“The Black Mandala” (Episode 107)
July 18, 2018
Last week’s episode, we saw Holly having to choose between the life she had to give up because of an accident and the world she wasn’t sure she wanted to be a part of anymore. After Mara was able to convince her that her sister needed her and that if she stayed she would end up dying in the program as well, she went back. We also met Chris — not only Holly’s therapist but also Mara’s ex-boyfriend, wondering if we will see more of him in the upcoming episodes. If they grow closer how will Paul handle that cause we can all clearly see that he really cares about Mara. Now if you thought I forgot, I didn’t, that big bomb they left us with at the end of the episode. Ray, he is still alive and I wonder how this will get tied into the upcoming episodes.
I hope you are prepared with all the essentials for this recap, it’s going to to be a long one. Without further adieu spoilers ahead.
Paul is dragging Mara through a forest and Mara is confused as to what they are doing and once in a clearing Paul, steps up unto a tree stump. He puts his arms out and starts to lean forward. Balancing on the edge of the trunk and not falling over. He’s been working on it in the program for weeks to defy gravity. Mara is confused on how he is doing it because she didn’t think they were able to fly in the program. Paul explains that they didn’t believe people would be able to fly in the Reverie program because there wasn’t a premise for flying, we don’t believe in it. Though, in the program anything is possible we just have to convince ourselves that we can fly and believe in it. Paul has been working to trick the left side of his brain from taking over when he is trying this.
He brought Mara into his Reverie to remind him that none of it is real so he can try and master flying. Again on the tree stump he puts his arms out and begins to lean forward. “None of this is real,” he says and Mara repeats as he leans forward more so he is only touching the stump with his toes. He repeats himself as does Mara and before you know it he is levitating in the air. They are both super excited and then Paul looks at the ground and falls forward. He’s going to have to practice more before he gets to actually flying. They leave this Reverie and head back to the library excited about the achievement they just had.
Paul reaches for another Reverie door that has a glowing red handle “See you back in the office” he says and opens the door. The door closes behind him and the program begins to glitch and Mara looks around. When she looks back at the door Paul just went out it’s different, the door is metal and the handle is now black. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this door does not belong here. Cautiously Mara enters, she is taken into what looks to possibly be an abandoned car garage or warehouse. Mara turns around and the door is gone. “Help, someone please help,” Mara hears a voice calling out. She goes to find it.
At Onira Tech, Paul comes to Mara’s office thinking he found the solution to why he wasn’t able to stay afloat longer. Expecting to find Mara there to talking with him instead he finds her still in the program. Paul is confused to why she is still there. –What is going on and what happened with the program? Is Mara trapped?– Mara is running toward the voice. She finds a steel door with a sliding speak hole, she moves it and finds a boy ties to a chair in an empty room. He needs her help to get him out of there. She tries to open the door but she can’t get it to open.
The boy asks Mara where he is, she’s confused why he doesn’t know where he is. Ehmet (Ben J. Pierce), the boy, explains to Mara how he got there. He was blindfolded and put into a van and then brought to this location. Mara asks him about the Reverie program if he had ever heard about it and he has no idea what she is talking about. She explains to him that he is inside of a program and that none of what he is experiencing is real. He thinks she is lying just like the soldier that has been questioning him. “What soldier?” Mara asks. –Ya what soldier, the viewers and myself would like to know what the heck is going on here.–
The soldier has been questioning him about an attack that happened on an air base. Ehmet doesn’t know anything that the soldier is talking about. The soldier is with the US Military and says that Ehmet is an enemy combatant. –Anyone else feeling like Monica Shaw is meddling with the program again. Not a good feeling.– Mara explains to Ehmet that he is able to leave that all he has to do is say exitus. He does but nothing happens, he doesn’t leave. He calls Mara a liar and so she tries it — she can’t leave either. Then the program begins to glitch out, she promises Ehmet that she will be back for him. She’s back in Paul’s Reverie library and the door is back to the way it was with a glowing red handle. She grabs the handle and wakes up in her office.
