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Writer: Silvio Horta & David Greenwalt
Director: Steve Miner
Airdate: 05/27/04 (UK)

Christopher Gorham...Jake Foley
Keegan Connor Tracy...Diane Hughes
Philip Anthony-Rodriguez...Kyle Duarte
Judith Scott...Louise Beckett

Guest Stars:
Shin Koyamada...Shinji Makito
Tzi Ma...Dr Nana Sang
Miranda Frigon...Tech Agent Susan Carver
Rachel Hayward...Valerie Warner
Tyler Labine...Seymour Lafortunata
Grace Park...Fran Yoshida
Mar Andersons...Bill Brummond
Jesse Cadotte...DuMont
Benita Ha...Sketch Artist Tech
Kira Clavell...Yuki Makito
Damon Taylor...BDS Agent

Jake and Kyle are assigned by the President to aid the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to protect Dr. Nanda Sang, the "Nelson Mandela of East Asia" who is in Washington to deliver a speech. Bill Brummond from BDS is less than pleased at Kyle pulling rank, but doesn't have much of a choice in the matter. Jake is surprised when Diane appears among the groupies in front of the hotel. She tells him she's there to catch a glimpse of her hero, and Jake replies that she sees him every day at work. Diane, oblivious, is squeeing over Dr Sang, a man whom she greatly admires. As Dr Sang arrives, Jake and Kyle are horrified when Diane introduces herself as NSA, there to protect him. Sang, however, is charmed.

Using the nanites, Jake spots a gun protruding from the mouth of a gargoyle on the corner of the Greenwalt building across the street. Brummond and Kyle usher Sang inside, while Jake takes off after the sniper. He catches up with him on the roof, where even with the nanites, Jake takes a licking from the assassin's martial arts moves. Jake manages to tear off the assassin's mask, and gets tossed over the side of the building. He clings to the ledge as the would-be assassin looks down at him. However, rather than killing him, the assassin flees, leaving Jake hanging as Kyle arrives.

In Dr Sang's hotel room, Jake is embarrassed as the local news covers the story of the attempted assassination and one of the BDS agents comments to Jake that he should have just shot the sniper. Lou introduces Jake to Sang, who is unhappy about being placed under armed guard as he has five public appearances scheduled for that night. He asks Jake if he has $3 million, as that is what the assassin remaining at large may cost his cause. Jake asks him if he would like him to make a donation. Sang replies he would like Jake to make him a vodka with very little ice. Sang is confidant to the point of arrogance—at odds with his public persona of a man of peace. Kyle is left to baby-sit Sang, while Lou heads back to the NSA. As she's leaving the hotel, Lou gets a call from Warner, who wants to be updated on the progress of the investigation of the shooter.

Warner, however, is not at the NSA, but at the prison where DuMont is being held. She notes that the scar along DuMont's jaw appears to be healing unevenly. DuMont asks her what she wants, and she replies that she wanted to make sure he was being treated well. "Well, no one's raped me yet," he tells her. "That's always a good sign."

DuMont notes that Warner hates Jake Foley as much as he does. Warner asks him why he thinks that, and DuMont says it's because a woman like her hates anything she can't control. Warner muses that, by that logic, she must like DuMont very much. DuMont tells her she's quite attractive, and would look better without so much make-up. Warner is disgusted by his attempts at mind games. DuMont says he understands, and then proceeds to ask her if she was told the sex of her child after her miscarriage. While she stares at him in stony silence, he tells her it wasn't just Jake's files he was hacking into. He found Warner's life fascinating. His favourite part was how her husband dumped her right after the miscarriage. He asks her if she's even had sex at all in the 20 years since. Warner tells him he's disgusting, and calls for the guard to escort her out. As she goes, DuMont calls out, asking her which was worse—watching her ex- Carl with his new family, or realising he didn't even care anymore.

