Note: I gave The Event an honest second chance after its break, so here's a regular review for those of you who are jumping into the show for the first time. I'll get back to the circus events usually found in my Event reviews next week!
I could get all academic about the first half of The Event and discuss the trappings of serialised sci-fi dramas, one-dimensional characters, and convoluted plots, but I'm pretty much as far as you can get from being a learned man, and it's much easier to discuss this show in layman's terms: it's horrible.
Sure, the first half of the season had intrigue—if your idea of intrigue is waiting around for someone to give you the answer to a question you asked several months ago. There are aliens, which is generally a plus, but so far these aliens appear to be little more than human beings with better anti-aging beauty products. And then there's the ballyhooed "Event" on the horizon, which may or may not be the mass arrival of more human-looking aliens, which at this point, would be incredibly disappointing. At least V got that out of the way within its first 10 minutes.
The Event returned after a bizarre break in which any momentum it had built up was, to quote President Martinez, eviscerated by the US launch of The Cape—a show that at least admitted it was utterly ridiculous. And instead of returning last night with a dazzling display of fireworks and course-correcting (a necessary implementation, given the near-universal lashing the show receives from critics), The Event remained unchanged. Which is great news for those of us who watch the show because it's such a trainwreck.
We got two hours of amateur sci-fi drama last night on Channel 4, and much of it was spent rehashing the events of the previous episodes and confirming what we pretty much already knew. What little forward movement occurred happened at a snail's pace. Example: For the first 51 minutes of Part 1, we saw Leila fret over whether or not she's half-alien, even though we'd figured out that yes, she is, in November, when it was made obvious. Even my cats knew! I'm not asking The Event to put geniuses on TV, but the main characters should be able to find their way out of a paper bag. At least Leila's hot.
We also learned the contents of Thomas' message, when a SETI tech's screensaver unscrambled it: "Preparations are being made for your arrival." Given that at the end of Episode 10 we already knew the satellite was actually sending a message to the alien peeps back home, this was about as exciting as intercepting a top-secret message that reads, "Hey, how's it going?"
Leila and her family (minus mom, who's dead and already forgotten) finally reunited, essentially voiding much of the storyline from the first half of the season while we waited for her to find them. To be fair, things are becoming slightly clearer, with many of the chess pieces moving across the board into the positions they should have started in last September. Leila and Sean are now hangin' with Sophia and Michael, because these are the good guys, right?
I loved it when Michael was telling Leila he'll tell her all the answers to the questions she has. It was that perfect moment when we as an audience perk our ears up and say, "FINALLY!" Of course, he followed his promise with a "But...," and that's when we realised that we're gonna learn s***. That moment was a perfect microcosm for the series. Lost could get away with not revealing answers because it had several of the other characteristics that are typically expected of a show that's actually on television, like decent writing and respectable acting. You know, TV's salt and pepper.
In the Oval Office, President Martinez had a new problem: a nosy senator from Alaska (played by Virginia Madsen) who lots of people are saying resembles Sarah Palin. Personally, I don't see it, because I don't have any inclination to punch Madsen's character in the face. But she played poker, so she knows Martinez is bluffing (seriously, she said that) and hiding something. It looks like she will spend the rest of her time on the show hanging out in her office and appearing on Hardline with Chris Matthews, where she'll discover the cover-up conspiracy by engaging in back-and-forth threats. Round 1 went to Senator whatsherface, who out-threatened Martinez during one of Hardline's commercial breaks, even though she actually didn't get the information she demanded. So maybe President Martinez actually won that round by not having to tell her anything? I don't know. It probably wasn't the right time for the show to introduce a character like this, further muddying the waters when there's already so much other crap floating around.
There was one plotline that actually did have legs and was almost interesting, and that was Thomas taking over the top-secret, heavily guarded, Alaskan ice-prison Inostranka. He did this by luring the guards into a boiler room two-by-two after blackmailing a family-loving general who was prepared to cheat on his wife with a random stranger after a few Miller Lites. But back to the jail takeover: Guns! Men in camouflage! The murder of dissenters! This is the kind of action The Event needs more of, since it obviously doesn't give a damn about its characters. And who knew that Sterling was America's most kick-ass geriatric super agent? And who knew his weakness was sticking fingers into a hole in his back? And who knew the snow in Alaska looks just like confetti and is blood-proof? Come to think of it, maybe I should pick up some of that artificial snow for my living room—it might come in handy during next week's episode, so I don't stain my carpet while scooping out my eyes with melonballers.
Don't forget about the mysterious Dempsey (Hal Holbrook, my hero)! He managed to squeeze his way into the episodes with a few completely unnecessary appearances and give us a huge head-scratcher. Dempsey has what I call a Fate Table, which is like an adult, alien version of a Playmobil train set, and Dempsey can place blocks in tracks on the Fate Table and force Sean to cross his path? Okay, that sentence started out as statement and ended up as a question? Because really, what the heck was that thing?
NBC, the channel on which it airs in America, has labelled The Event as a combination of Lost and 24, but what the network didn't tell us was that it was a combination of the worst parts of both of those shows. Just blow up the Washington Monument already.