Original release date: November 11, 2022
* * *
[Wilf] A Neoprimitive.
Someone who believes that we’ve ruined the world by trying to save it.
Your family, they were killed brutally.
This is all quite distressing.
You want to kill him, don’t you?
Oh, very much so.
[Dominika] You can be my ally or my enemy.
I assure you,
it’s not easy being my enemy.
[Dee Dee] Anything going on in your life, new or out of the ordinary?
I missed you, too.
What are you doing?
Just saying hello.
Shall I review?
I prefer to live face forward.
Ass to the past. Let bygones be bygones, and all that.
I tried to greet you on my first day here, and you cut me dead.
Oh, yeah, and then there was that charming letter on my desk the next morning.
I still have it somewhere, if you’d like me to quote verbatim.
Off the top of my head, without immediate recourse to the text: “If you ever fucking speak to me again, I will scratch your eyes out, you selfish, conniving bitch.”
It was “cunt,” I believe.
Bitch. I’m quite certain.
Well, it seems like I would’ve gone with the alliteration of “conniving cunt.”
Another missed opportunity.
Yeah, like this one, if you walk away.
Chance to have a drink, old times’ sake?
Well, belated congratulations.
What’s she like?
Say it is not so.
I have two children.
You poor thing. Was it a stipulation?
You broke my fucking heart.
♪ I’m a fool to want you ♪
[♪ Billie Holiday: “I’m a Fool to Want You”]
♪ I’m a fool to want you…
[Grace] One drink, and then I’m off.
So whatever you want to say, I suggest you get straight to it.
I just thought it was time for an after-action review.
Which makes it sound like a firefight.
[Aelita] It wasn’t?
♪ True ♪
♪ A love that’s there ♪
♪ For others, too ♪
♪ I’m a fool to hold you…
I saw an AI therapist for a bit.
After things fell apart with us.
[Aelita] And is that how you presented the matter?
That things just “fell apart”?
It said the allure… and the fatal flaw… of our relationship was that you were a bad good-girl, and I was a good bad-girl.
On the surface, you make a show of being rather bad, but deep down, you’re almost frighteningly good.
And I’m the opposite.
And did you pay for that drivel with actual money?
[scoffs] It helped me. Quite a bit.
Do you still muck about with those doll’s houses?
Not for years.
[Grace] The AIT had a theory.
It said it was all about order and control.
That you came from a place where you had neither, and the doll’s houses were a way to compensate.
Miniature worlds in which you could feel safe.
That sounds like a steaming pile of horseshit.
[Grace chuckles softly] You have a better explanation?
You have to admit it’s an eccentric hobby.
Do you ever find it difficult to understand people?
You know, what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling?
Empathy, you mean?
[Aelita] There’s something about taking a tiny figure and shifting it about.
Arranging how it’s sitting.
What it’s looking at.
And it made me feel like I had access into another being’s inner…
And that can feel rather priceless.
♪ To want you ♪
♪ Pity me, I need you…
You gonna kiss me?
Is that what you want?
♪ I know it’s wrong…
I have fucking missed you, Aelita.
You have no idea how much.
Mm. You should’ve treated me better.
You-you want an apology? Is-is that it?
Water under the bridge. Swept out to sea long ago.
Tell me about your job.
What mysteries do you oversee, down there in your secret burrow with the big steel door?
You don’t want to hear about that.
No, I do.
[Grace] …like a giant petri dish, really.
We can do anything we want here.
Well, we are doing anything we want.
And it’s real? You’re certain of that?
Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
See, we’re told it’s like a simulation.
That’s how we’re instructed to explain it.
The data we send down to you lower-echelon types.
And, uh, how many people have access?
[Grace] Just my team.
And Dr. Nuland, of course.
As well as the upper tier security personnel.
So maybe two dozen?
We call it the God font.
I can access anything here.
And not just from the stub, either, but from the R.I. in its entirety.
But our data culls…
that’s just a grain of sand on a larger beach.
We’re actively altering conditions in the stub.
We have over 8,000 studies running.
It would be difficult to name a field without a foothold.
Botany, meteorology, zoology, genetics, oceanography, robotics, forestry…
But the truly exciting stuff, the hush-hush, saving-the-world shit?
That comes from our Behavioral Mod Department.
