Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ultraviolet: Season 1, Episode 2: In Nomine Patri

Danni Ashford is visiting an old lady in a nursing home, she’s clearly confused and suffering from dementia, constantly talking without any attention to what people are saying or doing around her. She says good bye and goes out to a car where a man is waiting and has been waiting all night but he assures her there’s no rush. He asks if she answered Danni’s question and she says she thinks so. She frets about not being sure but he encourages patience and assures her she can keep asking as long as she likes.

Don’t you just hate feeling like you’ve come in half way through a conversation?

Mike and Vaughan are playing with guns and 90s computers (ooooh sooo dated!). Jack is still having moral qualms about destroying and entire species and wonders why they don’t try to bring in vampires (a word they refuse to use still) alive – Vaughan says that they’re stronger, faster - better. You can’t give a warning or take chances. He also makes the next target to shoot look like Kirsty to drive home the point that any contact with the outside world puts those people at risk. Mike asks if he has any friends and Vaughan takes him to the shiny vampire locker – all his friends and former soldiers. The vampires knew about the Gulf War Syndrome early and spent a lot of energy investigating it, apparently being very concerned by any diseases in their food supply (y’know, they’re really not doing a good job of selling the “evil vampire” trope here).

A vampire car with tinted windows nearly knocks over a motorcyclist, barging past him. He manages to steady himself and, despite the protests of his passenger, the biker chases after the car. At the red light the car stops, the biker gets off his bike and hits the car with a metal bar, cracking one of the windows, burning the vampires inside and demanding he get out. The vampire rams the car behind then drives through the red light – knocking over the biker’s bike – and his passenger.

Mike goes to see Kirsty (is this his home now? Wow, you didn’t waste any time there Mike!) and Kristy tells him she called his work and learned he resigned. She’s worried how much he’s changing in his life and is worried he blames her for Jack being corrupt – and hopes they have more in common than just Jack. He doesn’t have to answer any questions because Vaughan knocks on the door – and he has a job for him and Mike. Kirsty instantly seizes on him demanding to know where Jack is. She is less than pleased with him refusing to talk to her and Vaughan encourages Mike not to try and make her feel better – it’ll just end up being worse (presumably makes it easier to break from her).

Dr. Angela is examining the wrecked car which is severely burned inside. She examines the dust and tells Father Harman that it’s only a partial immolation. The vampire isn’t dead but not in great shape. The car is owned by a Lester Hammond – the son of a Gideon Hammond – who has fallen off the grid in the last few years for a rich kid.

Interviewing the biker and his girlfriend is difficult. He’s combative and gives Vaughan a lot of grief, he doesn’t see why they’re being questioned. His girlfriend co-operates with Mike from her hospital bed, he keeps trying to get her to tell her boyfriend to calm down and stop making such a lot of noise about the fight but she’s not happy about it either – why shouldn’t he make a stink about it?

To the HQ (I need a snarky name for it) and Father Harman fills in the plot (using his psychic powers of vampire motivations – why does no-one ever question this man and his assumptions?) It’s all about money – Lester Hammond is the son of the very public and very rich figure, Gideon Hammond (who the vampires can’t recruit due to his public nature).  They have the son under surveillance and Mike makes a snarky comment about it not being all “seek and destroy.”

Angela interviews Gideon Hammond and finds that daddy dearest doesn’t have any contact with his son or any time for him and doesn’t even support him financially, he’s washed his hands of him. he does promise to provide for the woman in hospital with the spinal injuries however.

Vaughan and Mike have more awkward conversations (Vaughan had one child, left with his ex), before interviewing Danni Ashford (yes, that Danni) Gideon’s banker – and Lester’s ex-banker who stopped working for him after he stopped taking advice. She also assures them that Lester can’t get Gideon’s money and tells them that Lester was interested in the Futures trade – which takes place in the LIFE (London International Futures Exchange) building. As they head off, Gideon calls Danni and tells her to liquidate everything, he’s closing his account.

At the LIFE building they find a room where all trading is done face to face, there are no windows to let the pesky sun in, Lester can put the bite on anyone to get himself the best deals and the cameras that film everything won’t even pick him up. Perfect – but he has to be doing it using his dad’s account, which means Gideon must be lying to Angela. She doubts any infection since she saw him in broad daylight and he sounded genuinely disdainful of his son.

