Nowhere Man: S01E04: Something About Her
(The Sex, Lies and Negatives episode)
Entry from Tom’s Diary:
There’s a certain anonymity to the city, a certain coldness, distance—I remember sometimes trying to shake that feeling off.
It’s ironic that over the last few months I’ve come to see it as shelter and protection, a wall that separates me from my thoughts, who I was. A refuge. A place to hide in broad daylight.
After finding an unlikely ally in the Incredible Derek, a psychic ten-year-old from a traveling show, Tom has had the opportunity to meet one of the soldiers from Hidden Agenda, the observer with the eagle tattoo, Harry Corners, whose main advice in dealing with the Organization was to invest in heavy-duty aluminum foil to “keep them out of your place”. Considering the manner in which he died, he might better have chosen steel or Kevlar, but hindsight is 20/20.
All mental imbalances aside, Corners did prove to Tom that close inspection of Hidden Agenda is the right path. Eventually it should lead somewhere.
Tom is on his way to pick up someone in his cab. As he searches for the house, a young girl on a bike darts into traffic and Tom hits her. He comforts her and radios for an ambulance because her leg is broken. He asks the paramedic of she will be alright, to which he replies, “You mean will she live to tell a jury what happened? Yeah, she’ll be okay.”
The other paramedic presses an oxygen mask to Tom’s face, and he struggles in vain as the girl watches, expressionless. When Tom is finally unconscious, the girl bounces to her feet and brushes her school clothes, explaining that her mother doesn’t like it when she plays in them. Finished with her part in the play, she rides away.
Tom lies unconscious on a table in a laboratory surrounded by technicians; he’s wearing nothing but a small towel.
Much to the joy of Bruce Greenwood’s female fans, I might add.
A heavy, 90s-style virtual reality headset is lowered over his eyes. Lights flash within it and Tom’s eyes respond as if in open REM sleep to phase 1 of the Moen technique.
Above the laboratory in a observatory room, Dr. Moen explains excitedly that they have induced a level 15 trance state. Mr. Grey explains it had better work. He’s made certain guarantees.
“Oh, it’ll work. From the level 15, we can produce fully reliable negative and positive hallucinations… if we tell him a year has passed, he’ll experience it, in a month a day, it doesn’t matter. If we want him to believe it, he’ll believe it.”
“You wouldn’t be the first to underestimate him, you know.”
Wrong thing to say. The scientists and supervisors of each cell of the Organization are in direct competition with other cells. They show little respect for the methods of others. In this episode we discover that they are also willing to lie to the Director if they think they can get away with it.
“Bellamy was a fool,” scoffs Moen, “His conditioning techniques are the psychological equivalent of 8 track tapes. He was a dinosaur.”
“And just like them he’s now extinct.”
“Look, you cannot attack this man directly. Now, Bellamy’s problem is that he threatened Veil’s sanity, and when that didn’t work, his life. It was very clear from his profile that he has little fear of losing either, although he does have as weak spot. He’s compassionate.”
When Dr. Moen gets the word that the subject is ready, he turns to Mr. Grey and says, “Alright, let’s fall in love.”
Phase 2: Moen begins Tom’s positive memory induction.
“You remember when you first met Karin, don’t you Tom? It was ten months ago….”
Tom watches a beautiful, dark-haired amateur photographer in the park as she tries to take a picture of some children. She’s paying more attention to the kids than her feet, and winds up in the duck pond. The gallant Tom, much more relaxed and happy than we’ve ever seen him, comes to her rescue and reaches his hand out to her, but slips in himself. They laugh together and introduce themselves.
Soaking wet as they wend their way through the park, the amateur Karin asks the professional Tom if he ever thought about giving photography lessons.
“Mostly never,” Tom replies, his drugged monotone while strapped on the table a stark contrast to the cheerful, playful banter he thinks he’s experiencing. A TV screen shows Karin speaking. She reads her lines from a teleprompter.
“What would it cost me just for some starter lessons; you know, just for your basic photography 101 kind of thing?”
“How about some dry clothes and an Italian dinner?”
“I don’t cook.”
“We’re safe. It’s on me.”
He hands her the roll of film from her soaked camera. She says, “I think this is going to be my lucky roll.”
In Tom’s apartment, Karin studies his photographs and critiques them lightly. While Tom makes her coffee, Karin mentions that she had been thinking about leaving the city; it can be pretty lonely, but now she’s glad she stayed.
Moen is exuberant. “Yes! He’s in! He’s hers. He’s ours! Alright, system down!”
The lights turn off, and Karin is left holding a mug of coffee on a kitchen set. She walks to the table where Tom lies and studies him thoughtfully as the lights flicker over him.
