The Pilot Podcast - TV Reviews and Interviews!

Emergence (ABC)

Episode Summary

Join us as we watch the ABC mystery-themed thriller, Emergence, on The Pilot Podcast. Police chief Jo is in for a wild ride after she finds Piper on the beach of a plane crash. Do you believe that Piper is an alien? What sort of conspiracy theories will this series explore? Also, shout out to the whole cast being filled with talented actors.

Episode Notes

A police chief takes in a young child she finds near the site of a mysterious accident and the investigation draws her into a conspiracy larger than she ever imagined.

Transcript available on our website.

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Episode Transcription

BJ 0:10
Welcome to The Pilot Podcast!

Mitu 0:12
Where we watch the pilot episodes of TV shows and recap other shows to answer your question, should I watch this?

BJ 0:18
My name is BJ.

Mitu 0:19
And my name is Mitu.

BJ 0:20
And this week we're checking out a new mystery-themed thriller on ABC called Emergence.

Mitu 0:26
So stay tuned to the end to find out what BJ would do for little alien girl imprinted on him.

BJ 0:31
Run away.

Mitu 0:32

BJ 0:33
Yeah, don't mess with aliens.

Mitu 0:36
So that goes into this pilot episode. Beej, let us know what happened.

BJ 0:41
Sure. So we're following our main character, Jo Evans. She is a police chief in Long Island. And the whole show starts out with a mysterious plane crash on the beach. And Jo is there with her team investigating what's going on. And then out of the corner of her eye, she sees something hiding in the sand dunes. And there's a little girl. And this little girl who she names Piper, because the little girl has no memory, kind of gets very attached to her. And Jo decides to take her home while we wait to figure out who Piper's parents are, where she came from,

Mitu 1:18
What she is,

BJ 1:20
Why she's here. And then very mysterious things start to happen around them. Where Jo is encountering people such as fake federal agents, people faking to be Piper's parents and other sketchy situations seemingly around some group of people or some organization that wants to get Piper while Piper is not telling us anything, because she doesn't remember, supposedly.

Mitu 1:48
I get it the main tension of this show is the mystery of, what is that plane crash? What is the government potentially covering up? What is this little alien baby doing, allegedly? We don't know she's an alien, but I've firmly decided she's an alien. But the main tension for me actually is, I would expect Jo to be a little bit suspicious or wary of people as the police chief. I don't think you get there without seeing some things and so I'm surprised that she immediately accepts this little girl, doesn't ask questions, and then without spoilers puts her family at risk, her ex-husband Alex, her dad Ed, her little daughter Mia, all in an effort to protect Piper whom we don't know if she's the quote-unquote bad guy or not.

BJ 2:37
That's true. Her judge of character is still up for debate. We do see her making some good calls in regards to protecting Piper but we don't see much of her suspicion around Piper after essentially their initial encounter. But then Piper gives her a hug, and after that Piper's an unofficial member of her family.

Mitu 2:59
Immediately accepted it. I will say though, that I think it's hard to pull off that conceit that you go from a police chief who's aware of your surroundings to immediately taking in this child. But I think Allison Tolman does a really good job portraying that. And they try to in the pilot start to bring up why she would do something like this when she talks to her ex-husband played by Donald Faison. And he says something like, she won't go fishing and she says it's because I don't want to hurt the worms or something like that. Which is odd because you're also hurting the fish, but it's supposed to be indicative I believe of her character of wanting to help the little guy. In this case, it's difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea that helping the little guy means putting your actual biological family whose origins you're completely aware of at risk.

BJ 3:52
I think the part that we have to believe is that they really do see her, Piper I mean, as a member of the family. You already see Jo's daughter Mia making plans a month in advance that "Oh Piper is going to be coming to such and such with me and my dad." She's even telling her mother, "You know, I always wanted younger sister. I guess Piper is going to be the way I get that." And even Jo's father Ed, he has his like bonding moments like hanging out with Piper. Let's do some little house projects, fixing up things. So I think they really have immediately accepted Piper as their new daughter.

Mitu 4:34
Not just accepted her but trusted her because Jo left her in a room with tools and weapons to go get something else so they could start working on projects around the house. If I found a little girl in a ditch, didn't know her background, let's say I do take her in at the risk of my family into my personal home, I don't know that I would then be like, here are all these knives and hammers and box cutters. You do what you will. I'm going to head into the other room for about five to six minutes. Don't worry about it. I certainly won't.

BJ 5:04
Can we now talk about Piper suspicious behavior now that you brought up the box cutter?

Mitu 5:09
Yeah, yeah, I'd like to get into it.

BJ 5:11
This whole episode, Piper has been pocketing a box cutter and she'll like slide it out of her jacket pocket. Backup, Jo gave her her police jacket at the beach. You know, at these scenes, you want to make people more comfortable and also it's probably chilly that night. But Piper has held onto that jacket the entire episode. These are multiple days where she is just keeping that as if it's her own.

