With Lynn captured by the Markovians and press-ganged into stabilizing their metahumans, Jefferson forms an unlikely alliance with Major Grey and the ASA to rescue her. Meanwhile, Brandon and TC turn their talents towards helping Jennifer save what is left of Khalil's mind from the Painkiller program.
The Outsiders comics and the novel Neuromancer (the process through which TC virtually enters the Painkiller chip resembles William Gibson's descriptions of cyberspace.)
Why did the Markovians leave Sgt. Grayle behind and/or alive when they took Lynn and Tobias?
Jordan Calloway does a fantastic job playing both the tired and broken Khalil and the assertive Painkiller in this episode. You almost forget they are the same actor at times.
Christopher Ammanuel also has a fantastic turn as TC, slowly finding confidence in dealing with other people as he comes out of his shell with Gambi, Jen, Khalil and Brendan.
The final sequence, in which TC and Jen try to get Khalil to assert control of his own mind while Painkiler throws every bad memory it can at Khalil to break him, is one of the best in the show's history.
Jefferson refers to TC and Brandon as "two outsiders in the Sanctum." This seems to be a nod to Jefferson eventually building the young metahumans under him into a team akin to The Outsiders, which he was a frequent member of in the comics.
TC says that the chip inside Khalil is the most complex piece of machinery he's ever seen and the processing power is quite fast, due to it being a hybrid of carbon nanotubes and organic material.
Khalil's brain is a computer and the Painkiller program the operating system that enables the computer to function. Shutting down the Painkiller program would destroy the CPU (i.e. Khalil's cerebrum.) and leave Khalil brain-dead.
Glimmer is a Green Light-based drug created by the Markovians. It is not as powerful, but is far less addictive. The Markovians give it to Lynn Stewart in a bid to break her withdrawal while still leaving her dependent on them.
Methadone cannot be used to treat a Green Light addiction.
Of the metahumans the Markovians have apart from Gravedigger, the best they can do regarding energy output on their powers without risking death is 50-60%.
Dr. Jace (to her video blog): I am very confident that Dr. St- Oh, correction - Lynn and I are destined to be besties!
(Cut to Lynn in the lab. She is crazed from withdrawal and unable to control herself.)
Lynn: Bitch! I'm going to kill you this time!
Jefferson: And why should we trust you? You seem to be playing both sides.
Sgt. Grayle: I know who you both are. You're two powerful meta-humans that could squash me like a bug without breaking a sweat. It's a huge risk for me to be here. But that's how far I'm willing to go to set things right for Lynn, for all those kids, and for Freeland.
Jefferson: Well, lucky for you, Sergeant Grayle, I've always believed in second chances.
(Jennifer is insisting she's coming on the rescue mission but Jefferson is reluctant.)
Jefferson: Jen, we have no idea what we could be walking into.
Jennifer: Which is why you need me. So I'm coming with you. And so is he.
Jennifer: Markovia. They kidnapped my mom and that's where Jace is.
Jefferson: Jen, I might be okay with you coming, but I-
(Jennifer turns around and zaps Brandon with her lighting. Brandon is unphased.)
Jennifer: Trust me, Dad, Brandon can take care of himself. And he's got my back.
Brandon: (nervously) Look, Mr. Pierce, no disrespect, but I'm either going with you or by myself. Dr. Jace killed my mom. So, if that's where she is, then that's where I need to be.
Gambi: After everything that's happened, how could you possibly work with them?
Jefferson: Because it's Lynn, Gambi! Because getting her back is the only thing that matters!
Gambi: (nods) So, when do we leave?
Jefferson: Well, actually, I thought you could just monitor things from here.
Gambi: You're joking, right? You don't know Markovia. I've had business there. Believe me, you're going to want me there.
Jefferson: What business?
(Gambi says something in Markovian. Jefferson looks at him dumbfounded.)
Gambi: I have many stories, my friend. Most of which I'd rather forget.
(Dr. Jace enters Tobias' cell.)
Tobias: Dr. Jace. Why am I not surprised?
Dr. Jace: I assure you, I'm every bit the prisoner that you are. I'm merely doing Dr. Stewart a favor and extracting your bone marrow.
Tobias: Bitch, you've never done anyone a favor in your life. You're merely a cockroach, doing whatever it takes to survive.
Dr. Jace: Well, I'd suggest you do the same.
Tobias: What are they gonna do? If they want stable metas around here, the Markovians aren't going to touch a hair on my chinny, chin, chin.
Dr. Jace: This isn't Agent Odell and the ASA.
Tobias: No, but they do know my value. But you, on the other hand, now that Dr. Stewart is here, you're beginning to look awfully expendable.
Dr. Jace: Your arrogance is off the charts as usual, Tobias. How safe you think you are. But because we're old friends, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. Colonel Mosin is making plans to lobotomize you.
(For once, Tobias doesn't have a witty response.)
(TC has found Khalil in what appears to be his old room.)
TC: I know this looks weird, but I kind of, sort of need you to come with me.
Khalil: How did you-? It doesn't matter. I...I can't. I've tried.
TC: You...you actually can. Um, If you want. Leave, that is.
Khalil: Look, man, I don't know who you are, or how you got into my bedroom, but if he finds us...
