Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Percolated Recap: Numb3rs: Animal Rites (Eppesode 519)

Dear Global Network,
Often, I complain about your airings, your weird timing, and even your inability to show the previews. This time, I would like to congratulate you on a whole new level of incompetence. What did you do that was such an epic failure, I feel the need to address you at the start of this recap? You took money to advertise the movie State of Play. Someone in the advertising department should've realized that advertising State of Play during an eppesode that features one of the actors from the original and infinitely superior on all levels, BBC miniseries, was a bad idea.
I don't care if the client insisted that the ads air during the eppesode. Someone in your advertising department should have told them that reminding people how good your product could've been is never a good plan.
To put it in mathematical terms: David Morrissey>Ben Affleck. If you still disbelieve me, let me say two words: John Simm. Finally, if you're still in doubt, I will bring up Bill Nighy, who chewed scenery/actors in that miniseries like it was the newest fad diet. I think James McAvoy got to keep a leg by the time Bill Nighy was done. Do not make me bring out Bill Nighy.
Random Spy Question: Travellingone and I were thinking of doing a review of the film State of Play just for the pure hilarity pitting it against the original series. Which is like pitting a poodle against a pitbull. This is a good idea? Y/N?

Cal Sci: There's a raid on an animal testing lab. It gives me a flashback to Dollhouse a few weeks back, except without the wonky drugs and no one gets shot.

Why does it remind me of the ill-fated raid. First, there are two people involved. Secondly, they're filming the animals in cages as if they're going to post it on YouTube. Clearly, they don't know that in order to be a hit on YouTube nowadays, you either have to have a shot of someone being kicked in the balls, be weirdly hilarious or that Scottish woman who surprised everyone on X Factor. YouTube is no longer the bastion of rebels it once was.

First, they release the dogs and then they release the mice. While I refuse to get dragged into the debate over animal testing, by either side, I will call these guys out for releasing them in that order. I don't know about you, but releasing the dogs first and the mice second, indicates that they don't know that dogs are just as likely to chase rodents as cats are. You don't want to see my house when someone says the word "squirrel." What you would see is a usually sweet pair of white fluffy dogs turn into vicious killing machines.

Oh, speaking of dogs, I should introduce you to one of the heroes of the eppesode.
After trashing the lab, obscuring the cameras and leaving some graffiti, the animal rites activists are interrupted by a fairly elderly man. Instead of getting out of running, because it's not like the old guy could catch them, they whack the man over the head with a beaker.

For the moment, all Fluffy McHero can do is watch and whimper.

La Maison d'Eppes: Artemis and Athena are playing poker against Larry, a serious student in the study of gambling, and Amita, another mathematician that I wouldn't underestimate. After a brief discussion on how many shuffles it takes to make a deck random (minimum 5, but 7 is better) Artemis totally plays everyone at the table. She pulls the old trick of whining about having a crappy hand, only to have 3 queens and clean up.
The poker game, and corresponding pizza and beer (as brought by the brothers Eppes) is interrupted by a very Zen ring tone from, can it be, Larry's phone? Sure, he carried one while he was waiting to go up into space, but to still be regularly carrying one and picking out personalized ringtones is definitely not a development in character I expected to see.

He's received a phone call from Anne Collins, Polly Walker Lorna Ludlow about the attack in the lab. The old guy, Nelson Horowitz, was a biology professor.
Cal Sci: I admit, I was a little biased against Lorna Ludlow from the get go. First, the way she grabs on to Larry (which is not the way I grab on to coworkers, no matter how upset I am) just confirmed my suspicions of an event I'd rather not talk about.
Secondly, the actress was totally the weakest link of the original State of Play. Of course, that's like saying it's a lesser known work of Van Gogh, but still, these two things combined mean I may be a bit harsher on Lorna Ludlow than I should be. What jealousy over John Simm?

So, to be fair, Lorna is doing some very important work on avian flu before it wipes out humanity and she's afraid the loss of the animals will set things back for years.

Don's the one who finally enters the lab and makes a horrifying discover, of Nelson Horowitz's body, locked in a cage, with a cone around his neck. I'm thinking the loss of the professor might set things back , just as much as the loss of the animals.

Title Flash.

