Written by: Thom Edward Bray
Directed by: Vincent Misiano
Episode Number: 115
Original Broadcast Date: February 18, 2000
Guest Stars: John Goodman (Michael Wiseman), James Rebhorn (General Irving), Tim Hopper (Dr. Francis), Timothy Devlin (Special Agent #1)
"He might if you don't sell him off the idea first," Lisa tells her, shutting the blender off. Heather argues that "he" doesn't trust anything with active cultures. Lisa shrugs that off, takes a sip of the drink - and makes a face. Too much yogurt. "Honey!" she yells. "Breakfast!"
Michael - the old Michael - enters the kitchen, dressed for work. Surprise, this is a flashback. He hesitates, sniffing the air; something is amiss. There's no bacon. "Now, isn't there a law in the state of New York where it can't be called breakfast unless there's bacon or sausage or some sort of fried meat?" He notices the breakfast drink in Lisa's hand. "What is that sludge? Is that a crafts project? Are you grouting the sink, darling?"
"Very funny," she tells him. "Go ahead, make fun. Go ahead." She proffers the glass
"Oh, okay, but only because you insist." He sits down at the table, pulling out a Pop-Tart. "Did you make these? They look excellent." His smile fades when he sees the serious look on her face.
"So that was all just a big act," Lisa sighs. "That speech you made about watching what you eat."
"No, honey, it wasn't an act, but couldn't I watch myself eat a couple of fried eggs and two strips of bacon?" He adds that he's going to miss dinner; he has to drive up to Somerset to "wine and dine" a V.P.
Lisa sits down at the table with a sigh. She's honestly worried about Michael, and his health habits aren't that reassuring.
"Honey, I'm going to be around for a while, all right?" Michael tells her. He takes her hand and squeezes it. "You're stuck with me for life."
"You think so, huh?"
He nods. "I know so."
Somerset, New Jersey. Michael is on his way home from the meeting, talking to Roger on his cellphone as he pulls up at a railroad crossing and stops; a train is coming. The dinner went great, and the V.P., incidentally, has pulled up behind him as he talks. He promises to give Roger the details tomorrow and hangs up as the train roars past.
As Michael sits there, watching the train fly by, he blinks and shakes his head as if trying to clear it as something comes over him. The train passes by, and the gate lifts up, but Michael's car doesn't move. The line of drivers behind him honk their horns and shout, but still he doesn't move. After several seconds, the V.P. gets out of his car to ask Michael what's going on. He finds Michael slumped over the dashboard, unconscious, and quickly starts to pull him out of the car.
Present day - the caption simply says "Now." It's late at night, and Michael is lying on his back, staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep. Dr. Morris has set up a cot beside the pool; the restrictions from "Film at Eleven" are still in effect. The Doc can't sleep either. He's nervous about tomorrow - Michael has to demonstrate his powers for General Irving, the chairman of the Pentagon committee that funds them. Michael assures him that it'll be fine; he can't practice any more than he already has.
"It's not you I'm worried about," Morris admits. "It's the politics of it all. In 30 days, this project runs out of funding and believe it or not there are those at the Pentagon who would gladly let us die. One little slip-up tomorrow, one little gaffe..."
It's Michael's turn to put things in perspective for a change. "Hey, Doc. Are you forgetting? I've got a lot more to lose if they stop bankrolling this shindig than you do. I mean... yeah, you've got to find another impossible scientific challenge like making dogs talk or curing the common cold - but, hey, at the end of the day, if they clean out the lab and send everybody home, I'll actually be in that giant Hefty bag they leave by the curb."
Morris gets the point, getting up to get a drink of water from the bathroom. He figures that they just have to have a positive attitude and they'll pull it off. It'll go fine, their budget will be approved, and it'll be back to business as usual. "Hey, maybe they'll even give us a new bulb for that damn light in there," Michael proposes, referring to the faulty bathroom light - the bulb is fizzing and flickering madly. "What do you think, Doc?"
