Recap: 'The Event' - 'Cut Off the Head'
If nothing else, “The Event” gave me my favorite moment of the series, tonight. For the most part, “Cut Off the Head” is a dull transition episode, moving from the reveal of Sophia being a genocidal maniac, to the climactic end-game battle between humans and aliens that appears to be coming. It’s not nearly as bad as much of the show has been, but it’s relatively inert (the cliffhanger is a closeup of a coffee mug!)
But then there’s the scene where evil, old-man Dempsey pulls out a gun and, in an apparent good-will gesture to Sean, puts a bullet in his own brain.
I laughed. A lot. The sort of uncomfortable, out-of-control laughter that will make a nearby spouse question your sanity. I’m desperate to know what the writers’ preliminary work on this character looked like. Like, did they really envision going from him controlling the vice president, to him kidnapping and mutating a bunch of little girls, to him morphing into a younger version of himself and then waxing philosophical about guardian angels in some French cave before setting his house on fire and then casually capping himself?
This may be the most randomly conceived character I have ever spent time with. With his final stroke of absurdity, I think “The Event” may have inadvertently hit on the sort of dark comedy genius usually reserved for, like, Godard films and Vonnegut novels. I laughed at Dempsey’s death in the same why I laughed at the Martian invasion in “The Sirens of Titan,” or at the scene where the random arcade hooligan stabs himself in “Masculin Féminin.” Sure, in those cases, unlike in “The Event,” the humor was entirely intentional and served a clearly articulated purpose, but whatever, this was still the most fun I’ve ever had with the show. All season we’ve been waiting for some explanation of what the hell’s going on with this guy, only to have him shoot himself instead. This is the sort of silliness I can get behind.
Granted, by doing this Dempsey also added himself to the growing list of characters who have existed for no purpose beyond helping Sean get to the next stage of his journey. Also included on this list: Leila, who escapes her captors just long enough to call Sean and give him the name of another person and another location that he can now head off in search of. No doubt once Sean arrives at Murmansk (it’s becoming increasingly clear that “The Event” chooses its locations based solely upon their name (surely they don’t consider which locations their characters could realistically travel to)) he will find just enough information to lead him somewhere else. I still hold out hope, though, that by season’s end he will actually have something to do with the rest of the show.
The second great gift Dempsey gives us, this week, is that he actually mentions the word “event,” which honestly may have been more shocking than his subsequent suicide. Apparently he and his order of Knights of the Holy Grail (or whatever) can see the greater order of “events,” and therefore knew that Sophia would turn into Hitler, and that Sean would emerge as the only one who could stop her. (So all of Dempsey’s batshit shenanigans have been, what? a test?) I’m impressed that the show has attempted an explanation for all of Sean’s random dumb luck, but I never would have expected them to go with some poorly-define fatalistic mysticism. But hey, it’s something!
But it’s not all good news. Vice President Jarvis may be the only character I hate as much as Sophia, and now, lucky for me, they’re working together! I feel like Jarvis was conceived by someone watching season five of “24” and completely missing the boat on what made President Logan a compelling villain. Jarvis is portrayed as being so weak-willed and dim-witted that it becomes a stretch of the imagination that the man can dress himself in the morning, let alone run for national office. But, sadly, this is what he must be reduced to for Sophia to be able to manipulate him with the entirely lazy writing that is so typical of her character. It frustrated me when Dempsey got to Jarvis with some vague threat against his family, but all Sophia has to do is say some half-assed crap about patriotism.
Now, this partnership of terrible characters such as it is, Sophia plans to have Jarvis murder Martinez with sugar while she searches for the mysterious weapon that will be her tool of genocide in Siberia. I think the best thing I can say about the master plot, at this point, is that it’s actually made me reverse myself on my having-no-one-to-cheer-for complaint. Well, maybe I don’t have someone to cheer for, per se, but I certainly know who I’m cheering against. My hatred of unfathomably-weak Jarvis and now-suddenly-a-genocidal-maniac Sophia is so complete that I am once again firmly routed on the side of the good guys. Not for good reasons, of course; my distaste for these characters is so intense that I just want someone to kill them and get them off my television.
I really hope that, from this point on, “The Event” realizes how bad it is with ethical ambiguity (which went out the window the moment Thomas died) and just goes all-in with Sophia as the super villain. It won’t turn her into a compelling character, but I could at least see myself enjoying watching Sean, Vicky, Lee, and Blake take her down. Sure, that resolution will make all the parallels with illegal immigration and unlawful detention the show has crafted extra troubling, but I highly doubt anyone cares what this show has to “say,” at this point. And at least Lee will be around as the token not-all-aliens-are-evil character. It would even be fine if the show followed through with the plot to remove Martinez (though what to do with his evil wife?) if it meant a renewed focus on Blake and Lee.
Basically, I hope that “The Event” forgets about everything else and just makes this final stretch fun to watch. For the the first time in, well, really ever, I actually think it has a chance to do so.
What did you think of tonight's episode? Share your thoughts below.