“Cipher” is episode four of season one of Perception and this article continues where the previous one left off. Clausner is brought in. He says that he built up his business from scratch, a fleet of vans and people working for him. Not bad for someone who didn’t finish eighth grade. Then the lawyer took it all away. Clausner was dealing with an elementary school with huge cockroaches and he sprayed them with a very reliable pesticide imported from Mexico. Which isn’t approved in the U.S. yet. There are no problems south of the border but because one kid cried sick he got taken to court and the newspaper made it out as if Clausner deliberately set out to poison school children. Kate asks Clausner to read the letter, but he says he doesn’t have his reading glasses. And he doesn’t write letters to newspapers. Daniel comes in and offers his glasses and Clausner makes another excuse. He would look to have a problem with reading – and he does. He’s dyslexic. So he didn’t write the letter.
Rather than go back to the files, described as searching for a needle in a haystack, Daniel suggests getting the needle to come to them. By writing a fan letter. Which sounds very insulting but has another hidden message. Daniel gets introduced to the concept of online editions for newspapers and his reply is posted as a comment. He’s having a go at the idea of the internet when the killer replies. There are strings of letters and numbers; another cipher, but a different one. About the person’s next target. Daniel is struggling to solve it and the British Intelligence soldier appears again to help. Daniel does manage to solve it – but ten minutes after the president of the First Monument Bank got blasted with sarin.
The man is dying, and in a coma. But Daniel thinks they can still ask him some questions. By putting the man in a scanner and watching the scans as he is questioned, telling him to think certain ways for yes and no. The banker knew the dead lawyer, professionally, and he is also got to spell out a name – probably very, very slowly – Dafoe.
Dafoe comes in and he says he knew the two dead men as business acquaintances. Dafoe is asked why he thinks they were targeted – not because they think Dafoe is the killer but because he may be the next victim. The killer has a grievance against powerful men and Dafoe is the CEO of a global agricultural conglomerate. Dafoe says they have done lots of business over the years; Daniel – not a fan of big business – asks Dafoe and the others screwed over someone so badly they’d want to kill the fat cats. Dafoe suggests the IPO; both the lawyer and the banker were involved. To do the IPO resulted in 13 executives and 50 low-level employees being laid off.
Daniel thinks he knows what the grudge is – the killer was laid off. But he got it wrong. The killer replies, sans code, that Daniel is not as smart as he thought and he won’t talk to him again. Then there is an attack at Daniel’s faculty, and it looks as if he might have been the target, as the fact he was helping the FBI on the case got leaked to the press.
Kate assigns Probert to guard Daniel, but Daniel doesn’t think he was actually the killer’s target. The killer has a distinct agenda and Daniel doesn’t believe he’d go off on a murderous sidetrack. Which leads to a trail of corruption and downright underhand dealing, but one that will lead back to the killer.