The swirling blue matrix burps the airliner out of the sky, onto a desert plane. Everybody gets bumped around, but it looks like most everybody survives. Sean helps guide everybody out of the plane, onto the emergency slide. He risks his life to save Air Marshall Andy (that's what I'm gonna call him until he gets a name). Michael (the pilot, Leila's dad )wanders out of the plane into a flashback.
He sees Vicky (Yeah, they were set up) holding a gun on his daughters. The bad guys (I'm assuming) are 'convincing' Michael to fly the plane into the President's compound. They've killed his wife, and are not afraid to kill the girls, too.
Back in the present, a fleet of black helicopters approaches the crash site. Michael tells Sean to run, that he can't trust anyone…..
The President is being briefed on the non-crash. They have no idea what happened, but they know that no force on earth could've done it….. queuing another flashback. The President is told of an aircraft crash in 1944, 97 survivors. These survivors were deemed 'Not of Terrestrial Origin'. They age much slower than humans, and they share 99% of our genome. The President thus thinks that they're 'People'. His advisor calls him an idiot without calling him an idiot, pointing out that chimps share 98% of our genetic material. They have been imprisoned in Alaska since 1944- but the President doesn't understand why. But then, the President doesn't understand basic genetics, either.
Back to the Desert. Sean looks like he's either going to have a religious experience, pass out or maybe flash back. Son of a gun, it's a flashback! Back on the ship, Sean and Leila are arguing about him going snorkeling with Vicky and Greg. Except Greg went on an excursion, so it's just Sean and Vicky. So they head out, and Greg drops by to drug her and rub her feet. She summons a security guard who looks familiar (he's one of the bad guys who we saw in a previous flashback). Security dude guts Greg, quite literally, and Leila runs into the hallway where she's grabbed by Joseph C. Phillips (Alright! Not a bit part!) and drugged. MInd you, Sean doesn't know any of this, because it's not his flashback so much as it is a generic flashback.
Sean wakes up in a hospital, dehydrated and heatstruck outside of Yuma, Arizona. The nurse thinks that Sean's babbling is heatstroke, but she calls the police anyway at his request. The police show an APB on Sean for the murder of Greg.
The Event's guide to Life #1: If someone tells you not to trust anyone, that means ANYONE.
The President and his advisor go into The Bunker. They are sure that Sophia's people rescued them from the plane- but they aren't sure how. Advisor-boy thinks that there are outside sleeper agents helping them. They go to visit Sophia to try to figure out what has happened, but they are now sure that there are other Not-People out there
And we're flashed back to 1944 and a brutal crash site. Sophia and her people are there. She summons a man named Thomas. They discuss their options. She tells him to gather all of the able bodied and go- she will stay with the wounded.
The President enters Sophia's holding cell. He was going to announce the alien's presence that day, and try to integrate them into society, but someone apparently thought that was a mistake, and tried to kill him by dropping an airplane on his head. He's figured out that it would've been a mistake, but he wants to know why Sophia deceived him. Sophia tells him that all she can tell him is that they mean us no harm and that she can't tell him where the plane went. She tells him that re-inprisoning them would be a bad idea, but the President is demonstrably bad at taking advice.
The nursing staff back in the Yuma hospital are acting skittish, a dead giveaway if you are a mite paranoid. And after the week that Sean has had, he's justified in that paranoia. He makes a run for it, and we get a Splashback! Five years ago, to when he met Leila in a Boston swimming pool. It's very… cute, and awkward and cute.
We rejoin dehydrated Sean as he tries to shake the police in the halls of the hospital. He fails, and is arrested.
Advisor-Boy finds Agent Lee (who we saw running errands for Sophia last week) and tells him that they now know that Sophia's been hiding an external population of Not People, and he wants Lee at the top. They need to find out the full measure of their abilities…. we flashback to a couple years ago. Lee is getting a blood test on entry to the CIA. He then runs to the bathroom and removes a fake artery filled with Real People blood.
Lee runs to find Thomas and fill him in. Thomas says that transporting the plane severely drained their resources. We learn that Thomas is a lot harder than Sophia and Lee, and wouldn't have minded shooting down the plane instead. However, they did clean the Arizona landing site, and are planning on using the 200 passengers … as hostages, perhaps? He gives Lee the coordinates for the plane, cryptically.
Sean is in the back seat of the FBI car, trying in vain to convince the FBI agents of his story. They aren't buying it at all, because, well, it's nuts. They come to a point where Sean says that the plane is beyond a rise, but it's blocked off. The FBI agents refuse to look, and instead head for a detour. Had they looked, they would've seen Agent Lee and a very crashed and empty airliner….
and 200 bodies laid out on the desert
All through this episode, I kept saying to myself: "Please don't suck. Please don't suck. Please, oh PLEASE don't suck."
You see, the last show that I reviewed that wanted to be "The next LOST" was FlashForward, and that did not end well. At all. Heck, it didn't even 'middle' well. I started watching it with the Republifamily in the living room of the R2 bunker on the nice big HD TV. By the end of the series run, I was watching it on a nine-inch automotive TV in a closet. My family (justifiably) revolted and I was banished when FlashForward time came around.
So, since I drew this show (I'm not quite sure how that happened), I pray the S-F fan's litany: "Please don't suck". And you know what?
It's still early, but it didn't suck.
Sean Walker is a compelling lead, and although there's a strong S-F element, the characterization is not being ignored. I actually care about several of the characters, and the ones I do care about are a teensy bit unexpected. Ritter's character, Walker, obviously. His girlfriend, duh. But I find Laura Innes' Sophia oddly compelling. And I like Agent Lee.
It also becomes apparent that the President is a naive idealist, and that tends to override obvious wisdom. This makes me chuckle, for some reason. I can't quite imagine what it is.
The mystery is developing, but we aren't in the FlashForward trap of answering a question the week after it is asked. The mystery is developing at a good pace; not so quick that it overloads the viewer, not so slow that you feel like you are stuck in the second season of LOST.
So, who exactly are the Not-People, and how many are there? And can Sophia hold the factions together? (Well, obviously not. What kind of series would it be if all the aliens got along?)
Anyway, I'm not banished to the closet yet.
Please don't suck next week!