This week’s Number is James Ko, a businessman whose flight is diverted to New York City, where he starts to feel unwell and goes to hospital. It’s an immutable rule of TV drama that when someone starts coughing it never ends well, and sure enough before long poor old Ko is dead of an unidentified illness, resulting in the hospital being locked down with Finch and Reese both inside.
Ko’s death turns out to be attributable to a synthesised virus created by Samaritan, apparently as part of its reaction to a couple of members of hospital staff who disagreed with its approach to automated healthcare. (Once again, I note in passing that Samaritan has a point: human error kills more people than it should, and in the long run greater automation will save lives.) And Jeff Blackwell, recent Samaritan recruit, is in the hospital as well, with the intent of killing the relevant medics. But the plan is bigger, and has a typically Samaritan-esque twist; the CDC requires mass immunisation, as part of which the DNA of the entire population is being harvested by everyone’s favourite supercomputer, for reasons as yet undisclosed.
In a busy episode, all of the main characters get something to do: the increasingly disaffected Fusco requests a new police partner, and enlists Elias in his investigation of who killed the bodies in the tunnel. Elias, incidentally, gets the best line of the week: “Underneath all of that intellect”, he tells Finch, “you’re the darkest of all of us. It’s always the quiet ones we need to be afraid of. I just hope I’m not around the day that pot finally boils over”. I expect he will be. I hope we will all be.
Meantime, Shaw escapes, and finds herself in a prison in Johannesburg, where she shoots that Samaritan henchman with the English accent. Or it’s another simulation. Given that my primary school teachers would have leathered me for using “…and then I woke up!” in a piece of creative writing at age 10, it’s genuinely astonishing how often proper TV writers think they can get away with it. This time, though, I think it’s for realsies, as she hears details of the virus outbreak on a car radio as she drives away. It’s another very good episode, but it falls short of being exceptional, perhaps because the main plot – virus, hospital, lockdown, CDC – has been done so often before.