Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mini-cap: Harsh Realm E9 "Camera Obscura"

Camera obscuraA darkened chamber in which the real image of an object is received through a small opening or lens and focused in natural color onto a facing surface rather than recorded on a film or plate.

Last episode.  We start in church, with a Tom-voiceover about the origins and purpose of the Harsh Realm program as a military terrorism response training program that began with a nuclear explosion in virtual reality NYC.  4.5 million digital people were obliterated in 3.2 seconds and "they were the lucky ones."  The Harsh Realm world arose out of the ashes of the nuclear blast.  Tom is now sifting through the ashes, looking for volunteers to help him fight against Santiago.  Instead he finds a guy who wants to pay him and Pinnochio lots of gold to protect him and his family.  They're living in a power plant in NYC, however, which is ground zero for the nuclear blast, so Pinnochio raises the price, despite Tom's protests that they aren't mercenaries.  Well, he isn't.

When they get to Stewart's hidey hole, they learn that his family, who controls the power plant, is in a wicked feud with the McKinley clan, who controls the Federal Reserve building across the street.  They eventually learn that Stewart and McKinley originally came to NYC after the fabled vault of gold under the Fed, but one of them doublecrossed the other and now it's all out war.  McKinley can't get down to the vault because the elevators need electricity - hence Stewart's control of the power plant.  McKinley offers to double what Stewart is paying so Pinnochio sides with him, leaving Tom in the Stewart camp.  Complicating things further, Stewart's daughter and McKinley's son have a little Romeo & Juliet thing going on.  Complicating things even further is the presence of a Catholic priest, horribly deformed from the radiation, who has found a data stream in his cathedral that shows him what will happen next, and he uses this information to manipulate and control the two families.

The priest tells Stewart to turn on the electricity long enough for McKinley to head down in the elevators, then turn it off, trapping him there.  Thing is, it's Pinnochio and Tom who go down.  They are being affected by the high levels of radiation and Pinnochio gets a little nuts, clawing at the brick walls, convinced that the vault of gold is down there.  Tom ends up knocking his friend unconscious and dragging him back to the surface.  There, he tells the two families that yes, the gold is down there but it is so heavily contaminated by the radiation that anyone touching it will sicken and die.  The boys get in their car and leave; the two families give up their dream of gold and leave the city too, abandoning the crazy priest to shout and slobber in the deserted streets.  Down below, the camera zooms in on the little hole Pinnochio made in the wall - the camera obscura shot, I presume - and the vault is full of glittering, glowing deadly gold.

And that's it.  That's all she wrote on this poor little failed show.  No resolution to Tom being stuck in the game, no actual progress made in hunting down Santiago, a total abandonment of the real world/Sophie storyline and worst of all, we haven't seen Dexter the digital dog in ages.  Who knows, with better acting and better writing, maybe this could have worked.  The source material was a comic book, but it was more a noir/detective story, unraveling mysteries in the game world, not the military focus that the television show had.  I'm not inclined to go read the original but I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has how different and/or better the comic was.

Previously on Harsh Realm

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