103 Vector

 Like a plant, a virus spreads out … grows so to speak

Summary: A lethal virus outbreak in LA, is it bio-terrorism or something even more sinister?

Original air date
: February 4, 2005 (US)

Written by: Jeff Vlaming

Directed by:  David Von Ancken

Opening numbers:

4: Counties
6: Deaths
30: Cases
1: Unknown pathogen

Family Concepts: (character development)
  • Charlie has a national security clearance "at the highest level"
  • Charlie has done consulting for the NSA
  • Alan belongs to a book club
  • Alan volunteers at a shelter in downtown LA
  • Alan has been retired for two years
  • Alan has been a widow for almost a year
  • Alan has a friend named Art Stanley(?)
  • Terry is an FBI profiler

Episode Synopsis:

A boy riding in a car, a woman in her bathroom and a girl off shift from a night job are all sick.  We know the boy dies and his mother is now also sick, as her family has been quarantined by the CDC.  The FBI is called in to consult as a possible bio-terrorism case and Don offers the CDC access to Charlie to help do a vector analysis, the case however has been classified and the CDC has already called their math consultant to the scene. While Don and Terry are still discussing the case with Dr. Havercamp (the CDC rep) a car pulls up with the CDC consultant: Charlie.  Evidently he has worked other cases and has a top security clearance.

Don and his team start working on where and when the contagion was released and after several interviews the Union Station train station is considered the most likely release point.  The station is shut down, with a cover story of asbestos found, while the CDC looks for evidence on a release. Charlie however isn’t so sure the train station is the best release point possible, but he’s overruled by experts who agree with his initial analysis.  Charlie is also worried about Alan who plans to go downtown, near the trail station to volunteer at a homeless shelter.  Both Don and Charlie try to convince Alan not to go, but their efforts are hampered because they can’t actually tell Alan anything about the contagion.  Don and Charlie are back at the FBI office when Havercamp calls to say they know what the contagion is, namely the Spanish Flu.

The flu virus had been discovered in the 1960’s in several bodies recovered from a permafrost layer.  It was thought in case the flu should enter the population again, scientists would need strains of the flu in order to create a vaccine; one of the labs working with the strain is in LA called Genno Labs.  Don and is team interview the three people who work with the virus, but find no evidence any of them released the strain.

Charlie is still not happy with his results and rethinks his solution coming up with a new release point, the bus terminal.  It would explain why the virus had only spread in two direction, north and south. Don notes that the virus seems to be killing people in the northern area more than in the south and an analysis shows there are actually two different strain of the Spanish flu in the population, something that could not have happened naturally. After seeing this new evidence, Don is convinced a check of the bus terminal is warranted and the terminals security tapes are also reviewed.   Additionally the second virus carries a genetic marker for another lab based on the East Coast, Russel Labs, a lab that Martin Grolsch, now at Genno used to work for.  Grolsch admits he use to work at Russel and that he brought a sample of their flu strain to the West Coast for Genno to study, but that he didn’t want to release it, instead he wanted to help Genno win a very lucrative contract from a pharmaceutical company.

An investigation of the contact shows Russel labs was just awarded the contract, something Grolsch would not have known before the release.  David gets a call that something has been found on the bus terminal security tapes: Dr Weaver the head of the Genno Lab team researching the virus is seen getting off one bus and onto another.  When Weaver is arrested, he claims he had to release the two viruses to prove that the Genno virus was the more deadly, twenty people had bee killed during this outbreak, in order to make sue Genno was awarded the contract; if the vaccine were based on a different, less virulent strain it wouldn’t be an effective cure if the Spanish flu ever broke out again.