OMG! No voice-over to start us off!! Tom and Pinnochio are in Harsh Realm's version of Columbus, Ohio, at Tom's mom's house. They get captured there and dragged off to work as forced labor for a lumber camp, run by Tobin Bell (of Saw fame, not that I've ever seen any of the Saw movies). Bell doesn't know who his newest conscripts are yet but it's only a matter of time before he checks their identities against the Most Wanted posters in his office; the boys need to escape. There are a couple of problems with that, however. The first is that all the laborers have had their noggins injected with a "skull bug," a tiny metal roboticized slug that are benign until activated by the camp guards' guns, at which point tiny blades pop out and the slug chews its way out of the victim's head, usually emerging through their forehead and effectively lobotomizing them. The second problem is that Tom's mother - or the digitized version of her - is also at the camp, sick and dying from cancer and being cared for by a kind but creepy prisoner, and Tom doesn't want to leave without her. Even though intellectually he knows she's just game code.
In the real world, someone has notified Sophie that Tom's mother is in hospital, dying of cancer. Sophie goes to spend her would-be mother-in-law's last days with her. And here, of course, we get some droning, whining voice-over from Sophie, in which she starts each sentence with Tom's name. Annoying. What is less annoying is that there seems to be some kind of connection between real Tom's mom and HR-Tom's mom, with memories spilling over between the two women somehow.
Harsh Realm. Pinnochio notices that a couple of the other prisoners are planning an escape through the camp's sewers. Tom says he's not leaving without his mom so Pinnochio heads off without him. The guards are waiting for the potential escapees, however, and the other two guys are caught, their skull-bugs activated; Pinnochio is saved by the unnamed woman whom Bell forces to wait on him. Later, Bell confronts Tom and Pinnochio, saying he is sure they know something about the escape plan and if they don't tell him, he'll turn on their skull-bugs. Tom challenges him, saying that he thinks he can beat the guards and escape; Bell's like, okay, you can try. Pinnochio is all, WTF are you doing, Tom? Tom's just trying to play for time. So, a little later, Pinnochio starts a fight with one of the guards and, with Bell's woman's help, actually defeats him. Pinnochio's skull-bug malfunctions later that night so Tom and the kind, creepy nurse-prisoner dig it out of his head for him. Then they knock another guard unconscious and use his gun-gadget to remove Tom's skull-bug. (Question: that seemed easy. Why has no one tried it before?)
Then they capture Bell and implant a skull-bug on him, take a truck and leave the camp with Tom's mom. They take her back to her old house. She dies there, Tom holding her hand - just as Tom's mom dies in the real world, Sophie holding her hand - and for just a moment, Tom and Sophie can see each other reflected in the dying women's eyes. And in the real world, as Sophie wipes her tears, a kind but creepy doctor (the same guy from the camp! how weird!) thanks her for being with Tom's mom.
Previously on Harsh Realm / next time on Harsh Realm
34 seconds ago