Mitu 5:37
They also haven't really bathed this child and she's just been in their beds, in their homes, hugging them. They have not washed this little girl.

BJ 5:46
And she just got a toothbrush like days later.

Mitu 5:51
Listeners, there's a point toward the latter half of the episode when Jo's really wrapping your head around keeping Piper and and she goes "I got you a toothbrush." And that's when you realize it's been like five days and this girl has not been cleaned and apparently didn't even have a toothbrush to her name, just that jacket.

BJ 6:15
And she was excited about that toothbrush too.

Mitu 6:17
Thrilled. Oral hygiene is exciting.

BJ 6:21
So Piper is limited in her own personal belongings. Very suspicious. Some things we also see, one of the reasons me to might believe her to be an alien is that we see a lot of weird electrical disruptions and like magnetic forces going on. And they all seem to be centered around Piper and her emotional state. So if she's kind of like, freaked out, weird things might pop up on a TV. If she's scared, all the metal in the room might start to be attracted to her. Oh, and if a car gets flipped over, she'll be fine.

Mitu 6:58
Just like that plane. Whether not she caused the crash, we don't know. But she was unscathed.

BJ 7:03
So it seems like one of the things that she definitely does have are some superpowers. Are there any other things that lead you to believe that she might be an alien?

Mitu 7:12
I just don't trust her. Listeners, when BJ and I are watching this show, as soon as I saw that little girl in that ditch. I said don't trust her. I do not trust this little girl.

BJ 7:22
But do you think she would ever hurt Jo?

Mitu 7:25
I don't think she would intentionally. I could see her hurting Jo and her family. She already has put them in danger. And I could see maybe in one of her heightened emotional states, she could hurt them. But I don't see her intentionally trying to hurt them. What about you?

BJ 7:43
I don't think she would ever hurt Jo or her family intentionally. I think she really is starting to bond with them and care about them. While I am suspicious about her origins, I would rather be on her side,

Mitu 7:58
Oh, yeah.

BJ 7:59
Than deal with the people who are looking for her.

Mitu 8:01

BJ 8:02
So I guess that's the extent to which I would trust her.

Mitu 8:06
One of the main arcs of this pilot episode and I presume will be one for the whole season is that Piper doesn't know who she is, where she comes from. She just gets these little flashes as things trigger her. Like, she'll hear a sound that makes her think of something that happened to her or she'll see an odd thing that makes her think of something. So we're getting little flashes. Do you think that she's being honest and telling Jo that she doesn't remember anything? Do you think those flashes of what the show is giving us is all that she is remembering in real time as well?

BJ 8:42
I think it's a combination. I think there are things related to those flashes that we see that she generally doesn't know or just doesn't remember. But I do think she knows more right now than she is willing to tell Jo.

Mitu 8:58
Yeah, because Jo said, I'll keep you in my house as long as you don't know where you come from, who your family is, you know, etc. So do you think Piper's like I don't know where come from just so she can stay in that house?

BJ 9:14
Yeah, she said something suspicious like I'll try to remember. Like she is comfortable living with Jo so she's going to take her time remembering bits and pieces.

Mitu 9:27
She doesn't even mind the filth.

BJ 9:28
No, she's happy where she is... in Jo's bed with Jo's daughter.

Mitu 9:33
Wearing Jo's clothes.

BJ 9:35
She's trying to take Jo's life.

Mitu 9:37
She's single white femaling Jo. If you were a police officer who happened upon a suspicious plane crash, and a little girl was in a ditch and she immediately imprinted on you like a little baby duckling like she did with Jo, would you take her home to your family?

BJ 9:52
No, I would follow the proper procedure and take her to child protective services. So she can be with a nice, happy, loving, caring, capable family until we find her parents or guardians.

Mitu 10:07
So you would put that random family at risk before your own?

BJ 10:10
I have no idea that I'm putting a family at risk. I'm following protocol. I'm doing my job.

Mitu 10:16
I respect that because I don't like that Jo, in keeping this little girl, is basically asking that her assistant or whoever he is, that cop, to keep her silence, to keep her secret.

BJ 10:29
Yeah, so what Mitu's referring to is one of the cops she was working with at the plane crash.

Mitu 10:36
And it looks like mentoring. He's really young.

BJ 10:38
Yeah, he seems like he's someone new. Clearly Jo is his superior. And they seem to have a good relationship as well. I believe his character's name is Chris. And he comes there. And he's like "Look, that plane disappeared. And they're saying that it was a drone."

Mitu 10:55
Which is what that guy predicted which we should get into.

