Eleventh Hour: “Minamata”

Last week, Eleventh Hour handily dispatched the nemesis I didn’t know that Dr. Rufus even had. This week, they apparently add a third person to the team. I am beginning to believe that the writers’ room has decided to hit as many milestones as they can as fast as they can, like the Futurama episode where they go to the edge of the universe just to fill an afternoon. When the Eleventh Hour writers have done every series milestone by episode 22, we will hit quantum TV and the world will be different forever.

Until then, I’ll just recap this week.

“Minamata” was clearly drawn from one of the writers’ real-life experiences with mercury poisoning. However, it’s never the plot of an Eleventh Hour episode that makes it worth watching. Below is our weekly checklist of series hallmarks, and a Premature Television Milestone!

The first victim of the mercury poisoning is a traffic-copter pilot who goes blind mid-broadcast and crashes. His wife, who is pregnant (of course), falls blind hours later, followed by dozens of others, because symptom manifestations on this show are never staggered, and people always wait for Rufus to arrive before becoming ill. The cause turns out to be mercury poisoning, caused by eating too much mercury-heavy fish. Or, caused by the huge vintage fridge full of mercury they find at the bottom of the nearest lake. Whichever. SCIENCE.

The five important things you need to know:

1. This show has such a focus on motherhood that it seriously creeps me out. This week it was a pregnant widow who refuses mercury treatment so that she can gestate her baby a little longer before the emergency C-section. “I’m not going to lose my child!” she moans, frowning through the gauze bandages wrapped around her eyes. And because she was married when she got pregnant, the baby makes it! Thanks for reinforcing that marital talisman for the fourteenth time, Eleventh Hour. (Don’t look at me; I just report the news.)

2. Science Alert: It’s totally fine to open up a suspicious fridge without taking any kind of containment precaution. That mercury that spilled all over the ship’s deck will come right up with a Swiffer or something. Breathe deep!

3. Despite a momentary attempt at suspense, it’s obvious that the man who did it is Michael Cudlitz, because he is a recognizable character actor. And why did he do it? To force people to recognize that pollution is bad! By…polluting the lake with a heavy metal and causing decades of damage. I think that everyone in this episode bathed in mercury as a kid.

4. This episode introduces Felix Lee, a young recruit who provides “comedy” by constantly referencing Wikipedia, which is more than the writers seem to have done. At the end of the episode (two-thirds of the way through the first season), the pair offer him a position on the FBI Science Advisor team as Token Comedy Sidekick. He’s thrilled! Pre-credit billing!

Marley Shelton tries to look like she’s not worried about her job come Season Two*. Let’s hope that next week’s Premature Television Milestone is you sleeping with your partner, eh, Marley? Drag out your tenure!

5. At the end of this episode, Dr. Rufus assures everyone that the mercury that leaked from the fridge will clean itself out of the ecosystem “soon enough.” Tune in next week as Dr. Rufus patches the hole in the ozone layer with some gum and reverses global warming.

* Of course there will be a second season. Eleventh Hour will be airing long after nuclear war decimates us. Millenia from now, aliens will discover the remnants of our planet after flying thousands of light years to complain about the bad episodes of Eleventh Hour cluttering up the universe.

Below, enjoy the only good scene from this week, in which Dr. Rufus and Agent Young take a trip to the suspicious lake and are struck by senile seagulls. Say it three times fast!

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