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The Visitor

First aired:
October 10, 1997

Adam enters a dimly lit room, containing electronic equipment, a desk, and refrigerator. He is looking for something. He wipes his sweaty brow. He finally finds something of interest, sits down and fiddles with it.

Meanwhile, a Dr. Alex Burton, at NASA, meets with a congressman, who tells him that he needs to understand Dr. Burton's project, so he can endorse further funding. So, he takes the congressman over, to listen to something. He tells him that he is about to hear a message from space...

The message comes, and Adam hears it, too. He falls to the ground, covering his ears, and writhes in pain. He screams, along with the sounds he hears.

The congressman asks what the message means. Dr. Burton admits that they aren't sure. But, he goes on to explain that they could tell from the Doppler effect: the fact that the signal has been coming more often all the time, and the pitch was increasing, as well, that the source was coming nearer to Earth.

Dr. Burton further explains that the rocket they will be launching the next day will enable them to hear the signal more clearly, and hopefully figure it all out. Just then, Dr. Burton's friend and college, Spencer comes in with a large wrapped gift. Dr. Burton tells them that it's his son's birthday. "I won't be long", he assures them. As he leaves, he asks Spencer what's in the box. Spencer tells him it's a really nice telescope.

Adam recovers somewhat from mental stress caused by the incoming message. He gets up and opens the fridge to cool himself off. On the fridge door is a poster which reads, "This Independence Day: Earth Invades Mars!" Then, Adam sees a newspaper clipping about Dr. Burton, and reads his name out loud. Adam exits the building, and looks over, shading his eyes, to see the rocket, preparing for launch.

There is a boisterous birthday party going on at the Burton house, when the doorbell rings. Mrs. Burton answers the door. She opens it to see Adam standing there. "You're late", she tells him, as she ushers him in. Adam says he is looking for Alex Burton, but Mrs. Burton, and their son, Steven, think that he is the magician, hired for the party.

Adam decides to go along with it. Adam isn't feeling well, but he does a card trick for the kids, by having Steven give each child a playing card. He turns his back, and tells them to not let him see what it is. He instructs them to concentrate on what their card is. Then he goes around the table, holding each child's head, and telling him or her the card they have!

Dr. Burton finally arrives at home, gift in hand. He tells his wife that Spencer hired the magician. She tells him to thank Spencer, since the magician saved the party. Then Dr. Burton calls to his son, who runs up to him, excitedly. Steven opens the gift, but his face falls. He says sadly, "thanks, dad. It's just like the one you got me last year."

But then, Spencer bursts in in full clown regalia, acting goofy. Steven looks up and smiles. Spencer explains to Dr. Burton that he couldn't get a magician on such short notice. Dr. Burton goes over to Adam and asks, "who hired you?" Adam answers, "noone. I'm hear because of the sounds I hear in my head." Adam doesn't look too good.

Dr. Burton leads him into his office, saying, "step in here, I'll call you a doctor." Adam says, "No! Dr. Burton, I know that that you're receiving signals from deep space, 'cause I'm hearing them, too. Sounds. I can't decipher the message. I need your help." Burton thinks it's a joke. But, then Adam continues with, "I know you're lauching an atmospheric radio telescope satellite, so that you can hear them better." Burton says, "that's classified." Burton becomes wary, and asks, "what is it, you think, I am supposed to be hearing?" Adam replies, "twenty seconds of musical tones, coming every 3-4 hours. It's all distorted... Like a car radio turned up too loud." Adam sinks into the desk chair.

Dr. Burton offers to get Adam a glass of water. He goes to the kitchen, but calls NASA instead. He tells them he thinks there's been a breach in security. Mrs. Burton comes in and he whispers to her, "whoever he says he is, he's not." She tells him, "your magician's disappeared." Burton rushes back to the lab.

Adam finds his way to the beach. He is wandering aimlessly. His mind is about gone, from the stress. He starts hallucinating. He falls and screams and writhes again, as the next message comes. This one puts him in a coma.

On his way to the NASA lab, Burton calls on his cell phone, about the possible security breach. He failed to keep an eye on the road, and swerved in front of an oncoming semi. He swerved out of the way again, but into a tree. Now, both Adam and Dr. Burton are unconscious. And both are taken to the same hospital.

Mrs. Burton comes, to be with her husband. They put Adam into the MRI. Afterwards, Adam is wheeled into Dr. Burton's room, and the curtain is drawn. Adam's two doctors have him reported to missing persons, and discuss his case. They are puzzled, because his tox-screen is clear. They decide to test him again. As they look at his MRI results, they see a mass in his brain. They discuss what it might be, but none of the theories make sense.

Vise comes into Dr. Burton's room, and talks with Mrs. Burton. He shows her a picture and asks her, "does your husband know this man." She looks, and says: "His name is Adam. He's a magician." Vise replies, "you've got that right. Mrs. Burton, Adam MacArthur is a very dangerous man. I believe he is here to destroy your husband's life's work." She says, "I think you'd better leave." Vise asks, "Please call me, if he wakes." "When he wakes up", Mrs. Burton corrects him. After Vise leaves, Mrs. Burton gets up out of her chair. She looks beyond the curtain, to see Adam lying there. She goes over to him, and says, "well Adam, if you're such a great magician, make all of this go away."

