Undercurrents is the twenty-third episode of the second season, and the thirty-sixth episode overall. It was released on May 12, 2006.
The bodies of several young Asian girls wash up on the beach, including one with bird flu. Amita gets a job offer which could well jeopardize her relationship with Charlie, but it would be excellent for her career.
People are enjoying themselves on the beach. Two surfers find five dead bodies on the beach and in the water. Don and Charlie are on the scene. David and Colby brief Don. Megan is talking to the Coast Guard agent. He thinks that they had to have been on a larger vessel as a small craft wouldn’t have gone out in the storm the night before. Due to the currents he says they drifted from Palos Verdes. Charlie disagrees as the tides there wouldn’t be sustained by that current. Another body drifts in. She is currently alive.
Don, Megan, and David talk about the case. Colby comes in – the boat Don ordered is ready. On the boat, Charlie, Amita, and Larry are dropping buoys into the ocean to figure out where the women started. Larry isn’t doing well on the high seas. Charlie and Amita talk about a lecture they went to and an upcoming lecture they want to go to for a math date.
Megan returns from the hospital. The woman is in the ICU and probably won’t make it. David and Colby go to the morgue and talk to an ME named Claudia. She’s looking at the four dead women. They obviously drowned, but they were dehydrated before they died. Three of them are most likely from China, but the fourth is from the US and older which confuses them all. She has a tattoo on her foot that is a few months old. David is a little flirty with Claudia, something that Colby notices.
On the beach Charlie and Amita are waiting to see if any of their buoys come in. He asks her out on a non-math date. She wants to, but she’s been offered a job at Harvard and is considering the three-year appointment. One of the buoys shows up. The Coast Guard is looking in the wrong place for the origin point of the women.
Megan and David are talking about the case. Colby has had no luck with the tattoo so far. Claudia is at David’s desk. She has the pathology results from the dead women. One was infected with H5N1 (bird flu). A doctor from the CDC informs Don and Megan how the H5N1 virus works. He doesn’t think that they should alert the media until they know more about what happened though. Charlie tells Don his theory on where the women started from and how they got where they were.
At CalSci Colby is looking for Charlie, but he’s not there. Amita takes the files to give to him, but Colby drops them in the hand off. Larry sees a picture of the woman’s tattoo. He recognises it as being from I-Ching. The placement of the tattoo reminds Colby of Special Forces guys that he knew that had their dog tags tattooed in the same spot. The characters are linked to numbers and Colby thinks they could be a code. Amita suggests they let Charlie take a look at it. Larry wonders what situation the woman could have been walking into to make her do the same thing as the soldiers. David has been looking into port authority records. He found more than 30 ships in the area that Charlie showed. Four or five cargo ships came from China. Charlie and Larry have been working on the numbers for 6.5 hours with no avail. Amita comes in and makes them look at it another way. It appears to be a phone number. Charlie calls it. Voicemail picks up. It’s of a woman named Susan Lin. She says that if you’re hearing this then she’s dead and to contact Jeremy Wang of the Tribune.
Megan goes to talk to Wang. She called him from Shang-Hi and was able to get in touch with a snakehead (a smuggler) who could get her on a container ship with 20 other women to come to the US. She didn’t know the name of the ship. She was working on a ship about the sex trade and human smuggling. Megan wants to look at her notes.
Charlie is thinking over his coffee. Alan wonders what girl problems he’s having. He tells Alan about Amita’s job offer. David and Colby go to the Port of LA. Mike Belweather from the port looks at the list of ships from Shang-Hi. Most have been unloaded with one 75% unloaded. Belweather needs to be convinced to have them search the approximate 1000 containers that are still on board. He sends them to Jack Morrison who is the foreman that oversaw the ships that were unloaded.
Megan goes to Wang. He won’t release her notes. The FBI were working the sex trade case, but didn’t rank it as a priority and now the FBI interested. He’s not buying that it’s just a murder investigation. Megan promises to give him the story after the case is closed. At the docks David and Colby talk to Morrison. He doesn’t know anything about Chinese girls being smuggled, but he’ll talk to his guys. He tells them about Custom’s fancy new algorithm to figure out what boxes to search. David is pleased to hear that. Don joins Charlie in the garage. He’s moping about Amita. Don thinks he should go out to Harvard too. He brings up the algorithm. Charlie helped design it. He’ll see if, he can backwards engineer the results it gives. David and Colby go to a bar and drop Morrison’s name. The bar tender directs their attention to a young guy (Raymond Nipay) in the corner. He sees them and David chases after him. Colby goes to the car and assists.
Don interrogates him. He says that the man the captain was smuggling for said to kill the girl and the ones with her. They were in a container, but he doesn’t know where the container is. Charlie and Amita are working late. She’s about to leave for the day and Charlie stops her. There is a professor going on a three-year sabbatical and Charlie suggests that she go for that position. Amita is annoyed because her job seems to be revolving around his.
Coast Guard finds the captain of the ship in the ocean. David wonders why Morrison pointed out Nipay in the first place. Colby realises that he’d get a phone call and they go to find out who he called.
At CalSci Charlie is telling Megan where there are flaws in the security algorithm. He thinks that he’s found a way to fine tune it. With that he’s found four potential containers. David and Colby found that Nipay called Steven Jintao who owns a private club and massage parlours. He’s used smuggled Chinese women and girls for years to build a mini-empire in LA. David and Colby go to pick him up. One of the girls approaches them and they hand her a picture of Jintao. They see him leave the club out the back. Megan is waiting for him at the back door where David and Colby catch up.
Don goes to interrogate Jintao and gets physical with him. Colby has to go and break them up. Charlie is upset. Larry pinpoints the problem as being his issue with Amita. Don comes into Charlie’s office looking for a miracle. They haven’t been able to figure out where the other Chinese women and girls could be. Larry thinks that the algorithm may actually be working. Don realises that they’re probably still at the port. Megan and David cross check warehouse renters at the docks with Jintao’s businesses. They find one and go to the building. The team breeches. The women and girls are there behind a chain link wall, leaving them to die. Megan fills Wang in on the case.
At the Eppes’ house Charlie is in the garage. Amita comes to apologise to him for her reaction to his suggestion the night before. Charlie thinks her reaction was justified. His work with the FBI takes a lot of his time and he realises that he shouldn’t expect things of others that he can’t reciprocate. Amita hasn’t decided what she’ll do, but she has a week to figure it out. She leaves the garage. Don and Alan are playing gin rummy. Don keeps on winning. Charlie comes in and they talk about the potential of Amita and Charlie before he leaves, dejected.
The hidden politics of the case, as well as the physical flow of water bringing the corpses to light.
Crazy Credits Edit
[This appears at the beginning of the episode] 361 U.S. sea ports, 16 milion containers, 9 H5 subtypes, 1 mutation