The Vice President goes off the reservation, while Leila fights to save Sean's life

By Darren Franich
November 16, 2010 at 01:45 PM EST
Adam Taylor/NBC
S1 E8
type
  • TV Show

So the government is now blaming Flight 514’s disappearance on “Brazilian Separatists.” (I like to visualize Blake Sterling pulling that card out of a “Random Terrorist Group” box, right next to “Finnish Anarchists” and “Communist Penguins.”) The passengers will be allowed to go home, presumably to await a collective reappearance in a freaky cliffhanger six episodes down the road. But President Martinez hasn’t interrogated anyone all day, so he brings Michael Buchanan into a dark room for a serious talking-to. Buchanan has no helpful information to offer, except for one incredibly precise detail: His captors nearly called off the hijacking of Flight 514, until they got a phone call at 1:08 PM telling them they were clear. “I don’t know how that could be any help to you,” says Buchanan, not realizing that that random piece of information is actually the key to solving everything…this week.

As day is followed by night, so a good Whatchamacullum-centric episode of The Event must be followed by a miserable hour of Sean and Leila running in circles and Vice President McCain Jarvis suffering a crisis of faith. (Your regular recapper and Whatchamacullum Whisperer Jeff Jensen certainly dodged a bullet this week. Unlike Sean! Sorry, sorry…) Let’s start with the relatively good half of this episode:

The Passion of the Veep

Vice President Jarvis was looking anxious. He didn’t like being kept out of the loop on the whole Michael Buchanan situation. Cue flashback to one hour before the assassination attempt, and a quick replay of one of the first scenes from The Event’s pilot. After the President steadfastly refused to turn back from introducing the Inostrankans to the public, Jarvis ducked into a limo and phoned Evil Hal Holbrook, who insisted that killing the President was good for the country. Otherwise, they’d release “a dangerous unknown entity into our midst.”

In the present, the President worked alongside Sterling on tracing phone records. (The Martinez administration is either incredibly shorthanded, or Martinez is the most hands-on President in fake-President history. Next week: President Martinez unclogs the pipes in the Oval Office washroom!) Jarvis phoned Evil Hal in a panic. He explained how he only got involved in the assassination plot out of his “misguided sense of patriotism.” This identifies Jarvis as a classic 24 villain – the guy who’s “Ruining America, but Only to Save America.” Jarvis threatened to take down Evil Hal with him. “We should meet somewhere,” said the shadowy elder, in a tone of voice that seemed to clearly suggest a surprise assassination. “I can’t leave now!” said Jarvis. “I’ve got a meeting with the Appropriations Committee!”

Flashback to: the GOP convention, two years ago. (Okay, we don’t really know which party Jarvis belongs to, but I’m ruling out Democrats and Whigs.) Jarvis gives a rousing speech which we can presume is both more geriatric and less handsome than Candidate Martinez’ speech. Called upstairs to the VIP lounge, Jarvis speaks to Dempsey, who fills him in on Martinez’ search for the first bipartisan ticket in modern history. (Shades of Lincoln, who did just that when running for re-election. Unfortunately, his running mate was Andrew Johnson, generally regarded to be the worst president ever who’s not named Warren G. Harding.)

NEXT: Is it possible we’ve been sucked into watching an incredibly straightfaced parody of the last decade of serialized TV drama?

(Aside: This bipartisan-ticket arc strikes me as an instance where The Event is missing out on a potentially fascinating plotline in favor of plot kinetics. Basically, in the Eventverse, Robo-Obama and Robo-McCain joined forces and founded a coalition government. This is fascinating. I’m not looking for The Event to suddenly morph into The West Wing, but don’t you think it’d be possible for the show to express at least some element of the intense politicking required to keep that peace? Or at least show any part of the governing process that doesn’t involve the President interrogating suspects?)

The Veep slipped out of the Oval Office under the pretense of sneaking away to his physician. When the President called the Secret Service and demanded they bring Jarvis back in, he managed to slip out through a door that the Secret Service didn’t know about. Jarvis ran straight into Vicky, recently reinstated as Evil Hal Holbrook’s number one killer. She held a gun on Jarvis…but then turned it toward her cohort, before demanding that Jarvis come clean. Dempsey “sold you on patriotism, but that’s not what this is about,” she said, without elaborating in any way.

And so, America’s second worst vice president phoned the Oval office with some news. There follows the rough transcript of their final conversation:

Vice-President Jarvis: “I’ve been involved in some very terrible things.”

President Martinez: “You almost killed my family, Ray! My family!”

Vice-President Jarvis: “I thought I was doing it for the good of the country.”

