'Eleventh Hour': Eat your brain? That's disgusting.
Eleventh Hour doesn't have a special Halloween episode. It doesn't need one. This episode is far spookier and creepier on its own than anything that anybody could have come up with if trying to do something special in the Halloween spirit. Here, Hood and Young are enmeshed in a web of teenage kids who are kidnapped and then subjected to horrific secret brain surgery. Come to think of it, that does sound kind of like a horror movie.
Hood begins the episode with an off night in D.C., before his attempts to flirt with a woman are interrupted by Rachel informing him of their next job. "Duty calls," Jacob smiles as he heads off. It's no fun if you can't show off a little. The case will take Jacob and Rachel to Chicago, where three teenagers around the same age have recently been kidnapped, but then returned safely to their homes around a month later. It's not the kidnapping alone that makes this a case for Hood, of course, but what else happened to these adolescents. All three of the teenagers suffer from a variant of autism called Heller's syndrome, in which the autistic markers of a lack of verbal communication and an imperviousness to standard social functioning did not manifest themselves until after the children were already three years old. But now, after being returned to their homes, all three have shown never-before-seen displays of possible savantism. "From mentally challenged to mentally gifted in the space of a month?" Hood asks. It's a stunning, seemingly impossible development.
Jacob and Rachel meet with one of the victims, Teresa Kimsey, first. Teresa doesn't speak to anybody, but she has developed a mastery of intense and beautiful drawings. She's a lot like the character of Kevin on Eureka - and for the record, it's a surprise that it's taken four episodes before there's been a link between Eleventh Hour and one of the few other science-y shows on TV. Hood tries to figure out where Teresa was taken when she was kidnapped, by having her draw it out for him. This is the world's worst Pictionary game ever. Eventually Hood susses out that Teresa appears to be drawing an MRI machine.
Teresa's mom notes that Teresa once had an MRI done, but it was over a decade ago, when she was five years old. Nonetheless, it's the only lead that Hood has, so he and Rachel head to the place where the MRI was taken, at the Autism Institute of Chicago. Not only did Teresa have an MRI done there, but so did the other two boys in the same situation, and both of them had their MRIs done around the same age as well. But the coincidence becomes spookier when Hood analyzes their brain scans, and finds that they are suspiciously, almost impossibly similar. Brain scans shouldn't be that way; they should be more like fingerprints in their uniqueness. But these three children had abnormally similar results.
Hood wants to know if any other children might have similar results, because they would become possible kidnap suspects. Despite the resistance of the lab tech, Catherine Bonatelli, Rachel is able to obtain those results via a court order. Rachel doesn't need any savant-like abilities; her FBI badge is a much better superpower. There are indeed a couple of matches. Two other boys, Cameron Stewart and Scott Butler, fit the same profile as Teresa and the two others: Heller's syndrome, roughly the same age now, plus MRIs at the same age a decade ago that are very similar. But before Hood can analyze the data, Cameron's already gone. He disappeared from school earlier that morning.
It turns out that Scott Butler had already been taken and returned, but since he lived alone, nobody had ever reported him missing. When Hood and Young visit him, Scott is experiencing a severe nosebleed, and has to be rushed to the hospital. It's too late to save him; Scott dies. While at the hospital, Hood begins to do some hypothesizing. He figures that somebody is trying to look into these kids' brains. Hood had mentioned earlier that there are some who believe that savantism might represent a possible evolutionary step forward in the development of the human mind, so it might make sense that somebody try to study these children. Maybe somebody is cracking open these kids' heads to see how they work. Maybe Sylar has escaped to a series on another network. And now, officially, there is a link between Eleventh Hour and the least scientifically respectable show on TV. Hood helps perform an autopsy on Scott with the doctors at the hospital, and finds that, indeed, somebody had performed a secret brain surgery on him, implanting his brain with an electrical filament.
Hood and Young want to take Teresa Kimsey to the hospital to see if she recognizes anything that can help. But they stop for a bathroom break on the way, and Teresa proceeds to have a graffiti session in the bathroom. The entire bathroom is filled with graffiti, and yet none of the screen is blurred out. Really, who does graffiti that's anything but vulgarities? Where's the fun in that? But there's a message inside the graffiti. It's a license plate. And when Rachel looks it up, it turns out to be the license plate of Catherine Bonatelli, the woman from the Autism Institute.
Jacob and Rachel start following Catherine, only to watch Catherine's car get blown up. I thought it was Jacob's car that people wanted to bomb, and that's why Rachel exists. Car bombs must be a common practice in this field. Bonatelli's dead, but it doesn't matter much, since she was certainly not the boss of this whole underground experimental scheme. She was just a lab tech, not a brain surgeon. "Brain surgery's not the kind of thing you learn on the internet, no matter what they say," Hood notes. "Probably wasn't her idea to blow herself up, either," Rachel adds. Probably.
At this point, it's a race to find Cameron Stewart before he is the next experimental victim, given that the people behind this operation are clearly willing to sacrifice people for their goal at this point. Jacob and Rachel head back to the hospital, hoping to follow up on the source of the electrical filament implanted in Scott's brain. But the wires have been stolen. Whoever is behind this operation works in this very hospital. It turns out to be Dr. Edward Fisher, a brain surgeon, who had been requisitioning these filaments for his office.
Hood and Young race to stop Fisher, who happens to be performing surgery on Cameron at this very moment. As Rachel barges into the surgery room with her gun, Cameron's head has been peeled open on the surgery table, and it remains that way for the duration of the scene. Gross. It's time for the villain to explain himself. He gives the "trying to save my son" speech, a popular one among TV villains-of-the-week. It turns out that Fisher's four-year-old son Noah was diagnosed with the very same ailment, Heller's syndrome, last year. Dr. Fisher was merely trying to find a "cure" for his own son, which disgusts Hood, who argues that autism is not "wrong," just different. And perhaps more to the point, Fisher lost his right to be on the side of good judgment when he and his wife kidnapped five children and killed two people. "You can't conduct deadly experiments on other people's kids to save your own," Hood caps it off.
There's one more disturbing point still to come in the epilogue, after Edward Fisher and his wife are arrested. Noah Fisher needs a new home now, and Hood arranges to have Scott Butler's father assume custody of him, after Mr. Butler was so devastated over the loss of his son. That seems kinda like replacing your dead kid, doesn't it? And didn't we already say that that was a bad thing when Philip Gifford did it back in the pilot episode?
Super-creepy episode! But creepy-good, or creepy-bad? If you could have a savant-like ability to communicate in a nonverbal medium like drawing or music, what form of communication would you want? And would anybody like to volunteer for my first brain surgery? I read how to do it on Wikipedia.