They set up a shell company in the stub which bid on a contract with the American military to install haptic implants in personnel.
Our tech, more or less, but on an appropriately primitive level.
To what end?
Watch. This one’s fun.
Let’s say we have a group of elite Marines at a remote outpost.
They’ve been told enemy forces are planning to use injured animals to draw them into the open.
So, what would these highly trained young men do if a wounded dog were to appear in front of their position?
But… if our implants subtly goosed the subjects’ neural chemistry, increasing electrical activity in the anterior insular cortex?
Oh. The, uh, compassion center.
All of them.
Now, that’s where it gets really interesting.
You see, they all react differently, based on their… their personal histories, their life experiences.
The mystery of character.
Wait for it.
It’s already happened, luv.
I mean, you can imagine the implications.
Implementing a similar modification on a societal level.
I mean, say goodbye to mob violence.
Say goodbye to…
You can’t do that.
I mean, they’re people. They’re real people.
[Grace] You see?
So frighteningly good.
Is she planning on implementing something like that here?
Would you believe me if I said no?
Has she already?
Again, would you believe me if I said no?
You’re from Grains and Legumes?
Yeah, that’s right.
[Mariel] Would you mind explaining your presence here, where you assuredly have no fucking right to be?
You lack clearance for this floor.
Oh, um, I was just…
You know who I am?
Of course, Dr. Hogart.
[Grace] Well, then, perhaps you can explain why you’re addressing an old and rather dear friend of mine in such an unacceptably rude manner?
I am simply doing my job, ma’am.
Her presence on this floor would seem to require an…
[Grace] We met upstairs. But I forgot my jacket.
So I brought her back down with me.
Under my supervision and as my guest.
You may file a report on the matter, if you wish.
But please take care to sign your name.
So I’ll know who to address my grievance against.
I don’t think that will be necessary, Doctor.
But I will ask that you not do this again.
I-I just want to say you have the most extraordinary eyes.
I… I’d kill for eyes like that.
[♪ The Lovin’ Spoonful: “Daydream”]
♪ What a day for a daydream ♪
♪ What a day for a daydreamin’ boy ♪
♪ And I’m lost in a daydream ♪
♪ Dreamin’ ’bout my bundle of joy ♪
♪ And even if time ain’t really on my side ♪
♪ It’s one of those days for takin’ a walk outside ♪
♪ I’m blowin’ the day to take a walk in the sun ♪
♪ And fall on my face on somebody’s new-mowed lawn ♪
♪ I’ve been havin’ a sweet dream ♪
♪ I been dreamin’ since I woke up today ♪
♪ It’s starrin’ me and my sweet thing ♪
♪ ‘Cause she’s ♪♪
[Daniel] Robert O’Connell, pleasure to make your acquaintance.
[phone chiming, vibrating]
[Daniel] $10 million, Bob.
Twenty-five percent has already been deposited into your account.
That’s how much I believe in you.
[American accent] Name’s not Bob, pal. It’s Pete.
Why is it so bloody difficult to get you people to take my money?
I haven’t got the slightest idea what you’re talking about.
I’m talking about Bob the Butcher O’Connell.
I don’t know who that is.
Made his name killing three UDA fighters on the eve of his 18th birthday.
Racked up quite an impressive body count before fleeing the country.
Do you ever count them up in the night, Bob?
All those poor souls you’ve cut free from their fleshly prisons?
Who the fuck is this?
Your new employer.
I tried a hammer, and it didn’t work.
So I’m looking for a better tool.
A scalpel, if you will.
You’ve been both in your time, haven’t you, Bob?
Seriously, buddy. You got the wrong number.
Well, I guess I must have Tommy Giorno’s number wrong, too, then.
Which is a shame, because I was planning on calling him next.
Maybe tell him about your daughter.
In that little bungalow of hers.
Baton Rouge, isn’t it?
Do I have your attention now, Bob?
[Irish accent] Who do you want dead?
[technician] All right, Flynne. You ready?
[♪ Average White Band: “Got the Love”]
[Al] Oh, baby!
Frank’s back in the house.
[Mike] Okay, who’s up?
[Al] I think it’s Tony.
Bring ’em home, Tony.
[Tony] I didn’t get up there.
[Al] All right, buddy, you got this.
