With a season that has been filled with heart pounding twists and turns, it should come as no surprise that part 1 of the Intelligence season finale, “The Event Horizon” delivers even more thrills than ever before. This action-packed episode features not only a crime scene cyber-render that points to Gabriel as the prime suspect of a multiple homicide, but also another fierce head-to-head match-up between Lillian and her old ‘friends’ Adam Weatherly and Jeffrey Tetazoo. And as if those highlights weren’t enough to guarantee a thrilling and suspenseful episode, we also have the return of both Mei Chen and Leland Strand to add a few more twists and turns. What has become the central theme of this first season of “Intelligence” – trust – also comes to a head as the CyberCom team works to clear Gabriel’s name and discover who is actually behind the murders. With each passing scene, it becomes more and more difficult to determine who can be trusted and who cannot.
The episode opens with three men being murdered in a hotel room – the Deputy Director of the FBI for domestic ops, the former head of Intelligence for the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East, and a security guard. When CyberCom starts investigating the murders, they learn that someone was working behind-the-scenes to clear the assassin’s path, wipe the hotel’s key card system clean, and otherwise remove any trace of who committed the crime. As Nelson quips, this was someone ‘with mad skills’. Gabriel then enters the hotel’s computer system in order cyber-render the crime scene. In an unexpected turn of events, it is actually Gabriel who appears in the cyber-render as the potential assassin.
As Lillian questions Gabriel about his whereabouts so as to make sure he does have his alibi in order before Director of National Intelligence Adam Weatherly arrives, his visit being protocol for this type of investigation, Gabriel reveals an unsettling fact – he woke up that morning with a raging headache and has no memory of the previous night’s events other than that he had a couple of beers with Riley. Lillian and her team, of course, trust Gabriel implicitly and know he couldn’t possibly have committed such a crime so they begin to look for clues as to what has really happened and who is responsible. Weatherly and his cohort CIA Director Jeff Tetazoo, however, apparently do not share a similar trust of Gabriel and, again, per the protocol required for such an investigation, they storm into CyberCom headquarters and place Gabriel into “protective custody” or what Weatherly refers to as “keeping our asset safe.”
Lillian then has a very tense meeting with Weatherly and Tetazoo. Protocol or no protocol, she clearly doesn’t trust either of them, especially Tetazoo, whom she accuses of spying on her agency again. Lillian and Tetazoo trade a few barbs about common courtesy and information sharing before they finally get down to the business at hand. Weatherly and Tetazoo then inform Lillian that the meeting in the hotel room was an ‘off book’ meeting, definitely not protocol for men in their positions. Tetazoo, however, seems more interested in focusing on Gabriel. He tells Lillian he has two theories to explain Gabriel’s involvement with the murders: 1) One of the men killed was in command of the mission in Mumbai that ultimately led to the death of Gabriel’s wife so it could be Gabriel seeking revenge; or 2) Someone has hacked into Gabriel’s chip and is controlling him remotely. Tetazoo is leaning towards the second theory and presents Lillian with the details of a classified report written by none other than Dr. Shenandoah Cassidy more than a decade ago. Cassidy outlines what he feels could be a vulnerability in the Clockwork program – that it is possible that someone could hack into the chip and cause a “dissociated cerebral action” and basically operate the asset (i.e. Gabriel) remotely. Again, more questions of trust arise: Who would have had access to this classified information and want to use it against CyberCom in such a manner?
Once Lillian is briefed, Weatherly and Tetazoo then separate and interrogate both Gabriel and Riley. Weatherly questions Riley as to how far she would actually go to protect Gabriel, implying that she could be considered Gabriel’s accomplice in the murders. Tetazoo and Gabriel have a similarly contentious meeting and when Gabriel takes a cyber-peek at Tetazoo’s files and remarks “Judging from your files, you’re more likely to have committed these murders that I am”, Tetazoo is none too pleased. Gabriel then tries to plead his case, saying that he should be out there searching for whoever has framed him, but Tetazoo informs Gabriel that he isn’t going anywhere because he is “a dangerous weapon that can’t be controlled” and then rather viciously states that as far as he’s concerned, he’ll have the chip ripped out of Gabriel’s head before Gabriel is allowed to leave CyberCom. Feeling that he is being threatened, Gabriel punches Tetazoo and, with Riley’s help, escapes from custody.
