It’s a little de rigueur at this point, sure, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t fully enjoy this recent spate of conspicuous PSAs for vaccines we’ve been seeing on prime-time television lately. (Okay, fine, by spate I mean precisely two so far, though feel free to add in the comments if I’m missing any.) First, there was last week’s American Horror Story: Hotel episode, in which Chloë Sevigny treats the measles-infected child of a stubbornly dimwitted Beverly Hills mom. And now we have Katie, the golden-braided ghost of what could have been for Agatha had she not been so passive-aggressively selfless with her visions her whole life, and Katie’s actual mom, Gabby, who believes that herbs will heal a 2065 strain of malaria better than a vaccine (the latter of which, Dash informs us back here in 2015, will finally be brought to market in 2022 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). Both are quite after-school-special-y in their presentation (ditto that global-warming soapbox Arthur got on last night), but it still feels so good in the moment, thinking about all those anti-vaxxer Hollywood parents suddenly horrified in the middle of their favorite shows by the pro-medicine stance their colleagues have taken.
This was a pretty great episode for Minority Report in general, actually. (CAVEAT: A DOG DIES. I REPEAT, A YELLOW LAB IS POISONED AND DIES AND WE’RE JUST SUPPOSED TO BE OKAY WITH THAT.) A back-home episode gave the precogs a fleshed-out, more believable background, while also allowing Agatha to let up on her Resentful, Depressed Hag role in favor of teamwork and honest human trust, almost like a character I like enough to hope for her survival. It was also nice to see Dash and Arthur talking casually, as though gossiping, about their vision, the victim in which is preteen Katie, who dies in the arms of her parents, Gabby and Brian, the man for whom Agatha once worked and also her one true love, until she left their relationship because she saw him happier with someone else? (What kind of crap explanation is this? More like “because she’s afraid of commitment and hates herself and also experiences her own murder regularly.” Please fix.) I liked this, albeit in a sick way, because it gave the brothers a casual, more quotidian dimension, something that seemingly no character on this show has had before, apart from extreme dirtbiking. Also, Arthur has suddenly become a considerate person.
Dash invited Vega on their field trip, to Arthur’s vague chagrin, so all three head to Fiddler’s Neck, Agatha’s peninsula turned island, thanks to global warming, to help her prevent this exception to her no-helping rule. This is the precogs’ Sweet Home Alabama, the simple (tech/medicine/GMO-free) life they left for the big city — except instead of a dopey local sheriff’s department, the place is governed by a literal gang of rednecks that deal tobacco on the black market and call themselves the Guard.
Agatha tells Vega she recalls a stomachache in the vision; since they only ever see murder, their first and only guess is poison. But who did it? Later, at a farmer’s market, Gabby casually mentions that Katie is sick from an outsider but is seeing an herbalist because modern medicine “eats you from the inside out.” Dash visits said herbalist, who lives in a van down by the river and raves about technology being the real disease. He says that Katie actually has malaria, but when Brian had come begging for the vaccine, he basically laughed in the poor man’s face and continued on his and her mother’s preferred regimen of dandelions and patchouli or whatever.
Here’s a question about Agatha’s romance flashbacks: For a precognitive and not a clairvoyant, how does she know so much about Brian’s past, or what outcome her spontaneous kiss will produce? I thought the precogs couldn’t see their own futures, for the most part, especially not a minor reaction to her spur-of-the-moment choice? Really pushing the limits of believability on this gift’s boundaries here, especially since the plot is already so strictly managed by the “precogs see murders, but never any other kinds of crime” rule. Anyway, it does feed into what we know about Agatha, which is that she’s completely obsessed with the belief that the future is set in stone, no matter what, and that she is to forever remain an unhappy, unfulfilled slave to fate — and not happily ever after with the man of her dreams in a little red house.
Arthur uses his contraband networks to procure a delivery drone full of the vaccine, but he and Dash are intercepted by the Guard, who have been running a tobacco operation by coercing other farmers on the island into giving them grow plots on their land, see this as a turf war with a childhood-pal-turned-city-slicker and lock both brothers up in a barn. But this is all fine, because two seconds later Arthur can divine the lock combination (by predicting the code he will use, I guess?) and immediately break them out to warn Gabby and Brian, who have so far managed to stave off their gangster tactics but who now, with this vaccine, have a weakness ready to be exploited by the bumpkin thugs. Brian procured his own illegal supply of malaria drugs a while ago and has been secretly giving them to Katie, so that’s definitely not why she dies.
Surprise! It was poisoning after all: In an effort to use their land for tobacco, the Guard decided they would use pesticides to poison the family’s water supply. Just some casual murder. Aforementioned dog is poisoned and dies (sob), but luckily it acts like a coal mine canary and tips the team off just in time for Dash to smack the water cup out of Katie’s hand as she’s going for a drink at the pump. The twins arrive just in time for the whole team to formulate a plan to ensnare The Guard, who are on their way over. At this point, Brian suddenly just knows Agatha is a precog, and is unfazed by it, or something? Otherwise it’d be weird to hear your ex-girlfriend say she “saw” your wife- and child-to-be and sacrificed her own happy future with you for a happier alternative she “decided” for you.
After a mercifully brief cat-and-mouse scene, Agatha stops The Guard from burning down Brian and Gabby’s guest house by opening a high-pressure irrigation water pump on them. The day is saved once again! At last, the twins and Vega hop back on the ferry boat return home — but not before Agatha lets Vega know that she at least respects her enough to wait and see exactly what will happen with the milk-bath vision instead of insisting nonstop that Lara is the devil incarnate.
Speaking of home, Akeela and Wally have been having a very prickly hack-off again, in which the latter schools the former by slut-shaming her with dirty ex-boyfriend voice-mails and laughing at her Beatles passwords. It’s a pretty mean tirade, but then again, Akeela really was poking a genius multimillionaire with a stick. Together, though, they hack Blake, who says he’s applied to work at the DIA, and find out the agency is actually investigating him hard-core to find out exactly why his cops have such good arrest numbers. Things are about to get prickly in precogs-ville.
Other things we learn about the future this week:
- Power-drunk gun nuts are still the worst.
- Corn is now synthetically grown on cobs about [spreads arms, indicating the size of a six-foot party sub] yea big.
- Elementary-schoolers are just going around learning quantum physics and string theory.
- Even cutting-edge tech experts still use (really terrible, music-themed) passwords.
- Cows are basically extinct, not because we couldn’t sustain them environmentally but because we developed synthetic meat, too, and suddenly had no use for cattle.
- In 2031, hackers will release every shred of private personal data known to humankind, which will send global stress, anxiety, and depression levels skyrocketing and cause 15 million deaths. Cheers!