Karin asks Moen if Tom really believes this is real.
“No, no, he knows that it’s real. The day you met in the park has now become a pleasant, permanent part of his memory.”
“Well, I’m not so sure he’s going to be as easy to crack as you think.”
Moen replies with a sneer, “It’s funny; I don’t remember when I looked at your resume that you had a degree in psychology.”
“Maybe not, Doctor, but when you were out scoring your 4.0 grade point average, I was out scoring. I’ve known a lot of men and most go over real easy because they spend a lot of time believing that they don’t… some things you just don’t learn in books.”
Tom tosses and turns. A nurse wakes him. She sees his confusion and explains his cab was in accident and he’s in the hospital with a slight concussion. She picks up a picture of Karin from the night-table and asks if she’s Tom’s wife. Tom looks bewildered, and says, “No, she’s not my wife.”
“Girlfriend?” asks the nurse.
“No,” says Tom, but then—
“Yeah, yes, that’s my girlfriend, that’s… uh…Karin.”
Mr. Grey, watching from the observation area, remarks that Tom doesn’t seem very convinced.
“He’s only had one treatment,” Moen says hurriedly, “Look, we’re already pushing him faster than I want to. It’ll be fine.”
“Fine? Is that the word you want me to use when I report to the Director? Fine?”
“When we bring them together in the real world, she will be the most important thing in his life.”
In Tom’s apartment, Karin says to Tom, “I have to tell you something, Tom… I just want you to know you’re probably the most amazing man I’ve ever met…. (yada yada yada), there’s someone else.”
Moen excitedly responds to the readout of Tom’s physical response. His blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration are all up.
“He’s anxious. He’s hurting,” Moen laughs. “Ain’t love grand?”
“It’s not what you think… Mark and I have been together since just after I got out of High School. It’s been over for like two years but we’ve just avoided saying it.”
“So now you’ve got two guys on hold.”
“I’m gonna talk to Mark. I’m gonna leave tomorrow. I’ll be gone for about two weeks. Let me do this the way that I need to do it. Two weeks is not the end of the world.”
Moen impatiently explains to Karin that they are moving onto the next step.
“No drugs, no induction, no electronics. We just need to be sure that his waking mind will accept everything we’ve started.”
The doorbell buzzes in Tom’s apartment and he opens it to find Karin standing there. He doesn’t speak, which worries Mr. Grey.
“Is everything okay?” Karin asks. Tom approaches and hugs her close. “God, I’ve missed you!”
They have a Photography 101 discussion in the darkroom while developing Karin’s pictures. Tom explains that she can improve the background by seeing the picture in her mind before she takes it, she just has to record it.
“So that’s how you think of yourself. A recorder,” Karin says, on her way to the kitchen to make some coffee. Tom hears breaking glass from the other room, and calls out, “Alyson, you okay?”
When he comes into the kitchen, he moves to help Karin pick up the pieces of the broken coffee mug. Without looking at him, she asks, “Who’s Alyson?” Tom stares at her, trying to think, but can only reply that he doesn’t know. She makes a crack about the secret life of Tom Veil, which doesn’t go over well.
She walks into the laboratory and calls up to the observation room.
“Who’s Alyson? What the hell is happening to him?”
“That’s not your affair!”
“Yes, this is my affair, Mr. 4.0, and that’s what irks you doesn’t it? Because with all your drugs and all your machines, he has something you don’t. And from what I can tell, he’s got two of them.”
When she returns to the apartment set, Grey suggests to Moen that she might be better prepared to deal with situations like these if they gave her the information, but Moen argues that the more she knows, the more likely she will be to give something away.
“In the end, we will live or die by the smallest of details.”
Tom and Alyson are in bed together. Tom is tenderly kissing her face. He suddenly winces and has a flashback to the girl on the bike. He has a few more flashbacks and says, “There’s something not right about this.”
Karin tries to comfort him, begging him to tell her what’s wrong, but he keeps warning her not to touch him all the way from the bed to the kitchen. He purposefully knocks the dishes on the counter onto the floor and repeatedly demands, “Who’s Alyson?!”
Moen bursts through the door and injects Tom with a sedative. Mr. Grey looks over Tom where he has slumped to the floor and asks, “According to schedule?”
In the stairwell, talking on a clearly super-advanced form of cell phone that works in a stairwell, Grey speaks with the Director. “Yes, sir, we’ve made him a priority one….You will have him at the end of the week—very good, sir, and if that—“.
After Grey warns Dr. Moen that the Director has given them 24 hours, Moen has Tom go through the induction sequence again, this time with a different approach. He is back on the table listening to Moen describe how he would feel if he lost Karin. Moen stresses how Tom would feel if he lost her while activating an intravenous drug which helps physically emphasize Tom’s discomfort during the negative hallucination induction.
