Josh Holloway, (aka Gabriel, aka Cyber Sawyer, as he was billed at Comic Con), is doing some scenic hiking. He stops near a giant satellite dish and removes about fifteen different layers of coats, hats, and a bag lady shawl. (Unfortunately, the final sweater stays on. For now.)
Suddenly a digital recreation of a terrorist attack in Mumbai materializes around him, complete with explosions and gunshots and people dying all sorts of grisly deaths. Each person has a handy identification file next to them, with photos, documents, and videos all conveniently formatted for easy viewing. Because that’s how the internet works.
Gabriel is very much in control of the whole process, much like Season 5 Chuck, leading my dad to comment that he “has powers.” Maybe we’ll get some flashbacks later on with him getting used to the chip and bumbling around all confused-like. He sees his wife Ameila, calmly participating in the attack (“Oh no, his wife’s on the wrong team,” gasps my mom), before some real life Indian troops surround and easily capture him.
Inside the compound, Gabriel goes all Sherlock Holmes on his interrogator, addressing him by name, and pointing out the unwelcome attention he’s been giving his married colleague. He’s obviously gotten the guy’s name and the woman’s marital status from their online files, but he seems to also have some legit deductive reasoning skills. Either that or the woman has a blog.
As a final flourish, Gabriel opens the electronically-locked door With His Mind (“Did you just do that??” asks the astonished guard, using a little deductive reasoning of his own), and handily dispatches everyone he encounters on his way back to the woods. Again, we don’t know how much he’s depending on his chip for guidance right now, but it’s clear that the physical abilities are all his own. The parents are particularly impressed with the Jeep Move. It’s all very well choreographed, but he’s no Bryce Larkin.
Gabriel’s would-be captors chase him all the way through the woods to a rather convenient cliff drop-off into a river below. He seems surprised to find himself at the edge of the cliff, so I guess Google Maps hasn’t made it out here just yet. Holloway gives us one of his patented Sawyer “Oh for fuck’s sake” eye rolls before jumping.
CABIN IN THE WOODS, MARYLAND
Hey, it’s Dr Pholx!
(Yeah, I watched Enterprise… What?)
The parents have a similar Hey! It’s That Guy! moment, but we never do figure out which crime procedural they know the actor from. Phlox mutters to his cat about technology for a bit, because he’s “eccentric,” until a noise outside on the porch startles them both. The intruder turns out to be, not the suspected raccoon, but a night goggle wearing, Mandarin-speaking assailant. A second assailant appears inside the house behind Phlox. (Thanks for the heads up there, Mr. Whiskers.)
US CYBER COMMAND
Agent Red Riding Hood reports for duty. Boss Lady, who insists into her phone that she does NOT work for Langley, but who the parents definitely recognize from CSI, informs Red that she’s been chosen for a Super Secret Job she never applied for. Red counters that she already has a job and isn’t interested. I’m guessing this pays better than waitressing at Granny’s B&B, so maybe hear her out?
Despite her professed lack of interest, Red does indeed hear Boss Lady out, as she exposits quite a bit of jargon about CyberCom, Project Clockwork, Nazis, and Gabriel, who is an Advanced Intelligence Agent. (Geddit?? He has Advanced INTELLIGENCE, and he’s an INTELLIGENCE Agent. Yes??)
They meet up with Amos, a typically unwashed and bearded hacker-type, who spouts even MORE technobabble and unnecessary abbreviations and even drops a booyah (because millennial computer nerd!), before finishing up Gabriel’s weekly defrag or whatever. Gabriel pulls his Sawyer snottiness on Agent Red to scare her off, earning a high five from Amos. Down with rules! And girls! Booyah!!
We get a little more info from Boss Lady about Gabriel’s badass military past and his wife Amelia, who was a CIA agent, deep undercover in the terrorist cell that planned the Mumbai attack, and is now officially presumed to have died a traitor. She insists that Gabriel has to Move On, so that will probably happen.
Suddenly the Deputy Director for National Intelligence shows up to announce the kidnapping of Dr Phlox, who is known in this universe as Dr Cassidy, retired from Project Clockwork. He’s the one who designed Gabriel’s chip. Ruh Roh.
