Entertainment Magazine

Review #2496: The Event 1.19: “Us Or Them”

Posted on the 04 May 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by David Goodman
Directed by Milan Cheylov

There are no words to describe how much I actually hated this episode. I mean, I actually had a visceral reaction to this. It’s been a while since I watched an hour of television where I just did not like anything that was being presented on the screen. It makes me angry and sad at the same time how far this show has fallen into the depths.

Review #2496: The Event 1.19: “Us or Them”

I’ve been willing to give this show a very long leash since I’ve been sticking with it for so long. This episode makes me question that decision as each minute goes along. I had thought that the one saving grace was Blake being able to take down the puppet Presidency of Raymond Jarvis before it even began, but that didn’t happen. Surprisingly, I disliked Sterling during this hour because he made the really, really stupid decision to confront Jarvis with so little evidence of conspiracy that he was summarily dismissed from the plot with little to no damage to the President at all. The one compelling plot that kept me invested in the series was sabotaged. There is just little hope left for this show. It feels so hollow.

I guess the primary focus of the episode was on Sean and Vicky trying to stop the virus from getting to New York. This is connected to what’s happening in Washington, where Martinez slips into a coma (as predicted from the previous episode), and Jarvis assumes the puppet Presidency that is controlled by Sophia. It seemed like Vicky and Sean actually figured out things for the first time in a long while, then it’s all revealed to be a head-fake. Why the series is wasting time pulling these kinds of stunts so deep into the season demonstrates how completely off kilter the writers have made it to be. This is the bed they’ve made and they’re laying in it.

So Vicky emails her contact within the government, a fighter escort appears beside the flight to secure its path into the country, then it’s called off. It feels like this all occurred within a span of a half hour. I doubt the United States government really works that quickly. The plane lands without incident and Vicky and Sean proceed to chase a flight attendant with the virus in tow. Here’s where the subplot’s wheels fell off. They get into a predictable hostage situation, which wouldn’t have happened if Vicky had shot the flight attendant coming out of the airport. She had multiple chances to take the shot, yet freezes. For what exactly? Vicky’s silence implies there are growing feelings from her to him. There has never been an indication before that she even liked the guy! It’s so awkwardly handled that I was shell-shocked no one died there.

The writers were willing to kill Thomas, and now are willing to kill Michael and possibly President Martinez. Yet, they can’t bring themselves to kill Sean. This demonstrates how messed up the show’s priorities are! Death seems meaningless on this series because I honestly didn’t care or have any emotion when Michael died. He was so poorly defined as a character, one minute a traitor and murderer, the next loyal to Sophia and human genocide. He ended up betraying Sophia, but I wasn’t clear on why he changed his mind.

Leila has nothing to do now but to stand around trying to be righteous and a speech about saving innocent humanity makes Michael change his mind. It’s an odd course in a plot that doesn’t make much sense. Loyalty to Sophia seems to be a really fluid thing these days. Not that she demonstrates any way to earn that blind loyalty. She momentarily freaks out about the virus being discovered and this made me question her intelligence as a leader. Wouldn’t she have some kind of contingency plan for this? Having the Acting President in her pocket (plus blackmailing him) is convenient, but there remains a lot that can go wrong with this plan. Also, why would she be worried about releasing the virus too soon? Is it that she doesn’t want it revealed to the public too soon? To show that she has some pang of regret about the entire plan? These giant plot holes and logic fails could drive some people crazy.

Sterling and Martinez’s Chief of Staff had some kind of plan in place to take down Jarvis. The pieces were put in place, however haphazardly, from the previous episodes. They were slowly building their case, and much of it was compelling. Jarvis is such a weasel and weakling that Sterling was the only remaining hero of this show worth rooting for. So what does Sterling do? He’s presented with circumstantial evidence of an unknown artificial substance in the President’s coffee with little connection of the poisoning to Sophia, yet decides on a whim to confront Jarvis with this information.

Not only is Sterling announcing to Jarvis that he has been investigating him, but he actually pleads with Jarvis to stop what he is doing with Sophia. Jarvis has no soul and so he denies the whole accusation, asks for Sterling to tender his resignation, and throws him out of the White House. How does Sterling come back at the Acting President now? He has no access to the White House and no way to monitor what Jarvis is going to do next. I’m speechless as to the quickness with which this subplot has turned on its head.

All of this happening on the show and I haven’t mentioned how uncomfortable it all felt. “The Event” had the unfortunate happenstance of airing an episode in March that talked about moving nuclear material from a power plant following real life events in Japan. Real life events have bled into the show here as well, with all of the talk about terrorism involving an airplane and wiping out humanity in the episode with America now reviving memories of September 11th and Osama bin Laden’s death. It is definitely not the writers’ intention for all of this to air in such an unfortunate spot, but that is what happened.

None of it has any meaning because it is all fiction, but to have the episode bring up those feelings and memories is not a good thing. Much of it was terrible and without any redeeming quality that I really wished the series would get cancelled. I think I shall get my wish soon, and I would frankly be very surprised if the network kept this abomination of a television show.

Grade: 1/10

******

I can already anticipate some of the reactions to this review. Some will undoubtedly be offended by the incredible low score. However, while I may not have given the episode quite as low a grade in the final analysis (see below for my rating), I have to agree with the overall sentiment. This show simply never found its footing, and unlike other shows that managed to make adjustments and improve, this series only fell apart more and more with each new attempt to shock itself back to life.

For me, “The Event” is the latest abject lesson in poor storytelling. If a production does not have a solid, core understanding of the nature of its story, the purpose of the tale being told, then it is doomed to failure. One can easily look to “Heroes” as a prime example: once the original conceit was dropped to capitalize on initial success, the series died a slow but predictable death.

I said, way back at the beginning of the series, that the unusual format and time-shifting structure was a necessary complication, because it helped to mask the shortcomings in other areas (plot, casting, etc.). Once the time-shifting was dropped, the degradation process began in earnest. Network meddling only hastened the effect. But it proves another maxim that has emerged for all post-”Lost” serialized shows: when mysteries and shock value are placed above character, the audience will not stick with it.

And lest anyone question whether or not Henry’s extreme negativity towards “The Event” reflects the overall opinion of the show here at Critical Myth, I would refer readers to the Critical Myth Podcast, where the panelists and I have gone into great depth regarding the shortcomings of the show as a whole.

For those who are concerned, in the interests of relative completion, Critical Myth will cover “The Event” through the end of the first season. Any plans beyond that point will be decided following announcement of renewal.


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