[Al] You got it. All right.
Back in a sec.
[Frank] Beer, Janet.
And one for my friend.
[Janet] There you are.
Looking pretty fit for an old man.
[Irish accent] Takes more effort than it used to, that’s for sure.
Like everything else.
[Bob] You surprised to see me?
Figured you might pop up.
Not here, though.
This is a bad play, Bobby.
You know how I am.
Always a sucker for the long odds.
Looks like they’re all grown up.
The years rush by, don’t they?
My daughter, she’s all grown up, too.
I might’ve let it slide, Frank, you know, for old time’s sake, if you’d left her out of it.
The way the guy laid it out…
[Frank] I don’t know. Voice on the phone.
He said it was you or me.
[Al] Girls, go freshen up.
[Frank] I ain’t proud of myself, Bobby.
I’m fucking ashamed is what I am.
[Al] Mr. O’Connell?
Holy shit. Yeah, we thought it was you.
[Mike] That’s enough, folks.
[Frank] Give us a minute, boys.
We’ve got some things to talk about.
I think we’ll walk Mr. O’Connell to his car.
What do you say, Bob?
I loved you like a brother, Frank.
[Tony] Gun, gun, gun!
♪ ‘Cause I know we can ♪
♪ Let’s make it something to shout about ♪
♪ Come on and take my hand ♪
♪ ‘Cause I got the love ♪
♪ Got the love, got the love ♪
♪ And I got to make it work on you ♪
♪ Got the love, got the love ♪
♪ Uh, uh ♪
[muffled] ♪ Got the love, got the love ♪♪
[train whistle blows nearby]
[crossing bell clanging]
[train whistle blows]
[train whistle blows]
[Daniel] Mr. O’Connell.
[Bob] I know the what.
The why doesn’t matter.
The how is what you’re paying me for.
I need a where and a when to get it done.
Your targets will be here tomorrow morning for a medical procedure that should take no longer than an hour.
What type of procedure?
A spinal tap.
After which, they’ll return to their residence, here.
The rest I leave to you, Bob.
[sighs] For fuck’s sake.
Could’ve just stayed inside, son, you know?
Pretended to be dead.
Tell you what I’m gonna do.
I’m gonna get in this car here.
And if I can get it to start after your little fusillade, then I’ll be gone.
Now, if you can manage to crawl free before that, I’ll consider us even.
For your father’s sake.
How does that sound?
[quietly] I can’t move my legs.
That arm doesn’t look too great, either.
[car door shuts]
[Al] Oh, please.
What did you do, Jasper?
[Billy Ann] Did I or did I not explicitly tell you not to take any of that money?
[scoffs] I didn’t.
So, this-this just magically fucking showed up in your jacket pocket?
Whoa, babe. My uncle gave it to me.
[Billy Ann] For what?
Did you ask him what he wanted in exchange?
I’m not a fucking idiot.
[Billy Ann] And?
He doesn’t want nothing for it.
It was just… a gesture of gratitude for all my years of hard work.
No strings attached.
Nothing’s for free, Jasper.
Well, I can give it back, you want.
I guess we can use it.
Could’ve told me last night, though.
Saved me a panic attack this morning.
There’s some coffee left in the pot, if you want it.
Have a good day.
You’re 100% sure about this?
[Dee Dee] Absolutely. It’s bacterial.
The oddest thing I’ve ever encountered.
Little bit like meningitis, just extremely localized. In her occipital lobe.
Which is what again?
[Dee Dee] It’s basically the part of the brain involved in seeing.
A lumbar puncture will at least give us some idea of what kind of bacteria you got throwing a party in there.
[chuckles softly] It looks scarier than it is.
All right, you might feel some pressure here.
It shouldn’t hurt at all, but by all means, feel free to hold your brother’s hand.
I won’t judge.
Wasn’t so bad, was it?
[exhales] Just peachy.
[Bob] Ms. Andrews?
This is Derek Thompson of the Appleview Insurance Company.
I’m sorry to bother you, but I’m afraid we’ve had to cancel your policy.
When is this change effective?
Immediately, I’m afraid.
I’d make other arrangements as soon as possible.
And with great care.
[Rose] My husband and I had hoped to continue our relationship with Appleview.
I-If we can?
[sighs] I’m afraid that might not be possible, ma’am.
