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?
AIRED ON 3/31/2014
Season 1 : Episode 13