Monday, September 17, 2018

Friday the 13th: The Series -- Season 1 Episode 18 (Brain Drain)

They say that the devil is in the details.  Part of having a good story is giving the right amount of the right kind of information.  Unfortunately, Friday the 13th: The Series didn’t do that.  Some episodes were better than others, but all we really know is that Uncle Lewis left an antiques shop to Micki and Ryan.  When they discover that many of the items are cursed, they enlist the help of Jack Marshak to retrieve them.

In Brain Drain, Harry goes from having an IQ of 58 to being a genius.  His secret is something called the Trephanator.  It pokes a hole in the back of the neck of both the user and a victim.  The camera shows a neat shot of some liquids flowing and suddenly the user has the intelligence of the victim.  Harry magically becomes Dr. Stewart Pangborn, who continues the work of his victim, Dr. Robeson.

It’s not really clear why he does this.  He could easily skip town.  Granted, the trephinator isn’t the kind of thing you throw in your trunk.  It’s this big contraption and we wouldn’t have much of a plot if Harry didn’t use it again.  Enter Dr. Viola Rhodes, former love interest of Jack Marshak.  Has any former love interest ever made it to the end of an episode?  Even if she lives, there’s no chance that she’s going to stick around.

As with many of the previous episodes, the trio of antique hunters is able to get the cursed item back to their shop where they can store it safely.  Intelligence for the user comes at a price.  The victim is reduced in intelligence greatly and eventually dies.  (Harry becomes the item’s final victim, as is tradition in this series.)

As I mentioned, not many details are given.  It’s an interesting premise, all right.  Who wouldn’t want to be smarter?  However, Dr. Robeson is working on perfecting AI by teaching a gorilla’s brain to speak.  He’ll then transfer the intelligence onto a chip or something.  It’s not really explained how this works.  I’d imagine that this is one of those things were an expert on AI was sitting at home watching the episode, sarcastically wondering why they didn’t think of that.   (“Oh, yeah.  Just hook a primate brain up to a chip.  Why not?”)

It’s kind of a shame that all of these gifts come at a high cost.  I understand that they’re cursed, but every victim seems to have to die.  It’s not enough that the victim winds up with the mental capacity of a two-year-old.  It’s also an all-or-nothing proposition.  Someone can’t transfer just a little.  It might have made for a better story if Harry took a little at a time and worked his way up.

I’d say that the series so far has had as many marginal episodes as it has had horrible ones.  I’m kind of hoping that it picks up.  I really don’t remember a lot of these episodes.  I’m not sure if my memory is bad or if I didn’t watch it that much while it was first on.  Either one should tell me something.

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