By J. Keith Haney and Acacia Rhiannon Nokomis
“There is a moment of difficulty and danger at which flattery and falsehood can no longer deceive, and simplicity itself can no longer be misled.” – Letters of Junius, No. 35, delivered to the Printer of the Public Advertiser, December 19, 1769.
We pick up with the search party finding the grieving Leila and the corpse Michael. Carlos confirms Michael’s status as a dead man. Sophia turns away for a moment at the news. She just lost her son a few days ago and now this. Leila screams that it is Sophia who is responsible for her father’s death and Sophia coldly retorts that she has “known your father for longer than you can comprehend.” Yes, Sophia. You are ancient. We know. Then Sophia’s bad night gets worse. Dr. Lu comes up to the party to advise that Michael had made a very special withdrawal from the pharmacy: the counteragent to the biocatalyst that’s killing Martinez. A quick search of Michael’s pockets confirms that he no longer has it, which means Simon probably does. This is further confirmed by a search of Leila that also comes up empty. Carlos proposes sending a search team, but Sophia reminds him that Simon is ex-CIA. At least she’s nice enough not to remind Carlos that Simon kicked the shit out of him while tied up…and now he is decidedly untied. There is, thus, only one way to handle this: contacting Acting President Stooge (not to be mistaken for President Scroob from Spaceballs. Scroob was smarter). In the meantime, Sophia orders everyone out of Sleeper Suburbia, knowing that Simon could lead a party back to their location. She also orders that Leila be taken away from her dead father.
At the hospital, Christina is busy on the phone reassuring her son that his daddy is still sleeping. She’s doing all she can to hold herself together and protect her son from her own worry. The doctor enters and confirms her worst fears: They’re out of options and it’s just a matter of time before her husband is dead. Christina refuses to accept that, arguing that there MUST be something. The doctor eventually leaves her alone. Yes, avoid the assumed soon-to-be-widow of the President and do not make yourself a target for all of the failings of mere human medicine. After all, the Secret Service is at her beck and call, and they might know assassins.
In the Oval Office, Jarvis is going over possible replacements for Sterling with Peel, who has assembled a list of “very good candidates”. “I don’t want very good candidates…I want the best!” Jarvis proclaims. Peel just notes, “You fired the best…with all due respect.” Jarvis gets snappish at that perceived jab, saying that it makes Peel look suspicious. Guilty conscience, much? Then Jarvis apologizes…at which point, his cell phone rings. It’s his lord and master calling, so Jarvis quickly dismisses Peel from the Office so that he can scrape and bow to her in private. Sophia wastes no time in making the shit roll downhill. She fills him in on the counteragent and the fact that Simon Lee has it. Predictably, Jarvis panics and Sophia has to rein him in like a hyperactive two-year-old. With none of her usual diplomatic subtlety, she reminds him what the possible consequences could be if Martinez comes out of that coma. “You have every resource of the federal government at your command. Use it,” she tells him. Jarvis looks as though, for the millionth time, he wishes he were anyone else. To think I could have been a janitor with a nice simple life….
Speaking of shit rolling downhill, Sean and Vicki are in pursuit of the escaped virus couriers. Vicki is, as usual, logically dissecting the impossibility of reaching their goal and Sean, as usual, has a…um…”plan”. Someone should tell this kid that making shit up as he goes along does not a plan make. While the couriers did get away clean, Sean got a good look at the license plate and he is currently running a trace due to the fact that it’s a rental and rental companies have locator devices to keep track of their cars. Vicki asks how dangerous an outbreak from the Spanish Flu could be. Sean’s answer is less-than-comforting: the original outbreak ultimately killed fifty to one hundred million people and this was before widespread international travel. This particular strain is way more virulent, to boot. The doomsday scenario having been discussed, Sean finally delivers some good news: the rental car is about fifty miles ahead of them. Vicki steps on the gas.
Carlos gives Sophia a personal update. The portal is being fueled at the cost of many Sleeper lives, due to the heavy radiation. He concludes that they need to get the rest of their people over here quickly. Dr. Lu brings up her own snag to the global pandemic plan. Using the footage from the Irena Bogdanov to prove her point, the data on the effectiveness of the strain is very incomplete. The Sleepers are immune to the virus, but they need another field test to check the effectiveness against humans in more…social circumstances.
Sterling is smoking again at his house, looking at the headline of Jarvis’ swearing-in with disgust. After the last couple of days he’s had, can you blame him? He hears a noise. The average person would call it nothing. But Sterling is not average and so, he pulls his gun from his desk. After a brief bit of suspense, we learn that it’s Simon, going to the one man he knows can save the President. Sterling isn’t buying his story after all the deception, but Simon points out that he had no reason to come back unless he was sincere. He shows Sterling the counteragent. “Look, you don’t believe me, shoot me,” Simon tells Sterling. “Just get this to Martinez before it’s too late.” This prompts Sterling to take the counteragent. Sterling tells Simon to move away from the window. There’s a van parked across the street. Simon wasn’t followed, so Sterling deduces that Jarvis put a tail on him. Not just any tail: included on the team is Simon’s ex-partner (who seems to have forgotten the whole “saving my life” thing). The partner IDs Simon and the six-man team moves in, four up front and two in the back. It would appear Sophia has taken steps to make it look like Sterling is working with the Sleepers rather than Jarvis.
