Episode 6: Burnout
This one starts in St. Louis, with Myka and Pete investigating an explosion at a police station. Myka wishes they had some time off, instead of just going from case to case. Pete notices a huge generator outside the police station and there’s another shot of a generator inside; I think this will be significant later … Chekhov’s Generator, as it were. They meet the guy in charge, Captain Powell, who tells them there was a gas main explosion. They examine one of the bodies, which is burnt beyond recognition. (“Kentucky Fried extra crispy” as Pete puts it). Like most cops, Powell isn’t happy to have the Feds invading his turf, so he tells Pete and Myka to get lost; naturally, they don’t. They do manage to wheedle a little more info from Powell: all the dead guys were suspects waiting to be processed and two cops are in the hospital. There’s a huge hole leading down into what looks like a basement under the station (probably sealed off when the station was built), and Myka and Pete head down to check it out.
The basement is appropriately spooky, but things soon get even more weird, when they find an open door leading to a room. Inside, they find a skeleton handcuffed to a water pipe. The skeleton has a Secret Service badge … and a Tesla gun, meaning the dead guy was a Warehouse agent. Artie is shocked when they tell him and says they need to take photos of the remains and make arrangements to send him the skeleton. They speculate on whether the explosion released an artifact that was in the basement to begin with (which then fried all the guys upstairs) or whether the explosion was caused by the artifact. Artie says it’s up to Myka and Pete to figure that out while he tries to identify the dead Warehouse agent.
That won’t be easy, since the Warehouse filing system is definitely old school … as in a room full of boxes of musty paper files stacked on shelves; Claudia isn’t impressed. They receive the photos of the skeleton, but Artie says he prefers to wait until the remains are in front of him. Claudia says she has something almost as good and shows him a machine she cobbled together from stuff she found around the Warehouse. Artie’s not into new-fangled machinery, but Claudia assures him it’s “totally old-fangled”. It turns out to be a 3-D projector that can turn the photos Myka sent into holograms. Artie is impressed (though he’s not exactly free with the praise) and notices something on the skeleton’s arm. He asks Claudia to digitally reconstruct it while he keeps going through the dead-tree records.
In St. Louis, Pete and Myka go through the files of the dead suspects (who were members of a local gang) and notice that there were seven of them in custody, but only six bodies. Powell puts out an APB n the missing guy, Reggie Hinton. We see Reggie hooking up with some of his friends, but he’s acting really weird and paranoid. He tells them somebody’s after them and they have to take off. They follow him into an alley where they run into someone who attacks them with lightning. Later, Powell, Myka, and Pete check out the new crime scene. The bodies are charred to a crisp again, like Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, but there’s no gas main explosion to blame this time. Myka finds a handprint burned into one corpse’s back.
At the Warehouse, Claudia digitally reconstructs the skeleton’s arm enough to see he had a globe-and-anchor tattoo, like a U.S. Marine might have. Pete and Myka call to let him know about the new crispy critters and Artie speculates about artifacts that can burn without fire. He figures someone—or something—must’ve chased Reggie from te police station. Myka and Pete head back to get more info. They figure a rival gang might have killed the guys at the station and chased Reggie back to his home turf. Powell says the head of the Gang Unit (Clarke) is out on leave, but Powell gives them some stuff from Clarke’s desk about local activity.
At the Warehouse, the skeleton has arrived (I wonder if they sent it Priority Mail?) and Artie uses Claudia’s new 3-D tech to reconstruct the face of the dead guy. It turns out to be an agent named Jack Secord, who disappeared decades ago in Minneapolis. Artie and Claudia head down to the Warehouse floor to a multi-level rotating hub where Secord’s room is preserved as it was when he disappeared. Apparently, when an agent goes missing, all their stuff is collected and preserved in a reconstruction of their living quarters. Claudia finds a note from a woman (there’s perfume on it), but no envelope to indicate who it was from. Artie does the old reporter trick of rubbing a pencil over Secord’s stationery to show the impression of what was written there; he finds a name, Rebecca, and an old address … in St. Louis.
Myka and Pete go to see Rebecca St. Claire, who tells them she did know Jack Secord … very well, wink, wink. She asks about the explosion at the police station and Pete is ready to tell her everything, but Myka is less forthcoming. Rebecca offers them some tea and cookies, which Pete accepts gratefully. He says he’s trying to establish a rapport with Rebecca … plus he hasn’t eaten all day. They get a call about another incident and have to leave (Pete takes most of the cookies with him). Just as they’re leaving, Rebecca asks if anyone else has been electrocuted, but neither of them notices her unusual knowledge. I can see Pete missing it, but Myka’s usually more observant than that.
The latest crime scene is more dead gang members and a kid says it was a cop who did it. Myka and Pete ask about Clarke, the Gang Unit head who’s “on temporary leave”; Powell says Clarke lost his temper with a suspect and had to take a few days off. Myka and Pete figure a guy who ha a grudge against gang members, plus a bunch of dead gang members, can’t be a coincidence. They head over to Clarke’s place, where they see electricity glowing under the door. They bust in and catch Clarke going out the window with a weird metal crustacean-thing on his back, arcing electricity like crazy. Clarke jumps out of the window and they chase him into a nearby alley, where they find his dead body. There’s no sign of the electric crab (which I think was a dance in the 80s) except some burn marks on Clarke’s back.
