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Threshold: Pulse

“You want to save the world, Caffrey, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to save everyone in it.”

Molly wants to save everyone. The infectees, the team, the whole world. But she is unwilling to sacrifice some to save many, and maintains some hope of “redemption” for even the most lost of causes. But how can someone be redeemed if they don’t want to be? How can they come to accept the human frailty they’ve left behind now that they’ve been "improved"?

Karen started off as a victim and became the victimizer, both with her abusive boyfriend and with the world at large. What she was most haunted by, though, was her brother’s death on the Big Horn, the ship that was first exposed to the alien signal. As Molly said, Karen was “frightened and dangerous”—at least at first.

Karen’s brother (or an alien-created image of him) coached her through her “transition,” and that must have made it all the easier to listen to the tape repeatedly and give in to the urge to spread it. Then she clearly stopped being frightened and started being alien. To her, warehouse parties were the best way to spread the signal, the same way that Park in the previous episode thought of computers. I wonder how I would spread the alien signal. This site, I guess. I’d set it for a very low volume and before you knew it…

The alien virus can spread through devices like cell phones, which is a new wrinkle—and a rather frightening one. That forces Molly to make a difficult choice, although it is hardly a real moral dilemma: risk a few people and save everyone with an EMP, or do nothing and let the world be taken over by an alien race. As only the most na├»ve golden-lining type would choose to do nothing, her choice isn’t quite as hard as it seems. (There aren’t even any casualties, which seems unlikely.) But she still struggles with it.

While I’m not rating any of these episodes, this is one of the weakest so far. It repeats, again, the idea that we are constantly vulnerable to the alien signal. (We knew that.) Molly wants to save people. (We knew that, too.) Fenway, Lucas, and Ramsey are chaffing under the bit. (Ditto.) Even the direction and cinematography seemed weird: there were too many seconds spent zooming in on the hard drive that holds an audio file, or someone’s reaction shot. It feels like they’re spinning their wheels.

We did get Baylock’s backstory: he lost his son to drugs, which gives him the calloused vulnerability that only someone in that situation can have. Baylock spent most of the episode preaching to Molly that she can’t save everyone. (That lead quote is his.) That exposition is meant to tell us about Molly, but it really tells us about Baylock, and it helps explain some of the choices he makes over the course of the season. And, of course, about the infectees, who claim they can’t be saved.

Contingencies:

• Fenway: “We’re DEA now? What’s next, Canadian Mounties?”

• Lucas: “There’s data that needs collating!”

• The opening shot at the rave was very Alias. And the EMP was very Ocean’s Eleven.

• This show aired during the height of the Atkins anti-carb craze (at least here in LA). It’s tempting to see the infectees’ obsession with protein as a joke about Atkins.

• Kevin Alejandro (Karen’s boyfriend) played Jesus on True Blood. And that was clearly a stunt double who fell on the car.

• Another great jacket on Molly.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

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