‘Perception’ ‘Cipher’ Recap: What Is a Conscience?

Perception continues with episode 4, “Cipher.” Lewicki alerts Pierce to a letter to the editor that sounds like one of his rants and lets it be known that he doesn’t feel appreciated, so he goes on strike. As Pierce looks at the letter, his hallucination of the week (Cary Elwes) shows up to help him crack the code.

The angry rant really reveals “one down, four to go,” for a crime that will be front-page news. Kate thinks Pierce could be making connections that aren’t there, but once they get a call about a lawyer dying from a sarin attack, that changes. They have to look into his cases for enemies, and one does stick out: Miller v. Klausner, an exterminator. Klausner would have everything needed to mix up sarin, and while he’s angry, once he’s in interrogation, Pierce realizes he couldn’t have written the letter because he’s dyslexic. He’s not their man.

Pierce comes up with a response letter, signed “Kindred Spirit,” and Kate posts it as a comment to the original letter online. When the guy responds, it’s with the promise of another victim and another cipher. Pierce retreats to work on the cipher, and it’s his hallucination who gives him the clue that it wouldn’t work if the other person couldn’t play along. He advises Pierce to look at the numbers, and he figures it out, but it’s too late. The banker is in a coma, but using brain scans and telling him to think of two different actions, leading to different parts of the brain lighting up, Pierce comes up with a way to talk to him. He knew the lawyer, and he tells them “Dafoe” when asked why they were attacked. He dies before they can get more.

Mr. Dafoe says they were all business acquaintances, but what connects them in the killer’s eyes? Dafoe does bring up an instance where they had to layoff many employees before an IPO, which is standard. It’s a long list. Pierce sends another message, saying he understands him, but the guy responds by saying he doesn’t and he’s done with him. Pierce turns to Natalie to talk about the case, and she alerts him to the sirens right next door. There was another attack, but this time, the package wasn’t opened by anyone. It was dropped in the mailroom, killing someone working there. The mailing label was incinerated in the explosion, but since the paper mentions Pierce is helping the police, they think he’s in danger, meaning he needs a guard: Probert.

At home, Pierce discusses the matter with Natalie. He doesn’t think the package was meant for him. When Probert interrupts to ask for mustard, Pierce calls Lewicki, who reminds him he’s on strike. He helps Probert because he’s nice. Pierce refocuses on the case and goes through the faculty directory. Arthur Wei holds the Dafoe Professorship of Genetic Engineering, and when Pierce visits him, Wei admits he created a new strain of corn for Dafoe’s company. However, it wiped out the corn in neighboring farms, and Dafoe used that to sue the farmers for selling “his” corn via copyright infringement. The farmers ended up in foreclosure. When Arthur threatened to reveal what Dafoe was doing, he got his funding.

The lawyer handled the lawsuits, while the banker fast-tracked the farms to foreclosure so Dafoe could grab the properties. With the threat of being on the killer’s list, Dafoe tells them about a man at a shareholder’s meeting yelling threats. That was Paul, but he’s currently serving time. However, the message in code was likely to him since his mail is read. His wife hung herself, and something in his son, Eddie, broke after everything went down. He’s not home, but there is a place he goes to think, and Eddie has left another coded message. Pierce suspects he’s feeling guilty that an innocent college student died. This code is a book cipher, and his hallucination stresses to search his mind like the message reads. It’s Pierce’s book, “The Mind,” and the code reads, “Today I destroy the villain the same way the villain destroyed my family.” His hallucination suggests another code, but Natalie helps Pierce realize Eddie’s going after Dafoe’s parents.

Outside their house, the FBI sets up, but Pierce knows that Eddie’s waiting for him—and Eddie will only let him inside. He threatens to blow the place up if someone else tries to enter. Eddie has taped Dafoe’s parents’ mouths shut and bound their hands, but they’re still alive. Eddie wanted him there because he said he was his kindred spirit. Pierce knew it was a risk, but walked in anyway. He believes in what he’s fighting for and understands why he wants to make them pay, but Dafoe’s parents are innocent. Eddie argues that they raised Dafoe, but Pierce uses that logic to argue that Paul raised him, and he has a conscience. He’s finished the job. Dafoe and Wei are going to jail. Pierce is willing to talk to an attorney about getting Eddie sentenced to the same prison as a father.

Eddie feels that he deserves to die for the innocent girl’s death, and Pierce warns him to get away from the window just as one of the agents takes the shot. Enough people had died already. Eddie surrenders.

“What is a conscience?” Pierce asks his class. Paul and Eddie are reunited in prison. Dafoe is arrested. Pierce puts together a plate of fruit for Lewicki. Strike over.

What did you think of Perception episode 4, “Cipher”?

Photo Credit: Doug Hyun

© Meredith Jacobs 2012

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College graduate, television fanatic, writer.

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