Entertainment Magazine

Review #2536: The Event 1.22: “Arrival”

Posted on the 25 May 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Evan Katz
Directed by James Wong

So “The Event” ends, though without the hollow thud that I was kind of expecting given how the end of the season had been going. It wasted a lot of time tying up the loose ends to three separate plotlines, only to set up the promise of more incoherence. It was really predictable to me, only because the series had used up every convenient action and melodramatic cliche in the book. It felt, at the very end of the episode, like the writers were arrogantly thinking that the network wasn’t going to cancel the show and so left more questions up in the air on the off chance there was a last-minute change of mind somewhere. That didn’t happen, so the episode (and arguably the series itself) is left without a complete resolution. That was essentially the modus operandi of the series in a nutshell: flailing wildly, hoping that something sticks, only to be left with nothing in the end.

Review #2536: The Event 1.22: “Arrival”

I had thought at the end of the previous episode that Leila was going to be left to die. After all, an episode was titled “One Will Live, One Will Die” and we knew that President Martinez was the one to live. Leila was infected with the super-flu so Leila had to be the one to die. They couldn’t quite go through with it, as it turns out. When you can’t even live up to what is promised in a given episode title, there’s a problem. She is saved at the very last minute when our group of heroes calls in a biohazard team. She’s left to once again lay on a flat surface throughout the episode, only to drop this bombshell after all of the chaos was done: she’s pregnant, presumably with Sean’s child. Now, it makes no sense from a plot standpoint given that it’s been a while since Sean and Leila were together (and ironically, makes all of Vicky’s pining and awkward sexual tension between her and Sean moot), but they had to throw it into the series before it was over for melodramatic effect. What is the purpose of Leila being pregnant from a plot standpoint? They never get the opportunity to answer that question. That was only one example of how haphazardly things were plotted on “The Event”, though it seems to be the norm for the series in general.

Blake and company conveniently figure out Sophia’s three-pronged plan to release the virus throughout the world through the computer they acquired. So they relay this information to the still-disabled President, who then works with his Chief of Staff to stop the attacks. Two of the locations are done with remarkable ease (security for the dispersal points seems to not be a primary concern for Sophia) and that leaves Sophia herself to disperse the virus at the Dulles international terminal. I knew it was going to end this way, with Blake and company somehow freely running through the airport (which has really lax security) with guns and shooting at Sophia. All of the mystery that’s been built up to this point comes down to a simple shootout, then Sean begging for Sophia to stop the murder of mankind. Well, since two of the three dispersal sites were stopped, it was really the potential murder of a small fraction of mankind.

While all of that was going on, President Martinez has to find some way to force Jarvis out of his position as Acting President. Everything regarding the interactions between Jarvis and Martinez was so telegraphed beforehand that I was surprised Martinez didn’t walk into the Cabinet Room declaring that he was President again. Jarvis was a foolish choice to be in any kind of position of power to begin with so it stands to reason that he wouldn’t have much of an argument over Martinez, but it took an audio tape of a previous conversation between the two men to bring him down. The show doesn’t even permit the audience any joy in Jarvis’ fall because they moved right into the aftermath of the vote in the Cabinet, having never seen what influence all of the chaos had on the people in the room. The one part of the episode I might have cheered for was Jarvis’ downfall and that was taken away from me. It was really jarring, though it immediately became an afterthought to what happened next. It became proof of how the entire Acting (Puppet) President Jarvis plot was so badly mishandled.

I had to question why Sophia would stop her entire plan. Why not just poison the airport? It would throw a little temporary chaos in the midst of the events occurring on a worldwide scale. Instead, she gets arrested, then is taken into the White House for questioning by President Martinez. Again, it’s a question of convenient timing, as Sophia makes some weird veiled threats and earthquakes violently shake everywhere in the world. The portal opens, and Sophia’s people don’t all come, but rather their entire world comes into the picture. It’s impressive imagery to be sure, as it also echoes the first episode of the series albeit on a much larger scale, but the writers choose to end on that note. They also manage to sneak in a little detail that Senator Lewis was right all along: Martinez’s wife is one of them. If that detail had been revealed earlier, perhaps the series would have been better than it was. Heck, if the alien planet’s arrival had occurred earlier in the series, perhaps the series would have been better. Since it all ends here, it just becomes another in a slew of missed opportunities by this show.

One of the few things “The Event” had going for it was that it was a technically and visually impressive show. The final shots of this episode proved as much. The problem was that in the middle of all this, there was an overarching plot as inept as I’ve ever seen on television. It was all flash and little substance. What little substance it had somehow descended into absolute incoherence. Actions of certain characters made very little sense and dialogue was spoken with the thought that vagaries could substitute for compelling mystery.

The series at the end looked and felt fundamentally different from how it began, and became worse instead of better as it went along. That, in the end, was the show’s biggest disappointment because it began with such promise. The midseason retooling did not help one bit and there were actually times in the season when I had the thought that perhaps even the writers and showrunners struggled to see what the show actually was. I was fooled into thinking it might right itself by the end. The end came, and that didn’t happen. We don’t know what the titular “event” was (sure, there are hints that it was a greater evolution of the alien species, but that will never see the light of day now), the show didn’t bother to concretely explain what it was, and I really doubt the writers knew what it was. That’s a recipe for disaster, and it played itself out that way onscreen. Mercifully, it’s over and we can now move on.

Grade: 5/10

(Season 1 Final Average: 5.4)

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