Minority Report Recap: Here Comes the Pinch

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Photo: Katie Yu / FOX
Minority Report
Episode Title
The Present
Season
1
Episode
5
Editor’s Rating
3/5

Some important bulletins from the future this week, so we might as well get to the best one first: This episode centers on a rare “vintage” 2019 Washington, D.C., football jersey. Rare because, in this universe, the Washington Redskins officially changed their name that year to (I kid you not) the Washington Redclouds, and there were only 500 fan jerseys made ... presumably because the new name was so hilarious that the NFL worried no one would buy them. If every conspicuous prediction and/or commentary made on this show had been as understatedly absurd as this (not to mention a metaphor, perhaps, for the show’s limited run), Minority Report might have survived long enough to be rated better than 29 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Other items this week: a beautiful, ageless ex-junkie being put in charge of an entire correctional facility; Arthur’s lingering, Adonis-esque close-ups and his inexplicable decision to endure extreme pain for Vega; Akeela saying “Narcissist incoming” and “I got you a death shirt for your birthday”; and an extraordinary number of protocol/ethics violations so our hero can obtain her own personal closure (instead of, you know, pursuing an active, current murder investigation, as her job description dictates). That said, if this is how the rest of our time with this sadly doomed show goes, I can’t say I’d be mad — this kind of crazy is at least self-aware.

In perhaps the best cold open Minority Report has delivered so far, we get to see how Vega’s father died. Think Watchmen meets Dark Knight: It’s late at night and raining as Vega Sr., patrols a seemingly deserted alley (Alone! Why are cops always patrolling alone?!) when his badge/body-cam combo shorts out, and a faceless shooter arrives to gun him down and run away.

Agatha, Milk Bath Plus blueprints in hand, is still convinced Vega will give them up to the Defense Department, which, the ten-year-old plans show, had been planning on broadening their use to the national defense level before Precrime was abolished and they killed the project. At this point, she’s so obsessive about this — and to be fair, I’d probably be obsessed, too, if I experienced every murder as though it were happening to me — that even Arthur, the cold cynic, is starting to doubt her prediction. That doubt is the only reasonable explanation I can think of as to why he’d help Dash and Vega ... but more on that later.

Vega has no time for her mom’s algae-and-palm frittata, which I totally believe is a thing by 2065 given the wild crap people buy at Whole Foods today, nor does she appreciate the bouquet Dash (adorably) presents to her in the lobby. It’s her birthday, which would be great except her birthday is also her dad’s birthday! And her dad was murdered 17 years ago! As this is teased out among her Metro colleagues, Dash points out that the milk bath was beta-tested for a year, which means that although Vega Sr. died eight months before Precrime officially launched, there might still be a recording of what happened to him.

Since Vega is such a star cop now, Blake introduces her to the visiting deputy director of the “D.I.A.” (or Defense Intelligence Agency), another old white guy named Blomfeld. This guy, we learn later, was a huge fan of Precrime and thinks it was stupid to shut it down. This is the guy Edward Snowden hates most, probably. Vega’s clearly not a huge fan either, and she excuses herself mere seconds later, when Dash signals that he’s about to have another spaz-vision.

To Wally’s! The vision this week: a second-degree murder indoors, two messy gunshots, a ticking sound, a mysterious logo, and a glimpse of a certain symbolism-heavy football jersey. Before they head to Akeela’s domain to search for purchase records of the rare shirt, because that’s a thing you can easily do in 2065, Vega asks Wally about the beta-test year. Calling it “the worst year of his life,” he recalls matching future-death visions to the deaths as they happened IRL without being able to do anything about them. All of those recordings were deleted, he wagers.

Akeela has been left to entertain the G-man in their absence, so she’s initially psyched to help out ... until Vega mentions the jersey, a request she interprets as Dash having spoiled her surprise birthday gift: a 2019 Redclouds jersey. Oh noooo, Vega’s the victim! We know this because Dash says, “You’re the victim.” Vega, being a cop, isn’t worried about the prediction; after all, with 499 jerseys just like hers, it’s likely not hers.

It seems like kissing a girl last week has had an emboldening effect on Dash, who is still freaking out and demands she burn the jersey before going over to Arthur’s and punching him in the face for not telling him hours ago the victim was Vega. In response, Arthur shows him Agatha’s milk-bath blueprints and points out that the only person who could lead whatever covert government operation to the precogs would be Vega. This, of course, delights Dash, who leaves as Arthur — in an oddly tight shot of his perfectly chiseled model face — swears he only heard Vega’s name. This is never spoken of again, leaving us to wonder once again what exactly are the rules of these precognitive abilities.

The logo from Dash’s vision is that of Revive, a probably controversial inmate-rehabilitation program run by a Dina Winters and based at Hayward Correctional Facility. Once again, thanks to the wonders of a total surveillance state, they discover that one of Vega’s old arrests, who has sent her multiple death threats since his incarceration, is housed there. This was clearly an attempt at a Law & Order–style perp bait-and-switch: There’s no way this cliché-spouting, dollar-store version of Charlie Hunnam’s Sons of Anarchy character was responsible for anything interesting here, except an excuse to watch Meagan Good be a badass and take down a grown man(child) in three seconds flat. On their way out — having successfully provoked her former collar into getting his “outings” privileges revoked — Vega discovers the source of the ticking in Dash’s vision: her father’s old pocket watch, in a display case meant to house reminders of inmates’ crimes. He had it on him when he was murdered, which proves that someone in the facility was responsible for his death. This convinces Vega that she’ll be (maybe) killed because she tried to find her dad’s killer, which leads her down another super-illegal rabbit hole, this one labeled Investigating Crimes Involving Family Members Is a Conflict of Interest.

