“Painkiller Jane” Recaps: Episode 1.3 “Piece of Mind”


Going off the rails on a crazy train — A runaway train is speeding through the heartland. Cut to the interior of the train, where the engineer is sweating and looking around wildly. One of his co-workers is yelling at him, which clearly isn’t helping. “What are you doing? You know we’re not supposed to hit this patch doing more than 70 mph! We’re gonna jump the tracks! Throttle back! Throttle back now!”

Cut to the engineer’s view. Landscape is racing by at a dizzying speed, and this may just be the worst use of a blue screen that I’ve seen since Contact. The engineer blusters that he “doesn’t know how” to throttle back (he must have gotten his certification online).

The men scream in unison as the train crashes, and the last shot is of that god-awful blue screen again, cleverly tilting the landscape on its side to indicate the train tipping over. Is this really the same network that gives us Battlestar Galactica? Hmm, maybe they’re spending all their money on that show.

Cut to fiery wreckage. Cut to Jane’s slow-mo voice-over.

Vasco V.O.: They say that you can feel lonelier in a crowd than by yourself. Maybe. I’ll tell you this though, whoever said it never had to wade through the crowd that I do everyday.

As Jane says this, a hapless woman carrying a bundle of groceries is knocked to the ground by a guy as he walks by. Jane dutifully stops to help the woman gather her things.

Vasco V.O.: It’s hard to feel lonely when your every walking moment is spent trying to avoid being pickpocketed, jostled, hassled and cursed at. Did I mention getting pinched? I realize that I don’t live in one of the better parts of town, not that there are many better parts anymore — and that I couldn’t afford one anyway. But when is your environment an excuse for bad behavior? Whatever happened to common courtesy? Is everyone so completely absorbed in their own personal drama today?

A guy walks by with a face full of piercings.

Vasco V.O.: All right, forget that I asked that. I realize that appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes a lot deceiving. Let’s face it: Life can be deceiving. Just when we think we have it all figured out, it gets turned on its head.

This is the part where I expect to see Grocery Lady fishing cash out of Jane’s freshly pinched wallet. But no, instead we cut to two people panhandling for spare change. And their faces appear to be somewhat melted off. Did the PKJ design team borrow some extras from 28 Weeks Later?

Reruns again? — Inside their super-secret headquarters, the Geek Squad is watching the video from the train. Is it possible that the acting of the conductor and his assistant seems even worse when filtered through another TV set? How is that even possible?

The Squad watches intently as the two men argue over throttling back before the screen goes snowy. Riley says that all systems appeared to be working on the train, and that Unity Rail is attributing the crash to “driver error.” Andre orders him to pull up the driver’s head shot, and Subway Expert Joe Waterman (WTF?) intones, “Jason Hampton. Good man.”

Jane: You know him?

Joe: It’s a small world when it comes to trains.

Particularly model trains. Heh.

Maybe we’re about to get an episode that finally explains the usefulness of Joe to the team. So far, I haven’t been able to figure that out.

Joe: He worked for the rail company for as long as I worked for the subway. And for the record, his record was spotless.

The Ugly One: Well it just got smudged.

Andre: This might fit the pattern for other skill-specific amnesia cases we’ve been tracking.

Ooh, I like that term. I’m going to claim “skill-specific amnesia” the next time someone asks me to write a recap of a bad TV show.

The team discusses the conductor’s medical history, finding nothing more serious than an angioplasty in his past. Heartbreaker Maureen speculates that he was suicidal, but Jane doesn’t buy it. All she saw on his reel was terror and confusion.

McDorky: Last week at the hospital a patient came in for a full neurological workup. He was worried because he suddenly couldn’t remember a critical part of his job.

Andre: How often does that happen, where a person loses only part of a memory?

McDorky: It’s rare, usually accompanied by a trauma or aneurysm or “something psychological.” Edgar Dawson had none of those.

Riley: Edgar Dawson?

Riley explains that Dawson is a “software frickin’ genius” who developed some IT-esque thing that didn’t really make any sense to me, so I’ll spare you the details.

Andre sends Jane to talk to Dawson and encourages her to “take an interpreter.” Heh.

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