Emergence Episode 4: No Outlet- Recap And Review
Fatal contradictions, abandoned isolated neighborhoods, and bland noodles make for a fun word salad and even better episode.
The mystery that is Kindred and Piper deepens with each reveal. Information is coming hard and fast and yet we are even more in the dark than we were in episode one. After last week’s shocker it would have been easy to rest on its laurels for an episode. Not only did Emergence not take the easy road, or runway as it were, but it doubled down with an entire abandoned town.
The cast of Emergence continues to shine through all the techno-conspiracy plot lines. It is necessary for the viewer to connect with the characters for a story to have longevity. A mystery box series with characters we don’t have strong feelings for is one and done. Given villains we love to hate and heroes we root for coupled with a mystery and you have a hit. Allison Tolman(Chief Jo), Donald Faison(Alex), Clancy Brown(Ed), and Ashley Aufderheide(Mia) are as real and likable as anyone on television.
Robert Bailey Jr.(Deputy Chris)is the fresh-faced vision of earnest loyalty, and Owain Yeoman(Benny) continues to surprise with his wealth of connections and interesting friends. His hacker friend April, the always charismatic Ashlie Atkinson(Mr. Robot), hopefully is not badly injured in the car crash that ended the episode. Her skills will come in handy.
Terry O’Quinn is a seething collection of warring ideas. He seems to be the bad guy, but just like in Lost, looks can be deceiving. I’m not saying he’s a choir boy, just that he may not quite be the devil we think he is. In any case, he chews every scene he is in. More scenes with a steely Jo going toe to toe with him are an absolute requirement. Who didn’t love her unsolicited Yelp review at the Chinese restaurant?
The unlikely duo of Deputy Chris and Emily(Maria Dizzia) is fantastic. She has a hilarious manic intelligence to her that plays so well off his normalcy. His job is strictly to keep her safe assuming that is even possible with her hubris and laundry list of demands guaranteed to make her vulnerable to Kindred. Her cobbled together modem may have worked too well as someone was calling after they left. It remains to be seen if that is friend or foe.
Lastly social worker Lily Salgado(Nikki Massoud) is all kinds of wrong. She asks questions designed to knock people off balance all with a placid smile on her face. This may be her first week on the job, its just not the job of social worker. Massoud does an amazing job of developing a pleasantly deadly character that is electric. She is so much more than a paper pusher.
There are several theories that are really intriguing. The first is the most straight forward, but would still provide plenty of ground to branch from. Piper is a artificial humanoid. Similar to a cyborg. Basically she is Bishop from Alien or Data from Star Trek The Next Generation. She doesn’t know who or what she is and she was created as part of an experiment. Kindred is trying to weaponize AI in the form of telekinetic robots and Piper was the result. It’s the obvious option and allows for the mythos of Kindred and his shady corporation. Piper could learn over time what she is and the emotional punch that eventual discovery would bring could result in some major developments both psychologically and physically.
The second theory involves the choice of a child. When children are so volatile why make the synthetic beings begin life as a child? This theory requires a little creative guess work. Assuming Piper began life as an infant she has grown year by year, as witnesses by the birthday party video, to her current age she has formed memories and personality traits based on her experiences. From the video she appears very unhappy despite her lack of emotional delivery. She wants out and if they won’t let her, she will just remove the obstacles. No fuss, no muss, except for the gaping hole in the house and likely dead parents, but whatever. Regardless of Piper’s physical age if she was “born” she would be innocent and immature just like a child. It would be more manageable to allow her mind and body to mature instead of allowing the power of an adult in the mind of a child. It would also allow them control over her as children require care and would hopefully become dependent on her caregivers. This doesn’t seem to be the case from the house explosion, but A for effort. It might have been more effective if the adults acting as parents tried a little harder to be normal. I’m just saying. Kids have good BS meters and Piper is even more astute than a typical kid.
The next theory goes hand in hand with the previous one. There are robots already out in the world posing as humans. They could be anywhere and be anyone. Think pod people from Body Snatchers. A clone synth could be grown and used to replace the real person allowing for unfettered access to highly sensitive information, money, and decision making. It would be catastrophic for one person or group to have this kind of control. As narcissistically conceited as Kindred is, it isn’t a far stretch to imagine him thinking he could rule the world. The houses in the abandoned town have numbers painted on them similar to addresses however the numbers are low and aren’t professionally applied. They don’t look like house numbers, they look like labels. The largest number seen is 25. That could indicate there are at least 25 other Pipers out there somewhere.
Piper has gotten several upgrades over the course of her life and the final one shortly before the plane crash was intended to give her a conscience. A moral compass of right and wrong that would prevent future blow ups like the one witnessed in the video. When Data received his emotion chip in Star Trek TNG he went off the rails a little, but Piper may have gained a soul. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t still get mad or scared or make some selfish choices just like the rest of us. It would account for her emotional outbursts and seeming lack of control. It would also explain her weird speech pattern in the video. She was devoid of feeling in the video before she went kaboom.
The final theory is the most terrifying. Piper knows exactly who and what she is and has all along. She knows what buttons to push to get someone, Jo in this case, on her side. The evidence for this has been in nearly every episode. She admits to having minor flash backs, but yet knows where her implant was and was able to dig it out herself. That’s both advanced bravery and insight for someone who claims to know nothing and just be a sweet little girl. The turtle scene could be a sign of her true kind nature but if the knowing smile she sports as Jo leaves her room at the end of the episode suggests it was just well timed theatrics. She looks pleased with herself when the social worker’s phone explodes in addition to the dubious three block runaway plan. She’s a kid so it could be just the actions of a scared girl, but it could be a giant ploy to use Mia’s good nature. If this theory is accurate she could have escaped shortly after the events of the video and made her way to Jo’s town where she crashed the plane to eliminate those on board coming to get her. She knows she has powers because she acknowledges her ability to Jo when she flipped the car and appeared out of thin air in her car in episode one. She is not quite the babe in the woods she makes herself to be. A lovely manipulative monster with limitless powers would be bad. She could very well be the calculating machine from the video. If that’s the case we need a Crash Overdrive(Jonny Lee Miller’s handle from Hackers-don’t judge) level hacker to modify her code before the Lawnmowergirl takes over the world.