by Josie Kafka
Josh Holloway (Lost) plays Gabriel, a former Delta force soldier with a chip implanted in his head that allows him to access “the information grid,” which includes satellite imagery, DMV databases, sealed juvenile records, and probably this website. (Hi, Josh Holloway!) Because he is a superstrong superspy, he is protected by Riley (Megan Ory of Once Upon a Time), a former Secret Service agent with a mysterious past: it’s her juvenile records that are up for grabs throughout the episode as a symbol of A) two-dimensional characterization, B) Gabriel’s phenomenal access, and C) the burgeoning friendship, which will inevitably become a romantic relationship, between Gabriel and Riley.
Riley and Gabriel are part of the government’s cyber-center, which is apparently better run than FEMA yet less well-staffed than the local post office on tax day. Their boss is Lillian (Marg Helgenberger of CSI), who has the thankless task of pulling Gabriel off the case that has become “too personal” at the beginning of the third act. Despite the chip being not much cooler than an iPhone, Lillian also compares it to the Manhattan Project in terms of global and scientific significance.
We all know that ended well.
Intelligence does not address a single question raised or implied by its premise. We are meant to think it’s cute that Gabriel teases Riley about her sealed juvenile files; that is the stuff of my nightmares. (Not that I have a sealed juvenile file.) A super-strong soldier is given access to information that is meant to be private despite his characterization as reckless and insubordinate: we might as well have given the atom bomb to Peter Sellers.
Intelligence has more in common with a video game—or some non-gamer’s idea of a video game—than Person of Interest, CBS’s actually interesting show about the intersection of intelligence both artificial and natural. It is the type of show in which a character jumps over an oncoming vehicle rather than going around, shortly after jumping through another vehicle rather than going around. One climatic scene involves a shoot-out in a paintball arena set to cheap techno; there are actual freeze-frames, and no I am not making that up. Another scene involved Holloway looking constipated while he accessed DMV records with his brain as a bunch of people sitting at computers watched him. It is so silly that it is boring.
I would not recommend that you watch this show, although the coconut telegraph indicates that Holloway takes his shirt off in the second episode. Instead, I recommend watching Person of Interest, vacuuming, or even just googling “intelligence” and reading some of the cool links (like this one) that come up. You might also enjoy this horrific article by a Google Glass “pioneer” for a more realistic take on how boring it is to be hooked into the “intelligence grid,” and how quickly it will make you into a so-called “glasshole.”
Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, True Detective, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)