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episode begins with Mr. Lyle walking into the elevator at The Centre with
an Asian man. As the door is beginning to close, Miss Parker steps
up and tells Lyle that they need to talk. He says, "I'm
busy." She obviously doesn't like the tone of his voice,
because she stops the door from closing with her hand, and looks at Lyle's
guest in the elevator. The man discreetly attempts to obscure his
face by ostensively using the hand between him and Miss Parker to smooth
back his hair. She notices that he has a tattoo on the back of his
hand ... it's a snake, in a circle, eating its own tail. Looking
back to Lyle, Miss Parker says,
"Who's the guy?" Lyle steps forward,
removes Miss Parker's hand so that the elevator door can close and says,
"Not, now ... okay?" The door closes on a disconcerted Miss Parker.
As the elevator begins to move, Lyle offers an apology to the Asian man
for the intrusion.
Accompanied by the sweeper who held the elevator door open for them at The Centre and by Willie the Sweeper, Lyle and the mysterious Asian man enter Patriotic Hall. As they walk toward their destination, someone is taking pictures of them ... moments later, we see that it's Jarod. He continues to watch them as the pause for a moment before entering a room - then follows them toward the room. Inside, there is a throng of people from many cultures, all milling around and talking. At the far end, Lyle is chatting amiably with the Asian man. As Jarod watches them from the doorway, a small Asian woman brushes past him, bumping his arm. As Jarod excuses himself, the woman unfolds the red-tipped cane of a blind person and continues making her way into the room.
As the blind woman nears the center of the room, a judge pounds a gavel and welcomes everyone who is there to what she assures them will be "exciting new lives" as United States citizens. The room immediately falls silent, as the judge tells them all to raise their right hand and repeat after her ... then begins reciting the oath of citizenship. The people in the room respond at the appropriate times during the swearing-in ceremony. But although the blind woman has raised her right hand, she is not repeating the oath. She is listening; trying to single out a single, familiar voice in the crowd. With the heightened senses of someone deprived of their sight, she zeros in on the one voice that has caught her attention and begins walking toward it. She is horrified, appalled, angry ... and begins pointing at the Asian man whom Mr. Lyle accompanied there, repeating a single phrase over and over again in some Asiatic language. Subtitles tell us she is saying ... "Thon the butcher!" The woman isn't getting louder, but the room is falling more silent by the moment as each group of people she passes wonder why she is pointing at the man and what she is saying. Lyle nods to Willie, who makes his way to the nearest fire alarm and pulls it. The alarm sounds and the judge begins telling people to leave the building in an orderly fashion. While Jarod continues watching from the door, Lyle and Willie spirit the Asian man away and INS officers escort the blind woman out of the building and into an official vehicle. It is obvious that the entire scene has intrigued Jarod.
At The Centre, Miss Parker is meeting with Sydney and Broots. Sydney tells Miss Parker that the Asian man signed in under the name, "Ki Mok." Miss Parker recognizes the name as Cambodian, hands over the picture that was taken by one of The Centre's surveillance cameras and tells Broots to run it through The Centre's Interpol service. She remembers the tattoo on the back of Mok's right hand and tells Broots about it to help him with the identification. After Broots leaves, Sydney asks Miss Parker if she thinks Lyle is up to something. She replies that she knows Lyle is up to something ... the question is "what?"
At the Immigration and Naturalization Services office in Riverview, Virginia, Agent Jarod Ellis arrives and tells Agent Berger that he was sent down from DC regarding a case about a blind woman. Agent Berger is a little suspicious and asks Jarod which agent called him. Jarod looks on the woman's desk and sees a note on her calendar that says "J. Rinker leaves on vacation." He tells her that Agent Rinker sent him. Agent Berger tries to trip Jarod up by saying, "Mike Rinker?" Jarod looks at the calender again - sees "J" Rinker - takes a guess and says, "Jack." Agent Berger calls someone that appears to be security and Jarod is worried that he has been found out, but she gets Mr. Rinker's secretary, Carol, and asks if Jack Rinker has already left his office. Finding out that he has, Agent Berger tells Carol to get him on his car phone.
