Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Zero Hour 1.04: Chain

 

[spoilers ahoy]

Recap: We start with an extension of the pilot’s teaser, the flashback to 1938. After the mysterious something is pulled out of the water, it’s loaded into a truck. Hank’s Nazi forbear is driving it out, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style, when he’s accosted by a fanatical Nazi colleague. That man is shot by what turns out to be another Apostle. He and Nazi Bartholomew (AKA Corbin Stern) bust out of the compound, but the other Apostle is fatally wounded – right after confirming he’s sent the other clocks to the other Apostles, and Bartholomew warns him they need to stay alive and out of sight as part of an unbreakable “chain” to the relic they’re transporting. Oh, well. Zero out of two ….

Bartholomew takes his cargo and dying colleague to a church in a place called “Wismer” in Germany, where he tasks the local priest to get a discreet doctor. But it’s too late and Bartholomew is forced to find a new Apostle at a fisherman’s bar in a most unlikely young man – a fanatical member of the Hitler Youth. Bartholomew gets the youth to take his cargo on a boat, but then some police show up.

At first, the young man pulls a gun on Bartholomew, sure he’s a traitor to the Reich. Bartholomew offers to show the young man his cargo. This effects a profound change in the young man, who becomes a believer and lies to the police for him while Bartholomew hides.

Later at sea, Bartholomew passes on the mantle of Matthias to the young man, giving him the Apostle’s clock and counseling patience, as a U-Boat rises from the water behind him.

In the present day, Laila and White Vincent are driving through Upstate New York. Vincent is wounded, so Laila wants to take him to a hospital. Instead, he has her call Hank and force him to find two more clocks. If Hank doesn’t, Vincent will put two bullets in Laila’s head.

They bust into a farmhouse, where Vincent zip-ties Laila to a column and then does some DIY surgery on his thigh. I roll my eyes. Really, show, since when has that trope ever been remotely realistic?

Later, he tosses her a sandwich, as she points out he’s still got a bullet in his back. She says her father was an ER doctor and babbles about infection. Not even Vincent showing her one of his white eyes stops her trying to do what he recognizes as trying to establish a human connection between them, to stop his killing her. Exasperated, he calls Hank and tells him he’s moved up the timetable, which appears to silence her. But eventually, she’s able to convince him to let her help him. She points out that if he is able to make her hate him, he wins, and she has no intention of allowing that.

She’s able to take out the bullet, though he repays her by zip-tying her back to the column. But she then outwits him by freeing herself of the zip-ties and escaping.

Meanwhile, Beck is arguing with her superior at the FBI about opening the files on her husband’s plane crash. He points out the obvious – just because Vincent told her something was hinky about her husband, that doesn’t mean it’s true, seeing as how Vincent’s one notable trait is being a manipulative psychopath. He suggests she go out there and get her answers from Vincent (because that’s worked so well, so far).

Beck tries to do an end run around him by going to her assistant, Paige Willis, but Willis wisely refuses to get involved – at first. Later, she shows up with records from Russiyana Flight 71 and they go through them, looking for clues.

After discovering that one of the gears in their current clock is made of gold (while Boy Friday, Arron, muses about the goals of the Shepherds) Hank and his assistants take it to a jeweler’s. The man tells them it was once a common smuggler’s tactic to smuggle wealth as gold made into ordinary objects. The surprising thing about this clock, though, is that each gear is made of a different metal. Hank later figures out that the code is in the symbols for each metal.

Back at the office, Hank offers his staff a week’s pay to the person who figures out the code. Not sure why he bothered, since it’s Girl Friday, Rachel (of course), who figures it out. Using the ranking of the gears inside the clock, she works out a name, ‘W. Craig Wismark,’ and ‘Germany.’

Before he can act on the information, though, Hank is accosted at his apartment by the Asian priest from the Shepherds, Father Reggie. Father Reggie pulls the old “needs of the many” dodge. Hank basically tells him to go play on a freeway. His wife is the hostage of a terrorist and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get her back.

In Germany, Hank and his assistants visit Wismer and the church there. It turns out W. Craig was the wounded Apostle from the teaser, first name ‘Wilhelm.’ He’s buried there. He was Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot. By this, Hank realizes they had to replace the dead man with another Apostle.

