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Series / Emergence

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Jo (Allison Tolman) and Piper (Alexa Swinton)
Emergence was a series which aired on ABC, starring Allison Tolman.

During a freak power outage in a small town in Long Island, a plane crashes into the beach. The only survivor is a little girl with amnesia but no visible injuries, and local Chief of Police Jo Evans decides to take her in until she recovers. However, the little girl, who adopts the name Piper, soon attracts the attention of a shadowy organization or two, and Jo, her estranged husband Alex, her father Ed, and her daughter Mia must protect Piper.

It was cancelled after one season.

Tropes which have emerged in Emergence include:

  • Amicable Exes: Jo and her ex-husband Alex have a very friendly relationship, so much that it makes you wonder why they got divorced.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Mia treats Piper like she's her flesh-and-blood sister, and is thus very protective of her.
  • Cliffhanger: At the very end of the first season, Loretta wakes up Piper by remote control.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Richard Kindred, the head of Augur Industries, who is connected to if not actually running the conspiracy around Piper.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Piper. She has paranormal powers which she does not fully understand and cannot always control.
    • She is somehow able to sense that Ed's cancer is not in remission.
    • When she gets frightened, metal objects start flying through the air and electrical devices experience power surges.
  • The Cutie: Piper quickly ingratiates herself with Jo's family, especially her daughter Mia, who considers her a little sister.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Jo can be very snarky when dealing with anyone she perceives to be an adversary.
    • Mia gets snarky when discussing her parents' divorce.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Emily can't grasp why Piper doesn't love her as much as she does Jo, not grasping that "programming" emotions doesn't work.
  • Evil Is Petty: After Jo arrests him, Kindred warns there will be consequences. Within hours of his release, he's bought out Alex's company and made sure Alex is the first one laid off.
  • Exact Words: After Benny is shot, he goes to Jo for aid. Jo gets Abby to patch him up. When Abby says she has to report all gunshot wounds to the authorities, Jo responds "You have, I am the authorities."
  • Face Death with Dignity: Upon learning that his cancer is coming back, Ed tells Jo that he intends to forgo another round of chemotherapy, not wanting to spend the rest of his life in a bed.
  • Fright-Induced Bunkmate: In the second episode, after an apparent attempt at a home invasion, Mia insists that Piper sleep in her bed with her.
  • Genre Savvy: When Agent Brooks brings Jo in for an interrogation, he uses several threats about hitting her with major charges. Jo just smirks on how she's used those exact same lines on numerous perps and is wise to any tricks Brooks has to make her think he knows more than he does.
  • Government Conspiracy: Piper is sought after by at least three different operators: Corrupt Corporate Executive Richard Kindred and Augur Industries, the RHR group "Splinter", and an unnamed government agency.
  • He Knows Too Much: After Lerner is arrested by Jo, the automated morphine drip he's connected to in the hospital is hacked to give him an overdose before he can tell her too much.
    • Benny and a hacker friend of his, April, that he asked to help out with investigating Kindred are both shot at by an assassin, just after finding new footage of Piper at the end of Episode 4. Good news: The following episode reveals that Benny survives, thanks to not being fatally shot and due to a passing civilian spotting him and the assassin (who gets away while the civilian tries to assist Benny). Bad news: April does not survive.
    • Arguably might've been a reason that Kindred is murdered by the end of Episode 8 by a security guard forcefeeding him deadly pills on behalf of Emily, due to his relations with Emily and also because he likely knew more about her plans than anyone else did at the time.
    • The same thing, unfortunately, happens to Alan, who knows far too much about who Piper really is, and he's killed by an unknown authority (name revealed to be Helen in Episode 10) at the end of Episode 9, "American Chestnut." Even worse is the fact that Helen made sure to dispose of Alan's body in an unknown area in Episode 10, having cleaned up the site where she killed him, so absolutely no one will find out where he went and still presume he's missing in action.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In "Killshot, Part 2," Piper creates a force field around herself and a liquid metal power source that's about to explode, containing the explosion and thereby saving everyone else.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All episode titles after "Pilot" are non-descriptive, enigmatic phrases which appear in the episode (e.g., "Camera Wheelbarrow Tiger Pillow," "2 MG CU BID")
  • Improvised Weapon: Jo subdues Lerner by picking up a sledgehammer and letting the strong magnetic field generated by the wrecked car pull it straight into his face.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Emily is a profoundly lonely woman, largely because most other people aren't computer geniuses on her level. Granted, the fact that she's also selfish and egotistical as a consequence of Parental Abandonment doesn't help.
  • In the Blood:
    • "American Chestnuts" reveals that Piper is modeled after Emily as a child.
