Travelers, Season 2, Episode 2: “Protocol 4” Recap and Analysis
Travelers: Where every relationship is somehow a taboo one. Protocol 4, the title of this episode, is “Don’t Reproduce”, by the way.
We learn that in the future, people don’t have cars, donuts, the same way of labeling bathrooms, or any food that rivals hospital food.
First, Let’s Catch Up
Last season, we were introduced to a group of five Travelers (known as a “Team”), humans from the future who have a way of sending their consciousness back through time, inhabiting other humans’ bodies in order to change the terrible future they came from.
The Travelers are guided and directed by The Director, a hyper-intelligent supercomputer invented by a group of programmers in the future in order to circumvent the human error that caused their dystopian existence in the first place, and hopefully retroactively avoid it ever happening in the first place.
The Travelers have a code of ethics, called Protocols, that are meant to prevent collateral damage, mission failure, and changing the future in unintended, potentially disastrous ways.
This code of ethics includes the rule that Travelers only inhabit the bodies of people seconds before their death. The Travelers know when and where specific people will die because they are from the future.
Here’s the problem: Once Travelers are beamed into the past, everything in the future changes. The more they do, the less they know about what’s going on in the future, which includes where they and their mission stand. Basically, at the end of Season 1, our five Travelers have no idea what is going on.
- Traveler 3468 (they go by numbers) inhabits the body of FBI Special Agent Grant MacLaren (played by Eric McCormack), whose death by elevator shaft is prevented by fellow Traveler Trevor. Grant is the leader of the Traveler Team. Awkwardly in a relationship with Carly (another member of the Team) though they are both “married” to their host’s spouses. Due to memories he somehow experiences from his host body, Grant eventually catches feelings for his host body’s wife Kathryn, but she finds out he’s been seeing Carly, so Kathryn is intent on leaving Grant.
- Traveler 3569 inhabits the body of Marcy (MacKenzie Porter), a mentally challenged woman who up ’til them had lived with her caretaker, David. After beating up the bad men who would have killed Marcy, the apparently newly genius Marcy goes back home and shocks David in various ways, especially by her apparent miraculous brain-damage reversal. Marcy and David eventually enter into a romantic relationship until Marcy, in a brain-damaged body, is forced to perform a procedure that erases all memory of David. Marcy is the Traveler Team’s designated doctor.
- Traveler 3465 inhabits the body of Carly (Nesta Cooper), a stay-at-home mom who was about to be killed by her abusive Police Officer baby daddy Jeff. Being the Team’s designated Tactician, Carly thwarts Jeff’s attack with relative ease.
- Traveler 0115 inhabits the body of Trevor (Jared Abrahamson), a high-school student with a penchant for illegal cagefighting, which nearly causes his death before it is averted by his new Traveler consciousness, who concedes what would have been his last fight. Trevor is inhabited by perhaps the oldest Traveler ever, which adds comedy and confusion due to him inhabiting the youngest host on the Team. Of course, Trevor has a high-school girlfriend, and they have yet to break up, despite the obvious flaws in the relationship. You know, like him being an old man and not actually the person she started dating. Trever is the very measured, generally very wise, designated Engineer of the Team.
- Traveler 3326 inhabits the body of Philip (Reilly Dolman), a heroin-addicted college-student, whose death by heroin overdose is averted by the Traveler. Unfortunately, the Traveler’s body is still addicted to heroin, which causes numerous and continuing problems for the Team. Marcy uses her medical knowledge to try to help Philip at least remain functional in his role as the Team’s Historian. His role is incredibly important, as the Team must have a vast knowledge of interconnected past events so as to operate within their parameters without causing more problems than they are solving in the future. Philip also has a turtle (named Poppy) that he’s kind of obsessed with.
What happened in Season 1
The Team was kidnapped by rogue Travelers with an anti-Director agenda, but they escape. Later, programmers of The Director (now in the bodies of Grace and Ellis) are sent back, on the run from the same rogue anti-Director rebels.
Marcy is about to die at this point, because her host body is brain-damaged, but Grace saves her by transferring her consciousness to an undamaged part of her brain, a process that erases all memory of her new boyfriend, David.
Confusion abounds amid the chaos about who is on who’s side and what loyalty to The Director means at this point. Some side-character Travelers get “over-written” by the rebels and one tries to kill Carly, but Jeff saves her.
