Before we begin, here are some questions I had while watching this week’s episode: Why is Lara Vega suddenly skeptical of Hawk-Eye when we were told in the pilot that her passion for Precrime was the whole reason she joined the police force to begin with? Wouldn’t you be able to tell if your twin were lying to you, especially if your brains had literally been wired together for a decade? If the government shut Precrime down and sent the precogs into the wild to live in anonymity, as the police-station tour guides keep reminding us, wouldn’t it know where it had sent them, thus leaving no reason for the precogs’ obsessive fear of being “discovered”? How much easier would Ice-T and Elliot Stabler’s jobs have been if they, too, had been able to ignore the civil rights of suspects the way that Hawk-Eye does? How long will it take #CarTwitter to help me identify this “manual” classic car? Was giving the murder victim a less-than-pleased recapper’s last name a Hawk-Eye tactic in real life? Is this show actually one long native advertisement for Listerine Strips, But for Weed™?
As you can see, things in 2065 are getting very dire, very quickly.
Right off the bat, we meet a super-cool guy who looks like a Pokémon gym leader brought to life. He’s “manually” driving a normally self-driving car with his wife in the passenger seat, and they’re getting off like crazy by driving in the opposite direction on the highway and playing chicken with oncoming subway cars — until a video pops up on his dashboard to inform him that he has been “upgraded” in the Hawk-Eye system, that he’s not allowed to drive anymore, and his habeas corpus rights have been revoked. (To be honest, this punishment sounded pretty reasonable until we had to go and unconstitutionalize it.)
Back at Metro HQ, the Hawk-Eye beta trial has commenced with a presentation in which the speaker is careful to stipulate that “this is not Precrime.” It’s exactly Precrime, except instead, it uses mathematical models and blanket Big Brother surveillance to recognize human behavioral patterns and ensure “unstable” people don’t commit crimes (by completely trouncing their rights). Vega is (oddly) skeptical, claiming the department is setting itself up for a million lawsuits by arresting people for “looking nervous.” She’s not wrong, but it’s interesting that she’s completely changed her totalitarian tune from the first episode now that she’s got her own private precog.
Dash and Arthur go dirtbiking because that’s a thing they do, I guess; Dash suggests later that there was nothing else to do on their secret island that the all-seeing government definitely doesn’t know exists. They crash trying not to hit a runner whose phone number Arthur brain-steals; then Dash uses an inhaler that I think I need to ask my doctor about. Art gets high and rants about humanity, as he does. “There’s a worst in everyone, dying to get out,” he says, adding that “everyone is capable of anything,” even Vega. Then, suddenly, he gets a name, and Dash gets a vision (there’s another question — why is Dash the only one whose premonitions involve brain-hemorrhaging seizures?): Our joyriding anime friend, whose name is Mark Masero, is going to stomp a dude’s brain in. Drugs are awesome!
Wally knows this suspect. He’s the CCO of subtly named tech company Narcissus who “would eat his young to launch the next big thing.” The guy he kills is named Trevor Maloney. I’ve already been feeling personally attacked by this show, but this detail really just sealed the deal for me. Having experienced significant pressure from Wilmer Valderrama at work, Vega suggests using the Hawk-Eye trials as an opportunity to bring Dash above-ground as a civilian analyst on this case — well, as above-ground as a secret precog using a fake identity stolen by his precog brother to willfully deceive an entire metropolitan police force can get, anyway. Remember, what Vega’s asking is akin to requesting a Manson Family escapee to go back undercover to the Spahn Movie Ranch. Dash and his siblings were significantly traumatized by being held captive in that building for literally a third of their lives … but who cares? There are crimes to be solved — actually, make that one crime. That hasn’t happened yet.
The most baffling subplot this week goes to Agatha, now a Shonda Rhimes character gone astray, who manipulates and corners another island resident and horse lover, Charlie, who she knows embezzled a ton of money from someone in the military? Wasn’t quite sure what was going on there except that, as she told Arthur, her “big” vision about Vega’s apparent betrayal and an apparent return to the milk bath means the government might be developing a secret program to bring Precrime back, so they’ll need an insider to provide them with information. Charlie, who has a bunch of nebulous ties to the government and a bunch of money, seems to be this guy. Millionth question: If Agatha just knows everything about everyone, why is this vision she keeps having about Vega so ambiguous?
Dash and Vega manage to blackmail Arthur with knowledge of an underground betting ring he exploits into stealing an identity for Dash. Dash insists Arthur can’t tell Agatha about this, and Arthur lies, not very convincingly, that the two never talk anyway.
Girls’ night in! Vega finally loops in Akeela on the whole precog thing … in the same breath that she asks her to risk her career and admit Dash’s false ID as an analyst. So much for friends not implicating friends in their crimes. She agrees, but does so extremely reluctantly, and during the interview tells Dash (newly a.k.a. Dashell Parker) that some people really, really like their jobs and do not want to lose them. It works, though later Blake is suspicious and calls Dash into his office for a vetting chat that Dash barely survives.
