And here we have it, the grand finale to NBC’s ‘Persons Unknown’ miniseries. Was it worth watching through to the end? Does the mystery deliver all those answers promised in the network promos? Read on to find out.
The second part of the finale, ‘Shadows in the Cave’, picks up some indeterminate amount of time after the first half. Janet is seen walking down a road alone in the rain, until she passes out in the middle of the road. She has a flashback to the happy days of her marriage, where we see that Renbe was a failed author who unreasonably freaks out when she announces her pregnancy.
Janet later wakes up in a hospital in San Francisco. The doctors think she’s nuts, and that her babbling about “the Program” is an elaborate delusion she’s concocted. Of course, the fact that one of those doctors – calling herself Dr. Andrea Andrews – is actually the Director of the Program, probably doesn’t help Janet’s cause any.
Most of the other characters are on the run. Charlie and Bill cruise the highways in a stolen Mustang. Charlie finds it unsettling that Bill knows his wife’s name, even though Charlie doesn’t think he ever told him that. This is not picked up again.
Moira and Erika have made their way to Morocco. Even in such a remote location, unbeknownst to them, cameras continue to follow their progress everywhere.
Graham is trapped in the white room and is strapped to the chair with electrodes attached, as happened previously to Joe.
Joe himself has been brought to Program headquarters and shown most of this on video.
Renbe and Kat make their way to Janet’s hospital. Renbe believes this will finally absolve him of the kidnapping charges, but really Det. Gomez plans to arrest him. (Which makes little sense, because Gomez is the one who set him free earlier.)
Janet attacks a nurse and tries to escape the hospital. Meanwhile, Renbe and Kat run through the same hospital trying to avoid Gomez. This trio all encounter one another at opposite ends of a hallway. Before Renbe can talk to Janet, he and Kat are snatched by guys in blue jumpsuits. He yells for Janet to run.
Janet gets out of the hospital and makes her way to her mother’s house. Edick the P.I. is there. He explains that he’s been working for her mother all along, that her mother is somehow tied to the Program, and that they’ve been trying to keep her safe. Janet is reunited with daughter Megan. Edick drives the two of them away, supposedly to the border, but they have to stop at a motel along the way.
The Director convenes an emergency meeting of the Program’s board. Character actor Robert Picardo (the bald hologram doctor from ‘Star Trek: Voyager’) is there, wearing an absolutely ridiculous long white wig. He appears to be a former Director, who disapproves of his successor’s (who he calls “Helen”) handling of the situation. But he agrees to let her see it through.
So, this all brings us to the crazy mind-screw ending.
First, Janet wakes up to find that she’s not in the motel anymore. She’s in the hotel room in town again, and (of course) Megan’s gone. She’s quite pissed.
Joe finds himself in the hotel too, but in a completely different (yet identical) hotel. Renbe is there with him, along with a whole new batch of candidates freaking out about being abducted. Renbe tells Joe that he knows who he is. The two of them then begin Level 1 proceedings, pretty much as we saw in the pilot episode. As this group of characters make their way down to the lobby, Tori appears as the hotel manager. Weird.
What of poor Kat? She’s been locked in a small cage like an animal in the middle of a field. The Ambassador (Tori’s father) is there in another cage. He tells her they’re screwed.
In Janet’s hotel, she finds Moira, Erika, Charlie, Bill, and Graham all waiting for her. They get on their own elevator, but instead of arriving in a lobby, it turns out that their hotel set is located on a giant ship called the Almas Perdidas (“lost souls”). The elevator doors open to the deck. It’s the middle of a rainstorm, and Patchy (real name “Neal”) is standing there. “Welcome to Level 2,” he announces.
And that’s all she wrote, folks.
Did the show really answer all of its mysteries? Not at all. The final scene is a blatant set-up for a second season (which will never happen, due to horrible ratings). All of which belies the network’s claims that this was always intended as a limited run miniseries. We learned a perfunctory amount of information about who kidnapped the characters and why, but there is still quite obviously a ton of story mythology left unresolved and unexplored.
Am I disappointed? Yes and no. I don’t think I ever expected conclusive answers. This was clearly the type of thing always intended to end with some ambiguity. Do I feel like I wasted my time watching? No, I still enjoyed the show overall, even if the ending is only half-satisfying. Your mileage may vary.