Tag Archives: Minority Report

Best of 2015: Favorite Television

2015 has been a sort of strange year for television. On the one hand, there were quite a few shows that I was excited about at the beginning of the fall season, but when it came down to it I found that I just didn’t have time to watch all of them (The Last Kingdom and The Bastard Executioner were two that didn’t make the cut). Of the ones that I did watch, a couple turned out to be totally unwatchable disappointments (Scream Queens and Heroes Reborn fell into this group). And a couple of the shows I was most looking forward to (X-Files, The Shannara Chronicles, Lucifer, The Magicians, Shadowhunters) don’t actually premier until January. Most of what I’ve watched this year, then, has been things that I was already watching and enjoying. Only a few of the year’s new shows really stuck, and at least one of those is almost certainly not getting a second season.

Jessica Jones

This Netflix gem is kind of objectively the best new show of the year. It can be tough to watch, with its themes about rape and abuse, in spite of the fact that none of the sexual violence is ever actually shown on screen. Jessica Jones is a deeply compelling character who fits a lot of common noir tropes, but a lot of that is subverted by her journey being one of personal healing rather than a revenge tale. In the end, Jessica wants mostly to protect others rather than just avenge herself, making her a complicated and fascinating feminist hero. I can’t wait to see what she does next.


This year CBS gave us a very different kind of feminist hero in Supergirl, and I love that we now live in a world where both Kara Danvers and Jessica Jones are getting their own vastly different shows. Supergirl is much more overtly and earnestly feminist than the Netflix series, which can be frustrating at times, especially when the show garbles its 101 level messaging, but Melissa Benoist carries the whole show on her super-strong shoulders by creating a Kara who is tough and brave, but most of all deeply kind. When Strong Female Characters are often imagined as ass-kicking fighters, it feels pretty revolutionary to have a super-powered woman on television who is as deeply empathetic and caring as Benoist’s Supergirl.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a show that I almost didn’t watch at all because I found the title so off-putting. It’s also the show that’s been, by far, the most pleasant surprise of the year. Hot shot lawyer Rebecca is so miserable with her life that she makes a totally bonkers decision to move to a small town in California where her ex-boyfriend, Josh, lives. It’s an absurdly silly premise, but I haven’t related to a character this much in a very long time. I, too, struggle with mental illness, and I, too, have often thought that making some enormous and ill-advised change in my life would somehow magically fix everything. Essentially, this show is a humorous take on how this kind of insane decision could work out for someone. Spoiler alert: everything is terrible-ly hilarious. Also, there are songs, because everyone involved in the show is a musical theatre nerd.

The Expanse

It’s great to see SyFy actually getting back to its roots and producing more, well, sci-fi. I didn’t love their adaptation of Childhood’s End (although I appreciate the attempt), but The Expanse is truly excellent. It’s space opera, but also a sort of mash-up with a noir detective story and a futuristic political drama. There are several notable women characters, including Chrisjen Avasarala (played by the incomparable Shohreh Aghdashloo), who I am certain is going to end up being the iconic character of the show. It’s worth watching just for her parts, but the rest of it is pretty great, too.

Into the Badlands

For some reason, almost no one seemed to talk much about Into the Badlands during its six-episode first season on AMC, but it’s a fucking excellent show that has surprisingly feminist sensibilities as well as some of the most incredibly choreographed martial arts fight scenes I’ve ever seen on television. Just in general, Into the Badlands is a gorgeously imagined and shot show, with highly saturated colors, striking cinematography, and great costumes. It’s also got a relatively diverse cast headed up by two Asian men (Daniel Wu and Aramis Knight) in the lead roles. A black woman (Madeleine Mantock) is the main character’s love interest, but she’s also a doctor and a revolutionary of sorts in her own right. The numerous other women on the show also eschew stereotyping, and while they exist in a fairly sexist fictional world, their roles and struggles aren’t entirely dictated by that. The only negative of this show is that it’s only six episodes for now and a second season hasn’t been confirmed, which makes the cliffhanger ending at the end of episode six potentially very frustrating/upsetting.