Sean and Vicki finally locate the couriers’ car parked at a megamall. Yeah, that’s right. A mall. Excuse me, but do you have shoes to go with this virus? They search the car, but the case is gone. However, they do find a detailed floor plan of the mall in the trunk, including details of the air circulation system. This would be the site of Dr. Lu’s field test. Alex is already inside, case in tow. She tells her partner that Sophia wants a record of what’s about to happen and directs him to the surveillance center. She tells him to meet her on the roof, afterwards. When she gets there, Alex begins the process of weaponizing the virus.
Back at Sterling’s house, the Tac Team is about to move in when the cops show up. Apparently, someone called 911 and reported an armed robbery in progress (which isn’t far from the truth). The four guys up front waste several minutes explaining themselves to the police. Simon’s ex-partner tells the cops to check his back pocket, directing him to his credentials, but still managing to sound like he’s asking a strange man to grab his ass. Meanwhile, the two agents at the back door get their asses kicked and Simon and Sterling get away.
Jarvis is understandably furious…like it’s his team that they didn’t send from the entire freaking military. After ordering the obvious (“You find them…and stop them!”), he calls up Sophia to deliver the bad news. It sounds more like calling the principal and begging her not to kill him. Sophia is even angrier at Jarvis than Jarvis was at the troops: “With all the resources you have at your disposal, you can’t find one man?!” Jarvis tells her about the complication of Sterling’s involvement. Sophia tells Jarvis that the agreement is off if Martinez comes back to the Oval Office. Jarvis tries blustering (or is that blubbering?), but Sophia reminds him that she has him over a barrel.
In their escape vehicle, Sterling wryly notes, “I didn’t expect to start the day by stealing a car.” Don’t worry; when Martinez wakes up, we’ll buy the owner a new one. Simon says that they have to assume that Jarvis is going to cut off all access to the President in the wake of the raid. The last report Sterling had was that Martinez only has a matter of hours. Simon suggests Peel as a surrogate to deliver the counteragent, but Sterling rules him out because Jarvis would be too suspicious of him. No, there’s only one option left on the table: First Lady Christina. Simon points out that Jarvis isn’t so stupid as to not think of that himself.
The subject of this conversation comes back to her husband’s hospital room to find armed troops in front of it. By order of the Attorney General, no one but central personnel goes through. Christina is extremely angry at this development…times like this, you need a friend. Good thing Sterling chooses this moment to call. “We need to talk but we can’t do it under these circumstances,” he tells her.
As Sterling no doubt anticipated, the 24-second conversation is intercepted and reported to Jarvis. As the call was heavily encrypted, it is going to take some time to find out what was said…at least a few hours. Jarvis declares that’s going to be too long and has his secretary get a location on the First Lady. The appropriate response would have been: “Your wife or his, sir?”
Things are looking just as grim at the mall. Alex is hooking up an apparatus to deliver the virus when Sean and Vicki run in the front door. Sean goes to the roof where the air units are and leaves Vicki the job of getting everybody evacuated. Before Sean can run off, Vicki even takes the time to tell him to be careful. Sean, please don’t get infected with the super virus while you’re up there…because if you do, you might come back and give it to me and I don’t want it. Alex’s partner is busy routing the surveillance footage to Sophia for the purposes of the test. Vicki does the first logical thing by pulling the fire alarm…except, nothing happens. She grabs a security guard and tells him about the threat on the building. When he goes on about how he needs to tell his supervisor, you can see the words, “Don’t make me kill you, you stupid mall cop” flash through her eyes. She persuades him to cooperate at the end of his own gun. Upstairs, Sean is spotted on the surveillance footage by Alex’s partner, who moves to intercept. Sophia has a very good idea on how he got his information. Sean comes out on the roof, gun at the ready. He spots Alex and the virus case and gets cut off from her by a shot that just barely misses his head. Maybe he should have let Vicki, the assassin, handle the gunplay while he, the hacker, evacuated everyone from the building. Live and learn. The shots keep Sean pinned down.
Christina is loudly protesting to someone on the phone about being shut out from her husband. Jarvis spots her. Yeah, he finds a screaming woman in a hallway of a hospital outside her husband’s room…what a detective. And he goes over to assure her that he will get the matter taken care of. Jarvis then begins to do a clumsy frame job on Sterling and Simon for the assassination attempt. He even tries to blame them for Coral Gables. Where his argument for security falls apart is his assertion that Sterling and Simon will come back to finish the job. C’mon, the guy is as good as dead, already, according to the doctor! Why take an unnecessary risk? In spite of these inconvenient flaws in his assertions, Jarvis manages to get out of Christina that she had been contacted by Sterling and that he wanted her to meet him at a warehouse on South Kendall Street. Anybody else would be thinking “trap”. But this guy….