At that moment, an Asian agent approaches Agent Berger from one of the interrogation rooms and tells her that he gives up. He's been questioning the blind woman for over an hour and all he can get out of her is her name and the same phrase over and over again. He repeats the phrase, saying that although he's fluent in five Asian languages, he doesn't understand what she is trying to say. Jarod immediately answers, saying "she's thirsty ... she'd like a drink of water." Agent Berger looks at Jarod and asks him if he speaks Cambodian. He replies ... "Doesn't everybody?" An office worker from another part of the room tells Agent Berger that she has Jack Rinker on the phone. Agent Berger gives Jarod a long look, tells the girl to tell Jack Rinker to have a good vacation and tells Jarod, "she's all yours." Breathing a sigh of relief, Jarod takes a glass of water and heads toward the woman from the ceremony.
As he enters the room, Jarod notices the woman nervously fingering a beaded bracelet that she's wearing. He sits down and begins speaking to Kim Che in her own language. He tells her that his name is Jarod. She is surprised that he can speak her language and Jarod tells her that he speaks it very poorly, then switches to English and says that it would be easier if they could speak that way. She still hesitates, and Jarod puts the glass of water in her hand and tells her that he means her no harm.
At the front desk, Agent Berger is surprised to find herself confronted with a second set of agents who claim to be from DC. It is Willie and another man and they, too, are looking for the blind woman who made the scene at the swearing in ceremony. Agent Berger expresses her surprise at a second set of agents, but her surprise doesn't begin to match Willie's, when he realizes that Jarod is in the building. Willie produces identification that says he is "Agent Green" and the man with him produces identification as well. They satisfy Agent Berger that they are who they say they are, and the two of them head in the direction of the interrogation room in which Jarod sits with Kim Che. Jarod sees them coming, however, and by the time they get to the room, they find it empty of both Jarod and Kim Che.
Back at The Centre, Lyle is having a meeting with Ki Mok. Mok is explaining to Lyle that Kim Che is an unfortunate link to his past, and therefore a link to Lyle's past as well. Lyle doesn't immediately understand the urgency of the situation and comments that the woman is blind. Mok doesn't like the tone of Lyle's voice, rips the glove from Lyle's thumbless hand and tells Lyle that underestimating him has brought more than one army to it's knees. Lyle isn't intimidated at all. He reaches out and grabs Mok's hand, hard ... looks him in the eye and tells him, "we have a very good army here." The tense moment is interrupted by Willie entering the room. Putting his glove back on his damaged hand, Lyle asks Willie, sotto voce, if he found her (meaning Kim Che). Willie tells him that the blind woman was taken. Lyle demands to know who took her and Willie tells him it was Jarod. As Lyle attempts to control his anger over the news, Ki Mok reminds him that they are "at war."
In an apartment somewhere, Kim Che has knocked her purse off of the dinette table and Jarod offers to help her - then picks up the items that spilled out onto the floor. One of them is a picture and the other is a blood stained book. Jarod asks her if the picture is one of her family. She says that it is her father, mother and brother. Jarod asks her where they are now and she tells him they are dead ... all murdered by "the butcher." Jarod is visibly saddened by the news.
At The Centre, Miss Parker is having another meeting with Sydney and Broots. Broots tells her that Mok entered the U.S. three months prior from Venezuela and though Lyle has made three trips there in recent months, The Centre has no business in that area that Broots could find. Broots also tells Miss Parker that while he was in the bathroom, he overheard a couple of sweepers say that they had a close encounter with Jarod today. Miss Parker wants to know where it took place and Broots tells her that it was just across the river - in Virginia. He goes on to say that Willie has been special temporary duty to Lyle's team. Upon hearing the news, Miss Parker gets up from her desk and tells Sydney that she's going to have a little talk with "baby brother."
Back in the apartment, Kim Che is sleeping. Jarod covers her gently, then takes the opportunity to look through her purse. He sees the picture and the blood stained book again, and also finds several receipts from "Li Lo's Grocery" -- taking these items, and Kim Che's beaded prayer bracelet, Jarod leaves to find this place.
Miss Parker comes upon Lyle in the hallway and follows him for a bit. She asks him why Raines sweeper is suddenly working for him. She wants to know who Ki Mok is and gives her opinion that the only reason a Cambodian would come from someplace like Venezuela is because there is no extradition treaty there. Lyle doesn't answer any of her questions and tries to escape her by going into the men's room. Miss Parker isn't going to be put off, so she follows him in there! Lyle tells her that he'd like some privacy, but Miss Parker doesn't care and doesn't leave.
As he uses the facility, Lyle explains Ki Mok to Miss Parker - telling her that he owed the man a favor and was able to repay it when Mok needed a sponsor to become a U.S. citizen and by getting him a commission as cultural liaison at the port authority. Then he tells Miss Parker to refocus her attention on catching Jarod and climb off of his back before he runs out of patience. Miss Parker refuses to let Lyle see that she might be taking him seriously, so she asks him with a smile if that was a threat. But after Lyle leaves the room, Miss Parker isn't smiling anymore.
