The Event: "Casualties of War"
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The Event: "Casualties of War"

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The Event

"Casualties of War"

Season 1, Episode 5

Greetings The Event fans, what a glorious occasion on which to be joining you. I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, but The Event, the addictive, action-packed series that is as deftly acted as it is masterfully written, has gotten a full-season pick up from NBC. Want to see more tense tete-a-tetes between Blake Sterling and the vice president whose name I can’t recall and am not terribly inclined to look up right this minute? Then honey child, you’re in for quite a treat. Wait…what’s that? There is no such thing as The Event fans? People are just hate-watching this thing because they aren’t quite ready to stop complaining about shit on Mondays after the work day has come to a close?

At this point I’m not exactly sure who’s watching this thing. Obviously there are countless examples of people watching shows that aren’t any good, and I get, for example, that humor is subjective and that just because I don’t find Two and a Half Men funny doesn’t mean the millions of people who watch it don’t have a valid reason for doing so. But are the people who watch The Event satisfied? Are they begrudgingly tuning in from week to week to see where it goes without having actually invested in any of it? I think actual fans of this show are not unlike the Hetero sapien sleepers. They walk among us, but they are not like us.

I’m talking a lot of smack here, and doing a lot of drum-rolling, and it’s all because I don’t want to admit that I kind of liked this episode. After last week’s horror show, which was so beyond stupid and illogical I’ve mostly forgotten it, this was closer to the show I thought I was going to be watching from the beginning. This is just the way The Event is, I suppose. It teases you with a not-at-all-terrible episode, then in the next, shanks you mid-embrace like Maya did to William. (Whatever happened to Maya anyway? She just went back to Inostranka I assume?) Giving the grade you see above was absolutely painful for me because I’m almost certain that whatever good will “Casualties of War” managed to win back will probably be forfeited by this time next week. But I must reluctantly give credit where it’s due.

“Casualties of War” was at least the best paced episode of The Event yet. It started to resemble 24 in its level of urgency, and waded into that show’s territory by saddling an idealistic president with an unpleasant decision and watching him squirm his way through it. President Martinez is practically identical to David Palmer in his refusal to recognize gray areas. The right thing to do is the right thing to do, no matter what the circumstances. It was that kind of attempted objectivity that led him to release the detainees in the first place, and what has led him to be so resistant to change tacks even though any reasonable person would now regard the Hetero sapiens as a threat, or at the very least a terrifying question mark.

But when Thomas tried to play hardball, as the 514 passengers declined in a most horrifying fashion, Martinez finally decided he’d had enough and called his bluff. Kill the 514 passengers, Martinez threatened, and the blood is on your hands when I kill all the detainees. It was actually kind of a no-brainer. I mean, hell, there were just more passengers on 514 than there are detainees in Inostranka if you wanted to make it a value judgment. And that’s to say nothing of their origin and species. But Martinez, being who he is, flopped like a fish in the fryer trying to decide whether or not to seep carbon monoxide into the Inostranka facility if Thomas didn’t make with the antidote. It was a dramatic standoff, and one I felt confident would be sewed up within the hour, making the episode brisk in a way that this show usually isn’t.

I was less interested in Sean, Leila and Agent Collier, and who would be after last week? But this episode did a decent job of salvaging that thread, at least in the short run. In the long run, I still don’t feel like I want this show to be about Sean. I understand how in creating the show, it would have been tempted to say “What if instead of a kickass, trained agent like Jack Bauer, the guy at the center of this was just some regular schmo, dragged into the middle of a global conspiracy and doing his best with what he’s got?” But it kind of reminds me of the “Towelie” episode of South Park. The kids didn’t want to be involved in the intrigue involving Towelie, they just wanted to play with their Okama GameSphere. I don’t believe Sean wants to be involved with any of this. He just wants his girlfriend back so he can finish popping the question. He’s the sort of character that would have a four-episode arc on 24, and while I’m sure the writers can figure out some way to pull him deeper into the story, I really don’t want them to. Now that Sean and Leila are reunited, I don’t care about either of them anymore (not that I cared that much to begin with.)

This episode did succeed in making me more interested in Vicky and Thomas. The flashback device was used in a pretty clever way to reveal that Vicky’s son is in fact a baby she was supposed to have performed a late-late-late-term abortion on but had a change of heart. Now that she’s helped Sean escape with Leila, and a wounded-but-alive D.B. Sweeney knows the truth and is at large, I’m engaged with her. The same goes for Thomas, who apparently ditched the rest of his people to attend to his mission alone, and involving himself in the Manhattan Project so he could get our technology up to speed. I really dug the idea of the Hetero sapiens sleepers being instrumentally involved in American history without our knowing, and shaping it with their own endgame in mind. I know better than to expect any level of consistency from this show, or even to expect it not to be unbelievably awful next week. But it was a reasonably enjoyable hour of television, taken individually, and I can’t find fault with that.

Stray observations:

  • I’m not clear on how Sean understood the origin of Vicky’s son such that he could make a threat to reveal his picture and address. I suppose he just knew that she went to trouble to hide him, but it still felt like a weird assumption to make.
  • Martinez’s wife irritated the hell out of me. She acted like she was going to make him sleep on the couch because he might have made good on his threat.
  • Simon has been kind of sidelined, no? I thought as the double-agent he’d be given more to do than carry messages back and forth.
  • I was totally baffled when Sean got the voicemail from Leila and was surprised to find that she was in Texas too. Am I the only one who had no idea where Sean and Collier were?