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Recap / War Of The Worlds S 02 E 09 Synthetic Love

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Season 2, Episode 9:

Synthetic Love

A drug addict is placed in a cell, alone, and begins screaming and ranting at no one in particular. However, his ranting is interrupted when a group of nurses appear, grab his arms through the wall to restrain him, and inject him with a coloured substance that immediately calms him.

As a Corrupt Corporate Executive watches from nearby, the cell door is opened and the addict walks out in a daze, pausing to walk up to a female test subject and start touching her gently. The executive, Jonathan Laporte, exclaims that the drug is revolutionary, and turns to Malzor, who is using the alias "Mr. Malcolm" for his business dealings. "Malcolm" says that the drug in question is called "Crevulax", and that it produces euphoria and calmness for those who take it. The two parties agree to a deal where Laporte's pharmaceutical company will distribute their drug at their own in-house rehabilitation centers for testing, in exchange for "Malcom" and his scientists producing the drug and not divulging the... exact formula.

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While a newscaster on a radio broadcast discusses the circumstances caused by the legalization of drugs, an addict named Jimmy goes into a local store and tries (unsuccessfully) to buy a rock of crack cocaine, before being told by the shopkeeper that he doesn't have enough money. At the same time, Jonathan orders a subordinate to open up rehab clinics in the downtown core of their city, reasoning that it will help "correct" junkies in the most troubled areas of the city.

That night, Kincaid heads to a local bar and briefly watches a broadcast explaining that the U.S. welfare system has completely collapsed as a result of legalizing drugs. His attention is diverted when Jimmy (an old friend of Kincaid's gets into an altercation with a dealer he owes money to. Kincaid rescues Jimmy before expressing shock and anger at his condition, and brings him to one of the nearby rehab clinics, which has just opened and is holding a press conference.

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Inside, Laporte's daughter, René, is making a speech where she expresses hope for drug users to turn their lives around and officially opens the site. Kincaid brings Jimmy into the centre and orders him to sign the admission form, claiming that he'll die without help. Jimmy reluctantly signs the document and goes inside, while Kincaid watches the end of René's presentation and sees her unveiling Crevulax before he leaves.

At the Morthren base, Malzor meets with Mana and tells her that their "delivery schedule" will need to be made on time. Mana tells him that the demand has increased and that they'll need more subjects, and Malzor subsequently negotiates a deal with Jonathan to get the people they need, under the guise of drug testing for different personality profiles. Afterwards, Jonathan asks one of his scientists to analyze the drug to see what exactly it contains, but she says it's currently impossible to do so because a masking agent has been applied that prevents them from analyzing it.

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Jimmy is in the clinic when he sees several patients who have been dosed with Crevulax and are near-catatonic. Concerned for the other patients' safety, he tails one of them later that night and witnesses him and several others being kidnapped and loaded into a truck by Morthren soldiers. Jimmy goes back to the main clinic area and looks on concerned, while the captured addicts are driven to the Morthren base and restrained in machines. There, it's revealed that the Morthren are using Human Resources to produce Crevulax, and a series of drills bore into the back of the heads of the addicts, killing them and removing their brains.

The next day, Kincaid visits Jimmy at the clinic, who tells him that he's seen strange goings-on and wishes to leave. Kincaid dismisses his concerns, telling him that being in the clinic is the right thing for him, and gives him an old rabbit's foot for luck. When Jimmy makes a scene and demands to leave, he's restrained by a number of orderlies, including Bayda, and whisked away.

Kincaid meets with Harrison at the local bar later that night, and expresses his concerns about Jimmy's condition and the nature of Crevulax for his benefit. At the same time, Jimmy is part of a group captured and taken by the Morthren to their base. Jimmy watches in horror as a female addict is drilled into and dies, and eventually is strapped to the machine and killed.

Going back to the clinic, Kincaid is told by the nurse that she has no idea who Jimmy is, despite having seen them both in person two days earlier. Concerned about a coverup, Kincaid investigates the clinic afterwards and finds junkies who have been dosed with Crevulax and resting, before finding the clinic's supply storage and taking a vial of the drug before he goes. Kincaid goes to Harrison at the base and orders him to begin testing on it immediately, as he suspects the drug may have unintended side effects. He leaves as quickly as he came, claiming he has to do something.

Kincaid goes undercover as a homeless man using the alias "John Wolf". An attendant from the clinic notices him squatting in an alley and brings him inside, where the receptionist (who doesn't recognize it's him) admits him to the main treatment area. Bayda appears and asks for "Wolf"'s medical history, and Kincaid gives her a story about how his family was killed in a fire and he has no other support. Kincaid also speaks with René, who is visiting the clinic to comfort the other patients, and asks her if she can find out where Jimmy is for him. She promises to make some enquiries before she leaves.

