The Custodians was the ninteenth episode of Series 1 of K9. It focused on June Turner.
"Little Green Men" is a new virtual reality game sweeping the nation, the brainchild of a company with designs on taking over the youth of the world. The game has a hidden secret: a link to a strange telepathic alien who turns humans into his own kind. K9, Starkey and June race to save Darius and Jorjie from being turned into scaly, green creatures. Gryffen tries to save the youngsters as their condition worsens.
At Gryffen House, Jorjie opens up her new VR game, Little Green Men, with its distinctive headphones. In the Department Mobile HQ, June listens to news of panic spreading around the country. The emergency services are swamped. The city is in chaos and huge queues are building up, making it impossible for emergency vehicles to reach the hospitals. June phones Gryffen, asking for the location of Jorjie and the boys. Gryffen walks in on Jorjie playing and says her mother wants her. She doesn't respond. He calls June and tells her to come by immediately. Darius is in Mariah with the same headset as Jorjie.
The conscious people meet in the chess room. K9 arrives with Starkey, who is fine. K9 scans Jorjie and Darius. They have strong vital signs and no tissue damage. Gryffen asks Starkey about the game. It's a networked virtual reality game and all the kids are mad about it. Gryffen warns what is happening to Jorjie and Darius could be happening to all the children playing it. K9 detects that out of the twenty-one million calls to the emergency services in the last thirty minutes, twenty million feature the keywords 'son', 'daughter', 'Little Green Men' and 'VR Game'. Twenty million children have been infected. June pulls the headsets off.
Darius and Jorjie act as if their minds have been wiped clean. A signal is being transmitted by the game, disrupting their neural processes. K9's database of twenty-two million systems of transmission from nine thousand worlds across ten thousand centuries doesn't include this one, so it doesn't exist. If it existed, the transmission would be of such power and sophistication its creator could not be unknown to him. June finds the game is made by Greenroom Entertainment. K9, Starkey and June go to investigate. At Greenroom headquarters, they are told Senior Vice-President John is unavailable. June says she is from the Department; the doors open.
Starkey recognises a tape of John as a Custodian. June warns he has thirty seconds until K9 levels the building. K9 announces his Doomsday weapon is online, and Armageddon mode is activated. John gives in and they go to the lift. June asks Starkey about the Custodians. They run juvenile detention centres and he was strapped to their VR education system.
John tells them Greenroom Entertainment is aware of the situation and is working to resolve the problem; normal programming will resume shortly. K9 detects an alien and goes to investigate. Starkey follows him.
At Gryffen House, Jorjie's arm is turning green and lumpy. Gryffen contacts June, who tells John they have to go to level three and shut the signal broadcast down. Thorne arrives. Little Green Men is John's creation. K9 and Starkey spot an alien in a chair. K9 cannot identify it from his memory banks; logically it shouldn't exist. Starkey asks if it's extinct. K9 says the thought hadn't occurred.
K9 has Gryffen examine one of the headsets for glitches. K9 tells Starkey he thinks he knows how the signal is delivered. The alien is an Etydion, the most powerful telepathic race ever. K9 didn't scan for a neural signal; it was not known there was a living Etydion in the universe. K9 explains the Etydions willingly sold themselves and were once the most valuable commodity in the universe. With an Etydion in an armada, it could broadcast a wave of fear so intense the opposing army would drop their weapons and flee. The vanquished and conquered banded together to vaporise the Etydion homeworld. The Etydion has to be tied up. Etydions are receivers as well as transmitters; if they transmit nothing, they have to be completely cut off from their senses. Gryffen contacts K9. He has found a low level emitter in the middle digit of the claw attached to unidentified alien DNA. K9 tells him it is Etydion DNA to amplify the telepathic signal. Starkey receives a signal in his brain from the Etydion.
