The Event – “Cut Off the Head”

“Cut Off the Head” is the latest episode of the enjoyably frustrating show, The Event. In this one, the actions of the non-terrestrials gets a little less mysterious, the President’s wife is almost but not quite caught out as a sleeper agent, a recurring character blows his own head off, and a plot is set in motion to kill someone. I can’t say this one is better or worse than the run of the series, but I will use this opportunity to review the entire series as a whole.I was jazzed about The Event when I first downloaded an extended promo on my Playstation. A show with a puzzle right in the name? Awesome! (Remember the fluttery feeling of awesome when you learned what “The Silence of the Lambs” meant? I wanted that feeling again.) It promised to be a high production value melding of two cutting edge, now iconic shows: 24 and Lost. Now that’s an ambitious goal, one that they have just not reached.

First, there’s the 24 aspect of the show. There’s an extremely resourceful central character, Sean Walker (played very well by Jason Ritter), who has a loved one in jeopardy and is on the run from the law. Sean is a different breed of hero from Jack Bauer. Sean is extremely moral, and instead of bullets, uses his wits (and some mad haxxing skillz) to seek out his lost girlfriend. The problem with Sean is that they ran out of ways to have him be effectual and moral at the same time. So, now he’s toting a gun and torturing people. Also, he saved his girlfriend, who he then abandoned (?) and went off to “bring down the man behind all of this”. Why is he doing this? Is he exacting vengeance? Is it justice? Is he trying to clear his besmirched name? Uh… I don’t know. I just know his name is the first in the credits, so he has to have something to do.

Also like 24, there’s a black Commander in Chief in the White House, surrounded by (a) a morally questionable National Security Advisor, (b) a conniving Vice President, (c) a moderately creepy Senator from Alaska, and (d) a suspicious wife. It’s like every season of 24 all wrapped up into one. Unfortunately, the focus keeps shifting this way and that in the political stuff. There’s no sustained threat.

On the other hand, there are the Lost aspects of the show. Sophia is the cultish leader of a group that’s been called “detainees”, “sleepers”, and now “non-terrestrials”. We know they have DNA that is 98% human. We know they have preternatural lifespans. And we know that we don’t know why they came here in the first place. Like the Others from Lost, the NTs are working for a (seemingly) virtuous goal, at least from their perspective, but a series of bad choices and worse luck puts them on a collision course with the US government, leading to a bunch of deaths on both sides. And now it’s WAR! This aspect of the show, the gamesmanship between factions, is handled the best of anything. There are “good” NTs and bad ones. There are “good” humans and bad ones.

I was convinced, before the long hiatus the show took mid year, that the sleepers are actually human, but that they came back in time from a far distant future. That would explain their similar DNA, their long lifespans, and their caginess about their origin. But then, after the break, they started talking about “their planet” and one character even gave it a galactic code name. So, after all of that, they’re just aliens? BORING. I think some suit said that the time travel thing was too freaky, and they forced a mid-season correction.

On top of that, the mysterious and possibly evil, Dempsey character (played by an ancient Hal Holbrook) was introduced as a guy trying to gain some sort of advantage (immortality?) by doing terrifying experiments on the children of the sleepers… but after the course correction, he’s a sentinel, tasked with protecting Earth from the NTs? And then, convinced of Sean’s fateful importance, he… KILLS HIMSELF?

Worst of all, now the NTs have changed their plan. It was never made clear what the original plan was, but now they want to wipe out humanity so that all of their people can be brought to Earth, because their sun is about to go nova. (Okay, that’s a great idea, but shoehorning it in here is annoying.) What this means is that there may never be a realistic explanation of what the name of the show means! One of the NTs referred to “the event” in the first couple of episodes. So, is that “event” no longer going to happen, because they changed their plans? Will we learn what is was? Will there be a new “event”?

I still have some hope that the NTs will be revealed as time travelers. That would renew my faith in this show. Though, I have to admit, faith or not, I’m hooked by the ongoing combination of “wow, that was cool” and “you’ve got to be kidding me!”

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