This week’s episode (invisible subtitle: “The Wide World of Monkeys, and Also We Know About PTSD”) had a tough job. It is not easy to follow the episode about huge mouthwash containers with heads stacked up inside them like a game of Connect Four. There is only one way to top frozen heads, and this show found it with guest star Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club) and a chimpanzee.
Renowned scientist Dr. Judd Nelson (St. Elmo’s Fire) is working on some top-secret Science that requires a chimpanzee to wear a funny helmet. All seems to be going well with the chimp’s accelerated responsiveness until one delightful morning when Dr. Judd Nelson (New Jack City) walks into the lab and realizes that two of his three chimps are dead, and also maybe a lab tech, but who cares about the lab tech? Murderous Monkeys! Sociopathic Simians! And no one knows from chimps like Dr. Rufus Sewell, apparently, since he’s hired at once to get to the bottom of this monkey business. (I’m sorry. I had to.)
This episode, even with the presence of guest star Judd Nelson (Santa, Jr.), never reaches the surreal heights of last week. It tries instead to be Deeply Relevant by including two, two, two hotbed issues in one: animal experimentation and PTSD. The connection between the two is thin; from what we see, if you experiment on a chimp he sits in his cage and looks forlorn, and if you experiment on a soldier he turns into dailies from The Bourne Identity.
This week’s moral dilemma: Animal testing! Lab assistant Rudy hates how the animals are treated, but Dr. Rufus smugly points out Rudy’s diabetes, the medication for which was discovered and developed through animal testing, so without animal testing, Rudy would be a total goner. That’ll teach YOU to rail against hooking chimps up to supersoldier steroids, Mister!
This week’s irrelevant science term: Toxoplasmosis! According to Dr. Rufus and Dr. Judd Nelson (Netherbeast Incorporated), the biggest symptom is a change in handedness. There’s a handy way to check yourself for toxoplasmosis! Ambidextrous readers are out of luck.
Of course it’s never going to be the first disease you think of, and they end up stymied when their simian suspect is found dead at a park after having mauled some poor jogger to death. It’s a sad scene, right up until Agent Young tells Dr. Judd Nelson (Cybermutt), “It’s a criminal matter now. It’s out of your hands.” Then it’s awesome. Can I start a band and call it Criminal Chimp?
Dr. Rufus and Agent Young now attempt to ferret out the mysterious Seventh Test Subject, the young soldier about whom the viewer has known since five minutes into the episode. It’s unfortunate that this show isn’t good enough to generate suspense in two storylines at once. Then again, I’d settle for suspense in only one storyline. When your greatest moment of drama involves a container of cashews and an iPod charger, it’s time for a script doctor, you know?
The PTSD storyline takes a serious backseat; all we really get from our soldier friend is a sad outburst of cabinet-punching and a long wallow on a swingset as he waits for Dr. Rufus to show up and rescue him. Then he snaps, breaks into a pharmacy, and holds two cops hostage until Dr. Rufus Sewell (FBI Science Advisor, Cashew Demonstrator, and Trained Hostage Negotiator) can talk him down. Then he goes to a mental institution for further study to undo the damage the first study did, and they haven’t even dealt with his actual PTSD yet.
Basically, with this episode, CBS is trying to say don’t join the Army. And never participate in scientific studies, unless you’re diabetic, RUDY. And never accept an offer of help from Judd Nelson (Lethal Eviction). And finally, if you meet a simian in the woods don’t provoke it; you never know when it will be a Criminal Chimp.
Which reminds me—does anyone want to join my band?
Eleventh Hour airs Thursdays at 10pm on CBS.