Minority Report

This show had tepid ratings and mediocre reviews and is the abovementioned likely-cancelled show, but I enjoyed it. The actors had a decent chemistry, though the writing could have been stronger all around, and I’d have liked to see the show explore more of its bigger ideas instead of adhering mostly to a case of the week format. Sadly, Fox has a tendency to invest in development for interesting sci-fi shows but then cut them off quickly if they don’t perform well, and that’s what happened with Minority Report. The news that their episode order had been cut from thirteen to ten after something like episode three of the first season didn’t help ratings. Still, the show was entertaining and had a lot of promise. It even managed to wrap up episode ten in a way that will act as a reasonably satisfying end to the story if there are no more episodes. It’s still available for binge watching on Hulu if you run out of other things to watch.

Minority Report: “Everybody Runs” is as satisfying an ending as we could have hoped for

The last few weeks have really been an improvement for Minority Report, and “Everybody Runs” is an episode that is good enough that I find myself very sad that it is likely the last episode of the series. If this is the end, though, it’s a good one. While it doesn’t wrap up everything perfectly, it works well enough to not be terribly frustrating, which is better than can be said for most other shows cancelled by Fox.

“Everybody Runs” continues to deal with Memento Mori and the terrorist plot to murder the US Senate. We also see Blomfeld’s hunt for the precogs come to a climax—and a resolution. It’s a tightly plotted episode that makes excellent use of its time to squeeze a good amount of story in and create a satisfying ending while still leaving room for another season if the show manages to get one (although that seems increasingly unlikely).

The episode opens with a flashback to Wally being interviewed and hired to work with the precogs seventeen years ago. With time at such a premium in this final episode, this might be a little redundant, as it doesn’t really expand our understanding of Wally or his relationship with the precogs. However, it pays off at the end when Wally gets a chance to finally protect them the way he wasn’t able to during pre-crime. It’s a moment that ought to be even more powerful than it is, and there are several other similar moments in the episode, all with their emotional impact unfortunately muted by the series overall failure to fully develop its characters.

This, ultimately, is one of two things that account for this show’s downfall. Network shenanigans don’t help, and I would have liked to see Fox give this show a better chance at success than they did, but it’s always been a deeply flawed project. Though the last three episodes have definitely stepped up their game and finally seemed to more fully embrace the show’s high concept, it’s almost certainly too little too late to save the series, and the larger problem of the show has always been that it struggles to get the audience to really connect with its characters. In the end, this translates directly into those characters not being able to really sell us on major emotional moments, in spite of some fine acting on the part of, well, pretty much everybody this week.

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but one thing that might have helped this show would be some romance. Aside from Dash’s fling with that woman early in the season who turned out to be a murderer and Vega’s implied romantic history with Blake, the show basically avoided romance like it was the plague. I can definitely appreciate the desire to avoid focusing too much on romantic drama, but the utter lack of romantic entanglements actually makes the characters feel unrealistic. I’m sure someone has written the fanfic of it, but I would have loved to see Akeela have an ill-advised one-night stand with one of the twins (and, get real, probably it would be Arthur) or see Dash and Vega go on adorable dates together (I have a feeling that Vega is a secret romantic).

Still, I kind of loved this show, and I’m sad to see it go. The good news is that as endings go, this is a great one. If there’s never another episode, I can be happy that the show is going out with some dignity and on a high note.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Wally and Agatha are obviously in love with each other, right?  What a sad, doomed, and slightly creepy romance to toss in at the last minute.
  • I never knew how much Andromeda meant to Arthur. I think the show always intended for Arthur to secretly be the soft-hearted precog sibling, and that would make his reaction to her death make more sense, but it’s one of the many things the writers either neglected or never got a chance to really develop.
  • I wish Dash wasn’t so boring. Agatha may say he’s the strong one, and he definitely is the one who is most committed to making use of his abilities, but he never did come alive as a real person.
  • Whoever designed Megan Good’s costumes throughout this whole series deserves an award. Or at least a pat on the back, because she always looked amazing.
  • Excellent use of Akeela and Blake this week. I still very much think that the show should have gotten Blake more involved with the precogs much earlier.
  • Vega standing over the milk bath as Agatha foresaw was perfectly executed, and Wally’s final decision to kill Blomfeld was legitimately surprising and interesting.

Minority Report: “Memento Mori” is a solid set up for next week’s finale

We’re up to what is likely the penultimate episode of Minority Report, and it feels like the show is just now starting to hit a new and more comfortable stride as it’s moved away from the case-of-the-week format that it stuck to earlier in the season. “Memento Mori” delves deeper into the conspiracy our protagonists brushed up against last week as well as the DIA’s plot to re-enslave the precogs. Even more than I did last week, I feel like this is the show that Minority Report should always have been.

