Before I begin the recap, I want to make one thing clear: I love Zero Hour. I find it massively entertaining. Oh, it has flaws, and the characters are insane, and nothing makes any sense — but Zero Hour is doing exactly what it sets out to do, and making sense isn't one of those things. I may mock the show, but I can promise you I look forward to Zero Hour's madness every single week. And while Zero Hour may have let off the gas a little in this episode, it's still pushing the crazy pedal to the metal.
Hank, Arron and Rachel return to the spacious office of the Modern Skeptic print magazine, only to find it empty of employees but full of FBI agents, including Agent Meryl Streep's Daughter. The FBI has, of course, decided to base their worldwide manhunt for the terrorist known as White Vincent in the offices of Hank's ridiculous magazine, as per standard FBI procedure.
Since White Vincent has the last clock, Hank and the others have jack squat to do. Hank's parents stop by, only so he can ask them if they have any relatives in Germany, which they deny, and so later they can ominously say to each other "So… what do we tell him?" and "Nothing… yet." Arron has a discussion with Meryl Streep's Daughter about the website Disinfo.com and pornography, which, in a feat of acting worthy of her mother, appears to charm Meryl Streep's Daughter.
Meanwhile, we finally learn at least one reason White Vincent has not killed Leila — she's a clock repairwoman and the most recent clock is in fact broken. White Vincent manages to persuade her fix the clock with the threat of a mild ear amputation; eventually, the clock produces the message PR642 and White Vincent is off again, with Leila in tow.
Luckily, the FBI has finally started doing a worldwide face-camera-recognition thing for both Vincent and Laila. Why the FBI, who have been hunting Vincent for nearly six years, have failed to utilize this before is unknown. As Vincent and Leila exit their Parisian hotel, a camera picks them up — and Laila is sticking her finger down her throat.
Laila has not chosen a very awkward moment to indulge her bulimia; instead she is sending a secret, shockingly subtle to her husband Hank. See, one time when Hank was about to speak at a UFO convention — to talk specifically about how UFOs don't exist — which you'd think might be an odd speech choice for a fucking convention of people brought together specifically to celebrateis their belief in UFOs — Hank walked on stage (to thunderous applause) with gum in his mouth. But! Because Hank and Laila's relationship is so solid, because they understand each other so well, because they practically share a single soul, Laila stuck her finger in her mouth to remind Hank to take out his gum and he understood.
I know, I'm stunned too! To discover my own marriage is sham, because my wife and I fail to have the primal, emotional rapport of Hank and Laila is devastating. Indeed, my wife is constantly sticking her finger down her throat to send me a message, but I can never figure it out. Is she tired? Hungry? Does the car need gas? Has the cat pooped in my shoe? I don't know, and now I fear I may never know.
Anyways, Hank immediately realizes Laila has left a message under a table in her Paris hotel room; a quick call a few minutes later and the team discovers she has scratched PR642 under her desk. Hank's dad realizes this is an old-timey phone number in Princeton, New Jersey.
Despite having figured out the destination less than 30 minutes after Vincent and Laila exited the hotel, and despite the fact that Vincent and Leila have to fly in from Paris, and despite the fact that Hank and the FBI are located in New York Fucking City, Vincent beats them there. He drags Laila to the Princeton public library, where she helpfully neither tries to leave nor tell any of the many, many people around her that she's been kidnapped, while Vincent grabs the old 1938 Princeton phonebook. It turns out the number belonged to an "IAS room 115."
Hank and Beck eventually arrive at the Princeton library later only to discover Vincent has ripped out the necessary page. But a-ha! Leila has left another clue! See, Hank and Laila used to play a game with each other where they would pull books partially out of library shelves to "mash-up" a title — i.e., "Everybody Poops — On the Road — Far from the Madding Crowd" (which is actually one of the titles they make, although at least Hank has the decency to point out Everybody Poops does not belong in the Adult Fiction section).
Luckily, there is an encyclopedia exactly at eye level by the old phonebook section, and Laila has pulled the I, A, and S books, in that order. A little bit of digging from Arron and Rachel and they learn that it's the Institute for Advanced Study. After canvassing the student body, they get a witness who saw Vincent and Laila enter the Physics building, room 115. Hank and Beck rush over and burst into the office to find a surprised professor, who reveals they're probably looking for the one of the previous guys who worked in the office… Albert Einstein.
Okay. So… Einstein is a New Apostle, of course. OF COURSE. While Vincent accidentally grabs a clock that was an Einstein family heirloom, made long before 1938. Team Hank realizes there's another clock… And the only place that could explain where the clock is hidden is the small patch of the blackboard Einstein erased shortly before he died. As Arron and Rachel so eloquently put it, "Einstein hid it in the only place he knew it couldn't fall into the wrong hands…" "…his mind."
Let me repeat that: EINSTEIN HAD A SECRET ROSICRUCIAN APOCALYPSE CLOCK IN HIS BRAIN.
And because ethat's not nearly weird enough for Zero Hour, White Vincent takes a moment to gives a brief report to his superior,…a super-creepy 6-year-old boy. Fun!
