Wednesday, 29 September 2010

'THE EVENT' 1.2 - "To Keep Us Safe"

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

I was puzzled by the snottier reviews of The Event's pilot, regarding how it spent an hour teasing us with questions. It left me wondering what kind of mystery show they'd prefer; one that answers all of its questions in episode 1, just so you can be sure it’s not leading you on? However, what baffled me more is seeing the writers deliver sizeable answers in "To Keep Us Safe", which was both a surprise and a risk. I guess they want to avoid the complaint that serialized mysteries keep posing questions they have no intention of answering for months or years, but you can also go too far the opposite way and answer too much, too soon...

The plane that vanished into a portal seconds before it would have destroyed the president's retreat appears in Arizona, crashing into the desert and necessitating an evacuation of the passengers moments before ominous helicopter gunships appear overhead. Sean (Jason Ritter) is urged by his pilot father-in-law to run for his life, after revealing he only agreed to this suicide mission to spare the lives of his kidnapped daughters. Sean leaves everyone behind, finding himself in a Yuma hospital after succumbing to heat stroke some time later, where the local police are alerted to his presence as a fugitive and fantasist wanted for murder.

Elsewhere, President Martinez (Blair Underwood) dealt with the fallout from the plane incident, cancelling his press conference and helping concoct a cover-story for what happened to the vanished plane. A series of flashbacks reveal that Sophia (Laura Innes) and her fellow detainees at Mount Inostranka are genetically 1% different to regular people, meaning they're aliens. Sophia's people apparently arrived in Alaska in the 1940s and were captured soon after, although some escaped and have since infiltrated human society. In fact, Agent Lee (Ian Anthony Dale) is revealed to be one of these slow-ageing aliens, having passed a CIA medical examination by giving blood via a fake vein he had embedded in his arm.

Martinez's conference was intended to reveal the presence of aliens on Earth, but there are clearly people who would do anything to prevent the President making that fact known to the world. These people appear to be led by a man called Carter (D.B Sweeney), who it's revealed in flashback was the person who kidnapped Jason's fiancé Leila (Sarah Roemer) from the cruise ship, and manipulated her father Michael into doing a Kamikaze dive into the president's abode.

So, there's quite a lot going on, gaps in the plot were filled quite nicely in explanatory flashbacks, and we were given some fairly big answers that slightly demystified the show. In fact, knowing that aliens are part of the mystery (or is that a red herring?), I felt my interest slip. I think I've had my fill of aliens, and ABC's remake of V is already covering that base for me, so hopefully The Event cooks up something else to keep me watching. Otherwise it feels like a serialized rethink of The Invaders, mixing elements of Lost's format and a 24-style conspiracy. And that's not a bad mix of shows to watch, but nothing very original. I can't get excited about aliens posing as humans, unfortunately. That feels like well-trodden ground to me.

Overall, "To Keep Us Safe" certainly maintained the pilot's pace and intrigue, and I can't deny a few reveals were unexpected enough to perk my interest. I'm still not really sucked into the situation on an emotional level, although Jason Ritter's screen presence and likeability is doing a better job than the actual material he's being given, and the flashback to the day he first met Leila (teaching her to swim) was appreciated. But at then moment The Event is all about the story and it's determined to try and grip you any way it can (plane crash, hospital chase, aliens reveal, 40's flashback, cruise ship stabbing, etc.) There's certainly enough here to keep me around for awhile, but it's time to make me care about the people caught up in this plot's web.

What did you make of this follow-up to the divisive pilot? Happy we got some very early answers? Disappointed in the apparent alien connection? Still not interested in any of the actual characters, but enjoying the ride superficially?

  • So Sophia and her detainees are aliens? I think we're being misled. That's too clichĂ©d, no? Might they actually be slightly more evolved humans from the future, who travelled back in time to stop whatever "The Event" is? Or from a different dimension, to jump on the Fringe bandwagon? Aliens from literally another planet would look considerably different to us, even allowing for the fact budget plays a part in what extra-terrestrials look like on TV shows. I mean, even V's aliens are space lizards beneath their flesh.
  • The longevity of this show is still in question. How long until we need to be shown The Event? Maybe we'll learn what it is by season 1's finale, it'll actually happen by the end of season 2, and we can deal with the fallout in season 3, but can the show go beyond that? Will it last long enough to even try and keep itself going past season 1, let alone season 3?
  • Co-writer Evan Katz was a writer-producer on 24, so that maybe explains the pacing.
WRITERS: Evan Katz & Nick Wauters
DIRECTOR: Jeffrey Reiner
GUEST CAST: Scott Patterson, Taylor Cole, Clifton Collins Jr., Lisa Vidal, Dominic Flores & D.B Sweeney
TRANSMISSION: 26 September 2010 - NBC, 9/8c