The show has always been at its best when it explores its larger themes and elaborates on its overarching plot, and it’s been doing more and more of that as it nears its probable ending. It may be too little, too late to save the show (though it’s still not officially cancelled), and it’s still not entirely living up to the potential of its premise, but it’s been an enjoyable couple of weeks.

The best scene of this week was Dash, Vega, Blake, and Akeela all hanging out together at the beginning of the episode, and I’m terribly sad that this is almost certainly the only time we’ll get to see this happen. It’s nice to see Dash in a somewhat normal environment, and I like seeing the whole team spending time together doing something not murder-related. It’s a chance for us to see the chemistry between Vega and Blake, though it’s also one more reason to be bummed about the impending cancellation of the series. Personally, I’ve always rather liked the idea of Vega and Dash together, but Vega and Blake would have worked, too. I don’t always care for romantic drama in these kinds of shows, but a little more romance would have helped to soften the often unlikeable Vega, especially if the show never intended to do much with her family relationships or her friendship with Akeela.

Dash does have a vision this week, and there is a case, this is all stuff that ties into the bigger intrigues and ideas behind the show. A senator who is working to pass a bill allowing genetic tinkering with fetuses is the target of a politically motivated attack, and it’s tied back to the Memento Mori terrorist group that we were introduced to last week. The ideas introduced in this plot are only tangentially related to the bigger things going on in the show as well as getting a little garbled in their delivery, but it mostly works even if viruses don’t work at all the way the show’s writers seem to think they do.

The most important things that are happening in this episode concern the DIA and Blomfield’s plan to recapture and use the precogs. Early in the episode, Arthur tries to get Blake to blackmail someone in the DIA in order to put an end to Blomfield’s machinations, but Blake refuses in no uncertain terms. When Arthur gets someone else to do his dirty work, Blomfield turns to the private sector to keep his plans moving forward. When Blomfield turns up at Wally’s place looking for the precogs, we finally get to see Blomfield becoming a truly terrifying villain. Wally manages to be momentarily successful at getting Blomfield and his thugs to leave him alone, but Blomfield is already pretty successful at finding the precogs without Wally’s assistance.

Before the end of the episode, Blomfield has managed to locate Agatha, who goes to Arthur after being flushed from her hiding place on Libertarian Island (or whatever). Agatha is still having the vision of Vega standing over them in the milk bath, and now her vision shows Vega ordering some unseen person to “put them in.” This ominous revelation caps off the episode, and we’re all set up for next week’s finale.

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.

Minority Report: Sadly, I think I’m done with this show

“Honor Among Thieves” is another middling-to-bad episode of this almost-certainly doomed show, and I think this is likely the last episode I will have anything to say about. Even now, my thoughts on Minority Report are primarily general thoughts and disappointment that the show wasn’t better than it’s turned out to be.

This week’s episode was a pretty classic monster/case-of-the-week format, which worked marginally better than a couple of previous similar ones have for the show, but it still just didn’t make a lot of sense. I didn’t understand how Vega got fooled by the fake EMTs in the beginning of the episode, and it’s really all downhill from there as the story continues to develop.

There are a lot of flashbacks this week, detailing the removal of the precogs from the original milk bath and their initial release into the world, which apparently consisted of little more than a “Whoops! Sorry!” and a fat paycheck from the government before they were tossed out into the streets in a bad part of town and left to their own devices. On the one hand, that would be pretty much expected behavior for the US government. On the other hand, I have a very hard time believing that the kind of evil government that would enslave children would then encourage them to disappear so completely without some way of keeping track of them.

It’s also just plain painful to see how naïve the precogs were, especially the boys. It definitely helps to provide a little more understanding of why Agatha thinks they can’t take care of themselves. That said, I do not buy at all the idea that, in the beginning, it was Arthur who was the soft-hearted one who just wanted to help people. Even if that was the case, there’s really no hint in this episode of how or why Arthur and Dash so completely swapped opinions. I’m also not sure why they even bothered unveiling this bit of history this late in the season, especially when the rest of the episode goes on to further establish Arthur as a pretty big deal in the international organized crime scene. It doesn’t add depth to his character; rather, it makes him seem a hypocrite.

