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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Event: "To Keep Us Safe"

Illustration for article titled The Event: "To Keep Us Safe"
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Before watching this week’s episode of The Event, I was prepared to give some rare appreciation to NBC’s marketing department for crafting a pretty impressive promo for episode two. The promo, with which they blanketed the airwaves, enticed the 11 million viewers who tuned in for the pilot with the reward they thought they would have to wait months, if not years to see: actual answers. Want to know where the plane when after disappearing into a cloud of fairy plasma? We’re about to tell you! This was to be expected, of course. I don’t know that anyone thought Jason Ritter’s plaintive blue eyes would be missing for even one episode, considering his character’s search for the love of his life is the closest thing this clanking robot of a show has to an emotional core. But I think it’s safe to say most people expected to be kept on the hook in some way for at least another couple of weeks about core mysteries, and the promo did a fine job, I thought, of snookering folks into thinking answers were forthcoming. As it turns out, they weren’t snookering at all. “To Keep Us Safe” actually did cough up a good bit of information.

The problem is that the details this episode proffered sapped all the suspense that the pilot managed to build. If The Event was, say, a six-part miniseries, I’d probably think “To Keep Us Safe” was a decent part of it. As part of an open-ended series, meant to last 22 or so episodes for God knows how many years, I was surprised by how deflating it was. Where did the plane go? Yuma, Arizona, of course. Who kidnapped Leila? Some group of nefarious characters apparently led by D.B. Sweeney, and unsurprisingly, involving femme fatale/snorkeling enthusiast Vicky. The biggest mystery of all: what exactly are Sophia and her people incarcerated at Mount Inostranka? Why, they’re aliens of course, who landed in Alaska in 1944 and got split up when the able-bodied fled leaving the injured behind. When I said last week that Martinez’s comments about the release of the prisoners being about “human rights,” I was only correct in so much as Martinez considers them humans. Everyone else in his circle, all of whom seem pretty reasonable to me, seems to think they’re aliens, seeing as how they did come from space and all.

The intent of all this, of course, was to mete out just the right amount of information to keep the audience engaged—an act of good faith—but still keep enough questions outstanding that we want to see more. This is the point at which a polarizing show gets even more polarizing, because whereas last week I was pretty geeked to see what happened next, now I’m not so sure I care anymore. The passengers on the plane managed to make it off wound up dead anyway, after having apparently been put to use of some sort by sinister Hetero sapiens Thomas (Clifton Collins, Jr.) Sean is now in custody of the FBI after being framed for the murder of trustafarian Greg, who’s either involved but was worth sacrificing in order to frame Sean, or just has a really terrible girlfriend. There’s also the question of what exactly the Hetero sapiens are capable of, other than super-slow aging which is impressive but not exactly threatening.

But the fact that the biggest mysteries deal with who is and who isn’t a Hetero sapiens and what exactly they’re capable of disappoints me, simply because it reminds me far too much of V. My interest was slightly piqued by the way the show revealed that Simon was not one of us, but the idea of him as the one out of a species of stoic aliens who has somehow managed to develop a conscience is a painful cliché. At least Morris Chestnut’s character in V managed to get a human pregnant, hinting at a possible crazyface birth scene on par with Breaking Dawn. There isn’t much about knowing what Simon is that makes me anymore interested in him as a character. Hopefully another hook is forthcoming.

Hopefully more hooks are forthcoming generally speaking. The mysteries of The Event with which I’m most consumed make me want to watch the show less, not more. For example, what the hell is wrong with President Martinez? While I understand the backstory, how his Cuban ancestry makes him more sympathetic to the plight of these prisoners, I don’t understand why he seems so weirdly obstinate when presented with the facts. When Blake explains to him that the Hetero sapiens have DNA that is different from ours by 1%, instead of asking what it means, Martinez just rounds up to human? And this is because his pride took over, and he wants to be the man to announce the introduction of an extraterrestrial species into the population? Right, because the country that can’t decide how to feel about border-crossing Mexicans is going to really roll out a warm welcome for space aliens.

And of course, there are more questions lingering from last week about what exactly Sean has to do with any of this. The obvious question from last week was, why is this group that is so powerful and so ruthless also so fond of ridiculously convoluted schemes? Vicky’s involvement in Leila’s kidnapping means that Vicky had to have faked her drowning, you see, because this cabal that wants to keep the aliens secret know that Sean is a really good swimmer, or something, and that he’s also very heroic, so much so that he’d interrupt his proposal to go save her. This all enabled Vicky to get close to them, which was totally necessary, because knocking on the door, shooting Sean in the face and hitting Leila with a tranquilizer dart, while simple, lacks panache. But whatever, let’s say the cabal mounts this elaborate production in order to kidnap Leila. Why is she still alive? Why is Sean? Why do any of these people matter if the original objective of sending a plane into the Presidential retreat was a failure? What’s the value in framing Sean for murder instead of, again, just killing him?  C’mon now, The Event, you gotta meet me halfway here. I should be wondering lots of things at this point, but “Why isn’t this making any sense?” shouldn’t be among my questions.


Stray observations:

  • I’m going to continue referring to Sophia’s people as Hetero sapiens, unless someone has a better idea.
  • Is Leila’s father among the dead? I was left unclear.
  • I was sort of intrigued by Thomas’s line about how teleporting the plane drained the Hetero sapiens’ “resources.”
  • The time jumping will apparently remain a key part of the storytelling, though it didn’t seem quite as intense this week.
  • Denise’s husband was involved in the kidnapping!
  • Yeah, I made a Twilight reference. What of it?