Is That The Event? Or Are You Just Happy to See Me? -Finale Recap & Review

24 May

Remind me to never sign onto a show based solely on the pilot... and fire my agent...

At long last, after a cool pilot and twenty episodes of crap, The Event finally comes to a close, and the answer to “what is the Event?” is (maybe) revealed. Though The Event didn’t redeem itself at the last minute in the same way as FlashForward, it did have a pretty baller ending and could have had a cool second season. If it had been renewed, I would have been compelled to watch the second season premiere. But luckily for me and the rest of the American TV-watching public, The Event has put taken out back and shot like Old Yeller. Maybe next year I’ll actually do recaps for, you know, a good show, maybe Fringe or my new favorite series, The Walking Dead. Probably not Game of Thrones though, as everyone and their mom is doing that one.

Sorry we got cancelled, bra. At least you're playing Scorpion in Mortal Kombat, right?

Anyways… the season/series finale of The Event. There was really only one thing about it that was cool, which was the potential reveal of the titular happening, so I’ll save that for last. Other than that, “Arrival” was chock-full of what makes The Event just so awfully mediocre. As much as I like action scenes, it’s a little ridiculous how practically every episode of The Event features at least one, if not multiple, gunfights. Some have been cool, like when Thomas attacked the poorly-protected Uranium rod convoy, but generally they’re pretty blasé. I’ve read lots of other recappers reference 24, and it’s true The Event kind of seems like a poor man’s 24 that features aliens instead of terrorists. I believe even the creators themselves described their show as a mix of 24 and LOST.

We all knew the Spanish Flu was never going to be released. As soon as they set up that the virus could kill 98% of the human population in a matter of months, it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen, as all our main characters would be dead and the show would be over- though that’d be quite the bold move, huh? So there was only the minutest amount of drama when Sean & co. were blasting away at Sophia with their gats, though I did really appreciate seeing the Aaron Eckhart alien get riddled with bullets and then fall dramatically onto a pile of boxes. What was actually much cooler than all the gunplay was Sean talking Sophia down, trying to tap into the reason she abandoned halfway through the season when the writers decided, oh yeah, we need a villain and that Clifton Collins Jr. guy just ain’t doin’ it for us.

Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed members of the cabinet: I am the biggest douche who ever lived.

Much of the rest of the finale was mind-bogglingly contrived. As much as I like Blair Underwood, Bill Smitrovich and Roger Bart, most of the White House stories were really dumb, especially once Jarvis tried to kill Martinez for the second time and became president. I know Smitrovich is a good actor because I watched him on Millennium, but here he’s overacting like nobody’s business, probably because he’s presented with such terrible dialogue and doesn’t know any other way to make it believable. And as much as I wanted to see Jarvis get his comeuppance, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when Martinez pulled the oldest trick in the book. Oh, I don’t have any evidence to prove you tried to poison me? Okay, I’ll just stick a tape recorder in my inside pocket and catch you saying you were involved on tape. Guess Jarvis never watched a movie or TV show. Probably too busy, being the world’s worst vice president and all. But really? You didn’t think that one through, guy? Also, isn’t the White House filled to the brim with wire taps? It’s the White House for god’s sake.

So, whatever. In typical Event fashion the writers took about three times as long to resolve a conflict than necessary. In fact, this show would have been all around better if the story had moved along at a much more rapid pace, which I’ll get to once I discuss the ending. First I want to mention the other ridiculously contrived sequence from “Arrival”: the announcement of a predictable pregnancy no one cares about. The manner in which The Event unveiled Serena Van Der Woodsen’s pregnancy was so heavy-handed that it should be taught in film school as an example of how not to compose a dramatic reveal. The second the nurse told Serena she had found something else in her tests, I knew she was pregnant. It’s a hot girl, in a hospital, who we saw have sex before, who already has the Spanish Flu, so what the fuck else could it be? Unless she also has AIDS and/or cancer, it has to be a baby. So don’t try to drag it out and force-feed the situation drama when there isn’t any. Just SAY IT. We all know it, so just say it. And if you wanted to make it dramatic, the whole scenario needs to be more inherently dramatic. Take Scully’s pregnancy at the end of The X-Files’ seventh season- Scully is sick and collapsing a lot before we learn she’s pregnant, but since there’s all this weird alien stuff going on and she’s already been implanted with a cancer device in earlier episodes, we don’t assume it’s a pregnancy. So when she says it in the very last moments of the episode, it’s a surprise.

For Chrissakes, Serena Van Der Woodsen, would you just die already?

I was literally gesticulating wildly and telling the TV to hurry up during the scene where Serena tells Sean she’s pregnant. I was twirling my wrist around and saying, “Come on, come on, just say it: I’m pregnant. I’m-preg-nant.” That’s how long the dramatic pause was, that’s how much the writers tried to stuff tension into a scene that had none, like the way people force-feed ducks to make foie gras. You know what would have been a cooler twist? If Serena had just died. Just straight up died of the flu. There’s three actors on this show which bring down the show’s otherwise impressive acting pedigree: Lisa Vidal as Christina (her facial expressions and the way she screams “Elias!!” are comedy gold), Taylor Cole as Vicky and Sarah Roemer as Serena Van Der Woodsen. And though Vidal is probably the worst, Roemer is the most boring. Her vacant stare, her monotone delivery- it’s like she’s intentionally trying to act bad. Even Vicky, the world’s hottest and weirdest CIA agent/assassin is more interesting, and probably even a better fit for Sean. Thankfully, now that the show is dead, I’ll never have to watch Serena Van Der Woodsen plod through her lines as if being on a TV show makes her depressed.

