Travelers: Protocol 5
December 26, 2016 5:34 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Unsure if their mission succeeded, the travelers face the prospect of living out the rest of their lives in their challenging 21st century personas.

*The team celebrates the apparent success of the mission with cheap champagne at Philip's, but MacLaren is not in a celebratory mood. If this was the last mission, then they must all follow Protocol 5 and live out the lives of their hosts indefinitely.
*After a rough night, everyone has a bad day, as it turns out that the antitoxin has psychotropic effects.
*Carly sees the interrogation questions appearing on her television screen, then footage of herself in the apartment. She holes up with baby Jeffrey and her guns, and when a Child Protective Services worker shows up due to a report from Jeff, she makes a bad impression.
*Marcy spends the day giving herself minor surgery (installing a vagus nerve stimulator to prevent seizures), freaking out David when he returns to the bloodbath, but eventually convincing him to assist with giving her a spinal tap. Her hallucination is Luca telling her she's hallucinating, and being impaled during the spinal tap.
*MacLaren gets taken to a surprise 15-years-at-the-FBI party by Forbes. His hallucinations include seeing 'Helios 685' instead of 'MacLaren 15' on his commemorative sports jersey, and visions of people from the future (white people with shaved heads and beige rags).
*At the party, Forbes asks Kat about the doctor's visit MacLaren said he'd taken her to, and she confronts him with the lie when they get home. He starts to tell her he's not who she thinks he is, then hallucinates her as (presumably) future Carly, and makes love to her. Afterwards, Kat tearfully texts her mother that she is sure Grant is cheating on her.
*Trevor goes clothes-shopping with Rene only to discover she's intending to shoplift and expects him to help while their friend distracts the cashier. Trevor gets caught and hallucinates the cashier mentioning the director. He pays for the stolen clothes, then confronts Rene and Nick, who insist it was Trevor's plan in the first place and it always worked before. Nick also stole Trevor's mother's medication at his suggestion. They fight, and Trevor hallucinates himself beating Nick to the ground, but he gets punched in the face instead. Later, he tries to meditate with Rene, then tries to explain how he's feeling lost now that he has no mission, but she thinks he's talking about football. When he returns home, Trevor's parents confront him about the missing pills, and he explains that Nick was the thief, but the fight escalates until his father slaps him.
*Philip runs out of drugs in the night and goes to the street-corner dealer. Ray finds him and keeps him company for the day - taking him for a hot dog (which Philip hallucinates as future-gruel briefly), then to a pet store where Philip buys a turtle, then to an addiction support group. Philip sees himself telling the group exactly who he is, but finally just says the standard "My name is Philip and I'm an addict" intro.
*Trevor goes to Philip's after the fight with his parents, asks if he'd been having any psychotropic side effects from the antitoxin, and Philip says he's always having them because of the heroin.
*As they muse on their futures of living out the host lives permanently, the computer alerts them to a new mission.

Showcase Blogs - Episode 7 recap
posted by oh yeah! (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The future-glimpses seemed disappointingly 'The Matrix-y', but I liked the slow build of everyone's delusions, and the idea that Philip handled it the best because he's always under the influence.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:43 PM on December 26, 2016

I was binging pretty late so I think some of the details glossed over in my sleepiness but it was a good episode adding depth to the characters and tweaking the many ambiguities. This series may be better during a rewatch if the internal logic of this time travel rule set "works".

The Popy the turtle may be the unsung breakout star this season. :-)
posted by sammyo at 7:11 AM on December 27, 2016

I liked that just when I was really freaking out about all the nice things Ray was doing for Phillips, figuring he was setting him up for something bad, he ends takes him to a support group! When I see Ian Tracey, I always figure he's playing a bad guy.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:10 PM on December 27, 2016

Oh, hey, thanks oh yeah!, these have been fantastic bullet point synopses that you've been doing for all the posts!

I guess this was a breather/filler episode to update all the relationships.

Show telegraphed MacLaren's situation from lightyears away. Wonder how that'll shake out.

I'd love/hate being in David's situation. But I'm not a David and would have handled it a lot differently from the outset.

As for the psychotropic effects - media is terrible at representing it - seeing "Helios 685" instead of "McLaren 15" is completely plausible. Being impaled by a ginormous needle isn't too far outside the possibility of light and shadow. Seeing a food cart hotdog as yeast/fungus porridge isn't too far of a stretch.

Most drug-induced hallucinations are essentially pareidolia tuned to 1000% and influenced by state of mind. Implausible that an "antitoxin" would affect the rates of dopamine and/or serotonin release/reuptake/degradation and that it takes at least 24 hours to manifest.

The "antitoxin" (it's not an antitoxin) that most people are (vaguely) aware of is atropine, a reversible acetylcholine receptor antagonist (turns it off temporarily) where acetylcholine receptor agonists (turns it on, and for too long/too much) are typical methods of action for common/effective nerve agents/chemical weapons.

Huh. Fact checking myself before posting: atropine blockade of CNS acetylcholine receptors can induce delirium and hallucinations - but this is an immediate rather than a delayed effect. I can't comment on the nature of the hallucinations since I've only ever experienced dopamine/serotonine-mediated ones.

I still don't like the "antitoxin" subplot; if it was used as a deliberate way to give the team hallucinations/reality-impairment, I think there are a lot of better options including all the ones stemming from time travel fugue.

Interesting observation that Philip deals best of all; I wonder if it's the opiates in this frame, or if he was a psychonaut in the future? That Trevor was the most chill-with-psychotropy, same deal.

Philip mentions "born hundreds of years from now."

Squeak Attack, that's a great point - I had assumed that Ray was just being a grifter, but that was kind of sweet despite my cynicism about AA.

As for "Matrix-ey," I wasn't a fan of the faded 'sack-cloth' future uniform. C'mon, be a little more imaginative. Use future clothes as a hint to what the future is, like, like. Cotton-ish mesh-weave faded & frayed pullovers implies mass production of common goods and the inability to replenish them. Or something.

Thrifting in a post-apocalyptic future has got to be a thing. Uniform bland garb is a signifier of oppression and enforced deprivation. Humans, even in the worst of conditions (barring authoritarianism), try to add colour and individuality whenever they can. Contra argument is that MacLaren is hallucinating people he's known at their worst circumstances.
posted by porpoise at 6:58 PM on December 29, 2016

Oh, hey, thanks oh yeah!, these have been fantastic bullet point synopses that you've been doing for all the posts!

Thanks! I've been lucky so far with my binge-watch-post choices, haven't picked a series yet that made me regret it before the end.

As for "Matrix-ey," I wasn't a fan of the faded 'sack-cloth' future uniform. C'mon, be a little more imaginative. Use future clothes as a hint to what the future is, like, like. Cotton-ish mesh-weave faded & frayed pullovers implies mass production of common goods and the inability to replenish them. Or something.

Yeah, it just seemed very generic. Now, maybe that was a production choice - that they didn't want to give the audience any hints about the future in this episode, since they've been very deliberate about doling out the information (having someone mention "Helios is coming" then later a mention of "the Helios tidal wave" before the full "Helios 685 asteroid" explanation). But it was still a very boringly generic visual. And did all the future-people hallucinations have to be white?
posted by oh yeah! at 8:29 PM on December 29, 2016

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