Ellis, reveals he has built something called a “quantum frame”, a machine The Director plans to use to escape from the rebels by travelling to the past where the Team is.
Trevor gets a text that appears to have come from The Director, ordering him to destroy the quantum frame.
David somehow gets mixed up in this mess and is almost killed, but is saved by Marcy, despite the fact that she has no memory of him.
Carly gets a message from The Director with orders to kill Grant, but she doesn’t go through with it.
Ellis shoots Trevor to protect the frame. Grace attempts to protect Trevor and is also shot as a result. Ellis then finally receives a message from The Director to destroy the frame shortly before he is killed.
The FBI surround this whole mess and arrest everyone.
In the Season 2 premiere
The Team escape the FBI after all the agents holding them are over-written, becoming Travelers themselves. The wounded Travelers receive nanite injections and are on the road to recovery. Everyone else just goes back to what they were doing before the fiasco I just described.
Season 2, Episode 2: “Protocol 4” Full Recap and Analysis
Intro: Timeshare Pitch Goes Even More Wrong Than Usual
The timeshare salesman about to lock his customers in. Isn’t that illegal?
We see a salesman pitching a Timeshare to a group of tired prospective buyers. The salesman leaves the room, saying he will try to get them a better deal, telling them they will “have a whole new perspective” when he returns. He leaves the room, locks the doors, and we listen to the telltale screams of Travelers transporting into a crowd of bodies. Maybe these are the bad-guy Travelers? I can’t imagine our friendly Travelers would agree to such a thing, unless of course that group of people was about to die. We are not able to see any of them avert their deaths, so we have no idea what is going on, but it doesn’t seem good.
Last season, we of course did see allies of our Traveler Team take over the entire group of FBI agents imprisoning our Travelers, which is a little more understandable than what was done in this episode, but is still pretty sketchy.
Phillip: Still on Drugs… But Now with a Girl!
Jenny offers Philip a “cure”
Phillip (the heroin addicted Traveler) is the first Traveler we see in this episode, frantically searching the trashed Travelers warehouse for his turtle Poppy, which he finds.
I know, I know, he loves his turtle, and it was cute for a while, but now it’s getting a little odd.
Phillip Goes to a Narcotics Anonymous Meeting, and is approached by Traveler 4514, an attractive young woman who claims she was sent by the Director to help Philip with his addiction. Philip is given eyedrops by Traveler 4514 (who re-introduces herself as Jenny) that are supposed to curb his heroin addiction. Initially suspicious, Philip watches Jenny use the drops on herself before he will try them. They seem to get him at least decently high, which isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker for a heroin treatment, but in this instance seems suspect. Jenny is vague about what’s in the eyedrops, which is probably a sign that she’s a rebel traveler who is sabotaging Philip and the Team by giving him drugs while telling him that they’re a cure for his addiction. Who knows, but the destructive-spy-masquerading-as-a-free-spirit vibes are heavy.
Jenny and Philip discuss The Director, and for some reason (hmmmm), Jenny floats the idea that The Director can make mistakes.
This make Philip very nervous, and he acts as if Jenny is blaspheming a deity in criticizing The Driector, worrying that he is “about to be struck by lightning” just for listening to her talk. During this exchange, there is a good moment where Philip looks askance at a passing child, suspecting at any moment to be approached by a child messenger of The Director to deal with his transgression. Those child messengers come out of nowhere and are really creepy. I like that.
Jenny takes Philip out for a surprise. The surprise definitely lives up to its description when they arrive at a talk given by a racist so notorious that Philip and Jenny, both from the future, know who he is.
Philip and Jenny briefly listen to this bad man
Philip is initially upset that Jenny took him to hear this terrible man speak, but soon sees that Jenny has sabotaged the talk by putting very private, unpleasant photos of Edwin Calloway into his presentation, publicly humiliating him in front of all his fans.
Jenny, being a terrible influence
Philip and Jenny run out of the lecture, laughing, when Jenny decides to celebrate by taking more of the (supposedly) medicinal eyedrops that are (supposedly) very important for Philip’s recovery, and their mission, and the fate of the human race. Jenny convinces Philip to do the same, even though he protests for two seconds that he “feels fine”. During this, Jenny gloats that they still aren’t being “struck by lightning” even though she has clearly altered the future by messing with someone as historically prominent as Calloway..The two then continue the party together back at the Team’s HQ.
