“What Was It You Wanted” wasn’t quite as awful as last week’s episode, but it’s a tame whodunit which builds to an unsatisfying conclusion.
This recap of Pandora Season 1, Episode 6, “What Was It You Wanted”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
In this week’s not-quite-so-detestable episode of The CW’s Pandora, the focus is on Delaney Pilar (Banita Sandhu), herein referred to as simply Pilar. Has that always been the case? I honestly can’t remember. That and other exciting questions are raised by “What Was It You Wanted”, which would like to be a smart metaphor for college-age social and academic anxieties — and potentially campus sexual assault allegations — but mostly just ends up being a lukewarm whodunit with a deeply unsatisfying ending.
Anyway, the particulars. In case you’ve forgotten — though I’m not entirely sure that’s possible — Pilar is cybernetically enhanced, so she’s treated with mistrust by other students who resent her teacher’s pet demeanor; the fact she’s also pretty and popular certainly doesn’t help, especially when she’s quick to reject the cool-kid hacker-bro Jet (Akshay Kumar) when he makes a move on her. Jet, a handsome but impossibly smug classmate with a spidery device on his face and one cool contact lens, quickly becomes the prime suspect when Pilar starts to go increasingly haywire, including a nude-leak scandal that spreads like wildfire and the revelation of a backdoor in her coding that allows her to be remotely manipulated and makes her feel violated — if you were in the market for some subtle messaging, you’re not going to find it in “What Was It You Wanted”.
As Pilar continues to deteriorate, we have other minor details to contend with. Since mind-melding with his father last week, Thomas (Martin Bobb-Semple) is developing the ability to read minds, which is complicating his ongoing relationship with Atria Nine (Raechelle Banno), and also maybe telekinesis, which is making his relationship a little bit easier. He’s also still sulking at Jax (Priscilla Quintana) for helping him out under false pretenses, so when she enlists him to read the minds of the prime suspects in Pilar’s hacking he has a proper sulk about it. Still, he agrees to help regardless, because “that’s what real friends do”, or some such. It’s quite awful, really.
It’s also Xander’s (Oliver Dench) birthday, which lends very little to “What Was It You Wanted” beyond an opportunity for him to continue being humorless and more of Ralen’s (Ben Radcliffe) incredibly tedious “Zatarians don’t understand Earth customs and aphorisms” banter. A decent bit is when Jax and Ralen ambush Jet and he reveals under duress that all his implants are fake; his crowd is all upper-crust elitists from moneyed families, and he can’t afford the same kind of gear they can. This brings up all kinds of questions about the campus’s socioeconomic hierarchy that’ll probably never be addressed again, so let’s move on.
The new plan is to plug Pilar back into the data stream and use her as bait for the hacker, which isn’t a bad idea but is complicated by the fact Pilar has gone missing. We see her interact with Professor Osborn (Noah Huntley), who expels her when she requests a leave of absence, and then Xander, who tries to sleep with her in exchange for a good word in Professor Osborn’s ear, and then Jax, who tells her she doesn’t like her, and then Ralen, who tries to convince her to commit suicide. I have no idea if we’re supposed to take this seriously, but it’s pretty obviously not real; it turns out Pilar is in a VR simulation under the control of a jealous classmate called Sarika Larson (Carla Woodcock) who I’m convinced we’ve never met before.
The problem with us never having met Sarika is that “What Was It You Wanted” ends up building to a whimper of a revelation, rendering all of its whodunit setup totally moot. There’s a joke in the simulation when Pilar doesn’t know who Sarika is even after it’s revealed that she’s doing the hacking, which I imagine is supposed to underscore a point about how social envy works, but I was too busy trying to work out if I was supposed to recognize the name or not to pay much attention.
Whatever. The episode ends with a few things occurring at once. Professor Martin Shral (Vikash Bhai), who helped the gang in their investigation, joins them for a drink in the Black Hole and then approaches Professor Osborn to accuse him of knowing about Pilar’s backdoor and allowing Parallax to spy on Jax through her — cue more ominous chatter about Pandora and so forth. Meanwhile, Sarika is approached by Regan (Tehmina Sunny) and offered a job.