Jarod has found Li Lo's Grocery and explains to him why he wants to know about Kim Che's family. Li Lo tells Jarod that as a child of 6, Kim Che witnessed her entire family being executed by Colonel Chen Thon. She lost her sight at that time, and in the 25 years that followed, has not regained it. Kim Che is the only person left alive that could stand as a witness to Colonel Thon's atrocities. Li Lo tells Jarod that if Colonel Thon is in the United States, then Kim Che's life is in danger ... and by helping her, Jarod has put his life in danger, too.
At The Centre, Miss Parker is meeting with Sydney. She tells Sydney that Lyle's story in relation to Mok doesn't make sense -- she is sure there is more going on there than meets the eye. Broots comes into the room and says that it's as though Mok has appeared out of thin air. He cannot find any birth certificates, no school records ... nothing. He tells Miss Parker and Sydney that in trying to double check some information from a file he had accessed earlier, he found that the file was gone - deleted. Miss Parker directs Broots to initiate another search on Mok, this time targeting Southeast Asia ... books, magazines, anything at all. She also tells Broots to hurry, before Mok disappears completely.
Jarod returns to his apartment to find Kim Che gone. As he is searching the rooms for her, he hears church bells from an open window and sees the church lit up in the night. Jarod pulls the prayer bead bracelet from his pocket and decides that the church is probably where Kim Che went. He finds her there, praying by a fountain. As he gives her back her bracelet, Jarod tells her that he understands pain and loss and asks her about her blindness. Moved by Jarod's ability to empathize with her situation, Kim Che tells him how her family was killed and how she lost her sight, when her country fell into war in "the year zero." Jarod tells her that he wants to help her see again and asks her permission to examine her eyes. Kim Che can feel that Jarod, too, has lost many people that he has loved, and she grants the permission he requested.
Back at the apartment, Jarod calls Sydney on the phone. He tells him that he has examined Kim Che's eyes and that he didn't find any damage or disease. Jarod asks Sydney if he has ever encountered something called "terror silence." Sydney says that he has and tells Jarod that it can be overcome, usually by the person facing the very thing that terrified them in the first place. He tells Jarod to move carefully, or the damage could be irreversible. Then he warns Jarod that Miss Parker is planning on being at Ki Mok's confirmation that afternoon, so that Jarod won't be caught unawares. Jarod explains to Kim Che that he believes she has something known as a "conversion disorder" and that he thinks she could regain her sight if she were willing to face her fears. But Kim Che tells Jarod that she has spent most of her life trying to forget the nightmare - she cannot be drawn back into it now. Jarod realizes how much Kim Che has suffered and tells her that he will find another way to help her.
At The Centre, Broots' search has turned up an article on Mok from a Bangkok newspaper ... a copy of which he gives to Miss Parker. Chen Thon's real name is in the article, along with a picture of him with Lyle. Miss Parker realizes that Lyle lied about how and when he met Mok/Thon. Broots says that he didn't have the newspaper translated because he knew Miss Parker spoke the language. In reading the article, Miss Parker says that Lyle was arrested for assaulting a couple of prostitutes ... but something else in the article upsets her even more than that and not long after, she is in the women's bathroom, being sick to her stomach.
Lyle is in his office, on the phone, telling some secretary that he doesn't want any more excuses, he only wants any previous traces of Thon's previous life wiped out. After Lyle finishes with the phone conversation, his Asian secretary comes in the room and tells him that Mr. Mok called and asked to meet him right away, downstairs, regarding the blind woman. As Lucy turns to leave, Lyle notices her legs and how well her Asian dress conforms to her figure. His gaze changes to one of longing and he compliments her.
As Lyle gets into the limo where he thinks Mok is waiting, all of the doors lock and will not open. The driver who turns around is the regular driver at all, but Jarod. With Lyle trapped in the back of the car, Jarod drives away.
