Episode 3: Beyond Our Control
This one starts at an Army Base in Wichita, Kansas in 1944, where something called Project Gemini is being heavily guarded. A Warehouse agent named Buck Mendell (who looks like an African-American Indiana Jones) pulls up and tells the guards he’s authorized to shut down the Farnsworth Project. But he’s a few moments too late, as an explosion rocks the base. In the present, Mrs. Frederick is at the boardinghouse to talk to Leena about the lingering effects of MacPherson’s mind hijack. Mrs. Frederick also notices blueprints for the Farnsworth communicators lying on the table; apparently Claudia’s been tweaking her communicator. Leena tells Mrs. Frederick she’s been having bad dreams, dizzy spells, and headaches. Valda, the snotty guy from the Warehouse Regents pops up and tells Leena that MacPherson might’ve left an “echo” behind when he was in her head. Valda introduces a woman named Taka (played by Jean Yoon of Kim’s Convenience fame), who’s going to help find out what MacPherson did to Leena.
In Univille, Pete is still trying to get his stuff from the Post Office, but the lady who runs it (Brenda) says she’s shutting down due to government cutbacks. Brenda says Pete will have to get his stuff from the next closest branch, ninety miles away. She says she’s heading home to watch old movies and make popcorn; she seems pretty hostile, even for a government employee. At the Warehouse, Claudia has her Farnsworth apart and is pimping it. When Artie sees what she’s doing, he freaks; he tells her not to screw with perfection and to put the Farnsworth back together or he’ll take it back. In town, Pete leaves a terse message at the branch Post Office about his stuff and his mood worsens as he gets a call on the Farnsworth, but the reception is shit. Myka suggests they go for a drive so he can calm down. A veterinarian watches them walk by from the window of her clinic and a few seconds later there’s a flash of light and three World War II Marines walk by, loaded for bear. Not only are the Marines straight out of the 40s, the town around them changes to resemble a Pacific island.
Alarms go off at the Warehouse and Artie calls Myka (although the Farnsworths are still acting up, for which he blames Claudia) and they meet by a barber shop. Artie checks the barber pole, which is a sort of artifact indicator, and it seems there’s an artifact in town. Artie figures MacPherson (or H.G. Wells) might’ve placed something in town to distract them. Artie tells them to sweep the town for anything unusual, using their standard cover … IRS agents. Well, that explains why everyone in town hates them with a passion; everybody thinks they’re tax agents and the Warehouse is a facility for storing people’s tax returns. Artie says he’s heading back to the Warehouse to check the Salinger Inventory Scan, which will let him know if anything’s missing. Pete asks if Salinger refers to the writer and Claudia tells him to “RTFM, dude”, which confuses him for a moment.
At the boardinghouse, Taka prepares to use the Pearl of Wisdom to probe Leena’s subconscious, which worries Mrs. Frederick. Valda says it’s the best way to find and repair whatever damage MacPherson did to Leena’s mind. In town, Myka and Pete talk to the veterinarian, Kelly (or Dr. Hernandez as she insists Pete call her; she’s played by Paula Garcès); she tells them about the Marines she saw and mentions one of them was wearing a patch of a wolf breathing fire. Kelly wonders why IRS agents are investigating people dressed as Marines and Myka and Pete try to give her some bullshit about the Marines being “for-profit re-enactors”, but Kelly’s not buying it. She and Pete have a lot of antagonism going on which, if I know my memes, means they’ll end up banging.
Claudia goes to the hardware store to get supplies to fix the Farnsworth and meets Todd, the guy who works there. They exchange awkward glances and small talk (another meme) and Todd acts weird when Claudia moves toward the stairs to the room above, saying it’s the owner’s room and it’s off limits. Claudia gets a call on her Farnsworth (which almost blows out their eardrums) and goes outside. The device still isn’t working, but when she tries to use it, a cowboy appears from nowhere and almost rides right over her. The street around her changes to look like an Old West town, then changes back as soon as the cowboy disappears.
