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The Morning After: Uneventful

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Spoilers for last night’s episode of The Event coming up:

The problem with The Event, and broadcast-network mystery serials in general, comes down to a question: what was the lesson of Lost?

I would argue that the lesson—which few if any attempts to make “the next Lost” seem to get—is that if you start with fresh, original writing, a script with a few surprises and daring, and three-dimensional characters each with distinctive voices, people will get engaged and stick with your show, frustrations and all, for six years.

I would argue that. But somebody else would say the lesson of Lost was: it’s about the mythology, not the characters. Characters matter only insofar as they advance the plot. And that plot has to deliver answers, quickly—answers, answers, answers, chop chop chop.

Well, as promised we got a big answer quick in the second installment of The Event. As you and as far as I can tell the entire rest of the Internet guessed, the answer was: aliens. [Note: not necessarily extraterrestrial ones, as noted below, but UFO-crashing, advanced-technology-having ones, be they from another planet, time or dimension.] Basically, The Event shapes up like a big Earthbound V, with the conspiracy somewhat reversed and with the aliens our captives (somehow, despite the fact that they also apparently have extremely powerful, fearsome technology).

I saw last night’s episode and next week’s in advance. And yes, the episodes answer questions that they pose. There are cliffhangers and shockers, and I would say the regular episodes are easier to follow (with only some time-jumping to complicate things) than the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink pilot.

So The Event has delivered a story that I can clearly understand, and promises answers. But do I care what happens in that story and what those answers are? No, I do not.

I do not care partly for story reasons (an alien crash really was the obvious explanation, and now we’re basically left with a Syfy series on a somewhat higher budget), but mostly because there are a bunch of 8 x 10 glossy photos where real human characters with personalities and motivations are going supposed to be. Character isn’t just a bonus to be backfilled in later, a way of dressing up a good story or making it classy for the Emmys. It’s essential to story: it is the reason that things unfold in the series as they do, as well as the reason that we engage with the story, because we can place ourselves within it.

Then again, the pilot of The Event did a strong rating, and I have to accept that there are people who watch this show, just as there were people who watched Lost, for entirely different reasons from why I do. If you’re one of them—or if you’re not—tell me what you thought of The Event 2.0.