The Event recap: Curious Case(s) of Benjamina Button
The Event came a couple seconds away from giving me a moment that rivaled the pilot’s through-the-wormhole disappearing act, that WOW! moment that ignited an initial enthusiasm that has been waning over the past several episodes. Last night’s outing, “I Know Who You Are,” was the most enjoyable hour since the premiere, and if I had gotten a little more oomph out of the ending I think I’d be a bit more buzzy about it. One of the story’s revelations was that Leila’s seven-year-old sister, Samantha, abducted by the Carter-led conspiracy that tried to kill President Martinez with an airplane, is far more important to the mystery than we realized. Her (adopted?) father, Michael, had learned that Samantha was linked to several other girls of roughly the age, each of them linked to shell companies based in Los Angeles.
In the episode’s last scene, Samantha was brought to an apartment by one of her kidnappers—call her The Babysitter, a woman who had given her an injection of something inside a van earlier in the episode (a queasy moment with some needlessly creepy subtext)—and was introduced to several other seemingly young girls. Their faces were turned from camera or obscured by long hair, and I thought that when we finally got their close-ups, they would all look exactly like Samantha—in other words, clones. Upon further review, I think it’s possible this theory may still be true, but I couldn’t tell, as the most striking aspect about all of these “young” girls was that their faces were terrifyingly old—a bunch of Benjamina Buttons hidden away in a secret day care center. I only wish the episode would have held the image a couple beats longer; the brevity undermined the cool of it all. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the brevity enhanced the cool, because here I am blathering about it. So: Well played, Sir Event! My theory brain is whirring, more so than previous weeks, though I don’t have anything fully developed yet to share. Who is Samantha? Who is she really? Who are these other girls? Why are they so aged, and does their condition have anything to do with the shot Samantha got from The Babysitter?
“I Know Who You Are” more successfully executed the show’s new Lost-like flashback storytelling structure that was introduced in the previous episode, which aired two weeks ago. I don’t mind the swipe, as the move is infusing the series with some much needed character development. Last night offered some of the origin story for Blake Sterling, President Martinez’s shifty director of intelligence, played with a twinkle and drawl by the delightfully droll Zeljko Ivanek. The actor may have won an Emmy for Damages, but he’ll always be (speaking of Lost) Edmund Burke to me, Juliet’s loathsome pharmaceutical magnate ex-husband, and if The Event really wants to get on my good side with an homage to its betters, it should find a way to put him in the vicinity of a runaway bus in a future episode. Edmund Burke had mother issues; Blake Sterling, we learned, has father issues. His pops was a CIA honcho who, 14 years ago, worked at The Agency at the same time as Blake. Most likely, the son owes the start of his cloak-and-dagger career to his connected father, and certainly its continuance.
NEXT: Sophia sends a “talk to the hand” message to Thomas, so to speak.
Blake, a deeply romantic man with a great taste for wine, was deeply in love with his wife, whom his father did not like, and for good reason: Dad had learned that the woman was a Russian spy. He gave Blake a chance to save face—and his future as a super-spy wonk—by killing her. Blake, that love-hungry fool, so wanted to believe that despite her job, she truly loved him anyway. Instead of icing her, Blake confronted her and asked her to run away with him. She feigned acceptance, then tried to book it back to Moscow. She got as far as the driveway when Sterling Senior stepped out of the shadows and put a bullet in her head. Blake probably knew it was coming. He screamed anyway. Dad put the gun in hand and told him to take credit for the assassination and to never look back. Blake squirted some tears, then did as he was told.
And yet, 14 years and layers of crust and jadedness later, Blake can still be conned by those close to him. Blake—ordered by President Martinez to smoke out the Whatchamacallum mole in the fold—zeroed in on the right man, double agent Simon Lee, who spent the episode in a hospital bed recovering from the last episode’s explosive ending. All Blake needed to verify Simon’s true identity as an undercover sleeper was certification of his 1%-less-than-human extraterrestrial DNA and/or confirmation of his fingerprints on a small metal thingamajigger at the coffee shop where Simon helped Sophia escape by spiking the creamer with radioactive isotope. (Now there’s a WTH? sentence for you.)
