05 “The Present” (Minority Report season 1) [SPOILERS]


minority report tv series

I think Minority Report‘s card may be punched.

I realise I seem like a continual prophet of doom on this subject, but Fox have cut the series order from 13 to 10 episodes. That, generally speaking, is not the sort of thing you do when you think you have a runaway hit on your hands.

Is it fair? Well, I don’t know. Part of me still sees the vast potential of what a Minority Report TV series could explore, the places it could go and the ideas upon which it could expound. That part of me wants this to be a piece of extreme over-caution on Fox’s part.

There’s another part of me, though, which I suspect is the bigger part, that knows that Minority Report has not punched as hard as either it could or needs to. And TV is not a game where you can afford to pull your punches. New series fall by the wayside often enough that their corpses should be road signs for the up-and-comers.

When Vega’s birthday, which she shared with her murdered father, comes around Dash has a vision of her imminent murder. But Vega, having discovered that the Precog programme was active in secret when her father died, becomes obsessed with solving his murder rather than preventing her own.

Okay, so last week Dash got a character development episode, and this episode does the same for Vega. It is, mind, a little more heavy handed, in that the unfinished business of her father’s death.

So when Dash surprises Vega on her birthday with flowers, she’s not exactly thrilled, on the basis of the associations with the death of her father. Akeela gets Vega some sort of antique sports shirt, which just happens to be the shirt that Dash has just seen in a murder vision. A murder vision which very much looks like Vega is going to die.

It was, realistically, only a matter of time until this happened. Dash goes to Arthur for confirmation, and gets both Vega’s name and a lecture about Agatha’s discovery of milk-bath designs last episode. Dash, though, doesn’t believe that Vega would turn on them, and rewards his brother’s blase attitude towards Vega’s predicted death with a punch to the face.

Thing is, whilst the sensible thing would have been to just hide away for a few days and not get murdered, Vega doesn’t take the sensible route. The associations of her birthday with her father get her talking about his murder, and it slips out the precogs were undergoing testing during the period that her father was murdered on duty, so likely had a vision of the murder.

And, naturally, this causes Vega to go off half-cocked, heading to the Defence Intelligence Agency alongside Lt. Blake, where she drops a number of heavy hints about precrime. Luckily — and actually believably — the true story of her father dying explains it away, if not how she knew about the top secret testing in the first place. The DIA deputy director claims that the recordings of the trial visions were not retained, but he admires her interest, and mourns that the precrime programme was used to catch murderers rather than for national security. Here we’re onto something meaty, I think.

Vega’s investigating her own murder takes her first to a criminal that she busted years before, who turns out to be a complete bastard, but not the murderer they’re looking for. Captain angry is at a rehab facility (But not the very interesting halo-rehab facility which has been criminally underused -Ed), where amongst a collection of crime mementos she finds her father’s pocket watch, stolen when he was killed.

Fortunately Wally is able to pull the visions out of Dash’s head with a bit of equipment he nicked when precrime went under. But he needs Arthur there too. Arthur agrees weirdly quickly, and they pull out the vision in question — a vision which shows Hamilton Vega being murdered by the director of the rehab facility where they found the watch, Dina Winters.

Against all advice and common sense, Vega rushes to confront her, demanding at gunpoint to know what happened, and wanting justice. It all gets a bit messy and temporal-collision-y, when a kid wearing the murder shirt and carrying his mother’s gun walks in. Self-fulfilling prophecy, much. The kid is very tempted to shoot the woman threatening his repentant mother. Vega realises that the kid was the victim in the vision, and manages to talk the child down. And she learns that Dina was hired to kill her father, by he drug dealer Lycon, who was hired by someone else.

The emotional conclusion, as Vega gives her mother her father’s watch, tugs the heartstrings a little. Her mother says that it’s over, but Vega has a lot of hunting yet to do in order to find who was responsible for her father’s death.

Okay, so this episode was heavily flawed in a number of ways. Chiefly, Vega not sitting down and waiting out the danger, and the rest of the characters not tying her up and damn well making her. I mean, she puts herself into danger and everyone else lets her. Akeela actually says that Vega should rush into danger. It’s absurd, and Vega’s fight with her father on the day he died is, as Dash says, not a good enough reason to take the risk. And then Dash doesn’t go in with her.

But, if you put aside the absurdities, there is a lot of good here. Between the DIA and the milk-bath, we’re getting a coherent overarching story about the plans for the precogs. And it’s pretty fascinating. Adding Vega’s father’s killer to the mystery mix gives it another level. The long game that Minority Report is playing is much more interesting than its episodic stories.

And given that I’m predicting a premature demise for the series, that’s a shame.

Closing thoughts:

  • Apparently Hawk-Eye is performing well. Which is odd, since we haven’t seen Vega actually use it later.
  • I bought you a death shirt for your birthday. I’m the worst friend ever!
  • Lycon, the eyeless man, featured in the film, as Tom Cruise’s character’s dealer.
  • If Lt. Blake isn’t starting to piece together the truth about Vega and Dash, then he’s a complete idiot.
  • If Minority Report wants to save itself, it needs a Tom Cruise cameo. It is never going to get a cameo from Tom Cruise.
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