This one starts with Artie calling everyone together for their assignments. He shakes things up a bit by partnering Pete with Claudia and Myka with Steve. Claudia wonders why the change and Artie gets worked up, saying it’s not a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book. Claudia and Pete are to go see Hugo Miller, ex-Warehouse agent and current goofball, about some artifact he claims to have found. Myka and Steve are sent to New Orleans to investigate a therapist (Dr. Goldman) who’s been curing severely traumatized patients—PTSD, paranoia, crippling depression—pretty much overnight. Steve thinks that’s not really a bad thing, but Artie reminds him that using artifacts always has a downside. Before they leave, Artie asks Pete (quietly) to keep an eye on Claudia. Artie says it’s because of all the stress she’s been under lately, but we know it’s because of that weird dream Artie’s been having about Claudia stabbing him … which he can’t tell anyone about because it involves him using Magellan’s astrolabe to turn back time.
In New Canaan, Connecticut, Pete and Claudia go to Hugo’s place and he shows them the artifacts … a bag of marbles that once belonged to Bobby Fischer. A marble will sharpen a person’s focus and help them achieve what they really want, but prolonged exposure causes irritability, insanity, and even death. Hugo says someone sent him the marbles out of the blue, with no return address. Hugo introduces his nephew (Brady) and says Brady “borrowed” a marble to help him at school. Brady goes to Tilson Academy (also Hugo’s old school), a highly competitive place, especially lately since they’re holding the IMT, an academic tournament. (Pete: “Oh right, the IMT, the … International Monkey …”; Hugo: “Interschool Multidiscipline Tournament … like Hogwarts.”) Brady used a marble to focus on writing a paper, but as Artie (and the episode’s title) mentioned, there’s always a downside; Brady has some weird black energy running under his skin. He said he thought it would go away when he brought the marble back, but it’s just gotten worse.
In New Orleans, Myka and Steve talk to one of Dr. Goldman’s patients about his miraculous recovery. He says it’s not just regular healing, he can’t even remember having PTSD. There’s no connection between him and the other recovered patients, and Dr. Golden isn’t happy about the unprecedented cures. She says real healing takes time, there are no shortcuts. Steve’s still getting over his own return from the dead, so he’s still not sure why they’re trying to stop people from getting better. At the boardinghouse, Brother Adrian stops in to tell Artie he’s found a way to track down the person who used the astrolabe.
In Connecticut, Pete puts the bag of marbles in the neutralizer goo, but nothing happens. Claudia finds video of one of Brady’s friends (Tommy) beating the shit out of another kid and asks if maybe Brady loaned out one of the marbles; Brady admits that he loaned out four of them. At Tilson Academy, Tommy has the same black-vein symptoms as Brady. He gives the marble back, but that leaves three more still out there. The principal (Marshall) gives Tommy shit, saying the board has cut their budget to the bone so alumni money is even more important than usual, and since the IMT always brings lots of donations, he can’t afford to go easy on Tommy’s violent outburst.
In New Orleans, Myka and Steve can’t find anything in he patient files. Myka tries to get Steve to open up about his own death, but he’s reluctant to talk about it. Myka notices a flyer with a free drink offer for a jazz club just down the street. The PTSD patient was wearing a t-shirt with the club’s logo on it, so they figure maybe all the recently cured patients went to the club. In Connecticut, Hugo is feeling guilty over his carelessness with another artifact, but Claudia tells him not to be so hard on himself. At the boardinghouse, Brother Adrian shows Artie the artifact he’s found, a spur belonging to legendary bounty hunter Jack Duncan. Artie hems and haws about downsides and consequences, but Adrian has a huge file full of research on the spur, showing that any side-effects are minimal.
