Alex goes to extreme lengths to get to the bottom of Damian Cray’s plan in “Serpent”, as the second season begins to interweave with the first in interesting ways.
This recap of Alex Rider season 2, episode 4, “Serpent”, contains spoilers.
Alex Rider is getting to be a bit of an old hand at international spycraft by this point, but watching a man be shot dead right in front of him is still something of a shock. Having seen that and everything else he has been privy to this season, he knows that Damian Cray is dangerous, though he doesn’t yet know how. While Jack covers for him at school, he goes to see Sabina to tell her that Cray wanted Ed dead because of something that was going to be in his book. His claims of being something a bit like a spy don’t exactly lend validity to his theory, though; instead, she thinks it’s a weird catfish and tells him to stay away from her.
I suppose this is what you get when you mix espionage and high school.
Alex Rider season 2, episode 4 recap
Anyway, Cray is still adamant about tracking down K7, the player at the top of the Feathered Serpent leaderboards, to participate in his live-streamed press event, despite the advice of the game’s lead programmer and seemingly Cray’s PA, Evelyn. Apparently, they require a certain percentage of the userbase online at the same time for “it” to work, which is ominous, but you know how rich white dudes like Cray are. He wants something, and he’s determined to get it. That’s just what he’s used to.
Luckily, Alex has an ally in Smithers, whom he meets with again so they can go over Cray’s operations. There’s Craystar International, and then his charitable foundation, which are kept separate. There’s nothing suspicious about any of the employees, but Alex recognizes one — Charlie Roper, Craystar’s head of PR and media, who was in a photograph in Ed’s house. That’s enough of a connection for Alex, who goes to Craystar’s London office to meet with him. Tom sets off the building’s fire alarm to lure Roper outside, where he explains he was Ed’s friend from university, and that whatever is going on with Cray, it involves Feathered Serpent 2 — apparently, he has been obsessive about it and its impending launch and hasn’t had the time to be focusing on anything else, much less a criminal conspiracy.
But what does the game do? Not in terms of its mechanics and such, but what is Cray planning with it? Alex wants to get a look at its code to find out, but there’s only one copy of it outside of Amsterdam, and it’s being offered up as a reward for the press event that Cray is putting on. With all of Craystar still unable to track down the elusive K7, Alex volunteers to impersonate him and play for the code.
There’s only one problem with this plan, though it’s admittedly a big one — Alex has no idea how to play the game, and he only has a matter of hours to learn under Tom, who isn’t particularly good himself. Still, they start from the beginning and register Alex as K7. This, though, sends a ping to presumably the real K7, who immediately traces his IP address. More on this soon.
The undeniable highlight of “Serpent”, though, is Alex impersonating an elite gamer, ingratiating himself amongst some famous streamers and other high-profile guests, and trying to blag his way around Cray’s leading interrogation. In a stroke of incredibly good fortune, Cray wants K7 to play the latest build of Feathered Serpent 2 in a highly advanced augmented reality setting, which basically means Alex gets to be an athletic archer rather than a gamer, which he’s much better suited to. When Cray becomes shocked and worried by his abilities, he turns up the system’s haptic feedback to dangerous levels, risking stopping Alex’s heart outright, which only wins him more fans amongst the audience as he continues to ping digital arrows at digital monsters. Eventually, Alex fires an actual bit of metal piping into the servers, which kills the lights, and in the brief moment of darkness he makes off with the copy of the game, which is dangling above the arena as a prize.
When Alex was entering the building before all this, by the way, he started getting anonymous texts from the real K7 telling him he was out of his depth. And while he’s making his escape at the end of “Serpent”, he starts getting more, guiding him through the building. Eventually, he hooks up with the real K7, who’s Kyra from the first season. Alex is happy to see a familiar face, while at the same time Cray shows his face to someone who recognizes it — Yassen Gregorovich.