The next day, Philip finds out that Calloway, the day after Jenny hacked his presentation, woke up and committed murder-suicide as a result. Yikes. Philip is very upset, but Jenny justifies her actions, sayinh all she did was “tell the truth”. Philip fears The Director will reach out and squash them for this, but Jenny says that because The Director didn’t stop her, that he’s fine with what she did.
I may be wrong, but with the clear dissing of The Director, the recreational drug use, the reckless changing of the future and the hazy mission, Jenny’s probably some spy or rebel of some kind.
By the way, no one on the Team seems to know Jenny was coming, or have any idea who she is. She’s only met Philip and Marcy so far, so maybe when Grant sees Jenny he will shoot her on sight, or something. You never know with these Travelers. They’re hardcore.
Grant: Training a Baby Traveler, and Expecting a Regular Baby
The only solution to Grant’s many problems is to stare into space.
Grant is having problems at home. We see him wake from his uncomfortable-looking, fully-clothed gun-clutching slumber very suddenly to confront a possible intruder in his house, gun drawn. It’s just his wife, Kathryn, who doesn’t seem especially bothered by the gun part of the interaction. Very understanding, except she’s there to pack a bag so she can leave the house so she doesn’t have to be around the “unfaithful” Grant.
Grant has an obvious conundrum: He can’t tell his “wife” about what’s really going on, as he isn’t actually her husband, instead being a bodysnatcher from the future who is simply inhabiting her dead (?) husband’s body. Wait, I guess that’s not really a conundrum at all. He definitely shouldn’t tell her that.
After that unpleasant interaction, it’s back to the FBI with Grant. Apparently, the Timeshare customer mass-Traveler-transfer was not authorized, at least not as far as Grant knows. Via the FBI, he’s been called to investigate the disappearance of the Timeshare group. During this, he is essentially training the humorously unequipped new Traveler inhabiting the body of FBI Special Agent Walt Forbes (Arnold Pinnock), at the same time.
Walt seems to have been sent very under-prepared, walking into the wrong bathroom and being completely unable to drive. In a show as serious as this, the humor is welcome, and I thought, well-done.
Walt wonders why donuts have holes
Grant and Walt question the timeshare salesman from the first scene. The timeshare salesman doesn’t have much to say about the disappearance of his customers, but the Travelers know that the static that has erased the security camera footage probably means that the timeshare group was inhabited en mass by Travelers.
Grant, knocking a wineglass off the counter in his distress
Grant gets a call from Kathryn to meet up. She serves Grant separation papers, which freaks Grant out so much that he breaks a wine glass, cuts himself, and ends up in the bathroom going through Kathryn’s things. He finds evidence that Kathryn is pregnant (Protocol 4 violation, uh oh) and rushes to leave the house, but not before Kathryn shoves the separation papers at him, which he hurriedly signs before abruptly leaving.
Walt finds a couple of the missing timeshare people on a traffic camera running a red light, and oddly assumes that there were no Travelers involved in the timeshare incident, assuming instead that the two people on the traffic camera footage are just involved in an affair. Even more oddly, Grant seems to accept this theory, and as the FBI are no longer involved due to local law enforcement taking over, they seem to no longer worried about it.
Grant goes back to visit Kathryn and reveals that he knows she’s pregnant. She’s not happy that he knows, and says she may not keep the baby, even though both she and Grant/her actual husband really wanted a baby together. Grant leaves and stares into space.
Marcy and David: PTSD, Amnesia, and Safety
Another troubled relationship, the one between Traveler Marcy and her host’s former caretaker David, gets an update. The perpetually at-a-loss and traumatized David stammers his way through a breakfast of pancakes that he cooked up during his sleepless night, his restlessness a result of the recent homicide that occurred in his apartment.
A well-meaning Marcy asks David “Are you okay?”, and tries to comfort David by assuring him the man she killed was for sure going to kill David, which, predictably, doesn’t much help. The always pragmatic Marcy is a little challenged in the emotions department, and the fact that she lost all her memories of David doesn’t make things go any smoother.
David is freaking out, afraid due to the man who tried to kill him last season. He keeps saying “yay, safety”, and installs a bunch of new locks on his door.
