THE EVENT 1.17 ‘Cut Off the Head’

Sean finally gets his motivation to go up against the aliens. And Vice President Jarvis goes for an Emo betrayal.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Cut Off the Head"

Writers: Evan Katz & James Wong
Director: Norberto Barba
Previously on "The Event":

The World's Greatest Action Hero, Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) used his magical legs to run out of trouble again, when he and his partner Vicky Roberts (Taylor Cole) fell into a trap laid out by Dempsey (Hal Holbrook). While Dempsey prepared to have Vicky killed by burning down his ridiculously expensive French chateau, Sean used his side window skills to ambush Henri (Salvator Xuereb) and torture him into revealing Dempsey's real location.

Meanwhile, in the actual story, Sophia (Laura Innes) went off the deep end of villainy and she decided to exterminate humanity to make room for 2 billion of her own people from their dying planet. Former sleeper agent Simon Lee (Ian Anthony Dale) was alarmed by Sophia's plans and attempted to recruit Michael Buchanan (Scott Patterson) and his daughter Leila (Sarah Roemer) in a bid to stop her. But Michael betrayed Simon and Sophia had him locked away. Back in the White House, President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood) became paranoid that his wife, Christina (Lisa Vidal) may be an alien sleeper agent as well.

Government agents flush out a sleeper agent named Herbert Mills, who transfers his research to Sophia before jumping to his death in order to avoid capture. At the alien run and owned gated community, Sophia tells her people that Herbert's research was being used to locate a superweapon that can wipe out humanity. But because the government is showing frightening glimpses of competency, she elects to take out President Martinez so they will have more time to accomplish their goals. Back at the White House, the President adds a lot of artificial sweetener to his coffee, which I am sure will be of no importance by the end of the episode.

In the morning briefing, Vice President Raymond Jarvis (Bill Smitrovich) suggests that the President bring in other nations to help them fight the aliens, but he gets coldly shut down. It's almost as if the President took it personally when Jarvis was complicit in a plot to kill him. Afterwards, Senator Catherine Lewis (Virginia Madsen) reminds the President that she thinks his wife, Christina  is a sleeper agent and she brings Christina's spotty family history to his attention. She also notes that Christina hasn't aged since Katrina. But he tells her to get out without even making a "Candyman" joke.

Elsewhere, Jarvis looks like he's about to cry over his photo op heavy schedule when Sophia calls him and requests a personal meeting. Meanwhile in France, Sean finds Dempsey's chateau in flames, but he still manages to rescue Vicky and give her mouth-to-mouth to revive her. Dempsey and his thug played by Lane Garrison then confront Sean and Vicky at gun point. Dempsey explains that he was a sentinel sent to stop the aliens. But because Sean has implausibly survived everything that's happened to him, he decides that Sean should be his replacement. So he shoots himself in the head and dooms Lane Garrison to another seven years of obscurity. 

At the alien gated community, Leila fakes an injury to get her "escort" Luis (Noel Arthur) to bring her to the medical house. There she finds Simon tied up to a bed (nice to see the aliens have solved the prison problem). He then gives her intelligence on Sophia's plan and tells her to call for help.  That night, Jarvis meets with Sophia and she lays out her case for joining forces and making him the new President. In his bedroom, the President gets paranoid again when his wife accidentally implies that she went to Belize years before they first went together.

The next day, the President reclaims his wife's file from Catherine. At the same time, Jarvis tries to sell CIA Director Blake Sterling (Zeljko Ivanek) on the idea of letting him negotiate with Sophia, but he is quickly shot down again. Jarvis in turn takes Sophia's deal almost out of spite, while she monologues that she intends to destroy the U.S. even if Jarvis succeeds. Back in sleeper town, Leila fools Luis into thinking that she's into quasi-Terminator aliens and swipes his phone. Leila briefly escapes the house and calls Sean to tell him about Sophia's plans and where to look for the weapon in Siberia before Michael finds her and subdues her.

In the White House, the President gets his wife to confess that her parents are actually… Dominican. But the expression on her face afterwards suggests that she is an alien. At a doctor's appointment, one of the aliens slips Dempsey a poisoned packet of artificial sweetener. And the next day, Jarvis is completely conspicuous as he plants it next to the President's coffee.

I'm amazed that "The Event" finally found an excuse to put Sean at the front of the main storyline… only 17 episodes into the first season. You know, with Jack Bauer on "24," he was almost always deep into a crisis by the end of the first hour. But then that's part of why that show ran for 8 seasons and "The Event" will run for… this season.

Think about this for a moment. Sean Walker has fallen ass backwards into some incredibly lucky breaks to get to this point. There were a few times when he even acted heroically. But for the most part, Sean has been one of the most inept lead characters in television history. For a while it seemed like the writers were struggling to even find screentime for him when the White House vs. Aliens plotline came to the forefront.

But just within the context of the show, nothing that Sean has done should even remotely suggest that he's the man who can thwart Sophia's plans. And yet Dempsey (who I could have sworn was planning vengeance against Sean just a few episodes back) somehow sees Sean's track record and said "that's the guy who can save the world!" And rather than attempt to guide Sean or give him full access to his resources, Dempsey decides to shoot himself in the head?!


At this point, humanity's survival is down to the guy who can't even shave properly. I weep for our future. 

If anything, Dempsey's sudden demise is more evidence that the originally conceived plotlines for this series were thrown out a few episodes ago. How else can you explain why both Thomas and Dempsey were killed off without a real resolution to their stories? There's at least plausible denial for Thomas, since his death helped make Sophia into the villain. But Dempsey's demise was so out of left field that it just felt like a sloppy writing decision. 

It was kind of amusing to see the President descend further into paranoia about his wife. I'm actually not opposed to the idea that she's really an alien, since it could actually track back to the beginning of the series and make sense. It was never explained how the President was given the file about the aliens being held in Alaska, so that's something that Christina could have done. And she was there with the President talking to Sophia when she was still in custody, so it's one of the few plot twists on the show that may actually work. Plus, it would mean that his kids are half-alien too, and I'd love to see his reaction to that.

Speaking of unintentional hilarity, Jarvis' attempts to get back in the good graces of the White House got a few chuckles. But if the President really wanted him gone, couldn't he bar Jarvis from important meetings so he wouldn't be able to slip him poisoned sugar? Or couldn't he have sent him overseas for months at a time? I can see why President Martinez gets no respect. He never comes up with solutions for even simple problems, much less keeping an admitted traitor out of his White House.

The biggest question for "The Event" is whether its newfound direction will be enough to steady its course. Personally, I think it's an improvement on what came before. But at this point, I'm not sure anything can save "The Event" from declining ratings and audience indifference.

Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.