This episode also marks the first time that I haven’t enjoyed the show at least a little bit. Any sense of fun that the show has had up to this point seems to have drained out of it, and all that’s left seems to be a grim determination to finish these ten episodes so everyone can move along to other, hopefully more successful projects. I will probably finish watching the series, but I doubt I’ll be writing about it unless it somehow gets incredibly good sometime in the next three weeks. Right now, though, the show has become its own wet blanket.

Minority Report: “Fiddler’s Neck” could have been a nice change of pace, but ends up being a little dull

The more I watch Minority Report, the more I come to terms with all the reasons why this show is almost certainly going to be cancelled after just one ten-episode arc. It makes me a little sad because I think the show, in the beginning, had a lot of potential, but it’s basically all been squandered with bad writing and ill-conceived plots.

“Fiddler’s Neck” takes us to the weird Luddite island where Dash and Arthur grew up after the end of precrime and where Agatha still lives. It’s a nice change of pace, although the episode more or less maintains the case-of-the-week format that has previously been established. This time, though, we get lots of Agatha-related flashbacks, as this week’s case involves the daughter of her old flame. We also finally get to see Agatha and Vega in the same room, which I have mixed feelings about.

Fiddler’s Neck, apparently, used to be a peninsula and is only an island as a result of global warming. We even get a shot of the ruins of an amusement park to show how bad the global warming and coastal flooding is. Fiddler’s Neck is also, apparently, a refuge for libertarians, anti-vaxxers, and natural-living folks of all types. It’s basically so backward the US government gave up on trying to control it, and so it’s a place governed by its own sort of local militia—which turns out to just be a group of crooked rednecks with shotguns. It makes sense, I guess, why the precogs would end up there, but it also makes a lot of sense that Dash and Arthur would get the hell out as soon as they could.

Most of this episode was in service to giving us a better idea of who Agatha is, which I was excited about since she’s been one of the more consistently interesting characters on the show. It turns out, however, that she’s actually kind of boring. Certainly, her doomed love story with the guy who hired her to work on his farm when she first came to the island is dull and cliché, anyway.

I had high hopes for Agatha and Vega together, but even that didn’t really pay off. Agatha was coldly aloof, and Vega spent most of the episode just looking like she smelled something nasty. There were no sparks, no big arguments, and no major meeting of the minds between these two, and I felt like the end of the episode signified nothing more than a return to the status quo. With only ten episodes to work with, I hate to see any episode do as little as this one did to either provide interesting exposition or further the plot.

I’m so sad about this show. It’s one that I think started off with a lot of things going for it, but week after week it continues to fail to deliver on a premise that ought to be really interesting. Instead, Minority Report has turned out to be just a second-rate cop show with some flashy sci-fi window dressing. It’s likable lead actors do the best they can with poor scripts and boring stories, but their charm really only goes so far.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • This was an excellent episode for world building, which would have been awesome if it was the second or third episode of the series. This late in the game, it feels superfluous, especially since the most interesting parts don’t really contribute much to the main story.
  • The B-plot, which had Akeela discovering an investigation of Blake and then going to Wally for help, was just awful. Disconnected from the main plot, poorly written, badly executed, and Wally was really unnecessarily nasty to Akeela.
  • I laughed out loud when Vega was trying to show how big she thinks an ear of corn is.

Minority Report: “The Present” is mostly about delving into the past

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!

Minority Report: “Fredi” offers character development, but not much else

To be fair, the character development in “Fredi” was both much-needed and refreshing after three weeks of heavily plot-focused story-telling. However, as nice as it was to learn a little more about Akeela and see Dash get a bit more to do, it wasn’t enough to carry an episode with such a hackneyed (albeit technically well-executed) case of the week.

The biggest problem I have with Minority Report at this point, though, is that I don’t think the writers really know how to embrace the aspects of the show’s concept and source material that could really set it apart from the pack of similar procedural programs. The pilot episode was a promising mess, with too many, too-conflicting ideas, but it also had a distinctness and specificity that has been largely missing in subsequent episodes. Most significantly, the major problem and moral conflict that was introduced in the pilot–essentially, how to deal with damage caused by pre-crime–seems to have been entirely abandoned, and it hasn’t really been replaced with any similarly weighty conflict.