Marcy tries to help David, but he’s really messed up
Marcy, deciding to try a practical approach to the problem, is in full clinical therapist mode, attempting to get David therapy for the PTSD she now believes he has. David is somewhat resistant, but goes along enough to make some progress.
Marcy, not getting the joke
In another humorous moment, Marcy gives David some medical marijuana as a treatment, and instructs David that he “has to inhale the smoke”, apparently unaware that recreational marijuana usage is very common in the 21st century. David attempts to make a joke about how it’s “good for memory loss” but Marcy, predictably, doesn’t get it.
David is really feeling it, but Marcy lies blank-faced on the sofa, saying “I don’t feel anything”, obviously talking about more than just the effects of the marijuana.
Marcy gets David a gift of a rug to cover up the bloodstain from the man she killed in his apartment.
Marcy breaks the news to David that she needs to stop living with him because it’s not safe, for him. David, desperate to keep her around, reveals that he and Marcy were “intimate”, and that they love eachother, which of course she forgot along with everything else about him, due to the procedure that saved her life. Marcy says she does not remember loving David, but that she does care about him, which is pretty nice, considering. With a kiss on the cheek, she leaves.
Marcy doesn’t like Jenny, or her weird eyedrops
Marcy goes back to the Travelers’ HQ (they call it “Ops”), and finds Philip with Jenny. Marcy is not happy, an emotion that seems to be (at least partially) fueled by the difficult time she just had leaving David. Marcy yells at Philip and makes it clear that she has no interest in having Jenny around. She also throws the magic eyedrops on the ground and, being the doctor, says she has to know what’s in them.
Marcy then uses a magic flashlight pen to remove the scars from her neck and chest, symbolically erasing her past with David.
Trevor: Still in the Hospital
Trevor is in the hospital due to getting shot last season, and is visited by his highschool girlfriend Rene. Let’s not forget that Trevor is “older than” all the rest of his Traveler Team “put together”. Is his girlfriend 18? Does it matter? In the context of the show, I don’t know anymore. Regardless, Trevor (nicknamed “Old Man” by his fellow Travelers), is dating a highschooler, and she makes advances on him in the hospital, which he refuses, citing the fact that he’s recovering from a gunshot wound in the hospital.
After Rene leaves, we see there is another recovering Traveler in the hospital bed next to Trevor. It’s the newly transferred Traveler 0027 (a programmer of The Director) in the body of Trevor’s guidance councilor Grace Day, who was wounded defending Trevor during the final debacle of Season 1. She’s not a huge fan of Trevor’s relationship with Rene, but seems to enjoy talking to Trevor regardless. Grace talks a lot, and she reveals that is because she misses talking all day with The Director. Trevor talks about how he regrets trying to save the real Grace from her inevitable death, as he made the last hours of her life even more nightmarish as a result.
Carly: Trying to get “Her” Baby Back with Jeff
He says he’s not “here to creep”. Very reassuring.
Jeff, Carly’s ex-boyfriend, tracks Carly down and offers an olive branch, letting Carly know that he also lost custody of their son after he took sole custody of him. Jeff isn’t being totally unbearable, saying he cares about Carly, and reinforces that by mentioning how much her life being in jeopardy (last season) affected him. Unsurprisingly, Carly doesn’t seem super into the heart-to-heart talk, but thanks Jeff for saving her life.
Carly and Jeff team up in an attempt to get custody of their child back, but Social Services is not having it. They’re told they should find a new guardian for their child, and they’re not pleased.
Carly and Jeff clean up their respective acts in an attempt to impress Social Services enough to gain back custody of their child. Jeff is friendly and suggests that he and Carly get back together, but Carly isn’t interested.
It was a pretty boring storyline for Carly this week. Her life was basically completely normal and mundane while still managing to be terrible.
Conclusion: Timeshares, again
Another Timeshare salesperson about to lock people in. Seriously, why are they locking people in rooms like this?
The episode ends exactly as it began, with a group of potential timeshare purchasers screaming as Travelers are transferred into their unsuspecting bodies.
If you’re okay with the sci-fi not making total sense, this show is way better than you’d expect. As a thriller, it really delivers for me. I love it, and I was shocked by it during Season 1. This was a good episode, but if this season is anything like the last, things are going to get absolutely insane. As creepy as the timeshare business is, I believe that will be tame when compared with what’s probably coming.