Tom keeps trying to call Karin but gets the answering machine. Soon a call comes through for him. “Dr. Grey” is calling to tell Tom that Karin has been in an accident. At the hospital he learns one of her ribs had pierced her lung. He sits by her bed in anguish.
“If anything happened to you I just don’t think I could live.”
In the next sunny scene, Tom wheels a recovering Karin outside and tells her he’s going to get the car. She gives him her lucky roll of film. A black van squeals into the parking lot. Two thugs come out and wrestle Karin into the van, which speeds away. Tom receives instructions that if he calls the police or talks to anyone, she dies. He is told to go to a specific address and hit the service buzzer.
Tom is in a bare room, sitting on a wooden straight back chair and looking into a one-way mirror. Mr. Grey explains to Tom that lack of cooperation on his part will result in Karin getting a very painful lethal injection. He stands and paces the room.
“What do you want?”
“What is your name?” Asks Grey.
“Are you sure of that?”
Tom chuckles and gestures as of to say, “I’m standing here, aren’t I?”
Moen asks various other personal questions, which confirm Tom’s present reality that he’s a single photographer.
“Are you familiar with a photograph entitled Hidden Agenda?”
“You know I am,” Tom replies, losing patience.
“What can you tell me about that photograph?”
“It’s well composed; it’s in-focus. It’s very professional,” Tom says with his trademark barely-disguised annoyance.
“With whom have you discussed that photograph… and what was the nature of that discussion?”
Tom really loses patience now, “Why don’t you just get to the point? I don’t remember every conversation I’ve had about a photograph I took 2 ½ years ago! What do you want to know?”
“What did you do with the negatives?” Moen asks.
Tom hesitates, fiddling with his watch as it’s come loose while he was gesturing wildly.
Mr. Grey takes this opportunity to describe in detail the lethal injection they claim they are going to use on Karin. “The drugs we are using on miss stokes paralyze the nervous system….”
His voice fades as Tom glances at an inscription on the inside.
TO TOM FROM YOUR LOVING WIFE ALYSON
“…She’s running out of time, Mr. Veil.”
From now on he hears nothing Mr. Grey has to say.
“Alyson, my wife’s name is Alyson. We have a German shepherd named Newt– and we live in lake Forest, Illinois. My wife’s name is Alyson. We’ve been married 2 ½ years,” Tom’s voice gets louder and his rage grows exponentially with his confidence in his returning memory. “I was on assignment in St. Louis. Her mother’s name is Laura. Her father’s name is Sam. What am I doing here?! Who the hell are you people?!”
Tom throws the chair through the mirror. The glass shatters and falls to the floor.
Mr. Grey gets off of the phone with the Director. Karin listens in from the shadows as Mr. Grey and Moen discuss options. Grey explains to Moen that there’s no time to back up and rebuild Tom’s memory, because the Organization expected results, and they failed.
“Removal?” Moen asks.
“That’s usually the way they deal with failure.”
Moen conspiratorially suggests that if Tom died of natural causes because his file mistakenly said he was in perfect health, they might be able to avoid the dreaded “removal”. He has a drug in mind which weakens the walls of the heart but is so new it would be completely untraceable. They agree to use it on Tom to save themselves.
Moen fills a syringe and searches for the perfect spot on Tom’s chest to inject it directly into his heart, but Karin’s voice demands that he stay away from Tom. Karin holds a gun on the two men and edges toward them. Moen says, “I don’t have time for this,” and moves to inject Tom.
Karin shoots him unceremoniously. Mr. Grey backs away from Tom. “You’re in love with him,” he says.
He tries to reason with her, that the whole exercise was a fantasy, even to Tom in the end, but she will hear none of it. Grey tries to get the gun and Karin shoots him. She leans in close to Tom, whispering that she’s going to take him someplace where they’ll never hurt him.
Grey rises and jams the needle into Karin’s back. She screams and shoots him. (Dead this time.) She shakes Tom and tries to help him off the table and out of the room, but the drug acts too quickly and they both fall to the floor.
“I love you, Tom,” are her last words.
Tom wakes up, saying he has to get out of here. He tries to wake Karin, but realizes she’s dead. He pulls himself up on a piece of equipment and accidentally triggers the Moen system, turning on the lights to the various sets. Still feeling something for Karin, he returns her lucky roll of film and tenderly touches her cheek. He hears Moen’s voice telling him how he can’t live without her.
Tom slowly makes his way to the exit, stepping out of the building into the brightness of the outdoors.
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.