Writer: Silvio Horta
Director: Rob Lieberman
Air Date: 09/10/03
Christopher Gorham...Jake Foley
Keegan Connor Tracy...Diane Hughes
Philip Anthony-Rodriguez...Kyle Duarte
Judith Scott...Louise Beckett
Marina Black...Sarah Carter
Matt Czuchry...Darin Metcalf
Bob Cryer...Eric Vaughn
Lubomir Mykytiuk...Dr. Gage
Andrew Kenneth Martin...Peter
Trevor Blackman...NSA Agent
Devon Bostick...Young Kid
Desmond Campbell...NSA Driver
Colm Magner...NSA Security Man
Layton Morrison...Vaughn's Operative
Charles Seminero...Console Operator #1
Deborah Tennant...Female Technician
Jodie Dowdall...Hot Girl #2
Diego Fuentes...IT Supervisor
Wayne Ward...NSA Tech Op
As the episode opens, the camera swoops down from a satellite in orbit to the front entrance of the National Security Agency's Operations building at Ft. Meade, outside Washington D.C. A young man, all business, steps through the doors and swipes his ID and punches a code into the keypad of an automated door. He is instantly admitted to a high-tech looking satellite communications monitoring centreSIGINT (Signals Intelligence) Operations. He approaches a man at a computer screen and asks what the problem is. The Tech's computer has been frozen all morning. The young man who appeared to be an agent is in fact on-site tech support. Smiling, he assures the user that although it's a 20 minute job, he'll have him up and running in two. While he's working on debugging the machine, the senior agent in charge gives the assembled intercept operators orders to locate a terrorist on the CIA watch list. As the agents spring into action, the tech support technician can't help explaining how cool it all is, drawing the attention of the senior agent, who asks who he is and what he's doing there. The tech shows him his badge, and identifies himself nervously as Jake Foley, tech support. Jake is askedpolitely, but firmlyto leave, which he does reluctantly, obviously craving the exciting life he imagines agents leading.
After work, Jake meets up with his roommate at a Georgetown bar. Darin tries to convince Jake that his dreams of becoming an agent are misguided, but Jake can't help it. He doesn't care that according to Darin, actual agents have no lives. They're the property of the state, at the government's beck and call. Darin would much rather live a life of total freedomwith the ability to quit the NSA and open a restaurant or start a band, or whatever he wants to. However, he's not above using his NSA badge to try and score chicks by pretending to be one of those "props." Jake lets Darin attempt to hook him up with a pretty girl, and when it fails, decides to head home. As he's leaving the bar, however, he runs into a familiar faceSarah Carter. Jake is thrilled to finally talk to a girl who doesn't seem to see him as "just a geek" and seems to genuinely be glad to see him. As they catch up, he finds out she's working as a an aide to Senator Thompson, reviewing defence budgets. Jake is on the verge of trying to ask her out, when she's waved over to another table by another aide, Peter. She rolls her eyes, saying all they want to do is drink martinis and gossip. However, to Jake disappointment, she rushes over to join them. He's about to go when she calls him, asking him what he's doing Saturday. Jake's eyes light up, until she scrawls her address on a matchbook and says her computer's been acting weird and could he come over and fix it?
Yep. Jake Foley. Tech Support.
At work the next day, Darin is lounging in Jake's cubical, which is chock full of band posters, flyers, and stickers. Jake is ignoring him, staring at the matchbook. Darin notes that it must be a chick, since Jake doesn't smoke, and he tells Darin he ran into Sarah at the bar. Darin remembers Jake's unrequited crush on Sarah all through college. His advice is to treat it like a dateif Jake shows up as a tech, then all she's going to see is a tech. Their chit-chat is interrupted by their boss, who corrals Jake to go with him to reboot a downed server. They enter a research lab, and Jake grins as he watches a mouse run very, very fast on his little wheel while his boss sits down at the downed terminal and motions Jake over. Apparently, no one can read programming code as fast as Jake. He's taking a look when a doctor in a labcoat with a cellphone appears. Jake's boss assures him it'll only take a second to get their server up and running, and Jake is surprised to note that the reason the server is down is because a file transfer is in progress. Jake is shocked and terrified when the man pulls out a gun and shoots his boss in cold blood, then turns the gun on Jake, ordering him to disengage the diagnostic programme that notifies Tech Support when the server is down, so no other techs are sent to the lab.