"Obviously, you've never dealt with a federally funded agency before. Towards the end of a budget year, routine maintenance tends to be put on hold." Morris finishes up in the bathroom and shuts the light off. "Thank you, Mr. Wiseman. I don't know what came over me. I feel better now. Let's try to get some sleep. We're going to need it for that demonstration tomorrow."
"Yeah, right," Michael mutters, rolling over. "A scientist works from sun to sun, but his lab rat's work is never done."
Cut to flashback, as Michael wakes up in a Somerset hospital. The doctor on duty, Dr. Francis, tells him that he passed out in his car and he's been out for 45 minutes or so. He tells Michael that he seems perfectly fine, but as a rule, passing out usually might signify a more serious problem. "I'd like to hold on to you for about another hour or so just to be sure that you're fine and then I'll let you go, but there are a series of tests that ought to be performed. Now, you can come back here and have them done or I can contact your personal physician and he can do them."
"Well, it depends. Does anybody know I'm here? Have you called anyone?"
"I didn't, no but the police might have when they brought you in. Why?"
"I don't want to panic anyone," Michael says. "I mean, I, I'd rather come back here."
"That's fine. That's fine," Dr. Francis decides. "All right, I want you to take it easy for the next couple of days. No exertion, no exercise. Eat lightly, no sex. And come back here and see me Friday at 3:00 and we'll run you through these tests. Want an appointment card?"
"No, I've got it," Michael says, taking a pen and a piece of scrap paper. He writes "Francis 3PM" on the paper.
Lisa's in bed when he gets in, but she's still awake, and startles him when she speaks. It's almost 1:00 in the morning. Michael is evasive about what really happened. "You missed sophomore parents night," Lisa tells him. "Sophomore parents night. You lucky devil." As he sits down on the bed, she puts her arms around his shoulders, starting to kiss his neck, but he pulls away, saying he's got to be up in a few hours. Lisa rolls over, turning her back to him, insulted.
"Just give me a couple of minutes," Michael says. "I'll come back in there. We can cuddle or something." "Cuddle? I'm offering you the full American plan and you want to cuddle. What's wrong, Michael?"
He almost tells her, but fibs instead, attributing it to work stress. Lisa sighs and gives up.
Morning, in the townhouse. Morris sits up in his cot, horrified that he's overslept. Michael is already out of bed, and the shower is running. Morris knocks on the door, saying that he has to get his watch. Michael doesn't answer, so Morris enters anyway, getting his watch off the sink and washing up. As he reminds Michael that he's got to get in the shower soon, he sees the reflection of the shower stall behind him in the mirror. Panicked, he opens the stall to find Michael slumped against the wall, motionless, staring blankly at nothing.
Later, in a government medical facility, Michael lies hooked up to monitors, still completely unresponsive. The Doc fears that the host body may be rejecting the brain, but the data isn't clear yet. "Mr. Wiseman?" he asks Michael. "This is Dr. Morris. I'm going to try something that may help you get better. The only thing is... it may also hurt. I'm sorry." One of the techs hands him some electrical paddles that he presses to Michael's temples. Two tries - first 75 joules, then 100 - bring no result. Morris refuses to increase the voltage; more might kill Michael.
"I don't know," a young doctor says. "I think he's already brain dead."
Enraged, Morris grabs the kid by the collar, slamming him roughly against the wall. "Now, you listen to me," he snarls. "There's a person there, and I'm not sure, but I'm betting and hoping that that person can hear us. And the last thing he needs right now the very last thing he needs is to hear you give up on him. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, sir," the young doctor says quietly.
A short time later, Morris is showing General Irving around the townhouse. "And this is where we actually house and train the, uh..." He catches himself, correcting, "Mr. Wiseman."
"Oh, right in the middle of Manhattan, huh?" Irving observes. "Sort of hide-in-plain-sight philosophy."