There’s a chance Appleview may be closing its doors soon.
But I want to say that we have valued our relationship with you.
More than you can possibly know. I…
And we wish you and your husband health and happiness in all things.
Well… [exhales] Well, that’s wonderful news, ma’am.
And good luck.
[Billy Ann] You all right, sir?
Just a bit of car trouble.
I’ll be fine, thanks.
You want me to take a look?
Well, that’s awfully kind of you, young lady.
But, uh, I’ve already called it in.
Mechanic should be along here any minute now.
[Billy Ann] Who they sending? Charlie Burr?
I don’t believe they gave me a name.
Yeah, I’ll bet it’s Charlie.
I could maybe save you whatever ransom he’ll end up charging.
I appreciate it. But, uh… I’ll take my chances.
This wouldn’t be one of those situations where you’re looking at me and thinking
I can’t fix a car ’cause I’m a woman, would it?
I can take one look at you and guess you’d know your way around an engine.
I honestly can’t tell if that’s a compliment or an insult.
[chuckling] Oh, I’d never waste an insult on a stranger, young lady.
I save them up for friends and family.
Okay. Well, good luck to you, sir.
Take care, now.
[brakes screech softly]
Let-let me just take a quick look on the off chance I can one-up Charlie.
I-I got some history with him, which I won’t bore you sharing, but sending a little grief his way would make my morning.
You don’t mind, do you?
I’d, uh, actuallyjust as soon wait.
Gravel truck overturned.
Almost like getting hit by buckshot.
Not a pleasant experience, I can assure you.
You’re having quite a day.
[chuckling] You’re telling me.
And just getting started, too.
Okay, I’m gonna give you a friendly warning here, mister.
If you let Burton Fisher touch this engine when you wouldn’t let me, I might have to just go and shoot you both.
[Burton] Tell me you didn’t run into this man with that tired-looking truck of yours, Billy Ann.
Just trying to be a Good Samaritan here, Burton.
But some folks can’t seem to believe a woman might know how to fix a car.
I think the young lady simply misunderstood me.
I, uh, I apologize for all the fuss.
I-I didn’t mean to offend anybody or I was, um…
I guess a bit flustered, to be honest.
Shoot him now.
[Billy Ann panting]
[Burton] You okay? [grunts]
Burton, Burton! Shit.
Fuck. I’m stuck. Fuck. [grunts]
You all right? Knife.
Pretty good with a shotgun, too.
Want to see?
Next one’s in the head, old man.
This what you do to suspects, ain’t it?
Break ’em up?
Talk to ’em one-on-one, get the story straight?
Witnesses, too, Flynne.
Now, what about victims, Tommy?
You, uh, you got any idea what this is?
I don’t know. Hell, I mean, it looks like it’s almost something from the… future, you know?
[chuckles softly] Yeah, it does, don’t it?
Well, he hasn’t said a peep.
No ID, no registration, nothing.
But he is wearing a vest.
Makes it feel like he was expecting a fight, don’t it?
Sort of like Burton seems to be.
Driving around, all geared up like he’s still off in Texas.
Weapons, drones, all ready to go?
If he wanted him dead, Tommy, you know he would have done it.
[Flynne] But he didn’t. We called you instead.
I know that.
But I can’t help thinking… you know, a dead body on this bridge?
Y’all got Homeland Security showing up.
Whereas just some bullets flying, without a corpse?
Well, that remains a local matter, now, don’t it?
We’re not doing anything wrong, okay?
You know what my first memory of you is, Flynne?
My very first?
[chuckles softly] I was in the third grade.
So you must’ve been in first.
And they had you down at the principal’s office in a rage.
[chuckles] ‘Cause somehow, you managed to take all the earthworms from the science room and dumped them in the woods.
Couldn’t bear to have the fifth graders dissecting them.
Made quite the impression, I’ll tell you what.
My uncle had a saying, how people are a lot like onions.
One skin grows over another, year by year.
Which would mean that little girl, who freed all them worms… she’s still inside you.
And I can’t help but feeling I ought to protect her if I can.
But I need your help.
I’m sorry, Tommy.
[clears throat] Guess you better, uh… head on home.
Talk to me, sweet pea.
I don’t know.
Thousand ways it could have gone wrong back there.