Back at the NSA, Jake is working with a sketch artist to try and get a working image of the assassin, but isn't getting anywhere. He tells Lou he can see the image clearly in his mind, but can't seem to get it to translate. Lou points out that, if he has a photo in his head, he might be able to use the nanites to interface with a computer to digitise the image. Jake asks her if he can work with Diane, to see if it's possible to download the image of the shooter. In the lab, Diane tells Jake that it sounds theoretically possible. They fire up some photo-imaging software, and while it's loading, Diane tells Jake what he did, saving Dr Sang, was really amazing. Jake is flattered, until he realises her starry-eyed admiration isn't so much for him as it is Sang. She asked if Sang talked to him at all, or thanked him. Jake replies that he made him a drink. The software boots up and Jake gives it a try, but his initial effort is less assassin, more "The Murky Man." Frustrated, Jake wants results now so he can find and stop the assassin. Diane says Jake should have just shot the guy, instead of trying to take him in hand-to-hand. Even with the nanites, that doesn't make him Superman.

Jake, however, refuses to give up. He asks her for an upgrade. She tries to get him off the trail, but Jake insists that every software gets an upgrade eventually—usually just as soon as you've figured out how it works. She must be working on one. Wary, Diane tells him he doesn't know that. But Jake grins. He does now. Diane, however, says that upgrading him now without proper research first? He's been lucky thus far, with the nanites. But it would be way too dangerous. Their argument is cut short as Diane gets a call from Dr Sang, asking her to meet him at his hotel. Awe-struck, Diane tells Jake about her "private audience" with Dr Sang. She's giddy, and overwhelmed, and Jake tells her to just go ahead. Jake can't help but smile at her making a bit of a spaz of herself as she grabs her coat and gives him the thumbs up on her way out. However, once she's gone, Jake accesses her
Computer and using the nanites, downloads the beta code she's been developing for the nanites.

At Dr Sang's hotel, Sang continues to prove he's a bit of an ass as he sends his dinner back to the kitchen, and answers his cellphone's non-stop ringing. When a pretty Asian maid appears to turn down his bed, Sang is frustrated when Kyle takes the pillows from her and tells her she can leave. Sang asks Kyle what he thinks he's doing. "My job," Kyle replies.

Back at Jake's apartment, he uploads the upgrade. However, he can't tell if it worked. He busts a bunch of lame-ass white guy ninja moves, but can't tell if he's any faster. However, he fires up the photo-imaging software and attempts to produce a picture of the assassin's face. He is shocked when, instead of the ninja, he gets Diane's smiling face just before she left the medlab. Heartened that it is working, he tries again and is rewarded with a close-up of the assassin which he shoots off in an email to Lou. As Jake accepts accolades from an invisible crowd for being "the man" he is suddenly dropped to his knees by crippling pain.

At Sat Ops, Carver tells Lou they got a photo of the assassin from Jake. They're running facial ID, but nothing has come up yet. Lou asks Carver to put it up on the big board, and zoom in on the tattoo on the sniper's neck. Lou believes the kanji marks the assassin as yakuza (Japanese mafia). Carver translates the kanji as "pure death" but the markings aren't specific to any one yakuza clan that she knows of. Lou calls Seymour LaFortunata and tells him to come up to Sat Ops—she has something to show him.

Meanwhile, Jake is lying unconscious on his floor. As he comes to, he comes face to face with the ninja assassin. He leaps to his feet, and as the assassin draws a katana, Jake jumps and—like in the pilot—hits the ceiling. As plaster rains down, Jake is confused when the ninja knees at his feet and tells him he is there because Jake is a man of honour, and he wishes Jake to kill him.

At Sang's hotel, Kyle is upset when Diane arrives, telling her she just can't show up there—until Sang swoops in and thanks her for accepting his invitation. Diane hands Kyle her coat, and then goes to join Sang on the sofa.

While Diane is being wined and dined, Jake picks up the ninja's sword and asks him his name. Shinju Makito. Jake tells Shinji that he's not going to kill him, but he is going to arrest him. Shinji replies that he cannot allow that. The dishonour would be too great. Jake tells Shinji he needs to chill out, and picks up his phone. Shinji wrestles the sword away from Jake and in one smooth move, severs the phone cord. The two fight, proceeding to completely trash Jake's living room.

