After the second episode, I’m feeling a little reassured that Minority Report might have some clue what it is doing.
It’s not yet entering the pantheons of televisual greatness (Hell, it’s not even safe from first season cancellation yet -Ed), but where the first episode splashed around in the shallow end of some interesting concepts and ideas, I felt that the second looked like it was learning to swim.
Doggy-paddle, maybe, but progress is progress, and if Constantine has any lessons for new TV shows, it’s that you can’t waste time in laying down your direction of travel and setting out your pitch to audiences.
With suspicions mounting within the police around Vega and Dash’s exploits, the pilot scheme of the new Hawk-Eye surveillance scheme could prove an effective cover for their precognitive exploits, as they investigate Dash’s vision of a murder committed by a technology designer. Meanwhile, Agatha takes action to investigate her own visions, of the trio being returned to the ‘milk bath’.
I did say that Dash and Vega’s investigations on the side would be unsustainable, and it didn’t take a genius to see that the writers were steering Dash’s involvement into the Hawk-Eye project. It’s actually quite a neat plot device, because Hawk-Eye’s mooted abilities aren’t terribly far away from Dash’s visions of the future.
Which is a pretty terrifying point, really. They’re going big on the whole mass surveillance thing, which was not very heavily touched upon in the film, despite actually playing a fairly major role. Here the principle is that when surveillance is so absolute, it can be used to gain insight into what someone is thinking or what they are going to do.
Thinking of, I’m sure that Orwell wrote about something similar…
Anyway, the power of Hawk-Eye is shown at the beginning, where the car of someone driving erratically. Which, actually, turns out to be the same person who Dash has a vision of committing a murder. So when Vega goes to Akeela at the police for information about the future killer, he’s already been flagged by the flash new system.
But it’s not that simple, really. Because their would-be murderer is a genius designer for definitely-not-Apple, and has been undergoing some weird looking neural therapy which has made him more adventurous, more of a loose cannon. When Vega and Dash track him down, they manage to stop him from killing a cyclist in a burst of road rage. But it isn’t quite that simple.
Okay, so the twist that he’s been set up by a colleague, with the neural tinkering making him more disposed to self-destructive behaviour, wasn’t exactly groundbreaking. But given that the murder mystery is more like window dressing, it works well enough.
So they solve the mystery, and Hawk-Eye gets the credit. Bringing Dash in works rather well, as Arthur helps create a fake ID for him (Despite being adamant that it’s a terrible idea -Ed), and big brother actually tells Dash about Agatha’s vision. They get Dash into the programme via a very uncertain Akeela, and even Lt. Blake seems to buy it.
Except that Vega is very much a Hawk-Eye sceptic. Which is a bit odd in terms of her being all for bringing back the days of precrime. She isn’t exactly gung ho on process. But it works as a juxtaposition, and for now she gets to address her precog problem by subverting Hawk-Eye.
Back on the island, Agatha decides to take matters into her own hands to a degree. Wanting information about what the government know about them and possible ill intentions, and being the kind of precog who knows everything, she knows just how to get it. Apparently the island is a general haven for people who don’t want to be found, and one of the newcomers is a creepy special-ops-y bloke on the run.
Agatha’s plan is basically screw around with his head, and predict all sorts of weird stuff, until he agrees to what she wants. But it works. Somehow.
So we’ve marched the plot a little further down the road, and moved ourselves out of some of the writer loopholes in a fairly creative way. Putting Dash at the heart of the police operation was a good move, as we don’t now need to keep worrying about how Vega is going to keep explaining magically knowing what’s going to happen.
And Hawk-Eye is a genuinely interesting philosophical subject in itself. Prediction is all down to variables, and theoretically if you have enough data it should be possible to predict actions. But the questions attached are the same as with precrime: is a reasonable prediction of someone committing a crime enough to justify punishing them for it? There are questions of due process, of right and wrong, and a dark satire on the surveillance culture we already live in. Nowadays it unsettles us, but it’s remarkable how accepting of it the future society depicting in Minority Report are.
Or maybe it isn’t. After all, we accept change after change, a gradual alteration of our state of existence. Is it not, therefore, entirely reasonable that bit by bit we could reach the stage of what we see in the series.
This, I sense, is where the true heart of Minority Report will dwell, at the intersection of privacy questions and free will.
- The hoverbike scene was gratuitous. But fun.
- I’m sorry Minority Report, but Hawk-Eye to me will always be the thing in cricket which tells you whether the batsman was out or not.
- And the creepy special-ops-y bloke was from the two seasons of Lost I actually managed to watch.
- Not a fan of the opening monologue.
- I’m going to continue to think of the almost-murderer in this episode as “smashy Steve Jobs”.
- Agatha, to be honest, is every bit as scary as the scary people she’s trying to avoid.