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We open on Lewicki presenting Daniel with a birthday muffin despite Daniel wanting him to act like it’s just another day. Daniel does thank him for the thoughtful gesture. When Lewicki leaves the room to get ready for class, “Natalie” appears and asks Daniel if he forgot his own birthday. He replies by asking why one should celebrate “the inexorable march toward death?” “Natalie” shoots back that it’s a way for people in his life to show him that they care. Daniel then fires back that he doesn’t care and hasn’t since he was a kid. “Natalie” corrects him saying that he doesn’t “celebrate and haven’t since you were diagnosed.” He then blows out the candle on the birthday muffin.
Shoot to Lewicki and Daniel on campus. Paul rushes up to him to say, “Happy birthday” and gives him a hug. Daniel tells him that he doesn’t want a big deal made about it, but Paul says that’s too late because he’s “made arrangements for Thursday night. Courtesy of Gilbert Didion.” Daniel replies that he doesn’t know who that is. Paul tells him that he’s the “enfant terrible of Franco-Pacific cuisine and he’s opening a new restaurant in Wicker Park.” Daniel reminds Paul that he doesn’t like crowds. Paul tells him it’s “private chef’s table” with a few select guests to sample the menu. Daniel tries to blow Paul off saying that he has a major exam to prepare for on Friday. But, Lewicki chimes in that he doesn’t. Daniel throws him a scowl and then Lewicki’s phone vibrates, it’s Kate. Meanwhile, Paul tells Daniel that he won’t take no for an answer and that he will pick Daniel up at 7.
Shoot to Daniel meeting with Kate. She shows him photos of a now dead Kurt Simpson, “three weeks ago he was found in a hotel room in Three Rivers, Michigan, shot twice in the chest.” Kate then asks Daniel about his birthday. Daniel replies, “Vicious rumor” then questions her about a suspect. She replies that the crime scene was clean and that Simpson was a “loner, no friends and no family. Just a job managing to Tip Top Buffett in Portage,” Daniel replies that they have their motive, since the guy ran a “community trough. Anybody lose a loved one to E. Coli recently or Swine Flu?” Kate then tells Daniel about a civilian complaint that the cyber unit found that was filed against Simpson a few weeks before the murder in “Caleidoscope. Turns out this guy did have a life, just not in the real world.” Daniel then asks Kate what “Caleidoscope” is. She replies, “I’ll let Fleckner explain.”
Shoot to Fleckner, the FBI’s tech guy, explaining to Daniel that “Caleidoscope is a multiplayer online social game like Facebook in 3-D.” Daniel replies, “Like a delivery system for people with attention-deficit disorder.” Fleckner replies that the notion that video games cause A.D.D is an “old wives’ tale.” Kate then tells Fleckner to “not engage” but Daniel gets testy and starts saying why video games are harmful to one’s limbic system, etc. Kate then explains that a “Caleidoscope user creates an avatar to represent himself as he explores the virtual universe. It’s just like real life, he can shop, travel, start a business, build a house or, in the case of our murder victim, commit identity theft.” Kate then says that, “MPresario,” Simpson’s avatar name, was using “Caleidoscope” to sell stolen credit-card numbers, thanks to an online tipster’s info. Daniel then asks how you “virtually report someone to the FBI.” Fleckner explains how then Kate has Fleckner bring up “Jeremy108’s” “Caleidoscope” profile. “In the real world, he’s Jeremy Nordoff, he’s 22, lives in Chicago, about a month ago he clicked on one of our billboards in ‘Caleidoscope’ and filed a report against ‘MPresario,’” Kate tells Daniel. Daniel questions why it took a month for the tip to be noticed since the Internet is supposed to make everything faster. Fleckner then replies about how he did the best he could given all of the online tips they get. Kate then says that Fleckner is looking into Simpson’s online accounts and that she called Nordoff to see what he knew. She says that’s where she needs Daniel’s help “because according to Jeremy’s mother, he hasn’t spoken a word to anyone in five years.”
