Spoilers Emergence - Season 1

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by JD, Oct 7, 2019.

  1. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Emergence is a new sci-fi series that premiered this season on ABC in the US, it follows a police chief in a small coastal town in the US, who takes in a young girl she finds at the site of a plane crash, and eventually discovers the young girl has special powers and is being hunted by mysterious. The people after the girl end up destroying or getting rid of everything from the plane crash, and appear to have access to all sorts of advanced technology.
    The cast:
    Alison Tolman as Jo Evans, the police chief
    Alexa Swinton as Piper, the girl
    Owain Yeoman as Benny Gallagher, a reporter investigating the plane crash
    Asley Auferdheide as Mia Evans, Jo's daughter
    Robert Baily Jr. as Officer Chris Minetto, a cop working for Jo
    Zabryna Guevara as Abby Fraiser, Jo's pediatrician best friend
    Donald Faison as Alex Evans, Jo's ex-husband and Mia's father
    Clancy Brown as Ed, Jo's father

    So far there've been two episode, and I enjoyed them. The characters are likeable, and the stuff with the mysteries around Piper has been pretty interesting so far.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I was skeptical of another conspiracy-arc show on ABC, but I'm liking this one so far. Its creators/showrunners are Michelle Fazakas and Tara Butters of Dollhouse and Agent Carter, and I think the writing's fairly good so far. Alison Tolman is a charismatic lead.
     
  3. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I'm liking Tolman a lot, and girl playing Piper has been doing a pretty good job so far too.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    As for Clancy Brown, I don't think I've ever heard him speak with so little bass and resonance in his voice. He usually sounds so deep and booming, but he's downplaying that part of his vocal range here. I miss it.
     
  5. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    So are Christopher and I the only ones watching this?
    I finally got caught up today, and I'm pretty shocked how quickly they explained who/what Piper is. I'm very curious to see where they are going to take things now that we know about Piper. I think I read somewhere they have a multi-season story planned out, so hopefully that means they know where everything is leading.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I won't be anymore, at least not for a while. I just cancelled my cable, since most of what I watch these days is on The CW and I can watch that online for free, so it's just not worth paying as much as I was, especially with money as tight as it is for me right now. (Really, I should've cut the cord long ago.) At some point I'll probably sign up for Hulu or Amazon Prime or something that gets me access to network shows, but no telling when that will be. I may have to wait until this comes to Netflix or out on DVD at the library. It's an okay show, but I can live without it.

    Honestly, I'm starting to get tired of aspects of it anyway. I like the characters, but I'm not a fan of network-TV conspiracy thrillers and their familiar beats. And that bit this week that "if you tell an AI it's an AI, you destroy it" is very silly. There's no logical reason why that would be the case; it's just an arbitrary rule they made up to drive a plot point.
     
  7. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, the whole thing about not telling Piper she's an AI is a bit annoying. I would think it would save her a lot of anxiety if they could tell her what she is, and it would make it a lot easier to explain any issues she might develop that a normal girl wouldn't have.
     
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  8. Enterprise is Great

    Enterprise is Great Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I rolled my eyes pretty hard with that "Don't tell the AI what it is or it'll go boom" thing. Why would it knowing that destroy it?
     
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  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Anyway, the show isn't turning out to be what I expected. I got the impression from the trailers and advance word -- and from the title -- that this was going to be like a darker take on Person of Interest, with the emergence of a malevolent artificial superintelligence being the threat. Now it just seems like a corporate conspiracy, and maybe some kind of spy angle with AI infiltrators being trained in fake towns. I wonder, did I read too much into it based on the title, or have they reworked the premise post-pilot? Terry O'Quinn wasn't cast until months after the pilot was made, so it could be that his character was added after the fact.
     
  10. Noname Given

    Noname Given Admiral Admiral

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    Because of the "Kirk effect"? ;)
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I found out yesterday that I can still watch Emergence for free on ABC's website, just with an 8-day delay. So I don't have to give the show up yet, though I'm still not sure how eager I am to stick around. And there was no new episode this week anyway, so it'll be another 2 weeks before I get to see the next episode.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I finally caught up with episode 5 (last week's) online. Still ambivalent -- the character writing and dialogue are more interesting and fun than the rather stock conspiracy plot. There was relatively little time spent on Piper in this one. Though the moment with the truck was pretty cool. A nice change to see Piper exercising some control over her Magneto-like power for once.

    Bonus of watching online: I get to listen to the end title music, which is quite nice.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Okay, episode 6 was surprising. Turns out Terry O'Quinn isn't the big bad after all, but just a red herring. Although they ditched him so swiftly after setting him up for 3 episodes as a major antagonist that I can't tell whether it's because they planned the fakeout all along, or because the show keeps getting retooled at network fiat and changing its intended direction every few episodes. I've seen that sort of thing before, with The WB's short-lived 2003 Tarzan series (which was set in NYC with Jane as a police detective). On almost a weekly basis for the first few episodes, a new story direction was introduced in one episode and then written out in the next, so you could see the retooling going on as you watched, practically. (It's surprising how well it still fit together as a complete 9-episode miniseries, though.) This sort of reminds me of that, though I can't really be sure that's what's going on.

    Still, I didn't like the "It's all a corporate plot" angle, so I'm glad that seems to have been ditched in favor of... whatever it is they're going to do next. (Keep in mind I'm a week behind broadcast dates.)
     
