This week on Reverie, Onira-Tech’s deal with the Department of Defense comes due, at least partially. In addition, Mara manages to have a good day, all things considered.
At the beginning of the episode, Paul brings Mara into Reverie to work on flying within Reverie. The concept hinges on recalling that nothing is real within the program. The pair are successful for a couple seconds…
…but Paul quickly comes back down to Earth. All in all, it seems like a weird flirting ritual on Paul’s part. On the way back, Paul walks through a door before Mara can and the whole library room flickers. The door turns grey and Mara walks through it. She hears someone calling for help, and runs towards it. Meanwhile, Paul is awake and goes to consult Mara about something, but she’s still out and he isn’t. This is decidedly unusual.
The screaming person is a teenager named Ehmet, and he doesn’t know he’s in a Reverie or where he is. He’s being interrogated about something to do about. She tries to explain the program to Ehmet and he doesn’t believe her, shockingly enough. Mara explains how to leave the program with the ‘Exitus’ protocol, but it doesn’t work for eitehr of them. The program suddenly glitches and sends Mara back to the library. When she wakes up, she tells Paul she doesn’t know where she was.
Charlie, Lexie, and Paul ask Mara about her incident. Paul and Lexie are eager to help, but Charlie is wary, for understandable reasons. They discover that Ehmet has been missing for a week, and that he’s stuck in a US government program. Turns out the DoD is running a pilot interrogration program through Reverie. None of our main five are too thrilled with this, not even Monica. The program wasn’t her idea and she doesn’t have the power to stop it.
Since Mara and Paul aren’t likely to let the situation lie, the team gets to work. We learned a couple of episodes ago that the military was given the source code to Reverie. They’ve changed some of it, to make it harder to track. Lexie gets on the situation right away. Mara discovers that the military thinks Ehmet was involved with a Turkish military base bombing. Paul asks Mara if she’s sure that Ehemet is worth saving, which is a ridiculous question. They find the program, but Mara can’t get in because Ehmet’s interrogator is already there.
Back in the real world, Mara talks to Ehmet’s brother, who is confused about her involvement. Paul calls to her that she can get in to the program. However, she won’t be able to get out with the verbal commands, just the mandala. When she gets back in the program, Ehmet is not particularly conducive to her help, running away from her. The interrogator has turned him against her.
Since he can’t get into his program, he interrogator turns up at Onira-Tech. His name is Drew Sullivan and he’s an independent contractor with the military. I think the writing choice in making him someone abusing military power, but in a way that might not offend soldiers (implying that the institution is wrong, and not this particular faction, probably wouldn’t go over well). Unsurprisingly, no one likes him. He discovered from Ehmet that Mara’s gained access to his probably highly illegal program. With all the authority he shouldn’t have, he demands to know where Mara is. Paul says that she’s gone off to the aquarium. Lexie tells him off, and he leaves in a fashion that is way too gloaty. After the meeting, Lexie reveals that she’s hacked his phone, allowing them to find Ehmet in the real world.
Looking for a way to help, Charlie talks to Karim. He works out that pictures of Ehmet could probably clear him of the terrorist action. Charlie sets Lexie and Dylan to finding these pictures. Charlie and Lexie are generally the beacons of neutrality, but this week they seem to have found their metaphorical red line. Mara finds Ehmet and uses her magical empathy powers on him. They run back to the mandala but there are guards there. When Mara explains that the guards could probably hurt them, Ehmet wants to give up. He tells Mara the tale of his father’s death, and Mara notes that his father wouldn’t have wanted him to give up. They gather tools and split up the guards. This doesn’t work as well as they hope, considering the program glitches and Mara gets shot.
Sadly, Lexie and Dylan don’t find any pictures. Karim remembers a documentarian, and Charlie asks her if she’s got footage of them. In the program, Mara convinces Ehmet to push a guard into the glitch. He puts a board down and carries her across the glitch. She reminds him that none of this is real, the realization that fueled Paul’s gravity defying activities earlier in the episode. They go through the portal, Mara promising to save him in the real world as well.
Everything in this episode ends up getting resolved. Lexie and Charlie intimidate Sullivan, and show him the proof that Ehmet isn’t a terrorist. While he’s blustering, Monica shows up to cancel his super illegal program, which really shouldn’t have been cleared in the first place. Ehmet arrives at Onira-Tech, with Monica in tow. Mara and Ehmet share a hug, as do Karim and Ehmet. After they go to his office, Monica tells Charlie that the DOD’s suspending the interrogation program. Charlie has worked out that Monica orchestrated the whole affair, though she denies it. Mara meets up with her ex, Chris. She discusses the triumphs of the day, and he kisses her. They end up getting a bit more intimate as the episode ends. Mara is exuberant, which probably won’t last for any great length of time.
There are some times when this show is firing on all cylinders, and some times when I want to shake the writers. This was clearly one of the former kind of episodes. I think, although this episode did rely on some anvilicious character beats, those anvils didn’t hurt anyone on the way down, unlike with their disabled “representation.” Their military plots so far have also been pretty intriguing. The combination of these two factors made a really watchable episode, and I hope the combination recurs before the end of the season.
Next week, the arc plot comes back with a vengeance, and Mara starts to really doubt reality. Come back then!