Thursday, 21 October 2010

'THE EVENT' 1.5 – "Casualties Of War"

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Are you surprised by my star rating? I don't think anyone can deny "Casualties Of War" was a stronger episode than usual, and arguably the best so far. That's not to say anything here was a searing display of originality, because it was mostly reheated 24 leftovers, but I'm treating The Event as a series that wants to be a combination of 24 and The Invaders but has the scripting prowess of Prison Break. And, having freed myself of expectations for Lost caliber characterisation and an intricate mystery, this fifth episode turned in a fun hour that reached a number of turning points...

The passengers of Avias 514 are dying from an infection they've been given by Thomas (Clifton Collins Jr) during their teleportation from Florida to Arizona, and Thomas calls President Martinez (Blair Underwood) to offer him the antidote in exchange for the release of the Inostranka prisoners and Sophia (Laura Innes). The President instead decides to call his bluff and turns the tables by threatening to kill Thomas's people if the antidote isn't delivered before the passengers die.

In Arizona, Leila (Sarah Roemer) finally manages to get in touch with Sean (Jason Ritter) and directs him to the small-town police station she's being kept safe, but then realizes the "cops" looking after her are stooges part of the plot to kidnap her. However, as Sean and Agent Collier (Heather McComb) arrive to retrieve Leila, an old friend of Sean's calls with the suspicious news that Vicky's (Taylor Cole) cell phone is transmitting from the same location. Sensing a trap, Sean manipulated Vicky into helping him rescue Leila by threatening to expose the existence of her son, a young boy Vicky spared from death when she was assigned to assassinate a suburban family 5 years ago.

I'm the first to admit that the situations being faced by the President and Sean this week weren't exactly revolutionary and, at times, all that plausible or unpredictable, but they were a step in the right direction. The episode had some spirit to it, and the flashbacks actually informed the story more. The flashback to Vicky was only there to remind the audience that Sean has a means to blackmail her, but the flashback to the '40s following the Alaskan crash was more illuminating. We learned that the "aliens" helped humanity develop nuclear power decades before we were supposed to, all as part of their plan to get off the planet. But a part of me still suspects they're from the future, not another world. The moment Thomas realized '40s technology was too antiquated for their needs felt like a time traveller upset he won't be able to fix his time machine, because Thomas knew the correct terminology for the innards of a radio. Would an alien from another planet know such lingo?

There was a strong 24 vibe this week, too -- perhaps aided by the fact Milan Cheylov, a veteran of the Fox action thriller, helmed this episode. But the storyline evoked 24 in other ways: a President being given an ultimatum by a terrorist threatening to release a deadly virus unless his demands are met; the fact the government has a "mole" in Agent Lee (Ian Anthony Dale) who's reporting to Thomas; even the agreement to release Sophia in exchange for the antidote felt like something 24 would end an episode with.

Overall, I felt "Casualties Of War" did a very good job and felt like the end of a five-episode arc. Sean is now reunited with Leila, Carter (D.B Sweeney) has been captured for interrogation, Vicky's been humanized, the President showed balls in his handling of a crisis, the flashbacks were briefer and felt more relevant, the action sequences were decent, and Sophia's finally been released from that interrogation cell.

  • The Event starts on Channel 4 tomorrow night with a double-bill, so the UK's four episodes behind. Knowing that US TV often have 1-2 week hiatuses, it's feasible Channel 4 will soon be only a few weeks behind. If that happens, or The Event becomes less enjoyable for me, I'll probably start reviewing at UK pace. There's the added incentive of HD with Channel 4, too. Some of my decision rests on how popular these US-paced reviews are, so comment if you'd prefer I continue as I am.
  • Sean was a passenger on Avias 514 when it teleported, so why hasn't he come down with the same illness as the others? Was he spared? Did the process not work on him? Does this mean the passengers were given the sickness after Sean had left them in the desert when those choppers were approaching?
WRITERS: Dan Dworkin & Jay Beattie
DIRECTOR: Milan Cheylov
GUEST CAST: Clifton Collins Jr., Lisa Vidal, Tessa Germaine, Casey Kramer, Heather McComb, Gonzalo Menendez, Keith Middlebrook, Wes Ramsey & Sayeed Shahidi
TRANSMISSION: 18 October 2010 – NBC, 9/8c