It was fun for a while. There was no way of knowing. One could be forgiven, following the mostly strong five-episode run between “Inostranka” and “You Bury Other Things Too,” for thinking that The Event had gotten its act together to a certain degree. And that’s still sort of true; I wouldn’t have thought back in the fall that I’d enjoy an episode of this show as much as I did “Inostranka” or “Face Off,” and the writers deserve credit for that. But now that we’ve pivoted fully towards the Sophia vs. Martinez struggle, we’ve lost some of the tension the show had when Thomas was still meddling about. That absence of drama could be felt throughout “Cut Off the Head,” which not only wasn’t as fun as the other post-hiatus episodes, but represented a shift back from forgivable logic holes to unforgivable ones.
In its semi-defense, “Cut Off the Head” had its work cut out for it. It had to provide some new momentum for the warring factions, both of which are figuring out the next step for their side. And it seems the writers finally got sick of having to establish anew with each episode why Sean Walker has become an action hero, why he’s vested in any of this and why he can’t just walk away. Whether or not any of us like the way they handed Sean the keys, at least we don’t have to spend so much time with nonsense like the bar fight, the pep talk from his sister or yet another Sean monologue about how Leila was his life and now he has nothing to lose. We understand his motivations now, even though we’ll still occasionally question whether or not he’s equipped to do the job he’s been tasked with. And we don’t have to pretend Hal Holbrook is scary anymore.
I understand Sophia much less these days. The bulk of the episode is about her, and her new plan to locate a weapon that she’ll use to decimate the human population so there’s enough room and resources to bring the rest of her people here. While I’ve been excited to see the by-any-means-necessary Sophia emerge, I wish there was a little more nuance in the execution. Sophia was the one who held out hope that both sides could find a way to coexist peacefully, and granted, a lot has happened since then, what with the death of Thomas and the deteriorating situation back home. Still, Sophia doesn’t strike me as the type who would be able to order the deaths of billions of people without feeling an occasional pang of guilt. I wish we could see a bit more of her ambivalence about making such a ruthless decision.
By episode’s end, her people have found the weapon in the form of a gnarly looking corpse encased in ice, which I assume contains some type of biological agent the non-terrestrials will use against the humans. In order to get there though, we had to take a detour through one of the silliest plots we’ve seen yet, which was anything that included Vice President Jarvis. So let’s say that after being exposed as part of the plot to kill Martinez, Jarvis would be welcomed back into the inner-circle for appearances’ sake. Okay, fine, I’ll go with that. None of the rest of this makes a whit of sense to me. First, why would there be no kind of surveillance or monitoring of a known traitor? Once they found out about Simon, he could hardly get a moment to himself. Jarvis, meanwhile, is able to loaf around, meeting with Sophia, poisoning the president, whatever seems fun at the time. Even that’s sort of forgivable. But I just don’t buy that Jarvis would have Sophia at gun point and would rather sit and negotiate with her rather than kill or capture her, which would conceivably restore the good will he lost by trying to kill Martinez. For a slavish patriot like Jarvis, I don’t believe that he would resort to more treason just because Martinez and Sterling yelled at him.
I did enjoy Martinez’s story this week, which involved him following up on suspicions about his wife following the White House staff blood tests. My initial assumption was that Christina wasn’t a non-terrestrial, and they would use the whole thing to show how fragile and distrustful Martinez has become. But it seems like a double fake-out instead and that Christina actually may be one of them. Which would be pretty awesome. My question is, how is it that the non-terrestrials are keeping track of who’s who in their ranks? Seems it wouldn’t be any more difficult for a human to infiltrate their ranks as it would be for one of their people to infiltrate ours. That’s a story that, if there was to be a second season of this show, I’d like to see at some point.
For now it seems our best hope is Leila, who doesn’t appreciate being held against her will in the non-terrestrials’ compound, and really doesn’t appreciate Sophia’s plan to kill billions. So she sneaks into see Simon, who for reasons unknown has been strapped to a bed rather than being executed, and he passes along a name which Leila gives to Sean. And now that Sean has been tasked by Dempsey with stopping the non-terrestrials (even though it seems Dempsey’s resources would make him a better candidate than Sean’s pluck), he has a new adventure to get Vicky all hemmed up in. I still think a hero’s death would be the best thing for Sean Walker, but I guess that’s not in the cards.
- Another point on Jarvis: while I know we’ll get some mumbo-jumbo next week about how Jarvis slipped Martinez an untraceable compound, blah blah blah, I doubt that the dude who previously was involved in an assassination attempt on the president wouldn’t be a suspect in the president’s sudden death, whether or not it could be proven.
- Laura Innes cleans up nice, no?
- The lunk who guards Leila has become one of my favorite characters, though I can’t put a finger on why.