Cult Episode 101
Written By: Rockne S. O’Bannon
Directed By: Jason Ensler
Original Airdate: 19 February 2013
In This Episode...
Jeff is an investigative reporter with the Washington Post who was fired after lying in a story and is trying to rebuild his career. Nate is his younger brother, a recovering drug addict whose new addiction is a TV series called “Cult.” “Cult” follows a young detective, Kelly, who escaped a cult led by Billy Grimm. Kelly’s sister Meadow, and her nephew Andy, have disappeared and she is on the case. Nate has a panicked meeting with his brother at a diner. He is paranoid and convinced someone is after him. A red car drives by (a car just like one driven in “Cult”) and Nate flips. He tells Jeff that if anything happens to him, find Miriam. Then he gives Jeff a pair of high-end 3D glasses - one red lens, one blue - and disappears. Later that night, Jeff gets a call from Nate. The connection is bad, but Nate says, “Well, hey, these things just snap right off” (which is a common saying in “Cult”). There is a thunk and the line goes dead. Jeff goes straight to Nate’s house and discovers that he is not there. There is a huge pool of fresh blood in his desk chair and “Cult” playing on the television.
Detective Sakelik is happy to brush Nate’s disappearance off as a drug deal gone bad, so Jeff takes it upon himself to start investigating. He starts with the “Cult” set, where an unrealistically helpful publicist is ready to give him anything he wants - until she discovers he is no longer with the Post and kicks him out. “Cult” research assistant Skye overhears Jeff’s story about his missing brother and strikes up a conversation. Aside from the normal fandom surrounding a show like “Cult,” there is this whole underground, obsessive fanbase, which sounds like what Nate was a part of. Skye is not part of the obsessive fanbase, but she seems fascinated by it and understands it.
Skye takes Jeff to the fan.dom_ain, a cyber cafe built for fans. In a back room are the hardcore “Cult” fans, who (apparently) have some “Cult” network that can only be accessed from those computers. It is there that they discover “Cult” role players, who are having... whatever role players call a gathering. Upon arriving at a motel (the same one “Cult” shot at) dozens of “Cult” role players spill out and beat a hasty retreat. Inside one of the motel rooms, Skye and Jeff find Miriam, a middle-aged woman who was posing in photos with Nate, crying and hysterical on the floor. She is dressed as Meadow, one of the “Cult” characters who disappears, but then kills herself like another “Cult” character - a shot to the head. Detective Sakelik takes lead on Miriam’s case as well.
Jeff returns to Nate’s house and sorts through more of his belongings. He watches a few scenes of “Cult” from Nate’s DVR: the scene where Meadow is abducted; the scene where Joey (accused kidnapper of Meadow) shoots himself; the scene where Kelly uses her own 3D glasses to discover a CD and little Andy in a crate. Jeff discovers the same CD stuck between two pages of Nate’s “Cult” journal. Skye comes over, and tells him that the same disc on the show would upload all a person’s personal info to Billy Grimm. They pop it into his computer. All it shows is static. Remembering the TV show, Jeff puts on his own pair of 3D glasses and sees a screen of Hangman-style blanks. Jeff fills in the blanks with “Well, hey, these things just snap right off.” The bluetooth turns on, and Jeff gets a phone call. It is Nate, who again sounds static-y. He is mad that Jeff put in the CD. “How could you? Don’t try to find me.” And he is gone.
Also: the waitress at the fan.dom_ain cafe assists in kidnapping one of “Cult’s” studio executives in the same manner that Meadow is kidnapped in the show; and Detective Sakelik has a geometric tattoo that is significant to “Cult.”
Dig It or Bury It?
Barring the typical “pilot woes” (uneven acting, too much info jammed inelegantly into a single episode) I really enjoyed Cult and am looking forward to seeing where this shows goes.
Skye and Jeff attempt to get closer to “Cult’s” notoriously secretive producers.