Sophia puts Thomas in his place, while Sean and Leila run through a cornfield

By Jeff Jensen
Updated November 23, 2010 at 03:55 PM EST
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Adam Taylor/NBC
S1 E9
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  • TV Show

When you stop to think about it, there’s never really a convenient time to kill anyone–especially your mother. Some circumstances are better than others, however, and one that ranks pretty low on the list would be while trying to steal the key to your rocket ship from a box of liquid energy hidden in the basement of a government nuclear facility. But Thomas, the Warren Buffet wannabe leader of the Whatchamacallum sleepers, either has a different opinion on the matter, or his judgment was ridiculously impaired by a double-whammy of womanly whippedness. He’s got an emasculating mother who doesn’t believe in him — How about Sophia’s reminiscence of unsuccessfully trying to toughen up her wimpy rain-spooked son by dragging him outside during a downpour? Who taught her parenting class? — and he’s got a smoking hot lover jonesing to be his Lady Macbeth/Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate. Meet Isabel, who over the course of 66 years of secret sleeper living, has developed a taste for Earthbound luxury by becoming a successful (i.e., cold, ruthless, bullying) corporate attorney representing soulless monolithic companies. (A previous relationship with Patty Hewes didn’t work out—she had too much class (action) for him.)

His balls squeezed by one vicious Freudian vise, Thomas decided to alleviate his manly suffering as he and mom were making a play for The Key, a phallus-shaped thingamajigger with glowing circumscribed ridges which, when inserted into the proper contraption, will help open a “corridor” that will take the Whatchamacallums home. After Sophia pulled the magic light saber from the magic box like a very small sword out of a very weird stone, Thomas pulled a gun and ordered his mother to turn around so he could shoot her in the back of the head. Chicken! Sophia was, like, whatever. Shoot me in the face or knock it off already, you wussy little brat. Thomas trembled and crumpled, his rebellious gumption shriveling into raisins. Coup d’etat? More like coup d’tater tot.

The plan was that, after wresting control of the Whatchamacallum party from Mother, Thomas was supposed to meet with Isabel at their favorite spot by the Potomac, the one with the lovely view of the Capitol Building. But it was Sophia who showed up instead, looking shaken but smugly victorious from her cloakroom brawl with her son. Or like Nancy Pelosi. Whatever works for you. She emerged from the mist like Banquo’s ghost; Isabel, shocked, crapped her gray power suit. Strangeness ensued. Sophia wouldn’t or couldn’t kill this traitor, the hussy that tried to manipulate her sadsack rain-chicken son into aspiring to a station beyond his capacity or character. Instead, she put a gun in her hand and gave her a choice: Isabel could shoot her, or she could prove her loyalty by swearing off any further contact with Thomas and shooting herself… in the leg. I thought: “What, do Whatchamacallums keep their brains in their knees?” But apparently, and mysteriously, there are fates worse than death for these (alleged) aliens–like busted limbs. “You’re forcing me to maim myself?” Isabel asked, appalled. Ummmm… Yep, pretty much. And so she did. Sophia walked to the car and told her son “I know this isn’t easy for you.” And they drove off into the night, Isabel wailed for her new lameness, and I wailed at The Event for one seriously lame episode-closing scene.

NEXT: Brace yourselves, Event-defenders. I’ve got a few more gripes!

But “Your World To Take” was a gimpy episode all-around, and before you Event defenders say “But it was a set-up episode for next week’s Fall Finale! Set-up episodes are always sucky! It’s like a rule!’” I say: There are “Event defenders”? Yes, this show has been on a meager little roll over the past couple weeks, but that roll came to a full, screeching stop last night—and then rolled backwards a few dozen yards. I can’t imagine a “Fall Finale” as un-eagerly anticipated in the (short) history of network (bogus, desperate, creations-of-marketing) “Fall Finales”—especially in light of reports that the reason the show is being shelved for three months is because NBC wants to “relaunch” it. Translation: Try to mend this badly maimed Whatchamacallit, or at the very least, put the show in some position to end itself with dignity, with some semblance of completed story. May I suggest they take a week and watch the second half of FlashForward? It’ll give the producers an idea of how not to do it.