Even though she hasn’t officially accepted the job, Agent Red jumps right in as part of the team. This earns her some more snark from Gabriel, which she deftly parries, thus beginning their Official Dance of Cutesy Banter. The parents are absolutely delighted by these adorable kids. I myself am delighted with Gabriel’s subpar machine translation app, which allows Red to show off her Actual Mandarin Skillz.
The team questions Dr Cassidy’s snivelly son about the kidnapping, but he has his dad’s back and stonily refuses to tell them anything… Just kidding! He totally folds because he’s a Wimpy Dork, and they easily learn from him that the kidnappers took something from the doctor’s safe… A second chip!
BAD GUY HQ
The Mandarins are holding Dr Cassidy in some sort of makeshift lab, insisting that he implant this second chip into one of their operatives. The doctor, however, refuses to operate on a live human, even a bad one, because the new chip hasn’t even been beta tested yet, and things could go Terribly Wrong.
BACK AT THE CABIN
Snivelly son is making excuses and whining and apologizing and generally acting super guilty. Amos advises him to “Just tell them the truth, bro.” Red, trained Secret Service agent that she is, notices something across the river - a sniper sent by the Mandarins! Back at Bad Guy HQ, Head Bad Guy informs the doctor that he’s going to kill one of his two “sons” - either the biological one, or “Pinocchio.” Fortunately the sniper’s rifle is broadcasting a satellite video signal that Gabriel can pick up. Agent Red pulls him to the ground as the shot goes off, and things get awkward Real Fast, even though that’s (maybe) her job now.
BAD GUY HQ
Dr Cassidy practically weeps as he explains to Head Bad Guy that the patient has to have specific genetic mutation for the chip to work. It turns out that the Chinese found a girl who has the same mutation, so there goes that excuse.
Boss Lady interrogates Snivels, and they have a little Truth Time about how jealous Snivels is of Gabriel’s relationship with Dr Cassidy.
The team, meanwhile, has analyzed the kidnapping video and found a partial license plate from the van that was used. Gabriel tracks the vehicle down to a place called “Bull's Eye Paintball” using his access to the DMV database. “That’s a great party trick,” snots Red, doing her best not to be impressed.
BULL’S EYE PAINTBALL
A game is already in full swing when our heroes arrive, complete with black lights and club music. Red wants to wait for backup, but Gabriel isn’t having it, not because he’s roguishly unconcerned with protocol (well, not ONLY because of that), but because he’s clearly worried about the doctor. They find the van, prompting a little “I told you so” victory sass from Gabriel. Red then gets to show off her GTA skillz on the van door before the bad guys arrive and start shooting.
Red knocks Gabriel to the ground, (again, as is her job… possibly), though less awkwardly this time, getting grazed by a bullet in the process. Gabriel is angrily dismayed by her selfless actions, because he now feels protective of her. So it is awkward after all. The wound isn’t critical, so they hobble inside after the bad guys, with Gabriel supporting Red even though the wound is in her shoulder, not her leg. Gabriel fires a few real rounds in the air to scare off the paintballers, and he and Red take cover while they wait for Amos to redirect a satellite and give Gabriel access to the heat signatures in the area.
It is at this moment that my mother casually mentions to me that she’s actually played paintball before, but “only twice,” when a friend invited her to her son’s paintball themed birthday party. Long before I have time to pick my jaw up off the floor, the satellite upload is complete, and Gabriel switches over to Game Genie mode, taking out all the remaining bad guys to the still-pounding beat of the club music.
Afterward, Red and Gabriel enjoy some post-shootout banter about who saved whose life, starting a recurrent theme whereby the person whose life was saved owes their savior $20, which is just as cute as can be.
BAD GUY HQ
Dr Cassidy has performed the operation as demanded, but the patient hasn’t yet woken up. Head Bad Guy decides that this chip is either faulty or has been sabotaged by the doctor, and that therefore they need to get the first chip instead. You know, the one already installed in Gabriel’s head.
