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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Event: "I Know Who You Are"

Illustration for article titled The Event: "I Know Who You Are"
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The problem with a hiatus, especially for a serialized show like The Event, is not only that the audience forgets what was going on in the story, but that some of them will realize that maybe they just don’t care that much. As much of a step in the right direction as “Loyalty” was, the extra week off between episodes eroded the good will the show had started to build with me. For a show positioned as a worthy heir to both Lost and 24, NBC certainly hasn’t learned from the scheduling follies both shows encountered before finally realizing that airdate gaps kill momentum. It would be one thing if this episode had kept up the quality. But in addition to having my enthusiasm broken by the week off, “I Know Who You Are” was a frustrating follow-up to the prior episode’s series apex. This is to say nothing of that devastatingly stupid final shot, which we’ll get to in a moment assuming I have the energy, which I can’t guarantee.

This was The Event’s second crack at following the Lost model of flashback-based character development. While I’m the first to admit that the reason “Loyalty” was so strong was precisely because it hewed so closely to the Lost template, I’m not totally comfortable with this becoming the rule rather than the exception. For one thing, I was a big fan of Lost, and it would irritate me to see The Event rip it off with such glee week after week. But beyond that, the nature of this show prevents the device from working as well as it did on Lost. Lost was a show about fate and predestination; its characters were on the island for a reason, even if we didn’t know what it was initially, but it made sense that their pre-island memories mirrored and informed their post-crash experiences. The Event doesn’t deal with these themes, so to regularly have characters with past experiences that just so happen to dovetail with the plot feels terribly contrived. I can only hope this won’t be a trend, but it seems as though the writers have decided this is the way forward.

It is, at least, an opportunity for the show’s cast to show off in a way that the first batch of plot-heavy, character-light episodes didn’t have room for. Despite its legion of flaws, The Event was able to attract such acting talent as Blair Underwood, Zeljko Ivanek, and Clifton Collins, Jr. and though the new format is uncomfortably derivative, giving these actors the room to stretch out and inhabit their characters a bit is a positive side effect. This week’s episode focused on Ivanek’s Blake Sterling, who we learn has doubted his ability to read people, ever since being swept off his feet by a woman who wound up being a Russian spy. The story itself was a bit rickety, but it allowed for a great scene in which Sterling confronted her and gave her an opportunity to run away with him if there was any chance, however slim, that she would choose her love for him over her allegiance to her country. She didn’t take it, and instead wound up on the business end of Sterling Senior’s pistol.

This all came flooding back to him as he tried to get to the bottom of the field team mole that allowed Thomas and Sophia to escape into the abandoned building, which collapsed with “between 15 and 30” agents still trapped inside. Part of what excited me about “Loyalty” was the idea of Simon as a man without a country, having been exposed as a mole only after turning his back on Thomas and Sophia. I probably shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up, though, because instead of going this route, the writers decided to go the tidy route and frame Sterling’s right-hand man for stealing the isotope and using it to facilitate Sophia’s escape. Now, we all know it doesn’t make a lick of sense that Murphy would have brought the leak to Sterling’s attention if Murphy himself was the leak, and also that Murphy can’t be at the command center and at the coffee shop dispersing the isotope simultaneously. But this is the route they chose.

Worse still was the Sean and Leila stuff, which increasingly feels like it was plucked out of an entirely different show and dropped into this one. Remember when Sean was essentially the main character? The closest thing to an emotional core amid what were otherwise a bunch of exposition robots? Now, Sean is the character I am least interested in. Weeks ago, I complained that Sean’s plot seemed too removed from the rest of the action. He wanted to get his girlfriend back, and now that he has her, he wants to help her find her sister and father. But this is only tangentially related to everything else going on, even in spite of Madeline Crazypants’ attempts to link the two together. Look, it’s not the worst thing in the world to have characters splashing around in a disparate storyline. If it was, nobody would watch Dexter. But man, when that story is this gobsmackingly dumb, it’s hard to forgive. Sean, Leila, and Crazypants find a lead, a code of some sort that Sean thinks he can crack if he can get access to some technobabbly thing. Madeline’s friend informs them that the code is names of young girls around Samantha’s age who have also gone missing. Girls who now live in a playroom and wear old lady masks they bought for a pretty penny in a Twilight Zone charity auction. That’s the final reveal. Seriously The Event, fuck you sometimes. Not all the time, but definitely fuck you this time.

Stray observations:

  • Hal Holbrook finally emerged as the Big Bad, which is nice because I feel like I’m starting to get a handle of who the different factions are. Though the scene with D.B. Sweeney and Holbrook was just painfully written.
  • The Buchanan house was in Atlanta? I almost would prefer if all of this had taken place in the same city.
  • Sophia is Thomas’s mother. What does this mean to the EBEs? Is this a literal thing?