This one starts with Pete and Myka trying to get some answers from Artie about Brother Adrian and his vendetta. As usual, Artie is evasive and sends them off on a mission to Dalton, West Virginia, where a guy named Bukowski has rust forming on his body … and in his lungs. After they leave, Steve and Claudia try to get some answers, but Artie weasels out again, this time by reminding them that they have to end Steve’s dependence on the metronome before their bizarre physical connection kills Claudia. Claudia’s not sure if they should rush into this, but Steve reminds her of the urgency by pulling one of his nose hairs out, which makes Claudia’s nose hurt like hell. Artie has done some research into Schumann (who originally owned the metronome) and says Steve has to make a pure start from whence he comes. Steve is from New Jersey (and apparently was born at home), so he has to go back to his old house … a prospect that doesn’t make him happy.
Artie figures he’s finally in the clear, but Mrs. Frederick shows up (with H.G. Wells and Leena) to confront him about Brother Adrian and using the astrolabe to affect time. Artie can’t avoid it any longer, so he tells them about Sykes destroying the Warehouse and how the world had (literally) lost hope, so he used the astrolabe to turn back time. Mrs. Frederick says she’d have done the same and Artie tells her about Adrian’s warning … that he was unleashing an evil of his own making that would haunt him for the rest of his days.
In Dalton, Pete and Myka check out Bukowski, who’s definitely rusting. He says he hasn’t been around any strange items lately and he doesn’t have any enemies … except his ex-boss. Bukowski worked at the Siskel Steel Mill, like most guys in Dalton, but Siskel’s been withholding pay, laying people off, and ignoring safety regs. When some of the guys went on strike to protest, Siskel just got worse. In New Jersey, Steve is freaking out about seeing his mom again. He says they had a big fight about something. (Claudia: “What, about the gay thing?”; Steve: “What? No, she doesn’t care about that. This is New Jersey not North Carolina.”) Despite Steve’s trepidation, his mom (played by Laura Innes) is thrilled to see him and greets him (and Claudia) with a big hug. (Claudia: “Wow, what a nightmare for you.”)
In Dalton, Pete and Myka show up at the steel mill just in time to break up a fight between Siskel and one of his workers as he tries to get through the picket line. Sam, the union rep, says Siskel is to blame for Bukowski’s illness. A steel gantry collapsed in the plant, almost killing a couple of workers, when the plant foreman was on it … coincidentally, the foreman had just lodged a complaint. And now people are getting sick; they figure Siskel must be responsible As if to illustrate his point, the worker Siskel was beefing with starts hacking up rust … and blood. They rush him to the hospital and Pete calls Artie to get some info. Artie says Siskel changed his name (from Blaylock) years ago and Myka points out that the two guys Siskel fought with are the same ones who have the rusting sickness. Artie tries to draw out the conversation, but Mrs. Frederick jumps in and tells Pete and Myka to handle the case themselves.
Since Artie’s stalling tactic didn’t work, he admits that he’s worried the evil Brother Adrian talks about might be in Claudia. He tells them about the dream he had of Claudia stabbing him with the ornate dagger—the one he asked Wells to find—but Mrs. Frederick says she’d be able to feel it if there was an evil inside Claudia. She suggests the evil might be Brother Adrian himself, since he’s the one stealing artifacts and trying to kill people Artie cares about. You’d think that possibility might’ve occurred to Artie, but apparently not. In New Jersey, things are tense between Steve and his mom (Emma), but it’s pretty much all on Steve; his mom tries to reach out and wants to talk about whatever’s bugging him, but he just won’t. Emma seems to like Claudia, probably because she reminds her of her dead daughter.
