The Event S1E2: To Keep Us Safe
No, no, no, producers of the Event. You’re doing it all wrong. You don’t just throw a bunch of answers at the audience in the second episode, for Christ’s sake. You tease them for at least 15 more episodes and only then do you provide vague, interpretable answers that only lead to more questions. Get it right, guys!
While this show is far from perfect (examples of its non-perfectness forthcoming), we can definitely give it credit for providing so many answers up front. Where did the plane go? Who saved it? What’s the deal with the imprisoned 97? Why was Leila’s father acting weird and flying the plane? How did Leila and Sean meet? Okay, maybe we didn’t necessarily need the answer to that last one. Even so, we appreciate what the creators are doing here. Lesser shows would have dangled the “Where is the plane?” thread for at least a season.
There is a problem on the performing front, however. Blair Underwood is doing a perfectly fine job as President Shmarack Fauxbama. Can’t wait to meet Shmichelle, who only seems to have two modes: concerned and terrified. Jason Ritter is growing on us as well. As un-needed as that pool flashback was, he nailed the charm. He’s got an everyman quality that’s appealing after six seasons of Matthew Fox’s square-jawed brand of heroism. Laura Innes, also a pro. No problems there. Zeljko Ivanek, also doing yeoman’s work here as Secretary Sterling. No problems when the adults are sitting at the table.
But some of the others… ouch. Leila is practically unwatchable. A very pretty charisma void. Michael, her father, is straight out of the ’80 night time soap opera school of acting. Agent Lee? We’ve seen trees less wooden than that. The array of mostly unmemorable supporting characters are, well, not memorable.
But maybe that’s not entirely the actors’ fault. The writers have to come in for a little blame there. We’re liking where the story is going, but the character work is sorely lacking. Sean is about the only character for which we have any attachment or concern. The rest of them are mostly ciphers. They’re going to have to step it up tremendously on that front if they want to keep the audience engaged.
The other issue is the structure of the storytelling. On a second viewing it seems to us that there was very little plot advancement. It was almost all flashbacks and filling in of details. We’re willing to wait this one out. Is this time-jumping format being utilized simply because they have a lot of information to educate the audience on so early in the story? Or is this the structure of the narrative, much like Lost’s flashes back, forward and sideways? If it’s the latter (and we suspect it is), you can mark us down as “not loving it.” For one, it is, as we implied, way too similar to Lost’s flashbacks. For another, Lost’s worked because they rarely deviated from the formula of one character’s flashback per episode. With this show, every character gets a flashback, and the audience is jumping around from 1944, to 5 days ago to ten years ago and back. It’s virtually impossible for an audience member to keep the information straight as to what happened when and we suspect that’s also a deliberate part of the story structure.
If the show is a hit (which is by no means assured), the creators can count on obsessive online fan participation and feedback. We suspect clues are hidden all over these various flashbacks but the passive audience member isn’t picking up on them because of the whiplash they’re experiencing from bouncing all over the place. They are literally diverting the audience’s attention elsewhere, like a magician would.
It’s just a theory and we damn sure don’t have the time to test it, but at some point (again, assuming the show continues), someone online is going to compile a linear timeline, and then someone else is going to notice that hey, something doesn’t fit or they made a mistake here or some other trigger for the OCD crowd and then we’ll be off to the races. In other words, they’re jumping around on purpose and we don’t think they’re going to be ending this trick any time soon. Why do we suspect this? Precisely because we were given so many answers so soon. Obviously, these answers are only going to lead to the bigger picture. Remember, the big mysteries in the early episodes of Lost were a French woman and a polar bear.
So what do we know? The 97 age very slowly and crash landed in Alaska 66 years ago. There is a less than 1% difference between their DNA and ours. The government assumes they’re aliens. What the government didn’t know until the plane disappeared was that there were more than 97 of them. Sleeper agents (we kinda groaned at that one). Agent Lee is one of them. They saved the President (and Sophia) by … diverting the plane to the Arizona desert. Everyone on the plane is dead except Sean, who escaped the black helicopters (?) that apparently killed the crash survivors. To the surprise of no one, those two annoying assholes on the cruise were in on the whole thing, as well as a couple of the stewards on the ship. They are holding Leila and her sister hostage. Their mother is dead.
So for all the answers we got, we still have a lot of questions and suspicions. For one, there’s no way the 97 are aliens. That’s not how you tell this kind of story. “They’re aliens!” No, they’re clearly something other than what we’ve been told. We suspect time travelers. But who are the people who kidnapped Leila and tried to get her father to kill the President? Is Sean involved too? Because we’re getting the impression there’s a lot more to him than we’re seeing. Why do we get the impression there are the good “aliens” and the bad ones? Sophia’s friend Thomas seemed to have a different agenda and schedule than she does. It’s implied that he’s responsible for the dead passengers, but that could also be misdirection.
Oh, one other thing…
ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION? SERIOUSLY? So help us, if there’s anything about a cork or a glowing magical cave we are so out of here.
As always, if you missed the episode (and why are you reading this if you did?), you can catch it here:
[Photo and video credit: NBC.com]