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Recap / War Of The Worlds S 02 E 10 The Defector

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Season 2, Episode 10:

The Defector

A man in a dark suit and hat walks alone past train tracks and into a market, stopping at a garage gate and entering a code before going inside. It's revealed that the man's name is "Ace", who corresponds with Kincaid via an online messaging service called the "Grapevine" and helps deliver ammunition and other supplies to him. The two catch up briefly before Harrison tells Kincaid they need a new rotor for their generator.

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At the Morthren base, Malzor is supervising the work of a scientist named Kemo, who reveals that he has developed a program that can attack users through cyberspace. He says that there are still some bugs to work out, but he believes it will be an effective method of attack. Malzor orders him to get results, emphasizing that their supplies and manpower are starting to reach critical levels. Kemo indicates that he has discovered the Grapevine, and elects to use it as a testing ground for his weapon.

Ace begins to see strange codes passing through his screen, and tells Kincaid that he's not sure what's going on. At the same time, Malzor and Mana see that Ace is transmitting data to someone else on the network, and tell Kemo to kill the human operator with the program. When Kemo expresses doubts, Malzor tells him to do it anyway. Kemo activates the program's kill capabilities, which electrocute Ace — but also result in a feedback loop that electrocutes Kemo slightly. Mana orders Kemo to be placed in suspension to heal his wounds, while Malzor tells her that the weapon must be prepared again.

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Upon realizing that Ace only managed to transmit a sheet of code before his connection was lost, Kincaid logs back on to the Grapevine and talks to several other users, including "Roller", "Lonelyheart" and Scoggs. Despite their best efforts, none of them know what happened to Ace. Kincaid meets with Scoggs at the club afterwards and successfully convinces her to get any leads on Ace's location, paying her to boot.

At the Morthren base, Kemo recovers from his ordeal, but now has several scars on one side of his face despite being placed in a regeneration machine. When he tries to go back to work on the machine, Malzor tells him that his services are no longer required and that he is slated to be executed for not achieving "perfection". Kemo subsequently goes in front of The Eternal to plead his case for why he should live, but the latter is unmoved and disappears. Malzor orders Kemo to be executed, and he is escorted to the disintegration platform. Upon arriving, however, Kemo decides he doesn't want to die and attacks his captors, shooting one with a guard's weapon and throwing the other into the disintegration chamber. He steals one of the Morthren engrams and flees the base, killing another soldier as he leaves.

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Unaware of what's happening, Malzor, Mana and Ardix use the now-refined weapon to access Lonelyheart's computer and kill him while he's talking to Kincaid. The resulting overload also causes Kincaid's computer to shut down and fire sparks off. Harrison tells him that the problem is likely being caused by something — or someone — else. At the same time, Kemo wanders through the city to Ace's base, and manages to hack the outside keypad before making his way inside.

Inside Ace's warehouse, Kemo discovers the older man's corpse and laments what happened to him. After covering the body with a sheet, he takes some of Ace's clothing (a black coat) and plugs the engram into Ace's computer, which successfully re-activates the system. Harrison sees their computer come back online and says everything's alright, but upon sending a message, "Ace" doesn't respond. Kincaid elects to go and get Ace's location from Scoggs, while Harrison elects to check on Lonelyheart. As they leave, Mana sees on her system that Ace's system has re-activated and realizes that Kemo must have done so with the engram. Despite Kemo shutting the machine off, Mana tells Malzor that they can track his location, and Malzor orders a group of guards to be dispatched immediately.

Harrison finds Lonelyheart's corpse in his apartment, while Scoggs tells Kincaid Ace's exact location. Kincaid goes alone to Ace's property, only to find that two Morthren soldiers have arrived first. He hides while the guards access the door panel. Before they can enter, Kincaid jumps out of cover and guns both of them down before heading inside and finding Kemo asleep at the computer. Mistaking him for Ace, Kincaid expresses relief that he's okay and says that the computer problems were caused by "people" who want to kill everyone. The ruse seems to work — until Kincaid discovers the real Ace's body, and Kemo pulls a weapon on him and tells him to stay where he is. Kemo reveals the nature of Ace's death and says that the "accident" from the system connected both Kemo and Ace, causing the former to experience human emotions for the first time in his life. Despite his misgivings over the situation, Kincaid reluctantly agrees to work with Kemo to shutdown the weapon using Ace's computer and the engram.

Harrison rushes back to the underground base and uses Grapevine to contact Roller and Scoggs, informing both of them that Lonelyheart (and likely Ace) are dead, that they need to meet in person and to stay off Grapevine. Afterwards, the three meet at the club where Scoggs works, and Harrison successfully convinces Roller to try and decipher the code Ace sent earlier so they can identify the source of the transmission. Roller logs back into Grapevine, and upon seeing it reactivate at the Morthren base, Mana and Ardix activate the weapon. The electricity kills Roller and partially hits Scoggs, who falls to the floor unconscious as Harrison checks her condition.

