“Cipher” is episode four of season one of Perception and this episode opens with Daniel at home, not lecturing – he doesn’t give a lecture until the end of the episode. Lewicki is reading the paper, specifically a letter to the editor. He tells Daniel that Daniel isn’t the only person who thinks big media and big business are crushing the humanity out of humanity. Daniel, who is doing a puzzle, threatens to crush Lewicki’s humanity out of him if he doesn’t stop talking. Lewicki says that the letter sounds like one of Daniel’s rants. After several bits of ingratitude from Daniel, Lewicki says he is going on strike. It’s not about the money, it’s the working conditions; how about Daniel shows him a little common courtesy.
After Lewicki leaves Daniel shouts that he’s read the letter and takes the paper. Then hears a clicking noise. Daniel lowers the paper and sees a man in British Army uniform sitting across from him operating what looks like a telegraph key. The man tells Daniel that his identity is classified; Daniel accuses the man of being a hallucination. The man agrees, but he’s a hallucination whose assistance Daniel requires if he has any hope of cracking that code. Mentioning the awkward syntax of the letter to the editor and how the words have been twisted around some sort of hidden message.
At the FBI, Daniel tells Kate and Probert that it’s steganography, hidden writing. To read every tenth word. Which spells out a message: ‘You’ll be proud of me. Front page news tomorrow. One down four to go. The butcher told me where to start.’ Daniel says that’s how the French Resistance communicated with British Intelligence during World War II – which explains the hallucination’s appearance – hidden messages in newspapers where anyone could see them. Probert is not impressed. Daniel says that the letter writer is sending a message to an associate.
Kate asks Daniel if he’s seeing something that isn’t there. Daniel’s response is to ask what are the chances of every tenth word making this much sense. And why hide the message in code if it’s something completely innocent? The signed name, James Smith, is one of the most common in the U.S. so it’s an obvious alias. Probert is still not impressed. Then Kate gets a phone call about a possible terrorist attack. A lawyer has just been sprayed in the face with sarin. Daniel says that the butcher is Dick the Butcher, from Henry the Sixth, who says ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.’ Probert may be a little more impressed now.
The assistant of the, now dead, lawyer says that she normally opens his packages himself. But this one was marked personal, so he opened it himself, as he thought it might be a present. Daniel tells the assistant there was nothing she could have done; sarin is more toxic than cyanide. When asked about any enemies; well, the dead man was a trial lawyer. He won a lot of cases and the losers weren’t happy. So the three go through the lawyer’s case files and Daniel picks out an exterminator, Clausner. Because sarin may be a nerve agent but it originated as a pesticide; an exterminator would have everything he needs to mix it up.
To be continued…