BJ 10:58
Yeah, so he's like "We're being lied to, right?" And as soon as that happened, she's like "Okay, look, you remember that little girl I got? Well, I'm keeping her. I'm not putting her in the system. We're not telling anyone, okay?"

Mitu 11:12
Yikes, yikes!

BJ 11:15
So she's just roping more people into this whole dangerous situation really surrounding Piper.

Mitu 11:22
Which leads to the conspiracy theorist. So when Jo goes back to investigate the crash site, she runs into this guy who tells her the government is going to say that this was an unmanned drone crash. And that ends up being the cover up that I think Homeland Security or NTSB uses. So that's another reason I thought it was potentially aliens is because of this guy popping up and being not in law enforcement, but seemingly a professional conspiracy theorist, investigator person.

BJ 12:00
So do you trust his sources? I believe the journalists name is Benny. Do you trust Benny's sources on what actually happened?

Mitu 12:10
I don't trust anyone.

BJ 12:11
Oh, anyone?

Mitu 12:13
I think the only person that's pure of heart on this show is Mia. Actually Ed too and Alex, the victims of Jo and Piper.

BJ 12:23
All those hostages in that house.

Mitu 12:26
All the hostages, those are the people I trust. Everyone outside of that... oh, and Chris.

BJ 12:31
Yeah, he's just innocent and naive.

Mitu 12:33
He's just innocent and keeping a secret for his boss. Everyone else, I do not trust. I do not know what's happening.

BJ 12:39
But I do think Benny is going to end up being a valuable resource in terms of information. I think we might get more from him than we do from Piper. Even though Piper probably has the real juicy stuff.

Mitu 12:54
We saw Mysteries Decoded on Area 51. And the journalists and investigators that she spoke to, you could write off, because I'm certainly a skeptic on all of that stuff. But from the show, a lot of the stuff that they had investigated and said, you know, was covered up, or it's not how it appears. When she looked into it, she didn't confirm their suspicions, but she certainly brought doubt to the commonly understood explanations.

BJ 13:27
So you're suggesting that maybe the truth is somewhere between what Benny is saying and what NTSB is saying?

Mitu 13:36
Mmhmm, yeah. There's Piper's side, the other alien colony's side, the government's side, Benny's side, and whatever's going on in Jo's head protecting all the worms.

BJ 13:47
And it's some combination of those stories is closest to the truth.

Mitu 13:51
Yes, like a big ol Venn diagram.

BJ 13:54
Okay. That's a very logical and reasonable approach to finding the truth.

Mitu 14:01
I don't know that you've often called me reasonable. So I really appreciate this.

BJ 14:05
How often do I call you unreasonable?

Mitu 14:08
Never. But I just rarely hear reasonable or logical.

BJ 14:12
Making me sound like a bad person.

Mitu 14:15
No, that's not what I meant. I just meant, you know, you're a scientist, it feels good to have you be like "sound decision making!"

BJ 14:22
Yes, you are capable of making good decisions and thinking through problems. What did you think of Alison Tolman's performance as Jo in this drama-thriller versus the comedy roles you've seen her in previously?

Mitu 14:38
So we actually reviewed her performance in Downward Dog and I love that she is getting this opportunity to stretch her dramatic chops. I know she's been on Fargo and on Good Girls. But in this role, she's really getting to lead. She's literally the leading protagonist of the show. I think that comedians are really great dramatic actors. I feel like we'll often see comedians in dramatic roles and be like, how did they do that? And there's always this buzz around it. And all this surprise, when in reality, we just see that over and over again, because you have to tap into something dark to be that funny.

BJ 15:19
That's true. I never really thought about it that way. I am one of those people who's always surprised like "They can be serious? Oh!"

Mitu 15:26
Marlon Wayans, famously, was in Requiem for a Dream, and was fantastic in that dramatic role. And I just saw Brittany Runs a Marathon, which I had some mixed feelings on, but Rel was incredible in this dramatic role. There's this scene between him and Jillian Bell that I don't know that there was a dry eye in the house watching that. And so those are very random examples. And I could do several more. Robin Williams is a great example. Eddie Murphy is a great example. He deserved that Oscar for Dream Girls and didn't get it, which is... fine. But I just think comedians don't get to dabble in that world. And we'll see dramatic actors get to do comedies, but we don't get to see it in reverse. So it's cool that she got this opportunity. And she's great in it. Like I said, this is a huge conceit to pull off to be a police chief, yet have the heart and throwing care to the wind a bit to take in this little girl and put your family at risk. And I think she pulls it off. I believe her doing it.

BJ 16:28
I agree. I would say the whole main cast is really good. And Allison as Jo is really believable in her compassion for Piper as well as her family. And even in the more serious scenes where she's like pulling out a gun to protect her family. I actually believe her doing that. And I'd say the relationship with her daughter Mia, and how Mia interacts with her father and grandfather. I think those are all believable interactions too. So if you can start to accept supernatural element, you'll see beyond that there's like a solid base layer of just good acting.