Telling the voice on the other end of the cellphone that they have a problem in the form of Jake Foley, tech support, Jake pretends to comply, but in fact sends up a security flag. Gage prepares to shootand then the lab erupts in gunfire as Security arrives, guns drawn. A beaker full of mysterious silver liquid shatters right in front of Jake, and shards of glass covered with droplets of shimmering liquid embed themselves in his arm. As the gunfire stops, Gage is dead, and Jake watches as the silver liquid is absorbed into the cut on the inside of his arm.
Jake is shocky and out of it as he's examined by Diane Hughes, a pretty doctor wearing glasses, who asks him if he needs anything such as water, aspirin, or valium. He assures her he'll be fine, and then she is called away by Deputy Director Beckett. Beckett wants to know if Diane had any clue, based on working with gage for three years, what happened. Diane however is mystified. Gage might have been a jerk, but she can't imagine he was a traitor. Beckett sees Jake, and tells Diane to send him to her office. When Jake arrives, he's a little livelier, expecting perhaps some kind of commendation. However, while Beckett commends him on his quick thinking, rather than granted his twice-denied wish of making him an active field agentshe instead sternly reminds him of his confidentiality agreement. No one can ever know about what he witness in that lab. Shaken, Jake heads home, where he collapses into bed, shivering and sweating. When he wakes up the text morning, he's confused by the fact that the cut on his arm is completely healed. However, realising that Sarah is expecting him at her place, he rushes out. Jake arrives at Sarah's with a bottle of wine. She asks if she should open it, and Jake says surego ahead and pop it. As Sarah heads to the kitchen, Jake is appalled at his own dorkitude. Meanwhile, back at the NSA, Kyle has identified the speaker on Gage's cellphone as a known IRA arms dealer named Eric Vaughn. he asks Beckett for permission to go after Vaughn, but she reminds him that his cover was compromised two years prior, and he cannot go out in the field. Frustrated, Kyle complies.
Jake sits down at her computer, removing the cover to take a look at the machine's inner workings. Sarah gives Jake a glass of wine. As he works, Jake notices a framed photo of a man, whom Sarah identifies as her father who was killed on a classified mission. Jake starts to try to tell Sarah that, back when they were in college, the reason he never minded helping her out with her computer is because he has feelings for her. However, before he can get that far, her phone rings. Stymied, he starts to work on her computer, and is confused when he can suddenly see the circuits in astonishing detail. He picks up a thumbtack, his eyes automatically zooming in far closer than the human eye should be able to. As he touches one of the circuits with the tip of the pin, the computer suddenly springs to life. Sarah is delighted, but Jake is worried. He quickly excuses himself. Walking through a park, he is assaulted by the sound of gunfire, and ducks behind a bench. However, he realises that the "gunfire" came from a kid with a hand-held video game. He gets hit with a football, and throws it back to the group of kids playingand is shocked when the force of the throw knocks one of the kids against a tree. Confused, he spots a billboard on the side of a bus which features a photo of a mouse on a wheel. He suddenly is reminded of the mice in the lab. As he heads off to check the lab out, he is unaware that the entire display of unnatural strength was witnesses by Eric Vaughn from a parked car.
Back at Fort Meade, Jake swipes his ID, trying to gain access to Diane's lab. However, he can't get in. Suddenly, the keypad begins to cycle through numbers, and the door pops open. Removing a USB storage device, he plugs it into the server and begins to download the data regarding the project. His enhanced hearing picks up the sound of Diane approaching the lab. She's talking to a co-worker, who asked what happened in the lab the day before, and she tries to convince her that it was just some shelves collapsing. Jake grabs the data and rushes out, reaching the elevator just as Diane exits. She stops him, putting on her glasses so he'll recognise her. She asks what he's doing down there, and he nervously tells her he was just making sure her server's working all right. When he goes to close the elevator door, she notices his armwhich is now completely healed. He mutters something about having a killer immune system. As the elevator doors close, Diane is suspicious. She rushes to the lab, and finds the door open. When Jake gets home, he locks the door and sits down with a beer to go through the data he's downloaded from the lab. Screens of information regarding nanotechnology flash past, and he absorbs the information about enhanced hearing, vision, strength and flashes back to the beaker shattering in the lab. As he realises that there were nanites in that beaker which are now in his system, he squeezes the bottle of beer so hard it shatters in his hand, his office chair rolling back from the desk so fast it dumps him on his bed at the other end of the apartment. He stars at his hand, untouched by the glass, incredulous. Meanwhile, Diane has accessed the security camera logs from the incident, and comes to the same conclusion.
