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Tell me, Mr. Franklin, have you ever known anyone with Alzheimer's? (Franklin: Well.... no.) By the end, all my father could do was ask why my mother wasn't at home. And each time I told him she was dead, I had to watch him take that loss like a car wreck! Two hundred thousand men and women develop Alzheimer's each year! What if you could end all that suffering with a single pill? Give me till Monday morning, forty-eight hours. I'll give you results that'll skyrocket your stock price or I'll help you pack the lab myself. It's your call.
~ Dr. Susan McCallister convincing her executives to approve her plan of finding a cure for Alzheimer's.
She may be the smartest animal in the world, but she's still just an animal. Come to mama!
~ Susan's last words before her death.
Susan McCallister is the tritagonist and anti-heroine of the 1999 science-fiction horror film Deep Blue Sea.
She serves as the head of a team of scientists working at an ocean facility called Aquatica in hopes of finding a cure for Alzheimer's with the usage of brain tissues from genetically engineered Mako sharks. Despite her good intentions, her infamous actions are what led to set off the plot in the film.
When Susan was a little girl, she is frustrated by her father's constant attempts to know why her mother isn't home, only for her to remind him so many times (to no avail) that her mother died a long time ago, due to the fact that he has Alzheimer's. As the years go by, she grew up to be a renowned geneticist at Chimera Pharmaceuticals, bent on putting an end to Alzheimer's with a new cure.
After buying an abandoned U.S. Navy submarine base and converting it into her own underwater facility called Aquatica, Susan formulates a theory that enough protein complex residing from a Mako shark's brain tissue can produce enough neurons to increase membrane integrity and recuperate memory losses. However, she is distraught to learn that a Mako shark's brain isn't big enough to produce sufficient amounts of protein for the test and that there is a code of ethics called the Harvard Genetics Compact that forbids anyone to use gene therapy to increase brain mass.
Taking no regards in this, Susan violated the code by using gene therapy to increase the brain masses of three Mako sharks 5 times the normal size and had her best friend, Jim Whitlock (who is one of the members of her team) to help her out. As a side effect, the three sharks became very intelligent and dangerous, and Susan kept this as a secret to herself, not wanting to lose her chance of finding a cure for Alzheimer's. To cover this up, Susan planted a ruse to the team that she used a hormonal enhancer to increase the sharks' brain 5 times the normal size as opposed to using gene therapy.
In the beginning of the film, one of the three sharks escaped captivity and attacked a boat full of teenagers, but expert shark wrangler Carter Blake (who is another member of Susan's team and the hero of the film) arrives to the rescue and takes the shark back to its pen. The incident struck the news, and Aquatica's finances are put at risk. Despite this setback, Susan convinces her company Chimera Pharmaceuticals (the facility's main sponsor) to give her a chance of putting in the test so that they can use her research to sell the cure for profit. To ensure of this, the company sends in their board president Russell Franklin to personally investigate the facility and the experiment.
As Susan and her team start to enact their experiment, she had Carter to bring the largest shark into the lab by sedating it and putting it into sleep. As the shark is sleeping, Susan removes a certain amount of protein complex from the shark's brain. She then applied 2 CCs of the complex into a sample of inactive brain neurons of an Alzheimer's patient: the result was an increase of membrane integrity on the neurons by 6.5 seconds, much to the delight of Susan and the team. Though the test was a complete success, things get out of hand when Jim gets his arm chopped off by the shark, much to the shock of the others. Carter attempts to shoot down the shark with a shotgun, but Susan instantly releases it back into its pen, resulting an angry Carter to call her insane for doing this.
The team calls in a paramedics helicopter to evacuate Jim for medical attention, but a strong hurricane made it too difficult for the pilots to reel the stretcher in, causing the stretcher (with Jim on it) to fall into the pen waters. One of the test sharks grabbed the stretcher and instantly pulled the cable, causing the helicopter to crash into the facility tower, killing both the helicopter pilots and the facility's tower operator Brenda Kerns.
This also causes a complete system shutdown in the entire facility. The shark then used the stretcher to ram against an underwater window while Jim dies succumbing to asphyxiation. As a result, the entire facility starts to sink slowly as the team tries to head up to the surface. During the journey, Susan is forced to confess her illegal experiments on the sharks that caused them to be smarter and deadlier in the first place, resulting her entire team to be extremely furious at her for using them for her own agenda.
Despite her condolences over what happened, Susan tries to justify her actions by stating that her research could wipe out brain losses to save future generations, but Carter retorts at this by asking her if the same would've been said for Jim, Brenda, the pilots, and the rest of the team.
As Aquatica slowly fills up, the three sharks start to target the team one by one. First, Franklin ends up being devoured by the big shark at the submarine deck while he was giving a motivational speech to the team. Next was another researcher named Janice Higgins, who ends up being devoured by the big shark while attempting to catch up with the team on the flooding maintenance ladder. Another one was researcher Tom Scoggins, who ends up being devoured by the big shark while attempting to help Carter activating some controls to drain the water away from a stairwell heading up to the surface. The only survivors left are Susan, Carter, and the facility's chef Sherman 'Preacher' Dudley.
Preacher managed to kill the first shark by throwing a lighter into the kitchen's heating oven to blow it up after it ate his pet parrot. Taking refuge in the floor 60 feet below the surface, Susan starts to feel extreme remorse over her actions after being traumatized by the deaths of Franklin, Janice, and Tom.
She then tries to head over to her cubicle to retrieve some data regarding to her research, despite Preacher's warnings about the dangers they're facing. Unperturbed by this, Susan heads over to her flooding cubicle to retrieve her data, but ends up being attacked by the second shark. Susan managed to kill the second shark by electrocuting it with a power cable, but the reaction destroyed her data in the process. Distressed by the loss of her research, Susan decides to accept that she blew her chance of finding a cure for Alzheimer's.
Left with no alternative, Susan, Carter, and Preacher head over to a decompression chamber and swim over to the surface. Preacher then gets attacked and dragged on the leg by the third and final shark (presumably the big one), but he manages to swim himself to safety by stabbing the shark's eye with his crucifix, forcing it to let him go.
After tending to Preacher's injured leg, Susan and Carter soon learn of a horrible revelation: the sharks have been herding the team into flooding the facility so that they could escape through the plain steel fences at the surface into the open deep blue sea. Realizing now that the big shark is too dangerous to be set free into the wild, Susan decides that she and Carter would have to kill it.
Carter devised a plan to kill the big shark: he would fire a harpoon filled with dynamite powder at the shark, and that Susan would have to connect the trailing wire to a car battery that will send in a electric current to blow it up. However, the big shark is too far away and too deep for Carter to make a clear shot. In a last-minute effort to get the shark's attention, Susan cuts her hand and dives into the water, causing the big shark to smell her blood.
Having attracted the shark's attention, Susan tries to climb out, but the ladder breaks, and despite Carter's attempt to save her, the giant shark grabs her and tears her apart and devours her, much to Carter's distraught.
Despite Susan's death, her effort was enough for Carter to get the shark at firing range, allowing Preacher to fire the harpoon at the shark's dorsal fin, though it pierced Carter's leg in the process.
As the giant shark finally attempts to swim out to the open sea, Carter frees himself from the harpoon and Preacher connects the trailing wire to the battery. As a result, the giant shark blows up to pieces, avenging the deaths of Susan and the rest of the team, much to both Carter and Preacher's relief.