Summary: Frank Black is assigned to track down and
identify patient zero of a terrifying biological epidemic. Instead of
uncovering evidence regarding the origins of the plague, however, he
finds himself plunged into a conspiracy attempting to cover up the man
he's looking for. Frank and Peter find themselves wondering, could a
nearby member group of the Human Genome Project have gone rogue and
tampered with the DNA that controls human violence?
Full Transcript Available
"Control of third world populations designated secret national
policy." —National Security Memo 200 (1971)
"U.S. Military released from liability for
experiments on unwilling and unknowing human subjects."
Stanley, Supreme Court (1985)
"U.S. Military released from liability
for experimenting on unwilling and unknowing human subjects." —U.S.
vs. Stanley, Supreme Court (1985)
An African-American man, Patient Zero, attempts to hail a
taxi cab on a city street, but is passed by time and again.
Only an African-American cabbie, Gerome Knox, bothers to
stop. Without warning, Zero has a seizure in the back of the
cab, foaming at the mouth and screaming about the "trucks"
that are trying to kill him. Knox rushes his passenger to a
nearby hospital, where doctors attribute his symptom to
illicit drug usage. After receiving a shot, Zero's
convulsions subside, but Zero again grows agitated when two
mysterious men, Wright and Patterson, enter the hospital
lobby. "They want to kill me," he tells Knox, terrified.
Fearing for Zero's safety, Knox helps him escape.
Meanwhile, Wright and
Patterson quarantine the entire area, as the missing Zero is
infected with a highly contagious virus.
Giebelhouse contacts Frank and
asks for his help in finding the missing Patient Zero. The men attend
a medical briefing at the Center for Infectious Diseases. There, Dr.
Pettey explains that Patient Zero is infected with a pathogen normally
seen only in the Congo. Eventually, police locate Zero and Knox inside
the offices of the Afro-Sentinel newspaper (where Zero was attempting
to convince an editor to print his story by referencing racially
driven medical tests in the past such as Tuskegee). Before he is taken
into custody, Zero intentionally smears the back of Frank's shirt with
Later, a lab test reveals that
Zero's blood is not, in fact, contaminated with the rare virus... and
even more mysteriously, the government-run Center for Infectious
Diseases vanishes without a trace. Frank and Giebelhouse realize they
were tricked into locating Zero for an unknown group, but many
questions remain unanswered. Frank slowly realizes that the
conspirators use transients to conduct their experiments and then
involves the Millennium Group.
Within a homeless escarpment, an
infected transient armed only with a small stick threatens two
policeman. The officers open fire, killing the man. Frank and Watts
investigate the incident, though their presence is an unwanted one.
Secretly, Frank slips by patrol officers and manages to obtain a blood
sample from the deceased. He also makes off with a stretcher tag
marked with the letters "D.O.E.," which Frank believes is an
abbreviation for the Department of Energy. Frank and Watts conclude
that the government is developing a new breed of unconventional weapon
that would incite erratic and violent behavior in its victims. The
weapon is being developed within the Human Genome Project, an effort
to produce a blueprint of the "functional and evolutionary history of
the human species."
Watts compares the DNA makeup of
Patient Zero with that of the homeless man killed by police. The gene
sites of both men match identically, meaning their state of insanity
was genetically induced. Frank and Watts speculate that a rogue
facility outside of the Department of Energy may have discovered the
secret to behavior control and now is conducting experiments on
untraceable subjects under the guise of homeless assistance. Later,
Gerome Knox's corpse is discovered at the morgue.
Watts, Frank and a group of officers
storm a nondescript office building, that owns and operates soup
trucks, in hopes of finding Patient Zero. Inside, they do indeed find
Zero... in the form of Dr. William R. Kramer. Kramer feigns ignorance
about his delusional episode, prompting Frank to wonder aloud if he
experimented on himself, or was somehow accidentally infected. But he
then notices a photograph of Kramer, in uniform, taken in Rowanda in
1994, where thousands of people were senselessly slaughtered.
- Dr. William R. Kramer, known as Zero
- The stern faced Peter Watts
- Dr. Kramer confronts the investigators
- Frank searches among the
- Frank and Peter discuss the case
This episode differs remarkably from the first draft of writer Chip Johannessen's
script. Many elements of the
episode were lost in the revision process, partially due to
the demands of the network censors. Johannessen once said, "['Sense
and Antisense'] didn't quite come off the way I'd hoped. That was one
of those tortured things. To my mind, the rewrites got colossally
worse, and part of that had to do with the fact that the first draft
concerned a much more sensitive area
— and Broadcast Standards had
Clarence Williams III, who appears here as
Dr. William R. Kramer, is perhaps
best known for his role as Lincoln "Linc" Hayes on the classic crime
drama The Mod Squad. Williams was nominated for a 1998
NAACP Image Award for his performance in this episode.
The Human Genome Project, as seen in this
episode, was a joint scientific endeavor to identify all of the 30,000
genes in human DNA. Additionally, the Project nobly endeavored to
address some of the ethical and legal complications certain to emerge
as a result of undertaking. The Human Genome Program regularly
provided funding to approximately 200 principal investigators, while
hundreds of other facilities contributed additional research.
Initiated in 1990 by the Department of Energy and the National
Institutes of Health, the Project achieved its goal a full two years
ahead of schedule in 2003.
As Peter Watts
explains, "In microbiology,
antisense is one side of the double helix. It's half our DNA. The
other side is called the sense." A DNA segment encoding a
protein has a sense strand and a complimentary antisense strand.
Zero's paranoid rants concerning the sense and antisense that exists
within each of us both reveals that the case may have something to do
with the manipulation of human DNA and seems to reference the divided
nature of every human being.
"Gyp the Cat" by Bobby Darin
Image Award - Clarence Williams
III, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Nominee)
Lance Henriksen as Frank Black
Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black
Terry O'Quinn as Peter Watts
Stephen James Lang as Det. Geibelhouse
Ricky Harris as Gerome Knox
Allan Zinyk as Brian Roedecker
Clarence Williams III as Zero/Kramer
Badja Djola as Lacuna
Brian Jensen as Wright
Chris Nelson Norris as Patterson
Peter Bryant as Editor
Forbes Angus as Dr. Pettey
Michael Vairo as Officer Ginelli
Music by Mark Snow
Production Designer Mark Freeborn
Director of Photography Robert McLachlan
Associate Producer Jon-Michael Preece
Consulting Producer Chip Johannessen
Consulting Producers Darin Morgan
Co-Producer Robert Moresco
Co-Producer Paul Rabwin
Producer Thomas J. Wright
Co-Executive Producer Ken Horton
Co-Executive Producer John Peter Kousakis
Executive Producer Glen Morgan
Executive Producer James Wong
Executive Producer Chris Carter