And now, to the actual Event. So, we finally got the second mention of the Event, from Simon, in a monologue that actually does match up with the brief conversation he had with Sophia in the pilot. Turns out, in an effort to rip off The X-Files, the aliens of The Event originate from Earth and left because of “the Event,” something bad that would happen if humans and “non-terrestrials” coexisted. Simon describes it as some kind of “evolution” of their species, hinting that it will make them more powerful, but also be bad for humanity. Okay, that’s vague… Sophia elaborates further by explaining her Spanish Flu plot was actually an act of mercy, as leaving humanity alive to witness the Event would be a far worse fate.

And then the ground starts to rumble… the sky lights up, kinda like on LOST… the camera zooms through the blue portal and BAM:

Suddenly there’s a new planet sitting next to Earth, the aliens’ homeworld, with its southern hemisphere scorched, presumably due to the aforementioned solar flares of their dying sun.

Did that just happen?

Well… gotta say I didn’t see that coming. With all the talk of portals and bringing 2.5 billion aliens to Earth I never thought they were just going to teleport the ENTIRE PLANET. It was the first surprising and genuinely cool moment the show had delivered since that wormhole opened up in a basement. Though I’d like to point out that the gravitational disturbance caused by tossing another Earth-sized planet in between it and the moon would probably be instantaneously devastating. Oh yeah, and Christina definitely is an alien. Big surprise.

Was that actually “the Event?” Hard to say, considering Simon’s vague description. But it certainly was an event and many bloggers seem to just assume it was the Event. The writers did promise it would happen this season, as did last week’s promo.

So a cool twist, but it’s too little too late. Though nothing probably could have saved it from cancellation, I think The Event would have benefited from a pace that was three times faster. We didn’t need to spend so much time with Dempsey and Thomas and all those subplots that never really amounted to anything. The plot should have always focused on this “arrival,” and should have gotten there halfway through the season. If Earth 2 had arrived at episode 12 and the remaining 10 episodes dealt with the ramifications of that, it would have been a much more interesting show. This is the sort of wacky sci-fi stuff I wanted the show to be about, not some hacker running around getting himself into trouble while an alien soap opera unfolded behind the scenes. But clearly the writers hadn’t thought any of this out, or the show wouldn’t have been such a mess.

I hope future sci-fi series can learn from The Event’s mistakes, though I figured they already would have learned from the failures of Heroes, FlashForward, Threshold, Surface and Invasion. But I guess TV writers don’t actually watch TV. If you’re going to tell a story that’s complicated and has a dense mythology, you need to pre-plan it. You need to have some idea of where the story’s going, so you don’t end up wasting time in your middle episodes because you don’t know where to go with the plot. And if you don’t know where it’s going, you have to then at least artfully pretend like you know what you’re doing, like on LOST. Even there, it ultimately backfired as the writers reached their final season and just totally fucked everything up.

Though even with such improvements I doubt The Event would have been any better. The pilot impressed because it seemed fresh and original, but it became almost immediately apparent that the writers weren’t exactly the most talented bunch. Dialogue was stiff and often silly, with lots of forced drama such as those I mentioned before. Even if you have cool ideas, and throwing another planet into Earth’s orbit is a cool idea, it can’t be saved if you’re a fundamentally mediocre screenwriter. There were also certain aspects of the show’s mythos and structure that were just plain weird. Sorry, but aliens that look and talk just like people and are only different in that they don’t age just isn’t cool. On The X-Files, the aliens originate from Earth and are connected to us genetically, but they’re also awful little grey men who can shapeshift and have poisonous blood. That’s cool. Also, spending so much time with the aliens when a) we didn’t really know anything about them and b) they’re essentially the villains, was a weird choice, particularly when their story was so overly melodramatic. Dempsey was also a bizarre character, a creepy old man first presented as the big bad, then revealed as Earth’s savior and a descendant of “sentinels” right before blowing his own brains out. The Event should have spent more time on the history of the aliens and the sentinels rather than pursue plotlines such as Sean’s crusade against Dempsey and the Spanish Flu plot which ultimately went nowhere, and which everyone knew would go nowhere.

If anything, I’ll miss The Event because it was just so damned fun to make fun of.

Do I regret watching all 22 episodes? A little. Even though that ending was cool, I do feel kinda dirty, and the warning my parents always gave me, that I’m wasting my life watching so much TV, actually has some resonance now. But what’s done is done, and I can only hope that these recaps actually courted some readers and that said readers enjoyed them. In a perfect world, Nick Wauters and a couple NBC executives would have read this too and realized what they need to do to mimic the success of LOST, which as I’ve already mentioned, was itself highly flawed. Part of the reason I want to get into TV is that I love it so much, but feel constantly disappointed, even by good shows. I think there’s an impending TV renaissance, one that will finally elevate the medium to the level of cinema and literature, and I want to be a part of it. But shows like The Event are several steps in the wrong direction. If we keep pandering to the masses like this, and also continue to inundate the boob tube with reality television, arguably the scourge of mankind, said renaissance will never occur. TV will always play second fiddle.

Score: 6.3

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