IHOF: Reviewing the facts of the case, the Fedcakes gives us some much needed exposition. Horowitz died of a heart attack or stroke, but since it was during a criminal act, it's still murder. Also, they activists were going to set off a home made gas bomb, but didn't which probably shows they didn't mean for the professor to die. Okay, so that last part is my conjecture, but I've known the Fedcakes long enough to feel that I can offer something to these round table discussions.
Instructions for making the gas bomb are on the ARR website. Despite the acronym, this is not a website for the followers of his Noodliness, the FSM, as it's not about pirates, but Animal Rights Rebels. This isn't exactly a group per say but the website is used more as a place to gather info and inspire other ecoterrorists.

Charlie arrives, and is so affected by the sight of Professor Horowitz on the screen that he asks for the crime scene photos to be taken down. At this point, Don decides that despite all assurances from Charlie that he's got some great math plan to help, perhaps a cup of coffee and a moment to calm down might be in order.
In the break room, Charlie calms down by talking about the one thing that he always turns to when upset P vs. NP, math and audience visions. He plans to use a program called PIR to catch ARR. Essentially, it looks for key terms on specific sites where ARRs hang out,

The audience vision compares it to searching for one of those rare copies of Bob Dylan's album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. You know, the ones that have those four extra songs, and assuming everyone else on the planet had never heard of how freaking expensive that album is or have parents who think a knowledge of 60s music is as important as reading. Essentially, a bunch of secret shoppers, get sent to buy out all the records, hoping to find a rare one. PIR to catch the ARR is like the secret shoppers -- all sent to look for something of which they don't understand its importance.

Essentially, Charlie wants to look for certain things by trolling thorugh everything, but only knowing what it is he's looking for. Okay, that statement hurt my brain.

"Is that legal?" Don asks.

"Uh, it's not illegal. Technology's ahead of the law." Charlie replies. Oh, anyone who has ever spent any time on the internet understands and treasures that statement.

Why Charlie's crossed into the moral quagmire and pit of fun that is the internets, is because of Horowitz. He reminded our adorkable professor a little of Alan. Aw.

Oh yes, and Charlie, your campus has been invaded by violence before, remember?

ARR: Actually, it's not really the ARR, it's a subsidiary of sane animal activists that work through non-violent means to try and get their point across. Because of this, (and the fact the activists at Cal Sci were amateurs) the genuine animal rights activist is willing to give the Fedcakes, Rosencrantz and Athena, an internet cafe where a lot of extremists hang out.

Cal Sci: Lorna Ludlow is explaining to Larry how important Horowitz's work was to the treatment of soldiers with PTSD. I think Numb3rs is sitting on the fence just like I am when it comes to the issue of animal testing, because Lorna Ludlow makes Horowitz sound one step below a martyr and praises the other uses of animal testing used to benefit the world, and not just make a better mascara.

Plus, Lorna may be in danger since her name is listed on the ARR website.
Cafe Hilarity: Artemis and Athena have been sent undercover at the coffee shop (where no animal products are served). The purpose of my name, will be made evident later, but for now, I will just show you a screencap of the barista, with one slight improvement to her hat.
Cal Sci: In this eppesode about animals, we get some surprising guest stars.
Yup, Lorna is the vessel to show both sides of the animal testing debate. She talks of rodents who mate for life and whether or not a rat's life is valuable as a human. I wanted to see if I could settle the debate by asking a white fluffy dog who is trying to nap on my couch. I believe the look I got in response was something along the lines of, "I was not born this cute not to rule all I see and yes, I am more important than you."

That's the problem when I debate with this dog, she only ever sees her side and then whacks me with a paw until she gets a treat. It's not really much of a debate since she has me too well trained.

Larry's impressed by her inquisitive mind. "Inquisitive mind" a phrase which here means he's actually a bit distracted by the really sexy, smart woman giving him the time of day, and who didn't move to the East Coast.
Lorna's also upset because the Fedcakes are keeping Nelson Horowitz's death a secret. Larry's response, even though he says he trust the Fedcakes' instincts is odd because it means he has to distrust his own. Um, Larry, isn't your first instinct to trust the Fedcakes? What are you saying here?

Hilarious Cafe: One of the radicals gets a text message and heads out quickly. In an attempt to look interested, Nikki asks the barista what's going on since it might be something "cool."

The barista's response, though perfectly logical, wins this week's NPALTM because of the squick factor. It's awkward for me to hear it, and it's got to be awkward for the barista to come to the conclusion she did because of Nikki's enthusiasm. Also, it's got to be awkward because you know Liz is definitely going to share this one for a laugh.

What is the line that manages to accomplish this level of awkward? "Really? He's like 17."