"That, and the proximity to the U.N. and Washington."
"You must be very proud. I hear he's quite something."
"I must tell you, every day I'm more amazed than the last. Every day I'm more excited than the day before."
"You sound like a proud new father. So, uh... so, now where is he?" Irving asks, looking around. "Where's, uh-- where's our boy?" Dr. Morris coughs and glances at the floor, and Irving's eyes narrow. "Dr. Morris?"
He's not pleased to see Michael's current condition, and as he storms out of the facility, Morris follows him, pointing out that the condition's only a few hours old, they're still in the diagnostic process. Irving tells him to hurry it along; they've got about 24 hours.
Flashback. Michael is in the office, only half listening as Roger discusses the legal aspects of a case. "So, uh... should we meet with legal?" Roger asks.
"Now? I can't do it now. I got to go; I got to step out for a while."
"In the middle of the day? What for?"
"I... uh, got to go meet Lisa about this thing we're doing," Michael lies. "Oh, well,.. you know. No big deal. I'll catch you later, buddy."
Roger watches him go suspiciously. "Yeah. Uh, good luck with that... uh... thing."
At the hospital, Dr. Francis asks if Michael's had any more episodes and tells him to get ready for some tests.
Present day. Dr. Morris is pacing like a caged lion as he addresses his medical staff. "I want to run every test known to medical science."
Flashback. Dr. Francis asks for the name of Michael's personal physician to get his medical records.
Present. "I want you to find Mr. Wiseman's physician," Morris tells someone. "Maybe his medical records can tell us something."
Flashback. As Dr. Francis wheels him into the room for testing, Michael says he would rather not get the records from his family physician. "My wife lost her brother and her father to heart attacks at a young age and our family physician is a friend of ours... so if he finds out, she'll find out. I'd rather not upset her. I can get you the records from the insurance company, okay?" Francis agrees.
Present. Dr. Morris takes a sample of blood, looking worriedly at Michael for some sign or reaction. But there is nothing.
Flashback. Michael lies on the hospital bed as Dr. Francis takes a blood sample. He rolls over, worried.
Back to the present as Dr. Morris tries the paddles again, checking the readouts for any change in brain activity. Nothing. He even acquires slides to see if that will get a reaction, but not the photos of Lisa and Heather don't even get a twitch out of Michael.
Flashback. Michael is lying on his side, suffering through another test, and his mind drifts.
Cut to a home movie. Michael is behind the camera, pointing it at Heather, who's sitting at the piano with Lisa standing behind her. Michael sets up the camera and hurries into the frame, urging Lisa to sit down. "Come on, let's play."
"Michael..." Lisa sighs.
"It'll be great," Michael insists as she sits down. Heather just smiles, tapping away at "Heart and Souls."
"We have 35 tapes of us doing this," Lisa reminds Michael.
"Well, it'll be 36, we'll get it right," he answers as Lisa starts to play harmony for Heather as Michael leans over the two of them, grabbing them both in a hug as he reaches down to hit a note or two. "Come on... that's right. Ah, I feel a song coming on." Lisa laughs.
Still in flashback, we return to Michael, who's lying there with a worried look on his face as the camera pans over to the heart monitor.
Roger's office at Grand Empire, still in flashback. Lisa calls Roger, wondering where the hell Michael is. Roger is surprised - he thought Michael was going out to meet Lisa. Lisa is stunned to hear this, and Roger stammers a little, telling her he'll look around for Michael and he'll have him call her. He rolls his eyes and hangs up the phone.
The present. Dr. Morris is sleeping in the limo, but is awakened by his cellphone. On the other end is the bald agent (note: give him a name already!) with the news that Michael's family physician has nothing unusual in his records. Morris sighs.
The limo's destination is the Pentagon, and General Irving's office. Irving inquires if there's been any progress, and Morris admits that there hasn't. "I'm begging you, sir. This project is far too important to mothball."
