It’s come time for the early season payoff of “The Event,” in which Sean Walker and President Martinez show us exactly why they’re the heroes of this show. If this were “24,” this would be the episode where Jack kills the mid-level bad guys and seemingly solves the country’s crisis. Of course, this merely marks the point in the season where we head further down the rabbit hole; Jack would discover that the apparent threat was just a distraction from something much more sinister. Sean and Martinez will be in a much worse situation soon, to be sure, but for now we’re given a brief moment to cheer for their success.
[Full recap of Monday's (Oct. 19) "The Event" after the break...]
But before I review the rest of tonight’s episode, “Casualties of War,” I need to vent my nearly uncontrollable rage over a certain line of dialogue: “Our orders are to be discreet.”
Our orders are to be discreet.
Vicky actually says this to Carter as he sits atop the police station rooftop with his sniper rifle trained on Sean and Agent Collier. He wants to kill Sean right then and there, but she stops him by saying...this. If I were trying to make something up to parody this show, I really couldn’t come up with anything this ridiculous.
To recap: to get to this point, Carter has brutally knifed some guy to death in the cabin of a cruise ship, Vicky has shot a police officer to death on an open highway, the two of them have commandeered an entire police station (presumably killing all of the cops inside), and their organization’s last attempt to kill Sean involved a team of goons marching into an FBI field office with automatic weapons and, in a masterful display of discretion, murdering everyone inside in a flurry of gunfire.
I apologize for this digression; I know it’s only a brief moment of the episode, but it really makes me wonder if there’s anyone actually proofreading this stuff. From the writer’s room to the finished product, it’s shocking to me that no one had the wherewithal to point out how incredibly silly this line is. If they can’t catch something this obviously terrible, what hope is there they’ll pare down all the superfluous nonsense dragging the series down?
So much of what happens in “The Event” feels like the sort of stuff a person would think should be in a show like this, rather than what actually works for the material. After MIT-computer-whiz Sean finally recharges his phone and calls Leila, she tells him “I knew you would find me.” Why she says this I’m not exactly sure. Sean didn’t find her: she called his cell phone and he returned the call. Very little care is being given to how things actually work from episode to episode; the writers are just throwing in anything that seems to work in the moment.
The episode begins seemingly by taking up yet another genre, as the dying plane passengers turn grey and begin bleeding from their various orifices, maniacally clawing at anything around them and slamming their bodies against the glass walls of their hospital rooms. For a few moments it looks like “The Event” is beating AMC’s “Walking Dead” to the punch and becoming a zombie show. As it turns out, they’re merely dying from some mysterious alien disease with which Thomas infected them.
Thomas offers the antidote in exchange for the release of Sophia and the rest of the 96 captured aliens. But we soon discover that President Martinez is no pushover, as he not only takes Blake’s advice to not release the detainees, but threatens to execute every one of them should Thomas not deliver the antidote.
A flashback to the the 1940s reveals this juicy tidbit: Thomas was the mastermind behind the Manhattan Project. Sophia trusts him with the mission of getting their people home, but with their ship destroyed they lack the technology required for their homeward journey, and it’s up to Thomas to make sure primitive mankind develops it. “The Event” is a show that ostensibly considers gunning down scores of police officers and FBI agents “discreet,” and then features a character infiltrating the Manhattan Project and inventing nuclear fission before disappearing without the government knowing who he is.
Sean, meanwhile, is falling into Vicky’s trap, heading directly for the Snyder police station where Leila is being held. We still don’t know why, exactly, this organization that just tried to run an airplane into the president is so singularly focused on Sean Walker. He must know something important, but does he really present more of a threat to the villains than all the attention their Sean-related mass murder would logically draw towards them? And if what he knows is so important, why doesn’t Sean take a moment to call the president or something?
With the help of his hacker friend, Sean discovers that Vicky is in the police station with Leila. He may be a nice guy, but like President Martinez he’s not going to stand for being played like this. While Martinez has an entire prison full of superhuman detainees to execute, Sean has to make do with only the picture he has of Vicky’s child, which he sends to Vicky’s phone and threatens to “make viral” (how he’d do this he doesn’t say--does he have Vicky’s employer’s email address?) and effectively have the poor kid killed.
A flashback lets us know that Vicky’s child is the product of a botched hit Vicky’s evil overlords ordered. She was told to murder an entire family, but after her partner goes down in the ensuing shootout, she chooses not to to kill a now-orphaned infant crying in a crib. Instead she takes him home and raises him as her child, and leaves her mother in charge while she’s off a-murderin’. And so the kid becomes Vicky’s one weakness, and for some reason she chooses to believe Sean’s threat and protect her child by killing her entire team and letting Sean and Leila go.
As the episode winds down, we’re given yet another reversal of the passengers’ fates. Thomas caves in and delivers the antidote. In return, President Martinez releases Sophia and sends her on her way to Thomas. Blake and the President are using a high-tech food-borne tracking agent in an attempt to find Thomas, while Thomas gives us reason to suspect his intentions in getting Sophia released. Is he planning to kill her and replace her as leader? I half expected the train she boards in the episode’s final moments to explode and leave us with another cliffhanger. Luckily the episode ends on a much more ambiguous moment, as the train car pulls away leaving us guessing as to what happens next.
So Sean reunites with Leila and President Martinez saves the day. Martinez compromising his ideals to get the job done felt a lot like something we’ve seen done (many times) on “24,” but the thematic tie-in to Sean threatening to have Vicky’s child killed gives the episode some weight-- we’re left wondering whether either man was willing to follow through with their threats. It’s not world-class character work by any means, but when a show generates as little interest in its characters as “The Event,” we’ll take what we can get.
“Casualties of War” is probably the most exciting “The Event” has been to date. But then, between Sean reuniting with Leila and Martinez’ showdown with Thomas, this episode was a payoff the show has been working on since the beginning. With that in mind, I’m not ready to say that the show is improving; if it avoids descending back into its regular dullness next week, I may have some hope. Though keep in mind at this point I’m merely comparing the show to itself: this isn’t particularly good television. Any payoff should ramp up the excitement; if we compare it to the rest of “The Event,” it’s an improvement, but up next to similar payoff episodes from more successful serialized shows, it’s still pretty empty and boring.
What'd you think of Monday's "The Event"? Is it showing improvement in your mind?