An odd side note: While I certainly don’t buy the plausibility of Revive’s revolutionary rehab tactic — turning American (probably corporate-owned) prisons into customer-service centers, thus slowing outsourcing while keeping costs down — I’ll certainly be thinking about it for a while. Initially it sounded absurd, but considering PR-friendly potential benefits like “teaching inmates patience and problem-solving with hostile customers!” and “the public interacts with and thus destigmatizes criminals!” ... I could see it being sold to society as a (dystopian) net good.

A very ill-advised ride-along to the D.I.A. proves fruitless for Vega when Blomfeld — who vaguely tells them that a “decentralized group” with a penchant for the Latin phrase memento mori were not only behind a huge 4,000-casualty attack on the NIH (??) after Precrime was abolished, but may also be preparing for a new attack — that the only place those visions still exist is in the precogs’ minds.

Dash’s mind has been lost, unfortunately — from worrying about this case. But he can’t offer a concrete alternative plan, so Vega continues to flout whatever boundaries cops still have in this terrifying era. He’s been “probing” his own brain for any traces of her dad’s death in his memory but can’t find anything. Wally explains: Pathways in the brain erode over time, barring our access to some long-term memories. Luckily, the government let Wally, a loose cannon if ever there was one, take home the exact massive, expensive neurological machine they need, just for funsies! This magic super-CT scanner is basically a data-recovery machine for your brain. The catch: For some reason, both Dash and Arthur need to be connected for it to work. Dash knows Arthur won’t be in the mood to be strapped into a brain-masher, and when Vega demands to know why, Dash straight-up spills the beans about Agatha’s vision and the blueprints. Note to self: Never tell the Baby Precog anything.

So Vega goes to Arthur’s illegal underground poker game herself, to convince him that she would never betray them, and oh, yeah, can you also just hook your brain up to this SUV-size Taser so I can maybe figure out who killed my dad 17 years ago? In perhaps the most baffling turnaround, however, Arthur agrees, after she pokes at his daddy issues a little and he realizes that there’s “a very good chance of ending up dead very soon.” As far as I can see, there’s nothing motivating Arthur beyond possibly doubt about his sister’s vision. Sudden selfless acts don’t really align with his cynical, post-traumatic outlook on the world.

So they get hooked up and, prompted by videos of Vega and her dad, their old memory finally comes up on the projector in a massive flash of light: It was Dina Winters who killed him! A quick Akeela search reveals that Winters is a saint ... except for, you know, she was a massive junkie with three possession collars in the year Vega’s dad died alone. Are ex-cons allowed to run prisons in the future??

Vega is so blinded by revenge that she passes up her mom’s birthday cupcakes (and her sage advice about forgiveness) as she heads to Winters’s house to confront her. Pause. This woman’s mother made her red damn velvet cupcakes. With sprinkles. If my life were on the line, I’d inhale all three of those things before heading to my doom. Apologies to Mama Vega on behalf of her shameful daughter.

“Don’t lose yourself in there,” says Dash in the car outside, doing the best he can with the platitudes he’s been given.

Inside, Vega gets mad quickly, shoving a terrified Winters, who starts talking about her former-junkie self in the third person as an interesting yet immediately abandoned coping mechanism, through a glass coffee table and then drawing her service pistol, demanding she confess to the murder. (Side note: Has plastic surgery improved this much? Seventeen years since killing a man while strung out, and Winters still looks like she just walked out of a J.Crew catalogue.)

Seconds later, as soon as Vega realizes Winters isn’t actually armed (so couldn’t be about to shoot her like the vision suggested), Dash yells in her earpiece, from his station in the car outside, to turn around: It’s Winters’s maybe-10-year-old son, aiming his mom’s gun at Vega. And he’s wearing a Redclouds jersey.

That’s all it takes for Vega to learn a valuable lesson about forgiveness, and she and Winters talk her son down together, assuring him that nobody is going to make any more mistakes. When they finally disarm him, Winters tells Vega everything she knows: Turns out she was hired by her dealer, who was hired by “some guys” to kill Vega Sr. and “make it look like a mugging,” which, who makes the murder of a police officer “look like a mugging”? Anyway, it seems Papa Vega knew something he wasn’t supposed to.

Finally, Vega returns home a changed woman. Her brother is asleep, but her mother is waiting, having already lit a candle in one of the cupcakes. Vega puts the pocket watch in her mom’s hands, and her knees buckle; luckily Dash ominously alerted Vega earlier that night to “move the chair,” which catches her fall. “It’s over,” Mrs. Vega says, tears of relief streaming down her face. Her daughter’s face, however, looks uneasy.

As of tonight, we’re now halfway through our time together, so here’s to our final five episodes, which, hopefully, will culminate in a mostly satisfying finale. You know, relatively speaking. (Please, God, keep these characters’ relationships professional.)