Pete and Myka aren’t having much luck with their canvas of Univille residents, but when Pete tries to take a call on his Farnsworth, there’s a flash of light and a tumbleweed blows past. I think I’m sensing a pattern here … all the weird events are preceded by someone getting a call on the screwed up Farnsworths. This is a reprise of Claudia’s encounter, with the street changing (partially) to an Old West scene and the same cowboy facing down three outlaws. He guns them down and everything fades away. Pete and Myka hit the ground during the shooting, which seemed to do real damage to a nearby SUV, but as soon as the Western scene fades, the damage disappears too.
Back at the Warehouse, Claudia speculates that sunspots could be causing all the weirdness, but Artie’s sure it was her fucking with the Farnsworths that did it. Claudia insists the Farnsworths don’t have that kind of power and Myka figures they should entertain the possibility that there is another artifact in town. Artie triangulates the three events and narrows it to a four-block radius near the town square, so the others head back to town to check it out. At the boardinghouse, Taka uses a crystal ball (or something that looks like one) to link to the Pearl. Images of Leena and MacPherson appear in the crystal ball and Taka starts her mind probe.
In town, Claudia tells the others about Todd’s weirdness when she got too close to the stairs in the hardware store. They go to check it out and get another garbled Farnsworth call. This time, the craziness happens inside the store: Todd sees a huge tiger and a dude dressed like a Roman gladiator—who looks like the Marine sergeant and the cowboy, by the way—and freaks out. Claudia runs inside the store when she hears Todd yell, but ends up knocking him out using a technique Myka showed her. She hears the tiger growling and goes upstairs to find Myka and Pete. Turns out Todd is hijacking video feeds and selling them to the people of Univille … which is a felony, but not artifact related. Claudia mentions something’s going on downstairs and when they get there, Todd’s still unconscious. (Myka seems proud that Claudia used her move to knock him out.) They see the tiger lying dead in a pool of blood and the gladiator appears, spouting something about freedom. He tosses a shield, whacking Pete in the head, then charges with his trident.
When the trident hits Pete, it and the gladiator disappear and Pete is unhurt … except for the head wound where the shield hit him, which makes him keel over. At the boardinghouse, Mrs. Frederick takes over the mind probe, to insure Leena’s survival. She makes contact with whatever residue of MacPherson remains, but he doesn’t answer questions, he just taunts them. In town, Todd and Pete are treated by Kelly (I guess with all the cuts, a veterinarian is the best they can get). Claudia and Todd have a little chat and he asks if she’s really with the IRS; she tells him she’s with an ultra-secret government section that hunts down magical artifacts. Naturally, he doesn’t believe her. Kelly is still hostile toward Pete, but her description of the Marine fits with the cowboy and gladiator. (Pete: “Maybe we’re looking for the artifact of the Village People.”) Myka realizes the Farnsworths go off before every event, but wonders if the Farnsworths are reacting to whatever’s triggering the events. She figures Claudia can tweak the Farnsworth to track the source of the events.
At the Warehouse, Artie collects parts from the Farnsworth aisle for Claudia—he’s adamant about her not touching anything, but she’s sure tempted. Pete and Myka are in town, wondering where the artifact might be. Pete remembers Kelly mentioning the Marines wearing a patch, and says Marines don’t have patches like that. (Apparently, Pete was in the Marines.) He suddenly remembers something and takes off, with Myka running frantically after him. At the Warehouse, Claudia’s ready to head to town and mentions there’s an artifact in the Farnsworth aisle that’s missing a piece; artifact 186 is supposed to have two components, 186a and 186b, but 186a is missing. Claudia says 186a was never logged in as being shelved, which makes Artie take off running to check the archives.
In town, Pete confirms his suspicions about the wolf patch with Kelly and tells Myka it’s from a movie starring an actor named Raymond St. James … who also played a cowboy and a gladiator in other movies. At the Warehouse, Artie goes through the old files and finds one on Project Gemini, which involved a 3-D camera and projector; whatever the camera shot, the projector would render as a 3-D image, but it ended up working too well, rendering a solid tank that blew away half the spectators … which is what caused the explosion we saw in the opening flashback. I guess that’s what happens when you do 3-D experiments with Army tanks. Artie goes to the Farnsworth aisle and finds the 3-D camera, but the projector never made it to the Warehouse; must have gotten lost in the mail.