Paul is there waiting for her. Paul wants to know where she was but Mara doesn’t know where she was. Now Mara is explaining the warehouse and Ehmet to Charlie, Lexi, and Paul. Lexi asks if the boy could have been an avatar and Mara is determined that the boy was real. Charlie asks how the boy got there and Mara tells him about the soldier that has been questioning him. Paul wants to know about what but before Mara can answer Charlie wants to know how Mara found herself in the Reverie to begin with. Lexi chimes in “it could be a case of East Berlin.” Crossed Reveries, when one of the thousands of Reverie’s IP addresses accidentally cross with another it’s a one in a million glitch but it has happened. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Ghostbusters taught us a generation ago – NEVER cross the streams!!] Mara wants to know if Paul and Lexi would be able to find the original Reverie and send her back in.
Now in Paul’s office they recruit Dylan’s help searching for Ehmet. He finds that Ehmet is a popular name in Turkey as well as Syria. Paul asks Dylan to search the internet for family members who could possibly be searching for an Ehmet that was kidnapped or went missing. Charlie warns them that maybe searching for this boy isn’t a good idea. Dylan chimes in with all the missing person pictures of teen boys named Ehmet. He runs them on a computer screen in Paul’s office until Mara finds the ones she is looking for. Ehmet Alwad is a 16 year old Syrian refugee living in Canada, he’s been missing for a week and was detained at the Los Angeles Airport. While Dylan is filling Mara in on Ehmet, Paul and Lexi found the IP address connected to Ehmet it’s not registered to a person it’s registered to the government. –Hi Monica Shaw, we see you and Lexi isn’t happy.– Mara makes the connection to Monica Shaw looking directly at Charlie.
Monica Shaw is brought into Onira Tech where Charlie and Lexi talk with her. Monica is curious to find out how they learned of the governments use with the Reverie program. Charlie evades her answer and turns it back to her wanting to know if they are using the program for interrogations. Apparently there is a pilot program being run within the government but she doesn’t oversee it, she wasn’t even sure if it was operational yet. Lexi chimes in that the program wasn’t designed to be used for interrogations. Charlie isn’t happy and he makes it known to Monica that he knows that the program is perfect for interrogations. All they have to do is put someone in the program and they can do what they want and there will never be a trace left on them. Rough them up, get the information, get out, and no one would believe the person afterwards.
“No one is getting roughed up,” Monica says. –Oh so you do know something, Monica. Have I mentioned how much I don’t really like her.– She says that there are guidelines and that the program is supervised. Lexi doesn’t agree, the program is being used by people who don’t understand how it even works. She informs Monica that the program can screw up someone’s mind if the people who are using it don’t know what they are doing with it. Monica mentions that the window is short and the use of the Reverie program can keep the military ahead of the enemies. She also throws the contract at them, there isn’t a discussion about this — the D.O.D can use the program how they see fit. Lexi storms out of Charlie’s office pissed and no one can blame her; Charlie isn’t happy either. After Lexi leaves Charlie reminds Monica that she wanted to use the program to help soldiers with PTSD, she does but she doesn’t control everything the D.O.D does. –As if that is a satisfactory answer for what you are doing Monica. Shady, shady, shady.–
Mara is walking the halls of Onira Tech when her phone rings, it’s Chris. –I guess they are still in communication.– Chris wants to get together with Mara to talk later. She’s smiling the entire call. Mara walks into Paul’s office to find out if he has any progress with the code but he hasn’t apparently the military has modified the code. “Monica Shaw is evil” Lexi says stomping into Paul’s office. –Yes Lexi Monica Shaw is very evil she is also very shady. So this shall be interesting.– Lexi is onboard to help Paul with whatever it is that he is doing, well that is coding and Lexi is just the person to help with this task. Lexi also drops that Paul is doing it all wrong and she sits down to get to work.