Aftermath of the paintball bust. Gabriel gets a Talking To from Boss Lady about how he doesn’t follow the rules, and can’t be trusted, and he needs to Move On from Ameila, and blah blah. He storms off, leaving Boss Lady and Agent Red alone for a little heart to heart, from which Red intuits that Boss Lady doesn’t actually believe Ameila was a traitor, and in fact thinks she’s still alive somewhere. Sherlock Holmes, indeed! We’ve got two very strong female characters here, but since all they talk about is Gabriel, so far we’re still not passing the Bechdel test.
Meanwhile, Gabriel is doing some “Cyber Rendering,” which he describes as a virtual snapshot or evidence wall. He can “see” all the intel he has access to. He recreates the kidnapping scene and realizes that Dr Cassidy knew his kidnapper. They both realize it was not Snivels, but Amos! (This elicits more gasps from the parents. “Bearded boy was a bad boy!” admonishes my mom, while my dad is more surprised that the “hippie” would have hooked up with the Chinese.) They rush out, intending to confront Amos, who just happens to be arriving at the house with several of his new Chinese friends. He smugly informs Gabriel that they’ll be coming with him to Bad Guy HQ.
A BRIDGE SOMEWHERE
Boss Lady meets with her Chinese counterpart (who is none other than Keiko O’Brien!), learning that Head Bad Guy is a disavowed Chinese operative. Agent Keiko agrees to an exchange: if Boss Lady can capture Head Bad Guy and bring him to Keiko, she’ll give up some valuable information. They talk spycraft for a bit, but Boss Lady is unable to do so without bringing up her father, so still no pass on the Bechdel.
BAD GUY HQ
Gabriel opines about how little he actually knew his erstwhile bro, Amos, whilst tending to Red’s wound in their locked cell. (“Don’t get excited,” he admonishes both her and the audience). In return, she decides to tell him about how she manslaughtered her mother’s abusive boyfriend when she was seventeen. Now, where have I heard this one before…?
Some henchmen show up and drag Gabriel away to the makeshift operating room, where they plan to force Dr Cassidy to remove his chip. However, our two heroes outsmart their captors with a Sneaky Plan. Gabriel fakes a seizure long enough for the doctor to cut his restraints and give him the scalpel, which is all Gabriel needs to overpower the 6-8 henchmen surrounding them.
Back in the cell, Amos shows up to talk to Red. He is anxious for her to understand that he only did it for the money, and that he has in fact done her the Great Honor of asking the bad guys not to kill her. Because, as we all know, nerdy guys just can’t help themselves when pretty girls are involved. Red’s response is a pitying look and a Full. On. Vulcan. Neck. Pinch. (Even my dad is impressed: “Whoa! She took the beatnik out!!”)
So not only is the computer guy a total caricature of a nerd, but he also turns out to be a backstabber as well, and not even an interesting one. He’s not in it for the love of computers, or because people don’t understand him or don’t give him enough credit or whatever. He just wants the money. This of course feeds right in to the older generation’s nagging suspicion that people who understand computers are unkempt, moody social misfits who can’t really be trusted.
After taking out all the henchmen in the operating room, Gabriel and the doctor get a message from Head Bad Guy, informing him that he’s recaptured Red and is holding her hostage. Cassidy looks on like a proud papa while Gabriel locates Red and her captor With His Mind. Luckily, they find one of those handy sniper rifles with a built in satellite link, and the doctor stays behind with the gun while Gabriel confronts Head Bad Guy. Their plan goes off without a hitch, with the doctor shooting Head Bad Guy in the shoulder, thanks to Gabriel using the satellite feed to direct his aim. Gabriel saucily informs Red that she now owes him twenty bucks.
BRIDGE OF SECRETS
A late night prisoner exchange has been arranged: Head Bad Guy is turned over to Agent Keiko in return for information proving that (to the shock and surprise of no one) Amelia is ALIVE! Boss Lady claims it was just good business, but we know she did it because she really does care about Gabriel. Aww.
Agent Red and Gabriel banter some more while they board a plane en route to their next mission.
BAD GUY HQ
Amos plays cards with his now leaderless henchmen buddies. In the next room, we see Chinese Computer Chip Girl lying in a bed, her head swathed in bandages. Suddenly, her eyes snap open! Dun Dun DUN!!