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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Brink: “There Will Be Consequences”

Illustration for article titled iThe Brink/i: “There Will Be Consequences”
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What’s left to say about this season of The Brink? It’s a show that wanted to be both a Strangelove-esque satire of global politics and a broad farce about three unsuspecting heroes trying to stop nuclear war, and didn’t quite succeed at either. It privileged plot over character every single week, and as a result, the series’ three main characters have remained as static and sketchy as when they were introduced. It’s technically a comedy, but despite a handful of chuckle-worthy lines and the occasional funny scene, it rarely delivered the laughs necessary to swallow the constant table-setting, the awkward narrative choices, or the overly-flattering depiction of its protagonists. But by all accounts, The Brink achieves exactly what it sets out to do, and if you’ve been on board with the series since the beginning, I’m sure “There Will Be Consequences” was a satisfying ending. For the rest of us who found The Brink a tiresome bore too risk-adverse to be anything but mediocre, the season finale was shrug-worthy from beginning to end.

“There Will Be Consequences” picks up where we left off last week: Zeke and Glenn are dispatched to blow the combat aircraft carrying a nuclear missile heading to Israel out of the sky; Talbot and Rafiq desperately try to convince Zaman to recall the pilot; and Larsen plays diplomat and attempts to keep China, Russia, India, and Israel from starting yet another nuclear conflict. Though there are a couple “twists” during the proceedings—Zaman kills himself with Talbot’s gun after ordering the pilot(s) to follow through with their mission and the original aircraft turns out to be a decoy with the nuke actually lying in an aircraft tanker on a suicide mission—but it mostly goes as expected. Zeke and Glenn succeed in stopping the nuke from getting near Tel Aviv; Larsen succeeds in convincing the nations of the world to just trust him and not panic about the impending nuclear winter; and Talbot and Rafiq…well, they didn’t convince Zaman of anything, but they relayed crucial info to Larsen, I guess, and they’re friends again, so they come out on top as well. In short, it all goes according to plan. Nuclear war has been avoided. Our heroes win. All is right in the world.


What’s most surprising about “There Will Be Consequences” is that it ends with a victorious whimper and a note of cynical inevitability. Zeke and Glenn land in Eritrea after ejecting from their plane and walk off into the distance with their Boner Dude artifact in tow. After being informed that Pakistan is safe, Talbot and Rafiq…also walk off into the distance bantering away as usual. And Larsen is going to go have sex with his wife because, by his estimation, it’s sexual inadequacy that makes leaders “bomb the shit out of brown people.” Our three protagonists’ stories just abruptly end as soon as their contribution to the plot has been fulfilled. It’s as if everyone involved with The Brink just collectively shrugged and placed that sentiment into its ending.

But then, The Brink ends with a scene of an Eritrean boy finding the untouched nuclear missile from the Pakistani tanker in the desert. We then cut to a mysterious group of armed men hauling the missile into their van and driving off with it. It’s a muted scene, but its power lies in suggestion, and it’s here that The Brink makes its most worthwhile statement in ten weeks on the air without using any words: As long as countries play fast and loose with their nuclear arsenals, crises like this one will keep happening, because sooner or later, these weapons will land in the wrong hands. The cycle will continue over and over again because no one in power learns from their own mistakes, and everyone is too eager and willing to go to war just so they can prove their might. Everyone has blood on their hands and it’s only when we’re willing to take a long, hard look at our actions will we be able to wash it off. Just don’t hold your breath that that will happen any time soon.


It’s that moment that makes me even more disappointed with The Brink’s debut season. The Brink had the opportunity to make some insightful statements about the state of global affairs through satire and farce. It could have targeted America’s post-9/11 foreign policy and taken to task the ineffectual leaders in whom we place our trust. It’s that last scene that proves to me they could have adopted a more nuanced approach to the subject matter. Instead, the series embraced a broad, shallow depiction of geopolitical relations, taking easy snipes at obvious targets and poking our leaders in the sides rather than going for the jugular. The Brink was content with ambling along without much urgency, even though it’s a series about an urgent nuclear crisis, while making cheeky comments about our world along the way. It’s a damn shame that The Brink didn’t take the sentiment of its last scene to heart from the very beginning.

Stray Observations:

  • Classic Rock Song of the Week: “Boom Boom” by The Animals.
  • Season MVPs: Pablo Schreiber and Eric Ladin, because they were the only ones who locked into a really broad comedic register that fit the series’ tone, and because they seemed like they were having the most fun out of the entire cast.
  • In the most infuriating turn in this episode, Carla Gugino shows up to emotionally support Tim Robbins’ character and to get eaten out by him. Her last line is literally, “I’d rather you just went down on me again.” She deserves a medal for showing up and delivering that insulting line.
  • The same goes for Maribeth Monroe, who performed admirably in another thankless role.
  • The undisclosed bunker is located 200 feet below a Neiman Marcus in Virginia. Cool.
  • The hockey team got their picture with the President. Cool.
  • Apparently, North Korea has spies working at Google. Cool.
  • “We have a sub off the Pakistani coast.” “What? How’d you sneak that through the Suez?” “You did hear me when I said it was a submarine, right?”
  • “Right? [It] makes us feel crappy and lowers our self-esteem. And how do we deal with that? Me: Weed. You: Genocide. It’s not healthy, and it doesn’t solve our problems, does it?”
  • Thanks to anyone for sticking with these reviews, and I hope y’all enjoyed The Brink more than I did.

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