“The Event” pushes things into high gear this week with “Face Off,” a kitchen-sink episode featuring a major character death, the destruction of an American landmark, and, most importantly, Vicky running around in a revealing dress. There are, much to my surprise, a few moments of genuine excitement. Unfortunately, it’s also an episode that exposes just why it’s impossible for “The Event” to salvage its first season, at this point: all of this movement rings hollow because the show has failed to earn any sort of emotional investment, which it needed to be working on since the beginning.
To briefly recap, President Martinez has drawn a line in the sand and ordered his men to capture Sophia and her people no matter the cost. However, Sophia, now aware that her home planet is dying, is also willing to do whatever it takes to keep her people safe. She takes her rage out on the Washington Monument (her machine can ostensibly pulverize many tons of concrete and steel despite not having enough energy to teleport one alien) in a scene straight out of a Roland Emmerich movie.
Fearful that Sophia will destroy all of DC, Martinez allows the aliens to board a few buses (Sophia, Michael, and Leila on one, Thomas and that girl he likes on another, and absolutely no one we’ve ever seen before on the third) and take off for the airport. Blake has a fleeting lucid moment amongst all the Event-related incompetency and realizes that Simon is a spy, leading to the further discovery that Sophia lacks the fuel to destroy anything else. Displaying how much ice is truly coursing through his veins, Martinez replaces his “dead or alive” order on Sophia with the relatively straight-forward “dead.” A couple of missiles later and two of the buses (read: Thomas) have been destroyed, while Sophia is teleported to parts unknown at the last moment.
One of the major things hurting “The Event,” at this point, is that the show has earned so little audience investment in the characters that such would-be monumental events like Agent Lee’s cover being blown, or even Thomas’ death, feel like filler distracting from the lack of genuine plot development. On a better show the plot would serve the characters, rather than the other way around, and such a major character shakeup would seem like a major development. But with no character development to speak of these moments are just throwaways, because all I care about is finding out what’s supposed to be so great about this plot, and I’m left angry because it still hasn’t gone anywhere.
A few weeks ago the show’s supposed big plot development was Thomas taking over leadership from Sophia and breaking his people out of prison. This week’s big development involves Thomas and most of his people dying, leaving Sophia back in charge. Sure, for a few moments there it was exciting to watch, but I’m also at a loss as to how this genuinely moves the plot forward.
More than anything, I was annoyed by Thomas’death, if for no other reason than frustration at thinking what a better show would have done with his character. Clifton Collins Jr. is a perfectly capable actor, and at the end of the day Thomas may have been the best character the show had (which is faint praise, to be fair). Which may be exactly why his death was necessary to provide this episode with impact, but that leaves the series with one less tool to make the rest of the season worth watching.
Thomas may have been the only character who actually did anything (and from the Manhattan Project to Warren Buffet’s fortune, boy did he do a lot), but his arc basically amounted to him being a petulant child for a while before finally realizing that Sophia was the true leader after all. All of his actions basically leave us at a spot where we could have been eight episodes ago: Martinez and Sophia squaring off. From this perspective, his death becomes extremely inconsequential.
I imagine some fans, what few there are, may now be excited by the upcoming showdown between Martinez and Sophia, now established as two “true leaders” willing to go to the mattresses for their respective causes. But I’m not. I was always much more interested by the brilliant-but-conflicted madman screw-up that Tomas could have developed into. Instead his character has been wasted in service of an obvious and broadly drawn master plot that we could have just started out with to begin with.
Oh, before I (inevitably, and soon) forget, the episode also had a B plot: Sean and Vicky get drunk with some comically-French assassin while evil Dempsey waxes poetic about cave drawings of angels in the Jura mountain range. That may sound like satirical embellishment on my part, but it’s really not. I’m not sure If I can stress this strongly enough: this s*** is f***ing ridiculous.
I should probably add some sort of further explication, but there’s really nothing to say, beyond that the writers seem really eager for us to forget just how evil Vicky was at the beginning of the series.
But, hey, the other week I said that, from that point on, I was cheering for Thomas. I guess now I’m just cheering for Vicky to get naked more often. I’m really not the type of guy to say something like that, but what in God’s name else do I have left?
What'd you think?