Cal Sci: Charmita is working on finding more sites to data mine blindly but Amita's distracted. She's creeped out by the security and it doesn't help that the useful data is coming from unexpected sources. For instance, she's shocked to find a video with "Cal Sci" in the title on some innocuous message board. Oh, Amita, if you think message boards are innocuous, you clearly haven't spent any time on the fandom's board.

I'd just like to note, that the mention of a message board would've been an excellent opportunity for my shout out also for my world peace and pony. Really PTB, there are opportunities everywhere. Do I really need to keep pointing them out.

It's the same video we saw being filmed at the beginning and now Charmita's feeling even worse. I wonder if we can find something to entertain them. You know what always works? Monkeys! Monkeys, like ninjas, are always a good time, so bring on the monkeys!
Okay, so the monkeys are unavailable, so they're replaced with people acting like monkeys! It's all fun and games now!

You know that ninjas and monkeys always make for a good time? Well, while I'm highly amused by the group of people bouncing around like monkeys, the Cal Sci crew isn't. Charmita doesn't know what to make of it and Larry and Lorna are equally confused.
Until something blows up, and the camera catches two masked men, one carrying a camera, running from the building. Monkeys just became not fun.

As a shower of glass and mortar rains down on Charmita, for some reason I cannot explain because Amita is much smarter than her action here, she looks up -- in the direction of the falling glass and mortar.
After the commercial is the aftermath (pun not intended) of the explosion. The flash mob may have disappeared in a flash (pun intended) but that "like 17" year old from earlier didn't follow suit.

IHOF: He's not 17. He's 19 and named James Arthur. He's also unemployed and spends his days attending flash mobs that make him act like a primate. He insists he had nothing to do with the video, and gives Nikki the web address for LA Vegan's Forum. I don't hold out much hope that one of the posters will have my handle. I am, on the other hand, holding out hope for the 100th eppesode. If they're going to include a whole bunch of continuity in that, as all the spoilers indicate, maybe a loyal recapper might finally get what she whines for wants.

The story of the flash mob is the same for everyone, but Charlie's PIR (or Dylan thing as Don puts it) might have found something. After going through a variety of screen names --
-- Charmita makes a discovery. A pair of active participants are never online at the same time. Thus, Dogboy88 and MacroJL are the same person, probably. Amita uses the Clark Kent/Superman example to explain them, but Charlie uses a more technical term, "mighty suspicious."

Dogboy88's: David and Liz are sent to talk to Josh Skinner, aka Clark Kent/Superman. They learn a few important details about the suspect. The first, is that Josh is schizophrenic and is off his meds. The second is that his mother is well used to Josh's issues. The third is that Josh is a student at Cal Sci and finally, the Fedcakes meet one of the most important people in this eppesode.
Okay, mental illness or not, Josh is evil. He wants to release Fluffy McHero into the wild. Excuse me, something that cute deserves to be catered to at his every whim. He deserves treats, and love and long walks in the park and complete run of the entire household / yard.

Remember the dog that I mentioned earlier? Yeah, she's in total agreement with me on that one.
Cal Sci: It's a good thing the Fedcakes have an in with an adorkable professor Cal Sci so that they can easily get a hold of Josh's timetable. At this moment, Josh is in a history of science lecture.

Charlie feels sorry for the kid, because of their shared connection with math. Apparently, people who are better at abstract and higher level thinking are also more likely to suffer from mental illness. Cue the obligatory John Nash reference!

I would like to point out that the kid's major is in philosophy and clearly, it's the math ability that might point towards madness as there have never been any crazy philosophers.

Anyway, the lecture hall where Josh is attending class is in the building that explodeded the previous day and Charlie recommends they approach the kid, to use a technical term, very carefully.
In the history of science lecture, the professor is talking about Galileo and pure math, while Josh looks to be having a trip. I mean the type that involves substances not prescribed by a doctor. You've got to love how the entertainment medium always explains insanity in the same vein as it portrays being stoned.

Apparently, being crazy also heightens the spidy-senses as within moments of David and Liz walk in, Josh spots them, and tries to take off through the crowds of exiting students.

The crazy kid is also carrying a gun, which we learn when he knocks into the security guard. In order to escape, he fires the gun into the air causing everyone else to go in the opposite direction of the bullet, and drop to the floor.

There's a weird moment where Josh shoots some random guy in front of him, only to be told his friend, "stop shooting." Josh's friend promptly runs like he's Speedy Gonzales, so I'm not too sure what that dude's purpose is. If he's Josh's friend he's going to know he has issues and shouting at him probably isn't the best plan.