Shoot to Daniel and Kate meeting with Jeremy’s mother, who says Jeremy was always shy around other people then one day decided not to come out of his room. Jeremy was 17 and his mother goes to say that she thought it was because of Jeremy’s father but when he left it just got worse. Jeremy’s mother then says that she’s “not a computer person and I don’t know what Jeremy does online. He’s extremely fragile.” She also doubts that he’ll talk to Daniel.
Shoot to Jeremy’s mother bringing him food and telling him that the “people I told you about from the FBI are here.” Daniel and Kate introduce themselves and Daniel asks Jeremy if he can sit down. Jeremy ignores him, his eyes riveted to the computer screen. Daniel then tells Jeremy that he doesn’t have to talk but that Kate has to ask him questions about the complaint he made. Daniel tells Jeremy that if he wants to say ‘Yes’ he should hit the ‘Y’ key and hit the ‘N’ key for ‘No.’ Jeremy nods. He takes off his headphones and accidentally knocks over the glass of orange juice. His mother quickly cleans it up. Kate then tells Jeremy about Simpson’s credit card scam, that he was murdered recently and they’re trying to find out who killed him. She then asks him if he knows anyone else who knew about the scam. Jeremy then starts shaking. Daniel thinks he’s having a panic attack and tries to help. Jeremy’s mother then orders Kate and Daniel to leave as she tells Jeremy to breathe.
Shoot to Kate and Daniel leaving as Daniel tells Kate that he has to talk to Jeremy. He then says he’ll have to go into “Caleidoscope,” where Jeremy is able to communicate. Kate then tells him that “cyber has to monitor everything, there are approvals, paperwork. It’s different.” Daniel then asks how long that will take. “A couple hours, a day at most. Try to be patient,” Kate replies.
Shoot to Daniel’s house. He’s trying to hurry up Lewicki, who is creating Daniel’s “Caleidoscope” avatar, “DJP1989.” Lewicki then asks Daniel, “Who is the virtual Daniel Pierce?” Daniel doesn’t know and Lewicki explains that his avatar is “a form of self-expression. It’s who you are outside the limits of the physical world.” Daniel replies that he doesn’t exist outside of the limits of the real world. Lewicki then says that his avatar “looks like MJ, the old school version.” Daniel then tells Lewicki to make the avatar like him except without the and Daniel makes the crazy hand gesture. Lewicki replies, “Grey hair?” Daniel answers back, “Exactly.” Lewicki then asks him about clothing the avatar and Daniel says that he doesn’t care. Lewicki then dresses his avatar in jeans and a black leather jacket. Then Lewicki sees that “Caleidoscope” has a karaoke lounge and suggests that Daniel sing. Daniel declines. Lewicki reminds Daniel that he loves to sing bit Daniel replies, “Not in front of people.” Lewicki then says, “If you’re not going to participate, what’s the point?” “I just want to understand the appeal for Jeremy,” Daniel says. Lewicki sighs, hands Daniel headphones to talk or he says he can type. He then asks Lewicki how to move and he tells him to use the arrow keys. Lewicki then tells Daniel to “yell if you need me” and leaves the room. Daniel makes a comment about the music and it ticks off another avatar since he’s disparaging his girlfriend. The girlfriend then asks Daniel if he could do better. Daniel makes a joke and the girl offers to buy him a drink since they are in a bar. Daniel says that he can go to his fridge for a drink. The girl replies that “Caleidoscope’ is a fantasy. If you’re gonna come here, you should…buy in. For a moment, turn off the voice in your head. Get rid of all of your distractions. A beautiful woman is standing in front of you, offering a few laughs and intelligent conversation. You’re handsome and mysterious, and you look great in that leather jacket. All you have to do to make it real…is use your imagination.” Then, the woman’s computer avatar becomes a real woman in Daniel’s mind as she says, “And if you can do that, who knows? We might end up having an amazing time. If you’re interested, I’ll be at the bar.” We see Daniel now in the virtual bar, but as himself, in the leather jacket and jeans. He follows the woman to the bar and orders a martini. The woman starts flirting with Daniel. Then, Lewicki interrupts them with a call from Kate. Daniel takes off his headphones and answers. She asks him where he is. He replies that’s at home in his kitchen. Kate then replies, “That’s funny because there’s an avatar in the Prism Lounge that looks and sounds exactly like you.” She then tells him that he should have waited for her and now he’s compromising the case. He denies compromising the case and says he’s merely doing research. Kate then reminds him that his research is for the FBI and tells him that she’s “coming in.” The woman, Ileana, then asks Daniel if he’s coming back to the bar. He apologizes saying he had a phone call. We see him and Ileana, the woman, as if they are really in a bar. He tells her a friend is coming to meet him. Kate walks in a black skin tight biker-chic looking outfit. Ileana and Daniel see her and Ileana says to Daniel, “It looks like you’re got your hands full.” Daniel has his mouth open.
