'The Event': A tale of two series

the-event-episode-5-320.jpg "The Event" got some good news Monday (Oct. 18) -- it's been picked up for a full season. We hope that means the show can more confidently plot out its season and lead to better stories down the line.

Any difference the pickup does make, however, won't show up for a while. As for the here and now, "The Event" is starting to feel like two wholly separate shows. Each of them has its compelling moments, but the two primary stories don't have a lot of connective tissue between them at the moment.

One show -- the one that took up the bulk of Monday's episode, "Casualties of War" -- has the president of the United States dealing with a rogue alien (and after what we saw tonight, that seems about the only explanation, right?) demanding the release of the rest of his people. President Martinez and Thomas have a phone-call standoff over whether Thomas will give the Avias passengers an antidote to stop whatever it is they're suffering from and whether Martinez will free one, some or all of the Inostranka detainees.

Thomas is confident Martinez will cave, then rattled when the president doesn't, instead saying he'll execute Sophia and the rest of the detainees if the antidote isn't delivered. He even has a way to do it: Sterling informs him that when the military built the Inostranka prison back in 1944, it set up a "termination protocol" that would pump carbon monoxide into each prisoner's cell. Yikes.

The two eventually strike a compromise, with Thomas delivering the antidote and Sophia going on a Metro ride to who-knows-where, all by herself. Everybody's at least slightly happy for now, except the first lady, who didn't like where her husband took the negotiations.

In the other show, Sean Walker is searching for his missing girlfriend, using all his hacker gifts (and a friend who's gone legit) to track Leila and the people who abducted her. It's a tiny thing, but something of a huge relief in terms of storytelling, to see Sean buy a cell-phone charger so he can hear Leila's voice mail and come to her aid at the bad-guy police station; Sean may not understand everything that's going on, and he may be taking huge risks to find his love, but he's also doing smart little things along the way. It reduces the yelling-at-the-screen quotient by a good deal, which is important for a show that's asking you to accept a lot of other implausible stuff.

The quick-thinking Sean also uses his knowledge of Vicky's son to his advantage, threatening to go public with the information if she doesn't help free Leila. The happy couple is reunited -- and we're thankful that didn't drag out for the entire season -- and Agent Collier bags Carter (who managed to survive being shot and falling off a two- or three-story building onto bare concrete) in the bargain. So, pretty good night for Team Walker.

The problem, though, is that if you came to "The Event" for the first time tonight, you wouldn't really know how the two stories are connected. Yes, Leila had the one line about Vicky and her bosses using her dad to fly the plane at the president, but you'd have no way of knowing that Scott Patterson's character is her dad, or that Sean also figures into things beyond being Leila's boyfriend. After a couple of episodes where it felt like the two threads were starting to intersect, they've moved a little farther apart. Let's hope that trend reverses in the near future.

A couple other notes from "Casualties of War":

- The way the show answered what Thomas and the other free NTOs were waiting for was handled pretty nicely. Whatever technology they had was destroyed when their craft crashed, and they've been waiting for the past 66 years for our tech to catch up. It's a wrinkle we haven't seen much in past alien shows, and it's an effective one.
- To that end, Thomas got himself a job working on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, N.M., in 1945. Wonder if he'll be hanging around Roswell two years after that?
- Scott Patterson's only line this week (that we noticed, anyway) is an anguished "What is happening!?!?!" Come on, "Event." Don't make it that easy for us to make a joke.

What did you think of this week's episode?

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Photo credit: NBC