Sunday, January 04, 2015

The Invisible Man 2.18 - The Invisible Woman

Plot: Darien's in a bar playing pool, all set to win, and then a note appears in front of the pocket he's aiming for. A note that was covered in Quicksilver. It asks Darien to come to a park, and when he does he finds Mai-Lin, who was one of the scientists at the Chinese Embassy back in Season 1 (1.13, "Cat and Mouse"). She's able to turn invisible through the use of a vest that introduces Quicksilver into her body intravenously. Problem is, she's just about out of the Quicksilver they "liberated" from Darien, and she needs enough so she can disappear forever. Because half of her face is badly scarred (not Two-Face in The Dark Knight, but yeah, it's noticeable), and she's tired of people looking at her with pity.

They continue the conversation in Darien's car, only to find themselves being followed. They lose the tail by working together to Quicksilver the entire car, which works great until they get t-boned by a different car who obviously can't see an invisible car. However, Mai does pull that other driver out of his car, though maybe it's not safe to lay a probably concussed guy on the sidewalk and bail? But she's a fugitive, let's cut her some slack. Back at the Agency, Darien finds several members of the Chinese Ministry of State Security in the Official's office. Mr. Ming, though his subordinate Mr. Wang, tells them that Mai is actually a dangerous terrorist, out to attack some target in the U.S., though they aren't sure which yet. To that end, Fawkes and Hobbes will be assisted in their search by Agent Chen Po Li, who Hobbes immediately offends by asking which martial art he favors (Hobbes likes hopkido!) Darien immediately ditches the both of them by faking being ill and needing to visit the Keep. Personally, I'd think Quicksilvering half a car would have him near Quicksilver Madness, but no.

He returns to the bar, and Mai eventually appears, and Darien expresses concern that this is a trick. After all, one tank of Quicksilver from him won't sustain her forever, right? But Mai had devised a machine that will collect the flakes of Quicksilver and turn them back into a liquid, enabling her to recycle her supply endlessly. She claims the reason she's being pursued by her government is because this method of creating invisible agents, which would not require putting the gland in anyone's brain, is only in one place: Inside her brain. Also she had a fiance, who she left because she thought after the freak accident at the lab, that she saw only the same pity in his eyes she saw in everyone else's. So they return to Darien's apartment, and she starts trying to write everything down, in exchange for some Quicksilver. Then Hobbes and Chen show up, but there's already a car full of Chinese agents there, too. Hobbes, having already compared Chen to Jackie Chan, calls him Charlie Brown, which Chen hears as "Charlie Chan", which starts a whole argument, broken up when Fawkes tries to disarm Chen, only to get his ass beat, while invisible, by a guy with no thermal goggles. Hobbes does a little better against Mai (who had already told Darien she was a trained martial artist), but our invisible couple make good their escape.

Back at the office, while Eberts and Wang bond over a love of color printout charts, Ming and the Fat Man argue about who is being honest (neither of them), and whether Darien is trustworthy or not. Meanwhile, Mai and Darien are hiding in a hotel in the desert, and when Mai tries to take a shower, she finds it difficult to remove the vest alone, which means Darien has to help her when she's only wearing a towel, and damn it, there's that saxophone again! Invisible making out soon commences, but I guess it was good for Mai's self-esteem, that she knows someone still finds her attractive, contrary to what she had believed. While all that's happening, Chen and Hobbes have gotten into an argument about who is the real bad guy, Fawkes or Mai, which has turned into a fight, and it's only after they headbutt each other that Chen admits he was Mai's fiance, that she was up for a Nobel Prize, but the Chinese government revoked her application, because with her accident, they felt she no longer sent the proper image. Chen does not plan to bring her in, he just wants to find her, and defect and disappear with her.

Hobbes has been leaving messages on Darien's voicemail as the situation changes, and he drops off this last bit of information about the time that Mai reveals to Darien that to finish her Quicksilver recycler, they'll need to break into a nuclear plant and steal uranium. Which sounds like it fits a bit more with the earlier warning about her being a terrorist. Everyone converges at the nuclear plant, with Chen professing his love for Mai while Fawkes and Hobbes look on (Bobby cries), and the four of them escaping while the Fat Man and Ming's agents scramble around futilely. Thus Chen and Mai are able to go off together, having kind of unofficially defected I guess, but Mai gave Darien the vest as something to placate his boss.

Quote of the Episode: Chen - 'She wants to be invisible to the world, but most of all to me.'

The "oh crap" count: 2 (36 overall).

Who's getting quoted this week? Jonathan Swift, who said vision was the art of seeing things invisible.

Times Fawkes Goes Into Quicksilver Madness: 0 (6 overall). Remarkable, given the car stunt and the invisible sex.

