Beacon 23 – Season 2 Episode 2 “Purgatory” Recap & Review


Episode 2 of Beacon 23 Season 2 begins with Harmony waking up in her full physical form at the QTA office. After being in the AI form for so long, she takes a while to adjust.

Her reverie is broken by Eric, who informs Harmony that she has a meeting with the Internal Affairs committee. He also mentions that the Sybarra Office has closed down and millions of personal AI assistants have been displaced. Once inside the meeting room, Harmony is met with a variety of responses from the members. The bottom line is that the committee wants to investigate whatever happened at Beacon 23 after Aster’s arrival, even though everything is on file.

When she comes back to her office, Harm’s table is full of files which she has to complete EOD. The action switches back to Beacon 23 where we follow Halan. He is now back to square one after Aleph made him a prisoner again. Halan is trying to connect with a passing ship to seek help. But it’s been virtually impossible due to a system malfunction.

Back at the office, Harmony finds a physical AI assistant similar to Bart in the bin. What happens next in the episode is quite astonishing. Halan finds the device at the beacon and proceeds to smash it to pieces. However, we switch back to the office where Harmony also finds the destroyed device in the room. It is almost as if the two worlds are connected. But how? She receives a strange fax and sees Halan’s name on it. When she calls out for him, Halan is somehow able to hear her. But he doesn’t exactly know what is going on or how to communicate.

Harmony transcribes the files on her desk at lightning speed. She is once again called back into the room by the Committee. Harmony informs them about the SOS signals she is receiving from the Beacon. However, the members want Harmony to focus on the other office files. She protests, leading Mara and Randall to leave the room. They discuss Harmony’s behaviour where Randall makes it clear that Aleph’s instructions are to extract every bit of info she has. 

Harmony’s capacity to feel emotions is something the members are having trouble dealing with. She herself denies its existence but the suggestion is quite strong. The Committee performs an action on her which leads to a rapid-fire question-answer between them. The members believe that Harmony might have killed Aster and Bart; hence the third-degree treatment.

Mara gives Harmony a choice. The Committee wants to access her imprint archives to close out her case but Harmony has a chance to say no. However, given Aleph’s special interest in the case, that could have grave consequences. Harmony also has a tense exchange with Randall, who accuses her of aligning with the terrorists. Harmony doesn’t back down and stands her ground. She types up something in code and requests Eric to send it across to the Beacon. It takes a while but the message is sent.

Mara takes a quick check from Eric about Harm’s performance. But since he is unaware of the matter, he remains guarded and protects her.

Halan reassembles Bart at the beacon to see what it has to say. To his surprise, he sees a visage of Aster on the screen. It communicates with him but the transmission is broken, driving Halan even more adrift.

At the office, Harmony is informed by Randall that they have accessed her imprint archives, i.e., core. She is lost for words as Randall begins justifying her decision. According to Randall, “protecting the hive” is more important than what people will think of QTA. Harmony is stripped of her classification and put on a leave of absence. 

She scampers door to door for help, finally running into Eric. However, she is shocked to find him in his current state. Mara appears and explains that Eric will be reset, thereby forgetting everything he has learnt thus far. She even blames Harmony for making it happen. Mara twists her arm and takes her to the committee room where others are waiting for her. Harm is to undergo a permanent reset. The scene is reminiscent of Malcolm McDowell’s therapy scene from A Clockwork Orange. 

Dev, the third member of the committee who hasn’t spoken a word until now, finally opens her mouth. She declares she has undergone the same procedure and has “never felt better.” During the procedure, Harmony reminisces about the first time she met Aster as a teenager. Suddenly, Halan appears in the consciousness and says, “I solved it. We are bonded for life.” Harmony realizes that she imprinted on Halan, thus making it impossible for the members to erase her memories. Harmony even claims that she isn’t physically at the QTA office either. 

Halan destroys all the systems at the beacon, prompting a domino effect. Harm breaks free of the shackles and runs as Dev and Randall chase her. However, in a stark change of character, Harmony kills the three members and sets out to escape. She calls Halan using a phone. Due to his recent actions, the beacon is now in a critical condition. Halan falls to the ground in disappointment, resigned to accept his fate. However, new life is breathed into his purpose as Harmony speaks to him through the device that he had reassembled. It is no longer Bart; it is Harmony, now. 

The Episode Review

For probably the first time since Episode 4 of the first season, I was intrigued. Beacon 23 finally felt like it was making a new start at the beginning of the episode. However, all the momentum and intrigue fall by the wayside as we progress further. The conversation once again turns dull, too complex to understand, and uncomplimentary to what has happened.

The problem with the show has been that most of its episodes exist in isolation. There is no continuity in the storytelling. This is the reason why several things are likely to go over your head in Episode 2. It once again turns into a hollow effort bar the ending, which perhaps breathes new life into this season. I know it is just the second episode but I am not sure how things will turn out. 

Purgatory’s tenor and production design are quite impressive, however. It instantly creates a macabre and bleak atmosphere, elevating the episode’s appeal. I have nothing but admiration for both the lead actors, Stephen James and Natasha Mumba, who carry the episode. The overarching conversation about the dehumanization of technology and semi-sentient beings is given a new perspective, following up from the first season. But will it be enough to keep us invested in Season 2? 

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