"Firewall" Review

by Mike Helba

"Firewall" is the first season episode that is supposed to kick over the tables and put a new twist on the overall arc.

It certainly does that, but before I start analyzing the clues and unanswered questions, I'd like to get my main criticism out of the way.

"Firewall" seems slow. Early in the episode a time limit is set up. While the real time of the episode in fact matches the timeline of the story, there's no sense of urgency. The characters spend most of the episode waiting, talking, and remembering.

Jeremiah and Kurdy capture Major Quantrell, one of a group of men in protective environmental suits that have friends with working helicopters. More shocking, when he removes his suit in a Thunder Mountain biohazard containment room, Major Quantrell is revealed to be about fifty years old. Quantrell drops hints about the truth that tantalize Jeremiah, but Markus Alexander is more concerned with his personal vendetta against Major Quantrell. Markus holds Quantrell responsible for the deaths of his parents during the Big Death fifteen years earlier.

The story arc is thrown some provoking twists. Major Quantrell comes from Valhalla Sector, an organization apparently dominated by older military men who somehow survived the plague. They plan to come out of hiding and reform civilization the way they think it should be. The obvious question opened here is what connection did Jeremiah's father have to Valhalla Sector. Could he still be alive? Could Jeremiah find himself opposed to his father after all these years?

Perhaps the most intriguing twist is the appearance of Ezekiel in this episode. Ezekiel infiltrates Thunder Mountain and comes to Quantrell. Quantrell reveals to the audience that Ezekiel is associated with Valhalla Sector by believing that Ezekiel has come to rescue him. Instead, Ezekiel betrays the prisoner. Most shocking of all, however, is the identity of Ezekiel's co-conspirator inside Thunder Mountain: Lee Chen, the proficient security chief.

I have one other complaint about this episode besides the pacing. During Major Quantrell's capture at the beginning, the fact that the helicopters are not actually shown sticks out like a sore thumb. For a show with a respectable budget, I would expect that they could come up with a real helicopter for one episode. Later in the episode when the Valhalla Sector rescue forces are coming by helicopter, we are given abysmally poor effects shots. The scene looks like either stock footage processed to appear as if viewed through night vision goggles (for some unexplained reason) or unfinished CGI test renders. This is just the most visible example of several places I've seen where they needed to spend more money to make the show look better.