I’m increasingly feeling very, very alone in my affection for this show, but even this big old mess of an episode hasn’t turned me off entirely. In fact, I think part of my loyalty to the show is exactly because it’s such a disaster, and “The Present” has unfortunate writing and story decisions in spades.
Up until now, Vega has remained a fairly undeveloped character, but this is her episode. It’s been strongly hinted at since the beginning that the reason Vega got into police work and the reason she was so interested in pre-crime was due to a personal tragedy, and this is the week that we finally learn all about it. Yes, “The Present” is Lara Vega’s origin story.
The episode opens with a flashback to a rainy night in 2048, where a different Officer Vega is patrolling a dark alley (called “the Sprawl” of all things) on foot, by himself, whistling and checking his pocket watch, in the pouring rain, (ominously) eight months before pre-crime. His body cam badge flickers off and he starts to get scared–because, really, there is absolutely no way this perfectly cliche scene was ever not going to end with him getting murdered–then turns around and gets shot. After, we see a guy with no eyes walking away.
As ridiculously over-the-top comic book-like as this is, it wouldn’t stand out nearly so much if the rest of the episode supported this kind of melodrama, but it doesn’t. Instead, most of the rest of “The Present” is just Vega being awful to pretty much every single person she comes in contact with because apparently she and her dad shared a birthday, and she’s got feelings about it. Add in some serious ethics violations and straight up police brutality, and Vega comes off here as extremely unlikable at best. At worst, she’s an absolute monster who should have her badge taken away and never be allowed near a firearm ever again.
There was just so much in “The Present” that doesn’t make sense.
- Why would a police officer be walking on patrol in the rain through an uninhabited dystopian wasteland alone in the first place? I mean, what legit police business could he have there all by himself?
- Is it really necessary for Vega to be so unilaterally terrible to everyone? It’s really grating, and not even a little bit endearing, especially since she’s actually pretty self-aware about it. If she’s aware that she’s being so awful, couldn’t she have even the tiniest bit of self-control? Instead, she just spews her feelings on everyone.
- Vega doesn’t seem like a big enough sports fan to really want a 45-year-old team jersey. It’s older than she is, for goodness’ sake.
- Also, even if the Washington team did change its name, and even if they did for some reason only make 500 fan jerseys that year, they would be rare collectibles. You wouldn’t wear them (and certainly wouldn’t let a young child wear one), as they would be fairly expensive pieces of memorabilia.
- Are Vega and Akeela really such good friends that Akeela would spring for such an expensive birthday gift? I mean, we keep being told that they’re friends, but we only get to actually see it in rare flashes.
- Why does Arthur even bother acting all cool and in control and putting up a fight? Five episodes in, and it’s very clear that he’s a total pushover for his brother and, rather inexplicably, Vega.
- If Agatha is wrong about Vega, why aren’t Dash and Arthur a little more proactive in figuring out what Agatha is actually right about? We know that all three of the precogs have visions, and those visions are demonstrably real. It just seems to me that ensuring their continued freedom ought to be more of a priority.
- Why does Wally have so much equipment? Yes, he explained how he got it, but that explanation made no sense.
- I think it’s great that ex-criminals can be reformed and stuff, but it seems unlikely that one would be put in charge of a rehabilitation center. And why would she keep a trophy from the time she murdered someone for drug money out in plain sight?
- And “make it look like a mugging” is all well and good, but who mugs an on-duty police officer?
I’m sure there was more, but I’m really feeling a little overwhelmed by how much sense this episode didn’t make. There were a few cool things, but they all seem inconsequential in comparison to the incredible amount of nonsense going on in “The Present.”
- Love the body cam integrated into the badge. This actually seems like a useful and sensible invention.
- Washington Red Clouds could work, although 2019 might be a little too optimistic as a date for the name change.
- Dash presenting Vega with birthday flowers was adorable.
Until next week. I don’t watch previews for this show, so I have no idea what’s going to happen next. Probably something absurd. I’m still enjoying this show, but it’s firmly in guilty pleasure territory now. I hate to say it, but I think Fox made the right call in cutting their order for it. Only five episodes to go!