Once Josh, Josh's friend and the random professor with a bullet in him gets dragged into the lab that was defaced at the beginning, we discover that if Josh thinks someone is watching him, he's not paranoid.
Outside the lab, Liz and David take the stats about the lab (solid core double door, single key with a deadbolt lock) and the gun (4 shots left). David tries to talk to Josh, while Josh's friend does a quick check of the lab, including the worst sweep ever of Lorna's office.

While Josh is convinced the Fedcakes are going to kill him, Lorna sends a text message.

A short time later, the Fedcakes have set up a command post and donned their Kevlar.
The useless friend has a name, Cloud, so with a name like that, I'd be useless too.

Artemas and Athena are looking at blueprints and there's a place Athena can get in. It's a wet wall. What amazes me, is that Artemas feels the need to explain it.
David's job is to keep Josh talking, while the Fedcakes sneak in from behind. The talking part is easy as Josh wants to do it all, and doesn't want Cloud to talk for him. His first demand is a video camera with a live feed and sometimes, the screencap jokes just write themselves.

Charlie and Larry arrive with Larry practically glued to his cell phone, talking to Lorna. Now the Fedcakes have an advantage Josh doesn't know about, since Lorna can act as the eyes and ears for everyone. Also, she identifies the hostage, Prof. Sharad Varma, and the positions of the two students. The problem is, while that's all fine and dandy for the Fedcakes, the only other exit for Lorna, a vent in the floor, is bolted shut.

The stand off continues. Liz works at getting through the wet wall. David tries to keep Josh distracted (despite being an assassin trying to get into Josh's brain), and Charmita is trying to figure out how an insane person's mind works. David and Liz clearly got the easier jobs.

Nikki is not too pleased with the slow pace of things and wants a crack at Josh. Um, yeah, somehow, I don't think Nikki and her patience level of a toddler hyped up on sugar, would really be the best thing right now.

After Josh is done breaking all the set decoration, he gets into a conversation with Sharad, who, as a Hindu, is a vegetarian and takes good care of his lab animals. Josh sees this as an oxymoron. Lorna, on the other hand, sees this as an opportunity to play hero, because she has the distinct disadvantage of not knowing that all dogs have the last name McHero and is convinced that Josh is going to shoot Sharad, again.
Josh is so confused by Lorna's sudden arrival since his useless friend checked the office already, Josh actually has to have Cloud confirm that Lorna is real and not a hallucination. For some reason, I find that infinitely sad.

Larry keeps Don informed of Lorna's heroic but not exactly clever move, and they have to listen as Lorna gets tossed around by Josh. As for the useless friend, he's sent back upstairs to check the office again, in case he missed someone else, or a bunch of someone elses.
Josh threatens to torture Lorna the same way he thinks the professors torture animals and he tortured the dead professor. Well, Lorna would just like to make a correction on the state of Professor Horowitz, as in, the descriptor I used in the last sentence. Instead of being horrified, Josh insists Horowitz deserved it, just like Lorna. Um, yeah, crazy and psychopathic aren't exactly the best cocktail for, say, staying alive.

Yet, fear not! Liz is making her way through the wet wall!
Just as Josh is about to interrogate Lorna and the bleeding Sharad, Don calls in to tell the captor that he has a video camera and that the chief Fedcake can be trusted. Of course, we know that, but as Josh is crazy and psychopathic, he wants both the camera and the live feed. Thus, he hangs up on the chief Fedcake, sending Nikki into the stratosphere of frustration because she wanted Don to lie to Josh about the live feed.

Don tries to explain that lying to the hostage taker is never the right plan, to which Nikki responds, "Lying's always worked for me."
Larry wants to know the probabilities that the object of his lust everyone gets out with their lives. Don answers with, "Dammit Larry, I'm a Fedcake, not a mathematician!" Okay, so maybe he didn't say that but how cool would it have been if he did?

Since Larry can't get an answer out of Don, he heads off to see Charmita. This is a great segue to the couple, who spend the first half of the next scene praising Josh's mind, and the last little bit realizing that Josh's god is the animal kingdom.
Back in the lab, Cloud picks up Lorna's phone and realizes it was still on. Instead of infuriating Josh further, he just closes it. Wow, it's the first useful thing he's done.

As for Lorna, she tries to tell Josh that she does respect animals, citing her dog as an example. That's not proof for Josh as he thinks having a pet is like "destroying a soul." Somehow, I think the white fluffy dog on my couch would disagree, unless it's bath time.

