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The Whispers - Traveller in the Dark - Review: "Acts of Desperation"

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This episode was about a father desperate to save his little girl. I thought the performances and writing did a fabulous job of conveying that desperation. It ended on a note that would have made it a satisfying season finale that set up the second season nicely.

It’s always been clear that Wes and Minx had a close relationship. Their relationship was strained by Wes’ affair, but I always had the sense that it was as important to Wes to mend his relationship with Minx as it was to mend his relationship with Lena. The episode opened with Wes comforting 4-year-old Minx when she has a nightmare. Wes gathered his little girl into the safety of his arms. He didn’t just help her shake off her bad dream he gave her a weapon she could use to fend off her fears when he wasn’t there. It was such a sweet scene, and I knew right then that the rest of the episode was going to be heart-wrenching.

At the facility, Wes begs someone to believe him that Minx could NOT be Drill. He asks Claire to talk to Minx to find the evidence to save his little girl. She agrees. But despite the fact that Minx is shaking with fear, this little girl just can’t take the easy road. (Not that anyone would have believed her if she had.) She’s smart. Minx knows that no matter what she says it won’t prove that she’s innocent. I love that she knows that in our legal system they are supposed to prove she’s guilty.

Claire asks about Orion, and Minx balks at the questions. She expresses a thought that I suppose has been on her mind since her parent’s problems started. Minx doesn’t believe that Claire really wants to help her, because she thinks Claire wants to be rid of her so that she can be free to be with Wes.
Smart kid. She’s wrong, but it is a consideration that many adults believe is beyond an 8-year-old. I think it’s that intelligence that makes it so easy for Frommer to believe she is Drill.

We finally get a full understanding of how the reporter, Goetz, got involved and what he believes the truth of his story is. He believes Drill is an acronym for a secret government nuclear testing program. He tells a member of the FBI his theory, and the FBI Agent says “Okie Dokie, you are free to go.” At this point I lost all respect for this reporter. Honestly, you come across a secret government program that involves children being hurt then rounded up, and taken from their families and you really think the government is going to let you walk away without trying to stop you from telling the story? Is this the first conspiracy story this guy has ever handled? I was so disappointed that Goetz didn’t immediately realize his “facts” must be wrong otherwise the government would try to stop him from telling his story.

Luckily for him, Sean is capable of looking at the bigger picture. He wants his kid back, and he sees a way to do it. What really surprised me was that Sean was able to get his plan past Agent Rollins. He wants to tell the reporter the truth about Drill, because he knows that the White House will be contacted for confirmation, and, the moment that happens, the children will have to be sent home.

Claire interviews Silas and Henry, and both confirm that they saw Minx doing bad deeds. Silas’ testimony is most damning, because he saw Minx kill Dr. Benavidez. Silas’ testimony also leads them to take a look at the doctor’s computer. The computer expert discovers that Minx’ file was updated after the doctor’s death.

Frommer has all he needs to order this little girl’s execution, but out of respect for Wes, he keeps his word and asks Claire for her input. I had to respect Claire here. She doesn’t want it to be Minx. For one thing, if it is Minx, then it means Wes’ daughter is already dead. Also she doesn’t want to see someone she cares about in so much pain. Despite her feelings she gives Frommer her honest opinion. Minx has been taken over by Drill.

Wes is finally allowed to see his daughter. We finally see the terrified 8-year-old that Minx really is, in this situation. She only allows her father to see how frightened she really is. She knows they’re going to do something to her, and she begs her father to save her. Wes goes to their shared protection against fear – the poem Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He asks her to say the poem with him, but she can’t think of the words just then. What makes this moment so heart-breaking for me is that Minx realizes her father is testing her. “You’re my Dad. You’re supposed to believe me.” I wanted to cry with Minx over the hit she just took to one of the building blocks of her world. I gotta tell you the look on Minx’ face when the soldier closed the door nearly made me doubt my belief that Minx was being framed. Wes steps into the hallway and completely falls apart. This sequence was some of the best work in the series in my opinion.

