Persons Unknown

Episode 1.03 : The Way Through

  • Persons Unknown
    • Episode Premiere : June 21, 2010
    • Distributor : NBC
    • Genre : Drama
    • Seasons : 1
    • Show Period : 2010 - 2010
    • Production Company: Fox Television Studios
    • Official Site :

Cast and Crew

The Story

Day dawns over the town, which appears truly empty since the seven hostages are... underground. For the last week, they've been digging a tunnel under the town square, which is designed to resurface outside the boundaries created by the pain guns. McNair makes a measurement - there's only 10 more inches to dig! That's when his shovel hits a steel barrier that blocks any further digging.

Just when things seem like they can't get any worse, slats in the steel wall open up, emitting toxic smoke. Everyone rushes to climb out of the tunnel, except for Janet, who explores the steel wall for any way out. Luckily, Joe pulls her out of the tunnel, but by the time Janet reaches the surface, she's no longer breathing. Joe's just about to give her mouth-to-mouth when she coughs violently and rolls back to consciousness.

The group retreats to the Shanghai Palace, but no one really feels like eating. Moira cries; they're all screwed, screwed, screwed. Unable to believe everyone's going to simply give up, Janet yells at Moira to shut up, then turns to a camera for more yelling. Trying to keep the peace, Joe promises they'll make it out of the town together. Moira pipes up. Maybe they've got it all wrong. They've been trying to escape - maybe they need to work harder at NOT escaping. Why not make rescuers come to them?

Janet immediately comes up with the idea of a signal fire, and Joe dispatches everyone to search the town for anything that will burn. Back at the offices of the San Francisco Register, Kat scolds Renbe. Why did he miss their date? Renbe admits he's back on the case of the missing mommy, which has taken a major turn: Eleanor abused Janet when she was little, and now she has custody of Megan. Kat perks up - child abuse has a nasty front-page ring. Renbe can stay on the story, as long as he sources the sleaze by tomorrow; otherwise he's off the case.

Bill follows Tori into the drug store, ostensibly looking for flammable items. The last few days have taught him they need to live every moment like it's their last. When Tori cracks wise, claiming that's a good idea considering Bill's age, he comes in close. Too close. Bill tries to force Tori into a kiss, so she springs into action like Jackie Chan, ultimately wiping the floor with him. Tori won't apologize, but does offer an explanation: her intimacy issues sometimes result in inappropriate, violent outbursts.

Later, Bill explains his beaten face to Charlie: Tori's one crazy bitch. When Charlie steps into a TV shop to continue looking for flammables, a TV in the window turns on. Bill watches spellbound as the TV plays video of a distraught Charlie suffocating his bedridden wife. By the time Charlie exits the store, the TV has turned itself off. The guys circle back to the town square to add what they've collected to a giant pile of stuff. Everyone tries to get the fire started, but amazingly, none of the stuff that should burn will.

McNair concludes that all the items in town must be doused in some type of flame retardant, when suddenly helicopter blades are heard whirring overhead. Unable to believe their good luck, the hostages wave and scream, until a trap door in the belly of the helicopter slides open. McNair orders everyone to hit the dirt, as a container drops out of the helicopter, which then roars away. The container door slides open, revealing seven canisters. Everyone grabs a canister and opens them up to reveal...

Gas masks. Three of them. Janet quickly surmises that the distribution of gas masks means four of them will die. The hostages retreat to the hotel lobby to figure argue their next step. McNair gives his mask to Moira, and Janet tries to grab Charlie's. After all, she's the only one looking out for her daughter. Gravely offended, Charlie asks Janet how she can possibly think she's the only one with family in trouble out there. His wife is bedridden with painful metastatic tumors and relies on him for her every need. For now, the people who will keep their masks are Charlie, Moira and Tori.

Suddenly the Night Manager steps into the lobby, claiming he's been promoted, thus working during the day. He doesn't have a gas mask, but he does have complimentary umbrellas to hand out. Joe decides it's time to search the town for anything that might protect them in case of a gas attack, and heads out with Janet and McNair. Moira joins the search, grateful for the mask McNair sacrificed to her.

Renbe returns to his apartment with an armful of groceries only to find the place ransacked. Edick kicks back on the couch, drinking Renbe's beer, and threatening him with a gun. The disappearance of Janet is not a newspaper story. "They" want Edick to kill Renbe. Knowing Renbe works in the gutter and understands the cheapness of human life; Edick promised that Renbe would listen to reason. He helps himself to Renbe's laptop and files on Janet, slams him in the gut and leaves.

Bill bangs on Charlie's door, then barges into his room to relate the crazy dream he had. Bill dreamed that Charlie smothered him with a pillow, and boy, was it horrible. Bill pours on the pathos, sending Charlie running from the room in a panic. Meanwhile, McNair and Moira search for helpful items. McNair has been in worse situations, like when he served as a guard at a military prison for terrorists. By the time he left, he had become a devout Muslim; Islam gave him clarity. Hoping for some clarity herself, Moira wonders if McNair could teach her about his spiritual practice. He agrees.

