I Am Robot
Emergence reached its peak storytelling several weeks ago and as I noted previously, this is a show that feels like it’s spinning wheels and struggling to find its purpose again. Having said that, the ending does leave some intriguing notions going forward as this show hibernates for the winter, but the trouble is once a mystery has all but been solved it’s difficult to keep that same allure going. This is partly the problem Emergence faces and why it appears to be doing so poorly ratings-wise.
We begin with the mysterious lady who killed Alan (whom we learn is called Helen) adjusting her make-up in the mirror before informing someone on the phone that the job is now done. While Mia talks to Piper about how different things are now, the adults discuss with Jo the implications of Piper being an AI. Acting as the voice of reason in all this, Mia tells them to get their heads back in the game as Piper isn’t any different than she was before.
In private though, Piper admits to Jo about cutting the disc in her neck and with things seemingly now out in the open, Jo heads back to work and talks to Benny about Piper overcoming the Fatal Exception. Before they can continue however, Chris bursts into the room and tells her the group that infiltrated the building may be a cyber terrorist group called Splinter.
At the hospital, Helen corners Ed and talks to him about his cancer, telling him there’s a cure but also a catch. That catch being trading Piper for it. After feeding this back to Jo and the others, Alex tricks Helen into finding out more details about the plan and as he heads back with a strange wrist implant she intends to use on Piper, Ryan phones Jo and requests her presence at the precinct to show his report.
Once there, he questions her over Alan’s death and goes on to turn the attention on Piper. However, Jo bites back, mentioning Helen and the terrorist group Splinter who, as it turns out, the FBI have been chasing for 15 years. This allows her to gain some leverage and cut a deal with them.
Day turns to night and the plan is put into action. Only, it turns out Benny may have double-crossed them and handed Piper over. As they all reconvene back at the station, they change tactics and try to find them. As the episode closes out, Benny and Piper drive to an abandoned gas station where Helen does indeed show up. Benny grabs Piper and puts the wristband on her before it’s revealed that actually Helen and Benny are both AIs as well, where we leave things hanging in the balance.
Aside from the questionable inclusion of split screens late on and some rigid editing, Emergence delivers a pretty straightforward slice of drama that sets things up quite nicely for the second half of this story. With little foreshadowing or teasing glimpses of these ideas early on, all of the plot twists and deviations from the main Piper mystery feel like the writers desperately clinging to the original mysterious vibes that surrounded the opening episode.
Trying to figure out who or what Piper was early on is partly the reason the show was so popular and after finding out she’s an AI, the story just hasn’t had that same level of intrigue. It also doesn’t help that Kindred, Emily and Alan have all disposed of in one way or another over the weeks, rendering their efforts pointless as yet another antagonistic group come to the foreground in the 11th hour. All of this combines to make Emergence feel like a show that’s been put together on the fly rather than plotted out from the very beginning.
Still, the new AI direction is an interesting one and although there are serious A.I. vibes (the motion picture film from 2001) in the way this has been presented, there’s enough here to keep you coming back at the start of January to find out what happens next.