“Fredi” opens with the official commencement of the Hawk-Eye program as the civilian analysts graduate their training and move on to working with their assigned officers. Right at the end of this opening scene, Dash has his vision of the week, helpfully warned about it by the device Wally gave him last week.  This vision is even less helpful than useful, but the mystery this week gives Dash some good opportunities to show off what he’s capable of doing on his own as he goes “undercover” to date the woman, Fredi, that he thinks is going to be murdered.

This is actually a tough story to squeeze into one episode. It’s not that there’s a lot that happens; on the contrary, there are relatively few events going on in “Fredi.” It’s just that the emotional arc of the episode, with Dash’s romance with Fredi, the revelation of Fredi’s search for the truth about her sister’s death, and the final “twist” ending, feels so rushed that it becomes unbelievable. I liked seeing this side of Dash explored, and it’s good to know that he’s not as helpless socially as he’s seemed the last few weeks, but I’ve never been a fan of these sorts of whirlwind fictional romances. It’s the right emotional trajectory, but it happens so quickly that the impact of it all is too diminished to be truly effective.

Still, there were some parts of the episode that worked.

I was thrilled to see Akeela get a little more screen time. I liked her meeting with Wally, and I thought her scenes with Vega worked well. I’m starting to feel like these two women are actually friends, and I hope we get to see some more of them doing things together in the future, hopefully a little less focused on Dash-voyeurism.

Another pairing that I liked? Dash and Arthur. Arthur’s willingness to drop whatever he is doing in order to be available for his brother is actually a sort of fascinating piece of characterization. It shows that Dash isn’t the only one with some issues with codependency, but it also shows just how deep their bond really goes. Dash’s reliance on Arthur for assistance can be a little tiresome, and I’d like to see Arthur’s area of expertise be a little more specifically defined and limited, but I will forgive it this week because I thought the eyeball printer was awesome even though I’m not sure how Arthur knows that guy.

Finally, Agatha might be the most interesting character on the show, and the mystery of exactly what she’s up to is genuinely intriguing. She sent Charlie to get her a schematic for the milk bath that she and the twins were kept in during pre-crime, and I honestly have no idea what she might need that for–which is a feeling I love having about shows. This secondary plot could stand to be a little more tonally connected to everything else, but it’s the last vestige of some of the big ideas that were introduced in the pilot.

Mostly, “Fredi” is notable as the first episode of the show that felt more like a straightforward procedural.

When I watched the pilot, the thing that I found most interesting was that question of what to do with the survivors of the pre-crime system, both precognitives and pre-criminals; the contrast between those two experiences; and the ethical and moral questions presented by Dash’s return to law enforcement. The pilot was, as I said, a mess, but I had high hopes that this could be a smart, timely show to address some important topics. Even the shift in the last couple of episodes to a less substantive case of the week format didn’t faze me because the institution of the Hawk-Eye program was on the horizon, and that should present a ton of ethically grey material to explore. Then we get “Fredi,” which basically ignores Hawk-Eye altogether after the first few minutes, as if the whole Hawk-Eye thing was just a way to give Dash and Vega a cover for working together. It’s disheartening that the first case they work on after getting the official go-ahead is one that isn’t related to Hawk-Eye at all.

Fox has already cut their series order for this show from thirteen episodes to ten, and while this is a normal pattern for the network, I’m having a hard time seeing why they should keep this show around longer than that. I’m probably going to give it a couple more weeks at least because I’m still enjoying it, but it’s sad to see what I think could have been a winning premise and excellent source material being squandered like this. Minority Report could have been something really special if it had embraced the cerebral concepts it originally introduced, but instead it’s spent the last three weeks distancing itself as far as possible from them.

Random thoughts:

  • I’m not sure how I feel about the explanation for Akeela’s face tattoos. I thought facial recognition software was already more advanced than that.
  • I had the strongest feeling all through the episode that I recognized the actress playing Fredi, and I did! She’s Sheila Vand, who played The Girl in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. She just looks very different in color.
  • If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night immediately. It’s on Netflix, and it’s wonderful.
  • I love Rizwan Manji, who played the guy with the eyeball printer.
  • Seriously, that eyeball printer is pretty cool.
  • But how did that eyeball not get squished just rolling around in Fredi’s purse?

