After two truly terrible episodes, “The Event” really needed a win tonight. This will never be a great show, but we can still hope that it makes some measure of improvement and avoids its debut season becoming an outright fiasco, right? In that respect, “Your World to Take” does just enough for the series to limp on.
[More on Monday's (Nov. 22) "The Event" after the break...]
The problem with critiquing a show like “The Event” is that, even when it’s not so terrible, most anything I have to write about it will still make it sound as such. Under close scrutiny nothing really holds up, but at this point I’m not sure that’s the best way to talk about this show, especially when I’m trying to be positive. Some people need serialized stories in their lives; I know because I’m one of those people. We enjoy these stories specifically because they’re worlds onto themselves, and even when they’re not so great we can still make the choice to play along with that world, make whatever assumptions it wants us to make, and have a good time with it.
Any hope of the “The Event” providing something artistically or intellectually substantive went out the window five or six episodes ago, but its fans can still enjoy being part of some fantastical conspiracy story. The great thing about this is that once they’re hooked, the fans wind up doing most of the work; all a show like “The Event” really needs to do is stay out of its own way by not being actively stupid or overly boring. But when I write that “Your World to Take” ‘stays out of its own way’, for the most part, that doesn’t sound particularly positive, especially when most everything else I have to say is negative. All I can do is promise fans of “The Event” that I mean it as a good thing.
Though there is one very specific, and very positive development to point out: this episode is entirely linear. There is no incomprehensible time jumping, and no “Lost”-aping flashbacks. That alone makes the story seem considerably more immediate. It also helps the show immeasurably when we can anticipate plot turns rather than just get blindsided by them. I was much more invested in the reveal of Abbie (an escaped elderly little girl) to Leila than I was in the bat-shit cliffhanger that first introduced that twist two episodes ago.
One of the things that makes “The Event” fail so often is that it’s a mystery show that deals almost exclusively in (to misuse a borrowed phrase) “unknown unknowns.” It likes to toil away in dull political plots and usually-dull chase sequences before nailing us with something we didn’t see coming. Plot twists and characters typically come out of nowhere. There’s nothing well-constructed or organically developed about its mystery; it’s just an expanse of nothing from which random stuff is thrown at us. Little tension or suspense is created because we’re not given enough sure footing as viewers to anticipate anything.
In any case, on to the actual episode:
Vice President Jarvis wakes up in the hospital eager to tell President Martinez the truth, but quickly learns that evil Dempsey is threatening his family. This may have been the episode’s most frustrating point. I mean, look, man, you’re the vice president. You have the best security guards this world has ever known working for you. Given the value of your information, the entire might of the United States of America is available to protect your family. And, what’s more, you’ll be able to arrest the bad guys. But, as I said in previous weeks, this is how “The Event” operates. Dempsey’s power is just declared and assumed without ever being believably demonstrated. It just seems silly when someone like the vice president is taking seriously something that any viewer can see is total bullshit.
The episode does a marginally better job at demonstrating the power of Sophia. If anything, the central point of tonight’s episode is: don’t mess with Sophia. Thomas is shacking up with some evil alien lawyer who has sex with him and then tells him how much smarter his mother is than him (worst girlfriend ever? Probably.) The two are plotting to kill Sophia and have Thomas take over her role as leader, but the plan backfires when Sophia reveals her secret superpower: incredible smugness that for some reason makes people do whatever she wants. Including shooting themselves in the leg. (The EBE’s are a difficult nut to crack: the man who brings nuclear technology to the human race is a weak, disappointing child by their standards, and yet the best way they’ve come up with to ensure underling loyalty is self-inflicted bullet wounds?)
I’m still not sure I get why Sophia is so brilliant or why she holds such power over these people, but this nonetheless represents an improvement on what I was talking about before. The episode begins with a plot to kill Sophia, and we know that a showdown between her and Thomas is coming. Its conclusion is therefore working with elements already set in motion, rather than just crap from left field. The result is something I might actually carry with me into future episodes: Thomas is a scared child and Sophia is the supreme ruler who now has a much more effective sense of menace about her than I imagine Dempsey will ever have.
Speaking of evil, old-man Dempsey, I really think this crazy fool needs to quit. He sends another one of his incompetent goons to “reacquire” a girl we’re led to believe is Abbie, but turns out to be Leila. This new goon is particularly sinister, as he knows before being told that once he captures Leila, he’s to kill all witnesses and then administer a “dose” of hyper-aging serum. There’s a fun little chase scene in a field of corn, but ultimately all the sinister goon manages to accomplish is shooting some poor dude in the leg before being run down, tackled, and bludgeoned by a computer nerd who just had back-alley surgery for a gunshot wound. (The guy doesn’t even have the decency to murder a bunch of extras before proving his incompetence.) Sean’s continued mastery of Dempsey’s evil cabal of psychopaths is silly, but I admit I still cheered a bit when he took the goon down. Oh, and Agent Collier reappears from the ether to provide Sean with useful information (most notably: her name is Angela!) before disappearing again.
It’s all nonsense, to be sure, but at this point it’s great news whenever “The Event” can avoid the disastrous lows it’s capable of. “Your World to Take” does produce one moment of genuine dread, though: near the beginning, Dempsey laments that great people die young, while the mediocre live on. I’m worried that logic may prove true for this year’s crop of new shows: “Terriers” cancelled while “The Event” trudges forward? Maybe Dempsey truly is menacing, after all.