Adam and Burton are sitting in Burton's convertable. The sounds they have been hearing from space are playing on the radio. Burton yells at Adam, "get out of my car!" Adam replies, "I can't. We're stuck in here, together." "Where are we?" Burton asks. "In our dreams" Adam answers.

"We're both receiving the same message." Adam tells Burton. "Do you know what it means?" Burton asks. Adam says, "no. It's too distorted, and I need your help to decipher it." Just then, VIse comes along side of their car, in a humvee. "Keep it on the road, Dr. Burton", he admonishes. Adam asks Burton, "is Vise involved in your project, Alex? What else is on that rocket?" Vise fires a grenade launcher at the convertable. It explodes on the hood, in front of them. "You can't trust Vise!" Adam tells Burton.

"You know what the message is?" Adam looks at him. "You know!" He realizes. "Why should I trust you and not Vise?" Burton wonders. "'Cause, if I'm lying, this is only a dream", Adam answers. "O.K.: 'Your time is up.'" Burton reveals. "What else is riding on that rocket, Alex?" Adam demands. "Loaded dice. And they roll in thirteen hours", Burton informs him. The digital countdown clock on the dashboard reads 13:13:14.

Agents Wilcox, LaRue and Van Patten arrive at the hospital. They confirm that Adam is there, in the ICU. Wilcox orders LaRue to seal the building, and Van Patten to get a helicopter there, so they can take MacArthur back to Washington.

Since Adam's intercranial pressure is deemed too high, for him to have any hope of a normal recovery, Adam is prepped for surgery.

Vise returns to NASA, and insists that they close all outside internet links. They do, but there is a hard line to Dr. Burton's house, that cannot be closed from there.

Mrs. Burton brings their son Steven to see his father. He says, "Dad? It's me, Steven." He looks at his unresponsive father. Then he cries out, "he's never coming home, again!" And runs out. His mother runs after him.

Burton sees them running away from him, in his dream. He reaches out, and calls to them, "Steven! Ruth! Stop! Wait!" But, he can't leave the car. He is helpless. They keep running away. The clock says 1:59:59. The space message starts playing on the radio, again. "Turn the damn thing off!" Alex says irritably. He does. "All my life, I've been trying to communicate with the universe. They irony is, I can't even talk to my own family." "You've lost some time, not the race", Adam tells him. Alex admitted, "I always blamed it on time. Never enough time." Just then, Steven rides up along side the car on his bicycle. He is working hard to keep up with the car. Breathlessly, he calls, "dad!" Alex looks over and reaches out. He says, "But, that isn't the problem." "It's work that lets us be good providers. It's work that takes us away from those we love", Adam points out. "You read my mind", Alex says. "Just my own", Adam replies.

Adam looks over, and on his side of the car, is his son Jason, as a child, standing next to his bike. "Daddy, daddy" Jason says, and smiles. The car passes him by.

Mr. Burton and Steven return home. It is dark. Mrs. Burton goes to the fridge, to get some orange juice. When she closes the fridgerator door, she sees a soldier with a gun on her. She screams and drops the jug of juice. Vice comes, and says to her, "Mrs. Burton, I'm sorry. But, I had to ensure your house was clear. There could have been hostages. This is for your own good, believe me." The soldier brings Steven in. He runs to his mother. Mrs. Burton hugs him. "I want you our of my house", she says. "My men will remove your husbands computer, and we'll be on our way", Vise answers.

The clock says 1:27:36. Adam asks, "Tell me what the message says, Alex. Let me translate, I know the language." "How?" Alex queries. "'Cause I've been there with them", Adam reveals. "I was abducted. I came back because choices are being made, by us, that will be catastrophic for our planet... I can't stop the clock, but T minus zero doesn't have to happen the way you think, now tell me please, Alex", Adam pleads.

Alex turns the sound up on the radio. It's too loud, and Adam grimaces in pain. Alex turns it down to a reasonable volume, and Adam listens. He understands the message. A wind and a blue light enter the scene from behind. Adam and Alex turn to look. It leaves again. Alex asks, "what was that?" "You had it half right", Adam tells Alex, "you had the addressee wrong. The message is for me."

Wilcox tries to take custody of the comatose Adam but the nurse refuses him. Adam is in surgery. They begin the operation. The doctor cuts his forehead with a scapel.

Alex tells Adam that the satellite is a beacon. "A welcome mat out in the sky!" Alex exclaims, "then we translate the message. I get a call from the NSA, and Colonel James Vise becomes my favorite uncle." "What did Vise put on that rocket, Alex?" Adam asks. "Thermonuclear pumped argon lasers. It could vaporize anything within a half an earth orbit", Alex admits. Adam is not pleased. "We have to stop the launch!" Alex laughs at this and says: "You're dreaming! Vise graduated top of his class in the 'shoot-first-ask-questions-later-school'. He believes it's a threat. The first communication with other beings, and it takes the form of a death ray."