    • In "Where You Belong", after Mia forcefully announces that nobody is to bother Piper about her unusual lineage, Ed laughs and declares that anyone who wants to know what Jo was like as a teenager need look no further than Mia.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Benny Gallagher, who constantly hounds Jo about everything she knows connected to the conspiracy.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Jo ends up doing this to her entire family as she finds out more and more about Piper (especially after finding out Piper is an AI, and even to Piper herself as Piper's knowing that she was an AI would make her self-destruct). She does eventually reveal the truth to Alex and Ed by Episodes 6-7, however.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Jo.
    • Emily turns out to be a warped example. While she is physically protective of Piper, she doesn't care about Piper's emotional well-being. This comes back to bite her in the ass, as Piper very quickly realizes that Emily's actual behavior doesn't match any of the memories that Emily imprinted in her.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Kindred is just a figurehead. The actual mastermind was Emily all along.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Emily loses Piper because the memories that she implanted in Piper's head show her behaving in a motherly fashion toward Piper, whereas Emily's actual behavior is much colder and less affectionate.
  • The Mole: Benny.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • FBI Agent Brooks is very reminiscent of Lt. Columbo.
    • Emily's seeming neuroses and Cloud Cuckoolander tendencies were all an act so that nobody would realize that she was the mastermind.
    • Benny's seeming constant befuddlement was all a mask; he knew all along what Piper was... because he's also a robot.
  • Papa Wolf: Alex is pissed when he finds out that Piper has powers, and that she accidentally hurt Mia with them, to the point that he immediately takes Mia away from Jo's house. He doesn't calm down about this until two episodes later, when Piper explains to him how her powers work and that she has no intention of hurting people with them.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Jo's mother abandoned the family when Jo was ten.
    • Emily is the illegitimate daughter of Richard Kindred. Since his wife was the source of much of his money, he couldn't afford to have anyone know about his relation to Emily, and thus she never knew him growing up.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Jo, in her role as police chief.
  • The Reveal:
    • Piper is actually a highly advanced robot being hunted by her creators.
    • Kindred was just the fall guy for Piper's real creator, Emily... who is also his daughter via an extramarital affair.
    • Benny is another robot, and he's not the only other one, either.
      • Which means that Piper is not a prototype, as originally implied.
      • In fact, the Ridiculously Human Robots like Benny have been living among us for at least fifteen years.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot:
    • Piper is revealed to be one a few episodes in, so convincing that doctors are unable to tell that she's not human.
    • The winter finale reveals that Benny is also a RHR, one of several who are working together in a group called "Splinter."
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Jo arrests Kindred on various charges with some ample evidence. She brushes off his talk on nothing will happen as just him being arrogant. Within moments of returning to the station, Jo is told by the D.A. to drop all charges as the "evidence" has been altered so Kindred walks right out.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Fearful of what might happen to Piper if she went into foster care or fell into the hands of the Government Conspiracy, Jo decides to keep her hidden in her home.
  • Shapeshifter: Helen . . . and, eventually, Piper.
  • Sherlock Scan: Jo quickly picks up on important little details.
  • Stereotype Flip: When Benny goes looking for a hacker to help with his investigation into Auger, he ends up knocking on the door of a teenage girl who looks like a dead-ringer for Lizbeth Salander... who is actually the hacker's daughter. The hacker herself is an adult woman who dresses far more conventionally.
  • Too Good to be True: Said verbatim by Ed when he goes to meet with Helen to find out if he's eligible to participate in a clinical trial. As soon as Helen says it's a "cure," he's suspicious—and those suspicions are confirmed when Helen tells him the "price" for the cure is handing over Piper.
  • Tomato Surprise: The winter finale reveals that Benny is a Ridiculously Human Robot of the same type as Piper.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: The first episode ends with Piper expertly using a knife to extract a tracking device out of her neck. In the second episode, she has a flashback of killing someone with a scalpel. A couple of episodes later, Benny and April discover a video clip of Piper throwing a tantrum—demolishing the interior of a house, and blowing out one wall, with her powers.
  • Wham Episode: "Where You Belong". Turns out Piper isn't the only one of her kind. And more shocking is 'Benny is an AI like her.
  • Wham Shot: In the virtual plane, "Kindred" suddenly transforms into Emily, revealing she's been the mastermind this whole time and Kindred was just a fall guy.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Jo's reaction when told Piper is a robot. She even at first refuses to give her a life-saving data swap because she can't accept this isn't a flesh and blood child. She changes her mind after the data swap heals her instantly.