Emergence Episode 5: RDZ9021-Recap and Review

A rare misstep this week, found Jo and company heading down a hollow path that was just barely saved by solid performances by Terry O’Quinn and Allison Tolman.

Courtesy of ABC

I love a good science fiction story with a heart. When that sympathetic hero is put in the hands of a gifted actress like Allison Tolmann I’m even more excited. That being said the previous tight four episodes were let down by a rather clunky rehashing of known abilities and ominous warnings.
The episode opens with the aftermath of April and Benny’s attack. The gunfight/car crash killed April(to soon if you ask me), but left Benny alive if slightly bloody and woozy. The Augur goon stole back Emily’s hard drive and took April’s laptop leaving our group once more in the dark. Benny’s keen observation skills allowed the team to get a license plate number from the attackers car though. That number of course led to Augur Industries which is the tech corporation owned by Richard Kindred. Jo thinks she has Kindred now and subsequently arrests him. O’Quinn’s performance is a masterclass in subtle corruption. He doesn’t need to twirl mustaches or maniacally laugh to evoke fear. He simply tells Jo she has no idea what she is involved in and warns that the world she has known is over. His understated menace both here and in the final scene with Piper save an otherwise lackluster episode.

There is a great deal of skulking around, and in general looking shady from Kindred’s henchmen when not creating kill lists and melting laptops. While on that subject, someone really should explain to him that acid and bathtubs don’t mix, just ask Jesse from Breaking Bad. That is the kind of basic writing that plagued this entire episode. When in doubt, throw acid on top of the keyboard. It is almost as if the momentum was lost in the last two weeks and the writers have forgotten where they are going. It’s not terrible, just perfunctory and expected. April’s independently powered lowjack on the other hand a nifty piece of timely tech used to locate said laptop.

Kindred’s reach has seemingly limitless bounds as he flexes at poor Alex and gets him laid off. He’s also taking out anyone and everyone not team Kindred. Emily should be concerned as she appears to be the last person standing not counting Piper. I sincerely hope Deputy Chris and Jo can keep her safe for both the greater story of Emergence and the show itself. She is the last truly quirky character on the show with enough information to take Kindred down. The new plan to catch him on a lesser charge a la Al Capone could make for some fun cat and mouse between the worthy opponents.
Jo’s explanation to the District Attorney, although an accurate accounting of what is happening also highlights the absurdity of their situation. A super villain as in Lex Luther(bald head and all) with immense money and power has developed a deadly weapon with world-changing capability. Sunds familiar, right? The greater mythos of Piper’s existence should be explored more than Kindred’s motivations and evil doings. Lat episode hit all the sweet spots for the mystery that was the abandoned town, weird birthday video, and Piper’s childhood. This week it was a rehashing of her abilities and in the “Prime Fatigue” era, we are bred already.

The titular little girl who may or may not be good saw a lot of action this week with very little character growth. Back to being the enigmatic Sphinx she volleyed questions at Grandpa about telling the others about his cancer’s return. Alexa Swinton(Piper) has vacillated between scared and wooden in affect. This week was the odd girl mostly devoid of emotion. Her ability to see things informed her of Grandpa’s cancer from the beginning. It is what she meant when she indicated his chemotherapy drugs weren’t making him better. With his declaration to Jo that he is done fighting and will no longer take chemo it will be up to Piper to save him. She may hold the code to curing cancer if she can stay out of Kindred’s clutches long enough.

Grandpa’s cancer had ramifications beyond that of just his health. He nearly killed the two girls when he passed out at the wheel. Piper was able to move the truck headed straight for them saving their lives. Now that her powers are revealed it will be harder for everyone to rally around her. She is dangerous, even if she is just a little girl. How Mia and the rest of the family will deal with this complication will add complexity to this all too cohesive group.

Lastly, an actual back door designed into Piper’s computer code permits Kindred into her head. It’s a tricky little plot beat that could be either clever or way too on the nose. It is hard to say until it is used more. The door itself was obviously designed with a child’s sensibility as one would expect fairies to burst out at any moment. The staircase beyond is dark and terrifying, however. Once Piper finally reaches the knocker on the second door a museum space is revealed with Kindred waiting for her. The space is filled with famous paintings, digital displays, and sculptures. For him, Piper is his masterpiece. A blue never seen before he invented it. His megalomania sees only Piper the creation, not Piper the child. That blindspot could be his downfall. For now, his secret is safe as he deletes the interactions from her memory. If and when Piper becomes aware of what is happening she won’t be as pliable. Let’s hope that happens before he is able to manipulate her and change the very fiber of her being.

Things begin to unravel at home as Alex questions the safety of Mia following the truck crash that Piper avoided by using her powers next week and more shenanigans from the goon squad as Kindred tightens his net.

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