Entertainment Magazine

Review #2483: The Event 1.18: “Strain”

Posted on the 27 April 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie
Directed by Michael Watkins

At this point, I have to wonder if “The Event” really knows what kind of show it is. It wanted to be a show about aliens and a global conspiracy, which didn’t jive with network expectations. The writers have had to simplify and change elements to try and staunch the bleeding of viewers, turning it essentially into an NBC version of “24″. Sean, as proven in this episode, is a less-qualified version of Jack Bauer. There is rather ridiculous intrigue at the White House with an odd coup and internal conflict. And there remains the new threat of a superweapon in the form of a biological agent to be released on the human population. To say the show has sunken to a new low is one thing; to say it’s become wildly derivative is something else entirely.

Review #2483: The Event 1.18: “Strain”

The situation with the President largely reflects the overall feelings I have about the series right now. It’s not a very good impression. Built on my previous feeling that the Martinez-Jarvis administration is totally weak, I have to say that I couldn’t get into the crisis of Martinez being poisoned. It may have something to do with the fact that the previous episode had a cliffhanger with an ending shot on a coffee cup. As if they didn’t make things subtle enough, the proceedings in the Situation Room are dragged out with various shots of silent, but nervous, looks at the cup from Vice President Jarvis up until Martinez ingests the poison and reacts to it. He manages to sneak one last look of suspicion at Jarvis before he goes to the floor.

We know Martinez will survive this so all of the suspense is sucked out of the situation. Not only do I know he will survive, but he manages to properly convey his suspicion of Jarvis to Sterling after suffering a mild stroke. Everything makes Jarvis a nervous wreck and the one thing I liked about the episode was Blake’s efforts to prove that Jarvis poisoned the President. It becomes really goofy at times (running into the cleaning crew; a second straight ridiculous cliffhanger with the coffee stain on Sterling’s shirt), but Jarvis is such a loathsome, weak puppet of a politician that the sole victory this show may grant in the end is Sterling finally taking him down. One hopes the writers come up with something better than what was presented here. Of course, if they can’t even get something like invoking the 25th Amendment right (there’s no vote from the Cabinet necessary, people), that hope is dim.

All of that may prove moot if Sophia truly gets her way. The “superweapon” released from the depths of Siberia is a biological agent on the level of the “Spanish flu” from the early 20th century. That was certainly one of the more deadly ways to kill a mass population, though I sense it would have to be on a larger scale than one frozen body to kill a third of the current human population. It’s a particularly nasty way to die (and the icky shots of the autopsy made sure to prove that) and the speed with which Sean figured everything out on the ship made me wonder why he isn’t placed on the President’s staff, many of whom have no idea what Sophia is planning.

It was also difficult to get into Sophia’s head space in this episode. She’s willing to kill two billion humans, but has sympathy for poisoning the President? You can’t have the character go one way (ice cold supervillain) and stay the other way (alien with a sliver of humanity). The show seems to have Sophia do just that within ten seconds in this episode. Of course, the aliens are now 24′s version of terrorists so it’s hard to take any of what they do seriously. Demolishing the Washington Monument as a threat lasted a very little amount of time on the show. A biological threat has more permanence, but can we trust that the writers will deliver what is needed by the end? It’s so late in the game that I wonder whether that will happen.

I have to say now that if it weren’t for the fact that I chose to cover this series from the beginning for Critical Myth, I would have probably cut ties with it long ago. There isn’t much to redeem about the show and I tune most things out if they weren’t so ridiculous. This episode demonstrated much of what has been frustrating for me. They are running out of time to resolve the story, yet characters spend time moving things into place. Why is all of this filler necessary? They dragged out the mystery of the biological agent, seemingly for the gross-out factor, when they should get moving into the resolution phase of the season. The problem is that the other parts of the show are so inherently uninteresting that the writers seem stuck in the mud with what to do. I throw my hands up in the air with this show more than any other that’s being watched right now. That’s not saying much, unfortunately.

Grade: 5/10


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