An alien studies the human race through her work by her photography as well as observing a therapy group.
Claire: Kim Greist
Lee: John Aprea
Amy: Cynthia David
Mark: Richard Kuhlman
Janine: Pamela Kenny
Act I Edit
Claire — an emotionless alien disguised as a human — sits in her large New York loft observing photos by use of a projector. She has been sent to Earth to “record” many aspects (good and bad) of the human race. To help her mission, she also takes part of a group therapy but does not contribute to it — instead choosing to watch the others deal with their problems. One day, an angry man named Lee practices an exercise with the group therapist Amy to help him get over his recent divorce. He vents his anger by punching a pillow, then suddenly shifts his frustrations to Claire’s voyeurism. When another member Janine also gangs up on her, Claire simply announces that she feels uncomfortable. The group grows tired of her lack of empathy, with Lee sarcastically telling her to “let yourself go...as a public service”.
Later that night, Claire returns to her apartment and continues looking at her slides — eventually making it go faster by use of telepathy. As she watches many pictures of the people in her group fly by, she wonders why she even joined the group. She knew therapy would open the door for her to explore humanity, but she is now afraid of ”primitive” emotions such as anger and is worried they are starting to catch onto her.
Act II Edit
While sitting in bed and dwelling on how lonely she feels, Claire gets a surprise visit from Amy. She apologizes on behalf of the group and insists that their hostile feelings are part of the healing process. Claire speaks minimally, but assures Amy she’ll be at the next meeting. After Amy leaves, Claire continues looking at her photos; she observes the way humans huddle in cities together and “how they fear loneliness the way they fear death”.
Lee pays Claire a visit later on. He sincerely apologizes, but once Claire invites him in, he wastes no time flirting with her and insisting how much his relationship with his ex-wife is over. Seeing her camera equipment, Lee assumes she’s a photographer and talks about a time when he took Janine to a gallery. He asks Claire if she’d like to go to a gallery sometime, which she declines. He calmly leaves as Claire goes back to her work. She observes more photographs and theorizes that only half of the world is alive while the other half pass through life with a set routine ”like sleepwalkers”. She becomes fascinated with “one way picture communication” (TV) and Playgirl magazine; at the same time, she’s confused on humans dependence on advertising to tell them what to like.
After seeing an image of Lee and Janine making love on her bed, Claire feels the need for an intimate contact. She meets Mark at a bar and invites him up to her apartment. Feeling frisky, Mark comments on her unique look while noticing “you don’t talk much”. The two sleep together, with Claire thinking to herself how she was trained to handle this “physiologically“. On the other hand, she is unsure if she is able to handle it emotionally - insisting that she is “losing her mind”.
Act III Edit
At the next group meeting, Claire invites Lee back to her apartment. She shows him her photographs; he correctly assumes she’s “reporting on the whole culture“ and that it must be lonely for her. The two sleep together, which conflicts Claire’s emotionless state even more. She wonders how “the creatures who are so violent can also be so tender”. A few days later, she shows up at Lee’s apartment looking to talk and is surprised to find Janine there. Realizing they slept together, Claire angrily attacks her. Lee breaks it up and sends Claire on her way.
The next day, Amy pushes Claire to open up in group. Despite fear of losing control, Claire reluctantly takes the therapy pillow. Amy instructs her to say her mother never loved her enough, despite Claire telling her it’s absurd since she never knew her. She does it anyway, not feeling anything at first. The third time she says it while smacking the pillow, she cracks a smile then completely loses control — she repeatedly screams “YOU NEVER LOVED ME ENOUGH” while beating the pillow into the ground. The other group members — including Lee and Janine — look on in amazement. While Amy praises her, Claire is furious she acted like a “stupid human animal”. She tries to explain that she isn‘t from here, but the group interprets her claims to being an alien as metaphors for being alienated. Amy insists that what she’s feeling is a “simple human reaction”; Claire shrieks, as showing emotion means she can now never return to her planet.
”My mission is over. I know what there creatures feel: Solitude. That is what it is to be human”.