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American Odyssey - Pilot - Advance Preview: "The best drama pilot of midseason"

Premiering Sunday April 5 at 10/9c is NBC's new drama American Odyssey, formerly titled Odyssey. The show follows three strangers whose lives suddenly collide when an international conspiracy unravels. I must say this was an outstanding pilot that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I will tell you why in this preview. Please note that this article was based on the screener of the pilot. There will be changes from the episode I've seen, but since I won't spoil major plot points it won't be a problem for now.

We start right away in Mali, North Africa, in the middle of gunfire. An American military unit is looking for the wife of Al-Queda terrorist Abdul Abass, but stumbles upon Abass himself who is then killed. The unit realizes they made a big catch and are possibly looking at a hero status. However, Sergeant Odelle Ballard (Anna Friel) investigates the terrorist's computer and finds a file that suggests a major U.S corporation is funding the terrorists. The unit receives orders from Colonel Stephen Glen (Treat Williams) to stand down and some private military men led by Frank Majors (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) come to pick up the evidence and body of Abass. Since Sergeant Odelle doesn't the trust the men, she downloads the files on the computer to a USB drive. The unit leaves, but that evening they are attacked and everyone is killed. Everyone except Odelle, who is the sole survivor. However, since she is still in Mali, she is absolutely not out of danger. In fact, she is captured by terrorists where she meets a young boy named Aslam (Omar Ghazaoui), who might be a potential ally.

Back in the States, an attorney named Peter Decker (Peter Facinelli) is investigating a company led by Alex Baker. Peter discovers that the company is under investigation from the IRS and that the mortgage of a man named Danny Gentry was paid off by the company. Peter has some questions for Danny, but Danny is unwilling to answer them. He may or may not change his mind later on. It becomes clear that Peter is not going to give up easily. We also meet his family, including daughter Maya (Elena Kampouris), in the pilot. How Peter's investigation connects to the events in Mali, is something that you're gonna have to see for yourself.

The third person connected in the conspiracy is Harrison Walters (Jake Robinson), a protestor who is the son of a well-known book writer. When his protest in Manhattan gains media attention and Harrison is shown on television, a reporter from Time named Ruby Simms (Daniella Pineda) becomes interested in him. The protest later switches its attention to the unit that was killed in Mali and are asking 'Who killed them?'. One of Harrison's friends, Bob Offer (Nate Mooney), is a kind of conspiracy theorist and discovers some crucial evidence in regards to the events in Mali.

We also meet Odelle's husband Ron (Jim True-Frost) and her daughter Suzanne (Sadie Sink), who are of course very upset when they hear Odelle is dead. The aforementioned 11 actors and their characters comprise the regular cast of the series. One of the character's lives is pretty much in limbo at the end of the episode, but who it is remains to be seen. Below is a nice photo of the entire cast.

The pilot is a fast-paced hour that immediately throws its viewers right in the conspiracy. This is really a thriller, and it delivers from beginning to end. The story is gripping and the acting is superb. Even though the episode starts out a bit disjointed and you are wondering why the attention is divided between the events in Mali and those in the US, it gradually becomes more and more clear how it all fits together. I must admit that the pilot is complicated and not easy to understand. I am not sure I understand everything that happened in the episode, but I do know the big plot points. Even after a second watch I still have various questions though, and obviously this is a serialized thriller that will answer more questions (and pose new ones) every episode. Don't be surprised if you find yourself watching the pilot a second time to get some more grip on the main events. The screener I have seen was 52 minutes in length as opposed to the standard 43, so it's inevitable that some things need to be cut from the version I watched. However, I have no idea what will be cut since there really isn't anything that can be deleted. Since I haven't heard that the pilot is supersized or anything though, I suppose there will be some changes.

A personal surprise for me was seeing Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in the pilot, probably well-known for his role as Mr. Eeko on Lost. When I watched the pilot for the first time, it was just a couple of weeks after I had finished Lost and Mr. Eko became one of my favourite characters on that show. So it was nice when I saw Adewale on my screen again.

All in all, this is the best midseason drama pilot I've seen. And for those wondering, the other midseason pilots I watched are: ABC's American Crime and Secrets & Lies, CBS' Battle Creek and CSI: Cyber and NBC's Allegiance. In comparison with the fall pilots, American Odyssey is right up there with the best three I have seen, which are ABC's How To Get Away With Murder, CBS' Scorpion and the CW's The Flash. I hope the series can stay on the same quality level as the pilot.

That's it for now. American Odyssey starts Sunday April 5 at 10/9c following the other new NBC series A.D. (which is a sequel to The Bible). Will you be watching? Let me know in the comments below.

About the Author - Daniel van der Veer
Daniel van der Veer is a Dutch university student studying Psychology. On SpoilerTV he is a reviewer of NCIS, The 100, Stalker, Madam Secretary and the upcoming show American Odyssey. He also enjoys LOST, Arrow, NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, Nikita, The Blacklist, Scorpion and How To Get Away With Murder.
Recent Reviews by Daniel van der Veer (All Reviews)

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