Original broadcasted 05/29/2007
New Delhi – Bureau Nine Office – Day
In most ways, the room was like any other office. It looked more like an office in a private home than a business with soft colors, comfortable furniture, and gentle light. From outside the windows, a dim roar made its way into the room.
Hope and Isabel sat on a large sofa. Across from them, in a chair, sat Jason Felix. He had a book open in his lap and glasses perched on his nose.
“My first thought was, he lied in every word,” said Felix, reading aloud, “That hoary cripple, with malicious eye/Askance to watch the working of his lie/On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford/Suppression of the glee that pursed and scored/ Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.”
He didn’t make it sing-song, the way so many people do trying to recite poetry. He simply spoke, but with a rhythm that recalled song. Not that he sang the poem, not at all. But poetry is not ordinary speech, and his voice reflected that.
“I didn’t really get it,” offered Hope.
Felix looked up. “This stanza? Or the poem as a whole?”
Hope paused. “The whole thing.”
He nodded. “It isn’t a completely easy one to comprehend. Browning claimed it came to him in a dream, fully formed. He even said that when he wrote it only he himself and God really understood it, but that now only God does.” Felix smiled and closed the book. “Scholars keep arguing for some kind of specific meaning, usually looking at socio-political aspects of this or that. But ever since I read it, the answer, or at least some part of it, has always been clear.”
“Not to me,” said Isabel, almost laughing.
Felix laughed. “Well, I’ve an unusual mind. No news is that! But here’s my interpretation, for whatever it might be worth. Browning never says what Roland is attempting to achieve. I believe that to be deliberate. The poem is about the quest, the goal, the object of ambition and desire for which men strive. More, it tells of the experience of the quest. We seek to achieve, pouring out all we have, and yet that very seeking is both a glory and a curse, when you think about it. How could it not be? Even the disasters. Perhaps especially them.”
“I think I get it,” said Hope after a moment.
“Really?” said Isabel.
“Like Felix says, we try to do things. We always try. And sometimes we screw up.”
He nodded. “No matter how good we are, how much we strive, sooner or later we fail.”
“But that doesn’t mean we stop, am I right?”
“Obviously. We don’t stop. We cannot stop.”
“Even when every choice is hard. Every choice hurts.” She said this last sentence quietly.
“Yes, Hope,” said Felix. “Even then.” A sound came from Felix’s inside coat. He reached in and pulled out a cell phone. “Yes?” he asked and then listened.
Watchers Council – Computer Lab – Same Time (Evening)
Jeff and Andrew sat at their keyboards across from each other, typing furiously, when Willow walked into the room.
She grinned slightly at them both before walking further into the room. “Too early to be burning the midnight oil, isn’t it guys?”
“Fear,” Andrew replied.
“What?” Willow asked.
“Aghh,” Jeff said, throwing his hands in the air. “Damn it!”
“What are you guys doing?” Willow asked.
“Playing a game,” Jeff answered. “And getting our ass kicked,” he added.
“Speak for yourself,” Andrew told him.
“Well, try not to stay up too late,” she told him. “We’ve gotta get up early tomorrow and head to the Great White North.”
Andrew turned from the game. “There won’t be snow, will there?” he asked.
“No, they really do have seasons in Nova Scotia…or so I’ve been told,” she replied.
“We should pack our coats, just in case,” Jeff teased. His computer beeped, and he looked down to see an email. The name read “From Hope Lehane,” and the subject was “Project Roland.”
He clicked it open to see a copy of a memo on Bureau Nine letterhead. He glanced over to see Willow leaving, but stopped her.
“Willow,” he called out. “I got something you might want to see.”
“What is it?” she asked as she walked over.
“I’m not sure,” he replied.
Willow leaned over Jeff’s shoulder for a better look. After a few seconds of reading, Jeff and Willow pulled their eyes from the computer and looked at each other.
Fade to Black