At the boardinghouse, Artie tells the others that Adrian wants him to undo the time reversal with the astrolabe—which he obviously can’t do without sending the world back into chaos. Mrs. Frederick says she’ll talk to the Regents and see if they can get to the Brotherhood through other channels. Artie gives Wells shit for narcing on him, but she says she knows the perils of screwing with time travel and didn’t want him to be another casualty. In Dalton, Myka talks to Siskel at the plant, asking about the sick workers and the gantry collapse; she all but accuses Siskel of setting up the accident to silence his foreman, or maybe for the insurance money. While she distracts him, Pete slips into his office and checks random items to see if they’re artifacts, but none of them are. Pete gets a call from the hospital about a third rusting victim … but this one’s a woman who’s never been to the mill.
In New Jersey, Steve and Claudia kind of re-enact the ritual that brought him back from the dead: both their hands on the metronome, Claudia’s hand over Steve’s heart. They figure he’s “made a pure start in the place from whence he came”, so he could be free from the metronome. But when he stops the metronome, his heart stops beating—and so does Claudia’s. Steve keels over, which brings his mother running. Claudia manages to start the metronome again, which puts both of them back to normal. But Steve is pissed off that he can’t get free of the metronome and says he came home for nothing. Emma begs Claudia to tell her what the hell is going on.
In Dalton, Myka and Pete talk to the latest rusting victim (Karen) and Myka notices she works out at Tully’s Gym. Karen says lots of the guys from the plant work out there too, so Pete and Myka think maybe that’s the connection. At the gym, they run into some of the steel workers, including Sam. He says Siskel would never set foot in a “low class” place like the gym, which would seem to exclude Siskel as a suspect if the gym is the common link. When Myka mentions that Siskel might not be the one making people sick (and it might be something in the gym), Sam gets defensive and says that the local fights give the town something to root for, to take pride in, so maybe Siskel’s trying to make them look bad. Pete and Myka think Sam is protesting a bit too much and wonder if he’s using an artifact to set Siskel up. Pete decides to interrogate Sam’s buddies one at a time … by sparring with them in the ring.
Apparently Pete’s not as good a boxer as he thought, since every time he asks about Sam, his opponent pops him one. Myka should’ve done the sparring, she’s way better at hand-to-hand. Artie calls to tell Myka that Siskel got in shit for labor violations years ago, but Myka says he’s probably not behind this, since the gym looks like the common factor. Sam gets wind that Pete’s asking questions about him and goes after Pete, but one of Sam’s friends from the plant (Cody) steps in and challenges Pete. This dude looks like a real boxer, so Pete is in deep shit. Turns out he and Cody are both ex-Marines (or just Marines, I guess … no such thing as an “ex” Marine), so there’s some mutual respect. But when Pete points out that people are getting sick and Sam has a motive, Cody beats the shit out of him.
In New Jersey, Claudia tells Emma a little (very little) about the metronome and Emma tells Claudia why Steve is so pissed off at her. When Olivia (her daughter/Steve’s sister) was killed by a stray bullet during a robbery, the prosecutors wanted to make an example of the shooter, so they went for the death penalty. Emma was tired of being angry and sad all the time and didn’t want to put someone else’s mother through that, so she argued against the death penalty. That pissed Steve off, since he saw it as a betrayal of Olivia. Emma notices the poem about the metronome and mentions how strong a mother’s connection with her kids is. That gives Claudia an idea.
In Dalton, Pete wakes up just in time for Cody’s fight … apparently he was out for hours, because the gym is full of cheering townspeople now. Myka says she saw something appear on Cody’s arm when he decked Pete, and heard a weird noise. Pete still thinks Sam is behind everything and confronts him at ringside as Cody’s fight starts. Sam denies doing anything wrong, but tells them the foreman who was hurt in the gantry collapse was Cody’s father, and that Cody went out with Karen a couple of times. If that didn’t convince them of Sam’s innocence, he starts hacking up rust and blood and keels over. Pete takes him out to an ambulance while Myka records Cody’s fight. When Pete returns, she shows him the video and there is something on Cody’s arm just as he decks his opponent … some kind of weird scale armour grows from his fist up to his shoulder.
