Last week I commented on how I felt this show had been underestimated and misrepresented when it came to promotion, and how The Event knew full well that it was a little bit silly and pulpy and played up to that knowingly.
With episode four, suddenly I’m not so sure.
I don’t want to dwell too much on behind the scenes production, but this script was co-written by Lisa Zwerling, one of the co-showrunners for the ill-fated genre mess FlashForward, a show which I felt was horribly plotted for the most part. The actions of the characters were rarely logical, and the plots were shoved and cajoled in directions that suited the whims of the writing staff. If they thought it’d be cool, then they shoved it in, logic be damned. I can’t possibly say how much of episode four came from Zwerling and how much came from her writing partner or the Event showrunner, but this episode has the same sort of plot mechanics that blighted FlashForward.
The episode starts with something that’s been a symptom of the season (and especially this episode) — needless clutter. Why did we need to see Random Bad Dude shoot the poor old guy in the back in the parking garage? Why did we need to see Leila and Sean set off on a drive to her parent’s place? It’s just ugly filler with no reason for existing.
In the Leila kidnapping side of things, we see Carter and Vicky move their hostage to a small house and toss her down into the basement before waiting on the call to kill her. The tension mounts as Leila attempts to free her wrists before Vicky can pull the trigger — and she just manages it in time — before knocking Vicky down, fleeing the house, finding a cop, and getting taken to safety at a local police station. Except in the big final twist we see how it was planned all along. The broken piece of bottle Leila found on the floor had been left there deliberately, the gun Leila snatched and shot Vicky with was loaded with blanks, the cop was one of Carter’s men in disguise, and it had all been a ruse designed to get Leila to call Sean and bring him to town after Carter’s previous attempt to kill him had failed.
I’m sure in the writer’s room this all sounded genius. ‘Nobody will see it coming! What a twist!’Unfortunately, most of the time writers go with what’s cool instead of what’s logical, we get a mess like this. How did Vicky know Leila wouldn’t slit her throat with the bottle shard? (After all, Leila had swiped at her throat with the police badge in the previous episode). How did they know Leila would run to the nearest cop instead of going to a neighbour’s house to call Sean, or just steal a car and drive as far away as she could? How did Vicky manage to pick the exact moment to stand by Leila with the gun to her head just as Leila broke free of her restraints? (Imagine the awkward scene: Vicky standing there waiting for 10 minutes tapping her watch impatiently until Leila is finally free). Not to mention the ridiculous coincidence of Sean’s phone losing battery power right at the moment Leila called.
And how is it that Sean was able to access the FBI database via Wi-Fi in this episode, while in the previous one it was stated clearly that it could only be done via the FBI field office? This is the exact kind of flimsy plotting that plagued FlashForward during its run, and it makes my brain melt.
We also got a seemingly non-eventful flashback sequence showing the first time Sean met Leila’s parents. At first I was unsure of these scenes, but the more I think about them, the more I’m starting to see the hidden messages. Notice Sean’s odd reaction to the scotch? And the vagueness with which Sean talked about his folks? Why exactly are Carter and his people so determined to get Sean? I had assumed it was because he was being such a nuisance, but now I think his “heritage” may play into things. I have a theory, but it may be too soon to speculate.
While I disliked most of the episode, there was at least some more crazy stuff going on, with the now awakened plane passengers being held for tests and then suddenly having nasty nosebleeds, not long after creepy rogue ‘alien’Thomas warned the President to release the detainees or ‘this time people will die’.
This episode felt mostly like filler, which is an ugly television word but one I feel applies here. The action was dialled back but the character work didn’t fill in the gaps. By this time in Lost we’d gotten ‘Walkabout’, one of the most amazing episodes of television ever created and one that not only fleshed out a character, but also completely changed the way we saw the previous episodes. It may be a little unfair to compare anything to Lost, especially when it was in its prime (or one of its primes), but it doesn’t exactly bode well for the promise of character development in The Event if more of this is what we have in store. We’re still only in episode four so I have high hopes things will improve, but this was one of the few times I’m finding myself agreeing with the negative comments this show has been receiving. B-
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