"There's no need to beg, Doctor. I agree with you. So does the president. We have no intention of shutting you down. We believe in this project. Well... we believe in you."
"Well, thank you, sir," Morris says, relieved. "And, please, let the president know that I appreciate his confidence as well."
"He already knows that. In fact, he wanted me to make it a priority that you continue your work in the most expeditious way possible. So, what's our next move?"
"Our next move? Well, clearly, we need to continue our diagnostic panels. And I know this must seem endless, but every time we can eliminate a possible systemic basis we actually narrow the locus of the actual probable cause."
But Irving chuckles at that. "Come now, Doctor, I think the probable cause is fairly obvious. Well, for that matter, the most expedient and cost-effective solution is fairly obvious as well."
"Clearly, Doctor," Irving tells him, "we need a new brain."
The townhouse. Dr. Morris enters Michael's room and sits down by the bed. Michael is sitting there, propped up by pillows and still unresponsive.
Flashback. Michael is done with the hospital tests, pulling his jacket on as he prepares to go home.
Present. The camera pans past a monitor display to Michael, still lost to the world, to Dr. Morris. He rubs at his eyes, leaning back in his chair with anxiety written all over his face.
Flashback. Michael comes down to breakfast to finally smell bacon for a change. "I'm just trying to comply with state law," Lisa says acidly. "And I know what kind of pressure you're under at work."
"I'd go for it, Daddy," Heather advises, "before she whips out the blender."
Michael goes for coffee instead. Lisa asks him what he'd think if she drove into New York that day to meet him for lunch. Michael says he can't make it work. "No?" Lisa asks, exasperated. "Well, what about yesterday? Would it have worked if I'd came in yesterday?" Michael knows he's in for it, and Lisa turns to Heather. "Would you excuse us, please. I have to talk to your father."
"It's okay. I'm not ten, you know."
"Do you want to live to be 20?" Lisa asks. Heather promptly hops up and leaves the kitchen.
Alone with Lisa, Michael asks why she's so upset, and Lisa brandishes the scrap paper he used instead of the appointment card, demanding to know who "Francis at 3:00 pm" is. Michael tells her she's just going to have to trust him. Lisa's not satisfied, and Michael heads off for work, leaving her suspicious and frustrated.
Michael calls Roger into his office for some help. "I'm a pretty honest guy, right?"
"Yeah." Roger chuckles. "Perhaps a little too honest for your own good. Why?"
"I need you to help me with something that's maybe... slightly dishonest."
"Oh, well, I'm flattered that you think so little of me. What can I help you with?"
"I want to buy another half million dollars worth of life insurance, but I'd like to duck the medical," Michael explains. "You know, the physical exam and stuff. I'd sign it myself but I'd set off all sorts of alarms and I need you to walk it through for me. What do you say?"
Roger looks at him suspiciously. "You want to tell me what this is about?"
"Okay. Want to buy me a drink?"
At a bar later on, Michael comes clean to Roger about the whole situation. Roger advises him to tell Lisa - she called the other day and he "could hear it in her voice. She knows something's up. She doesn't know exactly what it is."
Michael doesn't want to scare her, especially after what happened to her father and brother. "Until I'm sure what it is I think I'd just ought to let it go." He sighs. "There's just always another thing."
"What do you mean?"
"It's like I remember when I was a kid. I'd always get myself in some nutty situation, like going down a hill in my brother's wagon backwards thinking, 'Lord, don't take me now - I haven't even kissed a girl yet.' Or when I was at college - one night I was blind drunk. I mean, I was so drunk I was afraid of forgetting how to breathe. And I realized I'm laying out in front of my dorm in the snow without any clothes on and I can't move, probably going to die and I'm thinking, 'Lord, don't take me now-- I haven't accomplished a damn thing yet.' Sorry."
