Threshold/Trees Made of Glass (1)
Trees Made of Glass (1) is the first episode of the first season of Threshold, and the first episode overall.
Guest Stars: Mark Berry (Agent Hargrave), Matt Sigloch (Seal Commander), Traber Burns (Chef), Joel Steingold (Fry), Colin Campbell (Grady), Dotan Baer (Navy Seal #2), Scott MacDonald (Captain), Kevin Durand (Crewman Sonntag), William Mapother (Gunneson), Charles Emmett (Navy Pilot), Charles Howerton (Military Official), Lucas Ford (Navy Seal #3), Raymond T. Williams (Navy Seal #1), Mitchell Edmonds (Chief of Naval Operations), Diane Venora (Angela Hatten), Seamus Dever (Agent Detoro)
Dr. Molly Anne Caffrey leads her chosen team of experts, under NSA oversight, in investigating an alien object which arrived on Earth and interacted with the crew of a ship.
Show opens on what appears to be a merchant marine ship at sea, though it is later referred to as a Navy vessel. The first mate, Gunneson, is burning his girlfriends picture in the galley after getting a Dear John letter. He then joins the ship's captain on the bridge and they talk briefly before noticing a dull screeching sound, and paint drifting down from the ceiling over their heads. They look up and paint is bubbling its way across the metal plating above and down the wall of the ship's bridge. Behind them a triangular pattern of three spiral arms radiating from a central pattern is overlaying itself on the radar screen - hereafter referred to as the Fractal Spiral, or FS.
On the ship's deck a crew member looks over the side and sees fish swarming to the surface of the sea. As he watches some of the fish start swimming around in a rough approximation of the FS. Gunneson, the Captain, and the rest of the crew follow the sound out onto the deck of the ship where they observe a bright shape hovering over the ocean, just off the side of the ship. It looks like a 3D snowflake, folding itself constantly into different versions. Sort of like a giant origami made out of dull tinfoil, flipping inside out, back and forth.
Cut to Molley Anne Caffrey, professional crisis consultant, giving a lecture to medical professionals on how to handle a local outbreak of a potential global flu pandemic. She goes home to her rented house and eats take out food alone with her ugly pug dog, Monster. While taking Monster for a walk after dinner, the two are interrupted by a chopper landing and government agents who tell her that her Threshold plan has been activated.
The agents take her to a Washington briefing centre occupied by a number of military officers, the President's National Security Advisor, and Baylock, an NSA Deputy Director. Caffrey is informed that the President has not yet been informed of events, which are as follows: that Norad tracked an unidentified object entering Earth's atmosphere from 'deep space', that it made several course corrections within the atmosphere (a dead giveaway for an unnatural object) and contact was soon after lost with a Naval ship near the object last known location.
Caffrey introduce herself and explains how she has written dozens of contingency plans for all sorts of crisis scenarios, including quite a number for the government. The Threshold plan covers first contact with alien intelligence. A 'Red Team' of experts will be assembled and sent to investigate the ship, based on potential candidates already outlined in the Threshold Plan.
They end up with Fenway - a research pathologist/biologist, Ramsey - a mathematician/linguist, and Lucas Pegg - a young Nasa aerospace engineer and devout Christian. Cavennaugh, a government paramilitary super-agent, is assigned as co-team leader and their NSA liaison.
Caffrey, her Red Team, and some Navy SEALs chopper out to the ship. It's unclear where the ship is but they're on a deadline because the NSA detected the North Koreans(!) tracking the unidentified object in the atmosphere, and they already dispatched a submarine to investigate. The team quickly find a dead crew member on deck, surrounded by cockroaches swarming in the FS pattern.
A search of the ship turns up only dead bodies, some murdered by shipmates, some suicides, some radically deformed, until they turn up Gunneson hiding under a bed in the sick bay. There were thirteen crewmen on the ship and they're at least 6 bodies short. All electronic screens on the ship are overlayed with the FS.
