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Salerno’s Essential Insights - “Persons Unknown” – Episode1.01 – Pilot- Recap

The Cube reloaded?

For those who have never seen it “The Cube” and its sequel “Cube 2: Hypercube” are about a group of people who find themselves trapped in a crazed maze of booby trapped rooms with absolutely no memory of how they arrived there. The premise is basically for them to utilize each of their individual skills to their advantage to somehow make it out alive. For those ready to explore the mysteries of “Persons Unknown” these movies make a good primer for what we are likely to see over the next 13 episodes. With that in mind, let the bafflement begin:

Were not on an Island, but we are definitely LOST

The cast of NBC's 'Persons· Unknown'
Credit: NBC·

Wait a second…people waking up somewhere and they have no clue where they are really at or why they have been brought there, what a concept! Either I am having a severe case of déjà vu, or I have seen this scenario play out before. Let’s hope this one plays out in a way that keeps us all interested. This go around, we have all new players to deal with:

Janet Cooper (Daisy Betts)
Joe Tucker (Jason Wiles)
Sergeant Graham McNair (Chadwick Boseman)
Moira Doherty (Tina Holmes)
Tori Fairchild (Kate Lang Johnson)
Charlie Morse (Alan Ruck)

I wouldn’t get to into remembering everyone until we have some idea who is going to survive this impending debacle.

Our first victim is Janet Cooper and we luckily get some background on why Janet ends up in the hotel. We find that a creepy guy (who I am about 20% sure is sporting a Members Only Jacket) is stalking her and her daughter Meghan at a playground. He has apparently been hired by Janet to look for her husband and wants more money from her to find him. Janet seems to believe that her husband may have also hired Mr. Creepy and that’s why he cannot seem to locate him. After their brief discussion, she begins to frantically search the playground for her assumed now missing daughter. After chasing after an insidious decoy balloon she is captured and drugged by two thugs. We are then given our first glimpse that someone else is watching.

Janet wakes up in a rather drab hotel with apparently no Television, which tells us right away that this place in going to blow. Luckily, she is helped out by the mysterious Joe (Han Solo/Starbuck/Sawyer) Tucker. He is the first to get out of his room by finding a key in the Gideon Bible in his room desk. Hmm..a key in the Bible, is this our first major clue? Is the bible the key to understanding this? Better dust that baby off and get to reading Genesis for some answers.

So is Joe in the know? He talks about others and he is the first to “find” the key. He sure asks a Janet a heck of a lot of questions before he pulls a sliver out of her hand in his first step toward earning her trust. As they exit her room, one by one we meet the rest of our Hotelies, all seemingly victims of the same kidnapping.

How do we work this darn elevator?

Our group gets defined: the crazed soldier, Joe the bad guy and initial hero, Ferris Bueller’s old sidekick Cameron sporting a goatee (and calling himself Charlie), some bag lady and a hot blonde thrown in for good measure..

We later get a quick flash to ace reporter Mark and his morose boss, hot on the story of Janet’s disappearance. It appears He will leave no internet site unturned or doughnut uneaten until he finds out what happened to her. We do find out from him that Janet runs a daycare out of her house.

As we go back to our Hotelies, the first plan of action (instead of busting out a window) is to set off the smoke alarms. After a few minutes our heroes do what almost no one on Survivor ever does; start a fire from a few bits of wood. Apparently, in this hotel you have to heat up the smoke alarm to get a rickety elevator ride down to the lobby. Our gang gets out of the hotel and makes their way around the abandoned town. Of course, they do the predictable like trying all the phones and heading straight to the sheriff’s office where they encounter some bad ass wielding a gun.

Put you hands up I am a car salesman!

Our gun wielding maniac turns out to be a car salesman who also has been nabbed by “Them” (Looks like possibly one bad car deal too many for him). He is easily subdued by Joe, Charlie and Graham, and relates his lame tale while Charlie/Cameron chokes holds him. They exit the Sheriff's office and Janet and Joe then make their first attempt to get away from “Them” whoever “Them” might be. As they try to make their escape they both fall unconscious as the others look on. Sergeant Mcnair takes charge to do a rescue and is also knocked unconscious. The rest, including the car salesmen’s and Ferris Bueller’s buddy, all scram back into the building.

This is getting bizarre

We get another off site flash to fresh off the internet (and still haven’t found my comb or razor) reporter Mark interviewing the very creepy grandma of Janet’s child (who seems like she might be in on this). She would appear to have some motive since her daughter had cut her off, falsely accusing her of abuse (a little broken hair brush beating never hurt anyone). Her daughter’s disappearance gives her a chance to now play mommy to her granddaughter.

Back in fun town, our passed out heroes are picked up and brought back to the hotel by a crew of Chinese guys in a van who give the Hotelies back their gun and then go right in to the restaurant. We then come to find out that all of our “guests” are sporting implants. Moira seems to have more knowledge than she should about bio metric implants. After an “Ill show you my implant if you show me yours” session, our mysterious Chinese guys invite all the Hotelies in for a bite to eat.

Do we even have reservations?

The Chinese guys seem to be whipping up a pretty nice meal when our gun wielding car salesman pulls the shotgun on them and corrals them all into the kitchen (His ire could stem from some pent up Toyota issues). They eventually pull him off, and everyone sits for a nice hostage meal. You get the feeling that although there are no pot stickers the fortune cookies are going to be awesome. Of course each cookie has a message:

-Your wife is waiting for you
-Your judgment is a little off at this point
-You will soon win a high prize or award
-By helping someone you will also help yourself
-Something unknown in Chinese
-A grouping of Numbers
-May the road rise to meet you

The groups leaves the restaurant and meets a rather odd and strangely calm night manager who shows them the ledger indicating they were all checked in at 6 pm and all were staying on the 6th floor. These are some interesting stats for us to chew on. The night manager is apparently used to falling asleep and waking up as manager of ghost town hotels for kidnapped guests. He obviously has more information, but as the first episode draws to a close we get a shot of Janet as she again looks at her fortune cookie. We find that she lied at the restaurant and her fortune really reads:

-Kill you neighbor and you will go free

Theories anyone?

We are not given a whole lot here in the first episode to really formulate any theories beyond the obvious. Janet does own a day care and was allegedly physically abused by her mother. Has she possibly done something similar to kids in her care? Is this payback? It’s pretty clear none of our “victims” have financial means, so they have not been kidnapped for money. And just where the heck are they? We already have some odd clues:

-The key perhaps is in the Bible.
-Keeping with a Biblical connection, we have the insidious number 6 popping up twice (6th floor, 6 pm check in). Should there be another 6? There are 7 guests and does this mean one of them is not really a victim and only 6 were really trapped on the 6th floor? Is one a mole?
-Someone or something is definitely watching those in the town and those related to them outside the town.
-Do we know for sure that Janet wasn’t killed by her abductors and her and all the Hotelies are trapped with her in hell? (Ok, that’s a bit too much, but you never know)

Next week will bring some additional answers and likely even more questions. Week one has got me thinking, lets see if week two keeps my interest.

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