Paul and Mara go to work in another area. Mara had been thinking about what Ehmet had said about the attack on an air force base. Which led her to find articles about an attack on a US base in Turkey which was believed to be done by a group that used Syrian refugees and trying to radicalize them. Paul asks if this is what Ehmet did, Mara firmly believes that Ehmet has no idea what the soldier was talking about and isn’t involved. Paul is concerned that even if they can figure out how to get Ehmet out of the program they don’t know where he is. They’ve blocked the trace on the IP address and would still have him in custody. Mara tells Paul he is just going to figure out where they have him, he’s not really sure how he is going to do that.
Lexi has broken the code and has made it so Mara can get into the Reverie again with Ehmet. She secured a Mandala at the entry point, this will be her only way to be able to leave as they’ve deprogrammed the use of exitus. Lexi warns Mara that whomever did their coding has made changes to the program and she may finds “surprises” along the way so she needs to be careful. Mara holds up the tablet — “apertus” — and nothing the tablet flashes but she still awake in her chair. She tries again, same result. Paul comes to the conclusion that there can’t be more than two people in a Reverie at once so that means someone else is in the program with Ehmet. “The interrogator.” In the program with Ehmet we see the interrogator enter the room he is being held in. Ehmet is clearly worried, he hopes it’s Mara but it’s not. Now the interrogator knows that Mara was in the program.
Mara was able to get in touch with Ehmet’s brother Kareem and is now meeting with him. Kareem is surprised to find out that Mara has seen his brother he wants to know that he is okay. Mara let’s him know that he is alive and isn’t in any physical pain. Kareem is confused as to what Onira Tech has to do with immigration, it doesn’t but Mara is committed to helping get Ehmet back. Mara comments on how well both Kareem and Ehmet speak English, this is because their father studied engineering at the University of Michigan. He had dreams of his sons studying there as well. Unfortunately their dad didn’t make it out of Syria with them. Mara asks Kareem if he has any idea why the people who have him would think he could be apart of a terrorist group. Kareem says there is no way — Ehmet hates violence. When they were escaping Syria their boat sank and had to fight to survive. They had to bribe people just to get to North America.
“Join a terrorist group, that’s what they were running away from,” Kareem finishes. Mara asks if Kareem knows how Ehmet was taken into custody. Kareem had bought Ehmet a ticket to come visit him but when Ehmet got off the plane immigration was waiting for him. Now I.C.E. won’t tell Kareem where Ehmet is or what is going on. He created the website looking for any information since he can’t get any from immigration or I.C.E. Mara’s phone rings and it’s Paul – the program is open but they don’t know for how long. She leaves.
At Onira Tech, Paul is filling Mara is on how he figured out that the interrogator has left the program. Lexi is trailing behind Mara and Paul she is as invested in this as they are. Unfortunately they still haven’t been able to relaunch the voice commands so her only way out will be the Mandala, if not she will be stuck. Mara asks if they got her the things she needs, Lexi let’s her know that it should all be there once she gets inside. She also reminds Mara that there could be surprises once she is inside and to be careful. “Lexi, I didn’t know you cared,” Mara says with a smile and Lexi walks away. –We are starting to see a new side of Lexi each week and I love it. Beneath that rough exterior there is a friend who cares. She just doesn’t always know how to express it.–
Apertus. Now inside the program, Mara looks around to remember where the Mandala is located. At her feet is a backpack and she picks it up. “Thanks Lexi.” This is the bag filled with the things she asked for. Mara goes looking for the room where Ehmet is being held. She finds him and tells him to hold tight while she tries to get inside. She uses a crowbar to breach the door and bolt cutters to free Ehmet from the chair. Ehmet picks up the crowbar and backs away from Mara. He believes she is lying about the program, the interrogator made him believe that she is trying to trick him. She’s trying to help him but he doesn’t see that. Ehmet runs out of the room and Mara goes after him.
