The Human Strain (episode 4)
Keeping the Faith (episode 5)
Original Air Date: Aug 2, 2017
Vincent Chia – Staff Writer
Tonight, we are introduced to a couple of aspects of the “Ark” contingency plan. Most of the night involves a fairly exciting spy story within the main plotline. We also get a little bit of moral dilemma over how harshly to interrogate for information.
Tonight’s two-episode airing begin with the Project Samson team having only 12 hours before they permanently lose their Io probe. They have to figure out how to undo the hack and regain control. While the team members try to figure out if a foreign nation hacked them, Edwards finally suspects Darius Tanz. Grace runs over to Tanz Industries and finds Liam. She asks Liam where Tanz is. She also asks where the uranium is, thinking that would lead to Tanz. Liam reveals the first surprise of the evening. Liam says the EM engine doesn’t need uranium. Dun dun dun. Grace is understandably horrified.
Edwards and his troops find Tanz at a private airport and Tanz is arrested for high treason. Is there a low treason? Hmm…
Back in the lab, Professor Croft tries to figure out what went wrong with the EM engine. We get an interesting quote from the professor. “The only real failures are ones in which we learn nothing.” Liam wonders whether the whole project working on an EM engine is actually just a distraction from Tanz’s “real” plan, which he suspects is to colonize Mars.
With nine hours remaining to regain control of the Io probe, Pentagon counterintelligence officers have determined that the NASA hack came from within Tanz Industries. Rayburn asks Edwards to greenlight a “specialist” to interrogate Tanz and Edwards approves. Grace is horrified by the potential “enhanced interrogation” that Tanz may receive. Before Tanz faces that fate, he offers to confess, but only to Grace. Tanz denies that he hacked the satellite and theorizes that there is a mole in his company. He asks Grace to find the mole and find “Salvation.”
Darius secretly slipped a tiny microchip into Grace’s jacket pocket when they were in the interrogation room. Now, as Grace walks around Tanz Industries, the A.I. Tess mistakenly misidentifies Grace as Darius Tanz. When Grace realizes Darius gave her the microchip, she gives it to Liam to examine. Liam is able to find a GPS locator and finds the coordinates of where Tanz was during the exact moment NASA lost control of their satellite.
Liam and Grace take a golf cart to the coordinates. At first, it looks like they are in the middle of the woods. However, they spot an entrance to a bunker and go exploring. They go 100 meters below ground and find “Salvation,” which is Tanz’s back-up plan for the survival of the human species. It is a rocketship to colonize Mars. This is what Tanz requested the uranium for.
Liam discovers that the Salvation bunker is cut off from any wireless signals and has no hardwire connection to the outside. This means Tanz could not have initiated the NASA hack at the time he was in the bunker. Although he has this alibi, he didn’t give it to the Pentagon because he wanted to keep the uranium theft a secret. Grace gives Tanz credit for wanting to protect her, since she was involved in the uranium theft. Though, I suspect he would also be motivated in protecting his own involvement in the uranium theft.
Tanz gets roughly interrogated. The specialist kicks it up to waterboarding. Edwards orders a stop to the waterboarding but Rayburn outranks him and orders it to proceed. However, Grace arrives at the Pentagon and convinces Edwards to put a stop to the waterboarding. Rayburn threatens to have Edwards fired, but Edwards takes the risk. As an aside, I do sometimes wonder where the Secretary of Defense is. Edwards is the Deputy Secretary. Why isn’t the top Secretary involved?
Grace asks Tanz to think about the possibility that there is a vulnerability in the Tanz Industries computer network. Tanz thinks about it for a while and then thinks up the arcade games in the employee breakroom. He had a secret link in the arcade game so he could compete with other billionaires who were also computer geeks. Tanz calls Liam and asks Liam to investigate. Liam finds a micro PC. Darius tells Liam to turn it on. Liam surmises that the device “tunneled through the Tanz server.” He overrides and the Io probe regains communication with NASA. Unfortunately, even though they’ve regained control, the gravity from Jupiter is too strong. They lose the probe.
Grace suspects that Tanz’s security chief Lazlo is the mole. She discovers that Lazlo has a very long criminal record. Although Tanz has complete trust in Lazlo, Edwards says that people change, people lie, and sometimes, they do it right under your nose. This feels like it was also directed at Grace. Anyway, they soon find that Lazlo has committed suicide.
