Last week’s episode of ‘Persons Unknown’, called ‘Incoming’, gave us a peek behind the curtain at the forces in town watching our band of abductees. Just a little peek, though. The network broadcast also had a very strange and disorienting glitch that left this viewer puzzled as to whether it was an intentional part of the show or just a screw-up. I’m pretty sure it was the latter, but with this series you never know.
The episode opens with Tom, the Chinese restaurant waiter who isn’t really a waiter, spying on the characters from a secret control room. He recites Carl Sandburg’s poem ‘Wilderness’ as he switches from camera view to camera view. Somewhere in the middle of this, at least in the broadcast here in Boston, the episode briefly cut away to a scene of two socialite bimbos chatting in a limo. The way it played, this almost appeared to be something Tom was watching on his video monitor. Through the miracle of DVR technology, I was able to back up and pause on the scene, only to find that it was in fact a random clip from ‘90210’. It even had a “Starring Rob Estes” credit at the bottom. I have no idea why that happened. ‘90210’ doesn’t even air on the same network. It was frankly just plain bizarre.
Anyway, Tom can’t find Joe on any of the cameras. It seems that Joe has once more broken protocol to interrupt Tom’s spying. This won’t be the last time he does so. Joe again demands to know the plans for Janet. Tom indicates that someone is monitoring them, just as they have been monitoring the abductees.
At the hotel, Tori’s room has been completely cleaned out, as if she’d never been there. As the characters go searching for her, they spot a body lying unconscious on the edge of town in her dress. It isn’t Tori, though. It’s a black girl with a tattoo on her arm that says “Erika.” (The actress is Kandyse McClure from ‘Battlestar Galactica‘.) In cutaway, we discover that the real Tori is dead in a fountain in Italy. None of the characters know this, of course.
Ever since Charlie turned the tables on Bill, he’s taken on the role of aggressor in the relationship. Now he taunts Bill the way that Bill used to taunt him. Moira meanwhile has taken to writing all over the walls of her room with the details of everything that has happened to them, and the things they’ve learned. She suggests to Graham that someone among them may be a plant working against them.
In the real world, Renbe gets fired from the paper, and his editor/girlfriend breaks up with him. This cuts off most of his ability to research Janet’s story, but he isn’t giving up just yet. As a parting gift, the girlfriend slips him a file with some information he was looking for. Later, Renbe will go to see his daughter (who does not know him) and talk to Janet’s mother. He reveals who he really is, and promises to find Janet.
When the NotTori wakes up, we discover that she’s violent. In fact, she behaves like a feral animal. Without a word, she immediately breaks free of everyone else and tries to run out of town, only to be snapped back by the pain fence. She won’t listen to anyone’s pleas, and continues to evade them. In a glorious scene, she kicks the crap out of Bill and steals his clothes. She then runs into the Chinese restaurant, where Tom (pretending again to be a simple waiter) allows her to take a knife.
While searching for NotTori, Moira comes across a TV playing a newscast that claims the real Tori was discovered alive and well in Italy. Tori’s father is interviewed, thanking the authorities for their help in finding her.
Joe confronts Tom again, this time about what the hell is going on, what happened to Tori, and who this new girl is. Tom seems to be enjoying the situation. He hints that there will be more “eliminations,” as if this were all a stupid Reality competition program.
Fleeing from the others, NotTori is cornered in a bank and foolishly runs into the vault, with Janet right behind her. The vault door immediately locks them in. Joe and Graham frantically try to get them out with some pick-axes taken from the hardware store, to little avail.
Janet tries to talk to NotTori, who she assumes is named Erika. It’s more or less tacitly agreed that this must be the girl’s name. Or, at least she isn’t denying it. It seems strange to me that someone would have their own name tattooed on their arm, so I think she may just not want to tell her real name.
NotTori/Erika threatens Janet with the knife, and generally acts like she may be a psychopath. Eventually, Janet talks her down by telling her about her daughter. Both come to the realization that they’re stuck in this situation together, and running out of air. “Erika” lets out that she has a son that she hasn’t seen in years because she was in prison. On death row, even. In fact, the last thing she remembers is the lethal injection needles being stuck in her arm. When she woke up, she assumed she was in Hell.
As their air dwindles, Joe decides that he needs to take more direct action. He tells Graham that he’s going for help. Graham is confused as to who that would be. Joe goes back to the hotel and enters a secret code in the elevator that takes him to the basement. Moira sees him punching the buttons, and clearly understands that something strange is happening.
Joe confronts Tom yet again. This time, they get in a fight, and Joe forces Tom to open the vault door. Tom tells him that this was their test, and something bad is certainly going to happen now. What that will be, he doesn’t know. They’re just going to have to wait and find out.
Back in Italy, the ambassador identifies Tori’s body. He later receives a phone call thanking him for his cooperation. At the same time, the voice on the other end also threatens that he has to continue playing along with them, to whatever mysterious ends they desire.
With the day’s events winding down, Graham relives a flashback to Iraq in which he (almost?) kills a young boy. He decides that he’s had enough of being the soldier, and flushes his dog tags. Moira tells Graham about the TV broadcast she saw about Tori being alive. He’s skeptical of it.
Out of the vault and now bonded, Erika tells Janet that she trusts her. No matter what else should happen, she’s got her back.
With Graham and Moira suspicious of what happened, Joe’s secret identity surely can’t hold together much longer. The scenes from next week suggest that he’ll be forced to reveal himself in the next episode.
My questions: If Joe has been a mole all along, does that mean that the people in control somehow knew that Janet wouldn’t kill him when they left her the gun and note? The gun and bullets were real; she used it to shoot a camera. Did Joe know this was going to happen, or was it as much a surprise to him? Also, was he really allergic to bees at all? Hopefully, some of these questions may be answered soon.