THE EVENT 1.18 ‘Strain’

Blake tries to prevent Jarvis from ascending to the Presidency while Sean and Vicky find the superweapon in Russia.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Strain"

Writers: Dan Dworkin & Jay Beattie
 
Director: Michael Watkins
 
Previously on "The Event":

Weeks ago, Vice President Raymond Jarvis (Bill Smitrovich) participated in a plot to kill President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood) and prevent him from releasing the alien refugees led by Sophia (Laura Innes). After being caught, Jarvis confessed, then momentarily faked amnesia before settling in on a steady diet of blackmail to keep his job. So, when the President and Sophia finally came on opposite sides of an escalating conflict, Sophia was able to convince Jarvis to poison the President with a "cleverly" disguised sugar packet during the morning briefing.

In France, Sean "Side Window" Walker (Jason Ritter) rescued his ally, Vicky Roberts (Taylor Cole) and found himself starring down a gun held by Dempsey (Hal Holbrook). The old man explained that Sean's continued survival (which I might add has been incredibly implausible) made him the perfect candidate to take down Sophia. And then Dempsey shot himself for dubious plot reasons. Sean was then contacted by his girlfriend, Leila Buchanan (Sarah Roemer); who told him about Sophia's intent to wipe out most of the human race with a superweapon hidden in Russia.

Story:
 
In Russia, a team of aliens led by Alex (James McDonnell) recover the well preserved body of a soldier and begin to examine it. Back in Washington, Jarvis nervously plants the poison sugar packet (which in a twist was probably not that different than a real artificial sweetener). The President takes the poison packet and drinks the coffee as Jarvis nervously watches. Then the President goes into convulsions and spills his coffee as the staff rushes to help him. In the hospital, the President regains consciousness long enough to implicate Jarvis to Blake Sterling (Ċ½eljko Ivanek), but he can't prove anything.

Blake confides in the Chief of Staff, Richard Peel (Roger Bart) that Jarvis was partially responsible for the earlier attempt on the President's life and they team up to find evidence that will allow them to prevent him from becoming the President. At the alien controlled gated community, Sophia watches news reports about the President's deteriorating condition and notes that Michael Buchanan (Scott Patterson) isn't around. That's because Michael just caught Leila in the act of phoning Sean. Quasi-Terminator alien Luis (Noel Arthur) then catches up to them and demands that Leila be taken to Sophia. Michael then kills Luis and gets Leila to help him move the body.

Back in France, Sean openly wonders why Vicky is still helping him. She replies "Don't try to analyze me, Sean. Nothing on this show makes sense under any scrutiny. Just shut up and appreciate the fact that I'm really hot." I may have added a few sentences there. Using his unbelievable hacker skills, Sean finds out that the alien sleeper agents are holding their new weapon on a ship in the Russian port of Murmansk. And at said ship, an alien doctor removes the lungs from the soldier's corpse and then gets distracted to the point that he accidentally exposes himself through his protective suit.

The alien doctor then rushes to get out of the enclosed room and convinces the guard to open the door. Back in Washington, Christina Martinez (Lisa Vidal) stays by her husband's side as the President's condition continues to decline. From the surveillance footage, Peel and Blake learn that Jarvis planted the poison sugar pack, but because the cleaning crew contaminated the coffee spilled on the floor, they have no evidence. Thus, Jarvis is appointed the acting President under the 25th amendment. Later that night, Blake finally notices that he had a sample of the coffee all along on his shirt sleeve. D'oh!

At the alien sleeper community, Leila and Michael attempt to dispose of Luis' body when Sophia shows up looking for Luis. In Russia, Sean and Vicky put on protective suits and sneak on to the Russian ship and find all aboard dead. Wait… Sean is using a gun now and taking point?! WTF?! They find the soldier's corpse with his lungs missing. After hearing a noise, they take a returning crew man hostage and force him to admit that the corpse was used to extract a sample of the Spanish Flu, which will be on its way to Sophia shortly via a flight from a Russian airport. And in Washington, President Martinez goes into violent convulsions again as his probably alien wife looks on.

Breakdown:

Before we get started with the rest of the review, I just have to say… the Spanish Flu?!

Really?! That's the best you can come up with, writers?

Judging from the low ratings on this show, I'm probably one of the relatively small group of people to have seen every episode of "The Event." So I remember that the aliens had their own contagion back in episode 5. Remember the virus that turned its victims into half-way respectable zombies?

That was a hell of a lot more interesting than the Spanish Flu. Also, did the actual Spanish Flu really kill people faster than Captain Trips? Because it seemed kind of ridiculous that the entire ship was wiped out almost simultaneously.

And speaking of ridiculous, I almost spit out my drink when I saw Sean on the ship with a gun in his hands as if he knew what to do with it. I know the producers of "The Event" desperately want to makeover Sean into some kind of action hero, but you can't just suddenly make one of your characters proficient in weapons! Or you can, it just won't be believable.

The Sean and Vicky moment on the train was amusing as it was one of the few times that the writers have acknowledged that there's no real reason for their team up to continue. Unless Vicky is secretly into Sean, which you know she almost certainly is.

It's also amazing to me that the show has basically abandoned most of the central mysteries that it started out with. Have you noticed that no one has mentioned "The Event" on the show since very early in the series? And they sure as hell haven't explained what the Event is… or how Sean learned about Michael's kamikaze mission in the pilot or why Dempsey's experiments on little girls left them with old man faces. I don't mind some unanswered questions, but it seems like mysteries have been introduced and then dropped for no apparent reason.

After all of the rather obvious foreshadowing in the previous episodes, I was expecting Christina to come out as an alien and save her husband somehow. But that may still happen. Come to think of it, Jarvis' bid to poison the President may have been only the third plan on this series to actually work! I think the other two were Thomas' nuclear robbery and his rescue/massacre of their fellow people in Alaska

I do think that the last few episodes of "The Event" have been showing gradual improvements, but the momentum seems to be dying down again. Unless the writers do something bold like actually letting the President die or show us Sophia succeeding her plans, it seems like the story is just going to hit some predictable beats as it limps to the finish line for the season.

Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.