Tensions further escalate after Gabriel escapes when Tetazoo confronts Lillian about her refusal to believe that Gabriel cannot be controlled. Lillian thinks Tetazoo is just mad because his ego got bruised and chides him: “You took a punch, Jeff. Get over it!”. Weatherly steps in, however, and tells her that this incident has caused the President to doubt her ability to control and contain her asset. Weatherly then orders Lillian removed from the command of CyberCommand until further notice, names Tetazoo as Acting Head of CyberCommand, and orders everyone to give Tetazoo their complete loyalty. To the dismay of Lillian and her team, Tetazoo chooses not to presume that they are innocent until proven guilty and launches a full scale manhunt for Gabriel and Riley, ordering that they be brought in dead or alive.
Lillian seeks out her father to find out what he knows about her predicament. After giving her a little ‘fatherly’ advice to “Get up off the ground already!” when she starts ranting about Tetazoo making it personal, Leland tells her that she needs to start doing what he has always taught her to do — ask questions — and steers her not toward what is specifically going on with Gabriel and CyberCommand, but instead to the murders themselves. Why were those men having an ‘off book’ meeting, who found out about it, and why did someone need to kill over it? Leland seems to be pointing Lillian in the right direction, but he hasn’t exactly been forthcoming in the past so it’s hard to trust that his motives are pure now.
Knowing who she definitely can trust, Lillian turns to her team, and even though they have been threatened with severe consequences if they don’t pledge their complete loyalty to Tetazoo, Nelson, Jameson, and Cassidy stay true to Lillian and they all meet at a diner over milkshakes to discuss their strategy. Lillian’s plan is for all of them to continue to report to work as scheduled so as not to arouse Tetazoo’s suspicion any further, but that they will divide and conquer: she and Jameson will use their resources to determine what the ‘off book’ meeting could have been about, and Nelson and Cassidy will figure out how Gabriel’s face ended up in the cyber-render.
Gabriel and Riley return to the scene of the crime and quickly determine, based on the trajectory of the shots fired, that Gabriel was much too tall to have possibly been the shooter. Realizing that the images on the video must have somehow been manipulated even though the video itself has not been altered, they seek out Nelson and Cassidy for assistance and the four of them conclude that the image was altered pixel by pixel before it ever made it onto the video. Only a machine with comparable processing power to Gabriel’s chip could have performed such a sophisticated manipulation and so all roads point to Mei Chen and they need to find her as soon as possible. Gabriel convinces Cassidy to lower his cyber defenses so that he can lure Mei Chen into his render and distract her long enough for Riley to take her into custody. Gabriel’s plan works and once they have Mei Chen, she tells Gabriel that framing him for murder was “just business” – someone paid her to do it: “We’re too powerful for them. You’re too powerful for them. Which is why they can’t let you survive.” The question is who is ‘they’?
Lillian’s path leads her to something called ‘The Flood’, some kind of secret Iranian program one of the murder victims was obsessed with, and she returns to Leland to question him about it. At first, he is evasive, telling her it’s nothing more than a myth, but when she persists, he finally caves in and gives her the details. ‘The Flood’ is believed to be a group of sleeper agents – Iranian terrorists hiding on U.S. soil seeking recruits from within our own borders, either people who are sympathetic to their cause or those whose services can be bought. Leland says its existence was never proven, but he and Lillian theorize that if it does exist and it was being brought to the attention of the FBI, it stands to reason someone, perhaps the Iranians, would not want that to happen. Framing Gabriel and thus eliminating the U.S. government’s biggest intelligence asset would also be a nice bonus for any terrorist group. A cell phone call from Gabriel interrupts Lillian and Leland. Gabriel tells Lillian that Mei Chen is the one behind the murders and that he has her in his custody. When he refuses to bring Mei Chen in because he says he doesn’t want to hand her over to Tetazoo, Lillian and he agree to meet and select a location and time. Unfortunately, because Tetazoo is monitoring all electronic communications, he overhears the entire conversation and threatens Jameson with prison time if he tries to warn Lillian. It is still questionable as to whether or not Leland can be trusted, but his parting words to Lillian are probably the most fatherly we’ve heard out of him: “Rooster…you be careful.” using his pet name for her.
