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The Event Recap: By the Time I Get to Arizona

NBC promised us that we’d find out this week what happened to Sean Walker and the rest of the passengers on that airplane that disappeared into a wormhole. The answer turned out to be both much more banal and much more distressing than we expected. But the big takeaway from last night’s episode was the identity of the mysterious Alaskan prisoners.

What We Know: The prisoners in the Alaskan compound are aliens that crash-landed on Earth in 1944. Though they look just like us, their DNA is one percent different than ours — a rather significant amount, it turns out. (Any creationists watching were no doubt incensed when creepy American national security adviser Blake Sterling pointed out that our genetic material is only 2 percent different from a chimpanzee’s.) In addition, some of the aliens that survived the crash escaped, blending in with the human population, including Clifton Collins Jr.’s Thomas. The aliens age very slowly and refuse to reveal any information about their origins.

What We Don’t Know: Alien leader Sophia tells President Martinez that her people were running out of patience — what do they intend to do to us? And since they’ve been on Earth for so long, is anyone looking for them from another world? And why is the aliens’ genetic makeup so close to our own?

What We Really Want to Know: How did the alien escapees manage to survive in the middle of nowhere in Alaska after the crash?

What We Know: The plane is not in a parallel world but, rather, an Arizona desert. All the passengers survived the crash, but a disoriented Michael tells Sean that Vicky (the girl Sean and Leila met on their vacation) has kidnapped Leila and her younger sister. They were going to kill Michael unless he crashed the plane. Just then, a fleet of black helicopters comes zooming in, and Michael tells Sean to run and find Leila.

What We Don’t Know: Who was in those helicopters?

What We Really Want to Know: How did Sean get away without the helicopters detecting him?

What We Know: After passing out in the middle of the desert, Sean wakes up to find himself in a hospital being treated for dehydration. Desperate to tell the cops about his abducted girlfriend, he persuades a friendly nurse to call the authorities for him, only to learn that he’s wanted for the murder of Greg, Vicky’s boyfriend, who was actually killed by Vicky’s boss, Carter (played by D.B. Sweeney), when they kidnapped Leila. Sean tries to prove his innocence but is picked up by two FBI agents and carted away.

What We Don’t Know: Were Vicky and Carter always planning on killing Greg as part of their abduction plan? And how will Sean be able to convince anyone that he didn’t kill Greg, or that Leila is in danger, or that he was on a plane that ended up in the Arizona desert?

What We Really Want to Know: We understand that The Event is going for a North by Northwest–like plot in which an ordinary man finds himself in an outrageous situation where nobody believes his innocence, but when is Sean going to start acting more assertive? Two episodes in, Jason Ritter is just too wimpy and whiny to be a sympathetic presence — will that be changing soon?

What We Know: Agent Simon Lee works closely with Sterling on monitoring the incarcerated aliens’ activity, but Lee himself is one of the undercover aliens. Sterling has long suspected that there were aliens who escaped the '44 crash, and the vanishing plane convinces him that not only are there aliens on the loose, they were behind the incident. Lee and Thomas are the only undercover aliens we know of as of now.

What We Don’t Know: How many undercover aliens are out there in the world?

What We Really Want to Know: Is The Event going to go Battlestar Galactica on us, constantly teasing us with the possibility that one (or more) of the show’s main characters are not who they appear to be? Is there a chance one of the characters will find out he or she is the child of one of these aliens?

What We Know: In the world of undercover aliens, there seems to be some dissension among the ranks. Thomas and Lee are not in agreement about the importance of preserving the safety of the airplane passengers. Lee asks Thomas where the airplane went, and Thomas provides the coordinates, suggesting ominously that when Lee gets to Arizona, “You’ll understand.” Arriving at the crash site, Lee finds that all the passengers are dead in a ditch.

What We Don’t Know: Did a faction of the undercover aliens kill the passengers? Thomas hinted that they wanted to take advantage of having so many passengers at their disposal — what was the purpose of killing them?

What We Really Want to Know: Is there a reason that the alien actors — Ian Anthony Dale, Laura Innes, Collins Jr. — are all much more compelling than their human counterparts? So far, Blair Underwood is rather dull as the noble leader of the free world. (The show’s idea of him being a tough guy when he interrogates Sophia is to have him turn his chair around so he can sit in it cop-drama-style.) And Zeljko Ivanek seems to be doing a variation on every cantankerous, shoot-first American government muckety-muck that ever appeared in a Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay movie. Does The Event want us secretly rooting for our alien overlords?

Photo: Harper Smith/NBC