There is such a thing as a forgivable logical inconsistency or plot hole in a television show. Even when there is no explanation or alternate theory that smooths out the narrative indiscretion, I can write a pass when I feel like the story has gotten somewhere interesting as a result. There have been many such holes or sloppy choices in The Event, and the reason the show hasn’t lived up to the promise of its pilot is because so often the show wants you to accept storytelling flaws that don’t even yield anything good. The early episodes were like a chain story written by a group of people more interested than screwing and outdoing each other than collaborating harmoniously, and who zealously skim the prior chapters rather than actually reading them. I still get the feeling watching tonight’s episode that The Event has no actual writers’ room, that the writer of the next episode gets the script for the previous episode dropped on the doorstep and has to do the best he or she can. But for the first time, “Loyalty,” the best episode yet, left me feeling like there’s an interest in telling a terrific story rather than simply piling on twist after twist because they can.
Because I enjoyed the episode so much, I was able to grant immunity to the initial logical slip-up: the idea that Sophia would be allowed to go wherever she pleased with absolutely no visual monitoring whatsoever. Given the technological capabilities the EBEs (as I’m now partial to calling them) have demonstrated, it would stand to reason that dosing Sophia with the radioactive isotope might be a great idea in need of an equally great contingency plan. When Simon swipes some of the isotope and spikes the coffee-shop creamer with it, suddenly there are red dots all over the place and Sophia is rendered invisible. Then, and only then, does anyone think to send in agents to locate her or monitor security cameras to keep track of her whereabouts. I’m half-tempted to watch some scenes of Operation Blackbriar from The Bourne Ultimatum as a just-for-laughs comparison with The Event’s Bad News Bears intelligence gatherers.
It ultimately worked for me, though, as part of Simon Lee’s arc for the episode. After weeks of sort of trying to mimic Lost, “Loyalty” represented the first full-blown imitation of Lost’s episodic formula (right down to the whooshes), and to admirable effect. It obviously wasn’t original, but it delivered in just the same way. It deepened my understanding of a character I didn’t know or care that much about while delivering some emotionally powerful moments. Once Simon has figured out an escape plan for Sophia, he thinks he’s wriggled out of another noose, until Sterling’s aide concludes it has to be an inside job and goes to test Simon’s field team for traces of the isotope. Because I don’t completely trust The Event, even when I’m enjoying it, I was nervous that Sterling’s aide might honor Simon’s request to test his own men. But not so fast…Simon needs to be tested too. So Simon naturally panics, wallops Ol’ Boy with the suitcase and tosses him in a trunk.
Throughout the episode, we see the emotional toll that six decades of this kind of improvisation has had on Simon. A decade after the crash, he’s settled in Venice Beach, madly in love with a beach bunny named Violet. He wants to stay with her, to marry her, to build a life with her, but Thomas tracks him down and commands him to move on. People will get suspicious, naturally, when they notice that he’s barely aged years down the line. He leaves her, as he’s probably had to do several times with several lives, all in the interest of doing whatever it takes to help Thomas protect the EBEs and get them home. After finishing up at the CIA academy, he runs into Violet, who remembers him even in her advanced age. Yes, yes, I know, he just so happens to run into the love of his very long life on the other side of the country. But I forgave it, because I so enjoyed the scene in which he had to pretend he didn’t recognize her, while trying to savor the moment of being reunited with her as long as he could. I don’t often mention the acting on this show (for good reason), but I thought Ian Anthony Dale sold this moment. He comes back to her when she’s in the hospital, nearing death, telling her how if it was up to him they would have married and had children. “It was up to you,” she replies, not having lost her ability to shame with the rest of her cognitive functions.
In the moment of decision, torn between helping his fellow agents and jumping with Sophia and Thomas down some dark hole in an abandoned building, Simon chooses to help his friends before the building gets sucked into a crazy EBE light vortex. The cliffhanger implies that he might be lost in the rubble after the building collapses. He won’t be, natch, but the façade he’s built is in just as many pieces as the building, seeing as how Sterling’s aide is still stuck in the trunk of a car and he’s thumbed his nose at his own people. I am now invested in you, Simon Lee.
I'm still not as wrapped up in the Sean and Leila story, but there were some interesting developments. Sean, Leila and Collier were holed up in a motel interrogating an injured D.B. Sweeney, who naturally won’t talk. Now that Leila is safe, they’ve got a new mission to find her little sister Samantha, who is still apparently in the custody of the bad guys. Leila is also galvanized by Sweeney’s suggestion that her father wasn’t chosen for the Coral Gables mission by accident. So off Sean and Leila go back to the Buchanan home to gather up clues. Why would they separate from Collier? I dunno. Why would that crime scene of all crime scenes be totally unmonitored? Don’t know that either. Why would an exhaustive dossier about Inostranka be in essentially the first place Leila looked? Look, whatever, I don’t have the answers, okay? But it happened. And just when they were getting into the juicy parts, in storms Madeline Jackson, a gun-toting disgraced former journalist who talks with the speed and content of a schizophrenic, which is how we know she’s right about everything.
I really didn’t care for Sean’s incredulity, and I just didn’t feel like it tracked, given the few days he’s had, and the consequences he's suffered as a result of people not listening to him when he sounded completely batty. Sure, maybe taking a hard right into American consumerism didn’t lend gravitas to Madeline’s speech, but considering she did show up to Leila’s house mere moments after they did, you’d think he would be a little more apt to listen to what she has to say. But whatever, she reiterates that Sophia’s people are aliens, and says that Michael was chosen for the mission because he had accidentally spotted the Inostranka facility after being rerouted during one of his flights. Not sure what any of this means quite yet, but I love Paula Malcomson so I’m going to give it a shot.
Even given the relative weakness of the Sean/Leila stuff, I’m almost entirely back on board with this thing. Anyone else?
- I love the maternal dynamic of Sophia’s relationship with Thomas. She’s way pissed that he nearly killed the 514 passengers, but she’s still so happy to see him.
- One thing that’s still bugging me is that I feel like I have no understanding of how many factions are involved here. There are the EBEs, the government, and another shadowy group of which D.B. Sweeney is a part?
- Seems as though someone should be able to clear Sean of his murder charges at this point. Hell, he’s the guy who hacked into the whosy-whatsy backdoor mainframe government interface router, you’d think he could do it himself.
- I really liked the glossy handheld look of the sequence when Simon is rescuing the officer from the collapsing building.
- No new episodes for two weeks. See you on the 8th of November!