Shoot to Ileana leaving and Daniel asking Kate is explain her outfit. She tells him that Fleckner designed her avatar. Then, Jeremy’s avatar walks into the Prism Lounge. Daniel notes that “Jeremy not only communicates in here. He’s popular.” Jeremy is the bartender, who then welcomes Kate and Daniel and asks them “What’s your pleasure.” They tell him that they were the people who came to see him the other day. Daniel tells him that they thought it would be easier to talk to him this way. Jeremy asks to go somewhere “more private.” The three of them are then transported to outside to what looks like an island where Jeremy apologizes for his actions the previous day. He tells them that he doesn’t know much about “’MPresario’s’ credit card scam. It was just a rumor I overheard in the bar.’” Kate asks him if he remembers who said it and he says that he doesn’t. He then tells them that “’MPresario’ created the Prism Lounge so there’s always chatter…’” Kate interrupts and asks if the chatter was about crimes but Jeremy says that, “’MPresario’ wanted people to think that he was a gangster and how “he was connected to certain businessmen’” but Jeremy didn’t think it was true. Kate then says that he reported him anyway. Jeremy says he reported him because he was “angry because he kicked me out of the club. I didn’t think about what I was doing.” Daniel asks him why he kicked him out. Then, Jeremy explains that ‘MPresario’ “put a black on my avatar so I couldn’t go into the club because he thought I was hitting on his girlfriend. The avatar named ‘Crystalline.’” Kate then asks Jeremy if he was hitting on her. He says he was just talking to her. He goes on to say that he “can’t do that in the real world. I sent MPresario a couple of messages to explain, but by then he’d already blocked me.” Kate then asks how Jeremy got back into the club and Jeremy replied that the block “just disappeared after a few weeks.” He figured ‘Crystalline’ talked some sense into him. Daniel and Kate look at each other and Daniel asks Jeremy for a minute alone. Kate’s avatar disappears and Daniel asks Jeremy if he could come over his house again. Jeremy is unsure and afraid he’ll freak out again. Daniel says he can bring a therapist along to help and asks Jeremy if he’s ever seen one. He replies that he and his mother couldn’t afford it. Daniel proposes finding someone they could afford who “could help you get back to the real world.” “I’m not sure the real world is such a great place,” Jeremy replies. Daniel then tells Jeremy that “’Caleidoscope’ is “amazing but it’s imaginary.’” But, Jeremy purports that, “’Caleidoscope’ isn’t imaginary. It exists. It’s just a different kind of reality.’”
Shoot to Fleckner telling Kate that he pulled up “Crystalline’s” profile. Her IP address is Jacksonville, Florida. “Her real name is Ashley Richards.”
Shoot to Kate flying to Florida and talking to Ashley, who tells her that she and Simpson fell in love in “Caleidoscope” but it took six months for them to plan their lives together. She tells Kate about their plan to “run away together in the real world.” She goes on to tell Kate that Simpson told her he had to finish up a big business deal to set them up, but then he disappeared. Kate asks who the deal was with but Ashley said that he didn’t say. Ashley professes that Simpson loved her “even after we exchanged photos.” Kate then asks Ashley if Simpson had any enemies, anyone who wanted to hurt him. Ashley then mentions her “psycho ex-husband.”
