“You Owe Me A Unicorn” (Episode 102)
January 21, 2019
Last week on The Passage, we learned a government-funded project, Project NOAH, was making “not vampires,” accidentally, in an attempt to find a super cure for a Chinese avian flu which will soon hit the United States. In order to further their research, Project NOAH tests their serums on human subjects, people that society will not miss when they go missing. Enter Amy Bellafonte, a ten-year old girl that was recently orphaned, and Brad Wolgast, the man tasked to kidnap Amy and bring her to Project NOAH’s lush Colorado compound. Brad has a change of heart and now, him and Amy are on the run from Project NOAH and the military capabilities of the United States.
Catch up on ALL of the action from last week’s pilot with our deep dive recap, here. Now, on to tonight’s deep dive recap and review of The Passage, episode 2, “You Owe Me A Unicorn” …. BEWARE OF SPOILERS!
Tonight’s episode picks up right where we left off last week, Amy and Brad (who’s been shot), driving fast in a stolen Sheriff’s car as Richards and his goon squad pursue. Using the old, “I’ll drive through an intersection as the light turns red so the bad guys behind me get stuck” trick works and Brad and Amy buy themselves some breathing room.
Thinking fast, Brad and Amy approach a school bus currently loading kids for a field trip. Brad approaches the teachers and plays an old trope:
“I’m a new single dad and stupid and forgot everything but can my little girl here go on your field trip? Also, don’t mind me bleeding from a gunshot wound on my side. Please and thank you.” – This … this is a paraphrase but essentially gets all the details right. Amy is right there with Brad, ready to play along with the single dad routine.
“Yeah, my mom ran off with her trainer. He’s 27 … has his own YouTube channel.”
God Love Her, she is precious. Somehow, their ruse works. Once on the bus, Amy pops the emergency exit hatch at the back and Brad sneaks on.
Side Note: I think someone need to take a hard look at this school’s safety protocols. How does no adult chaperone notice the strange new girl popping the Emergency Exit on the bus or the stranger dad, WHO IS BLEEDING, sneaking on?!? These School Trip Chaperones need to be sniffing less glue and paying closer attention! C’Mon Now!!
Anyway, the kids aren’t blind and one enterprising lad starts snapping photos of the strange man, who is still bleeding, who just snuck on to their field trip bus. Brad confiscates his phone.
“No phones on the bus.”
Somehow, Brad, the stranger to these children, who is still bleeding from a gaping side wound, is the best supervisor on site. I am looking at you School Trip Chaperones and I am judging you!
Project NOAH. Grey, who I thought was a military guy last week but just seems to be a zookeeper of sorts for the Virals, enters the Cells. He finds Simmons (Alex Morf) banging on the Plexiglas of Babcock’s cage. Grey warns him not to do that but Simmons doesn’t feel like heeding any advice, he’s in charge of Shana’s cage so mind your Ps and Qs.
Oh, Simmons. Shauna is going to eat you for lunch, you can just smell that justified nom nom nom coming.
Grey heads to Fanning’s cell, trepidatiously, is the only way I can describe his approach. Tim sits on his bunk in that serene, vampire way he has and opens his eyes at Lawrence’s approach.
Somewhere, in an observation room, Jonas and Nichole look at global contamination screens. Jonas narrates for us that the mortality rate is currently 30% and the Chinese Avian Flue has now hit North Korea. None of which, according to Jonas, is as frightening as the solution they’ve come up with. How is that child abduction going, anyway?
Sykes essentially tells Jonas that sometimes hard calls need to be made and she made it. So, put on your big boy pants and suck it up. Jonas remains unconvinced and walks away.
“We’re not qualified to decide what’s right or wrong. ‘Cause we don’t know the difference anymore.”
Back on the run with Brad and Amy, Brad is starting to fade as the car begins to swerve around the road. To say Brad looks really bad is the understatement of the year. Amy shares my sentiments but Brad says he’ll be fine, he just needs a little rest. He pulls the car off to the side of the road and passes out.
We come back from commercials with Clark trying to debrief the Spring Valley Elementary School field trip kids. He has one of the most honest conversations I’ve ever seen on TV with the youngster who’s phone Brad stole. Well, not the boy’s phone, as it turns out, but his sister’s phone. Also, the kid doesn’t know his sister’s phone number or his mom’s – who knows phone numbers anymore, Clark?!?
