THE EVENT 1.22 ‘Arrival’

  Sophia's plans spring into motion as Martinez and Jarvis square off over the Presidency.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Arrival"

Writer: Evan Katz
 
Director: James Wong
 
Previously on "The Event":

Sean Talker… I mean Walker (Jason Ritter) and his ridiculously good looking ally/potentially future girlfriend, Vicky Roberts (Taylor Cole) teamed up with former intelligence director Blake Sterling (Ċ½eljko Ivanek) and alien defector Simon Lee (Ian Anthony Dale) to thwart Sophia (Laura Innes) and prevent her from unleashing a global supervirus based on the Spanish Flu. The new foursome bonded while searching the trash of an alien agent and they soon tracked down the aliens' main base. Once inside, they found a laptop detailing Sophia's plans and Sean's actual girlfriend, Leila (Sarah Roemer); who was dying from the Spanish Flu after Sophia infected her.

In Washington, President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood) recovered slightly from the alien poison slipped into his coffee by Vice President Raymond Jarvis (Bill Smitrovich). But instead of surrendering the Presidency back to Martinez, Jarvis threatened to delay the handover by challenging Martinez to prove that he was medically able to resume his job. Jarvis also facilitated Sophia's plans to spread the virus without really challenging her stated intentions. And at the end of the hour, Sophia ordered a portal to her world to be opened, causing a massive wormhole to form in space.

Story:
 
At the aliens' former hideout, CDC specialists come in to take custody of Leila, while Sean urges her to keep fighting the virus. Blake also uses the captured laptop to determine where the aliens intend to release the virus. At the same time, Carlos and Sophia pull over as a massive Earthquake hits for no apparent reason… except for perhaps the giant portal out in space heading down on Earth. Back at the White House, Martinez fields a call from Blake informing him of Sophia's specific plans. With the assistance of Chief of Staff Richard Peel (Roger Bart), they send troops to deal with Sophia's agents at the treasury and a food processing plant.

However, before they can close the airport terminal, Martinez needs to be back in power. To that end, Martinez tries to strike a deal with Jarvis to get him to handle the airport in return for staying on as Vice President. Then Jarvis basically admits that he poisoned the President and doesn't believe anything that he says. Okay, I'm taking bets now: who will have screwed up more in this scene? Jarvis for saying all of that or the President for not taping it? Meanwhile, the government agents show alarming competency when taking out Sophia's agents at the food processing plant and treasury.

But there's a limit to their effectiveness, as the alien agents manage to warn Sophia that their plans have been stopped, At the same time, team Walker arrives at the airport and splits up into pairs. At the White House, Martinez briefly collapses before the pivotal cabinet meeting to reclaim his office. But his wife, Christina (Lisa Vidal) literally walks him into the room where Jarvis lays out the medical case for not reinstating him. At the airport, one of the alien agents shoots Simon, but Sophia's men are eliminated one-by-one. Back at the White House, Martinez openly accuses Jarvis of poisoning him and working with the enemy… and then he proves it with his recording of Jarvis' earlier conversation. President Martinez wins our screw-up battle! There is no prize.

Sophia locks herself into a lounge and prepares to unleash the virus. Then Sean uses the numbing power of his voice to lull Sophia to sleep. Okay, I lied… He talked her down, just in time for actual government agents to arrest her. Good lord, that was easy. Afterwards, Simon and Sean rap outside while being screened for the virus and Simon starts defining "The Event" without actually telling us anything about it. Way to lay that out, show! Later, back at the White House, Martinez basically says to Simon, "I don't care that you're an alien because you saved my life. Get this man some national security clearance!"

Elsewhere, Vicky gives Sean a heartfelt goodbye without even kissing him. That's probably because Sean learns that Leila is alive and pregnant with his kid. At the Oval Office, Sophia is brought before the President in cuffs. She tells him that the portal can't be shut down and that she tried to kill humanity out of a sense of mercy. Then all hell breaks loose as Sophia's entire freakin' planet materializes through the wormhole, apparently near the Moon. Outside, the President's son looks up into the sky and asks his mother, Christina what it is. She replies that it's "home," finally confirming that she's an alien too.

Breakdown:

I remember when "The Event" debuted at the San Diego Comic Con last year and the creative team behind the show said something along the lines of "we've thoroughly thought out our story and we won't be making it up as we go along."

Unfortunately, "The Event" played out exactly as if the writers were making it up along the way. Taken as a whole, the first 13 episodes of the season are pretty wildly different in direction and tone than the remaining nine episodes. Some mid-season shuffling happens on almost every show, but "The Event" ended up asking us to buy Sophia and Jarvis as villains that could withstand any level of scrutiny after jettisoning Thomas and Dempsey when they failed to become viable adversaries for the series. Sophia's heel turn was particularly jarring after the show repeatedly established that she was leading "the good aliens."

But for an example of how ill-conceived this entire series is, The Event itself is only ever brought up a handful of times on the show (I can only think of two occasions off-hand), including Simon's ham-fisted exposition speech to Sean in this episode… that still doesn't really define what the Event is! And I don't think it's a case of the writers teasing the audience… I think that even they don't know what their series is supposed to be about!

"The Event" was sold to us as a show that was a cross between "Lost" and "24." And in a way, it outdid "Lost" by leaving a lot of mysteries simply unexplained or dropped entirely. The worst part is that there were times that "The Event" demonstrated its potential, especially during the sixth episode that focused on Simon. That episode actually gave us some good character beats and an epic moment… which have been too few and far between since. The arrival of the alien planet at the end is the closest thing that the series has had to the disappearance of the plane in the pilot. But the shock is gone now and my reaction was "huh."

There were a few moments in this episode that had some excitement, when it looked like Sophia's men at the airport actually had a chance at succeeding. But the takedown of the aliens was so easy, it almost makes Sean's continued success on this show plausible. Is it possible that Sophia and her alien sleepers are the most inept characters in sci-fi history? The only apt comparison I can think of is Erica Evans' hapless resistance movement on "V." None of their plans ever seemed to work. Even bringing their planet to Earth is a failure, since Sophia's plan seemed contingent upon wiping out humanity first.

Before I get back to the characters, did the show completely gloss over how the aliens managed to portal an entire planet when they couldn't even portal three buses a few episodes ago? Or did they forget that Thomas mentioned that transporting the plane in the pilot was about the extent of their abilities?

I was thinking back to "Joan of Arcadia" this week and I remember Jason Ritter being pretty good on that show. So, maybe he can act. But he didn't rise above the material here and Sean Walker seems to be at his worst when delivering heartfelt speeches. The scene in which he convinced Sophia not to go through with the virus plot was just really poorly scripted. And the fact that Sophia caved without much conviction, almost makes me see why her son Thomas was such a wet napkin. However, I still blame the bad writing more than anything else.

There's still a chance that "The Event" may come back for another season somewhere else. Personally, I don't see the point of it anymore. "The Event" lost its chance to be a great series a long time ago.

Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.