Intelligence "Red X" Review: Gut Bomb

By Tim Surette

Jan 14, 2014

Intelligence S01E02: "Red X"

Tonight marked the all-important second episode of CBS's new drama Intelligence, and after last week's meh-okay pilot, "Red X"—a classic story about terrorists using edible bombs—was the hour that would push viewers one of two ways: toward a feeling of weekly, eager anticipation, or toward an apathetic, "I guess nothing else is on" surrender. Would the show fix the mistakes it made in the pilot and step out of the shadow of standard procedurals, or would simply be another hour of Josh Holloway, human iPad? After watching, I'd say it's more of the latter, unfortunately.

My biggest gripe with the pilot was Intelligence's basic premise. Or rather, what the pilot did with Intelligence's premise. The idea of a man with a microchip in his brain being a government superweapon who can log onto the web without a smartphone, listen to telephone calls without a smartphone, and download satellite data without a smartphone is kind of cool, I guess, but Intelligence wastes the idea. Gabriel is just a badass who doesn't have to type out instructions like the rest of us do when we're using a tablet. Sadly, "Red X" didn't expand on this front. Gabriel can use his techno-magic to locate any cab in the city! Big whoop. Aren't there apps for that? He can also access files that are available to any government agent with the same security clearance, he just doesn't have to wait for a clunky .gov site to load, and he doesn't have to worry about forgetting his username and password. Intelligence wouldn't change much if, instead of having a microchip in his brain, Gabriel just had really fast thumbs or a government-grade version of Siri. All across the country, there are 15-year-old boys in basements who have the necessary hacking skills to do everything that Gabriel does. 

Where "Red X" did improve on the pilot was in fleshing out Gabriel the human being, for those of us who need him to be more than a Wifi-enabled shirtless Ralph Lauren ad. The arc regarding his wife crept forward a bit to give both Gabriel and the show an emotional core, and then Intelligence promptly blew her up. Well, maybe. Anyone else thinking she isn't dead, as improbable as that is? (It's not easy to dodge a bomb that's been ingested without a family-sized pack of Ex-Lax and a good magazine to read.) When Zuleikha Robinson was cast, the contract was for a recurring basis, so to spit her out after Episode 2 doesn't sound too recurring to me. She'll probably be back in the future with some insane explanation of how she remained in one piece instead of being scraped off the walls by a crime-scene tech. 

Anyway, the best thing to come out of the final moments of "Red X" was the conflict between Riley and Gabriel, as Riley played the role of responsible government handler with good intentions and Gabriel embraced the fact that he's a goddamn rebel and she shouldn't be making decisions for him even if he IS government property. That's a dynamic that could actually work as the backbone of the series. But I'm still looking for something to differentiate Intelligence from one of CBS's other procedurals. A microchipped brain should've been enough, but so far all it's done is give Gabriel a portable supercomputer instead of asking better questions like, "What kind of man has this technology transformed him into?" If I'm the government and Gabriel is my weapon and he shows no signs of ill effects, I'm pretty stoked. But as a television viewer looking for Intelligence to be something more than another terrorist hunt, I'd prefer to see that chip go on the fritz a bit, and for it to matter to the story. 

What did YOU think of Episode 2?


– Meghan Ory, from Little Red Riding Hood to Little White Riding Hood!

– Now that Amos is with the bad guys, it looks like the role of comic relief has been passed on to Nelson Cassidy, the son of Dr. Wacky Scientist.

– So Riley lives near Gabriel and can enter his apartment at any time? Sleep with one eye open, Gabriel. 

– No movement on that Chinese woman from last week who also had a microchip implanted. She was the biggest reason I tuned in for the second episode. 

– How long do you think it will be until there's a bad guy in this series who doesn't have an accent? 

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  • Ananas1111 Apr 28, 2014

    Do we know something about season 2

  • zinodvd Mar 18, 2014

    It gets better all the time. Really like it so far.

  • kareenpierre1 Mar 12, 2014

    So far, I like the show (I've seen 2 eps...) BUT :

    - I think that what they really wasted was some obvious dynamics and the goddamn talent of their reknown actors.

    Example : Why did Clockwork's boss (Lilian) chose a beautiful female secret service agent ( = Riley) with the same hair color as Amelia to "protect" Gabriel? I'm not being sexist here : it's just visually obvious and I wish that Lilian was shown acting far more devious and cunning than this "I'm your friendly boss" act. I's obvious that it's to divert Gabriel from Amelia isn't? No need to hoard such obvious intel, right?

    - Same for Riley. She's in a tough spot. By the way, she's way too talkative for my taste. ESPECIALLY with Lilian. "Aaron" in TV show 24 wasn't that talkative and still managed to convey the tension and stress associated with his position (and the fact that he was privy to a lot of secret informal information).

    - Quick "small" detail : does the use of first names instead of last names is intended to soften the fact that it's CIA ? Because it lowers the seriousness of the show which is too bad really.

    - Why did Amos went to the Chinese? Didn't get that. I know why the doc's son might have but why was it finally Amos? What was his motive ?

  • JunoDebbie Feb 26, 2014

    Does anyone know the make and model of the main characters car?

  • theresahopferlamczyk Feb 27, 2014

    I say it's a Ford Explorer because we have one. My husband says no, but he's wrong looks so much like our explorer.

  • AlexanderZhao Jan 25, 2014

    The only saving grace for me was that they took a big step in the plot by blowing up Gabriel's girlfriend.

  • Shillelagh2007 Jan 21, 2014

    Where can I watch the pilot episode and Red X? My DVR missed both. Thanks.

  • Andy72184 Jan 21, 2014

    This show any good?

  • dh4645 Jan 22, 2014

    ep 1 was ok, ep 2 was not, ep 3 was pretty good.
    i'll give it one more to see if it stays on the DVR

  • edshrinker Jan 19, 2014

    LOL. CBS went from "Televisions #1 New DRAMA!" in preview ads to: "New Drama" for this week. I did a lot of complaining networks think we are so dumb they pronounce crap like that after it's premiere and we will buy in. I feel my argument vindicated.

    I love Sawyer. I don't want it to fail mainly because of Josh. But the first two eps have been dog-awful.

  • dh4645 Jan 22, 2014

    i liked ep 2 the least so far of the 3 that have aired. none have been great

  • Tigerbob Jan 19, 2014

    Meghan Ory is so beautiful it is distracting, lol. Sure girls like Josh too. So his wife is intrideced then killed off. This could have been a longer plot but he can still search for what happened. So far it is ok.

  • dh4645 Jan 22, 2014

    MO is FINE. she looked slightly different in ep 2 for some reason. i liked ep 2 the least so far of the 3 that have aired

  • Tigerbob Jan 23, 2014

    Usually changes happen from the pilot/1st ep to the 2nd. Still to watch 3 but I like Meghan from Once Upon a Time as Red, she is very hot in that. Glad she has a lead role now.

  • graindesable Jan 18, 2014

    Intelligence is a show that allows me to rest mine.
    It's a bit boring, it's not very original but Josh Holloway makes it watchable.

  • dh4645 Jan 22, 2014

    Meghan Ory makes it watchable for me, but i'll give the show one more ep before i decide whether to keep on DVR

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