The Event, “To Keep Us Safe”

Leading up to “To Keep Us Safe,” NBC ran hundreds (thousands?) of promos noting that the episode would deliver all. the. answers. I’ve been down that road dozens of time with ABC’s promo department in reference to Lost (even when I didn’t care about the answers), but I have to give the Peacock and the series a little credit for actually telling the truth. A number of the questions introduced in the pilot episode of The Event are at least partially answered here in episode two.

The problem? If your mysteries were never interesting to begin with, the answers aren’t going to hit as hard as you think they do. Another problem? If your characters are one-dimensional, putting them in the middle of the “interesting answers” doesn’t really work either. So in general, while “To Keep Us Safe” is a better, less manipulative episode than the pilot, it’s still manipulative. And it’s still mostly bad.

So, Sophia and her prisoner people? Aliens! They crashed in Alaska in 1944, have DNA that’s 1 percent off those of humans, age much slower and won’t admit why they’re on the planet. And…there are more of them! ninetysomething of them were captured by our government, but some of them got away, including the sinister-seeming Thomas (Clifton Collins Jr. in the house!). Turns out the free faction of aliens used their technology to stop the plane from killing the president. Oh, and Agent Lee, the guy who was trying to track down the plane by himself in a SUV last week? Also an alien.

Oh, and although the alien faction led by Thomas saved all the people in the plane, they landed it in Yuma, Arizona and then apparently killed them all to send a message, perhaps to the government who have now re-imprisoned Sophia and her people.

Meanwhile, Sean figures out that sketchy Vicky has something to do with Leila’s kidnapping, though it looks as though stoner boyfriend had nothing to do with it since more sketchy bad guys led by D.B. Sweeney killed the stoner and grabbed Leila. And of course, Sean’s now being framed for the murder.

The episode tries really, really hard to make us care about the Sean-Leila pairing with a few nice flashbacks, but it’s still not enough. I don’t care if she gets killed and I’m totally confused on why Sean matters in this grand scheme of things. After hearing Sean’s story, the FBI agent says something along the lines of “Wow, that’s a grand conspiracy just for little ol’ you” (probably not even close, but you get it) and that’s how I feel about the story too. Why does this guy matter?

Okay, so there we are. The answers are out on the table. But while it’s nice of the series to not drag things out too long, the execution of the reveals here is almost too matter-of-fact that it’s staggering. Oh, it’s aliens, okay! Oh, there are more aliens, okay! Maybe because it’s a different approach than what we’re used to, but it feels…off. Plus, though answering questions up front suggests the story has more interesting layers to come, I’m not convinced The Event is going to be able to tell a story about aliens that we haven’t seen before. Isn’t this just V or Invasion all over again only with more government, 24-style espionage melded in?

I’m still in on The Event for now, just because I want to see how the series goes about its business in episodes five and six. Though we never see it, it is easy to answer big questions in episode two. Now there are different questions that need answering and I’m not sure throwing out short, quick answers in every episode moving forward is going to work. Sure, Lost dragged out some mysteries for too long, but there is something to be said for mystery, manipulated or not. If The Event decides to rapidly answer questions each week without filling in characters or creating any sense of real mystery, it’s going to fill a lot like this episode — meaning, tedious as hell to sit through.

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