This week’s episode of Intelligence, “Patient Zero,” was written by series creator Michael Seitzman and directed by Adam Davidson. Among Davidson’s many credits are Hell on Wheels, Community, Fringe, Big Love, and Lie to Me. The episode is another good one with an exciting case at the heart of it that draws in all members of the team. I had to wonder as I watched, however, if this episode wasn’t meant to be shown earlier in the season.
There were a number of scenes that felt like they would have been more appropriate in an earlier episode – possibly even the second episode of the series. There were a number of exchanges that felt like unnecessary exposition at this point. Shenendoah (John Billingsley) comments that the chip has come a long way from its original intention and Riley (Meghan Ory) asks what the original intention was. Shenendoah replies, “Surveillance, data mining...” This seems like information she would have actually learned in the “Pilot.” Nelson (P.J. Byrne) asks Lillian (Marg Helgenberger) for an apology for having suspected him of kidnapping his father. This was something I fully expected to see in the second episode when Shenendoah and Nelson are brought back to Cyber Com.
When Gabriel (Josh Holloway) is doing the cyber-render, Shenendoah basically walks him through it with Lillian also offering advice. We’ve already seen Gabriel do this on his own many times. Shenendoah calls Lillian “Lily” which I don’t think we’ve heard before, and Lillian consistently calls him Cassidy – even to his own son who shares his last name. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember them calling each other that before. Riley also brings up “what the secret service taught her” about finding a “drain” to escape a room. It felt like the kind of thing you would say to someone you just met. Gabriel also tells her that there were three other people who they tried the chip on before him: 2 died and 1 was paralyzed. He also tells her that the reason he got it was to help him look for Amelia. These are both things I think he would have told her earlier in their relationship – I know I wanted to know them after the “Pilot”! The end scene, however, would have to take place after Riley moved into her apartment. However, the way that the scene was shot, the one piece of dialogue that places the episode later in the series occurs when you can’t clearly see Gabriel say “now that Amelia’s gone” so that could have been added later.
None of those scenes felt particularly off, but they did seem like excessive exposition this far into the series. That said there were lots of great moments in the episode. I particularly loved Nelson saying that Lillian was a “Disney villain” when she not only wouldn’t apologize but turned the tables on him! Actually Helgenberger was fantastic in this episode as Lillian once again rooted out wrong-doing in a government agency. Once again, another government agency is seen to be ruthless, putting results ahead of human lives. I’m always happy to see Nick Searcy, who you may recognize from Justified, but I was disappointed that he played the bad guy, Carter.
In direct contrast to Carter’s dismissive attitude to collateral damage, Nelson is in the field, working directly with the infected. Byrne was great in this episode and got to show a little more range as Nelson. We see him with that silly cyber-hat, but we also see that he is deeply affected by the deaths of the innocents and is determined to save young Django (Sayeed Shahidi). Riley makes a crack about the virus being a good example of why you shouldn’t tamper with nature and immediately regrets that she may have hurt Gabriel’s feelings. Again, something that felt like an early relationship moment – but Gabriel isn’t offended. And in fact, Gabriel, the human element, is what makes the chip. Shenendoah also remarks to Lillian that he’s worked his whole life to make humans better, stronger, and faster, but whoever made the virus made it as a weapon of mass murder.
In fact, it is because Gabriel is human that everyone is nervous about sending him out in the field to catch Luther (Ronnie Gene Blevins) when he might also contract the virus. Lillian is the only one, other than Gabriel, who is comfortable with it. Shenendoah is terrified his cyber-son will die. Riley is not at all sure she can protect him from such a threat. Even Weatherly (Tomas Arana) is against risking the asset. Both Lillian and Gabriel believe that his primary purpose is to save lives – and he can’t do that sitting at a desk. Weatherly’s concern is for the entire Cyber Com operation, however, not Gabriel’s life.
This episode also featured the team working seamlessly together. I really like that it never feels forced or contrived that every member contributes. It would be nice to see Jameson (Michael Rady) get back out into the field to help though. One of the other elements in the episode that made it feel like it should have come earlier was all of the references to Riley and Gabriel’s partnership. I loved Riley’s attempts to keep Gabriel safe by forcing him to wear gloves, which he only does after she puts hers on first. Perhaps my favorite exchange in the entire episode is Gabriel complaining that Riley tackling him out of danger is emasculating! She then accuses him of saying he’s a girl and compliments him on looking pretty! The chemistry between Ory and Holloway continues to be one of the highlights. It’s also fitting that Gabriel insists they can’t be partners if Riley doesn’t let him save her from time to time too.
Finally, the episode also features Weatherly complimenting Lillian on her big win. Lillian immediately and self-deprecatingly says the win is for the country. However, Weatherly insists that she’s “expanded the purview of Cyber Com with Clockwork” and goes on to state that the only thing that worries him more than a single agency with too much power is a single agent with too much power. Lillian asks if he’s referring to her or Gabriel. Of course, he’s actually talking about both. This scene also seems like it must have come before Weatherly adding Tetazoo (Lance Reddick) to the mix and Weatherley’s concerns over Gabriel having too much autonomy and whether Lillian could control him.
Overall, I thought this was another great episode. Great fight scenes and an interesting villain and case. I’m still very much enjoying that while Gabriel is obviously unique and integral to the story, he’s still helped at all stages by his fellow agents. The acting is great, and there is terrific chemistry between the whole cast, but especially Ory and Holloway. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!