Written by: Glenn Gordon Caron
Directed by: Glenn Gordon Caron
Episode Number: 101
Original Broadcast Date: September 24, 1999
Guest Stars: John Goodman (Michael Wiseman), Chad Lowe (Craig Spence), Kim Chan (Eggman), Chip Zien (Gerald Misenbach)
Suburban New York, early morning. Michael Wiseman is lying in bed awake, staring at his wife Lisa lying beside him, fast asleep. After a moment or two, he moves to embrace her, but Lisa gently rebuffs his attempts to fool around. "It's a weekday," she reminds him sleepily. Michael lies back in bed, disappointed. At the breakfast table, he attempts to communicate with his daughter Heather, who answers his every question with a one-word mutter. When he confronts her about it, she responds with a patently fake smile and a request for money. "You could give me a little kiss," Michael suggests, but she turns back to her cereal.
At the downtown insurance firm, Michael is in his office when his best friend Roger shows up with some bad news: Craig Spence, and not Michael, is getting the promotion Michael was up for. "He's 27," Michael sighs. "He's been here a minute." Compared to his 17 years of service, it doesn't make sense. But it's not just the money, Roger argues - the issue is an attack of conscience Michael had over an insurance case involving a collapsed bridge. "Well, the good news is, we're still working," Roger says. "The ice is thin for all us dinosaurs."
Later that evening, Roger and Michael are staggering down the street, both completely plastered and singing off-key. Michael breaks off, and in a moment of lucidity, remarks that he always tries to imagine every possible scenario coming up to be ready for it, so he won't be surprised. But he never figured he'd be working for a 27-year-old he taught himself. Roger asks him if he'll be okay to get home, and Michael says he'll be fine. They part ways, still drunk.
Down in the subway station, Michael is standing at the platform, fairly close to the edge, waiting for the next train to pull in. Three teenage guys come jogging down from street level, shoving each other around. As the train begins to pull in, the three start arguing seriously, and one boy throws his companion into a woman's back. It causes a domino effect among the crowd as the woman falls forward, causing the people in front of her to stumble, until the wave of momentum reaches Michael. He's oblivious to what's happening until the last possible second when someone falls into him. He pitches forward onto the tracks right into the path of the train, which sends him flying. Blackout.
The next scene is entirely from Michael's point of view, as he awakens to see a well-dressed man sitting at the edge of his "bed." The man introduces himself as Dr. Theodore Morris, and explains that Michael's currently in the hospital. "Let me be the first to tell you - you had a beautiful funeral, Mr. Wiseman." Michael is completely confused and disoriented. How can he be in the hospital when he's already had his funeral? Morris answers that Michael is only a brain, hooked up to computers that allow him to communicate.
He gets to the point eventually in a grandiose sales pitch: the government has been attempting to "build a man" who can do dangerous tasks that ordinary men are loathe to do. Currently, Morris says, they've got everything figured out except the mind. You can't simply bioengineer a thinking, rational brain, so the only thing left to do is harvest one - namely, Michael's. However, he has to agree to the deal; in exchange for being transplanted into an "omnipotent" body, he can never have contact with anyone from his previous life. To do so would result in his immediate death, and the deaths of whoever Michael confides in.
Michael can refuse, but the government would have to take their equipment and go home, and let nature take its course. Morris figures it'll take all of 16 seconds before Michael's only a memory.
"But please, do think about it," he says, getting up and leaving. "I'll check back."
Cut to Lisa and Michael's bedroom, where Lisa is now lying alone, staring at the empty space her husband once took up. The scene shifts to Michael's old office, where Lisa is packing up his stuff as Roger watches uncomfortably. It's been a month since Michael's accident, and they need the office space. Lisa says she would have been there earlier, but deep down she can't make herself believe that Michael's really dead. It almost feels like he's coming back.
Roger sighs. "I need to talk to you about the insurance."
"Suicide??" Lisa echoes as they sit in a restaurant booth in town. The insurance company is withholding Michael's life insurance pending an investigation - namely, they want to call it suicide so they won't have to pay. Roger doesn't believe it either, but he says they've got a lot of ammo: they'd been drinking, Michael was depressed about being passed over for a promotion - something Lisa didn't know about until now. He advises Lisa to call her lawyer, pleading with her to get legal help.