Jake continues to test his new powers, giddy as he does one-armed pull-ups on a pipe suspended across the ceiling. However, he doesn't have perfect control of his new abilities, and almost trashes the place. Darin arrives home with Casey, one of the girls he picked up in the bar the night before. Casey takes in the bachelor-pad, a little disgusted that "spies" would live like poor college students. Jake leaves, in order to give Darin some privacy. Back at the NSA, Kyle is in Beckett's office, updating her on the Vaughn situation. The NSA has learned that Vaughn is in the country, intent on picking up personally whatever Gage was trying to steal. Beckett assures Kyle that gage failed, just as Diane bursts in, declaring that "We have a problem." Meanwhile, Jake heads over to Sarah'sdying to tell someone what has happened to him. However, when he arrives, Sarah is on a date with her boyfriend Peter. Jake makes an excuse and leaves, getting into the elevator in her building, unaware that the man behind him is Eric Vaughn. Vaughn engages Jake in conversation, and when he addresses Jake by name, Jake realises he's in trouble. When they reach the lobby, Vaughn and his henchman try and kidnap Jake, who uses his new-found strength to fend them off. he rushes outside, only to be nabbed by mysterious men in a van.
Back in Diane's lab, Jake is being scanned while in the other room Kyle and Beckett watch as Diane shows them how the nanites have arrayed themselves along his central nervous system. She explains that soon, the link between the nanites and Jake will be seamless, and the micro-computers will do whatever he tells them to do. Beckett tells Kyle the project began at the Department of Defence, in an attempt to give soldiers the ability to heal faster in the field. However, as Diane notes, the project quickly grew beyond that once they realises the implications of the research. Diane outlines the extend of his new "powers", including the ability to wirelessly interface with technology, and when Beckett asks what that means, Jake replies from the other room that he can hear everything they're saying.
As Diane examines him, Jake asks her how they plan to get the nanites out of him. She explains that they can'tthey're a part of him now. "But I'm going to be fine, right?" Jake asks, and Diane tells him that there were side-effects in the lab mice such as blindness, paralysis andif his body rejects the nanitesthe possibility of death. But she quickly tries to reassure him that there's no guarantee any of that will happen to him. She just doesn't know what will happen next. Beckett leaves Jake locked in a holding area, unaware that he can still hear her as she argues with Kyle. Kyle is appalled that Beckett is willing to treat a loyal NSA employee as a lab rat, and when Jake hears her say that she has no idea how long Jake will survive and she plans to study him while she can, he tries to break out of the cell. However, even his enhanced strength won't open the door. Digging through his pockets, he finds the matchbook with Sarah's address and lights one of the matches directly beneath the sprinkler system. The sprinklers go off, and the door automatically opens, and Jake files out of the building unnoticed along with all the other employees. Lou finds the empty holding cell, and sighs.
In a cab, Jake's cellphone rings. it's Sarah, asking him to meet with her. A a diner, she tells him she's worried that the NSA may be after her, because she's been investigating their DOD budget. She tells him about the trashed lobby in her building, and the two guys that had been hanging around, and that she's afraid she's being watched. Jake uses his enhanced hearing, and overhears two NSA agents in a van nearby. Telling her to get up and quickly leave, she doesonly to be snatched outside the restaurant by Vaughn and his men. Jake, unaware of what has happened to Sarah, runs out the back door of the diner and is immediately pursed by the NSA van. Grabbing a bike, Jake uses the nanites to manages to outrun them, controlling traffic signals to cut them off. Giddy, he answers his phone when it rungs, seeing Sarah's name on the call logand is stopped cold when Eric Vaughn's voice informs him to meet him at Chemdyne Research Facility at midnight, or Sarah will be killed.