But Simon got a little help from his Whatchamacallum friends. Thomas swapped his blood sample. (But were you wondering if the hospital had trouble drawing Simon’s blood in the first place, given the previous episode that established that Whatchamacallum veins are hard if not impossible to tap?) Meanwhile, a new Whatchamacallum character, a very dapper Mr. Fix-It who may enjoy an especially close relationship with Thomas (or was I reading that wrong?), framed an FBI agent named Murphy, the same agent that fingered Simon for the mole, for Simon’s coffee-shop shenanigans. And so Simon gets to keep playing black-op bad man for his allegedly alien kin. He looked less than thrilled by the prospect.
Simon wasn’t the only Whatchamacallum to get a sobering wake-up call—and Sterling wasn’t the only one revealed to have a complicated relationship with a parent. Thomas got rapped on the knuckles (figuratively) and slapped across the face (literally) by Sophia for his tactics as leader of the at-large Whatchamacallums. She was irked at him for not faithfully executing her orders and for his aggressive tactics—blackmailing President Martinez; “infecting” the Avias 514 passengers–and she scolded him as if he were a child who had resorted to reckless means to establish independence from (and prove himself to) his mother. And since we learned for certain that Sophia really is Thomas’ mom, I guess that last sentence isn’t mere couch potato psychoanalysis on my part. After processing their issues and reclaiming her authority of all her kind, imprisoned or otherwise, Queen Whatchamacallum got down to business with her uppity prince: Plotting the escape of the Whatchamacallums at Mt. Inostranka and opening a portal that will get them “home,” wherever home may be.
This “portal” is very similar to the boomtube that Thomas opened in the skies over Miami to zipline Avias 514 to Arizona. However, according to Thomas, “a few more key components” are needed to fine-tune the technology needed to pave the kind of quantum superhighway that’s needed to bridge the distance between Earth and their final destination.
NEXT: A 24-esque storyline in the making?
Those final components appear to be the kinds of things that can be found inside nuclear missiles—and so it appears we’re heading in to true 24 territory, with the Whatchamacallums playing the role of terrorists chasing after radioactive MacGuffins. Will they succeed in getting the stuff they need? I say, yes. Will they succeed in opening their Stargate? I say, yes—but there will be a twist, perhaps the defining twist of the series. For surely the opening of the portal is “The Event” we’re waiting for. But will it truly be a gateway to another planet in outer space, as we’re being encouraged to think—or could there be another explanation for what and where this “home” might be? A parallel dimension? The future? Heaven?
*I do like Sean and Leila. I really do. But I really didn’t like the crazy conspiracy theory reporter lady that entered their arc in the last episode, and I really hope her odd, even suspiciously abrupt disappearance last night was the show’s way of saying: “Yep. That wasn’t working for us, either.”
*Hal Holbrook finally showed up, doing his shadowy Deep Throat character from All The President’s Men, but this time he’s running the conspiracy instead of blowing the whistle. He’s Dempsey, the mastermind/puppet master pulling the strings on Carter and his mercenary team of Samantha-abducting, wannabe presidential assassins. He’s got money, he speaks military speak, he raises expensive genetically modified plants that bloom monthly instead of every other year as they should (that was a metaphor for something—but what?), and he has an unspecified medical condition. Is Carter his son? Could he be the leader of a splinter sect of Whatchamacallums? Or is his medical condition linked to those prematurely aged—or older than they look–Benjamina Button girls that Team Carter has hidden away? Will Samantha be the key to his cure?
THEORY! Hal Holbrook’s character isn’t a Whatchamacallum. He was a solider that signed up for a secret military experiment designed to create super-soldiers using genetic material harvested from those poor alien Inostrankans! Yes! And now he’s trying to cheat death by trying to replicate the technology or serum or whatever that made him and he’s… uh using Samantha clones as test subjects? Okay, my thinking on this matter is still coming together. Or maybe I just have too much Captain America on the brain.
*Thomas has amassed a fortune by using his superior Whatchamacallum math skills to play the stock market. To avoid drawing attention to himself, he set up some guy in the Midwest to play the role of an investment guru. Might this front man/proxy happen to be named Warren Buffett? FUN FACT! Dairy Queen is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, whose chairman/CEO is Warren Buffet. Dairy Queen is famous for its blizzards—and The Whatchamacallums crash-landed in blizzardy conditions and are ruled by a queenly matriarch! Put that in your McFlurry and eat it, you… you… who am I talking to? Anyway, my logic is sound and explains everything and you are dazzled by it. Feel free to tell me so in the message boards below—or better, ignore me and share your own opinions about this (above average?) episode and theories about the show’s advancing (and suddenly interesting?) mythology.