Michael awakens groggily in a hospital bed, seemingly his old self. He's alone in the room, and as he staggers over to the sink nearby, a radio announcer can be heard in the background. Turning on the water, Michael leans down out of the shot to splash his face as the announcer mentions what day it is. "Easter?" Michael echoes. He looks back up, and this time both Michael and the audience see a completely different person staring back at him - instead of a portly, middle-aged man, he's now lean, muscular, and physically in his twenties.
Shocked and then delighted, he examines himself in the mirror as the camera pulls back to show that Morris and a group of scientists are also watching on the other side of the two-way mirror. Exulting in his "creation," Morris watches with glee - even singing - as Michael examines himself, then stops, thinking he's alone. "Call it mother's intuition," Morris says, "but I think our boy's about to check his package."
Michael proves his intuition correct. "Holy crap!" The scientists start applauding, and Morris is grinning from ear to ear. "Damn right!" the doctor gloats. "Made in America!"
He's not so happy, though, when it's time for Michael to be discharged; still thrilled at his health, Michael can't help testing out what he can do, much to the amazement of the unknowing orderly - doing handstands on his wheelchair and lifting the chair with the orderly in it. When he wheels Michael out of the hospital and into the custody of two agents, Morris reminds Michael that this is supposed to be a secret and that Michael has to get it into his head that he is, for all intents and purposes, dead.
"Can I fly?" Michael asks as they sit in a car headed for a compound in the city. "You know, uh, like Superman?" Morris sighs and proceeds to describe the amount of operations and transplants, hormone and chemical injections, beta tests and trials that went into Michael's synthetic body. In the midst of all this, "it never occurred to any of us to shove a rocket up your ass." Michael is a little put off by the sarcasm, and turns away, idly looking out the window at an attractive woman standing on the corner. "No, you can't see through people's clothes, either," Morris adds.
The car pulls up in front of a brick building somewhere in the city, and Morris leads Michael inside - through a barred entrance with a computerized lock - into the quarters prepared for him. There's a gym, a swimming pool, bedroom, small kitchen... but, as Michael notes jokingly, where's the big-screen TV? This brings Morris to the details of the routine laid out for Michael, which is pretty much nothing but workouts, training, medical testing and psychiatric evaluations. All of his food will be chosen and catalogued, Morris explains, and he's even supposed to use a special lavatory for waste collection. The lights even follow a pre-arranged schedule: wake up at 0600 hours, lights out automatically at 2300 hours. After explaining the general setup, Morris lets himself out, saying that the physical therapist will arrive in fifteen minutes. Alone, Michael flops back on the bed, wondering just what he's gotten himself into.
It's roughly a week later. Lisa enters the offices of Grand Empire Insurance, Michael's old firm, with an appointment to see Craig Spence. The secretary tells her to take a seat and wait, which Lisa does reluctantly.
Somewhere over Europe, the elderly gentleman from the Tokyo subway scene is seated on an international flight, holding what looks like a paper bag in his lap. (How he managed to get that past flight security is unclear - food articles can't be taken overseas, and a paper bag would have to be emptied and searched.) A flight attendant comes to check on him, noting that he's nervous over his first trip to Paris. "It's a wonderful city," she tells him. "You have nothing to worry about." He nods, and she moves on.
Grand Empire Insurance, later that evening. Lisa is still sitting there, waiting, as the secretary packs her things to go. When Lisa reminds her that she's still waiting for Mr. Spence, the secretary answers, "He knows," before leaving Lisa sitting there, absolutely miserable. She's on the verge of tears when a stranger shows up and startles her, introducing himself as Gerald Misenbach, her attorney. When he finds that she's been waiting for three hours, he drags her down the hall, practically barging into Craig Spence's corner office. Spence gives them the standard song-and-dance, citing "a crisis in the Midwest."
Spence calls Roger in, and asks Roger how he would characterize Michael's reaction to being turned down. Roger's response: disappointed. "The word you used with me is despondent," Spence insists. "I remember because you told me you would testify to that fact. You're not... changing your mind, are you, Roger?" Roger is at a loss for anything to say.
