INTELLIGENCE Recap: “Mei Chen Returns”

     January 20, 2014


For the third week, Intelligence created a story that felt like a finale.  It also completed an arc it started two weeks ago, with the creation of Mei Chen (who, as is plain, returned in this episode).  For a show that seemed like it would be Gabe using his super-chip to solve crimes each week, instead, Intelligence has bogged itself down with emotion.  Last week, “Red X” did an admirable job of establishing — and extinguishing — Gabriel’s relationship with Amelia.  But for the third week, she is still his focus.  When are people going to start kicking ass, and not just in a rendered world with the help of a computer virus?  Hit the jump for why it’s not racism, it’s statistics.

The creators of Intelligence had a lot to answer for to critics at the TCAs this past week, when the show lost 10 million viewers after its time shift.  Yes.  Ten million people could not be bothered to find the show on its new night — that’s five times the number of people who watch Mad Men.  So, there was that.  Then came the comparisons to Chuck, which, apparently they’ve never seen so, it can’t be derivative.  Naturally.

intelligence mei chen returns josh holloway Intelligence still has some potential.  Is Almost Human doing more or less the same thing right now, but so much better?  Yes (even though I’ll admit that show’s momentum has stalled out for now).  Still, there are elements to Intelligence that could be expanded on and made more engaging.  For now though, the show is not funny, it’s not particularly exciting, it’s not challenging, and it’s not particularly interesting.  Not even weekly shirtless scenes of Josh Holloway are going to save this one on its current course.

For example, was there anything more uninterested or less engaging than this week’s cold open?  Last week I cut the show a lot of slack — it really tried to do something emotionally, and focused in on Gabe’s past, which is something viewers are and should be interested in.  But this week, there wasn’t a single familiar face in the cold open for almost five minutes.  That’s way too long for people to not think, “am I on the right channel?” then flip around and find something else.  For those of us who staid though, there wasn’t much payoff.

Mei Chen’s abilities were created from the same technology as Gabe, but not only was the tech better and stronger than what Gabe has, Mei also instantly became a killer machine for hire.  There were so many places for that plot to go and play out over several episodes, but in the course of about three days into her having her chip, Mei not only learns how to control it better than Gabe, but she also becomes convinced that they are Adam and Eve, ready to create a new species.  Does it make any sense?  No, but there’s not a lot of time to consider it because bang!  She’s gone.  But in a virtual world, so … what?

The logic of Intelligence is certainly lacking, but worse, there’s nothing else for it to fall back on.  The writing is stale (“get out of my head, bitch!”), the characters are roughly sketched, there’s no humor, and there’s no real investment with Gabe.

intelligence mei chen returns meghan oryThere’s still some vague hope that Intelligence could crawl of the hole it has dug for itself.  The ratings could improve, and next week’s previews showed Gabe actually doing some soldiering and police work all in one, which should have been what the show started with.  But in all likelihood, CBS will end up running an eraser over this show just like Cyber Command did to Mei Chen.

Episode Rating: D

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Riley has spectacular hair, though.

Lance Reddick, you are so much better than this.  Damnit, you all are.

— “Two chips passing in the night” – Cassidy.  I’ll give him that.

— If only we could punch hackers to stop them in real life.  Or trolls.

— Mei Chen made deviant sexuality super not sexy.  And the chip has taken her soul?  How long has she had that thing in-universe at this point, seriously.  A few weeks at most?

Peter Coyote and Michael Trucco are set to appear in upcoming episodes.  So there’s that.

— If you hadn’t already guessed, I won’t be reviewing this show any further.  It it gets better — or worse! — let me know (or feel free to talk to me about any TV) on Twitter, @keeneTV.