There was at least one thing that happened in “Your World To Take (back to the store for a better episode)” that I actually kinda-sorta liked: The opening sequence, in which all the Whatchamacallum exiles from all across the country (world?) received a numeric page (1121944—or November 2, 1944, the date that they arrived on Earth)—a code that meant: “Report immediately to a very large conference room in Washington DC for an important meeting regarding our future here on Earth.” It was like the Whatchamacallum version of the Batsignal—although if it was actually the Whatchamacallum version of “Order 66,” and all the Whatchamacallums suddenly turned into Jedi-murdering stormtroopers, it would have been even cooler.

During this First Congress of the Sleeper Whatchamacallums, we heard a lot of words that, as always, would seem to indicate that the Whatchmacallums really are aliens, while at the same time were so carefully, precisely chosen that they could support a totally different conclusion, be it time travelers or parallel-world doppelgangers or genetically engineered humanoids from… somewhere. Either that, or The Event just doesn’t want to ever be specific about this, because it wants the Whatchamacallums to forever occupy a metaphorical space that can represent any kind of Other that we find “different” or “threatening.” But good lord, I hope not. To be honest, I think the only reason why I’m watching this show is because I want an answer to this mystery. Is there really any other reason to keep going?

What we learned: Going home is an undesirable option for many Whatchamacallums. “Home,” in the words of one, is “ barely viable… and there are other dangers that I barely need to lay out.” (So perhaps the Whatchamacallums not only hail from some dying planet like Krypton, but perhaps they represent a minority group that is persecuted or marked for death by some ruling party.) Yet Sophia made it sound like they had little choice but to leave, as they are all bound “by the same directive… we are not allowed to do damage to benevolent civilizations.” (But are they allowed to do harm to less-than-benevolent civilizations? And who makes the call on benevolence? And have the Whatchamacallums given other civilizations on other planets/parallel worlds/time periods a try?)

NEXT: Theories about what the Whatchamacallums might do to the Earthlings.

Besides, she said: “You know what staying will do to the native population.” Okay, Sophia, I’ll bite: What will happen? Produce a population of prune-faced, prematurely old Benjamina Buttons like the girls at Dempsey’s Junkie Hotel Day Care Center? Impact the gene pool in such a way as to produce a new kind of advanced human being that the Earth isn’t ready for—Premature Starchild Development Syndrome? Destroy the environment? Corrupt our culture? Usher in a new era of must-not-see TV? And so we wait for answers. Or not, or and watch The Walking Deadinstead.

Also, Sophia said the Whatchamacallums at Mt. Inostranka could have escaped at any time, and they were only staying there to protect the lives of the sleepers in hiding. I don’t like this idea, to be honest. I don’t know why. I guess if I cared more, I’d think about it.

In other news, Sean and Leila were chased through a cornfield by one of Dempsey’s goons. Which might have been the slowest, least compelling cornfield chase ever filmed. Sean and Leila inched closer to finding Samantha. Dempsey’s goon had been assigned to snag Leila and inject her with Benjamina Button juice. I might care more to ask why if not for the fact that I feel utterly defeated by Sean and Leila, a couple I once liked, whose scenes in the pilot gave me reason to hope that The Event could be grounded in relatable, appealing characters, but now just leave me “Eh.” I fear they have been hopelessly squandered. As a reader Tweeted to me last night: “Sean and Leila are like having Nikki and Paulo as main characters. Except less fun or interesting.” Ouch. Maybe a little harsh for me—yet creeping precariously close to feeling totally accurate.

Meanwhile, Jarvis survived. Who? Oh. Right. Hooray?

Not enough Zeljko this week. Maybe that’s why I’m so grumpy.

Message boards: Yours.

WHEN YOU’RE OUT TO DINNER WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY, DOES THE CONVERSATION INEVITABLY TURN TO TELEVISION? Then our TV Insiders podcast is tailor-made for you! In this week’s edition, Annie Barrett, Dalton Ross, and Michael Slezak discuss the shocking final three on Dancing With the Stars (and interview brutally candid eliminated pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy), dish the season’s best episode of Survivor (and interview master strategist Brenda Lowe), and sit down with EW’s resident Grey’s Anatomy recapper Jennifer Armstrong to discuss the medical drama’s creative resurgence. Click here to download the TV Insiders podcast to your MP3 player, or listen to an embedded version below!

Episode Recaps

The Event

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