The Event: "Protect Them from the Truth"
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The Event: "Protect Them from the Truth"

A funny thing happened after I watched last week’s episode of The Event. I had the next episode—NBC sent out the second and third chapters presumably with the hopes that television writers would tantalize their readers with the promise of forthcoming answers. But I didn’t watch it until today. I just lacked the motivation to do so. None of the characters mattered to me, and the story wasn’t going in a direction that I found particularly engaging, so I figured I’d get to it when I had to. That’s not a good sign for a show like this one, which with its mysteries, cliffhangers and breathless pace, should demand DVD binging like 24 and Lost before it. Naturally, this, the third and final episode of which I have an advance screener, is the post-pilot episode most likely to have made me immediately watch the next installment. That’s not to say “Protect Them from the Truth” didn’t try my patience, or even outright annoy me at times, but it did contain glimpses of the best-case-scenario I imagined for the show after watching the pilot.

I’m still not totally invested in Sean as a character, but we did get some information that began to shade him in a little more. He’s a computer whiz who works as a freelance software engineer, which is why he’s so good at computer junk, information we needed to make several scenes remotely palatable. The episode opened with him in a motel, nursing wounds on Agent Collier, the female half of the dunderheaded team who transported him after he was arrested for Greg’s murder. I thought that this was going to set-up a potentially cool use of the usually draining time jumps, or at least result in something interesting having led to the situation. But no, turns out a speeding RV just T-boned the car as it was turning around to avoid the “chemical spill.” While Collier was passed out, computer whiz Sean had managed to guess her password for the FBI facial-recognition database and access it, which as it turns out, is as easy as AOL. But there’s a catch, it can’t be accessed remotely. To find out who Vicky is in the hopes of finding Leila, Sean will have to physically be at the Yuma field office. There’s so much of this I find troubling, not the least of which is the fact that the FBI has a field office in fucking Yuma, but I managed to suppress my gag reflex.

A shrewd Sean locks himself in the trunk of the an FBI cruiser in order to hitch a ride to the field office, and he finds his way to the server room to access the database. Collier figures out that he’s in the building, after a flashback shows their earlier conversation. Why this was necessary was beyond me. This is a show that expects you to keep track of what five different characters are doing while jumping back and forth between the present day and 1944, yet doesn’t trust you to remember a scene that happened 20 minutes earlier. Though Collier and her fellow agents nab Sean, Collier starts to come around after learning the supposed whereabouts of Avias Air 514, and is completely on board by the time a hit squad posing as agents show up to collect Sean. This sequence made no visual sense, and completely failed to communicate the mayhem that led to everyone being dead except for Sean, Collier, and the one guy who finally succumbed to Sean’s extinguisher to the head.

But why dwell on the negative, right? I know it seems like I’m as exasperated with this episode as I was with the last, but I’m honestly not. It’s just a shame that the most fleshed-out character’s storyline is the one that works my nerves most reliably. I was much happier with the goings-on with the Hetero sapiens this week. Sophia refuses to talk after the bodies of 514 are discovered, and President Martinez, who's really wearing out his welcome with the holier-than-thou, idealistic nonsense, refuses to sanction more aggressive interrogation methods. (Hell, who knows that waterboarding would even work, she could be amphibious for all we know.) When Sophia won’t give up the goods, he offers the captives at Inostranka a tempting deal. The first one to talk gets freed from the icy dungeon to live among the rest of us. Sophia pretends to be convinced that the group will stick together, but even she knows that after nearly seven decades of captivity, someone’s going to drop a dime. Indeed, a lippy non-human named William takes the deal and promises Blake he’ll tell everything in exchange for freedom, money, protection, and to be reunited with his girlfriend Maya.

Unfortunately for William, Sophia is with Simon, sanctioning his execution. I do think The Event has done a pretty good job of playing with the audience’s perception of the Hetero sapiens and their intentions. After episode three I’m not entirely convinced that Sophia’s people are have sinister motives, even despite Sophia telling Simon she’s convinced that William hasn’t said anything yet because if he had, they’ll be dead by now. That makes The Event a far more layered and intriguing show than V, with its mustache-twirling aliens who do everything to portend their evil intent short of showing up with a cookbook called To Serve Man. To make a dreaded Lost comparison, Sophia is less of an Anna than a Ben Linus. She’s not so much a villain as a person with a set of objectives and motivations that, while beneficial to her, may not have the best interests of humanity at heart. So she has to make calls like ordering the hit on William, who is dispatched by none other than Maya in what was almost a legitimately affecting scene.

The cliffhanger of the episode is what really reined me back in though. After concluding last week that the Hetero sapiens were up to no good after seeing a plane full of bodies littering the Yuma desert, I’m now not so sure again after they all gasped back to life in the temporary morgue. That development is certainly going to complicate the cover-up quite a bit, I’d say. Here’s the thing: I’m totally wary about my excitement for next week’s episode, considering how let down I was by episode two after being reeled in by the pilot. But even wary anticipation is a good place for this show to be at this point, considering I’m still far from convinced that what we have here is a premise built for a full network-season length arc.

Stray observations:

  • Martinez on the 514 bodies: “You assume they were murdered.” Dude, you just refuse to admit you might have been wrong about this thing, huh?
  • Thomas and William were apparently partners of some sort, or at the same rung of the Hetero sapiens caste system after the crash. Hmmm.
  • The Leila scenes were complete filler that did nothing to advance the story. I think it would have been cooler to keep her out of the episode entirely. I might have been more concerned about her and her whereabouts if she had been absent.
  • Blake said the pilot’s body was missing, but the camera clearly panned by his face among the bodies at the temporary morgue.
  • Clea Duvall. I can’t decide if she deserves better. I guess I should decide if the show is good or not, then render a verdict.
  • I will admit I am overly sensitive to pretend television computer screens, but these really tested my resolve. The touch screen computer they use to let you look up records with in big-box music chains was harder to use than the FBI database apparently is.
  • What if whatever Thomas did to the bodies turned them from Homo sapiens into Hetero sapiens? Just a thought.
  • There’s a Twilight Zone reference here. I listen.

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