Residue Recap: Episode 2
I can feel myself falling in love.
So, here Residue starts to hit its stride (emphasis on “starts to”). Well, maybe “stride” is the wrong word for the second episode of a three-episode season but this installment certainly improves upon the first. It builds on what’s been established, (thus making the sluggish episode 1 worth the struggle), and ups the stakes accordingly. It’s a show that, for all its flaws, seems to have a clear vision and mythology and I remain eagerly on board to learn just what that is.
We open with Angela Rossi, whom I referred to as Jonas’ “unspecified superior” in recap 1 (I only know her name from checking the end credits) receiving an urgent call from an unidentified man: there’s been a development in the Quarantine Zone. Troops are on their way and she needs to get her people (read: Jonas) briefed.
Two soldiers have a quick chat in the back of a truck speeding towards the Quarantine Zone. One’s been in there before, the other hasn’t. The latter asks the former what it’s like inside. His response: bad news. The truck stops. Gas masks on, guns in hand, they go in.
In eerie silence, they search the building full of ghost-like, plastic flaps. One soldier (the inexperienced one, I think) gets lost and cut off from control. Something rushes at him … and the camera zooms out from the doorway as he screams.
Mathis and Jen, who met briefly in episode 1, cross paths at the police station, where Jen has just tried, unsuccessfully, to report her supernatural findings to the police. They head outside and, (egged on by Jen’s Sherlockian skills of deduction) have a heart-to-heart of sorts before parting ways. Ok, Mathis might be growing on me
Meanwhile, Jonas delivers another statement to the press. As far as anyone needs to know, the troops deployed into the Quarantine Zone “are for security purposes only” to ensure contamination does not spread (and men with guns are notoriously effective against chemical gases?). “We want to reassure everyone we are working as hard as we can to get things back to normal,” he says.
Cut to Jonas following the Minister and Rossi up a staircase, asking them what the Hell is going on, what the weapons facility was doing underground in the first place and how it blew up. Rossi tells him to stick with the “accident story” (oh, government, you so devious) to which Jonas responds in glorious fashion. “Seriously? ‘Oops, sorry. Didn’t realize you were living on top of a chemical weapons dump until someone – and we still don’t know who- blew it up!”
Sassy Jonas is the best Jonas.
That night, in a scene nearly identical to the one from the first episode—no, really:
Jen, haunted by the girl she photographed, tells a half naked Jonas (on principle, I must disapprove of the gratuitous male nudity) that she’s going out to return to the club.
She gets in with absolutely no difficulty and, after wandering for a bit, she finds the girl’s dressing room. She notices a stain by the closet door, which she opens to find a disturbing collage plastered on the walls compiled of photos, magazine clippings, drawings of monsters and paper fragments with words like “ALONE,” “MAIMED” and “DISGUST” scrawled on them. Jen, being Jen, photographs them, then notices another black spot on the wall outside the closet. This one’s larger and looks like a leak stain oozing tar, just like the one the baby Dementor left after infecting Benny (I forgot to mention that in the last recap. Sorry. Too many details to note them all).
She photographs it, reaches for it and then things get weird. It sort of entrances her and she gets flashes of the girl’s face and a pair of handcuffs besides some icky, bloody instruments of unspecified purpose. The black spot starts dripping and … a random woman (presumably an employee at the club but how or why she’s there at 3 am is never addressed) shows up, snaps her out of it and tells her to leave.
The next day, Willy, the street dodger who gained Jen access to the club last episode, tips Mathis off about a man named Dickie who might have some information on the New Year’s explosion. Mathis finds Dickie at a karaoke club, implies that Dickie, not only knows about the explosion but was behind it, stabs him through the hand and promises to return in a few days, by which time Dickie had better have something to tell him.
I take it back. Mathis still sucks.
Fortunately, in the next scene we get Jonas, albeit briefly, whose aggravation over being kept in the dark is growing. While he’s stuck at the Minister’s redevelopment speech, Jen heads over to the Grand Opera House to photograph a dress rehearsal.
As the principal dancer performs, we see that, from her POV, the theater takes on a pinkish hue and visions of posters with “Cancelled” over them flash before her. A baby Dementor appears behind her, moving with her as she dances (it’s really quite beautiful) and infects her. As she turns, her eyes blacken and, before Jen can stop her, the dancer ties one of the stage ribbons around her neck, cuts the rope with a knife (that … she was … dancing with?) and …
After a quiet moment on the sidewalk, Jen returns to her apartment and gets to work, organizing her photos and pasting them to the wall. She pulls an all-nighter and, by morning, dark circles have formed beneath her eyes (or else her eyeliner has smeared). When Jonas wakes up, she presents her findings to him. All the baby Dementor-related incidents thus far have occurred along the perimeter of the Quarantine Zone. As she speaks, Jonas glances around the apartment at the piles of photographs on the counter and the negatives hanging from the lights. To some extent, I can’t blame him for being concerned.
