Howard Forney, an award winning filmmaker sits down and tells us about how his brother, Bobby, tried to bring about world peace. He gives us a quick biographical recap, saying that his brother was writing at 2. His brain was working so hard that his family needed to buy him a computer so that his hands could keep up with his thoughts. Despite being an extreme child prodigy, he still hunted and pecked when typing.
As Bobby got older, his experiments became more advanced, though he quickly jumped from one field to the next (trying to find his true North as Howard puts it).
Current events throw Bobby into a state of crisis and he tries to figure out why people are so mean. With no one able to provide a solid answer, he concludes that the joke about it being something in the water must be true.
As it turns out, that’s not entirely inaccurate, as Bobby discovers that there are certain locations where the water is molecularly bizarre. These anomalies have a pacifying effect that suppress violent urges. Bobby shows Howard the effects via releasing a swarm of wasps in Howard’s apartment. While none of them sting him, it’s still bad form. You don’t go around releasing wasps in people’s homes.
Bobby has a plan to use a volcano to distribute the water around the world and bring about an end to war and violence. Howard has his doubts, pointing out that Bobby doesn’t know the long term effects, but Bobby is under the impression that we’ve got nothing to lose.
Everything seems to go according to plan, nations unite and even smaller scale instances of violence come to an end. However, like any miracle drug, the side effect is just as bad as what it was treating in the first place. In this case, the effects of the water result in Alzheimer’s, an irreversible, untreatable form that no one is immune to. I think it’s safe to say that “oops” is a bit of an understatement.
As you can imagine the episode gets pretty grim near the end and it ends on about as down a note as you can imagine. Bobby is so wracked with guilt that he enlists Howard to inject the water into him as punishment for his deeds. It’s morbid, but the scenes are effective.
There is one chronological hiccup where Bobby’s crisis seems to be spurred on by the start of the War on Terror (or at least it’s implied via showing us a headline discussing it) and yet later in the episode, we see the family gather around the television as the two towers fall. I figure the editors botched that as had the two scenes been switched, it would’ve made a heck of a lot more sense.
The performances are fairly strong here. Livingston’s character is much like the others he’s played in terms of emotional output, but he does give Howard a personality of his own. Like anyone else I imagine, anytime I see Livingston in a role, I think back to Office Space. I was waiting for the episode to give me some in to allude to TPS reports, and it never delivered. It was a little vexing I have to say.
There is a sort of meta aspect as Howard talks to the camera, often noting how much time he has left. Obviously, the camera has about an hour of juice left, tying into the overall length of the episode. Coincidently, that just happens to be how much time Howard has left before he’s completely gone.
Overall, I’d say this was a pretty strong episode. There weren’t really any jump the shark moments and the actors played their parts rather well. The script was solid and the plot itself was compelling and rather thought provoking. So far, I’d say this is one of the stronger entries in the series.