After the fall finale of The Event, what I looked forward to most when the show came back was the “previously on” catch-up segment. I wanted to see whether they’d be able to get me amped about the back half of the season, as opposed to annoyed and exasperated, which is how I felt around the time of the fall finale. The massive hiatus between the two episodes couldn’t be a bigger blessing or a bigger curse. On the one hand, it’s impossible to remember the bulk of what was going on during the last installment. If you had all the episodes on DVR, I suppose you could have prepared with a marathon. But if you were a person so inclined to watch 10 episodes of The Event consecutively, you’d probably pick a quicker and more painless way of killing yourself anyway. So we’re all basically starting from scratch here. But the advantage of that is that I have forgotten how it felt to want to smash everything in sight after one of the show’s superlatively stupid cliffhangers. I remember that at one point I felt that way, but I don’t actually remember the feeling. So whatever, bygones or something? I’m not saying I think The Event is going to suddenly click into place, considering certain irreversible choices the writers have made. I’m saying that the morbid curiosity that I started The Event with curdled into rage at some point, but now, it’s back to its original state, and that’s a start.
Given that I’d let my defenses down a little since “Everything Will Change,” I was surprisingly entertained by this pair of episodes. It was shrewd of NBC to pair them together. There’s something about the sheer length of exposure in a two-hour episode that forces you to invest more than you might for a standard-length episode. But besides that, this was just an usually engaging episode of the show. No one did anything stupid enough to bring the entire affair to a halt, and there was decent pacing and some nice effects. There were answers provided to some basic questions, and the resolution of some storylines that had started to wear a bit thin. It wasn’t blockbuster television, but it was totally competent and watchable and on a level that could have won me at least a full season commitment before bailing. Like “Loyalty,” last season, it was good enough to make me think righting this ship isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.
The episode picked up with the launch of the EBEs' satellite, which fired off a message to their home planet and self-destructed. Conveniently, the code in the message was simple enough that it could be cracked during the cold open, so Martinez and Sterling can find out the first line of the message: Thomas is calling in the reinforcements. Sterling, reasonable as ever, figures this doesn’t portend well and goes to Inostranka to try interrogating the detainees again in the hopes they’ll find out what the message means. Meanwhile, a frenzied Sophia and Simon try to figure out where Thomas is so they can try to stop him. The only person Simon can think of to help is Michael, who has lived on the fringes of this story since the beginning but is finally ready to step into the action. Michael, as it turns out, is a loyal EBE and was only trying to destroy half of Coral Gables because he didn’t realize Sophia was there at the time. He demands her help in finding Leila and Sam in exchange for his help finding Thomas.
I most enjoyed the episode when its focus was the power struggle between Sophia and Thomas. When Thomas and Isabel went to tour the site of in-progress “portal array,” the conversation between Thomas and the EBE supervising the build was intriguing and was almost enough to make me wish The Event was a show told entirely from the extraterrestrials’ perspective. I’m interested in the politics and hierarchy of the EBEs, and I often wish the show would delve into it more, rather than trying to force me to give a shit about Sean. Sean and Leila’s story was the dullest part of the episode, as has been the case for weeks. But at least there was some resolution. They finally found Sam, and Michael reunited with Sam and Leila, so they were able to find out that they are indeed the space equivalent of Tragic Mulattos, or whatever. The consequence of all this was that Leila was forced to choose between the alien father she only thought she knew or the guy who, some span of time prior to now, had planned on proposing to her. Sean decides to take himself out of the running and bail, and it’s a testament to how unappealing the couple has been that I wasn’t in the least bit affected by this development.
President Martinez was given a new playmate this week in the form of Virginia Madsen’s Senator Catherine Lewis, a woman who has assumed her late husband’s duties but has larger plans than just running out the term limit. There would be interesting stuff to mine from making the American public aware of the EBEs and their Inostranka facility, so I’m not sure why the writers keep trying to wring suspense out of the idea of the secret being potentially exposed. I’m not as sure as the writers seem to be that the audience wants the information withheld. But even though I’m not sure what purpose her character is serving, I did enjoy seeing Madsen.
The biggest achievement of the episode was the Battle for Inostranka, which presented a self-contained story with as much suspense and momentum as we’ve seen from the show thus far. After weeks of slumming it, Zeljko Ivanek and Clifton Collins, Jr. were finally given something to do that seemed almost worthy of their considerable talents. There were immediate stakes at all times, and very little was totally off about it. (I wasn’t crazy about the wounded EBE who got super-chatty with Sterling for some odd reason, but I don’t want to nitpick.) This thing is dying on the vine, sure, but admirably slowly.
- Dempsey’s henchwoman that Sean and Leila cornered was just terrible. That scene was classic The Event, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.
- It was hilarious how Sean didn't react at all to the old lady children. Granted, he had seen that baddie turn instantly old from the serum but still, those old lady children are freaky as hell.
- Clea DuVall is back as Maya… but not for long. Maya says she’ll have to live with killing her boyfriend “for the rest of her life,” but luckily that isn’t too much longer.
- Sterling is nice with a pistol!
- When Martinez was finished dressing down Senator Lewis, I added a sassy finger snap. Really took it to the next level.