"Or when Lisa was giving birth I was driving her to the hospital just feeling so responsible. I'm thinking, 'Lord, I really want this child. Just get us to the hospital in one piece. Don't let me hit anything... don't let anything hit us and I'll never bother you again. Never ask you for another thing.'" Michael sighs. "But there's always another thing, isn't there?"
Present day, the medical facility. Morris and his medical team wheel Michael in. The bald agent explains to the Doc that when the brain - Michael's brain - is removed, he has special orders to convey it directly to Langley. "The president wants an independent team to do the pathology."
Morris hesitates at that, asking about the replacement brain - it's a 27-year-old cop killed in the line of duty, all ready to go. "Shall I shave his head and prep him now?" the nurse asks.
"No, I'd like to do it," Morris says. "Give me a chance to say good-bye."
The gurney is wheeled into the hall again, with the body completely covered up - all that can be seen is the top of the shaved head. "This is odd," the nurse says. "I can't seem to find Dr. Morris anywhere."
At that moment, the body sits up - it's the agent, wincing from a nasty bump on the head.
Dr. Morris, meanwhile, is driving down the highway. "Keep your seat belt buckled, Mr. Wiseman," he tells his passenger. "I have a feeling we're in for a bumpy ride."
The agent and Irving are meeting in his office. Irving wants to know why they can't just latch on to the tracking signal, but Morris is jamming it somehow. They can't get a hold of it long enough to triangulate. "What would make a brilliant doctor throw away everything like this?" Irving wonders. "I-I just... I don't understand that. Do you think perhaps he's taken the prototype to a foreign agent?"
"General, I've known the doctor for years," the agent insists. "He's a patriot."
But Irving has other plans. "His work, it's all documented? I mean, uh... you know, if need be someone with a proper education and training could... theoretically, pick up where he left off?"
Hesitating, the agent nods.
"Good," Irving says. "Then let the search team know they can proceed with extreme prejudice."
Flashback. Michael is back in the Somerset hospital, and Dr. Francis tells him he has one more test to perform. He has Michael lie back and shines a light in his eyes - but the light is flickering this time. As Michael stares into the flashing light, his eyes roll back into his head and he passes out.
Once he's awake again, Dr. Francis tells Michael he has photosensitivity syndrome. "Some people just react to flashing light of a certain frequency. It sets off something in the brain. You're one of those people."
"And that's what caused me to black out?"
"Without a doubt. The pathology takes different forms. I mean, one time you could black out; another time you go into a catatonic-like state where you appear to be awake. Sometimes the same flickering lights that put you into the state can actually jolt you back out."
"Well, so what do I do," Michael asks, "walk around with my eyes closed for the rest of my life?"
"A simple prescription takes care of the whole thing." Francis hands him a prescription.
"Th-there's nothing else wrong with me? No heart attack? No stroke? No brain tumor?"
"Well, you weigh too damn much... but that's completely curable, too."
Michael is too delighted to be insulted, and gets to his feet, thanking the doctor happily. "Oh, oh, and Mr. Wiseman," Dr. Francis adds, "I noticed that your cholesterol was a little high, so in addition to everything else you might want to cut out the bacon and eggs."
"No problem - my wife makes a delicious breakfast drink. Thank you. Thanks." Relieved and excited, he kisses the nurse on the cheek before hurrying out.
Present day, a cheap hotel. Morris has holed up there briefly, using the microwave signals from his cell phone to jam the tracking device. Michael sits on the bed as Morris talks to him, admitting that they'll probably be caught eventually. "And the worst part about that - they'll never know. Is it something in you... or something I did? Wouldn't it be funny, Mr. Wiseman, if you knew? If you knew and you couldn't tell me?"
Outside, a helicopter buzzes past. Morris gets up and parts the blinds to peer out, letting the flickering neon light of the hotel sign fall on Michael's face. Michael twitches, albeit briefly, as Morris closes the blinds again. "Where do you want to go, Mr. Wiseman?" Morris asks. "Most of us poor, pathetic souls only have to die once. Since you have to go through it a second time, you get to choose. Where do you want to die? You want to go home?"
