Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: Zero Hour "Pendulum"

Non Spoiler Review:
The holy woman's clock leads to a new apostle—one that's pretty famous, and the search for his clock. Laila finds she is of value to Vincent. Riley brings in additional nerds to help Rachel and Arron. Hank brings in his parents, who know more than they're letting on.

Pendulum follows the now established clock per episode quest with a few additions—some further detail regarding Hank's past and ties to Vincent, as well as more screen time for Laila. We get some indication that their marriage is not what it seems (aside from being ridiculously annoying in the flashbacks).

The only interesting twist this week comes in the introduction of a couple of new characters. Depending on exactly who they turn out to be, they could be a hoot or just another letdown like Vincent. Beyond that, everyone sits around and lets the plot unfold around them with exposition thrown in as necessary.

Spoilers Now!
On the plane ride home Hank has a nightmare in which he sees a plague of locusts. He wakes up to Riley, who hates planes (because in case you missed it, her husband died on one). Back home he puts Father Mickle on the case of the mystery priest in India. But the Modern Skeptic offices are now occupied by Riley and Agents Wallace and Terrence. They have a warrant and want to be there if Vincent tries to make contact again. 

Vincent needs Laila to fix his newly acquired clock. He gives her new clothes to wear and seems oddly flirtatious. Laila fixes the clock and reveals a sequence of numbers that gives Vincent directions of where to head next.

Hank's parents show up and he wants to know about any family members they might have in Germany, but they don't know of any. The FBI locate Vincent and Laila on security cam in Paris, and it looks like Laila has given a signal to the camera that only Hank can pick up—one that means something is hidden under a desk. The authorities in France find the number sequence written under the desk in the hotel room.

Hank's father immediately recognizes it as a phone number from the 1940s (well, duh!). Wallace pinpoints that number from Princeton, NJ. As Hank and Riley prepare to leave, Father Mickle has some friends who may know of the Rosicrucian connection. Back home, Hank's parents wonder what they should tell him. Nothing yet, his father says.

At Princeton, Laila and Vincent go through some old telephone directories from 1938 and find an address. Hank and Riley show up shortly after and find the page ripped out of the directory. Fortunately Laila has left Hank another clue that only he can recognize, one that spells out I.A.S. (and in a flashback prove they are the type of couple who will make a ton of noise in a public library and just not care). Arron and Rachel figure that can only be the Institute of Advanced Study located in Princeton, too. 

Vincent and Laila arrive at the office in question but the FBI is closing in and raid the place. The man tells them Vincent and Laila were just there, looking for the guy who used to work there—Albert Einstein.

Back at Modern Skeptic it's a crash course on Albert Einstein and they determine he was one of the apostles and would have been given a clock. Some of his personal possessions are being put on display by Princeton, including (gasp) his treasured grandfather clock. But Vincent has already been to the storage area and killed the guards, taking what he needs. 

Vincent meets a creepy looking boy to report to her it's only a matter of time before she has the object she seeks. The boy writes the message in a bizarre script. Later, Vincent is getting impatient with Laila who is stalling as she works on the clock. He inquires about her relationship with Hank, and how she took in a forty year old man who had never been married (alas, we wonder this, as well). 

Arron finds himself turned on by Agent Wallace who is as big a nerd as he is. They discuss the rumour that Einstein was working on a new form of power before he died. Hank alerts them that the clock has already been taken, but not so fast—Rachel has determined the grandfather clock is older than 1938, so the real one must be hidden. They surmise he hid it in his mind.

Wallace brings out her trusty EM-Spectrometer, which will be able to read Einstein's last blackboard and what was erased on it. Hank figures Laila has guessed the clock is false as well, so must be working on something. The image shows an equation on the blackboard. Wallace figures it's a crypto-variable, a decoder for the rest of the blackboard equations. While they decode, Hank wanders outside and finds a yellow tack—yet another reference to his bizarre and boring ritualistic marriage with Laila. He goes searching and finds others.

Wallace discerns the location as a tree between Einstein's house and office. Hank phones Riley that he's following Laila's trail which ends up at an abandoned church. Hank goes inside screaming her name. He finds Vincent, and learns he's the one who left the clues for him, because he wants some alone time.

Hank says he'll give up the real clock if he tells him where Laila is (nice). Vincent wants to get to know him better, like how he met his wife. Cambridge, four years before, at the unveiling of a clock with a locust on top (equally nice). Vincent keeps calling him brother, too.

Riley arrives at the church. Vincent pries open Hank's eyes, which prompts Hank to punch him and knock out his contact lens. Riley starts firing at Vincent as he flees, but she runs out of bullets and he locks her behind a gate. She uses the opportunity to berate him for killing an innocent man like her husband, but he knows exactly who he is. Maybe he was the target, he suggests, and leaves her to stew about that. 

Father Mickle asks some of his card playing priest buddies if they know of any Rosicrucians who fled Nazi Germany. News of a murdering Rosicrucian alarms them. But one later reports back with some useful information—there is a sect called the Shepherds and their mission is to protect only the holiest of relics from those known as the great pirates.

Who could be a great pirate? Possibly the woman whom the creepy boy reports to, bringing the note with Vincent's message. She's pleased at the news. She also has an aquarium full of locusts. 

The next day Hank unearths Einstein's clock and brings it back to the office. He wants to trade it for Laila. Arron and Rachel are eager to investigate it and find a note inside—equations Einstein wrote on his deathbed. The note is translated—"I have always regretted the role I played in the development of the atomic bomb. However I have a chance to atone for that now. To stop something even more destructive. The line has been crossed. The line that once separated man from his creator. We have found a way to destroy not only man, but God."

The Verdict:
Two elements made this week a little more notable—working Albert Einstein into the plot, as well as the weird kid and the woman he reports to. Who might they be? The apocalypse so far has been a secular one, and we've yet to see something overtly supernatural introduced to the story, so I'm not holding out hope this is a young Antichrist and Whore of Babylon.

There's a grander conspiracy that deals with the truth about Hank and his Nazi past. Did he suffer some sort of mindwipe and new identity? Are his parents agents sent to watch over him? If Vincent is really the baby from the first episode, he can't be Hank's brother. But maybe his son?

The rest is all pretty amusing. Hank and Laila's flashbacks were a big groaner, and the scenes where Vincent spouts his melodramatic speeches are just laughable. I really don't need to mention the plot devices because they are so much a normal part of this show now. Mysteries are discovered and solved in the very same scene, there's no opportunity for suspense.

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