Back at the hotel, Diane tells Sang that she read his autobiography several times in her freshman PolySci class. Producing her copy, she reads her favourite quotation and asks him if he would sign it. Sang asks if she's wearing underwear, and then proceeds to tell her he is not. Diane is flustered, and tries to tell him that he seems to have misunderstood her. He apologises, and tells her he'll sign her book. However, he tries to put the moves on her, and shocked, Diane slaps him. "You're a Nobel prize winner!" she says as she hits him again with her purse for good measure before stalking out as Kyle glares daggers at Sang, who seems nonplussed that his attempt at a booty call has been thwarted.

Meanwhile, Jake and Shinji have moved on to Jake's kitchen. The upgraded nanites seem to be doing their work, as Jake holds his own. After they crash through the coffee table, Jake observes that now that he wants to kill Shinji, he's too damned tired to try. Shinji admits he's too exhausted to die. Jake calls Shinji on the fact that back at the hotel he had a clear shot at Dr Sang and he didn't take it. Nor did he kill Jake, when he could have. Jake is beginning to suspect Shinji is some kind of crappy assassin.

At Sat Ops, LaFortunata tells Lou that the kanji marks the wearer as part of the Junshi clan of assassins that make your standard yakuza look about as scary as Pokemon. They are a tight-knit organisation mainly composed of blood relations, who specialise in assassination. They always finish their kills.

Back at Chez Jake, Jake and Shinji are leaning against what remains of the couch, drinking beer. Shinji tells Jake he's only ever had beer once before—two sips at the airport, before he came to D.C. He's never drank before, never done drugs, never had sex. He's spent his whole life training to be Junshi, but he fears he's just not cut out for it. He's never killed anyone before. Sang was his first assignment, and he couldn't do it.

In Sat Ops, Seymour asks Lou who took the picture of the Junshi, and she tells him one of her agents. Seymour says they had better beef up security on the agent in question, because no one has ever lived who has seen a Junshi assassin. Well, some lived, but they had their eyes and tongue cut out. Mostly, though, they're just killed.

In Jake's apartment, under the influence of two and a half beers, Shinji is standing on the couch, singing a popular Japanese pop song, amazed that Jake has never heard it. Shinji tells Jake that he used to watch a sushi chef in his village prepare the fish, and he was fascinated by the craft. "Does this sound gay to you?' he asks Jake, who laughs and tells him "No." Shinji admits that really wanted was to be a sushi chef. Jake tells him it's not too late—just as Lou and a strike team bust into Jake's apartment. Lou takes in the drunk assassin and trashed furniture in stride, and Jake explains that Shinji isn't a threat to anyone—Dr Sang is safe. Lou tells him no, Dr Sang is not safe, because Shinji's clan will be sending someone else to finish the job. "Oh yes," Shinji says from the couch. "Someone else will kill him. They always do."

In the parking garage of Dr Sang's hotel, the pretty Asian maid walks up to one of the BDS agents as he's on his way to his car. He smiles and greets her. She grabs him by the balls, kicks him in the head, and slits his throat before cutting his ID badge from his neck.

In the medlab, Diane drops her copy of Sang's biography into a wire trash bin, muttering to herself about how stupid she was as she hangs up her jacket and pulls on her lab coat. She gives the trash bin a kick for good measure, narrowly missing Fran, who is on her way in. Fran asks about her audience. "I gushed about what a great man of peace he was, and he tried to feel me up," she tells Fran, who is sympathetic. She asks Diane if they're in for an all-nighter, since Diane likes to work when she's upset. Diane tells her she'll be okay, Fran doesn't have to stay. Jake was asking her about the upgrade research, so she thought she'd take a look at it. Again? Fran asks, and tells Diane that someone accessed the research using Diane's password earlier. Livid, Diane calls Susan Carver in Sat Ops. Carver tells her the image of the assassin came through clear as a bell. Diane thanks her, hangs up, and declares she's going to kill Jake.

Sang is going over his speech while Kyle looks on. Without turning away from the desk, Sang notes that right about now, Kyle must want to punch him in the face. Kyle replies that the young woman Sang accosted is a friend of his who looked up to him and believed in him. Sang apologises for destroying her illusions, but points out that many great men are not often great people. He is no exception. Kyle cannot imagine the world he was born into, the things he has had to do to survive, and the things he has to do to make his message heard. He may not be a very nice human being, but the world is a better place for it. Kyle tells him his speech had better shake the pillars of heaven.