In spite of Mei Chen’s warnings that it’s a trap and that he can’t trust Lillian because he’s nothing but a machine to CyberCommand and the government, Gabriel comes out of hiding when he sees Lillian arrive at their agreed meeting place. To everyone’s shock, two shots are immediately fired and Gabriel is wounded. Tetazoo and a group of armed soldiers move in and start looking for Gabriel, Riley, and Mei Chen. When Lillian accuses Tetazoo of spying on her and tells him to stop firing at Gabriel and Riley, Tetazoo says that it’s not his people who are doing the shooting. There is another shooter. Lillian’s response, a valid one considering everything Tetazoo has put her team through, is: “Why should I believe you?!”
Riley, Mei Chen, and a wounded Gabriel attempt to make their escape, with Gabriel thinking that Lillian has set him up. As they are fleeing, Gabriel asks Mei Chen how she knew it was a trap and she tells him that she was hired by the U.S. government to murder those men and frame Gabriel. Gabriel asks her for a name – he wants to know exactly who hired her if she’s telling the truth – and that’s where we’re hit with the dreaded “To Be Continued”.
Highlights of the episode:
The episode was so good that there are almost too many highlights to mention, but here are a few of my favorite parts of “The Event Horizon”:
1. As always, Marg’s scenes with Lance Reddick are a favorite. Marg and Lance have tremendous onscreen chemistry and so you can practically cut the tension with a knife every time Lillian and Tetazoo are around each other. Lillian’s distrust of nearly everything Jeff said and did in this episode reminded me of an earlier quote from Lillian when she commented that she and Jeff have shared a lot of things over the years, but trust isn’t one of them. I’m really hoping that we’ll have the opportunity to further explore their backstory and learn why exactly these two have such animosity towards each other.
2. Just as entertaining to watch as Marg’s scenes with Lance Reddick are those she shares with her TV dad, Peter Coyote. Marg and Peter Coyote are so believable as father/daughter and I just love watching them bring the fascinating and complex relationship between Lillian and Leland to life. Leland Strand intrigues me because he is just so hard to read. He obviously loves his daughter, but after what we saw of Leland in the earlier episode “The Rescue”, it’s hard to trust that he has told Lillian everything he knows about ‘The Flood’ and the situation at Clockwork. His ‘Rooster, be careful’ as he sends her off to meet Gabriel and Mei Chen sounded like he was genuinely worried about what she was getting herself into and I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew more than he was letting on.
3. I always enjoy that you can count on Nelson to consistently deliver a bit of much-needed comic relief in the most intense of situations. Whether it’s by prompting the team to order milkshakes during their secret meeting at the diner because ‘they make a mean milkshake here’, interrupting Lillian while she’s talking by making slurping sounds with his straw, or by yelling at his father for kissing a woman named Lorraine on his wedding day to Nelson’s mom (whose name is NOT Lorraine), Nelson is just so hilarious to watch. Major props to P.J. Byrne for always bringing the funny.
4. Episode highlights would not be complete without mentioning the special effects, in particular the gorgeous and romantic cyber-render that Mei Chen creates while she is inside of Gabriel’s cyber-render. Who knew cyber-rendering could be so sexy? My one disappointment was that I thought I was going to get a little shirtless Josh while Gabriel was “dropping his sexy” on Mei Chen, but alas, it was just a tease 😉
Such a fabulous episode all around, although I do hate evil cliffhangers. It’s going to feel like an even longer wait than usual for Monday to roll around so that we can find out who really hired Mei Chen, if the team can clear Gabriel’s name, and whether or not Lillian will regain her title as Director of CyberCommand.
be sure to tune in next Monday night at 10PM ET/PT for Part 2 of the Intelligence Season Finale, “Being Human”.