"Tripwire" Review

by Mike Helba

"Tripwire" is certainly crucial to the Jeremiah story arc as Joe Straczynski promised.

This essay is mostly comprised of my analysis of the unfolding arc mysteries. Therefore, it contains spoilers for "Tripwire".

In "Tripwire" Markus reveals that Valhalla Sector is making its move. Beginning on the East Coast, Valhalla Sector forces have been moving across the United States and securing nuclear missile bases. One of the benefits of living in the NORAD headquarters is that Markus knows when other facilities with nuclear assets are brought online. Valhalla Sector plans to rebuild the country as a military state.

Markus forms a plan to go out from Thunder Mountain to aid the town of Camden. He has an ulterior motive. Camden harbors a nuclear missile base. By befriending Camden, Thunder Mountain will have advance warning of Valhalla Sector's attempt to occupy its missile silos.

This chain of events brings Markus into conflict with Jeremiah, with Lee Chen gleefully taking Markus' side. Jeremiah has made no secret of the fact that he is searching for Valhalla Sector because that is where his parents were heading when they disappeared. With the appearance of Major Quantrell in "Firewall", Jeremiah even has hope that his parents might still be alive. Markus points out that Valhalla Sector is the enemy, and if Jeremiah's father is working with them he might be the enemy too. At some point, Jeremiah may be called on to choose his loyalty.

Kurdy is left with the uncomfortable task of pointing out that Markus may be right. Jeremiah's last memory of his father is of him leaving the house with a shotgun planning to break into his own laboratory to steal something and then board a private plane for Valhalla Sector. The evidence does not look good, but Jeremiah is nowhere near objective.

"Tripwire" features the return of the enigmatic Ezekiel. This time, Jeremiah gets much more information out of him. Ezekiel clarifies his claims to be Jeremiah's brother. Jeremiah's father took Ezekiel in as an orphan and raised him as his own son. Things would have been so much simpler if Ezekiel had been clear on this point from the beginning! Furthermore, Jeremiah learns that his father is still alive, although his mother has passed away.

Ezekiel stops the sniper who tries to kill Markus. There is some question about whether Jeremiah is the target, but I don't think so. The assassin sets up to attack where Markus is expected to be, and Jeremiah isn't expected to be there. Kurdy has a fun scene in which he points out the clean underwear of the assassin. They assume that the assassin comes from Valhalla Sector. The underwear reveals that Valhalla Sector is so powerful that it has spare resources to manufacture and clean underwear. They can also, apparently, afford to carry it three-fourths of the way across the country. As with Major Quantrell, Ezekiel's actions show that he is involved with Valhalla Sector but secretly doesn't share its complete agenda.

Ezekiel reveals to Jeremiah that Ezekiel's father was responsible for the Big Death. This means that the plague was in fact manufactured in a laboratory. The facts that Ezekiel and Jeremiah's father were together and that Jeremiah's father felt compelled to adopt Ezekiel implies that he probably worked with Ezekiel's father in what was likely a bioweapon laboratory. His comment in Jeremiah's flashback about retrieving vials from the lab supports this.

Ezekiel warns Jeremiah that everything will be ruined if Jeremiah is discovered. This is what I think is happening. Jeremiah's father works at Valhalla Sector, but he isn't being completely cooperative. If the Valhalla Sector officials discover Jeremiah's existence and capture him, they will use him as leverage to make Jeremiah's father do their bidding. This, of course, is the most likely analysis. I suspect that Joe Straczynski has quite a few surprises up his sleeve.

At the end of the episode, Markus is left with the clear evidence that there is a someone inside Thunder Mountain who is supplying information to Valhalla Sector. Lee Chen is secretly working with Ezekiel, but as discussed above, I don't believe Ezekiel is sharing Chen's information with anyone at Valhalla Sector besides Jeremiah's father. Does Chen know of Ezekiel's relationship with Jeremiah? Does Chen's work with Ezekiel have something to do with his desire to get rid of Jeremiah, or does he simply mistrust him? Is Jeremiah's father passing on Ezekiel's reports to the rest of Valhalla Sector, or is there another spy within Thunder Mountain?

There are so many questions. Jeremiah is shaping up to be just as intriguing as Straczynski's previous work.