In Sat Ops, Seymour is giddy that he's standing in the same room with a Junshi assassin. Shinji tells Lou that it doesn't matter what colour alert they go to—Sang won't live to make the speech. Jake points out that if the clan all trained together then Shinji can ID any other assassin they might send. He has a chance to stop Sang from being killed. Lou is reluctant to let Shinji anywhere near Sang, but Jake says it's their only chance. Lou relents, saying Shinji will be in chains the entire time, and if he even so much as looks askance at Sang, Jake is to put a bullet in his head.

Back at the prison, Warner pays DuMont another visit. He's surprised to see her, and asks if she's run out of Ambien. She proceeds to kick his ass, stating she should finish the job Jake started. DuMont begs her to stop, but she keeps on coming. He asks her to stay with him, and she tells him he's pathetic and leaves.

In Sat Ops, Lou is briefing Jake and the team as to the safe room at the auditorium where Sang will be escorted at the first sign of trouble. Diane breaks up Lou's briefing, grabbing Jake by the arm and telling Lou she has to run a diagnostic. In the hallway, Diane lits into Jake for messing with the nanites. Jake tries to tell her it worked and he's fine. Except for a little pain. Okay, blinding pain which knocked him out. Diane is furious, telling him that his ego will turn him into a vegetable. Does he always have to be the biggest and strongest? Yes, he replies. Because he doesn't want to have to kill anyone else. Since he started this job, he's killed two people. He thinks that if he makes himself better, then he won't have to kill anyone anymore. Shinji trained his entire life to be a killer, but when the time came, he couldn't pull the trigger and Jake admires him for that.

The next morning, Dr Sang is practising his speech at the auditorium for an audience of NSA and BDS agents, while Jake and a chained Shinji look on from the wings. Sang recounts how his daughter was tortured and killed by the secret police following a protest rally. "Those who oppress us want us to believe the dead have sacrificed their lives for nothing. I want us to believe that the human spirit can and will prevail over brute force." As he finishes the speech, Kyle claps from the empty auditorium. Lou spots the shadow of a gun from the balcony, and the BDS agents rush Sang to the safe room. Kyle and Lou find, not a gunman, but the dead BDS agent from the parking garage. Following behind Sang, Jake and Shinji spot the female assassin, wearing a BDS badge, among Sang's escort. They reach the safe room as the door closes. Jake uses the nanites to unlock the door, but once on the other side, Jake stops in his tracks. He's blind. They hear screams, and Shinji demands Jake hand him his gun. Shinji arrives as the assassin kills the last guard. Placing himself between the girl and Sang, the assassin taunts Shinji, saying he didn't have the guts to kill Sang—how can he kill his own sister?

Yuki says she had prayed he was dead—he shamed their blood and their clan. Jake hears Yuki draw her sword and Shinji cock the gun, and using the nanites, he listens to their heartbeats. Shinji's is rapid. Yuki's is slow. Shorting out the lights, the gun goes off. When Lou and Kyle override the doors, they find Jake with the katana plunged into Yuki's shoulder, pinning her to the wall.

As Sang finishes his speech that night, he is met my rousing cheers. Back at the NSA, Diane shines her penlight into Jake's eyes. He smiles as she comes into focus. She gives him some eye drops, for the pain over the next few days, and tells him not to do anything stupid. Jake replies he won't if she won't. he heard about her "audience" with Dr Sang, and he's sorry Sang was such a scumbag. Diane says sometimes it's hard to reconcile great men and the stupid things they sometimes do. Jake promises not to play with the nanites anymore. Even if it's for a really good cause, Diane reminds him. She's proud of him for saving lives without having to take any which, for the record, she thinks is pretty damn awesome.

In a holding cell, Jake hands Shinji a file. Inside Shinji finds a driver's licence—and a whole new identity. The new Shinji is an apprentice sushi chef at a hip new restaurant in Spokane, Washington. He's a free man, except for the surveillance and weekly check-ins. Shinji thanks Jake, for the second chance, and for not killing Yuki. If Jake ever needs it, his life is in his hands. Jake tells him to keep it, and shakes his hand.