  14. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I got caught up this week too, and the big twist at the end of the last episode was a big surprise.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Hmm, nobody's been talking about this for a few weeks. Makes me uneasy about its ratings, though of course you can't judge from a single BBS. Anyway, I finally saw last week's episode, and it did take an unexpected and potentially interesting twist at the end. It still feels to me like the plot keeps swerving from idea to idea like they're making it up as they go, but it looks like we're finally moving past the boring "It's all a corporate plot" angle and the rather small-scale "It's a crazy woman trying to build a daughter" angle and moving into something more large-scale and science-fictional about the "Emergence" of AI implied by the title. Hopefully that goes somewhere interesting.

    It makes me wonder if the show fell prey to the usual tendency of network TV to try to suppress the heavier SF elements of a concept in favor of more conventional crime drama and the like, with the core ideas having to get eased in gradually. (With Person of Interest, it took 2-3 seasons.) Network execs do that for fear of driving away the mainstream audience, but in practice it has an unfortunate tendency to bore the viewers that actually come seeking SF, so that by the time the bigger SF ideas come into play, the audience for them has already fled.

    Anyway, it does feel like a retcon -- this new group suddenly showing up and saying "The previous bad guys stole the technology from us." Though I've always felt that the whole Richard Kindred angle was itself a retcon from what the pilot implied, so maybe this is a course correction back to something like the original intention. I want to like this show -- the character work is great fun -- but the plot just can't make up its mind what it wants to be. Characters who get introduced as major adversaries are killed off or shunted aside a few weeks later, people set up to have one role keep getting revealed to have a totally different nature, new antagonist groups keep getting introduced out of nowhere, and I can't tell if it's all part of an intricate nested arc of conspiracies and secrets or just the result of heavy micromanagement and retooling by the network execs.

    Well, at least it's good that everyone's finally in the loop and on the same team -- well, except for the guy we thought was on their team but turned out to be a sleeper all along. And it's a good thing Enver Gjokaj's FBI guy turned out to be an ally instead of an adversary, though I guess they brought him in to fill the square-jawed male hero niche now vacated by Benny.
     
  16. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Commodore Commodore

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    Remind me what the pilot implied? At that point, I had no idea what the show was even about, and was still thinking about telepathic abilities, and thinking about other show's like Manifest. I hadn't read any background on the show, and didn't know what to expect.

    That being said, it definitely didn't feel like a "click" moment where everything fell into place, but rather like they are making it up as they go along - Benny being a sleeper doesn't feel organic at all, while the crazy woman being bad all along seemed like it was part of the planned arc.

    Haven't seen a great planned twist in awhile, honestly - the last one that really caught me by surprise was the first season of Sleepy Hollow a few years back.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Maybe it was the trailer and advance reporting as well as the pilot, but I always had the sense it was a show about AI, and that the title referred to the emergence of AI as a potential threat (though it could have a double meaning in terms of intelligence as an emergent property of a sufficiently complex neural network). In the pilot, there was a bit where we saw Piper reacting to some weird computerish symbols and sounds that appeared on the TV when nobody was looking, and the same phenomenon also apparently hacked the hospital's life support system and killed a witness in the first or second episode. The impression I got was of some kind of malevolent AI behind the scenes, but then they totally dropped that element and brought in the Kindred stuff.


    I dunno, the Benny thing kind of makes sense. I mean, he was this stranger who showed up and ingratiated himself into Jo's confidence by giving her a lot of information about what was going on. That fits well with him being a sleeper agent sent to infiltrate and monitor her activities. Okay, he did claim to want Piper destroyed, but that could've been part of his cover, or a test to see how Jo would react. And maybe he didn't take Piper before because he saw that Jo could be an ally in protecting her from Kindred and Emily. So it pretty much works, I think.
     
  18. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Commodore Commodore

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    It just didn't seem foreshadowed, and there were no clues for the viewer to pick up on, so it still came out of left field, instead of having some bread crumbs to have already started to lead us in that direction. I didn't see any trailers, and had honestly forgotten about some of those early mystery boxes.

    I thought the witness was killed in a more normal way I suppose, and just figured Kindred or someone had gotten to him. Its quite a cliche at this point.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I guess we're defining "organic" differently. I feel it fits with what we already knew, even if it means recontextualizing what we knew. Sometimes a clue is only evident as a clue in retrospect, when it seems perfectly innocuous before. I mean, who else would be the sleeper except the stranger who ingratiates himself into the protagonist's inner circle and has more knowledge about the conspiracy/mystery than anybody else? He claimed he knew all this from his reporting, but we only had his word for that.


    We saw the weird computerish symbol and interference patterns showing up on the medical monitor just before it shut down and the patient died, similar to the patterns Piper saw on the TV. The first trailer shows the symbol on the TV about 50 seconds in, then shows the same symbol right before the show title at the end. Clearly it was intended at the time to be important, to represent some mysterious phenomenon or entity with control over computers and electronics. But the symbol's been completely ignored since then.

    Maybe it's just from the title, but I had the sense from the start that the show had something to do with the technological Singularity and the emergence of strong AI, like Person of Interest but with the AI as a more malevolent force. I'm really not sure where I got that impression, though, since none of the early coverage I can find mentions anything of the sort. Maybe I read something back then that I can't track down now.
     
  20. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Commodore Commodore

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    Right, but I guess the assumption was Kindred and Tech Company People as hacking using that language or symbols or whatever. It was very unclear, and I wasn't in "speculate" mode yet, but just watching the mystery begin to unfold. I didn't have nearly enough info to even start guessing yet, so I just let it be a mystery. Now in retrospect some of it does seem a bit clearer, but "she's an android" was the last thing I was thinking of at the beginning of the show. It could have just as easily been the emergence of mutants or aliens. Shrug.