“Titans” is technically about college kids in Oklahoma dying of the bends. In reality, this episode highlights the scientific dangers of having siblings who are athletes. After being secretly gene-doped, these kids start dropping and the race is on to discover what happened. Our villain this episode is a cocky Sports Medicine dropout who’s trying to develop untraceable gene-doping to improve the performance of athletes, making them vastly superior—Titans, even. Oh episode title, I see what you did there.
The casualties this week are metaphorically or literally two-dimensional.
Victim 1: We never see. They hold up a fuzzy photo every so often.
Victim 2: A young lady who had premarital relations with a young gentleman on a plane as a choir sang in the main cabin. No, really. And they opened the show with this scene because CBS wants you to know that when two young people have sex, one of them is gonna drop dead. (The young lady. Progressive, CBS!)
Victim 3: A young man who gets a respite from the bends inside a pressure chamber, and spends the rest of the episode staring out a little window like a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey and insisting that he’s not important/worth saving since he’s only going to be an engineer. (…I don’t even know what to tell you about any of that.)
What do these two-and-a-half victims have in common? Yup, siblings. Victim 1 had a sibling who was an athlete, Victim 2’s sister (Vivian) is a diver, and Victim 3, our emo engineer, has a brother on the football team.
Life alert: If you have a sibling who is an athlete, they are probably part of an illegal flu-shot ring that will unwittingly gene-dope you and kill you dead. Just something to think about before you go home for the holidays.
Of course, we know things will be all right when hunky Dr. Rufus Sewell and everyone’s favorite twelve-year-old FBI bodyguard, Rachel Young, show up to solve some crime through Science.
Dr. Rufus’s food demonstration of the week is a soda-explosion representing the excess nitric oxide that gets manufactured in your bloodstream when you have the bends. It usually occurs in divers and not, you know, kids in Oklahoma. Also, it looks ridiculously painful; soda is a much more effective demonstration tool than grapes or cashews.
They discover that some of the college flu shots are actually a test of an experimental gene-dope being manufactured by some unscrupulous individuals. They frown about how it’s impossible to remove genes and how all four thousand kids who got the flu shot might be one gym session away from dropping dead. I guess that will teach you to get a flu shot? (This show is setting science back ten years with every episode. Soon we’ll be living in 1760 again, and those floating frozen heads will be in big trouble.)
With the total lack of narrative suspense for which this show is famous, we learn long before Dr. Rufus does that the mastermind behind it all is our gent from Premarital Airways, in cahoots with Vivian the diver, who begins to be a little skeeved that her boyfriend killed her sister trying to make her some undetectable steroids. Wracked with guilt, she sends an explanatory email to the University (which he magically “un-sends”—you can do that in Oklahoma, I guess), and then she does a triple-gainer into the deep end of an empty pool.
Science alert: Don’t do that! Seriously! The results are not pretty!
How Dr. Rufus and Agent Young manage to work their way from her suicide to Premarital Airways, making brief stops at Interrogation Lane and Hilarious Low-Speed Vespa Chase-ville.
But even though justice has been served, they still have a future engineer stuck inside HAL 9000. This is when being the Science Adviser to the FBI really comes in handy, as Dr. Rufus tells a lady scientist to manufacture another gene to interact with the injected gene, because if there’s one thing the human body likes, it’s more genes. Happy ending! Delegation! SCIENCE.
This episode, with a plot even more half-baked than normal for this show, nonetheless teaches several important lessons: never put ginger ale in your bloodstream; never make out with anyone since they are probably a mad scientist who’s into your sister; and please, never have siblings.
Next week: Sexually-transmitted bacteria! CBS is the school-dance-chaperone of networks.
Eleventh Hour airs Thursdays at 10pm on CBS.