Episode 502, “The Real Thing”
Oh, no, they didn’t!
But apparently, they did.
This episode shows that the writers are playing for keeps. And whatever you might think about the show getting cancelled, at least they’re going out with a bang.
So, in the season premiere, we learned that the Astraeus has been stolen. The crew is trapped in the Matrix, set up by the Consortium and run by Beverly Barlowe, one of the weakest villains in science fiction. Allison, Fargo, Holly, Zane, and Grace all think they’ve jumped ahead four years, and they’re still trying to come to grips with that reality.
Only reality starts to fizzle a bit because Allison wasn’t supposed to be on the ship, and the Matrix is configured for twenty people, not twenty-one. So the processors are starting to hiccup a bit, as processors will do. And Allison is the first to notice, seeing Vincent walk right through the counter at Cafe Diem. Grace notices Henry’s odd lack of curiosity about why the biggie-wow spaceship disappeared and jumped over four years of time. And of course, there’s the whole Carter-Jo romance. Erm.
In the real Eureka, of course, Jo is still on walkabout. Carter and Henry are still going stark loony over trying to find any trace of the ship. And Senator Wen decides everyone’s resources need to be elsewhere, and calls off the search. (Huh?) This is the first breadcrumb.
Naturally, Carter isn’t much into giving up the search, so he and Deputy Andy end up stealing … erm, borrowing a piece of equipment to finish a particle detector that Kevin designed in a Wesley Crusher moment of brilliance. Of course it works. They find the trail to the ship.
Which, in virtual Eureka, has now sprouted a dragon.
Yes, a big dragon. Fifteen feet long. With wings. And it shows up just after Jo mentions dragons to Allison while they search the ship. It’s the Shore Leave planet of Omicron Delta. Thoughts become “reality”. And Beverly is freaked because the system isn’t supposed to do that kind of thing. The scenario is designed to create situations that call for the Astraeus crew to design new technology. Zane manages to develop a high-tech net as part of the process of hunting down the Giant Kimodo.
Giant Kimodo, in the meantime, glitches out a couple of times, causing Allison and Holly to question what they’re seeing… until the dragon tail whips around and smacks Holly in the arm.
Over in Real Eureka, Carter is going through footage of the launch, trying desperately to figure out what happened. All the while still trying to get in touch with Jo, who didn’t take her phone with her. (Speaking from personal experience, this is an incredibly frustrating thing when someone elects to leave the cell phone behind.) And he notices that in the footage of everyone scrambling around like Looney Tunes chickens, the good senator is standing like the eye of the storm. This is another breadcrumb.
Add to those breadcrumbs the fact that Carter told Senator Wen where they were going when they found the ship, and he’s able to put two and two together and get yetanother corrupt politician working for a super-secret Shadow Society government-within-a-government organization.
Ugh. I’m troped out.
Allison and Holly are the ones to start figuring things out. And it’s Holly who’s brain goes zero to warp speed and really figures out that they’re trapped in a virtual reality. And that’s really too bad, because virt_Carter is there when she figures it out.
And he kills her.
Boom. At that moment, everyone who loves Felicia Day in everything she does is screaming at the TV. How could they do this?
Really. How could they do this? I’m asking as a writer. Because as virt_Carter is killing virt_Holly – which is really happening as a result of Wen unplugging the real Holly from the Matrix, I’m wondering just how this is possible. So, the senator is unplugging Holly from the virtual reality machine. Wouldn’t she just… you know.. wake up? How does that kill her, exactly? And how is it that the virtual environment was able to react to Holly’s realization so quickly, given that we’ve spent the entire episode carping about how glitchy it is?
I get that characters are going to die. This is the last season. I get that Holly’s the best candidate for Red Shirt at this point. Felicia Day has Geek and Sundry to run. But still. It seems like a lot of hand-waving at the end that Holly would die simply from being taken off a virtual reality machine. It would be different if it was all-inclusive, with life support and such. But there’s nothing to indicate anything’s going on except a machine-induced dream state. Is this a case of the body following the mind? Is the virtual reality environment that powerful that it can convince a person to die in the real world? (remember the whole glitchy thing we heard all episode, now…)
What happens when you come up out of REM sleep? I call a “foul” on the writers. This one seemed a bit too contrived.