"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Eleventh Hour: Resurrection

Dr. Jacob Hood is the FBI’s go-to guy when it comes to cases of a scientific nature. Hood travels around, solving crimes and scientific mysteries that no one else can. Unfortunately, his dogged quest for the truth and his refusal to hide it has made him some sort of target among the people he has implicated in crimes, and as a result he is constantly accompanied by glorified bodyguard Special Agent Rachel Young and a “panic button” with design flaws.

The pilot of Eleventh Hour, appropriately for the series’ title, features a storyline involving a woman who, quite literally, has a ticking time bomb of death in her womb. Hood and Young are called to the Cascades in Washington State, where local Detective McNeil has caught a security guard by the name of Sanders disposing of fetuses in biohazard containment barrels. There are nineteen of them total, all with an identical genetic makeup. Hood catches on to the idea that if there are nineteen fetuses, there must be nineteen mothers, and he and Young set out to find those mothers, or at least whichever one will be number twenty.

Meanwhile, I'm introduced to heavily pregnant surrogate Kelly, a twenty-year-old with a four-year-old son and another on the way. After being confronted by an angry ex in a supermarket, Kelly experiences a small pregnancy scare and consorts with her “doctors.” Her doctors turn out to be a shady bunch, led by Lea Muller (a woman with no obvious connection to the medical profession but with the lack of conscience needed to go through with some of the more unsavory details of the plans) and Dr. Sidney Hayward, a disgraced obstetrician forced into cloning out of lack of other options.

Hood and Young follow the scent of dead babies and track down Will Sanders, the security guard who was caught with the fetuses. He was unable to burn the fetuses as instructed out of conflict of religion, and Hood uses his faith rather brutally against him, dragging Sanders into a church and demanding that he confess in front of God who charged him with the task of burning the bodies. Sanders doesn’t know, but he does know that the woman who hired him talks to someone on the phone named “Geppetto.” Sanders leads them to an abandoned warehouse in Seattle where they find an implantation facility for the cloned eggs. They are interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Hayward, who narrowly escapes only after Hood gets his license plate.

The name “Geppetto” awakens something in Hood’s mind, realizing that the only reason to clone instead of just having a baby naturally is to regain someone specific who was lost, and he decides to look for parents (rich parents, mind you – cloning is expensive) who have lost children in the past few years. He hits upon Phillip Gifford, a Seattle billionaire whose son Gabriel died of meningitis a few years back.

Kelly the incubator, meanwhile, is experiencing some problems. She begins to bleed and, against the recommendations of Dr. Hayward, goes to the hospital. She balks when social services takes her son David away, so she splits with David when she has the chance. Hood and Young, who have been watching the hospitals for suspicious activity, hear about Kelly and learn that she will die if she doesn’t receive medical attention.

Our gumshoes then pay a little visit to the billionaire and interrogate him, asking him about Kelly and rattling his cage. He denies everything, but after they leave Young gets sneaky and listens in on Gifford’s phone as he calls Muller and Hayward to panic a bit. Hayward says that they will get Kelly and go to an abandoned clinic on Bainbridge Island. They head to her apartment and nab her, stabbing her ex in the process.

Hood and Young decide that it’s more pressing to teach Gifford a lesson than to save Kelly, so before going after her they make a detour to his mansion, bringing along with them one of the expired fetuses to give him. Hood reminds Gifford that Gabriel can’t just be grown, that there was more to the boy than DNA strands. Gifford is suitably ashamed and grieved and our heroes decide to mosey on over and save the dying girl.

When they get there, Hayward has been dispatched of and a strange blonde lady is busy giving Kelly CPR. Young goes to find some blood for a transfusion and intercepts Muller in the process, incapacitating. Hood is left with the task of resuscitating Kelly with the stranger. Kelly has lost the baby boy, she tells him, and he realizes she must be the fabled Geppetto. She is familiar with Hood, of course, and leaves him doing chest compressions with practically a promise of a reunion in a future episode. Kelly is saved and gets to go home to her own son and Hood and Young ride off into the sunset to stop some other wackos from messing around with test tubes.

So far, the Eleventh Hour seems a little like a more down-to-Earth version of Fringe, a little more based in science and less in sci-fi. It’s easy to make comparisons to The X-Files as well, but what I'm looking at here is a much simpler concept. Hood isn’t like Mulder who wants to believe. He already believes, and he should because it’s the truth. He is just the only one who understands it.

Which makes me question what role Young is going to play in the future. As far as I can tell, her assignment seems like the pits, and she’s already made a reference to the fact that no one else could cut it in with this job before her. But she’s evidently a go-getter who doesn’t give up, so maybe her virtue will be the fact that she’s always there at Hood’s back with a gun for protection.

Let’s hope that she doesn’t have the gun pointed at Hood’s back though, because let’s face it, his pursuit of the truth looks like it could get to be a pain in the ass. He seems almost naïve in his search, oblivious at the fact that some people are willing to kill in order to keep things a secret. He doesn’t seem bothered when he drags Young from her bed by accidentally sitting on the alarm button, but that’s to be expected. They haven’t formed the crucial bonds of TV brain and brawn yet.

All in all, it was a fairly promising start. I worry a bit about the science overtaking the characters, leaving Hood as a glorified medical dictionary with no obvious personality and Young as the one who has to ask the dumb questions for the rest of us. If the writers can make Hood and Young’s relationship interesting to watch, the rest should follow. After all, who doesn’t want to hear about the creepy things we can do with science?

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