In New Jersey, Claudia tries to talk to Steve and has a theory that “whence he came” might refer to his mom and making things right with her; but Steve just can’t let go of his anger. He’s mad because his sister is dead but her killer is still alive; he just can’t understand how his mom could forgive the guy. Emma says holding on to hate and anger isn’t good for your soul. She says her anger comes back every day and she has to fight it off and forgive the killer every day. Steve wonders how and she says instead of thinking about the killer, he should think of Olivia … because she was the forgiving type too.
Pete and Myka talk to Cody’s father, who tells them his son saved him when the gantry broke down. He tried to fix it and almost fell over the edge, but Cody pulled him up with one arm. He figures an angel gave Cody the extra strength he needed, but Pete wonders if Cody got some other kind of enhancement. Cody’s dad assumes Pete means steroids and gets pissed off, saying his son is a war hero. Myka reads the account of Cody’s time in Iraq and notices he was wounded outside the Baghdad Museum. Artie finds out that some Spartan armour was stored at that museum and Myka remembers scars on Cody’s chest. If the armour was blown up, then pieces of shrapnel could still be inside Cody, giving him extreme strength in emotionally charged moments. (I can’t help wondering what the emotionally charged moment was with Karen …) Artie speculates that saving his father’s life might’ve activated the shrapnel artifact.
Unfortunately, Cody shows up at the hospital and overhears Myka and Pete saying he’s the one who’s been making his friends sick. He freaks out and runs off, but Myka has a pretty good idea where he went. In New Jersey, Steve apologizes to his mom for acting like a dick. He says he was worried that letting go of his anger meant letting go of Olivia. As Steve and his mother hug, they’re both holding the metronome, and when Claudia touches it too, it lights up. Emma starts gasping like she can’t breathe and Steve gets pissed off and smashes the metronome against the wall, which brings Emma back to normal. The metronome is broken, but Steve is still alive; Claudia points out that his willingness to sacrifice himself for his mom was an act of pure love … and a fresh start for their relationship.
In Dalton, Pete and Myka go to the steel mill where Cody is trying to get Siskel to confess. Cody is so pissed off that the Spartan armour appears on his arm, but before he can deck Siskel, Pete pushes him out of the way and takes the punch. Siskel takes off, but doesn’t get far; Myka bags him and forces him to admit that he rigged the gantry to break (for the insurance), but nobody was supposed to get hurt. Meanwhile, Pete is making like Rocky (or Cool Hand Luke) taking hit after hit to keep Cody from going after Siskel. Pete’s spewing rust—and blood—from his mouth and finally grabs Cody and tells him to finish him off. Cody finally stops pounding Pete, admitting that he’s no killer at heart.
Myka finds them, with Pete half dead from rusting, and tells Cody they have to neutralize the shrapnel inside him to save everyone. Cody says the shrapnel is right up against his heart, so they can’t remove it without killing him. Myka figures if she can’t get the shrapnel into the neutralizer goo, she’ll have to get the goo to the shrapnel. She loads up a syringe from a first-aid kit (do first-aid kits really have giant syringes in them?) with goo and injects it into Cody’s chest. It neutralizes the shrapnel next to his heart, curing Pete (and presumably everyone else) immediately. Since the neutralizer goo is purple, Pete makes the obvious Purple Heart joke.
Cody thanks them for saving all his friends and says Siskel has agreed to hire everyone back and give them the pay he withheld, as long as they back off on the strikes and protests. Myka admits to Pete that she may have “persuaded” Siskel to stop being such an asshole. At the Warehouse, Mrs. Frederick and Wells remove the astrolabe from its hiding place. Mrs. Frederick tells Wells to take it and disappear, and not to communicate with anyone. If Artie doesn’t know where the astrolabe is, he can’t be tempted to use it to undo his time jaunt … which wouldn’t be good for Wells or Mrs. Frederick, since both of them died in the original timeline. Wells prepares to leave and Mrs. Frederick warns her not to trust anyone.