This week on “Family Ties” — er, “The Event”: Blake Sterling has feelings! And daddy issues! Sophia smacks Thomas! And Hal Holbrook is eeeevil!
Leaving aside for a moment the fact that the show is begging to be compared to “Lost” with the character flashbacks, let’s look at the context of the way-back ride in this week’s episode, “I Know Who You Are.” Blake Sterling, we learn, was badly duped by a female Russian operative 14 years ago, to the point that his spymaster dad had to do Blake’s wetwork for him and take out his Russian-spy lover.
It helped make Sterling the cold, calculating man we’ve come to know, but apparently not so good at his job that he can’t still be suckered. Granted, Thomas and new free-living EBE Aaron do an excellent job of throwing him off of Lee’s trail, but Sterling had a pretty good pile of circumstantial evidence in Lee’s personnel file. Either he’s playing a longer game, or he’s been hoodwinked but good, in which case it’s just gotten much more difficult to care about what he does.
I know we’re not really supposed to like Sterling, or trust him, but the reason he seemed intriguing/dangerous/whatever was because he was apparently so good at his job. Seeing that undercut as we did tonight doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot for the character.
As a narrative device, though, the Sterling flashback wasn’t as illuminating as Lee’s backstory was in the previous episode — and really, “The Event” will do itself no favors by so directly aping an element of “Lost’s” storytelling style. We’re not advocating for a return to the crazy back-and-forth of the pilot, but a more judicious use of flashbacks, whether plot- or character-driven, would probably serve the show well in the long run.
In other family-related news, we now know why Sophia and Thomas are so at odds: She’s his mom! And as kids do, he’s rebelling against his parent by going against her diplomatic nature and, you know, bringing down buildings and nearly killing a couple hundred airline passengers. Fortunately for him, though, she’s in a forgiving mood (after slapping him across the face) and just wants to know how Thomas is doing with the get-us-home project.
Things have progressed (and he’s made a ton of money investing thanks to the EBEs’ higher math and “a guy in the Midwest” — so Warren Buffett is in cahoots with aliens? Hee), but Thomas still doesn’t have enough raw material to get his people home. Moving the jetliner and collapsing the building is about the best he can do right now — and they’re going to have to steal some nuclear warheads if they want to “open the portal” and get back home. That’s not going to make the president happy, we suspect.
Finally, “I Know Who You Are’s” other big development features our first real look at Hal Holbrook as the Man Behind It All. We don’t know why he’s so anti-EBE, what he really wants or where his power lies, but he’s up to something involving making abducted girls (including Leila’s little sister Samantha) age prematurely. Oh, and he likes genetically engineered flowers, which also probably has something to do with prematurely aged little girls.
What did you think of “The Event” this week? It felt like a table-setting episode to us — what do you think happens next?
Photo credit: NBC