In town, Claudia gives Myka and Pete the trackers she rigged up and they realize something might happen soon at Kelly’s clinic. They head over and check Kelly’s office, just in time to get caught in a shootout. This time, Raymond St. James is in a gangster movie and gets gunned down by mobsters. Pete realizes the events are following St. James’s movie career chronologically; after the gangster flick, there’s only one movie left, Dr. Doomsday. Unfortunately, in that movie, St. James played a mad scientist who blew up an entire town.
They meet up with Artie and head to the Post Office as he explains about Project Gemini. They find the artifact’s crate empty and Pete and Myka remember what Brenda said when she locked up the Post Office … she was going home to watch old movies and eat popcorn. We see Brenda at home (wearing a Snuggie!), watching the Raymond St. James marathon on a classic movie channel. Instead of just watching TV, she’s using the artifact as a 3-D projector. The four Warehouse agents barge in, surprising her as she microwaves some popcorn. At the boardinghouse, Taka says MacPherson’s spirit has left an impression on Leena’s subconscious, like grooves cut in a record. Mrs. Frederick will have to smooth them over in order to restore Leena to full capacity. After a brief mental struggle, Mrs. Frederick succeeds and Leena wakes up.
In Brenda’s apartment, they cut the connection to her TV, but that doesn’t shut down the projector. They realize Brenda’s microwave has been booting the signal, causing the projected images to appear outside, but they can’t shut down every microwave and satellite dish in town. They head out and track the energy to the square, where the projector suddenly turns itself on and keeps playing the movie. There’s a pseudo-scientific explanation for that, but I didn’t understand it. Basically, the movie is going to play out, culminating in the destruction of the town … unless they use the 3-D camera to film something benign and substitute it for Dr. Doomsday. There’s a cute meta-reference when the Dr. Doomsday movie goes to commercial: Myka says, “Great, we’ve got an extra three minutes.”; Pete: “Well, unless someone fast-forwards through the commercials.”; Myka: “Don’t even joke about that!” And then there’s a (real) commercial break.
Artie and Claudia grab the 3-D camera and head back to the square, followed by Todd, who got the parts Claudia ordered. Pete and Myka pull their guns, but Dr. Doomsday’s killer robot (which Pete dressed as for Halloween once) uses a super-magnet to disarm them. Artie and Claudia show up and she tries to get the camera going. Artie tells her to focus on something benign and she points the camera at him. (“Not me! I haven’t been benign since 1956.”) The camera doesn’t work and when Claudia opens it up, the insides are fried from the fuck-up back in 1944. Artie suggests cannibalizing their Farnsworths for parts, but Claudia says she’d need five Farnsworths. That’s Todd’s cue to show up with the box of parts Claudia ordered (for which she gives him a big smooch) and she goes to work, but soon finds out the wiring pattern has been changed. Myka’s photographic memory comes in handy (she read the Farnsworth blueprints that morning) and she guides Claudia through the rewiring. Claudia is short a fusible link, so Pete and Artie grab a battery cable. Claudia finishes just before Dr. Doomsday blows everything to hell, replacing the movie with an image of Artie—which apparently went out to all the TVs in town. Brenda, for one, was rather disappointed.
At the boardinghouse, Claudia briefly contemplates tweaking a Tesla gun, but thinks better of it. Myka points out how cute Todd is, and Claudia tries to ignore her implication. Pete comes in with a bowl of popcorn and a Raymond St. James movie on DVD. The rest of them are sick of Raymond St. James, but popcorn is popcorn, so they decide to tough it out. Leena leaves behind a strange drawing she was doing that looks like a woman’s hair. Mrs. Frederick finds the drawing and is fascinated by it, wondering if it has something to do with the echo of MacPherson that Valda mentioned.