Misenbach gets down to business - if the insurance company insists on investigating the cause of death, what's Lisa to live on in the interim? Spence says that they're prepared to extend a loan to Lisa secured by her real property. Misenbach, angry, storms out with Lisa beside him, leaving an overly smug Spence and an unhappy Roger behind.
In the elevator, Misenbach drops the act; he was letting Spence think he was winning. "He's got no case," the lawyer argues. "It's not illegal to drink before you get on the subway unless you're planning to drive the damn thing." He points out that the worse they treat her, the more it'll cost them if this goes to trial. Lisa suddenly realizes it's almost seven - she has to call Heather since it's "Taco Night." Misenbach lets her use his cellphone to get a hold of Heather, and awkwardly attempts to ask her out. He stumbles over his words, and adds that he'll call; it's easier over the phone. Lisa watches him go, and shakes her head, smiling.
DeGaulle Airport, Paris, France. (Yes, I know. They spelled it wrong.) The old man gets his passport stamped, saying he's in Paris to see his new grandson. Once through customs, he sets the paper bag on the baggage claim, where heavy suitcases are being deposited. As he gets to the top of the escalator, he pulls a mask from his coat and holds it over his face, just in time as a suitcase falls onto the baggage claim, landing on the bag and smashing the eggs inside. As the old man exits the terminal, he removes his mask as screams can be heard from inside the airport. He gets into a taxi, which drives away as emergency sirens can be heard in the distance.
Michael's quarters, late evening. He turns off the shower and grabs his towel, eying the security cameras in the ceiling warily as he pulls on a clean shirt, getting into bed to change under the covers. "I know you're watching me," he addresses the cameras. "You think I think I'm here by myself? I can just do what I want? I know you're here. I know you're watching me. And I don't like it.
"I'm lonely. I miss... everybody. I miss my wife, I miss my daughter, I even miss me. I miss seeing myself when I look in the mir--" He stops as the lights suddenly shut off, and turns to check the time. "2300 hours right on the nose. You guys are something."
"Thank you." Startled, Michael sits up in bed to see Dr. Morris standing there. "I'm sorry you're having such a hard time with all this."
"You're watching me, aren't you?" Michael asks. "All the time."
"Oh. Right. So I can just walk out."
"It's been a difficult week for all of us," Morris counters.
Shaking his head, Michael sighs. He wants out of the project. "I just - I just want my life... or rather, my death back, please."
"It doesn't work that way," Morris scoffs. "This wasn't a trial offer, Mr. Wiseman." Michael doesn't answer and rolls over on his stomach, turning his back on the doctor.
Sighing, Morris turns to go, but Michael suddenly speaks. "Tell me about my funeral." The doctor obliges, noting that Lisa didn't wear black, but orange. Michael smiles, remembering. "Oh, I loved that dress."
Morris tentatively suggests a memory-erasing drug. "You don't understand," Michael says. "My memory... it's all I've got."
Understanding, Morris backs off. "Mind if I make a pit stop before I head home?" Michael agrees, and Morris goes to the lavatory, leaving his coat on the bed. Inside one of the pockets, his cellphone is clearly visible. Impulsively, Michael snatches up and dials his old phone number.
After a couple rings, a half-awake Lisa picks up the phone. "Hello? Is anyone there?"
It's a moment before Michael can find his voice. "Lisie?" he whispers. Lisa stops, shocked, but Michael can't say any more as he hears the toilet flushing in the other room. He hurriedly shuts the phone off and puts it back, flopping back onto the bed as Morris reenters and pulls his coat on. The doctor mentions that they're going to have a demonstration the next day for the few Congressmen they've had to take into their confidence to get funding. He says it might be a nice change of pace.
As he turns to go, he is interrupted again by his cellphone ringing. Surprised, he answers it. "Hello? No, I don't recall having dialed that number. No, I don't know a Lisa Wiseman," he continues, shooting a look at Michael, who looks away. "I'm sorry your sleep was disturbed, and I can assure you that it will never happen again. Good night, Mrs. Wiseman." He shuts the phone off and puts it away. "Good night, Mr. Wiseman," Morris says before turning and leaving.
Michael lies back and stares up at the ceiling, not quite in the mood to be sleeping just yet. Fade out, with a caption we all grit our teeth at:
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