Enter the 21st Century, Grandpa!
Either way, Clark orders one of his minions to talk to the school to get the phone number – he wants to trace its location. Sykes calls Clark for a status update and he has to tell her about the shitshow at the Sheriff’s department (4 men dead). Nichole asks if they should just find another kid but Clark is a hard “no” on that.
Brad will talk and then the whole project will be shutdown. No, Clark assures his lover that Brad is injured and has a kid and both will slow him down. Richards WILL bring Wolgast in. Nichole tells him to be careful and rings off. Interestingly, the overhead lights at Project NOAH are flashing as she hangs up. Like lights do during a power drain or brownout (or in movies when they use the electric chair). In the field, Clark authorizes the goon squad to put a tap on Lila’s phone, perhaps injured Brad will reach out to her.
Cut to Lila who is finishing with a patient when she gets a frantic call from Amy. In a flurry of anxious speak, Amy explains who she is, that she’s there with Brad (who she keeps calling Agent) and that she thinks he might be dead now after getting shot.
“And everyone’s a bad guy so I didn’t know who to call.”
Lila, cool as a cucumber, works Amy through some symptoms checks to see if Brad is still breathing and if he’s still bleeding. Yes and no are the answers. She asks Amy if she knows where they are and Amy reads a road sign, they are 14 miles away from La Crosse, Wisconsin. Satisfied that Brad will probably be okay, Lila has Amy noogie Brad in the chest to wake him.
Noogies to the chest = solid medical triage!
Brad comes to and is hella-pissed about the phone call with Lila. Lila is incredulous at the statement that this doesn’t concern her and he tells Lila that Richards will for sure be watching her. He scolds that she’s not involved in this (I think more for anyone that might be listening) and then hangs up. With a delirious fury in his eyes, he smashes the cell phone to bits and tosses it out the window and then yells at Amy to get in the car.
Project Noah. Anthony Carter is getting a check up from Dr. Lear after receiving his one dose. He’s got some questions and Jonas dances around them as best he can. The sign warning of a sensitivity to sunlight among other odd side effects seems to worry Anthony more than the tracker they’ve placed in his neck. He calls Jonas on this being a totally illegal operation.
Jonas tells Anthony that they’re in a desperate situation, Anthony included.
“But why am I more scared now than I was on death row?”
As Jonas goes to leave, Carter asks him if this is how he saw his career going? Using humans as lab rats. Dr. Lear assures him that he never predicted any of this for himself.
Flashback Time! Jonas is getting dressed for a meeting with Fanning as his wife, Liz (Jennifer Ferrin … I think), pleads with him to not bring Tim into the fold. She promises Jonas that Tim will seize control and Jonas will not get what he is looking for. Lear tells his wife that he needs Tim’s involvement if they’re going to be successful and anyway, this is all to help her! Liz tells Jonas to not use her as an excuse and besides, if Jonas really wanted to help her, he’d stay home and just be with her – that is what she needs, Liz says.
Cut to Tim Fanning giving a speech to a full room on the mind and how the neurons in our brain are hallucinating our reality. A little glimpse into Tim Fanning’s world view …
“What we think of as ourselves, as our humanity, that’s just a story that our neurons are telling us.”
After the speech, we join Tim in medias res refusing Jonas’s request to accompany him to visit a South American cave for a 250-year old man (shout out to the opening scene of the pilot!). Fanning stops his bloviating when he hears that Elizabeth has Alzheimer’s Disease. Jonas explains she was diagnosed three months ago with early onset but that the disease is spreading fast. Tim is butt hurt that Jonas didn’t call him earlier, he’s a neurologist of all things, but Jonas sweeps past that – the Bolivia trip might be a game changer.
Back in the present, Brad has calmed down and explains about being tracked and why they can’t make phone calls. Hasn’t she ever seen a TV show? Amy counters that the good guy in those shows usually doesn’t pass out behind the wheel of the car.
Touche, young one.