Switch locations to Onira Tech, Monica Shaw is getting off the elevator with a burly looking man. Charlie is down the hall and spots Monica and approaches. Monica introduces the man as Drew Sullivan. Drew is there to talk to the team about Mara Kint. In a conference room Lexi and Paul join them. Paul questions if Drew is with the military, he isn’t he is a contracted employee. They’ve identified a “rogue user” that has inserted herself into the program… –Cough Mara Cough; also, note that Paul looks like he could take a nap and Lexi is typing away on her phone. Can I give them a high five for not caring what Drew says. — They know that as long as she is in the program they are not able to enter. Drew believe it is Mara Kint, “Mara…I haven’t seen her. Alexis?” “Nope” “Sorry can’t help you,” Paul responds, Charlie grins after Alexis’ nope.
Drew now tries to take a legal approach with the team. He’s interrogating a terrorist threat and if the are obstructing in any way they can be charged with material help to a terrorist. Now they are a bit surprised. Charlie reminds Drew that they have a boy not a terrorist. Drew lets them know that they found Ehmet’s passport in a terror cell’s bunker. Boys are used in terror cells all the time. Now Drew demands to know where Mara is. “I think she said she was going to the Aquarium.” Paul says but Drew doesn’t take it. Lexi stands up and tells Drew that he has no idea what he’s doing because he doesn’t understand the program. She is mad because they are literally destroying someone’s mind. Drew leaves the conference room. Monica stands up telling them that she can’t protect them from the consequences of what they are doing. She wants them to get Mara out too. Charlie asks Monica before she leaves the room if it had to do with the attack on the air base in Turkey, it does and if Ehmet has anything to do with it good luck. –Oh boy hoping right now Mara’s instincts are correct and that Ehmet is innocent and this is just some misunderstanding.–
Monica leaves the conference room and she is not happy. Paul, Lexi, and Charlie leave shortly after she has cleared the area, Paul is proud of Lexi for how she handled herself. “Also I hacked his phone,” Lexi adds in with a whole bunch more technological jumble. Paul is even more proud of her and now they will be able to find out where they are keeping Ehmet. Charlie stops Paul to find out how Mara is doing. She’s doing alright but she has been in there longer than they have planned, so something must not be going right.
Back in the program Mara has found Ehmet, he went and hid in a storage room. He still doesn’t know what to believe. She needs to convince him what she is saying is true. Mara talks to Ehmet about her meeting with Kareem and their father and the journey they’ve been on to get there. To connect with Mara she tells him about someone who has come back into her life and is having a hard time trusting again. —Chris— Mara tells Ehmet she can take him to Kareem but he is going to have to trust her to take him there, he agrees. They make their way through the warehouse in search of the Mandala. They find it but before they can get to it Mara notices there are now guards watching the Mandala. –Now what and where did they come from. Must be one of the surprises Lexi mentioned.–
In the cafeteria at Onira Tech, Charlie is talking to Kareem who was there to find out the status on locating Ehmet. Charlie fills Kareem on the people who are questioning him and how they believe he was involved in a terrorist attack in Turkey nine months ago. Kareem doesn’t believe it to be possible since they were on a refugee camp far away from Turkey. Charlie wonders if they have any sort of poof that they were there. Kareem says the refugee camp was in such bad shape reporters would come there just to take pictures because they couldn’t believe the conditions. “Pictures…?” Charlie asks, knowing that maybe one of those reporters could have caught Ehmet and Kareem at the camp. This leads Charlie to Paul and Lexi to recruit Dylan to go thru any of the pictures that were taken at the refugee camp — there may be thousands of photos to sort thru but all they need to do is find one with them in it. He also asks for an update to find out if Mara is out of the program yet, “not yet.”