She also tells them of a mobile phone in the car, meaning Lester wasn’t alone. Vaughan explains that vampires don’t use phones – because machines can’t see or hear vampires, so his voice won’t go down a line.

Meanwhile Danni is on the phone to Lester to double check if he really wants to sell everything since it won’t get anyone off his trail. Lester uses a computer programme to talk over the phone and assures her he does want to – and he types with extremely burned hands.

The team realises Gideon is selling everything and Danni is handling the transaction – and will hand over the money in cash (or deposit drafts) personally to Gideon, which should give them chance grab Lester at the hand over. Mike wonders how much Danni knows but Vaughan points out so long as he has money, Danni won’t care – she’s a banker he’s a vampire, they’re probably related (ooooh, in 1998 no less. What a prescient comment).

In the lab, Angela is doing some experiments (how they’ll beat the vampires in the end, she assures them) when Father Hammond arrives to subtly rebuke her for not being outside tracking down leads. She angrily points out she has tracked down all of the financials and discovered that Gideon is building underground safe houses. He still doesn’t support research since it can take years and they may not have that long (this time scale is based on….? Care to share some of his random insight?)

Mike goes to see Frances, his friend with the contacts in high places who got him the background on Vaughan and Angela and asks her how she manages to keep her sensitive job from spilling over her life. He talks about being warned off Kirsty and she says he doesn’t have to be a hermit, he just has to be careful. She tells him to quit – they can find others but if he has any doubts and stays he’ll lose the choice. She says he’s too straight (as in honest and forthright) for this kind of work

We cut to Danni and she has a bad burn on her arm, under a bandage, caused by Lester grabbing her arm in the car when he started to burn. She goes out into the night to meet the burned Lester to tell him that the certificates will be ready by close of play the next day but she repeatedly warns him about the investigators though he dismisses them (throughout this scene she spends the whole time staring dramatically into the camera with windswept hair – it’s the most gloriously ridiculous melodramatic moment – complete with synthesiser angelic choir – I have ever seen). When she glances aside, he disappears.

Mike has another awkward moment with Kirsty and she asks hard questions: “you’re working for the people who investigated Jack?” “yes.” “Did you turn him in?” “No.” “Ok.” And with that Kirsty moves on, trusting him (this may seem odd but remember, Kirsty was engaged to marry someone with Jack’s hair so she may have a judgement impairing drug habit). She knows there’s more he’s not telling her though and demands he stop protecting her.

Investigation time and Mike sees, through CCTV, that Danni has a burn on her hand – adding in the mother she want to see in the nursing home being on the same road and he assumes she was in the car (what, Father Hammond is the only one allowed to make grand leaps of logic?) and believes that the money hand over must be a distraction.

For more investigating, Mike and Angela go to the nursing home where Danni’s mother lives and ask the nurse about her – it seems it’s the first time Danni has ever visited. She also mentions a boyfriend who waited in the car, all night. Danni’s mother was a banker as well and, though they can’t talk to her because she’s still incoherent, they ask to see her personal things, convincing the nurse when they tell her Danni is in a lot of trouble. Looking through the photos they find an old photograph of someone called Waldemar - who looks exactly like Lester – Gideon’s father. The mother handled his finances and then Danni took over. For some reason Mike asks if Alzheimers is hereditary (possibly giving Danni a reason to join the vampire club), Angela tells him there are 2 genes that mean you’re likely to get Alzheimers, especially if you have both – but 1 in 20 people have both so it doesn’t mean much. You don’t need a hereditary disease to tempt you to become a vampire, if you look far enough into the future you will see something ugly – if nothing else, everyone dies.

Angela and Mike go to check on Waldemar/Lester’s account opened by Margaret and then Danni Ashford.  And all his money goes to charity – medical charities, especially blood disorders through the Beacon Institute.

Meanwhile Vaughan and some squaddies spend an inordinate amount of time sneaking up on Danni and Gideon who are doing the cash exchange – but Waldemar/Lester never shows up and their cover is blown by the Biker rampaging around. Vaughan demands Danni tell him where he is.

