...unaware that Zombie Nolan is now coming at her with a knife. After a joke about rigor mortis being the new Viagra that absolutely did not make me laugh (HA!), Priya tries to tell herself it's all in her mind, and if she came to this conclusion without any assistance she gets the Smarty Award for the episode. It's amber and comes in a large can. Anyway, her mental efforts seem to have worked when she sees Nolan back on the bed lying still, but then Arcane shows up and tells her there's no reason to be afraid. Except for the part where HE WANTS THEM TO BE AFRAID, RIGHT? I'm starting to think the ease of his job up to this point has made Arcane kind of an idiot as well as a candy-ass. Priya's face goes steely: "You sure about that?" Awww, yeah, because the three ass-kickers have appeared, and they tackle Arcane out into an alleyway filled with garbage. When they fish him out, though, they find nothing but a nerdy middle-aged white guy, who asks what they've done. I could use some clarification myself. Laurence uncertainly asks, "Arcane?" but the guy corrects him that it's actually "Clyde," and I thought "Arcane" was kind of a dumb moniker but now I see the problem, at least. Echo asks if the chaos around them is Clyde's worst nightmare, but he tells her no -- "This is the shape of things to come." And where is that? The post-apocalyptic world of Epitaph One, of course! Man, that is awesome. They had to tie it in at some point, but I wasn't expecting that now. Also, the stock of the act breaks is back on the rise.
In the lab, Boyd takes a hearty swig of a flask he's been carrying around, and Topher asks if that takes away the fear. Topher, surely you've heard the expression "liquid courage" at some point in your geeky existence, no? Boyd confirms it, "and the pain too, sometimes," prompting Topher to note that that's what they're going to do to Ballard. Boyd opines that he'll be even more pissed off than usual, but Topher's like, not if I take away his anger. If you do that, might I inquire as to what will be left? Turns out he was kidding, though, but after Boyd tosses him the flask and he takes a big sip, he says in all seriousness, "That woman is going to drag us straight to Hell." Probably true, but not by the path you're thinking.
Speaking of Hell, back in the Attic, Clyde, who by the way I last saw on TV selling Don Draper a Cadillac, is stunned by his newfound associates' awareness of their situation, and then Laurence asks why he calls himself "Arcane." Clyde shrugs and says it sounded "badass," which: No, and Echo's about ready to get rid of him and his stupid nickname, but he begs her not to, saying that if he dies, there will be no one left to take down Rossum. Echo: "That's my line." Heh. As he watches for trouble, Victor asks why, then, he was trying to kill them, unleashing the full force of a mighty wave of exposition: The people in the Attic are Rossum's mainframe -- the reason they keep being made to solve the problems of their worst nightmares is that their brains are being used as human processors, which are far more powerful than any computer. The man might revise his assessment were he aware of the political goings-on of the last decade, but let's ignore that to get on with the story: There are hundreds of people in all the different Attics, which are connected by a central hub, and with their brains continually soaked with adrenaline from the fear, they're maximally productive, to Rossum's benefit. He goes on that he was killing people partially to free them from an eternal Hell, but more to take out Rossum's CPUs in order to prevent the apocalypse they see represented around them. Echo asks how he knows all this is true, and gets this answer: "Because it was my idea." Shades of Dr. Dyson and SkyNet, no? The group is then accosted by some Dumbshows or whatever and forced to fight their way through before holing themselves up somewhere, and I should mention that while they're certainly not hesitating to dump the exposition in our laps, it's kind of necessary, and they're doing well to surround it with an episode long on action and twisty turns. Anyway, after Tony and Priya compare notes on their nightmares, Clyde tells them the rest -- he was one of two original founders of Rossum, the other being his "best mate at university." He, Clyde, discovered "Encephalitic Communication and Coding," but his friend was the one who came up with the plan to use it, and the idea was to imprint someone with Clyde's personality but not all of his knowledge and ambition -- "Clyde 2.0" would have no aspirations and would simply follow orders. Echo guesses that Clyde's friend betrayed him, and Clyde affirms that, saying he trusted him or her, but he or she was the one that gave Clyde 2.0 the order to double-cross him, and that was the beginning of the Attic -- they cleared his head out and made him a human computer, which happened back in 1993. His nightmare, or "loop," has been to run statistical scenarios to see where the technology might lead, and in all but three percent, civilization ends. But are we talking Lord Of The Flies, or something more Biblical? I just want to be clear on my options here. Clyde asks what year it is, and when Echo guesses 2010 ("I don't know how long we've been off the air," and at least they have a sense of humor about it), Clyde perks up, as the future he's envisioned hasn't yet come to pass. He tells them the first thing Rossum will do is install an imprinted person in the government, and when Echo's like, they did that already, Laurence and Clyde amusingly reply in unison, "They did?" Clyde says that puts them ahead of schedule, and then Laurence asks who Clyde's old partner is, but he's unable to remember faces or names from the outside, "not to mention the fact that Clyde 2.0 has probably switched bodies by now!" Hmm, Topher and Bennett seem like the only candidates smart enough, but we've seen hard evidence that neither of them is a Doll. Maybe his personality is in Alpha at the moment? That could be interesting. Oh, wait -- what about Whiskey? That could be it, no? On top of that, I should add that we don't know that everything Clyde is saying is true -- he could be using this group to try to advance a private end, possibly placing revenge on his partner over the greater good. But anyway, Clyde goes on that if they could eliminate "that backstabber and the copy of me that does his or her bidding," they might be able to stop them. Priya points out the big and immediate problem, though, that being that there's no way out of the Attic, and Clyde confirms that's true. Victor adds that they have no way of identifying the traitorous element, but Clyde says there's been talk amongst the security personnel that a woman was mistakenly allowed to see them, but they scrubbed her clean -- and with a flash of realization, Echo breathes, "Caroline." FINALLY, an actual reason for Caroline's importance! Didn't think the show could or would give us that, but here we are. Clyde confirms that "Caroline" rings a very large bell, and Echo reveals that that was she, but she doesn't have access to any of her memories at the moment. Just then, someone fires through the wooden slats shielding them from the outside, and after they all take cover, Laurence asks what would happen if their bodies were disconnected from the Attic by someone on the outside. Clyde says brain death would be the result, so Echo tries the effect of a desperation move -- taking a bullet in the gut. After she sinks to her knees, she breathes, "I know a way out," which is all well and good, but if she tells them that death is her gift that's going to be a meta reference too far.