Rachel figures out that “Genesis 52” isn’t a real biblical passage and Hank later discovers a boat on the dock (after an enlightening conversation with Beck) called “Genesis” at mooring point 52. But when he investigates, he’s smacked over the head by a young man who was shadowing him on the street. Said young man (not being the sharpest knife in the drawer) ties him up and proceeds to beat him. When he finds the clock, he declares that Hank must be a thief because there’s no way he can be an Apostle. Well … until his dad the fisherman youth, now old, shows up and recognizes Hank. Awkward.

The New Matthias apologizes to Hank for his son’s stupidity and fixes him up. Then he gives him the clock, telling him about the lesson in patience taught by Hank’s predecessor. Reunited with his assistants, Hank leaves them with the Apostle and hurries back to New York. On the plane, he gets a text from Laila, informing him of her escape and telling him to meet her at a hotel. She says she doesn’t know whom to trust.

After a happy reunion there, which involves some romantic off-screen sex, Hank muses about what to do with the clocks. Laila warns him to get rid of them. Vincent will do anything to capture them and their lives are in danger as long as they hold onto the things. But Hank feels they are clues to a greater mystery that must be uncovered. Perhaps his lifelong fascination with mysteries ties into this greater one that involved him all along.

Laila’s attempts to persuade him to let it go take a sinister turn when Beck and Willis discover a discrepancy in the records of the flight Beck’s husband died on. One passenger, who had the seat next to him, didn’t make the flight and survived. It was an Australian woman named ‘Anna Massey’ and she’s a dead ringer for Laila.

Beck rushes over to the hotel, to find a sleepy Hank alone and the clocks gone. As we see Laila ride off in a taxi with the missing timepieces, the New Matthias tells Girl and Boy Friday what the “holy relic” was. It was the True Cross, the hunk of wood on which Christ died.

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Review: This one still had some annoying aspects, but the intriguing parts are rapidly outpacing the cliches. Too bad it took this long for the plot to really catch fire, but I suspect the show was doomed, regardless. It’s just not the year for Occult mystery. At any rate, it sounds as though we’ll at least get a complete story out of these 13 episodes. I can live with that.

White Vincent continues to annoy. He remains your garden variety psychopath and not as smart or canny as he thinks he is. That said, his plot stupidity set up a nice twist in Laila turning out not to be quite the damsel in distress we thought she was. Exit one potentially fridged wife; enter one mysterious femme fatale. Sure, the Treacherous Female trope ain’t new, either, but with practically everyone not being what they seem in this show (and there being plenty of other female characters about, too), I’m willing to hang fire to see where this goes.

I’m certainly not minding the quick resolution of the less-than-compelling kidnapping plot. That was always the least interesting part of the story, anyway, and was only intended to be a lead-in for the larger mystery. So, let’s get on with it.

We got a huge bombshell dropped in the mega-plot department this week. It probably wasn’t that big a shocker to fans of this type of fiction that the mysterious object from the pilot turned out to be the True Cross (though the sheer size of the thing was surprising; usually, these stories just involve fragments). The list of candidates for relics that holy is not long. But I liked how it was set up in juxtaposition to the new mystery of Laila’s true identity, motives and involvement in the story. Probably not much of a guess that she’s with the Shepherds, since they were forcefully reintroduced in this episode.

Finally, I know this show has gotten some nasty comments about the acting, but I thought the interactions between New Bartholomew and New Matthias were quite good, and that the flashbacks meshed well with the present-day storyline. Edwards seems calmer and more in tune as New Bartholomew than as Hank and I thought the transition of the young man from a fanatical Nazi to a believer in God was well-done. It was almost entirely non-verbal and subtextual, so it could easily have been screwed up. Thankfully, it wasn’t, and the subtext made it that much more powerful.

Next Week: Suspension: Hank is on the hunt for Laila again – but, this time, it’s not to save her.

Zero Hour airs on Saturday nights at 8pm on ABC and can also be watched on the official site.

About Paula R. Stiles

Paula is not at all paranoid about government conspiracies after six years in EMS, two years in Africa for the Peace Corps, a few summers with the Park Service, and ten years studying the Knights Templar. She's seen governments in action. They couldn't cover up a toy picnic table, let alone evidence of alien visitation. Writes about science for fun, history for money, and zombies for the company. You can read her sober-as-a-judge book about Templars in medieval Spain, Templar Convivencia, on Amazon. You can find her homepage at: http://thesnowleopard.net.

Paula R. StilesColumn: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Zero Hour 1.04: Chain