Mitu 17:07
100%. Are you also feeling a potential love triangle between her, her ex-husband and that conspiracy theorist? I only see a potential love triangle because there is clearly still love there between her and her ex-husband, their newly divorced. And I'm not sure yet why they divorced because they have a lot of love for each other. Though, I get it, sometimes things don't work out. And the conspiracy theorist has a British accent, and I know that British guys usually... [laughter] I know that analysis was supposed to be deeper but I mean it, as soon as I heard his British accent, I was like he's been brought on to be the love interest.

BJ 17:44
I do see it. I don't think I've seen anything I would define as flirting between Benny and Jo. But I think for the same reasons as you, there are a lot of TV tropes and stereotypical situations, which are kind of set them up as potential of interest. And I think the fact that we ended up seeing Alex as a main character, and not this off screen missing father, I think that makes him a potential continuing love interest as well. I support your logical conclusion about the love triangle.

Mitu 18:18
Thank you for lending credence to my thoughts. So do you want to wrap up with some predictions?

BJ 18:24
I have a question for you before we go in their predictions. Well, this is kind of a prediction actually. Do you see this show taking on the same level of popularity as Lost or Manifest?

Mitu 18:36
Ooh, so I didn't watch Lost. But I know that it was a cultural phenomenon that I just missed out on. I do know that... we actually reviewed Manifest on this show, which you can check out at But I would say that this pilot was as strong as the Manifest pilot. In Manifest there were a few more storylines to follow because it was an entire plane of people who disappeared versus one woman and one little alien girl. But I think the level of intrigue, at least for me, is around the same. So if people are paying attention to the level of intrigue versus all of the different strings, like threads of stories on Manifest versus on Emergence, then I could see this being just as popular because I thought it was just as intriguing as Manifest.

BJ 19:29
I would have to agree with you again. I think that this was pretty intriguing. I liked the mystery. And I would say Manifest seemed to have a more grand pilot and a more grand setup to everything and all of its mysteries and storylines. And part of that is because of the larger cast. But I think I would prefer a show like Emergence where they keep it kind of like a tighter storyline. The mystery's all about Piper and this plane crash and the people interacting with her versus you know, we're following Piper, then maybe there's some other little boy, and then there's like some other person on the plane crash. I like that we're keeping it simple, especially if they're going to drag out... and this isn't a bad thing but shows like these tend to make you wait for answers.

Mitu 20:22

BJ 20:23
So I would I like that there's going to be one main mystery that we're going to focus on.

Mitu 20:28
So any predictions about that main mystery?

BJ 20:31
Well, there is a very important scene at the end of the episode involving Piper and that box cutter. And I think that really set it up for me that she is involved with some mysterious government research agency ala Eleven from Stranger Things. Like this organization is not necessarily the government that was working with the her and probably put her on that plane.

Mitu 21:02
I agree. I also immediately thought government conspiracy.

BJ 21:06
Do you still believe she's an alien?

Mitu 21:07
Yeah, I think it's a possibility. I don't think those things are mutually exclusive.

BJ 21:11

Mitu 21:12
So what would you rate ABC's Emergence?

BJ 21:16
Would watching in seriously.

Mitu 21:17
Oh, wow.

BJ 21:19
Yeah, I really did like this set up. I liked the mystery. I think that ending scene with Piper really kind of sealed it in that this is going to go in a direction that I think is fascinating. I'm curious, just to know more. I have a feeling there might be another Piper-type character that'll show up. I guess that's another prediction. So I'm in it to see how long Jo is gonna deal with her adopted mysterious alien daughter.

Mitu 21:45
I am not would watch again seriously not because it's not a good show. But because this genre is not really for me. But to my fellow listeners who are not as into sci fi or fantasy. If you want to give a show a shot, like I did with Firefly and fell in love, I think this could be a good one for you. It was really, really good. And similarly to how I keep you posted on shows like La Casa de las Flores, I want you to keep me posted on the show. And I'm certainly interested enough in the show to read like episode recaps, because I want to know what happens but I don't see myself sitting down to watch this every week. But all love to Allison and Donald Faison because they are great on the show, as is that little girl Alexa Swinton.

BJ 22:36
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Mitu 22:51
And after you give that five star rating and review, you can take it a step further by supporting us on where you'll get exclusive merch, to help choose which shows we do next, and getting a chat with us a little bit more directly.

BJ 23:06
And that's exclusive episodes.

Mitu 23:09
Yes, because we have the il treasure trove of episodes so go to You can also follow us on Twitter and on Instagram @thepilotpod, like us on Facebook @thepilotpodcast. You can send thoughts, feelings, feedback, show suggestions to Thanks for listening.

BJ 23:30

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