Travelers: Jenny
December 27, 2017 10:17 AM - Season 2, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Assigned to prevent a flu-like outbreak, the travelers are shocked when the pathogen seems to evolve, becoming fatal and spreading across the world.

*In a drug haze, Philip writes out the memory chain on the wall of Jenny's room. Another traveler (D13) enters and begins taking photos of the wall, as Jenny leads Philip away. He wakes up in bed at Ops with headache and no recollection of the night before, and Jenny tells him that they're done, she has to move on to another mission, and leaves him with a few months' worth of eyedrops.
*At Carly's, Marcy takes Jeff Jr's temperature (100.6) but tells Carly he should be fine. Later, they talk about Carly having developed maternal instincts, and about Marcy 1.0's reluctance to be reset.

*Trevor and Philip go to an RV to meet two travelers (Graham, who has a cough, and Colleen) who have been tasked to drive up and down the state delivering something, and gives Trevor a package.

*MacLaren and Kat have a follow-up visit in the ob/gyn's office and learn that the dark spot in the scan has disappeared, that she and the baby are fine.

*At Ops, the team opens the package from the RV travelers, which contains anti-viral injections. Historically they are at the beginning of a minor flu outbreak which kills 70,000 people worldwide before the CDC and other world health organizations get it under control. The team's mission is to save 3 people who didn't survive the original timeline - Jordan Lam (a personal trainer), Annie Kapoor (a travel blogger), and Brittney Palmer (a flight attendant). Marcy injects Brittney at a hospital checkup, Philip slips a dose into the trainer's water at the gym, and MacLaren injects Annie during a yoga session in the park and pretends it was a bee sting. Meanwhile, somewhere in Asia another traveler injects a man and runs away, and in Berlin a jogger pauses her run to use an inhaler for her asthma and the traveler jogging with her sees "mission erfült" (mission accomplished) on his phone.

*In the school cafeteria, a very cranky Grace asks Trevor if he's heard from the Director. She still hasn't had any communication from it since the reset.

*At Carly's, Jeffrey has been called in to work unexpectedly because of the flu outbreak. When he gets to police HQ his commander assigns him to cover the hospital shift, and scolds him for not having had his flu shot already.

*At Ops, Philip does some drops and checks his stash, when Officer Boyd arrives with a sick member of her team (Heath). Philip coms Marcy (who was just leaving a voicemail for David asking to get together sometime) and tells her she's needed. When she gets there, Boyd tells her that she's tested the virus but could find no match for it in past or future diseases. Heath has begun bleeding from his eyes. Marcy coms Trevor (who is performing Romeo's death scene from Romeo and Juliet in an acting class) and tells him to return to Ops immediately, that they all may be contagious.

*Boyd says she and her team got the antivirals 2 weeks before MacLaren's team, and that Heath got sick first because he was immunocompromised. Heath dies. Marcy finds that Philip, Carly and Trevor are infected but for some reason she and MacLaren are immune for some reason. Marcy predicts a 40% casualty rate if no cure is found.

*David returns Marcy's call and would love to hang out, but she warns him about the outbreak and tells him to stay safe inside. He thanks her for the warning, but goes out to help his clients instead. (Also, there's a very traveler-ish clock in his kitchen, clear glass light bulbs with orange digits inside, at 13h:52m:13s and counting.)

*Carly and Trevor drive to the RV location, through a police checkpoint advising them to stay home when they get there. At the RV, they find that travelers Graham and Colleen have been assassinated, and there are no antivirals left in the vehicle.

*David brings one of his homeless clients to the hospital, but all the nurse can offer is face masks. He sees MacLaren and asks about Marcy. Kat calls MacLaren about the news of the virus and he tells her to stay inside. Jeffrey and MacLaren see each other, and Jeffrey is hostile/jealous, but MacLaren says that the thing between him and Carly was never what Jeffrey thought, and that he should get out of the hospital and get his son home from the babysitter's.

*Grace shows up at Ops, sick. Then Traveler D13 arrives to ask Philip if something was wrong with the formula. When shown the photos of it, Philip says he remembers the formula but does not remember writing it on the wall, and Marcy says that Jenny must have given him a memory inhibitor. Marcy coms MacLaren to tell him that Jenny is the source of the antiviral. MacLaren passes Walt on the way out of the hospital, who tells him the FBI needs him to meet with the National Guard, but MacLaren says his team comes first.

