The episode features Tom (Giancarlo Esposito) at his scheming best as he manipulates Roger Allenford (David Aaron Baker). As much as I know some viewers hate the character, it was really great getting to see him getting closer to being in control again. I loved his explaining to Roger, “I’m ambitious and I think there’s value in being friends with a man like you.” Of course, Tom doesn’t have friends. He plays on Roger’s fears and vanities. He is able to solve Roger’s problem – Justine (Nicole Ari Parker) – and she will also be leverage for Tom going forward after witnessing Roger kill her.
I thought there was a nice parallel to the dynamic between Roger and Justine and that between Tom and Julia (Kim Raver). Tom and Julia were united in doing whatever it took to keep on top. They clearly loved each other but were equal partners. Tom plays on the inequality of Roger and Justine’s relationship when he drives home that Justine acted stupidly and without thinking of either her husband or son by sending the letter. She stopped protecting her family to try to protect others – something neither Tom nor Julia would ever do. Tom appeals to Roger’s love of his son when he tells him to think of the effect on his son of having two traitorous parents. I thought this was telling and gives me hope that Tom really does love and value Jason (JD Pardo). Pardo is also great in this episode as we see that he hasn’t really been completely de-programmed, flipping back into super-soldier when challenged.
It will be interesting going forward to see how easy Roger will be to manipulate. Once again there is something very sinister about him. He convinces himself to “be realistic” in order to ignore Justine’s final plea that she loves him and kills her. I will really miss Parker, though I was disappointed in how basically stupid and weak they ended up making her – really, that letter was totally stupid! I also felt that there were definite Nazi overtones in Roger going around collecting all the fine art, essentially pillaging captured territories just like the Nazis did in WWII.
Gene’s (Stephen Collins) full treachery is revealed to everyone. Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) watches Truman (Steven Culp) put a spin on the events and the emotions playing across Spiridakos’ face are a terrific performance. Collins also gives another fantastic performance. His entire body language has changed and he looks old and defeated now. At first, Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) is completely adamant in her refusal to forgive her father. She has good reason. She asks him how he was protecting her when he made her think she was insane. Rachel’s obstinacy leads to two terrific exchanges with Charlie. The best is when Charlie tells her mother that her forgiveness isn’t because she’s better than her mother. She also tells Rachel that she hated her for a long time for leaving her and Danny as kids and for getting Nora killed. Rachel protests that that isn’t fair, but it’s a nice parallel to Rachel not giving Gene a chance to explain before condemning him. Charlie tells Rachel that hating is easy; “Letting it go? That’s the hard part.”
I was very glad that Gene fully explained his reasons - that he’d watched Rachel’s mother die a horrible and needless death and simply saw a way to save everyone else. He explains that he had no idea what he was getting into until he couldn’t get back out. His appeal to Rachel and Miles (Billy Burke) was perfect: “You’ve never done a bad thing for a good reason?” We know that Rachel got in bed with Flynn to save Danny after all. In the end, Gene does what he can to give Rachel, Charlie and Miles time to escape from Truman.
There isn’t a lot of either Miles or Monroe (David Lyons) in this episode. We do see that Miles’ arm is clearly badly infected. Monroe is not happy about babysitting Aaron (Zak Orth) and Cynthia (Jessica Collins). I loved the scene where Monroe drinks all of Aaron’s alcohol and hands him back the empty flask and then mocks Aaron’s latent powers, asking him not to set him on fire. We get to see Monroe in action as the killing machine that we know he can be. It was interesting to see that side of Miles at the beginning of the episode when he’s beating the soldier for intel. When Charlie asks who that soldier is, Rachel answers tellingly that he’s nobody, just intell. We see that “our” side is willing to be just as brutal as the Patriots, which adds a nice level of moral ambiguity to the story. Monroe and his charges are attacked as Monroe is actually in the process of leaving Aaron and Cynthia anyway. He has his own agenda – to find his son – and he says he’s going looking for Miles who clearly isn’t coming. It’s also possible that Monroe is worried about Miles too. The fact that they haven’t met up with Aaron is a direct result of Rachel’s insisting that they stay to kill Horn (Zeljko Ivanek). Rachel is willing to risk her friends – and later willing to kill her father – for the sake of revenge.
Once again, Orth gives a powerful performance, particularly in the scene with Cynthia. She accuses him of murdering Carl, and I found myself screaming at Aaron to tell her the whole truth! He never tells her that a good part of the reason he was so angry was that Carl was cheating on her! He also doesn’t tell her that he only recently even figured out that he’d caused it. In the end, he is totally devastated by her dismissal because she’s had too many liars in her life. I did appreciate her getting intensely angry at Gene for the same thing.
Horn’s experimenting gives us some more information on how the nanotech works, which I thought was a pretty creative bit of exposition. Aaron can heal the way a lizard grows its tail back if physically injured. However, it seems he needs severe emotional distress to be able to direct the nanotech to set people on fire. Horn achieves this by having Cynthia stabbed. The next part of his experiment is whether Aaron can heal anyone else. We won’t get to see this part until next week, but if Aaron can suddenly heal others, maybe he’ll be able to help Miles save his arm.
The episode also gives us some real insight into Horn. We get a flashback to his childhood and once again we are set up to pit religion against science. While the specific religion is never named, Horn’s mother is dying and his father won’t allow for medical intervention, leaving her fate in God’s hands. I thought it ironic that you can see Marcus’s toolbox in the background in the flashback and that is what Horn keeps his instruments of torture in in the present. Horn tells Aaron that his father was “a horrible stupid man who based his whole life on a fairytale. Turns out he was right. Except the invisible power doesn’t come from Heaven.” I have to admit, as soon as he started talking about an invisible power, I immediately thought of Star Wars and the force. Which is kind of the way it works for Aaron. How long until somebody starts calling him Luke? Lucky us – we get two Han Solos in the guise of Miles and Monroe! We also learn that Horn is dying because of a brain tumor – that explains a lot!
Another action packed episode that also delivered some satisfying progress for our characters. I’m hopeful this will be a turning point for Rachel. Anybody else concerned that Cynthia is in danger of being singed in addition to being stabbed? What did you think of the episode? Happy I’m back to a longer and more in-depth format for the review? Let me know your thoughts and speculations in the comments below!