Let me just begin by saying that if you haven’t watched this episode this recap contains spoilers. If you don’t like spoilers, don’t read this article. If you read this article and get upset that it has spoilers you probably should avoid the internet. Thank you.
The inaugural episode opens on a classroom scene where Dr. Daniel Pierce is discussing the topic of reality and how reality is really a figment of our imagination. Reality is what we make it and everyone’s perception of reality is different. We may live in the same world, but we don’t see it the same way.
Kate Moretti, FBI agent and former student of Pierce, asks for his help on a case involving the death of pharmaceutical company lawyer Clark Weilman who was bludgeoned to death with a heavy trophy. Weilman’s wife, Pamela, confesses under police pressure, but Moretti is convinced the woman is too frail to have lifted the weighty murder weapon. Pierce interviews the woman, leading her on with fabricated situations and she easily believes whatever he tells her. It turns out she has a severe thiamine deficiency which presented itself as Korsakoff’s syndrome causing her to be prone to suggestion thereby making her confession baseless.
The investigation turns to threatening emails sent to the pharmaceutical company, Tech San. Every email repeats the same phrase, “scum need a hearty reminder” which Pierce discovers is an anagram for “Tech San murdered Irene May.” Irene May was a participant in a drug trial for a diabetes pill who died of a heart attack. The FBI quickly determine her son, Timothy, was sending the emails so they bring him in for questioning.
May seems a bit of a conspiracy nut, but Pierce gains the man’s trust by convincing him he also distrusts the government. May opens up and tells Pierce that his mother had type-2 diabetes so he signed her up for the drug trial and she had a heart attack shortly thereafter. The man eventually expresses more sadness than anger and it becomes apparent that he is no murderer. To complicate the situation even more, Tech San’s records showed Irene May was in the placebo group.
While Moretti & Pierce are at Tech San interviewing the lead researcher, Dr. Martin Bryant, Pierce spots a man looking at him suspiciously in the background. Before he can find out who this man might be the police enter the lab to confront young female lab technician Valerie Nelson with the fact that she was having an affair with the murdered Weilman. She vehemently denies any involvement with the murder as they take her in for questioning.
Back at home Pierce gets a visit from the mysterious man he saw at the lab, Gerard Permut (Colin Cunningham in a guest role), who says he has information about Weilman’s murder. Permut seems very unstable, but says he knew about the affair between Weilman and Nelson and the voices in his head told him to kill Weilman. Pierce calls for Lewicki’s help only to discover Permut was just a hallucination. Permut continues to appear to Pierce and Lewicki proposes that his appearance is more of a guidance or even psychic vision rather than a random illusion.
Based on what he’s heard from the imaginary Permut, Pierce believes Valerie Nelson is lying so he and Moretti head over to her apartment. They find her on the floor in a pool of blood from a blow to the back of the head, but still alive. Moretti brings in some Tech San execs for questioning while Pierce watches from an adjacent room when Permut appears again, this time warning him not to drink the cup of tea set before him because it’s poisoned.
Permut tells Pierce that Timothy May said his mother was poisoned then reminds Pierce of his name, “Gerard Permut” and how much he loves puzzles. Pierce quickly realizes this is another anagram and rearranges the letters to spell “drug tamperer.” He concludes someone tampered with the results of the drug trial and had Irene May listed in the placebo group when she was actually receiving the drug so as not to shed light on the fact that the drug was causing heart attacks.
Back at Tech San, Pierce & Moretti confront Dr. Bryant with their suspicions that Valerie Nelson found out he was falsifying study results and she was joining boyfriend Clark Weilman to expose him. Cornered, Bryant admits that he faked the results because he figured out what was causing the heart attacks and he could fix it, but he saw Valerie take some pills for what he assumed was independent verification. He tried to talk Weilman into giving him some time, but he refused and Bryant killed him in a moment of anger.
It looks like “case closed,” but Perman again appears to Pierce asking him why he’d still be showing up if the case was solved. Pierce catches up with Bryant who’s being taken away by police to ask why the drug was causing the heart attacks. Bryant tells him it was depleting thiamine levels in patients, which happens to be the exact same condition the initially accused wife of the deceased, Pamela Weilman, has. This can’t be a coincidence!
Knowing Valerie Nelson was the only person to take pills from the lab, our duo confront her in the hospital and she finally admits she and Clark Weilman were trying to poison his wife. At this point Permut appears one last time and says, “Nice working with you, Doc.” then fades away. Now, Pearce knows the entire puzzle has been solved.
At the end, we see Pearce having a conversation with his friend, Natalie, while a voice-over of him talking about normalcy plays. Lewicki walks up, gazes in their direction, and the camera pans to show the conversation from his point of view. Pearce is sitting alone.
Interesting questions about reality, sanity and what’s normal are examined very well in this show. Perception does a great job of showing that we all perceive the world very differently and that just because someone’s not “normal” by our definition doesn’t mean they’re abnormal, either. We all have different ways of coping and functioning. Dr. Daniel Pearce has a very unique way of seeing the world that makes him far more perceptive than the rest of us. He manages to take what would be a huge liability for most people and turn it into an invaluable asset.