At the sewer base, Harrison is busy analyzing the vial of Crevulax with Suzanne, and they discover the existence of the masking agent. At the same time, Laporte's researchers are busy analyzing the drug as well after Jonathan's request. The masking agent fails, and both groups discover that the drug is made out of human brain matter. At the clinic, Kincaid roots around the building under the cover of night and sees a group of junkies being led out by the Morthren to a waiting truck. Soon after, he finds René sneaking into the clinic looking for information and confronts her with the disappearances of the addicts. She says she doesn't know, and he tells her that something is very wrong at the clinic, and that she needs to look into it further. Convinced her father is hiding something from her, she goes to leave, but the pair is ambushed by several Morthren soldiers. Kincaid is able to get René out of the building, but he is ambushed and stunned by the Morthren.

Jonathan meets with Malzor and tells him the deal to distribute Crevulax is off. Malzor threatens his livelihood before storming off. René walks in soon after and demands that her father tell her what's happening at the clinic, but he refuses to tell her what's happening. When she pushes the matter, Jonathan slaps her across the face, and she storms out. Soon after, she is ambushed and captured by Malzor and two soldiers outside the Laporte building.

While Harrison and Suzanne quickly develop a counteragent to the drug, Kincaid is injected by Bayda (who has finally recognized him as the individual who has attacked the Morthren in the past), who claims that it will control his violent urges. She orders him to be transferred to the Morthren base for processing, but as the soldiers are moving him to a truck outside the clinic, Harrison and Suzanne appear and begin firing on the attackers. They dominate the attackers, shooting down all of the soldiers and rescuing Kincaid. In the van, Harrison administers the counteragent to Kincaid, which causes him to undergo momentary Sanity Slippage, attempting to attack the others as his violent urges come back to the forefront. After a few moments, he stops what he's doing and starts crying uncontrollably, horrified at his behaviour, before going unconscious. Harrison tells Suzanne that the serum worked, and that it will take time for Kincaid to recover...

Meanwhile, Jonathan becomes increasingly concerned after what he did to René. He goes to the rehab clinic to investigate, and is met by Malzor and his soldiers, who reveal that René is "gone", but that they've "brought her to you"... before revealing that they've killed her and turned her brain into Crevulax. Jonathan is horrified and breaks down sobbing, while Malzor leaves and reports to Mana that they will have to look for another distributor for the drug. Back at his office, the sobbing Jonathan pulls out a gun and turns it on himself.

Tropes:

