Can precogs stop crime ... on Fox?
Credit: Bruce MacCauley/Fox

Insect drones, cops with jetpacks, socially awkward psychics, and enough futuristic floating interfaces to rival Tony Stark’s lab: Minority Report‘s pilot episode might not have preserved the spirit of the movie that spawned it, but it definitely kept all the cool accessories.

All that remains is the question of whether a fun, fully-fleshed-out futureworld can sustain Minority Report through the process of transforming itself from what it was (a high-minded cinematic exploration of justice, technology, and the intersection of free will with human destiny) into what it apparently hopes to be, i.e. the weekly adventures of a cop-and-clairvoyant odd couple who team up to catch pre-criminals before the bodies hit the floor. (Dutifully noted: Not everyone is enthusiastic about this idea, including my colleagues at this magazine.)

For anyone who missed Minority Report, The Movie, the pilot opens by recapping the events that led us to and through that film. Three children, Agatha, Dash, and Arthur, were born braindead. Scientists saved them, but also unknowingly cursed them with immense psychic abilities — including the ability to “see” every murder within a 100-mile radius before it happens. We know what comes next: precognitive servitude in a giant underground bathtub in Washington, DC; a conspiracy that framed a man for murder and exposed a fatal flaw in the PreCrime system; and finally, a fancy relocation package for the precogs, including expunged records and a remote island home where, presumably, they lived out the rest of their days untormented by visions of murder.

Except, of course, they didn’t.

The year is now 2065. Marijuana is legal, the Simpsons is in its 75th season, and the Redskins have been renamed the inoffensive “Redclouds.” Somewhere in DC, a haunted-looking man drinks a beer and plays a bar game using that cool, floating interface tech — and then apologetically informs the bartender that she’s going to need a mop, two seconds before someone accidentally drops and shatters a whole tray of drinks.

Obviously, this is Dash, one of the psychic twins who is now flying solo in the big city. In another flash, we discover that he’s still seeing murders, but not quite as vividly or completely as he used to — and where he used to be just a (pre)cog in the PreCrime wheel, now he’s a vigilante trying to hunt killers on his own. He sees a woman being pushed out of a window, an apartment number, and a location. He sets his watch: He has 40 minutes.

Dash makes his way to the murder location on public transit (notable for including the most vaginal tunnel ever shown on television), locates the building he saw in his vision, and charges up the stairs to the apartment where the murder will take place — and bursts screaming into a room full of folks in sunglasses practicing tai chi. Whooops.

It’s the wrong building, and a fatal mistake: Emerging onto the plaza, he watches helplessly as the woman from his vision plummets to her death.

Now that the PreCrime has become an actual crime, the police arrive, led by detective Lara Vega. Using a contact lens outfitted with the floating interface tech, Vega works backward to recreate the crime scene and determines that the victim had a chance to escape but instead let herself be killed. Why? Because she was protecting someone: a little girl, discovered hiding inside a kitchen cabinet. Vega is too young to have experienced the PreCrime era, and she’s nostalgic for those halcyon days where you could be like, “Due process, schmue process!” and put people in prison for life.

“Can you believe we used to stop this stuff before it happened?” she sighs.

Meanwhile, the building that used to house PreCrime and the precogs is now part police headquarters, part museum, where high school kids on field trips ask incisive questions about the precogs’ abilities such as, “Can they, like, see people naked?” (Side note: The fact that Minority Report declines to answer this question is clearly an answer in itself. Yes, the precogs see people naked. And let me tell you, kid, THEY ARE NOT IMPRESSED.) Dash follows Vega into headquarters using that nifty muscle-melting technology from Minority Report, The Movie, to disguise his face; he wants to help her catch criminals, and hands her his notebook of murder visions, which includes a sketch of the face of today’s defenestration enthusiast. He also uses the muscle-melting injectable to give her a serious case of dead-leg, which is pretty neat.

Vega, assuming that Dash must be some kind of accomplice to the crime, shows the sketch to her boss cop (Wilmer Valderrama, who conveys through a series of vague statements that he and Vega have some kind of capital-H-History). The victim was a nurse in an institution for now-released PreCrime convicts. And the man who killed her? A convict named Victor Adrangi, who, unsurprisingly, had intended to throw somebody else out a window once upon a time. The police track Adrangi down — those nifty jetpacks from Minority Report, The Movie make an appearance — but they won’t be bringing him in.

“You have no idea what’s coming,” he says, before jumping in the path of a falling beam. Splat.

