The Cells Episode Three: Hitting Home

“Aren’t you needed at home?” – Sergei, to Hal

As dawn breaks, a shell-shocked Hal slips out of the gates of Central and walks the cold empty streets. Behind him, a dawn protest hits Central (aka Central Operation Facilities and Residences). The charismatic Jason King (Willem Dafoe) has captivated the people and the press, demanding that the war be properly dealt with. That people be able to talk about it. That veterans be compensated. That food be filling bellies. That we actually start to have a peace instead of staying in a holding pattern of wounds.The shouting and chanting gets louder and then the crowds surge. The hastily-erected chainlink fences yield and protesters enter the grounds. Rocks and bottles smash against the walls. Inside, Quiver is hastily getting his shirt and tie buttoned up – he hasn’t slept, but a new problem is now on his doorstep.

Roll credits. Also: new chars/actors in the credits OtherChars

Quiver (while running around locking doors and windows) is on the phone to Knight-Father Roland who is still filling out paperwork at the prison over the arrest of Mok. Quiver says Roland needs to get there fast because Hal – the face of veteran’s affairs, the great war hero – “can’t handle it right now”. Roland loses his shit at Quiver for not helping, Quiver says it’s not his job to run things. In a fit of pique, Roland calls the General and tells him to fix the protesters. In a fit of pique, Quiver calls Mr Grey, his shadowy master and demands some assistance since nobody’s helping him. Pavani’s trying to find her lost love and Lazarus is chasing conspiracies down rabbit holes and Zac is – well, Zac. Grey says he’ll fix it – but things have got messy, so they have to talk.

Where’s Hal? Well after walking the streets he ends up back in the RSL bar, talking to his new veteran friend Sergei. Sergei talks about the cough everyone in the Ditch has got and how hospitals are backed up. Sergei wonders why Hal isn’t with his family, and Hal wonders if he even has a family any more. Neither man is the same as they were before the war – and Sergei wonders if Hal has even come home yet in his mind. Roland meanwhile realizes he’s made a mistake. He summons his new personal police force, The Guard, and approaches the riot. He strides right into the middle of it and finds King. They quickly seem to get a sense of shared respect, since both seem concerned with minimizing injuries and hostility. Then a sniper bullet misses King by a millimeter, and the trust evaporates.

And before Roland can get his men to take out the General’s sniper, Quiver’s cavalry arrives. He weakly orders the crowd to disperse from a window but nobody cares and then three tricked-out hueys rain down enough tear gas and flash-bangs to pacify an army. It’s overkill but as the smoke clears Quiver addresses the press and sells it as a non-lethal return to peace and the rule of law and safety in Citadel. He nails it and Quiver seems to shine as a leader, not a follower.

Inside Central, Zac is arguing with his new assistant about how to spin him not being around for the protest (he was at a party all night, but they’ll say he was visiting veterans at the refuge). He opens the door to his room to find a young blonde girl, barely 18, carrying what is revealed to be his son. Sandi wants to be a part of Zac’s life now he’s living the high life. Quiver, on a high, comes along and tries to help Zac buy her off, but she’s not having it. Zac and Quiver confer and talk about spinning his new role as a father as part of Zac’s “redemption narrative” they talked about last episode. Two for two, Quiver turns to deal with Kate, riding the high. He suggests to Kate that he’s now realizing he can do more to help, and maybe the best idea is to get rid of Hal, and he and her start running this city properly, together – new life, new hope.

Kate won’t have a bar of it and says she’s tired of all this politics going to Quiver’s head. Every time she turns around he’s back playing God and turning her into a talking point. She says it’s time to stop all this for good – being here hurts Hal, and is deforming Quiver. He agrees (because that’s what Quiver does) and says he’ll take her away from all this. They can move to Bastion. He can get back into PR. They can be a family.

Meanwhile Hal has watched the teargassing and realized he really is needed at a different kind of home. He sees Roland being put in an ambulance and meets the Knight Father at the hospital. They talk about how things have slipped and it’s time to get to work. “We’ve got to rule the city, and we’ve got to do it right”. They talk about how they both know who fought on what side, and what side the General was on. Speaking of, Roland spies the General striding around the hospital and decides it’s time to tell him to back off. But the General is smug knowing Roland wanted his help this morning and suggests soon Roland will come to terms with the General’s help keeping the peace. Roland suggests the peace isn’t worth anything and may need to be torn down. The General says Roland is naive and lives in a dream world. Roland says you cannot build a better world unless you dream it first.