Sophia picks this moment to have a little chat with Leila, who is currently tied up in the back of a delivery van. Specifically, Sophia wants to know everything Leila told Sean. Sophia plays up the fact of how much Leila reminds her of Michael (including that annoying ability to defy her and get away with it). She even uses the argument of protecting her family at all costs to win her over. Leila, being Leila, isn’t buying it and she isn’t about to sell out the one person who can stop the tragedy from coming. The only answer Leila gives her is: “Go to hell.” Sophia warns her, “Don’t choose the wrong side on this, Leila, because I will do everything I can to protect my people…my family…OUR family.” Leila flat-out tells her, “I’m not telling you anything.” Truth be told, why would she? Sophia proclaims Leila responsible for Sean Walker’s much-predicted-never-consummated-upcoming death. Sophia REALLY doesn’t know him at all, does she?
The shootout at the rooftop continues its stalemate while Vicki finally get the mall cop to get her into the surveillance center. She makes him pull the alarm, but he advises her that their best evac time is twenty to twenty five minutes. Upon being advised that the air system has a battery backup which prevents overall shutdown, she heads to the roof to back up Sean. Sean and his attacker finally run out of bullets. The attacker reloads. Sean doesn’t have a spare clip and so, he ambushes his opponent from behind and they struggle. While all this useless flailing is going on, Alex has finished assembling the virus bomb, counting down from three minutes. Sean manages to turn the gun on his attacker and make him shoot himself. Vicki finally arrives just as Alex gets away. They find the virus bomb set up, slowly counting down. Vicki advises that there are still hundreds of people down there, so they need to still disarm it, pronto. But no pressure or anything.
Sterling and Simon bring their stolen SUV into the warehouse on South Kendall. It takes only a few seconds for a spy satellite to see them. Jarvis attributes his info to an anonymous source that he refuses to share with the inner circle. Peel counters that he finds it hard to believe that Sterling would ever do anything that traitorous. Jarvis bellows that what they’re seeing right now is all the proof they need…never mind that they do not know what he supposedly knows. General Armbruster advises ten minutes on the Tac Team, but Jarvis tells them to stand down. He’s sending a Predator drone to do the dirty work here, annihilate them off the map. Armbruster protests and Jarvis tells him either to follow orders or “get the hell out!” Armbruster walks out in a justifiable huff. The drone blows up its target efficiently, nothing left but flames and debris. Jarvis once again looks regretful and then orders confirmation on the kills.
Alex slips out with the crowd at the mall, getting onto a commuter bus. Then she opens up the case. Meanwhile, Sean is having trouble dealing with the bomb Alex left behind. Vicki says, “I thought you were an expert.” Sean says back, “I hack computers, not virus-releasing – ” “Okay, okay,” Vicki says, calming him down. “Just do something. We’re running out of time.” The solution has the brutal simplicity of Sterling calling the cops on the Tac Team: several bullets put into the timer with three seconds to spare. “Sorry, I panicked,” Sean apologizes. We’re not sure why he’s apologizing, since the bug bomb got destroyed, but whatever… They do a quick search of the dead Sleeper. Vicki pulls his wallet and they finally leave.
Alex is drinking a bottled water in front of the commuter bus a little later at the new Sleeper command center. She apologizes to Sophia personally for the mishaps at the mall, but Sophia waves it off, considering that Alex still pulled it off and got them the information they needed. As the last shot suggested, she released the virus on the bus. She taped the whole mess with a cell phone camera. As an added bonus, they now have several subjects that they can autopsy for understanding the inner workings of the virus.
Dr. Lu reports that she has a solution to make the virus more widespread. The virus is lethal enough, but it kills its human hosts too quickly to really spread and a Sleeper host is totally immune. What they need is a host that is somewhat resistant to the virus who can act as a person of mass destruction – a 21st-Century Typhoid Mary. They need a Sleeper/human hybrid. Good thing they have Leila, eh?
Christina goes by the hospital gift shop on her way to see her husband. She calls off her security detail to do it privately. She goes up to his room with a bouquet of flowers in hand. The guards let her in with no hassles. The doctor tries to tell Christina that there is no hope, no signs of any higher brain activity. Christina refuses to give up hope even now…one might even say suspiciously so. He leaves at her prompting.
The Tac Team swoops into the flattened, burning warehouse to confirm the kills. The only thing they find is a torched SUV with no bodies inside. Where’s my dead Sterling? Where’s my dead Simon? The answer is in what was the floor of the warehouse: a service access tunnel secured by a steel door. In other words, the perfect bomb shelter/escape route. Jarvis barely has time to digest this bit of unwelcome news when he finally gets the decryption back on Sterling’s call to Christina. It plainly spells out that Jarvis has been played – Christina had been Sterling’s accomplice all along. “She lied to me,” Jarvis quietly whines. Oh, she lied to you? You, the man who tried to kill her husband…twice?! Definitely not a smart guy.
Back in the hospital room, Christina says a quiet prayer as she injects the counteragent into her husband. Through a flashback, we see that Simon slipped it to her at the gift shop while giving her the bouquet, enabling her to get it past the troops.
At the Sleeper command center, Leila is being given a dose of something, herself. While being strapped down to a table, she is infected with the Spanish flu to begin the killing process.
Cliffhanger. Just once, we’d like to end a review without that word….
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