TC: This actually isn't your... I mean, it's sort of, kind of is. But it's sort of, kind of not your bedroom.
Khalil: Then what is it? Tell me.
TC: It's a figurative construct of your imagination, some type of projected memory from your subconscious.
Khalil: Or more likely, I'm just dead.
Khalil: So, you're dead, too, huh?
Jennifer: I'm not dead, Khalil. And neither are you. Not yet.
Khalil: But Tobias, he ripped my spine out.
Jennifer: Yeah, I thought that killed you, too, but apparently, the ASA saved you.
Khalil: Like they did with my legs, huh?
Jennifer: That's right. Except this time they put a chip in your brain with some sort of operating system.
Khalil: So... None of this is real.
Jennifer: Look, Khalil... Khalil, look at me. All of this is real. Thing is It may not seem like it, but this place is a prison. If you don't come with me right now, you will die.
Khalil: Maybe I'm supposed to. Did you ever think of that?
Jennifer: I thought you had. Now that I know you're still alive, I'm not sure my heart could take losing you again. So, please. Take my hand.
As this episode opens, Dr. Jace has been held captive by the Markovians for 97 days.
Dr. Jace is revealed to honestly have trouble relating to people on a basic level, suggesting she suffers from a psychopathic disorder rather than merely being apathetic to suffering.
Colonel Yuri Mosin confirms that Agent Odell used hypnotic suggestion and Green Light sprayed into her wine glasses to get Lynn hooked on Green Light.
Nurse Allen is revealed to be a Markovian plant within the ASA.
Jennifer discovers that Lynn knew Khalil was alive and didn't tell her, on top of Jefferson, Gambi and Anissa knowing that the ASA had resurrected him as a brainwashed Painkiller.
Sgt. Grayle contacts Jefferson and Anissa and informs them that Lynn was kidnapped by the Markovians. He also tells them about Tobias and how his body is the key to the meta-stabilization formula.
Sgt. Grayle convinces Jefferson and Anissa of his good intentions by revealing he knows their secret identities and had done nothing with that information. He also points out that it would be easy for them to kill him for what he knows.
Jefferson agrees to meet with Major Grey to discuss working with her to rescue Lynn. Sgt. Grayle agrees to act as the go-between and set the meeting up at a place of Jefferson's choosing.
Jefferson tells Anissa that Lynn is addicted to Green Light.
Lynn refuses to take the Glimmer provided by Col. Mosin.
TC can use his powers to enter into machines by creating a virtual avatar or himself,
The VR realm inside the Painkiller chip resembles Khalil's old apartment. Khalil's true self is hiding in his old bedroom, trying to avoid Painkiller.
The Painkiller program treats TC like a virus when he enters into it. This gives him the idea to seal the Painkiller program behind a literal firewall while he tries to bring Khalil's real self in to run things in place of the Painkiller program.
Jennifer can use her powers to interact with the Painkiller chip - first by using electrical blasts directed by TC to contain the Painkiller program then by transforming herself into pure energy and joining TC as an avatar in Khalil's head. Unlike TC, Jennifer is quite vulnerable and could die forever if she were killed in Khalil's mind.
Jefferson agrees to work with the ASA on two conditions; he gets to build his own team for the rescue mission to Markovia and everyone he brings with him on the team becomes off-limits to the ASA forever. This includes both metahumans they wanted to recruit for their program and people wanted for fighting against the ASA. Major Grey agrees to those conditions.
Jennifer insists that both she and Brandon need to come on the mission.
Gambi also says he needs to come on the mission.
Gambi has been to Markovia before and can speak the language.
Grace also volunteers to go on the mission, despite Anissa's protests that she can't really fight.
Erica Moran is implanted with a control chip and given orders to kill Lynn Stewart if she cannot be rescued.
Lynn is so far gone that she lacks the hand-eye coordination to handle chemicals on her own. She persuades Dr. Jace to help her mix up the drugs she needs to truly beat her addiction.
The only stable Markovian metahuman is said to be a man called Gravedigger.
Gambi's codename with the ASA was The Tailor.
TC proves unable to convince Khalil that he can leave his safe space within the virtual realm.
Brandon suggests that Jennifer might be able to go inside Khalil's head with TC in the virtual realm, relating how she was able to become pure energy when they fought the ASA.
Gambi says it's possible that Jen could change herself into electronic information and interact with Khalil's mind through the chip, but that she'd be vulnerable, unlike TC's avatar. He also points out that the knowledge of what he's done (including killing his own mother) could drive Khalil insane.
Jennifer convinces Khalil to take control of his own head, but the knowledge of what he did as Painkiller makes him swear off ever wanting to continue his relationship with Jennifer.
A lab in Markovia.
Gambi has been to Markovia before and did many things he'd rather not discuss, even with Jefferson.
The Bottom Line
A solid episode, despite largely being a place-holder to get all the characters caught up on what they should know after keeping secrets from one another for the better part of the season. The structure of the script is a little odd, with the final scene being devoted to saving Khalil after Jefferson gets his inspiring speech about the rescue mission to everyone in the ASA HQ in the penultimate segment. Still, the final scene as the young Outsiders rally against Painkiller is an amazing one.