Shoot to Kate going to see Dave, Ashley’s ex-husband. He tells her how he found out about Ashley and Simpson. He came home one night after a back-breaking day of work and she’s sitting in front of her laptop. “Candles, bottle of wine, watching her cartoon have sex with his cartoon on a yacht.” Kate then asks Dave if it was then he threatened ‘MPresario.’ Dave says he then joined “Caleidoscope,” found Simpson in the bar and told him to stay away from Ashley. When Kate asks him how he tracked down Simpson’s real world address, Dave tells her that he didn’t and Simpson was “connected. He knew people. A couple of days later, he was jumped by some Asian guys,” who threatened Dave with a gun in his mouth to stay away from Simpson.
Shoot to Daniel getting all dressed up when his laptop starts beeping. It’s a message from Ileana, inviting him to meet at the virtual bar. But, then his doorbell rings. It’s Paul, but Daniel says he has the stomach flu and can’t go out. Paul asks Daniel if he wants him to stay or get him some meds. Daniels declines both and tells him that he “has to ride it out” and that he’ll call him in the morning. He then shuts the door on Paul and goes back on his laptop to meet Ileana at the virtual bar. She comments about not upsetting his “tattooed friend” but Daniel tells her that she’s just someone he works with. He then tells her that he’s a college professor from Chicago. Ileana replies that she’s a second grade teacher and that she “loves her kids but likes to escape after being bombarded by 7 year old all day.” She then suggests maybe snowboarding or something else extreme since “’Caleidoscope’ is our virtual oyster.’” “There must be something you’ve always wanted to do,” she says to Daniel.
Shoot to Daniel, in “Caleidoscope,” singing in the karaoke bar though we see him doing it for real. He’s letting loose both in the game and in his kitchen as Ileana dances in the game to his singing. The game’s crowd loves him.
Shoot to Fleckner telling Kate about ‘Big Tito,’ who Simpson talked to the most in “Caleidoscope” and all their messages to each other were encrypted. “The entire credit card operation, ‘Big Tito’ was Simpson’s buyer,’” Fleckner tells Kate, who is amazed that Fleckner decrypted everything. He also found ‘Big Tito’s’ IP address in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He also tells Kate that he’s Asian, which makes her think that he’s connected to the guys Dave, Ashley’s ex-husband told her roughed him up to stay away from Simpson.
Shoot to Kate going to see ‘Big Tito.’ Meanwhile, Daniel is in “Caleidoscope” with Ileana on a beach, holding hands. She comments how the last few days have been amazing though she’s dreading the paperwork that’s piled up. She then tells Daniel that she’s always wanted to go to this famous garden in Kyoto. Daniel is surprised she knows about the garden. She asks Daniel to take her there sometime and he says that he’d love to. “Of all the virtual joints, you had to walk into ‘MPresario’s.’” Ileana says to Daniel, who replies, “I thought it was the Prism Lounge.” “It is, it’s just MPresario who owns it,” she replies. Daniel then asks Ileana if ‘MPresario’ is a friend of hers. She replies that she sees him occasionally but hasn’t in a while. He says that he probably had to go back to the real world. Then, Ileana says, “I hope you think this is real” and then she kisses Daniel. Then, Lewicki interrupts them though he says he didn’t see anything. He tells Daniel that Kate just brought in a suspect.
Shoot to Daniel passing ‘Big Tito’s’ brothers, in handcuffs, at the station. Then, Kate introduces him to ‘Big Tito,’ a young Asian girl named, Mai.