Adam tells him, "if they use that weapon, they'll start a war. I can't stop that rocket without you." At this, Alex removes his wedding band, and hands it to Adam. He explains, "here, look inside, there's an inscription." It says "forever". Alex continues, "It's my password. You'll need it to destroy the rocket, First you've got to get in my house, get into my computer. One minute after launch, you can send a destruct signal." Adam hands him his ring back. "There's not much time", Alex asks, "you think you could explain all this to Steven and Ruth? Let them know how much I love them." "You have to do that, yourself, Alex." Alex replies, "I can't." "Why not?" Adam wonders. "My destiny is to die in this car", Alex tells him, "your destiny is to stop that rocket." Adam shakes his head, and says, "not if it means sacrificing your life." "We don't have a choice!" Alex insists. "When that rocket launches, I'll be dead... See?" Ahead of them, they see a semi coming straight at the car. Alex concentrates on driving straight for it. Adam finds himself standing outside the car. As Dr. Burton drives off, Adam calls out after him, "Doctor! Doctor, wait!"

"Doctor, Doctor! Wait!" Says one doctor to the other, in the operating room. They look at the monitor, showing a cross-section of his brain. "Look, it's shrinking. What's happening?" The doctor asks. Adam begins to wake up. "Impossible!" Insists the other doctor. Adam speaks, "I can't give up, that easily."

The nurse comes up to the FBI boys, and says dryly, "Oh, happy day. Your boy is back in ICU." They jump up, and rush to his room. They pull the curtain back, to find an empty bed. Wilcox starts barking orders. "This is no way to run a hospital." he insists.

Mrs. Burton opens her front door, she says "you really are a magician", as Adam comes in. "Dad?" Steven calls. Adam looks up at him, standing at the top of the stairs, and tells him, "no, it's me, Adam. Your dad asked me to do something for him. I need his computer." "You're a little late for that", Mrs. Burton interjects. "I've got a computer", Steven says, trying to help. His mother tells him to wait, then explains to Adam, that her husband is in a coma. "But, he gave me his password", Adam, "it's 'forever.' It's written inside both your wedding rings." This convinces Mrs. Burton, and she tells Steven to get his computer.

He runs to get it, and sets it up on his father's desk. Adam logs in. "Now what?" Mrs. Burton asks. "I'll try to abort the launch", says Adam. "I'll call the hospital", she says, and leaves the room. "Why do you need a computer? Can't you just use magic?" Steven asks. "Magic isn't real, Stevie. It's just what we call something we don't understand", Adam tells him.

"I don't understand why my dad had to get hurt", Steven tells him. "'Cause it was an accident", Adam explained. He told Steven that sometimes things just happen, and we don't get a choice in the matter. Steven tells him, "I want a choice. I want my dad back." Adam comforts him.

Adam thinks about his own son. He hears Jason call, "daddy, daddy!" He turns to see him, and says, "Jason, my boy!" "Please don't leave me!" Jason pleads. Adam shrugs sadly, and tells him, "I don't have a choice." "Of course you do. You *always* do", Jason insists. Dr. Burton's "no choice" echos in his head. Adam logs out and tells Steven to get his mother, they have to return to the hospital. "Mom!" Steve yells, as he runs to get her.

"T minus one minute and counting. All on board systems nominal. We are 'go' to proceed with launch", Vise hears over the speakers. Adam, Ruth and Steven arrive at Alex's bedside. Adam looks at him, and enters the dreamscape, again. Alex asks him if he stopped the rocket. "No", Adam answered, "I made a choice. Your wife and your son need you." "I've lost them", Alex tells him. "No you haven't, there's still time, a lifetime", Adam says. "You're kidding yourself... What's that?" Alex asks as he nods toward the oncoming semi. A grinning Vise is driving. The semi looms larger, as Dr. Burton closes his eyes, and takes his hands off the wheel. He puts his hands in the air, in surrender. Adam grabs the wheel and turns it. The car veers out of the semi's way. When Alex opens his eyes again, he finds his wife and son sitting in the passenger seat. They smile at each other.

"Ten, nine, eight..." Alex hears. He looks down at the countdown clock. His face falls, as he realizes there is nothing he can do, now. The countdown reaches zero, the rocket launches. Vise gets a high off it. He says to himself, "I beat him."

Dr. Burton wakes, to find his family waiting beside him. He looks up and whispers to Adam, "what about the rocket? The war?" Adam tells him, "I'll find another way... There's always another way. He looks back to his family, and they are happy he is awake.

Adam stands outside, and watches the rocket get ever farther away. Once it reaches the proper orbit, the satellite is released and positioned. The message sending spaceship passes Saturn, as it continues it's journey to earth.