After a week away, “The Event” returns with “I Know Who You Are,” and with the kitchen sink in tow, giving us an episode full of dramatic explosions, alien portals, Russian spies and, who can forget, mutant elderly little girls. I’m reminded of that “Simpsons” bit where Burt Reynolds describes the ludicrous plot of his new movie before nonchalantly adding: “It’s garbage!” Seriously, this shit is garbage. About the best thing I can say is that at least now “The Event” is descending into the sort of bad you laugh at and have a bit of fun with.
[Full recap of Monday’s (Nov. 8) “The Event” after the break…]
Throughout the season one of my biggest pet peeves with “The Event” has been the poorly conceived, poorly written and outright terribly executed band of bad guys chasing down Sean and Leila. This week we finally learn a little more about them, and I almost regret all the bad things I’ve said about these people in the past, as I fear it might cheapen the vitriol I now have in store for them. Apparently a dying Hal Holbrook is behind all the evil shenanigans, and as best I can tell his plot involves utilizing the aliens’ (or “EBE,” as the show very emphatically reminds us is the correct term) DNA to extend his own life. It’s all hilariously terrible, but more on that later.
We’re still not exactly sure what value Sean Walker has for Holbrook’s crew. I had assumed Sean knew something they didn’t want getting back to the president, but at this point you’d think Sean would have brought up whatever knowledge he has in hopes that it might aid his and Leila’s investigation. Somehow Sean got from his cruise ship to Mike’s airplane, but after seven episodes “The Event” still hasn’t filled in that gap, and whatever went down doesn’t strike Sean as important enough to mention to Leila or the conspiracy nuts who are helping him find his in-laws. Yet for some reason these bad guys still feel the need to commit mass murder in an attempt to take Sean down (in the process pushing him closer and closer to meaningful information.).
We’re reminded again and again just how powerful these villains are, and yet inexplicably shown again and again just how inconceivably terrible they are at their jobs. After their last attempt to take Sean down was thwarted by a well-timed text message, Holbrook remains convinced that assault rifles and mass murder are the best option to keep his evil plans on the down low, so this time he sends an entire SWAT team to kill Sean and Leila. Five minutes later the SWAT boys are all dead, victims of an apartment-self-destruct device left by the Obi-Wan Kenobi of computer hacking that’s helping out Sean and his crew (this guy seemingly knows everything, what with his contacts in the “intelligence community,” and all, but for some reason Sean remains the bad guys’ primary target.) After dramatic music leads to a dramatic explosion, Sean and Leila’s new-found friends disappear into the ether, ostensibly because the show’s plot presently has no use for them (maybe they’re hanging out with Agent Collier.)
Honestly “The Event” reminds me of the science fiction stories I used to write when I was kid; every time I wrote myself into a corner I’d just concoct some device that did whatever the hell I wanted it to. Who cares about progression or development when you can just plug in a short cut? This is how “The Event” works. It doesn’t demonstrate its characters’ virtues or competencies in any way we can relate to; it just declares them and hopes we go along with it.
Thomas (who we learn this week is Sophia’s son) is the best (read: worst) example of this. We never see him behave like a genius or put his cunning to on-screen use, we’re simply told of all his impressive attributes and shown the results. He has awesome technology and therefore can do whatever he wants; he can walk into hospitals and, unimpeded by any sort of security, sabotage a blood test ordered by the White House that would crack open a conspiracy at the highest level of government; he’s fabulously wealthy because his fancy alien math allows him to predict the markets; he’s the man behind both the Manhattan Project and Warren Buffet (no, seriously).
None of this actually jives with the character we see on screen, just like how the Sean Walker we normally see doesn’t jive with the times he randomly becomes Jack Bauer. Thomas and Holbrook are powerful for the same reason that Sean’s periodically an action hero: because the writers say so. I don’t care about any of it because I don’t believe any of it. I’m pretty sure I could run an evil organization better than Holbrook does, and at this point they might as well just say that Thomas is a wizard, or have him pull out an ACME gadget from some Sunday morning cartoon that lets him do whatever he wants. “The Event” just expects us to go along with these things without ever giving us a reason to want to. Don’t get me wrong: I’m perfectly willing to go along with just about any flight of fancy, but the show still has to earn it. This is just outright lazy writing.
In the episode’s other plot line, we’re given a bunch of dull political intrigue as Blake searches for the government’s mole, gets dressed down by President Martinez (only to later share a beer with him) and is tricked by Thomas into exonerating Agent Lee. Once upon a time “The Event” was doing its own thing with its time-jumping structure, moving back-and-forth through an episode’s events in incomprehensible five-minute intervals. It was a terrible device I wanted to see put to rest, but I’d still prefer it to the out-and-out “Lost” format the show currently has going on. “I Know Who You Are” is a Blake episode, and we learn about his past (and daddy issues) with a back story about the woman he loved and who turned out to be a Russian spy. After her inevitable murder (performed by Blake’s father, but that Blake himself takes credit for), Blake becomes a hardened and suspicious man, who yearns for the torture of anyone who’s disloyal. The idea here is that watching Zeljko Ivanek cry will add some depth to his entirely cliche and type-cast role. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t work.
But, in a return to the format of the show’s first few episodes, “I Know Who You Are” is all about the big reveal. We’re told earlier that Holbrook, as powerful as he is, is not pushing a political agenda. What he is doing is providing “The Event” with an outlet to ape “The X-Files” as much as it does “Lost” and “24.” The closing shot reveals the master plan: Holbrook is turning young girls (Leila’s sister seemingly to be next) into hideously mutated elderly little girls. We’re not told why exactly, quite yet, but I imagine it has something to do with him wanting to use alien DNA to live longer. The only way to accomplish this, of course, is to turn little girls into grotesquely deformed lab experiments (maybe Holbrook objects to using stem cells in his research, on religious grounds–he’s not a monster, after all.)
I laughed for a good while after this scene, and who knows, maybe that was the intention. I’m terrible at recognizing camp. Either way “The Event” is quickly losing any semblance of a serious show, but, hey, when so much of the series has been mundane and boring, I’m certainly not going to complain if they decide to go balls-to-the-wall ridiculous. Of course, I suspect the scene was supposed to be genuinely creepy, and “The Event” will return and be all serious. In which case, I repeat my earlier point: it’s garbage.