Liam is still thinking about the EM engine while chatting with his girlfriend Jillian. Her think tank group doesn’t believe there should be any slots for artsy people on the Mars colony. Liam suddenly has a “Eureka” moment and thinks they need to experiment with extraterrestrial elements since no earth metals or crystals could make the EM engine work. Tanz Industries has a collection of meteorites and Liam tests those elements.
The EM drive works! Well, that was fast. What are they going to do for the rest of the series??
The second episode of the night starts with Darius Tanz arranging for the EM engine to be spirited away to a secret location. Liam wants to celebrate, but Tanz says it’s not time for that. Tanz thinks that there is still a mole in his company. He doesn’t believe the mole was Lazlo.
In an effort to maintain secrecy, Tanz only assigns one bodyguard to Liam and the EM engine prototype. You can probably see from a mile away that it will turn out to be a poor decision. Liam’s van is soon attacked by masked gunmen while the van was in a secluded road in the woods. The bodyguard is killed. Liam and Croft are kidnapped. (pictured above) The prototype is stolen.
Edwards’ Project Samson team comes up with contingency plans. Other nations have probes near Jupiter. The Pentagon can try to “borrow” one of those other probes and continue with the kinetic impact plan. There are three probes that can possibly intercept Samson. Two of them belong to China and Iran, respectively. They are ruled out since the Pentagon doesn’t want to work with those nations. The third probe belongs to India and can intercept in 79 days. Edwards decides to go with that one.
Edwards calls the Indian ambassador in for a meeting. Edwards pretends that the United States is interested in partnering with India in space projects since it seems that India does it in a more cost effective way. The Indian ambassador appears curious when Edwards asks about the Bijali probe that is near Jupiter, since he knows NASA already as their own probe near Io. Soon, the Indian ambassador deduces that NASA’s probe was hacked. He reveals that India’s probe was also hacked.
Tanz is convinced that Lazlo was not the mole, and decides to take Grace with him to investigate Lazlo’s home. While at the home, Lazlo’s sister Theresa arrives. She got worried when she didn’t hear from Lazlo for a couple of days. Tanz has to break the news to her. Theresa’s nickname is “Tess.” (which is the same as Tanz’s A.I.). Grace surmises that Tanz was once, or possibly still is, in love with Theresa.
Tanz looks at the security feeds that Lazlo was looking at before he supposedly killed himself. Lazlo had figured out that Professor Croft tampered with the arcade game.
At the same time, Liam had also figured out that Croft was the mole. He noticed that Croft still had the antique eyeglasses that were supposedly left behind when Liam had thought Croft was kidnapped in the first episode.
And the nation responsible for hacking into NASA is… drumroll…. Russia. Croft isn’t exactly a Russian spy. He just sells advanced technology to Russia. During the first episode when it appeared that Croft was calling NASA to warn about the asteroid, he was actually calling a friend in Russia. Croft then decided to use Liam to infiltrate the Tanz team.
Croft has always thought of Liam as a son. He doesn’t want to kill Liam and would rather Liam join him in Moscow. The two of them can live like kings and they will still be able to save the world. Liam tells Croft that he would rather die a hero than live as a traitor.
Edwards gets a report that the Chinese and Iranian probes were also hacked and destroyed.
Darius and Grace arrive at the Project Samson situation room. Tanz uses Pentagon surveillance tech to locate Liam, who is at a private airport somewhere in Virginia.
Croft and Liam hold each other at gunpoint. When Croft threatens to shoot Liam, Liam shoots first. Liam hides and the Russians see Croft lying on the floor bloody. It is unclear whether Croft is dead, but the Russians take Croft, the EM prototype and fly away. Edwards and his team arrive at the airport, but too late. The Russian plane is gone and there is no way to track it.
The Pentagon will now try to come up with plans such as nuking the asteroid and hope for the best. I suppose it would be too much to presume that Russia would be benevolent and save the world, but why wouldn’t they use the EM engine if only to save Russia itself from the asteroid?
The computer banks at Tanz Industries have been wiped clean. It isn’t quite clear what Tanz’s next move will be. Will he continue trying to create an EM engine? Or will he concentrate on his fallback, the Ark/Salvation option?