President Martinez: “My family! My family!”

Vice-President Jarvis: “I’m working for a very powerful man, who won’t stop at anything!”

President Martinez: “My family! Who is it, Ray? My family!”

Vice-President Jarvis: “His name is…sorry, I’ve got the hiccups. His name is…whup, darn, dropped my keys. Anyhow, his name is [LOUD EXPLOSION!]”

I’m seriously beginning to wonder if The Event isn’t actually an incredibly straightfaced parody of the last decade of serialized TV drama. Thoughts?

The Continuing Adventures of Running Man and Girlfriend-Woman

There were two brilliant moments in last night’s episode. The first occurred early. Sean and Leila had been running away from last week’s explosion, but once they turned a corner, they just started walking. Now, me and you and everyone we know were screaming at the TV set, “Um, somebody was just trying to kill you, how about you keep running until you’re out of the tri-state area, okay?” But instead, they picked the middle of an empty street to have a serious conversation about their lives. Sean delivered a quote he should get printed on a T-shirt so he can point to it all the time: “We’re onto something, or they wouldn’t be chasing us!” Leila thought they should head west to California, so they could get to the bottom of everything.

Now, the brilliant part: As they were walking, we saw one of their pursuers hilariously fall to the ground from the second story of a building. He was just out of focus behind them, and the way that he fell looked so silly that it actually seemed incredibly threatening. And then, without cutting, we saw the pursuer fire a bullet right through Sean. I guess it was his shoulder, but it sure looked like a lung-shot at first. (Full credit to episode director Jeffrey Reiner, one of the most distinctive TV directors working today. He helmed several eps of Friday Night Lights and the eye-popping Caprica pilot, and also made Trauma way more exciting than it had any right to be.)

NEXT: Uh-oh. The Sean-Leila plot takes a turn for the stupid.

From here, the plot went downhill. Sean and Leila broke into a car, and Sean taught Leila how to hotwire a car using a helpful screwdriver. Leila kidnapped a doctor to work on Sean and suspiciously purchased an entire OR’s worth of drugs and materials at a local Value Aid. When cops showed up in the parking lot, Sean for some reason left the car and crawled into a nearby alleyway, even though it’s presumably easier to just duck under the windows than walk outside and leave a trail of blood behind you. The doctor performed some combat surgery on Sean. Surprise, he made it. (For about a second, I thought Sean might actually die and we’d see some new twist on the Whatchamacallums’ resurrection powers. But this episode was apparently designated a Whatchamacallum-free zone.)

There ended the billionth installment of the Tale of Sean Walker the Running Man and his Beloved Girlfriend, Girlfriend-Woman. Did anyone else notice that it was night in the later Sean-Leila scenes while it was still daytime over in the Veep plotline? I realize The Event isn’t exactly going for chrono-crosscutting, like 24 or Lost, but the change from daylight to nighttime was beyond distracting. (Actually, it’s a problem that Heroes suffered from a lot in its later seasons. Sorry to drop the H-bomb, people, but it’s true.)

The Second Brilliant Moment of the Episode

So, after a week of treading water, we at least deserve one big reveal, right? Evil Hal Holbrook sucked down some droplets while discussing Vicky’s latest betrayal. In the second-most-enjoyable single shot of the night, we saw Holbrook walk over to a mirror, and his face…changed. I watched it a few times on replay, and it would appear that he actually became younger for a few seconds, which dovetails nicely with last episode’s reveal of the old-young girls.

I still kind of like Doc Jensen’s notion that Holbrook is the leader of a splinter sect of Whatchamacallums…which would, in turn, indicate that these strange beings are not naturally semi-immortal, but rather, have access to some sort of compound that keeps them young. (A compound which Holbrook occasionally swallows to stay alive.) Still, you could just as easily have read this as an indication that Holbrook is a regular old human attempting to use some element of the Whatchamacallums’ body chemistry to remain young forever. This would add an intriguing Fountain of Youth element to the series.

Viewers, were you as unimpressed with last night’s Whatchamacallum-free drama? Was Hal Holbrook ever actually young? Is Vicky the most beautiful character ever to have no dramatic purpose whatsoever? Will there ever be another bipartisan Presidential ticket?

EVER WISH EW.COM HAD A RADIO STATION? Quit living in the past, man or lady! In this week’s TV Insiders podcast, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and Michael Slezak grade the first week of Conan, pick the funniest Modern Family character, and discuss the trouble with the Survivor: Nicaragua cast and Bristol Palin’s improbable run on Dancing With the Stars. Click here to download the TV Insiders podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to an embedded version below!

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