Minority Report: “American Dream” offers a glimpse of a different, better show

After a week without an episode, Minority Report is back with one that reminds me of a lot of the things that initially attracted me to the show in the first place. “American Dream” isn’t great, but it is good, and it’s definitely the most I’ve enjoyed this show in a while.

This episode does something that I think is one of the best things it could have done at this point: it lets Vega’s boss, Blake, in on the precog secret. Blake has been completely underutilized up to this point, which is a shame, but “American Dream” does its best to make up for lost time, with Blake joining Vega and Dash to investigate an impending murder in the poor, immigrant neighborhood where Blake himself grew up.

We learn that in 2025 the US government granted citizenship to some ten million undocumented immigrants, but that the “compromise” (in the true, Republican sense of the word) negotiated in exchange for that amnesty was the repeal of the 14th Amendment. Blake was one of the unfortunate children born in the US after that repeal, as was this week’s pre-murder suspect. The episode spends most of its time exploring what that status means to the people who are affected by it, focusing heavily on Blake’s experiences as a child of immigrants and a member of a marginalized community. This is definitely the best job the show has done to date with integrating world building with character development, though it does turn a little after school special in the end.

My biggest complaint about this episode is that it doesn’t manage to dig deep enough into any of its big ideas. It also sidelines its female star in favor of exploring a secondary character who they’ve actually made more interesting than either of the leads. Blake’s background is interesting enough that he could have carried a whole series himself, and indeed Wilmer Valderrama does most of the heavy lifting in this episode. Poor Vega exists at a similar-in-some-ways intersection of identities and experiences, but somehow the show just never has managed to really explore those and she’s relegated to background decoration in this episode.

The worst part about all of this is that it indicates, to me, large structural flaws in the whole premise of the show. Vega has suffered all along from poor writing and inconsistent (and unlikable) characterization, and Dash is just bland. These leads have always struggled to distinguish themselves in comparison to more interesting secondary characters, and this episode offers a glimpse of what the show might have been like if they’d centered the narrative around someone else altogether. Blake’s well-drawn background, his naked ambition, and his interesting connection to pre-crime make him far more qualified to be a lead protagonist than Vega has proven to be.

I’ve felt from the very beginning that Minority Report was a show that has a lot of potential, and I’ve spent the last several episodes bemoaning the ways in which the show has failed to live up to its early promise. It’s nice to see the show exploring some of its more interesting ideas, even if it is almost certainly too little too late. It feels obvious to me after this episode that the show’s writers just have never known what to do with Vega and should probably have chosen a character they could have written well from the start.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • The more I think about all this, the more it makes me angry for Megan Good, who I think has done the best she can with the material she’s been handed.
  • Wilmer Valderrama is ridiculously handsome and charismatic.
  • I about lost it when that guy got a drone in the face. That was the funniest thing that has ever happened on this show, if for no other reason than it was a pretty random thing to have happen.
  • I also about lost it when that guy tore a page out of a first edition of The Origin of Species. I know it’s a prop, but still.

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