Don calls back into the lab, insisting that the live feed won't happen unless Sharad gets the medical attention he needs. That's still not enough for Josh, as he won't let the bleeding professor go until he confesses to his crimes. Yeah, well, Cloud better hurry up and do some more not useless things, as leaving the crazy psychopath in charge is getting a bit tedious.

And Liz is still crawling through the wet wall.
The door is opened to pass the camera through, and Cloud does the best thing he's ever done -- surrender. This gives Don and Nikki a chance to enter the room but Josh, and Josh a chance to have another one of his flashes, this time calling Nikki "Sarah."

Once Don puts down the camera, he goes to leave, but Nikki isn't permitted the same luxury since "Sarah" has to say. Since Josh is using Lorna as a shield, or a future home for bullets, Nikki is not only willing to stay, but also may get the chance to kick Josh's ass, which is, quite clearly, what she's wanted to do all along.
Josh is all excited and asks "Sarah" who they should kill first. When "Sarah" suggests they don't kill anyone and put down their guns, Josh is not amused.

David informs Athena that Artemas is now stuck on the other side of the wet wall while Don plots out everyone's placement in the room.
I love how Don doesn't even want to give Nikki a chance. She's still relatively new to the team and considering the whole lying comment earlier, there's faith in one's team, and then there's stupid loyalty.

Don has a point. It's not as if talking down a hallucinating hostage-taker is the easiest of jobs.
Thus, Josh just thinks "Sarah" been turned by, well, whoever he thinks turns people. On the other hand, his other option is that "Sarah" isn't really there. Well, technically, he's right about "Sarah" not being there.

Out in the courtyard, the Math Triad discuss how, if Josh thinks animals are gods, then he must obey the animals. Um, he thinks the animals are talking to him? Somehow, I think that's a lot more harmful than say, Doctor Doolittle.

Just as Josh is about to shoot Lorna for not admitting that she cuts off their beaks (WTF?) the door opens and a dog enters the room.
It's enough of a distraction to allow the Fedcakes to gain the upper hand. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, pours into the room, to the point I think Colby will suddenly appear even though he's not in the rest of the eppesode.

On the way out the door, Josh insists the dog not be hurt. I'm sure he thinks the dog was sending him divine messages or something. I refuse to make comparisons with the other case of dogs giving people instructions.

If Nikki's thinking she's getting any congratulations, she isn't, since she broke the first rule of hostage negotiation -- no lying. If she hadn't pretended to be "Sarah," a person about whom she knew nothing, things might not have escalated so quickly. She may think improvising might've been a good idea, but she should really leave the improvising to Second City.

As for Lorna, she's gently petting the dog, as if thanking it for her life. Really, I should've named this dog Fluffy McHero, but it really didn't fit.

She wants to know who thought to send the dog into the room, and the answer is comes with two sets of puppy dog eyes, instead of just one.
La Maison d'Eppes: After a rough few days at work, everyone needs a little support.
Lorna and Amita are heading out to do something, athletic? Seriously? As for Larry, Alan and Charlie, they'll stay at home, eating, and ribbing Larry about his thoughts. For those of you thinking it, no the ribbing will not come from Larry's consideration of vegetarianism, because he's trying to rectify the events of the last few days. It may have something more to do with Lorna being a vegetarian.
Tennis Court: For some reason I cannot fathom, other than trying to shoehorn Lorna into Larry life, Amita and Lorna are playing a game of doubles tennis against Artemas and Athena.

This scene is full of impossible things, since Amita and Lorna are killing the female Fedcakes. Liz is equally shocked because she thought Nikki (who is going to be sent to hostage negotiation training) said she could play.
Since things are going so well, Amita suggests another set. I suggest quitting while ahead since Artemas and Athena have, just off the top of my head, guns.


  1. This is a good idea? Y/N?

    Y! I'd love to read that. Kinda like when I was reading travellingone's LOM recaps and I really wished that either you or her had recapped the BBC version because that would've been MADE OF AWESOME!.

    So to answer your question, yes.

  2. I wonder what White Fluffy dog on couch would say about all your gushing over Willy... hmmm?

  3. Well it's good to know I wasn't the only one who did a freeze frame and check of those names.

    I'm also thinking the only way I'll see a shout out is in episode 100.

    Great recap Spy! Thanks for the laugh.

  4. @Lady Shelley: We'll form a support group if we don't get it in the hundredth eppesode!

  5. All four were TERRIBLE tennis players! Next time go surfing even. Great recap.

  6. This was the episode that caused me to compare Nikki to Hunter... and realize that Liz is in fact an awful lot like DeeDee, who was one of the strongest women on television then.