Season 1, Episode 2
Date of airing: October 14, 1998 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.9/5 in Households, 1.8/5 with Adults 18-49
I planned on keeping track on how often the main characters were dying over the course of the show, but this episode made me remember how often Olga and Parker were so close to getting it on, but something almost always happened, so the will-they-won’t-they would always be part of the current narrative, whether the writers intended for that or not. This episode marked the second time Olga and Parker might have had something going on here, but the first time around, a backstep came between them, as well as Parker’s ego, and the second time around, the freaking Ebola virus destroyed all hope for a fun night in the honeymoon suite. What is next, a former lover who turns evil?
It was a solid episode, but only for as long as no one is thinking too harshly about the premise of the hour. I wondered how a scientist guy in a high-security bio lab was able to get a vile of Ebola out of the building, just so he can randomly release it and follow the demands of his Lord and savior. How were the security guards at the lab not able to check the cameras of the building to figure out who entered and exited the secured room? I wondered how someone could repeatedly quite bible verses in the lab and/or offices and no one really notices it, let alone gets worried about it. I guess some of it can be explained away via “Well, the guy has always been this nutty,” but then everyone else would ask the question how Kevin was allowed to even enter the virus room, when even the slightest sign of an unstable character would get you kicked out of there. I also wondered how Parker was able to not infect anyone while he had the virus, when the rest of the world quickly eradicated itself within seven days. Sure, Parker knew he had the virus, which means he was able to execute precautions, but during the beginning he did not know that he had the virus, and I don’t believe for a single second that he managed not to infect anyone. Maybe he was right when he said “I brought it back,” and the virus came from the original timeline, but maybe Parker got infected during the kerfuffle with Kevin at the airport, but that would mean Olga would have been infected as well, as she was also extremely close to the vile. Then again, there might have been a purpose behind the shot of Parker trying to cover the vile with his hand — so, was the Ebola virus not airborne, but transmitted via touch? Yeah, this episode didn’t have a lot of logic, but what the hell, it was a fun hour, and that is all that counts. And hey, it even brought some depth to Parker, who also cited some bible verses, which means he must be religious. Kind of an intriguing way to add to his character, now that he is a time traveler.
Kevin Poe wasn’t much of an interesting villain in this episode though. Why exactly he released the virus the writers haven’t explained (and I don’t accept the “crazy and religious nut” attempt of an explanation). Why exactly he wanted to spend some time with Lina right before everyone’s death is unknown, because I don’t really think a mass murderer who lives inside the bible would be interested in getting permission to date a woman. And how Parker was able to connect with Kevin over bible verses right before the ultimate climax between the two also made me curious, especially since Kevin was supposed to have listened to his creator, and nobody else could have been able to tell anything else. Kevin, as crazy and suicidal as he was, was only interested in one thing, and that was eradicating the world. How Parker was almost successful in circumventing “God’s” orders almost made Parker sound like he is also the almighty. Considering he knows the future, he might even be almighty.
The final act was solid. That Parker would eventually have the virus might have been somewhat obvious, since Kevin Poe was out of business before the writers even hit the final act, but the last few minutes made for a good dramatic and tense moment, because not everything was that obvious about the final act. While you expected for Parker to be alive and smiling by the end of the episode, there was still a race against the clock to get to Parker and save him, and how stuff like that happens in a scripted narrative is always a surprise to me. Only the notion of Ramsey believing that Parker has gone nuts, because he is nuts, was a little off for me. Parker just saved the entire world from getting killed off, and the first thing Ramsey does is trying to belittle him again? The guy has no respect for the savior of the world, which makes him an idiot. But yeah, at the end, Parker showed some great strength and courage, when he was preparing to burn himself to death, just so he can save the world once more. If this isn’t proof that Parker is the hero this world doesn’t deserve, then I don’t know. By the way, would Parker’s actions at the end of the episode make him irreplaceable? Project Backstep got candidates quickly in the pilot, because they needed to come yesterday, which means they had to be expendable. But now that you know Parker is ready to die to save the world? Would you find another person like that on the planet?
Best part of the episode: In the pilot, Parker landed in the past and he believed he was on a different planet. In this episode, Parker landed and he believed he was in a different time era. A nice little running gag, and one that should have been continued.
Worst part of the episode: Did Olga really think that Wolf Blitzer could entertain her? The guy has been humorless since he started on CNN. This woman does not know her cable news anchors, and it makes me furious.
Weirdest part of the episode: The cop whose gun got stolen by Parker should holster it better the next time around. That’s how guns get stolen, yet the cop did not learn that lesson.
Main characters death count: Well, almost everyone died in this episode. Parker obviously survived, because he had to backstep, but Olga also survived, and she presumably died a few minutes after Parker managed to get out of the original timeline. But that doesn’t count in this case. Ramsey still leads the pack with two deaths in two episodes, while Parker and Olga are last on the list with zero deaths each. The remaining four of the character pool add a death to their collection.
Player of the episode: The guy in the phone booth at the end really tried to give it to Parker with his G-rated insults. For the ultimately failed effort, he gets this award.