‘Persons Unknown’ 1.09 Recap: Hey Joe, What Do You Know?

In ‘Persons Unknown’ this week, we’re given our most significant look behind the scenes of the conspiracy that brought our group of abductees to the strange little town they can’t leave. The Joe storyline also takes an interesting turn, and the episode ends with a cliffhanger sure to shake things up further in subsequent episodes. Yet it also leaves me with at least one major question that I just can’t reconcile.

The main development in ‘Static’ is that Joe is now back in town. After last week’s “Formal Re-Education,” he turns up in the middle of the street, stark naked, with a wind storm blowing all around him. Janet finds and leads him inside the hotel. Some of the characters are happier to see him than others, but they all expect answers out of him. He has none to offer. In fact, he looks terribly confused and claims to have no idea who any of them are.

But he does seem to remember everything prior to meeting these people. He knows all about the Program. He tries to use the “okra special” passphrase in the Chinese restaurant, and repeatedly asks for Tom, who he doesn’t realize is dead. He has a surly attitude that seems uncharacteristic for the Joe we know, and completely freaks out whenever anyone touches him. That causes him to have bad flashbacks to his reprogramming, and leads to uncontrollable violence. He beats the Night Manager half to death and almost throws Janet off a building roof until she manages to talk him back to sense.

Watching all this from behind the omnipresent cameras is a whole team of people in some sort of command center with a weird triangular logo. This of course must be headquarters for the Program. A snotty British guy named Mr. Ulrich bosses everyone around. When the Night Manager reports in that Joe is out of control and the town needs to be locked down, Ulrich is unsympathetic. He tells the Night Manager to deal with it and put everything back in order, which is clearly not something in the Night Manager’s power to do.

Ulrich himself reports to the Director, who is… Dr. Angela Barragan. That’s right, the crazy lady from the South American loony bin who liked to fling her feces around. This is what confuses me. Are we supposed to believe that Barragan was just playing a role for Renbe’s sake? If so, why? Wouldn’t someone as important as the Director of this hugely elaborate multi-national conspiracy have an underling take care of that? And why did she give Renbe a clue that led him to discover Joe’s real identity? Shouldn’t she be trying to throw him further off the trail?

These are questions that need answering. The only possibilities I can think of at the moment are: 1) Barragan believes Renbe might be a candidate for the Program, and is testing him to see if he puts the pieces of the puzzle together. Or, 2) The Director and Dr. Barragan are not actually the same person. Perhaps a case of good twin/bad twin?

Anyway, the Director/Barragan is very concerned about Joe going rogue. She describes him as one of their most promising candidates, with potential to reach the “10th Level,” whatever that is. After Joe beats the Night Manager to within an inch of his life, she orders Ulrich to take over operations in the town personally. He doesn’t seem to like that idea.

Outside the town, Renbe is arrested by the South American authorities for a trumped-up murder charge. Father Luis from Joe’s church bails him out (read: bribes the cops). He tries to sneak Renbe and Kat out of the country. As they hit the border, the evil men in blue suits shoot Luis and chase Renbe and Kat through a forest. (Yes, a forest – not a jungle, but a forest, which once again looks very obviously like it was filmed in southern California.) The two of them manage to evade the Blues. Renbe professes his love to Kat, and promises her that he’s over Janet. (Yawn.) Eventually, they wander out of the forest in search of a road, only to discover… the town!


So, now we know where the town is. It’s somewhere in South America. And it looks like Renbe’s going to strut right into it next week. Something tells me that Janet won’t be so happy to see him. As I recall, she still thinks he had something to do with her kidnapping.

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