[Burton] Can’t dwell on the past, Flynne.
Got to focus on what’s in front of us.
When they’re always about ten steps ahead of us?
He was posted up on that bridge waiting for us.
He knew that we’d come by.
Let’s just get you home.
Safe and sound. Then we can talk about it.
No need to censor yourself around me, Burton.
I know more than you think.
Trips to the future.
Men coming in the night to attack you.
And you sending Corbell Pickett a bag full of cash.
Then I guess you can see how maybe there’s a conflict of interest at play here, Billy Ann?
I think we can agree we’re both interested in Flynne’s well-being.
It’s not you I’m concerned about.
If you’re insulting Jasper, you’re insulting me.
And I’d say what just unfolded ought to buy me a little trust and a whole lot of respect.
Jasper would never harm a soul.
Let alone Flynne. Never.
I’m a phone call away.
I didn’t say nothing that wasn’t true, Flynne.
Burton, she’s a friend of mine, okay?
And I’d like to think that she’s a friend of yours, too.
Like it or not, she’s involved in this now, okay?
[bottle cap rattles on table]
It’s getting real hard to keep this under wraps.
Billy Ann ain’t the problem.
[Burton] Tommy and his sheriff badge ain’t the solution.
We should have closed that loop on the bridge.
Yeah, well, you didn’t.
[indistinct conversation nearby]
Oh, no, Burton. The bodies.
I’m just struggling to wrap my head around this.
Medicine sent from the future.
Just the formula for it.
They sent it to Pharma Jon to print.
Does it matter, Mama? [chuckles]
Do you know why your cousins grew up in Ohio?
‘Cause Uncle Charles lost their farm to the bank.
[Ella] My daddy told me that story enough times for me to grow impatient, too. But I also took it to heart.
The idea that the worst thing a person can do is grow dependent on some outsider.
All they care about is taking something from your pocket and putting it in theirs, and on a regular basis, too.
But we aren’t paying them anything.
They’re the ones paying us.
That’s what my Uncle Charles must’ve thought, when that loan money came in.
They’re giving me these drugs.
What happens if I stop taking them?
I don’t know.
What happens if you stop paying Corbell Pickett?
[Ella] Now I-I’m putting aside all the traveling to the future part ’cause I suppose I’ll need to think on that for a while before I find a way to accept it.
But the dependency seems simple enough.
And it makes me worry for all of us.
Because I-I’m just getting caught up here, on all the complicated ins and outs of what you got going on.
But if it looks to me like you don’t have that much power in your current arrangement, think how it must look to them.
[Burton] We need to talk this through.
Burton, I’m done being a sitting duck.
We don’t even know if that headset is safe.
And how safe is it here?
Sitting around, just waiting for someone to come and get us?
[Ash] The polts have hacked into the Peripheral.
Do you want us to cut the connection?
This is a pleasant surprise.
A surprise is when someone tries to kill you out of the blue, which is what just happened to me.
A whole new person.
And he had one of those sonic punch things, like the guy from the Research Institute had.
You were supposed to let us know if somebody else was coming to kill us.
Except you can’t only not do that, but you didn’t even know it happened after the fact.
So much for your living-in-the-future wisdom bullshit, huh?
Flynne. What happened?
It’s a fucking mess now.
The Sheriff’s Department’s involved.
There’s gonna be a lot of complications, Wilf.
Is everyone okay?
I need to ask you something.
The other day when we went walking and you linked up with me…
…did you have another motive?
I’m not sure I’m following.
Were you trying to confuse me?
my emotions, I guess, with the haptic drift stuff?
[chuckles softly] I-I don’t know what that means.
Did you merge with me so I would start to…
…I don’t know, have feelings for you that you hadn’t necessarily earned yet?
I’m sorry, Ms. Fisher.
I honestly… [exhales softly]
I’m starting to trust you.
Is that a mistake?
[Bob sighs deeply]
How old are you, son?
I’m guessing 28 or so?
I don’t read you as ex-military, for some reason.
You’ve probably never left this town.
Lived a nice, quiet life here, I imagine.
Well, that’s over now.
The quiet part, I mean.
Though maybe the living part, too, depending on how this plays out.
You believe there are moments when fate can go one way or another?
Like a fork in the road?
‘Cause you’re at one.