Lyle awakens in the middle of a room, shirtless and shoeless, tied to a chair, with a black hood over his head. Jarod is pacing around him and finally removes the hood. Lyle tells Jarod that he won't get away with it - people will be looking for him ... then is surprised to have Jarod tell him that he knows all about Colonel Mok and how Lyle intends to have him appointed to the port commission so that they will have an open pipeline to smuggle in heroine from Southeast Asia. Lyle tells Jarod there is nothing he can do about it - Miss Parker will have a small army waiting for him at the hearing in the afternoon. As he's talking to Lyle, Jarod is filling a bucket full of water and he puts Lyle's feet into it. Then he dumps another bucket of water over Lyle, soaking him. He tells Lyle that he wants him to call Miss Parker ... tell her that he captured him and give her that address. When she arrives there, she will end up trapped inside with Lyle, freeing Jarod to go to the commission meeting without fear of being apprehended. Lyle asks what will happen if he refuses to call and Jarod clips live battery cables onto the sides of the bucket in which Lyle's feet are soaking. Lyle lifts his feet out of the bucket, only to find Jarod threatening him with a cattle prod.
Sydney goes into Miss Parker's office and finds her still reading the paper from Bangkok. He tells her that he knows something is wrong and asks her if she is having trouble believing what the paper says. Miss Parker tells Sydney that the story isn't about an assault, it's about a double murder. She tells him that it says Lyle, who was the prime suspect, used an unidentified military source to cut a deal with the police. Sydney correctly surmises that it had to be Colonel Thon who helped Lyle. Miss Parker goes on to tell Sydney that the women weren't just murdered ... they were mutilated; some of their internal organs were removed. It's making Miss Parker visibly sick to tell Sydney about this ... and then the phone rings. It's Lyle, saying that he's captured Jarod and giving Miss Parker an address. She tells him that she's on her way, hangs up and leaves the room.
At the appointment session of the Port Authority, Ki Mok is about to receive his appointment ... his record appears to be sterling; his recommendations are exemplary. The committee is about to vote on the appointment when Jarod arrives and tells them who Ki Mok really is. Thon denies Jarod's charges and says that his life is an open book before the committee ... if there is one voice, one person who can prove that he is guilty, then let them step forward.
To Jarod's surprise, Kim Che arrives with Li Lo. Ki Mok/Chen Thon says that she cannot identify him, because she is blind. But Kim Che folds up her cane and her vision begins to clear ... moments later she can identify Ki Mok as Chen Thon, and does! She presents the bloody book, saying that the blood on it is his - that it was drawn by a terrified 6 year old girl - her - as she tried to defend her family from the murderous Thon. The authorities take Thon in to custody and he is taken away, screaming in anger.
Back at The Centre, Miss Parker is walking down the hallway and Broots is following her from below, telling her that he realizes she's probably not in a very good mood, having spent the night trapped with Lyle and having been duped once again by Jarod, but he wants to tell her that he found out what the tattoo on Thon's hand means -- it's the Cambodian symbol for cannibalism.
Miss Parker remembers untying Lyle in the room where Jarod trapped them and seeing the same symbol tattooed on his arm ... then thinks back to the articles about the women and the missing organs -- and goes to confront Lyle. She tells him that she now knows why Jarod didn't finish him off when he had the chance ... he didn't want to kill the drama. Miss Parker tosses the newspaper clippings from Bangkok on Lyle's desk and tells him that after seeing the tattoo on his arm, she thinks that the triumvirate would be interested to know that they have a psychopathic, flesh-eating, serial killer running things. Lyle says that he has more than one tattoo, advances on Miss Parker, and asks her if she'd like to see the others ... but she flinches away from him. Lyle reminds her that he was cleared of the charges relating to the murders of the women, and Miss Parker tells him that she plans to offer a deal to Thon ... she is certain that once she does, Thon will give her all the evidence she needs to finish Lyle at The Centre. Lyle just smiles and says that obviously she hasn't read the morning paper ... he shows it to her ... it has a story in it that says Thon was killed in an auto accident. Lyle goes to the refrigerator and takes out some leftover food that is in a Chinese take-out container, then holds out a piece of something on the chopsticks toward Miss Parker as though asking her if she would like to share some. When she doesn't repsond, he begins to eat it with chopsticks. Lyle tells Miss Parker that the newspaper describes Thon's accident as "tragic" but he prefers to think of it as "karma." As she looks at Lyle and tells him that he's insane, the smile never leaves his face. But when Miss Parker has left the room and the door has closed behind her - he immediately stops eating and becomes serious ... deadly serious.
the screen fades to black.
This episode of The Pretender starred:
Michael T. Weiss as Jarod, Andrea Parker as Miss Parker,
Patrick Bauchau as Sydney, Jon Gries as Broots,
Jamie Denton as Mr. Lyle, and Willie Gault as Willie the Sweeper
"Agent of Year Zero" was written
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