In New Orleans, Myka and Steve (who are both big jazz fans, apparently) check out the club where all the cured patients went. None of the patients could remember exactly what happened at the club, so the artifact involved must mess with people’s memories. They talk to the bartender (Dina, who’s got a bit of a Jennifer Tilly thing going on) and ask about various aspects of the place, including the musicians currently on stage. Dina says the only steady musician is a guy named Ethan, who plays every night. Steve notices Ethan looks like he’s at death’s door and Dina says it’s some weird bug that came on about three months ago. Ethan’s been to numerous doctors, but they don’t know what’s wrong with him. Steve and Myka quickly put two and two together; people have been losing their pain after coming to the club and Ethan has recently become overwhelmed with pain, so obviously somebody’s transferring pain from the patients to Ethan.
In Connecticut, Pete finds another marble-bearer (Declan), who wants to get on the biology team so bad he’s ready to kill his teacher. Pete roughs him up and gets the marble, leaving two to be found. Claudia’s looking for her target in the debating hall, while Hugo and Brady find the last kid (Pierce) freaking out in a classroom. Hugo says they should wait for Pete, but Brady has focused on retrieving Pierce’s marble and the black-vein disease spreads through his body, knocking him out. Claudia tracks her target down, but his goal is to eliminate his competition in the debate, so he’s ready to drop a speaker on his opponent’s head. Claudia stops him and tries to get the marble.
At the boardinghouse, Artie pretends to go along with Brother Adrian, but he uses another artifact to melt the spur. Turns out Adrian was bullshitting though … the spur was never an artifact, it was just Adrian’s way of testing Artie’s honesty. Adrian admits he suspected all along that Artie used the astrolabe and gives him shit again, but Artie says they’re done and leaves. In New Orleans, Myka and Steve talk to Ethan, but he says he has no idea who’d want to cause him pain. He doesn’t know why he’s sick, but says he intends to play through the pain and live his life while he can. Judging by the longing looks Dina’s giving him, I’d say she’s got the hots for him.
In Connecticut, Claudia brings in her guy and bags his marble, but when Pete brings Pierce to the infirmary, he says there’s a problem … Pierce doesn’t have his marble anymore. Principal Marshall came down on Pierce for disrupting class and took everything he had on him, including the marble. All four of the boys are now showing symptoms of the black-veins, and Brady is so bad off he’s half dead. Pete suggests they should shut down the IMT so keep everyone safe and he and Claudia head out to find Marshall … who we see in a storeroom stockpiling chemicals, and he’s got the black veins creeping up his neck too.
In New Orleans, Myka talks to Dina and finds out Ethan met some old jazzman (maybe it was Bleeding Gums Murphy) right around the time he got sick, who told him to be a great musician you have let your pain out through your music. Steve wonders if Ethan decided he needed to experience more pain so he’d have something to let out. In other words, Ethan’s the one transferring pain to himself and it seems to be killing him. In Connecticut, Pete and Claudia figure out that Marshall is still pissed off at the school board for cutting the budget and wants to get back at them more than anything. Unfortunately, the board is gathered in the gym for a basketball game, along with all the students and dozens of other innocent people. Pete heads for the gym, but can’t find Marshall anywhere. Claudia goes to get Hugo, since he knows his way around, but Brady and the other boys have gotten a bit worked up over the possible cancellation of the IMT. They’re focused on the Tournament going ahead and they’re ready to kill Hugo and Claudia to make sure they don’t stop it.
At the Univille diner, Brother Adrian finds Artie and asks him again to undo what he did with the astrolabe. Artie says he can’t and starts to explain exactly why he used the astrolabe in the first place. In New Orleans, Myka and Steve confront Ethan, who admits he’s been siphoning pain from people but refuses to stop. He says he can remove Steve’s pain too and grabs him while putting his other hand in his pocket. But Steve’s issues are a bit bigger than Ethan can handle and both of them have trouble breathing. In Connecticut, Claudia Teslas the rowdy students, but because of the physical connection between her and Steve (which we saw last episode), she starts having trouble breathing. Hugo gets all maudlin, admitting that he showed Brady the marbles and told him how they worked because he was grooming Brady to be a Warehouse agent. But now Hugo wonders if Brady and Claudia’s difficulties are some kind of cosmic punishment for his meddling.
