Alright, let’s start with some housekeeping. I’d have never expected to end up writing as unqualified and lengthy a compliment as the one I wrote last week about “Face Off.” But it was a clear high water mark for the series, and I was really enthusiastic about it. I was really surprised to see the amount of nitpicking about the episode in the comments. Yeah, I know, I’m writing an impassioned defense of The Event, and it’s a shame I don’t have another pair of hands with which to tie myself a noose. But seriously, what was the big issue with “Face Off”?
I guess I’m curious as to what it could have offered that it didn’t. If you’re looking for strict logic with a complete absence of plot contrivances, you’re definitely watching the wrong show, if not the wrong medium. The Event has suffered from logical gaps from episode one, and I’ve pointed out many of them myself. But in the early going, the story just wasn’t clicking on almost any level. Now, with the exception of Sean and Vicky backpacking through the mountains, the story is working. When a story is working, I allow some plot contrivances so long as they are not egregious or excessive, and I didn’t think any of the contrivances in “Fall Out” were. Yeah, the helicopter could have taken out all three buses without the lengthy delay. No, that shell game wouldn’t have worked. But a choice was made to have Thomas sacrifice himself in order to save Sophia, and the execution of that idea was not excessively flawed.
But, look, I say this as an ardent, even mildly masochistic 24 fan. The idiocy of some of the choices on that show is enough to trigger a nosebleed, but the story worked often enough and moved so briskly that all was forgiven. And it seems that after months of trying to decide which of its many clear influences it wanted to lean toward, show runner Evan Katz, a long-time 24 writer, decided to go back to what he knew. 24 dealt with hostile extremist groups of all manner and nationality, and the basic premise of The Event is pretty much the logical conclusion of the direction that show was going in. As I mentioned last week, the storytelling has become rigidly linear, and there’s never the feeling of being disconnected from time and space as in earlier episodes, when the relationship between the timelines was impossible to discern. The terrorists are, in some cases, sympathetic and vacillate wildly on whether or not to go through with their nefarious plans. There are even torture scenes, even if they come at the hands of Sean Walker. It’s 24, but the terrorists are aliens.
What’s different about The Event is that there isn’t a central hero like Jack Bauer. I mean, OK, Sean would be considered that person, I suppose. But most of the reason “You Bury Other Things Too” wasn’t quite as compelling as “Face Off” is because there was so much Sean time. There’s just nothing interesting to me about that character at this point. And when he was initially threatening to torture Henri at the end of that act, I said aloud “Girl, you oughta sit down somewhere,” which is the kind of audience quip I usually deploy during RuPaul’s Drag Race. Though it was clever to stage a torture scene in which the torturer doesn’t have the stomach for it, if by some miracle The Event was renewed, I couldn’t see Sean having any more layers to examine. If the show is resolving to ape 24, I hope that in its theoretical future, it follows that show’s tradition of having the ensemble change radically from season to season. And at the end of this season, if not sooner, I’d want them to write Ol’ Sean Walker right on out.
Now that things have settled, I’d say the show’s only linchpins are Martinez and Sophia. Everyone else is expendable, and I’d guess this show’s writers have figured that out if they don’t wuss out on the deaths of Vicky and Thomas. (I know I’m giving too much credit here; it’s obvious they won’t kill Vicky, and based on the encrypted call Simon got which facilitated his escape, they just might flake on Thomas too.) But the Martinez and Sophia stuff has gotten so absorbing it’s crowding out everything else. Laura Innes has really stepped up her game now that she has juicier stuff to work with. Watching Sophia reluctantly transform from benign diplomat to aspiring world destroyer was kind of breathtaking, and it nicely parallels Martinez’s journey in “Face Off.” Both characters are hurtling further away from the values they once held dear under a set of extreme circumstances, and both are convinced that the other is responsible for it coming to this. And both now have the task of smoking out the enemies in their ranks.
Following Simon’s escape, Martinez enlists Senator Lewis to help him identify the sleepers by surreptitiously getting DNA samples. Sterling, given his experience with having been seduced and destroyed by one of Sophia’s people, objects to the idea. Maybe because he knows something about Christina that we don’t, or maybe just because he knows that where this particular situation is concerned, finding out the truth isn’t nearly as satisfying as you’d expect. Meanwhile, Sophia is dealing with Simon’s betrayal. After a deft scene in which Simon swears his loyalty to Sophia, he ultimately can’t go along with any plan that would wipe out the native population. But when he tries to get Michael and Leila to join him, Michael double-crosses him, revealing Simon as a traitor to Sophia, who has had it with traitors. I might almost be sad when this thing ends.
- Anyone paying attention to what’s going on with Dempsey? This sentinel stuff sounds interesting enough.
- I think the dialogue has improved pretty considerably. The scenes between Simon and Sophia and even Vicky’s monologue about how it feels to kill someone were competent in a summer blockbuster kind of way.
- Is anybody beside me curious as to how the different races developed on this far away planet? I think it’s cool that they have black people there.
- We know how many people they have: 2 billion in all. Seems like there’s not enough uranium in the world, but we’ll see how that shakes out.