As Warner is walking down the hall, she gets a call on her cell phone about her ex-husband. In DuMont's cell, she tells the bruised and battered DuMont that Carl was severely beaten, his brain injuries so severe that he cannot even recognise his own children. DuMont coolly says that if he had a daddy, it would make him sad if he didn't know who he was. Warner demands to know how DuMont did it. DuMont says he doesn't know what she's talking about. She asks what he wants. He leans in close and says he wants the same exact thing she does.

Back at the NSA, Kyle tells Lou the prisoner transport van never made it to the State Penitentiary. Yuki massacred everyone inside and escaped. Lou asks where Jake is. Jake is in the parking garage. His phone rings as he's on his way to his car. He looks down and sees the reflection of Yuki running towards him. He turns and shoots, and she falls dead to the floor, a bullet between her eyes. A shaky Jake tells Lou the situation is under control. He's at his car, and there's one down.

Jake hangs up the phone, and leans against his car, defeated. He had to take a life after all.

Guest cast

What an episode to go out on. After the three episode arc of "Blackout," "Get Foley" and "Dead Man Talking," "Upgrade" clearly lays pipe for the series finale with the DuMont and Warner team-up. Unfortunately, production was halted January 15th, in the middle of principal photography on "Upgrade" and the series wrapped with that plotline still awaiting closure. However both Jesse Cadotte and Rachel Hayward are magnetic in their scenes together, and play up the creepy vibe to the hilt. Had UPN not yanked the series from the schedule before episodes 17-19 could be shot, it would have been a joy to see what sick and twisted games these two would have come up with.

Arc elements aside, as a stand-alone, the episode in incredibly effective. It goes from humour to pathos without missing a beat—from Diane and Jake's easy banter to Jake's heartbreaking admission that he is haunted by the two men he's killed and doesn't want to kill again, Gorham positively shines. Philip Anthony Rodriguez also gets a chance to shine, as Kyle is forced to deal with Sang's antics, yet at the same time comes to respect the mission—if not the man. And guest star Koyamada Shin makes for one adorable little ninja. You gotta love a guy who will stand on a sofa and sing J-Pop at the top of his lungs with no apparent shame.

"Upgrade" also features the return of Seymour LaFortunata as well as yet more Fran (yay! Fran!), and rewards patient Carver (Miranda Frigon, who has been in almost every episode of the series thus far) with a given name (Susan, for those of you who have been keeping track). And while fans will never know if Jake and Diane would have lived happily ever after, it is nice to see their friendship back in full-force after their awkwardness in "Dead Man Talking." The final scene between them in the medlab sparkles with wit and chemistry. Excellent dialogue, brought to life by wonderful performers.

The tag—with Jake alone next to his car in front of Yuki's body—is quite the sombre note for the series to go out on. Yet it drives home the point that a lifetime of James Bond movies can't prepare Jake for the realities of what being an agent truly means. That's a lesson he's had to learn over the course of the series. Yet at the same time, Jake's attempts to hang onto the last shreds of his innocence are what make the character so compelling, and easy for an audience to fall in love with. Jake may be na´ve, but that doesn't make him any less of a hero. And while Jake may admire Shinji for choosing not to kill, the audience can admire Jake for trying never to kill unless he has to, and never being callous about it when he does.

Quotes of the Week:
Fran: "Wow. Men. Are they all dogs?"

Jake: "Let me explain—"
Diane: "No, let me explain. I may be your friend but I am also your doctor, and the senior researcher on this project. So when I say do no mess with the nanites, then you take that as the word of God."

Diane: "Super eye drops."
Jake: "Really?"
Diane: "No. It's just eye drops."

Diane: "Don't do any more stupid things."
Jake: "Well, I don't if you won't. The next time an international man of peace asks you up to his room? Don't go."
Diane: "Oh. Oh. Well, you know, Bono is coming to town next week, and I heard that he has a thing for me."

Jake: "Oh I see, we've subtly segued back to me."
Diane: [laughs]
Jake: "All right, I promise not to play with myself—hmmmm. Let me rephrase that. I promise not to play with the nanites any more."

Jake [to guard]: "You can take those off now."
[Shinji removes his own handcuffs.]
Shinji: "You said it was okay."

© Tara O'Shea 2004

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