“Mr. Nice Guy” was weird. I really want to love this show, and for that I need it to succeed, but last night’s episode was a big step backwards when the show desperately needs to improve upon its shaky start.
The show almost lost me with an early scene of people playing at a park with some kind of clear glass-looking ball thing. Then the camera swoops around and there’s a baby with a big touch screen on the front of its stroller. And some other ridiculous stuff that is less “cool and futuristic” and more “boring and impractical.” And can we talk about how literally every near-future sci-fi seems to really think all the phones and tablets and computers of the future are going to be made of clear glass and what a terrible idea it is? And even if it’s not the worst idea ever, I know for a fact that this has been a sci-fi standard for at least my entire lifetime, and it’s still not nearly as cool as prop makers seem to think it is.
Also, can we talk about the perennial sci-fi insistence that technology is going to drive people apart and diminish human interactions? The singles club that Vega and Dash go to in this episode, where people just touch armbands to calculate their compatibility (I guess, since it’s never really explained exactly what the % on the bands represents) is absurd, and the show takes itself a little too seriously for it to be funny. The biggest problem here, though, is that this matchmaking tech completely undermines the big idea of the episode, which is ostensibly concerned with toxic masculinity and pickup artistry and male entitlement. In a world where people can connect (or not) by just touching their armbands at a club, how is there still room for either pick-up artistry or the type of Nice Guy™ mentality that leads to the explosion of violence that Dash and Vega spend the whole episode trying to prevent?
It’s not that I don’t think these things will still exist in forty years–pick-up has been going strong since the 70s, and Nice Guys™ are probably eternal–but you can’t imagine a future in which these things logically shouldn’t exist (or at least shouldn’t exist the same way they do today) and then still use them as a major part of your television show. Unfortunately, this means that this week’s case of the week just didn’t work at all, and in this sort of procedural show that’s a very bad thing.
The other thing that didn’t work in this episode was the dynamic between Dash (Stark Sands) and Vega (Meagan Good). I still stand by my initial statement last week that our two leads have a nice chemistry, and the actors certainly work well together, but the relationship between their characters is starting to get, well, weird. In an episode that deals so heavily with male entitlement, the most striking display of it comes from Dash, whose drive to stop the murders that he sees is feeling increasingly self-centered as he continuously pushes Vega to bend rules and work outside the boundaries of her role as a police officer.
These characters are supposed to be partners, but I’m not buying it yet, and I don’t think that can truly happen until they are working together in a legitimate fashion. I don’t see what the benefit is to Vega in the current situation. She’s relying on an informant whose information is spotty and possibly inaccurate. They have to keep Dash’s existence and identity secret, which means that they don’t have the support and resources of the police department. Vega is already taking actions that could jeopardize her career–turning off her body cam, giving a police-issue weapon to a civilian, selling police reports–and her other relationships–especially with Blake (Wilmer Valderrama) and Akeela (Li Jun Li), who both seem to sincerely care about Vega. It just seems to be all very one-sided, with Dash getting to do work that helps him feel better about his visions and Vega taking on all the risk and responsibility. We’re two episodes into the show, and it’s already obvious that Vega’s apprehension of criminals in this way is raising a ton of questions from higher up in the police organization.
It’s a problem, and the simple way to solve it is to bring Dash in to the police force through legitimate channels as a consultant or something. This would allow Vega and Dash to work more closely together, create more opportunities for interactions with the show’s truly excellent supporting cast, and it would cut straight to the meat of the story, which pretty much has to be “what happens when people find out about Dash?”
The show is doing some great set-up for that eventuality, and the best scenes in this episode were in service of that bigger plot, but the episode was dragged down with a nonsensical case of the week that felt more like an advertisement for awful future technology that no one in their right mind wants than an actual story with real human people in it. I want more of Arthur, Agatha, Wally, Akeela, and Blake. And I want less silly future technology. They can keep Vega’s lenses, though. Those are actually pretty cool.
One thought on “Minority Report has some cool ideas, but it’s too busy showing off its future tech to develop them”
I definitely agree with you about the technology. At times it is rather cheesy and absurd. I expect it to a degree. It’s a futuristic show so I fully expect them to have fun with the technology. I think it’s the fact that I can just envision the green screen and actors flailing about trying to pretend like they are doing something important on some elaborate whatever. I get secondhand embarassment just thinking about it. I especially feel it most for Stark and the prop department for that cheesy head ensemble Dash has to use to retrieve more information from his visions. I also cringed during the crime scene walk through in the pilot with Vega and Akeela. It was overly chereographed. The contact lenses are cool at times. That selfie bit was utterly ridiculous. I think if they don’t overdo it and let the stuff sort of speak for itself in the background rather than going out of their way to highlight it, as if to remind us that it’s a futuristic show, as if we’ve forgotten (this goes for some of the dialogue too) they should be fine. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your audience, basically.
I disagree with you on the last point. It’s true that Dash and Vega’s relationship is easily one of the highlights and strongest aspects of the show. The leads have great chemistry. Vega is definitely jeopardizing her career with what they are doing. She’s putting herself at risk. Her stakes are high. But Dash is putting his livelihood and that of his siblings at risk. His freedom and everything else. His stakes are exceptionally high too. It’s not just aspects of his life but his actual life at stake. I don’t think he’s taking that lightly. On the flip side, just like Dash may come across insensitive because Vega is jeopardizing herself so much, Vega comes across the same with Dash. She doesn’t fully understand his abilities so her pressuring him to the degree that she does can come off equally as insensitive. Her impulsive headstrong nature has her willingly putting herself at risk without always thinking these through or figuring out a solid plan. She signed on to work with Dash, which she can barely manage just yet and she’s already dragging his brother into it without thinking of the costs. Every time they hit a wrinkle and she feels the time crunch, she resorts to forcing dash’s hand to involve his estranged brother, and she knows that it apparently costs Dash something each time but she doesn’t give that tidbit much thought. Dash’s reluctance alone would give most people pause. So in that sense, I don’t think it’s one sided at all. Their relationship is new and they haven’t hit their stride yet, but in strengths and in flaws the pair are different but definitely equal. Not one sided at all.
I’m assuming that they are heading in the direction of making Dash some sort of consultant. I mean Vega is already close to being on the hook over him and it’s only been 2 episodes. So I’m guessing that that is their plan which is why I’m holding off on critiquing that just yet. It’s already being compared to Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human. In Almost Human it was already an established set up for robot human pairings in the field. And Ichabod was made a consultant early on in Sleepy Hollow and the supernatural parts are what had to be secret. I’m thinking that since Blake mentioned that task force to Vega that happen to be about basically what she’s already doing, that’s the steps they’ll take to making Dash an asset without putting her job in jeopardy completely.
I’m more peeved that so far they haven’t been able to solve a case without going to Arthur for a name. It’s already gotten old, and the cases haven’t even appeared to be that difficult just yet.
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