What do we really know about Sands? Not a whole lot. We know he works for Bradley Coo— I mean, Senator Edward Morra. We know he’s a shadowy operative. We know he’s British. That’s pretty much it. Which means that, like any competent procedural, we’re due for a mythos-expanding episode that provides a backstory to this mysterious supporting player.
Brian is chilling at home with his sometimes-seen sister, Rachel, when there’s a knock at the door. It’s Sands, who was in the neighborhood and thought he’d drop by for a visit. Because a gnarly piece of glass is sticking out of his leg.
For an unknown reason, Sands is clutching a list with the last names of classic Hollywood directors like DeMille and Peckinpah. Brian invents a flimsy cover story, secretly pops some NZT, and gets to work patching Sands up. This includes stabbing him in the chest, Pulp Fiction–style.
Sands claims he was on a mission that “concerns our mutual friend,” and yanks Brian out into the night to do some secret stuff.
Over at CJC headquarters, we learn that the child of an important U.N. diplomat seems to have gone missing. It turns out that the kidnapping was clearly targeted, and the victim was adopted. Rebecca tries to phone Brian and bring him in, but she can’t reach him. Ike is dispatched to Brian’s apartment, where he finds Rachel and decides to hang out until Brian returns.
Sands fills Brian in on his mission, with an assist from some spiffy comic-book graphics. Sands and four other men were part of a secret MI6 spy operation led by a guy named Frederic Tanner. Each of them had a code name, hence the aforementioned list of Hollywood directors. Tanner was a mentor of sorts for Sands, but eventually, the group got greedy and started a smuggling operation. When they got caught, they all fingered Tanner, and he took the brunt of the punishment.
Brian’s job is to find Tanner, who is using some sort of leverage to force Sands to track down and whack all of his former partners. Seems like a real catch-22.
Still high on NZT, Brian comes to a realization: Sands has gone rogue. There’s no way that Senator Eddie Morra would have authorized this. He says as much to Sands: “What would Morra think if he learned you were going on a murder spree while he’s running for president?”
So Sands fleshes out his backstory. One of the main rules he and his comrades had was to never fall in love. No attachments. You can guess what happened next. Sands fell in love with a woman named Anastasia, and soon after, she died in a “mysterious” hit-and-run. And it’s here that our A-story nicely dovetails with our B-story. Sands and his lover had a child, who was given up for adoption, and is now … the missing child whom Rebecca and the CJC are trying to find. Sands and the CJC are both looking for Tanner.
The next-to-last stop on the list (before Sands himself) is Huston, who is already terminally ill, lying in a hospital bed. That can’t be right, Brian realizes. Usually, when you’re running down a list of adversaries, they get gradually more difficult. It turn outs that Sands was putting this one off for as long as possible. He and Huston remained friends for years, and Huston is the one who set Sands up with Morra.
After some snooping, Brian finds a key to a safety-deposit box. It contains a burn book featuring a ton of information about Tanner, Morra, and NZT, but it’s the middle of the night and the bank is closed. No matter; the duo just head over the the bank CEO’s place and convince (read: blackmails) him so he’ll give them special access.
With notebook in hand, Brian and Sands track Tanner down in a warehouse. Sands and Tanner duke it out offscreen. It’s not clear how it goes down, but here’s how Brian imagines it:
Brian rescues the kid, and they all escape moments before Rebecca shows up. Case closed. Sands had to kill a few of his friends, but he saved his child. I guess that’s a win? Sure.
Brian returns to his apartment to find that his sister and Ike hooked up. He is very calm and chill about it.
That aside, the night’s adventure is mostly a positive for Brian. He learned a lot of humanizing stuff about Sands, who seems like a noble guy once you get past all of the shady killings.
To clear his head, Brian goes to get some coffee and flip through Huston’s burn book. He stumbles across something big: Among the NZT users whom Sands has taken care of, so to speak, is Conrad Harris, a.k.a. Rebecca’s father. That probably complicates things! Whoops!