Janet is perusing a grocery store when she hears a noise from a back storeroom. Instantly on guard, she calls out, then investigates, finding Charlie in the back swigging from a bottle of soda from yesteryear, which brings back childhood memories. Charlie accuses Janet of breaking one of the 10 Commandments: though shalt not covet thy neighbor's gas mask. According to Janet, Charlie has broken a commandment too - "thou shalt not be an asshole." Just then, a siren blares, the doors lock, and gas pours out of a vent.

Charlie freaks out and grabs Janet in panic. She flings him away and pounds on the door, as Charlie pulls it together and dons his mask. Within seconds, Janet's almost unconscious. Luckily, the door unlocks in the nick of time, and a concerned Charlie drags her to safety. When they realize the gas attack was confined to the storeroom, Charlie screams to the cameras: WHY?! Later that night, Janet is still recovering from the gas. Her eyes hurt, and her skin is on fire. She screams at the cameras, urging whoever's watching to come closer, then breaks the camera's dome.

McNair points out that the gas used in the grocery store attack had a high level of toxicity. At least they saw it coming; the gas could have been invisible. Arguments break out. Charlie claims he's empathetic to those who don't have masks; Bill is certain they're all dead; but Janet pretends to remain optimistic. After all, they've found paint masks and heavy rain gear, which might provide some protection.

Later that night, McNair finds Moira at the Shanghai Palace, playing one note on the piano over and over. Just when he fears Moira's about to crack up, she breaks into a beautiful, soothing melody. McNair sits and relaxes, letting the music wash over him, as Moira explains she learned to play at the mental hospital. She was orphaned as a kid, and the state orphanage was so terrifying that she cried all the time. When she was sent to the mental hospital for observation, Moira finally felt safe, and decided she had to convince everyone she was crazy so she could stay. Somewhere along the line, she convinced herself, too.

Back in San Francisco, Renbe breaks into Edick's office. He passes right by a photo of Edick and Tori's father to find files on himself and Janet, in Edick's desk and on his laptop. It turns out that both Eleanor and Janet have been paying Edick to find Janet's missing husband. When Renbe finds a suspicious phone number, he picks up Edick's phone and dials, only to hear a strange beeping pattern. When he hangs up, his own phone rings - the same pattern of beeps is the only thing audible. Freaked out, Renbe grabs the laptop Edick took from him and skedaddles.

Joe finds Janet in the ice cream shop, hunkered down over a five-gallon tub of cherries jubilee - Joe's favorite flavor. It brings back childhood memories, when his dad would take him out for ice cream after Little League games to list every one of Joe's mistakes. Janet thinks it could have been worse; Joe's dad could have abandoned him. It's a big deal that his dad was at those games. Janet looks up, horrified to see that all the vintage-style posters around the store depict Eleanor with Megan, enjoying ice cream.

Completely unglued, Janet runs back to the hotel lobby and grabs a bottle, demanding Charlie's gas mask NOW! Joe talks her down, urging her to look in the mirror to see what "they've" done to her. He grabs the bottle and pulls Janet into a hug as she dissolves in tears. The next morning, Janet enters the lobby to find the others have already gathered to talk about her. She apologizes, explaining that she's never freaked out like that before. Charlie and McNair are ready to forgive; it's clear "they" are using psychological warfare to break each of the hostages down and turn them against each other.

Suddenly, sirens blare, the doors lock, smoke fills the air, and the Night Manager quickly scurries away. Charlie, Tori and Moira don their gas masks as Janet and Joe try to open the doors. Bill lunges for Charlie, knocks him out, and absconds with his gas mask. McNair immediately punches Bill, demanding he return Charlie's mask. Just as Joe realizes the gas is non-toxic, Tori, Moira and Bill's masks release a noxious green gas. Even worse, they can't get the masks off their faces!

Janet finds a letter opener at the front desk and runs peel the window off Moira's mask, then proceeds to help the others. Later, after the dust settles, Moira joins McNair in the gazebo to pray to Allah. His face now badly burned by the gas, Bill apologizes for taking Charlie's mask. When Charlie claims his motto is "do unto others," Bill scoffs - what about killing his wife? Bill knows when someone's lying, and what Charlie believes as truth doesn't ring true. And furthermore, Bill isn't really a car salesman...

Joe and Janet bump into each other in the lobby. Janet's out of ideas when it comes to plans, but Joe has a theory. Why not ride it out until the end? Janet thinks the way through involves acting like a shark. Show no emotion or weakness. When the Night Manager places a bowl of fortune cookies on the front desk, Janet dumps it in the garbage. She's going to make her own luck. Meanwhile, Edick visits Detective Gomez at the SFPD to drop off a photo of Janet and her missing husband. Oddly enough, it's a photo of Janet and Renbe.






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