Kincaid brings Kemo to the club and they find Harrison watching over Scoggs, who he says is in shock but will recover. After Kincaid reveals who Kemo is, Harrison initially threatens him, but then agrees to help if it means destroying the weapon. Kemo subsequently sets up the engram on Scoggs' machine and uses it to temporarily disrupt the Morthren base's communications, before telling the duo that he has to go back to the base and destroy the engram himself. Kincaid reluctantly lets him go, even passing him back his weapon as he leaves. Afterwards, Harrison calls him out for helping an alien, leading Kincaid to retort that he did it because he's tired of seeing so much killing.

As Kincaid and Harrison continue to stall out thw Morthren base's transmissions, Kemo goes back to the base and stuns several guards on his way in. As Kemo arrives at the central chamber, Kincaid successfully uses a command to redirect the lightning from the engram back to its source, knocking out both Mana and Ardix. Kemo orders Malzor to move away from the machine so he can destroy it, under threat of killing him, but Malzor chooses to fight him instead. The pair struggle with Kemo's weapon, which leads to the latter knocking Malzor down and destroying the weapon. The computer goes up in a blast of smoke, which obscures Malzor's vision. As the smoke clears, he sees that Kemo has seemingly disappeared.

Kincaid and Harrison arrive back at the underground base to find a single message from "Ace", letting them know he made it. Kincaid goes to meet with Kemo outside of town, who tells him that he destroyed the engram to protect humanity, not just him. Kemo then tells him that he plans to head to parts unknown, but thanks him for his help, and leaves as Kincaid looks back at him...

Tropes:

  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Scoggs is hit with a partial blast of electricity that also kills Roller, but this doesn't appear to leave any lasting effects.
  • But Now I Must Go: Kemo tells Kincaid this before leaving for parts unknown at the end of the episode.
  • Code of Honour: Scoggs makes several references to a "Hacker's Code" that governs their message board, and (initially) uses that as justification for why she can't tell Kincaid where Ace lives.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Debi and Suzanne leave at the beginning of the episode, under the guise of transporting Debi to a nearby school so that she can finish her middle-school exams.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Malzor's refusal to accept Kemo's pleas of mercy end up creating a defector who guns down several Morthren soldiers, and allies with Kincaid and Scoggs to destroy the new weapon.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: For the mere act of being scarred during a weapon test that went wrong, Malzor orders Kemo to be executed, claiming that the Morthren do not accept anything less than "perfection".
  • Idiot Ball:
    • The Morthren (who are at this point beginning to experiences shortages in manpower) elect to execute Kemo after he is injured via a malfunctioning machine. As is revealed in the following episode, the Morthren also have a machine that can perform minor cosmetic surgery instantaneously on their faces, making it unclear as to why they needed to kill an important asset who had some facial scars.
    • Malzor elects to send nearly all of the Morthren soldiers out to track Kemo after he escapes, with Ardix pointing out the flaws in his plan. As a result, Kemo is easily able to access the base later and only has to deal with minimal security before he destroys the Morthren weapon and computer.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: The sight of Kemo's injuries causes Malzor to turn away in disgust... until it's revealed that Kemo's "injuries" are limited to some scars on one side of his face. Despite this, Malzor declares that Kemo must die when he tries to help them reconfigure the weapon.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Said verbatim by Kemo when he throws the Morthren soldier tasked with executing him into the vaporization chamber.
  • Not So Different: Malzor eventually realizes this happened to Kemo when the machine short-circuited and allowed him to interface with Ace, giving him human emotions in the process.
  • Not So Stoic: Kemo loses his composure when he tells Kincaid about what happened to Ace, and how it affected him.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Ace is revealed to have been corresponding throughout the season (and presumably long before that) with Kincaid, who is a known associate, but is introduced just in time to die so that Kemo can demonstrate his weapon.
  • Split Screen: Used when Ace and Kemo (facing each other, in terms of the episode's stage direction) are both hit with the electricity from the program.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Invokved. Malzor sends nearly every Morthren soldier out to find Kemo, telling Ardix that if they don't find him, security will be the least of their concerns. As a result, Kemo is subsequently able to enter and leave the base easily, only stunning a pair of guards (and knocking down Malzor) on his way to destroy the weapon.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Kemo threatens to shoot Malzor if he doesn't step out of the line of fire against the Morthren weapon, but Malzor instead rushes him, being knocked down a few moments later. Instead of shooting him, Kemo shoots the computer and disappears as quickly as he came.

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