In New Orleans, Steve mentions the connection with Claudia and says his contact with Ethan could kill her. Myka breaks the contact and pulls an old cigarette case out of Ethan’s pocket, dumping it in a neutralizer bag. That breaks Ethan’s hold on Steve and Claudia immediately starts breathing easier (and gives Hugo a pep talk about how much they need him and how none of the bad shit happening is his fault). In Univille, Brother Adrian is sympathetic about the reason Artie used the astrolabe, but insists he use it to put things back the way they were. Artie refuses again and Adrian says the Brotherhood will come at them with every resource they have—in fact, they’ve already fired the first shot. And unlike the Regents, the Brotherhood doesn’t play by the rules.
In Connecticut, Pete, Claudia, and Hugo meet in the gym, which is packed. Hugo mentions there’s a furnace room right underneath and Pete goes down to check it out. Marshall whacks him with a pipe and takes his Tesla. Pete comes to and sees Marshall mixing chemicals, which Marshall says will turn into a deadly gas in the furnace and shoot out the vents right where the board members are sitting. Pete mentions all the innocent people, but Marshall’s focus is on making the board pay, so he doesn’t care. Marshall is pouring the chemical into the furnace when Pete whacks him with the pipe, knocking him out. Pete calls Hugo and Claudia and tells them to evacuate the gym while he tries to shut the furnace off.
Unfortunately, the main furnace panel looks like the cockpit of a 747. I’ve seen furnaces of several types and I’ve never seen anything that complicated; normally there’s a main switch or breaker to shut off, or Pete could just douse the pilot light (or igniter) … but I guess that wouldn’t be as dramatic. Claudia and Hugo start herding people out of the gym (and Claudia makes a Heathers joke while corralling the cheerleaders), and Pete decides he needs a little help to focus on his task. Yup, he takes the marble from the unconscious Marshall to help him figure out how to shut the furnace down. It works and Pete shuts it off, so the gas is never dispersed … although I guess the chemicals are still in there? I’d hate to be the clean-up crew on that job. Pete hands over the last marble and Claudia neutralizes the whole bag, immediately returning everyone to normal. Marshall is freaked out that he tried to kill the school board, but Pete and Claudia say it never happened, blaming his delusion on the ubiquitous mushrooms.
In New Orleans, Ethan says he got the cigarette case from his great-grandfather, who got it from Scott Joplin. He figured helping other people with their pain and dying young would be a good legacy, but Steve says people have a right to work out their own shit. Dina says Ethan is selfish for wanting to die, not even thinking about the people who love him. He doesn’t know what she means until Myka spells it out. I think he’ll be getting some great life experience with Dina real soon. Steve tells Myka about the weird physical connection between him and Claudia since Claudia resurrected him. He’s worried that the metronome will keep him from being harmed, but anything bad that happens to him will affect Claudia. He’s considering taking himself off the metronome and dying again to protect her, but Myka says there has to be another solution and she’ll help him look for it.
Back at the Warehouse, Steve tells Artie he needs to take some time to process everything and learn more about the metronome, so he wants to stick close to home for a while. Pete and Claudia return with the marbles and Claudia tells Steve she’s got Revenge on TiVo; Steve doesn’t get why everyone tries to get him to watch Revenge, and I gotta say, I don’t get the joke either. Artie asks Pete how Claudia did and Pete says she’s grown into a strong, powerful woman … a force to be reckoned with. He mentions how Bobby Fischer’s marbles just showed up at Hugo’s place out of nowhere and Artie freaks out, remembering how Brother Adrian promised to dismantle his life’s work and how things had already begun. He rushes down into the Warehouse to the shelf where the marbles were supposed to be kept. They’ve been removed, obviously, but close by Artie finds a black diamond, symbol of Brother Adrian’s sect.