Snow is falling steadily as Morris pulls up in front of the Wiseman house and shuts off the engine. Morris sighs when he sees still no reaction from Michael. "Here we are. And you could care less. I am truly a fool. And you know... maybe coming here is not about you at all." A helicopter can be heard in the distance, and Morris makes a decision.
He turns back to Michael, who sits like a statue in the back seat. "Mr. Wiseman... I need to leave you here for a moment. I don't know how long we have but it occurs to me... if I don't tell your wife who you are and what you've become, she'll never know... and she ought to know, don't you think?"
He gets out of the car, walks slowly up the walk, and rings the doorbell. Lisa opens the door. "Can I help..." She sees him, sees the helicopter, and sees the police cars pulling up. "Oh my God." She slams the door shut.
Police are surrounding the house, and Irving and the agent emerge from one of the cars. "Dr. Morris..." the agent says through a megaphone. "I've been ordered to tell you to surrender yourself and the government property that you have stolen to me and these marshals immediately."
The flashing lights of the police cars trigger something, and Michael starts blinking.
Morris puts his hands up, turning his back to the door, calling to Lisa, who's still huddled in the foyer. "Mrs. Wiseman... please, Mrs. Wiseman... can you hear me?"
"Go away. I don't want to hear anything you have to say."
"But, Mrs. Wiseman..."
"Go! Go!" She parts the curtain to yell at him through the window. "Go!" "Please, Mrs. Wiseman... Mrs. Wiseman, please..."
"Well, don't you understand? I don't want to see you," she says. Her gaze moves past Dr. Morris, looking at something behind him. "And I certainly don't want to see him."
"Him?" Morris echoes, turning to see what she's staring at.
Michael is standing there, having just stepped out of the car. He pauses to catch a few snowflakes on his tongue before starting slowly up the walk, somewhat stiff from two days' worth of inactivity. Morris stands there, smiling, as Michael stops halfway up the front walk. "Tell her it's okay. Not to be scared. Tell her we're going to go."
The marshals and agents assembled stare in shock as Morris turns from the door and walks down to meet Michael. "Welcome back."
"Oh, yeah..." Michael says. "We've got to stop by a drugstore on the way back and pick up a prescription." Morris looks at him oddly as they start back to the cars. "I'll explain later."
He stops suddenly, and turns back to look at his old house. Heather is standing by the upstairs window. She smiles and waves. Michael waves back briefly, and Heather smiles as he turns away and follows Dr. Morris back to the car.
Heather comes down to find Lisa leaning against the door, looking worried. "They're going now, Mom. Are you okay?"
"I just... I miss your daddy." She's near to tears.
Heather goes over to the piano, sits down, and begins playing "Heart and Souls." Lisa leans back against the door with a tearful sigh.
Flashback. Michael comes home from work; no sign of Lisa. He sits down at the piano, puts the prescription bottle on top of it, and starts playing their tune. She comes into the living room, and he asks her to come play. "No. I have things to do."
"Oh, come on, it's not going to kill you to sit down for a minute. Come on. Do this with me. You start."
She does, and he picks up the harmony, reaching over to take her hand. She breaks off playing, noticing the pill bottle. "What's this?"
"My prescription from Dr. Francis."
"What's wrong with you?"
"He said it was nothing, it's no big deal..." Michael sighs. "But I was really scared. And I'm really sorry."
"It's no big deal?"
"No big deal," Michael insists. "He did say I could stand to lose a few pounds."
"Well... really? You want a second opinion on that?"
"You know, it's that kind of smart remark that's going to break up the band." He takes her hand and kisses it, and they start to play.
Sitting down on the stairs, Heather is listening in. She sits forward with her chin resting on her hands, and smiles.
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