South O’ the Highway

‘Emergence’ Season Finale Recap: Escape from Plum Island

Did Piper and Jo save Southold from certain doom?

The season finale of ABC’s Southold-set thriller Emergence aired on Tuesday, January 28, and we have lots of thoughts!

Now entering massive spoiler territory! This is your warning….

As the finale, “Killshot Pt. 2,” opens, Jo (played by the wonderful Allison Tolman) and Brooks (Enver Gjokaj) are trapped in a facility on Plum Island as the increasingly powerful and dangerous AI, Helen (Rowena King), tries to catch them. Jo has stolen a mysterious device that Helen needs to upload some kind of data to an unknown entity—but if it’s uploaded, all the AI, including Benny (Owain Yeoman) and Piper (Alexa Swinton), will be wiped out. Meanwhile, back in Southold, Alex (Donald Faison), Piper and Benny convince Officer Chris (Robert Bailey, Jr.) to take them to Plum Island because Piper has a plan to stop Helen. Chris reluctantly agrees, unaware that the Department of Justice has arrived at Jo’s house to question Ed (Clancy Brown), Mia (Ashley Aufderheide) and Abby (Zabryna Guevara) and search the house. 

Once Jo and Brooks meet up with Alex, Piper, Benny and Chris, the group tries to hide from Helen, but Benny absconds with the killshot, an enzyme injection that can kill Helen. Jo tries to stop him, but Benny redeems himself for lying to Jo and tries to kill Helen—only for her to turn the tables and kill him first! Helen then ascends to new heights of insanity and uses her nanotechnology to shape-shift into Jo, but Alex sees through the ruse. Helen ultimately steals the device and begins the mysterious upload, but Piper distracts her long enough for Jo to slap a power-canceling bracelet on Helen’s wrist. 

After knocking Helen out, the group realizes that the upload has been disrupted, but the weird metal orb connected to the device is about to explode. Piper warns everyone that the orb exploding will be tantamount to a nuclear bomb and creates a forcefield around it. She gives Jo her exabyte disk (which contains all of her data, including memories, personalities and super powers) before sacrificing herself but saving everyone (and Long Island!) in the process. Jo is devastated, but then Alex suggests they use the exabyte disk on Helen to bring back Piper. It works, and Piper uses Helen’s nanotechnology to shape-shift back into her childlike self! The day is saved.

Allison Tolman and Alexa Swinton in ‘Emergence,’ Photo: Will Hart/ABC

Or is it? Later, Loretta, Helen’s human doppelganger and creator, tries to locate Helen and realizes Piper has taken Helen’s body. She attempts to reactivate Helen and override Piper as the season ends….

We loved this show, and though we’re sad to see Benny go, his character had a full arc that included redemption and heroism. ABC has yet to renew Emergence for another season, but with such a tantalizing cliffhanger, we’re hopeful to see the show return!

Watch all of Emergence’s first season on ABC On Demand and Hulu now.

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