Recap: ‘The Event’ – ‘A Matter of Life and Death’

10.12.10 6 years ago 5 Comments

NBC

I have made no secret of my general distaste for “The Event,” but I nonetheless go into each week hoping for the best, and ready to extend the show some benefit of the doubt. Part of this is because I’d rather not watch terrible television, and part of it is because I genuinely cheer for almost all art to be good; even if it’s not a show for me, I’ve wanted “The Event” to live up to its potential and offer something decent to its fans. But at this point, sadly, my patience and good will are wearing awfully thin. Within the first couple minutes of tonight’s episode, “A Matter of Life and Death,” I was ready to throw my hands in the air and declare this series a lost cause.

[Full recap after the break…]

It was such a simple thing that really pissed me off: the balls-to-the-wall psychotic dude chasing down beleaguered Sean Walker shoots some poor schmo who was just trying to get into his damn vehicle to death. And it’s not that you’d think this ill-fated idiot would have been warded off by the sounds of honking car alarms, squealing tires and multiple gun shots that had filled the indoor echo-chamber of a parking garage moments earlier that annoys me. Nor is it that you’d think such a powerful and evil secret agent would have a better and more inconspicuous way of stealing a car than cold-blooded murder. Rather, it pissed me off because it was the perfect distillation of all the unnecessary bullshit cluttering every episode of “The Event,” and an indication of just how disposable everything that happens in the show truly is. (Last week’s car accident was a great example of this, too, but at least it pushed the plot forward in some, albeit terrible, way.)

I don’t expect “The Event” to be stylistically pithy, or anything, but this show features far too much clutter to accomplish so little.  Why does the bad guy shoot that dude? Why does the show feel it important we know which seats the revived passengers were sitting in? What’s with that “Silence of the Lambs” style fake out making us think Sean and Collier were approaching Vicky’s house? I felt a terrible moment of solidarity with President Martinez when he asks, “Why do this? To what end?” You’ve got me, Mr. President.

When the stone-faced psychopath starts catching up to Sean and Collier in his newly acquired, and inexplicably bashed up vehicle, it occurred to me that I might be enjoying the scene if the character’s name was Anton Chigurh and he was being played by Javier Bardem. It was certainly surreal, only in an incredibly stupid way. The rest of the episode isn’t any better, as we watch Sean Walker become the only guy in the entire show actually capable of accomplishing anything.

The Jack-Bauer-going-rogue formula got mighty old in the later years of “24,” but at least it always made some semblance of sense in the show’s universe. Jack was either wanted for all the crimes he committed or unable to trust the government for some reason or another. It was silly, but with Jack, we could believe it. I have a much harder time getting behind Sean Walker’s vague, trust-no-one notion that it’s unsafe to contact anyone and deciding to go it alone with Agent Collier (worst FBI agent ever) to topple the evil organization trying to kill the President. We’re supposed to care about Sean as a lovable computer nerd who just really loves his girlfriend (that part’s fine, mostly due to how damn likable Jason Ritter is), but we’re also supposed to buy Sean becoming Jack Bauer and taking the lead of his new duo. That’s the part that’s just silly.

Sure, the bad guys are powerful, but I refuse to believe that Collier would be unable to find some kindred spirits who might be involved in the investigation into, you know, the mass murder of an entire FBI field office worth of government agents. I’d imagine she’d even consider it her professional obligation. But no, now she’s listening to whatever Sean tells her, because he’s just that kind of leader of men. Why? Because the writers say so. 

This week the time jumping gives us a Sean-meets-Leila’s-family flashback that basically serves as a Lost-style back story, only where nothing happens. It doesn’t really reflect on the characters in any new way (except that we learn Sean has daddy issues), and basically just repeats a point already made (Sean’s a sweet guy!). I did enjoy one moment, after Leila’s dad offers Sean a drink, and Ritter perfectly captures the split second where he pretends not to be disgusted by the taste of the rare Scotch. (We see a close up of the bottle’s label, so maybe this particular brand of Scotch–”Natape”–will resurface in the future. Or maybe it’s a “Lost” reference. Or maybe it’s just yet another thing the show throws in for no reason.)

As for the rest of the episode, and the progression of the show’s mythology…who cares? I mean really, the plane disappears, and then we find the passengers dead. But then they’re not dead! But now they may be dying again. Last week I had hoped that the big coming-to-life twist was something conceptually interesting, but now I’m gravely disappointed, as it was just Thomas’ latest example of how bad-ass cool his technology is. Leila also runs around in a circle: she escapes, only not really, as she’s just playing into Vicky’s cop-killing master plan (and yet Sean and Collier are the only people looking for this person). Vice President Jarvis makes the shocking observation that Zeljko Ivanek’s character is a tad bit shifty, but even he doesn’t seem particularly invested in that boring, boring storyline.

Meanwhile, Sophia kills one of her own to keep the truth from President Martinez, but then a half-assed speech for the President gets her to start talking. I’m starting to question both her competency and the the President’s. I say President Martinez has no grounds upon which to complain about Sophia withholding information from him now when he was previously willing to release her with nary a question about her origins asked. (“Hey, what’s your home planet like!?” may have been a good start, Elias.) The closest thing to substance in any of this is that we find out Sophia’s a vegan. Well, that, and the show reminds us yet again that it’s really trying to say something about immigration and America’s attitude toward foreigners, because we clearly weren’t able to pick up on the whole Guantanamo reference, or that the show is set in Texas, Arizona and Miami.

I appreciate that the episode doesn’t finish off with yet another attempt to top its string of pseudo-payoff reveals, but you’d think it could leave us with something better than the bad guys waiting for tech-genius Sean to overcome his low-battery issues so that they can nab him. Vicky and Carter are terrible villains (I’m pretty sure someone told D.B. Sweeney to play Carter as a wholly uninteresting and not-at-all-as-awesome version of Ira Gaines from the first season of “24”), and I really can’t wait until we get past the middle men of this storyline. I’ll give the writers credit for attempting to provide Vicky some shred of humanity by having Sean discover her child (a scene Ritter actually kind of makes work), but I reserve my praise for when we see this nuance in the actual character.

This is all to say: I didn’t like it. “A Matter of Life and Death” is the worst episode of “The Event” so far, and frequently crosses the line separating plain-old boring and actively terrible. This time, when I say that I hope “The Event” improves next week, I actually have hope that it will do so. If only because it would be hard to do otherwise

What’d you think of “A Matter of Life and Death”?

 

 

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