Other: There was one, "Shut up, Eberts", but two, "Shut up, Wang". I like how in the last two episodes, we've seen that every agency has its own Eberts - No Name in the S.W.R.B. had one, and he did have a name, though I didn't catch it - and they all either know each other, or are similar enough to get along readily. No Name's was kind of a jerk, he made the Official "tilt" on his pinball game, but he and Eberts seemed to get along prior to that. They were at least cordial. Anyway, Eberts and Wang becoming fast friends was kind of adorable, especially how they did it around the fringes of their bosses' vision.

Well Darien's competence in fighting only lasted a week. This time, the guy didn't even need thermal goggles to beat Darien up. Cripes. I did like how, after that fight, when Hobbes commented, 'No martial arts, huh?', Chen replied that he watched a lot of Walker, Texas Ranger. Do you Chinese TV stations actually showed that back in the early 2000s? Yeah, I know, Chen was joking, he actually had studied, but he was annoyed at Bobby's assumption, and decided to give him some shit about it. Doesn't mean Chen doesn't enjoy watching Chuck Norris drive around in a big truck and jump kick dudes.

Two things about the vest. One, I thought Hobbes shot the canisters with all the stolen Quicksilver as they were leaving the Embassy. Darien tossed them up in the air, it coated the van, the guys who were supposed to transport it got yelled at? I guess they had some they hadn't brought out yet. Second, if the Quicksilver is still being pumped into her body, shouldn't she be at risk of Quicksilver Madness as well? Q.M. is the result of something Arnaud built into the Quicksilver, so it still ought to be there, but I guess the vest could be filtering it. If the Chinese government knew about the gland, they probably knew how Arnaud tampered with it.

As awkward as the saxophone is, I do like that Darien still has the premature invisibility problem when he gets excited around a lady. It's juvenile, but I still find it funny. And the way he was trying to explain it to Mai, and at first she completely understands, yeah, Quicksilver production would respond to adrenaline, and then it dawns on her why Darien's adrenaline is going. That was embarrassing for both characters sure, but it's still kind of funny. I think part of it is the sax tries make it seem so serious and adult, that makes me find the whole thing kind of absurd.

Darien is never going to live down that "molester of the elderly" tag. Even if he saves the entire world from nuclear devastation, that's going to dog him forever. And it was a bullshit charge, he was jumpstarting the guy's heart. Old people are the worst.

When it seemed Darien doubted Mai at the nuclear plant, I felt bad that he couldn't trust her. As it turns out, I think Darien was just stalling, trying to keep her from doing something that would make her a fugitive from two governments until Chen could show up (I'm guessing he found time to really think over Hobbes' last message). Still, it made sense; Darien is on the verge of helping her steal nuclear material, which is a pretty serious offense, even for a thief. But what it really drove home for me is how wary Darien is of trusting. Some of that I'm sure is his own time as thief, looking for weaknesses, ways to get in. The fact that he conned his own girlfriend about who he was for a year probably colors how readily he expects other people to pull cons. Plus, past experience suggests where the gland is concerned, people aren't trustworthy. Their interest in it, wipes out any considerations of his well-being.

I was uneasy about Mai's story, a lady putting a lot of worth in her looks, but I think I was looking at it wrong. Mai is a scientist, and proud of it. What bothers her is more than other people diminish that because of how they react to her looks. She didn't rescind her application for the Nobel Prize, her government did. She's not trying to find a way to never have to look at her own face, she's just tired of seeing the reaction other people have. Most of all, she doesn't want to see that pity in Chen's eyes, so she tried to never give him the chance. She doesn't know for sure he would look at her with pity instead of love, but it's too important that he doesn't. She can't take the risk, it would hurt too much. Which is more universal, people fearing emotional attachment because it can hurt. Better to be unseen, unattached.

It's a contrast to what Arnaud confessed to Darien in "Flash to Bang", that bit about how awful it is to be invisible. Because it makes you feel like you don't exist. Normally, even if people don't acknowledge you on the street, they still move around you. You demonstrably exist, even if it's only through their avoiding you. But when you're invisible, they walk right into you, because to them you don't exist. You collide, and they look around, confused. What did they hit? There's nothing there. Maybe somebody's book bag swung into them. Shrug, oh well. Keep moving. Admittedly, that reaction makes sense for a person of Arnaud's ego. He demands recognition, even if it comes in the form of cursing his name, vowing to kill him, to pursue him to the ends of the earth. To be ignored is horrible. Mai, on the other hand, has seen the limited ways people are willing to acknowledge her now, and she'd just as soon go unnoticed.

And Darien's somewhere in between. Being a thief was in some ways clearly an attempt to gain notoriety. He couldn't do it in academics, not compared to his 4 doctorate having brother - recall he admitted to Hobbes he attended college for a time - so he found something he was good at, and tried to excel there. But in somewhat the same way Mai feels constrained in her interactions by her accident, Darien feels constrained by the gland. He can never fully trust people, because they could be after the gland, or out to use him, or out for revenge. He can only wander so far, because he'll eventually need counteragent. He wants the gland out, so he can go back to living on his terms, whatever that would mean. A life where everything about him is defined in relation to this thing his genius bro stuck in his head and left him with.

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