The President is still feeling guilty for not ‘taking the shot when they had the chance’ (killing the little boy while Drill was taking possession.) So when Frommer tells him they know who Drill has possessed and how to kill it, the President gives the go ahead.

Wes gets Claire to help him in a last ditch effort to save Minx, but she’s gone when they get back to her room. Soldiers throw them off the base. If Frommer were right about Minx, I’d say he is right not to let Wes be there when they destroyed Drill. I’m right there with Wes when he breaks down as he watches the weapon that will kill his little girl is being driven onto the base. Claire and Wes decide to try and convince the President to give them time to try and get Drill out of Minx instead of killing her.

Sean tells Goetz the full story about Drill. The President responds as predicted and calls a press conference. He also orders, as Sean predicted, the other children be sent home. Goetz tells Sean about the first family’s code names. We finally find out what Orion means. Orion is the Secret Service code name for Cassandra, the President’s daughter. He lets Claire know right away.

Drill is in the White House and headed to a ringside seat for the press conference.

Wes heads for his child while Claire tries desperately to stop the press conference. She realizes that the reason Drill waited to possess Cassandra is that Drill’s plan B is using the internationally broadcast press conference to send its signal. (I’m guessing that because satellite’s would be involved in sending the signal Drill’s people will hear it from space.)

Before the press conference begins Cassandra offers her father some support. She tells him what he always told her when she was scared. "Be Brave." Um. I prefer Wes' poem. Claire realizes she has no hope of getting anyone to listen to her, so she just takes off for the pressroom. It is another act of desperation in an episode all about desperation.

I spent this episode wondering how these soldiers could follow their orders given the ‘villains’ are little kids. It’s not a bunch of teenaged gang bangers. These are little kids. Especially the guys pushing Minx’s gurney into position as this 8-year-old girl openly cries and recites Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to herself. Finally, one soldier breaks. The soldier responsible for pushing the button says he can’t do it. Frommer steps up to do the deed. He has been the most able, of all the characters, to separate himself from the instinct to protect a child. I think it is a good trait for the Secretary of Defense but I do want to punch him sometimes.

I suddenly understand (on more than an intellectual level) why security perimeters have layers. Claire runs all out, but she’s tackled before she even makes it to the actual pressroom. Drill lets The President reveal to the world that they have been fighting an alien enemy that has been defeated before she steps in front of the podium and sends the signal. Henry, watching the conference with his father, asks what it means. Sean says simply, “We’re in trouble.”

Wes gets his daughter. I loved that he didn’t waste time looking for her clothes. He wrapped her in a blanket and got her out of the lion’s den as soon as he possibly could.

The final scene of the episode was another scene with 4-year-old Minx. Minx, possibly fighting another bad dream, stands at her window reciting the poem. When Wes asks if she had another bad dream, she tells him she’s not scared. Wes promises that if she ever needs him he will always be there. I loved seeing that scene moments after having seen Wes keep that promise.

I thought this was a fantastic episode. Although, I did find myself wondering why Secretary of Defense Frommer did NOT recognize Orion as Cassandra’s code name.

My biggest problem with the episode had nothing to do with the episode itself. It was spoiling a major element of the episode in the preview. 98% of this episode was about determining whether Minx was really Drill or not, and they answered that question in the preview at the end of “Homesick”. I can’t think the showrunners were happy about this one. Are the people responsible for episode previews idiots, or do they have no respect or consideration for the audience?

Luckily, the writers did such a good job of handling the emotional elements of the story that it was still an emotional roller coaster ride for me, but how much better would the viewing experience been if the answer to the major story question of the episode had not been answered before the episode started!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the episode.

About the Author - Prpleight
Prpleight is a screenwriter and senior software engineer with solid geek cred. When not writing code, screenplays, or watching TV (sometimes she does all three at the same time), she uses her broadsword Bessie to battle evil. She's been a frequent contributor to the SpoilerTV discussion boards for several years now. Currently, she's reviewing Stitchers and Major Crimes.
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