The Event has arrived. But are we ready for it? The show—another mystery-driven, sci-fi tinged catastrophe culture saga where the past is a conspiracy to be untangled, the future is a code to be cracked, and the present is a conflict of hidden agendas to be exposed–comes after a turbulent, tiring year for such stuff. Lost ended after six captivating but taxing years with a polarizing finale. Heroes, sickly for longer than it was healthy, was finally put out of its misery. FlashForward launched, lurched, crashed. It’ll be interesting to see how many viewers thought The Event was a happening worth investigating. In recent seasons, freaky-geeky fables about our murky, nervy times have proven capable of inspiring massive curiosity (see: the strong debuts for The Bionic Woman, Fringe, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, FlashForward), if not always sustaining it. But after the finishes, flushes and failures of last season, I wonder about the genre’s current allure, especially when it’s manifested in the form of a show that would seem to demand a long-term commitment in order to derive ultimate satisfaction. Are we ready to go steady with another piece of strange so soon after a year of hard break-ups and bad dates? The Event will test the hypothesis.
All that said, I really enjoyed the pilot for The Event. It had me at the title. What is ‘The Event?’ I want to know! I’m just a sucker for Mystery Shows That Label Their Core Mysteries With Ominously Generic Blank Canvas Nomenclature. (See: The Monster, The Others, The Numbers…) All the better for capturing the imagination–and inspiring fans to project their own theories onto the proceedings. The Event’s characters introduced themselves as likable individuals with interesting, urgent conflicts; I look forward to getting to know them better (and seeing them fleshed out with some real complexity) as the series moves forward. (FYI: The NBC website for The Event includes character profiles that are rich in details that the pilot didn’t provide but salient to the series going forward; I’ll be drawing from that info in this recap.) I enjoyed the fragmented, non-linear structure; I thought it was a smart way to corral and drive a sprawling story comprised of multiple, interconnected plots and people. Some critics deemed this storytelling approach as artificial and contrived. I found it necessary and entertaining. I’m shallow that way.
The premiere, entitled “I Haven’t Told You Everything” (taken from the hour’s killer last line), introduced us to a population of allegedly threatening persons unknown imprisoned in a secret facility near the Arctic, although a portion of their total number could be at large, living/hiding in plain sight… maybe even right next door to you. The contingent that’s incarcerated has been interrogated, tortured and generally abused for who knows how long, for who knows why. The climactic cliffhanger spun the whole pilot on its head: What seemed to be a neo-’70s conspiracy thriller working a fuzzy political metaphor (The Parallax View meets 24) suddenly revealed itself to be a sci-fi conspiracy thriller working a fuzzy political metaphor.
Next: Flashbacks to a short-lived seriesthat perhaps only UPN aficionados will remember.