It is a dark and stormy night eight months before Precrime officially began…… Yes, this is really how episode 5, The Present, opened. I’m already wondering if this episode is in trouble, before delving further. I want to love this show. I want to care deeply about the characters. My expectations were very high, from the time I learned the series was in development. This show, unlike many others, has a built-in structure that should give it a solid jumping off point. I want it to meet the bar that was set by the movie. As of now, I’m not quite certain it’s making the mark.
The opening sequence has me sighing, at the convenience of it all. What do I mean by that? The first storyline layer shows a police officer killed in cold blood, without provocation. There’s no prompting necessary to figure out this clue. It’s obviously the unsolved death of Detective Vega’s father. It just so happens, the Precrime unit was being beta tested before going public. Second, it’s Vega’s birthday. She utterly hates birthdays. Why? Only the little fact, that she shares it with her deceased father. Third, the faceless murder victim in the vision, we find out is none other than Vega herself. The rare Red Clouds jersey, offered as the main clue within the vision, is later given to her as a birthday present by Akeela. The tidy three beat combo storyline is trying too hard before it even leaves the station. Within the first ten minutes, we know, the cold case murder of Vega’s dad will be solved, Vega will not be murdered, and perhaps birthdays will be a less overwrought occurrence.
The sub thread, with ominous Agatha trying to convince Arthur that Vega is going to betray them, is growing tired. She blackmailed her neighbor to get intelligence. Only the knowledge, that the federal government had additional plans for the Precogs before Precrime ended, was found. So very little information to be making assumptions. She’s hanging Vega on an uncorroborated vision. In the Precrime days, that would end in a minority report being filed. Why is she so certain someone will betray them? How is she so certain it’s the future she’s seeing and not a traumatic reliving of the past? For being the strongest Precog, she’s pursuing a vision’s potential future with great ferocity, on very little substantiated data. I find this exceedingly frustrating to her character and moving the story forward in a believable way. Simply because the federal government’s milk bath plans are in existence from the past, is not a predetermined future. I need more from Agatha.
The other continuing thread is Dash and Arthur’s relationship. Arthur is caught in a Precog tug of war between Dash and Agatha. I find it interesting that in the beginning, he seemed stronger than Dash. His waffling, has weakened his position and conviction. In order to placate Agatha, he refuses to willingly help Dash, even when that means he’s going to get punched in the mouth. Dash, on the other hand, is growing in conviction and power. I imagine, he and Agatha will have a severe knock down drag out fight in the near future.
The body of the episode has the usual red herring would be killer, the real killer or motivation, hiding in plain sight, with a side of interesting detail. I absolutely like the victim memory room at the prison. The mementos placed in glass cabinets for viewing. No victim forgotten. Lo and behold, the watch Vega’s dad was wearing when he was killed, is found by Vega. Of course, Vega has to track down the beta test vision, in order to find her father’s killer. There’s a welcome hitch in the plan. No beta test visions exist, except for within Arthur and Dash’s memories. Once learning Vega is trying to close her father’s case, Wally compassionately pulls out the one piece of new tech this episode. A machine that can extract forgotten memories. The twins must be hooked up together in this machine. The dynamic between Arthur and Vega is a pleasant aside as she convinces him to help her. It’s not so sweetly, his birthday present to her. The boys undergo a painfully dramatic process of memory extraction. Successful, the memory reveals, Dina Winters, from the prison clinic, as the one who killed her father.
This is where I begin to like this episode. In an emotional passionate outlay, Vega confronts her father’s killer. Her normally controlled self, gets caught up in the moment. She’s enraged to physical violence. Raw power is used, as she pushes Dina to confess and onto the glass table, shattering it. She’s burning to get a confession. I love how she’s willing to escalate further. Then Dina’s son comes, in defense of his mother, gun in hand. A boy also willing to do whatever it takes. He’s wearing the jersey from the vision. He’s the one who is meant to die. When diffusion occurs, one must sigh with relief. This is an excellent, surprising twist. This is a beautifully acted and crafted scene. These minutes save the episode. Every action and inaction work effortlessly. I’ve been waiting for this type of meatiness. I’m rooting for more of this quality, here on out.
The wrap up of this episode pays off. It’s not perfect or pretty, and it’s just right. A senseless death is avoided. Vega gets information and a clue to who the real killer is. She also gets to start the beginning stages of healing and closure. Arthur and Dash make a truce. In the final gut wrenching moments, Vega gives her mother, her father’s reclaimed pocket watch. It’s a stirring and rich scene with believability written all over it.
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Minority Report airs on Mondays at 9 pm Eastern/8 pm Central on Fox TV.
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