t say that Helen was the first AI; and she didn’t say that the first transmission was instructions to build an AI. She let Jo and Brooks jump to those conclusions because it fit with what they already thought.

The only unusual clues I’ve picked up on are the presence of what looks like the MCU’s Darkforce and the presence of Isodyne, a company from the ABC show Agent Carter season 2, which introduced Darkforce/Zero Matter from Marvel Comics to TV. Darkforce involves interdimensional forces and would easily encompass everything unusual we’ve seen so far. If there’s been some other specific hint that the AI’s are anything other than a super advanced science project gone wrong, I’ve missed it. Time travel or aliens could easily be involved, I just haven’t noticed anything that specifically pointed to them yet.


Character who has a memory lapse in this episode who is definitely an AI: Benny

Characters who had memory lapses this episode, suggesting they are AIs: Jo, Ed, Chris, Brooks

Or maybe Jo just had a lobotomy when Brooks showed up.

Characters who did not have memory lapses in this episode: Alex, Emily, Piper, Helen

Piper and Helen control their own programming. As scientists, Alex and Emily’s brains are too important to mess with.

Just sayin’.


I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this, but it’s clear that the AIs are separated into small, isolated terrorist cells so they can’t give each other away. Knowledge is only handed out on a need to know basis, so no one can reveal much of the the plan if caught.

I’m glad they had Justin take Emily’s side against Jo. When you hear it from Emily’s side, who wouldn’t think she’s right? Jo stole her daughter, that’s a fact, and sometimes I take issue with the way that the show never gave Emily a chance to prove herself as a mother. If she could create Piper, a good person, why couldn’t she mother a good person? There’s some heavy misogyny that goes into deciding Emily should automatically be disqualified, especially when Jo’s crimes are listed in this episode and she’s busy telling Benny he’s not a person.

Remember, Emily didn’t actually take credit for killing her father. Maybe that’s what the writers meant, but she didn’t say the words. Helen could have ordered Kindred’s death, too. Emily is a woman who’s been abused and neglected and wants something of her own. For a TV character, she’s not that bad. Meanwhile, Jo has spiraled further and further out of control as the season has gone on, so that the two characters aren’t as far apart morally as they seemed at the beginning of the season.

But Jo is still acting as though she’s better than everyone else and has become anti AI- is she even really still on Piper’s side? Can she be trusted to be a good mother to Piper, now that she’s battled AIs? We just saw her hand Piper’s code over to a stranger as a matter of expediency. What kind of mother does that? Emily did it to save Piper’s life. Jo did it as part of a weapons sale. Who would you pick to be the child’s mother?

 

Images courtesy of ABC.

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