Amy goes on needling Brad about Lila and how she seems nice and good in a crisis and how he hung up on her. “What’s your problem,” an exasperated Brad asks? Glad you asked, Brad.
“I’ve been kidnapped, shot at and chase. And the last thing I’ve had to eat in 24 hours is churros and doughnuts.”
Brad weakly covers that she also had a hot dog at the carnival but Amy is passed that – Brad promised not to leave her and passing out counts as leaving her when she thought he was dead. Motherfucker needs a plan, she tells him (paraphrasing) and also, “you owe me a unicorn.”
Brad asks if he gets anything out of their deal?
“You don’t leave me and I don’t leave you.”
Brad and Amy approach the house of an “angry hermit” who also has a bunch of goats. Brad trips a perimeter alarm on purpose and the duo approach the house with their hands raised. The Angry Hermit emerges with a shotgun raised and tells “Bradley” that she’s disappointed to hear he got shot.
Inside, we learn the woman’s name is Lacey (Kecia Lewis) and she’s got a fuckton of weaponry hanging on her wall. Brad tells her they need shelter and her response is that she raises goats now and is basically living off the land. Also, she took up painting. Brad asks her again about the shelter and she tells him to clean himself up and then he’s going to read her in on whatever shit he’s gotten himself tied up in.
Take note, Lacey does not suffer fools, people. Not even a bit.
As night falls, we cut to Clark and the Goon Squad. They’ve located the smashed phone and Richards is telling the assembled men that Brad is probably heading to Canada. Also, if they have a shot, take. Richards is giving the men a formal, “shoot to kill” order. That’s just crazy.
Project NOAH. Dr. Lear joins Dr. Syckes in the lab room. Anthony Carter’s first updated test results are already showing enhanced immunology and healing factors. Sykes shows Jonas where scar tissue from an old football injury of Anthony’s has already healed. She is gob smacked at the power they’ve discovered. Dr. Lear appreciates that power but also realizes they can’t control it; he pleads for Nichole to not use the little girl.
Sykes tells Jonas that the girl will come through, unharmed because there are no other options. Which … that’s not how science works, Nicole?!? But, I digress. She tells Jonas to get his head in the game and help finish what he started.
Flashback Time! Fanning is impressed at the early test results and he tells Jonas that this can be the cure to everything, not just Elizabeth’s Alzheimer’s. Tim tells Jonas that he can secure funding super fast but Jonas cautions that it’s paramount that they maintain control of the process. Tim tells Jonas to trust him and let him do his thing.
“Jonas, we’re gonna change the world.”
Back in the present, we come back to Lacey’s house. Amy is asking some probing questions so we get our Lacey exposition. Brad was her student in the Navy, specifically, land warfare. Bradley was a favorite. Before the Navy, Lacey was a nun. Brad comes in and announces that God is Lacey’s “ex-husband” or “ex-wife” if it turns out God is a woman. Lacey drops some knowledge on Amy that Brad’s propensity to ask questions made him a great hostage negotiator. Hmmm, interesting job that Brad is not doing anymore. But. no more back story on that just yet.
Amy and Lacey go out to feed the goats and Brad helps himself to some yummy looking apple pie. Life is good for a moment. Which is when Lacey’s perimeter alarm starts to blare. Brad grabs a handgun strapped under the kitchen table (told you, Lacey Don’t Play!) and heads to the foyer. Stand down, though, it’s just Lila. She tells Brad that he had to come here, he doesn’t know anyone else in Wisconsin. They hug as we go to commercials.
We come back and Lacey is catching Brad and Lila (and us) up on her preparations. Lacey has gotten rid of Brad’s stolen car and also arranged a boat ride for Brad into Canada. She’s got another guy that will give them new papers. Lacey has lots of guys that do things. Brad tells Lacey that his plan is to head to Amsterdam.
Lacey calls him a damn fool (paraphrasing) – Brad is a threat as long as he is alive because he can tell everyone about Project NOAH. Brad doesn’t want to be a whistle blower, he tried that and almost got killed. Lacey volunteers, cryptically referring to things she needs to atone for her in her life. She asks Brad to give her the names of the 12 death row inmates Project NOAH has used. Reluctantly, he agrees.
It says something about Brad and his conscience that he is able to recite all 12 names without blinking or even thinking on it for long.
