Review: Intelligence (Season one, episode one)

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Intelligence is the latest thriller/crime show to come out of the USA, and it attempts to take a fresh look at the world of espionage in an increasingly technologically driven age. Up against stiff competition from thriller shows, like Homeland and crime procedurals, like Criminal Minds or Bones, Intelligence has an interesting concept, but just feels a little lacklustre.

The show centres around the fiction agency of the US Cyber Command which has created a singularly unique asset – someone with a microchip in their head which allows them to access computer information and the whole of the internet. This asset, Gabriel Vaughn, is central to the agency’s work, attempting to fight off threats against the United States. Secret Service Agent Riley Neal is assigned to protect Vaughn from outside threats, and also from his own reckless behaviour.

intellegence 3One of the first things I noticed was how much Josh Holloway has changed since his days stuck on an island in Lost. Here he seems somehow harder and sharper, as if his youthful edges have been shaved off to leave the character as a cool, calm operative. Gabriel, as a result of this hard edge, doesn’t have much to make him compelling as a central character, apart from the fact that he has the microchip in his brain, and so therefore has to be at the centre of the action. The only humanising element, certainly in this introductory episode, is his quest to find out what has happened to his wife, a CIA operative who is presumed to have gone rogue. This could prove to make an interesting plot point for further down the line, but it does not make for a well rounded character from the start. Similarly, Riley is clearly meant to be a ‘badass’ female character who is able to protect herself, which is commendable, but as of the first episode she seems a little bit too much like a stereotypical attempt at creating a strong female lead.

What is a little refreshing about a show which features a male/female duo is the change in intellegence 4gender roles. The female character is a Secret Service agent, formerly assigned to the President, in charge of protecting the male asset and the considerable amount of information that he has access to. Similarly, there seems to be no potential for a relationship between the two, which is something rather unfamiliar in the world of crime procedurals.

The storyline in the opening episode is interesting, if a little predictable for the most part. The lead scientist who created the chip which is in Gabriel’s brain is kidnapped by Chinese intelligence, and Gabriel and Riley are tasked with finding out what happened. While there are a few unanticipated twists, the end of the episode was largely frustrating, mainly because it stemmed from incompetence on the part of the Cyber Command which would never have happened in reality. Clearly this was designed to create an antagonist for future episodes, and an opponent who can equal Gabriel, but it fell a little flat because of its over dramatic presentation.

6/10 – a mediocre first episode, but with the right story lines this could become a compelling hit, because the ideas behind it hold potential.

Intelligence is broadcast on Sky 1 on Thursday nights at 9.00pm. The first episode is available on SkyGo now.

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Studying for my PhD focusing on Eighteenth Century Pirate Literature. Writer 2011-2013, Culture Editor 2013-2014, Editor 2014-2015, Culture Exec 2015-2016, Writer 2016-2017. Longest serving Edgeling ever is a title I intend to hold forever.

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