Back in the Warehouse, walking away from where the guards are to come up with a plan for getting passed them. Ehmet also wonders if the guards are real or not, Mara let’s him know they are just avatars and apart of the program. Ehmet is getting overwhelmed with the information and is thinking he should just give in to the interrogator and give them what he wants. He isn’t a terrorist but he doesn’t know how they are going to believe him, they didn’t listen when they told them in the airport why would they now. Mara wants to know his story so she can help them. Ehmet tells her about the boat sinking and being in the water during their escape, his father drowned during this time. Mara encourages that his father wanted him to get out of Syria so now it’s time to fight to get out of here and convince them he isn’t a terrorist.
They go back to the storage room that Ehmet had been hiding in to find anything they can use as a distraction. Mara walks out into the opening in front of the guards and clicks a flashlight on and off to get their attention and one of the guards follows her. The guard follows her into a room where she knocks him out and locks him in the room. The other guard didn’t follow, they make a run for the mandala but the program begins to glitch. As they try to make a decision the other guard begins to shoot at them, Ehmet and Mara make a run for another room. Once inside Mara checks to see if Ehmet is okay when he notices she’s been shot. Mara reminds herself that the gunshot wound isn’t real it’s only apart of the program, it may feel real but it’s not. –Looks pretty real to me.– As they are trying to think of how they are going to get beyond the guard he is now banging on the door of the room they are in.
In Paul’s office Charlie wants an update on the photo search they are doing. Dylan fills him in –have I mentioned how awesome it would be to have an AI like Dylan to help meander through day to day things, work would be soooo much easier. Okay tangent over.– He’s run facial recognition and hasn’t found anything, Paul isn’t surprised with the number of people that were in the refugee camp. Charlie also asks for an update on Mara, Paul is worried her numbers aren’t looking good and if she stays in the program much longer they will have to move her to the medical wing. –Mara you got this, figure it out and get yourself out. I am sure they are all thinking and we are all thinking there are 2 people already in the program. No one will be able to go in and get her if she doesn’t come out on her own.–
Charlie meets with Kareem again, he needs the proof they were at the refugee camp. Kareem tries to think and remembers a filmmaker that was there. His mother didn’t want Ehmet or himself to be interviewed but for fun would try to get into the background of shots. Charlie is smiling, this person may have the footage they need to help Ehmet. Charlie is able to track down the filmmaker and talk to her. He asks her if she remembers the brothers, she isn’t sure she interviewed a lot of people. He then asks if she would be able to go through her video footage in search of them, unfortunately it’s hundreds of hours and she is the only one there. “Is your footage digitized, is it searchable?” Oh Dylan, Charlie has a job for you.
Returning to the warehouse Ehmet is keeping an eye on the guard to find out where he is. He’s about five feet away from the Mandala, Mara knows that the guard is just waiting for them to come out. Ehmet is confused as to why he would be doing that. –Remember Ehmet still doesn’t understand how the program works, with the changes that has been made Mara is also at a disadvantage. Not to mention she’s been shot. Real or not she’s losing blood in the program.– Ehmet wants to know why she can’t stop the bleeding, Mara isn’t sure why either. Mara comes to the conclusion that the guard is there for her not Ehmet. She comes out of the room throwing the guard off and Ehmet charges out of the room and pushes him into the “glitch trench” the program created and he is gone. They still have to figure out a way across the trench. Ehmet goes back to the storage room and find a long board that reaches across. Mara is getting weaker she needs his help across, he gives her a piggyback ride. As they are walking Mara encourages him that he is able to do this, that none of that is real. With each step “none of this is real.” They make it to the other side and he puts her down, together they walk to the Mandala. Ehmet is scared to touch the Mandala because of what is on the other side, Mara promises she will find him and help him on the other side.