“Is this what I sound like to Rossi?”
At the same time, given his problems at the Home Office, he really should be more supportive. She shows him the baby Dementors in her photos and Jonas, the man who’s been biting at the bit to uncover hidden truths at work, who knows that the government’s withholding information about the Quarantine Zone and in whom Jen could find an invaluable ally, chalks them up to camera malfunctions.
Shame on you, Jonas.
Still, the conversation escalates way too quickly from there. Jen snaps at him for always spinning things to make them sound reasonable and he blames her intuitions on sleep deprivation and overwork.
“Things are being kept from us Jonas. Wake the fuck up!” she shouts, to which Jonas should respond, “Hey, you know what? Our personal investigations seem to have some serious thematic overlap. Let’s work together.” Instead, he accuses her of “wasting time with fantasists and their fucking cameras making up shit” and scoffs at the notion of mutant monsters in the Quarantine Zone –
– at which point Jen throws her coffee at him.
Okay, now, as angry as I am with Jonas, that was unwarranted. Perhaps her sleep deprivation’s impaired her judgment but it’s still an overreaction to a contrived argument that’s out of character for both of them. There were better ways the writers could have put a wedge between our two leads without making Jonas a condescending hypocrite and Jen a drama queen.
Jen, shocked at what she’s done but still pissed off, leaves the apartment and seeks out support from her curator who treats her fears with similar derision. I know this happens in every “one woman saw it coming” film and TV show but, Lord, how I hate it.
We cut to Rossi getting into a car with a mysterious, bearded, ginger man. It turns out she’s getting sick of being kept in the dark as well. She tells him that even Jonas, who the ginger guy thought was “pliable,” is getting difficult to manage. “He’s not a puppet, sir,” she says, oddly and endearingly protective of the man she’s been shutting down for the last two episodes.
After she leaves, the ginger receives a call via futuristic glasses from a pathologist inside the Quarantine Zone. The corpse of the soldier from the opening scene (at least, I’m assuming it’s him from context. I can’t say I recognize him without his gas mask) contains elevated levels of norepinephrine and oodles of neuro-modulators. The manner of death is consistent with “all the others” and, even though he was given the antidote, it made no difference. Hmm hmm hmm …
That night, Jonas, who (in case you’ve forgotten) chewed Jen out for her suspicions about the Quarantine Zone, shows up at the Quarantine Zone and pulls rank to be allowed inside. The soldiers say, no, but before they pull him away, he catches a glimpse of covered corpses on a monitor screen.
So, of course, he
calls Jen immediately, apologizes profusely and tells her that she might be onto something after all goes to headquarters and confronts Rossi about what he’s seen. “Leave it alone,” she tells him. “Please.” After her conversation with the ginger, I understand her trepidation. Jonas looks at a model of the Quarantine Zone and you can just about see the light bulb switch on above his head.
And on that momentous development … we’re back to Dickie. In a sushi bar. I-I think he’s supposed to provide comic relief or something. I don’t know. I don’t care. I want the baby Dementor to take him next.
He’s in trouble with a man named Mr. B over his run in with Mathis.
Mr. B proceeds to chat with yet another mysterious man about “tying up loose ends” and fixing the Mathis problem. Go ahead. Take him. I’ll help you find him.
But back to characters I do care about!
Jen phones Jonas and leaves him an apologetic message, asking him to call her back. She goes home and contemplates her own obsession. Meanwhile, Jonas “do as I say, not as I do” Flack meets up with Willy, who leads him to a hidden entrance to the Quarantine Zone.
In a beautifully edited sequence, we cut back and forth between Jen, in her apartment, trying to get a hold of Jonas and blogging that they all need to get as far away as possible from the Quarantine Zone and Jonas and Willy making their way towards it. Jen lies down on her bed. Willy leaves Jonas at the foot of a ladder. Jen and Jonas both look up. Jen notices that on the ceiling, directly above her, is a large black spot and Jonas stares, determinedly, up the ladder that ascends into darkness.
Cut to black!
You know, maybe the best way to determine the quality of a show isn’t deciding whether or not the strengths outnumber the flaws, but whether or not, when the characters are hurt or put in danger, you care about them. Because that’s certainly the case with Residue. For all its problems, I am invested in (most of) its characters. The story, and Jen, Jonas and Rossi’s roles therein, are taking shape, and, despite everything, I want to know where they go.
Petra Halbur is a writer traversing the perilous terrain of post-graduate life whilst trapped in the world-building phase of developing her science-fantasy graphic novel. You can read more from her at Ponderings of a Cinephile or follow her on Twitter.
—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]