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Intelligence 1.12 "The Event Horizon" Review: What Makes Us Human - Part One

    Intelligence, “The Event Horizon,” was written by the team of Executive Producer Barry Schindel and showrunner/creator Michael Seitzman and was directed by Russell Lee Fine. Fine has experience with this type of show with past credits White Collar, Hostages, and Graceland. This episode is the first half of the season one finale and Seitzman and Schindel will also be penning the next and final episode of the season. It’s always great to have those first and last episodes written by the creator, so that characters especially can be pulled back on track. We still have no word on whether the show will be back for a second season, so it will be interesting to see how they wrap up this two-partner – will it end on a cliff hanger or will they tie up most of the loose ends?

    An event horizon is the boundary in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. It’s also the point of no return at which point the gravitational pull toward a black hole becomes inescapable. It seems most likely we are to view the renders that Gabriel (Josh Holloway) shares with Mei Chen (Faye Kingslee) as the event horizon of the title. The question becomes has he entered the path to her black hole or has she entered his? Gabriel is able to bring others in with him, however, to trap Mei Chen.

    While the case at the heart of the episode was pretty easy to unravel, the episode is memorable for giving us lots of the characters we’ve come to know – and in my case, love. I loved watching Lillian (Marg Hellgenberger) facing off against Weatherly (Tomas Arana) and Tetazoo (Lance Reddick). We see them finally oust Lillian from Cyber Com. Weatherly is still willing to entertain the possibility that Gabriel is innocent, so it’s possible he will be an ally going forward. She’s still able to rely on her team, however.

    I loved the scene in the diner when they order milkshakes. Nelson (PJ Byrne) of course, orders chocolate, Shenendoah (John Billingsley) orders strawberry, Jameson (Michael Rady) orders vanilla, and Lillian, surprisingly orders butterscotch. Their choices are a nice reflection of their personalities, and I liked that Jameson and Nelson balanced each other. I really like how this show adds layers to its characters. Lillian’s butterscotch is playful and humanizes her much like her nickname, Rooster.

    Lillian also relies on her father, Leland (Peter Coyote). He gives her advice, but I don’t trust him after his last appearance. I don’t think he’d put her in danger, but I also don’t think that at the end of the day he’s going to stick up for her. I have to wonder if he is actually part of the mysterious “Flood” at the heart of the frame up. Or perhaps he’s using her to get to the bottom of it. Lillian’s one weakness may be that she does care about her team, and especially Gabriel. Rooster may seem like a silly shout out to Lillian’s red hair, but it also shows that Leland think of her as equal to a man, and roosters are the ones to announce the coming of the day – he can rely on Lillian to shake things up and say what’s going on. I would bet that Leland is the one to send the shooter to the meet up, however. He tries to tell Lillian she’ll get nothing from Mei Chen and to be careful. I’ll be very surprised if he isn’t the one who either hired Mei Chen or at least knew about it.

    Gabriel and Riley (Meghan Ory) are forced to go on the run, but not before they are interrogated. Weatherly interrogates Riley. She is annoyed that they are even suspecting Gabriel. She tells Weatherly that to her loyalty means support, dedication, and commitment – and those are the things that she gives to Gabriel throughout the episode. She also clarifies that “He’s not my client, he’s my partner.” This points to a huge divide as to how the various factions think of Gabriel. Riley, Shenendoah, Nelson, Jameson, and even Lillian see him as human. Weatherly sees him only as an asset, and Tetazoo sees him as a robot/cyborg as a dangerous weapon who can’t be controlled. While other’s value Gabriel’s humanity, it does mean that he has something a robot doesn’t have: free will. When Gabriel calls himself a robot, Riley punches him and he says “ow” – leading her to point out that robots don’t say “ow” – they don’t have feelings. 

     Weatherley had concerns about Riley, that she was a woman and would form an emotional bond with Gabriel. It has nothing to do with her being a woman, but with being a human being that she forms attachments with other people. Weatherly also brings up her killing her mother’s boyfriend. He points out that she killed to defend her mother not save herself and he wonders how far she would go to protect Gabriel.

    I liked that they addressed the inherent will they/won’t they and that Lillian speaks up to say it’s a sexist consideration. I liked that Nelson jumps to that conclusion with a “Shut up!” that Gabriel immediately also squashes. While the two have undeniable chemistry, I prefer them not going that route – not that it would prevent me from watching is they did go down that road.

    It’s interesting that Riley is most often the one to make the big leaps in breaking the case. She’s the one who figures out from the crime scene that Gabriel couldn’t have done it. She is also the first one to jump to Mei Chen. This was one part of the episode that I did find weak. It was pretty obvious that it was her to me.

    Once again the episode does draw some really interesting parallels between Mei Chen and Gabriel. Mei Chen is alone while Gabriel is surrounded by people who care about him. She is desperate for contact with someone who is the same as she is. She sees herself as more powerful. She tries to turn him against his friends because she thinks they are hunting him – but his friends aren’t. She asks him if he gets lonely and he confesses that he does. While he’s clearly playing her, this felt like a moment of truth. He is pushed to escape primarily at the moment that Tetazoo threatens to remove the chip. Gabriel has stated that he doesn’t want to lose the chip. Even though it makes him different, it’s now a part of him and how he sees the world. Gabriel tells Mei Chen that she’s alone because that was her decision, but she reminds him that she didn’t choose to have the chip implanted – it was forced upon her.

    Gabriel is shot, and Tetazoo and his men show up. But Tetazoo denies controlling the shooter. Gabriel believes it’s Lillian. Mei Chen knows it’s a trap because she was hired by the government to frame him.  The episode ends before we learn who hired her.

    As always I loved the scenes with Nelson and Shenendoah. When they reach the house and see Gabriel’s note to come to the workshop, Nelson insists his father get behind him so he can protect him, only to have Shenendoah do the same thing until he can prove Gabriel is in control. I loved Shenendoah getting upset because there isn’t a clearer way to say the technical stuff. I know some find the comic touches from Byrne and Billingsley take them out of the show, I find it adds to it, providing a respite from the tension. Byrne and Billingsley shine in every episode because they can play both comic and serious convincingly. It also humanizes them – something that is woven right into the series’ main theme.

    I’m betting we find that Leland hired Mei Chen and that Lillian and Tetazoo will now work together to bring Gabriel in safely. A quick shout out to the whole team who really brought their A-games to their performances this week. I adore Ory in this role and it's an embarrassment of riches to have a show with two strong female leads as Helgenberger is also terrific. What did you think of part one? How much did you enjoy Gabriel bashing Tetazoo’s head into the table? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!