“Painkiller Jane” Recaps: Episode 1.1 “Pilot”

Beauty and the geeks — Andre introduces Jane to her new partners. There’s Special Agent Steve Ford, communications expert (aka the IT guy) Riley Jensen, Special Agent Connor King (Jane remembers him as "the ugly one" from the botched drug bust at the nightclub earlier in the episode), and subway expert (WTF?) Joe Waterman. There’s also Dr. Seth Carpenter, who is working some super sassy girl hair. (I call him McDorky because he is clearly the Patrick Dempsey of nerds.) We know he really is a doctor because he’s wearing a white lab coat, and we know he’s a potential love interest for Jane because he’s the only one who doesn’t grimace or clench his jaw in her general direction when they’re introduced.

The Ugly One is pissed that "another woman" has joined the team, despite Andre’s assurances that Jane is "more than qualified." Andre et al finally let Jane in on their super-secret mission. They hunt "neuros," or "neurological aberrants," which is what they were doing in the nightclub when they met Painkiller Jane and Heartbreaker Maureen.

Before Jane can get the lowdown, the Ugly One randomly asks her, "Is your partner straight?" Yes, while it’s true that Heartbreaker Maureen does have a spiky coif, it’s a completely random question. Jane doesn’t answer; she just smiles at him like she’s very impressed by his witty repartee.

Ugh. Whatever.

Andre: Six years ago, the government became aware of a genetic aberration appearing in the population.
Dr. McDorky: Despite their differences, we’ve discovered a definable pattern in their gene code. This aberration seems to effect the neurological pattern in their cerebral cortex.
Andre: What Dr. Carpenter means, in English, is that those with the aberration possess the unique ability to influence others.

Andre tells her that the neuro Jane "experienced" in the club had the ability to induce hallucinations, but that different neuros possess different abilities. Jane asks how many neuros they’ve identified, and Andre tells her, "almost 200."

I wait for him to add the words "hundred thousand," but no, just 200. Apparently in the PKJ world, 200 "aberrants" are enough to get you your own special ops team and some pimped-out secret headquarters. (Which, by the way, is total bull. I hang out with at least 200 aberrant types on any given Saturday afternoon at The Fiesta Cantina in West Hollywood, and the most I’ve ever gotten out of it is a two-for-one drink special.)

Jane is troubled to learn that Andre et al still haven’t figured out what causes the aberrations to occur. And it gets worse: McDorky thinks that the aberrations might interfere with the brain’s ability to differentiate right from wrong. Super. A bunch of amoral, mind-controlling jerks running amok and abusing their power and influence. Just what we need.

The lack of information about the neuros, Andre tells us, is why the government is keeping their investigation secret. Andre et al use "intel" from local law-enforcement agencies to help them locate and contain the aberrants. "Containing," in case you’re wondering, means chipping them. Andre says that the microchip helps short-circuit the problem, and then they brandish their fancy chipping weapons for Jane’s viewing pleasure.

The latest development in the investigation is that someone is "dealing substandard medication" on the black market, and they think that a neuro is behind it. The company that is manufacturing the bad meds? Vonotek — the folks that occupy the "Emerald City" building of Jane’s childhood fantasies. No, cynics, Andre isn’t implying that a ruthless pharmaceutical company would intentionally produce defective drugs and feed them to the hoary masses. Au contraire! Vonotek slates the defective drugs for destruction, but someone is stealing them from Vonotek and dealing them on the street.

Jane asks why Team Andre thinks that a neuro is behind the operation, and the guys exchange worried glances. Finally, the subway expert (WTF?) tells her that they lost one of their agents to a "minder neuro." Andre pipes up and helpfully adds, "It’s a neuro that can control people’s minds for a short period of time."

Andre put the unlucky team member, Shannon Perry, inside Vonotek for a little reconnaissance mission, but before she could report back, she walked outside of the building and stepped in front of a truck. The Ugly One adds, "Women don’t last very long around here."

Jane snarls, "Is it the sexual harassment or, uh … the size deficiency?"

They don’t know how Shannon’s cover was blown, but when it happened she was following Randall Hyde, Vonotek’s Head of Security. And anyone who wanted access to Vonotek’s "vaults" of crap meds would have to be able to control Hyde. Whoever controlled Hyde also controlled Shannon, and they did it from within the walls of Vonotek.

The Geek Squad solution? To reinfiltrate Vonotek. Andre wants to send Jane in, but not solo as with Shannon. Oh no, he wants a skilled professional to watch Jane’s back. That’s why he’s going to send her into Vonotek undercover as a new employee, with team member Steve nearby in costume as a repair man.

Working 9 to 5 — Jane reports to Vonotek the next day, mercifully stripped of the weird, Members Only-esque black leather jacket she’s been featuring for most of the episode. She’s greeted, as one always is, by the Human Resources Chick. But this HR chick is even creepier than the standard version. I think it’s her hair, which is a Liza Minnelli variation, landing somewhere between her Cabaret-era bat-bangs and her Liza With a "Z" shag. Yeah, it’s spooky.

Liza with a "V" (for Vonotek, of course) directs Jane to report to security, then she talks into her little video-clipboard and tells Security Head Hyde that Jane is on her way to see him.

Jane nabs a mail cart and pushes it around the building while tailing Randall until he dodges her by riding the elevator. Steve heads for the express elevator to find him, but Randall seems to have disappeared. Meanwhile, the Geek Squad learns that their ability to spy on Vonotek is suddenly screwed up. The IT guy babbles about a "subencrypted firewall," adding "it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before!"

Jane and Steve gain on Randall, but just before she can tag and bag him, Steve turns on her. Some naughty neuro has directed Steve to kill Jane, and he does. His blows send her crashing through a window and plummeting to the ground, but she manages to take him with her. We cut to the exterior of Vonotek, where Jane and Steve are now plunging to their collective doom.

On her way down, Jane hallucinates or time-travels back to the day of her mother’s funeral, appearing there as an adult to tell her child self, "Don’t ever let them see you cry again." How this is supposed to help the probably already screwed-up little Jane, I have no idea.

Back in real time, Jane’s battered corpse is bagged and tossed into an ambulance. And then she promptly comes back to life.

Reanimated — Andre et al are more than a little freaked out when they see the Frankenstein monster version of Jane stumbling toward their secret headquarters. She’s limping, she’s shivering, she’s moaning unintelligibly — and yet somehow she still looks pretty damn good for a zombie.

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