Pete and Myka send photos of Clarke’s body (since Powell refused to release it to them) and mention the electric crab and the burn marks. Artie scans the back of Secord’s skeleton to see if there are any weird marks there and tries to eliminate possible explanations for the artifact affecting Clarke. (Artie has a blackboard with numerous possibilities crossed out, like Mandelbrot Set, Marconi’s Oscillator, Dayton Project, Sacred Papyri of Seleucia, Kennelly Heavyside Layer, ELF, Egg of Columbus, Magnetohydrodynamic Generator, Goebbels’ Radio, Peenemunde, Babylonian Battery, Teller’s Micro-fusion Reactor, Gilbert’s Amber, and a few others I can’t make out.) Claudia says Secord’s skeleton has the same markings on its back as Clarke, so Artie figures the weird electric crab must’ve been attached to Secord when he died in the basement. Myka remembers (finally) Rebecca mentioning electrocution, so she and Pete head back to talk to her.
Rebecca pretends not to know what they’re talking about at first, but soon reveals that wasn’t just Secord’s girlfriend, she was also a Warehouse agent. Maybe her offer of cookies earlier was some sort of test? At the Warehouse, Artie has found a reference to the weird crab-thing in an old book that looks like it was left over from the Voynich Manuscript. He reluctantly admits to Claudia that he has no clue what the writing says. In St. Louis, Rebecca shows them all the evidence she gathered decades ago when she and Secord were researching unexplained burn deaths. The deaths started after a museum exhibit of recently unearthed 11th century artifacts. Secord wrote “Hand of God” in the margin beside the drawing … maybe he’s a Maradona fan. Rebecca says Secord’s first priority was always the Warehouse, even though she knew it would probably end up killing one of them sooner or later.
Among the evidence is an old drawing of a guy with the mechanical crab on his back getting struck by lightning. When they call Artie, he tells them the artifact is called the Spine of the Saracen and it may have belonged to an elite warrior sect during the Crusades. Myka and Pete show him the similar drawing they got from Rebecca and Artie says he’s translated some of the text from the book and it claims the Spine requires a lifetime commitment. They’re all still puzzled over where the Spine gets its power from and Myka wonders if the Spine might still be lurking near Clarke’s place, looking for another victim. They head over to check it out.
While checking the alley where Clarke died, they’re startled by a woman across the street freaking out. She runs out of an apartment with a gun in her hand, saying she shot someone who was after her but he just kept coming. The dude comes out after her with the Spine of the Saracen attached to his back, electricity arcing all over him. Myka blasts him with the Tesla gun, but it doesn’t do any good. The guy dies in a burst on energy and the woman says he was her ex, against whom she had a restraining order. Pete tells her to run like hell as he and Myka try to see the Spine. It jumps out at them and when Pete shoves Myka out of the way, the Spine attaches to him. He’s freaking out,obviously in agony, and Myka is knocked out by the electricity when she tries to grab him. Pete takes off, still in pain.
Myka is revived by Powell and takes off to call Artie. She tells him and Claudia that Pete has the Spine attached to him and they tell her the Spine was used during the Crusades to create super-soldiers, jacking up their natural abilities … and aggression. Myka—who’s joined by Rebecca—realizes the Spine must make people go after what they hate: the cop went after gang members and the asshole guy went after his ex-wife. Artie says the Spine feeds off the natural electrical impulses inside the human body, until it’s all used up, when the Spine finds a new host. Claudia figures they can overload the Spine (like in the old drawing) with a large surge of power, but Myka’s not sure how to do that without killing Pete.
Rebecca mentions that Secord was trained to take a bullet as part of his job, which is why he locked himself in the basement; he was sacrificing himself to make sure the Spine couldn’t find anymore victims. The explosion (which I guess was a gas main after all?) must’ve freed it to find a new host. Rebecca says Pete has the same training as Secord, so he’ll probably sacrifice himself to render the Spine harmless too. Powell tells Myka Pete was spotted heading back to the police station and Myka figures he must be thinking of using the generators there (I told you they were significant) to overload the Spine. I guess Pete independently figured out the “Hand of God” reference.
At the station, Pete is really losing his shit, in excruciating pain and trying to fight the Spine’s influence. He’s read to hook himself to the big generator, but can’t reach the Spine with the leads, so he begs Myka to do it. She can’t, probably thinking about the last partner she lost, for whose death she blames herself. Rebecca shows she hasn’t lost her Warehouse agent mettle and attaches the leads to the Spine, the throws the generator switch. Pete overloads with electricity, which detaches the Spine. Myka gives Pete CPR while Rebecca smashes the Spine to pieces.
Later, at the warehouse, Pete is joking about his near death experience, which gets Artie all worked up. Rebecca drops by with the remains of the Spine and Artie says there’s still a place for her at the Warehouse. Rebecca turns him down and sounds a bit disillusioned with the Warehouse, saying it never likes to let go of anything. Artie shows her the recreation of Secord’s room and gives her the engagement ring he found in a drawer. He leaves and Myka says Secord chose Rebecca over the Warehouse after all. Rebecca is touched, but right before she leaves she warns Myka to get out while she still has a chance at a normal life … otherwise the Warehouse will use her up and spit her out like the Spine.