Now that they’re officially partners, Dash and Vega visit Narcissus, which still doesn’t seem to actually sell anything unless you count the only honestly brilliant technology we’ve seen, wherein a digital receptionist can give you directions within an office building by projecting a bright blue-arrowed path ahead of you. They find out from a product developer named Eli Whitford that Masero is not in the office today. He says that’s no big deal, but Vega rattles off a laundry list of Masero’s recent erratic behavior and reminds Whitford that his boss’s status as Hawk-Eye’s Most Wanted could tank Narcissus’s stock prices if it got out to shareholders, so he directs them to Masero’s house.
Vega and Dash discover a half-open front door and rush into the house when Vega infrared-detects him and his wife Lena tussling inside — only to find out they were getting busy, not trying to kill each other. They’re understandably pissed, and deny any knowledge of a Trevor Maloney; then, seemingly apropos of nothing, Dash asks Masero why he’s going to therapy later. I’d rag on him for this dodo-brained move, but I prefer this Dash over the one who later coerces information out of Masero’s wife with the threat of arrest.
On their way to meet Masero’s shrink, Dash and Vega get defensive about their crippling lack of therapy, which sounds like it’s going to be a productive way to frame the show’s take on mental-health issues, until the conversation they have at the end of the episode ruins it … but more on that in a second.
Meet Dr. Emery, a low-key terrifying character whose therapy is entirely centered around a brain-stimulator device that he claims “fixes” his patients’ brains, allowing him to access all areas and adjust chemicals according to the patient’s problems, as he sees fit. It’s pretty hilarious that he has the gall to ask Vega how she sleeps at night, working for a police state, when she reminds him that Hawk-Eye bypasses doctor-patient confidentiality and demands he tell her what problems Masero had been having. Reluctantly, he divulges that, since being promoted to CCO at Narcissus, he had performance-anxiety’d himself into a near-paralytic coma, the effects of which Emery’s machine had eliminated … and then some. Oh, also Lena cheated on him, though, back at the house, she says was with a college classmate, not some dude named Trevor Maloney, and anyway, everything was fine now that her husband was a new man. (P.S.: The future is a moral abyss!)
After some light, aforementioned coercion, Lena tells Dash and Vega that her husband had taken one of his “classic” cars, a Shelby Cobra (thanks, #CarTwitter!), on a dangerous road to a race, or something. They borrow his “vintage” hover-cycle, which is basically a cross between an Endor speeder bike and something the three-comma-club dude from Silicon Valley would ride, and catch up with him juuuuuust as he’s lifting his foot to bash in the face of Trevor Maloney, who, it turns out, is just a random environmentalist biker who ragged on him too hard about guzzling fossil fuels and nearly ran him off the road, because toxic masculinity.
They go back to celebrate the arrest at Wally’s, who has made Dash a monitor bracelet that notifies him of an incoming vision 30 seconds in advance. It goes off, and Dash has a vision of Masero, now out on bail, making a suicide note and hanging himself — which is weird, because as Wally explains, precogs don’t see suicides; their visions only involve “the quantum fallout of two forces clashing.” (That essentially invalidates every noncriminal premonition any of the siblings have had on this show, but hey, what are rules?) Someone had to have pushed him to suicide, in other words.
While Vega goes to Masero’s house to stop him from killing himself, Dash goes to see Arthur for the killer’s name. Arthur is so frustrated with his shortsighted twin that he just tells him about Agatha’s vision in which Vega “betrays” them. Dash has no time for this nonsense, so Arthur just sighs and gives him the name … which is either Dr. Emery, who is brought into Metro’s special polygraph room (which, ironically, he helped design) and who more or less confesses to upping Masero’s “dosage” in his frontal lobe, thereby rendering him totally blind to the consequences of his actions; or Eli Whitford, who, we learn, was gunning for Masero’s job and paid Emery to tweak his dosage.
In a final, confusing dénouement, Vega catches up with Dash, who has discovered the precog statue in the Metro lobby, and they talk about how glad they are not to have gotten therapy for their issues (Dash, his enslavement; Vega, her father’s violent death). Which, I guess, yeah, if a brain-chemistry machine is the only therapy available in 2065, that would be understandable — but didn’t we conclude earlier, when Vega snaps at Dash for asking if she had seen anyone, that their issues totally get in the way of basically every aspect of their lives?
Look, the Minority Report pilot was good — hopeful, even, Tinder joke notwithstanding. (Hey, we made it through this week without a dating-app comment!) Last week, not great, but not without hope of redemption. This week, though, was straight-up infuriating, largely because in theory, a show like this deserves, even needs to be on television. The Minority Report cast, a rare, casually diverse lineup that obviously seeks to correct a centuries-old status quo in sci-fi, could be so much better than what it’s been given so far, and yet — whether the culprit is time constraints or heavy network edits or whatever else — it’s been handed an almost-sloppy approach that cares too much about the wrong issues, ignores important narrative details, and seems to sabotage the entire point of a story like this: to engage in deft, biting criticism of a society that sacrifices the powerless in the name of utopian security and progress. Back here in 2015, we desperately need that criticism to be better crafted than the forces at which it aims, but considering the bleak ratings Minority Report has returned these past few weeks, it might be too much to hope for a clearheaded turnaround.