Shoot to Kate telling Mai that they’ve got the stolen credit card numbers that “MPresario” has been sending over the last six months and the online wire transfers she made to his bank account. Kate then says a month ago “MPresario” told Mai that he wanted to double the price to leave no money trail meaning he was “trying to squeeze you.” But, “instead of trying to negotiate” she sent her brothers to rough him up. Mai then tells Kate that she’s 15 years old and the whole thing was a “goof, an after school job. We found the credit-card stamping equipment.” Kate tells Mai that she’s part of a major identity-theft operation and that her brothers’ have charges of robbery and assault on their records. Fleckner then interrupts them and says that he just decrypted Mai’s backup drive, and Kate reads an email from Mai’s brother, which says, “Problem solved. “MPresario” won’t be jacking up no more prices. LOL.’” Kate then says that it was dated the day Simpson was murdered. Kate then accuses Mai of telling her brothers to kill Simpson once he got back home. Mai denies having him killed just that her brothers roughed him up, “they left him bloody but alive,” she says.
Shoot to Kate telling Daniel that she thinks Mai is lying. Daniel notes there isn’t any bruising on Simpson’s face in the crime scene photos so Daniel is wondering why “she’s coping to something that never happened?” Kate doesn’t know but has her nailed for identity theft and she’s going to keep grilling her and her brothers about the murder. Kate then tells Daniel that he looks exhausted and should get some rest. He says he can’t because he has a class.
Shoot to Daniel on campus and Ileana is there. He thinks she’s a hallucination because she looks exactly like he imagined her. She replies that she looks like her avatar. He asks her how she found him and she tells him that he told her he was a college professor in Chicago and his initials were J.F.P., which narrowed it down. She then says she lives just outside Milwaukee so it was an easy trip. Then, Ileana sees he’s shocked an apologizes for not thinking how he would feel about meeting in person and gets up to leave but Daniel stops her. He then tells how glad he is that she’s there. Then, Paul interrupts them seeing Daniel isn’t sick like he said he was. Daniel wants to introduce him to Ileana but she’s gone, she was a hallucination. Daniel is upset and runs off as Paul yells at him for not sharing a meal with him.
Shoot to Daniel going back into “Caleidoscope” as “Natalie” appears and asks him if that’s “wise, since you just hallucinated your virtual girlfriend.” Daniel then asks “Natalie” if she’s “jealous.” She replies that’s she concerned because he hasn’t slept and has “abandoned your routine. You know where this will lead. You’ll be unable to tell the difference between the real world and the fantasy world.” Daniel says that won’t happen. She fires back that it’s already happening and that he did the same thing when he first met her. “You’re falling in love with an idealized version of a real person,” “Natalie” tells Daniel. Daniel insists that it’s not the same because “Natalie” is a hallucination, whereas Ileana is a real person sitting at a computer somewhere that he’s made a connection with. “And to me that’s worth the risk.”
Shoot to Daniel meeting Ileana in “Caleidoscope” in the Prism Lounge. He asks her if she meant taking to that garden in Kyoto in real life. She says she doesn’t know. He asks her what she would say if he asked her to go with him. “I’m afraid you would be disappointed. I don’t exactly look like my avatar,” Ileana replies. Daniel says that he doesn’t care. Then, Daniel says he has to go.
Shoot to Daniel finding Kate at the station and telling her that Mai wasn’t lying, that her brothers didn’t know what Simpson looked like, they only knew what his avatar looked like. Kate asks Daniel if he thinks they beat up someone else and he says yes, plus that Simpson must have sent someone else to pick up the cash for him. He doesn’t know if that person had something to do with the murder only that Mai and her brothers didn’t kill Simpson. Daniel then starts seeing Kate as her avatar and says, “Oh no, I’m stuck in the game.” He starts screaming for Lewicki to help him. Voices are getting distorted and he sees Lewicki’s MJ avatar.