The light goes on and Starkey and K9 hide. Thorne shows June the Etydion on the screen. June warns Thorne that anyone found abducting aliens, sheltering or harvesting secrets about technology from an extra-terrestrial can be tried and convicted secretly by the Department. John tells her he wasn't abducted. He offered himself to them. He was given the home he wanted. In gratitude, the Etydion gave Greenroom Entertainment a means to reach an audience they never dreamt possible. The target audience is children, the future. The VR games are clearly the first step in reaching them: a networked virtual reality broadcast, coupled with a mild telepathic signal to draw and hold the audience. This will produce the kind of children every educator and every parent wants: good children. Thorne tells June good and quiet children make good and quiet citizens. John signals the Etydion. Thorne tells June it's what they have been working for, a population that will be happy, content and untroubled. June protests they can't think. Thorne calls it an "overrated pastime". Despite K9's warnings, Starkey decides to show himself and is followed by K9.
K9 tells the Etydion to release Starkey after being hypnotised. June is contacted by Gryffen, who tells her he's losing Jorjie and Darius. This is far bigger than an invasion. They are being changed on a cellular level. Despite Gryffen's warning, she insists he shows her, breaking her heart. She shows Thorne what his broadcast is doing. Thorne gives in and tells John to shut the transmission down. When John doesn't comply, Thorne orders him. John asks him for the magic word, Thorne threatens him with violence. He tells Thorne and June he wants fifty million credits to end the transmission. He tells them to remember he is the only one who knows how the transmission works. Thorne refuses to give in. The Department will be bankrupt if he authorises the transfer. June explains the Department will not be needed if there is no human population to protect. She begs him to save Jorjie. As Gryffen returns to the chess room he finds the mutation has progressed. The children's skins have become greener and are growing spines. Thorne gives in and announces the credits will be transferred once the transmission ends. When John delays, Thorne and June demand he ends the transmission now. He tells them he's trying to but something is wrong, the creature won't respond.
K9 detects a massive neurological surge. Starkey, under the Etydion's hypnosis, pulls the wires connecting it. Now John has no control. John doesn't understand what's happening, but June does. He has been outsmarted; the Etydion was tricking him. Neither John or Thorne were in control. As June goes to the presentation room, Thorne tells John he'll see his containment sectors from the inside. K9 tells the Etydion to free Starkey, who is no threat. K9 is a threat if Starkey is harmed. The Etydion releases him as June and Thorne arrive. K9 tells them the Etydion is irreplaceable as the last of its species. June tells Thorne he has to destroy it. K9 tells them the Etydion plans to make Earth its new home and populate it with its own kind. He is using the DNA in the headsets to amplify the signal. Thorne prepares to take action but the Etydion uses its mental powers and knocks him out. June tries to kill it, but is affected as well. K9 tells him his determination is threatening lives and he has no choice but to stop him. Starkey shoots K9 and disables him.
June gets back up and K9 warns her not to use the weapon. He won't be able to protect her. She shows Jorjie to the Etydion and begs him not to take her away from her. Gryffen contacts June, telling her the alien DNA has stopped spreading. K9 explains the Etydion is a receiver and transmitter of emotions and is receiving very strongly. Darius and Jorjie return to normal as the Etydion dies. Gryffen contacts June and shows her Jorjie, restored to normal.
to be added
- After this episode's broadcast on Disney XD, broadcast of new episodes halted and Taphony and the Time Loop wasn't broadcast until 2 October, a gap of over four months between the episodes.
- If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
- When Starkey asks what happened to the Etydions, he suspected "galactic slavers". (TV: Curse of Anubis)
- The footage of Jorjie that June shows the Etydion is from TV: Sirens of Ceres.
Home video releases
This episode is featured in the following DVD sets:
- Series One complete box set, released in Australia on 29 September 2010.
- K9: Series 1: Volume 2, containing episodes 13–26, released in the UK on 31 January 2011.
- K9: Ultimate Collectors Edition, containing the full first series, scheduled for release in the UK on 11 June 2011.