Review of THE EVENT – To Keep Us Safe (2010)

Surviving a plane crash does not guarantee survival with so many hidden agendas to be served

Following last week’s climatic ending where a plane literally disappeared before our eyes, this week revealed that the plane reappeared in the Arizona desert — thousands of miles away from the Florida compound where it had been about to crash. With everyone’s lives saved, it was but a temporary reprieve. The battle between humans and the non-humans was just beginning.

After finding out that aliens had been living amongst us for over 60 years, President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood) decided it was time to embrace the extra-terrestrials and welcome them before the entire world. But this gesture of goodwill was not viewed favorably by those who felt the non-humans were hiding something — which resulted in a complex conspiracy to kidnap Leila Buchanan (Sarah Roemer) to coerce her father Michael Buchanan (Scott Patterson) to divert his plane into the presidential compound in order to either kill President Martinez or demonstrate to him just how powerful and dangerous the detainees were — and it worked. They saved President Martinez and Sophia Maguire (Laura Innes), one of their own.

But angered by these strong-arm, hostile tactics, they struck back. No longer content to sit back, blend in and bide their time patiently for the humans to leave them in peace and release the detainees, those who had evaded capture for the past six decades made a bold statement in response. They rescued the plane only to kill every single person who had been on board.

While we may not have killed the detainees, by holding them against their will for decades has provoked an enemy that we know nothing about. Given the ease with which they caused a plane to disappear, it is perhaps unwise to anger beings that have such amazing supernatural power. Whatever “the event” is, it must be something even more alarming for it to be so monikered.

What Worked

While predictable, it was still pretty cool how easily Agent Simon Lee (Ian Anthony Dale) infiltrated the CIA using a blood vial implanted in his arm. Clearly, the extraterrestrials have been very patient in maneuvering into a position where they can communicate with the detainees and are poised to strike from within our own government.

Also strikingly riveting was watching President Martinez interrogate Sophia. Each question he asked was a question we were wondering about and peeled back yet another layer of the mystery at the heart of this interesting show. Laura Innes’ performance as Sophia was mesmerizing. She barely spoke, yet we were hanging on every word. The series would benefit by expanding those interactions to help strengthen the suspense and our investment in the characters.

It is also great that the show is ramping up the mystery about the detainees, “the event,” and what they are doing here on Earth. To so quickly reveal that there are extraterrestrials among us, with two factions that may or may not be at odds with different agendas, is fascinating.

What Didn’t Work

Too much precious storytelling time is spent on peripheral stories. After laying the foundation last week about Sean Walker’s (Jason Ritter) finance’s disappearance, it was redundant and wasteful watching him recall how her abduction was staged and the ineffective attempt to evade the police at the Arizona hospital. The story only moves when focused on the President and the detainees. If Sean is to be a hero in this story, he needs to be more closely involved with the detainees — not roaming around the desert raving like a lunatic about his missing fiancé. One of “Heroes” fatal flaws was keeping the principal characters separated, roaming around without definitive purpose.

Watching Sean flail in Arizona felt like a similar hanging thread. He needs to be woven into the realm of President Martinez or the detainees or time spent on him and his impossible quest makes the viewer resent his screen time. If we are to care about him, he needs to be made relevant.

Also rather off-putting is the continued reliance on all the time-jumps. While initially helpful to tell a story that spans several decades, it is hard for the viewers to keep track of what is going on. Plus, for fans of “Lost” who are tuning in to watch “The Event,” there may be a fair amount of fatigue with the time-skipping element. “Lost” over-employed flashbacks, flash-forwards, and time-jumps and viewers are not as tolerant of this story-telling technique. If there is a story to be told, tell it in a linear, sequential fashion so that the viewer does not feel confused and exhausted trying to keep track of it all.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“To Keep Us Safe” was written by Nick Wauters and Evan Katz, directed by Jeffrey Reiner. “The Event” stars Jason Ritter, Sarah Roemer, Laura Innes, Ian Anthony Dale, Scott Patterson, Zeljko Ivanek, Blair Underwood and Clifton Collins, Jr. “The Event” airs Mondays at 9:00 pm on NBC.

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