Whether you know it or not.
Now, you can take me back the station.
You can book me, you can put my prints in the system, swab my DNA, and you set a clock ticking.
On me, for certain.
But on you, too.
Because the people who’ll be coming for me, well, they’re not the sort to leave loose ends untied.
And me talking to you like this, well…
I’m afraid that makes you a loose end.
[laughing] Goddamn it.
Look at your face.
Don’t you ever play poker.
You’re too transparent.
I can see the curiosity building up inside you.
“Who the fuck is this guy?
What’s he doing, coming round here trying to kill these folks?”
Well, I’ll tell you.
Someone said they would kill my daughter if I didn’t.
They also paid me $2.5 million.
First installment of an eventual ten, if the job got done right.
[groans] …it didn’t, obviously.
A voice on the phone. Doesn’t matter who.
What matters is the $2.5 million.
Which is yours… if you want it.
What do you say, Deputy, huh?
[Wilf] I fear I’ve made a mistake, agreeing to bring you here.
I’m questioning what you might hope to achieve by going in there.
I want Cherise to know what it feels like.
To be hunted.
What? You don’t think I can handle her?
[Wilf] Oh, I have no doubt you can handle her.
It’s the afterward that concerns me.
This isn’t fending off an attacker.
It’s being the assailant yourself.
Which carries a far heavier weight.
How would you even know?
You’re always off in some corner watching, aren’t you?
Did I tell you how I first met Lev?
When I was 12 years old, my parents sent me to boarding school.
We were still crawling out of the Jackpot at that point.
And there were some people who didn’t like the way power in the new world was coalescing.
They saw it as corrupt.
What? Neoprims, you mean?
They attacked the school.
Why? You were just kids.
To send our parents a message.
The Neoprims had me serve them their food at the refectory.
And they failed to notice when I grabbed a steak knife off one of their trays.
I slashed their leader’s throat.
Then shot his four companions dead.
It was self-defense, Wilf.
Even self-defense can be cold-blooded.
I didn’t think of the weight… because I never could have imagined it.
Don’t go over there.
Unless you realize what you might have to do.
And you’re at peace with it.
How may I be of assistance?
Has my face been scanned?
That’s all the assistance I’m gonna need.
Ma’am, if you don’t have an appointment…
…I’m afraid I’ll need to call security.
I think I can handle it from here. Thank you.
I just assumed you’d be taller.
I can only spare a minute, alas.
So perhaps we ought to get straight down to business.
How can I be of help?
You mean, besides not killing me and my family?
Well, exactly, because that’s rather nonnegotiable.
The fuck did I ever do to you?
Sticky fingers, dear.
You absconded with some rather vital data.
Just return it, and all shall be forgiven.
I didn’t take shit from you.
I played my game and died. Got sent home. End game.
So Aelita West still has it?
[Flynne] I don’t know who the fuck has it.
And quite frankly, I don’t give a shit.
I just need you to leave me and my family alone.
You’re either lying, or expendable in your ignorance.
Either way, your death continues to be my only viable goal.
Now, what makes you so certain I won’t kill you?
I mean, I’m not that careless, dear.
Now, I’m in a Peripheral of my own.
Ah, that doesn’t mean I can’t deal you an awful lot of pain.
Though I do imagine you’d pop right out of that thing at the first sign of trouble.
And why would you say that?
Now, you see, we got people like you where I’m from.
Folks with power, money, love to walk all over the rest of us.
Not the kind to suffer through anything close to a real fight.
I’ve lived through more extremity than you could possibly imagine.
It would crush your tiny little mind.
So please, don’t care to lecture me about pain.
Oh, I don’t want to lecture you.
I just want to snap your fucking neck.
Do you feel it?
The darkness closing in?
Let it be preparation for when I kill you, and it’s real.
[Flynne] I got a foothold in your world now.
So next time, I’ll be coming for you instead.
[Beatrice] There’s been a murder involving a Peripheral.
Well, I suppose we best get busy.
How come people here stay so distant to us?
[Gladys] You’re telling me your invisible car’s missing?
How hard did you hit that pretty head of yours?
You almost got killed.
Is there something else you’re not telling me?
Whatever you do, don’t lie to her.
It wasn’t an accident, it was more like an ambush.
No, no, no, no, no.