NEXT: The secret’s out

Meanwhile, Dash is being lectured by Agatha’s phone avatar. (In the future, the person you’re Skyping with appears as a hologram sitting at your kitchen table, which deflates like a human balloon when you hang up on them.) She doesn’t support his vigilante activities and wants him to come home. Dash gets upset, ends the call, and goes to eat his feelings at a retro burger joint — where Vega finds him, having tracked him down by plugging face-recognition software into a (heh) selfie drone.

It’s a supremely awkward confrontation, and it gets even more awkward when Dash has a psychic flash, right then and there, of an incredibly gross murder that involves tons of bloody vomit. Vega looks stunned.

“You’re one of them,” she whispers. (Me, to my television: NO DUH, LADY.)

Obviously, the next step is for Dash and Vega to form their own mini PreCrime team. Obviously.

Fortunately, Dash’s vision includes an easily recognizable public figure: Peter Van Eck, former PreCrime deputy chief and current mayoral candidate. After an interview with Van Eck (which mostly serves to demonstrate, hilariously, Dash’s complete lack of people skills), the two determine that Adrangi the Defenestrator might have something to do with this new plot, and make their way to the center where he lived with other PreCrime convicts who had their brains scrambled by their imprisonment.

There they meet Adrangi’s neighbor, Mason Rutledge, who was convicted by PreCrime of killing his wife. Now, Rutledge spends his good days with his daughter (who doesn’t seem to believe that her dad would have been guilty), wrangling passenger pigeons on the building’s roof (cue Dash trying and failing to get Vega to move out of the path of a psychically-intuited pigeon poop). The pair are asking Rutledge questions about whether he holds a grudge against Van Eck, when suddenly:

“He’s going to jump,” says Dash, and Rutledge does — not to his death, but onto a fire escape. Vega gives chase, but he escapes, and so it’s time for Plan B.

Plan B is also a blast from the past: a visit to Wally, who took care of the precogs in their underground bathtub (played here by Daniel London, who also played this role in Minority Report, The Movie. Continuity!) Not only is Wally a good, loyal friend, but he also still has one of those special helmets from the movie that can project Dash’s visions onto a screen. While they hook him up to the helmet, we also bump briefly against the philosophical problem that defined the original Minority Report: That people convicted by PreCrime were presumed to be inevitably guilty, but in reality, it’s not so cut-and-dried. The public “had to believe” that murderers didn’t have the power to change their destinies — which means that the precog outlier visions that came to be known as “minority reports” might have been more common than anyone admitted.

It’s an interesting discussion, but one we’re apparently not having now. Instead, they turn on the helmet and Dash’s vision appears in front of them: Not just one death, but hundreds, caused by a bioweapon delivered by Rutledge’s carrier pigeons.

In order to stop the carnage, they have to do the one thing Dash was really hoping to avoid: They have to go to Arthur, a.k.a. the third precog, a.k.a. a total douchebag who wears fancy suits and lives in a ridiculous loft, all paid for by the illegal use of his various psychic gifts. Arthur is especially good at knowing names, numbers, and addresses, which means he can tell them where Rutledge is hiding.

Also, he hits on Vega, because of course he does.

Arthur’s information leads Dash and Vega to the place where it’ll all go down: an abandoned warehouse where Rutledge is about to carry off his master plan. It’s also time for the last echo of Minority Report, The Movie: Vega dispatches a handful of insect-like drones to sniff Rutledge out in his lair.

At first, it seems like it might be too late: Rutledge has already dispatched his murder pigeons to rain their death droppings down on Van Eck’s mayoral rally. And he’s not alone: His daughter is in on the plan, and pulls a gun, threatening to shoot Vega. But with the help of Dash’s psychic abilities, Vega manages to shoot the daughter, knock out Rutledge, and cancel the pigeons’ kill instructions at the last moment. Success!

All that’s left is for Vega to arrest Rutledge — only as she does, Dash sees that Rutledge has a knife. He flings himself between them, sending Rutledge over a railing to his death. So, everyone gets to feel good about himself for stopping a murder today! However, Dash has to leave now so that Vega can covers up his involvement in the case.

And of course, so they can do it again sometime. Like, maybe even every week.

“What happens next time?” Dash asks Vega, as they stand on a hill and look out on a city that’s full of pre-criminals, just waiting to be stopped.

Vega, ever the smart-ass, quips, “Shouldn’t you be telling me?”

Episode Recaps

Minority Report
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