I’ll briefly apologize for not getting my review of last week’s episode to you in a timely fashion. I have no good excuse, and you should feel free to chastise me. That being said, this post will review both the March 17 episode, The Grey Hat, and this week’s episode (part 1 of the two-part season – let’s hope not series – finale), Event Horizon.
The Grey Hat
In the wake of hacking incidents like the Target fiasco of this past winter, I doubt that there are many people who believe our internet infrastructure is safe. But in order to continue living in this society which is increasingly dependent on computing power and e-commerce, we must suspend our fear of those who would take over government and corporate networks for their own uses. We go about our daily lives believing, at least on the surface, that our internet conversations and transactions are private, free from prying eyes and preying fingers, telling ourselves that “we” don’t have any evil intent, “we” live quiet unassuming lives, so why should anyone be interested in anything we have to do or say, between friends, employers or retailers. But this is a potentially harmful self-deception, and it would probably be safer to have a more paranoid outlook, more along the lines of those who “prep” for physical disasters. Even former President Jimmy Carter has said that he believes his personal correspondence is watched.
So what does this have to with Intelligence? The Grey Hat focused on a cyber-attack, eventually believed to be caused by a hacker with the pseudonym Cortez, that had as its goal to bring down the security at a California nuclear reactor, and cause it to shut down. Riley and Gabriel are able to track down Cortez, looking for residences with personal electric generators in use during the resultant blackout; they get to the apartment in time to prevent Cortez, who in reality is a teenage hacker named Troy (guest star Octavius J. Johnson), from being killed.
They rescue Troy, and convince him to help them find out who has been copying the cyberworm he created to conduct this attack. They learn that Troy is actually a computer genius who used his skills to get out of a foster-living situation after his parents died 10 years ago and he is separated from his older brother; he hacks his way into financial independence, but eventually understands the threat caused by the cyberworm and helps CyberCom find the friend who sold his code to terrorists.
A note to the writers: the revealed motivation for the hacking incident, to create a nuclear disaster that would create more sufferers of radiation sickness to focus attention on victims of the Chernobyl event, was used too quickly after the episode before this one, Cain & Gabriel, where the bad guy’s motivation was to create an event that would produce victims with a condition similar to the one he suffered from, to focus attention on finding a cure for the disease…
The number of things Gabriel can do with his chip are increasing – as he learns more about it, and as it becomes more a part of him, he has more control over it. The scope of what he can do with this – from viewing personnel files to opening locks to accessing secret governmental databases – and the “renderings” (kudos to the ZOIC team of graphics creators!) he creates with the information are an integral part of the show; but smartly, the writers aren’t so in love with Gabriel’s chip that it becomes the sole focus of the show. That would turn it into a parlor trick, rather than a really cool tool.
Last night’s episode is part 1 of the two-part season finale. There’s been no word one way or the other about cancelling or renewing this show – at this point, us fans would be happy to learn at least that it will return as one of next year’s mid-season replacements, but we’d be much happier if it were given a slot in the fall line-up. The show has consistently grown in viewer numbers; the subplots and characters are interesting; and we need Josh Holloway on TV!
Throughout the season, CyberCommand has been under a continuing threat – from the US government. Director of National Intelligence Tetazoo (Lance Reddick) is suspicious and fearful of the abilities shown by “the asset,” Gabriel. He’s put up roadblocks and undermined Lillian Strand’s leadership. This tension hasn’t been highlighted in every episode, but it seems to come to a head in this one.
The first scene is a clandestine hotel-room meeting between the Deputy Director of the FBI and Alexander Hatcher, the former Director of Command for Middle East Intelligence; Hatcher is offering proof of an Iranian terrorist plot called “The Flood.” Both are killed in the hotel room. While trying to use his ability to render the scene from security cameras, and, in a fascinating piece of CGI, from reflections in drops of water on a champagne bucket, Gabriel seems himself as the killer. But he can’t say definitely that he didn’t do it – after having a drink or two with Riley the night before, Gabriel wakes up feeling the effects of a hangover, but he didn’t drink enough to have one, and remembers nothing else about the night. Dr. Cassidy agrees that there is a possibility that Gabriel’s chip could have been hacked, and worries about someone controlling Gabriel through the chip. Tetazoo, who seems to have been monitoring discussions within CyberCommand, takes Gabriel and Riley into custody, supposedly to “keep our asset safe,” but expresses his concerns that Gabriel is the killer. Not a big Tetazoo fan, Gabriel answers, “Judging from your files, you’re more likely to have committed this murder than I am.”
Riley is also under suspicion – as Gabriel’s protector and guard, she could be covering up for him. Her interrogator questions her objectivity toward Gabriel. He says that they had some concern about her – that she was young and female, and might form an attachment to “the subject.” He tells her she needs a lawyer, and must pass a polygraph – do you think either Gabriel or Riley will sit still for this? Gabriel punches Tetazoo and walks out; Riley escapes separately but meets up with him, and off they go to try to figure out what has happened and why Gabriel is being framed. Tetazoo relieves Lillian from CyberCommand and orders the Cassidys and Jameson to hunt Gabriel. They have no allegiance to Tetazoo, however, and meet Lillian in a local diner (where the milkshakes are “awesome,” and they each order one. Michael Rady – Jameson – said on Twitter last night that he was “SO sick from eating all those milkshakes – seemed like a good idea until the third hour of shooting that scene”) to strategize both finding and helping Gabriel and Riley, and determine who is behind the attack.
Lillian talks to her father, Leland Strand (Peter Coyote, in a returning role), who tells her that “The Flood” is a myth, the Loch Ness monster of the intelligence community. He explains that it was rumored that Iranian intelligence attempted to use a Soviet technique of putting “sleeper agents” into the US, by recruiting men and women already in the US who were sympathetic to Iran. But there is no evidence that this ever happened, Leland insists.
They figure that it has to be someone with the same abilities as Gabriel has – and Mei Chin quickly becomes the top suspect. They’re able to lure Mei Chin into contacting Gabriel through their chips’ connection, and she tries to convince him that they should be together. While she’s distracted by being involved (cyber-involved) with Gabriel, Riley is able to physically take her into custody, where she reveals that someone in the US Government paid her to kill the men in the hotel room and frame Gabriel. They don’t want to turn her in to Tetazoo, and attempt to get her to talk to them; Tetazoo, however, has been able to see and hear everything they communicate to each other, and sends his squad to arrest them. When he goes to take them into custody, Gabriel is shot – Tetazoo insists it wasn’t his men – and Gabriel, Riley and Mei Chen escape.