Happily, no one on Team Hank suggests they go track down Einstein's brain. Instead, they get a magic gun that SHOOT A BEAM AT BLOACKBOARDS TO READ CHALK FROM 60 YEARS AGO. Actually, it's an electromagnetic spectrometer, which is supposed to bounce x-rays off the board to see where the chalk was. Although since it's a blackboard and there's chalk all over it, I'm not 100% sure this would actually work — feel free to tell me in the comment At any rate, it sounds too ludicrous to be true, so it fits right in Zero Hour's wheelhouse.
With help from the brilliant mathematical mind of Agent Meryl Streep's Daughter, they realize the new formula is basically a code for the rest of the formula on the blackboard, which they enter into a supercomputer on while Meryl Streep's Daughter patiently writes the letter down on a dry erase board. I'm no mathematician, but I get the feeling anyone who was who saw what the characters were writing would have wept.
Hank has no time for this math bullshit, and walks outside to get some air… where he finds another clue from Laila! See, on Laila's birthday, she gets to put a yellow pushpin anywhere on a map, and Hank flies her there later that day (thanks to all the mad, mad cash gets from Modern Skeptic, the print magazine about things you shouldn't believe, for people you shouldn't believe!); this is actually unusual, personal and sweet, and it actually makes sense as a way Laila could try to communicate with her husband that no one else could decipher.
As Hank follows the trail into one of those abandoned building that are littering Princeton's campus (hey, it's New Jersey, it's like Mad Max out there) it turns out White Vincent left the trail after Laila casually mentioned her little pushpin thing earlier in the episode! Vincent wants to talk to Hank, and by "talk" I mean " beat the shit out of" and "then go completely bonkers." Seriously, White Vincent goes full Nic Cage, first calling Hank brother, then asking to see "the flaw," then screaming to see "THE FLAW!" then forcibly trying to look into Hank's right eye, then screaming, and then having his own contact hiding his white Evil Nazi Baby eye flying from his head courtesy of a Hank headbutt. Beck runs in, firing wildly, again no longer concerned that Hank's wife is a hostage; she chases him out of the building, where he locks her in just as they both run out of ammo.
Vincent, perhaps understandably, is curious why Beck is so hot-to-trot to kill him, and Beck explains her husband was one of the many faceless people he killed when he blew up that plane in 2008. Vincent responds with her husband's seat number and the not-so-cryptic remark that "maybe he wasn't collateral damage; maybe everybody else was."
Meanwhile, the research team has decoded Einstein's message, which reads: "Battlefield Park, Mercer Oak." Which is where Einstein used to eat his lunch, and also where his memorial is.
Yes, Einstein created a terrifying math problem to force people decode a formula that he'd erased part of, to keep people from knowing that he hid the Apocalypse Clock IN THE THIRD FUCKING PLACE ANYONE WOULD HAVE LOOKED FOR IT ANYWAYS. Jesus, Einstein. Really? You couldn't think of anywhere slightly less obvious? Hey, whatever, you're Einstein. Maybe you know something I don't.
Meanwhile, Father Mickle, having contacted the Brotherhood of Eerily Informed Priests, discovers the man who tried to shoot Hank in India is a member of a special sect of Rosicrucians called "The Herders," who are protecting the "holiest of relics" from "the great pirates." Like ya do. And then the creepy boy Vincent reported to reports via coded note) to his creepy mother, who has a terrarium full of locusts.
And then Arron opens the clock and finds a note from Einstein, which reads: "I have always regretted the role I played in the development of the atomic bomb. However I have a chance to atone for that now. To stop something even more destructive. The line has been crossed. The line that once separated man from his creator. We have found a way to destroy not only man, but God."
And this, my friends, was Zero Hour's slow episode.
• When Hank first enters the Modern Skeptic office, he notices nobody — until Meryl Streep's daughter walks in frame directly in front of him. Literally, she had to be standing three feet away from Anthony Edwards, with absolutely no barrier in-between them. And Edwards still had to look shocked, as if she materialized out of thin air. Marvelous.
• Modern Skeptic apparently had an article disapproving dopplegangers. I am so delightfully baffled as to how this magazine exists.
• In the library flashback, Hank tells Laila he keeps "waiting for the other shoe to drop." Laila takes this as a sign they should both take off a shoe and drop them in the middle of the library. This is even more obnoxious than it sounds.
• Einstein's pro-church quote came from a 1940 issue of Time, but Einstein later denied having ever said anything like it. I still give Zero Hour full credit for incorporating something people once believed as fact.
• It took me forever to realize the things Hank was picking on Laila's trail were yellow pushpins. I honestly thought they were Cheetos for a bit.
• Hank met Laila in 2008 at the unveiling of the Corpus Clock at Cambridge, a giant art/timepiece that has a sculpture of a giant locust on top, "eating" time. I was boggled to learn it's real.
• We all agree that Hank didn't exist before he met Laila, right? Between White Vincent asking Hank how the two of them met to the "brother" business to the standard "Everything you know is a lie" from next week's preview, Hank's almost certainly some kind of Nazi/Rosicrucian/clock baby, right?
• The Rosicrucians made this clock for Albert Einstein in 1938, which included the clue "PR642." Was the plan always for Einstein to go to Princeton, NJ, and somehow get a hold of that phone number? Because that's some goddamned foresight right there. "New Apostle Albert! You shall go to America! And eventually get hired as faculty at Princeton University! And your office phone number shall be PR642, because otherwise this whole plan of ours is completely fucked."