Mara touches the Mandala and gets out, Paul is waiting for her when she wakes up. She lets him know that Ehmet is out of the Reverie, Paul let’s her know that there is good news on that front. Mara goes to get up but is in a lot of pain. She lifts up her shirt and there is a large bruise where she was shot. Paul is confused as this hasn’t happened before and they will look into it, he isn’t concerned. –I call BS Paul is super concerned as A. this hasn’t happened before and B. this is Mara and he cares about her A LOT.–
Charlie and Lexi are in a lobby of a building waiting for Drew Sullivan, when he comes into the lobby he is surprised to find them waiting for him. Charlie has footage of Kareem and Ehmet on the refugee camp that is dated three days before the terrorist attack on the base. Lexi drops a whole bunch of knowledge on Drew as to why it couldn’t possibly be Ehmet and how they have the wrong kid. Charlie brings the law into play to Drew as Ehmet is underage. Drew takes what Charlie is saying with a grain of salt and goes to walk away. Then you would never guess who walks up, Monica Shaw to the rescue. She has shared the footage with the joint chiefs, they are concerned as to what Drew has been doing with the program and needs to be reevaluated. –Monica Shaw I could hug you right now.– Monica excuses herself and Drew. “That was badass,” Lexi says under her breath and Charlie agrees. –Kayla agrees with Lexi that was awesome and you helped an innocent boy too.–
At Onira Tech, Mara gets a text from Chris wanting to know if she’s still wants to get together later. Before she can reply Monica Shaw interrupts her and she turns around, Monica has brought Ehmet to see Mara. They run into each other’s arms for a big hug. Ehmet doesn’t know how to thank her for saving his life. Mara reminds Ehmet of how strong he is and to never let anyone tell him otherwise. When she finishes Kareem has joined them and is super excited to be reunited with his brother.
Monica asks Charlie if the bartender is on duty, of course, and they head to his office. She lets him know that they are suspending the interrogation program for the time being. Charlie has a smile on his face and Monica was sure that information would make him happy but that’s not why he is smiling. Lexi said something “the odds of two Reveries crossing accidentally are one in a million. The odds of that happening while Mara is in the program well that’s impossible.” So maybe Monica is really looking out for the use of the program and just has an even tougher exterior than Lexi. Monica didn’t like the program anymore than they do, but she gives a bit of a non-denial denial.
At Mara house, Chris is over and they are catching up a bit over what looks to be Hostess donuts and apple juice. Mara explains her day with the refugee boy and how it was a team effort helping him. Something is changing with Mara and she is starting to feel again. She tells him that she went to see Ray in the hospital, she’s not sure why she went but she needed to. She is also excited that she got shot, Chris is concerned if she’s alright. She is and sometimes you just have to be ready for what comes. Chris leans in and kisses Mara, next thing you know they are making out his shirt is off and the episode is over.
All my feelings and then maybe a few more.
I’ve been waiting for this episode because we had to know that eventually the program was going to be used in a way that didn’t sit well with the creators. Nothing against the Department of Defense, it was just bound to happen. The limits for the different ways the program could be used is long. Using the program to get information without that person’s knowledge, not good. There are great risks with advancements in technology and we saw those tonight. We may not have the capabilities of Reverie right now but that doesn’t mean it’s not far off. I was happy to see at the end of the episode that Monica Shaw was on the team’s side with how the program was being used. She may have had to deny it but she had Ehmet’s best interest at heart. We saw a new side of her here.
Now aside from that we saw Mara get injured in the program and in reality what doesn’t that mean for future trips into Reverie. What would have happened if she had stayed in the program a little longer and had to be brought the medical wing? These are things that could become a problem in the future. Now did this happen to Mara the way it did because she was in a modified version of the program? Lots of questions we probably won’t get answers to right away.
Now the elephant in the room….Chris or Paul. I mean we know how the episode ended between Chris and Mara but, is Chris the guy for her? There is obvious chemistry between Paul and Mara but they work together so is that a good idea? Tho Chris is a piece of her past should she be moving forward not backwards. I’m so torn. AHHHH.
We only have 3 episodes left before the end of the season. I am excited to see where the season goes, I’m sure we are not done with Owen Hill yet. He’s up to no good. Until next week…