Angela and Mike head to the Beacon Institute, sneaking into the backdoor while men load a truck out front. As it drives off they find a room full of very pale, sick looking people with tubes draining blood in their arms – including on collapsed on the floor. Mike wants to call for help but Angela stops him, checking what they’re dealing with first. Mike leaves, disturbed. The sick people inside thought it was a hospice, that they were on new, special drugs trials that could help them – but the radiation used to find a cure has ruined their immune system

Father Harman and Vaughan search Gideon’s house while Harman talks to Gideon about how his father used him, how he never meant to turn the far too useful human and how he just took over Gideon’s dead son’s place. Angela and Mike tackle Danni in an interview room – about how Waldemar had an affair with her mother and then moved on to her. Danni protests that they don’t take people who don’t want to be vampires – Waldemar begged her mother to change and she refused. Angela denies that – saying they killed her 5 year old child, Danni counters with the fact that it’s their group that are running the extermination programme, accusing them of being Nazis and the vampires having the right to fight back.

Time for the team to meet where Harman makes it clear that vampires are not researching cures for blood diseases due to philanthropy, it’s all about food supply, though Mike points out if they find cures does it matter what their motivation is? (Methods are questionable, certainly, but motivation?) Harman says the vampires won’t cure diseases, they’ll just cull the infected like they did before – and he mentions the Great Fire of London as proof. That would be the fire that killed 6 people – someone should have studied some history before making this up because burning a city to kill 6 people is the most inefficient cull imaginable.

Vaughan is willing to celebrate the case as a win, but Mike doesn’t understand. The girl is in a wheelchair, the vampire got away. But Vaughan points out they cost him a lot of money, the vampire is scarred and because anaesthetic don’t work on vampires, he’s going to be in permanent agony (that’s a result? This is something they’re praising?)

The Biker returns home to his flat where he meets Waldemar who would like to show him what it feels like to be so badly burned. We hear the biker scream and then cut to his extremely bloody dead body on the floor with Mike and Vaughan investigating and Mike pretty sure that this counts as a grudge.  He talks about going public with the vampire threat and Vaughan replies with the idea of the panic it’d cause leading to people turning to religion and next thing we know the Archbishop of Canterbury would be elected prime minister. I find it interesting that he worries about fear driving people to theocracy – and could certainly be an interesting commentary – if they weren’t unquestioningly following the orders of a Catholic Priest. Mike wants to tell the biker’s girlfriend and they have an argument with Vaughan accusing Mike of pushing his issues with Kirsty onto the case. Mike leaves, accusing Vaughan of not caring at all.

Vaughan goes to see the woman in the hospital, he even brings flowers. But the hotel room is empty and trashed. Mike wakes up on his sofa (does he not have a bed?) to find her in his living room wearing a hospital gown. She says “he put me right”. She says she won’t hurt him but this was her choice, everyone has a choice and she didn’t want to be in a wheelchair. She starts to tell him things about “his friends” why they’re far more evil than the vampires – and Vaughan attacks her from behind and kills her in an explosion that takes out the windows and leaves fire smouldering.

He now has to move – and the next day tells Kirsty. Adding that he and Kirsty need to take a break from each other so she has a chance to get over Jack by him keeping away. She doesn’t understand why he needs to leave and he abruptly tells her to move on and he doesn’t have the time to be responsible for her. Yes, the old “hurt them for their own good” trope.

This seems to be far less about hunting and killing the vampires and far more about trying to cut back their moral influence and find out which pies they have their fingers in. I do wish we’d see more history and reasoning behind Father Harman’s assurance of evil, especially with him being a priest, but we’re finally seeing some nefarious activity on the vampire’s part that justifies fighting them.

I’m finding Father Harman extremely irritating just presenting “this is so” without any explanation or reasoning or even the slightest nuance of thought. While the vampires are hardly shiningly virtuous, nor is the team. I do think there are elements here that could do with more development – like the idea of panic and theocracy maybe even with a reflection of their own church ties and unquestioning assumptions. They raise deep issues but don’t examine them.

I also like the thread of mortal ties being such a risk and the damage that can do to people.

Random aside, is “Kirsty” a really English name or something. Because my spellchecker is determined to change it to “Kristy” – a name I’ve never heard of. But I went to school with 4 Kirstys.