A few thoughts on episode 3 of The Event, which is a new show the majority of critics have been quick to dismiss or spit venom at, despite the fact many of the best TV shows had unpersuasive starts. I'm not saying The Event is going to prove itself a marvelous show anytime soon (if ever), or that things won't sink as the writers struggle to keep things mysterious but with a drip-feed of answers, but it's still too early to say for sure. I've been entertained by these three episodes, and each week there are small signs of improvement.
The big problem is how so much of the show is driven by pure plot and action, with little communicated on an emotional level. I think the show would do well to adjust things, angling the story towards fugitive Sean Walker (Jason Ritter), the everyman embroiled in a conspiracy while trying to find his girlfriend Leila (Sarah Roemer). I can buy into that situation, and Ritter's scenes spark more effectively as a result, so hopefully The Event will focus more on that, before the broader scope and multiple flashbacks congeal the gears of this series.
"Protect Them From The Truth" made a few canny decisions: there were only a few unnecessary flashbacks (although the teaser's was textbook pointlessness*), and FBI Agent Collier (Heather McComb) came to believe Sean's tall story after he rescued her from a car crash and made a persuasive argument backed-up by a strange news report about his plane's disappearance. So now Sean has a partner to help him investigate Leila's kidnapping, as they're both on the tail of femme fatale Vicky Roberts (Taylor Cole), who's keeping Leila in a shipping container.
Elsewhere, Sophia (Laura Innes) refused to tell President Martinez (Blair Underwood) who caused Flight 514 to teleport to Arizona, so the President instead offered freedom to any of Inostranka's alien detainees who could give him answers. However, the only volunteer, an inmate called William (Omid Abtahi), was stabbed and killed by his own girlfriend Maya (Clea DuVall), whom he'd arranged to have released along with him, to stop him from talking. So now we have a situation where it's clearly not in the alien's interest to reveal who saved the President's life, and they're willing to kill people close to them to protect this secret from getting out.
Anyway, "Protect Them From The Truth" wasn't great but it wasn't a total bust. This episode was co-written by James Wong, who used to work with Glen Morgan until very recently, and those two helped turn The X Files into a phenomenon. I'm hoping Wong hasn't lost his touch, or that writing without Morgan hasn't dulled his abilities, because in the '90s they were both firm favourites of mine. They turned Millennium into must-see TV for its second season, and their short-lived Space: Above & Beyond was a clear precursor of Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica remake, in terms of style and tone. It's great to see Wong back on TV, having failed to make a successful jump into movies with a string of flops after the promising Final Destination, but it's no guarantee The Event is in safe hands. The concept and characters may be fundamentally flawed, although I was pleased to see this episode was more focused on the current storylines and didn't overcomplicate matters. And the climactic surprise that the dead passengers of Flight 514 are actually still alive was a nice touch (forgiving some bad acting from the actor playing the soldier noticing them "wake up").
I still have questions bubbling away in the mind about what's going on, just not to the extent I'm counting the day till the next episode, or feel the need to debate anything with other people who are watching. The fact it's all to do with aliens still feels very hollow to me, although I'm sticking to me theory that they're not actually aliens, but time travelers from the future.
- * You open with the inciting scene of Sean tending to the wound of Agent Hillier in a hotel room (whom we don't recognize at that point), then almost immediately jump back in time by 2 hours to show a better inciting incident of Sean and Hillier caught up in a car wreck? I don't understand that thinking. Why not just open with the latter moment?
- Heather McComb (Agent Collier) starred in an episode of The X Files co-written by James Wong with Glen Morgan; Die Hand Die Verletz.
WRITERS: David H. Goodman & James Wong
DIRECTOR: Jeffrey Reiner
GUEST CAST: Heather McComb, Omid Abtahi & Clea DuVall
TRANSMISSION: 5 October 2010 – NBC, 9/8c