Wednesday, October 16, 2019

REVIEW: 'Emergence' - Jo Questions How to Keep Her Family Safe After All She Has Learned About Piper in 'No Outlet'

ABC's Emergence - Episode 1.04 "No Outlet"

After learning more about Piper's origins, Jo struggles with the decision to shelter her. Benny enlists a friend to hack Kindred's secret files. Chris clashes with a headstrong informant he's assigned to protect.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of ABC's Emergence.

"No Outlet" was written by Jerome Schwartz and directed by Alex Pillai

What does it mean to be real? That is the existential question this hour poses over and over again. Jo is sent spinning after learning that Piper is a synthetic robot. She doesn't even want to use such a term to describe the child now living in her house. She is going through the process of legally adopting her. The family is being interviewed by a DCFS agent right now. That freaks Piper out. It's in that moment where Jo feels the burden to understand fully what Piper is capable of. She does attend the meeting with Richard Kindred. She may not trust anything that comes out of his mouth. And yet, he is the man who can possibly provide her with answers. Instead, it's one big manipulation in the hopes of getting his vital piece of technology back. He sees Jo as someone who has stolen from him without fully understanding what she is dealing with. Everyone is trying to lesson the burden on Jo. Her family does so because they are loving and more than willing to step up to help the newcomer in their lives. With Kindred and Emily though, they reach out because they have a greater understanding of the sinister forces at play. Emily knows that technology can be used to kill those who stand in Kindred's way. She has to be removed from the grid. She is still tempted by technology though because coding is when she feels most like herself. She is sacrificing her entire life because she wanted to help Jo. Her leverage may no longer be as tantalizing as she would have hoped. In fact, she may be destined to become the latest piece of collateral damage in Kindred's pursuit to control this technology and anyone who threatens his experiment. He has proved willing to kill. He has sent operatives to retrieve Piper and whatever other pieces of technology Jo has found. He is still assessing her as well. He wants to establish a rapport in the hopes that they can better understand each other. Jo doesn't want that. She can see through the niceties. She knew exactly who he was the moment he lost his temper at her previously. That was a revealing moment. One that created this tentative alliance between Jo and Emily. But now, Jo is the one stuck with these lingering questions. How much of Piper is real? How much is synthetic? Is Jo putting her family in danger because she sees this robot with empathy and compassion? Kindred argues that it's a fatal error to view this technology through honest emotional attachments. They have been designed for a specific purpose. Jo doesn't know what that is right now. She just knows that Piper can be so destructive when she is scared. When she fears being removed from this house, she injures the DCFS agent by setting her phone on fire. Fortunately, there are cases of that actually happening so it's not too suspicious. But damage is still done. Jo has to weigh the potential consequences of continuing to house Piper. Accidents like this may keep happening. Everyone may have love for her. But they could be hurt by her as well. That's dangerous. Jo needs to operate with certainty. Telling Piper that she is an artificial intelligence could send her into her own fatal error. One that eliminates the threat entirely. Jo is terrified to make that choice. She wants to hear Piper's input. She wants to know if Piper has any prior memories or if she even wants to know where she comes from. But Jo is the one who still ultimately makes that decision. She does so entirely because Piper shows compassion to a turtle crossing the road. She had the power to save its life and did so. That proved to Jo that she can trust Piper continuing to live with her and her family. She isn't simply repeating the same mistakes from the past. However, this is still a perilous world. One in which the people who work for Kindred are more technologically savvy than anyone else in the world. Benny is chasing this story because he believes it will be revolutionary. However, it may get him and his hacker friend killed because of that pursuit. That too shows just how far corporations are willing to go in order to continue going unchecked by the noble and just people of the world. That's terrifying and creates a lingering energy of uncertainty.