They leave Gunneson to be checked out by Fenway and Caffrey, Lucas and Cavennaugh go to watch the tape from a handheld video camera that was found. It shows footage of the object hovering off the side of the ship, along with the accompanying sound, and they all start bleeding from the nose and blacking out until Cavennaugh shoots the video monitor.
Gunneson wakes up and under questioning tells how the ship's crew all started bleeding while watching the object, then blacked out, and when they woke up felt sick and started going nuts. When Gunneson tried to talk to the ship's captain, the officer would only talk about his strange dreams of a glass forest, then tried to kill Gunneson with an axe. Gunneson clubbed the Captain into submission, but when he returned a few minutes later with help the Captain's body was gone. Gunneson has no idea where the other missing crew member are.
The team continues their investigation. No unusual pathogens or chemicals are found. All the rats and insects are collected from the ship. Ramsey decides the FS represents a DNA-type helix, but a triple stranded version, rather than the human double-stranded. One of the suicides cut down from a noose starts flopping around and opens its eyes before returning to apparent death.
Fenway does some quick tests on the body and on Gunneson and finds they are both exhibiting cellular mutation. He checks Caffrey, Lucas and Cavennaugh but they come back clean, except for some unusual brain waves. Lucas theorizes that the ship on the video tape was actually a 4 or 5 dimensional object, which is why it appeared to be folding inside out to our 3D perception.
The team comes up with a theory that the signal from the alien probe - they are now doubting it was an occupied vessel - was meant to alter and reconfigure human DNA, possibly as a means of colonizing the planet. Don't send alien invaders, just send a signal that turns the planets native population into aliens.
The team runs out of time, the North Korean sub is nearby, and the Navy SEALS plant explosives to sink the ship. While loading Gunneson onto one of the choppers he breaks free of his restraints, clubs Cavennaugh, then takes four bullets to the chest from Caffrey before jumping off the side of the ship.
The team takes off and Cavennaugh blows up the ship so the NKs can't check it out.
Around this point it becomes clear that the ship is off the US east coast. How the heck the North Koreans, alone out of all countries, detected these events occurring on the other side of the damn planet from the Korean Peninsula, then managed to send one of their crappy deisel submarines all the way there in a few hours is never explained. Nor why it's necessary to sink the ship when it's right off the US east coast and surely the most powerful navy on the planet could secure the ship from a crappy NK sub. This is the exemplar for what is wrong with this show.
Back at their assigned NSA headquarters the team goes over the data they've collected and assumes that all missing crew members, including Gunneson, might be at large.
Caffrey goes home to get some sleep and dreams of herself on the ship, observing her own self at the same time, then she's suddenly on an alien plane surrounded by crystals branching out of the ground. There's an alien shape moving behind some of the crystals but she can't quite make it out.
The phone rings and wakes her up - it's Cavennaugh asking if she just dreamed about herself in a glass forest. Caffrey admits she did, then goes to get some water from the fridge.
When she closes the fridge door, Gunneson's standing there.
It should be noted that there are more than surface similarities between the setup and plotline for Threshold, and Warren Ellis' Global Frequency concept. In particular, Ellis' story - 'Invasive' - from the original comic book series.
Threshold's National Security Advisor character, who occupies a role in the show similar to that played by Ellis' 'Miranda Zero' character, even sports Miranda's distinctive hair style.
Given that Ellis' Global Frequency concept was recently developed into a pilot that was not picked up for broadcast, and was arguably much better in execution (though not necessarily good enough to survive on a network), Threshold's similarities can't help but seem suspicious.
|Beginning||Franz Ferdinand||Do You Want To|
|Dr. Caffrey coming home (1st time)||Goo Goo Dolls||Give A Little Bit|
|Choppers flying to the ship||Kasabian||Club Foot|
|Dr. Caffrey coming home (2nd time)||Athlete||Wires|
- Overall Grade: B- with 1 review
- Review Breakdown: A+: 0 A: 0 A-: 0 B+: 0 B: 0 B-: 1 C+: 0 C: 0 C-: 0 D: 0 F: 0
- There's good potential in the general storyline, but the script execution and direction is surprisingly ham-handed and amateurish.