  • Be Careful What You Wish For: At one point, a newscaster explains that the government and/or society thought that letting corporations legalize drugs and distribute them would make things better in the long run, then says that it obviously isn't what happened.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • Jonathan Laporte, the owner of his own pharmaceutical company, is painted as evil for acceping a deal with the obviously-shady "Mr. Malcolm" (Malzor), who wants to give him a new experimental drug because the former is concerned with big profits, to the point that he would sell out his own daughter for it. However, despite the episode's message that Drugs Are Bad, everything else shows that Laporte is quite possibly the least evil businessman in the series, as he owns and operate his own rehab centres, runs his business at a constant loss, and is happy to support a drug that would cure personality disorders and allow people to (albeit temporarily) escape the hellish Crapsack World.
    • Malzor's ending monologue has him claim that humans will do anything for money, even sell their own children for money. Except that's not the way the plot plays out at all. Jonathan doesn't explain anything to his daughter, keeps him out of his internal business affairs, gets into business with Malzor because he believes it will help junkies (even if it's a means to the end), and is generally a benevolent business owner. His daughter only gets involved in the plot after investigating the disappearances at the clinic herself, and gets captured after for her trouble.
  • The Bus Came Back: After several episodes of being a no-show, Bayda shows up as a nurse working undercover to secure test subjects at Laporte's Centre City rehab clinic.
  • The Cavalry: Harrison and Suzanne show up to rescue Kincaid (and dominate the ensuing gunfight) after the latter is shot up with Crevulax by the Morthren soldiers in the clinic.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The masking agent used by the Morthren to hide the true nature of Crevulax fails completely for an unexplained reason, with Suzanne, Harrison and Laporte's researchers all seeing the masking agent break off in real-time. Making it even more coincidental, the undercover Kincaid discovers from Bayda's computer that the drug is being harvested from brains at the exact same time.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: After Kincaid is dosed with Crevulax and rescued by Harrison and Suzanne, they bring him back to the base. Instead of letting Kincaid sleep off the drug, they opt to use a highly-experimental counteragent, for no good reason, despite the fact that it was only developed earlier that day and they don't know what the side effects could be. This causes Kincaid to snap and attempt to murder Suzanne, solely so the episode can have another action sequence in its third act.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The victims used to "make" Crevulax are junkies pulled from rehab clinicss in the dead of night, herded into trucks, transported to the Morthren base, and forced to watch their fellow humans get strapped into machines (whimpering and screaming all the while) before the Morthren shove a giant needle into the back of their heads and suck their brains out, just before the corpses are vaporized.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: "Crevulax" ostensibly fixes personality disorders and cause instant euphoria in those who use it (not to mention, it's made from human brains). Even worse, the president of a pharmaceutical company (that is, the people that are seemingly responsible for turning Earth into a Crapsack World via the legalization of drugs) agrees to fund and distribute the drug and share in the profits. Despite this, the plan falls apart when, instead of keeping the true nature of the drug secret, Malzor leaks its true nature to the press in a bid to destroy the company, costing the Morthren a potential way to make money with a breakthrough product.
  • Downer Ending: Harrison and Suzanne manage to rescue Kincaid, but only after he's been injected with Crevulax and has a moment of My God, What Have I Done? after trying to attack Suzanne. Meanwhile, the Morthren's plan to distribute Crevulax has only been temporarily thwarted, and both Laporte and his daughter have died as a result of dealing with the Morthren, leaving their company's future unclear.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Jonathan, at the end of the episode, after René is killed by Malzor.
    • Kincaid also tries this after being injected with Crevulax and then the counteragent, before Harrison stops him.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Aside from the immediate plot of the episode, it's explained via dialogue that the distribution of narcotics by large corporations after being legalized is what led to the Earth's Crapsack World nature four years on. How this had enough of an impact to completely collapse most government and economic systems is never elaborated on.
  • Evil Feels Good: Jonathan Laporte can be seen practically salivating at several points over the potential of Crevulax, and is seen laughing while looking at user projections, drinking brandy while negotiating a deal to distribute the drug or looking on gleefully during the initial demonstration. This sets up his Laser-Guided Karma later on.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The rehab clinic attendant doesn't realize that Kincaid (who showed up several times over the past two days making inquiries about Jimmy) has shown up wearing a hat and coat, and takes him at his word that he's "John Wolf". Neither does Bayda, who previously glared at Kincaid after he tried to stop Jimmy from being whisked away by the clinic orderlies, but takes his Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story at face value.
  • Fantastic Drug: Crevulax has the ability to produce euphoria and calmness in those who take it, along with a tailored "masking agent" that prevents scientists from discovering the actual ingredients in it... that is, until the masking agent stops working completely, and both Suzanne and Laporte's scientists discover the true nature of the drug.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Malzor has René kidnapped to ensure Jonathan's compliance, though interestingly for this trope, he doesn't tell Jonathan he has his daughter, instead letting him work it out on his own.
  • Just in Time: Subverted. The action cuts back-and-forth between Jimmy (who is being strapped down into a Morthren brain-harvesting machine) and Kincaid, who is searching through the clinic to find more information that will lead him to the former. It seems as though Kincaid will bust in on the Morthren before they kill Jimmy... only to reveal that Kincaid has opened the door to a room which shows several junkies who've taken Crevulax and are resting.
  • Morality Pet: René is this to her father, Jonathan Laporte.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jonathan gets this reaction once he realizes that he's been supporting and distributing a drug that's made from human brains.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Losing the supply chain of the pharmaceutical company barely hinders the Morthren, who still have the technology to produce Crevulax (albeit on a smaller scale), while the heroes are no further along and had to deal with a drugged Kincaid (who nearly killed Suzanne in a drug-fueled rage) for their troubles.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Jimmy is introduced as yet another of Kincaid's friends from his past, who he hasn't seen in years but appears just as the main plot kicks off.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: René, who is offed in a particularly brutal manner in order to cause Jonathan anguish and eventually lead him to off himself.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: René, despite being a wealthy heiress, is a naive, optimistic woman who has no idea what her father is dealing with on a day-to-day basis. By the end of the episode, she's been captured, had her brain sucked out, and is shown being vaporized in order for the Morthren to twist the knife into her father.
  • Unwitting Test Subject: The Morthren opt to use junkies and addicts who've made their way to Laporte's rehab clinics as a means to boost production of Crevulax.

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