Crisis, Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Written by Rand Ravich
Directed by Phillip Noyce
Airs Sundays at 10pm (ET) on NBC
Crisis, which airs Sundays on NBC, is what most people would categorize as “event television”. The pilot revolves around a group of rich high school kids who are kidnapped by terrorists and from there the twists begin. Crisis works incredibly hard to use the tension of the kidnapping as not only a compelling argument to watch the show, but a reason to care about all the characters involved in this incident.
Australian actress Rachael Taylor, who is better known for her roles in Grey’s Anatomy and the Charlie’s Angels TV series reboot, portrays FBI agent Susie Dunn and what is immediately clear about Dunn is that she is a workaholic. While that aspect of the character isn’t something that is at all new to television drama, it does set up one of the episode’s most shocking twists.
At this point, the teens who have been kidnapped by terrorists are all forgettable and any time spent with that group is wasted. One clear bright spot within the group is a chubby teen named Anton (Joshua Erenberg), who is saved from the terrorists kidnapping by a first day Secret Service agent Marcus Finley (Lance Gross). Finley, after being shot by the terrorists, rescues Anton and proceeds to play hide and seek with an individual terrorist for the rest of the episode. What makes this portion of the episode work is the friendship that forms between Anton and Marcus as they work to evade the terrorist. The show flows much better when it is focusing on the fear Marcus and Anton feel. Whenever the episode moves the action away from them to focus on what the motives of the terrorists are, the story loses its momentum.
What the terrorists actually want from the kidnapped children is a mystery unsolved before the pilot’s end. Viewers aren’t given any answers as to why this kidnapping had to occur- if, at the very least, a shred of motive were given, the audience would be allowed to dismiss or condone the reasoning behind the terrorists’ actions, involving us in the drama. Instead the titular crisis has no weight and the characters overall are not strong enough personalities to spark viewers’ interest.
Another major flaw of Crisis is that there are unearned plot twists seemingly added just to be edgy. The issue with that is frighteningly simple- it’s impossible for the audience to know enough about the characters for these twists to be effective. One example of this is when Thomas Gibson (Dermot Mulroney), a parent of one of the kidnapped children, attempts to escape and is punished. What follows is a punishment that has no merit, even when the answer to why it occurs is given to us later.
In short, this pilot suffers from poor plotting and too many twists for an hour of drama. The show’s saving grace is that it is successfully gripping and for television on a Sunday night, that’s an achievement in itself. This drama could be compelling if handled correctly, or it could fall utterly flat; only time will tell if this Crisis should have been averted.
– Chike Coleman