*Philip finds Jenny collapsed on her bathroom floor, OD'd on oxycodone.
*At Ops, Marcy and Traveler D13 sedate Boyd.
*Jeffrey comes home, coughing, with a crying Jeff Jr.
*David takes his client to a homeless shelter/soup kitchen, and checks in with another of his homeless clients, Vera.

*At Ops, MacLaren arrives with the ethidium bromide Marcy had requested he get from the hospital. She tells the team that if the virus transmission was started by the 10 traveler teams transmitting the bad antiviral, she projects that by now 4 million people have been infected, and it will increase to 10 million tomorrow. Philip arrives with an infected & OD'd Jenny, and Marcy revives her, and Jenny reveals her true mission, that she needed a historian (Philip) and someone to synthesize a catalyst (Traveler D13). D13 believed his mission from the Director was to create an antiviral, but she tells him he was actually tasked by the Faction to expedite genetic recombination of the historical pathogen, and that she is with Faction. When Grace reset the Director, they lost the ability to access the 21st except via messenger, so they shut down the reactor and sent everyone to the 21st at once via the quantum frame. Walt, everyone new at the FBI, and all of the mass arrivals are Faction. Faction believes that overpopulation is the single greatest threat to the 21st, and the virus has been genetically engineered to save 70% of the population, which means killing 2 billion.

*At the FBI location, the quantum frame powers up.
posted by oh yeah! (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wasn't sure if the clock in David's kitchen was significant - at first I thought it was counting down, and that the orange light meant it was some kind of traveler tech, but on second look realized it was just counting forwards and was maybe just a regular clock using military time instead of am/pm hours. But the camera lingered on it, so, I figured it should get a bullet point.

I love Grace, she's so wonderfully bratty. Looks like her plan sure backfired.
posted by oh yeah! at 10:46 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Grace is hilarious to watch. I'm really enjoying the actress just going all in this brash character.

So Jenny is Faction! I was right!
posted by numaner at 12:48 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Grace is the dog's bollocks, I'm 100% here for her snarky logic bombs.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:41 PM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Team Grace! the moment she got travelerated.

Ah, thanks oh yeah!, I somehow missed it the first time around that the Faction's modus operandi is preventing overpopulation.

Hence, they don't share the concept of "sanctity of human life" and "don't screw up the future" that The Director's teams (try to) adhere to (ie, the Protocols).

Curious, though, that when The Director was reset, the Faction lost access ... to the time machine? Is there only one? Would multiple machines (The Director) interfere with each other? What about The Director (aka Teh Blinkenlights) at different points in time?

I'm confused here: so Faction sent a whole wack of people back via Director, knowing that they won't be able to after the reset before the reset occurs. They might know via historical records but it would have been extant knowledge (after The Director being reset in the future (?), via the events in the 21st) and they could have sent people back at any time while they had control of The Director, but in this scenario, they wouldn't know that they wouldn't be able to send people back - unless it was purely an issue with physical control/access to future Director (assuming voice messages to the past don't require a Director-level AI).

posted by porpoise at 10:54 AM on January 1, 2018

re: Ethidium Bromide

It's a DNA intercalating agent (molecularly, it's thin and gets lodged between strands of DNA, between bases) that fluoresces under UV (shine UV on it, it glows). It's typically used to visualize electrophoretically size-separated DNA fragments in agarose gels (typically after PCR and/or restriction digestion) in molecular biology.

It used to be considered mutagenic/carcinogenic using old tests (there's a lab strain of E. coli that can't synthesis histidine (an amino acid) and can't grow without histidine supplementation on a nutrient agar plate. So the negative control is to plate that bacteria onto histidine-deficient plates, and then on histidine-deficient plates supplemented with the compound that you want to test the mutagenicity of.

If/how much the bacteria grow is a readout of how mutagenic/carcinogenic a particular compound may be. EtBr causes reversion of histidine synthesis deficiency and lots of people are paranoid about it, but in normal use, it's too ionically bulky to penetrate skin cells and it gets "soaked up" (and unavailable to cause mischief in live cells) by just about everything. As a mutagenic agent, there are much better ones available.

I wouldn't drink it, but I'm not worried if some used electrophoresis buffer splashes on me or if I need to pick up a gel without gloves on (yes, I know, bad scientist! bad!).

