This one has a different feeling right from the beginning. A spaceship comes floating into view, but no one responds to hails. We see a man’s hand inside set on a control but nothing else. There’s a feeling of fear and dread as the Star Cops approach. Theroux looks in through a window and screams. The whole crew is dead and mummified. Flesh-eating virus? Marrow-sucking monster? Vampires? It feels like anything might be possible.
Nathan has to wait for clearance to board the ship, the Pluto 5. Just as he is ready to go, Krivenko asks him to check on someone on a distant station who is not responding to calls. Nathan doesn’t want to do it, but Alex confesses that the woman is a dear friend and he is very concerned for her safety. Spring responds to his honest plea by agreeing to go check on her. He’ll do it to help a friend.
Pal and Theroux are joined by Anna Shoun, who is investigating the case for her boss’s company Hanimed. Kenzy is suspicious of her motives but has to let her board first. There’s no response for a few minutes, then she shows up okay. Investigating on board, they find only 7 corpses from an 8 member crew. Did one survive? No, the other one pops down from a hatchway somewhere right in front of Pal, making it her turn to scream bloody murder. (I like that both a man and a woman screamed in the episode. Seeing a mummified corpse where I wasn’t expecting one would make me scream too.)
Meanwhile, Nathan finds Krivenko’s lady doctor friend dead. Though she isn’t mummified, she too died suddenly with her body frozen in position and the temperature on the ship at 41 degrees Celsius (or about 106 degrees Fahrenheit) just like on the Pluto 5 vessel. She wiped her computer clean first, but a download from her other computer reveals that she was involved with Hanimed as well. Nathan suspects a connection and wants Anna to investigate it, feeling she was sent there to cover their mistakes. “They’re using you!” he tells her. “So are you,” she replies fiercely. That leads Nathan to do a little soul-searching a little later on, and this wonderful dialogue (paraphrased as best I can)
Nathan: Do I exploit people unfairly?
Box: Is it possible to exploit people fairly?
Nathan: I came to you for some therapeutic reassurance, not to argue semantics!
Nathan takes advantage of the fact that Colin is getting ready for his physical, which if he flunks gets him sent back to Earth. He tells him he just flunked it, so he can go undercover at Hanimed. Unfortunately, Colin isn’t very good at it and gets caught trying to sneak into Director Richard Ho’s office, but flunking the facial recognition system. Nathan is told he can only get him released from custody with an apology. But Spring tests the iron tablets found in the diet of all the Pluto 5 crew on some mice in a 41 degree environment and they all die of instant blood clots. Further, Anna investigates her company’s records and finds a reference to P-5 for testing their newest experimental drug. She relays the message to Nathan, who almost doesn’t hear it because he’s complaining she called him in the middle of the night. Anna is caught, fired, and disgraced with Ho telling her maybe her father’s fishing company will take her back.
Nathan arrives to retrieve Colin, and confronts Ho in his steam room. We can all see what’s coming, but that just makes it all the more fun. He gives Ho a drink of water, and then tells him they’ve agreed to destroy the ship, but those iron pills they found on board – you just drank them. Spring prevents him from leaving and turns up the heat, theorizing that the Pluto 5 crew were unwitting guinea pigs for a new drug test – which turned out to have the side effect of clotting the blood instantly at 41 degrees. With the spa temperature approaching the same, Ho confesses – only to find that Nathan had only gave him plain old water. An exciting mysterious case comes to a satisfying end.
Another bull’s eye in future prediction with the facial recognition – a popular identification tool today.
Cloister56 had noted a few episodes back that the automated receptionist for the US space station was terrible, and he was right. But the Japanese counterpart was far superior, with a more believable image nicely encased in a sort of 3D glass bulb. Superb. The multi-screens in the background with optional differing images or combining to make pieces of a single image was also very impressive.
At one point as they are talking about the mummified bodies and how their families wouldn’t want to see them like that, Pal states she could think of some people she’d like to see like that. Theroux lashes out at her that just when he sees some humanity in her, it vanishes. She defends herself that joking about a grim situation is a defense mechanism (something we often heard on M*A*S*H.) Oddly enough, later on he defends Pal when someone else criticizes her, saying she’s a good person once you get to know her. The camaraderie among the crew is building; even Kenzy teasing Devis about sweating up the place when he runs on his treadmill comes off as good-natured banter. The episode concludes as Pal brags about the crew’s various expertises, and then asks Colin what his is. With an inscrutable pause, he announces “demolition”, and then launches into a comical kung fu attack.
So how to rate this episode? I’m torn between a 9 and a 10. For a ten, the episode usually has to have something extra beyond a good plot well executed. And this one comes through with that. That satisfying end I mentioned wasn’t quite the end. We find out that Anna Shoun applied for a position with the Star Cops and has just become the newest member of the team. She was willing to risk her career and honor to do the right thing, so Nathan came through for her in the end - and so this episode get 8 mummified corpses and 2 blood-curdling screams for a total of 10.