That night, Jake arrives at the cryo facility, and his phone rings again. It's Darin, bummed because Casey has dumped him, telling Jake she though it was too dangerous, dating a spy. Jake is shocked when he loses Darin and Kyle breaks into the phone call, asking him what he's doing at Chemdyne. From Sat Ops, Kyle has been tracking Jake, and tells him they need to bring him in. Jake tells him he can'tthat Vaughn has his friend and will kill her. Kyle tells him to sit tight, that he's sending a team, and he's reading the heat signatures of three people inside the facilityno doubt Vaughn, his associate, and Sarah. Jake asks how to get in, and Kyle tells him about a stairwell. he tells Jake that the team is on their way and to stay put, but Jake hangs up on him. Rushing inside, Jake discovers he has night vision. he locates Sarah, who is unconscious and tied to a chair. he tries to wake her, when Vaughn appears, brandishing a gun. Vaughn plans to freeze Jakekilling him, and then extract the nanites form his body. Jake stalls, trying to tell him he'd make a much better example alive, as he explains all the stuff he can do, including wirelessly connecting with computers. As he talks, Jake accesses the facility's computers, and starts an overload in the liquid-nitrogen tank. It blows, killing Vaughn, just as the NSA strike team arrives. Jake tries to rouse Sarah, but is told by the head agent that they'll take care of herthey've been ordered to bring Jake in.
In Lou's office, Jake vents his frustrations at the fact that he has millions of tiny, tiny robots coursing through him which could kill him at any moment, while at the same time, bad guys are after him, trying to get the tiny, tiny robots which could kill him at any moment. All he wants is his old life back. Beckett tells him that while that's impossible, what she can do is upgrade his security clearance. Kyle watches that sink in, and Jake realises that his life-long dream of becoming an agent is suddenly coming true. Beckett confirms it, as she tells a stunned Jake that she has been authorised to create a special team with Jake at its core.
Jake arrives at Sarah's, bearing a wireless mouse and an apology. She tells him he has nothing to apologise forobviously, she was snatched because she was getting too close to a truth the NSA didn't want her to know. Jake suggests that maybe she should back off, but she's more determined than ever. Jake tells her that no matter what, he's there for her, and a grateful Sarah hugs him. As Jake walks down the street, still beaming from the hug from the girl he's been crushing on forever, and laughs as he uses the nanites to change a traffic light from red to green.
Owing an obvious debt to Sam Raimi's blockbuster film adaptation of Marvel Comics Spider-Man, the pilot follows a similar pattern: shy geek who worships girl from afar is granted amazing powers in a lab accident, and must hide them from the object of his affections, while still learning how they work and fending off attacks from new enemies, while still trying to live his life. Considering that actor Christopher Gorham read for the part which ultimately went to Tobey Maguire, obviously Silvio Horta and partners Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo saw the similarities as well. However, what sets Jake 2.0 apart is the espionage (instead of becoming a costumed super-hero, Jake becomes an NSA field agent) which puts the series up there with recent hit spy-fi series such as USA Network's Nikita and ABC's much higher budget Nikita-clone, Alias. And lastly, unlike Peter Parkerwho only had eyes for pretty next door neighbour Mary Jane Watsonwhile Jake puts Grace-Kelly-like congressional aide Sarah Carter up on a pedestal, NSA nanotechnology expert Dr. Diane Hughes seems to grasp what Sarah can't: chicks dig geeks.
The pilot suffers slightly from the too-familiar "superhero origin" premise, however individual performances pull it above average into solidly entertaining. Christopher Gorham is immediately likeable and sympathetic as Jake, and Judith Scott stands out as (initially slightly ruthless) NSA Director Louise Beckett. Keegan Connor Tracy immediate strikes sparks with Gorham, and seems comfortable in the role of Diane from her very first scene. Marina Scott does her best to make Sarah likeable, and Philip Anthony Rodriguez gives Kyle as much personality as he can, given the limitations of the script. Despite all the Spider-Man references, the flavour and tone of the series is much closer to The Invisible Man and Now & Again, and this entertaining action/adventure series plays like an update of The Greatest American Hero meets Scarecrow & Mrs King with a Third Millennium sensibility.
Quotes of the Week:
DIANE: "Um, can I get you anything? Do you want some water or some aspirin or ... valium?"
VAUGHN: "What are you suggesting, Jake? A little bit of show and tell?"
JAKE: "Yeah, yeah. I could do some jumping and some cool strength stuff. I can bend some ... or-or I have great vision. I can see, like, Texas. And I can do stuff you don't even know about. I can interface with computers, totally wireless."
LOU: "Can I offer you a glass of water, a cup of coffee?"
JAKE: "Are you joking? I have millions of these little things running around in my body that might kill me at any moment. I have spent the last couple of days running for my life, getting shot at because of these little things that might kill me at any moment. So do I want a cup of coffee? No, I don't want a cup of coffee. You know what I want? I want my life back."
© Tara O'Shea 2003