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

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Eleventh Hour: Flesh

Spring break, whoohoo! Even in winter, Dayton Beach, FL is hopping. Life is one endless pool party for college students on break. Until a couple of them have to leave the party early. Lenny and his friend Greg collapse almost simultaneously, and an ambulance runs them to the hospital. However, Lenny and Greg don’t make it to the hospital. They flatline, and the paramedics have no luck reviving them.

The mystery of the… uh… dead people. Good luck with that one, Jacob.

But of course I being a devout watcher know there’s more to it than that! In the morgue, autopsies are being performed on both kids. Greg’s chest is flayed open, and the pathologist is making the first incision in Lenny… when he hears a beat. He turns around and, miraculously, Greg’s heart is still beating! Slowly but surely. When he turns back, Lenny has woken up and is justifiably shocked to see his best friend opened up on a slab.

Meanwhile, Jacob is spending some quality time with his old dog and some woman I have never seen before but for some reason I am being forced to believe that she and Jacob have slight yearnings towards each other. Rachel swoops in and saves me from awkward flirting by informing Jacob of the student zombie situation. They head to Florida to investigate. Evidently the kids were not dead but only in a state of suspended animation. In the hospital they meet the recovering Lenny, who turns out to be quite the chauvinist jerk, and he tells them that the only thing that he and Greg shared in the past few days was a girl by the name of Tabitha Jackson. Shared, as in… uh-huh. It looks like this might be some sort of sexually transmitted disease, and Jacob and Rachel go to talk to Tabitha. Poor Tabitha doesn’t remember anything about the night when she and Greg and Lenny supposedly got it on. She’s upset about what happened, how the boys got her drunk and took advantage of her. Rachel takes Tabitha to the hospital to get checked out. And just in time, because Tabitha collapses just like Lenny and Greg. Her body temperature drops drastically and her heart beat drops to five beats per minute.

But it looks like the suspended animation is not the only problem facing these kids. Rachel goes to see Lenny to tell him that he can leave, but that he’d better be careful because the nurses say he’s been harassing them, and if he doesn’t behave he’ll go to jail. Lenny gets fresh with Rachel and she insults him. When he reaches for her to get even, he notices that his leg is being eaten away by flesh-eating bacteria! Yummy.

Jacob decides to delve deeper into the science bits of this case and takes a look at the actual bacteria. Evidently the gene causes two stages: the first stage releases hydrogen sulfide, which causes the suspended animation. Stage two is when the victim wakes up and develops the flesh-eating bacteria. It’s key that Tabitha is prevented from reaching stage two, so they take her to the morgue to keep her body temperature down. In addition to learning all this, Jacob learns that the bacteria has no “junk” DNA, which means it is a man-made bacteria. Its resistance to extreme cold makes it look like it could have been developed for space travel.

It’s beginning to look a lot like an epidemic, because two more kids are brought in, down for the count. One is Belinda, and the other is Seth, the boy she was having sex with. He happens to have the same dagger and cherry tattoo that both Greg and Lenny have. Looks like they’re all friends!

Jacob and Rachel go talk to some NASA big wigs about this bug. They talk to Dr. West, who confirms that this is a gene being used by NASA for deep space travel and hibernation. All except for the flesh-eating part. He assures them that this has to be something different, because none of the bacteria is missing and there have been no break-ins. Jacob asks him about the gene in it that is designed to self-destruct, which may be the key to killing off the bug. However, West won’t tell him about it – it’s too classified.

Rachel does some research of her own and discovers that the three boys, Lenny, Greg, and Seth, were all accused of gang-raping a girl last year but got off due to lack of evidence. There was a fourth suspect, Derek, who hasn’t been discovered yet, but they’re sure he’s next. Is this a case of revenge? If it is, whoever is doing it is doing a good job, because Lenny is dead.

Our investigators head off to talk to Julia Taylor, the victim in last year’s rape. They’re sure she’s behind it. But of course she’s not, because she’s in a coma. It turns out that after the case was dismissed Julia, distraught at being called a liar and a whore, took up drinking and got in a car accident. However, Julia’s father works at NASA! His name is Henry West. Sound familiar?

Rachel has a trace put on Derek’s cell phone, thinking that West will go after him next. Derek is frantically trying to get out of Florida, but before he can West catches up to him and injects him with the bacteria. By the time Rachel and Jacob get there West has leapt off a balcony. Jacob manages to get West to tell him about the self-destruct gene, which turns out to be triggered by silver. Back at the hospital, the victims get a dose of silver in their bloodstream and they all wake up, right as rain. Another disgusting disease neutralized by Jacob Hood!

Flesh-eating bacteria is basically the coolest and grossest bacteria in the world, so props to the show for bringing it in. I liked the revenge plotline and didn’t have any trouble sympathizing with West (except of course when it came to getting innocent people involved). But this love plotline they’re scraping together for Jacob. What? At least Rachel and her bloke seemed to have a bit of chemistry. But this lady came out of nowhere.

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