Monthly Archives: August 2010

Persons Unknown – The Verdict (I)

First, the non-spoiler portion for people who just want to know if they should bother watching this show.  The answer is probably not, unless another network picks it up.  (Although as an update, I changed my mind the next day.)

The show is not a complete story and as of now it is not getting renewed and so it just ends.  Much like LOST, there are areas in which you can extrapolate your own ending, in case you are into that sort of thing – I am really not.

The show was fairly clever – clever enough in my opinion to overshadow some weak acting and bad dialogue here and there.  One part about the ending in particular surprised and impressed me, and so as a caveat I’d mention that if the show really intrigues you, and you’re comfortable with the fact that they aren’t going to wrap it up, I did enjoy the show.

I just don’t see how I could recommend it since it actually broadens the scope of the central mystery as opposed to resolving it, and though it appears to directly answer some of the questions, they really weren’t particularly satisfying answers (to me).

There are now going to be spoilers, so if you’re still thinking about watching it, you’d better go ahead and skedaddle.


Okay, I still think most of my predictions were accurate.  You can read all about them at the links below – if you’re reading this without reading them, I might lose you a couple of times. 

The part I thought was clever was when they all pretended to kill each other, and then Joe loaded them all into body bags.  They definitely got me there, and I was glad because it was at that point that I was getting seriously bored.

I was thinking about something I think Stephen King wrote somewhere, about how the thing to do with a character when you don’t know what to do with him or her is kill them.  It’s kind of a catch-all.  So if they just up and killed six people, it would have really indicated to me that they didn’t know what to do with basically anyone.

So I liked their plan, and I even liked that we didn’t see them make the plan, because so much of the show was from the perspective of the cameras, of the Program.  So they had figured out some blind spots and found a way to secretly hatch the plan. 

But what happens after the van crash? 

Suddenly Janet is wandering down a California road in the rain.  And Moira and Erika are in the Middle East.  And Charlie and Blackham are in the desert.  They don’t seem like they’re in the same area so what happened after the van crash?

Well, if I’m right about it all being a computer simulation, then they could have all awakened in the real world, in their bodies.  But much like any online game, their bodies were hooked into the networked simulation from different places in the world. 

Or they could have all been recaptured while unconscious in the van, and then hooked back up to the computer to live out their simulated escape experiences.

That’s a logistic detail that I’m not crazy about keeping.  Feels lazy and startling – if we bought the secret plan because we were watching from the Program’s perspective, then it seems inconsistent to suddenly hide the same perspective from us.

Just selectively not telling us what happened – that’s barely a mystery.  That’s just mucking your cards after a bad hand.

Mark and Joe end up in the Town again – or another Town – while everyone else winds up on Level 2, which is a giant ship in the middle of the ocean. 

Tori is the new Night Manager, supporting my earlier prediction that the Night Manager was a previous participant who was promoted.  And then there’s the Night Manager again on the ship with his eyepatch – he’s introducing them to Level 2.

I’ve watched the scene from the Mansfield Institute where the Director called a meeting and was surprised to find Robert Picardo there.  I believe that the Director is a computer program which has been running the experiment for twenty five years, and I in fact think that all of the people she was talking to were computer programs as well.

I think this show is about AI programs attempting to become as human as possible.  They are trying to bestow free will upon themselves by examing and provoking the moral choices of humans, who they regard as having either free will or a more developed illusion of it.

So the question is, when – if ever – is this show taking place in reality and when is it not.

I never saw anything to indicate that the Town wasn’t a simulation – in fact everything continued to point to that right to the end.  I don’t think they fooled the Town or the Program – it knew that they weren’t really dead.  However it was the first time that the participants had all worked together to escape as opposed to killing each other.

So the Director was pushing for an exploitation of the situation.  Either by simulating escaped experiences or reprogramming embedded simulations.  Like Graham – he was immediately in a white room like Joe was.  I wonder if that means that Graham and Joe are computer programs but don’t know it.

Every single character could be a computer simulation that the Program is attempting to grow into real life with free will. 

Right when Janet gets knocked out in the hospital, she wakes up and in walks the Director.  That’s because Janet went back in the Program at that point.  She woke up in a simulated but identical hospital room.

Then we find Moira and Erika in Morocco.  It makes no sense that they’d end up so far away from Janet if they were all in the same physical town when they crashed the van.  I’ve also suspected Moira of being a program.  I wonder if anyone at all is real?

Another post on this tomorrow – I have to go to work.  Nobody yell at me yet, I’m working on it!





Persons Unknown: What is The Tenth Level?
Persons Unknown: The Program Is Literally A Program
Persons Unknown: The Very Curious Computer
Persons Unknown Is The New LOST

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Posted by on August 31, 2010 in Persons Unknown, Television/Movies


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