Minority Report fixes some problems but then introduces a few more

I said last week that Minority Report wasn’t going to work until they managed to get Dash onto the police force in some kind of official capacity, and that was the first order of business in “Hawk-Eye.” The D.C. police are rolling out their new high tech super surveillance program, and Dash is going to be the civilian consultant partnered with Detective Vega. The good news is that they now have a legit reason to be hanging out together, but there’s some bad news wrapped up in here as well. Namely that none of this makes a lick of sense.

First, Vega and Dash have to bring Akeela in on the secret of Dash’s identity–apparently Akeela is the one who will be interviewing, selecting, and assigning the civilians who will be involved in the Hawk-Eye project. That’s an awful lot of responsibility for one individual in an enormous police force, especially for one individual who is low enough on the totem pole that she’s as terrified of losing her job as Akeela is. It just seems like this sort of very high stakes experimental program would have a little more oversight than this, but okay.

Second, they have to tell Arthur about it because Dash needs an identity. That makes sense, since no one is supposed to know who Dash is, but it doesn’t make sense that the government just released all of the precogs out into the world with no identities of their own. I mean, it just seems like there would need to be some way for the government to keep tabs on them. Also, we can already see in 2015 how increasingly difficult it’s becoming for people to just exist in the world without extensively documenting their lives–IDs, credit cards, mobile devices, social media, shopping and so on. We are all pretty incredibly connected. Already, almost everything we do requires a login. Minority Report is showing us a world where this is even more true–one major plot point in this very episode depends upon the obsolescence of cash, for example–so how has Dash been surviving without an identity?

Which all kind of leads into the biggest issue that I’m having with this show, which is the cognitive dissonance of it all. There are just too many contradictions, and they’re starting to be glaringly obvious enough that they are getting in the way of the story and garbling whatever message the show is trying to get across.

For example, this episode’s theme was, ostensibly, that everyone has a dark side. That’s a little obvious, especially for this kind of show, but it’s not the worst idea. It could have been a solid concept to build the story around, and there were some parts of the episode that worked perfectly in service of this theme, specifically the scenes with Agatha, who got really interesting this week. However, much of the episode was taken up with trying to deal with issues that I’m just not sure this sort of show is well-equipped to handle.

One major contradiction in this episode was Vega’s apparent (and entirely out of nowhere) distaste for pre-crime and her exaggerated skepticism of the Hawk-Eye program. In previous episodes, Vega seemed to be generally nostalgic for the pre-crime days. Although she recognizes some of the problems with the program, she also longs for the ability to prevent crime instead of just reacting to it. In fact, this is sort of her whole thing, and it’s the reason why she’s willing to risk her career (and her friend’s career!) in order to utilize Dash’s precognitive abilities. So why is she so disdainful about this new program that offers exactly the opportunity that she claims to want? Oh, because she’s some kind of loose cannon who doesn’t like to follow the rules? Enough that Blake asks Dash to keep an eye on her and tattle on her? Oh, okay.

Here’s the thing. Vega is a dirty cop. She has, so far, consistently engaged in behavior that is ethically questionable at best and downright frightening at times. In three episodes, we’ve seen a pattern of irresponsible use of an unapproved (and admittedly inaccurate!) information source, excessive force and brutality, misappropriation of and misuse of police resources, giving police-issue weapons to a civilian, and covering up crimes (both her own and others’). But, as in many (if not all) police shows, we’re supposed to see her as the hero because her intentions are pure.

This episode even calls that into question, though, with the (actual, not subtextual) suggestion that both Vega and Dash are less good-hearted and principled fighters for justice and more unethically abusing Vega’s station as a police officer to exorcise personal demons as a way of dealing with undiagnosed mental illnesses as a result of childhood trauma. Because that’s healthy and safe for society.

I don’t know about this show right now. There are still a ton of good ideas about policing, surveillance, civil liberties, and the justice system that I think Minority Report is trying to handle in a nuanced fashion. But I’m not sure this show, or maybe any show, is up to the task. There’s a real conversation to be had here, about the trade offs that we make in order to be safe, about the relative values of security and freedom, about the ethics and efficacy of predictive policing and surveillance, but whatever message the show is trying to have just gets garbled when it’s trying to talk out both sides of its mouth on every aspect of the issue.

Minority Report has some cool ideas, but it’s too busy showing off its future tech to develop them

“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.