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

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Eleventh Hour: Surge

Doesn’t everyone feel like a monkey in a maze sometime? Well, Sasha is a literal monkey, involved in a series of experiments by Dr. Bruce Nesic. Everything is fine and hunky-dory until Nesic turns his back. The next time he looks, his lab has been destroyed by a murderous rampage! Was it Sasha?

Rage infected monkeys, anyone?

Jacob and Rachel are accosted by Colonel Brooks, who works with the War Fighter Enhancement Program. It turns out the monkeys are part of experiments aimed to improve the physical performance of soldiers. Brooks asks Jacob to defend the monkey. After all, millions of dollars have been invested in this little primate. So Jacob and Rachel head out to Henderson, Nevada, to meet Nesic and Sasha. There Nesic explains that the monkeys have been given a drug to speed up chemical reactions in the brain, allowing the monkeys to react more quickly.

However, Nesic thinks that the attack in the lab was sabotage. For one thing, the recordings of the incident from the surveillance camera have been stolen. Also, Rudy Callistro, the only lab tech with access to the recordings, has gone missing.

The show cuts to a bunch of guys playing a friendly game of basketball. One of the players is not so friendly – or perhaps he just doesn’t know his own strength? – and elbows another in the face. The aggressor, Kevin Pierce, turns out to be a soldier with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder recently back from active service. He’s supposedly getting treatment for the condition from Dr. Nesic. Kevin appears reluctant to face another cycle of treatment, but he relents, and Nesic stabs him in the back of the head with a needle. Oww.

Jacob and Rachel learn about a little piece of property that Callisto’s sister owns and decide to see if he’s hiding out there. He is (of course) and he runs when he sees them. Rachel takes him down and they question him. He claims to have nothing to do with the attack. He thinks it’s Nesic’s fault, with the experiments he’s running. For instance, Sasha has gone from right to left handed. Nesic is messing with something he shouldn’t.

Returning to the lab to check on Sasha, Nesic, Rachel, and Jacob discover that Sasha is missing. Animal control goes out looking for him and one of them gets attacked in the dark. It looks like it might be Sasha, but then Jacob and Rachel find Sasha’s corpse – and it’s obviously been moved. The body was planted, and Sasha wasn’t the attacker. Sounds suspicious. When Jacob performs the autopsy on Sasha, he discovers that his Amygdalae have been messed with. The Amygdalae control the fight-or-flight response. In Sasha’s case, fighting has become basically an involuntary response.

Meanwhile, Kevin Pierce has gone missing. He went home to his wife and son for a while, but now even they can’t find him. Nesic asks Kevin’s friends about him, and none of them are very forthcoming with him. It seems that Nesic has made some enemies for himself.

Hood continues to probe the mystery of Nesic’s lab. His data shows some interesting anomalies – Nesic has been tampering with his data to get the results he wants. This sounds like probable cause to Rachel and Jacob, so they break into Nesic’s lab to get more information. They find six monkey cages, but their research tells them that Nesic had seven subjects. Subject Seven is not a monkey. Subject Seven is human.

A little basic detective footwork reveals to them that Subject Seven is Kevin. They talk to his friends, find out about his handedness changing and his pain problem, and then manage to track him. He was at a playground where he served a heaping plate of hurting to two muggers before moving on. Rachel deduces that he’s probably looking for a pharmacy to manage his pain. And indeed he has. He wallops a few police officers before Jacob talks him down. When he’s in custody Kevin passes a disc onto Jacob. It turns out to be the footage of the attacks in the labs, revealing Kevin to be the attacker. Evidently Nesic’s drug not only makes his subjects killing machines, but killing machines without consciences. Good job, Nesic.

I found this episode a little hard to follow, but that could be entirely my fault and nothing to do with the writing. It could have done with a little more banter between our scientist and handler, I think, though I enjoyed Rachel’s triumph at knowing something that Jacob didn’t. I think the episode might have gotten a bit bogged down by having two “issues.” Every episode seems to have some sort of moral issue to it, but this one had two: super soldiers and animal cruelty. Both important, but perhaps they might have been better served in two separate episodes. Maybe I’m just crabby because I didn’t like the episode.

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