The renowned Doctor Paul Kochar may be dead but his son Doctor Ethan Kochar still lives in his shadow, conducting tutorials from his basement laboratory so his work can be otherwise uninterrupted, his singular obsession with perfecting the technology which his father conceived, allowing the capture of memory directly from the brain to an external storage medium.
That is the major goal of Ethan’s work; the minor premise is his own theory that the process could also be used in reverse, the selective activation of synaptic pathways to create an “ideal self,” or the suppression of traumatic memories or addictive inclinations. In that his success is debatable, his last meeting with his father still painfully vivid but suffering from blackouts, missing time and nosebleeds.
His ex-girlfriend Doctor Alli Fisher a researcher in the same field, her concern for Ethan leads her to assist him in his experiments but operating as his own test subject with no supervision his attempt to boost his productivity by overlaying an intellectual template onto his brain has already had unanticipated consequences, the strands of his personality separated and cycling over a period of an hour, his reintegration now dependent on their unlikely cooperation.
Directed by Eric Schultz from a script co-written with Justin Moretto and Thomas Torrey, Minor Premise is an expansion of their own earlier short with Elementary’s Sathya Sridharan reprising his role as the multiple facets of Ethan, each of them with no awareness of the others beyond they clues they leave behind, keeping secrets from himself and Alli (House of Cards’ Paton Ashbrook), as capable as he but more cautious in her approach.
The machine lurking in the darkened corner of the lab, power and cooling cables dangling from the crown like some obscene spider luring Ethan into its parlour with promises of academic recognition, the parallels with the imprinting chair of Dollhouse are inescapable but there is much else, the mind games of Memento, the fractured identity of The Enemy Within, itself a retelling of The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde.
A far from spotless mind where eternal sunshine is conspicuously absent, the limited means of Minor Premise confine it largely to the single location generously populated with scientific apparatus on loan, dependent instead on the dense script and the performances of the leads, supported by Twin Peaks’ Dana Ashbrook as Ethan’s collaborator, an ambitious endeavour which can be seen as a less ethereal successor to Brainstorm, Ethan’s frustrated cynicism laying the breadcrumbs to the suitably ambiguous conclusion.