Nowhere Man: Episode 01: Absolute Zero
The opening shot pans slowly across a black and white still, men in US army fatigues witnessing a hanging in the jungle. As the images pass by, we can hear the creaking of the ropes on the gallows and the chilling cry of a child, off in the distance, as if in a memory. The camera pulls back to reveal the photograph on display at an art show. “Hidden Agenda – Black and White, 1994 – Negative Press”.
The photographer, Thomas Veil, a young man in a faded jean jacket, seems out of place at the black-tie event. He tries to be polite to his fans, but is clearly bewildered and uncomfortable by their attention. A conversation he is having is interrupted by the sound of breaking glass, and he uses this excuse to take his wife aside and convince her to sneak out after a short discussion and the promise of a steak dinner with cheesecake. on the way out we meet Tom’s best friend, Larry, who is positively glowing with the prospect of nabbing an “art babe”.
Tom and Alyson sit in a booth, surrounded by other patrons, discussing cheesecake, marriage, Tom’s prospects of getting lucky later, and Tom’s estranged mother. Tom makes it clear he doesn’t want to discuss his mother or his missing father, and excuses himself to the restroom, where he sneaks a smoke.
(This is when the fun begins. Are ya ready?)
When Tom returns from the restroom, an elderly couple is sitting in his booth and Alyson is nowhere to be seen. Rightfully so, he causes a ruckus and gets thrown out of the restaurant. He tries to phone but the call can’t be connected, and when he reaches home his keys don’t fit the lock. Frustrated and in a rage, Tom pounds on the door and screams at her. Alyson flings it open, stares at him, and responds with an exasperated, “Who are you?” Their dog stands beside her, growling.
A menacing man claiming to be her husband comes to the door wearing a bathrobe and a shotgun and Tom is forced to leave. He attempts to use a nearby ATM, but his card doesn’t work, then spends the night in the studio after breaking in through the window.
The art-show print of Hidden Agenda is missing.
The next morning Tom kidnaps Alyson by hiding in the back of her car. She continues to pretend she doesn’t know him but eventually caves under pressure. She explains that she’s being watched and They said They would kill him if she didn’t go along with it. A Police car pulls her over and as soon as the officer gets to the window, Alyson turns again. She insists she’s never seen Tom before in her life and that he hid in the back of her car. After a violent struggle with the police, Tom finds himself at Calaway Psychiatric Hospital.
An older man of pleasant appearance named Dr. Bellamy is assigned to Tom’s case. Tom sits in a straight jacket in a bizarrely-lit room facing the doctor. Bellamy takes a pencil from his pocket and drills a hole in the end of his cigar. After doing this, he asks, “Mind if I smoke?” to which Tom replies drily, “No. Mind if I leave?” Desperately trying to convince Bellamy that he’s not paranoid or delusional, he offers to give the Doctor a list of people who can vouch for his identity.
Tom wakes up and a fellow patient introduces himself as Eddie. Eddie like others Tom will meet at Calaway, seems wise beyond his condition. He warns Tom that the problem isn’t the photograph, it’s that Tom isn’t the type of person who buys into the program. Tom seems confident that the list of contacts he gave Dr. Bellamy will result in his release, to which Eddie responds that he doesn’t have any friends. “Everything you thought you had, you don’t. Absolute Zero….” Then he tells Tom to ask the Doctor about Dave Powers.
Bellamy arranges a field trip to prove to Tom he isn’t who he says he is. When they get to the studio, he finds everything rearranged. Bellamy manages to steer the conversation to the negatives, setting off an alarm in Tom’s mind. He pretends to look for them in a hiding place under the table, but they’re gone.
When they return to Calaway, Eddie plays ping-pong with another of the Erased called J.C. and repeats verbatim a speech Bellamy gave him at the studio. Tom asks him for more information. Eddie repeats his request that Tom ask about Dave Powers, and tells him to see who Bellamy is meeting at 10PM. Eddie takes Tom’s medication so that Tom can remain alert after dark. At 10:00 he witnesses Bellamy and Alyson laughing together by Alyson’s car.
Two orderlies drag Tom back to bed and sedate him. The next day he visits Eddie to find that his chart reads Dave “Eddie” Powers, and while Tom slept he has had a prefrontal lobotomy. Tom escapes by taking Bellamy hostage with a syringe full of sedative. He replaces Bellamy’s license photo with his own, packs up the negatives and sundry items, all the while grilling Bellamy for information that isn’t forthcoming.
Bellamy pulls the usual Conspiracy lackey trick here. You can’t beat ’em, I’d rather die than tell you. You know how this goes….
Two Calaway orderlies open fire on the studio. They execute Bellamy, but in the process knock Tom’s cigarette into a pool of photographic fluid. Tom flees the inferno just before an explosion takes out the building.
Tom goes on a search for the people on his list. He finds Larry at his apartment when he goes there for help, but Larry can’t prove his identity because he’s in the closet.
No, not that kind if in the closet. He’s in the closet dead.
When he reaches Iowa he discovers his childhood priest is dead and his mother has had a stroke and doesn’t recognize him. He flees yet another confrontation with the police and finds himself at a crossroads in rural Iowa. One lone truck pulls up and offers him a lift. Tom accepts the ride, but as he moves to retrieve his bag, the driver pulls out a cigar and starts drilling it with a pencil. In stunned silence Tom stares at the man, who pleasantly informs him that he should accept the ride if he knew what was good for him, but seeing he’s getting nowhere, eventually drives on.
At the end of the episode, having lost his wife and all of his hopes, Tom is left at the crossroads, not knowing which way to turn.
Nowhere Man reviews are © 2004 by Pet Serano.
Not for reproduction without the author’s express permission.
Nowhere Man names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of UPN and Touchstone Pictures.