Project NOAH. As Brad mentions Anthony Carter’s name, we fade over to Mr. Carter who is working out and feeling good. As he slows his treadmill to a halt, he hears music playing in the distance. Carter follows the sound and enters a room which is decorated in a very 1970’s, social club-style (think, what the bar of an ELKS or Lyons Club would look like). There is a reel to reel playing tunes and a very human version of Shauna sitting at the bar.
Shauna, who is wearing lingerie, asks Anthony how he feels. He responds that he feels like a million bucks and she knows what he means.
“It feels so good at first. And then it gets a little janky.”
Shauna tells Anthony that everything will be okay if he just does what “he” says. The “he” meaning Tim who has appeared out of nowhere. Tim is tending bar in this exclusive club. Tim, also looking very human, mentions Jonas and advises Anthony to not trust him. Tim serves up two sniffers of
wine blood and Tim and Shauna peer pressure him to try some. Carter is reluctant and the reel to reel cuts out in a record scratch kind of moment.
After a tense beat, the music starts up again and Tim tells Anthony he doesn’t have to drink it now … but he still needs to settle up. Oh no, not money silly bear. As Shauna rips a tooth out of Anthony’s mouth, she explains that here, “you pay with yourself.”
Anthony tells them that he doesn’t want anything to do with them and goes to leave only to find Tim has magicked his way in front of Anthony. He implores Carter to give Jonas a message on his behalf as he whispers something in Anthony’s ear. Anthony wakes up in bed with a start.
No more tacos before bed, mister. They’ll give you nightmares!
Lacey’s House. As Lila stitches up Brad’s wound and warns him of a staph infection, they make small talk about her other man, Dave. The one she mentioned she was going to have a baby with, remember? Lila switches topics and asks if Brad’s big plan is really to run away with the little girl and make “pancakes in Amsterdam on Saturday mornings?’ “Yes,” is his simple reply.
You can’t say that Brad has commitment issues. Brad goes on to explain that their daughter died and no one could help him or reach him. He stopped believing in anything and everything.
“And then I met this little girl.”
Gah, Brad, you’re making it misty in here buddy. You’re killing me. He explains to Lila that Amy is a tomboy, just like Eva and she has no one. He understands that it’s his job to keep her safe, it’s the first thing that’s made sense to him in a long time. Lila and Brad kiss.
Sometime later, Brad finds Amy awake, reading my flashlight. She asks him if he’s an assassin. “No,” is his answer – I like tat Brad doesn’t give elaborate answers to questions.
Amy is asking “because you assassinated some people today.” He explains his work history a bit in kind of a non-answer. Then Amy asks if he believes in God … obviously stemming from the loss of her mother which we have to remember is less than 48 hours ago at this point. She’s a remarkably strong kid. Fortitude wise. Brad offers to read to her until she falls asleep. He begins A Wrinkle in Time from the beginning …
Nearby, Clark Richards is closing the net on Brad and company. He’s found the tow truck driver who picked up the stolen car at Lacey’s direction. When the driver plays dumb as to who ordered the pick up, Clark pistol whips the guy in the face. THIS gets a name. Lacey. Lacey Antoine.
Flashback Time! We come back from break into another Jonas flashback. Tim has just announced that the top bidder for their project is the Department of the Defense. Fanning is all about this because it allows them to fast track their experiments, ethics be damned. Lear tells his wife that he’s doing this for her but Liz isn’t having any of that; Jonas is doing this for himself.
Liz warns Jonas that he’s going to betray everything he believes and when he looks back on his choices with regret, Liz won’t be there to talk him through it as she’ll be long dead no matter what Jonas does.
Liz coming through with the real talk!
Back in the present, Jonas runs into Anthony in the hallway. Carter says he’s still feeling great, just did 6 miles with no problem, but he HAS been sleeping poorly. Dr. Lear offers a sleeping pill and asks about the dreams and whether there has been anything about them of interest?
Side Note: Remember last week, Grey told Jonas that he and the other men have been having bad dreams where Fanning comes and visits them. Dreams are very much on Jonas’s mind.
