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The Probe Recap

A plane flies through a Pacific storm between the U.S. and Japan, and owner Jefferson Rome figures they'll miss the squall by a couple of hundred miles. Amanda Frank brings coffee to the cockpit, and Co-Pilot Beeman assures Amanda that they'll get her to Tokyo for her wedding. Jefferson warns that if the storm accelerates and switches course, it might not happen.

The storm becomes a hurricane and the crew can't outrun it or turn back. The plane enters the hurricane and Pilot Coberly tries to set it down. Jefferson calls in to say that they're going into the eye of the hurricane. Amanda prepares the life raft and life vests.

After the plane goes down, the crew wake up on the life raft. They drift across the ocean, the surface covered in mist. The raft stops moving, and the crew figure they're in the eye of the hurricane because of the calmness. Beeman isn't there and they figure he didn't make it, and realize that they all blacked out temporarily. They get out the emergency radio and hear a hissing noise in the distance. Jefferson realize the signal mirror fell overboard, but when he reaches out he discovers that they're on a solid surface.

The mist clears, revealing the raft is sitting on the floor of an enormous chamber. The radio doesn't work, and there's no indication of movement. Mist sprays out from a vent in a large post, enveloping them, and then disappears. They're all dry, and they determine all of the surfaces around them are plastic.

A light shoots down from the post on Amanda, and they realize the temperature within the beam is freezing. Jefferson and Coberly get Amanda out of the light, but the navigator Dexter goes for the emergency radio and the raft freezes around him. Nix collapses, frozen over, and Jefferson and Coberly haul him away from the raft. Another beam shoots down, cuts off a piece of the raft, and pulls it up into the vent.

Dexter revives and stays to raise something on the radio, and the other three explore the chamber. Behind them, a giant-sized microbe watches them and then moves up behind Dexter. It attacks him, and his yells attract the others. They run back but there's no sign of Dexter except Coberly jacket that the pilot had covered him with when he was frozen. Jefferson confirms via his wristwatch that 40 minutes have passed since they crashed.

Checking the walls, the trio hear noises. When Jefferson leans against the wall, it opens revealing a chamber filled with alien machinery. They go in and realize the equipment is some kind of computer coding information. Jefferson figures that it's a telemetry system transmitting information over great distances. Coberly figures they're in some kind of research program, and Jefferson finds cuneiform symbols written on the wall. Amanda explains that she majored in ancient languages and doesn't recognize the symbols. Everything is made of the same kind of plastic as the chamber surfaces.

The trio continue exploring and the Mikie follows them from a distance. The group find more equipment and realize that they're in some kind of laboratory, and discover a piece of the raft on the floor. Jefferson suggests that the automated laboratory equipment tested the raft piece, and the test results are sent back via the telemetry equipment. Seawater pours into a giant beaker, and Jefferson figures that the salt residue is being weighed and the information is being fed to the telemetry equipment. They go back to the telemetry room and Jefferson figures that the information is being sent back to the "probe"'s owners. He suggests that the probe is similar to the automated devices that the scientists send to Mars and Venus, and aliens sent it to Earth. Jefferson deduces that they're under a "microscope" in a gigantic alien space probe. The mist "stained" them the way scientists stain a glass slide, and freezing beam immobilized a specimen for study.

Looking out a porthole into the main chamber, the trio see the Mikie approach the raft. Jefferson figures the Mikie isn't evolved enough to have created the probe. The freezing beam shoots down, and a piece of the Mike breaks off and moves away. The Mikie itself moves away after a moment in a different direction, while the smaller piece grows to another full-sized Mikie. Jefferson goes out to take a closer look at the duplicate, only to discover that it's left, and concludes that it quickly adapted to the cold. Amanda wonders how they'll escape, and a Mikie advances on them.

The Mikie stops advancing and Jefferson figures that it can't advance any further. He points out that everything else is antiseptically clean, and the Mikie is a strain of microbe resistant to the sterilization process. Amanda suggests the Mikie was picked up some other place, and that she saw a pattern in the telemetry room resembling a map of the solar system. Colbert lures the Mikie off to the side while Jefferson and Amanda reenter the telemetry room, Amanda following Jefferson against his wishes.

The duo find the map and Amanda figures that the probe is going to Venus next... with them on it. They figure the aliens have supra-light communications. A screen activates when Jefferson leans on a control, and they realize it's like a telegram but in more than three dimensions. A signal comes in and Jefferson realizes that he's established communication with the probe's owners.

Coberly calls to Amanda and Jefferson, and they come out and run past the Mikie. Jefferson trips and Coberly pulls him free of the Mikie, and a beam flashes from the post. First Coberly and then Amanda enter the light beam, and three cylinders move up, one around each of them. Liquid sprays on them for a moment, and then mist fills the cylinders, drying them. The cylinders sink back into the floor and the Mikie retreats from them. Jefferson realizes that the probe has sprayed them with a Mikie repellant and the alien scientists could solve scientific mysteries for them.

Amanda notices that the probe is starting to shake, and they realize the probe is preparing to leave Earth. They go back to the telemetry room and try repeatedly to communicate with the aliens. Coberly gets the emergency radio from the raft. The light shines down and mist gathers around him.

Inside the telemetry chamber, Amanda finds a panel emitting a steadily-increasing noise. A signal comes in, two symbols flashing back and forth. A third symbol appears and Jefferson figures that it's automatic programming. Amanda speaks to the panel and it responds, and Jefferson has her recite Einstein's equation. The symbols respond and Jefferson insists that there must be a pattern. He tells Amanda to keep talking while he checks on Coberly.

In the main chamber, Jefferson discovers that Coberly is gone. The light shines down and the mists gather.

Amanda tells the aliens that they're desperate and if the probe takes off from Earth, they'll die. She asks where Dexter went, and pleads with the aliens to acknowledge that they're aware of them. Amanda figures that the aliens are aware that the Mikes could infest another world, and wonders if the aliens are machines are organic creatures. She runs out and grabs a paddle to fend off the Mikie, and the light and the mist form on her.

When the mists clear, Amanda discovers that she's on the outside on the "deck" of the probe. Jefferson and Coberly are there with a radio engineer from a nearby rescue plane. Jefferson says that the light beam showed them the way out and they couldn't get in, so he used the emergency radio to send an SOS. The radio engineer tells Jefferson that he must have done something right because they found him despite flying blind.

The rescue plane takes off, and the probe leaves the ocean. It flies into the atmosphere and Jefferson figures that the aliens sent the rescue plane their position because he didn't know it. Amanda figures that she communicated with the aliens, and they blow up the probe rather than take the risk of it contaminating a planet. Jefferson suggests the aliens translated their language, and wonders what would happen if one of their space probes found a race. Amanda figures that they would be as compassionate... and human.

Written by Gadfly on Oct 20, 2019

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