Thursday, March 5, 2015

Forever, Season 1, Episode 17: Social Engineering

Theme setting – lots of people using mobile phones before we move to a news interview of a man, Lawrence Creef who is both CEO of a major company and a candidate for undersecretary of defence which sounds absolutely awful. The interview is hacked by someone who agrees with me exposing some of his corruption

Henry brings up this theme of the week – new modes of communication and how lies, wars and murders still happen. Before breakfast with Abraham who basically explains the concept of the Faceless (basically, Anonymous) to Henry along with Hactivism. Henry snarks at the idea of crusaders for the truth wearing masks which is ridiculously naïve for a man of his age and we get hints of Abraham’s own activist past (and mocking Henry’s technological ineptitude)

Anyway, murder time – the victim is Eric Shaw, dead from asphyxiation (which Henry annoyedly points out to Lucas who missed it – harsh Henry, or high expectations Henry?), Henry smells gas – and when the man’s alarm comes on not only does it turn on every electronic in the flat, but also the gas.

Personally I think this would be a bad way to commit murder – you turn on the gas just as he wakes up in time to smell it and do something about it?

The thermostat can be activated remotely so it’s possible that was just hacked and it wasn’t the worst trap ever. They also find a Faceless mask. Lucas is terrified and tries to leave, rather not having all his secrets leaked to the world.

Back at the station, two police from cybercrimes division get involved (and call Faceless “cyberterrorists”) and they’re super condescending towards Jo and Hanson and want the two to leave the investigation to them.

Jo isn’t impressed. But when she goes to see Henry he doesn’t have much to add (beyond Eric’s last meal) but they decide to experiment with gas for fun and while waiting for that they discuss worst way to die. A subject that Henry is an expert in which is a little disturbing of course. Jo wants to know why Henry is so obsessed with death – and he gives the answer that he likes solving puzzles which is plausible. She asks if he wants to live forever.

They do find that there is no way that the gas would have killed him in the time frame discovered.

Back to the morgue where Henry shaves Eric – where it looks like someone held a hand over his mouth (marks hidden by the beard).

At the same time Hanson lurks around the computer experts find the computer that released the gas and arrest Lawrence Creef. Of course, being with a remote computer is actually an alibi since it proves he wasn’t on hand to suffocate Eric.

More investigation and Lucas being a terrible desperate flirt with computer-expert-woman. They question Lawrence and figure out that Eric ate the same obscure food as was at his last fundraiser (go tenuous links!)– which was how he got the footage of him boasting about making money.

All this talk of secrecy of course leads to a flashback for Henry when he was a doctor back in the olden days and his heroic saving of a boy’s life got his picture in the papers. Which attracted the attention of his aged wife Nora (before Abigail – much more olden days than that) stunned to realise Henry wasn’t lying and he is immortal. She fainted.

To the present and Abraham reminds Henry that just because Eric is an activist doesn’t mean he isn’t human and there aren’t more personal reasons he could have been murdered.

So it’s to the caterers where Henry focuses on one of the kitchen staff through a series of highly convoluted leaps. She runs and we have a car chase in which she escapes on a bike because she can control traffic lights – but she dropped her phone in the process.

Using that they identify her name, Liz, that she has a past Hacktivist history and that she was in contact with a hacker known as “Warlock” who the dramatic computer experts are all dramatic about.

Talking about Liz leaving her past behind leads to another Henry flashback of him trying to convince Nora he’s not actually her husband. Henry gives up but since she had him locked up, he doesn’t exactly feel warm and fuzzy towards her. She also wants to share his secret with the world. Henry votes no

Back to the present and “Warlock” reveals that a) Eric was cheating on Liz and b) that Eric had just finished an impressively huge hack. Both of which are probably murder motives

Meanwhile Liz gets in touch with Henry through his computer – she has dug into his identity and found it, naturally, to be fake. She threatens to reveal this if he doesn’t help her fake her own death

While the computer team searches for Liz using cameras and facial recognition software, Liz drops in on Abraham’s store. She protests her innocence and repeats her threat to Henry – but after a lecture about the cost of secrecy, Henry refuses to help her.

She leaves, tracked by the police and begins to send out Henry’s information – when she’s hit by a car; someone messed with the traffic lights. They all assume it was suicide – until Henry does his classic genius thing. Computer experts in! And they hurriedly lock down life support from any computer network

More flashbacks! Nora comes back ranting about Henry’s immortality – and brings a gun to prove it. She shoots at Henry but a devoted nurse stands in the way and is shot instead.

Jo and Hanson question Warlock about the city codes used to change the lights but he says he can’t do it-  because the NYPD changed the codes.

To the hospital room where Henry has decided that female computer expert is suspicious and the actual murderer – Eric’s lover he was sleeping with to gain access to information (which is why Liz says it wasn’t cheating but social engineering). She conveniently confesses to Henry as killers do on so many shows. She thinks she can get way with it by blackmailing Henry about those pesky fake records.

Liz starts to flatline and computer woman (I completely missed her name) tells Henry to let her die so all their secrets are safe. Of course, while Henry does his angsty face, there’s no way he’s going to let the woman die and pushes the alarm

At the same time Hanson and Jo learn the woman – Irene (a name!) was the one who changed the codes.

Irene commits suicide by car – like everyone else this episode. Do cars not have brakes in New York?

Back to Jo and Henry –and Jo got an email telling her to examine Henry’s records. She realises his past is fake. BIG REVEAL TIME?! PLEASE!

Alas, no – she found he had even BETTER qualifications hidden behind his original ones. Courtesy of Liz who isn’t dead.

Henry reflects at how privacy is dying and how, eventually, keeping secrets will be impossible – and how hard that is for him; not just keeping secrets from others but also his denial from himself.

Oooooh so close! Soooo close!

I think it does make a nice point about secrecy being increasingly a near impossible thing – especially for someone who has secrets like Henry. I think this is something a lot of supernatural shows miss; secrecy and hiding is increasingly becoming difficult, especially if you are not technologically adept. Equally it was a nice exposure of the threat of fame - or notoriety - to an immortal who wants to keep their secret

I always love the interactions between Abraham and Henry – Abraham thinking of Henry as “young” but at the same time Henry resists Abraham’s too-much-information revelations because he IS Abraham’s father.

I also quite liked the little look back at Nora - just to see that he didn't just never connected with Henry again; but it also adds to the threat of aging and people knowing you and recognising you which, again, is more of a threat with modern technology and the ubiquity of recorded images

I do think the investigation wasn’t the best – we have a lot of really big leaps of logic and assumptions - like Henry honing on the waitress because she has a geeky tattoo – like there aren’t educated waitresses? Like there aren’t college students and graduates working kitchen jobs?