Episode Title: "A Message Back"
Writers: David H. Goodman & Nick Wauters
Director: Norberto Barba
Previously on "The Event":
Thomas (Clifton Collins Jr.) made plans to create more portals to his homeworld by stealing nuclear rods. To stop him, Sophia (Laura Innes) reached out to President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood) and warned him about the attempt. Although the President no longer trusted her, CIA Director Blake Sterling (Zeljko Ivanek) stepped up as the voice of reason and sent Simon (Ian Anthony Dale) to guard the rods personally. But Thomas counted on Sophia’s actions and used the opportunity to nearly assassinate Sophia and take the rods at the same time. Simon and Sophia both narrowly survived, but the President lost all faith in her and ordered his men to take her down without holding back at their next opportunity.
Meanwhile, Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) left his girlfriend Leila Buchanan (Sarah Roemer) behind and practically hulked out in a bar when a patron tried to fight him. He then broke into his sister’s apartment where he got a lecture that inspired him to take on the men that tried to assassinate the President. Towards that end, he earned his new nickname "Side Window" by sneaking up on former black ops. agent Vicky Roberts (Taylor Cole). He then proceeded to demand that she help him take down her former employers.
Two SETI technicians pick up a signal from outer space. While one of them reviews its contents, his partner murders him and then sends the message to Thomas. He celebrates with his oddly avian-like lover, Isabel (Necar Zadegan). But the celebration is short lived as the news from home isn’t good. Elsewhere, Dempsey (Hal Holbrook) tells one of his henchwomen that he needs more girls "to continue his work" and smiles creepily as she then approaches a little girl at a playground. Back to Sean and Vicky, she basically laughs off his attempt to hold her at gunpoint and take on Dempsey… until he tells her that he has once again set up information about her son to be released online if he dies.
In the White House, the President is so obsessed with finding the aliens that he actually deploys the military on U.S. soil to find them. Vice President Jarvis (Bill Smitrovich) then enters, and gets a standing ovation from the room for coming back from his injuries. Only the President looks on with disgust, knowing that Jarvis tried to have him killed. In San Francisco, Thomas reaches out to Sophia and tells her that they need to meet in person to discuss the news from their planet. She doesn’t trust him, but he insists that all of their people on Earth have to unite.
On the road, Vicky shares a heartbreaking story about her first kill to Sean, only to laugh it off as B.S. moments later. At a diner afterwards, he reveals his plan to get to Jarvis at a campaign fundraiser event that night in the Ambassador Hotel. Back at the White House, the President actually tries to physically intimidate Jarvis into stepping aside; which alarms Blake. After Jarvis leaves, Blake tells the President that they’ve tracked down Sophia through her phone. Blake later tries to express his concern for the President’s mental state, but he is dismissed until he gets an update on Sophia.
Once in Washington, Sean and Vicky confront Ted and Cynthia Fisk, a wealthy couple invited to the fundraiser. After subduing them and stealing their identities, Vicky tries to kill them. However, Sean insists upon pistol whipping them himself. Meanwhile, Leila overhears Carlos (Jose Zuniga) talk about the alien meeting with his wife and subtly follows him. Meanwhile, the President and his men spot Leila’s father, Michael Buchanan (Scott Patterson) with Sophia and realize that they are about to meet with their alien brethren. At the campaign dinner, Sean and Vicky successfully sneak in and get Jarvis alone in a room.
Back at the hotel, Ted Fisk wakes up and alerts the hotel staff. At the same time, Sean threatens Jarvis until he admits that Dempsey has left for the Jura Mountains in France. Sean and Vicky escape moments before the secret service agents flood the room. In Los Angeles, all of the aliens converge on an abandoned cathedral. Even Leila manages to get inside. Once assembled, Thomas tells them that the sun near their home planet has gone supernova. To save their race, he argues that they must unite and bring the rest of their people to Earth.
But now that the aliens are all in one place, the President orders the military to move in and capture them. Thomas tells Sophia what’s happening as the building is quickly surrounded.
"The Event" slowly seems to be improving by inches and it’s encouraging to see that it has dropped the annoying flashback structure for the last couple of episodes. The emerging fight between the White House and the aliens is actually interesting to watch. The main problem still lies with the cast itself. President Martinez has gone from being a rather idealistic leader to a deeply paranoid wannabe bad ass. And Blair Underwood is just not convincing in his new persona. When a character is going to change that drastically, it needs a lot more buildup than what we’ve seen here.
As for Sean, it’s completely ludicrous that Jason Ritter is billed as the star of this series. The show constantly struggles to find things for Sean to do or it gives us half-thought-out ways to keep him invested in the story. Without Leila around, he doesn’t have any real motivation to get involved. I understand why the creators feel the need to have an everyman hero, but Sean is just not leading man material. The one saving grace of his storyline (aside from hilarious visual shout outs to "The Incredible Hulk" that popped up in the last few episodes) is that Taylor Cole is very entertaining as Vicky. I particularly liked that she took the time to f*** with Sean’s mind by spinning the story about killing her step-dad.
Vicky is also one of the few characters on the show who generally isn’t incompetent… except when it comes to letting Sean get the drop on her and blackmail her… again and again. I strongly suspect that Vicky is up for a "face turn" as well as being Sean’s next love interest. And I can see why too. The scenes where she forged their identities and when she smuggled a gun into the campaign dinner were some of the most entertaining moments of the night. It was a little over-the-top, but at least it was fun.
Another thing that is holding "The Event" back is the lack of consistency with its characters. A few episodes ago, Thomas wept on his knees rather than shoot his mother, Sophia. And last week, he was willing to order her death. This week, he wants to reunite with her again. As a villain, his back-and-forth motivations have made him seem like nothing more than an intergalactic momma’s boy. And Dempsey is no better. The only truly villainous moment we’ve gotten from him was the creepy way he watched the little girls at the start of the show. The series badly needs a strong antagonist to define the action. But it just doesn’t have one.
Although if I was given a choice between bringing back "V" or "The Event," I’d pick "The Event" in a heartbeat. It’s far from perfect, but at least the writers on this series appear to be learning from their mistakes.
Crave Online Rating: 7.5 out of 10.