"Leviathan" on Harsh Realm
by Michelle Erica Green

More Things In Heaven And Earth Than He Dreamed

Harsh Realm "Leviathan"
Airdate Oct. 15, 1999

Thomas Hobbes: Scott Bairstow
Mike Pinocchio: D.B. Sweeney
Sophie: Samantha Mathis
Omar Santiago: Terry O'Quinn
Mel Waters: Max Martini

"Leviathan" Plot Summary:

A thug knocks on the door of the Cavit family home. He says that they're lucky to live safe from the harsh realm out there and marches in uninvited. The older son runs off to warn his dad, who arms himself, but a bounty hunter rushes forward to demand information about a man Cavit served with in the army. "Go to hell," Cavit responds. The bounty hunter fires a laser weapon that makes Cavit crackle like a virtual character, and he falls.

At the Harsh Realm Pittsburgh encampment called New Frontier, Hobbes speaks to an absent Sophie about living on the run. He doesn't understand why Santiago would be important to the military in the real world if Harsh Realm is just a game. Meanwhile, in the real world, Sophie goes to Ft. Dix demanding answers about Hobbes' disappearance. She is told that he died in the line of duty on a classified mission. After his funeral in which Hobbes is given full honors, a dark-haired woman approaches Sophie warning her not to believe anything she's been told - not even that her fiance is dead. The woman gives Sophie the dog tags of Mike Pinocchio as a clue to the mystery she will have to unravel.

In Harsh Realm, Pinocchio warns Hobbes that someone will eat his dog if he's not careful, then goes in search of gasoline. A blonde girl offers to trade ammunition for fuel, but when he arrives at her truck, the same bounty hunter who shot Cavit appears. After a struggle, he shoots Pinocchio with the same gun, making him burst into painful static. Elsewhere in the VR program, Santiago's troops storm Cavit's house but cannot find the man they are looking for. Since the soldiers believe his wife is telling the truth about his being kidnapped by a bounty hunter, they let her and her children live, although they torch the place.

Hobbes and the mute woman who works with Pinocchio attempt to track down their friend, but find only the tanker truck's tracks. Pinocchio is being held nearby in a basement with Cavit, who has been blinded in one eye. Hobbes insists to the mute woman that they must wait until nightfall to try to free the men, but when his dog wanders onto the property, he rushes in with gun drawn to recover the animal. As the thug sidekick takes his weapon, Hobbes is dragged to the basement with Pinocchio, who yells at him for the rescue attempt. When Hobbes insists that he will continue to defend his allies and work for his mission, the bounty hunter wants to know what sort of mission, demanding to know the new captive's name.

Santiago's troops burn and raze the Pittsburgh encampment. In the midst of the inferno, the bounty hunter approaches an officer asking how much the head of Mike Pinocchio would be worth to Santiago...and the head of Thomas Hobbes. Back in the basement, the bounty hunter's girlfriend asks Hobbes about the dog. Pinocchio warns his friend not to expect any kindness: "In Harsh Realm, kindness is, your buddy robs and shoots you but doesn't rape your woman." VCs, or virtual characters, "know no Christian virtues," no God, no afterlife, and the only law they know is Santiago's. Hobbes refuses to accept this bleak picture, telling the girl about Sophie and the real world he wants to return home to.

In New Jersey, Sophie knocks on the door of a blond woman with a pre-teen son. Sophie has learned that the woman's husband served with Mike Pinocchio, but the woman says she can't help Sophie find the other man: her own husband was officially killed in the line of duty, like Hobbes, and like everyone Pinocchio served with in Kuwait. Sophie becomes even more suspicious, but the woman says she spent months trying to find out the truth and now believes it may be easier on her family to believe that her husband is dead.

Santiago tells his men that he wants to repatriate only healthy, strong people. His plan for a master race is interrupted by the introduction of the bounty hunter, who says he'll give Mike Pinocchio to Santiago for free but he wants a price for Hobbes: his freedom from Harsh Realm. The dictator claims that is not within his power, but the bounty hunter insists that he's alive in the real world on a slab, and he wants out. "Then I have the power to destroy you in two worlds," says Santiago, promising only that he'll consider it once he has the men.

Cavit and Pinocchio tell Hobbes that they know about Santiago's Final Solution, and believe Harsh Realm may soon be the only world left. The mute woman breaks into the basement and frees the men, but the bounty hunter's girlfriend fires a gun at them as they try to flee. "Go on, shoot me," demands Hobbes, telling her he's worth nothing to her dead, and begging her to let them go or come with them. Santiago's army arrives moments later with the bounty hunter, but the girl has hidden the rebels inside the tank of the gas truck. The bounty hunter does not believe her innocence because he can tell that his gun was fired, but the girl insists that he's been lying to her, too; he was planning on escaping back to the real world without her. "You can't go. It won't work. You stupid VC," her boyfriend sneers. She retorts that some men want to return to the real world just to see their own girlfriends.

Freeing Hobbes and his friends from the tank, the girl returns the dog but refuses to go with them: "He'd just hunt me down." Sure enough, she is shot and disappears from Harsh Realm as the rebels climb into the truck cab and start to drive. Hobbes loosens the tank, which separates from the truck and explodes as the army tries to pursue. Later, Cavit returns to his family, and Hobbes demands to know why Pinocchio is running from Santiago instead of fighting him. "Why are you afraid?" "I thought you wanted to get home," Pinocchio retorts, observing that either way, they still need gas.

Sophie returns to headquarters, demanding that Hobbes' body be exhumed and tested to prove that it's really him. The corpse is blackened and decomposing, and the dark-haired woman appears to tell Sophie the DNA results will be tampered with. "I can get word to Tom," the woman adds, urgently telling Sophie to give her a message for him. "I love you...I'm pregnant with our child," Sophie sobs. "Find a way home."


Again, this series held my interest, but I'm finding it very hard to like. The misery and abuse have been unremitting, worse even than Millennium, which I found I couldn't watch on a regular basis because it was just too depressing. There are an awful lot of shots of women being beaten and kicked, which fits in with all the men beating up other men, but the camera seems to linger a little too long. I'm not liking the voyeuristic violence in the least. It's hard to care about characters when you know they're going to be beaten and manipulated every week, so I hope that changes soon.

The conspiracy story is more interesting, and I'm glad they're giving Sophie something to do other than sit at home standing by her man. I'm not sure but I think the clean blond woman she visited was the real-world version of Cavit's poverty-stricken wife from Harsh Realm, an ironic situation in that it would mean Sophie's lover actually was with the husband of the woman to whom she turned for help, but neither of them knew it. It also makes living in ignorant bliss look very appealing: the "widow" seems to be doing a lot better than the tormented woman in Harsh Realm, even if the latter still has her husband, for now. The brief mention of the concept that Santiago's master plan is for the real world rather than Harsh Realm is also tantalizing.

The writers really need to let the mute speak, because her wide-eyed gestures and worshipful glances at Hobbes and Pinocchio get really annoying. And I almost wish someone would eat the dog already just so they can stop throwing that out as a menacing possibility. Again, Hobbes and Pinocchio were interesting, colorful characters, but everyone else needs a lot of work.

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