Shoot to Daniel with Ileana in Kyoto in “Caleidoscope.” He insists that he needs to get back to the real world and to the real Kate. Ileana replies that “it’s as real as you want it to be.” He insists that it isn’t no matter how much he wants it to be. He then says that “Natalie” was right and that “Caleidoscope” isn’t good for him. He then tells Ileana that he can’t see her anymore because she isn’t real. He then apologizes to Ileana then drops a glass and it falls to the floor and breaks. Suddenly, he’s back in the Prism Lounge. He sees Jeremy there and begs him for help and to tell him how to get out of there. Jeremy then looks up, also drops a glass on the floor and it shatters, just like it did when Daniel and Kate went to see him in the real world. Also, Jeremy’s face is scarred in “Caleidoscope.” Then, Lewicki gets Daniel out. Daniel questions Lewicki that he’s back in the real world and he tells him that he is. Daniel tells Lewicki that he needs to see Kate right away. Lewicki asks him why. Daniel replies, “Mai’s brothers didn’t beat up Kurt Simpson, they beat up Jeremy Nordoff!”
Shoot to Kate telling Daniel that his theory is impossible and that Jeremy can’t even leave his room, let alone drive to Indiana to get beat up by Mai’s brothers. “Imagine if someone literally took your life away, what would you be willing to do to get it back?” Daniel asks Kate.
Shoot to Daniel and Kate, talking to Jeremy, in “Caleidoscope,” who tells them how he felt his life was over when “MPresario” blocked him from the Prism Lounge. “Without my friends, there wasn’t any reason for me to get up,” Jeremy said. Daniel then says that gangsters only give somebody something back in return for something. So that’s why Jeremy agreed to pick up the money for Simpson, to get back into the Prism Lounge. Jeremy then confesses that he had “MPresario” lift the block before he left for Indiana. Kate asks him how he could drive a car after so many years in his room. Jeremy then says he was terrified and we see him sneak out of his house as his mother slept. He goes on to say that he was fine driving but when he got out of the car, “it was a nightmare,” We see Mai’s brothers jump him. He then says he got up after the beating, went home but didn’t stay, “I got my mother’s gun and got back in the car and I drove to the motel in Three Rivers.” “And you shot Kurt Simpson,” Kate says. Jeremy replies that all he could think about was how Simpson set him up. “Since he didn’t get his money, he’d have an excuse to block me again. To keep me from the one place where I can actually have friends. You’re damn right I shot him. I didn’t have a choice.”
Shoot to the real world and Kate and Daniel going to Jeremy’s house. Mrs. Nordoff doesn’t want what happened last time to happen again. Kate then tells her that they’re there to arrest Jeremy because he confessed to Simpson’s murder. Mrs. Nordoff says that he’s isn’t capable of doing what they say he did. Daniel then mentions how she didn’t mention that he came home bruised and bloodied and Kate then tells her that she’s an accessory to murder. Mrs. Nordoff denies everything and talks about what Jeremy says and does in the Prism Lounge was all fantasy. Kate then calls on Mrs. Nordoff, who said that she knew nothing about Jeremy’s online life. Daniel then sees Mrs. Nordoff’s painting and says, “Jeremy isn’t the only one living in a fantasy world, is he…Ileana?”
Shoot to Mrs. Nordoff telling Daniel and Kate that she went into “Caleidoscope” to keep an eye on Jeremy and that he didn’t know Ileana was her. Daniel then yells at her for lying to him. He then accuses her of using Ileana to get close to him once she knew they found Jeremy in “Caleidoscope.” She denies that but Daniel insists that she was either trying to protect Jeremy…or someone else. “You said yourself that he’s not capable of murder, so that leaves you,” Daniel says. We see Mrs. Nordoff tending to Jeremy’s wounds after he was beaten up. She says she then had him type out what had happened and when she learned that “MPresario” set him up, “Something inside me snapped.” We then see her go to the motel in Indiana and shot Simpson. Kate then asks her if she told Jeremy what she did and she says she just told him that “everything was back to normal.” Kate then arrests her and Daniel assures her that Jeremy will get the help he needs. Mrs. Nordoff then tells Daniel that she didn’t know who he was until Kate showed up in the game and that her feelings for him were real.
Shoot to Daniel going to see Caroline. He tells her about Jeremy.
Shoot to Daniel going to see Paul and apologizing. He brings takeout for them to eat together.
Shoot to Daniel lecturing his class about fantasies. We then see Daniel deleting his “Caleidoscope” avatar.