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The Equation


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Drama/Horror/Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller, USA, 2008, 47 min.

Synopsis A boy in a car on a rainy night draws sheet music. His dad objects, saying Ben (Charlie Tahan) was supposed to take a break from the music. Dad (Adam Grupper) hears yelling and pulls over to see a woman under an umbrella. Her car is dead. He calls for a tow, reading her plate. He offers to look under her hood. He sees flashing red and green lights, flashing in time. They mesmerize him. Suddenly the tow truck driver is there and his and the woman with hers is gone. So is his son.Broyles (Lance Reddick) tells Olivia (Anna Torv) about the man's claim time "just jumped." Naturally, it's not the first time it's happened. Three other cases have the same claims. The first was found, the others not so good. One victim tried to lobotomize herself with a butter knife. The other victims are academics, unlike the 10 year old. Walter (John Noble) remembers flashing red and green lights, but that's all.Highland, Conn. They visit the father, who swears he's not crazy. Olivia tells dad the other victims were experts in their fields. He says his son was, too. He explains his wife was killed crossing the street nine months ago. Ben was hit. When he woke up... the dad puts in a DVD.Ben plays piano like a prodigy. Doctors attributed it to brain trauma. He became fixated on music.Ben sits, chained in a darkened room, tapping his food. A woman checks on him, asking how he's doing. He says he wants to go home. But someone else is there to see him instead. His mother, the dead one.Harvard Walter works on the flashing red and green lights to try to jar his memory. That's not working, but he has a theory on how the boy was taken. He was once hired to create flashing lights that could hypnotize. His old experiment failed, but he thinks the green and red were key. Walter tests on Peter (Joshua Jackson), who announces it doesn't work. But then he awakes to find it's lunch time and his shirt sleeves have been cut off, Chachi-style.Francis (Kirk Acevedo) calls Dunham, telling him the woman from the sketch, Joane Ostler (Gillian Jacobs), died 10 years ago when her car went off a bridge - eight months before any abductions. Either she survived or they're chasing a ghost.Walter sings Christmas carols hoping it'll jog his memory about the lights. "Dashing through the snow" brings him to Dashiell Briggs (Randall Duk Kim), a fellow inmate from St. Claire's asylum.Dunham tells Broyles they think Briggs might be another victim. Walter remembers him telling a story about being put to sleep by a woman with a Christmas tree. He later killed his wife. He was also a defense contract consultant, which means it'll take forever to get permission to talk to him.The woman leads Ben down a basement hallway full of pipes and tubes to a locker room with a piano and sheet music. He turns around and sees his mom.Olivia tells Peter about nasty Dashiell and Walter thinks of him as his "old friend." He recognizes an equation from the crime scene photos, scribbled on the walls. Dashiell was obsessed with it, like Ben with the music.Peter thinks Dashiell's equation might be music, 'cuz he's smart like that. He converts the fractions to notes and plays a quiet, melancholy tune. It's Ben's song. But what are they both trying to solve?Ben tries to figure out why he can see and hug his dead mom. She tells him to finish the song like the woman wants.St. Claire's hospital.Olivia returns, wanting to talk to a Dashiell. But the head dude, Dr. Sumner (William Sadler), remembers her as the one who took Walter and says he has no business being out among "the rest of us." He says subjecting them to interrogation isn't good for them. But he'd like to help, really.He suggests an alternative: He'll allow Walter Bishop to talk to Briggs.At the lab, Peter tries to keep Olivia from sending Walter back to the loony bin. They talk about Walter as if he's not in the room, which he objects to. He also says he'd rather not go back. But he will, for the little boy.Creepy head guy greets Walter with the look of a man hoping he'll crack. He leads Walter back among the loons. He has 10 minutes with Briggs, who doesn't recognize him at first.Walter rags on the doctors in medical-speak, which Briggs enjoys. Walter asks to hear his story about the green and red lights. Briggs says he doesn't know what Walter's referring to. He wants to finish his butterscotch pudding in peace.Walter grabs a crayon and starts writing Briggs's formula on a table top. Briggs says mathematical formulations are not conducive to his mental stability. He starts yelling. Walter presses Briggs and they start struggling. The head guy instructs someone to sedate Walter.Sumner explains to Peter and Olivia what he's done, saying he has a responsibility to hold Walter. They're welcome to get a court order saying otherwise.Back in his cell, Walter reverts to singing "Row, row your boat" again on his lone cot.He pictures himself talking to him.Dunham gets a call from general counsel, who tells her the court order should be ready in the morning.Peter has some ideas for aliases Joanne Ostler would have used, variations on hotel names. Apparently "Ostler" is middle English for "inn keeper" which gets him to Joanne Ritz, in Clarksburg.Ben plays while his mother cheers him on. But Ben doesn't know how it ends. His mom starts bleeding and starts looking battered. Joanne tells him if he loses her again, he'll only have himself to blame. Trauma as incentive.Walter chats with Briggs while seeing himself across the yard. He tells Briggs about the missing boy. Briggs says the woman promised him what he wanted most of all, but when he couldn't solve the equation, she took it away. Flash to Ben going through the same thing.She filled his mind with images of people he loved and then tortured them, but he couldn't give her what she wanted. Briggs starts breaking down, saying none of it happened and it was a bad dream. He doesn't remember where he was other than a dungeon in a red castle.Sumner tells Peter he's making a terrible mistake. He's going to petition the state to have him removed from Peter's custody. Peter replies Sumner has no idea what he's capable of. When Sumner asks if Peter is making threats, silence. However, the look of Peter's face is answer enough.Peter goes to see his dad, who is calm and says he'd like to go now. He's haunted by talking to Dashiell. He asks Peter if that's what it's like to talk to him.Agent Francis canvasses Clarksburg with Olivia. Peter calls her and mentions the red castle with a dungeon Walter got from Kim. Olivia turns and sees a shuttered red carousel. Inside, Francis and Olivia head downstairs. Olivia ends up in the same hallway Ben was in before.She finds Ben strapped into a machine. She starts to look for how to unhook him when Joanne comes at her from behind. Ben wakes up to see them fight. They crash around the lab until Joanne runs off and Oliva points her gun at her. Joanne flips a remote switch and lights start flashing red and green. Olivia freezes and what seems like seconds later Francis finds her still in the hallway alone.Back at their hotel, Walter tells Peter he thinks he's ready for his own room. Peter tells Walter what he did going back into St. Claire's was very brave.Joanne brings the equation to parasite-free Mitchell Loeb (Chance Kelly).He plugs the numbers into a computer and puts a red apple in a safe. Their black box starts humming and thumping with his hand inside it. He pulls out the apple previously in the safe. It worked.He celebrates by killing Joanne with a shot to the chest.He calls someone to relay the good news.At HQ, Ben is reunited with his dad.

Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton  

Starring Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Lance Reddick, Kirk Acevedo, Blair Brown, more...

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