That bottle (Cat 217422) looks like a (really old) Carolina Biological Supply Company ready-to-use (1ug/mL) EtBr that's sold to highschools. It's super duper dilute stuff; you'd use about 10mL of this stuff to make a 50mL gel. Currently it's $38.95 for 250mL (which is a total ripoff) and can be shipped overnight.

(I've made 50,000x stock EtBr from dry powder before and it was kind of ridiculous how little of the powder was required. 1/1000th of a mL to make a 50mL gel. This stuff, in comparison, is 5x.)

You're not going to find it in a clinic, but it's super common in clinical diagnostic labs. It's also present in just about every lab that works with DNA - however, there are better reagents (more sensitive, less background, "safer," even less controlled) and it's becoming less common but some people still prefer it because its cheap and they're used to it. For some clinical diagnostic tests it might still be used because that's how the diagnostic test was approved and switching it out for a different more modern reagent is a pain in the ass (like, dealing with the FDA level pita) and costs money/resources.

Based on how shiney Marcy's equipment at Ops is, I can't imagine that she's even be running regular old agarose gels instead of running stuff through a capillary sequencer/gene analyzer.

So, kind of a weird prop especially in light of MacLaren's "That doctor you sent me to sure likes you a lot."
posted by porpoise at 11:56 AM on January 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh, and if she's using it for viral titres, that's likely on a quantitative real-time PCR machine assuming that at least a partial sequence of the virus has been determined (and unless its an extraordinarily complex virus, the rest of the sequence can be easily determined). qPCR either uses fluorescent probes or, much more cheaply/quickly, something like SYBR dye, not EtBr.

Detection of specific antibodies is much slower than nucleic acid work - and it sounds like they're just at the very beginning of that process.

I don't know if they have a science advisor on the show, but that Marcy and MacLaren have zero virus, infected members have a low titre, and the susceptible have stratospheric levels suggests that the fully resistant have a gene variation for the receptor that the virus uses to enter the cell, the infected have the appropriate HLA (MHC) to create antibodies that can recognize the virus, and the susceptible simply don't have the HLA repertoire to (even potentially) make antibodies against the virus (and thus a vaccine is useless).

Or that the virus replicates quickly enough at some point in the infection cycle to overcome antibody mediated resistance, but that the fully resistant having a particular variation in the receptor that the virus uses to enter cells stands. In which case, a vaccine administered early enough may be effective but would not help anyone with late stage infections.

Unless "vaccine" is shorthand for something like several RNAi systems attempted for treating the ebola outbreak a few years ago.

posted by porpoise at 12:20 PM on January 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I haven't watched past this one so maybe it makes sense later, but I though Jenny's monologue at the end was hamfisted as hell.

It's great for the audience to be caught up on what's happening in the future, but it didn't make any sense coming from that character. It's not like they injected her with a truth serum! Even if she was fine staying alive past her suicide attempt, there's no earthly reason she would've or could've been able to jump from that to providing a tidy three paragraphs of exposition.
posted by tjgrathwell at 9:25 PM on January 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

suicide attempt ... paragraphs of exposition

Lots of times the option/ability to exposition has prevented suicide attempts.
posted by porpoise at 12:08 AM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am still catching up, but I really hope they let go of the whole Let's rehabilitate Jeff storyline. This guy's introduction to the show was him being narrowly stopped from beating Carly to death. Fuck this guy forever.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:43 PM on January 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am still catching up even further behind than DirtyOldTown and I gotta say, watching this one during the Covid-19 pandemic was a little disorienting. It’s like reality had seeped into a two-and-a-half-year-old TV drama.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:13 PM on April 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am still catching up even further behind than DirtyOldTown and I gotta say, watching this one during the Covid-19 pandemic was a little disorienting. It’s like reality had seeped into a two-and-a-half-year-old TV drama.

For sure. So many little details on point. I've never seen this show before and this episode was bizarre to watch.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:39 AM on May 29, 2020

Oh, hi, it's me too. Watching this for the first time in August 2020. Greetings from COVID-19 timez. This episode didn't freak me out at all, no way, nope, I'm just fine. hahhahahahaaa lolsob

... like reality had seeped into a two-and-a-half-year-old TV drama.

Yeah, like when we watched the first episode of Lone Gunmen (the X-Files spinoff) in 2007.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 8:41 PM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm glad I'm not the only one. This was a very strange episode to watch.
posted by randomnity at 5:40 AM on August 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

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