We open with a long shot of a farmhouse ... hey! That's the farmhouse from that awesome X-Files episode from S4, "Home," that never gets rerun because of the incest and the deformities and the violence and the incest. But I digress. A couple of rough-looking guys go up to the farmhouse, briefly terrorizing the woman and children inside. They're looking for her husband. One of the kids goes running across the field to warn his dad but the tough customers get there first and tell him that they're after a soldier he served with. He cocks his shotgun (not a euphemism) but one of the rough guys zaps him with a remote control, effectively pausing him. Oh, right - this is a VR game.
In the poverty-stricken "Pittsburgh Encampment," Tom, Dexter, Pinnochio and the mute chick roam around, looking for gas for Pinnochio's car. Tom's voiceover drones on and on - it's very stiff and I'm not paying attention to it.
Back in the real world, Sophie goes to the army base and demands to know why Tom has been missing for over a week. The army tells her that he's been KIA on a top-secret mission and his body is being shipped home. As she runs out, upset, a dark haired woman from an adjoining office watches her go.
Back in Harsh Realm, Pinnochio tracks down some gas but it's a trap set for him by those two rough looking guys. They're bounty hunters and Santiago has a price on Pinnochio's head. In the next scene, Santiago himself is at the farmhouse where the wife tells him that the bounty hunters took her husband away. The soldiers drag the family outside and Santiago orders the house to be torched.
Real world: After Tom's funeral, the dark haired woman approaches Sophie and tells her that the army is lying to her about Tom's death. She gives Sophie Pinnochio's dog tags and Sophie's all, WTF is this?
Harsh Realm: Out on the "Pennsylvania Frontier," Tom, Dexter and Mute Chick find Pinnochio's car and follow tracks to where the bounty hunters are holding their buddy, along with "Johnny," the dad from the farmhouse. Johnny has been beaten pretty badly but he's still alive. Outside the fence, Tom and Mute Girl plan to go in after nightfall; Dexter has other plans and tunnels under the fence, trotting right inside past a dozing bounty hunter. There's a girl there, girlfriend/whore of one of the bounty hunters, and she sees the little dog, snatching him up and snuggling him, obviously desperate for some affection. But on the outside, Tom hears yelping and foolheartedly rushes in to save his dog. It's a trap, of course - Dexter is fine - and Tom gets tossed into the holding cell with Pinnochio and Johnny. Nice rescue, snarks Pinnochio.
Meanwhile, Santiago's troops are torching the Pittsburgh Encampment.
Real world: Sophie follows the Mike Pinnochio lead and finds Johnny's real world wife. The wife has been unable to learn anything about her husband's disappearance either but shows Sophie a photo of Johnny and Pinnochio's unit: each of these men have disappeared and are presumed dead. Sophie thinks that fishy.
At this point, I was getting a little bored with the episode, so, in short, Mute Girl frees the boys and, with the help of the girlfriend/whore, they all escape just as the army closes in on them. The girlfriend/whore gets shot but she's just a virtual character, so it's no big deal. The gang delivers Johnny to his VC family before heading off on the next adventure.
Real world: The dark haired woman tells Sophie that she can get Tom a message [somehow]. In a droning voiceover much like her fiance's, Sophie tells him - and us - that he needs to get back to her from wherever he is: she's pregnant.
2 hours ago