by Chris Lovato
“If they wanted a robot, they would have built a robot. They wanted a human…well, they got one.”
Take one part Bourne Identity (sans the amnesia), add one part Chuck, and throw in a dash of 24, and you’ve got Michael Seitzman and CBS’ latest venture: Intelligence. Entertaining the idea of government agents fusing with computers to create almost Captain America-like super soldiers has been going on for years, but in an age of a global information network and brand new ways to wage war on each other, Intelligence takes a different look at the secret agent genre.
When a valuable mind goes missing, the United States Cyber Command enlists the help of Gabriel Vaughn, an intelligence operative with an upgrade: a computer chip implanted into his brain that allows him to connect to the internet and, more importantly, gives him a way to see what can’t be seen to accomplish his missions. Such technology never takes long to draw attention, and when Chinese Intelligence captures the doctor that implanted the chip, it becomes a game of dangerous cat-and-mouse diplomacy, dirty dealings, and the plans of Lillian Strand, the director of the USCC. Of course, no loose cannon would be complete without the sensible, down-to-earth partner to keep it in check, and that’s where Secret Service Agent Riley Neal comes in, tasked by Strand to make sure Vaughn’s personal interests don’t interfere with their assignments. It isn’t long before Gabriel and Riley get drawn into the betrayal and deceit going on behind the scenes, and with that, we’re promised intrigue, adventure, and…another cyber agent?
CBS steps up to the plate with a big game, invoking some very big names in primetime television. Josh Holloway stars as Gabriel, and if you don’t recognize the name, think “Sawyer” from Lost. He brings the classic recklessness to his role, but also brings the weight Vaughn carries from events prior to the series. Another major player from ABC rounds out the yin to Gabriel’s yang: Meghan Ory, or as you might know her, Ruby/Red from Once Upon a Time. Ory does a great job balancing strength, personal turmoil, and the ability to kick some serious rear end, hearkening to aspects of Red. The network did a fair job of rounding out the cast; CSI’s Marg Helgenberger brings a stony surface to Strand, but there’s a lot more going on behind her façade than she lets onto. John Billingsly, of Star Trek: Enterprise fame, plays the valuable mind, and Avatar: the Legend of Korra’s P.J. Byrne plays the doctor’s son.
While the show plays more to the action than to the scenery, they make up for it in sets like the USCC Headquarters in Virginia, but perhaps its biggest visual achievement comes with Gabriel’s “rendering”; a talent he gained with the microchip. Part imagination, part evidence, it allows him to reconstruct any of his memories and analyze them, “like dreams.” Most definitely better seen than described, it’s definitely a good reason to give the pilot a chance.
Intelligence is definitely testing the waters for now; CBS and Seitzman didn’t give us much, but what they did give us is enough to draw fans of the genre and the concept into a world that has plans to go even deeper down the rabbit hole, so to speak. Perhaps not the star of the network’s 2014 lineup, it’s worth a shot if you’re looking for something to fill the void left by the winter hiatus.
Scope out Intelligence Mondays on CBS at 9 PM Central/10 PM Pacific. Check out the series premiere on their website.
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