The General walks away and goes down a secret elevator to a part of the hospital lined with his troops and plastic wrap. He tells an unseen patient that he may have found a way. We pan up to see the desperate face of a thing half human, half grey-alien…

Back to Central. Quiver pushes a keypad, and then opens a safe and takes out a datastick. He loads it up, begins deleting files. Stops when there is one left. Thinks. A knock at the door stops him – “Mr Grey” enters. Finally we see him in the light. He locks the door, and places a bug-blocking device on the table. Quiver is expecting help and support in the chaos but all he gets is a chewing out. Grey’s words make it clear that the five from the cells idea is a place-holder to direct attention and Quiver’s job was to keep it all plain sailing, and he was given “extensive files” on everyone to allow him to control them. Quiver says he doesn’t want to do it any more, that these are good people and don’t deserve to be lied to and controlled. Grey says the fate of the entire planet is at stake. Quiver says that their plans depend on humans being nothing but mindless cogs in their machine, and people aren’t like that. They do unpredictable things, sometimes stupid things (SUBTEXT ALERT). And pretending you can control them is doomed to fail – so Quiver is out. Grey threatens Quiver, and Quiver says he has extensive files on Grey as well, and slips the datastick, unseen, into his pocket.

In the rec area/kitchen of Central, Zac is trying to connect with his son and looking all-thumbs. Kate walks by and has an a moment with the boy, and tells Zac that he can be a father if he just tries hard and loves hard. Zak is touched and more confident about his future in every sense. As Kate walks away hiding her tears, Zac starts to babytalk to the boy. A nice moment, then Hal and Roland stride in, full of purpose. Zac hands the boy to his mother, takes off his spit-up stained jacket and joins them for a conference of war in the Meeting Room. About how to do the job and do it right and not get distracted. Quiver arrives with what he feels is a fait accompli solution – disclosure of his secrets and announcing his leaving. But it doesn’t go down how he planned.

Quiver: I over-stepped my bounds this morning….

Hal: JUST this morning?

He explains that within days of people going into the Cells he was approached by Grey to be part of an “experiment”, an experiment that would he would be in charge of running until it was time to terminate it. He saw a list with several names on it – more than five – and exploring those names led him to meet and begin an affair with Kate Turner. Quiver suggests that all the names on the list had weak points, mostly estranged family, which could be used to apply pressure. Or in the case of Kate, Quiver became that pressure. He doesn’t know why or what happened to the other people on the list. Everything he has been able to gather on Grey is on the datastick which he gives to Zac. Quiver believes that his purpose was to sit between the five and the people in control, as a cushion and a shade, and without him, things will be forced into the light.

But the absolution Quiver so desperately wants isn’t forthcoming. Roland is disgusted by the betrayal and Hal is outraged at the idea of Quiver cutting and running and dodging his duty. Quiver says he wants to stop hurting people and build a family, suggesting Kate might be pregnant, which makes the mood against him worse. Desperate for forgiveness, Quiver flails; he jealously insults Roland’s purity and assuredness, and undercuts Hal’s insistence that Kate is to blame, which makes Hal even angrier. Hal is prepared to believe Kate is lost to him but it should be a to a BETTER man, not someone like Quiver. Hal says if Quiver wants to do the right thing, he has to leave without Kate – Hal wants to hurt both of them. And Quiver crumples. In the end, he wants to be forgiven and will do anything to get that. He agrees to leave immediately without telling her – but Zac (who thinks Quiver is now a stud) texts Kate with the news.

Quiver grabs a few spare suits and shirts and dashes into the elevator. But at the doors of Central, Kate is waiting. Quiver says he has to go because he can’t be the person she believes him to be, he’s still the person he knows he is – but maybe if he goes away, he can be what she sees in him. And Kate takes it back. She calls him a coward and says she was wrong to ever believe he was anything but what Quiver believes himself to be, and he’s now completed his destruction of at least two lives. Quiver pushes past her and drives off in the rain.

A few hours later, Zac switches off his X-Box and the TV news flicks on. The body of Agent Joshua Quiver has been found dead in his car at the bottom of the river after what appears to have been a traffic accident. Why the Central Services Agent was driving alone at this time of night on a government-sealed road, and whether foul play or human error was involved in him leaving the road remain entirely unclear.

Click. Screen goes black. Zac’s reflection in the glass stunned. Roll credits over Quiver’s Theme.


  • Kate screaming at Hal “Yes, this is all your fault!”
  • Darkness flooded with light as Zac opens the door of the Cells
  • The General shows Lazarus the half-alien ‘patient’, saying “I thought you’d be impressed”
  • B&W security footage of a violent punch-up in the Cells, in the past
  • The camera spins around Roland, his world alight with some strange holy vision.
  • A doctor at the morgue pulls back the sheet, it’s Sergei. “Yes, I know him” says Hal.
  • Mr Grey appears at the funeral, at a distance. He leans close and ask “So what now?”

Little Bit Of Smallville Chargen

I do love chargen: you start with a blank page and you end with a story. Or in this case, several intersecting stories. Our setting idea was some sort of grand shadow-government alien-fighting conspiracy. Like the kind of people investigating the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Top Men are working on it. TOP MEN