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Skin to Win

Out in the fire escape, Ryan tells Erica that nobody would judge her if she picked Tyler. "How can I put my kid's life before so many others?" she asks. "Sometimes you just... gotta protect your own," Ryan says. Sounds like a preemptive apology to me.

Back inside, Erica demands of Malik, 'One last time. Where's Sophie?" When Malik remains defiant, Erica orders Kyle, "Skin her." He heads over with his knife and sinks it into Malik's back. She screams as blood drops on the floor behind her, and nobody else seems to be having a great time, either. Except maybe Kyle, a little.

After the ads, Sid is working on a fresh tissue sample. So fresh, in fact, it's practically steaming. Erica figures Malik plans to die before she can talk, but Kyle's got a couple of needles for her. One's epinephrine, to keep Malik alert and awake for as long as ten hours, or a sedative to knock her right out. "Personally, I vote to keep you alive," Kyle says, sinking the epi into her arm without even giving her a chance to decide. Malik taunts Ryan a little, which only prompts him to rip a few chunks off of her back his own self. She's still not talking, so Ryan yanks her lizard-tail free and cuts it clean off. Finally Malik gives up a name and a place: "New Jersey. Lonergan Park. A shuttle." She's spitting blood now, and when Erica asks her when, she gasps, "You saw the date. Tonight." Erica asks about Tyler, but Malik's got nothing on that. She gives Erica a look of naked pleading, or as naked as a look can be when it's coming out of fake eyes in a fake face. Finally Erica takes pity on her and has Kyle shoot her full of the sedative. And that's a wrap for Malik. One tear spills out of her eye before her head pitches forward. And then they all stand around in slow motion, like this isn't grisly at all.

Kyle, Erica, and Ryan head out to Lonergan Park (more or less an abandoned forest this time of night) and almost immediately come upon the van, so it's lucky for them Malik was telling the truth. You may already be aware of my feelings regarding torture from my 24 recaps, but if they're going to do it anyway, maybe they should have waited on verification before shutting Malik down. Fortunately she was telling the truth, but unfortunately they're too late; the van is empty. Fortunately they hear a girl's scream, and run to a path through the woods just in time to spot someone dragging Guitar-Case Girl through the trees. Talk about catching a break; they have a chance to rescue the one missing person we've learned anything about, even though she probably would have been one of the first to be carried off, being at the top of the pile and all. Our heroes give chase, and eventually the V abandons his prey to get away. She's got enough presence of mind to crawl out of the path of the pursuers, though. They soon follow him into a wide clearing, and Erica stops and draws. "I got it," she says calmly before firing and winging him in the shoulder at fifty yards. He goes down, but soon he's back up and pulling out an immolation pill. Erica and Kyle, their guns leveled, tell him not to do it, but he bites it and immolates himself anyway. Neither Erica nor Kyle fire at the spot where he was just standing, so I guess they were just bluffing. Maybe next time Erica could wait until she's close enough to grab her target instead of showing off her marksmanship. Oh well, nothing to do now but go back to help the girl ditched in the woods. She's crying and freaked out, and Ryan says she's been drugged so she won't remember anything. Erica promises to take her home. "There could be more out there," Kyle reminds them, and he and Erica leave Ryan with Guitar-Case Girl while they go to investigate. Sure enough, they follow a loud noise to another clearing, where another victim is being dragged onto a V shuttle. Erica's about to run after them, but Kyle stops her and they helplessly watch the shuttle take off. "Nothing we can do now," he says. Fortunately, that's what they do best.

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