Dr. Lear’s face slowly falls as Anthony tells him that his dreams all feature Dr. Tim Fanning, who says he’s a friend of Jonas’s. Anthony relays the message from Tim:
“You already changed the world. You just have to wait and see how.”
Lear heads out in a car to visit Elizabeth. She’s in some kind of home. As Jonas talks to her and tells her that he misses her, there is no indication that Liz has any recollection of who he is. The Alzheimer’s has got a full grip on her.
Project NOAH. Back at the project site, down in the Cells, Simmons is back to harassing Babcock’s cage. He’s full on rattling his mop in the cage bars. When Grey tries to get him to stop, he doesn’t like the harassing, Simmons taunts Grey into trying it. He takes Grey’s badge and throws it into Shauna’s cage. Shauna moves forward, she’s aware they are there. In a tense moment, Grey sticks his hand and retrieves his badge without her making a move.
Simmons gets up close to the cage and wonders aloud that maybe she’s a “good girl” after all …
Which is when Shauna grabs him and begins to nom nom nom on his neck!
Grey has backed into a corner and is screaming for help. As Simmons’s lifeless body falls to the ground, Shauna’s eyes are full on orange glow as she turns her bloodied face to Grey. That’s the look of someone who had a satisfying meal.
Lacey’s House. We come back from the final commercial break to find Lacey getting the troops ready to move. Lacey tells Amy that there will be no teary farewells as they’ll see each other again. Which, of course, is when the perimeter alarm goes off. Three Tahoes approaching the house fast. Brad and Lacey weapon up as Lila takes Amy somewhere to hide.
Brad and Lacey clear a couple of enemies but Lacey takes a shot in the gut almost immediately. RIP Lacey. This takes the wind out of Brad’s sails pretty fast. As Clark bellows for him to come out with the girl or else, he’ll burn the house down, Brad makes a decision. He motions to Lila to take Amy and run and he leaves through the front door, giving himself up.
Outside, Clark isn’t satisfied with just Brad. Even though Brad swears Amy is gone by boat to Canada, Clark demands the girl’s location or else, he’ll kill Brad right there and then. As Clark’s countdown to death reaches one, Amy comes out to Brad’s side. “I’m right here.” Brad turns to her and asks, what she’s doing?
“You don’t leave me. I don’t leave you.”
Clark and the Goon Squad bustle Brad and Amy up and head out. As Brad and Clark make eye contact, Richards expressly declines for his men to search the house.
So, maybe Lacey isn’t really dead and Lila can stitch her up next week?!?
The final shot is Brad and Amy being loaded into a van, next stop? Project NOAH.
A lot of shows that have great Pilot episodes slump in the second outing. I am happy to see that The Passage did not suffer this fate. They kept the foot on the pedal and the Brad and Amy storyline continued with adrenaline running high almost the entire time. The nice offset to this was the slower pacing of Porject NOAH with Anthony beginning his trials and Jonas wrestling with the regrets that his wife predicted he’d suffer.
A few predictable moments here tonight but nothing too Earth shattering to turn me off. No one really thought Elizabeth was dead and it’s only a matter of time before Jonas injects her with the not vampire serum in a last ditch effort to save her life.
Also, I thought the Lacey storyline was really rushed if in fact, this is the only episode we get with her. She’s super feisty and we like feisty. There is a lot of potential with Lacey to provide Brad backstory and also, Lila is going to need some badass allies if she’s going to mount a rescue mission. I am hoping my thought above, that the house didn’t get searched gives us the out we need for Lila to save Lacey’s life and continue the fight.
These are quibbles though; I enjoyed the Shauna scene with Grey and Simmons – how she seems to be differentiating between good guys and bad guys. And the dream scene with Carter, Tim and Shauna was illuminating in how their shared mind hive works.
Two more highlights for me tonight: the continuing relationship between Amy and Brad – these two are so good together, it even over shadowed the chemistry between Lila and Brad which was also, unexpectedly good.
Last, the Jonas Lear backstory is really interesting … watching Jonas already beginning to regret where his Frankenstein’s monster project has taken him, especially when his wife predicted it so precisely, it’s clear that Lear is going to be an important “inside man” character if Brad and Team Good Guys are going to prevail.
Thank you for reading and I can’t wait to see you next week.